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Monsters from the Vault: Classic Horror Films Revisited

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Welcome back to the Vault of Secrets, where acclaimed author, skeleton, and monster expert Orrin Grey will be disinterring a bunch of classic (or not-so-classic) vintage horror films for your delectation. Revisiting films from the earliest of the talkies (shot in two-strip Technicolor!) to Bert I. Gordon's 1976 "masterpiece" The Food of the Gods, this volume collects more Welcome back to the Vault of Secrets, where acclaimed author, skeleton, and monster expert Orrin Grey will be disinterring a bunch of classic (or not-so-classic) vintage horror films for your delectation. Revisiting films from the earliest of the talkies (shot in two-strip Technicolor!) to Bert I. Gordon's 1976 "masterpiece" The Food of the Gods, this volume collects more than four years of Grey's popular Vault of Secrets column on vintage horror cinema, featuring everything from mad scientists to mole people, giant bugs to devil dolls, and more. Thrills, chills, and, of course, plenty of monsters await you within these pages. So dim the lights, grab some popcorn, and get ready for our feature presentation...


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Welcome back to the Vault of Secrets, where acclaimed author, skeleton, and monster expert Orrin Grey will be disinterring a bunch of classic (or not-so-classic) vintage horror films for your delectation. Revisiting films from the earliest of the talkies (shot in two-strip Technicolor!) to Bert I. Gordon's 1976 "masterpiece" The Food of the Gods, this volume collects more Welcome back to the Vault of Secrets, where acclaimed author, skeleton, and monster expert Orrin Grey will be disinterring a bunch of classic (or not-so-classic) vintage horror films for your delectation. Revisiting films from the earliest of the talkies (shot in two-strip Technicolor!) to Bert I. Gordon's 1976 "masterpiece" The Food of the Gods, this volume collects more than four years of Grey's popular Vault of Secrets column on vintage horror cinema, featuring everything from mad scientists to mole people, giant bugs to devil dolls, and more. Thrills, chills, and, of course, plenty of monsters await you within these pages. So dim the lights, grab some popcorn, and get ready for our feature presentation...

30 review for Monsters from the Vault: Classic Horror Films Revisited

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

    FULL DISCLOSURE - I am an associate of Orrin Grey and have purchased stories from him for the Pseudopod podcast. This is a charming little book collecting a selection of Grey's genial film reviews from THE INNSMOUTH FREE PRESS online site, arranged in chronological order of the film's release dates (they run from 1932-1976). Each review runs a couple of hundred words - a page or 3 at most - and they are not in-depth looks at the particular film, nor deep critical studies, but strike a healthy gro FULL DISCLOSURE - I am an associate of Orrin Grey and have purchased stories from him for the Pseudopod podcast. This is a charming little book collecting a selection of Grey's genial film reviews from THE INNSMOUTH FREE PRESS online site, arranged in chronological order of the film's release dates (they run from 1932-1976). Each review runs a couple of hundred words - a page or 3 at most - and they are not in-depth looks at the particular film, nor deep critical studies, but strike a healthy ground above online, useless frippery of the 'I liked it/hated it...and now some sub-par MST3K riffage...' and below scholarly analysis/actual film criticism. Grey's area of interest is a mix of the genre's classics with a healthy serving of the kind of Saturday afternoon/midnight movie fare that was prevalent on television when I was younger but has now mostly vanished (in our era of "unlimited choice"). Grey's love for these films shines through his commentary - he is in no way a "gorehound" or splatter fan, finding more enjoyment from the stock symbols of creepy old films (castles, graveyards, mad scientist lairs) and, of course, from the monsters in such films. The reviews tend to feature a small attempt at placing the film in its historical or cultural context, some background on the talent, a synopsis and a record of what makes the film interesting or affecting. Grey occasionally dips a bit into MST3K level joshing (as the book is dedicated to the crew of the Satellite of Love, that may be expected), but never openly mocks a film, which is refreshing in this age of cheap shots and know-nothing know-it-alls, and many of his humorous observations find their mark (on "Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb" - "...the requisite Hammer heroine, who would be the film's only female character if nobody had housekeepers.") Given their brevity, there's not much to take away from the write-ups - the book strikes me as a great gift for a young modern fan who might be interested in watching older films and especially in understanding what someone close to their own age might see in these artifacts. From here, one might advance to The Overlook Film Encyclopedia: Horror or Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s to begin seriously grappling with an interest in the genre - but all great journeys start with small steps. One can see the hints of a sensibility taking shape as Grey assembles arguments for why certain films work and others don't. His comment on "The Leopard Man", for instance, ending with "hooded monks bearing candles walk across an obviously fake desert backdrop, seems to me to be somehow creepier thanks to its clear theatricality than it would have been done on a more convincing set" inadvertently gestures towards my own realization that set-bound thrillers (like Corman's "Premature Burial") gain from what they lose in "naturalism" by creating a sense of artificiality that augments their psychological aspects - the film feels as if we are watching a drama inside someone's head where nothing is real. His idea of pairing "Spider Baby" with the excellent "Targets", as examples of shifting concerns/tones in horror films, is a solid observation as well. Given his interests, I imagine he would find quite a lot to enjoy in the early Dr. Mabuse films, Edgar Wallace Krimis, and possibly the Gothic/pulp-fiction/horror comic-book/dark fantasy mashups of Jean Rollin, none of which get any representative films covered herein. Occasionally, Grey's modern references presume more familiarity from the reader than they should (for example, tossing off comparisons to Mignola's "Ogdru-Hem" - which I presume is from the comic-series HELLBOY but know nothing more about) and, on a minor note, I would also point out that it's "tempera paint" not "tempura paint" (as that use shows up more than once). But in general this is an amiable overview of a range of styles of films that modern horror fans are sadly losing the ability to appreciate (mostly by locking into reductive critical models offered to them by cheap-jack, internet experts) and we are always the better for any work that attempts to prod contemporary viewers into appreciating the history the genre has to offer.

