Thursday, December 27, 2012

Great Monsters of the Movies by Edward Edelson

by Edward Edelson
1973, 1st edition
Publisher: Doubleday & Company, Inc.
ISBN: Prebound 0385008570

ISBN: Trade Paperback 0385006683

As a response to the monster-craze phenomenon that had swept over the United States, Doubleday & Company, Inc. published this early look at the history of monster movies. Released in 1973 in both prebound and trade editions, this entertaining reference guide to creature features was very popular among monster kids of yesterday who were eager to learn as much as they could about their favorite celluloid fiends. Great Monsters of the Movies was authored by Edward Edelson (Great Science Fiction from the Movies; Who Goes There?) who was gainfully employed by the New York Daily News as a science editor at the time the book went to press. The reading level of Great Monsters was appropriate enough for both younger readers as well as curious adults who were just discovering the fascinating genre of the horror film. Filled with over 30 movie stills (some quite rare) to accompany the modest length of each chapter, the book's primary function was to motivate interest in the genre and the people involved in the making of these films, all the while providing background trivia and a synopsis to a few selected titles. Although, the finished product was quite limited in its coverage of movies, it served as a great starting point for monster-fans-in-the-making and proved an easy and enjoyable read overall.

The book is divided up into five chapters:

THE LEGENDS. The first chapter examines the strange interest in monsters and frightening tales of the supernatural that have fascinated mankind throughout history. From oral traditions, literature, and, finally, the big screen, it is undeniable that fantastic creatures and stories of the macabre have always been appealing to the human race. The legend of the vampire and werewolf are explored, as well as discussions on mummy curses, zombie superstition, mad scientists, giant beasts, and the Frankenstein Monster. Next, author Edward Edelson encourages readers to familiarize themselves not only with the names of horror icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, but also with the directors and writers who gave these terror motion pictures life: Tod Browning, Roger Corman, Terence Fisher, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Val Lewton, Curt Siodmak, and James Whale.

THE PIONEERS. This next section takes us on a journey back to the early beginnings of the horror film. From the important contributions of French filmmaker Georges Méliès, to the stylized horrors of German Expressionism, Edelson's insight on silent horror films was in no doubt appreciated by his younger readers who had very little opportunity of seeing these celluloid relics for themselves. Indeed, for those growing up during the 1970s, most silent films were rarely made available to the viewing public, even on television. Here, the spotlight falls on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and Nosferatu (1922) as choices for review before progressing toward Hollywood's reign of the horror picture and the works of the great Lon Chaney in London After Midnight (1927) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925).

THREE FRIGHTENING MEN. This terrifying trio, of course, refers to Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Lon Chaney, Jr. They were the dominant horror stars of Universal Pictures' golden age of famous monster movies, and Edelson takes this opportunity to reflect generously on Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Mummy (1932), Dracula (1931), Island of Lost Souls (1933), The Wolf Man (1941), and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943). Moreover, the excellent makeup work of Jack Pierce is payed tribute to in this chapter and in other sections throughout the book.

THE BIG BEASTS. It's giant-monsters-on-the-loose time, as this fourth chapter of Great Monsters of the Movies covers broad ground, from the revolutionary effects of the talented Willis O'Brien, to gorilla pictures, and enormous atomic-age beasts. This time, the focus is on King Kong (1933), Son of Kong (1933), and Mighty Joe Young (1949).

A MISCELLANY OF MONSTERS. Finally, a montage of monster flicks are paraded in the last chapter of Edelson's book, with particular emphasis on Werewolf of London (1935), Son of Dracula (1943), and Phantom of the Opera (1943). Topics involving sequels, remakes, mummy flicks, TV shows, Hammer Films, and American-International Pictures, are all briefly covered, while the films of Roger Corman, Terence Fisher, Herman Cohen, Ray Harryhausen, Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee are given a glance at.

