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.
McFarland has published a ton of different books on the horror genre, quite a few of which I’ve reviewed here on this site. Typically they are a bit on the pricy side, but now is your chance to save some big bucks this horror season because they are having a huge sale. You can now get 40% off each and every one of their huge selection of titles, if you order before Friday, October 16th. Use the coupon code HORROR to get your discount.
They have so many titles that I would consider must have for any library, such as Gregory Mank’s Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff: The Expanded Story of a Haunting Collaboration, with a Complete Filmography of Their Films Together. Normally priced at $40, for $24! Or what about learning about the underrated and talented Paul Blaisdell in Randy Palmer’s excellent biography Paul Blaisdell, Monster Maker: A Biography of the B Movie Makeup and Special Effects Artist. Normal price is $20 and now you can get it for only $12! Or want to learn everything you need to know about The Creature from the Black Lagoon and its sequels? Then pick up Tom Weaver’s The Creature Chronicles. Normally priced at $40, now you can add it to your library for only $24. Not to mention so many other great titles they have listed. Just click HERE to start browsing. Pick up a few for yourself for the Halloween season, or, with the other holidays coming up and you have a horror fan that you need a gift for, now is the time to save some $$.
Hollywood Cauldron: Thirteen Horror Films from the Genre’s Golden Age
Published by McFarland, 1994. 404 pages.
By Gregory William Mank
While this is not a new volume, originally published in ’94, and republished in soft cover format in 2001, it is one that I finally decided to dive into. The film covers 13 different titles from the “Golden Age”, from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) to Bedlam (1946). With each title, Mank covers the production facts, such as who’s in it and what jobs they had, then going through the plot of the film. The real beauty of this is the information given during the story and after it. Mank always brings so much more information about the different actors, the production itself, and little bits of trivia that makes his writing so interesting, as well as entertaining. Such as the paintings from The Picture of Dorian Gray. I knew Ivan Albright painted the “evil” painting of Gray, but had always thought he painted both “good” and “evil”. As it turns it out, his twin brother painted the “good” one, but it wasn’t used. The one used in the film was done by Henrique Medina. Shows you’re never too old to learn something!
I don’t need to really go into much more details because if you’re at all familiar with Mank and his work, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re not familiar, then you need to fix that. His style of writing is one that gives you the facts, but presents them in ways that are interesting, easy to read, and I’m pretty sure you’ll come away with knowing much more than you did before hand.
If you’re a fan of the films of the golden era, then this really is a must.
With Axe-mas right around the corner, I’m sure everyone is starting to compile their own wish list or thinking about what to get others. I’m going to give a few suggestions to help not only find a great gift, but to also help increase the knowledge for the person receiving it, as well as maybe showing support for those out there that are putting their blood, sweat, tears, and talent into their work. We need to show our support for them, to let them know what they are doing is worth it.
For those out there that are looking for the special gift for the horror obsessed fan in their life, or to add it to your own personal list, let me start with a shameless plug and humbly suggest picking up a copy of my book, Discover the Horror? While it is available on Amazon, if you order it directly from me, you’ll get it personally signed to you, or whoever you request. How cool would it be to surprise your special someone with a personalized autograph copy? You can read what some people have thought about it on Amazon or some of the reviews I’ve posted on the link to the right.
But…this isn’t just about my book, but the countless titles out there that would make wonderful gifts to any horror fan. Here are some examples. Continue reading
I once again went beyond my goal of reading at least book a month this year, devouring a total of 15 titles. I seem to be on a trend because I’ve done that for the last 2 years. Granted, even at this rate, I still won’t get through every title I have, and that’s even if I stopped adding more titles to the library. And we all know that isn’t going to happen! But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try! Out of those 15 titles, here are the top 5 that I would recommend the most, listed alphabetically, even though I have a little adder at the bottom. If you want to read more detail about these titles, as well as the other ones I read, click on the link for Horror Reference Book Reviews on the menu to the right.
It’s strange how the name of Frankenstein always puts images of the monster that was pieced together by a mad doctor in our heads, when in fact the name is of the creator, not the creature. And the man who is considered to be the first Frankenstein (yes, I know there were others, but I did use the word “considered”), was Henry Frankenstein and played by British actor Colin Clive. He was the one to utter those famous lines “It’s alive! It’s alive!”. But much like the curse his character fell upon, the actor himself seemed to be cursed as well.
Now thanks to Gregory William Mank and Midnight Marquee, you’ll be able to read all the details about his life and death, in “One Man’s Crazy!” The Life and Death of Colin Clive, which should be out anytime now. I’ve read several of Mank’s books and he always fills them with so much information, details, stories, as well as heart and soul, that really shows us his subject for who they were. Mank is top-notch scholar who always delivers with his books. I can’t wait to dig into this one.
This book retails for $30 but if you order it directly from Midnight Marquee, you can get it for only $19! For ordering details, head over to their website HERE, or drop them a line at email@example.com.
After having another excellent time at the Cinevent Classic Film Convention’s 50th Anniversary show, we are now getting ready for the next stop in the Kryptic Anniversary Tour, which will be the Monster Bash Conference. This show is taking place in Mars, PA, from June 22nd to the 24th and continues to be one of our favorite stops on our annual tours. Now only does it have one of the best dealer rooms around that is tempting every single dollar I make at my own table, but there is so much stuff to do throughout the whole weekend. There’s plenty of panels and Q&A’s with the guests and other scholarly types, such as Victoria Price, Brandy Gorcey, Joyce Meadows, Janina Faye, Sharyn Moffett, Kris Yeaworth, Gregory Mank, Tom Weaver, and many more.
Laird Cregar: A Hollywood Tragedy
Published by McFarland, 2018. 329 pages
By Gregory William Mank
The reading goal that I have set for myself is to get through at least one book per month, and for the last couple of years, I’ve happily gone a little past that goal. But thanks to the wonderfully talented Mr. Mank, my average for this year just went up. It usually takes me 3-4 weeks to get through a book, mainly because I have to steal away time to read. But once I started this latest volume, on the actor Laird Cregar, I went through the first half of it in the first two days, finishing it off within a week. I just couldn’t put it down.
I have been a fan of Cregar’s since the very first time I watched The Lodger (1944). I was just amazed at not only how effective and well made the picture was, but also the amazing talent of Cregar. I immediately started to seek out other of his films, especially Hangover Square (1945), again being mesmerized by his performance. I started to read up on this seemingly unknown (to me at least) actor and his life in various books and online, only be to be depressed on how this brilliant performer was treated in his life, by others as well as how he treated himself. A couple of years ago, while talking to Mank at a Monster Bash conference, he mentioned Cregar was going to be the subject of an upcoming book, which I knew I would get the minute it came out. Which I did.
With as many titles that I add to my library each and every year, if I don’t force myself some rules, I’ll never get through some of these. Back in 2015, I’ve set myself a goal to get through at least one book per month. That year I almost made it, getting through eleven. Then last year, I devoured fourteen titles! Then this year I did even one better and made it to fifteen titles. Trust me, I wish I had the time to double that number since when you have over a thousand titles in your library, and are constantly adding new ones, it is a never ending quest. But one I that I just love. Just like my Best Of movie lists, these are not titles that came out this last year, but ones that I finally got around to. Out of those fifteen, here are the top five that I would recommend the most:
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.