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The Top 30 Movie Books (#20 – 16)

July 29, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Stories From The Trenches

The Top 30 Best Movie Books: #20-#16

This is week three of the six week look at the Top 30 Best Movie Books. If you didn’t see the first week, where I looked at books #30-#26, here’s the link to that, and here’s the link to last week’s batch, where I listed books #25-#21. Week three is, once again, more of the same, starting with a few books that I haven’t read yet and want to read, and then 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

Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting by William Goldman: I bought a used copy of this book from my local library years ago but I still haven’t read it. What the hell am I waiting for? This book is, from everything I’ve read about it, a classic memoir on Hollywood and writing for Hollywood. Goldman won two Oscars, so he obviously knew a thing or two.

Jaws Unmade: The Lost Sequels, Prequels, Remakes, and Rip-Offs by John LeMay and Justin Mullis: This book is apparently all about Jaws sequels that were never made plus Jaws rip-offs that were never made. Much like LeMay’s book about the unmade King Kong sequels, this book sounds like a nifty look at what could have been if things worked out differently. Just what else is out there that’s never been made?

Hollywood Monster: A Walk Down Elm Street with the Man of Your Dreams by Robert Englund and Alan Goldsher: I’ve been trying to get a copy of this book for years but, for whatever reason, it’s never available. I know, based on the description of the book, that the book focusses on Englund’s time as Freddy Krueger, but I’d love to know more about his career before becoming a horror icon. He’s been in tons of stuff over the years, and it sure seems like he has lots of interesting stories to tell about those movies and TV shows and performances and whatnot.

And now, onto the main list: The Top 30 Best Movie Books: #20-#16


20-The Complete History of The Return of the Living Dead by Christian Sellers and Gary Smart : One of the reasons I wanted to read this book is that it’s about the entire Return of the Living Dead franchise and not just the first movie. Yes, the section of the book on the first movie is easily the most complete and thorough, but the chapters on the sequel, the Brian Yuzna directed part 3, and the weird as hell parts 4 and 5 that debuted on the Sci-Fi Channel, are just as engrossing and fascinating. The various interviews that Sellers and Smart conduct throughout the book offer a terrific look behind the scenes. It sure as hell sounds like making the first movie was difficult. The behind the scenes photos spread throughout the book are also amazing. The picture of the cast of the first movie with actor Jason Robards is mind blowing. A definite must own and read for Return of the Living Dead and zombie movie fans.


19-World Gone Wild: A Survivor’s Guide to Post-Apocalyptic Movies by david j. moore: The post-apocalyptic movie genre is vast and varied, and david j. moore’s World Gone Wild is an indispensable reference book on the subject. I mean, as far as I know the book is the only post-apocalyptic movie reference book out there, and it’s amazing to think that with the popularity of the genre there would be more books like it. There aren’t, though. World Gone Wild really is it, and it’s a great resource for anyone interested in the genre. The book is packed with 800 individual movie reviews, interviews with various directors, actors, and writers, and plenty of cool posters, home video images, and behind the scenes pics. And moore doesn’t just look at the “standard” post-apocalyptic movie, like The Road Warrior and its massive number of low budget rip-offs. The book also takes a look at zombie movies, those end times religious movies, and the occasional futuristic sci-fi movie that, at first, doesn’t seem quite like a post-apocalyptic movie but it really is (the Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd movie), plus so much more (there’s even a bit in there about the old Captain Power TV show that was all the rage back in the day). An absolute must own.


18-Shakespeare in the Movies: From the Silent Era to Shakespeare in Love by Douglas C. Brode: (Full disclosure: I once took a Shakespeare on Film class with Douglas Brode and this book was the textbook for the class) Shakespeare can be incredibly intimidating for modern audiences, not to mention students in both high school and college. He doesn’t have to be, though. In fact, Shakespeare was the popular entertainment of his day, and Brode’s book Shakespeare in the Movies helps demystify the Bard and show the world just how accessible Shakespeare can be. Brode goes through all of the various big screen adaptations of the Bard’s plays, providing not only analysis of each adaptation, but also behind the scenes info on how each movie was made and how the movie was received when it came out. The book is a great resource for anyone interested in Shakespeare in the movies. And I can guarantee you that if you read this book you will “get” Shakespeare more than you ever did before.

Brode is a prolific movie and TV writer, and while I haven’t read every book he’s done, I can say that I learned something with every single one that I did read. Always interesting.


Honorable Mention: Elvis Cinema and Popular Culture by Douglas Brode: A fascinating look at every movie Elvis Pressley made and how that movie fit into the popular culture at the time. You will never look at the cinematic output of the King of Rock and Roll the same way again.


17- Outrageous Conduct: Art, Ego, and the Twilight Zone Case by Stephen Farber and Marc Green : I borrowed this absolutely infuriating book from my local library when I found out it existed because I wanted to know more about the accident that killed actor Vic Morrow and two children on the set of The Twilight Zone: The Movie in the segment that was directed by John Landis. The book does a fantastic job setting up the particulars of the incident, who the various players were that were involved (Landis, the producers, the studio, the crew), and then the court case that developed afterwards. The book shows, quite clearly, that had Landis been less insane and outright negligent with what he wanted to do for his segment of the movie, Morrow and the two children likely never would have been killed. Landis, plus several other people, were eventually acquitted during a trial on manslaughter charges, but the whole thing sure seems like a miscarriage of justice. The incident did, eventually, lead to industry wide changes on set safety and child actors, so that’s a bit of silver lining, but if you walk away from this book not supremely pissed off at Landis and company you need to read the book again.


16- Stories from the Trenches: Adventures in making High Octane Hollywood Movies with Cannon Veteran Sam Firstenberg by Marco Siedelmann : The legendary B-movie director Sam Firstenberg, the director who gave us multiple ninja movies (Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja III: The Domination, the first two American Ninja movies), top notch action movies like Avenging Force and American Samurai, and the immortal break dancing sequel Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, deserved a book about his career, and author Marco Siedelmann gave it to us. Essentially one long interview with the director, this is an in-depth look at Firstenberg’s career, how he got started in the moviemaking business, his moviemaking philosophy, and what Firstenberg is doing now that he’s retired. There are also multiple interviews spread throughout the book with people Firstenberg has worked with, like actors Michael Dudikoff and Lucina Dickey, stuntman Steve Lambert, and several more. An amazing effort and a terrify resource for Firstenberg fans.

Check out my full review of the book here.


Honorable Mention: The Untold, In-Depth, Outrageously True Story of Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment by Marco Siedelmann: A great series of interviews with the people involved with Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment movie company. You will learn stuff not only about the company, but the market that SGE operated in, especially the home video world. My favorite interviews are with Maniac Cop director William Lustig and Red Scorpion director Joseph Zito (and don’t be surprised if you wonder, after reading the Red Scorpion section, why no one has written an entire book about that production. It sounds like quite the movie story).


Next week: #15-#11!

B-Movie Gods! Action Heroes! Star Trek!


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