Denis Meikle

Born: 1947 | Birthplace: Glasgow | Educated: Alleyn's School | Spouse: Jane | Children: Sarah, James | Resident: East Sussex

Published works: A HISTORY OF HORRORS-The Rise and Fall of the House of Hammer (1996), JACK THE RIPPER-The Murders and the Movies (2001), VINCENT PRICE-The Art of Fear (2002), JOHNNY DEPP-A Kind of Illusion (2004), THE RING COMPANION (2006), ROMAN POLANSKI-Odd Man Out (2007), MR MURDER-The Life and Times of Tod Slaughter (2019) |

Revised editions: A HISTORY OF HORRORS-large format (2011), MERCHANT OF MENACE-The Life and Films of Vincent Price (2015), (201 Price (2015), ROMAN POLANSKI-The Horror Films (2016), HAMMER-The Haunted House of Horror (2018) |

Contributor to: The Dark Side magazine, Little Shoppe of Horrors magazine


Reynolds & Hearn

After the success of Johnny Depp, R&H were keen that I should furnish them with a follow-up - but ideas were in short supply. Over the years, decisions on which projects to pursue had increasingly fallen to the company's sales team and like any such commission-based operation, only what were deemed to be the most blatantly commercial subjects met with their approval. Tossed into the prospective mix for consideration were career biographies of John Goodman and Oliver Reed, as well as overviews of the likes of British gangster films or those featuring King Kong, all accompanied by cover-graphics to whet the reps' appetites; all were rejected. After some time spent on this tiresome process, I said somewhat off-handedly to Marcus Hearn, 'Of course, there's always the controversial Mr Polanski...' This suddenly sparked his interest and I was able to prise an increased advance out of his co-director Richard Reynolds for a biography of Oscar-winning director (but continuing fugitive from US justice), Roman Polanski.
      Polanski, like Depp, would not play ball so the book was written without his cooperation. I was - am - a great admirer of his work, however, so that presented no problems and it allowed me to indulge in some recreated conversations in the present tense, to heighten the narrative dynamic. Marcus felt that the finished result was the best thing I'd done for R&H - it was not a view that was widely held.                                                                                                                                                  
Some of the many suggestions put forward
      Roman Polanski-Odd Man Out neither did well commercially nor was it well received; it did  not even recover its advance. Whether this was to do with the bad light in which Polanski still appeared to be seen after fleeing from American justice in 1978 over a charge of statutory rape is anyone's guess (Polanski was unable to claim his Best Director Oscar for The Pianist for fear of arrest; Harrison Ford had to collect it for him), but the book sold the fewest copies of all those I had written. R&H even tried to claw back the advance by offsetting it against the royalties on my other titles, but a threat of legal action brought that wheeze to a swift end. The company went into liquidation a year or two later (its assets were bought by Titan) - a situation which had not been helped by slow payments from HMV for bulk orders of its best-selling title... ironically Johnny Depp.