I honestly don’t remember much about the 90s, it was more of blur for me, in 1991 I just graduated high school and I began the next stage in life, one I later changed drastically. It was time to put away childish things, and start college, and so on, therefore this gave some insight to me. As I embark on becoming a Horror Historian this was one decade I knew I needed to give emphasis on learning all I could about it. This book offers a great refresher to this almost forgotten decade which had early noteworthy films, Jacob’s Ladder (1990), Misery (1990) and The Silence of the Lambs (1992) neither were teen oriented movies, that is where Alexandra West focuses her entire book. The big three slasher franchises Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Halloween, waning in popularity especially at the box office, perhaps holding the number 1 spot for a weekend before tumbling down the ranking, horror struggled with a foot hold for the teens. In addition, it notes the cultural trends of the decade both the positive and negative influences that impact the youth, art mirrors society. There was a multitude of issues that teens saw, and it led to a shock-proof outlook, struggling through shootings at school, bullying, sexual assaults, and racial incidents.
The overall book examines 25 films to various degrees, starting with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (1992) and concluding with Scream 4 (2011), which these movies run the gambit of subgenres, however often starred heartthrobs of the television screen. While the author includes the blockbuster movies, there’s some of the leftover flicks such as My Boyfriend’s Back (1993) and 1998’s Disturbing Behavior (1998). There’s an entire chapter on Urban Legend and Urban Legends: Final Cuts, noting the inspiration and numerous references to Alfred Hitchcock and on page 101 noting his McGuffin technique. When discussing the 1990s horror films with those in their 20s and 30s, they reflect how Scream (1996) was their version of Halloween (1978), and which was researched and discussed in the book in depth and trying to dispel to the myth that this time contained mundane storytelling. Each decade contains good and bad horror, and judge harshly by the previous generation, but that is commonplace. Often horror fans point even become transfixed on the almighty 80s but in the 1990s the memories are vacant a barren landscape, though the hits often were hit or miss, the horror focused on capturing a new wave of teens hard pressed. The significance of Wes Craven’s Scream is that the characters had self-awareness as well as resistance to hardships, which echoes with violence plaguing teens everyday life. Lastly, the book notes many interest subtopics from the poster art becomes the same appearance characters fanning outward in a letter ‘V’ pattern all with the same blank uninteresting 1000-mile stare to the potential audience.
The overall book is 171 pages (excluding the acknowledgements and footnotes; etc.) that tends to lend to some wordy passages, just like in movies, tells the information in the straightest path possible and generates vivid descriptions to create images in the readers mind, especially since West states its overlooked in this decade of horror filmmaking. However, that’s not to say the book doesn’t contain any fun, it drops many insightful hints to the movies, and serves as wonderful book to accompany one’s bookshelf with Carol J. Clover’s Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film, which the author does refer to a few times. These two works exist on my reference section, and I often refer to Clover’s book and now West’s book too.
Baron’s Rating: 4.0/50
Title: The 1990s Teen Horror Cycle
Author: Alexandra West
Publisher: McFarland https://mcfarlandbooks.com/
Publication Date: May 2018
Page Count: 195