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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cool Ass Cinema Book Reviews: Monster Kid Memories Edition!


HORRORS: A HISTORY OF HORROR MOVIES
By Tom Hutchinson and Roy Pickard

Hardcover(with dust jacket); Color & B/w; 192 pages--1983

The following publications were the very first horror books I got as a kid. Actually, my mom bought them for me from the local Waldenbooks. The same year I got this, I had traded a dozen Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines for a large sized softcover titled CLASSICS OF THE HORROR FILM. Not long after, I picked up THE PICTORIAL HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION FILMS (I no longer have this one). HORRORS: A HISTORY OF HORROR MOVIES was the first book of its type I could call mine. It's lavishly illustrated with scores of (mostly) color images and some of them take up an entire page. I vividly remember looking through this book at eight years of age and some of the pages literally made me jump a bit prompting me to carefully turn the pages. This book also exposed me to a number of Hammer Dracula movies that never got shown on television, unless I overlooked, or missed a listing after frequently scouring TV Guides back then. The chapters are as follows...

DRACULA: ARISTOCRAT OF BLOOD
MAD DOCTORS AND SCIENTISTS
THE DEAD WILL NOT LIE DOWN...
THE DEVIL RIDES IN
GOTHIC MELODRAMAS
MONSTERS...AND MORE MONSTERS
NATURE STRIKES BACK
THE HORRORS WITHIN
KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES
FUTURE SHOCK

Hutchinson and Pickard have written a grand and glossy horror history that covers all the bases from silents to Universal to foreign horrors and back again. Some sub genres such as the slasher are discussed in brief, but the most attention is paid to other genre styles and signature works. This book was also the beginning of my fascination with seeking out an oddly titled zombie movie called BREAKFAST AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE aka LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE (among other titles). This tome also began my interest in Japanese horror with a startling image from ONIBABA (1964)--the shot being that frighteningly demonic tengu mask worn in the film. The book also opened my eyes to a slew of other horror films I was determined to track down one way, or another. It was an amazing book then, and it's still a great read now. If you can find it in a used book store somewhere, definitely pick this one up and add it to your shelf.


THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HORROR MOVIES: THE COMPLETE FILM REFERENCE

By Tom Milne and Paul Willemen--contributions by Verina Glaessner, Julian Petley, Tim Pulleine; Edited by Phil Hardy

Softcover; B/W; 408 pages--1986

This meticulously compiled, exhaustively researched compendium of all things horror covers not just horror films from America and Europe, but everywhere else--horror productions from all over the world. During a time when there was no internet, the depth and sheer number of movies compiled was and still is a staggering achievement. The word 'Encyclopedia' is more than applicable to this hefty volume. While there are some omissions, the collection of over 1,300 titles is an impressive feat unto itself.


Production info is also listed in addition to critiques of each film, with many entries having an accompanying illustration. There's also nudity in some of these stills, too. Horror's box office champs, critics top 10 of horror and Oscar winning horror are also included. For its time, this was the DEFINITIVE compilation for the sheer wealth of horror pictures gathered in one huge book. It's still a worthy purchase and remains a prime reference source. The only negative, and one that couldn't be avoided considering the books vintage, is that the encyclopedia stops at 1985, and only contains a handful of entries for that year. Yet another one for the shelves, if you can find this at a used book store, or cheap anywhere else, it's well worth picking up.


HORROR FILMS

By Nigel Andrews

Hardcover(with dust jacket); Color; 95 pages--1985

Splashy, flashy and less stimulating than the meatier tome from Hutchinson and Pickard. Andrews' book is a virtual clone of that loftier excursion. Andrews opts for a more visual approach with minimal discussion on the genre. It's there, but this is more of a 'Fast Food' version of superior book from the top of the page. The similarities are difficult to not notice--the cover photo also bears a shot from the late 70s version of NOSFERATU, the layout is similar and the chapters are similarly compiled. That's not to say Andrews hasn't written a worthwhile entry, just that it's mainly a tasty, fat cheeseburger compared to Hutchinson and Pickard's full course meal.


SCIENCE FICTION FILMS

By Robin Cross

Hardcover(with dust jacket); Color; 95 pages--1985

This companion book to HORROR FILMS by Nigel Andrews (also from Gallery Books) is the Sci Fi equivalent to that one containing the same visual format--generously afforded dozens of glossily colorful images from various science fiction films from the early days up to the mid 1980s. Like the above horror edition, these are great intros to their respective genres for youngsters who may be showing an interest in such things, or if you wish to show off the kind of films you enjoyed growing up in the hopes of passing the torch on to the next generation of film fan.


Horror FilmsThe Encyclopedia of Horror Movies: The Complete Film Reference

4 comments:

Andrew Green said...

I remember some of those older ones....
Awesome cover with the Terminator.

venoms5 said...

Yeah, the sci fi one is like $3 on amazon when I last looked. For some reason, the covers don't show up on the amazon links, but do at amazon itself.

Dr. Sarcofiguy said...

I have the Encyclopedia of Horror, and I got the BFI Companion to Horror! Got it from London. ENGLAND! Yay!

venoms5 said...

The Brits do make some great reference books, I must say, especially FAB Press!

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