Category Archives: Book Reviews

JAWS: Memories From Martha’s Vineyard


JAWS: Memories From Martha’s Vineyard

By  Matt Taylor
Foreword Steven Spielberg

Moonrise Media – 2011
ISBN 978-0983350200
$49.95, 296 pages 

I have been reading books about films since I was a kid.  For example, I remember getting the coffee table style picture novelization of ALIEN when I was in middle school.  There have been some real good ones over the years like; The Jaws Log, The Winston Effect, Taschen’s Michael Mann book and Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday The 13th to name a few.  

Shortly after starting to read this book, it was obvious to me that this is the pinnacle of all books about a movie.  JAWS: Memories From Martha’s Vineyard is a large coffee table style book that features hundreds of stunning never-before-seen photos and intricate revealing information about the production of Steven Spielberg’s ground breaking summer blockbuster.

The layout of this book is artfully designed as it takes you through the JAWS shoot in chronological order.  Every important scene is covered with color, black & white photos gorgeously spread across slick paper stock.  Production stories told from all sorts of people who lived on Martha’s Vineyard during the shoot are shared on 296 pages.


 Plus you get newspaper articles included that were published during 1974 and Production Designer Joe Alves creates new schematics of the sea sled mechanism and some of his original storyboards.

When you hear of all the difficulties that came from shooting this movie on Martha’s Vineyard it’s a wonder it ever got finished and turned out as good as it did.  The island was not prepared for Hollywood’s style of working.  The shoot was battered by the every changing New England weather, powerful uncontrollable sea, untested mechanical sharks and boats not designed for such a long demanding shoot.  Plus the politics of shooting in and around the Vineyard were massive and overcoming them took numerous people to satisfy,  Also the production brought so much money to the area that locals were purposefully sabotaging the shoot so that they could continue to make money the longer the shoot ran on.

As a filmmaker myself, I cannot imagine the incredible pressure Steven Spielberg must have felt at such a young age and still be focused enough to make the masterpiece JAWS is.  It’s a testament to his extraordinary talent and this book makes me appreciate the movie even more (it’s one of my five favorite films).

I give first-time author Matt Taylor in collaboration with avid JAWS collector Jim Beller a standing ovation for this book.  They have gone to great length to make this complete and the final word on what happened on Martha’s Vineyard during the spring/summer/early fall of 1974.

Publisher Moonrise Media should be applauded for creating such a beautiful book.  The typeset, layouts, re-production of photos are vividly rendered for everyone to enjoy for years to come.

In today’s world, we all feel the pressure of a delicate economy.  When you are deciding what to spend your money on, we all think about it harder and aren’t so free with spending it foolishly.  With thought in mind, I would whole-heartedly recommend getting this book.  The price tag on the book is a little steep but it’s worth every single penny.

It’s not often you come across something made with such great care.  The people behind this book put obvious passion into its making.  The result is jaw-dropping.  I was literally blown away each time I turned the page.

JAWS: Memories From Martha’s Vineyard is a juggernaut of publishing.


Reel Terror


Reel Terror
by David Konow

St. Martin’s Griffin – 2012
ISBN 9780312668839
$18.99, 608 pages   

I’m a lifelong fan of horror films.  I’ve read too many books to count and watched thousands of scary movies.  So when I went to start reading this written literary work I was looking forward to it, but I didn’t expect much.  When something covers the entire genre from start to present day is usually too general in nature to really make a dent with me, but boy was I wrong about this essay.  

What I like most about Reel Terror is David Konow’s conversational writing style.  The man definitely knows his horror history and is able to share countless fascinating stories about films and the people who made them.  The second best thing about this tome is that Konow writes about how the movies were made rather than reviewing the films.

I heard quite a few things about many of the horror classics that hadn’t before and the way Konow tells it, made me not want to put the book down.

I really appreciated the amount of time and attention given to movies like THE EXORCIST.  There were quite a few instances where quotes from Father O’Malley (who served as an advisor on the film) and the man responsible for the marketing of the film had me laughing hysterically.

There are chapters on; TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, JAWS, CARRIE,  THE OMEN, HALLOWEEN, DAWN OF THE DEAD, PHANTASM, ALIEN, THE FOG, FRIDAY THE 13TH, THE EVIL DEAD, RE-ANIMATOR, SCREAM, THE SIXTH SENSE to name just a few, which are all just simply stellar reading.  Konow is able to connect us to the people behind the films, rather than just being a glorified studio press kit.  I think it makes the stories more intimate and brings the people behind the movies closer.  He cuts the veneer of the normal corporate B.S. out of the loop.

To tell you the truth Reel Terror is one of the best books of its kind.  If I could only recommend one paperback for you to pick up this Halloween or even the rest of this year, it would absolutely be Reel Terror.