Texas Schlock: B-Movie Sci-Fi and Horror from the Lone Star State
Published by LECR Press, 2018. 272 pages.
By Bret McCormick
There are two things really special about this book. First, I love it when someone focuses on a specific region of filmmakers that you wouldn’t think spawned that many, such as Texas! Secondly, I also love when the spotlight is put on some names that might not be as familiar as their bigger counterparts to the west, such as Tom Moore, S.F. Brownrigg, and yes, even Larry Buchanan. When I found out Buchanan was covered here, I knew it was going to be a must read. And it is!
The author, a low-budget independent filmmaker (or schlockmeister as he calls it) himself, is probably best known for his 1986 film Abomination. In fact, he’s made several of these types thoughout his career. But within these pages, he wanted to show the filmmakers that inspired him to get into the business, and came up with the idea for this book, which he calls a “labor of love”. That’s the thing about these kind of movies, that they are made with that same passion. None of the people covered within these pages made the big time, but continued on because they had the passion. So no matter what the end result is, there has to be some commendations.
The first to be covered is, of course, Larry Buchanan, which right away, you could get that author McCormick was someone that gets it when it comes to Buchanan’s work. He shows the man behind a slew of titles that most critics wouldn’t give the time of day for, but has the passion and knowledge of film, which made him a successful filmmaker since he started back in the early ’50s. When Buchanan talks about filmmaking, stating “I’m happiest when I’m doing that, even if it’s something that costs $14.67”, it shows his love of the craft. I’ve always said that the more you know about the filmmaker and their productions, it helps you see the end product in a different light. It may not make them better, but you see them a little more objectively.
Edgar G. Ulmer, who shocked Universal Studio and audiences with his 1934 film The Black Cat, worked in Texas the later part of his life, turning out two low budget sci-fi flicks, The Amazing Transparent Man and Beyond the Time Barrier, both in 1960, and show how he could still create some entertaining results with a much, much, lower budget. Then there are names like Pat Boyette (Dungeon of Harrow, 1962), or Russ Marker (Yesterday’s Machine, 1963), Tom Moore (Mark of the Witch, 1970), and a few more people you should know, all that were working in Texas. McCormick also covers names from the video boom days, like Terry Lofton (Nail Gun Massacre, 1985), Glen Coburn (Bloodsuckers from Outer Space, 1984), and even his own work, such as the aforementioned Abomination.
McCormick said he became a filmmaker because he “admired the work of Buchanan, Brownrigg, Ulmer and others. Often, the things critics pointed out as their shortcomings, were what I liked the most about them.” It takes a special person to watch a film by these guys and see the glimmer in the rough. McCormick saw it and hopes that his readers will as well. And so do I. Highly recommended.