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Copyright © Kitley's Krypt
2013 RONDO AWARD
Welcome to our Reference Book Review section. The above quote is something that I truly believe in. Starting out as a young fan of the genre, I ate up any and all books that I could find on the horror genre. The more photos and info that I could find, the more I learned. And the more I learned, the more I wanted to find these movies that these books were talking about.
Since you're here at this page, it's been either by accident, or that you are also a fan of horror reference books. Over the years I've accumulated quite a collection of film books, movie guides, biographies, and even those enjoyable psycho-babbling books on these so called "true meanings" behind the horror genre. So the reason for this section of the Krypt is to try and help you in your decision in whether a particular book is worth your time and money. Each book will have a scan of the cover, along with details such as publication date, author, and publisher. And also a brief review of the book, giving the high points as well as the low ones. Hopefully this will be useful, giving our insight as to whether the book is a worthy edition to your collection, or to avoid it like the plague. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send us an email.
Just click on the category below to get to that particular section.
ON SPECIFIC MOVIES OR SUB-GENRE
Published by BearManor Media, 2014. 261 pages.
Do we really need another book on Dario
Argento? I mean, after the great tome from Alan Jones, what more could be said?
The answers to those two questions is Yes and a LOT! There are some books that
are just fact based, like reading something from IMDB. Or others are just loaded
with stories from the authors point of view. But the real beauty of Botelho's
book is that it is a combination of those two types, making it not only a great
read, but very informative.
IT CAME FROM HUNGER! TALES OF A SCHLOCKMEISTER
Published by McFarland & Co, 1996. 215 pages.
For those out there that think that Roger Corman made movies with incredibly low budgets, then you need to learn who Larry Buchanan was. Station out of Texas, Buchanan churn out film after film with embarrassing low budgets, some of them making some decent money. This is one of my favorite quotes from the book:
"Roger Corman had been giving three times the budget we had. His version was in black and white, and he had as his leads Peter Graves, Beverly Garland, and Lee Van Cleef. And the running time was only 71 minutes. For $30,000, I was expected to shoot 80 cut minutes of color and bring in three young stars from Hollywood. Their board, hotel, and air fare alone would be $15,000!"
This book is filled with tons of stories and lessons of "good-bad" filmmaking, as Buchanan liked to call it. The book starts out at Buchanan's early childhood and his development of love for movies, to beginnings as an actor and performer. But once we get to his start at director, the stories get even more interesting. Like after finishing one of his earliest films, only to have the money backer dump the films into the lake since his wife (the star of the film) left him.
While most of Buchanan's work may be considered a waste of time and effort, he was not without talent. For one of his first features, THE NAKED WITCH, was brought to life when someone came up to Buchanan and said: "I want to make a drive-in picture with lots of nudity and very little dialogue and all I can spend is $8,000". And THE NAKED WITCH was born. This little picture went on to make $80,000 in less than a month. Not a bad investment, huh?
This got the attention of A.I.P. who hired Buchanan to remake several of their pictures, such as IT CONQUERED THE WORLD which became ZONTAR, THE THING FROM VENUS, or INVASION OF THE SAUCERMEN became THE EYE CREATURES. All were made with super low budgets, but still were turned in on time and made money.
On one of his latter pictures, he had a young girl wanting to be the script girl who said she'd work for free. That was Debra Hill, who along with John Carpenter, would make one of the most successful independent movies of all times...HALLOWEEN, not to mention going on to become a very successful producer in Hollywood.
Buchanan also gave lectures or workshops for upcoming filmmakers later in his career. In the book, he kind of outlines what he would talk about in these workshops. This is enough to scare the hell of young filmmakers who have no clue of what to expect out there in the real film world. But is also very informative for those who still want to follow that dream.
But I do have one small complaint about this book. When it came time to discuss some of my favorite films, such as THE EYE CREATURES, or CREATURE OF DESTRUCTION, or CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE, there is very little written. Some times it's only a page or so, sometimes even less. On some of them were there are more pages devoted to the film, it's text that was taken from a fanzine called ZONTAR, THE MAGAZINE FROM VENUS. While it is interesting to read, I would have rather heard from Buchanan himself.
But with this being the only complaint I could give, I could not recommend this book enough. If you are a fan of the 'old-time filmmakers' like H.G. Lewis, this is a very entertaining, and very informative book. And even if you're not a fan of the movies, but are interested in filmmaking, there is a lot you could learn from this.
McFarland published this book back in 1996, and has since gone out of print. I was able to find mine through a used book store on-line, and it was $40. For a McFarland book, and one this enjoyable, that was a good price. So if you're interested, you might want to to try that route.
FILMS OF LARRY BUCHANAN
While the films of Larry Buchanan might be an acquired taste, he is probably my favorite of the low (or no) budget filmmakers. And hearing stories about his films and the making of them are sometimes more entertaining then the movies themselves.
Author Craig does an amazing job dissecting Buchanan's film, giving us a ton of information about the films, the people who worked on them, and Buchanan himself. The only problem is that I think Craig has looked at the films at little too close and started to see things and meanings that I don't necessarily believe are there. Now granted, with any film study, there are those who see deeper into the pictures than others can. That is not to say they are right or wrong, but for me I think if you stare and examine anything long enough, you will find whatever it is you might be looking for. As much as I love and enjoy Buchanan and his films, I don't think some of these deeper messages that Craig points out were really there or at least never consciously intended to be there. Again, this is just MY opinion.
But all that aside, if you are a fan of Buchanan's work, then I would highly recommend this book. Craig obviously did a lot of research, giving us a very well thought out and critical look at each of Buchanan's films. From his early work for the drive-in market, to his Azalea pictures for AIP, Craig covers them all. Unfortunately, the other problem with this book is the price. The paperback version from McFarland retails at about $40, which in my opinion way too expensive for a paperback book. Honestly, even if it was in a hardcover edition, that price would be too high. So if you can find it cheap enough, or have the money to splurge, I would recommend adding it to your collection of reference books. I think it will give you a much better look into the world of Larry Buchanan and his films.
CARPENTER: THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS
Author Boulenger has spent 4 years interviewing Carpenter about himself and his movies. This book reads like one long interview, covering all of Carpenter's films up to GHOSTS OF MARS. This is a very interesting read here folks. From a director that has given us some incredible films in his career, you get to hear how some of these films came about, and also about some of the problems that came with it.
I think my only complaint about this book is that there are several occasions when a project that Carpenter had worked on, either as scriptwriter or doctor, but it's mentioned in passing and we don't get to hear any detail about it. I was amazed to hear how many projects that Carpenter was connected to at one time or another. But this is a minor complaint.
But in any case, this book is well worth the price, and really can give young filmmakers some depressing stories of what they might have to deal with. There is a great story Carpenter tells about a director and producer stranded in the desert that is hilarious.
STEP RIGHT UP!
I'M GONNA SCARE THE PANTS OFF AMERICA: MEMOIRS OF A B-MOVIE MOGUL
I've been a fan of William Castle's for a long time. Not only was he responsible for producing the tv series GHOST STORY which I used to watch at the ripe old age of 6 years old, but photos of his films were always pasted all over the horror magazines and books of my youth. From the shot of the bloody arm coming out of the bathtub in THE TINGLER to the shot of the ghoulish face of MR. SARDONICUS, they were all there.
I had heard stories that some of Castle's recollections might not be entirely 100% accurate. Who knows? But at this point, I don't really care. I still found this book extremely enjoyable, and amazing at how movies were made 'back in the day'. I finished this book in less than a week. It's not that it was an amazingly fast read (which it is), but it was such a fascinating story of Mr. Castle and his rise to the King of the Gimmick films!
With an great introduction by John Waters, I couldn't recommend this book enough. The only problem is that it's pretty hard to find these days, without paying a very high price at most places.
LON CHANEY JR. - HORROR FILM STAR, 1906-1973
A lot has been written about Lon Chaney Jr. And a lot of it isn't too kind. Much of it is about his drinking problem and the ultra low budget films that he made at the end of his career. But writer Smith really delves in Chaney's history both in his personal life as well as his professional life.
One of the things that I liked best about this book is that Smith is not just a huge fan of Chaney Jr., but is well ready to defend the actor. Countless times does he quote other books and authors who are critical of Chaney's work, and then defends the actor and the work. So it's not like some accounts where the writer is just "a big fan". He's got the ammo to back up his claims. And that is very refreshing.
Plus, there were quite a few things that I didn't know about Chaney before reading this book. The biggest was his attempted suicide in April of 1948. Plus, I think anybody who reads this will not only learn something, but I think they'll also see a very different actor than the standard public opinion.
CLARKE: TO "B" OR NOT TO "B" - A FILM ACTOR'S ODYSSEY
Robert Clarke was one of those actors that I knew was in a couple of those cheap B movies from yesteryear, such as THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON, which is fondly made fun of in IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD. But it is amazing how much you can learn about a person when you actually look into it. And by reading Clarke's biography, I did just that. Clarke was a man that love acting and struggled to have a career as an actor. He appeared along side of some of Hollywood biggest stars in some huge movies. But ask most people his name and you'll get a blank stare. his is surprising as is it a bit sad.
Clarke had over 150 appearances in movies and television shows. He worked regularly in movies, whether it was a small role or just a guy standing in the background. But he made a career out of it. And this book gives us the story on how and why he did it, giving us a great insight to what it was like to be an actor struggling to keep working, always looking for that big break. Clarke shows us that he wasn't the kind of actor that would only play the lead or good roles (when he could get them). He was the kind of guy that wanted to work. No matter what the job was. In this book, he has some great stories about some of the bigger names that he had worked with throughout his career, names like Boris Karloff and John Wayne, which taught him about the kind of actor and person that he wanted to be.
The only criticism I could give this book, which would only be to big horror fans, is that not much of the book is covered on his horror and sci-fi pictures. Don't get me wrong, there are a few chapters on his films like HIDEOUS SUN DEMON, but there is also a lot covering his early career and the tons of westerns that he appeared in. So it is still a great read and really gives you an insight to someone who worked for years in the movie business, but never made it. Makes you think though....if he was able to work through all those years, and he made a few films that fans like us are still watching, then I think he really did make an impact. Which is a lot compared to the countless other nameless actors that have appeared in movies over the years.
THE TELEVISION HORRORS OF DAN CURTIS
Any one that grew up in the late 60’s-early 70’s knew the work of Dan Curtis. Whether it was because of his famous Dark Shadows series, or the many TV movies that he had been involved with, you knew his work, even if you didn’t know his name. Author Jeff Thompson has done an excellent job detailing the life and work of this man, who had a major impact on the world of horror.
The book gives a brief overview of his career, and then delves deeper into the horror titles. There’s a chapters on Dark Shadows, both the series and the films, the adaptations he did of the classics like Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr.Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, and of course the creation of Carl Kolchak and the Night Stalker, as well as his other films.
There’s a lot of information here, with plenty of quotes from Curtis himself, along with reviews of his work from many different sources. It shows just the type hard working and dedicated person that Curtis was, and his desire to produce scary programs for television and the big screen.
CUSHING: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY and PAST FORGETTINGS
Peter Cushing is probably one of the most famous British actors known for his horror roles, primarily due to his work with Hammer Films. Though he played in countless other types of genres, he loved to give his fans what they wanted. Turning the spotlight of Hammer’s Frankenstein films from the creature, Cushing made the doctor himself the real monster, always giving 110% to his role, making his character and the films unforgettable.
These books cover his life, his start in pictures, and his work with Hammer Films. This book combines the two autobiographies that Cushing wrote and published, the first one An Autobiography in 1986 and the second one Past Forgettings in 1988. The second book was done due to many people asking him why he didn't talk a lot about his film work, especially his work with Hammer Films.
Since Cushing is one of the great icons of the horror genre, and the fact that he lived an amazing life, this book should be read by all horror fans, as well as general film fans around.
