It Came from 1957
By Rob Craig
Published by McFarland, 2013. 256 pages.
I’m a huge fan of the sci-fi/horror films of the ’50s. In fact, I love them. In 1957, there were a ton of releases during that period, many of them classics. All fifty-seven titles of them are covered within the pages of the book, some in a little more detail and discussion than others, but they are all there. After an extensive introduction discussing the time period and what was going on in the world, we get to read about such films as The Brain from Planet Arous (which is featured on the book’s cover) to Attack of the Crab Monsters, The Unearthly, Invasion of the Saucer Men, to The Thing from Another World and plenty more. Craig really knows his stuff here and is very informative when it comes to discussing these pictures. But therein lies the problem.
The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies: An A-Z Guide to More Than 60 Years of Blood and Guts
By Peter Normanton
Published by Running Press, 2012. 511 pages.
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.
A Vault of Horror: A Book of Great (and Not So Great) British Horror Movies from 1956-1974
By Keith Topping
Published by Telos Publishing Ltd., 2004. 427 pages.
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 so much 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 within these pages here are what 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. Topping has done an excellent job putting this volume together and is a must for every library. Highly recommended.
A Year of Fear: A Day-by-Day Guide to 366 Horror Films
By Bryan Senn
Published by McFarland, 2007. 560 pages.
There are a ton of movie guides out there for us fans to choose from. Some are great, some are not. Some have the same old comments on the same old movies. But what author Senn has done with this book is a pretty unique angle and very entertaining as well. 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. 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. Sure, some title might be a bit of a stretch, but it still a great idea and very entertaining angle.
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 titles 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!
Slasher Films: An International Filmography, 1960 Through 2001
By Kent Byron Armstrong
Published by McFarland, 2009. 376 pages.
Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers.
I have to say one of the key elements in many slasher films is the mystery of who the killer is. While in the later day Friday the 13th films, we all know who it is, but in the first entry, it really is a mystery until the ending. Sure, there are a few where the killer’s identity is given away early in the film, but for the most part, it is hidden from the viewer until the filmmaker decides to let you in on the secret. That really is a key part of the fun with some of these, even ones that are low budget and/or cheesy.
But the first thing that I noticed here is that Armstrong gives detailed plot synopsis for each of the titles covered, including who the killer(s) is. So if you haven’t see a particular film, you’re not going to want read his review of it since it will spoil the surprise. If you have seen a particular title, then there isn’t a real point to reading his review of it because about 90% of it is the synopsis with the last paragraph being his thoughts on it, which sometimes are just a sentence or two. Not a lot of meat on the bone for the reader to chew on here.
Feeding Hannibal: A Connoisseur’s Cookbook
By Janice Poon
Published by Titan Books, 2016. 240 pages.
Okay…am I really reviewing a cookbook here on the Krypt? As a matter of fact, I am. But this isn’t just any cookbook, but one made for a cannibal. Okay, not a real cannibal, but one of the most famous ones on TV, Hannibal Lecter. Poon was the chef and food stylist on the show that had to create all the different foods that Hannibal creates for (and of) his guests. This is a real cookbook to make real food. And it is simply art to look through.
The Turn to Gruesomeness in American Horror Films, 1931 to 1936
By Jon Towlson
Published by McFarland, 2015. 240 pages
One of the wonderful things about reading up on the history of horror films is that there is always something new and interesting that can be learned once a subject is really put under the magnifying glass. Now this isn’t to say that if you look for something you’ll find it, even if it isn’t there, but Towlson has done a great deal of research to back up his thoughts and ideas in this recent book. It also shows that no matter how long you’ve been a fan, there is always more to learn.