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.
Born June 9th, 1920 – Died Oct. 14th, 2004
If you’ve seen more than a couple Pete Walker films, then you probably know who Sheila Keith is, or at least have seen her. And you’ve seen her work in his films, then you are definitely going to remember her! Keith was this wonderful older lady who seemed to excel in playing twisted and demented characters, even if she looked like your friendly old grandmother. While she did work a lot in other smaller roles and in a few TV series, it is her work with Walker that us deviant horror fans remember and love her for.
In Walker’s Frightmare aka Cover Up (1974), which happens to be my favorite role of hers, where she plays a cannibalistic matriarch, with such zest and conviction, that she is one of the scariest women you’d ever want to come across. She also appeared in Walker’s House of Whipcord (1974), The Confessional aka House of Mortal Sin (1976), The Comeback (1978), and House of Long Shadows (1983), where she worked alongside the likes of Carradine, Cushing, Lee, and Price!
Keith’s performances were always so strong and powerful that it amazes me that she did not get a ton of work in other movies. Maybe it was because Walker’s films didn’t receive a lot of critical acclaim.
The British Horror Film: From the Silent to the Multiplex
Published by Fonthill Media, 2017. 222 pages
By Ian Fryer
I’m a sucker for any books on British horror films, especially when they are going to cover Hammer. But then there are still so many other great pictures and talented filmmakers that came out of the UK, so there is much more of a history than just Hammer. Whether it is a good thing or not, but Fryer spends more of the time covering the famous Studio that Dripped Blood. So it’s a toss-up to find that a complaint or not, because they were such a dominating force in that country’s horror film output.
He does do a decent job covering other entries, such as Amicus, Tony Tenser, Pete Walker and the likes, so it’s not just Hammer. Even when we get to the modern day, he mentions quite a few of the people making a name for the genre, like Neil Marshall, Christopher Smith, and Ben Wheatley.