Every film fan should own at least a couple “Making-of” books. These books might not meet the sheer wealth of material the special features DVD or Blu-ray can offer, but they can make great reference material you can pull off your shelf at any time or have sitting on your coffee table if you just want to kill some time and look at some gorgeous concept art.
The best making-of books offer an excellent blend of informative material coupled with high-quality images, and with the release of Prometheus, two new making-of books have hit shelves: The Book of Alien and Prometheus: The Art of the Film. One is an example of how to a making-of book wrong, and the other is an example of how to do it right.
As a movie nerd, I’m attracted to cinematic train wrecks. I love learning about how movies went drastically wrong and the cinematic schlock that once stuffed video store walls and now fills up video streaming services. Obviously, I want to see all the great films, but there’s also something to be said about movies where everything went horribly wrong. Furthermore, it’s not enough to know the “popular” terrible movies. True cinephiles know how to dig deeper into filmographies and find the real travesties.
Author Dan Whitehead is a true cinephile and has used his encyclopedic knowledge of movies to compile an engaging overview of A-list actors slumming in Z-movie hell. And if you’re thinking, “Yeah, we all know George Clooney was in Return of the Killer Tomatoes,” Whitehead fires back with “Yeah, but have you seen him in Return to Horror High?” Whitehead’s book What’s a Nice Actor Like You Doing in a Movie Like This? not only examines the films that celebrities wish you’d rather not see, but does so with humor and insight.
“Only a sick society could bear the hoardings, let alone the films.”
- Derek Hill (in regards to Hammer films and their output), Sight and Sound 1958-59
The above quote, which opens Marcus Hearn’s Hammer movie-poster book, The Art of Hammer, is indicative of the content contained within. Judging by the artwork Hearn has collected, it’s not hard to see how Hammer gained such a tawdry reputation. From half naked women to fully-nude women to ghouls, vampires, murderers, psychopaths, mummies and any other monster one could possibly imagine, the posters’ single aim seems to be at appealing to the most lurid and primal impulses. As such, I – of course – found myself quite taken with the collection.
Since bursting onto the scene in 1984 with The Terminator, James Cameron has managed to consistently capture our imaginations in a way that few other filmmakers have been able to. Simply put, his movies possess the most jaw-dropping visuals and intense, satisfying action sequences you’re liable to come across in a movie theater. In the decade that he was absent from the marquee, maybe some of us started to forget what we were missing. However, now that he’s come roaring back with Avatar, we remember in a big way, which makes this about as good a time as any to read The Futurist. Pieced together from Cameron’s own personal recollections as well as those of his closest friends and collaborators, Rebecca Keegan’s biography of the reclusive Canadian director offers an engaging insider’s look at the life and films of one of the true masters of the craft. More after the jump.