A review by Robert Long II (2012)
THE SLASHER MOVIE BOOK
J.A. Kerswell – author
Softcover, full color, 208 pages
Most slasher movies (my favorite sub-genre) of the golden age started life as independent films. Many of these – due to the early 80s horror boon – were lucky enough to get picked up by major studios for distribution. Author J.A. Kerswell has written a tremendous book on the heyday of the slasher movie (1978 – 1984). Let’s dig into it a bit.
First of all, this book has just been released to the American shores. It was a tome originally released in Europe under the title TEENAGE WASTELAND. It garnered a lot of good press over there, and I was hoping to review it myself for the site. As good fortune would have it, the good folks at Chicago Review Press/IPG sent me three copies – one for review and two to give away to some lucky Smash or Trash fans!
The Slasher Movie Book goes into detail that this sub genre had its roots as far back as the 1930s, with theatre such as Paris’ Grand Guignol and movies such as The Cat and the Canary. But it started to really pick up steam around 1960, when Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO came out to terrorize the world. It was at this same time that the German Krimi (crime drama) was becoming vastly popular, and the seeds of slasherdom could be found there too, what with the killer’s usually found to be lavishly – and creepily – masked and attired.
Author Kershwell quickly brings the readers up to date with the Italian Giallo and the proto slashers of the early 1970s (such as Bob Clark’s chilling BLACK CHRISTMAS). The real break out movie for the genre was John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978). For six years after that madmen and women would reign at the theaters and drive -in around the world. From 1985 on the slasher started to die a slow death at the box office, until its resurgence with 1996′ SCREAM.
This handsome book is 208 pages chock full of humor, insights, details, full color posters and rare photos. J.A. Kerswell is an avid slasher fan (he runs the popular THE HYSTERIA LIVES website) and has really done his homework with his love letter to the stalk and slash movies; the publishers have done a brilliant job of laying it out, assembling and printing it. While it would be almost impossible to touch upon every single slasher ever made, this book does NOT disappoint the horror hound in us.
A brilliant read: 10/10 butcher knives. You can buy it – starting June 2012 – wherever fine books are sold.
NEWS FLASH! The kind publishers and distributors of this book have given Smash or Trash Independent Filmmaking two copies to use as contest giveaways! All you need to do is send us your name and mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 15th, 2012. Two lucky winners of the book will be drawn on that day! Don’t delay – enter today!
PRESS RELEASE – CHICAGO: In The Slasher Movie Book (Chicago Review Press, June 2012), author J.A. Kerswell gives an affectionate yet critical overview of the stalk ‘n’ slash film genre—from its roots in Hitchcock movies, grindhouse and violent French theatre to the Golden Age of the Slasher (1978-1984) launched by John Carpenter’s Halloween.
Sidney Prescott, the Final Girl in Scream, may have put it best when she described slasher movies as “some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can’t act, who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door.” Yet it’s just that mix of cheesiness and cheap thrill—the unstoppable maniac, the cat-and-mouse action, the undeniable sense of schadenfreude—that makes the slasher one of the most timeless and successful of horror’s subgenres. Packed with information about the best – and worst – of the genre that brought a new high in violence and suspense to mainstream cinema, The Slasher Movie Book provides an unmatched exploration of the early foreign influences of the slasher, to its 21st century descendants and everything in between. This guide to grisly includes not only slasher classics like cult hits Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, but several more obscure flicks such as Savage Water and Bloodbeat.
Combining Kerswell’s critical essays with distinctive and often graphic retro poster art, The Slasher Movie Book is a fun and fascinating overview of a film genre that, like its villains, just won’t die.
The Slasher Movie Book by J.A. Kerswell
Chicago Review Press, distributed by IPG