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Riccardo Freda: The Life and Works of a Born Filmmaker

Riccardo Freda: The Life and Works of a Born Filmmaker
Roberto Curti Price: $45.00 40 photos, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
376pp. softcover (7 x 10)McFarland  2017                                                http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-1-4766-6970-0

Like many American film fans, my knowledge of director Ricardo Freda was mostly limited to his
Horror films I Vampiri /THE DEVIL’S COMMANDMENT (Titanus,1957),Caltiki il mostro immortale /CALTIKI,THE IMMORTAL MONSTER(Lux,1959),L’orrible segreto del Dr. Hichcock /THE HORRIBLE DOCTOR HITCHCOCK(Panda,1962) and Lo specttro /THE GHOST (Panda,1963).

• However, Freda had a career in cinema that lasted from 1937 (Lasciate ogni speranza /LEAVE ALL HOPE ,Juventus Film) until 1994 (La fille de d’Artagnan /REVENGE OF THE MUSKETEERS ,Canal+ )starting and ending his career as a writer.

• Writer Roberto Curti of Cortona Italy has done a remarkable job tracking down an amazing amount of information on Freda’s life and career.His love for the subject comes though with his very detailed synopses of these rarely seen (outside of certain countries), providing the history behind many of them, production facts, and their success or failure in various territories as well as changes made to them .

Curti uses Freda’s memoir Divoratori di celluloide (Emme Edizioni (1981),164 pages)as a starting point ,but also researching though film magazines and newspapers from several countries, as well as tracking down and watching the titles from the director’s long career. Curti points out that the director could often be petty and recall incidents that might not always match the facts.Curti’s interviews and research sometimes contradicts what Freda put into his book.

• Still ,the Egyptian born Italian director lived La Dolce Vita, being an extravagant personal spender and gambler as well as womanizer. It is ironic that he despised films like Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (Riama,1960) as well as the entire neo-realist movement of films like Ladri di biciclette/THE BICYCLE THIEF(Ente Nazionale,1948).

He was more a storyteller who felt that film should be escapist,and take us out of reality. Not only did he have those skills, he was also able to make limited budgets look richer than they were, due to his understanding of film editing and camera placement ,as well as working with innovators like the great Mario Bava. Indeed, the short tempered Freda walked off the set of a I Vampiri ,leavinng it to be  finished by Bava. We see throughout the book that Freda had a habit of walking off set, much to the detriment of his films and career.  I Vampiri has an important place in Italian horror films ,as it was the country’s first true sound horror film (the first Italian horror film may have been Il monstro di Frankenstein(1920) a now sadly lost silent picture).

Freda had prior to I Vampiri had done a lot of regional comedies ( he cared little for the comics in many of his films ,but put in many physical gags inspired by the likes of Buster Keaton ,historical dramas and swashbucklers . Indeed ,his love of classic novels and adventure tales seemed to have merged into Caccia all’umo /LES MISERABLES( Lux,1952) ,making it more of an action thriller!

His swashbucklers seemed to have broken new ground in storytelling in Italy, being more inspired by American filmmakers than the home grown artisans. His love of tracking shots to get a lot of detail within a long take was developed during this period .Having reviewed the Italian historical drama La cena delle beffe / THE JESTER’s SUPPER* (Società Italiana Cines,1942 ,not by Freda, but by a contemporary),I would love to see more these  rarely motion pictures                (see review at https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/the-jesters-supper-dvd/ ) .

Freda also was one of the first to leap into the sword and sandal films ,even telling an earlier version of the tale of SPARTACUS(Spartaco(API,1953),released in the U.S. by RKO as SINS OF ROME ). He hopped from genre to genre with various budgets and varying success. Comedy (at which he seemed to have a lot of success),drama ,spy thrillers ,Krimi( he faced off and WON against the antagonistic Klaus Kinski) ,swashbucklers,historicals, and of course horror.

