The main flaw to “The Fright File” is that author Dustin Putman only offers three films out of 150 made before the seventies. A portion of the list are films made in the seventies, while most of the films are from the aughts and are as recent as 2013. While I don’t mind being given suggestions for films as recent as 2013, I wouldn’t have minded stumbling on to a hidden gem or two. For folks looking for a primer on films that are essential to horror fans, “The Fright File” surely isn’t a bad book. But for horror fans looking to discover something new and completely out of left field, this isn’t really the book to turn to. That is unless you’re a fan of Dustin Putman’s writing, and want to see his thoughts on various horror films.
In the interest of full disclosure, author Mike Watt is a friend and respected colleague who sent us a PDF of his latest book for review. This is nonetheless an objective review of his book “Fervid Filmmaking.”
You have to give it to author Mike Watt. His book isn’t built around 66 great films, or even 66 of his favorite films, but 66 films of importance and relevance that really say something about the genre they’re representing. Take for example the entry in to “Survival of the Dead” by director George Romero. While I’m often a Romero apologist, author Watt really does manage to break down the specifics of the film, and cite past interviews with director Romero to paint “Survival” as a film made by a man perpetually chained to the sub-genre that made him a horror icon.
Author John Szpunar’s “Xerox Ferox” presents itself not only as a chronicle of the horror fan magazine, but how author Chas Balun changed the horror world. Balun died in 2009 after a long fight with cancer, and left a large hole in the world of horror journalism. As well, he also left behind a long line of friends that he affected. “Xerox Ferox” doesn’t just explore the inherent passion behind horror fandom but how Balun changed horror fans’ lives forever.
The mission statement from the Bleeding Skull website is to review only horror and trash films from the 80’s, and they’d be mostly films you never heard of, before. After compiling hundreds of reviews based on films from the 1980’s that almost no one would ever bother with, “Bleeding Skull” finally releases a compilation of some of their best written reviews of pure eighties junk.
Though released almost at the same time as “Pacific Rim,” co-author Mark Zicree’s hardcover compendium chronicling the creative works of director Guillermo Del Toro is anything but a cash in. It’s a wonderful treasure trove of amazing sketches, and incredible conceptual work, that not only explores the mind of Guillermo Del Toro, but pays tribute to one of the finest fantasy directors working today. Guillermo Del Toro has almost single handedly kept the fantasy genre alive with his dark neo-Gothic epic works, and “Cabinet of Curiosities” gives his fans that rare glimpse in to his mind and his life that they’ll be more than happy to read from beginning to end.
“I will never do anything that violates my personal and professional code of journalistic ethics. However, I will do anything for money.”
Joe Bob enters the video age! Don’t worry, though, he’s still all about the drive-in. It’s just Joe Bob is now in the era where studios are sending critics screeners, and half of the book is mainly reviews for drive-in movies, and movies on VHS that Joe Bob either really liked or really hated. He’s hardly ever middle ground. As his loyal readers express anger at his changing of format for the sake of keeping his job, Joe Bob devotes a column in the book to explaining why he’s suddenly reviewing VHS tapes, and of course it’s a necessary evil.
I mean it was the late eighties after all. And during this time, Joe Bob was no longer just cruising drive-in movies, as now he was being sent VHS tapes, and was going to cable television for his famed show on The Movie Channel in US cable television. But hey, Joe Bob is still the same guy. And he’s still as funny as ever. In this second compilation, Joe Bob spares no one with his rants about the government, and public education, while reviewing movies that he feels warrant mentioning for his reader.
“Women should never be judged by their personal appearance. They Should be Judged by the Size of their Hooters.” – Joe Bob’s Rules to Live By
It’s easy to see why John Bloom aka Joe Bob Briggs would arouse the ire of pretty much everyone in the South. He is not a writer that’s intent on being politically correct, nor does he really pull his punches with his reviews.
He refers to women only as bimbos, he calls men turkeys, he has an article devoted to Steven Spielberg and his “wimpy” movies, he bashes Gene Shallit, he mocks Moustapha Akkad for being an ayrab, and he calls people who perfer to go to indoor movies rather than drive-ins, folks too poor to afford cars.
But that’s all apart of the character of Joe Bob Briggs. Rather than writing a Drive-In report as John Bloom, writer Bloom created Joe Bob Briggs, a Southern gent who is politically incorrect, offends at every turn, and has a deep passion for the drive-in.
The crown jewel of the Film Craft Series is of course the volume entitled “Directing.” While every aspect of filmmaking takes work, time, and dedication, directing is essentially the most difficult aspect of making a film. Whenever a movie fails or succeeds the filmmaker is blamed. And whenever an acclaimed actor decides they want to direct it not only becomes a big deal, but it makes it impossible for other directors to step up and achieve acclaim. Which is not to say actors can’t direct, as the book “Film Craft” interviews many noted and incredible directors, all of whom have their own experiences in the field.
As with the previous books in the series, “Directing” is about the hard work and utter pressure it takes to be a director. Lensing a project and achieving some sense of success or artistic satisfaction is tough, and often times it requires massive sacrifice and stress for an artist to express themselves on film. Author Mike Goodridge is able to garner some truly excellent insight in to the directorial process from some very big name auteur. Engrossing and detailed, “Directing” lends readers an intelligent exploration in to movie making that all movie buffs will relish and aspiring filmmakers will treasure.