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The Making of Horror Movies (Hardback)

Key Figures who Established the Genre

Social History White Owl

By Jennifer Selway
Imprint: White Owl
Pages: 232
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526774705
Published: 30th April 2021


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Horror films divide opinion. It wasn’t until 1973 that a horror film (The Exorcist) was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture and many respected critics still regard them with amused condescension. The public’s view is also sharply divided. Some cinema goers revel in the thought of being made very, very afraid, while some just don’t like horror films because they don’t want to be frightened.

This guide, which is for both the fan and the more faint-hearted, steers an illuminating path through a genre that has, since the early days of cinema, split off into many sub-divisions - folk horror, slasher movies, Hammer, sci-fi horror, psychological thrillers, zombie movies, among others.

Times change but movie-makers can always find a way to tap into what we fear and dread, whether it’s blood-sucking vampires or radioactive mutations, evil children or the living dead.

This book also gives concise biographies of the many actors and directors who saw their careers – for better or worse – defined by their association with horror movies, and who created a genre that is instantly recognisable in all its forms and continues to find new and ingenious ways of scaring us in the dark.

This author I had never heard of, yet the fellow on the book cover is familiar to me, and probably you. Horror movies are a large part of many of our lives. These movies make up 70-80% of all movies I watch, so this book interested me for many reasons. The book is basically short biographies of horror movie actors over the years. Some I had never heard of.. If you, or someone you buy books for has an interest in horror movies and the participants in those moves, give this book a read.

4 Stars

NetGalley, Jeffrey Wells

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Oh, God, where do I start? Maybe for the fact that I have FIVE PAGES of manuscript notes taken, and a list of 27 MOVIES to watch. I considered myself a horror movie fan, but the fact that I wasn’t familiar with the work of Tod Browning changed everything.
I loved this book from the start; I loved how it’s not about MOVIES but about the PEOPLE BEHIND THEM, and how the author manages to chain a spectacular list of directors, producers, actors, actresses and writers, giving us not biographies per se but notes and details about their lives that makes us understand more about where they come from and, by doing so, how they landed on the horror genre and what they added to it.
The book made me laugh, and I even teared up a bit on some parts. The author’s love for the horror genre is palpable in every page, and I wish they wouldn’t stop at Carpenter’s work: I need to know more about Selway’s opinion about contemporary horror (she gives us some pointers and talks even about Peele’s work, but it’s in an after-note and I need MORE).
The book also made me think about the lack of woman in the industry. My, oh my, we need to change that. After all, as Bela Lugosi said, “it is women who love horror” –
Overall, I must read for any fan of the genre and of the cinema in general, really. Pioneers, rule-breakers & rule-setter, the horror movies gave us all, and we all can feel inspired by this.

NetGalley, bel Riddle

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is such a wonderful and nostalgic book. I read through this book thinking about the old monsters of my childhood that starred in the saturday shocker movie afternoons. The history was very interesting. I would recommend this book.

NetGalley, Annalisa Alberti

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A well thought out and sensitively written text, it does not shy away from the darker sides of the individuals and I learnt a lot I didn't already know. I would recommend this to any horror fan as I think it provides and adds a unique perspective to many peoples collections of horror film memorabilia or knowledge of the genre.

NetGalley, Lorna Vianna

This book brings back the golden age of horror movies to a new generation. It can never be reinvented too many times. You are taken into the private lives of the actors and directors who found one horror movie could change their lives forever. It really brings alive what these actors went though to bring the new development of groundbreaking makeup effects. The story takes you through the Golden age of Hammer studios where budget did not stop enjoyment of these quick turned out films. Many stars who started their careers in horror are still household names to this day. I found it a very enjoyable time reflecting back though the films of my youth and would recommend trying for yourselves.

NetGalley, Charlotte Pawson

Jennifer Selway takes some of the most important leading figures in horror cinema and details how each of them got into the horror genre. From actors, directors, producers and writers, Selway has grouped a stunning mini-biography of artists such as Vincent Price, Christoper Lee, Peter Cushing, Val Lewton, Roger Corman, Nigel Kneale and Elsa Lanchester to name just a few. I found this to be a fantastic book on film but also it would make a must for any horror film fan looking to see how the genre found its feet through the artists and innovators who were there at the beginning.

