October 31, 2020 conveniently falls on a Saturday, so how could I not focus on the horror cinema. Ever since I was a teenager, the end of October was shrouded in shrieks, ground mists and ghouls. So delightful! “It was a dark and stormy night – just the way I like it.”
And Halloween – the evening of the goblins pounding on the door – “TRICK or TREAT” - disturbing your watching of any number of scary flics. And when the knocking stopped – you remained glued to the television screen awaiting the bloodletting. HAAAAaaaaaaa
Here are 5 books from our inventory, each presenting a different lens through which you hope to gain insights into why we watch what scares us.
Cut – Horror writers on Horror Film
Edited by Christopher Golden and starring Anne Rice, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Skipp & Spector and many other; Berkley Books, New York, 1992. Who better to delve into horror cinema than writers of the stuff! There are 24 chapters in this little treasure. A sampling other than by those gruesome characters listed above: Ed Gorman – Several Hundred Words about Wes Craven; Stanley Wiater – Disturbo 13: The Most Disturbing Horror Films Ever Made; Douglas E. Winter – Opera of Violence: The films of Dario Argento.
Scream Queens – Heroines of the Horrors
Calvin Thomas Beck; MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York and Collier MacMillan Publishers, London, 1978. From the blurb – Villains and virgins, seducers and the seduced, Scream Queens is a choice selection of priceless pictures and revealing prose. You’ll meet ogres and vampires, haunted housekeepers, and damsels in distress – outlandish shriekers of the glossy, big money shocker or that hardy Hollywood perennial, the B movie. Featured actresses include: Fay Wray, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Vampira, Barbara Steele, Martine Beswick and Carol Lynley.
Hammer, House of Horror – Behind the Screams
Howard Maxford; the Overlook Press, Woodstock, New York, 1996. Quote from the dust jacket back “…if we saw the logo of Hammer Films we knew it would be a very special picture” – Martin Scorsese.
From the blurb – In its heyday, Hammer Films was regarded as Britain’s leading purveyor of
horror films to the world. From 1955 to 1972, it produced a legacy of frightening classics
including Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein, Kiss of the Vampire, The Curse of the Werewolf
and the Devil Rides Out. These are just a few of the hundreds of Hammer Films fondly
remembered by fans around the world. (Yep!) The Hammer stars include Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Oliver Reed, Ingrid Pitt, and Julie Ege.
Cinematic Vampires – The Living Dead on Film and Television
John L. Flynn; McFarland & Company Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina and London, 1992. This volume covers the period from The Devil’s Castle (1896) to Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). And Boy-Oh-Boy there is lots in between!
From the blurb – This is the definitive reference work on vampire films, covering more than 350 motion pictures. This lavishly illustrated volume is both a critical history of the cinema and a guidebook for film and television viewers. Entries from Japan, Mexico, and the Philippines, as well as from North America and Western Europe, have been included for the first time anywhere.
An Illustrated History of the Horror Film
Carlos Clarens; G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1967. From the blurb – as a frequent contributor to such influential magazines as Film Quarterly and Films in Review and as a ghost for more widely recognized writers on the movies, Carlos Clarens has long been acknowledged by cinema buffs as one of the most cogent and original critics of the 1960’s. His choice of the horror film as the subject of his first book enables him to combine the critical perception generally reserved for novels and plays with the encyclopedic knowledge and brisk prose of a talented historian. What emerges is a fascinating study of a popular genre that explains both the genre and its popularity. A special word must be said about the 135 stills that accompany the text. All are from the private collection of the author. All are grouped by subject or category and are remarkable for the exactness of the sense and image they seek to convey, and all complement the test.
I hope you enjoy this peek into the world of the horror cinema. I think next year, I will address horror literature. Stay safe – be careful when you open your door tonight!