Lars Nilsen on Warped and Faded and Why Nothing is "So Bad It's Good"

Psy-Comm writer Tony Salvaggio joins Jason to chat with Lars Nilsen, author of Warped and Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archive, about the book, the phenomenon of the Alamo Drafthouse, and programming one of the weirdest and most fondly recalled repertory series ever.

"So Bad It's Good" is Not a Thing says Lars Nilsen, Author of Warped and Faded
Castle Talk logo and Warped and Faded cover used with permission

"Weird Wednesdays" began as a free and then low-cost series of Midnight showings at the original Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin, Texas  (a version of the series still continues at the Alamo). The phrase "Warped and Faded" refers to the notes left by a projectionist notes on one of the film prints shown, the enumeration of the damage to which amounts to a kind of poetry. The films shown were often rare and cracked, warped, faded, moldy, or out of order. The book lists out the films shown while giving a recounting of the rare films community and the founding of the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA).

One of the topics Nilsen spends time on is how much he can't abide by the phrase "so bad it's good," which he says affords a kind of ironic detachment from art that audience members respond to. He says the popularity of terms like that were born of celebration of "bad film" in early hit books like The Golden Turkey Awards and The Fifty Worst Films of All Time from the Medved Brothers. But he suggests that claiming to be watching a movie because it is bad is essentially not true because generally, we watch what we want. As he points out, no one drinks a bad beer and says, "this beer is so bad it's good."

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Jason Henderson is the host of the Castle of Horror and Castle Talk Podcasts, the editor of the "Castle of Horror Anthology" series. The newest Volume is Thinly Veiled: the '70sa collection of horror stories based on 70s TV and movies. He is the author of The Serpent's Nest: Young Captain Nemo from Macmillan Children's Books. His next book is 18 Miles from Town: a Midlife Crisis Thriller.

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About Jason Henderson

Jason Henderson, author of the Young Captain Nemo (Macmillan Children's) and Alex Van Helsing (HarperTeen) series, earned his BA from University of Dallas in 1993 and his JD from Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C., in 1996. His popular podcasts “Castle Talk” and “Castle of Horror” feature interviews and discussion panels made up of best-selling writers and artists from all genres. Henderson lives in Colorado with his wife and two daughters.
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