Theater Thoughts

Reviewed By: John Carpenter

I have taken my sweet ass time thumbing through Shade Rupe’s latest gem “Dark Stars Rising: Conversations From The Outer Realm.” Why? It is everything that a genre fan could ask for and more, so I wanted to savor each page. There are twenty-seven candid interviews with some of the most progressive artists of our generation, covering numerous forums, lifestyles, opinions, and revelations. I highlight three for their diverse approach to what could easily be a monotonous string of questions and answers.  They easily escape that fate by combining rare photos and news clippings with animated banter about all aspects of art. One of these interviews will stick with me in a way that I won’t soon shake, but you’ll need to keep reading to find out how.

There is a natural feel to this first interview which allows the conversation to leap off of the page. Shade, the Barbara Walters of underground artist interviews, asks leading questions that are packed with enough information to be interesting on their own. The beauty is there is an artist on the other end waiting to respond to his questions and comments on life, film, and everything in between. The two go back and forth, somehow giving readers all they could possibly crave from an interview and wanting more at the same time. As I was reading his sit down with Chas. Balun, I was instantly reminded of “Deep Red,” “Chunk Blower”, and the amazing impact Balun has left on the world of horror. The two bounced in and out of topics seamlessly, drifting of course from time to time only to lead readers to an even more interesting topic. The interview evolves into a conversation and the conversation is deconstructed into a couple of guys talking about movies. Shade’s goal isn’t to get some juicy info out of Chas., he is just shooting the shit and taking notes along the way. It was a refreshing look at a man the horror world has missed for many years.

With William Lustig, I found myself longing to revisit some of his films as I read this piece of his Outer Realm. There are more questions in this conversation, but Shade does the best thing to avoid ‘stock’ answers – he doesn’t ask ‘stock’ questions. Covering a large part of Lustig’s filmography can be difficult, but the two manage to dig fairly deep into films like “Uncle Sam” by revealing tidbits of pre-production that average fans may not be aware of. What could be a companion piece for Blue Underground’s outstanding DVD collection, “Dark Stars Rising: Conversations From The Outer Realm” speaks with Lustig in a way that enhances his filmography and shows just how passionate the man is about movies.

The last interview that stands out to me is one with Tura Satana. While many are mainly familiar with her work as Russ Meyer’s iconic Varla in “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!”(myself included), this piece opened my eyes to a whole new world of Tura. The interview, certainly more structured due to the sensitive nature, added so much depth to Tura, I have been on pins and needles waiting for my copy of “The Russ Meyer Collection” DVD set to arrive from the U.K. to revisit “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” and listen to her commentary with the other Pussycats. Tura has lived the harshest of lives and her interview with Shade not only shows the soul underneath this sex icon, but gives a depth to her role as Varla that I never knew existed. As I was about half way through reading this interview, I got news that Tura had passed away. I was/am devastated by the news. Though I had never met her personally, I felt closer to her than I ever have to a celebrity. This is due, in part, to such a great piece by Shade. I can only hope that between this book and her passing that the world finally begins to realize the gem they have lost.

There are 24 other sections that I haven’t even touched on. Divine, Crispin Glover, Alejandro Jodorowsky and many others fill the 516 pages with an energy that is difficult to bottle. Then, once you think the book is done blowing your mind, there are reviews of other books and films mentioned throughout the interviews. I fill my time with movies – not books. By taking the time to both read AND write about this book, it shows just how special it is. Bottom line – You can’t call yourself a genre fan and not own “Dark Stars Rising: Conversations From The Outer Realm.” It is just that good.

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