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The Top 30 Movie Books (#25 – 21)

July 21, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Profoundly Disturbing Joe Bob Briggs

The Top 30 Best Movie Books: #25-#21

Okay, so here is week two of the six week look at the Top 30 Best Movie Books. Just in case you didn’t see the first week, where I looked at books #30-#26, here’s the link to that. Week two is the same as week one, 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.

So how many of you out there like movie books, too? And what sort of movie books would you like to see that you haven’t? And how many of you prefer electronic copies as opposed to hard copies of books, and how many prefer hard copies as opposed to electronic copies? I prefer hard copies, but I understand why some people don’t care for them since books, as actual objects, take up space. An electronic book is, essentially, just a file in a computer somewhere. And, sometimes, electronic books are cheaper than hard copies, so price can be an issue. Still, I’d rather have the actual book so I can hold it in my hands. And that goes for all books.

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

Kong Unmade: The Lost Films of Skull Island by John Lemay: This book is apparently all about unmade sequels to various King Kong movies, starting with unmade sequels to the 1933 original all the way to unmade sequels to the 1976 remake and its sequel, King Kong Lives from 1986. Who the hell knew there were so many unmade King Kong movies?

Rebel Without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year Old Filmmaker with $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player by Robert Rodriguez: I’ve had this book sitting in my “to read” pile for several years now, and I think it’s time I goddamn read it. It’s all about how Rodriguez managed to make his first movie, El Mariachi, for $7,000 and how you can do the same thing. Or something like that. I’m assuming this book inspired the series of short documentaries on Rodriguez movie home video releases (I think they’re called “Ten Minute Film School” or something like that).

How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime by Roger Corman with Jim Jerome: I actually read some of this book before I had to return it to the library (I was unable to renew it because someone else had reserved it. I moved on and never took it out again to finish it) and it was great. You learn how Corman got involved in the movie business and how he managed to, as the book title suggests, never lose money on a movie. I do believe, though, Corman did lose money on a movie he made with William Shatner, The Intruder, a super serious drama about integration (the movie was made/came out in the early 1960’s). I know that you learn about the movie in the book. It was a chapter I didn’t read, though.

And now, onto the main list: The Top 30 Best Movie Books: #25-#21


25- Death by Umbrella! The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons by Christopher Lombardo and Jeff Kirschner: List books, like list columns on the internets, can be hard to do because there’s always a chance that the list you are compiling may be incredibly interesting to you but possibly not all that interesting to the book buying public. Death by Umbrella! is a book that horror movie nerds should, no, will love if they pick it up as they will read about, as the title suggests, some of the weirdest (and greatest) horror movie weapons of all time. The big wood chipper that fits into the end of Stepfather III isn’t included (an egregious omission as far as I’m concerned. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil gets a wood chipper mention but not Stepfather III? ), but authors Lombardo and Kirschner include such wonderful killer items as a toilet plunger, a blender, an ear of corn, a hearing aid, CD’s, boobs, and, of course, umbrellas (and so much more). The book has seven chapters, with each chapter devoted to things like “objects from around the home” (chapter 1), “deadly machinery” (chapter 3), and sports equipment (chapter 4). The analysis for each item is both insightful and hilarious, which is exactly what you want in a book about horror movie weapons. Could it have been longer? Could the list have been bigger/more extensive? Maybe, but 100 is a great number to use as a baseline. I mean, 100 sounds pretty damn “official,” doesn’t it?

Bombardo and Kirschner are the guys behind the terrific Really Awful Movies website and podcast, so be sure to check both of those things out either before/during/after Death by Umbrella!, and then be on the lookout for the duo’s next book collaboration, Mine’s Bigger Than Yours: The 100 Wackiest Action Movies, which is set to be released this September. I know I will be definitely checking it out.


24-Produce Your Own Damn Movie! by Lloyd Kaufman with Ashley Wren: Really, pretty much any book by Troma co-founder Lloyd Kaufman is worth reading, as you will learn a few things about whatever “serious” topic he’s writing about when it comes to making movies, and you will likely bust a gut laughing at the many asides and footnotes and whatnot spread throughout the book. In Produce, Kaufman explains what it takes to actually produce a movie, from raising money for the movie (talk to doctors!), to putting together contracts and whatnot for all of the people you want in your movie, and the importance of insurance. Kaufman also interviews multiple people throughout the book, including James Gunn, Terry Jones (yes, that Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame), Steven Paul, one of the producers of Ghost Rider, and many more. The best section of the book, at least to me, is the section where Troma veteran and B-movie goddess Debbie Rochon explains why insurance is so incredibly important for your movie (the story she tells is terrifying and infuriating). Again, all of the books Kaufman has done are worth reading, but if you’re looking for one to start with, try out Produce Your Own Damn Movie!. You will learn something and you will laugh.


