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Overlook Film 


of Horror 






Read it!



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"If the horror film had been revived in the fifties, in the sixties it flourished. In America, Roger Corman began his series of adaptations of the works of Edgar Allan Poe with the magnificent House of Usher (1960), while films like Onibaba a/k/a The Demon and Kwaidan a/k/a Ghost Story (both 1964) revealed to the West the violent Japanese horror tradition. In Italy, Mario Bava commenced his explorations of perverse sexuality with the delirious La Maschera del Demonio a/k/a Black Sunday (1960), while in Spain, Jesus Franco's gruesome Gritos en la Noche a/k/a The Awful Dr. Orloff (1962) initiated a stream of similarly inclined medical-horror films in which surgical dismemberment and violence to women's bodies took the place of sex, still the staple of the vampire movies. This latter strand also quickly surfaced, in pared down fashion, in America in the 'splatter movies' of Herschell Gordon Lewis, among others, with Blood Feast (1963), the early examples of which, in their own gory way, were as much exercises in Grand Guignol as Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1963) and its numerous clones."

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Any horror movie fan worth their stones needs this exhaustive reference guide of genre pictures. Author Paul Willeman and contributors Verina Glaessner, Julian Petley, and Tim Puelleine, all under the guiding hand of Phil Hardy, cover it all from the silent era to the present -- and the present time in my copy is around 1984, but it's been updated several times and now ends somewhere in the mid-90s.

What sets this book apart from other compendiums is it's extensive coverage of films from outside the United States (-- Hardy is based in London), and Japanese ghost stories, German impressionists, British chillers, Mexican monstrosities and Italian gore are all treated with an even hand.

Wonderfully illustrated with stills, publicity photos and promotional materials, each film is given a synopsis -- some brief, others more expounded upon, but at no point do you get a sense of any "bull-crit" -- the bane of most reference guides. In other words, they've actually seen the majority of the films they're writing about, and believe me, there's a ton of them (-- over 1300 entries.) Directors, producers, writers and cast are also posted along with the production company and total running time.

What's really amazing to see is how the horror film evolved from it's gothic origins to what it is today. The book is laid out in chronological order by decade so you can also easily see the ten year cycle of quality that horror films have gone through since the beginning. With the advent of the internet and things like the IMDB have stolen some thunder from this book, but it's still an essential read and a valued Horror Film resource.

Originally Posted: 06/13/02 :: Rehashed: 05/20/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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