PETER CUSHING: THE COMPLETE MEMOIRS
To help celebrate Cushing's 100th birthday, Signum Books has published a new edition of Cushing's two autobiographies mentioned in the above review. But there are a few things that make this edition so much better.
First of all, it is a beautiful hardcover edition, filled with tons of glossy photos, both color and black and white. But not only does this edition have those two earlier books, it also has The Peter Cushing Story, which was going to be for a press serialisation back in 1954 and revised in 1955, but it is basically the start of what would become his first autobiography. There are a lot of the same stories but this was put together before his start with Hammer films, when he was just known as one of the most popular actors on TV. The other reason this is must buy is that it is only $24.95 ($18.97 on Amazon). For a beautiful hardcover edition, that is a steal. Especially when some published put out a little paperback book and charge $40! So you really are getting your moneys worth with this edition.
With a new forward by Cushing's secretary Joyce Broughton and a introduction by Jonathan Rigby, this really is a must have for horror fans, Hammer fans, and just movie fans in general.
PETER CUSHING: A LIFE
Previously published in 2000 under the title The Peter Cushing Companion, this is a newly revised hardcover edition. While the text has been edited and tweaked a bit here and there, it is pretty much the same book in respect to that. But this edition is a beautiful hardcover edition that has 16 full color pages that the previous edition did not have. Sure, it would have been nice for the publishers to advertise it that way instead of making it seem like a totally new book, but none the less, it is a worthwhile book in any movie fan's collection.
Miller does an excellent job in showing the readers the real Peter Cushing, as he struggles to make a living out of acting, through his work on the stage, trying to break into Hollywood, and eventually becoming one of the biggest stars in the UK. We get to learn about his early days, jumping from one theatre group to another, slowly working his way up, to his eventual rise through BBC television programs, and of course, his becoming an international star once he took the role of Baron Frankenstein for Hammer Films. We also get to see inside this humble man, as we learn about the love of his life, his wife Helen, who he was do dedicated to. We travel through his life during their marriage, as his fame starts to rise, to the loss of his wife, which had so much of an effect on him that it literally changed him.
With a heartfelt introduction by Veronica Carlson, Miller's book is a great tribute to this incredible actor and human being. So much information about Cushing can be found in this book. It really is a must for horror fans, Hammer fans, and anyone that loves movies. With a retail price of only $24.95, which you can a bit cheaper through Amazon, it is an book well worth picking up, even if you have a copy of the original edition.
Could we ever have too many books on this amazingly talented actor, one that wore the title of the Gentleman of Horror with pride? I don't think so. But the problem can be that they can often tread of the same material over and over again. I mean how different can a biography be if they are all coming from the same facts and information. But McGlasson has done something quite different here, but not necessarily a good thing. While the book looks to be about Peter Cushing, a good deal of it is actually about his ancestor's, particularly the ones that worked in the theater, such as his grandfather Henry William Cushing. McGlasson seems to have done some extensive research in tracing back Cushing's linage, going way back to the 1500's, so for that we give him a lot of credit. But while this is pretty interesting stuff, only about 30 or so pages in this small book is actually about Peter Cushing himself.
The book does go into some details about his youth, his desire to get into the theater and the hard work he put himself through to do it, as well as meeting up with his future wife Helen. Once that happens, the book doesn't really cover much of his work other than mentioning it here and there. But this book really should be titled differently since it really is a history of Cushing's relatives and how that may have shaped Peter, or at least transferred the acting bug into him. While the price is only $14.95, again it seems to be more about his family than the man himself.
But I do have to say that when I was amazed to find out something that I didn't know about Cushing. It seems that he was signed on to appear in the film THE BLACK CAT, which would be directed by Lucio Fulci. I can only imagine what the film would have turned out had Cushing stay on the cast, but he excused himself from the production, probably due to the nasty things being done to the cat in the film. But in any case, major kudos to McGlasson for bringing that little tidbit to my attention.
DEL TORO: CABINET OF CURIOSITIES
Being a huge fan of del Toro's work, right from his first film CRONOS, I have
followed his career every step of the way. Other than a couple of stumbles
(in my opinion), I have really enjoyed his work. One of the things that
sets him so apart from a lot of the filmmakers today is his incredible talent
and ability, as well as his undying passion for the fantastic, whether it is in
the cinema or fiction. With each of this movies, del Toro would have a
notebook where he would have sketches, notes, and everything else about the
project that he was working on. These notebooks would soon become famous
because of all the work put into them. Even for some films that have never
Whether you are a fan of del Toro's work or not, paging through this book is a wonderful journey into the mind of real dedicated fan of the genre. So much care and detail goes into his work and planning, that you can see that he is obviously more than just a director. He really is a true filmmaker and storyteller, a creator of fantastic worlds and stories. And this book shows that quite well. Even going through the tour of Bleak House, the place where he goes to work that houses his collection of toys, statues, books, memorabilia and anything else that has and still does inspire him. With an introduction by James Cameron, and other entries by the likes of John Landis, Ron Perlman, and even Tom Cruise, you can see that others are impressed by his dedication and passion.
While the book does have a hefty price tag of $60, it is a beautiful laid out book, with plenty of photos and del Toro's own illustrations from his own notebooks. Granted, you can get it much cheaper from Amazon, but either way, it really is a wonderful coffee table book and is one that can steal time away from you as you gaze into the world and mind of Guillermo del Toro. And that is well worth the price of admission.
This is another great book if you want to learn about the ways of low budget independent filmmaking. Don Dohler has been making movies in his home town of Baltimore since 1976. But even before that, movie magic was his life.
This book covers Dohler's beginning interests in filmmaking, from starting his own little magazine, to eventually going on to making feature films. His magazine helped and inspired future hopefuls that shared the same passion. Tom Sullivan, the man behind the special makeup effects of EVIL DEAD said that he learned a lot from Don's early magazine.
"In the 1970's Don Dohler published "Cinemagic" a magazine that featured "how to" sections on head casting, making foam rubber appliances and building stop motion armatures and puppets. I could not have made Evil Dead without it." - Tom Sullivan
But this book also covers every one of the five films that Dohler directed, from his first film THE ALIEN FACTOR, to his last one, BLOOD MASSACRE. Giving the reader an great insight at all the little stuff that goes on behind the camera of low budget films, from the first conception to the very end.
Flat out, this has to be one of the worst autobiography that I’ve ever read. But first let me say that I am huge fan of Bert I. Gordon and his films. So I was very excited when I seen his autography come out, and immediately bought it and dove right into it.
Out of the 258 pages, about 88 of them are photos in the back of the book. In the rest of the 170-ish pages, there is more time spent with listing the synopsis of the films than actually talk about making them. If I wanted to know the plot of the movie, I could just read a film guide or check the IMDB. From a autobiography, I expected some first hand stories. It does start off pretty good with Gordon explaining to us how he got started in filmmaking and how he was learning to do tricks with his camera that he would later use in his films. But once he does start making feature films, he gives us hardly any stories about making them. Each film is usually given a couple of pages, most of which is taken up by the synopsis.
For the chapter on WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST, it consists of “My fourth film for AIP was WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST…a sequel to the extremely successful AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN.” Then it gives us the synopsis, then the cast and crew listing and a bit of trivial stuff that was taken off a website. That’s it. That is all that he could remember and tell us about the making of this film? There are a story or two of working with Orson Wells or Kirk Douglas, but just very little about the films themselves.
I was very disappointed with this book, and could not honestly recommend it to anyone. Makes me think that is why the book is self-published instead of going through a regular publisher. They probably wanted to him to finish writing it first..
BAD FOR A HUMAN
We've been a fan of Mr. Henriksen's for longer than we can remember. Mainly because he had been in so many movies that we'd seen in our younger days, that it was hard to remember where we saw him first. But it was definitely in James Cameron's ALIENS when he made such a lasting impact on us. We've been known to watch a movie just because Henriksen appears in it. And no matter how low budget the film might be, or even the bigger budgeted ones, we know that Lance is going to be there giving us an incredible performance. So when we seen him at a convention in 2011 when he was out promoting his new autobiography, we knew we'd have to pick it up. When we finally got around to starting it, we were done with it within a week.
From seeing him at a few conventions before and reading a little up on Lance, I had heard that he was illiterate until into his '30s, which just boggled my mind. But once I started his book, I couldn't put it down. It is a very fast read, but is just filled with life experiences from a man who grew up hard and fast, and usually on the streets. But for a man with such a tough and dark past, you'd think there would be no way a 374 page book could cover it all. And it probably doesn't. But what we do get is plenty of these life altering changes and lessons that Lance went through, even before he got into acting. Powerful stuff here, folks. I had a lot of respect for this man BEFORE I read this. Now so even more.
But once we do get into his acting and the tons of movies that he worked on, we get his personal insights on a lot of them, from the big budgeted films to the small independent ones that he has worked on. Lance Henriksen is a very intelligent man, with more feeling and passion packed in behind that dark and brooding face. We couldn't recommend this book enough. Even if you're not a huge movie fan (of course, then why would you be here at our site???), his story will make an impact on you, the same it has for me.
TRUE LIFE STORY OF THE WORLD'S MOST PROLIFIC CINEMATIC KILLER
Seeing Mr. Hodder at more conventions than I can remember, when his autobiography came out, I knew I needed to add it to my reference book collection. Being a stunt man, I'm sure he was going to have some great stories. But I was surprised to find out that this really is about the man more than his career. Sure, there are some good stories in here, but it really is a personal look inside this cinematic killer. From his childhood of dealing with bullies to going through the long recovery from his burn accident, Hodder and author Mike Aloisi weave an interesting tale that is hard to put down. In fact, it only took me about 4 days to get through this book once I started.
Now, if you've ever met Hodder at a show, or been around him for any length of time, it is easy to see the kind of humor and attitude his has. And he makes no apologies for that either, at the shows or in the book. That is who he is, like it or not. There are some things that he does that I think is a bit much, but again, he doesn't try to hide anything or make himself out to be any different than he is. So for that, I give him credit. But in his book, he really opens up and tells some very revealing stories from his life and what he has gone through. It really is a great tale of showing someone that has come back from the brink of death and never given up on his dreams and working hard to make those come true. If you are a fan of Hodder, then you probably already have this book. If you don't, then you need to. But even if you're not, it is still a very interesting read and look inside this guy's head.
This was a book that I checked out at my school library on several occasions. This was probably one of the first horror reference books that I can remember paging through, in awe of the different characters that Karloff portrayed, and wondering if I'll ever get a chance to see all of these films. That is when a list would start, hoping to catch on them on TV some Saturday afternoon.
Bojarski & Beals go film by film, listing the information like the cast, credits, year, with a synopsis of the film. The info on some of the earlier silent film work that Karloff are very brief. But after the his success with Frankenstein, with his roles becoming larger, more information is listed. There also notes and reviews for each of the movies. Plus there are tons of stills from the movies throughout the book, showing us the many faces of one of the most talented actors ever to grace the screen.
For Karloff fans and scholars, this is must book for their collection. Even if all the information might be found on the internet, this is a fun book just to page through, recollecting the actor's incredible body of work.
BORIS KARLOFF: A
Probably one of the most famous of classic horror stars, his name almost being synonyms with Frankenstein. All horror fans know might now a lot about Boris Karloff's career in the horror genre. But there's a lot of information about Karloff's life, and his work outside the genre that they probably don't know. Not to mention that there's plenty of interesting items about his horror films that some might not know. Since Karloff is one of our favorites, we were thrilled to read about this man's incredible life.
Did you know that Karloff was one of the founding members of the Screen Actor's Guild? Or that he actually won a Grammy Music Award for Best Children's Album? Or that he played Captain Hook in a stage play version of Peter Pan? All of this, plus plenty more little tidbits can be found in this entertaining and highly informative biography on one of the most famous and most loved Hollywood bogeymen.
The book not only lists all his film work, but also the countless radio programs, stage work, and everything else that was part of his long career. We couldn't recommend this book enough.
