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Apocalypse on the Set: Nine Disastrous Film Productions 1st Edition

15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1590201886
ISBN-10: 1590201884
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Taylor provides a thoroughly entertaining look at the trials and tribulations that plagued the filming of nine now infamous motion pictures. From ballooning costs to vexing locations to shocking fatalities, the nine films Taylor discusses reveal how easily ambition and stubbornness can plague a production. The opening chapter, devoted to The Twilight Zone: The Movie, is easily the most gruesome: a lead actor, Vic Morrow, and two children were killed when an ill-advised stunt involving a helicopter went awry. The death of Brandon Lee (himself the son of an actor), who died on the set of The Crow due to a bullet mishap, is equally tragic. Other productions had their own sets of challenges: The Abyss, filmed underwater, proved incredibly taxing to cast and crew and almost cost director James Cameron his life. Budgets skyrocketed on films such as The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Waterworld, which brought in little at the box office to justify their enormous expense. A must-read for film buffs and anyone curious about the many ways filming a movie can go awry. --Kristine Huntley


"Taylor details the excruciating, mind-boggling and downright insane conditions in which [these] films, both popular and obscure, were made . . . Pick this bad boy up when it hits shelves." —

"Taylor provides a thoroughly entertaining look at the trials and tribulations that plagued the film of nine now infamous motion pictures. A must read for film buffs or anyone curious about the many ways a film can go awry." — Booklist


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; 1 edition (February 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590201884
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590201886
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Taylor was born in Philadelpia, PA and attended Denison University earning a B.A. in English Literature and has also studied film theory and production at The University of Southern California. Ben also holds an MBA. He has been a contributing writer for as well an author for their publication Alien Hand Syndrome.

His first publication, Welcome To My Nightmare: 8 Disastrous Film Productions, looks at the strange circumstances that marred various feature films.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jordan (Denver, CO) on March 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I highly recommend this well-written book not only for film fans, but also for anyone who finds a certain pleasure in reading about how monstrous egos,money and mother nature can combine with disastrous consequences. Some of these meticulously-researched stories are flatout mind-boggling, especially the Kim Jong Il - financed "Godzilla" movie directed by a kidnapped South Korean director. In many cases, the real stories behind the movie productions are far more interesting than the movies themselves (thinking Waterworld here...). Makes you wonder what goes on behind the scenes of other movies...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alaine Sepulveda on September 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoy reading books of this kind. You know, the type that shows what type of horrible things can go wrong while making a movie. This one focuses on 9 different films, and each has their own set of badness that came with it. This book chronicles just how bad things got and how the film studios and filmmakers had to deal with the fallout.
Most of these type of books chronicle the same stories, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Apocalypse Now, or The Adventures of Baron Munchausen for example, so if you have read these stories before, you won't find much new here. However, the stories are still interesting and you get other films such as Heaven's Gate and Waterworld, so that helps.
That said, the book does suffer from spending too much time on the back story of the films and the events leading up to the disasters, that it doesn't spend a ton of time with the final outcomes and the ultimate fate of the motion picture. In other words, there were several of these stories that I was left wanting more.
If you are like me, and enjoying reading about just how things can fall to pieces on a movie set, this is a very good read. You might, like me, be left wanting more, which is the books major flaw. Still, it was interesting and kept me turning the page, so it was a success on that end.
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Format: Hardcover
The making of movies and TV shows has always fascinated me. The creative process behind films, especially, is an amazing process, and the amount of work, luck, talent, and trial and error that goes into each picture is quite staggering. Sometimes a film goes through so much drama and trouble during production that it's a miracle that it ever makes it onto screen -- though in some cases you look at the final product and go "Why did they even bother?"

"Apocalypse On the Set" is a fascinating and informative look at nine different troubled productions, which for various reasons suffered disasters and setbacks that nearly doomed the picture in question... and in many cases affected its reception by audiences and critics.

Some of these films are marred by preventable tragedy -- "Twilight Zone: The Movie" and "The Crow" both had actors die during filming, both due to preventable mistakes on the part of directors and/or special effects teams. Others are a result of hubris on the part of the creator, such as the debacle of catering to the every whim of "Heaven's Gate" directer Michael Cimino, or North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il kidnapping a film director and forcing him to create his propoganda-laced monster flick "Pulgasari." Still others were simply victims of the hazards of shooting on location, such as "Apocalypse Now" and "Waterworld." In almost all cases, the disasters and failures couldn't be blamed on solely one person -- usually it was a combination of ego, executive meddling, oversight, and just plain bad luck that ended up doing the picture in and nearly preventing it from ever being completed. But in each case, the parties involved decided that "the show must go on" and were able to somehow deliver a completed picture... for better or for worse.
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Format: Hardcover
I recently was in need for some reading materials while doing some air travel, and I picked up this book not knowing much about it, other than the self-explanatory title of the book. Being a movie enthousiast, I took a flyer on this.

"Apocalypse On the Set: Nine Disastrous Film Productions" (272 pages--NOT 352 pages as listed incorrectly here on Amazon) brings a new perspective on nine movies (Twilight Zone: The Movie; Heaven's Gate; The Adventures of Baron Munchausen; Apocalypse Now; Fitzcarraldo; Pulgasari; The Crow; The Abyss; and Waterworld), each movie roughly getting about 25 pages in the book. Some of the movies on that list I am very familiar with (I've lost count how many times I've seen Apocalypse Now, for example). Others I was not very familiar with (I've never seen Baron Muchausen), and there is one movie on that list that I had never even heard about (Pulgasari).

My take on this book is that if you don't know a lot about these movies, you will enjoy reading these chapters, which feel to me almost like "Cliff Notes" or "for Dummies" summaries. That said, the writing is good and on point. For example, when talking about the Werner Herzog-Klaus Kinski tensions on the set of Fitzcarraldo, the author observes: "The unhinged Kinski seemed to have an insufferable temper that could barely be contained by his own skin. Herzog once said that every gray hair on his head is named Kinski", ha! The best chaprter for me is by far "It's Good To Be Kim", about the outright bizarre behavior of North Korea's (past dictator) Kim Jing Il, who went as far as to kidnap a South Korean director and actress to enliven the North Korean film industry and eventually in the mid-80s make and release a movie called Pulgasari. You can't make this stuff up!
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