Review: Shock Value by Jason Zinoman

I’m a huge fan of horror movies and I love seeing behind the scenes of how movies are made, so it’s no surprise that I would totally dig Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror, by Jason Zinoman. The book presents a history of how filmmakers, such as Wes Craven, Roman Polanski, George Romero and others, took the old schlocky stories (Frankenstein, Dracula, etc.) to the next level, with stories that push the boundaries of politics and social commentary, as well as gore.

Zinoman didn’t go into deep analysis of the film (I’m sure there are plenty of other books that do), but explored the lives of the directors and writers that became known as auteurs in the industry (whether or not it was truth), revealing how they came to develop the movie that are now classics of horror. Keeping in mind that I did not live in the era and have not seen several of these movies (though I have heard and know about all of them), I can’t judge whether the author’s point of view accurately reflects the movies or the time in which they were made, but I can say that it worked for me. I was thoroughly fascinated and entertained, so much so that I plowed through the book in under two days. It was a great, fun read, and I now need to do a marathon and see all the movies that I have not seen.

The one flaw, for me at least as I have a deep love (read: obsession) of lists, is that the author did note compile of filmography of movies mentioned in the book. How else am I supposed to easily quantify which movies I have and have not seen?

So lacking a proper filmography, I skimmed through the book and made my own list of all the movies discussed or mentioned, and posted it on my blog.


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