23--Stuntman! My Car Crashing, Plane Jumping, Bone Breaking, Death Defying Hollywood Life by Hal Needham: Hal Needham, of course, is the stuntman turned movie director responsible for such action/comedy classics as Smokey and the Bandit, The Cannonball Run, Hooper, and Stroker Ace, and movies that were perhaps a bit misunderstood when they came out, like Megaforce, Rad, and Bodyslam. Stuntman! is a terrific memoir/autobiography where Needham talks about all of those movies plus his life before Hollywood, where he lived as a kid, when he was in the Army, and his job as a treetopper. A good chunk of the book is spent on his stuntman career, which is just insane. The man was, eventually, the highest paid stunt performer in Hollywood and you will understand why when you read the book. I’m also a fan of the section on his time in NASCAR, when he co-owned the Skoal Bandit team with frequent Hollywood collaborator Burt Reynolds. There’s just so much great stuff in this book that makes it a must read, for action movie fans, people interested in the history of stunts in movies, and people who like to read books about people who led incredibly interesting lives and who lived life to the absolute fullest. Why hasn’t anyone made a TV show or movie about Needham’s life? Based on the stories and whatnot in this book, it would no doubt be an incredible show.


22-Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies That Changed History by Joe Bob Briggs: Joe Bob Briggs, the world renowned “drive-in movie critic” and the current host of The Last Drive-In on Shudder, came out with this book a few years after his stint on TNT’s Monstervision ended and his brief time writing various columns and whatnot for United Press International (track down the stuff he wrote about 9/11. Definitely some of his best writing). Briggs writes about fifteen movies that he feels changed movies in terms of what movies could be about, on screen violence, sex, and more. Briggs writes about the movies The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Blood Feast, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Deep Throat, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Shaft, The Wild Bunch, and eight more. Now, eventhough he’s writing under the Joe Bob Briggs name, the book is way more serious minded than anything else under the Briggs name. There’s some humor every now and then but Briggs is way more interested in commentary, analysis, and putting the movie in its proper historical context. And it’s all fascinating stuff. This book is the first place I learned about how Chain Saw was released by a mob connected distribution company. And his history of The Wild Bunch is great stuff. Will you agree with his choices for movies that changed history? That’s the ultimate fun of the book. A definite must read for Joe Bob Briggs and cult movie fans.


Honorable Mention: Profoundly Erotic: Sexy Movies That Changed History by Joe Bob Briggs: This is the companion book to Profoundly Disturbing and deals with movies that Briggs believes changed the way movies depicted and talked about sex, nudity, and other taboos. Briggs goes in depth on ten movies here, five less than Disturbing, but the essays are a tad more in depth. A great primer for movie fans interested in how sex has been portrayed in movies over the years.


21- Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of Heaven’s Gate by Steven Bach: I originally found out about this book while reading about the notorious flop by Oscar winning director Michael Cimino, Heaven’s Gate, on the internets. I found out that my local library had a copy and immediately borrowed it because I figured that a book about Heaven’s Gate would be way more in depth than anything on the internets. And, man, was I right. Bach, who was the vice-president of worldwide productions for United Artists, the studio responsible for producing and releasing Heaven’s Gate, was there for the endless shitshow that was Heaven’s Gate’s production. It’s just mindboggling what UA allowed Cimino to do, and it isn’t surprising in the least that the movie basically destroyed United Artists. The book is also a fascinating chronicle of Bach in his studio job, juggling other productions and other business within United Artists. If you’re a movie fan and a fan of movie history, you need to read this book. Now, I read the original release, not the updated version that Bach completed and that was released in 1999. I definitely need to get that book and see what Bach updated.


Next week: #’s 20-16!

Indie movies! The Post-Apocalypse! Shakespeare! Zombies! Ninjas!


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Bryan Kristopowitz