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Underground Film Yearbook: 1977

By Mike Everleth ⋅ December 23, 2008

This is the seventh entry in my series of the underground film scene of the ’70s. You can follow the series here.

’77 was one of the decade’s quieter years of the underground film scene despite the raucous punk scene being on the verge of exploding into the film world of ’78. Amos Poe already directed the influential punk documentary The Blank Generation in ’76, but ’77 saw another smaller punk doc break into the scene: Ric Shore, Maggi Carson and Juliusz Kossakowski’s Punking Out, a film that chronicles a typical night at CBGB’s by catching bands in performance and fans in different states of inebriation. Alas, the short film has been little seen thanks to music rights issues holding up proper distribution.

The base of where one could go see experimental films in a theater devoted to them expanded into Canada at the Funnel Experimental Film Theatre, which operated from ’77 to ’89. Also, over in England, Perspectives on British Avant-Garde Film ran in March and April at the Hayward Gallery, London. The retrospective covered the underground scene from ’67 to ’77 and had sections devoted to expanded cinema performances and explored issues of narrative and the avant-garde. Plus, English underground filmmaker Malcolm Le Grice wrote the book Abstract Film and Beyond, which presented a history of experimental cinema.

On the midnight movie front, John Waters finished up his so-called “Trash Trilogy” with Desperate Living, his first feature film that he would make that didn’t star Divine. Waters also wouldn’t make another film until ’81’s Polyester. ’77 would also see the release of one of the most well-recognized midnight movies of all time: David Lynch’s Eraserhead.

Below is the list of films that I compiled with an official release date of 1977, organized alphabetically by director’s last name. This isn’t meant to be a complete list, but just what I could find so far mostly on the Canyon Cinema and the Film-makers’ Cooperative‘s online catalogs, plus other random info I’ve found on the web. If anyone has a film to add, along with proof of year of completion, please leave a comment below.

Russell R. Adams: Objects for the Sleight of Hand
Signs and Wonders

Dominic Angerame: Neptunian Space Angel

Gordon Ball: About My House

Daniel Barnett: Tenent

Scott Bartlett: Greenfield

Alan Baxter: Dakota

Alan Berliner: Color Wheel

Beth Block: Twelve

Stan Brakhage: The Domain of the Moment
The Governor
Soldiers and Other Cosmic Objects

Robert Breer: 77

Betzy Bromberg: Petit Mal

James Broughton & Joel Singer: Windowmobile
Song of the Godbody

Rudolph Burckhardt: Good Evening Everybody

Doris Chase: Dance 3
Dance 10
How Do You Feel?

Abigail Child: Some Exterior Presence
Peripeteia 1

Tom Chomont: Space Time Studies

Jim Clark: Scream King

Michael Connor: Zit Life

Robert Crawford: H20

Maya Deren: Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti

Gary Doberman: Trilog: Fisheries, The Rhyme, The Old

John Dunkley-Smith: Train Fixation

Stephen Dwoskin: The Silent Cry

Jules Engel: Rumble

William Farley: The Bell Rang to an Empty Sky

Corwin Fergus: Dark Clouds Over the Lake, Lone Bird Flies North, Through the Rain

Hollis Frampton: Matrix

Dave Gearey: Monkey Dream

Ernie Gehr: Untitled

Peter Gidal: Silent Partner

Paul Glabicki: Dream 733

Victor Grauer: Portrait 2

George Griffin: Thumbnail Sketches
Block Print

Walter Gutman: Kay Rosaire & Her Lions

Barbara Hammer: The Great Goddess
Multiple Orgasm

Henry Hills: Porter Springs 3

Takahiko Iimura: Ma (Intervals)
One Frame Duration

Jim Jennings: Clothesline

Flip Johnson: Frankenstein Cries Out!

Lawrence Jordan: Cut-Out Animation: Larry Jordan
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Marjorie Keller: Misconception
The Web
Film Notebook: Part 2, Some of Us in the Mechanical Age

Tim Kennedy: Bus by the River, The / Revision / Hush
Vanishing Ends

Joanna Kiernan: Trilogy: Interval/Open & Shut/Narrative Moves

Ken Kobland: Frame

James Krell: Alpine Lookout #2
Ram’s Photo’s
Shame, Shame: Dallas Diary, 1964
Thank You/Your Receipt

Kurt Kren: 33/77: Keine Donau
34/77: Tschibo

Peter Kubelka: Pause!

George Kuchar: I, An Actress
KY Kapers
Wild Night in El Reno

Malcolm LeGrice: Academic Still Life (Cezanne)
Blackbird Descending (Tense Alignment)

Howard Lester: Slide Show

Saul Levine: Charlatan
Rambling Notes

David Lynch: Eraserhead

Babette Mangolte: The Camera: Je or La Camera I

Katrina Martin: A Family Passion

Ross McLaren: Crash ‘n’ Burn

Jeff McLaughlin: Exposure

Andy Moore: Day Then Night

J.J. Murphy: Movie Stills

Sheila Paige: A Film on Street Harassment

Tom Palazzolo: I Was a Contestant at Mother’s Wet T-Shirt Contest

Mike Quinn: El Kinko

The Residents: Third Reich and Roll

Peter Rose: Analogies

Ken Ross: Black Harmony, Hi-Fi

Rosalind Schneider: The Jeff Film

Steve Schuler: Five

Greg Sharits: Untitled No. 9

Paul Sharits: Declarative Mode

Guy Sherwin: Musical Stairs

Ric Shore: Punking Out

Michael Siporin: Joking: No Laughing Matter

John Smith: Summer Diary
Hackney Marshes – November 4th 1977

Ernie Steck: Japon

Tyler Turkle: A Quiet Afternoon With Strangers

John R. Tyndall, Jr.: Lamb of God

Willie Varela: Southwestern Diaries

John Waters: Desperate Living

Steven Weisberg: An Open Letter to the New York Times

Doug Wendt: Ron Amok (Dog Party)

Jacalyn L. White: Cetology

Dorothy Wiley: The Birth of Seth Andrew Kinmont

Greg Yaskot: Perry Street Scenes
A Year in Connecticut