Book Review: Tawdry Tales and Confessions

Tawdry Tales and Confessions from Horror’s Boy Next Door
Published by Dark Ink Books, 2021, 398 pages
By William Butler

Being an avid collector of horror movie reference books, when an actor from the genre publishes his autobiography, I’m going to pick it up. Now I knew who Mr. Butler was since being about the same age, I was growing up watching the horror films that he was in early on in his career. So, I knew him from TCM3 and Friday 7, and the rest. Or at least I thought I knew him. I was already reading another book when my copy of Tawdry Tales arrived, so I was going to just quickly read the intro before filing it away with the numerous other volumes that I hope to get to one day. The next thing I know, I’m 50-pages deep into this book!

This book is simply amazing. If you grew up watching horror movies in the ‘80s, then this is like a walk down memory lane, except it is from the other side of the movie screen, getting to hear stories from the making of the films we loved. I had no clue that Butler worked in the makeup field, and I’m embarrassed as hell to admit that, especially when he worked on some of my favorite films! This once again proves my point that the more you read about the business and those who work in it, the more you will discover and learn to appreciate the people involved that are sometimes more talented and more involved in it than you realized or ever give them credit for.

Within these pages, you will hear some glorious stories of a young man following his dreams of working in the film business, and all the positives and negatives that come with it. Butler doesn’t pull any punches in his stories about his life, no bullshit here, being completely upfront and honest about it. People who think the life of an actor is fun and games and glamour, just read this book. He gives plenty of stories from living in his car, struggling to find the right place to park his car to sleep in, to even not knowing where his next meal is coming from. It just might be a real eye opener for those heading to the coast with that Hollywood sparkle in their eyes. He doesn’t shy away from the darker side of the industry, giving story after story of the ones you’ll never hear from Entertainment Tonight!

We also get to hear some hilarious stories of working on film sets, in different parts of the world, having to deal with a plethora of issues from actors to budgets to anything else you can think of that could go wrong. It is almost like being there on the set, experiencing it yourself. While you do get to hear some pretty dark tales of the business, Butler does a great job showing the positives of it too, some of the friends you make along the way, who will offer the help when they can. He pays loving tributes to several people that he worked with throughout his career, some that have left us already, always not only praising their work, but also their kindness and help given to a struggling young artist.

If you’re a horror fan, especially of the films of the ‘80s, this a must read. If you were considering moving to the coast to start in the film industry, from being an actor, director, or makeup effects, this is a must read. Butler’s tales are funny, often sad, but always interesting, entertaining, and even some advice in there along the way. It will keep you turning the pages wondering what is coming next. Through his examples, he’ll show you what is really important in life.

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