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.
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.