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Scare Tactic: The Life & Films of William Castle [Paperback]

John W. Law
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 May 2000
In Scare Tactic, John W. Law artfully resurrects the intriguing life and outrageously splendid work of legendary horror film director, William Castle. Clearly written and thoroughly researched, Scare Tactic is the only book of its kind, delivering a complete biography of Castle - surveying not only the multiple influences on Castles career but also the importance of the man himself. Laws fascination with Castle is contagious, but he cuts through the ballyhoo and showmanship to deliver the facts in an articulate and insightful manner. Anyone interested in the history of cinema, the horror movie genre, cult films, or the cinema of exploitation would do well to read Laws study, since - in the tradition of P.T. Barnum - Castle is one of the most important showmen the American cinema has ever known.

Product details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Writers Club Press (1 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595095445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595095445
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.1 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,878,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A dream for Castle fans 7 Oct 2011
I have to admit right at the start that I'm already biased because I'm a huge fan of the films of William Castle. Out of all the films I saw as a kid the ones that made the biggest impression on me were the Hammer films, Harryhausen films, Universal Horrors and those of William Castle. The House On Haunted Hill and The Tingler were two of the most scary films I'd ever seen as a 10 year old and I have the fondest memories of these and other Castle films. So when I saw this book on Amazon I had to get it.
John W Law does a great job of giving us an insight into the Castle, the man himself and also gives a synopsis of each of his films and discusses the reaction by the public and critics at time of release. It's obviously a very well researched book. Thoroughly enjoyable for a fan like me. My only criticism is that I've never come across so many spelling mistakes in one book. A quick spellcheck or proof read would have helped immensely. However, this didn't spoil the book for me and it was just a minor irritation.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.8 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sloppiness and Lack of Insight Make for a Disappointing Read 21 July 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I picked up "Scare Tactic" after finishing William Castle's very engaging memoirs, "Step Right Up! I'm Gonna Scare the Pants off America." There is very little original material in John Law's book... most of it is just a rehash of Castle's memoirs, in which Law re-tells Castle's anecdotes, sometimes refuting them. (Mostly on minor details like dates.) Law offers a few terse observations and insights of the man's life, but not really until the very last 10 pages of the book. The most glaring and offensive thing about this book is how poorly it is edited: simple mistakes (like spelling "Ursula" "Ursual" or "their" instead of "there") dot almost every single page, making this book seem even more amateurish. I suggest picking up Castle's memoirs instead... they're much more entertaining and better written.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A very badly-written book about an interesting man 1 May 2002
By Ronald Duchamp - Published on Amazon.com
"Scare Tactic" cannot help but be somewhat interesting simply because the life and work of its subject William Castle were so unique and inspiring.
But the book itself is ineptly written and executed. Spelling and grammatical errors abound (the kind of mistakes that word processors miss, such as the use of "their" in place of "there"). Run-on sentences and repetition render even the simplest information confusing and incoherent. And the author's own attempts to analyze Mr. Castle's life and work amount to grade-school-quality assessments (yes, we all agree that many of Castle's films were scary).
In short, "Scare Tactic" is nearly unreadable. Books such as this one demonstrate why traditional book editors and publishers need never feel threatened by the growing self-publication movement ("Scare Tactic" was self-published by its author through iUniverse.com).
If a reader is truly curious about Mr. Castle's life and work, they are encouraged to seek out a copy of his autobiography "I'm Gonna Scare the Pants Off America" which is currently out of print but which they may be able to find at their local library.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Campy Castle Tribute 30 July 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
The author's obvious love of Castle's horror work comes through. While the book doesnt offer great detail of Castle's other works, his horror classics are well detailed. There is some overlap with Castle's own autobiography, but there's some great touches with some of the lousy film reviews the director got which Castle himself rarely admitted to and some item Castle never discussed in his own book, like the fact that Joan Crawford was not the original star of Strait-Jacket. The book also has some rare photos and is a great option since Castle's own autobiography hasnt been in print for years. In fact, this is actually the only biography ever done on Castle.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written...the errors are hilarious! 14 May 2004
By Wajo - Published on Amazon.com
First of all I will point out that the author's affection for his subject is obvious. That is the plus. However, he negates any positives by his awful, sloppy writing. I would think that if you are writing about a subject you enjoy and care about, you would not do it in such a sloppy manner and you would take the time to research the most basic things such as spelling...Citizen CANE, anyone????? Memo to Mr. Law: Don't rely solely on a spell checker in a word processing program. You should print out a hard copy and go over it line by line and word for word.
The minuses are numerous, thus making for an entertaining read. However, I am sure the author did not intend for the entertainment factor to come from the reader finding the errors in the book.
Technically, this is probably the worst written book I have ever read. It is full of errors in grammar and spelling, many of them rendered even more foolish because the author could have checked these so easily and avoided looking ridiculous. The blurb on the back of the book (written by the author himself?) calls it "clearly written" which makes it even funnier.
If the author is an editor as the back cover claims, I feel sorry for any author getting stuck with Mr. Law as their editor; he can't even do a good job on his own book. And if he did not edit his own book, who did? An "editor" worse than the author?
This guy's work is so incredibly sloppy it is actually amusing to read this book just to find the errors. It seems as if there is something on just about every page that is spelled incorrectly or incoherently written. He might want to consider finding another line of work because he cannot write or edit very well.
Most of the material is re-hashed information from Castle's own autobiography, so the author does not present much in the way of new material or deliver any new insight on his subject. The "analysis" of the Castle films at the end is also rather silly.
To point out just a few of the errors that jumped out at me: Passed instead of past; bares instead of bears; look instead of looked; their instead of they're; grizzly instead of grisly; and two of my favorites: "finance" instead of "fiance" and "tailcoats" instead of "coattails"
Other errors that are hilarious simply because they would have been so easy to check are: "Ruth Gordan" "A Streetcar Names Desire" and "Doctor Shivago" to name just a few.
It's too bad this book is so horribly written and edited because just about any kid growing up in the late fifties or early to mid sixties was probably a fan of the cheesy William Castle horror films, and would probably enjoy reading about Castle if for nothing else than to bring back those memories.
Aside from his own autobiography, it would be fun to have a really good, entertaining book about Castle and his films. Unfortunately, this is not the book.
Other blurbs on the back call it "articulate and insightful" and "the only book of its kind" to which I have to disagree with the first statement and heartily agree with the second. It is certainly a one-of-a-kind book!
As I said earlier, it is unfortunate that the entertainment value of this book is derived from finding glaring errors everywhere, because this is a subject I was looking forward to reading about. There really is no excuse for such a sloppily written and edited book. An allegedly experienced "editor" really should turn out work of a higher caliber.
To echo another reviewer, the publishing industry need not worry about the proliferation of "print on demand" or self published types of books. If this "iuniverse" book is any example, the publishing industry has nothing to fear.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-researched book about William Castle & his films. 25 Nov 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book has been well-researched about filmmaker William Castle & his long-list of films. However, the author recites the passages from William Castle's 'out-of-print' auto-biography. If you have read "I'm Gonna Scare the Pants Off America," you may be disappointed in Mr. Law's book. I do applaud John Law for his critical analysis of William Castle's movies including how Mr. Castle in his own auto-biography uses gimmickry & self-promotion as a means of storytelling (hence, William Castle extends & over-dramatizes the facts of his own life). The pictures in the book are excellent! Great facts revealed. John Law's book is the only up-to-date biography on William Castle. I wish the author would have gone into more detail about the current remakes of William Castle's movies.
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