It doesn’t matter if you like horror movies or avoid them like the plague. Shock Value is more about the revival of a film genre that mirrored the times we lived in and moved moviemaking into a bold and brave new territory. You remember - the 1970s.
For those of us lucky to be around during that interesting and historical decade, coming out of the musical and political revolutions of the previous one, it was a time, you may remember, of great movies by the likes of Coppola and Scorsese and even two guys named Lucas and Spielberg. But it was also a time of a renaissance of horror movies courtesy of a new breed of filmmakers such as John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Brian De Palma and George Romero, all eager to infuse new blood (pun intended) into a genre that had lost some of its hold on film-going audiences.
Jason Zinoman takes us on a wild ride through the decade of these amazing new voices in horror storytelling, providing background information into the rise - or should we say “re-rise” - of the all but forgotten genre, and takes both a fan’s view and a critic’s eye to a time when the very foundation of modern horror was being mutated and remolded to keep up with the times. This was the time of Aliens and Carrie, The Exorcist and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a far and bolder cry from the more campy and often innocently naïve horror of the ‘50s and ‘60s. The filmmakers and writers of the ‘70s were all about pushing the envelope and introduced a new sense of “shock and awe” to moviegoers. And moviegoers devoured it… pun intended.
The book provides plenty of delicious detail into the struggles these horror masters faced with studios, even the public, as they changed the face of horror forever. There is a ton of history and trivia and a look at how the special effects of horror were forever changed during the new wave of moviemaking, which took the gore factor to a whole new level. Zinoman also offers great insight into the mood of the public before and after this new wave of horror hit theater screens, and how it often mirrored the anxieties and social issues of the time.
Horror fans will eat this book alive - pun intended - but anyone who enjoys reading about how movies and storytelling have shaped history and influenced what we see and read today, in this new millennium, will also love this fun examination of a genre that, like many of its monsters, will never ever ever die, only mutate and change and evolve with the times, making it harder and harder for people to sleep at night without first checking under the bed and closing all closet doors.
As if that would help…