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‘Forgotten Horrors’ gets new life with revised, expanded edition

Dennis King Published: July 19, 2012
            A book many cinema buffs credit with lifting low-budget horror movies and B-level genre pictures into the more respectable realm of film scholarship is being resurrected in a new, expanded edition. “Forgotten Horrors,” the 1980 volume by Michael H. Price and the late George E. Turner, is getting a well-deserved second life with the hot-off-the-press publication of “Forgotten Horrors: The Original Volume – Except More So” (Cremo Studios, $35).

The cheekily titled revision and reissue continues and expands the work of the groundbreaking first book, which devoted thorough and loving scholarship to scores of the weirder productions from old Hollywood’s low-rent precincts.

”We intended the title, ‘Forgotten Horrors,’ to be a challenge – a self-denying prophecy,” said Fort Worth native Price in press materials announcing the new edition. “With very few exceptions, such as ‘White Zombie’ and ‘The Vampire Bat,’ these Depression-era pictures had been popularly forgotten through neglect, careless archiving, and inconsistent copyright maintenance. We sought to make them less ‘forgotten.’

”George and I covered more than 100 such films from 1929-1937 in the original edition, and within a few years of its publication many of these pictures started cropping up on the home-video market,” Price said. “One large-scale video dealer went so far as to publish a catalogue called ‘Forgotten Horrors.’ Mission accomplished.”

The new edition restores some deleted material from the original, adds several new chapters and features an introduction by Mel Brooks, maker of the classic horror spoof “Young Frankenstein.” The new material includes coverage of such significant independent films as Sam Goldwyn’s ‘Bulldog Drummond’ and Harold Lloyd’s creepy comedy ‘Welcome Danger,’ both from 1929.

A key new discovery included in the new volume is a lost film by acclaimed director Edgar G. Ulmer, “The Warning Shadow,” made shortly before Ulmer’s big-time breakthrough with the Boris Karloff-Bela Lugosi headlined “The Black Cat” (1934). While “The Warning Shadow” remains a missing film, Price has traced its surviving footage to an unlikely location and reports on the find.

More than 50 new chapters complete the revised volume, ranging from weird Westerns to ghostly crime melodramas and offbeat comedies. The book’s 370 pages cover the rise of such iconic stars as Boris Karloff, Ginger Rogers and Gene Autry and the decline of many silent-era talents who attempted to stick around through the arrival of talking pictures in the late 1920s.

Price and Turner, the longtime editor of American Cinematographer magazine, also collaborated on such books as “The Making of King Kong (Spawn of Skull Island)” (1975-2002), “Forgotten Horrors Vol. 2” (2001), and “The Cinema of Adventure, Romance & Terror” (1989). Price has also published Vols. 3-5 of the “Forgotten Horrors” series in collaboration with prolific Tulsa author John Wooley and genre historian Jan Alan Henderson.

“Forgotten Horrors: The Original Volume – Except More So” is currently available online and at some specialty booksellers.

- Dennis King

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