Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Inven ted Modern Horror Hardcover – Jul 7 2011
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“In Shock Value, New York Times scribe Zinoman attempts to give these directors the same treatment Peter Biskind gave Spielberg, Scorsese, and Coppola in his magnificent Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. In other words, he explains the filmmakers’ importance while never letting his cultural theorizing get in the way of a good production yarn or intriguing biographical nugget. Zinoman succeeds monstrously well in this mission…there is plenty here to make the most knowledgeable of horror fans’ head explode.” — Entertainment Weekly
“Not only is Shock Value enormously well-researched — the book is based on the author's interviews with almost all of the movement's principals — it's also an unbelievable amount of fun. Zinoman writes with a strong narrative drive and a contagious charisma.” — NPR.org
“[Shock Value] fuses biography (in this case, of such masters of horror as Wes Craven, John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper), production history, movie criticism and social commentary into a unified and irresistible story...You should finish a great movie book with your dander up and your Netflix queue swelled by at least a dozen titles. And on that count, Shock Value more than delivers.” — Laura Miller, Salon.com
"Zinoman...concentrates on a handful of films and filmmakers that brought the corpse back to life during the late 1960s and early ’70s, and he convincingly conveys what made movies like 'Night of the Living Dead' and 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' different from anything that had come before: more unsettling, purer in their sense of dread...where Shock Value excels is in its primary research, the stories of how the seminal shockers of this era came to be.” — The New York Times
“Impassioned, articulate prose…Zinoman is such a literate, intelligent defender of the cause that his arguments are well worth reading. Even better, he has a knack for finding the characters in behind-the-scenes theatrics.” — The Onion
“Though in-depth character bios and discussion of the changing movie business are fascinating, Zinoman’s shot-by-shot descriptions of groundbreaking films and championing of understated gems are even more impressive. This volume reveals just enough to satiate horror aficionados, while offering plenty for curious fright-seekers who want to explore the formative years of what’s become a billion-dollar industry.” — Publishers Weekly starred review
“Insightful, revealing, and thoroughly engrossing…Thoroughly researched, Shock Value is chock full of nuggets of insider details that even the most hardcore horror fan might not know.” — About.com
“Between 1968 and 1976, all the films that redefined the horror movie were made: Night of the Living Dead, Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, Dark Star, The Last House on the Left, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and Carrie. In fluent reporter’s prose lent urgency by personal fascination, Zinoman tells how their creators made those paradigm-shifters…There are many good-bad and downright bad books about horror movies. Zinoman gives us the rare all-good book about them.” — Roy Olson, Booklist
“May well prove to be the most indispensable overview of modern horror.” — Rue Morgue Magazine
“Brisk, accessible and incisive...walks a tonal tightrope of entertaining prose and sobering deliberation.” — Fangoria Magazine
“Five Stars. The most effortlessly enchanting treatise on the American horror film since Stephen King’s Danse Macabre.... die-hard horror fans will worship it.” — BloodyDisgusting.com
From the Back Cover
“SCALPEL-SHARP…It grabs you like a deadly undertow and doesn’t let go.”
—Parade magazine (Parade Picks)
He captured the Beauty Killer, one of the most deranged serial killers in the country. Now, Portland police detective Archie Sheridan faces a different kind of killer—a brutal rain season that has flooded the Willamette River, claiming several lives. As water levels rise, so does the fear. Because some of the victims didn’t drown—they were murdered.
“Superb… [Cain is] the new queen of serial-killer fiction.”
The first body contains a rare poison. Three others prove to be murders as well. And with each gruesome discovery the medical examiner uncovers, Archie begins to realize he has not escaped his nightmares—even with his deadliest enemy behind bars. The flood has washed up old skeletons from the past. And a ruthless new serial killer rules the night…“HEART-STOPPING.”—Publishers Weekly (a Top 10 Mystery of the Year)
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book does falter, though, in a lot of ways that glare too much to make it completely enjoyable. While the book does feature portraits of horror luminaries such as Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, Brian DePalma and George Romero, the main narrative of the book focuses on John Carpenter, and does so far too much. The book quickly becomes about Carpenter and his frequent clashes with his collaborator, Dan O'Bannon. The book describes Carpenter and O'Bannon's obsession with HP Lovecraft and their shared obsession with Howard Hawkes' The Thing from Another Planet.
Yet, despite Zinoman's adoration of Carpenter's work, and despite a half dozen mentions of his love of The Thing From Another Planet, the book makes only a slight mention of Carpenter's remake of the film, The Thing, which still stands as one of the most terrifying horror films ever made.
There are a few other quibbles I had with the book, including a number of rather glaring typos and factual errors, and a strangely self-absorbed telling of how a Hollywood producer approached Zinoman during the writing of the book to pitch him a horror film. The pitch is kind of banal, and just seems out of place, seeing that the rest of the book focused solely on the directors of the previously mentioned films, and had nothing to do with Zinoman's personal experiences with the films.
I would say that the book is recommended to anyone who wants a nice overview of the horror genre during the 70s and early 80s, but there are some parts of it that definitely warrant skipping.
My other complaint is more subjective. I happen to believe that Bob Clark's "Black Christmas" was the most terrifying movie of the decade, and that John Carpenter (who, incidentally, comes off as a Grade-A jerk in this book) shamelessly stole concepts and techniques from that movie to use in his blockbuster "Halloween." Zinoman touches on this directorial "borrowing," but inexcusably devotes little text to Clark's woefully underappreciated, eerie masterpiece.
Mr. Zinoman is a good writer, and within the areas that he chooses to focus, he has done a good deal of research and provides the reader with interesting insights.
My main complaint would be that there was not enough. The book covers the initial films of Craven, Carpenter, De Palma, Friedkin, Polanski, Romero and Hooper to a good deal of depth. But he ignores much, if not all, of the later works of these artists. I would have liked to have heard much more about how these directors evolved. In some cases, like Hooper or Romero, where there careers sort of flamed out (I know Romero fans won't agree, but how many zombie moves can one man make?), but many of them remained vital for many years. I was especially disappointed that there was not more coverage of Body Double and the Thing. These are two of the finest thriller/horror movies ever made IMO, and were fairly solidly within the time period covered by the book, yet were basically left out for some reason (I'm guessing time limitations, as the whole book though well done does feel a bit rushed). Maybe part two.
That aside, I did thoroughly enjoy reading this. Hopefully there will be more like it!
Overall I was very let down because the era and the films Zinoman discusses are classic, and he's done the seemingly impossible: make it all sound very boring.
Something that stuck with me after reading this is that John Carpenter might be a jerk. This is going by what happened between Dan O'Bannon and him. Maybe it's just the perspective of the author (though he was pretty unbiased throughout the entire book).
Anyway, this is a quick, entertaining read.