There’s a great point during the process of becoming a horror fan where you begin to get this urge to see everything. Whatever you hear about, you want to track down. But after that passes, there’s still the urge to see all the greats, the classics, and maybe even hear about why they worked so well.
The books we’ll be taking a look at are great for new fans and the hardcore set alike. Some are fun reference books and some are more analytical, others still provide a bit of both by looking over individual films, franchises or careers. Each of them offers a different kind of experience, a different kind of insight, but all are well worth the read.
Fangoria’s 101 Best Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen
This is a great book for someone who has seen all the major franchises and the big classics but wants to take that next step. It was a great help to me starting out and it was because of this resource that I wound up seeing some of my favorite genre films, including Ginger Snaps, Castle Freak, The Devil’s Backbone, The Ugly and so many more. These are some of the more well known titles that I’m sure a lot of people have at least heard of, but there are plenty of other, more obscure recommendations in here, as well.
Dark Visions: Conversations With the Masters of the Horror Film
Stanley Wiater’s Dark Visions is such an important book for anyone who either wants to make horror movies or just wants to know more about the people who put them together. It’s a book comprised solely of interviews with some of the genre’s biggest heavy hitters. Clive Barker, John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, Tom Savini, Robert Englund and so many more give compelling interviews, talking about not only their own careers but what they think makes the genre as a whole so compelling and important.
The Films of John Carpenter
He’s made some of the biggest hits in horror history, from Halloween and The Thing to films like The Fog and Prince of Darkness. Not to mention work he’s done outside the genre, like the unbeatable Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China. This book is an insightful look into the director’s career, examining the origins of each film as well as analyzing them individually to get a good look at both what worked and what didn’t.
Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th
This one has been turned into a massive documentary, but that doesn’t mean the book itself isn’t worth reading. There are many interviews here that are not featured in the film and, more than that, there’s something about the book as a whole that just feels…special. This is not only the best book chronicling the history of a single franchise, but is also one of the most honest accounts of the hardships of independent filmmaking.
Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film
Like the previous entry, this one was also turned into an important documentary. Going to Pieces provides a complete chronicle of one of the most infamous movements in horror history. There are a lot of books on slashers out there, I’ll admit, but this is both the most insightful and the most comprehensive. It looks at not only why the slasher movement came about when it did, but why it fizzled out. It’s an impressive tome that no slasher fan should miss.
Chain Saw Confidential
Chain Saw Confidential is a book by the late Gunnar Hansen that is the most brutally honest, realest account of the making of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre that any fan could ever get their hands on. It allows readers to see the classic with new eyes, to find out what a hard, grueling and frequently near-fatal shoot it actually was.
Men, Women and Chainsaws
Men, Women and Chainsaws is one of the most essential books on horror. It is an amazing debate and analysis on the place of gender in the horror film. Are horror movies inherently misogynist, or are they feminist in that they depict a woman in a position of empowerment? Even for those not interested in deep analysis of the genre, the book addresses many questions that horror fans get asked on a regular basis.
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