Warped & Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archive (2021)

We live in an amazing time to be a fan of psychotronic cinema.

Sure, physical media is fighting a constant battle to remain available, but we also are here for an era when any movie, no matter how difficult to find or how cult, is available nearly with the push of a button. For those of us who grew up in the days of grindhouses, drive-ins, UHF monster hosts, cable and/or video stores, the abiity to suddenly watch any more is both astounding and overwhelming.

Yet it wasn’t always this way.

Author Lars Nilsen, a longtime Alamo Drafthouse film programmer and now at Austin Film Society, and editor Kier-La Janisse, genre scholar, author (House of Psychotic Women), programmer and documentary filmmaker (Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror), have worked to create a tome that lays down the Weird Wednesdays of the Alamo Drafthouse, the place where many films were uncovered, rediscovered and celebrated.

Weird Wednesdays began at the first Alamo Draft House in Austin, Texas as a series of free screenings of exploitation and horror movies that had been consigned to the scrap heap. The thanks or the blame goes to Tim League, who suddenly found a series of film prints on his hands that no one wanted. So why not share this treasure and allow others to see it for free?

These films form the main body of the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA), who has preserved, restored and distributed hundreds of films that might otherwise have been lost for all time.

Warped & Faded features contributions from Weird Wednesday Hall-of-Famer Gary Kent and genre champions Tim Lucas, Stephen Thrower, Pete Tombs, Maitland McDonagh, Kat Ellinger, Chris Poggiali, Robin Bougie, Mike Malloy, Bryan Connolly, Heidi Honeycutt, Rodney Perkins, Zack Carlson, Kier-La Janisse and more. They share either the heritage of this series of films or provide details on them. There’s also a Hall of Fame series, which includes Gary Kent writing about Al Adamson, Stephen Thrower on Andy Milligan, Robin Bougie on Arthur Marks, Kier-La Janisse writing about Claudia Jennings, Pete Tombs on Eddie Robero, Lars Nelson on Gary Kent, Bryan Connolloy on George “Buck” Flower, Mike Malloy about Henry Silva, Rodney Perkins on James Fanaka, Stephen Thrower on Jess Franco, Lars Nielsen on Joe Sarno, Tim Lucas on John Carradine, Zack Carlson on John Saxon, Maitland McDonagh on Laura Gemser, Chris Poggiali on Lee Frost and Wes Bishop, Kat Ellinger on Matt Cimber, Tim Lucas writing on Mimsy Farmer, Heidi Honeycutt on Stephanie Rothman and Zack Carlson on Susan Tyrrell and Vic Diaz.

Filled with astounding poster art and bite-sized barker copy for each film, this is a movie that will either remind you why you love these movies or spur you on to discovering some new ones. Either way, it’s a gorgeously designed book — Luke Insect did great design work — and has inspired me to seek out some new films for my own personal film festival.

Even if you just page through this and stare at the posters, you’re more than getting your money’s worth. If you dig in, you’ll find a wealth of information and at least one new movie to seek out.

For a list of the films covered in the book, check out our Letterboxd list.

You can buy Warped & Faded at the MONDO Shop.

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