Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Fright Favorites: Review by Ally Russell

Photo source: @OneDarkAlly on Instagram

Fright Favorites
31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond 
by David J. Skal
TCM and Running Press
224 pages
September 2020


Fright Favorites Is a Seasonal Treat! 

Was Bela Lugosi buried in his Dracula costume? Would The Thing (1982) be as popular today if it had been directed by Tobe Hooper . . . with Christopher Walken in the role of R.J. MacReady? How many gallons of blood were produced for Scream (1996)?

If these are the kinds of questions that keep you up night—you’re not alone.. because a ghost is probably right next to you! I’m just kidding. I mean you’re not alone figuratively, which is why you should add Fright Favorites: 31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond to your library.

Written by David J. Skal and published by Turner Classic Movies and Running Press, this 224-page book guides readers through a century of horror film history, and boy is it a treat. To put it in terms you might better understand—Fright Favorites is like the full-size candy bar in your trick-or-treat bag: it’s small enough to hold in one hand, delicious, and is written in digestible, bite-sized sections so that you can savor it or eat read all of it in one sitting!

If you usually finish your Halloween candy in one sitting, then you’re in luck. There’s plenty more to read from Skal, whose other books include Hollywood Gothic, The Monster Show, and Something in the Blood.

Fright Favorites is small, but it packs a monstrous punch. The book includes 200 photos (full-color and black and white) on thick magazine-style paper, cast and crew details, historical information, and fun facts. Each section of the book also includes a comparable movie recommendation, so while the cover promises 31 films to haunt your Halloween, readers will actually get 62 suggestions! The book is available as an e-book, but the print edition is so much more delightful to hold in your hands.

Fright Favorites sets the stage with an entertaining and informative history of Halloween in Hollywood, which includes a glorious full-page black and white still of Vincent Price beneath the shadowy image of a bat. Readers are then introduced to classic monster cinema, which begins with Nosferatu and wraps up with The Mummy (1932). From there, readers are whisked into post-war horror films like Them! (1954) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). If you look to your left, you’ll see treats from Hammer Films, William Castle, and Alfred Hitchcock. Literary classics get their turn in the ethereal limelight with films like The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), and The Shining (1980). Night of the Living Dead (1968) eventually shambles from its grave to give you a small but yummy taste of zombie cinema. (Except they’re not called zombies in George Romero and John A. Russo’s classic film—they’re ghouls!) Then we make our way into the present—sort of—with classic and new slashers like Halloween (1978) and Scream. Finally, the book concludes with fun-sized treats—horror lovers with a funny bone will enjoy reading about Young Frankenstein (1974), Beetlejuice (1988), and Hocus Pocus (1993).

As excellent as this book was, I have to note that the film selections were lacking in diversity. Only two films feature Black leads—Night of the Living Dead and Get Out (2017). Sure, the book is not meant to be an all-inclusive list of horror films, but I do hope that a second volume is on its way because Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color have also contributed to the horror film industry and those films deserve a place among these pages.

Skal’s introduction was so engaging and fun to read that I would have liked a proper send off. However, if a book about horror cinema must end abruptly, then I suppose a full-page black and white photo of Vincent Price is a fitting goodbye.

One of the most exciting things about Fright Favorites is the thrill that comes with each turn of the page. Rather than peek ahead, it’s more fun to try to guess which film will come next. Try it—you’ll have a blast while reading.

From its menacing black and orange cover to its full-color end papers featuring horror movie posters, David J. Skal’s Fright Favorites: 31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond is a seasonal treat that horror and classical film fans will want to keep on their coffee tables all season long. 

 
About the writer: Ally Russell has a ghastly passion for horror writing. She has created podcasts episodes and written content for the Horror Writers Association’s Young Adult & Middle Grade blog, Scary Out There, and has written for Night Worms and reviewed horror films for Out of the Past and QuelleMovies.com. She also hosts the FlashFrights podcast, which can be found on Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud. Ally holds an MFA in writing for children from Simmons University. When her childhood dreams of becoming a full-time witch didn’t work out, she settled for a career in publishing. She lives in Boston but hails from Pittsburgh—ground zero for the zombie apocalypse. She can be found on Instagram at @OneDarkAlly.



Thank you to Running Press for a copy of Fright Favorites for review.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (15)

This new list is long overdue. After what seems like a month of research, I finally gathered up some notable classic film book releases. A few of these I have already dived into myself and many more have found a new home on my wish list.

Are you new to my list? Here are the details. The books include biographies, memoirs, scholarly texts, coffee table books and more from a variety of publishers. Publication dates range from September 2020 to December 2020 and these are subject to change.

Links go to Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Powell's. When you use my buy links to purchase and order a title you’re interested in you help support this site. Thank you!

Happy reading!



