I don’t often get time to read a lot of books these days, but I knew that Joseph Maddrey had a couple of genre-related titles coming out and I needed to make the time. A few years ago, Maddrey teamed up with iconic actor Lance Henriksen for the wonderfully engaging Not Bad for a Human, and Maddrey’s latest literary efforts- Beyond Fear and A Strange Idea of Entertainment-are both equally informative and compelling reads for any horror fan.
Beyond Fear: Reflections on Stephen King, Wes Craven and George Romero’s Living Dead focuses on Maddrey’s analysis and reflections on three of our genre’s most influential storytellers and how their visions uniquely shaped the landscape of horror entertainment over the last several decades. Considering we live in a world where we seem to have a documentary about practically every possible subject out there now, there’s actually a lot of really interesting tidbits awaiting fans in Beyond Fear, especially details and inspirations revealed during Maddrey’s extensive interview with Craven, who is very candid as he looks back at his entire body of work, from The Last House on the Left to My Soul to Take and everything in between.
Maddrey also does an excellent job of thoroughly looking at King’s entire literary career and offers up his own insights on the influential author’s themes and storytelling devices, often making really interesting parallels between King’s work and other prominent writers, including J.R.R Tolkien and Ray Bradbury. Fans of horror and sci-fi literature will undoubtedly enjoy Maddrey’s keen ability to tap into some really interesting aspects of King’s own fascinations as an author and I don’t think you’ll see a better examination of the prolific storyteller’s career than what Maddrey does in Beyond Fear.
For A Strange Idea of Entertainment: Conversations with Tom McLoughlin, Maddrey utilizes a series of interviews he completed with filmmaker Tom McLoughlin (of Friday the 13th: Jason Lives fame), who reveals the many different aspects of Hollywood he was involved with before he even began his career as a filmmaker in the early Eighties, like training with Marcel Marceau or working as a writer on the Van Dyke and Company series alongside many of the greatest comedians of all time.
And while I enjoyed McLoughlin’s many wonderful tales of his time working on films like Jason Lives or Sometimes They Come Back (two of my own personal favorites), I must admit I found the chapters about his experiences working on his various television mini-series some of the most fascinating aspects of A Strange Idea of Entertainment. McLoughlin shares some incredible stories about collaborating with the likes of Craig T. Nelson, Marlon Brando, Charles Durning, Christopher Meloni, Valerie Bertinelli, Jean Smart and Joe Mantegna (just to name a few), as well as his life-changing experience of working on Something to Live For, the TV biopic on AIDS activist Allison Gertz. It all made for some rather enthralling reading, even if you’re only familiar with McLoughlin’s horror-related projects.
I’d highly recommend any aspiring filmmakers out there to pick up A Strange Idea of Entertainment as well, as it’s the perfect demonstration of how the industry favors those who go out and work hard in any capacity (whether it’s as a musician, a mime or even as a director) as opposed to those who just sit around and wait for opportunities to show up at their doorstep.