Tag: Memoir

Gunnar Hansen’s Chain Saw Confidential


Chain Saw Confidential: How We Made the World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie
Author: Gunnar Hansen
Published: September 24, 2013
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

When The Texas Chain Saw Massacre first hit movie screens in 1974 it was both reviled and championed. To critics, it was either “a degrading, senseless misuse of film and time” or “an intelligent, absorbing and deeply disturbing horror film.” However it was an immediate hit with audiences. Banned and celebrated, showcased at the Cannes film festival and included in the New York MoMA’s collection, it has now come to be recognized widely as one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

A six-foot-four poet fresh out of grad school with limited acting experience, Gunnar Hansen played the masked, chain-saw-wielding Leatherface. His terrifying portrayal and the inventive work of the cast and crew would give the film the authentic power of nightmare, even while the gritty, grueling, and often dangerous independent production would test everyone involved, and lay the foundations for myths surrounding the film that endure even today.

Critically-acclaimed author Hansen here tells the real story of the making of the film, its release, and reception, offering unknown behind-the-scenes details, a harrowingly entertaining account of the adventures of low-budget filmmaking, illuminating insights on the film’s enduring and influential place in the horror genre and our culture, and a thoughtful meditation on why we love to be scared in the first place.

Kim’s Review:

A while ago, I made the admission that I love horror. I can blame Ivan for introducing me to horror movies, but even before that, I loved the horror genre in books. The scarier the better! Ivan and our friend, Adam, have talked about Texas Chainsaw Massacre before and I had begged Ivan to watch it with me. He included the soundtrack from the remake on his Halloween playlist and that theme is seriously the scariest score I have ever heard, but I couldn’t watch the remake until I watched the original, so I asked Ivan again to watch it with me. Finally, FINALLY, we sat down to watch it . . . blew my friggin mind! I jumped, I squealed, I shut my eyes, I asked why . . . but what shocked me was that a week afterward, I was still pondering. Ivan has a habit of asking me what I’m thinking about while we’re driving, and that week, I answered “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” He got so excited and we ended up having conservation after conversation about this dang movie!

I have to say, I really love Chainsaw! It’s violent and graphic and horrible, but it’s riveting! I was so intrigued and continue to be so! Audible had a Halloween sale and look! A book by the man who played Leatherface all about the filming of the movie!!! I bought it, and listened to it, and now I want to watch Chainsaw again!! I learned so much; the people behind this movie were just as crazy as you’d expect. Reading about the dinner scene was enlightening and I was surprised at how horrible the filming was for the cast and crew. I am so sad that Gunnar Hansen is dead and I can never meet him. Toby Hooper, the director, is also dead . . . I was born in the wrong decade. This book isn’t for everybody, but if you are a horror fan, then this book is for you! I absolutely recommend it and the original movie!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Here is the movie trailer for the 1974 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre:

The Cage by Ruth Minsky Sender

Author: Ruth Minsky Sender
Published: August 1, 1997
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: June 23- July 2, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

After Mama is taken away by the Nazis, Riva and her younger brothers cling to their mother’s brave words to help them endure life in the Lodz ghetto. Then the family is rounded up, deported to Auschwitz, and separated. Now Riva is alone.

At Auschwitz, and later in the work camps at Mittlesteine and Grafenort, Riva vows to live, and to hope – for Mama, for her brothers, for the millions of other victims of the nightmare of the Holocaust. And through determination and courage, and unexpected small acts of kindness, she does live – to write the unforgettable memoir that is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

Jessica’s Review:

As long as there is life, there is hope”.

This is a powerful memoir of the author’s experience in WWII and the concentration camps, including Auschwitz.  Riva loses her mother in a raid and begins to raise her younger brothers. They face many unbelievable hardships and you wonder how much more they must go through.  Will they all survive? There are also some unexpected kindnesses by  some Nazi captors. At times it is hard to believe that this is a memoir. We humans can be so inhumane to each other for no reason.

This is written for the younger audience and would be appropriate for at least ages 12 and up.  I listened to the Scholastic audiobook which is meant to be listened to as you read the book. There is a ‘narrator’ to help with understanding the novel. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Member of the Family

Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside his Cult, and the Darkness that Ended the Sixties
Author: Dianne Lake
Published: October 14, 2017
Audible

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

In this poignant and disturbing memoir of lost innocence, coercion, survival, and healing, Dianne Lake chronicles her years with Charles Manson, revealing for the first time how she became the youngest member of his Family and offering new insights into one of the twentieth century’s most notorious criminals and life as one of his “girls”

At age fourteen Dianne Lake—with little more than a note in her pocket from her hippie parents granting her permission to leave them—became one of “Charlie’s girls,” a devoted acolyte of cult leader Charles Manson. Over the course of two years, the impressionable teenager endured manipulation, psychological control, and physical abuse as the harsh realities and looming darkness of Charles Manson’s true nature revealed itself. From Spahn ranch and the group acid trips, to the Beatles’ White Album and Manson’s dangerous messiah-complex, Dianne tells the riveting story of the group’s descent into madness as she lived it.

Though she never participated in any of the group’s gruesome crimes and was purposely insulated from them, Dianne was arrested with the rest of the Manson Family, and eventually learned enough to join the prosecution’s case against them. With the help of good Samaritans, including the cop who first arrested her and later adopted her, the courageous young woman eventually found redemption and grew up to lead an ordinary life.

While much has been written about Charles Manson, this riveting account from an actual Family member is a chilling portrait that recreates in vivid detail one of the most horrifying and fascinating chapters in modern American history.

Kim’s Review:

I think this might be the end of my true crime obsession for a little while. People really are horrible and stupid. Ok, let me go back to the beginning. I decided to listen to this audiobook narrated by Dianne Lake herself. I have read Helter Skelter several times and I wanted to learn more about the family itself and the people in it. This book gave great info in a far more personal way. It’s easy to look in from the outside and criticize and judge, but when you get a glimpse of the realities, that definitely changes.

It’s also an interesting view into hippy culture. The 60s were a very different time and the things that people got away with then would seriously ruin their lives if they tried it today. Who lets their 14 year old daughter just up and go to a completely different city with someone she just met?? I mean Lake’s parents literally pushed her at Charlie Manson even though they knew something was off about him. I put my head down on the steering wheel and just tried to breathe out my frustration. I also learned a lot more about Charlie and his manipulative ways. Of course those girls followed him and loved him unconditionally. He gave them what no one else in the world did, love and acceptance. And he played them like a Hawaiian on a ukulele! I could go on and on about this book, but I’ll just encourage everyone to read it! Very informative and disturbing!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK **The UK version is titled slightly different: Member of the Family: Manson, Murder, and Me**

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