His indifference to some parts of the movies he made show with some sloppy work (in ROGER LA HONTE( Comptoir Francais du Film Production ,1966,one of his later films with a decent budget, he allows a major stunt to show clearly that a “woman” passenger is actually a stunt man since his trousers are clearly visible ),as well as his indifference to actors (he was notorious for using doubles when actors gave him any grief). Yet in staging ,he often surpassed the budget with strong imagery and tracking shots that convey a lot of information .Plus several actors who worked with him praised the director .

Curti’s book makes me want to revisit several of Freda’s films and seek out some of his rarities. Curti has done what any film researcher should do, and that is evaluate and place into historical context the work of the subject.

McFarland is to be commended once again for putting out such a detailed volume about a filmmaker not as well known as perhaps he should be. Each film has b&w illustrations of the film posters or on set photographs, The graphics are sharp and easy to see.

This is a MUST HAVE for lovers of film, especially for those who love Euro-Cinema.

Highly Recommended.

Kevin G Shinnick

 

                  "Acquista il libro o ti farò del male ..."

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ANY WAY I CAN: 50 YEARS IN SHOW BUSINESS by John Gay with Jennifer Gay Summers

SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE BOOK REVIEW

ANY WAY I CAN: 50 YEARS IN SHOW BUSINESS by John Gay with Jennifer Gay Summers

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$19.95 BEAR MANOR MEDIA 240 pages

Available via

http://www.jennifergaysummers.com/book.php

or
Available at BEAR MANOR MEDIA

 http://www.bearmanormedia.com/any-way-i-can-50-years-in-show-business-by-john-gay-with-jennifer-gay-summers

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Many people know the actors who star in their favorite shows and movies, and others know the directors. The person who is most forgotten is the writer, the person who basically creates the world in which the stories take place.

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One of these artists is screen, teleplay, and stage play writer John Gay. Now Mr. Gay, with the assist of one of his children, daughter Jennifer Gay Summers, has put out his autobiography.jennifer-gay-summers1

 

And what a fascinating life it is. The California born Mr. Gay talks about the lure of acting and how it drew him across country (after serving our country in WWII ) to become an actor. Working in summer stock, he soon gained a great deal of experience as well as meeting his partner and wife Barbara “Bobbie” Meyer.

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Venturing to New York, their attempts at gaining acting work led them to entering the new media of television ,broadcasting live several nights a week from the top of the New Amsterdam Theatre (the former home of the Ziegfeld Follies and now the House of Mouse where the hit musical ALADDIN currently resides).o

 

The show, APARTMENT 3C had only two actors (the husband and wife team) and due to the low budgets, Gay had to also write the shows himself! The program became the second show broadcast from fledgling station WOR in 1949. A modest hit, it gave John Gay not only an extra avenue for revenue but a career for which he would greatly excel.brewster_fig35

Their second show ,MR & MRS MYSTERY had a larger budget (they were allowed to hire other actors ) and Mr. Gay was able to parlay those into other writing assignments for the Golden Age of Television (KRAFT TELEVISON THEATRE ,PLAYHOUSE 90 )and crossing paths with such greats as Rod Sterling and Sidney Lumet.wor_tv_xmtr_room_color

 

His first screenwriting assignment was for the Burt Lancaster /Clark Gable submarine drama RUN SILENT RUN DEEP (1958/UA). His second screenplay earned him an Oscar nomination (along with co-writer Terrence Rattigan) for SEPARATE TABLES (1958/UA).h

 

From there he was now a full-fledged screenwriter, working with the likes of Vincente Minnelli (twice, neither of which were happy experiences) as well as actors like Rod Steiger (twice, in two gems well worth seeking out (NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY (1968 Paramount) and HENNESSY (AIP 1976)) and Paul Newman (SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION 1971/Universal).gd

 

He nearly worked with science fiction great Ray Bradbury on the troubled production of WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART, which remained unmade until Clint Eastwood and different writers turned it in a feature.

