233 · PAGES £25
"Write about your favourite horror film.” Now that’s a brief to put you on the spot. Do you go for the picture you admire the most, the guilty pleasure you watch secretly time and again, or the flick that scared you shitless when you were 12?
Cinema Macabre collects 50 short essays by assorted genre figures on their favourite fear flicks. By nature, this isn’t a book for systematic theories or closelyargued analyses, but a set of snapshots to consult when you’re watching one of the films again (or for the first time). Some chapters really need a spoiler warning, though, as they give much too much away for the first-timer.
Only 11 of the films featured in this book were made before 1960, but several of these interestingly stretch horror’s definition as we think of it, including Jean Cocteau’s Orphée, the musical Carousel and Brian Aldiss on Les Diaboliques. China Miéville expounds on his fascination with pigs in relation to Razorback, while the original The Haunting and Daughters of Darkness get linked to arthouse enigma Last Year at Marienbad. Other writers, though, take a staunchly anti-intellectual stance.
There are interesting personal reflections, such as Gavin Williams remembering how he first saw Eraserhead “the best way… fragmentarily while looking for porn”; Martin Roberts’s epic journey to see Peter Jackson’s gorefest Braindead; and editor Mark Morris recalling how his 11 year-old self shrank from the bite of Hammer’s The Reptile. All solid, enjoyable stuff, but to be fair, £25 for a relatively slim hardback seems pretty steep.