Showing posts with label Running Press. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Running Press. Show all posts

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 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, September 12, 2020

West Side Story: The Jets, the Sharks, and the Making of a Classic

West Side Story
The Jets, the Sharks, and the Making of a Classic
by Richard Barrios
TCM & Running Press
Hardcover ISBN: 9780762469482
232 pages
June 2020

AmazonBarnes and NoblePowell's

When West Side Story was released in 1961, moviegoers had never seen anything quite like it. It threw out all conventions of what a musical should be, offering instead a young cast, an urban setting, on location shooting and ethnic strife. As author and musicals expert Richard Barrios writes, West Side Story was unique in "subject matter, unity of music and dance, overall presentation and seriousness of intent."

West Side Story was born out of a time when teenage culture was thriving and gang violence among youths was making headlines. Upon the success of Kiss Me Kate (1953), which gave Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew a modern twist, writer Arthur Laurents, director and choreographer Jerome Robbins and composer Leonard Bernstein came together to create the next big splash on the musicals scene. West Side Story would take Romeo and Juliet, strip it of its upper class stature and its pomp and circumstance to tell a story of lower class immigrant teens at war. The thumb biting Montagues and Capulets became the finger snapping Jets and Sharks. The musical was a hit on Broadway but when it came time to adapt it into film executives still thought the project was a gamble. What they didn't bank on was how enthusiastically audiences would embrace this vastly new and different approach. It all worked. The story, the music, the dance sequences, the urban backdrop, the colorful costumes, etc. And of course, the stars made a huge impact. There was Natalie Wood's effervescence, Richard Beymer's youthful innocence, Russ Tamblyn's spirited physicality, George Chakiris' elegant intensity and Rita Moreno's charming vivacity.

Look at that beautiful self cover!

An inside spread

Author Richard Barrios offers fans and musical enthusiasts a valuable companion to this iconic film with West Side Story: The Jets, the Sharks, and the Making of a Classic. This is a soup to nuts exploration of the Broadway play's origins, it's transformation to film, the casting, the production, the release and the story's continued legacy. Barrios has a way with words and his elegant turn of phrase along with his thoughtful and informed insights make this a thoroughly enjoyable read. Mimicking the structure of the film, the book even has a prologue, intermission and epilogue. There are plenty of behind-the-scenes photos, film stills and publicity shots in both color and black-and-white. The biggest takeaways for me were how many obstacles had to be overcome in order to make the film and how there was a natural divide during production separating the cast in two camps. There were naturally those who were playing the Jets and those who were playing the Sharks. Directors Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins kept them separate as much as they could to build up natural tension. Then there were the Broadway veterans vs. the Hollywood Stars and team Robert Wise vs. team Jerome Robbins and other divisions that happened on set. It's fascinating to read how everything came together, despite so many challenges.

This the perfect gift for the West Side Story fanatic in your life. I am not even that big of a fan of the musical and I found this an engrossing read.

This is my fifth review for my Summer Reading Challenge.

Thank you to Running Press for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (14)

Books, books and more books. One can never have enough books, especially classic film ones! I keep hearing from folks that you love these round-ups so I'll keep bringing them to you. They're a labor of love (no, seriously it's about 2 weeks worth of research!) and I hope if anything they're useful.

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 January to June 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!

by Barry Moreno
Arcadia Publishing
128 page – Available Now

The Life and Films of Angie Dickinson
By James Stratton
Bear Manor Media
624 pages – January 2020

Fourth Edition
By Maria Pramaggiore and Tom Wallis
Laurence King
472 pages – January 2020

The Amazing Story of Forgotten Hollywood star Mary Maguire
by Michael Adams
Hachette Australia
368 pages – February 2020

By Ben Hecht
Yale University Press
680 pages – February 2020

By Wendy Mitchell
Laurence King
128 pages – February 2020

edited by Christopher Beach
University Press of Mississippi
225 pages – February 2020

A Silver Valley Childhood
By Cynthia Ackley Nunn
America Through Time
96 pages – February 2020

Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock
by Christina Lane
Chicago Review Press
400 pages – February 2020

Hollywood and the Comedy of Self-Reference
By Burke Hilsabeck
SUNY Press
224 pages – February 2020