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In the 1970s, when television really began turning out movies of the week and adaptations of classics, Mr. Gay seemed to have been involved with almost every great production. Many of my well-remembered favorites had a title mentioning John Gay as the Adaptor or Teleplay By credit. KILL ME IF YOU CAN (NBC,1977) had Alan Alda embody killer Caryl Chessman ; Anthony Hopkins as THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (CBS HALLMARK ,1982) ; LES MISERABLES (CBS HALLMARK 1978) and so many others. Plus he did superior TV remakes of mystery classics DIAL M FOR MURDER (ABC, 1981) WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (CBS HALLMARK 1982), and SHADOW OF A DOUBT (NBC HALLMARK 1991). The list goes on and on .f

 

 

He took his skill as a story teller to the stage, having VINCENT PRICE remind people what a brilliant and versatile actor he truly was in DIVERSIONS & DELIGHTS, a play about Oscar Wilde. Price took the play all over the world, doing well everywhere but NYC (when the New York Times critics could still kill a show).

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Mr. Gay is a wonderful writer, telling his life story with wit, good grace and honesty. Indeed, it is one of the few books that I have read lately that I wish had been longer (Mr. Gay dismisses his work on the troubled George Pal science fiction film THE POWER (MGM, 1968) with just a line or two).b

Having turned 92 this past April,2016 , we are pleased that he and his daughter have shared his wonderful story with us. I have been careful not to give too much away so that you can discover the wonderful life of John Gay within the pages of ANY WAY I CAN.a

 

RECOMMENDED.

Kevin G Shinnick

Full Disclosure: I have been in contact with the author and his charming daughter for several years now as I attempted and finally successfully directed the first NYC Equity Production of DIVERSIONS & DELIGHTS in 35 years. The chapters 40 and 43 deal with this wonderful gem of a play.

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originally published March 30,2015  SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE Facebook page

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SCIENCE FICTION MADE ME A LIBERAL

 SCIENCE FICTION MADE ME A LIBERAL

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With the current election cycle finally winding down, I look forward to the end of all the toxic attitudes and comments from all sides of the political spectrum.

 
What has for me personally been a surprise has been the vitriol aimed at those of the Liberal attitude from many within the horror and science fiction community. I am not so foolish as to think everyone who shares a mutual interest in a subject to lock step politically, though it is interesting that while we share a mutual joy in these subjects, that we take away different conclusions from them.

 
Being a small kid in the Bronx with a stutter and a strong Bronx accent, I always felt like an “outsider”. Then when I was very young, visiting relatives in Ireland, my older brother took me to the movies. The first movies that I ever saw on the big screen were FRANKENSTEIN (1931, Universal) and CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (Hammer,1957).

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Mind you, this was in the early 1960s, but cinemas  would sometimes pair older films and show them . Now I was terrified by both films (and indeed my brother & I were tossed out of the theatre because I was screaming so hard when Christopher Lee tore off his facial bandages), but I felt a certain sadness for the creatures too, and I was unknowingly hooked. Peter Cushing popped up in several other films and I was impressed by him as a performer and I began to get the idea that I would like to be an actor.

 

 

 

I found myself drawn to works by horror,science fiction and fantasy writers. In the era before the internet or home computers, one had to go to the library and research when one didn’t understand certain things. Due to the references of certain eras ,countries, etc,I would go to the library and read books on history ,politics ,and various topics . Rather than being bored I found that it enriched my appreciation of the stories that I read, and the world in general. While others in school were struggling with THE CAT IN THE HAT, I was reading histories of the Middle Ages so I would have a better understanding of the world of “The Pit & The Pendulum” .the-pit-and-the-pendulumthe-spanish-inquisition6

 

 

 

 

Now hooked to fantasy /horror films, I recall that on television they had an ad on the old WOR-TV (Channel 9) in NYC. “Ghosts, murder, Regicide” intoned the unseen announcer as black and white images flew by the screen. I didn’t know what regicide was, but ghosts and murder were what I wanted to see.

