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Customer reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars

on 4 November 2014
The title is spot on. Although forever linked with Frankenstein, Boris Karloff was "more than a monster". Really, much, much more with his roles in "terror" movies (as he preferred to call them) representing a fraction of a highly diverse and lengthy career.

Born William Henry Pratt, he broke away from diplomatic family and London surroundings to emigrate to Canada in 1909 where he tied down a variety of manual jobs while pursuing a theatrical career that would eventually take him to Hollywood. There, after 12 years of extras and minor roles, he found international fame as the Frankenstein monster. Although other roles came his way, he never lost that horror mantle, providing more worthy appearances with his work in Val Lewton and Roger Corman productions and, towards the end of his life, in the films "Targets" and "The Sorcerers".

He enjoyed equal recognition for his theatrical work, in particular for his much revived role as Jonathan Brewster in the original production of "Arsenic and Old Lace" (to his regret he never repeated the role on screen) and as Captain Hook in the children's favourite "Peter Pan". In addition, he kept up a heavy schedule of radio and television work, meticulously listed by the book's author, who also detailed much of Karloff's social calendar as well as providing information on the numerous people that he was associated with - among them, horror compatriot Bela Lugosi, an actor revealed as being financially hard done by the film companies. His other achievements included being a founding member of both the Screen Actors Guild and, as a lifelong cricket fan, the Hollywood Cricket Club. To all who knew him, he was constantly described as a genuinely modest, kind, gentle British gentlemen.

As Boris Karloff was not a person to give much away about himself, author Stephen Jacobs has done an incredible research job and, after reading this 568 page tome, I don't think there could be another stone left to be unturned.
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on 27 July 2013
Boris Karloff More Than a Monster by Stephen Jacobs is a large tome, brimming over with facts, anecdotes and information that supersede all other biographies that have gone before. There is an amazing array of photographs, many that I have not come across before. Jacobs make the actor come alive again, forty odd years after his death, with the many comments from his work colleagues stating what a gentleman & trooper he was - it may get a bit repetitive, but it highlights the man behind the Frankenstein Monster mask, showing how well regarded he was. Unlike previous biographies (Underwood & Lindsay in particular) Jacobs has meticulously researched and verified each and every fact, so as he has made his biography the definitive article so to speak. This may lead into facts that may not be wholly connected to the man, but make fascinating reading nevertheless. Unlike other biographies that have been `guided' by family, it is nice to see that Sara Karloff has been forthcoming and helpful - even admitting that Jacobs has uncovered material about her father that she didn't know! - there is no doubt that she loves her father and understands his lasting legacy - it was therefore a shame to read what a bitch her step-mother was - allowing Sara to find out about her father's death via the television, rather than a telephone call. This leads into the one big discrepancy in the book, as this relationship is not explored and you are left wondering why Evie Karloff excluded her husband's daughter from knowing about his death, arranging the funeral so no-one could go and why Boris excluded his daughter from his will. I don't think I have ever read such a widely researched and interesting biography on Karloff and I cannot recommend it enough. It is an essential read at an affordable price.
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on 22 February 2012
This is one of the best biographies I've come across in a long time, obviously the work of a devoted fan but with no bias that I could detect. Packed with pictures, along with the usual details of a subjects life there are plenty of details on his work and the life behind the camera that brought both the best of the thirties horror movies and beyond to the screen.
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on 20 April 2013
The very true and complete story of the life of Boris, I loved it so because of the writing, my congrats to Jacobs for doing such a hard investigation. Full of anecdotes and every part of his life. If you love Karloff, you'll fall in love with this book.
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on 7 August 2014
Excellent biography of a fascinating man.Superbly well written and with a great selection of photographs throughout the book.Thoroughly recommended.
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on 6 March 2011
Wonderfully presented, researched and illustrated book that gets to as much as is possible the core of Boris Karloff. Lavishly illustrated this is a real pleasure for cinephiles and lovers of Boris Karloff. The author makes his subject come alive and even the early years before his role as Frankenstein are meticulously researched and made interesting. Although many of the comments from people about Karloff from his co-actors are repetitive in the sense that he was a gentleman, lovely and professional to work with, etc, these clearly demonstrate that Karloff was the same person throughout his career - a true professional. I don't think I have ever read such a widely researched and interesting biography and even though it was over 500 pages I devoured it within two weeks! Hopefully there is a Boris revival afoot as I see there have been many re-releases on DVD of some of his rarer films such as Bedlam, The strage Door and Lost Patrol from the Odeon Entertainment DVD company. If this book has influenced these releases then many thanks to the author.
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on 24 October 2011
Boris Karloff More Than A Monster, was a larger book than I expected and also I read it quicker than I thought I would, as I found it so interesting and well written that I couldn't put it down. A lot of time and effort that must have gone in to the research to produce what I thought was a fantastic incite in to an actor that I have always been interested in. There was such an amazing wealth of photos included also. I am so glad I made the purchase and thoroughly enjoyed reading the book which shows the hard work that has obviously gone in to such a well produced treasured book. It's also so nice that Boris's daughter Sarah is so helpful, forthcoming, and understanding towards people's interest in her father's work and has given her recommendations for the book.
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on 31 October 2013
Not yet started this book on Boris Karloff other than reading the odd few snippets here & there...but what I've read,I like!. I'm pretty sure it'll be a good 'un!.
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on 6 December 2015
Quite simply a magnificent book on the king of horror film- although Karloff hated that word, so let's go macarbe! This book was ultimately written by a fan but you can tell that years of research went into this book and it has been authorized by Karloff's daughter, Sara Karloff.

The book reads of course as a bio starting with Karloff's life, his move to America, the theatre which was his true love and then of course onto his horror movies and the roles of Frankenstein etc. Personally Karloff is my favourite horror icon, and was a superb actor to boot. But he was also a very private man and so there was scant good information out there on him. This book corrects that, we really get to know Karloff well and the writer succeeds in that he puts us there with Karloff. The chapter on Karloff's stage play The Lark is a highlight, you almost feel you are witnessing it as to speak. There are many stories interwined with the stars he worked with like Lugosi, Price, Lorre and Lee.

The only complaint is that sometimes there are grammar mistakes or an edit mistake, it is infrequent and I suppose can be found in any book, but they are here. Nevermind this is a monster of a book, and it's very big. A truly fitting tribute to the master of horror.
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on 11 November 2013
I have been a Karloff fan for 50 years and even remember his death (same day as another hero, Giovanni Martinelli)so a detailed bio has been long overdue. The wait was worth it. One "reviewer" complained about the length. No, it is not too long as it covers Karloff in detail and th author goes to great lengths to tell what he can. I suppose in some instances he simply wasn't able to discover personal details. But the details on the films is why I've been enjoying the book. I've read in detail about Frankenstein and others so I already know quite a bit (mostly thanks to "Famous Monsters" magazines) and am happy to say that the book is accurate in its details. Highly recommended.
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