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The Top 30 Movie Books (#10 – 6)

August 13, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Crystal Lake Memories

The Top 30 Best Movie Books: #10-#6

This is week five of the six week look at the Top 30 Best Movie Books. Next week, I reveal the top 5 and the coveted number 1 spot. Can you feel the excitement? It’s everywhere, right? Right?

You goddamn know it.

Here are the links to the first four weeks, just in case you missed them/want to see them again:

Week 1: Books #30-#26

Week 2: Books #25-#21

Week 3: Books #20-#16

Week 4: Books #15-#11

Week five will start in the previous four weeks started, with a few books that I haven’t read yet and want to read, and then the next part of the Top 30 list.

And so, without any further what have you, here is the next batch of The Top 30 Best Movie Books.

Some Movie Books I Haven’t Read but Want To

Behind the Mask of the Horror Actor by Doug Bradley: I went to a convention one time that had Doug Bradley as a celebrity guest and he was selling this book at his table. I waited in line for like ten minutes and, with two people in front of me, Bradley said that he was out of books. So I didn’t get the book. Bradley seems like a cool guy and he’s had a long, fascinating career. I’d like to know more about it and him. Anyone out there have this book?

Savini: The Biography by Tom Savini and Michael Aloisi: This is the big hooha book that, I guess, operates as a sort of companion piece to the Savini documentary that’s on Shudder right now (I believe this is the book that Savini mentioned while being interviewed by Joe Bob Briggs during the Maniac episode of season 2 of The Last Drive-In). The big draw for this, besides learning more about Savini’s life story, is the badass pictures you know are in it, of behind-the-scenes stuff and special effects makeup that he’s been responsible for over the years. It will be interesting to see if there’s a soft cover version of this at some point down the line (I believe, at the moment, there’s a regular hardcover edition and a coffee table book version. Not sure what the difference between the two actually is).

The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, A Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film by W.K. Stratton: This is a newer book that came out in early 2019 and, from the reviews I’ve read for it, provides everything you need to know about the movie and its place in movie history/pop culture history. It’s a great movie, one of the best westerns ever made, and I can’t wait to dig into it. I bought it a while ago, and it’s sitting in my “to read” pile. Maybe soon.

And now, onto the main list: The Top 30 Best Movie Books: #10-#6


10-Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story by Chris Nashawaty: Caddyshack is a bonafide 1980’s comedy classic, and one of my favorite movies (I am one of those people that will quote this movie at the drop of a hat, to the great annoyance of non-Caddyshack fans everywhere), so I was very interested in this book when I saw it on the shelves at my local book store. How did the movie get made? Why did it get made? You will learn all of that stuff, plus how it was cast, what it was like actually making the movie day-to-day (in general. This isn’t a blow by blow making of book), and it’s all fascinating as hell. You will also learn quite a bit about National Lampoon’s Animal House, as the success of that comedy classic directly led to the creation of Caddyshack (you will also learn lots of stuff about the National Lampoon’s magazine). Nashawaty is a great writer with a funny, breezy style, and it’s a fun read even if you don’t really care for Caddyshack. The Rodney Dangerfield stories are hilarious. And, my God, it’s so sad we don’t have Harold Ramis with us anymore. It really is.


9-Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors by Jonathan Melville : The Tremors franchise is one of the best modern monster movie series going, and the book Seeking Perfection is a wonderful appreciation of the first four movies in the franchise and the single season TV show that aired on the Sci-Fi Channel back in 2003. There’s a little bit about the fifth movie, but this book is more interested in the movies put together by Stampede Entertainment, the production company that created the series and made the first four movies and the TV show. And that’s a good thing because, while I’ve enjoyed the newer Tremors sequels (there’s a part 7 coming out in the fall of 2020), those movies are very different from the original four. Melville provides tremendous insight into the movies, plus all sorts of behind the scenes info on how the original movie was made and how the whole direct-to-video thing started and then how the series thrived under the direct-to-video scheme. This book is an absolute must own for Tremors fans.


