Okay, so who needs another book on British Horror films? Specifically, one that titles that American International Pictures produced and/or released here in the states? I know, I know. We ALL do, right? We all know you can never have too many reference books in your film library, so now is your chance to add one more!
AIP was always known for their quick black and white low budget exploitation flicks on the 50s, but once they realized how much money they were making on Corman’s Poe features, they continued that trend, even having films produced across the pond, creating some of our favorite films, such as the Dr. Phibes films, Witchfinder General, Die, Monster, Die!, and so many other great ones.
In Witches, Bitches and Banshees: The British Films of American International Pictures, author John Hamilton spent over two decades doing research on these films, interviewing more than 60 names in the business that were involved, from “inside corporate AIP dealings as well as extensive behind-the-scenes coverage on the films”, all now encompassed in this 354-page hardcover edition. Includes a foreword by director Gordon Hessler and actress Valli Kemp.
You can order your copy directly from Little Shoppe of Horrors through their website HERE. The price is $55 plus $6.50 shipping, if you’re in the states. If you’re in the UK, Hemlock Books should be getting them in stock shortly. Otherwise, email Mr. Klemensen from LSoH for a shipping quote.
While there have been a few books that have covered the productions from American International Pictures, or AIP as they are better known as, but during their reign at the box office and drive-ins, there were 29 titles that were made in the UK, from making deals with Hammer Films, Tigon, and a few other production companies, to release the films over here in the states. Titles like Cat Girl (1957), Horrors of the Black Musuem (1959), Witchfinder General (1968), and The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), plus many others. Now, being published through Little Shoppe of Horrors, author John Hamilton has spent over 20 years working on this volume that will cover 29 film titles, each with in-depth coverage, including over 700 images!
No real date set for this volume, but I know I will definitely be adding it to my library. The films that AIP presented to audiences during that era were some of the ones I grew up on, especially in the days of the VHS boom when so many titles were hitting that new market. When we get more details, we’ll post them here. In the meantime, if you’re interested, fire off an email to Little Shoppe of Horrors main man Richard Klemenson (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let him know you’re interested.
American International Pictures: A Comprehensive Filmography
Published by McFarland, 2019. 451 pages.
By Rob Craig
I was a little apprehensive on tackling this book for review, mainly because I had already reviewed two previous volumes of Craig’s work and found them written a little above the subject. By that I mean he seemed to find a lot of subtext in some low budget features that I personally don’t think were ever there. But that is just a difference of opinion, and I hoped with his latest book on AIP films, it would be a little different. And it was. For the most part.
If you are a fan of American International Pictures, then simply put, this book is a must. It covers over 800 feature films, television series, and TV specials that were from AIP or under one of their many partners. It is an A to Z filmography, covering titles that are very familiar to ones that you might never of heard of. One of the things I really liked about this volume is that each film has a brief synopsis, usually taken from a pressbook, and that’s it when it comes to the plot. This leaves the story left open for the viewer to really discover instead of the author laying it out play-by-play style when that can lead the reader not even to bother with it! The beauty lies in everything the author writes about after the synopsis, with plenty of little informational tidbits and trivia. Continue reading
Born July 21st, 1927, Died July 10th, 1983
Any fans of the monster movies of the ’50s have probably seen the work of Paul Blaisdell. He was the man responsible for creating the monsters and creatures for a lot of those early AIP films, usually done with very little time and even less money. But he always came up with some unique and very memorable designs. He started his career after graduating from the New England School of Art and Design, and started to work for Douglas Aircraft as a technical illustrator. He would also send in his drawings to sci-fi fantasy publications like Spaceways and Otherwords. His work was noticed by a very important figure in the horror / sci-fi genre fandom, that of Forrest J. Ackerman. He became Blaisdell’s agent and introduced him into the world of movie making.
Blaisdell would go on to create some of the most memorable monsters from that era, in films like The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955), The She-Creature (1956), It Conquered the World (1957), Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957), and many more. In the early ’60s, he even started his own magazine called Fantastic Monsters of the Film, with Bob Burns. Unfortunately, the magazine was short lived.
With all of his creations being still remembered today by dedicated fans, it’s a shame that Blaisdell still does not receive the recognition that he should. So let’s change that. If you’re not familiar with him or his work, look some of his films up and take a look at the fun stuff he was coming up with, just with a few dollars and a lot of creative talent. I think you’ll enjoy what you see.
Born Apr. 12th, 1930 – Died Aug. 15th, 1988
He started his musical career writing scores in college, working with different opera houses and orchestras in throughout the early ’50s. It was in the mid ’50s that he started working for American International Pictures (known then as American Releasing Company). His first film was the Roger Corman directed western Apache Woman (1955). He worked for them for many years, scoring classic horror and sci-fi films like It Conquered the World (1956), The She-Creature (1956), Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957), Dementia 13 (1963), and many more. He even composed the theme song for Jack Hill’s Spider Baby (1968) with Lon Chaney singing, as well as the rest of the score for the film.
Stein was obviously a perfect match for AIP since he worked fast and cheap. Between the years of 1956 and 1958, he scored 8 films each year. Not a lot of time when you think about the way it is done these days. Thankfully quite a few of his scores are still available today on CD and are really fun to listen to.