BORIS KARLOFF: THE MAN REMEMBERED
We have read many, many stories of the kindness and gentleness of actor Boris Karloff. A man that couldn't have been farther away from the many characters that he portrayed on the screen, stage, and television. So why do we need another book to add to that? Because he was just that great of a man.
Since Karloff was a very private man, there were many things that he did that not too many people realized. And with this book, Shriver recalls stories that he heard first hand from the people who worked with and new Karloff. For fans of this great icon, it will only put him higher up on the list than he already is. It's just a shame that stars like him really are a dying breed.
This might not be the most interesting read for fans searching for stories of his horror movies, but if you want to learn more about the man, than you will enjoy this book as much as I did.
SHADOWS & LIGHT: JOURNEYS
WITH OUTLAWS IN REVOLUTIONARY HOLLYWOOD
While a lot of the biographies that I read are usually informative, I have never read one that was as entertaining as this one. Not only did some of Kent's stories have me on the floor laughing, but his way of telling them is priceless. The guy throws metaphors around like a pork chop bones at a Southern Baptist BBQ. Highly enjoyable read. Plus the fact that his stories of low budget and "outlaw" filmmaking back in the early days of Hollywood are incredible. His stories show us what true pioneers these independent guys were, being able to make movies time and time again with sometime nothing more than passion.
There are a lot of names mentioned throughout this book, some you may know, some not. But if you are a movie fan long enough, you will know who these people are.
We couldn't recommend this book enough. If you are one of those independent low-budget filmmakers trying to claw your way into the business, then I think you will find this book highly informative, as well as entertaining.
Like the movies that he worked on, they just don't make them like Gary Kent anymore.
HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS
THE GODFATHER OF GORE - THE FILMS
"I've often referred to BLOOD
FEAST as a Walt Whitman poem.
This is a great companion piece to A TASTE OF BLOOD: THE FILMS OF HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS. Like TASTE, this book also covers Lewis' films, but has a lot of background stories to the making of them. There seems to be a lot of direct input from Lewis, with a lot of them being some very funny stories.
This book shows a good sense of what really goes on behind the the camera, and how a film starts out, and what happens even before the camera is turned on. For fans of Lewis and his work, this is a essential volume for your collection. There is plenty of great stories on low budget filmmaking, as well as some very sound business advice from one of the kings of low budget filmmaking. A lot could be learned here for future filmmakers.
Herschell Gordon Lewis is a name that every horror fan should know and know his films. Why? Simple. Because Lewis is the man responsible for the gore. Or at least he is the one that started it all with a little film in 1963 called BLOOD FEAST. Lewis and his partner at the time, Dave Friedman, were moving away from the 'nudie cutie' films they were making since everyone else was jumping on the bandwagon and decided to make something that people had never seen before. Extreme blood and guts! With BLOOD FEAST, we get to see limbs hacked off, brains scooped out, and tongues ripped out, all in bright and gruesome red. And the audience went nuts!
Andrew J. Rausch has put together a book now that has Lewis' direct involvement throughout the entire thing, which is why Lewis is credit as the author with Rausch getting a "with". These are Lewis' words, his stories, his memories. Rausch comes in with some extra info here and there, filling in any gaps of information needed. The book covers all of Lewis' films up to this date, ending with THE UH! OH! SHOW. It is amazing how much Lewis remembers about these movies he made and the people he worked with all those years ago. But they are fascinating to read and really show a different side of the movie business than what we hear from the major studios.
If you've read any other book on Lewis, you would have probably heard these same stories. BUT...these are coming directly from Lewis himself and not being told from another person's point of view. But again, not a ton of new info. But on the flipside, finding some of those other books might not be that easy, at least without paying a hefty price. While the book is only 139 pages, the price of $14.95 is not much more than a regular magazine these days, so you are still getting a lot of info for your money.
TASTE OF BLOOD:
THE FILMS OF HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS
When I started reading this book, I knew a little bit about the man who gave birth to the gore films that we know and love today, but not a lot. But after reading it, that all changed.
This extremely informative tomb is simply a must for serious fans of the genre. It covers the whole film career of H.G. Lewis until his film GORE GORE GIRLS, from his start in making the ‘nudie cuties’ to moving on to the gore and other types of exploitation films that he made. The author knows his subject and brings forth tons of information about the man and the movies, such as how the famous title credits to BLOOD FEAST were done.
After an extensive look at each of Lewis’ films, the book then finishes up with interviews with Lewis, producer David F. Friedman, and actors Bill Rogers, Mal Arnold, Dan Krogh, and Hedda Lubin. The book is also filled with ad mats, photos, and 8 pages of color photos from his gore films.
Once again, this book is highly recommended for all fans of not only the horror genre, but also exploitation films as well. Well worth the money!
LUGOSI: DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES
We have to say right off the top, this is a sad and depressing story of one of horror's greatest icons. For a man who had such great talent, that never was consistently able to show it, it is a shame. There were times when Lugosi really shined, but too many times when he didn't. Whether it was due to his addictions, his ego, or any number of issues he was dealing with, it is just a damn shame that he didn't have a better life.
Rhodes brings us an insight to this legend that will break down rumors and stories about Lugosi, showing us the real person behind all of the Hollywood type gossip and hearsay. With help from Richard Sheffield, who befriend Lugosi in the later part of his life, they bring us tons of information and inside look at this man. From his constant battles with wives and ex-wives, addiction, and always trying to get that next gig, we are shown a side of Lugosi that most people would not be familiar with.
The book is filled with tons of rare photos of Lugosi on and off the movie sets. From publicity shots to some very sad ones of him at the state hospital where he there battling drug addiction. For any serious fans of the horror genre, this book really is a must since it will paint a portrait of this icon, that like of Count Dracula, that will live on forever.
MAKING A MONSTER:
THE CREATION OF SCREEN CHARACTERS BY THE GREAT MAKEUP ARTISTS
In today’s horror fandom, everyone knows the top makeup artists out there, from Steve Johnson to Tom Savini to Rob Bottin. In the '80s, the horror industry really made these people stars, and deservedly so. But what about the people that came before them? Artists like William Tuttle, Ben Nye Sr., John Chambers, or Phil Leaky? This book highlights 25 different makeup artists that helped elevate the industry to where it is today. Way before CGI or even basic special effects, these guys were designing, developing, and creating makeup and makeup techniques that are still used today. This is a great place to learn of the people that started the industry and helped make it to what it is today.
By reading this book, you will learn an important history in the creation and advancement of film makeup and special makeup effects. These guys were inventing techniques as they were going, some even still being used today. The people covered in this book make a huge impact on the genre, as well as cinema in general, and should not be forgotten.
ALCHEMY: THE INDEPENDENT CINEMA OF TED V. MIKELS
The name of Ted V. Mikels is one that is not that well known in the film community. Unless you are a fan of cult movies. Then you are well aware of the name, and the man, and the movies that he has given us over the past 40+ years. And now thanks to author Curry, we are able to get a closer inside look at the man and his movies.
Mikels' films can pretty much be the definition of "independent cinema". And in these pages, Curry does a great job explaining and showing the readers just what Mikels has gone through to bring his movies from conception to creation. It's not a pretty story in most cases. But as Mikels says in the book, "I always tell people at the beginning of my movies that if they're not here to enjoy the making of a movie then they shouldn't be here." I think that statement perfectly describes Mikels. He simply loves to make movies.
This book is not written by a obsessed fan who praises everything that Mikels has done. For anyone who has seen a few of Mikels' work knows there are a few misfires in his cannon. But Curry does show the inner workings of Mikels and why some of his films are not as "good" as others. Not trying to make excuses for them, but at least lets us the readers understand Mikels a little better. Which in turn makes us look at his films under a much different light.
But all in all, it does show the Mikels that is an intelligent and very talented filmmaker. A filmmaker that not only loves to make films, but also loves to pass on his knowledge and passion of filmmaking to anyone who is willing to learn.
Curry takes a close look at 19 films that Mikels has directed, giving us plot synopsis, cast and crew, and then his thoughts, as well as comments from Mikels and other people involved with the film. There is also a great interview with Mikels at the end of the book. The book is filled with great poster art, promotional material, and some rare stills of behind-the-scenes.
The only problem I have with this book is the price. As usual, publishers McFarland have done an excellent job with this product. It's a great looking book, filled with great photos and information. But with a price tag of $50 for a book a little over 200 pages is way too high priced. Which is really a shame, since this book and the subject of the book is something that more movie fans need to know more about.
For more information about this book, go to their website: McFarland.
GRACIAS SENOR LOBO
Simply put, if you are a fan of Paul Naschy, then you MUST have this in your collection. It is simply an incredible volume packed full of memorabilia from Naschy's films. Benzel has been collecting for a very long time and knows of what he talks about. And even if you're not the biggest Naschy fan (God forbid) but just seeing these amazing pieces of art used to promote his movies is more than worth it.
Benzel originally published this back in 2006 in a small paperback version that was black and white. Since it was all we had at the time, it was pretty damn cool, getting to see some of these amazing foreign posters on Naschy's films. But now, what Benzel and Creepy Images have done is just mind boggling. This incredible tomb, close to 400 pages, all in full color, covers 30 of Naschy's films, showing us poster art, lobby cards, press kits, ad mats and more. This massive hardcover book (measuring 8 3/8 x 11 7/8) has over 170 different movie posters from these films, from 20 different countries. This book is like a time machine. Because I guarantee if you pick this up, an couple of hours will disappear in the blink of an eye.
The text is in German and English, which is a big improvement over his first edition. After a very heartfelt introduction by Naschy's son Sergio, we start off on this amazing tour of memorabilia from the films of Paul Naschy. I can't emphasize enough how incredible this book is. Not only does it keep Naschy's work alive, but also these amazing pieces of art will not be lost in time. The price is a bit steep, running you around $75, but a chunk of that is because of the postage from Germany, but it is well worth every penny. I promise you that. For all the information, head over to the official site HERE. Or you can get it from them on ebay HERE.
PRICE OF FEAR
We've read a few books over the years about or on Vincent Price, including his daughter's biography, and found most of them pretty enjoyable. Like most of those, Eisner's book goes through Price's history, telling us about his childhood and how he got into acting and art collecting, and slowly made his way to the stage and eventually the big screen. But what sets this book apart from most of the other ones is the input and quotes from Price himself.
Eisner started working on this book before Price's death in 1993, getting his thoughts on many different topics throughout his life, from his childhood, to the birth of his love of art, to his rise to the stage and then becoming a movie star. Plus, not only do we get to hear Price's own comments on these subjects, we also get to hear from the countless people that Price worked with and for. Names like Roger Corman, Sam Arkoff, Basil Rathbone, Hazel Court, and so many others. They really show us the kind of person Price was, with not a single negative remark about this true gentleman of horror.
As a bonus, especially for Dr. Phibes fans, Eisner discovered the original story outline from James Whiton and William Goldstein, which gives a completely different story than what DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN would become. Even though the film took a very different plot line, it is very interesting how they were going to take the story, which also started right after the first film. Even if the book is only 210 pages, this is packed full of great information about this icon of the horror genre. And the price is only $19.95, a great price for a great book. A definite must for any horror fans collection. Pretty sure you will learn something about Price that you didn't know.
TOWERS OF LONDON
Harry Alan Towers in one of those movie producers that very few people know by name, but when you start to list off the countless films that he's been involved with, it is simply astounding. Even more astounding is what he did even before he got into film production. From working before, during, and after WWII in radio and television, in many different countries, it really is amazing to read this autobiography from him. But the real problem with this book is that it is only 150+ pages. For someone like Towers and his career that has lasted several decades, this book should have been four times the size.