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At the appointed hour, I tuned on the t.v., and turned the knob to the channel. The film was Laurence Olivier’s HAMLET (RANK,1948). It looked like a horror film with its fog and moody photography (and heck at the end there was Peter Cushing as  Osiric) but there was something more to the film. I didn’t understand all that was said, but I knew I wanted to speak like that. At the end, I was in tears, and knew that:
1-I wanted to be an actor
2-I wanted to speak like the people in the film and learn more about this “Shakespeare” guy who wrote it.

 

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quote-who-wants-to-see-me-as-hamlet-very-few-but-millions-want-to-see-me-as-frankenstein-so-peter-cushing-87-41-29So, I would listen to recordings by Olivier, Gielgud, and others reading the works of the Bard (thank you Caedmon records) and it helped me develop my speaking voice and my confidence. It also got me beaten up a bit (no one likes a pseudo British accent, especially under ten-year-old bullies), but I found too the writings of this man from 350 years earlier spoke to me of the human condition. “Hath not a Jew Eyes? “A speech that showed that people may pray differently, but in essence we were all of humans.

 
An amazing speech too in that there were very few Jews in the country at the time, and in a play, that in the end, the Merchant is forced to renounce his faith, in effect destroying what defined him. A complex ending to be sure. That earlier speech lifted Shylock from being the Hebrew of anti-Semitic tracts into a human being with flaws. Othello was a great general, had even saved the city and yet suffered prejudice due to the color of his skin. Again, there were few blacks in England in Shakespeare’s time, and xenophobia was quite strong, so that Shakespeare created a rounded human being (who even had flaws, suffering from epileptic fits, etc) from someone who was different speaks volumes.

 
Plus, when women were little more than property, he wrote such wonderful parts about them and for them, though it was illegal for women to PLAY them. The first English woman to legally do so was Margaret Hughes, December 8,1660 as Desdemona, ironically in “The Moor of Venice” (a reworking of Othello).

 
Through Shakespeare I discovered the idea of trying to understand others. Shakespeare and horror films also developed my love of storytelling as well as the joy of reading and discovery of ideas.
Science fiction writers like George Orwell challenged acceptance of society without question, and that sometimes things were not always what they seemed. ‘1984” Orwellian double speak now lives on in Fox News as well as politicians who constantly deny facts if it stands in the way of their political agenda. Sadly, many seem ready to accept their outrageous claims as “double plus good”. Back in the 1960s, though, we were engrossed in a foreign war that was not what we told it was for, and indeed the ideals were dropped as the conflict continued. Plus, at the time, social injustices and women’s liberation were also issues that threatened the fabric of the country. Science fiction, for a young teenager was a way of trying to understand these complex issues.

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The idea of controlling the media and what we can and cannot read was a reality in many dictatorships, but also within our own country narrow minded people wanted to ban the likes of ROMEO & JULIET, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and many other works. Why? Because they made us question the status quo. Controlling thought in “1984” and Ray Bradbury’s ‘FAHRENHEIT 451 “reflected a society where that happens, and again Orwell predicted flooding the media with info that they wanted, and acting as if previous facts didn’t exist.

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Television and movies also had a strong effect on shaping my opinions and beliefs.

 

The earliest influence that I can think of is Rod Serling’s TWILIGHT ZONE. Serling tried through his various brilliant television dramas to illuminate the human condition Unfortunately, he ran up against censorship from both the networks as well as the advertisers. In one of his political dramas he was forbidden to have his politicians comment on current events to avoid the appearance of siding with one side or the other.

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Wanting to discuss social injustice, racism, and other injustices, he felt that only way to do that was to disguise his tales as fantasies, using the allegories to discuss otherwise taboo issues. Maintaining creative control, he was one of the first to explore the idea of people seeing only the superficial rather the person within (EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, NUMBER 7 LOOKS JUST LIKE YOU), bigotry and hate (I AM THE NIGHT-COLOR ME BLACK) and other social issues.

