Book Review: Claude Rains: An Actor’s Voice

Claude Rains: An Actor’s Voice
Published by University Press of Kentucky, 2008. 290 pages.
By David J. Skal with Jessica Rains

Like most horror fans, I knew the name of Claude Rains because of his starring role in The Invisible Man (1933), as well his performances in The Wolf Man (1941), and Phantom of the Opera (1943). Eventually I would learn of his other pictures and that he had come from the world of the stage, starting out at a very young age, and even battling a speech impediment and strong cockney accent. I even wrote a retrospective on The Invisible Man for HorrorHound magazine, doing quite a bit of research, and thinking I had a good insight into the actor himself. But like most things in life, there is always room to learn more. And after reading Skal’s book, I realized how much more.

There are several biographies currently in publication on Rains that I had planned on adding to my library, but it was Skal’s book that I acquired first. While looking for the next book to read, this was still sitting off to the side, not yet put away in the bookshelf, I picked it up and started to read the introduction. The next thing I knew, I was already 50 pages deep into this wonderful story. I think that is where Skal excels here, in telling a very compelling story filling it in with bits of information here and there.

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Jack Pierce: Hollywood Makeup Master Book

I came across this title recently on Amazon, which looks like it was published a couple of months ago, but felt it needs some attention. I have not read it (yet!) but will be ordering it soon and at some point, will have my review posted. But since it is on one of the greatest makeup artists in history, I think it is important to mention here. I mean, this is the guy that created most of the faces on what we consider the Classic Universal Monsters, right?

This 332 page book by author Christopher Lock, that features over 350 photos and graphics, is the only “personal and professional memoire on Jack Pierce available anyway”, which gives fans a “comprehensive and unique insight into the background, psyche, and motivations of Jack P. Pierce; from his childhood in Greece to his immigration to America, his career rationales, his psychological instincts, his rise to fame and recognition, and his eternal legacy”, according to the listing on Amazon.

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Book Review: Monster Movies of Universal Studios

Monster Movies of Universal StudiosThe Monster Movies of Universal Studios
By James L. Neibaur
Published by Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. 213 pages.

Anytime there is a book about the Universal monster movies, then count me in, since I’m always up for revisiting these classic films. Of course, the only problem is that since this subject has been written about just a few times before, it might be tough to come up with something new and different for readers to get information that have haven’t several times before. But overall, I think that Neibaur does a good job discussing these films.

After a very brief history of Universal Studios (which could be a book on it’s own), the it follows all the movies from there that feature their main set of monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. So any film that featured one of these monsters, or possibly their descendent, the title is covered. There is a total of 29 features covered here, starting with 1931’s Dracula and ending with The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), with each chapter covering each of the titles. The credits and cast are listed, before Neibaur gets into details of each film, such as the plot, information about the people involved, and some other trivia as well.

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