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A Sci-Fi Swarm and Horror Horde: Interviews with 62 Filmmakers Hardcover – 15 May 2010


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About the Author

Tom Weaver lives in Sleepy Hollow, New York, and has been interviewing moviemakers since the early 1980s. The New York Times has called him one of the leading scholars in the horror field and USA Today has described him as the king of the monster hunters. Classic Images called him "the best interviewer we have today." He is a frequent contributor to numerous film magazines including Starlog, Fangoria, Monsters from the Vault and Video Watchdog, and he has been featured in the prestigious Best American Movie Writing. A frequent DVD audio commentator, he is the author of numerous reference and other nonfiction books about American popular culture, including Universal Horrors: The Studio's Classic Fims, 1931-1946.

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Amazon.com: 5 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
ANOTHER GREAT BOOK FROM WEAVER 11 Jun. 2010
By Tim Janson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I always get excited when I see a new book by Tom Weaver because he's simply the best there is when it comes to great interviews. What makes him so exceptional is that he interviews people who don't normally get interviewed. If you're not a fan of horror and Sci-Fi films of the 1930s to the 1960s, chances are you may not know a lot of these names and that's part of Weaver's charm. He gets the inside story from people who are usually only too happy to share their experiences in these great films.

This book features 62 more interviews to engage and excite fans. Weaver's interviews are not structured in the usual question and answer style but his subjects basically share their reminiscences with the occasional prompting from Tom. In a bit of a departure from previous books, this one features several "Memories of..." chapters where various actors and filmmakers share their thoughts on a particular subject, including Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Lon Chaney, Jr. Earl Bellamy, Assistant Director on 1943 Columbia monster mash "Return of the Vampire" discusses working with Lugosi as the horror legend once again played a vampire. In typical Lugosi fashion, he truly believed he was the character while on the set. Bellamy talks about Lugosi giving the crew tickets to see him perform in the stage play "Arsenic and Old Lace". The play was awful and Bellamy and the others wanted to leave but Lugosi had given them tickets in the front row, guaranteeing they stayed to the bitter end.

Weaver scores a bit of a coup with a short interview with the reclusive Fess Parker. Parker starred in one of the first great post-atomic bomb films with 1954's "Them!" and would go on to TV success playing both Davey Crockett and Daniel Boone. Among the tidbits that Weaver gets parker to reveal is the origin of his name, "Fess".

It's interesting to see the five degrees of separation you sometimes get in Hollywood. Alan Young, star of 1960s sitcom "Mr Ed", shares his memories of the great Universal Films make-up artist Jack Pierce. Pierce actually worked for a short time on the show before being let go. Young reveals how Pierce loved to talk about the good old days and how hard Piece took it when he was let go.

Weaver has a lengthy interview with Gary Conway, star of one of the most underrated Sci-Fi shows of the 1960s, "Land of the Giants". Created by Irwin Allen, the show was basically a rip-off of another Irwin hit, "Lost in Space". Like that show, Giants finds a group of space travelers who get lost when they pass through a space warp and end up on an alternate Earth where the people are 12 times the size of the ship's crew. Conway shares his memories of working on the large-scale sets and with props designed to make the travelers look the side of action figures.

Other interviews include Tony Randall on his role in fantasy film "The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao"; Richard Kiel on his role as the mute giant Voltaire in "The Wild, Wild West"; Lisa Davis in the classic 1950s B Sci-Fi film "Queen of Outer Space"; and B-film master Director Roger Corman discussing his 1960 feature, "The House of Usher".

