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softcover; 112 pages; color and B/W; Editions: 1979, 1993, 2012
...it's of historical importance for being the first book on the making of ALIEN as well as being one of the first such publications on a non-kid friendly motion picture in the wake of STAR WARS mania. For many, the worthiness of a book is in the words and the amount of palpable information contained within its pages. For others, it's the visual presentation that matters most. The Book of Alien, which was first published back when the original film hit theaters in 1979, has little in the way of brain food, but excels in the visual sense. If pre-production sketches, concept art and behind the scenes photos tickle your fancy, you will find them in abundance here. The book itself is 112 pages and there are over 200 color and B/W illustrations to give you an idea of where the books loyalties lie.
Considering how moviemaking is nowhere near the hands on approach of the old days, this valuable relic resurrected from the antiquity of publishing purgatory by Titan Books is an essential purchase for fans of the series. It's also a worthy addition to the shelves of anyone fascinated by the various aspects of how films are made including traditional effects techniques and concept designs for the films themselves. With a price of just a little over $10, how can you not be tempted to lay your hands on this inaugural volume of one of horror cinemas greatest achievements?
Descending further, you'll uncover amongst the wealth of photographs, a good many illustrations from H.R. Giger including numerous behind the scenes photos of the man designing the Alien as well the infamous Space Jockey. Also on hand, you'll spy images not found in the finished film as well as aborted creature designs.
Since this books initial christening, there have been other volumes on this series that surpass it in informational details and actor anecdotes. As an appetizer collection of behind the scenes imagery from the various capacities in the filmmaking process, it's of historical importance for being the first book on the making of ALIEN as well as being one of the first such publications on a non-kid friendly motion picture in the wake of STAR WARS mania.
Titan Books have done a commendable job making this vintage and exemplary edition to the ALIEN universe available to the masses once more. It's easily affordable and the rarity of many of the photographs make it a highly recommended purchase. One for the shelves.
This book is set for release on May 29th, 2012. You can pre-order it at amazon HERE.
There's more on the book here at the official Titan Books website which can be found HERE.
Next up in this double dose of Xenomorph-mania is another reprint of a long unavailable tome...
ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES TECHNICAL MANUAL
By Lee Brimmicombe-wood
softcover; 160 pages; color and B/W; editions: 1995, 2012
For those who derive a great amount of pleasure from works that perform exploratory research on the technical and hardware peripheries, a purchase of this technical manual is a no-brainer.
This massively comprehensive tome on the military hardware of the ALIENS film from 1986 is the R rated comparative to the likewise exhaustive sci fi compendiums built around the STAR TREK universe.
A Tech geeks wet dream come true, this manual covers every aspect of the colonial marines and their armaments and weapons as if they really existed. There is so much detail distributed and derived here, that one can't help but buy into it all.
It's not particularly of my taste, as I am more into the 'Making Of' aspects as opposed to digging deeper into the fantasy realm of what made the movies so magical in the first place. For those who derive a great amount of pleasure from works that perform exploratory research on the technical and hardware peripheries, a purchase of this technical manual is a no-brainer. It really is quite impressive in that respect. There's even a section that covers the Aliens themselves as well as covering case files that led to certain key elements taken from the first two movies.
Those fans of this series who are also enlisted in the service will find a lot to chew on here picking apart the numerous high class weaponry, air and ground crafts, armor and other such personal accouterments.
This is another revival of a long out of print book, resuscitated by Titan Books, and apparently a popular one. Obsessive and excessive fans alike are going to want this one as well. Those looking for information on the actual making of the ALIENS film will not find what they're looking for here.
This book, like THE BOOK OF ALIEN, is set for release May 29th, 2012. You can pre-order it from amazon HERE.
You can also order the book and get more information HERE at the Titan Books website.
THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST STUNTMAN: MY LIFE AS INDIANA JONES, JAMES BOND, SUPERMAN AND OTHER MOVIE HEROES
By Vic Armstrong (with Robert Sellers)
softcover; 368 pages; color and B/W; Editions: 2011; 2012 (updated paperback edition)
This amazingly breezy read is packed with dozens of danger filled anecdotal tales told in Armstrong's own words covering his work on many of cinemas biggest movies. Constantly engaging, it's just as spectacular reading about the elaborate stunts as watching them unfold onscreen.
