It Came From The 80s!: Interviews With 214 Cult Filmmakers by Francesco Borseti (book review).

October 20, 2016 | By | Reply More

Author Francesco Borseti says from the start that you ought to watch or have seen each of the 33 films covered before reading his book, ‘It Came From The 80s!: Interviews With 214 Cult Filmmakers’. I’ve only seen one of them, ‘Parasite’, a 3D flick from the mid-80s, which hardly staggered me as I saw most of the budget being spent on 3D imagery. This book points out a young Demi Moore had a starring part but that didn’t sink in neither at the time.


Don’t be under any illusions, these are all 1980s ‘B’ movies, easily labelled ‘cult’ since they have a specialised audience. That’s us who are into the horror/SF genre and so unlikely to appear on UK TV. I can’t speak for US TV. Don’t let that affect your choice or taste or even watching them as I love to hear about the problems the production crew and cast had. Many of them went on to greater and bigger things or found other things to fill their lives and in many respects it is an apprenticeship. With the market in ‘B’ movies dropping out in the 1990s and films going straight to video then and DVD now, seeing such films in the cinema now might be long gone.

It’s also a good way to see people on the way up as well as on the way down in the American film industry of that time. They also employ a lot of the older actors for a couple days work to get a ‘name’ as a selling point on the posters. Some producers come from porn sources wanting to move up, much of this is true for any decade. Tight budgets, picking the wrong people and not obeying a contract is pretty standard. If you’re going to make your bones and get experience in the film industry, it’s actually a good training ground, let alone paying the bills, although make sure you do get some payment as some producers clearly didn’t understand that.

I wish Borseti had listed all of the ‘B’ movies from the 1980s, just to indicate what he missed out, although considering a couple producers, not to mention Roger Corman’s New World studio, came up a couple times, it does tend to suggest he got the majority of them here. I should also point out you get a film credits list and a brief synopsis and a smattering of black and white photos here and there.

Let’s pick out the odd thing. Stephen King learnt a rather telling lesson that unlike his books that internalise characterisation works but needs to be let out in films. With another, you get a look around Harlen Ellison’s home, where it appears he has an Ames room where one side is smaller than the other.

There are surprising facts, at least to me, that I didn’t know. I mean, did you know that director David Oliver Pfeil directed the opening titles sequence credits for the original ‘Knight Rider’ before moving on to full directorship, for instance? I’ve seen that unusual half-tunnel road in ‘Terminator II’ where the chase was filmed in a number of films. Those of you in America and especially Los Angeles can probably put a name to it. Until this book, I didn’t know it was called the LA River, designed to take away rainwater, as rare as it happens in that city. I loved the line from ‘Munchies’ (1986) scriptwriter David Lance who describes scripts as not being a finished product but ‘like drawing blueprints for a house that you never build’.

I like the effort Borseti goes into giving the ages of people, especially for those who died, but I think he might have made a mistake with actor John Ireland with ‘(1914-1922)’ when it should be ‘(1914-1992)’. I’m including this point here because this is a depthy book and need to reassure everyone I don’t skim. The fact that I only spotted one mistake which could easily be a typing error should serve you in good stead for his accuracy.

André de Toft is included and if it wasn’t for a serious accident on site, he would have directed ‘Terror Night’ (1987). Did you know he directed some uncredited second unit on David Lean’s ‘Lawrence Of Arabia ‘ (1962) and was responsible for the footage showing actor Omar Sharif riding in out of the desert haze and for giving Charles Bronson his stage name?

I did check and find only a few aren’t available on DVD, with a couple in compilations and a couple in the ‘Grindhouse’ series, but all appear to be region 1, so unless you live in America or have a multi-regional adjustable DVD player/recorder you might be sunk.

You can tell by the length of a review as to how much I got out of this book. Those who love ‘B’ movies are going to have a field day, especially if you’ve seen all or some of these films. Even if you haven’t but, like me, enjoy reading about things behind the scenes, then you are in a for a treat.

GF Willmetts

October 2016

(pub: McFarland. 294 page illustrated indexed enlarged paperback. Price: £41.50 (UK), $39.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-47666-604-4)

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Category: Books, Horror

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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