Conveniently, an index of names, movie titles, and subject matter is provided at the end. Other films and TV Shows that Edelson mentions briefly throughout the book, are: The Lost World (1925); Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931); The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932); The Black Cat (1934); Mark of the Vampire (1935); The Raven (1935); Dracula's Daughter (1936); Tim Tyler's Luck (1937); The Man They Could Not Hang (1939); The Man with Nine Lives (1940); The Mummy's Hand (1940); The Mummy's Tomb (1942); The Ape Man (1943); The Mummy's Ghost (1944); The Mummy's Curse (1944); Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948); Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954); It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955); Rodan (1956); The Curse of Frankenstein (1957); I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957); I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957); Horror of Dracula (1958); The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958); The Mummy (1959); Dinosaurus! (1960); The Fall of the House of Usher (1960); The Curse of the Werewolf (1961); Mysterious Island (1961); Pit and the Pendulum (1961); The Day of the Triffids (1962); King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962); The Phantom of the Opera (1962); The Haunted Palace (1963); Jason and the Argonauts (1963); The Raven (1963); The Masque of the Red Death (1964); The Addams Family (1964-1966); The Munsters (1964-1966); Die, Monster, Die! (1965); Planet of the Vampires (1965); Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966); and Dark Shadows (1966-1971).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Alfred Hitchcock: Film & TV List

For decades the Master of Suspense had movie audiences riveted on the edge of their seats, all the while, pioneering many of the visual and storytelling techniques cinematographers, scriptwriters, and directors use today. Although Alfred Hitchcock is considered one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, his early contributions to the film industry exhibited very little of the artistic license we've come to associate him with in his later and superior works. They did, however, provide the British filmmaker an excellent training ground and opened further opportunities. The ambitious director eventually achieved commercial success in 1927 with his very first thriller, The Lodger, which proved to be a sign of things to come. As Hitchcock's distinctive style of filmmaking began to mature, the intricate use of frames to enhance the psychological profiles of the characters, the voyeuristic camera work, and the frequent use of the 'McGuffin' as a plot-moving device, all came to define the 'Hitchcockian' film. Despite having made numerous cameos in many of his films, it wasn't until Hitchcock hosted the popular television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1962) that he truly reached the peak of the public's consciousness and became a cultural icon. Today, when we think of the great Alfred Hitchcock, his gallows humour and unmistakable profile immediately come to mind. Also, as a result of the successful TV show, we cannot help but associate Charles Gounod's musical composition 'Funeral March for a Marionette' with Hitchcock.

