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The Top 30 Movie Books (#15- 11)

August 5, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
If Chins Could Kill Confessions of a B Movie Actor Bruce Campbell

The Top 30 Best Movie Books: #15-#11

This is week four of the six week look at the Top 30 Best Movie Books. Only two more weeks to go until book #1 is revealed. I’m sure everyone in the world is anticipating that reveal, am I right?

Well, yeah. Obviously.

Just in case you missed the first three weeks, here are the links to those lists:

Week 1: Books #30-#26

Week 2: Books #25-#21

Week 3: Books #20-#16

Week four will start in the same way as weeks one through three, with a few books that I haven’t read yet and want to read, and then I will move on to 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

Hell Hath No Fury Like Her: The Making of Christine by Lee Gambin: This is apparently a book about the making of John Carpenter’s Christine, which was an adaptation of a book by Stephen King. There are interviews with various people involved with making the movie, and author Gambin examines the various themes and ideas expressed in the movie. Christine is a pretty cool movie, and who wouldn’t want to know more about how it was made? Gambin also has a movie book about the making of Cujo, which also sounds like it’s worth reading, too.

Life of Action: Interviews with the Men and Women of Martial Arts and Action Cinema I & II by Mike Fury: There are two volumes here, and author Fury talks to loads of people, from actors, writers, directors, martial artists, stunt people, choreographers, etc. I’ve heard very good things about these books and how extensive the interviews are. You will also apparently learn a lot about the action movie game. So, really, why wouldn’t I want to read these?

The Punisher 1989: The Untold Story of a Cult Classic by Jeremie Damoiseau: This is a book all about the making of the 1989 The Punisher starring Dolph Lundgren and directed by Mark Goldblatt, one of my favorite movies. There’s a French version of the book out in the world right now, but, as I’ve read online, the English language version is set to be bigger with more information and whatnot. I’m not sure when, exactly, that English version is coming out, but you can bet your ass that when I find out when I will not stop talking about it until I read it. And then, after reading, I’ll probably keep talking about it. I mean, it’s a book about the Dolph Lundgren The Punisher movie. Who wouldn’t want to read that?

And now, onto the main list: The Top 30 Best Movie Books: #15-#11


15-John Carpenter: The Prince of Darkness by Gilles Boulenger: Up until recently, there haven’t been many books about the movie career of director John Carpenter, which makes no sense to me at all. From Halloween to the Snake Plissken movies to The Thing to Big Trouble in Little China to They Live the man has made so many classic movies. Why isn’t there an entire room of books about his movies, his music, his place in pop culture? John Carpenter: The Prince of Darkness is the first Carpenter book I heard of, and it’s amazing. Essentially, it’s a book length interview with the director, and it covers everything he’s done up until Ghosts of Mars, although that chapter isn’t as extensive as I would have hoped (I’d love to know the real story behind the hiring of Natasha Henstridge for Ghosts of Mars. Was Courtney Love really the star of the movie originally?). And you will learn tons of stuff about how Carpenter got into the movie business, his early life living in Kentucky, some of the movies he was originally going to do that never happened (Armed & Dangerous), and so much more. If you’re a John Carpenter fan you absolutely need this book.


14-Seagalogy: A Study of the Ass-Kicking Films of Steven Seagal by Vern : A book about the movies of action star Steven Seagal seems ridiculous because, well, it’s Steven Seagal. What the hell is so special about him? Well, Vern, sometimes known as Outlaw Vern, studied Seagal’s movies, figured out there was a method to his cinematic madness, and decided to write a book about what he discovered, and that book is Seagalogy. Vern goes through all of Seagal’s movies up until Born to Raise Hell. The book is sectioned off into “Seagal eras,” like “Golden Era” (his classic movies, like Hard to Kill and Out for Justice), “Silver Era” (the Under Siege movies, On Deadly Ground, the most important movie in all of Seagalogy since it’s the only movie Seagal has directed), a “transitional period” (The Patriot, Exit Wounds), “the DTV era” (The Foreigner all the way to Kill Switch), and then the “Chief Seagal Era” (includes more of his direct-to-video movies plus his two TV shows, the reality documentary show Lawman and the first season of True Justice, although I believe Vern looks at them in their TV movie versions). Vern’s analysis is both serious and funny as he delves into the various themes and ideas that seem to permeate every movie Seagal has done. As a book, it’s a brilliant idea, and it’s definitely something other writers should use as an inspiration. After reading Seagalogy, you will never look at a Steven Seagal movie in quite the same way again.

