The Nosferatu Story: The Seminal Horror Film, Its Predecessors and Its Enduring Legacy
Published by McFarland, 2019. 225 pages
By Rolf Giesen
As a horror fan, I am forever grateful to all the authors out there that decided that they were going to do all this research and study on a particular film, or a sub-genre as a whole, and then put all of that work into a book so that other film fans can learn so much more about them. Whether it is on a specific sub-genre or a certain film in particular, I know that after reading it, I will have a little bit better understanding of the subject matter upon visiting it once again. Giesen’s book on Nosferatu, as well as early German horror cinema, is just that book. You’ll read about a lot of important names that would have a huge impact on the horror genre.
Those fans of low budget and independent filmmaking might be aware of Ray Dennis Steckler. Even if you’re not, you’ve probably heard of the title The Incredible Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964). But he made plenty more like that, hitting a variety of sub-genres, but no matter what, they were always the same demented mind. Now, thanks to author Christopher Wayne Curry, you’ll be able to take a deeper dive into that madness with his latest book, The Incredible Strange Features of Ray Dennis Steckler, being published by McFarland later this summer.
The book will cover “nearly fifty movies while his lost, incomplete and experimental films have been examined as well. Key Entries include cast and crew credits, alongside a plot synopsis, pictures, posters and behind-the-scenes anecdotes. This wild and way-out read is made all the more so with a Steckler memorabilia checklist, an overview of global tributes, exclusive interviews and much, much more. Transcriptions of the author’s interviews with Steckler’s ex-wife Carolyn Brandt, his daughter Laura H. Steckler, and stuntman Gary Kent are included.”
I’m sure once I get my grubby little hands on a copy, I’ll be posting a review shortly thereafter!
Since I’m always on a quest to add more titles to my ever-growing library of non-fiction titles on the horror genre, I’ve recently come across a few more that I wanted to let everyone know about. Most of these haven’t been released yet, or even listed on the publisher’s website just yet. But I figure the quicker I put them on your radar, you’ll look for them.
The first one is entitled Dead or Alive: British Horror Films 1980-1989, edited by Darrell Buxton. This one has been published by Midnight Marquee and you can order it either through Amazon or their site, though they don’t it listed just yet.
The next one has only been announced by the author, Bryan Senn, and that it is coming from BearManor Media, called Here There Be Monsters, which is a collection of interviews and essays on “Classics (And Not So Classic) Horror Cinema”. Coming from Senn, I’m sure it will be well worth the read!
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.
Here’s another volume for the library of giallo fans. Alexandra Heller-Nicholas has just released the cover of her newest book, The Giallo Canvas: Art Excess and Horror Cinema, which sounds to be much different look at this popular sub-genre of films. While most books on this sub-genre covers everything from the production and making of, sexual subtexts, and a huge focus on style, this title “explores an overlooked yet prevalent element in some of the best known gialli – an obsession with art and artists in creative production, with a particular focus on painting.” Sounds like a very interesting read, that is for sure. Plus, I love that this is something new to consider about these films, focusing on the art used in these movies. The author will be exploring art that is used by some of the masters of Italian giallo cinema, such as Mario and Lamberto Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Sergio Martino, Umberto Lenzi, and Michele Soavi.
This will be publised by McFarland, but there is no release date as of yet. Stay tuned and we’ll keep you posted.
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