Monday, April 26, 2010

Cool Ass Cinema Book Reviews: Retro Edition! Slashers & Splatter Movies

This edition, there's a great book on slasher movies and a couple of nice retro tomes on some favorite subjects.


By Jim Harper

192 pages; B/W; softcover

There's already a US book on slasher movies from McFarland Press. Receiving a good amount of press (and a DVD), that book, GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE & FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM, covers the subject a bit more in depth. However, this slightly smaller book (both in size and page numbers) is a wonderful read covering every aspect of the slasher movie make up.

The first 60 pages deals with all the elements horror fans come to expect from these kinds of movies and dissects, analyzes and covers this prolific subgenre from start to finish giving mention to the most notable examples peppered with some not so worthy including recent slasher movies (recent as in up to the books 2004 publication date).

There are also a good many images from the films themselves including poster artwork and video box art. The chapters are as follows:


Slasher Bloodlines
The Nightmare Ends?
Too Young To Die

The Heroine
The Killer
Parents & Authority Figures

A-Z Guide To Slasher Movies--Reviews

Banned Films
Before They Were Famous
International Slashers
Seasonal Slashers

Index of Film Titles

What's On the Back Cover?

Jim Harper's book (from Headpress/Critical Vision) is a great read and very informative and despite there being some omissions (nothing is perfect, you know!), if you can find this in a used book store (it seems to be out of print right now), snatch it up. Fans of slasher films should find it to be a great reference guide. Definitely one of the shelf.

Now, it's time for a flashback to some old books I got in my collection.

First up is a great book I remember seeing plastered all over some of my old fangoria issues. I was never able to get it back during its original release, but about 15 years ago, I found two copies (with two different covers shown below) in Ed McKay's Used Books & CD's. This is...


By John Russo

Softcover; 120 pages; B/W

Everything you ever wanted to know about George Romero's seminal midnight movie classic about the flesh eating dead is covered in this exhaustive, loving book by one of the films writers. It's all here from the films conception all the way to its critical and audience reception after it was completed. First published in 1985 by IMAGINE, INC, the book was picked up later the same year by Harmony Books, but sporting a different front and back cover. Below is the first printing of the IMAGINE, INC edition...

Below, this is the Harmony Books release. It has a cover price of $10.95 versus the $12.95 of the original pressing.

Most likely inspired by the STAR WARS upgrade, Russo and much of the others responsible for the original production returned in 1998 to shoot additional scenes (some 15 minutes worth) as well as restructure Romero's original vision. New music was also added creating one of the most hated "upgrades" of all time. The less said about NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION, the better.

Finally, it's a wonderfully gruesome book by one of the genres most well known writers.


Softcover; 197 pages; B/W

John McCarty coined the term 'splatter movie' and his maiden book on all the splatter that matters covers the subject perfectly. There's really little to nothing one could complain about when referring to this book other than the lack of color so the many pics of splatter can be presented in blood curdling color. Outside of that quibble, it's a damn good book and one any fan of grue-cinema shouldn't be without.

The chapters are as follows:

What Is a Splatter Movie?

Grand Guinol: The Roots of Splatter

Silents & Censors

Hammer Horror

Sam Peckinpah & the Wild Bunch

The Godfather of Gore: Herschell Gordon Lewis

The Dawn of Romero

David Cronenberg

Acting in Splatter: The Making of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Mainstream Splatter

Splatter 'Round the World: The Rise of the Exploitation Film

Splatter's Make-Up Master: Tom Savini

The Splatter Controversy

New Directions in Splatter

A Splatter Movie Gore-Nucopia


What's On the Back Cover?

McCarty's book is a must own book (it's still available at a resonable price). This edition was published in 1984 and its still incredibly informative and covers a lot of ground. McCarty returned a few years later with two follow ups with THE OFFICIAL SPLATTER MOVIE GUIDE volumes 1 and 2. Both are good for having a film review guide handy, but this bigger sized book is preferable in my opinion. If you already have those two smaller, but thorough guides, than you will want to add this one as well. A great book, old, but highly entertaining and informative and one for the shelves.


Splatter Movies: Breaking the Last Taboo of the Screen
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