Book Review: America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World” by Corey Taylor

America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World”
Author: Corey Taylor
Da Capo Press
Hardcover 256 pages

Our Score: 1.5 out of 5 stars

In America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World”, Slipknot/Stone Sour lead singer Corey Taylor directs his signature combination of humor and outrage at today’s America, sparing no one along the way. Taylor doesn’t shy away from thorny issues as he draws a brutally honest portrait of his country, outlining the good, the bad, the unflattering and the patriotic. Whether it’s politics or social media, race or pop culture, religion or reality TV, “America 51” digs deep into the roots of contemporary America.

The 4th book from singer turned best-selling author Corey Taylor titled America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World” is easily the brashest in your face collection of rants from the out spoken front-man. Having struggled my way through Taylor’s last two literary offerings l was a touch apprehensive about subjecting myself to another 256 pages of rambling. However being a long time fan of both Slipknot and Stone Sour I was willing to still give this book a shot. Within the first several chapters I could see that this book was going to be just like the others as Taylor becomes so wrapped up in his thoughts that he quickly loses site of the actual. I found this to very distracting and despite Taylor’s off the wall comedic jabs at society and his take on the current political climate there were just too many thoughts going on at one time causing the book to come off as very unorganized and poorly edited.

If you liked Corey’s previous three books then there is no doubt in my mind that “America 51” will fit right in with your collection as by now you have become a custom to the author’s chaotic style. However, if you are looking for this to be your first exposure to Corey Taylor outside of his music then you may want to hold up and check out some of his earlier works first.

CD Review: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes “Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits”

“Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits”
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Fat Wreck Chords
Tracks: 17

Our score: 3 out of 5 stars

Everyone’s favorite punk rock cover band, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes have compiled 17 tracks spanning their 8 studio albums for their very first greatest hits album. Simply titled “Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits” the album documents the bands 20 years together through a variety of reworked pop, country and R&B hits that will have you immediately singing along singing along.

If you were at all keyed into the mid 90’s revitalized punk scene then you surely at some point came across Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. The band which consists of a variety of members from various Fat Wreck Chords bands including NOFX, Lagwagon and No Use For a Name have been putting their signature spin on pop culture tracks since their first official release in 1997. From John Denver’s American Classic “Country Roads” to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” and Kermit the Frogs “Rainbow Connection” you get a little bit of everything the band has to offer in sleek package.

It was really great revisiting a lot of these renditions as it had been some time since hearing quite a few of these tracks. Each performance serves as a unique and fitting tribute to the originals making for an extremely fun listen. It would have been nice to have included some new material giving those who already have all the albums something more than just a glorified mix tape however, like the title implies why work when you can just sit back and “Rake It In”.

Track Listing:
1.) The Times They Are a-Changin’
2.) Rainbow Connection
3.) City of New Orleans
4.) Summertime
5.) All My Loving
6.) Straight Up
7.) Over the Rainbow
8.) Country Roads
9.) Sloop John B
10.) Jolene
11.) Uptown Girl
12.) Hats Off to Larry
13.) Desperado
14.) Lady
15.) San Francisco
16.) I Believe I Can Fly
17.) End of the Road

Greatest Fictional Dragons!

Since the dawn of history, humans have been obsessed with huge, fire breathing creatures from mythical tales and stories gone by. Every culture in history has its own take on the mythical dragon, whether it be the more serpentine beast of Asian lore, or the winged behemoth of European literature. Dragons have found their way into every corner of both storytelling and advertising, making appearances across the silver screen, board games, figurines and even roulette games. Let’s take a look at some of the greatest dragons from media history!

Smaug (The Hobbit)

The primary antagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel The Hobbit, Smaug is said to be the greatest dragon of his day. Having heard rumours of the great wealth of the Dwarven kingdom of Erebor, he “arose, and without warning came against King Thrór and descended on the mountain in flames”, killing all the Dwarves he could find. After eventually driving the Dwarves out of their home, Smaug lived inside the mountain for the next 150 years, guarding his vast hoard of treasure

Alduin (The Elder Scrolls)

