Book Review: 'Dark Stars Rising' by Shade Rupe

PrintE-mail Written by Simon Besson

Review: Dark Stars Rising - Conversations from the Outer Realms / Author: Shape Rupe / Publisher: Headpress / Isbn: 978-1-900-48669-9 

In their still quite recent publishing history, Headpress have already produced a weighty canon of gore-splattered titles such as Sweet and Savage, Legacy of Blood and Creeping Flesh; now comes a fantastic addition to the dysfunctional family in the pleasingly substantial shape of Dark Stars Rising – Conversations from the Outer Realms by Shade Rupe.

Not so much author as protagonist in this book, Shade Rupe is the horror fan horror fans want to be. In his quarter of a century or so spent exploring the very depths of extreme counter culture he has been granted privileged access to some of the great proponents of the dark side - the artists, writers and film-makers whose transgressive work lurks in the shadows of mundane normality, unknown to many but greatly admired by those with a taste for the surreal, the gruesome and the downright ugly. Dark Stars Rising is the distillation of his explorations to date - twenty seven carefully chosen subjects with whom he has been allowed to sit down and converse informally, as the subtitle suggests, eschewing the conventional interview format and so giving a greater insight into the psyches of those who sculpt this twisted world.

Very few people will have had such intimate access to so many luminaries of the arcane and for all their seeming abhorrence of all things sweet and light they seem to regard Rupe with genuine respect and sincere warmth, embracing him as one of their own. Some of the better known names in the book include Crispin Glover who talks at length about ‘It Is Fine. Every Thing Is Fine!’, the famously silent Teller (from Penn and Teller) is a particular scoop and, notably, Devine who was one of Rupe’s first interviewees and who exhibits a warmth and passion for his art equal to his immense stature. Other, no less notable subjects include the beautifully macabre director Floria Sigismondi, taboo novelist and poet Dennis Cooper and existential artist Hermann Nitsch to name just a few.

As a book this is a real piece of work. A satisfyingly hefty 500 plus pages – Dark Stars Rising is edited in a thrown together, scrapbook style; every single page adorned with accompanying illustrations, film stills and photos in moody monochrome so that opening it anywhere at random never fails to reveal some delightfully depraved image or other. Read it covetously from cover to cover or dip into it casually from time to time – it’s all good. For serious scholars of the genre there is a collection of interesting book and film reviews at the end, add to this a comprehensive index and you have an indispensable tome which no coffee table, Giger-esque or otherwise, should be without.

'Dark Stars Rising – Conversations from the Outer Realms' is available now

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