There are two versions of Seagalogy: a version that came out in 2008, and then an updated version that came out in 2012. Both are worth getting.


13-The Good, the Tough, and the Deadly: Action Movies & Stars 1960’s-Present by david j. moore : Just like his other book World Gone Wild, The Good, the Tough, and the Deadly is a massive effort chock full of movie reviews and interviews, focused on the world of action stars from the 1960’s to the present (the 2015-2016 era of movies). Now, action stars in this context means actors and actresses who are known for mostly appearing in action movies and TV shows, with a special emphasis on real deal martial artists and athletes who got into acting and did action movies (think pro wrestlers, football players, people like that). You won’t see actors like Kurt Russell featured, but if their movies had real deal martial artists in them, some of their movies might be covered in the book (Big Trouble in Little China is in the book). Moore and his collaborators (he had a few guys help him out with some of the reviews, like Vern, Zack Carlson, Corey Danna, and several others) go to great lengths to cover so many different action movies and so many different action stars. There are also interviews with directors like Sam Firstenberg, Isaac Florentine, and others. My favorite interview in the book is the one moore did with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. This book is an amazing accomplishment, and something that you should have in your library if you’re an action movie fan, a fan of real deal action stars, and need movies to watch, perhaps movies you’ve never seen or heard of. There will likely never be another book like this one.


12- If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell : B-movie nerds know B-movie God Bruce Campbell, sure, but do they really know him if they haven’t read If Chins Could Kill? I don’t think so. Because If Chins Could Kill not only provides behind the scenes stories on the movies Campbell has made with guys like Sam Raimi, but it also provides a deep look into Campbell’s early life, acting inspirations, and everything he did/tried to do as an actor. Everything, including stuff like TV pilots he filmed but didn’t get picked up. His personal stories away from acting are just as interesting as his movie stories, and he spares nothing here, either. This book also shows that actors, while famous and well known and all that, are still just people like everyone else. And the B-movie world? It can be fulfilling artistically and intellectually, but it’s also a machine that spits out product for consumers to, well, consume. The world could use a few more actor memoir books like If Chins Could Kill. It really could.


Honorable Mention: Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B-Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell and Craig Sanborn: This is Campbell’s literary sequel to If Chins Could Kill, and it’s definitely something Campbell fans will want to read. This book isn’t as freewheeling as If Chins Could Kill, but it’s just as honest. I do wish it was a little looser, but it’s still a great read. Hopefully, Campbell one day writes/participates in a book on Ash vs. Evil Dead.


11- The View from the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood by Nicholas Meyer: The obvious big draw for this memoir is the stories Meyer has on making the two Star Trek movies he directed, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, but Meyer also delves into his entire creative career, first as a writer, a screenwriter, and then eventually his career directing non-Star Trek movies like Time After Time and The Day After. Meyer also gets into the business side of big time Hollywood movie making, and it will make you both laugh out loud and cringe (Meyer is the reason DVD’s and Blu-rays have that “The views expressed…” screen for home video special features). You will also learn, simply by reading the book, just how good a writer Meyer is (he is damn, damn good). A definite must own and a must read for Star Trek nerds and anyone who wants to read a great book about the movie making business.


Next week: #10-#6!

Golf! Underground Monsters! Zombies! Slashers! Flying Silver Balls!


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