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A Sci Fi Swarm And Horror Horde Tom Weaver Main

"A Sci-Fi Swarm and Horror Horde" Book Review

Written by R.J. MacReady

Published by McFarland

a sci fi swarm and horror horde tom weaver large

Written by Tom Weaver
2019, 412 pages, Reference
Released on April 16th, 2019


A Sci-Fi Swarm and Horror Horde has a slightly-misleading title and cover. Looking at it, you'd think it was a book about the sci-fi and insect creature features from the ‘50s and ‘60s, but it's really a book featuring interviews with random cast and crew from a myriad of golden-age sci-fi related movies.

That's not to say the book is bad. In fact, it's a very entertaining tome featuring some interesting tales of old Hollywood.

Starting with stories about Robert Armstrong, the star of the original King Kong (the "Beauty killed the beast" guy), as told by his friend and co-star Jimmy Lydon, then moving through various other cast and crew members whose names you probably wouldn't know, it's jam-packed with fascinating anecdotes from film and TV.

From the old Flash Gordon serials to the original Lost in Space and Wild Wild West TV shows, to movies like Them and War of the Worlds, author Tom Weaver has culled together an impressive array of variegated tales that never become repetitive.

Also impressive is that most of the interviews not only grant you access to behind-the-scenes stories of interest, but to the human aspect of the creators involved. An early interview with Joanna Fulton, daughter of FX and miniature guru John P. Fulton, has her reminiscing about how bad he was at dealing with people, his family included, and gives a much better-rounded look into the man.

The interviewees, who won't be familiar to most people, tell stories that intersect with celebrities most people would have heard of like Judy Garland, Tyrone Power, Bela Lugosi (who I didn't realize looked a like Jeremy Irons in his early years), and more.

Interesting anecdotes abound. Many people talk about Bela Lugosi, and it's universally agreed that he was a very nice man to everyone, and hid his morphine addiction so well that most people didn't realize he had a problem until he checked himself into rehab.

Other stories touch big names like Lon Chaney Jr. (apparently a huge man with a drinking problem but, with the exception of one actress, seemed to be a likeable guy). Johnny Weismuller (the best TV Tarzan) was apparently an amiable fellow who never complained about anything, and could swim like an Olympian.

Really, just about every interview holds absorbing stories. Whether it's the story about who Robert Bloch actually based Norman Bates on – hint: It wasn't really Ed Gein for the most part, which is something this horror fan had no idea about – or other stories about which Hollywood legends were sleaze bags that tried to force actresses to sleep with them in order to keep their jobs, the interviewees hold nothing back. I guess once they get to a certain age, they really don't care about naming names, and that's part of the allure of these interviews. One actor says of his director that I won't name here: "He couldn't direct traffic on a one-way street at midnight."

In the end, A Sci-Fi Swarm and Horror Horde is a fascinating collection of interviews with the stars of a truly bygone era who aren't afraid to speak their mind about their experiences making movies.


Overall: fourstars Cover
Buy from Amazon US
Buy from Amazon UK

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About The Author
R.J. MacReady
Staff Reviewer - USA
RJ MacReady digs horror movies, even though his first memory of horror films is watching the first Friday the 13th movie while a bear mauled his family in the other room. He admits that most of his bio is as fake as his moniker, but witness protection won't let him use his real name.
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