My appreciation for Richard Glenn Schmidt’s work has been clear on this site. I have reviewed his zine, Fang of Joy (and have appeared within it’s pages most recently), and his first book Giallo Meltdown. Cinema Somnambulist (a title I struggle to say) is his latest cinema related published work and of course I have to review it.
Cinema Somnambulist is a collection of works written over the span of several years on Richard’s blog. He painstakingly went through each post and culled what he felt was the best. He updated each post if his opinion changed between writing it on his blog and publishing the book. So what is covered in the book? A little bit of everything. The book stands as a testament to his personal development as a cinephile. Each chapter or film covered is steeped in personal reflections of where he was at the time when he watched the film and how he felt. We learn personal details of his life and his development as a film lover. So of course this book is very personal in a way that is rarely seen today in film critisism. That used to be the way zines were written in their heyday, with lots of personality. This book feels like sitting with Richard as he recalls the first time he saw monumental films that helped to shape his cinematic world. Unlike Giallo Meltdown, which was much more a stream of consciousness, this book is more detailed and cohesive. The book features many genres of film that makeup the patchwork that is Richard Glenn Schmidt. He already laboriously wrote about Gialli in his previous book so this one covers other genres that interest him including more traditional Horror, Anime, Sci-Fi, Kung Fu, and more. We do get some Giallo Meltdown-esque entries when he discusses his “Franco” Fridays which were marathons dedicated to Jess Franco. The back half also features more traditional reviews but they’re written by Richard so don’t expect them to be too traditional.
Cinema Somnambulist is a fun read. If you are a fan of Richard’s show, Hello This is the Doomed Show, or his previous writings, you’ll enjoy this book. True, the content originally lived on his blog so you could have read it for free but it’s nice to have what he feels are the best of his writings collected in one place with handy updates. It’s at times very intimate, funny, and of course silly. It would be written by Richard if it wasn’t silly. But that’s what I love about it: his personality shines through bright and clear. If you like what he does, pick this up.