Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror
By Jason Zinoman
There are few really good books on 80s horror and this is one of them. This is despite the fact that the only true 80s film it discusses is Friday the 13th (1980). Actually, Shock Value is more about the pre-80s period that recreated horror cinema, and caused an explosion of the genre in the early eighties, thus making possible most of the films on this blog. The book begins by looking at a group of films that were made in the wake of Psycho (1960) and various Hammer productions: Targets (1968), Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Rosemary's Baby (1968). The rest of the book is concerned with the further evolution of horror that took place in the 70s with The Last House on the Left (1972), The Exorcist (1973), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Carrie (1976), Alien (1979), and Halloween (1978). Author (and New York Times film critic) Jason Zinoman's approach is strongly biographical and based on his interviews with almost everyone mentioned. The main characters are the directors and writers of each of these films: Peter Bogdanovich, Roman Polanski, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, Dan O'Bannon, John Carpenter, Brian DePalma and Sean Cunningham. Zinoman carefully examines the back story of each of these guys, the context of their work and the process they went through to get their films made. If you want to understand how modern horror (and the slasher subgenre) works, this is where you should start!
Do you recognize the cover art for this book? It's adapted from the poster art for Mortuary (1983)!