Biology 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.
Film 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.
Because 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.
Grande Dame Guignol Cinema
Published by McFarland, 2009. 340 pages.
By Peter Shelley
Kudos to author Shelley for coming up with a great idea, highlighting some classics in horror cinema that some of them I feel tend to be left behind. Shelley writes in the preface, “for me the sign of good writing about films is that it compels one to see the movie under discussion. I hope my book does this for my readers.” Not only do I completely agree with that statement, but there are more than a few titles discussed in this book are now on my Need-to-Watch-AGAIN list.
Shelley does a great job in his introduction explaining the title of the book, and clearly defining what he means by it. This is a good way to stop people from asking “why did you leave this movie out?” … granted that will still probably happen. But at least going in, we are well aware of his point and what he is trying to accomplish with this book. With each title, he gives us a little background on the actress who is filling the role of the book’s title, and why they fit so well here. Once again, any book that sheds a little light on some horror history, I’m all for, and Shelley does an admirable job here.
A few years ago while browsing through a local Half Price Books, I came across a book that really through me for a loop. I almost past it up at first because it looked like book on science fiction movies, but as it turned out, there was more than enough of the horror genre covered within. The book was called The Biology of Science Fiction Cinema, originally published in 2005, by McFarland, and written by Mark C. Glassy. As I learned more about Glassy, I discovered that he is an actual professional scientist (now retired) with “extensive study in biochemistry and molecular immunology”, as well as a huge fan of science fiction movies, ever since seeing Earth vs. the Flying Saucers when he was four years old. In this book, he goes through some of our favorite films and discusses the actual science behind it, such as in The Fly (both versions), The Blob (both versions again), White Zombie to John Carpenter’s The Thing to even Lucio Fulci’s Zombie! He covers what parts of the science in the film are correct and what parts are not. This is a lot of fun to read through.
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: