Keywords: Horror films, censorship, cult movies

Title: Horror Films

Author: James Marriott

Publisher: Virgin Books

Media: Book

Reviewer: Pan

Horror Films, by James Marriott, is a must for the horror film fan. Describing the genre as the 'madwoman in the attic of cinema', Marriott clearly loves his subject and wants us to love it too, particularly the twenty films that are the focus of the book.

Ranging both in time - from Nosferatu (1922) to Ring/Ringu (1997) - and theme - from vampire movies to horror sci-fi (Alien, The Fly, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers ) to satanic possession (Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist) to gore (Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre) - the book charts a course through the history of the horror via a set of mini-essays on the selected movies.

Each film gets a list of credits, a synopsis and then a detailed analysis that ranges from looking at what influenced the film, how it was greeted by critics and audiences, impact on the film industry and so on. The writing is clear and engaging and the enthusiasm for the films shines through. Of course fans will disagree with what Marriott says, as they will about the choice of films (and I still think that the Thing From Another World deserved a chapter to itself!).

There's more than just a besotted fan at work here, however. Marriott is ever sensitive to the broader social context, and there is close attention paid to issues of censorship and public controversy. With an increasingly strident religious lobby active in the UK, as well as the United States, it cannot be long before horror films once more become a battle-ground.

To conclude, this is an enjoyable and interesting read that's a must for any serious horror fan.


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