8-Night of the Living Dead: Behind the Scenes of the Most Terrifying Zombie Movie Ever by Joe Kane: The original Night of the Living Dead is one of the most influential and important movies ever made, and Joe Kane’s book from roughly ten years ago about the making of Night of the Living Dead explains, in great and loving detail, why it’s so influential and important. Kane, “The Phantom of the Movies” and the man behind The Phantom of the Movies Videoscope Magazine, digs deep into how NOTLD was created, produced, cast, how it was distributed, its eventual cultural impact, and the whole legal situation involving the movie’s public domain status. The book covers it all. Over the course of writing the book, Kane talked with various people involved in the movie’s production and got the inside skinny/no bullshit story about the movie. Kane also gets other moviemakers to talk, briefly, about what George A. Romero’s first zombie meant to them (Wes Craven does the forward, William Lustig talks about the movie, as does the great Lloyd Kaufman. Danny Boyle even pops in) but the bulk of the book is all about Night of the Living Dead. The last part of the book is devoted to the original screenplay by John Russo, which is also a fascinating read. An absolute must own for Night of the Living Dead, zombie, and Romero fans.


7- Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th by Peter M. Bracke : Crystal Lake Memories isn’t the first book I’ve read about the Friday the 13th franchise (that would be Making Friday the 13th: The Legend of Camp Blood by David Grove), but Crystal Lake Memories is easily the most definitive book about the franchise (Grove’s book spends a lot of time on the first movie, which is great, but it only really touches on the other movies in the series). Basically a series of long interviews with the various people involved in the making of parts 1-10, the Freddy vs. Jason team up movie, and the syndicated TV series that had nothing to do with Jason Voorhees, it pulls no punches in how the movies were viewed by the people making them, the difficulties in actually getting them made, and how the movies have endured over the years despite their terrible reputation in the mainstream. Crystal Lake Memories is also a fascinating companion to the mega documentary of the same name, as they are both about the same thing but you come out of them with different feelings (basically, everyone in the documentary loved being in and making the movies, and in the book those same people are ashamed of the movies. That’s probably an oversimplification of things but that’s what I got out of both). The behind the scenes photographs spread throughout the book are amazing.



6- Phantasm Exhumed: The Unauthorized Companion/Further Exhumed: The Strange Case of Phantasm Ravager by Dustin McNeill : I’ve decided to include both Phantasm books by author McNeill here because, together, they provide everything you could possibly want to know about the incredible Phantasm franchise created by Don Coscarelli. Coscarelli didn’t participate in either book (Coscarelli did participate in an “authorized” franchise companion magazine/book put out by Rue Morgue magazine, which is also worth reading/owning if you can find it) but McNeill got plenty of participation from lots of other people involved in the franchise, including Angus Scrimm, and it’s about as exhaustive as a series of movie books can get. Interviews, perspectives, behind-the-scenes photos, analysis, and tons more; it’s all there. You will gain a new and more complete perspective on what Coscarelli and company were doing with each movie, and the books will also help you understand what the hell may be going on in the overall Phantasm story. That’s what happened with me after I read them. It isn’t just a dream, it’s a great series of books.


Honorable Mention: True Indie: Life and Death in Filmmaking by Don Coscarelli: Part early life autobiography, part personal examination of his movies, True Indie is a fun look at who Coscarelli is and wants to be. It isn’t as in depth as I would have liked in terms of how, exactly, Coscarelli gets movies made, and what exactly Coscarelli does between movies (he’s trying to get other movies made, yes, but how does he pay his bills and whatnot?), but you will learn things you probably didn’t know about him. For instance, did you know that he directed a music video for Ronnie James Dio? Until I read True Indie I had no idea.


Next week: The Top 30 Best Movie Books list concludes with #5-#1!

Full Moon! Big Chuck! The Future! Disaster! More Zombies!


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