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You Won’t Believe Your Eyes! by Mark Thomas McGee (book review).

September 3, 2021 | By | Reply More

The sub-title of Mark McGee’s book, ‘You Won’t Believe Your Eyes!’ is ‘A Front Row Look At The Science Fiction And Horror Films Of The 1950s’ should affirm what this book is about. It’s also a revised second edition.

If you don’t usually read introductions then the two hilarious introductions by Don Glutz and McGee himself should make you change your minds. These aren’t people who discovered 1950s films today but brought up on them and amongst them, meeting the people involved later as well as becoming professional writers themselves or working in the industry so have an inside track. The films are mostly American with a few British and Japanese ones added into the mix and stirred generously.

Don’t buy this book expecting it to be a reference guide to these films. It’s more to do with giving a favour of the time period, comments from various people and bits of trivia. Divided into six section, the films are then in alphabetical order within them and you’ll be relying on the index if you want to look up particular films. Although I think I would have preferred the films to be in date order for relevance to each other over a period, unless you’re a date geek, alphabetical does work as well. I doubt if this book is built to be read straight through as I am doing.

I’m still puzzling over the six divisions, mostly because I’m surprised if any film can be categorised that way. However the balance is in how McGee deals with the films. He doesn’t hold back when a film is bad nor when they are classics. I suspect those of you buying this book will use this as a guide to check out some of the films like I ended up doing. I have noticed over the years, I’ve added to the number of 1950s films I’ve seen by reading such books so it does sink in.

McGee points out that just because some films are bad doesn’t mean they aren’t watchable. There’s also a lot of black and white photos in this book, many I haven’t seen before, adding to the reasons to pick it up.

The ‘Afterword’ continues to give a flavour of the time period and what happened later. We’re already of an age where we see or know of people who’ve died and McCoy pointing out most of his friends are no longer alive. He also describes in detail his first film ‘Equinox’ (1970) he directed and special effects maestro Dennis Murren’s first film. I looked it up on-line and there are very few copies out there now. Rather amusingly, it has also reached cult status and his taking people who’ve come to him for more information has ended up doing what he was given by other cult directors and shown where it was filmed. Geeks forever.

I was surprised by how much extra I learnt in this book although embarrassingly couldn’t place in the quiz afterwards. Granted I’m a geek with a good memory, I just don’t put all the details in my head although no doubt will draw up some fact or at least know where to look later. Then again, my knowledge extends across the entire field. I’ve also selected a few films that need a closer look and ones to be careful of.

If you’re into 1950s films then this book should be added and read to savour the period and realise just how much of McCoy’s knowledge is first hand.

GF Willmetts

September 2021

(pub: BearManor Media, 2018. 352 illustrated indexed medium size softcover. Price: $25.95 (US), £18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-62933-312-0)

check out website: www.bearmanormedia.com

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Category: Movie books

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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