The Nordic God of Destruction, or The World Eater as he’s most commonly know is a Dragon from the world of The Elder Scrolls and the primary antagonist of Bethesda Softwork’s epic fantasy RPG Skyrim. Alduin was first removed from the world of Tamriel as a last resort of the ancient Nord heroes who used an Elder Scroll to force Alduin to become lost in time and never return. However, he was instead sent forward to the Fourth Era, to the timeline of events in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

The Great Dragon/Kilgarah (Merlin)

Kilgarah, voiced by the infamous John Hurt, is an ancient dragon from the BBC Series “Merlin”. Captured and imprisoned in a cave beneath the Kingdom of Camelot by Uther Pendragon at the end of the Great Purge, he was left for over two decades, and is said to be over one thousand years old. Throughout the series, he acts as Merlin’s mentor and close friend, and when he first meets Merlin, tells him of the prophecy regarding his part in uniting the land of Albion with Arthur Pendragon.

Falkor (The Never Ending Story)

One of the most loved mythical characters in film history, and painting a very different aesthetic than most of the characters on our list, Falkor the luck dragon saves the life of Atreyu, the hero of both the novel and the film adaptation. At over 40 feet in length, Falkor has a graceful elongated body of covered in albino soft fur across the entire length of his body. His entire back is covered in pink and white scales, and has ruby red eyes.

Elliot (Pete’s Dragon)

Appearing in both the 1977 original, and the 2016 remake, Elliot is a huge green dragon with a head of pink hair that helps the titular character Pete escape from his abusive foster family, the Gogans. Elliot’s ability to make himself invisible, matched with his incredible clumsiness means Pete is considered bad luck wherever he ends up. After eventually escaping to the town of Passamaquoddy, Pete befriends Lampie the Lighthouse keeper and his daughter, Nora.

Hungarian Horntail (Harry Potter)

Said to be one of the most vicious dragons known to man, the Hungarian Horntail makes its appearance in the fourth Harry Potter book, The Goblet of Fire. The breed is especially aggressive when protecting their young, and along with their viciousness, Horntails are shown to be extremely fast in flight. It has fearsome black scales, and is said to be lizard-like in appearance. It also has yellow eyes, with vertical pupils like a cat’s, bronze horns and similarly coloured spikes that protrude from long tail.

Spyro (Spyro The Dragon)

Making his first appearance in the 1998 video game Spyro the Dragon, Spyro is little purple Dragon with orange wings, curved horns and a spiral-shaped spike on the tip of his tail. He is noticeably smaller than other dragons seen within in the series, a characteristic that aids him in the first game. He is often considered cocky and mischievous with little regard for his own well-being, although always portrayed as a good character.

Deathwing (World of Warcraft)

Deathwing the Destroyer, once known as Neltharion the Earth-Warder, was the leader of the Black Dragonflight. Portrayed as a colossal black dragon with a fearsome orange glow, he is one of the most feared names in Warcraft lore. Once presumed dead, he returned after the fall of the Lich King and vowed to destroy all that stood in his path. The Alliance city of Stormwind was irrevocably altered after his return, with buildings now showing traces of fire damage and the tops of the wall towers emitting an orange glow.

Phil Hall talks about his latest book “The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time”

If you’re a fan of movies you’re probably already familiar with the work of Phil Hall. A contributing editor to the on-line magazine, “Film Threat,” Hall is also a well respected author of such film books as “The Encyclopedia of Underground Movies: Films From the Fringes of Cinema” and “The History of Independent Cinema.” His latest book, recently released, is entitled “The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time.” Mr. Hall recently took the time to answer some questions for Media Mikes:

Mike Smith: What makes a movie “Bad?”
Phil Hall: We need to clarify what “bad” means. I am not writing about the mediocrities that you forget about after the closing credits have rolled. My book celebrates what I call the “anti-classics.” These are the films that inspire wonder – they are so profoundly misguided and egregiously off-target that you have to wonder how they ever got made. These bad films are the cinematic equivalent of narcotics – you get hooked by their toxicity and you become a happy prisoner to their crashing awfulness. It is a wonderful addiction, for sure.

MS: What inspired you to write the book?
PH: A few years ago, I was an actor in a film called “Rudyard Kipling’s Mark of the Beast,” and while on the set a number of people were talking endlessly and enthusiastically about the Tommy Wiseau film “The Room.” I recognized that people tend to become animated and involved when talking about the so-bad-they’re-good films, going to the point of quoting the screenplays verbatim, and I thought that I would bring together my choices for 100 of the best of these anti-classics.

