There is a new book that just came out called 40s Universal Monsters: A Critical Commentary, covering all of the monster films that Universal put out during that decade. Author John T. Soister had published a similar book back in 2001 covering the Universal films of the 30s, entitled Of Gods and Monsters: A Critical Guide to Universal’s Science Fiction, Horror and Mystery Films, 1929-1939. Now, along with contributors Henry Nicolella, Harry H. Long, & Dario Lavia, they take on the ’40s, covering 66 titles from The Invisible Man Returns to Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.
But what does have to do with opinions? Hear me out. Looking through my own library, I have several books that deal with the early days of cinema. If we’re talking about the silent era, we have Silent Screams by Steve Haberman, or Wayne Kinsey’s entry in his incredible Fantastic Films of the Decades series, as well as Troy Howarth’s own series, Tome of Terror, who has covered the decade of the ’30s as well. Kinsey is already up to halfway through the ’40s with his ongoing series. But then I also have Universal Horrors by Tom Weaver, Michael and John Brunas, Soister’s aforementioned Of Gods and Monsters, Mank’s Hollywood Cauldron, Senn’s Golden Horrors, and even a few others titles. Then we move into the ’50s and beyond with multiple titles in each of those as well.
“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
There is just something special about good old fashioned double features! Sure, they might have started to draw in audiences more, getting double the entertainment for your hard-earned dollar. And sure, usually the main feature was followed up by a cheaper B-picture, but none the less, they were a lot of fun. Now, author Bryan Senn takes a look at this special time in our movie history, when double features were something to look forward to.
Starring with Universal-Internationals release of Revenge of the Creature and Cult of the Cobra in 1955, Senn goes through the next 20 years covering all the officially sanctioned double-bills of horror and science fiction titles. All 147 of them! You’ll read all about the films with production details, historical notes, and critical commentary.
This 433 page book is now available through McFarland. It’s a bit pricy at $59.95, but Senn’s work is always entertaining and very informative. I am looking forward into diving into this!
You can order your copy now by clicking HERE.
Back in golden age of cinema, at least for fans of horror and Sci-Fi pictures, was the double feature. These were usually at the drive-ins, and offered fans two features for the price of one to try and get more patronage through the gates! How could you lose? Sure, the second feature might not be the best film, but that was all part of the fun. Some of these pairings became legendary, such as I Drink Your Blood and I Eat Your Skin!
Now, thanks to author Bryan Senn, you can learn all you need to know about all the different double bills that played in theaters from 1955 to 1974, in his new book Twice the Thrills! Twice the Chills! The book covers the 147 officially sanctioned horror and Sci-Fi double-bills during this period, starting with AIP’s Revenge of the Creature and Cult of the Cobra.
There is no specific publication date as of yet, but should be out either the end of this year, or the beginning of 2019. It does have a bit of a hefty price of $59.95, but everything I’ve read by Senn has been well worth the time and effort and I’ve walked away with a lot more horror knowledge! So can you really put a price on that???
At one point during the first day of the show, a gentleman walked up to my table and we started chatting…the usual stuff, movies, posters, and such. We were talking about the classic Universal monster films and some of the posters for them. I mentioned that I would be scared to death to own something like one of those, just because of the value, I’d be terrified that something would happen to it. He mentioned that some time ago, he had purchased an original one-sheet for The Invisible Man, but had to get rid of it for that same reason. Then he mentions that he put out a book some time ago called Children of the Night, which was a book on movie posters. Of course, I have that book in my library, which I quickly told him, which made him smile even more! His name is James Gresham and is a super nice guy and such a pleasure to chat with. Children came out in 2007 and is a comprehensive guide to classic horror posters, lobby cards, and other items. For someone like me that will never be able to afford these kind of items, it is a great way to at least be able to see some of them and the beautiful artwork. He followed up this book in 2010 with They’re Here Already, which is the same kind of book, but covers the science fiction films of the 1950s. Again, so much fun to look through. These are both beautiful hardcover edition books that are a bit pricey but well worth the money if you are a fan of this kind of poster art. Continue reading
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!
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!
One of the great things I loved about Monster Bash is the presence of not only books but authors as well. Last year, I got over dozen books signed by a few different authors that were there. And it didn’t cost a penny! It would have been a lot more books but author Tom Weaver wasn’t able to make it to the show. But this year he was, and I was prepared for his return to the Bash, bringing well over a dozen of his books alone for him to sign. Weaver is a deity when it comes to horror history, spending his time seeking out and interviewing stars of the movies we love, both bigger names and not-so-bigger names, and getting their stories and memories down in print for us monster fans to read and learn even more about them.
For those fans of lycanthropic cinema, ones that like their monsters a little bit on the hairy side, author Bryan Senn has written a new book to give us werewolf fans a checklist to start marking off. Coming from McFarland sometime at the end of this year, or early 2017, this book will feature more than 300 reviews of werewolf cinema, from the classicas like The Wolf Man (1941) to modern day films, covering all the usual suspects, like The Howling (1981), plus many more. Each review has information on the production, the cast and crew, along with a critical look at the title. I’m sure we’ll see just a few titles from Paul Naschy in here…..