A lot of what would have been some long and fascinating stories end up being a sentence or two. Towers worked with Jess Franco several times in his career, but is only mentioned here and there. He even worked with the infamous Klaus Kinski quite a few times and only mentions that he was kicked out of a hotel for urinating in the hotel's bar. He apparently did this at several different hotels. There was also a quick mention of how Kinski refused to appear in Tower's version of DRACULA, so he was filmed by himself for the most part, thinking it was a different movie. But these stories are literally so short that it really leaves you wanting more and more details, which just aren't there. Being this short of a book and with so much to say, it just gives the reader a slight glimpse into the incredible life of Mr. Towers, moving through his life so quickly, it literally is if his life is flashing before our eyes.
H.G. Lewis. Ted V. Mikels. Ray Dennis Steckler. Roger Corman. Jack Hill. Bill Rebane. Do these names mean anything to you? Have you heard of them before? Do you know who they are? Sure, everyone has heard of Roger Corman, but what about Rebane and Steckler? These guys listed, plus 10 more are the ones covered in this very important book. These are people from the filmmaking business that are much more important than the likes of Michael Bay. There would be no Quentin Tarentino had it not been for these people. So while their movies may be the jest of places like MST3K (and rightly so on some of them), that doesn't take away from what their films are about, as well as the people that struggled to get them made and distributed.
I know I preach over and over on this site about how important it is to know your history when it comes to the genres, but I wouldn't keep saying it if I really didn't believe it. These guys are the ones responsible for some of the current filmmakers, like Tarentino that I mentioned earlier. They grew up watching the films from these guys, being inspired to make their own mark with their films. So yes, it is VERY important to know these guys and their work. And this book is a great way to start.
Editor Raush has compiled interviews with 16 important figures in the world of grindhouse cinema, some of them older interviews, some of them new, but all of them are entertaining. You will get an insight on what these guys have had to struggle through to get their films not only made, but seen as well. This is a great book to use as a study guide for a novice film fan, that will give you plenty of films to add to your "Need to See" list.
Our only real complaint here is the size of the book. With only 169 pages and a price of $19.95, it is a small little soft cover book. But then again, when you think that we're paying around $10 for a 80+ magazine, it really isn't that bad of an investment. Plus, with this one, I think you'll have a lot better of a history lesson. You can order this title from the publisher directly through their website HERE.
As one of Hollywood's leading historians on the classic horror films and the people involved with them, anything you can find written by Mank is worth picking up for any horror fans film library. This title is a prime example of that. Over the years, I've heard/read lots of tales and rumors about the three actors that this book focuses on, but Mank sets the record straight, hearing from of the people that directly worked and new these three gentlemen of horror.
The book covers the lives and work of Lionel Atwill, Colin Clive, and George Zucco. All three of these should be well known, or at least recognizable to all horror fans, with Clive probably the most famous since he was the one that exclaimed the famous line "It's Alive!" This book isn't about the rumors or the lurid details of their lives, like some sort of a gosip column. But Mank shows that these actors who might just be known for their horror characters, were very talented men when it came to their craft, but yet each one of them had their own internal demons to contend with, some harder and less successful than the others.
I've been a big fan of Atwill, always loving his demented characters, even in the little supporting roles, and I had read some of the stories about his little scandal. Same with Clive and him battling his demons of alcohol, and with Zucco supposedly ending up in a nut house. But Make sets us straight with the correct information, dispelling some of the stories that makes the Hollywood tales become legendary. But he also gives a great look inside of these men, though they may have been troubled souls, still loved their work and excelled at it. While the film covers a wide variety of the pictures that they worked on, not just the horror pictures, it is still a very well worth volume and should be read and absorbed by any fan of the classic horror era.
HORROR FILMS STARS
For the most part, this book was an enjoyable read. The author covers 43 different actors/actresses known for their roles in the horror genre. Pitts also came up with a pretty good list of people, not the just obvious ones, like Karloff, Price and the Chaney’s, but names like Paul Naschy, John Agar, Lionel Atwill, and Robert Quarry.
But there were several different errors that I came across. Yes, the mistakes are pretty petty, but when it comes to simple mistakes, I tend to get pretty anal about it. And the reason for that is simple. If I find mistakes in the writing, it tends to make me question the validity of the rest of the work. Simple as that. Not saying that the whole book is wrong, but there are some mistakes that are obvious to people who have seen and know the films. Here are some that I came across:
In the chapter on Peter Cushing and the film BLOOD BEAST TERROR, Pitts writes “…Cushing as an entomologist who tries to create a ‘mate’ for his daughter, who can take on the form of a human moth.” Actually, Cushing played the inspector trying to uncover the reasons for the mystery deaths. Robert Flyming played the entomologist.
In the chapter about Christopher Lee, he writes “In 1976 his production company made TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER, with Lee as a warlock at odds with a minister (Richard Widmark)…” First of all, Richard Widmark’s character is an author on occult books, not a minister. Once again, did Pitts see the film? Secondly, Lee’s production company, Charlemagne Productions only produced one film, NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT (aka THE DEVIL’S UNDEAD). TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER was one of the last films produced by Hammer Studios.
While there are others, these criticisms are really about the information about the films, not the stars that the author is writing about. So I guess that’s not as bad as say a review book where the author obviously hasn’t seen the movies.
One positive point of the writing is that it is pretty much devoid of opinions, other than some minor comments about certain films. He may be talking about an actor who is a “dismal” film, or something to that degree. But other than that, Pitts did a good job of just sticking to the stars.
We’re not really sure what the original price was for this edition, but know that McFarland and Pitts have recently updated it in a soft cover edition. I’m not sure if they have made any corrections to the original text, or just added some new stars in it. While it is an interesting read, for that price I would think that you could do much better. It is a nice little book that gives you a little information about a lot of different people. But at that price, it doesn’t make it worth.
RETURN OF THE B-SCIENCE
FICTION AND HORROR HEROES: THE MUTANT MELDING OF TWO VOLUMES OF CLASSIC
This is a large book that combines two older interview books by Mr. Weaver. The first book was INTERVIEW WITH B-SCIENCE FICTION AND HORROR MOVIEMAKERS, published in 1988, and featured interviews with 29 different people in the business. Names like John Ashley, Beverly Garland, Richard Gordon, and Mel Wells. The second book was SCIENCE FICTION STARS AND HORROR HEROES, published in 1991. This had interviews with people like Hazel Court, Gordon Hessler, Janet Leigh, Richard Matheson, and Yvette Vickers.
This paperback edition combines both of those books into one massive volume. Weaver has always been great at coming up with some interviews with people that nobody else seemed to of thought of. He finds people that may not be huge stars in the eyes of Hollywood, but they are to us fans. So if you are a fan of the classic films of the 30's to the 60's, you will love this book.
WOMEN IN HORROR FILMS, 1930's
To be honest, I had gotten this book, along with WOMEN IN HORROR FILMS – 1940’s because they were severely discounted in their price by about 75%. I wouldn’t have even thought about paying full price for them. After reading the book, I still wouldn’t have paid the original price of $45. But for what I did pay for the book, I found it very entertaining, and very educational.
Each of the chapters are dedicated to one of the stars from the 30’s. While some of the actresses covered may have only been in one or two genre films at that time, or even in their career, the films were of a major impact on the genre. The book covers 21 actresses, including Elsa Lanchester, Gloria Stuart, Frances Drake, and many more.
One of the surprising elements of the book, that really surprised me, was that while other films of the stars are mentioned or talked about, it is not gone into great lengths, only the horror films. This makes it a lot more interesting for someone who wants to read about the horror genre, not necessarily the stars of the 30’s. Such as myself.
So Mank does a great job going over the actress’ career and early life. When the horror films come up, more detail is giving, such as her feelings towards the director or fellow actors. There are a lot of interesting stories, a lot of them told directly to the author from the many interviews that he had done for the book. And since a lot of these women have passed away since the time of the interview, it’s nice to see that some of their memories about these films and the people who worked on them are preserved and will be remembered.
The book also has over a hundred photos, and lists the filmographies of each star. The only negative remark I could give this book would be the retail price. It was published by McFarland, but I think that price is still too high. If you can find it cheaper, and are interested in the golden age of horror films, I would recommend picking this one up.
Being a huge fan of the Frankenstein films and stories, we were pretty happy when we stumbled upon this particular title. Granted, it took us a while to finally get into it, but we did. While it was published back in 1973, there is still a ton of information about the Frankenstein movies, appearances on TV, radio, and even in comic books. Glut has taken a lot of time to research all of these different items and give us a brief description of them. As big of a fan as I am, he was still coming up with some information and some Frankenstein appearances that I was not aware of. So right there, this book was well worth the money.
When going over the movies, Glut will give a synopsis of the film, as well as giving us some information about the making of them or any stories. Quite a bit is covered about the Universal films, which is quite understandable. You have to keep in mind that this was all done before the computer and where all of these movies were so easily accessible. So a major kudos goes out to Glut for being able to put together the wonderful volume that he has. For a big fan like myself, when reading a book that is almost 40 years old, to learn some interesting facts about one of my favorite sub-genres is pretty amazing. So for that alone, I give a lot of credit to Glut.
Finding a copy of this book may or may not be hard. I had not come across them that often before I found my copy. But now I see the price ranging from a couple of bucks to wave over $100. But if you're a horror reference book collector....you need this one in the collection.
I have been a huge fan of the movie Frankenstein (1931), as well as the creature in all it’s appearances that it’s made over the years. So when I heard about this book, I knew I would have to add it to my collection, and started to read it the day in came in the mail. I have read quite a bit about the original story, the making of the film(s) and thought I knew quite a bit. But Hitchcock told me many things that I still did not know.
By reading this book you’ll learn such information like where the introduction of the hunchback assistant was added. Or the whole concept of the damaged and/or criminal brain being used. These were not creations of the original novel. The book travels through time, starting with a history lesson on the creator of Frankenstein, Mary Shelly. We then learn of the famous weekend where the birth of the story happened.
But the book isn’t just about the novel or the movies. It also goes into detail about the influences of the subject matter, moral implications of the characters actions compared to society, and the constant discussion of the advancement of science. We found this book to be quite entertaining, but more so very informative about a subject that breaks free of it’s presumption of just being a silly story about a monster.
HELLRAISER FILMS AND THEIR LEGACY
Like the film series itself, this book is a mixed bag. Let's get to the negative parts first. There's close to 50 pages on each of the first two films. Which is great and goes into a lot of detail. But by the time we get to the 7th and 8th film (DEADER & HELLWORLD), we are only getting a little over 10 pages on each film. Now granted, most fans care about the early films anyway, so that's not that big of a deal. And it seems that a good chuck of the later coverage is on the previous work of the people involved. So-and-so worked on this movie and and this person worked on that movie, and the cinematographer worked on this film and that film, and on and on, and less time on the actual film itself. But once again, do the fans care?
But for the good points, author Kane has definitely done his homework here, digging up a lot of material about the series. He starts off with the original creator, Clive Barker, and his start up and how it lead to the creation of HELLRAISER. He also goes into some details about symbolisms in the films and different themes, but doesn't go way overboard, making them more Psycho-Babble than they are.
He also discusses on certain changes of the films through their development. For example, on HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE, Kane talks about some of stories and outlines from the original scripts that had been written. This gives us a great idea of what some of the original concepts were, before the studios got a hold of them.
There's plenty of interviews and quotes from many of the people involved throughout the movies. These are not only new quotes but also taken from interviews at the time the films were being made. Gives a nice perspective, from then and now.
But lastly, the other bad part of this book, is the price. Sorry, but $45 is really way too much for this book. It really shouldn't be more than $25, or even $30 at the most. I understand that it is McFarland, and they do put out exceptional books. But for your average fan, they will not dropped that kind of money for a book about a series of movies that they really only like the first couple of films. Granted, it didn't stop me. For die-hard HELLRAISER fans, you will enjoy this book. But it really would sell a lot more copies if the price was quite a bit lower.
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
There was a point where I really didn’t want to hear anymore about TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Yea, I know the dinner scene was a real hell shooting it, but I had heard it so many times before, I just didn’t care. So the only reason I started to read this book, was to read about the sequels, and maybe come across something about the original that I hadn’t read or heard about over the last 20 years. Damn, was I surprised.