MS: You have some critically popular films, “Mystic River” among them, on your list. Any reservations on labeling films like this “bad” when they were well received?
PH: My book is not a be-all/end-all text book. My book is an expression of my opinion as a film critic and film scholar. Remember, the appreciation of films (or any art form) is strictly subjective. I know people who loathe “Citizen Kane” and “Gone with the Wind” – that is their opinion. And remember, opinions are like a certain lower body cavity – everyone has one and most of them stink! Whether you agree or disagree with me is strictly your call. This book is my vehicle to share my opinions.

MS: Have you received any feedback from any of the filmmakers?
PH: The book covers the full spectrum of the cinematic experience, from the silent era to the present day. Thus, many of the filmmakers cited in the book are no longer with us. As for those that are still active, I don’t know if they are aware of their inclusion in the book.

MS: Do you have a favorite “bad” movie?
PH: That’s sort of like asking if you have a favorite child, isn’t it? Some of the films cited in the book — the musical version of “Lost Horizon,” “Chariots of the Gods,” “Airport 1975” – have a special emotional tug because I saw them in the theater when I was a little kid. Others hold a special meaning because I shared the viewing experience with friends and/or family. And I am always discovering new films, so today’s favorite could easily become yesterday’s corny memory.

MS: Are you planning another book?
PH: This is my sixth book that has been published since 2004. I think I am overdue a long rest!

Book Review “The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time”

Author: Phil Hall
Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: BearManor Media
Release date: July 4, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Think you know what makes a bad movie? So did I until I read the latest from Film Threat scribe Phil Hall whose latest book, “The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time,” set me straight.

Hall has assembled an impressive list of 100 films that he isn’t very impressed with. Of course, the list contains some well known “bad” titles, like Ed Wood’s “Plan 9 From Outer Space” and the awful “Battlefield Earth.” But it’s not just bad directors making bad films that are taken to the woodshed here. The great John Huston, with fifteen Oscar nominations (and two wins) in his career, has placed two films on the list: “Beat the Devil” and “The Bible: In the Beginning.” Stanley Kubrick teamed up with Howard Sackler (creator of the Broadway show “The Great White Hope”) for the film “Fear and Desire.” It’s here as well. Other directors taken to task include George Cukor, Bob Rafelson and Michelangelo Antonioni. And, just so you don’t think Hall is picking on the early films of now renowned filmmakers, he also includes Clint Eastwoods’ Oscar winning “Mystic River,” calling the film “so incredibly off-kilter that it demands attention for its sheer awfulness.” Wow! I’m guessing that didn’t make Clint’s day.

Of course, “bad” is in the eyes of the beholder. There are actually a few films on the list that I enjoy watching when I catch them on cable, among them “Head,” starring the Monkees, “The Adventures of Ford Fairlaine” and the Neil Diamond version of “The Jazz Singer.” I know they’re not classic cinema fare, but something about seeing Sir Laurence Olivier weep and rip his clothes while Diamond intones, “Pop…pop,” in his deep voice makes films like this a guilty pleasure. I’m also sorry to see the Robert Altman- directed film “Health” on the list. Not because it’s a good movie but because a couple of friends and I staked out the hotel in St. Petersburg where it was filmed (the Don Cesar) in the hopes of meeting Lauren Bacall. How many teenagers in the 1970s even knew WHO Lauren Bacall was?

Like his Film Threat work, Hall packs his prose with humorous observations. One of my favorite comes from his review of “The Babe Ruth Story,” noting that though some of the Babe’s secrets were ignored “their absence was compensated by a surplus of jolly anachronisms, most notably with the presence of a beer advertisement on a billboard positioned in a stadium game that occurred during the Prohibition years.”

An enjoyable read from A (“Abbot and Costello Go to Mars” to Z (“Zabriskie Point), “The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time” is a must have for anyone that enjoys the movies…good or bad.