  2. 5 out of 5

    J.T. Glover

    This book collects years of columns together in one volume. Each is a pleasure to read, and introduced me to movies I hadn't heard of, but together they shine, and can stand comfortably beside other similar volumes of reviews, whether from Joe Bob Briggs or Harlan Ellison. Reading the book, I was pleased to learn about links between movies I wouldn't otherwise have picked up on. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in monster movies, especially if your exposure is either to A-list or Grade Z This book collects years of columns together in one volume. Each is a pleasure to read, and introduced me to movies I hadn't heard of, but together they shine, and can stand comfortably beside other similar volumes of reviews, whether from Joe Bob Briggs or Harlan Ellison. Reading the book, I was pleased to learn about links between movies I wouldn't otherwise have picked up on. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in monster movies, especially if your exposure is either to A-list or Grade Z movies. Orrin tackles the great muddy middle of monster movies, from obscure masterpieces to notorious oddities, and we get the pleasure of going along for the ride with someone who knows the ins and outs of rubber bats and matte-painted Gothic mansions.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dan Sauer

    If you're into obscure, strange, and sometimes delightfully bad monster movies, this is a great guide. The author's affection for some of these dark gems is contagious. The entries are often a bit on the short side, but Grey manages to provide keen insights and playful observations for each film. If you're into obscure, strange, and sometimes delightfully bad monster movies, this is a great guide. The author's affection for some of these dark gems is contagious. The entries are often a bit on the short side, but Grey manages to provide keen insights and playful observations for each film.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chris Hansen

    Thoroughly enjoyable book filled with great anecdotes and recommendations. The book will wind up costing me a lot as Grey keeps adding to my list of Films I Must See. Be that as it may, I highly recommend giving this a try if you are looking for something you may have missed.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I can't give this book a rating, I'm the wrong audience. I received this as a goodreads giveaway. I was previously unfamiliar with the monster's vault column so I had no idea what to expect. The book is a compilation of monster's vault columns which are each too short and lack depth as a movie review. I haven't seen any of the movies found here (classic horror) but the movie summaries or reviews or analyses perhaps didn't enlightened me as to why I should watch it. Instead several focus on relat I can't give this book a rating, I'm the wrong audience. I received this as a goodreads giveaway. I was previously unfamiliar with the monster's vault column so I had no idea what to expect. The book is a compilation of monster's vault columns which are each too short and lack depth as a movie review. I haven't seen any of the movies found here (classic horror) but the movie summaries or reviews or analyses perhaps didn't enlightened me as to why I should watch it. Instead several focus on related works by actors, writers or directors or they pinpointed a particular scene or theme in the movie. All told, not my style of writing and focus when it comes to movie journalism. I've opted out of a star rating since this book wasn't meant for me and I'm sure it's great for its fans.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Raab

    Grey provides his signature I-want-it-to-be-good-but-it's-not-really-good film criticism to a whole host of forgotten B-movie (treasures? disasters? both?). A quick and entertaining read about so many lesser-known but unique films that span much of the 20th century. Recommended for B-movie enthusiasts. Grey provides his signature I-want-it-to-be-good-but-it's-not-really-good film criticism to a whole host of forgotten B-movie (treasures? disasters? both?). A quick and entertaining read about so many lesser-known but unique films that span much of the 20th century. Recommended for B-movie enthusiasts.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    This is a collection of movie reviews of films largely relegated to mausoleums, so is easy to consume in very small bites. This added a couple to my list of films I need to exhume.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Graeme Dunlop

    I like Mr Grey's fiction works, but this book really didn't work for me. It's a collection of online reviews of old films. I think if you originally read them online, they'd work better, but as a collection of reviews, they are sorely lacking. There's really no depth or insight to any of them, other than to flag up that a particular film might be interesting. There are far better analyses of horror films than this one. Don't waste your time with this. I like Mr Grey's fiction works, but this book really didn't work for me. It's a collection of online reviews of old films. I think if you originally read them online, they'd work better, but as a collection of reviews, they are sorely lacking. There's really no depth or insight to any of them, other than to flag up that a particular film might be interesting. There are far better analyses of horror films than this one. Don't waste your time with this.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Excellent book for Horror movie fans! Orrin Grey is a treasure and everyone should be reading him.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Zaccaria

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lucianna Wolfstone

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paige

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rick

  15. 4 out of 5

    Phil

  16. 4 out of 5

    aleph3

  17. 4 out of 5

    Wyrd Witch

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Espinoza

  19. 4 out of 5

    Vivienne

  20. 5 out of 5

    John Langan

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kevin L

  22. 4 out of 5

    Duane

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mike Marlow

  24. 4 out of 5

    T Johnson

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alan Beggerow

  26. 5 out of 5

    Parker Benchley

  27. 5 out of 5

    Avgrma

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jojones741

  29. 5 out of 5

    Karen C. Mc Manus

  30. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

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