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I Talked with a Zombie: Interviews with 23 Veterans of Horror and Sci-fi Films and Television Hardcover – 15 Feb 2009


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"Tom Weaver is the king of film historians." -- Starlog "Starlog"

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 calls 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 one of his recent articles was featured in the prestigious Best American Movie Writing. A frequent DVD audio commentator, he is also 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: 4 reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
"The glitter of putrescence. There is no beauty here, only death and decay." --I Walked with a Zombie 8 Dec. 2008
By Found Highways - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
There's a great deal of beauty--physical and artistic--in Tom Weaver's latest book of filmmaker interviews, I Talked with a Zombie: Interviews with 23 Veterans of Horror and Sci-Fi Films and Television.

Among the actors Weaver interviewed: Lee Merriwether (Batman, 4D Man), Tandra Quinn (Mesa of Lost Women, The Neanderthal Man), Betta St. John (Tarzan and the Lost Safari, Corridors of Blood), Olive Sturgess (The Comedy of Terrors/The Raven, Thriller), Robert Conrad (The Wild Wild West: The Complete Series), James Darren (The Time Tunnel), Ron Harper (Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series), William Reynolds (Cult of the Cobra, The Land Unknown, The Thing That Couldn't Die, The Twilight Zone, The FBI), and Frankie Thomas, Al Markim, and Jan Merlin (all stars of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet).

Weaver also talked to Pat Fielder, one of the first female auteurs and screenwriter of the brilliant film The Return of Dracula (The Return of Dracula/The Vampire), a horrific melding of Alfred Hitchcock's film Shadow of a Doubt with Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. No one who saw Return of Dracula at a young age can forget it, especially the scene where the heroine's best friend, lying in her coffin, has a stake driven through her breast. Weaver also gets stories from producer-director Maury Dexter, who was involved with the films I Married a Monster From Outer Space, House of the Damned, and The Day Mars Invaded Earth.

As in most of Tom Weaver's interview collections, themes emerge when he talks to people who knew each other, worked on the same films, or had similar experiences. One of the most interesting things in I Talked with a Zombie was the different experiences child actors had.

Ann Carter was only six years old when she worked with stars Fredric March and Veronica Lake in I Married a Witch. As a little girl Ann Carter worked in several high-quality pictures. She acted in the war film The North Star with Ann Harding and Anne Baxter, in Commandos Strike at Dawn with Paul Muni, and most famously in The Curse of the Cat People (Cat People / The Curse of the Cat People) starring Simone Simon.

Carter's memories of going to school on the set as a child actor are pleasant. "I remember some great teachers . . . you learn more one on one . . . even if it was [just a few minutes], the teacher and I were so close . . . and you can't beat that."

Even though it disappointed her mother, Carter went to college and became a teacher. But her experience of growing up in Hollywood was the complete opposite of another child actor, Charles Herbert.

Charles Herbert's most memorable role was the little boy whose scientist father invents a matter transport device in the fifties science fiction-horror classic starring Vincent Price, The Fly.

Herbert was abandoned by teacher-social workers on the set who let the directors interrupt his education for the sake of the production schedule. The teachers would be replaced if they insisted the child actor finish his lessons, so they let the schoolwork slide.

Besides barely receiving an education, none of his salary as an actor was put aside for when he grew up.

Herbert says the reason abused child actors often can't make the transition to adult actor is they aren't allowed to develop an identity. "In other words, you have to be able to look in the mirror and see somebody . . . if one week you're Roberto . . . and the next week you're Tom Sawyer, it's hard to know who Charlie is."

There's a little more information on television shows like The Wild Wild West in this collection. (Most of Weaver's books concentrate on filmmakers and movie actors.) Jumping from the sixties to the seventies, actor Ron Harper talks about the TV version of Planet of the Apes, a continuation of the multi-film epic that Eric Greene dissects in his book, Planet of the Apes As American Myth: Race And Politics in the Films And Television Series(McFarland Publishers). Eric Greene's book is one of the best on science fiction film I've read. If any movie series was ever a mirror held up to America, it's the Planet of the Apes films (Planet of the Apes - The Legacy Collection (Planet of the Apes [1968] / Beneath the / Escape from the / Conquest of the / Battle for the)).

One of the most interesting interviews is with current soap-opera star Eric Braeden. Braeden was going by his German name, Hans Gudegast, when he starred on the TV series Rat Patrol in the sixties. He starred in one of the best mid-budget science fiction films of the seventies--Colossus - The Forbin Project, based on the novel Colossus by D. F. Jones. Then Braeden played a bloodless scientist in Escape from the Planet of the Apes, the film that was more than just a sequel in a profitable series, but was the movie that turned the Apes saga into a Sophoclean tragedy. In fighting to prevent the future they fear, the humans bring it about. (I wonder if some of Braeden's comments on the balance between "security" and "freedom" in an age of terrorism will affect other readers they way they did me.)

Fittingly, the book ends with an interview with the three stars of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, which first aired in 1950. That show was the first effort to depict the fantastic on television.

From cat people to giant tarantulas to space cadets. I Talked with a Zombie has it all.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
weaver's best 22 Nov. 2008
By A. Grossman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
No doubt this is Tom Weaver's best book and since they are all great, that's saying something. How refeshing to read something new.

Have you ever heard of Robert Colbert, Richard Alden, Maury Dexter, Charles Herbert, Tandra Quinn, Jay Sayer and Hans Gudegast? Fortunately Mr. Weaver has and their stories make fascinating reading.

I knew Laurie Mitchell 50 years ago and here she is. And who has ever heard of Pat Fielder? Tom has and her interview is worth the price of the book alone. And there are many others: Hans Salter, Betta St. John, Olive Sturgess. There are 23 in all.

McFarland books are greatly overpriced but this one is not. It's well over 300 pages and has many great photos. What a great gift for anyone who likes this type of product.

Please, Tom. Try to find Patricia Breslin and anyone else connected with Homicidal. Neither Director William Castle nor writer Robb White thought much of the film but it is one of the greatest yet weirdest, strangest and most unique films of the 60s. There must be a dozen wild stories connected with its making. How was it ever made? Hope to read about it in your next book.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Full Marks!! 20 Nov. 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A collection of previously published interviews with the stars of some of the worst fantasy films of the 50's and 60's--sounds like a bust. Actually due to the skill of author/interviewer Tom Weaver, the humanity and depth of each interviewee comes out beautifully. I especially enjoyed Weaver's conversation with Tandra Quinn--star of the god-awful Mesa of Lost Women, whose reminiscences of 50's Hollywood are both poignant and hilarious. Also great fun is the chapter with the prickly, yet amusing star of Colossus: The Forbin Project, Eric Braeden.

"Zombie" also includes interviews with child actors Ann Carter featured in the Val Lewton classic, "Curse of the Cat People" and Charles Herbert who appeared in "The Fly" among other favorites. Carter and Herbert offer contrasting views on Hollywood's treatment of child actors and their experiences in Tinseltown.

I had read each of the interviews in previous incarnations, but enjoyed them all even more in this unexpurgated collection. I Talked with a Zombie is Weaver's best interview collection so far and a must for "old time" horror/Sci-Fi movie fans.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great Book 14 Dec. 2013
By Kendal E Blose - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
All of Toms interview books are great and this is no exception. I hope more go digital! Now I have to go and watch all the folks I read about.
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