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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Shock Value

So, I know it's still September but why does October have to horde Horror all to itself?

In the late sixties, the Horror film had eaten itself alive. The cheap thrills of William Castle and hoary old Hammer films were starting to do the exact opposite they needed to do: boring instead of scaring. Audiences just weren't jumping at the sight of Dracula anymore and wired theatre seats that buzzed weren't startling like they used to. Post-Manson and Starkweather America just didn't find fantasy as unsettling they did before and so it was up to the next wave of directors to dig deep, and freak us out, and to do that they had to get real.
Zinoman's examination of the next-wave of Horror spends time with all the important, landmark films: Romero's Night Of The Living Dead, Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, Blatty & Friedkin's The Exorcist, Carpenter's Halloween, Cunningham & Craven's Last House On The Left, O'Bannon's Alien, DePalma's Carrie, and the grandaddy of 'em all: Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which boasts a permanent home in the Museum of Modern Art), and illuminates the motivation behind the making of all of these, now-classic, scare films. A more-than-worthy companion to Biskind's seminal book on the same period of American film, Easy Rider, Raging Bulls, but in a different genre, Shock Value walks us through the difficult -but very necessary- birth of the modern Horror film and, in addition to examining the aforementioned box-office hits, also gives space to early efforts like Bogdanovich's Targets and Carpenter & O'Bannon's Dark Star to give us insight on just how the jack was coaxed out of the box.

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