Book Review: Darkening the Italian Screen

Darkening the Italian ScreenDarkening 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

Book News! Start Saving!

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

The Haunted House on Film

Haunted House on filmJust 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!

Book Review: “Twice the Thrills! Twice the Chills!”

Twice the Thrills“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

Twice the Thrills! Twice the Chills!

Twice the ThrillsThere 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.

Book Review: Hammer Complete

Hammer CompleteHammer Complete: The Films, the Personal, the Company
Published by McFarland, 2018. 992 pages.
By Howard Maxford

Wow.

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.

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Book Review: Horror in Space

Horror in SpaceHorror in Space
Published by McFarland, 2018. 248 pages.
Edited by Michele Brittany

The book’s subtitle is “Critical Essays on a Film Subgenre” and boy howdy, it sure is. If you’re looking for an easy read, one that might bring up some easy but not-too-deep thinking ideas about these movies that we love, then you might want to look for another book. When you have the words “Critical Essays” in the book’s title, that is a big hint at the kind of writing that you’ll find within those pages. The collection of authors that have been gathered here for this volume are all very intelligent scholars, from sociology teachers, doctoral candidates, to professors, so they know their stuff. So please don’t let my comments about their opinions and theories seem like I’m trying to say they are uneducated. That is not the point I’m trying to make.

Like a lot of these theory essay books, I’d make a guess that some of these are from a collage thesis or part of a future book. But I still stand by my own theory that sometimes a duck is just a duck. I know there are some films where the creators are weaving different subtext within the story, such as any version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But I feel a lot of these scholars take a subject matter and form into something that then fits a particular movie or sub-genre.

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