Appearances (1921) -- as title cards designer; lost film
The Bonnie Brier Bush (1921) -- as title cards designer; lost film
The Call of Youth (1921) -- as title cards designer; lost film
Dangerous Lies (1921) -- as title cards designer; lost film
The Great Day (1921) -- as title cards designer; lost film
The Mystery Road (1921) -- as title cards designer; lost film
The Princess of New York (1921) -- as title cards designer; lost film
Love's Boomerang (a.k.a. Perpetua) (1922) -- as title cards designer; lost film
The Man from Home (1922) -- as title cards designer; lost film
Number 13 (a.k.a. Mrs. Peabody) (1922) -- directorial debut; unfinished film; all footage is lost
The Spanish Jade (1922) -- as title cards designer; lost film
Tell Your Children (a.k.a. Protect Your Daughter; Reckless Decision) (1922) -- as title cards designer; lost film
Three Live Ghosts (1922) -- as title cards designer
Always Tell Your Wife (1923) -- uncredited as co-director; half of the film is lost
Woman to Woman (1923) -- as writer; lost film
The Passionate Adventure (1924) -- as writer
The Prude's Fall (a.k.a. Dangerous Virtue) (1924) -- as writer; partially lost
The White Shadow (a.k.a. White Shadows) (1924) -- as assistant director, writer, editor, and set designer; only half of the film survives
The Pleasure Garden (1925)
Die Prinzessin und der Geiger (a.k.a. The Blackguard) (1925) -- as writer
The Mountain Eagle (a.k.a. Fear o' God) (1926) -- lost film
Downhill (a.k.a. When Boys Leave Home) (1927)
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)
The Ring (1927)
Champagne (1928) 
Easy Virtue (1928)
The Farmer's Wife (1928)
Blackmail (1929)
Juno and the Paycock (a.k.a. The Shame of Mary Boyle) (1929)
The Manxman (1929)
An Elastic Affair (1930) -- lost short film
Elstree Calling (1930) -- directed a segment
Murder! (1930)
Mary (1931)
Rich and Strange (a.k.a. East of Shanghai) (1931)
The Skin Game (1931)
Lord Camber's Ladies (1932) -- as producer
Number Seventeen (a.k.a. Number 17) (1932) 
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
Waltzes from Vienna (a.k.a. Strauss' Great Waltz) (1934)
Sanders of the River (1935) -- directed part of the film
The 39 Steps (1935) 
Sabotage (1936)
Secret Agent (1936)
Young and Innocent (a.k.a. The Girl Was Young) (1937)
The Lady Vanishes (1938) 
Jamaica Inn (1939)
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
Men of the Lightship (1940) -- editor of U.S. version; documentary short
Rebecca (1940)
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)
Suspicion (1941)
Target for Tonight (1941) -- editor of US version; documentary short
Picture People No. 10: Hollywood at Home (1942) -- appearance; documentary; lost film
Saboteur (1942)
Forever and a Day (a.k.a. The Changing World) (1943) -- as one of the writers
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Show-Business at War (a.k.a. The March of Time Volume IX, Issue 10) (1943) -- appearance; documentary
Aventure Malgache (1944) -- short film
Bon Voyage (1944) -- short film
The Fighting Generation (1944) -- documentary short
Lifeboat (1944)
Spellbound (1945)
Watchtower Over Tomorrow (1945) -- uncredited as one of the directors; lost short film
Notorious (1946)
The Paradine Case (1947)
Rope (1948) 
Under Capricorn (1949)
Stage Fright (1950)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
I Confess (1953)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Lux Video Theatre: 'To Each His Own' (a.k.a. Summer Video Theatre) (1954) -- guest appearance; TV series episode
Rear Window (1954)
What's My Line?: 'September 12' (1954) -- guest appearance; TV game-show episode
The Red Skelton Show: 'Look Magazine Movie Awards Show' (1955) -- appearance; TV series episode
To Catch a Thief (1955)
The Trouble with Harry (1955)
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1962) -- as host; TV series
Cinépanorama: 'July 27' (1956) -- appearance; TV documentary series episode
Lux Video Theatre: 'The Night of January Sixteenth' (a.k.a. Summer Video Theatre) (1956) -- guest appearance; TV series episode
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
The Wrong Man (1956)
Suspicion (1957-1959) -- as executive producer; TV series
Vertigo (1958) 
North by Northwest (1959)
Tactic: 'unknown episode' (1959) -- appearance; TV series episode
Psycho (1960)
Ford Startime: 'Incident at a Corner' (a.k.a. Lincoln-Mercury Startime; Startime) (1960) -- TV series episode
Alcoa Premiere: 'The Jail' (1962) -- as executive producer; TV series episode
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962-1965) -- as host; TV series
The Birds (1963)
CBS: The Stars' Address (1963) -- appearance; TV special
Marnie (1964)
Monitor: 'Huw Wheldon Meets Alfred Hitchcock' (1964) -- appearance; TV documentary series episode
Telescope: 'A Talk with Hitchcock' (1964) -- appearance; TV documentary series episode
Cinema: 'Alfred Hitchcock' (1966) -- appearance; TV documentary series episode
Today: 'July 6' (a.k.a. NBC News Today; The Today Show) (1966) -- appearance; TV news episode
Torn Curtain (1966)
The 40th Annual Academy Awards (1968) -- appearance; TV special
Hollywood: The Selznick Years (1969) -- appearance; documentary
London Aktuell: 'Episode #1.1' (1969) -- appearance; TV documentary series episode
The Mike Douglas Show: 'December 30' (1969) -- appearance; TV series episode
Topaz (1969)
The Dick Cavett Show: 'June 8' (1970) -- appearance; TV series episode
Samedi Soir: 'January 16' (1971) -- appearance; TV series episode
Aquarius: 'Alfred the Great' (1972) -- appearance; TV series episode
Camera Three: 'The Illustrated Alfred Hitchcock: Part 1' (1972) -- appearance; TV series episode
Camera Three: 'The Illustrated Alfred Hitchcock: Part 2' (1972) -- appearance; TV series episode
The Dick Cavett Show: 'Alfred Hitchcock' (1972) -- appearance; TV series episode
Film Night: 'The Master of Suspense' (1972) -- appearance; TV series episode
Frenzy (1972)
V.I.P. - Schaukel: 'Episode #2.4' (1972) -- appearance; TV documentary series episode
The Men Who Made the Movies: 'Alfred Hitchcock' (1973) -- appearance; TV documentary special
The 46th Annual Academy Awards (1974) -- appearance; TV special
The Tomorrow Show: 'December 24' (a.k.a. Tomorrow Coast to Coast) (1974) -- appearance; TV series
The Elstree Story (1976) -- appearance; TV special
Family Plot (1976)
La Nuit des Césars: '2ème Nuit des Césars' (1977) -- appearance; TV documentary series episode
The 29th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (1977) -- appearance; TV special
CBS: On the Air (1978) -- appearance; mini-series
NBC: The First Fifty Years - A Closer Look, Part Two (1978) -- appearance; documentary
The American Film Institute Salute to Alfred Hitchcock (a.k.a. AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Alfred Hitchcock) (1979) -- appearance; TV special
The American Film Institute Salute to James Stewart (a.k.a. AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to James Stewart) (1980) -- appearance; TV special
Memory of the Camps (1985) -- as editor; previously unreleased documentary made in 1945
Gas (2006) -- based on a 1919 story written by Alfred Hitchcock, which was never used

