Category Archives: Non-fiction

Review: Fantastic Films of the Decades Volume 1: The Silent Era by Wayne Kinsey (2015)

Fantastic Films of the Decades Volume 1
Review by N Emmett.

Fantastic Films of the Decades Volume 1: The Silent Era is the first in a slated 9-volume series by Wayne Kinsey. The collection aims to provide an overview of fantasy, horror and science fiction films from the dawn of cinema through to the end of the 1970s – after which the field was forever altered by the coming of VHS, and with it the direct-to-video film.

In his introduction, Kinsey quotes Alan Frank as saying that “You can’t do any reference book anymore because it’s all on the net, which is a tragedy.” While the pros of online scholarship obviously outweigh the cons, it is hard to deny that such tomes as Frank’s Horror Movies: Tales of Terror in the Cinema are on the verge of extinction, even though leafing through a lavishly-illustrated book on cinema history offers an experience that Wikipedia has never really duplicated.

But if the first volume is anything to go by, Fantastic Films of the Decades will make a worthy epitaph to this dying genre of book.

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Review: Running Scared: Insider Tales from the House of Hammer by Phil Campbell and Brian Reynolds (2015)

Running Scared
Review by N Emmett.

Many books have been written about Hammer. But while most focus on the directors, the actors or the films themselves, Running Scared tells the story of two teenagers who witnessed the making of the films at ground level: from 1967 to 1972, Phil Campbell and Brian Reynolds served as office boys and production runners at the House of Horror. The book is written primarily by Campbell, although Reynolds’ side of the story is regularly provided.

There is something of the fanzine about this small-press book, with analysis and cultural context generally ignored in favour of enthusiastic nostalgia. Instead of writing from a fan’s point of view, however, Campbell writes from the perspective of someone involved with the Hammer horrors as they were made. Horror of Frankenstein and the On the Buses films may not have been amongst the studio’s best efforts, but you would scarcely know from reading this book: Campbell has a way of making even the lesser Hammer outings seem like worthy projects – as, doubtless, they did seem to a teenage runner at the time.

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Review: Sex and Horror: The Art of Emanuele Taglietti (2014)

Sex and Horror: The Art of Emanuele Taglietti

Sex and Horror: The Art of Emanuele Taglietti
Korero Press, 2015 (containing material previously published)
Artist: Emanuele Taglietti

Review by N Emmett.

Published By Korero Press, Sex and Horror: The Art of Emanuele Taglietti collects over 120 illustrations from various Italian comics (or fumetti, as they are known) of the seventies and eighties. Unusually for a book on comic art, none of the illustrations are sequential: Emanuele Taglietti made his name as a cover artist.

The style of Taglietti’s paintings is immediately familiar from the world of pulp cover art. They are brash, bold and salacious, conceived to stand out from similarly-lurid competitors on the racks – and making no bones about this fact. They were painted to appeal the taste of a quite specific readership, promising buyers a heady mixture of the erotic, the macabre and the flat-out odd.

The book sheds light on the weird world of seventies fumetti with short synopses of the various comics that Taglietti worked on as a cover artist. We are introduced to Belzeba, an intersex devil who goes up against a kinky interpretation of Torquemada; Sukia Dragomic, a female vampire with a gay sidekick named Gary; and deformed aristocrat Jimmy Wallestein, who battles criminals to avenge the murder of his father.

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Review: Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Original Daily Cartoons 1929-1930 by Robert Ripley (2014)

Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Original Daily Cartoons 1929-1930
IDW, 2014 (containing material from 1918-1930)
Artist/writer: Robert Ripley

Review by N Emmett.

Believe It or Not By Robert Ripley – or Ripley’s Believe It or Not! as it became known – started out as a feature in the funny pages. It is now a multimedia brand that encompasses books, museums, films, television series and more.

More specifically, it is a brand that has taken on a distinctly grotesque aspect. The annual Ripley’s Believe It or Not! books are packaged as carnivalesque alternatives to the Guinness Book of Records, with body modification enthusiasts leering from the covers and all manner of lurid facts within. A recent series of children’s novels, Ripley’s Bureau of Investigation, is based around a junior X-Files scenario of teenagers investigating various monsters and creepy goings-on. And the director formerly attached to a proposed film about Robert Ripley is the man in Hollywood most closely associated with the tongue-in-cheek macabre: Tim Burton.

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Anglo-Saxon Monsters: A Thirty Minute Read by S.A. Swaffington (2012)

Anglo-Saxon MonstersReview by Jaq D Hawkins

Between the fifth and eighth centuries AD, during the initial period of early medieval England, a variant of the Germanic pagan religion which included belief in various not-quite-human-shaped mythological creatures dominated much of north-western Europe. This encompassed a heterogeneous variety of disparate beliefs and cultic practices, which were introduced to Britain following the Anglo-Saxon migration in the mid fifth century. Anglo-Saxon Monsters gives us a brief list of some of the most well-known of these, which have often been used in Fantasy and Horror stories and games since the twentieth century.

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