Must have reading for fans of this great era of films!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Talking with Science Fiction/Horror Movie Masters 26 April 2012
By Nick Howes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Huge volume of 62 short but cool Q&A interviews, often on a single film, TV episode, or role featuring: Jimmy Lydon on Robert Armstrong...Joanne Fulton on John P. Fulton...House Peters, Jr on 1936 Flash Gordon...Frankie (Tom Tyler's Luck) Thomas...Jean (One Million BC) Porter...Jo Ann (Karlof's the Man with Nine Lives) Sayers... Hubert (Karloff's On Borrowed Time) Rudley... Tommy (On Borrowed Time) Ivo... Henmry (Karloff's Secret Life of Walter Mitty) Corden... Fintan (Thriller) Meyler...Michael A. Hoey on Dennis (Inspector Lestrade) Hoey...Ealr (Lugoi's Return of the Vampire) Bellamy... Alev (Bela Lugosi Meetsr a Brooklyn Gorilla) Gordonm...Herman (Bela Lugoi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla) Cohen...Karolyn (Chaney's Albuquerque) Grimes... Mickey (Of Mice and Men) Knox... Irving (Chaney's The Life of Riley) Brecher... Barbara (Chaney's Born Yesterday) Knudson...Richard Kline on Sam Katzman... Sid (Lost Continet) Melton...William (Five) Phipps.. Arthur L. (Five) Swerdloff...Marilyn (Unknown World) Nash...Diana (War of the Worlds) Gemora...Fess (Them!) Parker... Rosemarie (The Golden Mistress) Bowie... Paul Wurtzel and John G. Stephens of Bell Air Productions... Pamela (Attack of the Crab Monsters) Duncan... Marsha (Back from the Dead) Hunt... Herbert L. (Blood of Dracula) Strock... Peggy (Screaming Skull) Webber... Lisa (Queen of Outer Space) Davis... Troy (Monster on Campus) Donahue... Nan (Hideous Sun Demon) Petersonm...Richard (Face on Fire) Erdman... the Calvin BNeck-Norman Bates Connection... Roger (Housew of Usher) Corman...Alan Young on makeup man Jack Pierce... David (Thriller) Whorf... Alex (Underwater City) Gordon...Arch Hall Jr on Ray Dennis Steckler... Arnold Drake on 50,000 BC (before Clothing... Tony (7 Faces of Dr. Lao) Randall... Frederick E. (Devil Doll) Smith... Edward Bernds and Merry Andres oin Elvis' Tickle Me... Ib (Lost in Space) Melchior... stuntman Whitey Hughews, actor Richard Kiel, and Kenneth Chase onm The Wild, Wild West... Burt (Space Monster) Topper... Peter Marshall on Edgar G. Ulmer... Tom (Murderer's Row) Reese... Richard Gordon on Protelco Productions...Nick (Mission Mars) Webster, .. Gary (Land of the Giants) Conway... John "Bud" Carlos and Martin Varno on Nightmare in Wax... Jan (Twilight People) Merlin... actor Robert (Empire of the Ants) Pine...and Ken (Sinbads Goes to Mars) Kolb. Whew!!!

Filmmakers who turned out science fiction and horror movies during the period 1930-1970 are once again the focus of author and film historian Tom Weaver who brings together a raft of interviews with Hollywood people from all walks, focusing on their genre work.

Actually, in this collection Weaver forsakes the straight Q&A approach with particularly loquacious interviewees whose discussion allows him to drop the "Q" and pull the answers together into a nearly seamless "as told to" article. An example of tight focus is when Fess Parker discusses his brief, comedic role in Them (1954) which won him his subsequent role as Diseny's Davy Crockett.

Actors, actresses, makeup artists, stuntmen, producers, writers, directors, and others discuss individual movies and TV shows, and some of the stars they worked with like Elvis, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., and Bela Lugosi.

You'll read actress Lisa Davis' take on Zsa Zsa Gabor's imperial turn as the pampered star of the space schlock Queen of Outer Space (1958). Davis says her imitation of Zsa Zsa, not at all intended as a compliment, got her in the door at Disney where she was interviewed by Uncle Walt himself to voice Cruella de Vil, and was hired to voice Anita. Davis also describes the sexual harrassment actresses had to put up with in Hollywood, made difficult because as the breadwinner for her family, she couldn't afford to alienate the would-be letharios.

Sid (The Danny Thomas Show) Melton tells how he interviewed for a movie job for Billy Crystal and the moment he walked in the door, Crystal screamed at him that his death scene in The Lost Continent (1951) in which comic relief Melton was drilled by a triceratops caused young Crystal four nights of childhood nightmares.

Diana Gemora tells how, as a 12-year-old, she and her dad, makeup artist Charles Gemora, pulled an all-nighter, successfully altering the three-eyed, tentacled Martian costume needed for an 8am filming on the set of the classic War of the Worlds. It was a great special effect in a movie that was people by then-unknown actors so that the effects could be played up.

Roger Corman tells how he had to qualm the objections of American International Pictures co-producer Sam Arkoff about putting up the money for the House of Usher because there was no monster, by saying "the house is the monster." Corman then confused star Vincent Price with a line about the "house breathing," but Price agreed he could play it when he understood Corman's motive in allaying the fears of Arkoff.

Actor Tony Randall discusses the make-up process involved in portraying six characters in the 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964), ­the seventh face being the Abominabloe Snowman played by a stuntman.

