Sunday, January 8, 2012

Collecting Movie Stills

Reminder: You have until January 31, 2012, to enter the drawing to win a free copy of my book, Deformed and Destructive Beings: The Purpose of Horror Films, just by following this blog publicly. See this post for  details.

One reason you might like this book is because it contains forty-seven movie stills (like the one from The Others, above) hand-picked by me and handsomely reproduced in black-and-white by the publisher, McFarland. Putting together these pictures was a labor of love that reminded me of my earliest encounters with movie still collecting, back in the 1970s. In those days, when I was a high school student in Queens, my friends and I would take the subway to Manhattan to attend fan conventions, like the Star Trek Con, Creation, and the Nostalgia Con. We would spend hours rifling through boxes of movie stills, lobby cards, and posters, mostly from horror, science fiction, and fantasy films. We bought as much as a teenager could afford and took it all home.

At one point my room was decorated with posters from The Exorcist, The Omen, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and A Clockwork Orange. Some lobby cards went on the walls too. But the stills stayed in a file drawer, in clear plastic protectors in a green binder, and whenever I took them out I handled them carefully. These were pieces of movies to be treated with respect, glossy fragments that epitomized films I loved--Rosemary's Baby, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Planet of the Apes.

A few years later, I outgrew the whole movie fan thing and gave away much of my collection. No more posters, no more lobby cards. Don't ask me what I was thinking; I guess I wanted a simpler life. I did keep the green binder of stills, but I didn't know why. I never looked at them.

Later, I became a born-again movie fan. I guess I was ready for a more complex life. I got so interested in horror films I wrote this book about them, Deformed and Destructive Beings, and now I knew why I had kept the green binder. It was to provide art for the book. I picked out a few of the best stills, and there they are now--including, though it is not a horror film, a great shot of Sinbad's fight with the skeleton in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.

I needed a lot more stills, so I went on eBay and trolled the movie merchandise markets there. I also stopped off at Jerry Ohlinger's physical store in Manhattan, which I hadn't visited since I was much younger. Among my finds was that shot of Nicole Kidman looking beautiful and ethereal with her two children from The Others, an image of the monster in The Fly II attacking a victim (terrible movie, nice shot), and a picture of Ash being strangled by his own dismembered hand in Evil Dead II.

It's all in the book. And it's nice to be back among the movie fans.

George Ochoa

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