I wasn’t expecting it to be so interesting of a read. You get to hear from just about everybody involved in the movies. And it’s in basically in interview form, so we’re not getting some critic's or writer’s ‘thoughts’ or ‘interpretations’ of the movie, but from the people who actually worked on them. Some of the remarks are taking from older interviews, but that still gives you a very good look at what was going on behind the scenes, as well as in front of the cameras. I was very surprised to read about the hell that Hooper went through to make the first sequel, which seemed to be an even worse of a time then the first film.
I guess the only criticism I could give would be that it tends to spend more time with the original, and then less and less with each sequel. But then…do you blame them? If you are a fan of the series, or just one of the films, you are going to want to read this. If you want to hear about low budget filmmaking, you need to read this book. If you want to read about how producers can really screw with a movie, you need to read this book. And lastly, if you are any kind of a fan of horror films, this needs to be in your collection.
TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE really is a movie of legends. For a low budget film made by a bunch of youngsters, with more hardships than one could ever imagine, resulting in a truly classic horror film that is astounding that the product was ever even finished. Because of its huge following, over the years there has been several documentaries, pages and pages of retrospectives and articles written about it, with each and every one expanding the legacy that it has so rightly deserved. And I have seen most of those and read quite a lot about this film. I've also seen the film more times than I could count. So do we really need another book on the making of this film?
Yes. Yes, we do. But this isn't just a book about this notorious film. This is a book written by the man who was right there in the middle of it all. In the 120 degree Texas heat. At the dinner scene with the rotting meat and real animal props, baking under the lights. That's right, Leatherface himself, Gunnar Hansen.
I went through this book as fast as a chainsaw through a man sitting in a wheelchair. Okay, maybe not that fast, but close. Hansen gives us a play-by-play of his experiences in making this cult film, with what he had to go through for each scene he had to deal with in the film. But this isn't just his story, but the others that worked on the film as well. Since we also know that memory can become fuzzy, especially when remembering about a film that was make 40 years ago, so Hansen had talked to and interviewed the other cast and crew members as well, even giving us different sides of the story. He gives us a deep and personal look at what these kids went through to get this film made. Now, I've read a lot of stories on low budget filmmaking, but I have never read ones like I did in this book. It really is amazing that not only that this film was ever finished and released, but even more on how freaking good it is.
There are stories upon stories here, like how the director was manipulating the cast to develop basically a hatred for each other, just to bring out a better and more realistic performance in them. Or how Hansen had to use a live saw to cut a mere inches from an actor's head, just to make it look real. Out of all the actors that went through hell making this film, Hansen doesn't try to take the spotlight on this, but really shows just how hard Marilyn Burns had it making this film and the fact that she didn't completely go nuts after it was finally finished is just mind-blowing.
If you are a fan of this movie, which you probably are, you need to read this book. If you've seen the picture enough times, which each story Hansen tells, you'll know exactly the scene he is talking about, the exact moment or movement he refers to. And if not, you'll be tempted to break out your copy of the movie and watch it again. Trust me, even if you think you are tired of hearing about this movie after all this time, you will still be not only entertained by this book, but humbled. So much so that the next time you see Hansen, Edwin Neal, or any of the other remaining cast and crew of the film, you can't help but give them a little more respect for achieving what they did 40+ years ago.
COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD
You know when a film is popular when it spawns 4 sequels, even when none of them come close to the original film. Even after 25 years, the original RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD is probably more popular now then it ever was. Which is a perfect time for this book to come out. Sellers and Smart have gotten input from so many people who were involved in all 5 of these films. From the actors to the directors to the make up people, and every one in between. You will read stories about the problems during filming, issues between the directors and the actors, how each film was marketed and promoted and countless other little inside stories. Hearing directly from the people involved, you really get a sense of what went on behind the scenes. These aren't a writer's interpretation of events, but from the people that were there in the trenches. All in all, it paints a wonderful bloody picture of what goes on making these low budget films that have become cult favorites. Very easy to read through and even easier to pick up where you left off, if you are like me and read in short spurts most of the time!
If you are a fan of ANY one of these movies, then this book is a must for your collection. I guarantee that you will read something about these movies that you didn't know before. And that, my friends, is a sign of a great book. The retail price on this is $24.95, which is well worth the money. But for an even better deal, you can get them on Amazon for about $16.
OF THE DEAD: THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF ZOMBIE CINEMA
This book is long overdue. Finally, someone has taken a very serious look into this huge sub-genre of the horror film. While the zombies really became popular in the 80's, from Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD and Fulci's ZOMBIE, they have been around a lot longer than you think.
Russell does a great job uncovering the beginnings of this sub-genre, that actually started in written 'travel / exploration guides'. Some of these were more sensational than anything else, but it gives a good history of the background of how the whole zombie thing started...with voodoo. And then that's where Hollywood came in.
But by the time the 60's where coming to a close, George Romero took them in another direction. And once the late 70's / early 80's grabbed hold of this sub-genre, they took it to a whole new level.
This is a must for any fan of horror films. Even if you're not a fan of the more gory Italian zombie films, this book still covers the early films like WHITE ZOMBIE and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, and plenty more to keep you happy and informed.
ZOMBIE FILM: FROM WHITE ZOMBIE TO WORLD WAR Z
First of all, they explain why the inclusion of such films like JENNIFER'S BODY and what they are putting under the "undead" term, which clears up a lot of the head-scratching. They also make a very valid point on the strong connection between the vampire and the zombie and how something that bordered both sub-genres really started the zombie path on its own shambling path. They do the genre high honors here by going back to the beginning of the sub-genre and where its roots come from, from the reports from William Seabrook and his tales from Haiti. Then they move through the decades covering different films that fit into their definition of the undead. Again, this a loose term, since a film like Boris Karloff's THE GHOUL is mentioned.
More time is spent when they get to Romero's ground-breaking movie, as well as Richard Matheson's novel, I Am Legend, which has a lot of vampire/zombie similarities, as well as Romero being very influenced by this book. There is a quite a bit of coverage about Romero and his zombie films. But the book doesn't just cover the basics, but gives quite a bit of time on movies like Amando de Ossorio's Blind Dead films to the huge influence of the Italian market, with people like Lucio Fulci leading the way. They cover some of the more obscure titles that some might not know about, and giving quite a bit of time on some of the more popular titles.
While die-hard zombie fans might not learn too much from this book, I still think it is essential for any horror reference collection. The book is laid out with tons of great photos of the genre, it has a 60+ filmography listing in the back of the book, and it a pretty decent size book for the money you're paying. This makes a great companion piece for Jamie Russsell's Book of the Dead.
Since zombies are still the popular thing now, it seems books on zombies are still coming out as fast as the dead are rising! Do we need another book on zombie movies? Well, being a collector of horror movie reference books, I would not be the one to say no. But with quite a few of similar themed books, it comes down to which one might be worth buying, or is it worth adding to your collection at all?
Right from the first glance at this book, it is big. A wonderfully oversized coffee-table size book with a striking still on the front cover from George Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. As you page through it, the entire book is filled with some incredible images, with stills from zombie movies throughout their cinematic history as well as some delightful movie poster images from around the world. That in itself is a real treat. This is a book that one could find themselves paging through one afternoon looking at the wide array of images that lies within.
The actual text from author Inguanzo is well written and does a good job covering a the sub-genre, hitting a lot of the key points in its history. From the start of WHITE ZOMBIE moving up through the decades, mentioning important contributions to the sub-genre during each one, ending up with the success of The Walking Dead on AMC. The problem I had with this book really comes to the claim that is stated on the cover the book, "The Definitive Story of Undead Cinema". I don't know if I would used the word 'definitive'. Yes, it does cover the major elements of the sub-genre and does it quite well. But there is so much more history that could be in there. Some films are given much more attention, getting several paragraphs, while others, like Hammer's one and only zombie film, PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, only gets a sentence or two. Because the sub-genre is so huge, getting close to really it's centennial celebration, there is much more that could be said about it. While it is a large book with 228 pages, because of all those great images, there really isn't a lot of text. In fact, I read this entire book in just 2 days.
For fans of zombie films, this is definitely one that you'd want in your collection. It looks great, is a lot of fun to page through and see some incredible images. If you're wanting to get a good and quick insight to the genre, then you will find a lot of interesting information here. But if you're looking for more of a detailed and in-depth covered of his category of horror films, then you really need to seek something else out, maybe like Jamie Russell's Book of the Dead.
THE DEFINITIVE COMPANION TO THE MOST TERRIFYING MOVIES EVER MADE
Let's start with the good stuff, shall we?
With a price tag of only $24.95, this book covers some of the best the horror
genre has to offer. Starting at the very beginning of the genre and moving
its way through the recent films in the early 2000's, covering 340 different
titles. Each decade has a great introduction by Newman that
cover the significant happenings from that time period. The reviews give a
very brief synopsis without giving too much details away, concentrating more on
facts and thoughts about the movie, which we really enjoyed. This is the
kind of book that is great for a newer fan that is just getting into the genre
since it is a perfect place to start, using this book as a checklist to slowly
go through, as well as a seasoned fan who might want to double check to see if
they've missed any classics. Not to mention possibly learning a bit more
about the genre and these films.
THE ILLUSTRATED VAMPIRE MOVIE
GUIDE - Published by Titan Books, 1993. 144 pages
We decided to review all three of these
volumes in one review, simply because if you have any of them, you need ALL of
them. These are incredible books, filled with tons of information and
filled with wonderful stills, lobby cards, and poster art that is a lot of fun
just paging through these books. Now what Jones has done has complied
movies that he could find that had ANYTHING to do with these sub-genres.
So there might be a a movie listed that isn't really a horror film, but has some
connection, like having vampire in it, or someone who is thought to be one.
And for the Frankenstein volume, it doesn't just imply movies that have
Frankenstein's creature or even the good doctor, but many different
science-gone-wrong type of films where a creature is created. None the
less, each one of these books is just a joy to look through, plus the fact that
I'm sure you'll come across a film or two that you might not have heard/read
OF BLOOD: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO SLASHER MOVIES
This is a book that we didn't bother with since we didn't think we needed another film guide, let alone one that was just on slasher films. But we finally picked it up and was very glad we did. Before you even get into the actual film guide, there is a 50+ page essay on the history of the slasher films, that talks about the rise of the sub-genre, the typical elements and conventions to it, as well as the fall of them. This essay alone is worth the cost of the book. It's very informative and very entertaining.
Then we get to the actual film guide section. Here Harper gives us the low down on over 200 slasher films. We get the usual cast and credits, a brief synopsis of the film, and whether or not we should watch the movie. Often pointing out that there is little reason if any, to spend time with this film. Although, fans of the bad B-movies just might be looking for something like that. So you have to take his comments as what they are: his opinion. You might not agree with him, but at least it gives you some basis to go one.
Bottom line is that it's a nice title for any collector. As we said, the essay is great, and then you have a nice study guide or checklist to work your way through.
This was originally published in 1986 under the title of Encyclopedia of Horror; then revised and expanded in 1994, under the title this title. Hardy provided horror fans with a literal tome of reviews of films from all over the world, starting with the silent movie years through to the modern era. Hardy’s book was the first one that we came across that not had only a review of the film, but also listed useful information such as alternate titles (which came in quite useful with foreign films, considering all the different titles they were being released under), country of origin, cast, crew, and running times (although those times are still debated to this day and caused grief for many collectors).
This was the book to go to if you were looking up everything from Coffin Joe films, strange Japanese films of the ’60s or any of the countless other titles from Italy and Spain. The only flaw in this book remains the editor’s oftentimes puzzling choice of what he considered horror – if a film were designated as Sci-Fi, it would then be in Hardy’s other book: The Overlook Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction. But even with that small flaw, this is one film book that we would call essential to all horror fans. And why not pick up the Science Fiction one as a nice companion piece.
