I’m fairly certain this is going to be the first book review ever post on Man, I Love Films. But I didn’t get to watch a horror movie this week and I’m slowly running out of good reviews from my own site to bring over here, so after asking nicely and promising I won’t turn this to Man, I Love Books by Dylan and Kai, I have set my sights on “The Slasher Movie Book” or if you live in England “Teenage Wasteland: The Slasher Movie Uncut”, which is a far better title.
While talking to my friend and fellow MILF writer Nick Jobe about this review, he told me this is basically a book report, which I haven’t done in about 20 years so this might be a bit weird and rough. I say just hang on and let’s experience this together, shall we?
“The Slasher Movie Book” is written by J.A Kerswell, who runs a website called Hysteria Lives! He is a fan of slasher movies, much like myself, so when I heard of his book, I immediately ordered it and read it over the course of three days. Overall, it’s a very detailed look at the history of the slasher film, giving it some history. Most people might think slasher movies started with John Carpenter’s Halloween or maybe even Hitchcock’s Psycho, but Kerswell informs us that it actually predates “talkies” in a form of theater called Grand Guignol. They were plays that showcased different themes like comedies and dramas, but their biggest draws were their horror plays. Of course, people were getting less and less interested in theater and more and more into TV and movies so by 1962, they closed down for good. Then we get a history lesson in slasher films.
We learn about The Bat, The Cat and the Canary, and zooming to the 1960′s Eyes Without A Face. Interesting enough, if you ever want to see Sherlock Holmes take on a slasher, the author mentions The Scarlet Claw, which I remember seeing when I was a kid but barely remember it today. Anyway, eventually Psycho came along to change the face of horror and soon a bunch of Psycho inspired films came out, like Homicidal.
I won’t cover EVERYTHING in the book cause I think you should read it if you’re interested in the topic, but Kerswell actually goes in chronological order of movie release dates and tells us about all the movies from the birth of cinema until right now. It’s really interesting to learn about all the films pre-1970 that can be considered slashers that fell in between the cracks. My one complaint about the beginning of this book is the dude wouldn’t shut the hell up about Halloween. Honestly, I couldn’t wait until he got to the film just so I can stop reading the words “…which was of course used in Halloween” or “…which pre-dates Halloween by” however many years.
I get it. Halloween IS the one that started the modern trend of slashers and the author really likes the movie but seriously one page ALONE I counted FIVE references to Halloween and after reading the word Halloween so many damn times you get tired of the word Halloween. The word Halloween probably isn’t used that much on Halloween night or even in any of the Halloween movies! Halloween.
Anyway, the best section in the book has to be when he talks about the Golden Age of Slashers, which happened between 1978 and 1984. Here, he talks about EVERY damn slasher movie that came out, even some I never heard of and I lived in a video store in my youth. There’s also a history lesson about giallos which are Italian crime dramas that also could be credited with leading the way for the modern slasher. If you don’t know what a giallo is, they are movies that always feature the three B’s: Blood, Boobs, and Black gloves. You almost always never know who the killer is as we get POV shots of them killing attractive Italian women.
What’s interesting is Kerswell calls And Then There Were None a slasher, which I never really thought about but I guess in a sense he’s right. Also if you’re like me who loves shitty slasher movies, this guy names almost all the direct-to-video films that came out in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Then it dives into how Scream revived the slasher film in the last ’90s cause there was a period where slashers were few and far in between. And that takes us to the present, where almost now every slasher is a shitty remake of a classic slasher like Prom Night or Friday the 13th.
The most interesting part of the book has to be the Top Ten Body Counts from old school slashers. I won’t ruin which movie is the highest but I think you’ll be surprised.
And that’s about all I got. Again, if slasher movies is your thing, I highly recommend picking this up and boning up on your history. If anything, it’ll suggest some movies you probably never thought about or heard of and might want to check out. Outside of the history lesson, there’s great posters all throughout the thing of all the different movies, plus a neat little section on slasher movie spoofs like Student Bodies. Hm. I should cover that sometime soon.
So take a look. It’s in a book. READING RAINBOW!!!