Laurent Bouzereau and JW Rinzler's Complete Making of Indiana Jones book is a must own for anybody who considers themselves a geek. Just like the Complete Making of Star Wars, also by Rinzler, every single scrap of information about the making of the iconic adventure series is revealed. You see early script pages, early concept art, never-before-seen behind the scene photos and a completely thorough account of how each film was made. Troubles, fights, make-ups... everything is documented here. It's an awesome book. $23.10.
Here is Roger Ebert's book about the rise of Martin Scorsese. He compiles his reviews of all of Scorsese's movies going back to 1967's I CALL FIRST and essays Scorsese's career... There are also interviews with Scorsese that span 25 years. Fascinating stuff. $16.50, hardcover.
Speaking of essays and gathered film criticism, I have a collection of movie reviews by perhaps one of the most interesting writers in the US. Now, I hardly agreed with anything I read in Harlan Ellison's book, gathering reviews he has written for various publications since the '60s, but whether I agreed or not Ellison was always entertaining. Hell, when he liked something I liked it was much less interesting. I loved reading about him called Spielberg sadistic for producing Gremlins and making Temple of Doom, saying that he was being evil and scarring the nation's children on purpose just because he could. Really fun stuff from someone ten times smarter than I ever will be. $10.36.
This came in as a suggestion from a reader and upon investigation it appears to be one of the most interesting books on this list. It's the first authorized history of Hammer films, with unrestricted access to Hammer's archives. The book goes from film to film, detailing all sorts of trivia, anecdotes and showing us never before seen photographs. In short, cat-nip for movie geeks. $23.10.
What I'm about to say will sound horrible, but bear with me a minute. This is the perfect toilet book. I'm not saying it's shit or only worthy of a bathroom read while you're squeezing out a brown baby, but it's a series of ridiculous letters that Robin Cooper typed up and sent to various companies and the correspondence that goes with them. Whether it's some Jello association or a children's publisher you'll get a laugh at just how crazy Cooper gets. That's funny, but the real comedy gold is in the responses he gets. You can tell some are playing along, but those that don't quite get it and are very serious will make tears squirt from your eyes. A bargain at $9.56.
Oh boy! Oh boy! I one-click ordered this one as I pulled the link for this article. It's Carrie Fisher's first memoir. If you've ever read any of her work, you know just how bitingly funny she can be and I can't wait to read her turn that sarcastic, dry wit to her own life, especially her Star Wars days. $14.28.
This one is included on faith alone. I haven't read this, I don't own a copy yet, but I am a die hard Daily Show fan and love John Hodgman's work on it, so I have no doubt I will pick this one up in the near future. The reviews are all high and who doesn't want a book that has a list of 700 Hobo names? $16.50.
Talk about entertainment value. This is a book comprised totally of fucking bizarre headshots from wannabe actors. Just look at that cover and tell me you don't want to flip through that. It's like going to the freakshow, but funner. $12.89.
I'm a freak for Stephen King and I make sure reinforce that every once in a while on the site. This is the book I'm currently reading. I've only just begun and haven't found a short story that jumps out as awesome yet, but I'm only 2 stories in. The writing is strong, just haven't hit my stride yet. I love King's work, but I'm particularly fond of his short work. The above linked book is the Collector's Edition, which runs $24.50 and comes with a DVD of the Marvel animated version of his story N and a different dust jacket. The regular non-DVD carrying hardback is $16.80.
Speaking of short stories, one collection I have read cover to cover is Joe Hill's 20th CENTURY GHOST. Hill has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that his success in the publishing world isn't nepotism (he is King's son). His novel, HEART-SHAPED BOX which hit last year was awesome and his short story collection is incredible, especially (my favorite) his story Pop Art about an air-filled boy named Art. The title story is also great, about a haunted movie palace. Highly, highly recommend picking it up. $11.16.
Keeping with the Joe Hill theme, here's his graphic novel, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, called Locke & Key about a family who moves to a mansion after the patriarch is murdered. It's his family home and it hold magic. Hill captures the same wonderment of an adventurous youth that his dad used to nail so well as the little boy of the story realizes that if he steps through a certain doorway, his spirit is pulled free from his body and can travel anywhere, see things that normal people can't... both good and bad. The hardcover is $16.49.
