“Ingrid Pitt, Queen of Horror; The Complete Career” (McFarland, 2017) by Robert Michael “Bobb” Cotter, is a nice reference book for the fans of one of horror film’s famous actresses.
Pitt was one of the famous actresses in the Hammer Studios films in the 1960s and 1970s, appearing in films such as 1971’s “Countess Dracula,” and “The House That Dripped Blood,” and 1973’s “The Wicker Man.” She was also known for her role as Carmilla in the famous 1970 Hammer film “The Vampire Lovers,” which was part of the Karnstein Trilogy. She was also in episodes of “Doctor Who” and her voice was heard in one of the James Bond films.
The book is nice because it features not just the author’s writings on the films, but he also takes quotes from other sources by Pitt herself in commenting on some of her films. Pitt also wrote the introduction to the book as well.
Cotter takes the reader through Pitt’s early acting career from her stage roles, her first films, and her appearance in “Doctor Zhivago.” More of her earlier roles including films with Clint Eastwood, until she got major attention for her role as Countess Elizabeth in “Countess Dracula,” based on the legend of Elizabeth Bathory (which I discovered the story in Gary A. Smith’s “Vampire Films of the 1970s,” which is a must have book, also through McFarland). Cotter gives a full cast and crew listings, along with a short summary of the movie, before giving his take on the films. At the end of some of the sections (when needed) is Pitt’s quotes from her time on the set from interviews and other sources. There is a chapter on her television appearances, and her appearances in horror magazines, and her authoring several books. The collection also has some nice black and white photographs throughout from Playbill covers from her stage shows, to ads from her television shows, to on set movie pictures.
I didn’t know much about Pitt’s work before this book, but since reading the book, I have gotten to watch several of her films, including “The House That Dripped Blood” and “Countess Dracula.” I will hopefully seek out her Doctor Who appearances, being a fan of the show. My horror film knowledge of the actresses are limited, namely being a fan of Universal Studios horror films, and not much knowledge of other actresses except Barbara Steele (who I think is great) and Joanna Lumley.
The book is an easy read at 230 pages long. Cotter’s book, much like many of McFarland’s books I have gotten to review, gives a nice collection to an actress who I was not very familiar with, and this book should be added to the collection of movie horror films.
Cotter’s second book looks at some of the many female horror hosts in “Vampira and Her Daughters: Women Horror Hosts from the 1950s into the Internet Era (McFarland, 2017).
This encyclopedia format lists the many female hosts, including co hosts, that have been featured in the horror television history, where horror fans would stay up late on weekends to watch on their local access television, which was popular before Cable TV took over. The book covers the hosts who dressed up as vampires, mummys, and even Zombie looking cheerleaders. “Vampira” has a forward by host Penny Dreadful, who also gets her section later in the book, and has many question and answer interviews throughout, not just a listing of the hosts and where they were shown.
The Introduction section has a nice commentary where Cotter links the horror hosts back to the radio days, up to the current list of hosts on Youtube and other online sites. The book covers many hosts from 1970s hosts Doctor Shock and his young daughter Bubbles, to Marilyn The Witch (who appeared on many other television shows like Green Acres, Hart to Hart, and played one of the mothers in the original Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory), to the more famous characters like Elvira and, of course, Vampira.
Cotter’s research is intense, which includes hosts where he could not find any footage or information on, but they are still listed here. He covers hosts that had different actresses play the same person (like Misty Brew), and details a few interesting information about the actresses and how the created their gimmicks.
The Elvira and Vampira sections were a nice read, since everyone my age was a fan (and still is) of Elvira’s Cassandra Peterson, but was uninformed of the way she got her name (rumored to be because of the Oak Ridge Boys’ hit), and the lawsuit on her by Vampira over copyright issues. Cotter mentions that Vampira was the inspiration for Disney’s villain Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, which I never heard before.
This book is cover newer horror hosts, such as Roxsy Tyler, who has a rock and roll look, as opposed to just a vampire character, which became the norm for the female hosts, to Cleveland’s The Mummy and The Monkey host Janet Decay.
Fans of horror and television history would like the easy to read collection Cotter has put together, including the photographs and interviews that is added. It is nice to see that Cotter included former WWE and current Impact Wrestling’s Katarina Waters in the book, who is not only an actress and wrestler, but also has written some short stories in the horror genre. He even includes former Saturday Night Live actress Laraine Newman and her contribution to horror and USA’s Rhonda Shear. Although I hardly consider Shear a horror host, nor had a gimmick of anything horror related. The Newman part (where Cotter throws in a unnecessary jab calling Dan Aykroyd “ovearrated”) and Shear is oddly placed in the book, it does show that Cotter intensely researched his subject.
Both review copies were sent courtesy of McFarland Publishing.
Vampira and Her Daughters: Women Horror Movie Hosts from the 1950s into the Internet Era by Robert Michael “Bobb” Cotter (McFarland, 2017 ISBN:978-1-4766-6434-7 print and ebook:978-1-4766-2656-7) can be found at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com or ordered at 800-253-2187
“Ingrid Pitt, Queen of Horror” by Robert Michael “Bobb” Cotter ( McFarland, 2017 ISBN: 978-1-4766-7230-4 eISBN: 978-0-7864-6189-9) is available at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com and can also be ordered at 800-253-2187, along with their other titles.