Try these: one on a vintage episode of perennial punchline The Love Boat that actually deals with its effect on home viewers starved for travel and glamour; and a dynamite piece on Eddie Murphy's one-off 1984 guest shot on SNL that works as an essay, as comedy and TV history, even as memoir. Can't wait to read a book that compiles these.
• A greater part of my ’70s childhood than even The Love Boat or SNL was the Channel 5 "Big Show" weekday afternoons after school, where everything from Ray Harryhausen and Japanese killer-fungus movies to mod British caper comedies and noir showed up in those glorious days before the Balkanization of film libraries. In The New Yorker, the last place I'd expect to see a sincere appreciation of cult auteur Ray Dennis Steckler, novelist Colson Whitehead has a wonderful piece on his own B-movie adolescence:
I started to recognize the names of the studios responsible for my afternoon diversions: Hammer, Amicus, American International Pictures. I associated certain people with quality product: Roger Corman (“Day the World Ended,” the original, 1960 “Little Shop of Horrors”); Samuel Z. Arkoff (“Queen of Blood,” “The Amityville Horror”). Men in rubber reptile suits crept through the gloom, and cars ran out of gas on spooky backwoods lanes. Final-reel showdowns between the hero and the mad scientist unfurled in dungeons whose walls were made of gray foam—and seemed remarkably familiar from the climax of last week’s movie. I was in fourth grade, and already getting acquainted with that great American virtue the Lack of Quality Control.
Better still, his "A Psychotronic Childhood" gives a much-deserved shout-out to an unsung hero: Michael Weldon, whose essential cult-movie compendium The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film changed the lives of many by giving a name, a genre and a common realm to what had been considered cinematic flotsam. Whitehead deserves a slap on the back just for getting The Devil's Rain and Fangoria into The New Yorker's keyword database.
• Because there's no completist like a Brian De Palma completist, check out these two terrific links. First: an Artforum conversation between the director and photographer Taryn Simon about the impact and import of images — most compellingly, a photo staged for De Palma's Iraq War drama Redacted (which never played Nashville theaters) that came to pose a chilling threat to the Iraqi actress who posed for it. (H/T: Adrian Martin.)
Second, while unofficial recuts tend to be about as productive as your survivalist cousin taking a crack at rewriting Ulysses, this restructuring of De Palma's divisive 1992 thriller Raising Cain by Peet Gelderblom (apparently following the director's early intent) is something of a revelation. It now seems less a crazily willful genre riff than a progressively disturbing take on the deranging effects of sexual jealousy and thwarted masculinity, and it doesn't frame John Lithgow's daredevil performance quite so much as a stunt. It's a blast — and if nothing else, it'll whet your appetite for the director's upcoming Passion.