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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Book Review: Terror in the Desert

Terror in the DesertTerror in the Desert
Published by McFarland, 2018. 312 pages
By Brad Sykes

In an age of internet reviews, when anybody with a computer can be a critic (me being one of them), sometimes we might read a negative review of a movie and brush it off without any inclination to visit it, or in some cases, re-visit it. And I think that is a big mistake on the part of all of us fans.

In his introduction in this book, author Sykes writes, “I honestly believe that most of the films profiled in these pages – flaws and all – have something to offer the viewer.” After reading that, it reminded me once again that even if a movie might only be a 2 or 2 1/2 stars out of 5, that doesn’t mean that it is a total waste of time, but that it still might have some merit and might just be worth watching. Might be a great special effect or stunt in there. Or just a great performance by one particular actor. We just never know. So I just wanted to throw that out there, giving a little credit to Sykes for reminding us fans something that we shouldn’t forget.

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Know Your Nosferatu History?

Nosferatu StoryThe German silent film Nosferatu (1922) remains one of the most famous of horror films. Yes, it was an illegal adaptation of Stoker’s novel, and was supposed to be destroyed by a court order, but lucky for us fans, prints remained and now we can still see and enjoy this amazing piece of early horror cinema today. But what is really known about this film and the people behind it? Now, thanks to author Rolf Giesen, we will be able to learn the history behind this infamous picture.

According to McFarland’s website, The Nosferatu Story: The Seminal Horror Film, Its Predecessors and Its Enduring Legacy gives us “the complete story drawing on rare sources. The trail leads to a group of occultists and their plan for establishing a leading film company that would produce a momentous series of horror movies. Along the way, the author touches upon other classic German fantasy silent, including The Golem, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and Metropolis.

The book is set to be released by the fall of this year, and has a retail price of $45. For more information, head over to McFarland’s website HERE.

Book Review: Biology Run Amok!

BBiology Run Amokiology Run Amok!
Published by McFarland, 2018. 255 pages

By Mark C. Glassy

I first discovered the writings of Glassy with his first book, The Biology of Science Fiction Cinema, which I stumbled across at a Half Price Books a few years ago. Within those pages, he discusses different films in the horror and sci-fi genre, looking at the science in them and seeing what could be true and what is totally off. Such an enjoyable read. This time out, Glassy does the same, but also is educating the reader with a lot of science knowledge and how it is applied in some of our favorite films. These were originally published in Scary Monsters magazine, starting back in 2009, but now are all gathered together in this one volume.

In the beginning of the book, he describes how audiences today are the “Jurassic Park Generation” since we pretty much will believe the science we see in movies as reality. But Glassy goes through these different theories and explains in more details some of the fallacies therein, but also when some of the films gets the science correct.

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Book Review: Film Alchemy: The Independent Cinema of Ted V. Mikels

mikelsbookFilm Alchemy: The Independent Cinema of Ted V. Mikels
Published by McFarland, 2007.  220 Pages

By Christopher Wayne Curry

The name of Ted V. Mikels is one that is not that well known in the film community. Unless of course, you are a fan of cult movies. Then you are well aware of the name, and the man, and the movies that he has given us over the past 40+ years. Now thanks to author Curry, we are able to get a closer inside look at the man and his movies.

Mikels’ films can pretty much be the definition of “independent cinema”. Within these pages, Curry does an excellent job explaining and showing the readers just what Mikels has gone through to bring his productions from conception to creation. It’s not a pretty story in most cases. But as Mikels says in the book, “I always tell people at the beginning of my movies that if they’re not here to enjoy the making of a movie then they shouldn’t be here.” I think that statement perfectly describes Mikels. He simply loves to make movies.

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Terror in the Desert

Terror in the DesertBecause I am forever waving the flag that print is NOT dead, when I see a book coming out or already released that is something that I would be interested in reading, I want to make sure others know about it as well. And of course, one of those subjects is on horror films.

McFarland has announced a new title called Terror in the Desert: Dark Cinema of the American Southwest, by Brad Sykes. Now offhand, one might not realize the films that take place in the desert. Sure, we immediately think of Hills Have Eyes, but what about titles like The Hitcher, Tremors, or even the more recent Bone Tomahawk?

Sykes looks back at this sub-genre of films to give them a critical and analysis that haven’t been done before. With rare stills, promotional materials, filmographies and more, not only does this sound like an interesting read, I have a feeling its going to make me add quite a few more titles to my “Need to Re-Watch” list!

You can find out more information by heading to McFarland’s website HERE.