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

4.2 out of 5 stars 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

Review

"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." — Cinebyte.com

"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: #515,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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By Kelly on April 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All in all, I really enjoyed this book. The nine chosen stories are diverse and unique, the subjects different enough from each other that they were enjoyable without feeling repetitive. Some of the stories I already knew--such as The Crow--but most of them were completely new to me, and genuinely interesting.

The only real detraction was the intros to each of the chapters. Mini-stories that really had nothing to do with what they were meant to introduce, and often vague with too little detail to be enjoyable. Get past that, though, and interesting look into the history of some of the most disastrous movie-making experiences ever.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love the books like this one that detail the trials and tribulations of bringing a motion picture to life. I always assumed it was a complicated undertaking, but only after reading books like this do I understand the extent to which the process is fraught with peril. It is amazing that movies are created at all. This book is worth the read if for no other reason than to give you a better appreciation for this spectacular art form.
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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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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: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I confess that I'm fascinated by reviews of bad movies and behind-the-scenes accounts about productions where the moviemaking process goes awry. "Apocalypse on the Set" was recommended on a movie blog that I frequent, and I'm glad to say that it fits right into the best of the aforementioned categories.

Ben Taylor uncovers the disastrous and chaotic genesis of nine movies, ranging from easy targets like "Heaven's Gate" to more obscure flicks such as "Pulgasari." Uniquely, the author begins each saga with a real-life story that's independent of the profiled movie but is emblematic of its tribulations. From there, Mr. Taylor reveals how each movie's production spun out of control, whether by directorial hubris, harsh conditions, or terrible accident.

However, just because things went nuts during the filming process doesn't mean that the movies profiled here necessarily bombed. In fact, most of them managed to make a profit or are held in high regard. For example, "The Abyss" and "The Crow" made decent money and could be considered cult classics, while "Apocalypse Now" needs no defense as a cinematic milestone. It's simply that they experienced a greater degree of tribulation than most productions normally endure.

"Apocalypse on the Set" is a great addition to any film buff's library, especially if you're fascinated by the movie-making process and are a fan of the flicks profiled by Mr. Taylor. Recommended.
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