The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies
by Peter Normanton
Running Press – 2012
512 pages, $13.95
What I like most about this book is the way it’s formatted. It’s easy to pick up and get right back into even after periods of time not reading it (sometimes longer than I wanted in this case).
The movies are organized alphabetically with a focus on the best slasher & splatter movies from 1916 to 2011. Author Peter Normanton begins the book with his history of horror cinema and then moves to his A-Z listing of each movie with synopsis and several facts about the films.
It was cool reading his opinion of titles I liked and didn’t like. Maybe more important was reading about films I hadn’t seen and learning why I should seek out some of these gems.
Even though the reviews and info had to be brief in nature, Normanton does try his best to pinpoint standout aspects of each picture (acting, directing, cinematography, music, etc.). I found his observations pretty accurate.
After reading about films I had already seen, Normanton’s comments made me want to go back and re-watch some of them.
His rating system consists of 0 to 5 blood splats. Zero splats meant, “A splatter free movie”, while five splats would be “A symphony of gore.”
For me, gore isn’t the most important thing in a movie; in fact it falls pretty far down the list. But it did help identify what type of picture he’d classify each film. For example, John Carpenter’s Halloween got two splats, while the original Friday the 13th got the max = five splats.
After the review section, the author spotlights some of the talented people behind some of the classic slasher & splatter movies called: The Directors: Blood On Their Hands. I felt the section should have had a slightly different heading since Mark Shostrom is not a director but rather a gifted special make-up effects artist.
There’s a brief section that follows entitled; The Video Nasties, They Tried To Ban. The list of 72 films identified between 1983 and 1985 that were registered by the UK Director of Public Prosecutions as offending video nasties.
The book finishes with Chronology of Movies that are reviewed. This list makes it easy to single out the 70s as the best period for horror movies ever. I feel this decade contains the most impactful & influential slasher & splatter films the world has ever seen. I highly doubt it’ll ever be equaled.
The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies is definitely worth reading, even if sporadically to learn of some films to see and some of the ones you should revisit from days gone by.