- Hardcover: 396 pages
- Publisher: McFarland & Company, Inc. (July 6, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786422106
- ISBN-13: 978-0786422104
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 7.2 x 10.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,253,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Earth Vs. The Sci-fi Filmmakers: Twenty Interviews
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About the Author
Writer Tom Weaver lives in Sleepy Hollow, New York, and has been interviewing moviemakers since the early 1980s. He is a frequent contributor to numerous film magazines including Fangoria, Starlog, Monsters from the Vault and Video Watchdog, and one of his articles was featured in the prestigious Best American Movie Writing 2001. He is also the author of It Came from Horrorwood (2004), Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Flashbacks (2004), Double Feature Creature Attack (2003), Eye on Science Fiction (2003), Science Fiction Confidential (2002), I Was a Monster Movie Maker (2001), Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes (2000), John Carradine (1999) and Poverty Row HORRORS! (1999).
Top customer reviews
In this fine book from Tom Weaver, Ken Kolb talks about his work on 7th Voyage of Sinbad as well as his memories of Jim Conrad and Ross Martin from Wild, Wild West.
Merian C. Cooper tells about how he managed to go from nature documentaries to King Kong during the low point of the depression as well as about his amazing career as film innovator, a general in the Army, as an aviation entrepreneur, and as an explorer.
Peter Graves, later of Mission Impossible and Biography, talks about his early years in low budget movies, sparring with guys wearing sawn-in-half ping pong balls for eyes and filming in Bronson Canyon.
Donnie Dunagan, although only three years old at the time, recalls with some clarity his experiences as a child occasionally winning on-set checkers games with Boris Karloff and his film father, Basil Rathbone, as the grandson of Frankenstein in the Son of Frankenstein.
Arch Hall, Jr., in a longer than usual interview discusses his acting career and that of his dad career as an independent filmmaker with movies starring the son, including Eegah! (with Richard "Jaws" Keil) and The Sadist.
Frankie Thomas talks about his years in the title role of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, first of TV's sci-fi shows, and the fan reaction.
Lots more, great stuff.
Weaver's knowledge of these films and the actors makes for interviews that are in-depth and informative, not the typical throwaway reviews you may get with some writers. Some of the actors you'll know, some you may not, but you're sure to know the films they helped to immortalize.
Gene Barry, who starred in the original "War of the Worlds" is the subject of the first interview and is actually probably the weakest of the group. You get the feeling that he didn't want to expound to much on that film and says quite candidly that he didn't care much for science fiction. Barry would go on to do numerous TV shows including "Bat Masterson", "Burke's Law" and "The Name of the Game"
Gary Conway is a great example of a guy whose name you might not know, but you know his role in "I was a Teenage Frankenstein" from the 1950's under that hideous mass of makeup. Conway talks about the ordeal of getting done up everyday and how hot and uncomfortable the mask/makeup was. He also discusses the lesser known sequel "How to Make a Monster" as well as his time working with Roger Corman on "The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent". How's THAT for a title. Conway provides one of the stronger interviews in the book.
The interview with the late Merian C. Cooper wasn't conducted by Weaver, obviously. The interview was taken from an audio tape from 1964 provided by Bob Burns who attended a small gathering of friends that turned into an impromptu Q & A session with the legendary writer/director of "King Kong". Cooper discusses the various armatures and different style heads used for Kong in the movie as well as the animation process among many other topics. The most interesting tidbit is that Cooper had an associate sign his contract for the film while he was out of town and it left Cooper without a financial cut of the film.
Donnie Dunagan is one of the most interesting interviews in the book. Dunagan played the much-maligned role of Basil Rathbone's son Peter Von Frankenstein, in "Son of Frankenstein". For years fans have argued how Dunagan's performance was the worst thing about the film so it was interesting to get his take on the performance and to also realize that he was five years old at the time. Dunagan would also share his thoughts on Karloff, Rathbone, and Lionel Atwill, although curiously, Lugosi is not mentioned. Dunagan would go on to become a career U.S. Marine, achieving the rank of Major and having three tours of Viet Nam.
Peter Graves is known to most people as the star of "Mission Impossible" and as one of the hosts of A&E's Biography. But before that, Graves starred in a number of great Sci-Fi "B" movies including "It Conquered the World", "Red Planet Mars', and "Killers from Space".
Other interviews include Arch Hall Jr. who starred in the cult films "Eegah!" and "The Sadist"; writer ken Kolb who wrote the fantasy epic "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad"; Mary Mitchel who starred in such "B" movie gems as "Panic in Year Zero", "Spider Baby", and "Dementia 13"; and Frankie Thomas who played Space Cadet Tom Corbett in one of TV's very first outer space shows from 1950 - 1955.
What I love about Weaver is that he never minimizes the contributions of his interview subjects. Most of these people have not been active in film or TV for decades but Weaver never handles them as if they were a novelty. He asks the right questions and the subjects seem generally surprised and delighted at his familiarity with their work. Throughout the book vintage photos from the films are included as well as many current photos of the actors today. This is a "B" movie fan's dream!
Another great title from McFarland Publications who puts out so many fantastic books on film and TV. Check them out!
Reviewed by Tim Janson