31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond 
by David J. Skal
TCM and Running Press
224 pages — September 2020




Jew-baiting, Anti-Nazism, and the Senate Investigation into Warmongering in Motion Pictures 
by Chris Yogerst 
University Press of Mississippi 
208 pages — September 2020

Before Bemberg

Women Filmmakers in Argentina
by Matt Losada
Rutgers University Press
196 pages — September 2020

The Camera Lies
Acting for Hitchcock
by Dan Callahan
Oxford University Press
272 pages — September 2020



Jose Ferrer
Success and Survival
by Mike Peros
University Press of Mississippi
320 pages — September 2020

 

Psycho Puzzles
Thrilling Puzzles Inspired by the World of Alfred Hitchcock
by Jason Ward
Carlton Books
224 pages — September 2020




How a Mexican Legend Became America's First Superhero
by Stephen J.C. Andes
Chicago Review Press
304 pages — September 2020




Quick Takes: The Femme Fatale
by Julie Grossman
Rutgers University Press
174 pages — September 2020


The Boxing Film
A Cultural and Transmedia History
by Travis Vogan
Rutgers University Press
208 pages – October 2020




Cary Grant
A Brilliant Disguise

by Scott Eyman
Simon & Schuster
576 pages – October 2020




Cary Grant
The Making of a Hollywood Legend
by Mark Glancy
Oxford University Press
568 pages – October 2020




Celeste Holm Syndrome
On Character Actors from Hollywood's Golden Age
by David Lazar
University of Nebraska Press
168 pages – October 2020




The Essentials Vol. 2
52 More Must-See Movies and Why They Matter
by Jeremy Arnold
TCM and Running Press
312 pages – October 2020




Interviews
University Press of Mississippi
by Robert E. Kapsis
336 pages – October 2020




BFI Film Classics: 2nd Edition
by Mark Kermode
BFI
136 pages – October 2020
 



BFI Film Classics: 2nd Edition
by Ben Hervey
BFI
128 pages – October 2020




Picturing Indians
Native Americans in Film, 1941-1960
by Liza Black
University of Nebraska Press
354 pages – October 2020




BFI Film Classics: 2nd Edition
by Amy Sargeant
BFI
120 pages – October 2020




Stanley Kubrick
New York Jewish Intellectual

by Nathan Abrams
Rutgers University Press
344 pages – October 2020




Revised Edition
by Mark Cousins
Pavilion
544 pages – October 2020




In His Own Words
by Marshall Terrill
Dalton Watson Fine Books
504 pages – October 2020




BFI Film Classics: 2nd Edition
by Lucy Fisher
BFI
97 pages – October 2020




BFI Film Classics: 2nd Edition
by Robert N. Watson
BFI
98 pages – October 2020




by Pierre Toromanoff
Gingko Press
240 pages – November 2020




BFI Film Classics: 2nd Edition
by David Thomson
BFI
80 pages – November 2020




Harry Dean Stanton
Hollywood's Zen Rebel
by Joseph B. Atkins
The University Press of Kentucky
256 pages – November 2020




by Steven Jay Rubin
Chicago Review Press
400 pages – November 2020




BFI Film Classics: 2nd Edition
by Paul Hammond
BFI
85 pages – November 2020




The Hollywood Novel and the Studio System
by Justin Gautreau
Oxford University Press
218 pages – November 2020




History, Hollywood, and the Highland South
by John C. Inscoe
The University of North Carolina Press
256 pages – November 2020




Perfecting the Art of Illusion
by John D. Fair and David L. Chapman
University of Missouri Press
426 pages – November 2020




Rocco and his Brothers
BFI Film Classics: 2nd Edition
by Sam Rohdie
BFI
85 pages – November 2020




American Sex Symbol
by William Elliott Hazelgrove
Lyons Press
280 pages – November 2020




She Damn Near Ran the Studio
The Extraordinary Lives of Ida R. Koverman
by Jacqueline R. Braitman
University Press of Mississippi
352 pages – November 2020




BFI Film Classics: 2nd Edition
by Melvyn Bragg
BFI
73 pages – November 2020




Creating the Hollywood Fairy Tale
by Karen McNally
Wallflower Press
160 pages – November 2020




Forgotten Stars and Stories
by Carla Valderrama
TCM and Running Press
240 pages – November 2020




Anita Page
A Career Chronicle and Biography
by Allan R. Ellenberger and Robert Murdoch Paton
McFarland
121 pages – November 2020




The Misunderstood Masterpiece
by Wes D. Gehring
McFarland
215 pages – December 2020




S. Sylvan Simon, Movie Maker
Adventures with Lucy, Red Skelton and Harry Cohn in the Golden Age
by David C. Tucker
McFarland
188 pages – December 2020




Stanley Kubrick Produces
by James Fenwick
Rutgers University Press
230 pages – December 2020



In case you missed it...