NetGalley, Darren Jackson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The thing is as much as I love a good scary movie, I admit to not having watched enough classics. They don’t always date well for me. But this book has certainly stirred my interest in them. And I’m delighted to think, once I actually get to rounding out this cinematic love of mine, I’ll be in the know about who’s who and the lives of individuals behind the scenes and the screams. And, considerately enough, the author tells you just enough about the movies to rouse your appetite without giving away too much, so that you can still be surprised, frightened and awed as originally intended by all those featured in this book.
Great read, informative, erudite and engaging. An absolute must for genre fans. Recommended.

NetGalley, Mia D

I love horror movies and found this book very interesting and easy to read.

NetGalley, Shelly Myers

I think the author did a good job of getting the information compiled in a readable and engaging fashion. The recovered English major that I am, I was thrilled to see proper citing of sources, et all. Way too often I see nonfiction materials for a variety of audiences that fail to do so.

A History of the Undead is a well written and researched introduction to the evolution of mummies, zombies, and vampires in western cultures, entertainment, and media.

NetGalley, Sharon Tyler

'The making of horror movies' delves into the key players in creating the genre. The origins of horror movies and how they have expanded and continued to influence the movies we see today. This book was so well researched and easily digestible, with short chapters keeping the reader engaged. I really enjoyed this one and would love to read a follow up with more recent horror movies explored!

NetGalley, Kendal Boyle

Recommended for those who love horror as well as those who enjoy reading about those who make film of any kind. This is an endearing look at the people in the genre, and thus the genre through that lens.

NetGalley, Jack Messer

This book is very well researched and you can tell this just from the content, the author has done a very good job. The book is very informative and contains all the information required to learn about the films, actors, directors, sets etc. Definitely a worthwhile read for anyone who enjoys horror, non-fiction and how films are made.

NetGalley, Chloe Bateman

I really enjoyed this book. Some of the actors I was familiar with, some I was not. Interesting read about actors, directors, etc that are known, some more than others. Best way to describe this book is a mini bio of people associated with horror movies. It was fun to read that Vincent Price found the fly saying “help me” at the end of “The Fly” was interesting. I really think any horror fan will enjoy this book. I know I did.

NetGalley, V NUNEZ

This was a very informative book about different films, directors, actors, etc. I was surprised to find out about movies I didn't know about before.

If you are a horror fanatic and want to learn more about the horror world I recommend picking this book up!

NetGalley, Brittney Green

A must-have for horror movie fans. Selway's journey through horror movies begins with Tod Browning, creator of Freaks, and travels forward through the likes of Christopher Lee, Lon Chaney, Elsa Lanchester, Vincent Price, and John Carpenter sharing details of the individual's life and contributions to horror. Unlike some other nonfiction works I have read, Selway presented lesser written about aspects of the person--the real person with all their flaws. It was an interesting read.

NetGalley, Teresa Grabs

I’m glad I was able to read this! I only know one or two of the big names from the beginning of history, but now I know about so much more. This is a great resource to learn about the big names and the history of the industry. Very knowledgeable and entertaining!

NetGalley, Samantha B

I really enjoyed this book. I am a sucker for any book about the film industry, and I love (/hate - sometimes it is too scary for me) horror. I really enjoyed this look into the classic horror and monster movies. Very informative!

NetGalley, Christine Bolton

Ms Selway has clearly done her research but hasn't just regurgitated it - there's a genuine taking apart and search to understand how horror has evolved..

I'll definitely be seeking out a copy of this when it is published.

NetGalley, Martin Paul
 Jennifer Selway

About Jennifer Selway

Jennifer Selway is a film and TV critic, former editor of the Observer’s TV pages and contributor to the Time Out Film Guide. She is also a playwright and newspaper columnist. She is married, has three grown-up children and lives in Hampshire.

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