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Weekly Book Buzz: An Evening with Bela and Boris

We Review Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff

By Tim Janson     October 18, 2009


“Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff” from McFarland Publishing
© McFarland Publishing

 

Overall it’s a pretty quiet week. For those who are fans of licensed properties, there are new books out based upon Star Trek Enterprise, Terminator: Salvation, and Stargate.
 
Cemetery Dance is one of my most favorite small press publishers and they have news this week on three great new additions to the acclaimed Cemetery Dance Novella Series: Invisible Fences by Norman Prentiss, Catching Hell by Greg F. Gifune, and The Corpse King by Tim Curran! 
 
These three incredible new Limited Editions, along with The Cage by Brian Keene (which is already Out of Print), are all scheduled for a spring 2010 publication date.
 
To find out more about all these exciting upcoming releases, visit Cemetery Dance here: cemetery dance
 
Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to meet horror icons Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff? Ever dreamed about being on the set during the filming of one of their classic horror films? Well, just check out my review of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff: The Expanded Story of a Haunting Collaboration in the reviews section below.
 
The Sleep That Rescues: A Supernatural Detective Novel (Teddy London series) C. J. Henderson (Elder Signs Press)
 
Private investigator Teddy London, who has stood firm against vampires, werewolves, and terrors from beyond without flinching, now faces not only an unimaginable god-horror of unlimited power but also the consequences of his own reckless ego. Acting without thinking, he inadvertently opens the doorway of the dreamplane to a beautiful cat burglar, giving her access to the secrets of the universe. Now, the balance of all time and space has been thrown into chaos, and Teddy will need more than a gun named Betty and a blade named Veronica to save his own skin, let alone the entire world.
 
Orcs: Army of Shadows Stan Nicholls (Orbit Books)
 
A sojourn in their idyllic homeworld has left Stryke and the Wolverines lacking purpose. So when an opportunity for bloodletting appears, Stryke seizes it. Utilizing mysterious artifacts, the Wolverines are transported to Acurial, a world where the indigenous orc population is cruelly subjugated by human invaders.
 
Upon their arrival, Stryke's band joins with Acurial's emerging resistance movement. As the revolution gathers pace, the Wolverines are forced to embark on a quest that will see Stryke and his comrades pursued by both their most ruthless enemy and a mysterious troop hell-bent on their destruction.
 
Twilight of Kerberos:The Crucible of the Dragon God Mike Wild (Abaddon Books)
 
A deadly predator swarms across Twilight. Exactly what are the 'k'nid' and how can they be stopped? A question for Kali Hooper to answer. Doing so will prove far from easy. From a labyrinthine deathtrap to an ancient limbo and the aquatic lair of a serpent, Kali must battle her way to the Crucible of the Dragon God. She is about to discover the true reason her world is called Twilight!
 
New in Science Fiction
 
Terminator Salvation: Cold War Greg Cox (Titan Books)
 
We Fight Back…Russia 2003. When it appears that the United States has unleashed its entire nuclear arsenal upon the world, Captain Dmitri Losenko, commander of the nuclear submarine Gorshkov, has no choice but to retaliate. His target? Alaska .
 
Alaska 2018. Fighting for survival in the frozen wilderness, Molly Kookesh struggles to protect her makeshift Resistance cell from the Terminators. Inspired by John Connor’s radio broadcasts and following a brutal encounter with a fearsome machine, she decides it’s time to fight back…
 
Star Trek: Enterprise : The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing (Star Trek : Enterprise ) Michael A. Martin  (Star Trek Books)
 
At the start of the twenty-first century, unconditional war swept across the Earth. A war that engulfed the great and the small, the rich and the poor, giving no quarter. Each side strove for unconditional victory, and as battle built upon battle, the living began to envy the dead.
Chastised by the cataclysm that they had unleashed, the governments of Earth came together. Humanity vowed to put an end to war and to strive for the betterment of every living creature. A united Earth created Starfleet, an interstellar agency whose mission was to explore the cosmos, to come in peace for all mankind. It was a naïve wish that was battered by interstellar realities, yet man persists in the belief that peace is the way. Banding together with other powers to form a Coalition of Planets, humanity hopes that the strength each can offer the other will allow for peaceful exploration.
 
However, the rise of the Coalition strikes dread within the Romulan Star Empire. They feel its growing reach will cut them off from what is rightfully theirs. The Romulans know that the alliance is fragile, that the correct strategy could turn allies into foes. Perfecting a way of remotely controlling Coalition ships and using them as weapons against one another, the Romulans hope to drive a wedge of suspicion and mistrust between these new allies.
 
One Starfleet captain uncovers this insidious plot: Jonathan Archer of the Enterprise . Determined not to lose what they have gained, outmanned and outgunned, the captains of Starfleet stand tall, vowing to defend every inch of Coalition space until the tide begins to turn.
 
The Romulans now plan to strike at what they see as the heart of their problem. With nothing left to lose, the Romulan Star Empire engages in all-out war against humanity, determined once and for all to stop the human menace from spreading across the galaxy.
 
Stargate SG-1: Valhalla : SG1-15 Tim Waggoner (Fandemonium)
 
SG-1 become enmeshed in a fierce battle straight out of Nordic mythology. Although unwilling participants, SG-1 soon find themselves fighting with the Vanir against their ancient foe - the brutal giants of Jotunheim - and feasting with them long into the night. But when dawn arrives, the team find themselves in a very different world. Although still at war, the Vanir and Jotunheim have advanced a millennia and fight with weapons of the 18th century.
 
