IMPORTANT: I am Katharine, with two As, not Katherine, with two Es.
It happens often enough not to bother me much, so no need to apologize if you mess it up. But one is my name and the other isn’t.
Katharine Coldiron is the author of Ceremonials, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and Junk Film. Her work has appeared in Ms., the Washington Post, Conjunctions, NPR, and many other places. Find her at kcoldiron.com and on Twitter @ferrifrigida.
Preferred headshot (credit: Modern Tintype)
Other headshots available upon request
Full-size cover for Junk Film
Entire libraries of criticism study good art. Who studies bad art?
For the most part, bad movies have been buried by their creators, or have circulated in midnight screenings and Reddit threads. They’ve been used for humor by Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Red Letter Media, and presented as outrageous spectacle by critics and commentators. Rarely have bad movies been studied.
Junk Film‘s thirteen essays explore the failures of specific works created between the 1940s and the 2010s. Each demonstrates a different kind of failure, from mixing incompatible genres (Cop Rock) to stacking a screenplay with sociopaths (Staying Alive). The book uses a few basic theses about bad film and television to unpack these failures. Importantly, it shows what students of film can learn from bad movies: how to make art that works via watching art that doesn’t.
Junk Film bridges film scholarship and pop culture criticism with wit and warmth.
“What makes bad art bad? Does intent matter? Can you enjoy a terrible movie unironically? JUNK FILM is a smart and sneakily subversive read from a cultural critic with a magpie’s eye for glittering swill.”
— Ty Burr, film critic and author (Gods Like Us)
“I’ve always thought that if art is expression, can it fail? Katharine Coldiron does a wonderful job of examining this from both sides. She finds and analyzes a fascinating array of films. It made me laugh many times, and actually made me want to have a bad movie marathon!”
— Greg Sestero, actor & writer (The Room, The Disaster Artist)
“Bad movies have been very good to me – I’ve watched hundreds as a writer for Mystery Science Theater 3000 and RiffTrax, and even voluntarily. Katharine Coldiron’s examination of such movies names why I appreciate them so much – it’s smart, insightful, and entertaining, and it’s for film aficionados and snobs alike.”
— Mary Jo Pehl, writer and comedienne (MST3K, Rifftrax)
Full-size cover for Plan 9 from Outer Space
Plan 9 from Outer Space has been called the worst movie of all time. Studying such a film would seem needless, more painful than profitable. Katharine Coldiron takes the plunge anyway, and discovers, in the world of bad film, creative insight and practical lessons on how to make good art. She also breaks down, scene by scene, exactly how incompetent Plan 9 is. Full of good humor and backed by thousands of hours of research, this book offers a new perspective on how bad art fits into a well-rounded film education.
“A genuine treasure for Ed Wood fans.” —Andrew J. Rausch, coauthor, The Cinematic Misadventures of Ed Wood
“I thoroughly enjoyed Katharine Coldiron’s deep dive into Ed Wood’s schlock classic Plan 9 from Outer Space. Not only is it a hilarious, super-detailed analysis of what goes wrong, scene after scene, but it serves as a generous appreciation of the skill and vision it takes to make an actual good movie. It’s great fun.” —Bill Corbett, writer & cast member, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax
“Katharine Coldiron expertly breaks down why Plan 9 is so unique. It is both great and terrible, awful, yet beautiful. This is an endlessly entertaining read and it’s all true! But can your heart stand the shocking facts?” —Dana Gould, writer, comedian, spearheader of Plan 9 live shows
Full-size cover for Ceremonials
Designed by Jesi Buell, illustration by Mariana Magaña de Lio
Press release for Ceremonials (PDF)
The illustrator for Ceremonials is Mariana Magaña de Lio. Contact her directly on Instagram; I have no special access to her.
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