My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It seems many books about the history of 'new horror' are written at two extremes: On the one end is the posturing academic, on the other, articles that review films based on 'number of boobs'. Of course, both extremes have descriptive benefits, tenure and boners, but it is refreshing to find an alternative. 'Shock Value' eschews these styles and is presented in a well-written and fun, if brief, history of a shift horror film aesthetics in the 1970's.
Did you know Bernard Hermann who did the music for Vertigo, Psycho and other Hitchcock films transitioned into producing scores for exploitation films in the 70's? What about that William Castle bought the rights to Rosemary's Baby but studios thought him too old, so they brought in Polanski who applied his paranoid, wide-angle shooting style to occult horror? Did you know Polanski lectured on the 'techne' of fear at USC and John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon were in audience? That George Romero was driving to pitch Night of the Living Dead to a distributor the day MLK was shot?
Drawing on new author interviews, this book identifies some important points of transition in horror cinema. It also provides reference capturing the negative attitude of reviewers at the time for films that are now considered classics. All in all a great read.
I recommend pairing it with Maggie Nelson's 'The Art of Cruelty'. They could fight about the aesthetics of gore and humiliation, which might make someone think.
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