I enjoy taking the time to immerse myself in a book whether it is fiction or non-fiction anything on the topic in the horror genre, and in either case it’s sometimes an interesting exploration especially if the author’s words can transform to creative thoughts in one’s mind. Now a wonderful aspect often allows me to request a book, and this time from McFarland publishing company, the summary and title of the book caught my attention and hence I received, but of course I often review the books in the order they came to me, but let’s jump right to the blood and guts.
This book, is truly an analysis, of theoretical proportions it’s not for the causal reader of slasher movies, rather if you seek the discovery of a deeper meaning on the slasher films than this is an excellent place to start, although for fair assessment the book does refer to Men, Women and Chainsaws by author Carol J. Clover a few times and that is too a wonderful book to read too. The author divides the book into three general sections before diving further into the subgenres, those are The Classical (1974 – 1993), The Self-Referential (1994 – 2000), and finally the Neoslasher Cycle (2000 – 2013) while primarily covering 74 slashers, among them Halloween and Friday the 13th. It also noted that the book references it’s selection by choosing these films based from box office returns, and hence eliminates the entire DVD / VHS market of movies, that becomes the carnage, mayhem and bloodbath of the late 80s.
One thing I suppose I didn’t like was the omittance of Psycho (1960) and the franchise of movies its movies it produces, as the book focuses more on systemic slashers, in other words movies that started a trend, and had a large body count and widespread violence or appearance of it. However, the author does reference to both Alfred Hitchcock and Psycho on more than one occasion, which becomes puzzling, on one hand to omit to lack of relevance and then include it for its psychological impacts, seems as someone torn on their own rules. Nevertheless, Psycho does include the keyword slasher in describing the film, and feature movies only limits itself to just 20 movies released from 1960 to 1969, but correctly stating that it takes three years before another slasher finds itself produced, slightly incorrect Peeping Tom (1960) directed by Michael Powell proceeded Alfred’s movie, but it had dismal result before decades later becoming a cult classic. it was not until 1969 that more filmmakers traveled this path. Aside from Hitchcock’s other movies prior Psycho they find themselves removed as ancestors (the author’s definition), further, the author noted the phrasing of a body count, but includes the movie April Fool’s Day (1986) – SPOILER – no one dies in the movie, its all a joke, therefore the inclusion is a bit of a head-scratcher. In addition, diving deeper in the topic of systematic slasher movies and the consistency does get an interruption to Psycho, using the authors’ Appendix A Films Reference it starts with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), coincidentally using the same real life serial killer Ed Gein, as did Psycho, and then Black Christmas also in 1974 but a delay of 3-years again before The Hills have Eyes (1978) emerged. Hence it begs the question what the difference is both of these powerful films have the same break in years, but only one finds itself and franchises included into the book. One last reasoning of the author to omit Psycho (though makes about 10 references throughout his book to the film) is that is “influences other subgenres double personality, urban horror, splatter, etc…” sorry but that is cop-out Hills Have Eyes clearly influenced mutant killers found in Wrong Turn or Child’s Play (1988) for killer dolls, not to mention horror-comedies (parodies) Scary Movie, and the term splatter applied throughout the genre when discussing slasher films.
The appendixes honestly give wonderful tidbits of data, and the book itself clearly shows the intended audience, the intellectual readers, that enjoy extrapolating the data, and discovering The Other (the term Petridis, using to describe the monsters), those invincible killers. The quite of material covering the POV (point of view), noting the common usage in might franchise creating after Halloween (1978) although it was deployed in Black Christmas and in twice in Pscyho (oops can’t reference that movie) disallowed.
Therefore, if you crave vast detail in understanding everything about the slasher movies, the Freudian details and how each cycle evolved and transcended into the next this book definitely your dream treasure trove, however if you seek something with more pictures and lighter flair then avoid this doctoral level book, for it does take quite a bit of work to make it all the through the material, it goes far beyond the basic, borders sometimes of dullness.
Baron’s Rating: 4/5
Title: Anatomy of the Slasher Films
Author: Sotiris Petridis
Publisher: McFarland https://mcfarlandbooks.com/
Publication Date: May 2019
Page Count: 178