Ross Martin, who played Artemis Gordon, in The Wild Wild West, was 75% of the successful CBS television show, says stuntman Whitey Hughes. Although a friend of Robert Conrad and respectful of Conrad's skills, especially in doing a lot of the stunts, Hughes insists Martin's contribution is underrated. Ross Martin, of course, entertainingly donned a wild disguise in each episode. As Hughes points out, it didn't matter -- Gordon, after all, was a government agent, a stranger who could easily pass himself off any way he wished. But that was the gimmick so Martin donned disguises.

And towering Richard ("Jaws") Kiel talks about how he tried to upstage the dimunitve Michael ("Dr. Miguelito Lovelace") Dunn in one of his three appearances on The Wild, Wild West as Dunn's gargantuan sidekick (Dunn did 10 turns as Lovelace, the show's Professor Moriarty to agent Jim West). During a musical duet with Lovelace's girlfriend, Kiel stood by and tapped his foot while eating candy. Robert Conrad spotted what he was doing and laughed, then had the cameras focus a moment on Kiel tapping his foot to splice it into the sequence. Anything to make it more interesting, claimed Kiel.

And that, sas the Titanic's captain would say, is just the tip of the iceberg. What can I say? I love this stuff.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Required Reading For Classic Sci-Fi and Horror Fans 25 Jun. 2010
By Los Gatos Engineer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tom Weaver's books are for those people who love all of the sci-fi, horror talent who made these wonderful movies and yet you never hear much about the person themselves. For those who continue to watch the "Creature Features" type movies which always bring a smile to your face and a fond memory, then his books are for you.

It is amazing how the studios such as Republic, AIP, Allied Artists, etc. could make these films on very tight budgets (often under $100K) and fast schedules and yet many years later are still great viewing. His interviews are always very informative and enjoyable. Obviously, he has the respect of both the interviewee and this reader. The people who are interviewed are those you may see in "Starlog," "Classic Images," or a select fan magazine but no where else, especially mainstream TV. Yet without their contributions, these movies would not exist. His researches in tracking down these gifted but often unappreciated people, much less being able to get an inverview, never cease to amaze me how he does it.

To anyone who has ever attended a Sci-Fi convention, watches what is considered a "cult" movie over and over and never gets tired of it, or heard his interviews on recent DVD releases such as "Queen of Outer Space," his books are always a welcome addition to my library. I became hooked on his books when he interviewed superb writer Ken Kolb in a previous book. He wrote classic TV shows such as the "Wild, Wild, West," and "Have Gun Will Travel." Fortunately, Mr. Kolb is interviewed again for this book.

I am thankful Mr. Weaver was able to obtain interviews of talented people such as Fess Parker, Tony Randall, House Peters, Jr., Whitey Hughes, and so many others who unfortunately have passed on. To hear their story of how they worked under often dreadful conditions makes me even respect them more due to what they were able to produce on screen. The 62 people interviewed show what creative talent can accomplish that still endures to this day. To see the person's name in the credits of a classic movie or TV show now has a deeper meaning after reading the interview.

For an fun but sometimes sad (Ib Melchior's experiences of having his efforts stolen) book to read, hard to put down, and can hardly wait for Mr. Weaver's next, this is a must have for your library.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
another masterpiece 24 Dec. 2010
By A. Grossman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How does Tom Weaver do it? This new work is as fantastic as his last and quite different as many interviews are quite brief.

Who are Karolyn Grimes, Mickey Knox, Irving Brecher and Barbara Knudsen? Well, they all worked with Boris Karloff and here they are! What about William Phipps and Arthur L.Swerdloff? Nan Peterson? Ken Kolb? Tom knows and tells you. And there are familiar names: Peter Marshall, Jan Merlin, Marsha Hunt, Troy Donahue and many others. The interview with Lisa Davis is worth the price of the book alone.

Read the other reviews to get more information on this book. But get it if you love the old horror and sci-fi films. Even the many photos are, to me, quite rare and enjoyable.
Again Mr. Weaver, please do something on Homicidal. There must be someone alive - somewhere - that worked on this most unusual and neglected masterpiece besides Patricia Breslin. How this film was ever made could almost fill a book. Even the writer and director, Robb White and William Castle, said very little about it.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Didn't like it 7 Sept. 2014
By TV ADDICT # 1 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Disappointing not what I expected,interviews with other people about filmmakers I don't know.
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