In this episode, Jason chats with Stephen R Bissette, historian, and critic, who writes a series of essays included in the new Blu-Ray box set from Arrow, Cold War Creatures: Four Films from Sam Katzman. Katzman was a fascinating "king of B's" in the fifties, making a number of horror films that updated gothic themes with ripped-from-the-headlines ideas like Atomic power and contemporary psychology. His movies are strange, often beautiful, and because of the vagaries of time, largely forgotten. This set may change that.
Say the publishers, Arrow Films:
Sam Katzman was a prolific studio exec that produced hundreds of films starting in the early 1930s and concluding in 1972, gaining great notoriety for his ability to turn a sizable profit on a minuscule budget. Arrow has compiled four of Katzman's monster movies from the 1950s in one glorious collection and loaded them up with special features including an 80-page collector's art book featuring reproduction stills and artwork from each film and new writing by historian and critic, Stephen R. Bissette. The four films include Creature with the Atom Brain, The Werewolf, The Zombies of Mora Tau, and The Giant Claw.
The set is a goldmine for fans of films like Zombies of Mora Tau, complete with posters, postcards, and a plethora of scholarly writing and commentaries.
Bissette, who contributes a number of essays in an art book included in the set, is a well-known comic artist whose work has graced so many great works from DC's 80s Swamp Thing revival to independent, Eisner-nominated fare like Taboo. Bissette taught sequential and other art at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont, until his very recent retirement. Bissette talks at length about the meaning and importance of these mid-century works.
Besides contributing to the Cold War Creatures box set, Bissette is a prolific author. His book on cryptids, Thoughtful Creatures, is now available, and its follow-up Brooding Creatures (both in color and black-and-white editions) will be available in late September.
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Jason Henderson is the host of the Castle of Horror and Castle Talk Podcasts, the editor of the "Castle of Horror Anthology" series. The newest Volume is Thinly Veiled: the '70s, a collection of horror stories based on 70s TV and movies. He is the author of The Serpent's Nest: Young Captain Nemo from Macmillan Children's Books. His next book is 18 Miles from Town: a Midlife Crisis Thriller.