Book Review “Dinosaur Art: The World’s Greatest Paleoart”

Edited by: Steve White
Foreword: Philip J. Currie
Introduction: Scott D. Sampson
Hardcover: 188 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: September 4, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Growing up as a kid, dinosaurs have always thrilled me whether it is in pictures or movies. But there is something about looking through an paleoartist illustration of these creatures that is so breathtaking. This book is an awesome collection of work from various different paleoartist who specialize in blending science and art in order to reconstruct these ancient animals and their lost world. Edited together very well by Steve White, this book included illustrations and artwork from top of the top contemportary paleoartists. This is a must for all fans of dinosaurs.

I will give a break down of the artists in this book.  Mauricio Anton, Raúl Martin and Robert Nicholls are all known best for through work which has been exhibited all around the world  and in museums worldwide. John Conway has worked on various projects for the Discovery Channel and the American Museum of Natural History.  Julius Csotonyi has also worked with numerous museum exhibits, as well as National Geographic. Douglas Henderson was actually in the film “Jurassic Park” as ‘Dinosaur Specialist’.  Gregory S. Paul has also worked with the  filmmakers of Jurassic Park and several other TV series. He also has renamed several dinosaurs from working in the field. Todd Marshall is best known for collaborating with paleontologist, Paul Serono.  Luis Rey is the illustrator of “Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages.” Lastly John Sibbick has been illustrating dinosaurs for 30 years.

“Dinosaur Art: The World’s Greatest Paleoart” is filled with some truly amazing artwork, some of which have never before seen.  The illustrations range from digital to black and white drawings.  We get a really broad range of different artwork, especially since it is from so many different artists.  The art is also not limited to limited to just dinosaurs, there are also many other prehistoric mammals included. Note: be sure to take a peek behind the dust jacket for an amazing image of two silver dinosaur skeletons. Overall this book is highly recommended and another gem from Titan Books.

Titan Books

DVD Review “100 Greatest Horror Classics – Horror Classics + Legends of Horror”

Starring: Vincent PRice, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., Christopher Lee and Alfred Hitchcock
Number of discs: 24
Distributed by: Mill Creek Entertainment
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Running Time: 7600 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When I saw this release titled “100 Greatest Horror Classics”, I had no choice but to request it to review. It just screams my name. Being a horror buff, I love all things horror and that including this. This release is split into two sets of 50 films including “Horror Classics” and “Legends of Horror”. Let me start by telling you they are not the best transfers of these films but nonetheless, they are 100 of horror greatest films together in one place and that is enough for me. The packaging could have used a little extra loving as the each set includes a jumbo DVD case, both which are held together by one long slipcover. Inside each DVD case are individual DVD sleeves with 12 dual discs. There are two films per side/per disc, obviously totally 50 films per set. I suggest you pick a rainy day put in disc 1 and have yourself a day-long marathon.

So before you get overwhelmed the fact that there are 100 films to watch. Let me throw out a quick number…7600. That is the amount of minutes of horror greatness included in this set. If that doesn’t make you run out and pick this up then nothing will. This release even includes a few films that I have never heard of or seen, so I was very excited about that as well.  Mill Creek Entertainment is known for releasing these amazing box sets. They also have a sci-fi themed release as well that I am looking forwarding to reviewing called “100 Greatest Sci-Fi Classics – Sci-Fi Classics + Sci-Fi Invasion”. Keep a look out for that review as well. From cinematic greats to genuine obscurities, this wonderful collection of films easily offer months of entertainment in a single release.

While I not going to give an individual review for each film, as I sure you’ve seen these films already.  I will point on some of the notable titles that I really enjoyed.  I grew up watching the following titles: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962), Carnival of Souls (1962), Dementia 13 (1963), Horror Express (1972), House on Haunted Hill (1959), The Last Man on Earth (1960), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), Metropolis (1927), Night of the Living Dead (1968), Nosferatu (Silent) (1922) and of course The Phantom of the Opera (Silent) (1925).  I am very happy to be able to have them all in one place.  I also am looking forward to introducing all of these titles to my own daughter…but not for a few years since she is only three months currently.  I will be re-visiting these titles quite often and I look forward to future installments.

