Shock Value

Shock Value
Jason Zinoman
Reviewed by James Butlin
Duckworth
Thu, 19/01/2012
9780715642986
£18.99

In the 1970s, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola were the directors of the day.

But hidden away in towns across America, a number of directors were putting together low-budget films that were set to change the face of the horror genre forever. Jason Zinoman’s incredibly accessible Shock Value tells the story of the pioneers of new horror, from Scream’s Wes Craven to Halloween’s John Carpenter, and how they came to change the way horror was received by mainstream audiences.
 
What Zinoman manages perfectly is to tell the story of horror in the 70s in a succinct, accessible way, without alienating those who are already well-versed in the films of the era. The book begins with introducing each director who gradually shaped the genre, and, using each chapter to tell the story of their movies and how they were received, how they altered perceptions of the changing face of a once-forgotten film style.
 
The focus is on how the directors of the age drew upon fears that were inherent in the general public, from childbirth to unknown assailants rather than supernatural beings. One criticism is that the book might not delve into enough detail for hardcore fans of the genre, and casual readers might not find it interesting. However, for those who want a peek inside the birth of a genre that has given us Scream, Saw and Paranormal Activity, take a look here. If you dare.
 

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