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The Top 30 Movie Books: (#5 – 1)

August 21, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Bronson's Loose

The Top 30 Best Movie Books: #5-#1

Well, here it is, the final week of my six week look at the Top 30 Best Movie Books. Just in case you missed the first five weeks, check out the links below for those lists:

Week 1: Books #30-#26

Week 2: Books #25-#21

Week 3: Books #20-#16

Week 4: Books #15-#11

Week 5: Books #10-#6

And so, without any further what have you, here is the last batch of The Top 30 Best Movie Books. Which book is #1?

Some Movie Books I Haven’t Read but Want To

Empire of the ‘B’s: The Mad Movie World of Charles Band by Dave Jay, Torsten Dewi, & William S. Wilson: This book seemed to be sold out the second it actually went on sale, and practically out of print ten minutes later. It’s a book that chronicles Charles Band’s first B-movie company, Empire Pictures, and, I guess, everything that went into all of that. What self-respecting B-movie nerd wouldn’t want to read all about that?

Roger Corman’s New World Pictures (1970-1983): An Oral History Vol.1 and Vol.2 by Stephen B. Armstrong: A two volume set featuring interviews with all sorts of people who were involved with the creation of Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, which was in operation from 1970-1983. Corman is also apparently interviewed as part of this set. Again, what B-movie nerd wouldn’t want to read all about New World Pictures and Roger Corman?

Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel by Michael A.A. Smith and Louis R. Pisano: Jaws 2 is one of the best horror movie sequels ever made, and this book apparently chronicles its production, it’s place in pop culture history, and more. The book is also apparently filled with all sorts of behind-the-scenes photos, which I’m sure are great to see.

The Man Movie Encyclopedia: Only a Ninja Can Review a Ninja by Caliber Winfield: 411’s own Caliber Winfield reviews all sorts of ninja movies in this third volume of his “Man Movie Encyclopedia” E-book series (he also did one all about the Friday the 13th movies and one devoted to the most badass action movies ever made). Any book that delves into the true greatness of the ninja movie has got to be awesome, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it?

Dollar Deal: The Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers by Shawn S. Lealos: 411 alumni Shawn S. Lealos looks at 19 filmmakers who made short films based on Stephen King short stories as part of Big Steve’s “dollar baby” thing (basically, you send King a dollar and you can make a short movie based on one of his stories). Lealos is among the filmmakers included in the book. I’m surprised there aren’t more books celebrating this idea and the movies made. It sounds like a cool idea all around.

And now, onto the main list: The Top 30 Best Movie Books: #5-#1


5-It Came From the Video Aisle!: Inside Charles Band’s Full Moon Entertainment Studio by David Jay, Torsten Dewi, and William Wilson: I was bummed when I couldn’t get my hands on the book about Charles Band’s Empire Pictures, so when I first heard about a sequel, looking at Band’s second B-movie company, Full Moon Pictures, I made it a life priority to get a copy. As a full blown Full Moon nerd, especially of the company’s early 1990’s output (the Trancers movies are my absolute favorites), I wanted to know how the company got started and how Band stayed in business over the years. The company’s movies were in every video store I frequented back in the day, and it was always a big deal when a new Full Moon title popped up on the video store shelves. It Came From the Video Aisle digs into everything I wanted to know about the company, about Band, and about the various moviemakers that worked for them over the years. The book also looks at how the company had to change once its deal with Paramount Pictures and its home video section ended and how it has managed to survive to this day. There’s so much stuff in this book that I just didn’t know and had no idea about. It’s an amazing story and an absolute must read for Full Moon fans. And check out that book cover, with Tim Thomerson as Jack Deth blowing away some trancers in Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth front and center. I never thought I would ever see that on a book. This is a book I can’t wait to read again.


