The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated History
Edited by Stephen Jones
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
I love big, beautiful, coffee table books, and The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated History from publishers Applause checks those boxes nicely. It numbers at 256 pages and measures a respectable ten by eleven inches. I don’t know how much it weighs, but it feels pretty heavy to me. Okay, so that covers the “big” part, which necessitates a coffee table to properly display it, but what about beautiful? Well, every one one of those 256 pages is jam-packed with lots of gloriously full-colored movie posters, from the earliest times of horror cinema to the most recent. In addition to pretty pictures a-plenty by a boatload of amazing artists, the book taps a bunch of authors to write about the history and lore of horror and give you some Horror History 101 about the artwork. Such names include Lisa Morton, Ramsey Campbell, John Landis, David J. Schow, Kim Newman, Barry Forshaw, and many more. The whole thing is ably overseen, compiled, and edited by a giant in the genre: Stephen Jones.
The book presents its pretties by breaking things down by era beginning with The Sinister Silents, The Thrilling Thirties, and The Frightening Forties, going all the way up to The Evil Eighties (my favorite), The Nasty Nineties, and The 2000s Maniacs. That last category is everything from 2000 to basically now, as some films that just came out last year are included and covered. Sadly the more modern and recent you get in the book, the less amazing the posters become. Yeah, sorry, but that’s just a fact; modern movie posters, by and large, suck. Too many floating head shots of young, pretty, twenty-somethings looking slightly concerned about something you can’t see. Yes, there are still some great film posters being made, but such things are the exception nowadays, not the rule. Thus the main reason to get this wonderful book; good movie posters is a dying art form that needs to be seen and appreciated. But let’s not get too mopey about this; let’s get back to the celebration.
Simply put, The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated History is a great book. It’s a must-have for any serious horror historian or lover of great art. From classic prints not seen for decades, to foreign takes of famous fright flicks, to photo collages, that while not my favorite, are done well. This is THE art book for fright film fans and if that sounds like you, then consider the treasured titanic tome a necessity.