"Friday the 13th" †by Mike Smith
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The Encyclopedia of Horror Movies †by Chris Woods
A-$$-hole .... This Time Itís 4 Real .... Jagodzinski Likes Mccown .... .... .... .... .... †by Chris Munger
Michael Phelps .... Christian Bleeping Bale .... Movie Notes .... Where's Your Messiah Now? .... Owning History .... Oscar Thoughts .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2... †by Mike Smith
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Over the years I collected many different books on the subject of horror films. Most of them were very good and provided excellent information on the genre, some were so-so that didnít really deliver, but one that I consider the bible to all horror movie books is The Encyclopedia of Horror Movies: The Complete Film Reference. Published in 1986 and written by Tom Milne and Paul Willemen and edited by Phil Hardy, the book is a complete guide to almost every single horror film made from 1896 to the early part of 1985. The Encyclopedia gives a lengthy synopsis of each film along with cast and crew information and the studio and country where it was made and includes over 450 black and white pictures of selected films, which happens to be one of the best parts of the book capturing a glimpse of horror from those particular films.
I first came in contact with this great book around Christmas time 1989. I was about 16 at the time and I believe I was with my Mom in the mall helping her with some Christmas shopping. I remember being in Waldenbooks looking at the latest Fangoria issue. Around that time I was really into horror films, as I am still to this day, but at that time it was only a few short years ago where I really discovered the horror movie and had to see every single film that I could get my hands on. Also at that time I began writing my own short stories of horror that I hope someday make into movies. So, after looking at some magazines I went over to a display that had some books on discount. Looking through them I happen to find this big thick book that looked to be kind of roughed up like it was bought and then returned or people have gone through many times but just never got a round to buying it. As I pulled it out from the display to my surprise I noticed the title of the book, The Encyclopedia of Horror Movies. This was something right up my alley. The cover of the book was black with the title at the top and one single picture of Jack Nicholson from The Shinning on it. The picture is that classic terrifying photo of Jack peeking his head through the shattered the door that he chopped through with an ax and then saying to his wife, ďHereís Johnny!Ē with an evil glare on his face. I started to look through the book and discovered all this information on past and present horror films. My Mom was in the store and I think she asked me if I wanted any of those books for Christmas. I told her, YES, this one! and showed her the book. Hereís where I canít remember if my Mom bought it then and there or went back to get it, but on Christmas Day í89 I was the proud owner of that very book and it was the same copy to. It was the only one there and the book was beat up just like I saw it. Through out the rest of my years this book helped me discover many different horror films that I havenít seen before and also has been a terrific guide to finding the prefect horror movie.
Still to this day I never tire of looking through the book. Itís filled with hundreds of pages of synopsis after synopsis of each horror film. In the beginning of the book is an introduction that is about a few pages long, discussing motion pictures in the horror genre from the late 1800ís and all the way to the 1980ís. Almost a hundred years of terror on screen. There are even a few pictures in the introduction and one is a scary photo of Barbara Steele from Mario Bavaís Mask of Satan. Each section is a decade of films, except for the first one, which starts at 1896 and goes through 1919. The rest go through the 20ís to the 80ís. The sections start with the first year from that decade and list all the films from that year alphabetically. The write up for each movie is basically a plot description. Some are longer than others. Also most would give very vivid details of the film. Pretty much it was a review without giving a rating or stars to it. The writer would give their opinion on it and often reference other material. The first thing that caught my eye when looking through the book was the great photos. Photos that capture a great screen grab from a film. All of them are in black and white and have an eeriness to them. Most of the time I would see a picture that stood out and want to see that movie.
At that time in 1989 when I first got the book, my only horror reading material was Fangoria, which were mostly films from the present day. I wanted to read about all kinds of horror movies from different times. The book also helped me discover many different film directors from that genre. Back then, I all ready seen some films by Romero, Hitchcock, H.G. Lewis, Craven, Carpenter, Hooper, and some others, but there were still some works of filmmakers I needed to see. In this book, I discovered the works of Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, Bob Clark, Roger Corman, Tod Browning, Robert Wiene, F.W. Murnau, and many others. Each time period had some excellent horror movies. Going through each section is a great treat. The section starts off with a picture from a film representing that decade. The photo would cover two full pages. The next page would give a little description of that time and start listing the movies. The first section, 1896-1919 introduced me to the first horror films ever shot. During this timetable not every year was represented with a horror film. Some of these old silent films were mostly foreign and some were different adaptations of Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One film from this era that stood out to me was The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which was a German Expressionism film. On the introductory page for 1896-1919 was a photo from that film. Years later I would finally see that picture and itís one of my favorite horror films of all time.
The next section was the 1920ís. This time was filled with German Expressionism films like Nosferatu, The Golem and others. Hollywood was also getting into the horror act with one of the greatest silent film stars, Lon Chaney. Chaney had many silent horror greats such as, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Unknown, and The Phantom of the Opera. Then we move to the 1930ís where talkies move in and so do The Universal Monsters, which starts one of the golden ages of horror movies. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, many great films that launched the careers of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Universal mainly dominated this decade and was a successful time for the genre. Then in the 1940ís, horror started to slow down a bit and wasnít as successful as the previous decade, but it did give birth to another Universal classic starring Lon Chaney, Jr., The Wolf Man. It also saw the fight of the century with Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man and saw comedy meet horror with Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Reading about films from these past three decades reintroduced me to the Universal Monsters and checking out silent classics from the U.S. and Germany.