In last year's guide, I featured the Marvel adaptation of Stephen King's THE DARK TOWER series, specifically the book Wizard and Glass. It was a very good recounting of the events of that book and I still recommend it (it's $19.59). But I was always the most interested in the proposed follow-ups that Marvel have been putting out this year. King has input, but these are whole new insights into the world of The Dark Tower, filling in some holes. As a result they're not stories I already knew. The first run, called The Long Road Home is out now in trade form for $16.49. It's a must for any Dark Tower fanatic like yours truly.
This is the third and newest hardcover collection of The Walking Dead series, my personal favorite current comic. It's the zombie story George Romero never told and this book in particular goes into some unexpected and tragic territory. Saw what you will about Robert Kirkman, but not one damn person is safe in this series. If you haven't read any of these yet, these are the perfect editions. Book 1 looks to be out of print, but you can still pick it up for $25, but it's $19.79 for Book 2, Book 3 and Book 4.
This was easily the most requested item for the guide this year. Brian Azzarello's THE JOKER picks up where THE DARK KNIGHT left off, with the Joker having convinced a psychiatrist that he's mentally stable and being released from Arkham. When I got the 20th or so email asking me to add this to the gift guide I decided to pick it up and read through it. It's a great little piece. I don't think it's quite as memorable as Alan Moore's THE KILLING JOKE, but then what is? Azzarello focuses on the crime aspect, throwing in a bit of crazy here and there. Lee Bermejo's artwork is what really makes this one-shot outstanding, though. Dark, somehow disgusting... gritty... it's like a Joker story as told by Paul Schrader. It just makes you feel dirty. $13.59.
Speaking of THE DARK KNIGHT, how about a hardcover book that compiles production art, storyboards and Christopher Nolan's shooting script? Yeah, I thought so. I want it, too. $23.10.
This is the cookbook. I could eat every single thing in it three times a day... but there's something about the texture that is just divine... Although, I will say that every recipe is way, way too salty and sometimes the flan comes out really runny... funny... $24.95.
These DC Absolute Hardcover collections are boss. I have Final Frontier and I really really want the one below this entry. They're beautifully put together and DC always seems to chose the best stuff they have. Case in point the newly release v. 4 of Neil Gaiman's amazing Sandman series. Great gift editions of this work compiled. Most expensive is V.1 at $77.62, but V. 2, V.3 and V.4 are $62.37.
I am recycling this from last year. Sorry for the repeat, but if you're not starting to feel the tidal pull of geek Watchmen excitement that has been building over the last few months as the movie comes closer to release... well, then you're just not paying attention. If the movie is amazing or if it's shit, the original graphic novel will always be a masterpiece. It's priced very well for an Absolute Edition. You're looking at $51.45.
Dave Gibbons co-created Watchmen with Alan Moore and his art is a big part of why the story works so well. Here's a book that acts as a companion piece to the graphic novel, detailing the genesis of the book, the collaboration between himself and Alan Moore and includes never before published pages, sketches and character designs as well as rare portfolio art. $26.37 for all of that!
I haven't seen this one yet, but I am familiar and own many of Pixar's past Art Of Books and feel confident in recommending this one site unseen. The creative minds at Pixar are some of the best in the world and these books always, always fascinate and awe me that these guys can do consistently great work that is entertaining even in these early art forms. $32.00.
This is another repeat, but a repeat from, I believe two Holiday Guides back. I wouldn't include this if there wasn't a good reason. Not only do I have a good reason, I have more than one. First of all, it's an incredible accounting of Stanley Kubrick's career, an impressively massive book with candid photographs, reprinted hand-written notes from the master and a detailed account of every one of his pictures. Second of all, this book was $200 when I first listed it and now it's $44.10. If you considered it before and didn't feel like you could justify dropping that kind of money on a book, well now's your chance to scoop up one of the most impressive film books ever published for a quarter of the original price.
Taschen is making a name for themselves as the Criterion of the publishing world. I'm not nearly as familiar with Ingmar Bergman's work as I am with Kubrick's, but that doesn't make this collection any less fascinating. It promises to be just as thorough and exemplary as The Stanley Kubrick Archives. Right now, it's going for $126.00.
For the Star Wars super nerd we have the new updated Star Wars Encyclopedia clocking in at a whopping 1224 pages, this covers every single damn thing about every movie, book, comic, video game and Burger King toy character, location, outfit, pimple, whathaveyou... if it's been in the Star Wars Universe it's covered here. $78.75.