Here are the complete list of the 100 titles including in this fantastic release:

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Chaney Vase (1955)
Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1961)
The Amazing Mr. X (1948)
The Ape (1940)
The Ape Man (1943)
Atom Age Vampire (1960)
Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)
The Bat (1959)
The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
The Black Dragons (1942)
Blackmail (1929)
Bloodlust (1959)
Bluebeard (1944)
The Bowery at Midnight (1942)
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962)
Carnival of Souls (1962)
Champagne (Silent) (1928)
The Corpse Vanishes (1942)
Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride (1974)
Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961)
Crimes at the Dark House (1940)
The Crimes of Stephen Hawke (1936)
Dead Men Walk (1943)
Dementia 13 (1963)
The Demon (1979)
The Devil Bat (1940)
The Devil’s Messenger (1962)
Doomed to Die (1940)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Silent) (1920)
Easy Virtue (Silent) (1926)
The End of the World (1977)
The Face at the Window (1939)
The Farmer’s Wife (Silent) (1928)
The Fatal Hour (1940)
The Fury of the Wolf Man (1972)
The Ghost (1963)
The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
The Gorilla (1939)
Horror Express (1972)
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Silent) (1923)
The Incredible Petrified World (1957)
The Indestructible Man (1956)
The Invisible Ghost (1941)
The Island Monster (1954)
It’s Never Too Late to Mend (1937)
Jamaica Inn (1939)
Juno and the Paycock (1930)
The Killer Shrews (1959)
King of the Zombies (1941)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
The Last Man on Earth (1960)
The Last Woman on Earth (1960)
Legacy of Blood (1971)
The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
The Lodger (Silent) (1926)
The Long Hair of Death (1964)
The Mad Monster (1942)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
Manfish (1956)
Maniac (1934)
The Manxman (Silent)
Metropolis (1927)
Monster from a Prehistoric Planet (1967)
The Monster Maker (1944)
The Monster Walks (1932)
Murder in the Red Barn (1935)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Nightmare Castle (1965)
The Nightmare Never Ends (1980)
Nosferatu (Silent) (1922)
Number Seventeen (1932)
One Body Too Many (1944)
The Phantom Creeps (1939)
The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues (1956)
The Phantom of the Opera (Silent) (1925)
Revolt of the Zombies (1936)
Rich and Strange (1932)
The Ring (Silent) (1927)
Sabotage (1936)
A Scream in the Night (1935)
The Screaming Skull (1958)
Secret Agent (1936)
Shadow of Chinatown (1936)
The Shadow of Silk Lennox (1935)
The She-Beast (1966)
Shock (1946)
A Shriek in the Night (1933)
Silent Night, Bloody Night (1974)
The Skin Game (1931)
Swamp Women (1955)
The Terror (1963)
The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935)
The Ticket of Leave Man (1937)
Tormented (1960)
The Vampire Bat (1933)
The Werewolf vs. Vampire Women (1971)
White Zombie (1932)
The World Gone Mad (1933)
Young and Innocent (1937)

Book Review “Tales From Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made?”

Author: David Hughes
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Updated Expanded Edition
Release Date: February 28, 2012

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

In the past few months I have found myself becoming a very big fan of author’s David Hughes. His last book “The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made” is similar to this one but focuses in one genre. “Tales From Development Hell” is backed by amazing research and just proves that Hughes knows his films. When I first started to get into movies very deeply I always wanted “Jaws 5” to be made during the 90’s and I would constantly see the words show up development hell…and 20+ years still no “Jaws 5”. It is truly a writers, directors and stars worst nightmare where the scripts are written, actors hired and sets designed…but no production.

This newly updated and expanded edition includes two new chapters that are worth the purchase alone. The previously last chapter “The Incredible Shrinking Film” is expanded focusing in-depth on James Cameron’s then-planned remake of “Fantastic Voyage” and his journey.  The new final chapter which was added is called ” Tales from the Script”.  Since Hughes is an screenwriter himself he knows what it is like to go through development hell with a script.  In the chapter he focuses on his own Hollywood struggles and projects in limbo.  It is a very great chapter and is a breath of fresh air for all aspiring screenwriters.

I seem too learn something new with each of Hughes’ books.  In this one, I discovered that The Beatles were once in talks to star in “The Lord of the Rings”…The Beatles?! Also Clint Eastwood was once talked about starring in a planned “Batman” film.  Those two alone are impressive enough for me (and boy am I happy they never got made). Along with Hughes’ amazing research he also does a great job with getting interesting exclusive interviews with the writers and directors involved with some of these lost projects.  It is a true must for all movie buffs.

