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.
The Werewolf Filmography
By Bryan Senn
Published by McFarland, 2017. 408 pages.
Why a book like this has never been written before is beyond me. Yeah, there was the The Illustrated Werewolf Movie Guide by Stephen Jones, but that just quickly goes through titles with very little written about them, as well as it covering movies having ANY connection to werewolves or changing into a creature listed. A nice book to chew on, so to speak, but not one to go to for any real meat. But it can also be said that maybe the reason a book like this hasn’t been written before was, as author Senn puts it in his introduction, since the werewolf sub-genre is so huge, there are many, many titles that are far from good. So since the bad definitely outweigh the good, it would be a very tough hill to climb to watch and write about all of them. But Senn has taken on that task, and has done an admirably job!
The Book of Lists: Horror
By Amy Wallace, Del Howison, and Scott Bradley
Published by Harper, 2008. 410 pages.
I can’t remember the last time that I picked up a book and was just completely taken over by it. This is one of the most entertaining books I have read in quite some time. This is the kind of book that you can pick up at any time, even if you only have a couple of minutes, open it up to any page, and start reading. And after a couple of minutes, you will have a smile on your face.