|Written by Stefan Blitz|
More often than not, when people think of celebrating Hallow’s Eve, they tend to list off which movies they will be watching or revisiting. Rarely are books mentioned.
There are several enticing reads on my nightstand that will be the focus of my attention in the days ahead. All of these titles are well worth your time and if not for Halloween, are worth noting for your Holiday Gift lists.
The definitive book for fans of monster movies, slasher films, and cult classics. Would you dare to come face-to-face with the most terrifying vampires, monsters, zombies, and psychos of all time? They and their movies are all here in this lavishly (and terrifyingly) illustrated volume of the greatest, scariest, and most influential fright films. From such silent masterpieces as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) to such Golden Era classics as Dracula (1931); from such richly colored shockers as House of Wax (1953) to such groundbreaking independent thrillers as Night of the Living Dead (1968); and including modern horrors from Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and the Blair Witch series, Essential Horror Movies chronicles a century’s worth of cinematic terror.
Behind-the-scenes anecdotes, trivia, and photos complete the story of these essential motion pictures. Anyone who has ever loved to be scared by a truly great masterpiece of terror—or even a film that strives for nothing more than to provide an audience with spooky, corny fun—will find Essential Horror Movies a necessary addition to their personal library.
Trick ‘r Treat: Tales of Mayhem, Mystery, and Mischief
Written by John Griffin and Michael Dougherty / Published by Insight Editions
Trick ‘r Treat delves into the four stories that make up the feature film, Trick ‘r Treat releasing in October 2007. It reflects Dougherty’s personal take on the filmmaking process, details how the ideas and art came together, and presents it with exclusive special features in a unique format. The genre encompasses drama, horror, thriller…mixed with a good dose of twisted humor.
Set in a small suburban town, Trick ‘r Treat explores Halloween traditions while following a group of people trying to survive the most terrifying night of the year. From a serial killer who specializes in poisoning candy; to a group of mischievous kids who unearth their town’s dark secret; to a young woman hunted by masked stalker at the local festival; to a cantankerous old hermit confronted by a demonic trick-or-treater, the film is filled with horrifying surprises, nervous laughs and strange creatures of every variety–human or otherwise.
The atmosphere Dougherty creates on film mirrors the flavor of his art–whimsical, yet eerie. It seems welcoming from a distance, but the closer you look, the more you see the twisted, dark side of Dougherty’s mind. Dougherty’s third-grade teacher once remarked on a report card that his behavior exhibited “early evidence of what may be an extraordinary morbid ingenuity.” Years later, his drawings and doodles of the youthful, eerily pumpkin-headed character, Sam–a kind of ghost of Halloweens past–along with a number of other creepy, unforgettable characters, have made it to the big screen. There, Dougherty’s art and storytelling promise to take a fresh twist. At the launch of his career he’s already got a loyal following eagerly awaiting his next spooky project.
Dracula FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Count from Transylvania
Written by Bruce Scivally / Published by Backbeat Books
Dracula FAQ unearths little-known facts about both the historical and literary Dracula. The 15th-century warlord Vlad III, known as Vlad the Impaler and Dracula (son of the Dragon), became a legendary figure in his native Wallachia. Four hundred years later, Irish author Bram Stoker appropriated Dracula’s name for a vampire novel he spent seven years researching and writing.
Considered one of the great classics of Gothic literature, Dracula went on to inspire numerous stage plays, musicals, movies, and TV adaptations – with actors as diverse as Bela Lugosi, John Carradine, Christopher Lee, Jack Palance, Frank Langella, Louis Jourdan, Gary Oldman, and Gerard Butler taking on the role of the vampire king. And with Dracula proving the popularity of vampires, other bloodsuckers rose from their graves to terrify book, movie, and TV audiences – from Barnabas Collins of Dark Shadows to The Night Stalker to the vampires of True Blood on the small screen, and Interview with the Vampire and Twilight on the big screen. More recently, Dracula has been resurrected for a TV series starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and a feature film starring Luke Evans. Dracula FAQ covers all of these and more, including the amazing stories of real-life vampires!
The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School
Written by Kim Newman / Published by Titan Books
A week after her mother found her sleeping on the ceiling, Amy Thomsett is delivered to her new school, Drearcliff Grange in Somerset. Although it looks like a regular boarding school, Amy learns that Drearcliff girls are special, the daughters of criminal masterminds, outlaw scientists and master magicians. Several of the pupils also have special gifts like Amy’s, and when one of the girls in her dormitory is abducted by a mysterious group in black hoods, Amy forms a secret, superpowered society called the Moth Club to rescue their friend. They soon discover that the Hooded Conspiracy runs through the school, and it’s up to the Moth Club to get to the heart of it.
