It Came from the Video Aisle!
Published by Schiffer Publishing, 2017. 480 pages.
By Dave Jay, William S. Wilson, & Torsten Dewi
You couldn’t have grown up in the video store era of the late ’80s/early ’90s, and not know who Full Moon Entertainment was. In fact, their product was usually all over the shelves in the horror section. They really were a staple of the horror market back then. Sure, it didn’t matter if most of the films weren’t any good, there were sure enough of them to make you hope that maybe the one you were currently holding in your hands would be one of the good ones! All seriousness aside, we all know the quality of the end result in a majority of Full Moon titles are, but no matter what, you have to give them, and Charles Band, credit for what they were continuing to do, which was making low budget features the old fashion way…a lot of work and a lot of ballyhoo. There are more than a few of Full Moon’s titles that I actually enjoy, but nowhere near is that a high percentage. But just as started into this new book on the company and the man behind it, I was amazed at how it drew me in more and more into the world of Full Moon, and those fighting for the cause of low budget filmmaking.
Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1970-1979
Published by McFarland, 2017. 256 pages
By Roberto Curti
Here is yet another prime example of why I love horror reference books. I’d say that I’ve seen my share of Italian horror films in the last 30 years and could pretty much hold my own in a conversation about said topic. But reading through Curti’s book, it showed me a couple of things. First, I don’t know as much as I thought I did! Not even close. Just a few pages in and I was reading about films that I had either never heard, had forgotten about, and never seen. Probably the first. But it also showed me just how great the genre is because even after all these years, there are still plenty of more titles out there just waiting for me to explore.
Curti definitely knows his stuff. With each entry, he gives us not only the usual items, like cast, crew, and synopsis, but also a plethora of information about the film and the people involved with it. While only covering a decade of cinema, it was a great time frame for Italian horror. Listed within these pages are more than a few of some of my favorites, like The Devil’s Wedding Night (1973), Night of the Devil (1972), or even entertaining trash like Werewolf Woman (1976) or Lady Frankenstein (1971), and many others. It will give you plenty of titles that you’re going to want to seek out for the first time, and many that you’ve seen before but now want to revisit once again.
By Matthew Edwards
Published by McFarland, 2017. 280 pages
There are more than a few of these types of “interview” books, where the author has sat down with a variety of people involved in movies, getting their opinions, thoughts, and feelings towards their craft and the movies they’ve worked on. So what makes Twisted Visions different from all of those? A couple of different reasons, really. Edwards not only knows the history of the subjects being interviewed, but also really knows the films being discussed. And the group of underrated filmmakers chosen for this book are probably unknown to most of the mainstream genre fans, but are more than worthy of having their chance to talk about their career. But most importantly, the great thing about this book is that you are going to learn. That’s right…didn’t think you’d find that while reading an interview with the guy that made Nightmares in a Damaged Brain or Combat Shock, did you? But you will.
In his introduction, Edwards writes “In Hollywood, the marketing of the movie has become more important than the quality of the film.” So true, and so sad. Thankfully, the filmmakers covered in this book were not anywhere close to Hollywood and that is a good thing. Edwards has picked a great selection of talent and talks with real passion and respect for them, as well as seeing a lot more here than your average fan. In other words, the guy knows what he’s talking about!
Women in Horror Films, 1930’s
By Gregory William Mank
Published by McFarland & Co, 415 pages.
Along with Tom Weaver, Greg Mank is one of the leading writers who I think is doing amazing work keeping the memory and stories of some of our favorite actors and actresses alive, through their hard work and research. We can learn so much about our favorite horror stars because of them. And this book is a prime example of that.
Each chapter of the book is dedicated to one of the stars from the ’30’s, including names like Elsa Lanchester, Gloria Stuart, Frances Drake, and many more. In fact, there are 21 different actresses cover in this book. With each name, we are given a lot of information about the them, their early life and career. There are a lot of interesting stories within these pages, most of them told directly to the author himself from the many interviews that he conducted over the years. So kudos to him for keeping these memories alive and remembered.
The Monster Movies of Universal Studios
By James L. Neibaur
Published by Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. 213 pages.
Anytime there is a book about the Universal monster movies, then count me in, since I’m always up for revisiting these classic films. Of course, the only problem is that since this subject has been written about just a few times before, it might be tough to come up with something new and different for readers to get information that have haven’t several times before. But overall, I think that Neibaur does a good job discussing these films.
After a very brief history of Universal Studios (which could be a book on it’s own), the it follows all the movies from there that feature their main set of monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. So any film that featured one of these monsters, or possibly their descendent, the title is covered. There is a total of 29 features covered here, starting with 1931’s Dracula and ending with The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), with each chapter covering each of the titles. The credits and cast are listed, before Neibaur gets into details of each film, such as the plot, information about the people involved, and some other trivia as well.
Vampire Films of the 1970s
By Gary A. Smith
Published by McFarland, 2017. 240 pages.
Being the ’70s is the decade I grew up in, watching more than my share of flicks on TV, I’m always up for reading more about this wonderful decade and the movies that came out. Decades before zombies would finally take over, at this particular point in time, vampires still ruled both in theaters and television. This is more than proven with the amount of titles covered here by Smith.
The book starts with a brief overview of the sub-genre, some rules of vampires, then we jump right into the Hammer Film era, where he first gives a little history about the famous British studio before jumping to their ’70s Dracula flicks, then moving on to other fang flicks. Since Hammer made quite a few of them during the ’70s, they are all covered here, lumped together in different sub-categories. There are other groups in the book, like Asian vampires, the Mexican Santo movies, even one on vampire porn! So there are plenty of titles to seek out if you are relatively new to the vampire genre, or are always looking ones you have missed.
Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff: The Expanded Story of a Haunting Collaboration By Gregory William Mank Published by McFarland, 2009. 701 pages
If you don’t want to read our whole review, then to put it as simply as we can get: Buy this book.
Originally published in 1990, under the title Karloff and Lugosi: The Story of a Haunting Collaboration, it was almost ten years later when Mank released a massively updated and revised version in 2009. So much time had passed since its first publication, where he had interviewed so many more people, giving him even more information and stories about Lugosi and Karloff, that he felt the need to update this book. And I’m so glad he did, since it was one of the most enjoyable, enlightening, and entertaining books that I’ve read in a long time. Really an essential volume for any monster kid.
I have to give Mank credit for not just updating this book because of new interviews and information, but to correct a few things, namely stories about Hope Lugosi, the last true “Bride of Dracula”, who in the past was not treated well by the media and journalists, including himself. But after interviewing her and getting to know her, he wanted to make sure that her side of the story was out there. So for that, I give him a lot of credit for wanting to make sure it was heard.