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FILM & THE PSYCHOTRONIC VIDEO GUIDE
Not sure why I never had reviews of these books up already,
but going to change that right now! But before we get started, let's
clarify something. Just what does "psychotronic" mean? According to
author Michael Weldon, it first came from combining the word 'psycho' for horror
films and 'tronic' which meant science fiction movies. But lately he
defined it as films that are "traditionally ignored or ridiculed by mainstream
critics at the time of their release."
MAMMOTH BOOK OF SLASHER MOVIES: AN A-Z GUIDE TO MORE THAN 60 YEARS OF BLOOD
We usually love film guides, but as long as they bring
something different to the table. And having a guide specifically covering
the slasher movies, that makes a nice addition to our collection. But
here's the problem: it is NOT just a book about slasher movies. As I
started to read through it, seeing titles in there like BLACK SUNDAY, CANNIBAL
HOLOCAUST, and even XTRO, it made me realize that the book's title is not the
most representative of the material. Another bad part, especially since it
is suppose to be about slasher movies, he doesn't cover any of the sequels for
films like HALLOWEEN or SCREAM. These are mentioned when discussing the
first film, but that is about it. I think if you were going to have the
title be about slasher movies, then I think it would be better to have those
titles in the book, as opposed to titles like THE WEREWOLF AND THE YETI.
VAULT OF HORROR: A BOOK OF GREAT (AND NOT SO GREAT) BRITISH HORROR MOVIES
Okay....do we really need another book on British horror films? Damn Skippy we do! Especially when they are laid out like this one. We are always a sucker for trivial information about our favorite films. And this book gives us that and more. Each film reviewed is in different categories. We have the basic cast & crew info, plot/synopsis, and even tag lines and famous quotes. But then we also have different categories like "Nudity, Violence and Sadomasochism" or "Outrageous Methods of Dispatch", or "You May Remember Me From...". There is also quotes from actual reviews of the film, as well as the authors own thoughts. But the tons of extra trivia given here makes this book a joy to read. No matter how much you know about these films, there is going to be something in here that you didn't know. It also helps you connect certain actors or filmmakers with other films, giving you other titles to add to your "to-watch" list.
We had a lot of fun reading through this book and is a great one to go back to for research, or just an occasional time-killer. Highly recommended.
HORROR SHOW: 999 HAIR-RAISING, HELLISH, AND HUMOROUS MOVIES
Sure, this book is 12 years old as of this writing. But that is the great thing about reference books...the subject they're on never changes. So this book is still as useful today as it was when it first came out.
While most film guides have the basic info, such as cast & crew, synopsis & review, one of the things that we love most about Mayo’s book is the extra icing he provides. Throughout the book, you find movie quotes, trivia, advertising lines, and mini-bios of some of the more important figures in the genre. Add this with the 999 capsule reviews and you have yourself an interesting review book, that you can go back to time and time again and where you just might also learn something about the genre along the way. For that, we really think that this is a book that should be in every horror film fans library.
THE HORROR SHOW GUIDE: THE ULTIMATE FRIGHTFEST OF
Mayo's original edition is still one of my favorite movie
guides. I even included it in an article I wrote for HorrorHound magazine
on the top horror reference books. And after 15 years, Mayo was able to
update it with a brand new edition. But with this new volume, there are
some changes. When talking about a series of movies, such as the FRIDAY
THE 13th, they are all lumped together under one entry. It is the same
information in the original edition, but just put together in one long section.
I'm still on the fence about this new format. At first, I thought that it
really does make sense to have them listed together. But if you were
looking for a particular entry, then you'd have to browse through to find it.
One of my rules to follow for any reference book is easy access. And I
have to say that would make it a little tougher. Another change is that
all the technical information is moved to the end of the book in an index, such
as the director and cast. Again, if you're looking for that information
while reading about the movie, you have to skip to the back of the book.
YEAR OF FEAR: A DAY-BY-DAY GUIDE TO 366 HORROR FILMS
There are a ton of movie guides out there. Some are great, some are not. Some have the same old comments on the same old movies. But what Senn has done with this book is pretty unique and very entertaining. He reviews 366 films, one for each day of the year. But there is more than just that concept, for each movie has some sort of tie-in with that particular day. Sure, some are a bit of of a stretch, but it still a great idea and very entertaining angle. For example, Feb. 4th is Torture Abolition Day, so the movie is TORTURE SHIP (1939), April 26th is National Bird Day so the movie is THE GIANT CLAW (1957), and so on.
But it is more than just picking movies to coincide with a particular holiday or date, Senn actually has very good reviews of the films, giving plenty of information about it and/or the people that made them. The films range from the classics to the very best of the cheese and schlock, but are all reviewed with a positive light, even if the movie is admittedly terrible. Senn may point that out, but never comes across as all out negative.
This is simply a fun book. It's a great one to go through to make your own checklist, since quite a few of these titles in here I would consider "must-see" films, but also gives a pretty cool angle if you're trying to decide what movie to watch some evening. Just look up today's date, and there you go!
WON'T BELIEVE YOUR EYES!
To put it about as simply as I can, this is one of the most enjoyable books I have read in quite some time. I'd be amazed if this book doesn't make you seek out some of the movies discussed in this book, no matter if you've seen them or not. Published by BearManor Media, who continues to put out quality products, on some very interesting subjects in the film industry.
The '50s was a great time for movie monster fans. Sure, they were calling the pictures 'sci-fi films' then, but we all knew that when you have a monster chasing people, that is a horror movie. Of course, reading author McGee making that same comment in his intro, he immediately got my approval. But it wasn't just because of that reason that I enjoyed this book, but because of McGee's style here. Taking not the critical or analytical approach of these films, he takes that of a film fan, one part of a child who seen quite a few of these upon their initial release, to the adult now who has a special fondness for them. Of course, that doesn't mean this is a love letter to each film, ignoring any faults they may have. Those are pointed out, and boring films are exposed as just that. But McGee's way of explaining his thoughts really show that sometimes a cheap movie still can be pretty damn entertaining.
We really enjoyed reading this book, taking a history lesson back to a very different time. And of course, like any good film fan, I was taking plenty of notes while reading this, adding quite a few movie titles to my "need to see" list, which is something that every good movie book should do. Case in point: ATOMIC SUBMARINE. This was a film that I never would have thought twice about watching it since it just sounds like some underwater adventure film. But after reading McGee's take on it, I knew I had to check it out. And I wasn't disappointed either.
BALLYHOO: MOTION PICTURE PROMOTION AND GIMMICKS
I've always been a sucker for a gimmick when it comes to the movies. It definitely was something for a different era of movie promotions, though there are a few out there that still practice this old way of getting your audience's attention, but nothing like it used to be. But even though those days are gone for the most part, reading about them is a lot of fun. Sure, it makes you wish you were around during those times. I mean, who wouldn't have loved getting a "Up Chuck Cup" when going to see I DISMEMBER MAMA? Or getting to drink some 'green blood' when you went to see MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND? But it is fun to read about all the different wild and crazy things that studios used to come up with to try and get people to come to see their movies....even if the movie wasn't that great.
Once again, McGee does an excellent job as our storyteller, giving us not only a lot of facts, but personal references and memories as well, which makes the stories even more entertaining. We get to hear about gimmicks like the coming of sound pictures...yes, that's right. Sound pictures started out as just another gimmick to get people to the theaters. Then we have the coming all the different types of presentations, like CinemaScope...Dynamation....VistaVision....and the list goes on. Of course, then there is the invention of 3-D movies, and all the different kinds of those! Needless to say, we get to hear about them all in McGee's well written book that is just packed with information.
And most of all, it is so much fun to read.
I can't remember the last time that I picked up a book and was just completely taken over by it. This is one of the most entertaining books I have read. This is the kind of book that you can pick up at any time, even if you only have a couple of minutes,, open it up to any page, and start reading. And after a couple of minutes, you will have a smile on your face.
The book consists of different "lists" of everything from Douglas Buck's Ten Favorite Familial Horror Movies, to Robert Kurtzman's Ten Favorite Creature Features, to T.E.D. Klein's 25 Most Familiar Horror Plots, and tons more. You will not only find yourself having a chuckle every now and then, but you will also start jotting down some movie titles that you now have to see. A sign of a truly great reference book.
The retail price is only $14.95, but you can get it much cheaper on Amazon. We can't recommend this book enough. Check it out and see for yourself. You won't be disappointed.
CLASSICS OF THE HORROR
Everson was another film scholar and collector that set out to save and preserve thousands of films from the ’20s and 30’s from being destroyed. He would go to great lengths to not only find rare films, but made it a point to have screenings of them, giving others the opportunity to see them.He mainly covers the horror films of the ’30s and ’40s, but occasionally moves into current films of the time this work was published in 1974.
His opinions of “newer” films, especially color ones, may not sit well with modern fans, but Everson’s knowledge of the classics is unsurpassed, and that is where the real charm of this book lies. He goes through the classics, like Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Wolf Man, then covers topics such as haunted houses, madmen and the like. There’s plenty of information about these films and the people that worked on them, making this book an essential volume.
This book was originally published in hardcover format, then is softcover with the same cover art. Then in 1995, it was published again in another softcover edition, but with a different cover.
THE DEAD THAT WALK
Well, the main thing I really learned from this book is that the author Halliwell doesn’t seem to like most of the movies that he writes about here. So I’m not really sure why he would have spent the time writing a book on movies that he doesn’t like.
There are multiple occasions where he points out the plot point mistakes of several of the Universal films of the 30’s and 40’s, where the sequels don’t start up where the last one left off exactly. I don’t think Universal was that worried about too much, since most of their audiences were probably young kids anyway. But he makes this point with just about every movie sequel, including the Hammer films as well.
There's a quote on the back calling Halliwell "The world's foremost encyclopedist". Well, I found several times where there was incorrect information in this book. While some of these psycho-babble books see more hidden messages in the movie, Halliwell also sees visual things in the movie that isn't there. For example, he states that in the beginning of Hammer's DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, that the girl stuffed into the bell is naked. Sorry folks, as much as I'd would have preferred that, she's not naked. But there are other errors. In his synopsis of BRIDES OF DRACULA, he describes the original ending, where Van Helsing uses black magic to kill the vampire Baron Meinster. But this was never filmed, mainly due to Peter Cushing. But no where does Halliwell state that this is from a screenplay or original storyline, but describes it as if it was actually filmed. Then when talking about Hammer's KISS OF THE VAMPIRE, he describes the ending, he says that it's a "virtual reprise of THE BRIDES OF DRACULA". That's because that original ending for BRIDES was finally used for KISS, not re-used like Halliwell suggests.
But there's more. In FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL, he says that Peter Cushing's Dr. Frankenstein is the director the asylum where Shane Briant is sentenced. Wrong again. He is the resident doctor after blackmailing the director. When Halliwell talks about the 1972 film TALES FROM THE CRYPT, he says that Cushing "came back from the grave on Valentine's Day to give his wife a unexpected present." Obviously he's never seen the film. And while on the subject, there is a photo of him from the movie. The caption reads, "Peter Cushing returns for vengeance after some months underground. Some audiences wished that he had phoned in his message." So we know first of all that he's most likely never seen the film, but yet is going to criticize Cushing performance? I think most fans agree that is probably one of the best segments from that movie.
He states that Hammer's first jump into the 'muddy pool of female vampirism" was with COUNTESS DRACULA. Actually, that would have been VAMPIRE LOVERS...that came first. And speaking of that film, Halliwell says VAMPIRE LOVERS was "found by most audiences to be too distasteful." Then the part that really lost me was when he says "where was the fun in women loving women? Only a very small percentage of the audience could get any vicarious enjoyment out of that." At first, I thought he was joking. But since the tone of the review was somewhat negative, I think he was serious. How could 14 and 15 year old boys get any enjoyment out of women loving women??? Good Lord.
