The Missing Link Reviews

Human Monsters: The Definitive Addition by Michael H. Price with George E. Turner. Available from Human Monsters:
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 neighbor".
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 Monsters edition.
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.

Human Monsters by George E. Turner & Michael H. Price. Available from Amazon.comHuman 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 Definitive Edition

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 Paul Hogan.
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 here
Also by Michael H. Price & George Turner: Forgotten Horrors