New York Times theater critic Jason Zinoman would be the first person to admit that his new book, Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror originated in an anxiety that there was something a little embarrassing about loving horror movies as much as he did. Where did this guilty pleasure come from? And why did so many people share it?

These questions led him to take a closer look at horror, not only to investigate why we like to be scared, but how horror grew from a much disparaged genre, confined to drive-in theaters and shunned by critics, to an ambitious art form that has conquered the multiplex. And he discovered something fascinating: he could pinpoint the exact decade when Old Horror turned to New Horror, when Bela Lugosi and adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe stories turned to film-making that was grittier, more confrontational, and wasn’t afraid to break taboos (or, for that matter, the box office).

Through a combination of Zinoman’s critic’s eye and dogged reporting, Shock Value is the first book to look in depth at the years roughly between 1968 and 1979 when a handful of outcasts and oddballs revolutionized the industry. With unprecedented access to directors, producers, actors, and most other major players, Zinoman vividly recreates the entertaining, behind-the-scenes stories of how Wes Craven, Roman Polanski, William Friedkin, and John Carpenter, among others, took one of the most potent and influential emotions in our culture – fear – and turned it on its head.

With never-before-told stories about the makings of such classic horror films like The Exorcist, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Halloween, and Alien, Shock Value is an enthralling, personality-driven account of one of the most influential periods of American film-making.

Look for it to hit stores on July 11.

You can pre-order from Amazon.com here: Shock Value

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