While its shockingly gleaming cover sporting a demonic Linda Blair screams out of the shelves with an almost haunting curiosity, it’s the contents that make this edition a rich little friend to accompany you on outings. Another from the “Barron’s” 101 Movies collection, this tiny fat boy edition offers some great suggestive reading and influential recommendations to fill your evening with plenty of horrific cinematics. It begins so humbly with it’s early roots of the 1920’s and carries forth with important titles from each generation. While I will point out that it’s not an all inclusive edition, it doesn’t claim to be and rather relies on suggestive viewing of great horror films.The writing is superbly done with a mature flair. Early works that are placed to entice include “Noseferatu”, “Dracula”, Golem, “Dr. Caligari” and oddities like “Freaks” and “Haxen”. As readers will try and mentally note which titles should be talked about, the collection is more a decisive choice to at least reveal the films that “should” be viewed from generations past. Each Entry features 2 pictures and is kept short for quick analysis and description. Though in my opinion, that is just perfect.
The writers also implant several factual inclusions in the overviews which helps readers to better understand a bit of the historical background of the films. “Nosferatu” briefly describes it’s impact and controversial beginnings. “Halloween” is described not in just it’s obvious horror iconic appearances but in the sense of fear itself with Michael seemingly everywhere in the minds of the terrorized. It’s safe to say that the book comprises a greatest hits approach extremely well. There are choices that I questioned like “Eraserhead” which should have been featured perhaps in a different genre book, but the points are still made as to why films deserve a lasting place in horrors history.
With that said, readers can evolve with the pages much in the same way that icons of horror have evolved from simpler influences into more lasting impressions of characters such as “Jason” Freddy” Pinhead” and of course the introduction of zombie based entrees. For giggles you can refer to the entry of “Blacula” or dig deeper with the more psychologic horrors of “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Repulsion”. Another trend readers will notice is the inclusion of more supernatural based devil themed films which really span the gamut of fright and scares. Though they also provide some of the most effective horror presented ever to hit screen. Writers in this edition clearly are all on the same page giving us reasons for and why these films are noteworthy. A few surprise such as “Devil rides Out” out and “Mask of the Demon”, may not roll off the tongue when speaking of familiar films but they do offer us a chance to focus on ones that offer something elevated beyond the multitude of releases churned out. The writers have clearly done their home work offering us films of great importance in the genre. Even over the top entrees like “Cannibal Holocaust” or the magnetically harrowing “Suspiria” are given just homage and called out in passing. Asian offerings are not ignored much to my satisfaction though they also are not over included seeing that western world films have had the most impact as a whole. Another kudos goes to the choices made which while easily could focus entirely on iconic also took the time to provide more disturbing off beat entrees such as “The Vanishing” and “Man Bites Dog”. Hopefully this brief review introduction will inspire you to pick up this handy little edition that retails at a modest $15.