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

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

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

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

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

by Pierre Toromanoff
Gingko Press
240 pages – November 2020

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

The Misunderstood Masterpiece
by Wes D. Gehring
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
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. 

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