 

 

Probably the biggest influence on me was STAR TREK. The show showed a multinational multicultural crew working together to deal with new life forms and issues that reflected items within our own society. Yes, they had women in miniskirts, but that was more the demands of the era than the ideals of the series.

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Looking back now 50 years on, it is easy to point out the flaws of the show, but one must remember that every step forward starts with a small victory, and that it doesn’t happen overnight.

 

The show also dealt with the issue of overpopulation (MARK OF GIDEON), racism (LET THIS BE YOUR LAST BATTLEFIELD), mutual assured destruction (A TASTE OF ARMAGEDDON) and many other issues of the time.

 

The thing that most appealed to me about STAR TREK is that it offered a possibility of a future for mankind. That somehow we would survive the constant threats that promised the destruction of our society and possibility the entire planet.

 

It reflected the possibilities offered by Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Both were murdered by narrow minds but they left with us the baton to fulfill the dream that they proposed as well as the ideals that Gene Roddenberry’s series gave us in his “Wagon Train to The Stars”.

 

Little did I know, but these shows and books influenced my world overview. I like to think of the possibility that we as a planet and humans can accomplish, to help other people and not be xenophobic, to respect difference and learn from them, to protect the planet over profit.

 

There are those who live in fear and they become more conservative as they do not understand change, while there are those who look in wonder of the possibilities of our future.

 

Yes, SCIENCE FICTION made me into a LIBERAL, and I am very grateful.

Kevin G Shinnick

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ROCK ‘N’ROLL MONSTERS: THE AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL STORY

ROCK ‘N’ROLL MONSTERS: THE AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL STORY by Bruce Hallenbeck (Hemlock Books) paperback pages 280 published August ,2016

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U.K. £16.25 http://www.hemlockbooks.co.uk/Shop/category/7
U.S.: $47.85   https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Monsters-American-International/dp/0993398936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477073892&sr=8-1&keywords=rock+n+roll+monsters

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Author /film historian Bruce Hallenbeck has published another must have book for lovers of movies. After giving us wonderful books on many of the British companies Amicus and Hammer, Bruce Hallenbeck turns his focus on the little upstart company that grew and challenged the majors in areas where they could not or did not compete. American International Pictures finally began to become a major, only to find that the other studios were now churning out higher end versions of the type of movies that AIP had done, and so the studio vanished into corporate buyouts after 26 years.aiplogo001

AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES began when studios began to lose audiences to television. Small independent producers began to create their own films outside the studio system after the United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., 334 US 131 (1948) forced theatres to divest themselves from owning theatres and keeping out other producers.aip_logo_2_4200

Rock ‘n’ Roll Monsters: The American International Story is a 2016 book by Bruce G Hallenbeck (The Amicus Anthology; The Hammer Frankenstein; The Hammer Vampire), published by British-based Hemlock Books.
In the early 1950s, the traditional American film industry was facing a crisis due to one thing: television. Two men from totally different backgrounds pooled their talents and tapped into the burgeoning ‘teenage’ market, and American International Pictures was born.gw228h126

Founded by James H. Nicholson, a fantasy /science fiction horror fan (he had known Forrest J Ackerman since High School and had even published an early fanzine together) who had worked his way through the industry up to writing campaigns for Realart’s re-releases of Universal horror classics.

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When Realart distributed MAN MADE MONSTER (Universal,1941) under the title ATOMIC MONSTER*, producer Alex Gordon had a script with the same title, he sought a legal settlement. The lawyer he brought had been seeking an entrance into film production by the name of Samuel Z. Arkoff. Arkoff got Gordon a $500 settlement but more important the three men all hit it off with their similar love of making movies. In a strange way, Universal had created a monster that rose to challenge their status as a maker of creature features.james
Nicholson and Arkoff sought completed product to start their new company. They had tested the waters with a small documentary in 1953 called OPERATION MALAYA released by their company AMERICAN RELEASING CORPORATION. **     The man credited as producer on that film also became an important component to the company’s development, Herman Cohen.