For those who need to fill their Harry Potter fix now that JK Rowling has finished the series, never fear! THE TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD is here! (Or will be on December 4th) What you see above is the Amazon Limited Collector's Edition, exclusive to them. It's pretty spiffy release, with a Hogwarts book casing that hides the book, secured in a velvet bag. There are also art prints from the artwork within the book itself and 10 pieces unique to this set. Harry Potter nerds know what this is, but briefly it's a series of 5 short stories written by Rowling originally as a limited to 7 pieces, all handwritten with sketches by Rowling. Nobody knew if it'd ever be published wider, but now we know it is... Amazon has the limited edition, all spruced up for $100, but there's a standard edition for $7.14. The proceeds from both editions go directly to charity. It's just a little bit more of Harry Potter universe lore.
Finally, a book I have already ordered because as I mentioned before I'm cuckoo for Dark Tower. Grant Books is putting out a limited edition hardbound printing of the Dark Tower Related novella THE LITTLE SISTERS OF ELURIA coupled with the revised edition of THE GUNSLINGER, the original Dark Tower story. It's limited to 4000 copies, each signed by artist Michael Whelan. Whelan did the artwork for the original release and has painted new pieces for this release. Of the 4000, 30-50 will have a sketch done by the man himself. They estimate shipping out mid-December! It's $95.00 plus $3.00 shipping from Grant Books, but these Grant editions always skyrocket in value. Get a copy while you can.
CHEAP ($24.99 and Under)
Iron Man that lights up and makes noise! Fly around with Tony Stark... or at least get it for your kid so you don't feel too stupid playing with it. $24.99
Okay, I usually hate these cutsey little things. I don't like Kubricks, I don't like bobble-heads or any of that, but for some damn reason I love this Mola Ram Mighty Mugg. Maybe it's because I'm such a whore for Temple of Doom, but he's just awesome. I have him sitting next to the computer as I type this, so I had to swallow my pride and admit my love of this little bastard to the world by including him in this guide. Don't judge me! $12.95.
FUCKIN' CREEPY! But in a creepy-awesome way. Got this little crazy sculpt in my house, too. I love being a geek sometimes... we can get so joyous over such small shit... $17.19.
Hoggle! Hoggle! And Bowie! And Bowie's bulging Labyrinth Package! You know you want this as bad as I do. $19.95 MODERATE ($25.00-$70.99)
18" Beetlejuice from Neca! I have the smaller version, but why settle for small when you can have 18". That's what my doctor tells me anyway. It talks! It looks cool! Burton's glory days remembered! $38.99
Watchman Wave 1 includes Ozymandias, Rorschach, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre and runs $66.66 for the lot. This is a preorder, with the action figures shipping in February. Wave 2, featuring Dr. Manhattan, The Comedian, the original Nite Owl and Carla Gugino Silk Spectre, is also available at $66.99 for the four.
If you're not content with the standard sets that everybody can get, you can take a trip over to WizardUniverse and preorder the Watchmen Variant Action figure set. They're limited to a run of 5000 and feature different versions of those figures. Dr. Manhattan is translucent, The Comedian is the young version from the flashbacks and Rorschach is without his mask (!!). Only $69.99 and ships in March.
Super huge and detailed Millennium Falcon! Over 2 1/2 feet long, with lights and sounds and little Chewy and Han and the dreams of all little boys and girls. This is the kind of thing that if I found it Christmas morning, waiting for me under the tree, I would have done backflips... and I was a fat child, so that would have hurt. A lot. But it would have been worth it. $138.88
Ultimate Remote Control Wall-E is, apparently, a fully functioning robot. You can control Wall-E and have him interact with you, his eyes light up and move like they do in the movie... apparently the little dude comes with 10 different motors to work his arms, treads, head and eyes. It's in stock at Huttoys.com for $299.99, but I originally found it at Toys R Us for $249.99. They are currently out of stock, but check with them before paying an extra $50.
By far my favorite item in the toy category. Build your own Muppet at FAO Schwartz! Holy shit, that's so awesome-cool! You don't even have to go to New York to do it, you can order the kit and use the website to send in your details once you have your WhatNot (muppet) designed the way you want it! And it's only $130.00! Isn't that insane?!?
I love video games, but I'm finding I more and more stay with the Xbox 360, so please forgive a lack of highlights of other platform titles. I have a few that I know of, but to be quite honest, I used my PS3 mostly as a Blu-Ray player before it crapped out and my Wii has been collecting dust for about half a year.
