Deep in the heart of Texas back in the late 1990s, an independent theater focusing on arthouse, horror, and exploitation cinema was established. Intent on bringing audiences unparalleled viewing experiences complete with beer and renegade programming, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema solidified its residency in Austin. Proudly engaging with its early reputation as the radical new entry into moviegoing, the Alamo Drafthouse also quickly garnered a large and loyal fanbase both in the Lone Star State and beyond that evolved into over 40 nationwide locations, and one of the biggest North American genre film festivals, Fantastic Fest. Its most important achievement would be the inception of the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA). A grassroots, donation-driven, non-profit system to ensure the preservation of genre movies on film, AGFA was established in 2009 and has become monumental to fans and filmmakers worldwide.
In Warped & Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archive, readers are given access to a wealth of full-color images and information; it’s a literal utopia for fans of obscure genre cinema. Within its 400 plus pages, Warped & Faded tells the tale of how a group of dedicated, passionate, and possibly obsessed movie lovers banded together to help preserve and present some of the most underseen, eccentric titles ever committed to film.
Conceived by Fantastic Fest and Austin Film Society programmer Lars Nilsen, edited by Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror’s Kier-La Janisse (our interview) and including a slew of other fascinating voices such as Alamo Drafthouse founders Tim and Karrie League, Ant Timpson (Come To Daddy, Turbo Kid, The Greasy Strangler), Bleeding Skull.com’s Joe Ziemba, co-founder Etheria Film Showcase Heidi Honeycutt, Kat Ellinger (EIC Diabolique Magazine), co-founder of AGFA Zack Carlson (Bleeding Skull.com) and others, this book is a must-have for fans of obscure cinema.
Warped & Faded is a massive, endearing, and indispensable collection of essays, conversations, anecdotes, actor and director highlights, movie posters, and photos, all documenting the efforts of Weird Wednesday, AGFA, and the growing number of movie lovers willing to consume this caliber of programming. Other film series would eventually emerge within the Alamo Drafthouse rotation, including Fist City, Terror Tuesdays, Champagne Cinema, and All-You-Can-Eat Cereal Parties, but Weird Wednesday is the granddaddy… the one that so wholeheartedly embraces the Alamo culture and theme.
When Warped & Faded arrived at my home, I both smiled and fought back tears. See, I have been a proud, enthusiastic employee of the Alamo Drafthouse for many, many moons and Weird Wednesdays—along with Terror Tuesdays—are some of the highlights of my week. It doesn’t matter if I end up serving the crowd of like-minded cinema-goers, or if I have the presence of mind to request the night off to fully indulge, Weird Wednesday is where I wanted to be, and this sentiment is shared by many.
Warped & Faded has earned a special place on my bookshelf. I don’t have school yearbooks, but I do have this, and when I flip through this oversized, lovingly exhaustive collection of images and words citing some of the most sensational viewing experiences, I am brought back to times that are held near and dear to my heart. I hope Nilsen, Janisse, and every contributor to this book are aware that this effort is sincerely appreciated.
Warped & Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archive is now available through the wonderful folks over at Mondo HERE.