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However, the company had its first real success when they met the filmmaker who made them a viable entity, Roger Corman. The filmmaker had a film called THE FAST & THE FURIOUS (1954, released nationally in 1955). He had been thinking of having another studio distribute his film, but after being taken around by Nicholson to the various sub distributors, he was so impressed that he decided to take a chance with the new company.

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With borrowed money to keep the doors open, the film became profitable enough that company was off and running. The studio was also smart enough to capitalize on a market that the major studios were neglecting, teenagers.

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While many of their early films starred older performers, as the company developed, younger actors took the spotlight and became the heroes and heroines. Young audiences responded with their newly available dollars.
As the 1960s began, the studios moved into more expensive productions, and made Edgar Allan Poe a hot property.
Bruce Hallenbeck tells the story of the studio with clarity and affection, and has done a lot of research. His choice of mostly British lobby cards is most welcome to an American fan of the genre such as myself.

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Towards the final portion of the book, there is a sense of rushing to the end. That may be because of editorial choices wishing to keep the book under the mass of a Stephen King novel. One wishes that the author had been allowed to expand his research into two books, as there is a very rich history. Also, except for a few brief references, Nicholson’s contribution to the success of the company is often overlooked and Arkoff’s a bit overblown. Several people felt that Nicholson was the creative force behind the studio, and several of the artists disliked dealing with the crude Arkoff.

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That said, the book, like all of Hallenbeck’s studio studies as well as Hemlock Books, is definitely worth picking up.
Recommended.983210008d258dcf6b992681e83b3c4e
-Kevin G Shinnick

 
*-This was a script that Alex Gordon had co-written with Ed Wood that was also known as ‘Bride of The Atom” before finally being titled BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (1955, released through Banner Productions, oddly, not ARC / A.I.P.)ghost-in-the-invisible-bikini-still-gorilla

**-if you were not a major company, you had your film distributed by several small regional sub distributors.

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FASCINATION The Celluloid Dreams Of Jean Rollin

FASCINATION
The Celluloid Dreams Of Jean Rollin (paperback, HeadPress) 268 Pages.

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http://www.headpress.com/ShowProduct.aspx?ID=143 £15.99
In the U.S.:
https://www.amazon.com/Fascination-Celluloid-Dreams-Jean-Rollin/dp/1909394238/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1469925570&sr=1-4&keywords=fascination    $19.99
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Jean Rollin was a surrealist filmmaker who became identified with the horror genre. While his films do indeed deal with vampires and the undead in various forms, they also have a lyrical dreamlike quality with imagery that would make Bunuel (with whom he once almost worked) proud. A vampire comes out of a grandfather clock forever frozen at midnight, a woman plays piano within a cemetery, recurring images of figures isolated on an empty beach, these are some of the haunting sights that are mixed in with a sense of loneliness for the preternatural figures within the films.

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Before big budget films like INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE (WB,1994), Rollin was mixing poetry, beauty along with violence and the need to kill the one you love to survive. Sadly, due to the violent reaction to his first full length feature*, Le Viol du Vampire (RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE, Les Films/ABC,1967), his films were considered not worth proper study and failed as both art house films as well as horror. Considering that that first feature was actually two separate films put together, the duality of his films (both art and horror, the use of twins, lookalikes, and parallel storylines) seemed organic for most of the remainder of his career.

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I first heard of Rollin when I saw a full color photo of his wild poster for his third film, Le Frisson des Vampires/THE SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES (Les Films/1970). It was a wild image, sexy, art deco-ish, and different from most of the film posters that I had ever seen before. I recall that at the time the book was dismissive of Rollin’s films, calling them dull.

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The first of his films that I actually saw was in a cut and poorly dubbed VHS release bowdlerization of his Requiem pour un Vampire/REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE(Les Films,1971) called CAGED VIRGINS (Boxoffice International Pictures (1973) shorn from 95 minutes to 65) . The dubbing I recall seemed very sloppy and made the film feel very cheap. The choppy editing to get to the good stuff (i.e. sex) also made the film seem like a cheapo horror.