The Films, 1929-1984
By James McKay
McFarland & Company
337 pages – February 2020

Veronica: The Autobiography of Veronica Lake
By Veronica Lake
Dean Street Press
February 2020

A Life in Movies
Stories from 50 Years in Hollywood
By Irwin Winkler
Abrams Press
304 pages – March 2020

Great Lives in Graphic Form
By Katie Greenwood
Ammonite Press
96 pages – March 2020

The Greatest Year at the Movies
By Stephen Farber and Michael McClellan
Foreword by Bill Condon
Rutgers University Press
270 pages – March 2020

By Neil Freeman
Crowood Press
160 pages – March 2020

23 Actresses Who Suffered Early Deaths, Accidents, Missteps, Illnesses and Tragedies
By Laura Wagner
233 pages – March 2020

A Pocket Guide to Key Genres, Films, Techniques and Movements
By Ian Hayden Smith
Laurence King Publishing
224 pages – March 2020

Why We All Love Hollywood Cliches
By Steven Espinoza, Kathleen Fernandez-Vander Kaay, and Chris Vandar Kaay
Laurence King Publishing
240 pages – March 2020

Quick Takes
By Lester D. Friedman
Rutgers University Press
198 pages – March 2020

Film Music and the Integrated Soundtrack
Edited by James Buhler and Hannah Lewis
University of Illinois Press
352 pages – March 2020

Edited by Frank Burke, Marguerite Waller and Marita Gubareva
Wiley Blackwell
375 pages – March 2020

European Stardom in Silent Hollywood
By Agata Frymus
Rutgers University Press
260 pages – April 2020

The True Tale of Borris Morros, Film Producer Turned Cold War Spy
By Jonathan Gill
Abrams Press
336 pages – April 2020

His Career as Actor, Director and Photographer
By Michelangelo Capua
207 pages – April 2020

The life and Works of a Hollywood Cinematographer
By Wayne Byrne and Nick McLean Sr.
151 pages – April 2020

A Daughter’s Take on the Legend of Nicholas Ray
By Nicca Ray
Three Rooms Press
336 pages – April 2020

The Wharton Brothers and the Magic of Early Cinema
By Barbara Tepa Lupack
Cornell University Press
408 pages – April 2020

Sing and Shout
The Mighty Voice of Paul Robeson
By Susan Goldman Rubin
Calkins Creek
288 pages – April 2020

Edited by Christopher Lane
University Press of Mississippi
208 pages – April 2020

By Julian Baggini
96 pages – May 2020

Biographic Audrey
By Sophie Collins
Ammonite Press
96 pages – May 2020
Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Powells

From Mammy to Minny, What the Academy Awards Tell Us about African Americans
By Frederick Jr. Gooding
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
320 pages – May 2020

Photographed by Terry O’Neill
By Terry O’Neill, edited by James Clarke
ACC Art Books
256 pages – May 2020

The Directors Guild of America and the Construction of Authorship
By Virginia Wright Wexman
Columbia University Press
296 pages – May 2020

By A.L. Kennedy
88 pages – May 2020

From Rocky to Star Trek: The Amazing Creations of Hollywood’s Michael Westmore
By Michael Westmore and Jack Page
Lyons Press
320 pages – May 2020

Titan of Cinema
By Vanessa Harryhausen
ACC Art Books
208 pages – May 2020

By Michael Newton
136 pages – May 2020

By Richard Deming
104 pages – May 2020

Gender and Sex in the Films of George Cukor
By Elyce Rae Helford
The University Press of Kentucky
206 pages – May 2020

by Art Evans
McFarland & Company
154 pages – May 2020

Deep Inside Valley of the Dolls, the Most Beloved Bad Book and Movie of All Time
By Stephen Rebello
Penguin Books
352 pages – June 2020

My Conversations with the New Hollywood Director
By Peter Tonguette
The University Press of Kentucky
204 pages – June 2020

The Jets, the Sharks, and the Making of a Classic
By Richard Barrios
TCM and Running Press
232 pages – June 2020

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

Here are my previous round-ups:

New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (1)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (2)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (3)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (4)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (5)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (6)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (7)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (8)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (9)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (10)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (11)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (12)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (13)

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