Thursday, August 4, 2016

Cool Ass Cinema Book Reviews: Eugenio Martin, Spain's Master of All Genres


By Carlos Aguilar and Anita Haas

148 pages; softcover; color and B/W; revised and updated edition 2015

Carlos Aguilar and Anita Haas have updated their previous work from 2008, the only book on one of Spanish cinema's finest, most versatile filmmakers, Eugenio Martin. In Spanish-language only, those who can't read Spanish will nonetheless enjoy the treasure-trove of rare behind the scenes images--including Eugenio Martin working as an assistant director on Harryhausen/Schneer's first color Fantasy films and, in his own directorial work, guiding actors such as Tomas Milian, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Lee Van Cleef, Telly Savalas... even Julio Iglesias! With very little of substance written about him outside of European countries, the book's importance to fans of European cult cinema holds a great deal of value. The authors guide the reader through Mr. Martin's entire career--in his own words--covering not just the familiar titles, but those of adventure, drama, comedy and beyond. If you're a fan of Eugenio Martin, or European cinema in general, this is an essential purchase.

Known in America primarily for HORROR EXPRESS (1972), Eugenio Martin has had a lengthy, varied career that spans over three decades. Blessed with working as an assistant director on two Ray Harryhausen Fantasy Films (THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, THE 3 WORLDS OF GULLIVER), Martin later became both a writer and a director--often doing both. Unlike many of his colleagues, Eugenio Martin wasn't relegated to any one genre; his name has graced films spanning virtually every cinema style--including the television medium.

First published in 2008, the husband and wife team of authors Carlos Aguilar and Anita Haas have generously expanded that previous volume. This new edition contains even more photographs (many of which had never been seen before), more pages, and an all new Introduction that prepares the reader for the depth of topics found within the books 148 pages. Exhaustive in approach, the book benefits from not only being a biography, but also a massive, career-spanning interview divided among 11 chapters. Each chapter contains sidebars with pertinent information about individuals close to Martin during his active period as a filmmaker. Additionally, the director is critical of his work so those expecting opinionated commentary get it straight from the man who made the films.

Married to actress Lone Fleming--whom will be instantly recognizable to horror fans from the classic TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD in 1971--she is a part of this volume as well. To read CAC's interview with Mrs. Fleming, click her highlighted name or simply click HERE.

The stunning photo selection will be an incentive for those ill-equipped to read the Spanish text. Within these pages you'll find rare images of director Martin working with actors like Tomas Milian, Telly Savalas, Chuck Connors, Clint Walker, Lee Van Cleef, James Mason, Gina Lollobrigida, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Mirta Miller, Aurora Batista, and others. The famous Spanish singer Julio Iglesias is in here as well, being directed by Eugenio Martin in the autobiographical 1969 comedy-drama-musical LA VIDA SIGUE IGUAL (LIFE GOES ON). Other photos are from film-related events with fellow actors and filmmakers like Paul Naschy, Jess Franco, and Martin's wife, Lone Fleming.

Casual readers of film reference material will be surprised at the breadth of his resume considering he's best known for his work in Fantastique Cinema. Everything is covered here, with certain titles garnering more coverage than others. Aguilar and Haas, through Mr. Martin's anecdotes, give the reader a glimpse into what it was like making movies in Spain (and elsewhere) from a European perspective.

Unfortunately, Martin isn't as well known outside of Europe. His most famous production is undoubtedly the cult Horror-SciFi favorite HORROR EXPRESS (1972). Not to discount the picture's popularity around the world, but in America, that is the film most closely associated with him; so it is only natural that HORROR EXPRESS gets a lot of coverage (about 7 pages)

Conceived as a drama about the dangers of fanaticism, A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL (1973) gets a respectable amount of attention. Arguably one of the most cerebral examples of psychological horror ever made as well as one of the boldest examples of Spanish cinema, it deserves classic status. 

Among his other films of varying popularity on the international circuit, European western fans will find a good deal of interesting minutiae on THE BOUNTY KILLER (1966), BAD MAN'S RIVER (1971), and PANCHO VILLA (1972).

Of even greater interest to serious devotees of Spanish genre cinema are Mr. Martin's responses on directing lesser known films such as 1961s pirate adventure CONQUEROR OF MARACAIBO starring Helga Line; 1962s thriller HYPNOSIS starring Jean Sorel; 1964s jungle adventure GOLDEN GODDESS OF RIO BENI starring Pierre Brice; and 1971s horror-thriller THE FOURTH VICTIM starring Carroll Baker.

In every page of Eugenio Martin: An Author of For All Genres the level of dedication never goes unnoticed. The glossy presentation (design and layout by Javier G. Romero) is attractive, with an eye-catching cover and a bounty of magnificent photos (8 pages are in color) that make for an enticing shelf addition regardless of the language barrier. Sumptuously mounted, you can tell the Aguilar and Haas hold their subject in high regard. If you're a fan of Eugenio Martin, you will too.

If you are interested in ordering this book send inquiries to Mr. Aguilar at this address:
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