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Due to his films suffering from poor distribution, Rollin was forced to go into making porno films. It must have been maddening to him that these cheaply made films were better distributed and more financially successful than his personal projects.

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However, it did give him connections, among them finding the beautiful Brigitte Lahaie, an adult film actress with great screen presence who was featured in several of his later films, to the advantage of both. Due to her popularity, people sought out any film that she was in, including Rollin’s work. Their best collaboration was the film FASCINATION (Comex/Les Films ABC ,1979) which has the very striking image of a shroud clad Lahaie wielding a very deadly scythe. Death had never looked more beautiful nor deadly.

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Finally, there arose in England a group of film buffs who began to champion Rollin as a filmmaker to be reckoned with. Redemption UK distributed many a fine print of his works to a growing appreciative audience.

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After a couple of action films for hire, as well as shooting some films that Jess Franco dropped out of(!), Rollin made several more personal fantastique films that were among his finest, garnering good reviews and appreciative audiences. What was little known, however, was that the filmmaker had long been ill, and created his movies while racing back and forth from hospitals.

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(from LIVING DEAD GIRL /La morte vivante,1982)

He completed his last film, Le Masque de la Meduse /THE MASK OF MEDUSA (Les Films,2010) just shortly before he passed away, and it was a perfect film to end his career, as much of it mirrored his first feature, and also referenced many of his other creations.

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HEADPRESS is to be commended for giving us this wonderful tome, FASCINATION: THE CELLULOID DREAMS OF JEAN ROLLIN by David Hinds, as it is probably the most definitive work on the filmmaker that we are likely to see for some time. The author has a great passion and love for the oeuvre of Rollin, having discovered him among the many Euro Horror filmmakers that were coming to the early video store markets in the early 1980s.

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Hinds has done remarkable research, finding and seeing what still exists of much of the director’s work (a few shorts have gone missing, as well as some of his adult films). His descriptions of the films and the behind the scenes stories on their creation and distribution does what any great film book should -it makes you want to go out and see the films for yourself.

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(One of his work for hire productions ,aka ZOMBIE LAKE ,1981)

Hinds has gone the extra step and reviewed the various video, DVD, and even Blu ray releases of these films, so you will know which is the best one to purchase.

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le-viol-du-vampireHe also sought out and interviewed several of the people involved with the films, including the fullest interview with the late director that I have ever read( and perhaps the last that the filmmaker ever gave).

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The only quibble that I have is that for such a beautiful done tribute to Rollin, the photo reproductions are often muddy and very hard to see, resembling a reproduction of a newspaper photo from microfilm.  One wishes that they had tried a bit harder to show the haunting imagery in quality representation, perhaps putting them all in the center of the book on better paper, mixed in perhaps with some color.

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If you are open to seeing and experiencing something beyond the often paint by numbers films that are hailed by our genre fans. Then by all means seek out this book and then see the films!

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HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Kevin G Shinnick

*-In 1968, rioting, occupations, and strikes were the norm in Paris it seems to everything. It’s hard now to believe film fans expecting a Hammer type film would react so violently, but given the time it was not so unusual an occurrence.it is forbidden to forbid

(“It is forbidden to forbid” -saying during 1968 protests, and apropos of Rollin’s work )

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A PRIEST IN 1835 by Jules verne

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A Priest in 1835 by Jules Verne / Translated with an introductory essay and notes by Danièle Chatelain and George Slusser
Published by Bear Manor . 306 pages .

In both Limited Hardcover

http://www.bearmanormedia.com/a-priest-in-1835-hardcover-edition-by-jules-verne $34.95
and softcover
http://www.bearmanormedia.com/a-priest-in-1835-softcover-edition-by-jules-verne $24.95

One measure of greatness is just how good a person is at an early age.

