"Director Bob Clark: I'm Going to Kill You" Book Review
Written by Simon Fitzjohn
2014, 96 pages, Reference
Released on December 1st 2014
Review:Bob Clark may be one of the most understated horror directors of the 70's, whose cult horror films pre-dated the likes of Halloween (1978) and influenced the future of the horror genre. Simon Fitzjohn's new book Director Bob Clark: I'm Going to Kill You gives an insightful look into Clark's work from his first taster in film, through to his later roles as director. Set chronologically, each of his major works has a dedicated chapter and offers behind the scenes stories, interviews and the struggles that Clark met along the way.
As a huge fan of the original Black Christmas (1974) I am ashamed to admit I was not familiar with Clark's other works until now, so when I was given the chance to review and learn more about Bob Clark I jumped at the opportunity. When originally released, Black Christmas was an underrated horror film which has slowly gained a cult following over the past decades. Clark had a very specific idea and wanted Black Christmas to be a 'real' horror film by opting to focus on young adults as opposed to sex and alcohol obsessed teenagers, "I wanted to use and emphasise the adultness of the college students – their playfulness, their spirit. They are adults, not fools as you often saw in horror films". Black Christmas initiated some of the most well known horror techniques to date, for instance keeping the killer off camera and unidentifiable, and using point of view shots as the killer prowls around the house forcing the audience to see as they see and effectively 'do' what he does. Although these ideas may now seem like a generic tick box for any modern horror film, these techniques at the time were innovative and Clark was the man who pushed these ideas to create real terror. Black Christmas was not his first horror film, Fitzjohn explores Clark's previous horror triumphs, uncovering Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, Deranged, and Deathdream. There is also a study of Clark's non-genre work showing his directorial diversity across many genres including Porky's and The Christmas Story.
Director Bob Clark: I'm Going to Kill You delves into each of Clark's films up until the late 90's, including production problems, audience reception and the impact each film had on Clark, both personally and his reputation, positive or scathing. Various interviews are included, from Clark himself to his co workers, cast and crew, who all have behind the scenes scoops. Clark was a very approachable director and allowed everyone to have a voice, where they were encouraged to give ideas and opinions during the shoot. It is clear through the extensive research that this book is a labour of horror love for Fitzjohn, but this does not overshadow the highs and lows of Clark's career; an honest speaking Fitzjohn notes the director's troubles with his filming choices and the limited directorial offers he had in later life.
Released by Hemlock Horror Companions, Director Bob Clarke: I'm Going to Kill You is well written and honest, without being overly academic or posing too much opinion. We are asked to understand and respect the man who first implemented and influenced key horror techniques, which are now considered clichés of our time, but some are still are terrifying (phone call in Black Christmas, enough said). Needless to say, I have now purchased more of Clark's films and look forward to exploring his work further. A fascinating book, but by the end you wish Clark, who took the shooting techniques from Peeping Tom to new heights and re-wrote the slasher film, had stuck it out with the horror genre. Who knows what he could have created next?
Director Bob Clark: I'm Going to Kill You is now available by clicking the cover below: