In the interest of full disclosure, author Mike Watt is a friend and respected colleague who sent us a PDF of his latest book for review. This is nonetheless an objective review of his book “Fervid Filmmaking.”
You have to give it to author Mike Watt. His book isn’t built around 66 great films, or even 66 of his favorite films, but 66 films of importance and relevance that really say something about the genre they’re representing. Take for example the entry in to “Survival of the Dead” by director George Romero. While I’m often a Romero apologist, author Watt really does manage to break down the specifics of the film, and cite past interviews with director Romero to paint “Survival” as a film made by a man perpetually chained to the sub-genre that made him a horror icon.
Most surprising is the snippet of a Romero interview before the making of “Survival” where he proclaims he wants to call his next film “Enough of the Dead.” I can only imagine how annoyed he must get whenever he’s asked about something zombie related ninety times a month. It’s tough to pinpoint where George Romero is in this stage of his career in regards to his opinion about zombie films and the ones he’s made in the last ten years, but surely it’s a fascinating new outlook at what I think is a solid horror film. “Survival” is explored as something of a unique and interesting look in to the mind of its creator and if nothing else a picture of an artist in a rut.
There’s also examinations of critically divisive indie films like “Bitchslap,” where Watt dissects the film as an ode to female empowerment (whether you agree or not there’s no doubting the trio of women are stunningly beautiful), and a call to the action genre to begin casting more female action heroines. Watt considers sixty six very unique and utterly surreal films to be lumped together in “Fervid Filmmaking,” and really ponders on their importance. Not only to the book itself, but to society, and their stamp on filmmaking. And yes, whether you like it or not, “Survival of the Dead” had a stamp on filmmaking. Positive or negative, is up to you. There’s an excellent exploration of the Ralph Bakshi animated anthology “Coonskin,” one of the most controversial animated movies ever made that continues garnering immense ballyhoo for its alleged racism.
Writer Watt doesn’t just explore the more hidden and obscure movies from the last fifty years, but also dares to venture out in to the indie world and spotlight some truly bold productions. Watt discusses the fun and inventing “The Land of College Prophets,” while also discussing the intricacies of the world director Thomas Edward Seymour built on such a low budget. Author Mike Watt truly compiles a very diverse and surreal list of films that warrant examination and a second more objective look. “Fervid Filmmaking” is definitely a book for movie buffs in the mood for something different and much more original than the usual humdrum mainstream fare.