The Movie Lover's Guide to the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars
by Stella Wonderly
Running Press
240 pages – June 2020




by David Thomson
Yale University Press
240 pages – June 2020




The Shocking True Stories Behind the Movies' Most Memorable Crimes
by Harold Schechter
Amazon Publishing
374 pages – July 2020


Do any of these titles pique your interest? Let me know in the comment section. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

2020 Summer Reading Challenge: Final Round-Up


This year's reading challenge is officially over! Congratulations to everyone who reviewed books whether it was one book or all six. You all did a wonderful job. 

A special shout-out to those who read and reviewed all six books and completed the challenge: 

Andy of AndyWolverton.com
Breanna of Bresfilms41
Carl of The Movie Palace Podcast
Jess of Box Office Poisons
Robby on Instagram
Shawn of Every Day Cinephile
Steve on Goodreads
Vanessa of Super Veebs

I also completed the challenge for the first time in a few years. Woot!

This year I randomly selected three winners of the giveaway. And they are:

Breanna of Bresfilms41 
Carl of The Movie Palace Podcast 
Steve on Goodreads


Now on to the reviews!

Photo Source



Andy of AndyWolverton.com 
Scoundrels & Spitballers: Writers and Hollywood in the 1930s by Philippe Garnier 

Jess of Box Office Poisons

Le of Critica Retro
Mario de Andrade no Cinema by Mario De Andrade
Tutto Fellini by Sam Stourdze





Miriam of Cine Gratia
Every Frenchman Has One by Olivia De Havilland

Molly of Classic Mollywood
Dynamic Dames: 50 Leading Ladies Who Made History by Sloan DeForest 

Peter of Let Yourself Go... To Old Hollywood
Bogart by Ann Sperber and Eric Lax
Memoirs of an Amnesiac by Oscar Levant

Ralph on LibraryThing

Raquel on Out of the Past
Hollywood Hates Hitler! by Chris Yogerst

Rich of Wide Screen World


Photo source



Rob on Instagram

Shawn of The Everyday Cinephile
Film Music: A History by James Wierzbicki

Steve on Goodreads


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Hollywood Hates Hitler! by Chris Yogerst


Hollywood Hates Hitler!
Jew-baiting, Anti-Nazism, and the Senate Investigation into Warmongering in Motion Pictures

by Chris Yogerst
University Press of Mississippi
Paperback ISBN: 9781496829764
September 2020
208 pages

AmazonBarnes and Noble Powell's

“Those skeptical of motion pictures had long spread fear about the medium’s ability to influence.” — Chris Yogerst

Many of us classic film enthusiasts are well aware of the House Un-American Activities Committee's communist witch hunt that resulted in the blacklisting, or in some cases the incarceration, of numerous members of the film industry. But how much do you know about Senate Resolution 152, the investigation run by the Senate subcommittee that accused Hollywood moguls of spearheading warmongering propaganda? In the Fall of 1941, a group of Senators gathered forces to take on the big studios of Hollywood claiming that movies were used to turn isolationists into interventionists. Anti-Nazi and anti-fascist films were examined, albeit superficially, for their ability to persuade. Among those brought in to testify were Harry Warner of Warner Bros., Darryl F. Zanuck of 20th Century Fox, Nicholas Schenck of Loew's Inc, Barney Balaban of Paramount. The subcommittee made the argument that Hollywood studios, through consolidation and monopolization, had developed too much power and wielded that power to influence the public. However the Senators, who were staunch isolationists, had several things going against them: 1) a weak argument based on limited knowledge (some hadn't even seen the movies in question) 2) opposition from the press 3) Hollywood's strong rebuttal and 4) the impending attack on Pearl Harbor that would finally thrust the U.S. into the throes of WWII.

Author and historian Chris Yogerst explores this little known yet important moment in film history with his book Hollywood Hates Hitler! Yogerst examines American culture at the time, isolationist vs interventionist mentalities, anti-Semitism, and the events that lead to Senate Resolution 152. And then there is the deep dive to the investigation. The reader gets a front row seat to all of the action; the interrogation, the testimonies, the press response and the inevitable fallout. Films discussed include Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939), Foreign Correspondent (1940), The Mortal Storm (1940), Four Sons (1940), The Man I Married (1940), Escape (1940), Man Hunt (1941), The Great Dictator (1941), Sergeant York (1941), among others. The subject matter can be quite dry and the details overwhelming but there is enough context given that makes this scholarly book a fascinating read. If you want to expand your knowledge on the film industry and censorship, I highly recommend giving this book a try!




This is my sixth and final review for the Summer Reading Challenge.

Thank you to University Press of Mississippi and Chris Yogerst for sending me a copy for review.

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