Cinema Panopticum caught my attention mainly because of the fact that it has the word "cinema" in its title. When it comes to cinema, I feel like I am pulled towards anything to do with it, and pretty much the moment I laid my eyes on this, I picked it up and walked towards the check-out counter.
Cinema Panopticum is a collection of five graphic horror novelettes, which are The Prophet, The Wonder Pill, La Lucha, The Hotel and The Girl. The first story in the book, that being The Girl, introduces the other four. We see a girl visiting an amusement part and looking for something she can do with the five coins she has in her pocket. After being turned down from the carousel and other activities, she stumbles into a tent called Cinema Panopticum and finds a space with boxes with . screens, each box costing only one coin. Each box contains a movie, and with her five coins, she can watch them all.
The little movies the girl watches are SUPER creepy. They almost feel like hallucinations and the detail put into the artwork is incredible. Each "movie" is about 16 to 20 pages long and as they proceed, the creepier they get. There's a story about prophet seeing the end of the world, a creepy hotel with a very creepy chef, a pill that changes the life of a short-sighted man and a Mexican wrestler who has to fight against the death himself.
With no words and just extremely detailed, scratchboard style images, Cinema Panopticum becomes a read you can go through on your own pace. For me, the collection felt almost like a cinematic experience, like I was actually watching through those screens at the little movies the girl watches. The attention to detail adds to the stories, but it does not distract from them - I personally often find that with extremely detailed work, I start to look for the details rather than the story as a whole, but with this, that wasn't the case.
Cinema Panopticum wasn't an intentional Halloween read for me, but it definitely would make a great little Halloween read for someone looking for something a bit different. It is atmospheric, hallucinatory, detailed, beautiful and creepy. The twists in the stories are SO WELL DONE and I am sure some of the images from this one will stay in my mind for a while to come.