New in Non-Fiction
 
Marvel Comics in the 1960s: An Issue-By-Issue Field Guide to a Pop Culture Phenomenon by Pierre Comtois (TwoMorrows Publishing)
 
After being relegated to the realm of children s literature for the first 25 years of its history, the comic book industry experienced an unexpected flowering in the early 1960s. A celebration of that emergence, Marvel Comics in the 1960s: An Issue-by-Issue Field Guide to a Pop Culture Phenomenon presents a step-by-step look at how a company that had the reputation of being one of the least creative in a generally moribund industry, emerged as one of the most dynamic, slightly irreverent and downright original contributions to an era when pop-culture, from Tom Wolfe to Andy Warhol, emerged as the dominant force in the artistic life of America. In scores of handy, easy to reference entries, Marvel Comics in the 1960s takes the reader from the legendary company s first fumbling beginnings as helmed by savvy editor/writer Stan Lee (aided by such artists as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko), to the full maturity of its wild, colorful, offbeat grandiosity. With the history of Marvel Comics in the 1960s divided into four distinct phases, author Pierre Comtois explains just how Lee, Kirby, Ditko, et. al. created a line of comic books that, while grounded in the traditional elements of panel-to-panel storytelling, broke through the juvenile mindset of a low brow industry and provided a tapestry of full blown pop culture icons.
 
Halo Encyclopedia (DK Publishing Hardcover)
 
Created in full collaboration with Microsoft, Halo Encyclopedia is packed with hundreds of images, illustrations, and technical drawings that highlight all the information fans and newcomers to the game need to know. Everything you ever wanted to know about Master Chief and the Halo Universe: origins of the game, the mechanics behind it, all the weapons, villains, heroes, locations. Includes behind the scenes information, history, and insider tips on the game.
 
Reviews
 
Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff: The Expanded Story of a Haunting Collaboration Gregory William Mank (McFarland Publishing Hardcover)
 
Their names are synonymous with classic horror films. Together, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff presented an unbeatable tag team of terror. For over 25 years they dueled for horror superiority with films such as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, White Zombie, The Bride of Frankenstein, Mark of the Vampire, and dozens of others. Film historian Greg Mank, the foremost expert on classic horror of the 1930s and 1940s, takes horror fans on an incredible journey through the lives of these two icons of the silver screen.
 
In a volume nearly 700 pages long, Mank looks at their films both individually and together, as well as their personal and private lives and relationships. Over the years Mank has conducted interviews with hundreds of personalities related to classic horror including many surviving stars, crewmembers, and the families of the stars. With Mank’s work, you’re not so much hearing about it as you are experiencing it yourself as if you were right there as the events took place. This is the incredible and exhaustive detail that Mank brings to his work. No detail is too mundane to relate. 
 
Mank goes step-by-step with each actor’s pre-horror career including Lugosi’s work in his native Hungary and his winning the role of Dracula first in the stage production, and then in the film. Likewise Karloff’s career is traced from his years as a character actor, usually as the bad guy, to his discovery by James Whale for the role of Frankenstein’s monster. Every knows that Lugosi screen-tested for the role of the monster and over the years its been stated that Lugosi didn’t want the role because of the lack of speaking lines but Mank asserts that it was Whale who didn’t want Lubosi, and re-affirmed this a few years later when Lugosi tried for the role of Dr. Pretorious in The Bride of Frankenstein that ultimately went to Whale’s buddy Ernest Thesiger.
 
The pair were teamed for the first time in 1934’s, The Black Cat, one of the most macabre and perverse films of the 1930s. A censor’s nightmare, the film found Karloff’s Satanic cult leader and incestuous rapist Hjalmar Poelzig pitted against Lugosi’s avenging angel Dr. Vitus Werdegast who ends the film by skinning Poelzig alive! Were the pair friends? Friendly rivals? Or bitter enemies? It depends on who you ask. Mank provides sufficient evidence to support each claim. Certainly Lugosi had reason to be jealous. Mank provides their salaries for the films they did together and Karloff always earned far more than Lugosi. Karloff did not help matters by often referring to Lugosi with the condescending “Poor Bela”. On the other hand, as Mank notes, Lugosi’s refusal to learn a better grasp of the English language severely limited the roles we would get.
 
There are some stunning revelations in the book, such as how actress Lucille Lund of The Black Cat, was left hanging in a glass coffin while the entire cast and crew broke for lunch…her punishment for refusing the sexual advances of director Edgar Ulmer.
 
Mank covers Lugosi’s eventually slide into drug addiction and obscurity in painful detail. Injuries from fighting in World War I would lead to Lugosi’s dependency on pain medication and other drugs. Yet even in such a declining physical condition, Lugosi was ever a pro, still giving his best in ultra low-budget films like Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster.
 
To complement the narrative, Mank includes hundreds of rare photos including publicity shots, behind-the-scenes photos, and candid pictures of the stars relaxing at home and just being themselves. These include many shots of the homes they once lived in and very funny pictures such as both me taking their turns dressed as Santa Claus.
 
This is an incredible book. I can barely scratch the surface of the information and secrets that Mank has uncovered. Suffice to say that this book is the one book you must own if you are a fanf of Lugosi and Karloff. Grade A+

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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doublec 10/21/2009 5:47:13 PM

That Karloff-Lugosi book sounds great, but you might want to mention it IS $60 at Amazon...

1 

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