Most of the book is filled with either plot synopses, or large chunks of literary stories that are reprinted. To me, this seems to waste a lot of space. But I will say that there are some screenplay text that is re-printed, showing parts that were never filmed. This is interesting since it shows us what was originally written, but never made it to the final print.
So overall, I really didn't come away from this book learning any new, other than Halliwell needs to pay attention to more of what he's watching. The missing screenplay bits were the only thing that were interesting here, but not enough to read through the rest of the text.
GRAPHIC HORROR MOVIE MONSTER MEMORIES
I love movie posters. I believe these really are works of art and don't get the appreciation they deserve, especially the ones from the horror genre. But the strange thing is that when it comes to movie poster auctions, horror titles have always been the ones that draw the most money. But as we move more and more into the digital age, poster art is becoming more of a lost art form. Nowadays, these things are cranked out with very little time or effort, mainly using computer graphics/artwork to churn these out. Back in the heyday, these pieces of advertisements had a big job to do. They have to make people want to go see this movie just by looking at this poster. So it had to be catchy...and it had to be good.
I have been collecting movie posters for many years, especially the older ones from the '70s era and even better ones from different countries. And I have also been collecting movie poster art books, which shows off some of these incredible images that were created to bring the people in. We recently purchased this new title, not even aware that it was just a poster art book. But once we opened it up and started paging through it, we were thrilled.
Author Browning has gathered an amazing collection of different posters, from all over the country, starting in the early days of cinema movie through to modern films. But this isn't just a collection of posters, but there are little comments/thoughts about some of the movies by a variety of different genre writers, editors, and other such authorities on the subject. In his introduction, Browning states his dream was "...to take part in the process of choosing films, images, and posters that best display, in all their beautiful, macabre form and crimson splendor, our most beloved monsters." And I think he has done just that. You will get to see some amazing posters here, highlighting the incredible talent that went into creating them. Even the biggest poster nerd will probably see a few in here that they have never seen before.
The price is a bit steep, with retail at $39.99 (though you can get it for about $30 on Amazon), but it is a beautifully laid out hardcover edition where the colors of the posters are just amazing. If you're a fan of horror movie poster art, I think it is worth the money. This is one coffee table book that no horror fan could walk by without opening it up. And once that happens, it's going to take a few minutes before they could put it down.
HISTORY OF HORROR
Boy...where to start with this one. Whenever someone, usually of some hugely academic background, writes a book about the history of the horror genre, it seems (to me at least) that they might be a fan of the classic era of horror films. But once they get to the '70s and move through the modern day films, they either lose their interests, basically slide their way through them, or both, usually with some negative slant as well. Now I'm not expecting anybody to love each and every horror film out there. But if you're writing a history of the genre, then it should be based on facts, not opinions. And even more importantly...now listen up folks because here is the important part...you have to your facts right. If you're talking about a movie, you better make sure you've seen the movie. If you can't get a basic plot point right, then how is anybody going to believe a word you're writing? Want more details? Just keep reading.
The first part of this book isn't that bad, going through the beginnings of the genre, mentioning all the important titles, actors and whatnot. I didn't really learn anything I didn't know, but for a beginner to the genre, it wouldn't be that bad. But once we got to the more modern era, things went south. He what he has to say about the film LAST MAN ON EARTH:
the film has moments, the 2007 remake, I AM LEGEND, directed by Francis
Lawrence, with Will Smith in the title role,
Really? Can't see how anybody could refer to that 2007 version to be anything close to the source material. But wait...there's more. When he gets to talking about low budget filmmaker Al Adamson and his films, Dixon writes that Adamson "...displayed an almost complete lack of care in their productions." Adamson was trying to make films with little or no money. He knew that if he didn't have a film done on time to meet the distribution sale dates, he would be out of business. But he continued to knock out these films, over and over again, however and with whatever he could. To think that these guys just didn't give a shit about their craft is just a plain insult. If he'd had money falling out of his pockets, I'm sure his movies would have looked a lot better. I'm not trying to claim that Adamson's films are classics, but I do believe that he was working just as hard at making a good film, with what he had, as the guys in Hollywood was. Actually...probably more.
Then there are a couple of comments that make me feel that he doesn't even know or had seen the films he's talking about. Like calling Leatherface from Hooper's TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE the "chainsaw wielding leader of the group". Leader? Really? But it gets even better. When discussing Richard Donner's THE OMEN, Dixon says the following:
"THE OMEN has the distinction of being one of the first films from a major studio that has no plot except unremitting violence, with a violent murder punctuating every ten minutes off the film's running time."
No plot? Maybe if he would have been paying more attention to the movie than his stopwatch waiting for the next act of violence, he might have caught some of that plot. Like the part where Billie Whitelaw's character visits the recovering Lee Remick in the hospital after her fall. Because according to Dixon, Remick's character then "inexplicably jumps from a window". But again....no plot.
And lastly, when talking about the original FRIDAY THE 13th, here is what Dixon had to say:
"The first FRIDAY THE 13th (1980) was shot on the cheap by Sean S. Cunningham. He assembled a no-frills cast, including Kevin Bacon in his first role of any consequence, Bing Crosby's son Harry Crosby, and 1950s ingénue Betsy Palmer as the mother of Jason Voorhees. Jason, played in the first film by Ari Lehman, is a mute, imbecilic, homicidal maniac in a hockey mask who runs amok at Camp Crystal Lake, where an assembly line of teens who smoke pot, have sex, and drink are hacked to death for their 'transgressions'."
Let's start with the fact that Jason doesn't start wearing a hockey mask until part 3. Or the simple fact that Jason isn't even the killer in the movie!!! Oh sure...some might say I'm making a big deal over this. But what this tells me is the author clearly doesn't know the film well enough to be talking about it if he can't remember a simple fact about the movie. You ask ANY fan of the FRIDAY series and I guarantee you they would know this. So how could one be critical of these types of movies if he has never paid that much attention to them, or even seen them?
Lastly, when discussing the trend with all the remakes and sequels, Dixon makes a comment that shows how his tunnel vision is blocking the plain truth right in front of him.
filmmaking ruled the 1970s, '80s, and '90s in the horror genre, in a way that
even Universal in the 1940s could never have imagined. One hit film would
often generate six or seven sequels. Moreover, all of the films in which a
high body count was the chief prerequisite and character development and
motivation were singularly unimportant.
I will agree with his comment that in the modern day films a high body count was sought after, and that was something the older films from Universal didn't look for. But besides that, that entire quote could be talking about the Universal movies from the '30s and '40s. They would bring those monsters back time and time again, throwing them in some of the silliest and thinnest plots around, throwing different monsters together because they had already run out of ideas. Restarting a series, like Universal did with their Mummy series. It is nothing new. But they knew the fans would come back to see their favorite monsters. And that hasn't changed in over 100 years of horror films.
So the bottom line is that as book on the history of the genre, Dixon does an adequate job about halfway through the book. But once he gets to the '70s, that is when it goes south. And for that reason, plus the extra negativity fueling his words about those films, it would be difficult for me to recommend this book. There are plenty of other books out there that speak about these movies with a true passion about them, looking past the negative side and either giving us a straightforward look at them, or at least admitting well up front that it is just the author's opinion and that others may like them, or dislike them if the case may be.
HORROR FILM QUIZ BOOK: 1000 QUESTIONS ON SPINE CHILLING FILMS
Being a lover of horror trivia, this book is made for people like me. Covering quite a few different films, from the classics like PSYCHO to more modern day films like 28 DAYS LATER, but sticking to the more well known titles. So even the newer horror fan is going to know these movies, or at least has heard of them. But coming up with trivia questions is no simple task. It's very easy to compile some questions that any 3rd grader could answer, or working hard at coming up with questions that even the filmmaker themselves wouldn't be able to answer. So coming up with a mixture somewhere in between is no easy task. But Cowlin and Goddard have done a pretty good job at doing just that.
As I read through the book, there were several questions that were extremely easy. But as you read, there is usually going to be at least one question to give even the seasoned horror fan a puzzled look. And that is the beauty of this book. It's a lot of fun to page through by yourself, or it a great tool for a Halloween party trivia game. If you're looking to increase your trivia knowledge, this book is for you, not to mention it coming in very handy for parties.
title, we weren't really sure what this book was actually about. The text
on the front of the book says "All that's left to know about slashers, vampires,
zombies, aliens, and more". It is just a collection of questions answered
that the FAQ in the title would imply? Actually no. But what it does
give the reader is both a very interesting and entertaining read, as well as
giving some great insight to some of our favorite movies.
Clarens wrote for magazines like Film Quarterly and Films in Review before he wrote this book, one of the first to go through the history of horror films. Clarens takes us from the birth of the cinema, with Méliès, Edison and the Lumiére Brothers, and ends with the early days of Hammer Films. Clarens knew his film history and mentions countless films throughout this book that even the biggest horror fan might not have heard or. It’s a great one to start a “Need to see” list.
This may not be a good book to start with for fans that are looking for Freddy and Jason, but if you’re looking for how it all started, this is your book. Since it was written in the 60's the heyday of Universal and the original monster boom was only a few decades in the past. So a lot of detail is giving to those films. That is the book's strong point.
This book was originally published in hardcover format in 1967, which is pretty tough to come back these days. But it was published in a small paperback version the following year by Capricorn books.
AGAIN! HORROR MOVIES IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM
Author, actress, journalist, and all around horror fan, Axelle Carolyn has given us a beautifully laid out book that covers the horror films of the last decade. Filled with a great selection of stills and poster and DVD box art, there is a lot more to this book than the look of it. Carolyn is no slouch when it comes to the horror genre. She knows her stuff, and knows it well. This book covers the good, the bad, the well known, and even the not-so-well known. Plus, for us fans in the states, it's great that she has complied films from all over the world. So no matter where you are, you'll hear about films from Japan, Korea, the UK, and even Switzerland.
But not only discussing the movies, she also points out what is happening the world, and the possible connections between the real world and it's effects it is having on the cinematic world. The best part is that it doesn't become psycho-babble. She makes these comments and references, and lets the readers make their own decisions, as opposed to trying to push their opinions down the readers throat.
So major kudos to Carolyn for this awesome book. We are looking forward to whatever else she has in store for us. Plus, on a side note, it's damn cool to see a woman who is heavily into the genre, a genre that most would see as a male dominated one.
MONDO MACABRO: WEIRD & WONDEFUL CINEMA AROUND THE
If you are one of those fans who think they have seen it all, then you need to search out some of the films discussed in this book. Tombs does an excellent job showing us a variety of horror, cult, and exploitation films from places like Turkey, Indonesia, the Philippines, Argentina, and many other countries. You’ll find stuff in this book, within the movies it covers, that will blow your mind (and thanks to the creation of the Mondo Macabro DVD label, we now have the chance to see some of these movies).
The book covers some of the most outrageous films from around the world. You will learn a great deal about filmmakers like Coffin Joe, making his sacra-religious films in Brazil, to the Blood Island film made in the Philippines. If anything, this book is going to not only open a whole new world of entertaining cinema to you, but also really increase your DVD collection, or at least your "To-Watch" list.
Gifford was a British author, collector and film historian. Like Carlos Clarens, Gifford’s book also follows the birth of cinema, moving through the silent years, the rise of Universal Studios, and continues through the early ’70s. Though not as detailed as Clarens’ book, Gifford makes up the difference with a wonderful array of photos plastered throughout the book. While the text is obviously important, it is the photos that provide the real impact, with a wealth of black and white stills (as well as a few full-page color photos) covering the entire range of cinematic terror, giving readers an eyeful of movie monsters.
This is one of the staples of horror reference books.
Many young fans started out by reading this book. But it was more than
just the text in this book. The images in this book were burned into the
minds of embryonic horror fans and kept us seeking them out. Long before
we could even hope of finding these movies, just seeing the creatures and
monsters spurred our interests even more.
