Sunday, December 28, 2008

bill landis [r.i.p]

it was something of a shock to read on the net yesterday the death of exploitation film critic bill landis. landis died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 49 on 12/22/08. it's been quite a year for death. i suppose because landis is an other-stream cultural critic and film historian an obit in most newspapers would not be forthcoming.

i came to landis' work via his book sleazoid express co-authored with his then-wife michelle clifford. the book was published in 2002 but he started his film journalism in 1980 as a typed xeroxed one-sheet working as a projectionist at the theaters he loved so well in the deuce located on 42nd st in times square.

landis' writings on exploitation films and the theaters that featured them married well the critical acumen of a cultural historian with the flair of a natural storyteller. his pieces read like the new journalism of say tom wolfe or even dare i say it hunter thompson. he was also a geeky fanboy with a passion for the marginal in extreme cinema. he was and it is sad even if i never knew the man to use the past tense in writing about him.

a bit announcing landis' death is here. bill landis lived quite a life and wrote quite frankly about it for pubs as varied as film comment, rolling stone and the village voice. with some luck his varied writings will be collected and published under one cover. thru a message board thread i just discovered a piece published in the voice detailing landis' years working in the porn industry under the aka bobby specter. it is a harrowing article and is found here and here.


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