The Definitive Edition
by Michael H. Price with George E.
Turner. Luminary Press. Softcover. 332 pages. $25.
Go to Human Monsters the
Bizarre Psychology of Movie Villains
Along with their wonderful Forgotten Horrors series, Michael H. Price
and George E. Turner have become the authority on the rare and unusual genre offerings
from the Poverty Row studios. However, Human Monsters adds another
dimension by binding together each movie to feature "a monster, or a creature that
either is or once must have been as unremarkably human as a down-the-street
To this end the chosen selection of movies comes from various sources and not limited to
the Poverty Row sub-genre. Therefore it is a treat to see that all aspects of the genre
are included plus a few surprises along the way that were not present in the original Human
Not only are there detailed and info-dense accounts of Lugosi's Mark of the Vampire, Karloff's The
Black Room, John Barrymore's 1920 Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, to name a few of the more familiar titles, but we discover
rather rarer additions including Sheldon Lewis' Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, an in-depth look at 1925's fascintaing
The Ancient Mariner and another Missing
Link favourite, 1931's Murder By the Clock.
Each title is accorded the Michael Price
treatment, which is a reader-friendly, collection of interesting facts surrounding the
film, cast and crew, along with an informative synopsis of the movie in question. Like all
good authors, there are several digressions onto other subjects that serves to bring the
reader even closer to many of the aspects surrounding the movie's production for a full,
well-rounded understanding of the history and personalities that were involved. No mean
feat in these days of facts-at-your-fingertips technology.
The Human Monsters
revision into The Definitive Edition warrants more than just a cursory
glance even by those who are proud to own the original edition. And again, like Michael
Price's Forgotten Horrors
collection, this will demand a place in every horror-film fan's bookcase.
Monsters, the Bizarre Psychology of Movie Villains
by George E. Turner & Michael H. Price. Kitchen
Sink Press. Softcover. 208 pages. £10.99.
Go to Human Monsters: The
It makes all the difference having someone
who knows what you would like for your birthday without going to the effort of dropping
subtle hints. Price and Turner's latest endeavor took no less than 17 years to see the
light of day following their seminal work on Forgotten
Horrors from the poverty row studios.
Human Monsters is an exhaustive collection
of 65 films that the authors believe are due fresh consideration. The general theme is the
army of villains that pervaded the cinema screens during the 30's and 40's. From
Stroheim's curiosity The Great Gabbo (1929) the
book travels through to Columbia's remake of Fritz Lang's M (1951). In between is detailed
an electic assortment of heavies from Westerns, Gangster films, Psychological Thrillers
that includes the often neglected vamps and miscreants that flourished during the Forties,
and a whole host of evildoers of all shapes and sizes.
The emphasis here is on the somewhat unheralded delights that have eluded attention from
past scholars, but even so the temptation is too great to ignore the more familiar
characters in The Old Dark House, Svengali, The
Mask of Fu Manchu and The Black Cat.
Of the lesser known entries Human Monsters
includes Among the Living with Albert Dekker in a
rousing dual performance, the British remake of BROKEN BLOSSOMS (1936), The Mad Doctor (1940) starring Basil Rathbone, Obsession, The Secrets of the
French Police and a handful of Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre's more obscure vehicles
including the superb Stranger on the Third Floor
(1940) which has only recently received recognition as cinema's first "film
noir". One of the most intriguing entries is UNCIVILISED (1936) an Australian
production starring Dennis Hoey who later
found fame as Inspector LeStrade in Universal's series of Sherlock Holmes films. Director
Charles Chauvel was described to the authors as "the Aussie Griffith" by actor
Room is made for Tod Slaughter's Sweeny Todd as expected, for to omit
this from such a book would have been a heinous crime.
Add to all these goodies a forward by the
"First Lady" Fay Wray and a delightful afterword
by the much missed Vincent Price, and what
you have is a tome of the first order.
It goes without saying that Turner and Price's all-embracing investigation of the bigger
picture of film history is both reassuring and heroic.
Available in the US click
Also by Michael H. Price & George Turner: Forgotten Horrors