Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 9, 2007
I should begin this review by saying that I am a big movie book junkie. In fact, I have a bookshelf full of various movie guides by the likes of Roger Ebert, Leonard Maltin, and John Stanley of "Creature Features" fame. If that's not bad enough, I also love watching supernatural horror films like Stanley Kubrick's brilliant adaptation of Stephen King's "The Shining," Robert Wise's "The Haunting," and of course, the Tobe Hooper/Steven Spielberg classic, "Poltergeist". So, naturally when I came across film journalist, Staci Layne Wilson's guide of "50 Years of Ghost Movies," I was more than curious to thumb through it.
In no time, I was really sucked into the style and structure of the book. Essentially, you could call "50 Years of Ghost Movies" a reference guide of supernatural themed films spanning from 1935 to 1985 that deal with characters of "disembodied souls" that range from such films as "A Christmas Carol" to "The Changeling" to "Ghostbusters". Each film is listed chronologically, providing the information to the credited writer(s) and director(s), as well as the plot synopsis. Many films include brief comments and at times, full reviews. In such cases, those films are followed by Ms. Wilson's personal recommendations for similar-themed films (or in some cases, novels) that you may also enjoy. The only real omission is a cast list, but mostly, the stars of each film are mentioned in their individual synopsis. Some readers may also expect - or desire - a wide array of photos, an alphabetical index or even, more text. However, for a film junkie such as myself, I was more than happy with the flow and styling of the book.
The material I most enjoyed were the factoids that were scattered throughout the 157-page guide. These "factoids" included film quotes, a listing of celebs who claimed to have ghost sightings, as well as listings of alleged haunted places in L.A. and their connected Hollywood spirits. The highlight of the book for me, however, was the various stars revealing their favorite "ghost movie". These celebs include, but not limited to; Jim Carrey, Sam Raimi, Tobe Hooper, Robert Englund, Don Coscarelli, Eli Roth, Guillermo del Toro and Hugh Jackman. Some answers were of the expected variety, but there were also many curveballs along the way. I wouldn't dare spoil them for you, so you must discover those on your own. Now if that was not enough, the book also features a list of some of the earliest "ghost movies" from 1900 to 1925, an exclusive interview with "Ghostbusters" star Ernie Hudson and to top it all off, Ms. Wilson provides us with her own Top 13 Best Ghost Movies of All Time list.
In closing, "50 Years of Ghost Movies" is a valuable reference guide that is an insightful, breezy read that you will certainly revisit. As should be expected, I anxiously await Ms. Wilson's follow-up "Modern Ghost Movies".
*** (out of 4 stars)
Reprinted by permission from the I SEE DEAD website. [...]