SPLATTER MOVIES: BREAKING THE LAST TABOO OF
"Splatter movies, offshoots of the horror genre, aim not to scare their audiences, necessarily, nor to drive them to the edges of their seats in suspense, but to mortify them with scenes of explicit gore. In splatter movies, mutilation is indeed the message - many times the only one."
And so starts off McCarty in his book defining what splatter movies are. Once again, I found it difficult to agree with McCarty in many degrees with this book. The first example came right away, on page 6 as a matter of fact.
"Despite its pretensions to being about the 'mysteries of faith', William Friedlin's THE EXORCIST was little more than a very posh splatter movie, utilizing every trick in the book to pulverize audiences into a single gagging mass."
I would never of considered THE EXORCIST as a splatter movie. Yes, I do think there are some heavy meanings going on in that film, letting the viewer start to question their faith, or at least question something. I do think that there was a message meant to come across in this film. It wasn't made just to shock you with cheap effects, otherwise there would have been many more of those in the film.
But in any case, no matter what one might choose to believe about that film, when it comes to writing about films, it is a must to know what your talking about. When talking about the Lucio Fulci film ZOMBIE, McCarty makes this comment:
"His most successful film as of this writing is ZOMBIE, a rip-off of Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD in which a mad doctor (Richard Johnson) sets up shop on a remote tropical island in order to conduct a series of bizarre experiments in secret. To preserve this secrecy, he has his island hideaway guarded by an army of killer zombies."
Well, if you've seen ZOMBIE, you know that is not the movie that McCarty is describing. It's sounds more like ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST (aka DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D.). Once again, something that I've said many times, when you come across a incorrect fact like that in a book, it really makes you doubt everything else you might read. If he didn't know the right movie he was talking about, then how can we believe the other stuff he's telling us.
So in that regards, I wouldn't recommend this book to a novice. Educated fans may see through the errors and interpretations that McCarty comes up with, but a novice might start to believe some of this stuff. And come on, does anybody else think that THE EXORCIST or THE OMEN was nothing more than just a splatter film?
WHO OF THE HORRORS and OTHER FANTASY FILMS
With a listing of over 1100 people who worked in the horror / sci-fi film genres, this book comes in pretty handy as a quick reference guide. It does list quite a few people, who only be known for one or two movies, as well as the more familiar names from the genre. The book not only lists actors and directors, but screenwriters, makeup effect artist and the likes.
The only problems that I have with the book are that some subjects only have a line or two about them. But this is mainly for the more obscure people, so that really shouldn't be a complaint, being that at least they are in the book.
There are also a couple of miss-information errors, such as stating that Susan Denberg was American, as opposed to be Austrian. While that it's that big of deal, every time I find an error in a reference book, it makes me wonder if there might be more that I just don't know about.
ZOMBIE BOOK: THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE LIVING DEAD
Everyone knows how big zombies are these days. Between that
popular zombie soap opera on TV to the countless movies exploiting these poor
life-challenged creatures, that in itself has become an epidemic. So it never
surprises me at the amount of things that come out when something like this is
that popular. This book is one of those things. Now, I'm a sucker for a
reference book on any kind of horror movies, zombie films included, which I have
several in my collection. But going through this one, I was not only
disappointed in what I was finding, but honestly a little irritated.
THE ART OF HAMMER:
POSTER FROM THE ARCHIVE OF HAMMER FILMS
For any fan of Hammer Films, or fans of movie posters, as cliché as this sounds, this book really is a must. This coffee table size book is filled with beautiful images from Hammer movies from the '50s to their end in the late '70s. They display a mixture of posters from around the world, from British quads, American 1-sheets, Spanish, Polish, and many others that will make any poster collector just drool.
This book will show you a time when not only were posters an art form, but were made sometimes before any film had been shot, or even a word had been written in a script. These posters were created from a title and used to help sell a movie that hadn't been made yet. So it was so important that these images just jumped off the paper and made people want to see them. That is the big difference between then and now. For the low cost of this book, it is a volume that you can go back to time and time again and admire real poster artwork. Maybe some day, we'll see that again.
THE HAMMER MONSTERS OF ROY ASHTON
This is another one of those books that is a must for fans of Hammer films, and for those who are interested in makeup effects. Roy Ashton had created the look of some of Hammer's most famous monsters. Such as THE REPTILE, the walking dead from PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, and Ollie Reed's extraordinary makeup for CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF.
This book is filled with early sketches of Ashton's work, tons of photos, and also very interesting stories on how he did some of the work. It also has notes by the actors, directors, and other people he had to work with.
When one realizes what the makeup artist had to do back "in the old days", with no real money or time for that matter, it makes me even more amazed at some of the stuff they came up with.
This book was published in England, and I picked up at a convention, so I don't remember what the price was. I'm guessing it's around $30. While that is a bit steep for an oversized paperback, it's truly worth the money.
AN EXHAUSTIVE FILMOGRAPHY
If you are a fan of Hammer films, this is an essential book for your collection. To say this is a "must have" is an understatement. The book lists every Hammer film, but also has the cast and crew listings, a short synopsis, original reviews, and all sorts of behind the scenes information about the making of the film, and about the people who were making them. There's also a section on the featurettes Hammer made, as well as Hammer on television.
While the price is a bit high, I couldn't recommend the book enough. Anytime I'm researching something about Hammer Studios, this is the first book that I pull out.
One of the things that Hammer was known for was the lovely ladies that filled their movies. This book is a celebration of those women. While this isn't the cheesecake type of book that most would have thought (and probably hoped), but it's an excellent mini-bio book of many of the beautiful women that appeared in their films. From the more well known names like Ingrid Pitt and Veronica Carlson, to even the more lesser known names like Diane Clare, were given a little bio about them, their careers, and their life. Of course the book is filled with tons of amazing photos of these gorgeous women.
So the bottom line is that if you are a fan of Hammer Films, you might already have this book. If not, you will want to pick it up. Because once you pick it up, you will buy it. The book retails for just under $30, but you can find it on Amazon for just under $20. Great book for a great price.
HOUSE OF HORROR:
BEHIND THE SCREAMS
This is another book that gives the history behind Hammer Studios. While it is no where near as detailed as the book by Denis Meikle, it does offer some interesting reading.
One of the best highlights of this book is the information in the back of the book. First they have the Hammer chronology, listing which films were made in each year. Then they have Hammer's Who's Who, which lists not only the main people behind Hammer, such as the actors and directors, but those others who also contributed, such as the composers, writers, makeup artist, and cinematographers. It then also has a filmography that lists the film, year, running time, cast & crew, and a brief synopsis. It also has plenty of black & white photos, some of the films and some behind the scenes shots, as well as some great color shots.
This book is a bit pricey for what you get. But it is a nice edition to your Hammer book collection. I would definitely get the two above volumes first before this one, although this one is probably a little bit more readily available at such places as Borders and Barnes & Noble.
HAMMER FILMS - A LIFE
Being a huge Hammer fan, I knew this was a book I was going to add to my collection eventually. Luckily for me, it was given to me as a recent birthday gift. And what better gift could a movie fan ask for? This book is a filled with over 600 photos covering the history of Hammer Films. There's candid shots, on the set production stills, promo shots, and much more. In these pages, you'll see shots of actors like Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Oliver Reed, Ingrid Pitt, the Collinson twins, directors like Freddie Francis and Terence Fisher, and many more. Most are in black and white, but there are a few full color shots, all showing the beauty of these films and the people that made them.
The book is a bit pricey at the $54.99 retail price. But if you get it through Amazon, it's only about $35. Still not cheap, but it will save you $20. This book is only limited to 2500 copies, which is another reason for the high price. Plus, for a big film fan, this book is great just to page through, looking at all of these great films. If you're in the mood for a Hammer film but can't decide which one to watch, just a few minutes paging through this book is an easy way to help decide.
FILMS: THE UNSUNG HEROES - THE TEAM BEHIND THE LEGEND
Can there ever bee TOO many books on Hammer Films? I think not. Especially when they are like this one. So many books have been written about the films that Hammer made or on a few of their stars. But what about all the little people, as they say. The ones that were responsible for making the films look and sound like they did. All the people behind the scenes, whether it was an assistant director, in the wardrobe department, or even the ones working in continuity. These people are all part of the reason that these films are what they are. And now, thanks to Hammer scholar Wayne Kinsey, he is shedding light on all of these nameless people.
This book really is a who's who of Hammer Films. The book is broken down into different categories such as Writers, Directors, Camera crew, Sound, Editing, and more. With each person, Kinsey gives us their background, the Hammer Films they worked on, and what they did. For die hard fans of movies, these are the people that should be remembered just as much as their stars. And thanks to Kinsey, these special people are going to be remembered for years to come.
We couldn't recommend this book enough. If you are the slightest fan of Hammer films, then this is going to be a fascinating read, but I guarantee will have you seeking out other films in their catalog. And then the next thing you know, you will be another die hard Hammer aficionado.
Now being pretty familiar with Hammer films already, I was
wondering just what I was going to be able to learn that I didn't know already.
But just going to show you that when it comes to horror history, we are all
students of the genre. I have been a fan of Hallenbeck's work every since
I discovered Little Shoppe of Horrors quite a few years ago. I believe it
was issue # 8 which came out in May of 1984. It had a shot from VAMPIRE
LOVERS on the cover and the main article was written by Hallenbeck. In
fact, believe in most of the issues, the main article was written by him.
There is a reason for that. Mr. Hallenbeck knows his Hammer. With
each issue of the magazine, we learn more and more about the "studio that
dripped blood" and the people that worked there. This book is no
HISTORY OF HORRORS:
THE RISE AND FALL OF THE HOUSE OF HAMMER
If you wish to know the real story behind the studio that dripped blood, this is the only book you need to read. This tells all the stories about how Hammer Studios came about, the dealings with the British Censor Board, many different aspects of the studio, all the way to the downfall of the British studio. This book contains input from quite a few of the major players at Hammer, from those that worked in front of the camera, as well as behind it. It really goes into quite a lot of detail at how these films got made, and the people responsible for getting them made.
It also contains a filmography, listing the cast & crew. It also contains a few great black & white photos. There have been a few books out there giving the story behind the famous "Studio that Dripped Blood", but this is the best one that we have come across so far. There's plenty of stories and information in here that I guarantee that you have not heard before.
THE COMPLETE HAMMER FILMS STORY
This book has been re-issued more times that I can remember. Each time it comes out, the last third of the book has something different in it, from detailed filmographies and indexes for Hammer films, to a section on vampire cinema.
In any case, if you're really looking for the story behind Hammer, once again, you need to find Denis Meikle book listed above. But this is a quick read and does give a little bit of background of the famous studio.
The book is filled with photos, mostly black and white. Some of these are in fair condition, and some of them are pretty good. There are also quite a few ad mats and poster art, with six color pages of some poster art, some from unmade films like MISTRESS OF THE SEAS.
This book is also pretty easy to find. I wouldn't run right and buy it, though. It's a bit pricey for what you're getting. You're better off saving your money for one of the books listed above.
Sangster had already written autobiography, DO YOU WANT IT GOOD OR TUESDAY, which was very interesting. With this book, Sangster sticks to really what he’s famous for, and that is working with Hammer Studios. Sangster covers every film that he worked on with the famous studio; from his first film DICK BARTON STRIKES BACK as a lowly assistant to his last film FEAR IN THE NIGHT as writer, producer and director. Here are some my favorite parts of the book:
About bringing back Frankenstein
back from the dead:
About the dialog or lack there
of, in DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS:
About writing horror pictures:
I really enjoyed reading this book. While Sangster admits that his memory is fading fast, he still remembers and reveals some great stories about his days working for the famous studios, including having to avoid the advances from Bette Davis on a couple of different occasions. It also is interesting to read about how the movie industry worked back then, when a movie finally comes out, the screenwriter might already be working on his second or third script after that one, and not even see it. It comes highly recommended for fans of Hammer studios, horror fans in general, or just up-and-coming screenwriters.