Monday, March 12, 2012

Shock Value, by Jason Zinoman

(hb; 2011: non-fiction)

From the inside flap:

"By the later 1960s, horror was stuck in the past, confined mostly to drive-in theaters and exploitation houses, and shunned by critics. Shock Value tells the unlikely story of how an ambitious art form emerged from a mix of commercial extincts and personal passion. Directors like Wes Craven, Roman Polanski, John Carpenter, and Brian DePalma revolutionized the genre in the 1970s, plumbing their deepest anxieties to explode taboos and bring a gritty realism, confrontational style, and political edge to horror. Zinoman recounts how these innovative directors produced such classics as Rosemary's Baby, Carrie, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and Halloween, creating a template for horror that has been relentlessly imitated but whose originality has rarely been matched.

"This new kind of film dispensed with the old vampires and werewolves and instead assaulted audiences with portraits of serial killer, the dark side of surburbia, and a brand of nihilistic violence that had never been seen before. Shock Value tells the improbable stories behind the making of these movies, which remain misunderstood even by some of their most die-hard fans. They were directed by strong-willed and often obsessive young men working largely outside of the confines of Hollywood and on shoestring budgets, and whose success depended as much on creative conflict as vision. But once The Exorcist became the highest-grossing film in America, Hollywood took notice, and horror would never be the same."


Entertaining and informative, this is an excellent, chock-full-of-interviews and occasionally psychological read for cinematic horror fans and those interested in cinematic style tale-telling.

Worth owning, this.

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