The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies




The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies

by Peter Normanton


Running Press – 2012
ISBN: 978-0762445967
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.

Shane Morris & Mystified – Emergence



Shane Morris & Mystified – Emergence

Spotted Peccary – 2013



Shane Morris & Mystified (Thomas Park) return with their second installment to their primordial three-part “Inspired Evolution” project. The two musicians construct a soundscape that signifies what the beginning of time felt like, in the track “From The Primordial Night.” Ten and a-half minutes of shifting electronics, percussive sounds of wooden sticks and shakers spark the representation of where all things begin.

In the second track, you can literally feel “A Struggling New Form of Life.” It encompasses not only the development of mammals, but the formation of the planet Earth.  Subdued drones rise and fall almost like lungs of the Earth breathing life into its existence. This piece has a consistent forward and backward movement, like an ocean wave hitting against the shore. It’s easy to imagine the result of this endless cycle and how it shapes and forms the area where land meets the sea.

The little smacking sounds in “Weathering Storm And Tide”, deliver energy into the cue.  Deeper instrumentation hangs over this music like big, dark thunderous clouds that carry lightning and rain. The wooden slaps could be taken as raindrops hitting the ground from above.

I really like the large gloomy sound of “To The Icy Peaks.” For a few choice moments it reminds me of almost a John Carpenter film score. Low synthesized keyboard lines gyrate under acoustic winds that are higher on the sound registry. The droning alterations give this composition considerable weight. It acts as a base that supports all the other instrumental embellishment. This is my favorite track on the album.

The last track, “Feet On The Ancient Forest Floor” is more active with a bunch of sounds that could be taken as people or animals walking about. The feel of this cue is kind of dramatic, totally serious with all sorts of elements working together to communicate this part of the story.

I’m looking forward to hearing how Morris and Parker wrap up their audio tapestry.

Strange Beaufitul Music: A Musical Memoir




Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir

By Joe Satriani and Jake Brown

BenBella Books – 2014
ISBN 978-1939529640
320 pages, $24.95


In this fantastic biography, Joe Satriani looks back at his illustrious career so far.  Satch starts his story as a boy growing up in Carle Place, New York (on Long Island) and takes us to his current status as the most successful instrumental rock guitarist of all-time.  It was both fascinating and appropriate that the springboard for him playing the instrument was the death of guitar God Jimi Hendrix.

Like his music, Satriani has written the book in such a way that it should appeal to the biggest possible audience.  You don’t have to be a guitar player or even a musician to understand how he talks about writing, recording and playing his music for the world.  “Joe Cool” has always strived to make his work accessible to the common man and this is no different.

Satriani does provide great depth and clarity to his process and how he went about making each one of his albums.

The biggest surprise you will get is how he didn’t just walk into success.  It took some years struggling as a guitarist looking for the right band.  When he didn’t find it in New York, he moved from Long Island to San Francisco, California.

In the bay area, Joe started teaching guitar to almost a who’s who of guitar students (Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Testament’s Alex Skolnick, T-Ride’s Geoff Tyson, Primus’ Larry LaLonde, jazz great Charlie Hunter and Doug Doppler to name a few) and got involved with a 3-piece band called The Squares.

Unfortunately ,The Squares never got beyond local hero status but his playing in this band led to Satriani getting hired to play in the Greg Kihn Band.

Steve Vai, who had been a lifelong friend and former student, inspired Joe to record his own solo album, which was the jumping off point for the axe-man.  His first album, Not of this Earth, was basically all Satriani (guitars & bass) playing with drum machines providing the percussion.  It was not an easy album for Joe to make between limited funds (he maxed out his credit card to do it) and having to record at odd times to maximize his dollar.

There’s all kinds of fascinating accounts from both Satriani and producer John Cuniberti, detailing how they pulled off that initial release.  Make no mistake about Cuniberti’s contribution to Joe’s success, the producer was the audio master who had the perfect technical make-up to get the best of the guitarist and the personality to gel with Satraini’s prolific working style.

Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir is loaded with comments from an impressive array of people; from his band mates in Chickenfoot, to many of his former students, along with the legendary producers who have worked with the guitarist.  Everyone chimes in to tell anecdotes about who Joe is and his inspiring story.  Queen’s Brian May writes a wonderful foreward to get things started.

Whether you like to surf with the alien, fly through a blue dream or just wanna rock, Joe Satriani has built up too much unstoppable momentum not to enjoy Strange Beautiful Music.