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The Untold, In-Depth, Outrageously True Story of Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment Book Review

May 16, 2017 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
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The Untold, In-Depth, Outrageously True Story of Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment Book Review  

The Untold, In-Depth, Outrageously True Story of Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment Book Review

UntoldInDepthOutrageouslyTrueStoryCover

By Marco Siedelmann, Nadia Bruce-Rawlings, and Stephen A. Roberts
Published by Editions Moustache
482 pages
Released May 12, 2016

When I first heard of the book The Untold, In-Depth, Outrageously True Story of Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment, by Marco Siedelmann, Nadia Bruce-Rawlings, and Stephen A. Roberts, I thought it was going to be a blow-by-blow written history of the low budget movie production and distribution outfit that was a major player back in the glory days of VHS and the video store. Instead, what it actually is is a series of interviews with the people who, for the most part, made up the guts of SGE, from Leonard Shapiro and James Glickenhaus, the essential founders of the company, to people involved in the “office” part of the company to some of the directors that worked with the company in some capacity, like William Lustig (Maniac Cop), Frank Henenlotter (Basket Case 2, Basket Case 3: The Progeny, and the immortal Frankenhooker), and Frank Zito (Red Scorpion).

For low budget, B-movie nerds like me, the interviews with Lustig, Henenlotter, Zito, and to a lesser extent Glickenhaus (he directed several movies for SGE, including Shakedown and McBain) are the real draw of the book, as you find out all kinds of cool stuff about what it took to make their movies, what kind of relationship the directors had with SGE (we find out why Lustig didn’t make his Maniac Cop sequels with SGE despite Maniac Cop being one of the company’s most lucrative movies), and how working with SGE helped them later on in their careers. There’s also a very cool interview with female action legend Cynthia Rothrock that I nerded out on while reading it.

The interviews with the “office” people are a little harder to get through because, for the most part, they were part of the business side of the company, not the creative side, and some of it is a bit “dry.” And if you don’t know anything about the movie business, the “office” stories may be even more difficult to get through. Their stories are still fascinating, though, as they show what it was like to work for a major home video company back when home video was a big deal. There are also several interesting stories about what it’s like now to work in the home video business. In short, it isn’t as lucrative as it used to be, but there are still people out there fighting the good fight for low budget, independent genre movies.

The interviews, for the most part, are conversational, sometimes to the point where you read dang near everything the interviewer said to the interviewee. That can be a little disconcerting as those interviews can read like a court transcript, but once you get the “rhythm” of the conversation they’re easy.

Now, there are several internal documents included that show you what kind of language the company used when making deals, which is interesting to see even if you have no idea what the hell any of it means. There are also several pics of movie posters, VHS covers, and some behind-the-scenes type stuff. It’s all in black and white but the images are generally clear and you can tell what it is you’re looking at.

There’s a segment on Red Scorpion that I wish was its own book, as the story of how that movie was made, how its production was controversial, and what it meant for the future of SGE is fascinating (you can see a bit of this story on the Synapse Blu-ray release of Red Scorpion). Maybe that will happen one day? The writers know the people who made it, so who knows? I would definitely read it.

The Untold, In-Depth, Outrageously True Story of Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment is a great book that B-movie nerds should check out. Be sure to pick it up and check it out.

Read The Untold, In-Depth, Outrageously True Story of Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment. Read it, read it, read it.

Buy the book here.

8
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
If you’re a B-movie nerd that wants to know more about the 1980’s and 1990’s home video boom, you should absolutely check out The Untold, In-Depth, Outrageously True Story of Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment. You find out all kinds of stuff about what SGE did back when it was a major home video player directly from the people who ran, operated, and worked with the company. Some of the interviews may be of more interest to you than others, but they’re all worth reading. The book also looks great, which is always a plus. Track this book down and check it out.
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