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Monster Magazine Ads: Creepy Collectibles

With the emergence of television sets quickly becoming a new favorite pastime for American households during the 1950s, folks became exposed to a crop of popular horror hosts, who showcased old fright films for a new generation of thrill-seeking viewers. Late pre-adolescents and teenagers, especially, ate these up.

By 1958, hit monster novelty songs, like "The Purple Eater" and "Witch Doctor," added fuel to the monster-craze that was developing. It was also the year that gave birth to the world's very first monster magazine entitled, appropriately enough, FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND! The magazine was intended as a one-shot issue that was released during the month of February. When the publication quickly sold out, it proved that there was a strong public interest in horror merchandise. In fact, the publishers had to print a 2nd edition just to meet the American public's demand! Needless to say, that very first issue was subsequently followed by further numbered issues on a somewhat tri-monthly basis.
Soon, countless imitators were right behind Famous Monsters' heels and published their own monster magazine. By the 1960s and '70s, the monster-craze was at its peek and monster lovers everywhere had a nice selection of horror periodicals (i.e. Monster World, Monster Times, Gore Creatures, Creepy, Eerie, etc.) to choose from.
But that wasn't all! Not only did monster fans get to greedily scan over hundreds of photographs of ghoulish films or learn interesting facts about their favorite fright icons, they also had the opportunity to purchase some of the coolest monster merchandise ever produced. In every issue, these publications would run numerous mail-order ads featuring everything from monster masks, toys, novelty gags, record albums, plastic models, and even a live monkey for a pet!

These mail-order ads played an important role in the appeal of the horror publications being offered, especially by those who had no other means to acquire such fantastic products in their home town.
Today, such merchandise are highly sought after by collectors who wish to own a piece of horror fandom history. So sit back or, if you're like me, lean forward and drool over the following images of vintage monster ads and enjoy the nostalgic trip of MONSTER MANIA! Heheheh....