Thursday, November 1, 2012

"101 Horror Movies You Must See Before You Die" edited by Steven Jay Schneider

From the classics of George Melies and F. W. Murnau to the blood-fests of Tobe Hooper and the great David Cronenberg, [this book] explores the enduring popularity of the horror flick. Fascinating and disturbing, these films expose our most primal fears: our nightmares, our terrors, our vulnerability and revulsion, our terror of the unknown, and our fear of sex, death, or loss of identity. With insight from critics, film historians, and academics, [this book] applies knowledge and passion to over a century of vampires, zombies, killer clowns, invasions from space, homicidal preachers, vacationing Satanists, tongue-slurping cannibals, murderous children, disturbed Vietnam vets, and sentient machines. Will you ever sleep with the light off again?

A fun little book that I perused a while back and am just now getting around to reviewing. Considering that yesterday was Halloween, the timing seems appropriate.

There are several of the usual suspects here, such as the version of Dracula directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi. Also White Zombie, The Wolf Man with Lon Chaney, the silent-movie version of Nosferatu, etc.

What surprised me was seeing Suspiria, The Descent, Re-Animator, Carnival of Souls (and I just do not understand why it's "groundbreaking"), Audition, The Abominable Dr. Phibes (LURVE Vincent Price!), Hellraiser, Candyman, and more. Also fabulous to see The Haunting in here, one of the most overlooked horror movies of our time, in my humble opinion. And I'm talking about the old black and white version with Julie Harris, not the cringe-inducing "remake" with Liam Neeson.

I must, however, ding this book for the editing. There are the usual little mistakes that I'm willing to let go. But in the review of Hellraiser, the contributor keeps referring to Frank's brother Larry's daughter "Kristy". Anyone who is familiar with that movie and has seen it many times, such as myself, knows that her name is "Kirsty". At first I thought it was just another typo, but no, it's spelled that way the whole review. ARGH! The contributor is listed as "JM" and the book lists that as "Jay McRoy" who has written his own book. I hope he got his facts right in that work.
Not included is my all-time fave, The Changeling, starring George C. Scott. This was released in 1980, a perfect mix of spooky/scary ghost story with mystery-thriller tied in. Scott's character is not only haunted but must solve the mystery to help the spirit rest, etc. Very atmospheric, very scary at times, and yet, very little blood/gore. Just a good old-fashioned scary flick that has stayed with me to this day.

And for those who are curious, I've seen approximately 57 of the movies listed. I didn't count some that I thought I might have seen but wasn't totally sure.

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