Horror History: Les Baxter

lesbaxterLes Baxter
Born March 14th, 1922 – Died January. 15th, 1996

Baxter was a composer that started in the film business in the early ’50s cranking out score after score in record time. In his career, he has score more than 120 films, with 15 titles in 1957 alone! He worked in many different genres, but for us horror fans, we remember him from his work that he did for AIP, especially the Roger Corman / Edgar Allan Poe films. He also re-scored a lot of foreign films that were being picked up and released here in the states, such as Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960) and Black Sabbath (1963), or even titles like Reptilicus (1961)

Baxter started his musical career at a very young age, learning the piano at the age of 5. In his early 20’s, he joined Mel Torme’s band, worked on radio shows including Bob Hope’s show, and even had a hit record in the 50’s.

But it is for his film scores that I learned of his name. Since these movies will always live on for fans like us, so will his music. Baxter always gave us something different and unique that always highlighted the film even more.

Book Review: Gods of Grindhouse

Gods of GrindhouseGods of Grindhouse
BearManor Media, 2013. 169 pages.
Edited by Andrew J. Rausch

I know everyone out there knows the name of Roger Corman. But what about Ted V. Mikels? Or Ray Dennis Steckler, Jack Hill, or Bill Rebane? These gentlemen, plus a few more, are the names covered in this very important book. The guys are from the filmmaking industry that I feel are much more important than the likes of Michael Bay. Why? Simple. There movies are something you will remember and will stand the test of time. Each generation will discover and be entertained by them. Without the talented craftsmen discussed in this volume, there would be no Quentin Tarentino. So while their movies may be the jest of places like MST3K, that doesn’t take away from what their films are about, as well as the people that struggled to get them made and distributed.

I know I preach over and over on this site about how important it is to know your history when it comes to the genres, but I wouldn’t keep saying it if I really didn’t believe it. So many younger filmmakers, such as the previous mentioned Tarantino, grew up watching the films from these guys, being inspired to make their own mark with their films. So yes, it is VERY important to know these guys and their work. And this book is a great way to start.

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Need Some Advice to Start Your Career in Filmmaking?

Talk You To DeathDo you like to hear from different people in the film industry? From directors to composers to producers to actors, they all have insight to this crazy world that we follow. If you’re one of those that are trying to break into the film industry, what better people to get advice from than those that are already in the trenches. Filmmaker/author Danny Draven has written a book called Talk You To Death: Filmmaking Advice from the Mavericks of the Horror Genre, which consists of interviews with over 40 different people in the industry, asking for their own perspective on how to succeed in that crazy business of filmmaking.

Within these pages, you’ll hear from directors like Roger Corman, Jeff Burr, James Cullen Bressak, Mick Garris, Tibor Takacs, Mike Mendez, James Wan, Stuart Gordon, David DeCoteau, composers Charlie Clouser, John Ottman, John Debney, actors William Butler, Kane Hodder, Michael Berryman, Robert Englund, Reggie Bannister, Debbie Rochon, and many more, all giving the reader their own insight to the industry.

Even if you don’t ever plan on getting into filmmaking, I’m sure these guys are going to have some entertaining stories. I know I’ll be adding it to our library.

BearManor Media Book Sale!

bearmanor logoBearManor Media is having a huge Memorial Day sale that ends midnight on May 31st, where all of their paperback editions are 30% off. I have quite a few of BearManor titles in my collection, and have reviewed a few of them here on my site. Just do a search for BearManor Media and you’ll see which ones I’m talking about.

There are three reasons you should order a book or two (or more) from them. The first and obvious reason is because they are having a 30% off sale! Kind of a no-brainer, don’t you think?

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Horror History: Paul Birch

birch3Paul Birch
Born Jan. 13th, 1912 – Died May 24th, 1969

This square-jawed, barrel-chested actor appeared in quite a few of Roger Corman’s early pictures, such as Beast with a Million Eyes (1955), Day the World Ended (1955), and the classic Not of this Earth (1957), not to mention several other of Corman’s movies. But it was on the latter that he had a run in with Corman, even a physical one according to some reports, and walked off the set and never came back. But none the less, he is one character actor that you can always remember. He is always entertaining to watch in these early cheesy classic films.

He appeared in countless TV series during his career, with bit parts in even bigger pictures. He was one of the first humans to discover what the newly landed visitor’s from Mars wanted in War of the Worlds (1953). He was even the very first Marlboro Man in the TV commercials.

But no matter what he is in, he is always memorable and gives a fun performance. It also probably helped that the dialog on those early pictures were so cheesy, that it just made them even more fun to watch today then there were back then.

Book Review: Katzman, Nicholson, Corman: Shaping Hollywood’s Future

KatzmanNicholsonCorman bookKatzman, Nicholson, Corman: Shaping Hollywood’s Future
By Mark Thomas McGee
Published by BearManor Media, 2016. 332 pages.

Last year, I read McGee’s You Won’t Believe Your Eyes (also from BearManor) and absolutely loved it. It was such a great read, filled with some great and humorous recollections from someone who is obviously a huge fan of the same kind of movies that I enjoy.  So when I seen that BearManor had just published a new book by this same author, I was excited. But when I saw that it was about three filmmakers that I admire greatly, I couldn’t wait to get my copy to dig into it. And I wasn’t disappointment.

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Operation Track of the Blood Bath Vampire!

Blood-Bath-PosterSometimes I am just amazed at not only some of the titles that get released on blu-ray, but in the huge special editions that they come out with. Case in point, a title that Arrow Video just announced. At the end of May, they will be releasing a special edition of the 1966 film Blood Bath. But this isn’t just any ordinary film that was made under the Roger Corman umbrella. In fact, it started as a film being made in Yugoslavia by someone named Rados Novakovic and called Operation Titan. But it didn’t really fit Corman’s approval, so he hired Jack Hill to take the film and see if he could make something out of it, which he did, and would be later called Blood Bath. But for various reasons, such as the film stock from the original footage and what Hill shot didn’t match up that too well. So because Hill went on to make Spider Baby, the film was set aside. Then Corman came back to the picture and hired Stephanie Rothman to see what she could do with it. She changed the title to Track of the Vampire and made it more of a vampire film! According to Hill, about 80 % of the film is what he shot, but I have to say that it is kind of a mess of a picture, even though it has one of the best posters from that era!

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