Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

VideoHound's Horror Show: 999 Hair Raising, Hellish, and Humorous Movies (1998)

Author: Mike Mayo | Page Count: 525

We’ve gone from the darkened movie house to the darkened den … but our expectations of horror have not changed.

Before the popularity of DVD, and the advent of the availability of any movie on the internet, came VideoHound, a series of tomes each dedicated to a specific film genre, in an effort to aid the collector of hard-to-find video titles.  VideoHound's Horror Show focuses on the frightening, the macabre and the weird, even including such fringe titles as The Wizard of Oz, Taxi Driver, Deliverance, and Apocalypse Now as they fit the criteria for being scary and traumatizing to many.

Now, a book published in 1998 which aids in tracking down obscure videos may not be as pertinent today, with such websites as IMDB and Wikipedia detailing all things movie and otherwise but it's still a replete reference, and a fine read for anyone interested in the origins and history of the horror film.  The movies are alphabetized, each including a small plot synopsis, review and rating from author Mike Mayo, and a small amount of credits including the release date, actors, director, writer, etc.  The opinions of Mayo will undoubtedly clash with yours as they did with mine but that doesn't defeat the fact that he has an intelligent grasp of how a film is made, and the story devices and underlying themes which pervade a script.

As you flip through the pages you will come upon stark B&W photos of horror icons as a blood-drenced prom queen, a Pazuzu-possessed little girl, a poised yet grotesque Erik and a furry-faced lycanthrope stare back at you.  Besides the reviews, another main attraction is the detailed history of horror films throughout the years.  Each era has an assigned essay describing the origins of trends and a list of standout features.  Other stops among the assemblage are 'Hound Salutes' which include directors, actors, and writers among other important roles that defined and refined genres and paved the way for future horror film-making.

I will say now that I have not read every word in this book. I've only read through the essays, Salutes, and select reviews, as I still hold it as a future reference and guide to more obscure titles I wish to unearth.  From reading what I have, I came to notice an appreciation the author had for certain ground breaking titles such as Fritz Lang's M, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Brian De Palma's Carrie, and John Carpenter's Halloween.  Now while these titles obviously have held a major influence on later films, Mayo holds them in too high a regard, labeling most other films that came after as derivations or even rip-offs of their general formulas and themes.  Though dated, there are many great titles within waiting to be discovered and a flood of information and knowledge that can still gorge the ravenous horror fan.

3 Woofs! out of 5

Nutted by Borderline

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