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BOOK REVIEW Teenage Wasteland: The Slasher Movie Uncut - JA Kerswell


He knows what they did 32 summers ago

Some think the slasher film emerged from nowhere in 1978 with John Carpenter's Halloween , but Justin Kerswell (webmaster of the excellent Hysteria Lives ) knows better, charting its roots in the likes of Grand Guignol, Old Dark House movies, Italian giallo films and German "Krimi".

The bulk of the book is given over to year-by-year overviews of 1978-1984, the peak years of production, with box-outs on the likes of video nasties, “Final Girls” and slasher spoofs. Kerswell keeps the words to a minimum and lets an array of lurid posters, Mexican lobby cards and VHS covers do the talking (well, bits of ‘em anyhow – the design strategy means most images are bleeding off the page). Although he has a neat turn of phrase (Brian DePalma’s Sisters is summarised as “less of a nod, more of a headbang” to Hitchcock), this is welcome - given how formulaic most slashers are, the last thing we need are lengthy synopses. And besides, if you do want longer analyses, those are available on the website.

Well-informed and humorous, it’s a colourful overview that will gen up newbies on all the essentials, and send seasoned gorehounds scampering to YouTube to hunt obscure trailers.

Ian Berriman

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