Terror 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.
The 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.
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.