As someone who grew up watching horror and has seen nearly every film featured in this book (somehow, I've never gotten up the nerve or stomach to wat...moreAs someone who grew up watching horror and has seen nearly every film featured in this book (somehow, I've never gotten up the nerve or stomach to watch Last House on the Left), I ate this up. Zinoman, a genuine theater critic and horror super-fan, takes the serious approach and tells the story of how horror films went from Christopher Lee and Vincent Price in the early 60's to foul-mouthed demons and chainsaws a decade later. There's a wealth of back story on major horror film figures like Wes Craven, Dan O'Bannon, John Carpenter and William Friedkin, to name a few. It's a riveting, serious cultural exploration of a certain type of cinema. With blood and vomit.
I found something interesting on nearly every page. Roman Polanski and his cinematographer experimented with all kinds of visual effects for Rosemary's Baby, like prefogging the film for the trippy rape sequence. George Romero only made a horror film his first feature because it was cheap-and despite what you may have heard, the original Living Dead was NOT intended as social commentary. Dan O'Bannon, the co-writer of Alien, was inspired to write the chest-bursting scene by his lifelong struggle with Crohn's Disease. William Peter Blatty (the author of novel The Exorcist) is kind of utterly insane:
Georgetown University...."I thought it was a Catholic institution. There are demons running all over that campus."
(Why, I now demand to know, were we never treated to The Exorcist: The College Years? It couldn't possibly have been worse than the sequel they made with Richard Burton.)
I love cinema. I love horror films. I love good writing. If you love any combination of the above, this book is pretty much a win.