Book Review “The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made”

Author: David Hughes
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Revised & Expanded Edition
Release Date: July 25, 2008

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I think we all forget that some of our favorites films have long journeys to the big screen and some never even get made.  Whether it is changing directors or projects falling through, this book reveals the “what if” factor of many sci-fi movies that were never made.  This revised & expanded edition contains over 100 pages added to the book.  It is a must for all sci-fi fans and probably movie fans in all.

The book is kicked off with a great foreword by H.R. Giger (designer for “Alien”), it is a great insight into his career and about his dealings with Hollywood.  I am a huge movie fan especially the sci-fi genre and this book is really such a great insight into these lost films.  Some of them I would have loved to have seen like Terry Gilliam’s “Watchmen” or Tim Burton’s “Superman Lives”. Then there are some that I would have hated like Nicholas Cage playing Superman.  I also enjoyed the fact that this wasn’t consisted of re-hashed knowledge and there was a lot of new information that I never knew about.   Author David Hughes made sure to back this book with a bunch of great new interviews with the people involved with the writers and directors of these lost projects.

Besides providing new information, the book is also very detailed and includes thorough information like budgets and technical information about these films.  I enjoyed that most about this book, especially because I am a big statistical nerd.  Lastly, who else should provide the afterword to a book aimed at nerds, then the biggest nerd, Harry Knowles aka the famous blogger from Ain’t it Cool News.  He gives good insight in the wrapping up the book and its message.  If you enjoyed this book also check out Hughes’ latest coming out February 28, 2012 from Titans Books called “Tales From Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made?”.

Book Review “MGM: Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot”

Author(s): Steven Bingen, Stephen X. Sylvester, Michael Troyan
Hardcover: 312 pages
Publisher: Santa Monica Press
Release Date: February 25, 2011

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

MGM Studios in Hollywood was the last great original place where the movies were made. This book is a great ode to back lot that helped shape filmmaking. It is also great to be able to view some beautiful black and white photos that have been previously unpublished from the studio’s archives. We also get treated to rare and exclusive interviews with actors and staff from the studio. It is amazing to read that MGM’s backlot was home to more than a fifth of the films produced prior to 1980 dating back to Hollywood’s golden age. Some of the classic gems produced were of course films such as “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the Wind”.

Included is such an in depth coverage of the studio, it is split into 4 parts. The first is called “Lands of Make-Believe” and covers lot one of the studio. The second is called “Potemkin’s Villages”, coming lot two. Part three covers lot three and is called “Mythic Landscapes”. The last part is called “Backlot Babylon”, the decline of the studio. In part 1, we focus on the buildings and various departments. I really enjoyed reading about every department and its tasks no matter how trivial, ranging from Music to Makeup department. Also included is maps of the various sound stages on the lot, it just shows the sheer size. Lastly, part one also showcases some of the lost backlot sets of lot one, for example the “Ben-Hur” set”.

Part two is subtitled “False Fronts – An Illusion on an Illusion”. It focused on MGM’s magic trick of creating a place that didn’t exist and making it look like it did during shooting. The points on the map showcased are the classic sets and streets like New York Streets and Three Musketeers Court. Part three showcases one of the greatest lots in the MGM backlot. It was packed with all the BIG sets, like full Western sets like Billy the Kid Street to Ghost Town Street. It also featured St. Louis Street, where films like “Meet in St. Louis” and “How the West was Won” were filmed. Part 4 picks up around 1948 for MGM backlot, which was said to be the last great year of the studio. It focuses on the declined box office figured due to after the war. It also includes demolition summaries and photos that are heartbreaking to look at. Lastly there is a section called “Films Shot on the Backlot”, which includes every single film that was shot at MGM and on which lot and which street. It is a real gem to have in the book and seals the deal for sure.

While turning each chapter in this book I really looked forward to each quote from well known people in Hollywood like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Nathaniel West. Also be sure to check out Debbie Reynolds’ foreword as it is an amazing look into her time spent on the lot and the impression it has left on her.  The photos are just so amazing and it is a treat to be able to take a look inside such a lost treasure. If you like behind the scenes with movies, this is the perfect book for you getting to go behind the scenes at one of Hollywood’s greatest movie studios