Obituary of Denis Meikle | Movie books

My friend Denis Meikle, who died at the age of 74 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was an author, film historian and publisher known for his pioneering and meticulously researched books on Hammer Studios, Roman Polanski, Vincent Price and Johnny Depp, and Japanese horror. The Ring franchise.

Denis was born in Glasgow, the only child of Elizabeth (née Little) and Adam Meikle. Thanks to his father’s work for the post office, the family moved to Peckham, south London, when Denis was nine.

A brilliant boy, he won a scholarship to Alleyn’s School in Dulwich and in his teens developed a passion for late 1950s rock ‘n’ roll and 1960s Motown, and above all, cinema, especially the horror, science fiction and fantasy films he has seen.

In 1969, Denis married Hilda McArdle and embarked on a career as a graphic designer, although the marriage ended 15 years later. In 1987, he met Jane Kelly, when she started working as his “right arm” in the design department of the Masters car dealership in Beckenham, which he managed. In 1990 the couple married and eventually settled in Hailsham, East Sussex where their two children, Sarah and James, were born. There, he devoted his energies to his long-held dream of becoming a writer.

In 1996 Denis’ first book, A History of Horrors: The Rise and Fall of the House of Hammer, was published, after nearly six years of intensive writing and research during which he developed a close friendship with Michael Carreras, the head of the studio. in his later years. It is considered the definitive history of Hammer Films.

This was followed by Jack the Ripper: The Murders and the Movies (2001), Vincent Price: The Art of Fear (2003), Johnny Depp: A Kind of Illusion (2004), The Ring Companion (2005) and Roman Polanski: Odd Man Released (2006).

With Jane he founded Hemlock Books in 2007, specializing in non-fiction publications on film, horror, mystery and the macabre and biographies of actors and directors, through which he edited and published the journals The Fantastic Fifties, The Sensational Sixties and The Age of Thrills (1930s and 40s) and published his latest work, Mr Murder: The Life and Times of Tod Slaughter (2019), a joint research with Kip Xool and Doug Young.

This recent biography of Tod Slaughter perfectly encapsulates Denis’ approach to film writing: scholarly, fact-driven, and intensely researched without being dry, and a writer and critic without putting his role as a writer first.

He is survived by Jane, Sarah and James.

Abdul J. Gaspar