This revised edition originally surfaced in 2011 and must have made a bundle for an expanded one to be released so quickly; after skimming over any number of pages it's easy to see why. With so many varied productions and stories to relay, Armstrong is incredibly adept at recalling minute details and recounts them marvelously.
Within these 368 information packed pages you'll find dozens of anecdotes and reminisces of the legendary stuntman's work on such epic action pictures as YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967), BILLY TWO HATS (1974), A BRIDGE TOO FAR (1977), SUPERMAN (1978), FLASH GORDON (1980), RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), KRULL (1983), CONAN THE DESTROYER (1984), TAI PAN (1986), RAMBO 3 (1988), TOTAL RECALL (1990), STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997), WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005) and many others too numerous to mention.
There's even stories from Armstrong on films that went unfinished such as THE NEW SPARTANS, an action thriller from director Jack Starrett that would have seen one of the most ambitious casts of big name performers (Oliver Reed, Toshiro Mifune, Fred Williamson, Susan George, Jimmy Wang Yu, Patrick Wayne among them) from around the world up on the screen.
He also discusses his own directorial feature film debut with the John Wooesque bullet ballet of ARMY OF ONE (1993) aka JOSHUA TREE, one of many post ROCKY 4 (1985) roles for 80s action star Dolph Lundgren.
Armstrong goes into an enormous amount of detail on not just every aspect of his stunt experience, but he also pulls no punches in regards to his working relationships with the various filmmakers and performers from the films themselves.
Speaking of pulling no punches, some other great bits regarding Grace Jones beating the holy hell out of the stunt guys from CONAN THE DESTROYER, which was widely reported back in the day, are contained herein. In addition, Armstrong gives out some hilariously quirky tales including a bonkers one about his introduction to Stanley Kubrick and also the stunt masters travails working with, and around the madness of George P. Cosmatos on ESCAPE FROM ATHENA (1979).
His exhaustive work on the SUPERMAN and INDIANA JONES series' are given a generous amount of space, particularly the latter. Especially enlightening is how Armstrong ultimately had to double for Harrison Ford for a time during the shooting of INDIANA JONES & THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984) after the actor suffered a back injury putting him out of commission for three weeks. Armstrong's striking resemblance to Ford is notable, and definitely worked out to the productions advantage.
It's not all fireworks and testosterone exploding across the silver screen, though, as the author also goes into details about his family life and his personal associations about those he's worked with. Armstrong is quite candid and revealing in his sometimes shocking and hilarious accounts.
His book is likewise peppered with a good amount of appreciation from the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Sir Christopher Lee and a spirited Introduction by Steven Spielberg. Also included are many rare B/W and color behind the scenes photos from dozens of films Armstrong has worked on from his own personal collection.
This amazingly breezy read is packed with dozens of danger filled anecdotal tales told in Armstrong's own words covering his work on many of cinemas biggest movies. Constantly engaging, it's just as spectacular reading about the elaborate stunts as watching them unfold onscreen. Simply one of the best books of its type and difficult to put down once you've started, this compact, novel sized book will fit in a jacket pocket, or book bag for reading on the go. It also makes a great addition for your nightstand, or even bathroom perusal, although you will likely find yourself in there longer than need be. Highly recommended reading for action movie fanatics and anyone interested in other aspects of production outside of acting and directing.
To be released on May 29th, 2012, the book can be pre-ordered HERE at amazon.
You can also see more about the book, including its hardcover edition, HERE at the Titan Books website.
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I've been a huge movie buff since childhood catching old horror and monster flicks on Shock Theater and kung fu movies at the drive-in during the late 70's and early 80's. I've had a long time fascination with, and appreciate all genres of fantastic cinema, good and bad. One fans cheese is another fans juicy steak. I like both equally and seldom find a film I truly dislike as I will find something of interest in just about anything. The bulk of the films or tv series' seen here are mostly from my childhood, or films I own in what has become an Amazing Colossal DVD collection.