Next were the 1950ís, where horror made a comeback with atomic monsters and mad scientist films. Movies like Godzilla, The Thing From Another World, The Fly, and The Blob packed movie theaters. The British weighed in with films from Hammer. The Curse of Frankenstein and Count Dracula starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing along with many other Hammer films gave new birth for the classic movie monsters. Also, the book had many films of Vincent Price, such as, House on Haunted Hill, House of Wax, and others from the 50ís. Reading from this section got me interested in a number of Hammer films and B-Movie monster flicks. On to the 1960ís, that had a great variety of horror films and a changing of the guard sort of speak. The 60ís start with a bang with the Hitchcock classic Psycho. Hammer films continue to be strong through out the decade, but another British film Peeping Tom comes out the same year as Psycho. Still to this day I still havenít seen Peeping Tom, only clips from the film. Many like that film, I would read about and would such video rental places for those films and some times I would find them but most of the time I couldnít get any rare films at the local video store. It wasnít until the mid 90ís when I started to order films from catalogs I would find these rare treasures. Nowadays with the Internet, itís very easy to track down your favorite horror film, but I did enjoy the challenge back in the day searching and searching for rare horror flicks. Also the 60ís ushered in Italian horror, mostly from the likes of Mario Bava who directed Mask of Satan, Black Sabbath, Kill, Baby, Kill, and Blood and Black Lace. There were tons of great films from this decade. Roger Corman and Vincent Price teamed up to do tons of films based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I also enjoyed reading about films I all ready seen like Dementia 13, Night of the Living Dead, and Herschell Gordon Lewisí Blood Feast and 2000 Maniacs. I also read more about some of the films from Lewis that I havenít seen at the time like Color Me Blood Red and The Wizard of Gore and later on in the 70ís section The Gore Gore Girls. There were plenty of other titles that I read in this section that caught my eye, mostly films by Bava and one of Boris Karloffís last films, Targets, which kind of blended classic horror themes with modern ones of the time. Targets was one of those films I read many things about and took me awhile to find. The 60ís were one of those great times of horror, introducing new types of styles to the genre.
Probably the most read section for me in this book is the 1970ís. I discovered so many movies and filmmakers from this chapter. Especially learning about Dario Argento films of the 70ís like Bird with the Crystal Plumage to his classic Suspiria. After reading about the films I searched our local video stores and only ones I could find were those two. The rest of his collection I had to track down through mail order catalogs. I just remember going through page after page reading about these films and looking at all these great photos. Some films in this decade I all ready seen at the time like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Last House On The Left, I Spit On Your Grave, and others, but they were many films at the time I havenít seen or havenít even heard of. The 70ís had a great variety of films from Hollywood blockbusters like The Exorcist and Jaws to grindhouse indy classics like Zombi 2 and Cannibal Holocaust. Movies from all over the globe, Italy, Spain, Japan, the U.K., South America, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. This decade probably has the most films in a section. I think 1972 was loaded with the most movies of the 70ís. Other films I discovered were the Blind Dead films. I did see one of them before I got the book, which was Horror of the Zombies, but the best of the series was Tomb of The Blind Dead, which was another one I had to track down. Also discovering the films of Lucio Fulci, including Zombi 2 and other pre Zombie ones, such as Donít Torture the Duckling and Lizard In a Womanís Skin. This book was a helpful guide because the write-ups were very descriptive and they would describe certain scenes that when reading I would visualize and hope when I saw that film it was as good as I pictured it. Most of the time that was the case but sometimes it wasnít. Reading about The Hills Have Eyes and I Drink Your Blood and finally seeing those films after reading good things about them was a great reward cause they were really good films, but then reading about the film, Snuff, and seeing it many years later wasnít as good as I thought it would be. Although the Encyclopedia had almost every single horror film ever made, well almost. They were some films, especially from the 70ís that werenít included like exploitation classic Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS and any other Ilsa films for that matter and even though Night of the Living Dead and Day of the Dead are in the book, Dawn of the Dead wasnít. Still to this day Iím always reading the 70ís section more than the others.
On to the last section, the 1980ís, which was one of the shortest sections, because it only goes to 1985, but still had great films in it. This decade revisited some directors I discovered from the 70ís section like Argento and Fulci. Reading about Tenebre and The Beyond I couldnít wait to see them. After tracking those two down both of them delivered as excellent horror films. The 80ís were strong in the slasher movie department. Around that time I have seen all The Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm St. films and a few others. All of these and their sequels were in this section. Lot of the films that read in this chapter were some of the first horror films I seen and most familiar with. Most films here were American or Italian. The very last year in the section, 1985, only had three films, A Nightmare on Elm St., Return of the Living Dead, and Day of the Dead, which two of those films (Elm St. and Return) came out in 1984. After all the decades, thereís an index in the back that list the titles of all the films in the book alphabetically and the years next to them which is very helpful when looking for a film and your not sure what year or decade it came out. It also gives alternate titles on the list. This book is a treasure to me and has been a very helpful guide in my horror movie watching. This is a must in every horror lovers collection and I owe a lot to The Encyclopedia of Horror Movies.
"Growing Up Fanboy" is ©2009 by Chris Woods. All graphics this page, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.