The Art of Horror: An Illustrated History
Edited by Stephen Jones / Published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books
Amazingly, there has never been a book quite like The Art of Horror – a celebration of frightful images, compiled and presented by some of the genre’s most respected names. While acknowledging the beginnings of horror-related art in legends and folk tales, the focus of the book is on how the genre has presented itself to the world since the creations of Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley first became part of the public consciousness in the 19th century. It’s all here: from early engravings – via dust jackets, book illustrations, pulp magazines, movie posters, comic books, and paintings – to today’s artists working entirely in the digital realm.
Editor Stephen Jones and his stellar team of contributors have sourced visuals from archives and private collections (including their own) worldwide, ensuring an unprecedented selection that is accessible to those discovering the genre, while also including many images that will be rare and unfamiliar to even the most committed fan.
From the shockingly lurid to the hauntingly beautiful – including images of vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, demons, serial killers, alien invaders, and more – every aspect of the genre is represented in ten themed chapters. Quotes from artists/illustrators, and a selection from writers and filmmakers, are featured throughout.
Ghosts and Girls of Fiction House!
Edited by Maurice Whitman, Introduction by Craig Yoe / Published by IDW Publishing
The publisher Fiction House was infamous for what anti-comics crusader Dr. Fredric Wertham called “headlight comics,” i.e. comics featuring the ample female bosom. The Pre-Code publisher used their buxom heroines to star in jungle comics, science fiction tales, and scary GHOST STORIES! The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics series curates the sexiest and scariest of these poltergeist-infused Good Girl Art comics in a pulse-pounding tome, Ghosts and Girls! Your hair will stand on end and at the same time your toes will curl! Featuring faithfully reprinted original art from these 1940s and 1950s by brilliant masters Matt Baker, Maurice Whitman, and more, don’t miss this must-have, large format collection edited by comics historian and filmmaker Michael Price, with its lovingly restored comics.
Horror Films FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Slashers, Vampires, Zombies, Aliens, and More
Written by John Kenneth Muir / Published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books
Horror Films FAQ explores a century of ghoulish and grand horror
cinema, gazing at the different characters, situations, settings, and
themes featured in the horror film, from final girls, monstrous
bogeymen, giant monsters and vampires to the recent torture porn and
found footage formats. The book remembers the J-Horror remake trend of
the 2000s, and examines the oft-repeated slasher format popularized by
John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980).
an introduction positioning the horror film as an important and moral
voice in the national dialogue, the book explores the history of horror
decade by decade, remembering the women’s liberation horrors of the
1970s, the rubber reality films of the late 1980s, the serial killers of
the 1990s, and the xenophobic terrors of the 9/11 age. Horror Films FAQ also asks what it means when animals attack in such films as The Birds (1963) or Jaws (1975), and considers the moral underpinnings of rape-and-revenge movies, such as I Spit on Your Grave (1978) and Irreversible
(2002). The book features numerous photographs from the author’s
extensive personal archive, and also catalogs the genre’s most prominent
Buffy: Demons of the Hellmouth by Nancy Holder
Written by Nancy Holder / Published by Titan Books
Demons of the Hellmouth
is a fully licensed guide to the vampires and other demons that flocked
to the Sunnydale Hellmouth in Joss Whedon’s cult TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
This in-universe illustrated guide is written by Rupert Giles, and also
contains handwritten notes from Buffy and Willow. This unique book
promises a diabolical romp through the highlights of the beloved show.
Stephen King Films FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the King of Horror on Film
Written by Scott Von Doviak / Published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books
Over the past four decades, the Stephen King movie has become a genre
unto itself. The prolific writer’s works have spawned well over 100
adaptations for both the big and small screen, ranging from modern
classics of horror (Carrie, The Shining) to Oscar-nominated fare (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) to unapologetic, B-movie schlock (the King-directed Maximum Overdrive).
The filmmakers to put their stamp on King’s material include acclaimed
auteurs Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, and Brian De Palma; masters
of horror Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, and George Romero; and popular
mainstream directors Rob Reiner, Frank Darabont, and Lawrence Kasdan.
Stephen King Films FAQ
is the most comprehensive overview of this body of work to date,
encompassing well-known hits as well as forgotten obscurities, critical
darlings and reviled flops, films that influenced King as well as those
that have followed in his footsteps, upcoming and unmade projects, and
selected works in other media (including comic books, radio dramas, and
the infamous Carrie musical).
Author Scott Von Doviak
provides background information, analysis, and trivia regarding the
various films and television productions, including “Bloodlines”
sections on related works and “Deep Cuts” sections collecting additional
odd facts and ephemera. All you ever wanted to know about the king of
horror onscreen can be found here.
Written by Cullen Bunn and Illustrated by Jeremy Haun / Published by Vertigo Comics
How do you hunt a werewolf if a different person becomes the monster with every cycle of the moon? Dillon, a former victim of the Wolf’s transformation, is taking it upon himself to track the sporadic movements of the Wolf in hopes to kill it. Hoping to uncover some clues, Dillon turns to a reclusive expert on werewolf legends, and what he learns crushes any hope of ever destroying the creature.
What are your Halloween book recommendations?