Book Review: Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1980-1989

Italian Gothic Horror Films 1980-1989Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1980-1989
Published by McFarland, 2019. 232 pages.
By Roberto Curti

Being that this is the 3rd book in the series by Curti involving the gothic horror films of Italy, this latest one, covering the ’80s, it’s sort of a nice little walk down memory lane for me. The ’80s is when I started to become aware of these films. With the boom of VHS tapes, the horror section was filled with these flicks from Italy, promising (and usually delivering) the bloody and gory goods to us eager viewers. So getting to read several pages on some of my favorites, namely the ones from Argento, Bava, Fulci, and Soavi, there is plenty to be learned here.

Not only will you get to read about some of your favorite classic Italian horror flicks like Argento’s Inferno (1980) or Fulci’s City of the Living Dead (1980), The Beyond and House by the Cemetery (both 1981), as well as Claudio Fragasso’s Monster Dog (1985) and Luigi Cozzi’s Paganini Horror (1989), you will get so much insight and information that I bet you’re going to want to re-watch some of these if you haven’t seen them in a while. You’ll learn maybe why Monster Dog turned out like it did, which could make you give it (and Fragasso) a little more credit. Maybe. Continue reading

Book Review: “Twice the Thrills! Twice the Chills!”

Twice the Thrills“Twice the Thrills! Twice the Chills!”
Published by McFarland, 2019. 433 pages.
By Bryan Senn

The double feature was an interesting concept from the start. If you’re not aware of how it all started, then the beginning of the latest book from Senn will fill in all those historical details for you. In fact, I found that part of the book to be a very interesting history lesson, how the studios were reacting to what the TV market was doing to them. It shows that once again how things tend to change because of money, either due to an increase of it, or a decrease, and definitely in the film business. Continue reading

Book Review: 150 Movies You Should Die Before You See

150 Movies You Should Die Before You See150 Movies You Should Die Before You See
Published by Adams Media, 2010. 290 pages.
By Steve Miller

This one had me really confused, especially the title. I first picked it up because I thought it might give me a few ideas for some future Turkey Day viewing. But as I read through it, I became really confused at just what Miller was trying to do here.

Each film has a very short synopsis along with cast and crew listing. Then a paragraph under the Why It Sucks moniker, a ratings of how many Thumbs Down, then a Crappies Award for whatever he didn’t care for.

In his introduction, Miller writes that there is “something magical about bad movies. Something that makes them worth the sometimes considerable effort to sit through.” Now while I really don’t like the term “bad movies” when you’re talking about a film you enjoy watching (same goes with “guilty pleasure”), I’ll let it slide here because that is an discussion for another time. But if you’re talking about movies that you do enjoy watching, then why are you putting them in a book with the title telling people NOT to watch them? Continue reading

Book Review: The Creature Chronicles

creaturechroniclesThe Creature Chronicles: Exploring the Black Lagoon Trilogy
Published by McFarland, 2014. 408 pages.
By Tom Weaver, David Schecter, & Steve Kronenberg

This should be a very simple review. If you want to know anything about Creature from the Black Lagoon, or its two sequels, Revenge of the Creature and/or The Creature Walks Among Us, then just buy this book. Just about anything and everything you need to know about those films is in this book. Tom Weaver, along with Schecter and Kronenberg, have researched and compiled so much information, from the cast and crew, premieres, design teams, press, music, down to all the screenwriters involved in them, all here in this book. It even has an introduction by Creature star Julia Adams.

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Book Review: The Lady from the Black Lagoon

Lady from the Black LagoonThe Lady from the Black Lagoon
Published by Hanover Square Press, 2019. 368 pages.
By Mallory O’Meara

As a horror historian (sounds such more impressive than horror fan, doesn’t it?), anytime some light can be shed on someone important in the genre, especially when that light was purposely taken away from them, then I’m all for it.

If you were to just go by the screen credits in those classic movies, you’d never know about some of the thousands of people that actually worked on them. This isn’t anything new either, since a LOT of people go without given due credit. That’s just the business. But when that business included someone taking credit for someone else’s work, even getting rid of said person because they were starting to get their deserved credit, then that that error needs to be fixed,  especially when we’re talking about the creation of one of the famous Universal Monsters. Helping do that is author Mallory O’Meara with this new book on Milicent Patrick, the woman who actually designed the Gill Man from Creature from the Black Lagoon.

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Book Review: Perverse Titillation

perverse titillationPerverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France, 1960-1980
Published by McFarland, 2011. 346 pages.
By Danny Shipka

“To all those who have received grief for their entertainment choices and who see the study of weird and wacky films as important to understanding popular culture.”

That is the little dedication in the beginning of the book, which I immediately felt a kindred spirit with the author, since, like many fans of cult cinema, have had to try and explain and/or defend their love of this genre. For someone who is new to this type of films, especially from the three countries covered here, this would be a great introduction. This is not an in-depth or critical study or college thesis where the author is trying to come up with some outrageous theory, but an general overview of the films, filmmakers, and what was going on in those countries during this time. As a newcomer to this, you will find quite a few titles to add to your “To-Watch” list, which honestly, is the best thing a reference book can do for the reader, making them want to seek out and watch the films that are discussed. And with that, author Shipka does a great job.

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Book Review: Hammer Complete

Hammer CompleteHammer Complete: The Films, the Personal, the Company
Published by McFarland, 2018. 992 pages.
By Howard Maxford

Wow.

It’s really hard to be not excited when a book comes out on one of your favorite studios that is just a few pages shy of a 1000! Sure, some of you that ask, “do we really need another book on Hammer Films?” Well if it is as massive and thorough as this one, then that would be a definite yes! I have been waiting on this book to come out since McFarland announced it well over a year ago, but had no idea how colossal of a tome this would be. Maxford states in his introduction that it has taken over 15 years to complete this and it looks like it.

I’ve been reading and researching and learning about Hammer Studios and the people behind it for somewhere around three decades, but there is always still more to learn. That was proven once again as I started browsing through this before I read some little tidbits that I didn’t know about. Such as that Jimmy Hanley, who played the friendly bartender in The Lost Continent (1968), is actually the father of Jenny Hanley, who appeared in Scars of Dracula (1970)! Sure, it’s just a little bit of trivia, but that is a sign of a good reference book.

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