"Attack of the Monster Movie Makers: Interviews with 20 Genre Giants" Book Review
Written by Tom Weaver
1994, 384 pages, Reference
Book released on July 22nd, 2014
Tom Weaver has enjoyed a lengthy career writing about the horror genre through his reference guides and countless magazine contributions. His interviews are thorough and informative but presented conversationally, as though he is simply visiting with an old friend. Weaver expertly guides the talk in a way that allows him to ask his questions in an informal manner, and likely he receives a more detailed answer than if he had approached the subject as a journalist would. Twenty years ago, he published Attack of the Monster Movie Makers, a collection of interviews with filmmakers who work on both sides of the camera. Now the book has been re-released through McFarland Publishing and will surely please fans who are familiar with horror movies and might be looking for a different perspective than those provided by the usual suspects.
Weaver assembles a fine lineup of subjects, including actors Cameron Mitchell (Without Warning), Candace Hilligoss (Carnival of Souls), Betsy Jones-Moreland (Screaming Mimi), Ed Nelson (Teenage Caveman), Susan Hart (The Slime People), Ann Robinson (War of the Worlds), Ben Chapman (The Creature from the Black Lagoon) and Vincent Price (The Tingler). These are matched with such behind the camera talent as Director Val Guest (The Quatermass Experiment), Producer Jacques Marquette (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman) and screenwriters Harry Spalding (Curse of the Fly) and Charles Bennett (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea). Just about everyone in this roster has passed away, so it is a nice tribute to have their stories collected here in one great book.
Each interview gets its own chapter and begins with a photograph of the talent and a quote from the interviewee. The discussion is presented in a standard question-and-answer format and concludes with a brief filmography of the subject's career. The guests are all more than eager to reflect on their work and Weaver is enthusiastic in his curiosity. The biggest hurdle with a book like this is the audience's unfamiliarity with the roster of names. Your enjoyment of the content will vary, as there are more than a few names that have drifted into obscurity. Everyone is nice and chatty, but if I don't know a subject's films, then I have no frame of reference when going into his or her chapter. That being said, if the reader is a fan of a particular contributor, then treats await that will surely satisfy.
The highlight in the book for me is the segment with Vincent Price, as I have been a lifelong fan of his work. His diverse interests from art collection, cooking and acting are all represented through anecdotes that left me wishing the entire book had been devoted to this one man. I could hear his voice in my head as I read the interview and left wanting to go back to revisit many of his films. Some other great participants include actors Merry Anders (Legacy of Blood), Rose Hobart (Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde) and William Phipps (Invaders from Mars), each of whom appear in several movies I have enjoyed and it is nice to hear their stories that frequently offer a different spin on the production than I am used to hearing from someone like the director or producer.
Attack of the Monster Movie Makers is a fine collection that is definitely worth checking out. It's a welcome addition to your library if you are a fan of the classic horror chillers and looking for a little insight that you may have missed. Do yourself a favor this Halloween season and pick up a copy today!