EA's DEAD SPACE was one of the most involving games I played this year. Imagine if Resident Evil 4 was gangbanged by both EVENT HORIZON and David Cronenberg and you get an idea of what you're in for. Atmospheric, cinematic, scary and just fun as hell. I love this game. $56.99 for both Xbox and PS3.
Now, this isn't a pimple on the ass of CALL OF DUTY 4, but what can I say? I like games where I shoot Nazis a lot... and now you have to deal with the Japanese as well. But the real reason this made the list is simple. Cooler than anything in the campaign is the multiplayer mode you unlock at the end... That's right, Nazi Zombies. If Activision was smart, they'd do a whole game with the atmosphere and badassness of their Nazi Zombie gametype. $59.99 for Xbox and PS3
Speaking of zombies... From the company that brought you the Half-Life series and Portal comes a Zombie apocalypse survival game where you're dependent on your teammates for your very survival. The concept of this game sounded amazing, but I was underwhelmed by the demo. I haven't played the full game yet, but it was reinstated on this list because of some hearty recommendations from fellow gamers and my little brother, who claims it is awesome. I will borrow his copy after Thanksgiving and give it a play. I hope for awesomeness. Exclusively for the Xbox 360 at $56.99.
I loved the first game and this one was a blast to play through as well. I particularly love the Horde mode (although I haven't gotten my achievement for finishing it yet) where you have to fight off wave after wave of baddies that get increasingly more deadly and harder to kill. I would have loved more Hammer of Dawn bits, but that's a nitpick. It's a pretty game and kinda fucked up, too. Another Exclusive for the Xbox, on sale right now at Amazon for $49.99
This one is another recommendation from the readers and people who dig the Playstation system more than I do... I've heard the cinematics in this game are incredible and further blur the line between movies and video games. When I get my PS3 fixed this is a title I'll likely pick up. PS3 exclusive, on sale over at Amazon right now for $39.99.
This is the follow-up to last year's Xbox 360 SceneIt: Lights, Camera, Action!, a video game version of the movie trivia board game. I think this new edition gets lots more right, the puzzles are more inventive, yet less tricky, which I kind of miss. The new SceneIt Bundle has 4 buzzer controllers and is $56.99. If you already have last year's SceneIt and already have the controllers, you can just by the game disc for $36.99
This game scares me. I can pretty much guarantee I'll never play it, just like you'll never catch me rocking the vocals on Rock Band or Guitar Hero. I'm not an extrovert, so this ain't my bag, but I can recognize how fun this must be for a lot of people. Basically you use the enclosed camera for your 360 to put yourself into different movie scenarios. And it has Burt Reynolds pimping it, so it's gotta be awesome, right? $69.99.
I love the Lego video games. I know, they're for kids... but they are all fun as hell. Lego Batman is particularly fun. It's the first game I got my full 1000 achievement points on, but that speaks more to how shitty I am at video games than it does about the game itself, I guess. Playing The Joker and Harley Quinn is badass. Just saying. $49.99 on Xbox, $46.99 on PS3, $49.99 for the Wii and $20.00 for the DS.
Yeah, I'm a pansy. ANOTHER Lego game title, but damn it... this was crucial to getting me back into the Indiana Jones mood in the lead-up to the fourth film this summer. Playing through Raiders, Temple of Doom and Last Crusade was a ton of fun and just hearing John Williams' cues as you play along is enough to nerd out. Very fun and family friendly. $46.99 for Xbox, $49.99 for PS3, $46.99 for Wii and $23.99 for DS.
I'm not familiar with the Fallout series, but this one is on my wishlist based on a ton of reader suggestions and reputation. I know you shoot mutants in a radioactive world. Good enough for me to give it a spin at least. $56.99 on Xbox and $52.99 on PS3.
The Force Unleashed was one of my favorite video games this year and one of my all time favorite Star Wars games. There's enough old school Star Wars in design, writing and execution to melt even the most cynical, Prequel-hating heart out there. You play Darth Vader's secret apprentice as you take out both stormtroopers and the beginnings of the rebel alliance. The production design on this game is enough for a recommend, but the whole overall experience was a blast and terrifically done. $56.99 on Xbox, $56.99 for PS3 and $49.99 for the Wii, where you can swing around your controller as your character swings his lightsaber!