Horror Films FAQ
Horror Films FAQ
All That’s Left to Know About Slashers, Vampires, Zombies, Aliens, and More
by John Kenneth Muir
Genre historians usually trace the origins of horror films to the 1910 silent film Frankenstein. Since then, the ever-morphing genre has remained popular with audiences. But what makes a scary movie so cathartic? It isn’t just the algebraic application of the “jump scare” and all those low angles and tight shots. Some of the best horror movies, often forged outside the Hollywood mainstream, utilize social commentary to make a point about the culture that more milquetoast, widely accepted genres simply cannot, such as the existence of God (The Exorcist), the violence of rape (I Spit on Your Grave), or even fundamentalist religious redneck-ism in America (Stakeland).
In Horror Films FAQ (Applause Books, Oct. 2013, $22.99), John Kenneth Muir looks at different subgenres and eras of horror filmmaking to reach a larger understanding of the circumstances that produced these films. The history of the horror film is truly the history of fear in the world, so fears and the movies that embody them morph with the changing times: the women’s liberation horrors of the 1970s, the rubber reality films of the late 1980s, the serial killers of the 1990s, the xenophobic terrors of the 9/11 age, and even the 3D revolution’s release of John Luessenhop’s Texas Chainsaw (2013).
Horror Films FAQ is not a behind-the-scenes tell-all about famous directors, performers, and producers, nor does it feature reviews of every horror film. Instead, this book delineates various subgenres of the horror film, explaining what those formats (such as evil children, comedy-horror, mad scientists, or torture porn) symbolize or represent. The chapters introduce the nature of the subgenre in question and then launch into a discussion of a handful of films that best explore that subgenre’s imagery and themes. Muir has selected films that are artistic and superb, but about which not much has been written. He provides insights on important characters and directors, history, and particular horror movie formulas—like the one seen in slasher films—to round out a deeper understanding of your old favorites in in new, fresh ways, and to introduce fans to movies they haven’t seen. So, lock your doors, bolt your windows, and discover what terrors lurk inside your guide to the best, strangest, and most terrifying horror movies ever made.
John Kenneth Muir is the author of 24 reference books, including The Unseen Force: The Films of Sam Raimi, and Horror Films of the 1970s. John’s blog, Reflections on Cult Movies and Classic TV, was selected one of the “100 Top Film Study” websites in 2010. In 2009, Muir appeared in the documentary Nightmares in Red, White and Blue with John Carpenter and Joe Dante.
Oct. 15, 2013
6“ x 9”
Applause Theatre and Cinema Books is an imprint of Hal Leonard