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
Terrifying Texts: Essays on Books of Good and Evil in Horror Cinema
Published McFarland, 2018. 268 pages.
Edited by Cynthia J. Miller & A. Bowdoin Van Riper
When I came across this title, I was immediately intrigued by it because, strangely enough, I didn’t know of anybody else who had tackled this subject matter before. In fact, the more I read through it, I was amazed at that fact because there are more movies that deal with this subject that I had thought. It’s one of those that as you’re reading and they mention another movie, you immediately think “Oh yeah… I forgot about that one!” Needless today, I really enjoyed this one!
As a book person myself, this had me right from the opening Introduction, where it reads, “Books are revered – and feared – for their ability to affect the minds and hearts of humankind. We collect them, pore over them, commit their passages to memory, censor them, and even attempt to banish them from our midst, lest they lead us to ruin.” Any book lover is going to be nodding their head while reading that, knowing and agreeing with exactly what the authors are saying… or writing, technically. Continue reading
We all know that there are title upon title on movie reference books that cover the same topic. Whether it is on slasher films, the zombie sub-genre, or any number of those Freudian psycho-babble entries, there are more than enough to keep this fan of horror reference books busy and broke! But I recently came across three titles that are either out or coming out that cover a unique and interesting theme that immediately grabbed my interests. Even more so, at first thought, I didn’t think there would be enough movies under each of these subjects to merit a whole book. But once again, it just shows you can always learn more!
Masks in Horror Cinema: Eyes Without Faces is by Alexander Heller-Nicholas, and has been published by University of Wales Press. This one is a bit pricy, at $51.37 on Amazon, and is 288 pages long. According to the description, “This book explores its transformative potential historically across myriad cultures, particularly in relation to its ritual and myth-making capacities, and its intersection with power, ideology and identity.”
With this striking cover, using poster art from Georges Franju’s Les yeux sans visage (aka Eyes Without a Face, 1960), this doesn’t look to be a book covering a certain number of specific movie titles, but is broken up into different categories, such as Skin Masks, Blanks Masks, Animal Masks, and such. There are separate chapters on pre-1970 films and post-1970. I have to say, it does sound kind of interesting. Continue reading
The Haunted House on Film: An Historical Analysis
Published by McFarland, 2019. 222 pages
By Paul Meehan
The haunted house film is one of my favorite sub-genres so I was very excited to dig into this title when it finally came out. I was hoping to add a multitude to titles to my “Crap! I haven’t seen that yet” list, which is exactly what I did. Even before we get into the thick of this review, anytime a book has you seeking out different titles, that is always a good thing!
The introduction gives a great overview of the not only haunted house in cinema, but in fiction as well, giving the reader a nice background as to where all of this really started. When you consider that the very first haunted house film, Georges Méliès 1986 film Le Chateau Hante (aka The Haunted Castle), was also the very first horror film, makes this sub-genre really the oldest in the horror film category. But we also have early titles discussed such as D.W. Griffith’s One Exciting Night (1922) and Roland West’s The Bat (1926). Meehan covers the early “old dark house” films that really were a combination of mystery/thriller/comedies, giving a good explanation as to why these are really different than what one would normally define as a haunted house film. On many of the movies discussed, where there is a mystery killer, the author leaves it up to the reader to find the movie and watch it to find out who that might be. Since many authors will give away any surprises, which really is a letdown going into the film if you know the ending, it’s nice to know those secrets were left hidden. Continue reading
Darkening the Italian Screen
Published by McFarland, 2019. 334 pages
By Eugenio Ercolani
As fans of Italian genre films, we all know the names of Argento, Bava, Soavi, and (hopefully) Freda. But there were so many that worked in the industry in the ’60s through the ’80s, that so many get lost in the shuffle. Maybe we’ve heard of them, or maybe we know a movie or two they did, but that’s it. That is what I love about this book, that it brings light to more than a few people that had connections to some of the films we love, but maybe didn’t know as much about them.
Going through the list of names interviewed in this book, there were a few that I was familiar with, such as Umberto Lenzi, Ruggero Deodato, Enzo G. Castellari, and Sergio Martino. But even with these guys, there were plenty of interesting and sometimes downright amazing stories to be learned within these pages, especially when we learn about their beginnings in the industry. Other names like Alberto De Martino or Mario Caiano, I was somewhat familiar with, but not a lot. Then there were names that I wasn’t as familiar with at all, such as Giulio Petroni or Franco Rossetti. But the great thing about if you’ve been a fan of the Italian film genre for any length of time, you will have at least heard of the films they are talking about, if you haven’t seen them already. Continue reading
For those book lovers in your life, here are more than a few gift ideas for the upcoming holidays, or just because you want to support the print industry! I know each and every one of these titles will be added to my own personal library in the very near future! But these are a few that we’ve recently come across that sound pretty amazing.
Darkening the Italian Screen: Interviews with Genre and Exploitation Directors Who Debuted in the 1950s and 1960s by Eugenio Ercolani is a collection of interviews with names that might not be as familiar with most fans, but yet have had a huge impact on the Italian exploitation cinema. There are some of the usual suspects like actor George Hilton and director Sergio Martino, but then we’ll also get to hear from the likes of Uberto Lenzi, Alberto De Martino, Enzo G. Castellari, Franco Rossetti, among others. I can’t wait to hear some of their stories and tales from the trenches of getting some of their films made and released. Continue reading
Just throwing this out there, so other lovers of movies about spooky houses can add it to their list of upcoming books to buy, McFarland has announced this title to be released later this year. I don’t have a lot of information about it other than the title is The Haunted House on Film and is by Paul Meehan. I’ve been a huge fan of haunted house movies ever since those old black and white thrillers from the ’30s and ’40s (which always turned out to be some sort of Scooby Doo endings), but once I got to see The Haunting (1963) and The Legend of Hell House (1973), there was no turning back. So I’m thrilled that someone has put a book together compiling all of these great movies. Granted, the “Historial Analysis” has me worried a bit that it might be one of those academic, microscopic looks at the sub-genre, but one can hope, right?
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. But figured I would just start getting the word out there!
“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.
Hammer Complete: The Films, the Personal, the Company
Published by McFarland, 2018. 992 pages.
By Howard Maxford
It’s really hard to be not excited when a book comes out on one of your favorite studios that is just a few pages shy of a 1000! Sure, some of you that ask, “do we really need another book on Hammer Films?” Well if it is as massive and thorough as this one, then that would be a definite yes! I have been waiting on this book to come out since McFarland announced it well over a year ago, but had no idea how colossal of a tome this would be. Maxford states in his introduction that it has taken over 15 years to complete this and it looks like it.
I’ve been reading and researching and learning about Hammer Studios and the people behind it for somewhere around three decades, but there is always still more to learn. That was proven once again as I started browsing through this before I read some little tidbits that I didn’t know about. Such as that Jimmy Hanley, who played the friendly bartender in The Lost Continent (1968), is actually the father of Jenny Hanley, who appeared in Scars of Dracula (1970)! Sure, it’s just a little bit of trivia, but that is a sign of a good reference book.