Sunday, February 3, 2013
“Forgotten Horrors to the Nth Degree” Traces Upheaval of a Popular Genre—1963-1985
Michael H. Price’s popular Forgotten Horrors series of film-genre studies jumps the chronological track with its newest installment, due to publish in March of 2013. Prior books have covered the field of low-budget horror films and related genres in a direct path from 1929; the new collection flashes forward to a period from the 1960s into the 1980s.
Forgotten Horrors to the Nth Degree: Dispatches from a Collapsing Genre is a 300-page installment by Price and frequent collaborator John Wooley. The book chronicles a revolutionary upheaval in the cinema of terror—covering a period from the invention of the so-called “splatter movies” in 1963 to the collapse of the low-budget independent theatrical chiller upon the rise of the made-for-video feature in 1985. The publisher is Cremo Studios, Ltd.
“Here lies a genre in upheaval,” Price & Wooley write, “given such audacious benchmarks as the gore pictures of Herschell Gordon Lewis and David F. Friedman; George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre; and Larry Buchanan’s minimalist Dream Logic fugues, such as Zontar, the Thing from Venus. The species had turned itself inside–out by 1985—more revolution than evolution.”
“The shift found the major-league studios of Corporate Hollywood applying epic-scale resources to cheap-thrills yarns,” explains Price. “Universal Pictures cribbed from Roger Corman, with Jaws in 1975. Twentieth Century–Fox riffed on It! The Terror from beyond Space, with Alien. Meanwhile, the classier film-as-literature fare once associated with Fox and Universal and MGM became the province of the independent studios. The inventory of strange influences is all but infinite.”
Forgotten Horrors to the Nth Degree collects and expands upon a decade-long run of Price &
Wooley’s monthly Forgotten Horrors column in Fangoria magazine, utilizing images from the authors’ extensive collections of movie posters and publicity stills.
Additional chapters compiled expressly for the book discuss the partnership of David F. Friedman and Herschell Gordon Lewis and Friedman’s origins in the carnival industry; such strange careers as that of Rod Lauren, who pursued parallel careers as a mass-market Sinatra-style crooner and a star of low-budget horror movies; and a rediscovery of Mike Price’s earliest published byline as a film critic—a review of 1968’s Night of the Living Dead as a fresh release. Selected rarities from such genre journals as Psychotronic Video magazine and Wooley’s Hot Schlock Horror! (1992) complete the package.
The Forgotten Horrors series originated in 1979 with a survey of the genre during the Depression years, from 1929 into 1937. Companion volumes have brought the series into the 1950s, with five volumes of Forgotten Horrors in print and a sixth book (covering 1955-1957) in preparation for publication during 2013.
Forgotten Horrors to the Nth Degree will carry a cover price of $30.