4-Bronson’s Loose!: The Making of the Death Wish Films by Paul Talbot : I had no idea this book existed until, while reading about Death Wish 3 on Wikipedia, I saw a citation for the book on the bottom of the page. A book about the Death Wish franchise? Who the hell did that? And why is Wikipedia the first time I’m hearing about it? So I went to my local bookstore and ordered a copy of it and started reading it as soon as it arrived. It was literally everything I thought a Death Wish franchise book could be and more. Talbot, an obvious Big Chuck expert and mega fan, goes over all five movies in the franchise, providing interesting production information and analysis of what the heck is going on in each movie. For instance, I had no idea that a good portion of Death Wish 3 was actually filmed in England until I read about it in this book. And the book is filled with stuff like that. And I would have to say that the section on Death Wish V: The Face of Death is one of the saddest and still incredibly fascinating things I’ve ever read about any movie. And check out that goddamn cover! Big Chuck wielding the 30 caliber Browning machine gun from a foreign Death Wish 3 poster (I think it’s a French one) ! Who wouldn’t want to read a book with that on the cover? I love this book.


3-Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner by Paul M. Sammon: I’ve never been a huge Blade Runner fan. I liked the movie when I first saw it, yes, but I didn’t love it. It was amazing to look at, but, at the same time, it just wasn’t something I wanted to revisit. One day, while looking around in my local public library, I saw Future Noir sitting on the shelf in the “movie books” section (it’s true, my local library once had a movie books section) and decided why not? Any book about a Ridley Scott movie had to be interesting, even if it was about a book that was good but not great. Well, after reading Future Noir, I developed a new appreciation for Blade Runner and what that movie was and what it did to inspire various science fiction movies after Blade Runner was released. Author Sammon digs into every aspect of the movie’s production and you will learn just how difficult it was to get that movie made. It’s amazing that Scott and company were able to pull it off. The book also gets into the various cuts of the movie, including the much lauded “director’s cut” and how that came about and its eventual release. The book is also chock full of terrific behind-the-scenes photos. Now, there’s an updated version of this book that has, among other things, a big interview with star Harrison Ford from 2007 that wasn’t in the original book for some reason, and a look at the sequel Blade Runner 2049. I’ve got to get my hands on that edition and check it out, but the original version is worth tracking down and checking out, too.


2- The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell: When I first saw The Room, the infamous bad movie from writer/director/star Tommy Wiseau I didn’t really understand what the hell it was I was watching. The movie was God awful and, in a weird way, funny, but why did it exist? How could it possibly exist? Did the people involved in making it know ahead of time what they were actually making? A few years after seeing it (remember when Adult Swim aired the movie on April Fool’s Day? That’s when I first saw it) I found out that someone had written a book about the making of the movie and I knew I had to read it. I had no idea that one of the authors of the book was Greg Sestero, the guy that played Mark in the movie until I actually started reading the book. What the hell was he going to say about the movie? Well, holy shit, Sestero says a lot, and you find out right from the beginning that the making of the movie was the gigantic clusterfuck you always knew it was while watching it. Wiseau had no idea what he was doing a majority of the time and, by the time the movie is actually finished, it seemed insane to ty to put together and then release whatever it was he made. Wiseau did it, though. The story Sestero and Tom Bissell tell is amazing, cringe inducing, and often hilarious (there were several moments where you will find yourself laughing out loud at what you just read. I never had that happen with a movie book until The Disaster Artist). I haven’t seen the movie James Franco made based on the book. I’m not sure I want to. I think I would rather read the book again. Holy shit this book is great.


1 The Making of George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead by Lee Karr: One of the great draws of reading movie books is the “making of”/behind the scenes stories that are usually a part of them. Movie nerds love reading about that shit. I know I do. Lee Karr’s book about George A. Romero’s third zombie movie, Day of the Dead, is easily the most extensive and thorough “making of” movie book I’ve ever read. Karr manages to piece together the entire movie’s production history, from pre-production, post-production, and literally every single day it was before cameras. Karr also talks with various people actually involved in the production, from technical people to some of the actors and others, and you find out just how gritty and exhausting the movie’s production was. You will get a view of Romero that is very different from any other book about Romero (producer David Ball doesn’t mince words), actor Howard Sherman (you may never want to seek out his autograph at a horror convention ever again), and Richard P. Rubinstein (the bullshit he pulls with the actors is shocking). You will also see just how broken up a movie production can be (“shot out of sequence” takes on a whole new meaning with this book). An absolute work of passion and insane detail, The Making of George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead by Lee Karr, is what all movie books should aspire to be. An absolute must read for zombie movie fans, George A. Romero fans, horror movie fans, and movie fans in general. An amazing work.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this six week project. Thanks for reading.

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