 

The mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, as a child, (re)discovered a formula normally taught to undergraduate math students. Lebron James averaged 20 points per game as a pro right out of high school. Pablo Picasso outshined his art instructor and father in his early teens…and… caused his parent to swear off painting in amazed frustration.
With this first novel A Priest in 1835, the latest entry in the Palik Series of hitherto untranslated English editions, we learn just how talented Jules Verne was at the tender age of 19. It seems that in almost every review for the Palik Series, I find myself stressing Verne’s versatility as an author. But, the sheer boredom of repetition is once again outweighed by the increasing evidence of that fact.

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As translators Danièle Chatelain and George Slusser point out in the introduction, A Priest in 1835 is written with Gothic trappings in which the young author nonetheless puts his own stamp on that literary mode. The mystery intricately unfolds and reaches a subtle conclusion. Readers are forewarned to pay careful attention of the events to reap the tale’s full rewards.
Verne also displays a maturity in handling human complexities as this quote demonstrates concerning the main character’s career choice:
Of course, the police commissioner and two gendarmes do not come and take the young man and force him to enter the seminary; no one puts a pistol to his head. He is completely free: “Do you want to go there?” one asks in a tone of voice that suggests that he would much offend you if you didn’t go there. “So decide.” The young peasant doesn’t hesitate for a moment; he follows his generous protector. All of this is done with the greatest freedom.

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There’s little hint of Jules Verne, Father of Science fiction. Probably this passage comes closest:
Unfortunately, mankind cannot limit his contact to the things that immediately surround him. It is subjected to forces that it cannot master, to upheavals it cannot control, things that, if it is to overcome them, demand a degree of energy it cannot furnish. There are cataclysms that overthrow an entire world. Mankind is powerful when prosperous, when it wields those machines and inventions which it shapes in accordance with the forms of power it finds within himself. Then it is able to multiply this power a hundredfold.

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Ultimately, the lack of Fantasy Elements matters little to me. I entered the world of Jules Verne because I’m a vintage Science Fiction buff. I stayed because I found he’s a talented writer.

Steve Joyce

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DOWN FROM THE ATTIC (book review)

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Down from the Attic: Rare Thrillers of the Silent Era through the 1950s
By John T. Soister and Henry Nicolella -(McFarland; June ,2016 )248 pages $39.95

 http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-9831-4

This wonderful follow up to UP FROM THE VAULT: RARE THRILLERS FROM THE 1920S AND 1930S (McFarland ,2010) has author John T Soister joined by Henry Nicolella to track down and view where possible twenty-four films that are ignored and unknown by the majority of genre fans.

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Some are at present lost (i.e. deteriorated nitrate negatives and thus no longer in existence) and others available in truncated forms. Yet that we have still so many of these films for viewing is in itself miraculous, as according to Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation claims that “half of all American films made before 1950 and over 90% of films made before 1929 are lost forever.”

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Beginning with the silent era and going up to 1951, the pair of author sleuths tracked down films and prints from around the world, viewing whatever prints are still extant, and delving deeply into research about productions and reviews buried long ago in musty volumes and microfilm. Their summaries and plot synopses of the films covered makes one seek to look for many of these films, and some make you wonder why a few of them are not better known. Hopefully, their research may bring a few of these films to being found and perhaps preserved.6676769_1

What also makes this book invaluable is their willingness to seek out films that were made outside of the United States. Movies from The U.K. Germany, the Czech Republic, and South America are also explored, many perhaps for the first time in such detail outside of their borders.

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Plus, they cover the odd career of filmmaker Bud Pollard, responsible for the elusive and obscure THE HORROR (Bud Pollard Productions ,1932) as well as the first sound version of ALICE IN WONDERLAND https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6O8kbTi4WNo .

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Soister and Nicolella have done a wonderful job of finding these films and bringing them to the attention of genre fans. As they point out, not all of the films can be considered classics, but their importance cannot be denied.

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HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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-Kevin G Shinnick

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