Book Review: Universal Terrors, 1951-1955

universal-terrorsUniversal Terrors, 1951-1955: Eight Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Films
Published by McFarland, 2017. 440 pages.

By Tom Weaver, with David Schecter, Robert J. Kiss, and Steve Kronenberg

Anytime I do research on an older classic, if I’m looking for quotes, interviews, or anything type of information, going through the many volumes of books I have from Tom Weaver is one place that I always start. The reason for that is that his books are always so informative, giving a ton of details about the movies and their production, as well as the people that worked on it, from the directors and writers to the actors. Since he’s interviewed so many of these people over the years, the details he’s getting comes first hand. When news of a new book Weaver was working on that covered some of Universal’s films of the ’50s, since I’m a huge fan of that era, I couldn’t wait for it to come out so I could dig into it.

tarantula

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Horror History: Reynold Brown

reynoldbrownReynold Brown
Born Oct. 18th, 1917 – Died Aug. 24th, 1991

You probably have never heard of the name Reynold Brown, which is a tragedy. This man’s work is recognized by millions of film fans, but sadly they don’t even realize who Brown was. In the years before the internet, if there is one job in the movie business that is probably responsible for getting to people to come to the movies, it was the artists creating the movie poster. This was what the future audience was going to look at and decide that they had to come back next week to see that movie, so the image had to jump out at them and draw them in immediately. And one of these guys responsible for that in the ’50s through the ’60s, was Reynold Brown.

Between 1951 and 1970, he created somewhere between 250 and 275 movie posters.  And a LOT of them, I guarantee that you’ve seen before. Titles like Creature from the Black Lagoon, Revenge of the Creature, Tarantula, This Island Earth, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, or even The Deadly Mantis. Each one of these pieces truly is a work of incredible art. Not only just recreating a giant monster on the poster, but creating a story right there in one lookBeing left-handed, at a time when that wasn’t ‘normal’, his grammar school teachers forced him to write “properly” with his right hand. Of course, he still used his left hand to doodle and draw. And that he did. He continued to draw all through high school, even getting a scholarship for an art school, but couldn’t go because of the death of his father. But he still continued to work on his talent, eventually working on a comic strip called Tailspin Tommy. After the advice of one of his heroes, Norman Rockwell, he got a job as an illustrator at North American Aviation, doing technical illustrations for service manuals. He eventually worked as a freelance illustrated for years, eventually getting a teaching job as Art Center College, which he did for 26 years.

In 1951, he did his first movie poster, for the film The World in His Arms. Some of his posters are iconic and ones that we’ve been seeing for years. So Reynold Brown is a name that needs to be remembered for his work in this field, and for creating such incredible works of art, making us want to see those movies over and over again. The sad part is that there were times that Brown, and a lot of other movie poster artists, were not allowed to sign their names on the artwork. That is a real tragedy.

Check out the official website by clicking HERE. There was also a documentary on him made in 1994 called The Man Who Drew Bug-Eyed Monsters, which is available to watch on YouTube. Below is part one, then you should be able to see the links for the other three parts. It definitely is worth a watch.