"Hollywood Paranormal Films: Fact & Fiction" Book Review
Written by Jim O'Rear
2011, 144 pages, Non-Fiction
Released on June 28th, 2011
I don't know about you, but first thing I do after watching a film that proclaims to be based on a true story is to run to the internet to find out more - especially if I enjoyed the movie. Finding out if the film stuck close to the story, strayed from it or was a complete fabrication based on rumor and hearsay is always fun to investigate. In Jim O'Rear's Hollywood Paranormal Films: Fact & Fiction, he delves into 10 of these types of movies, from mainstream classics like The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror to box office bombs like The Haunting in Connecticut and The Exorcism of Emily Rose and some in between.
O'Rear is very fair in his breakdown of each movie and his going deeper into the history of the truth (or fiction) behind each one is a pleasant surprise. For some reason, I had expected a brief description of each movie, followed by a few short paragraphs of how much was factual, but I got a lot more. A perfect example of this is the chapter on The Amityville Horror. Anyone who has looked into the basis of the movie knows that George Lutz, the author who wrote the book upon which the film is based, was full of shit, and O'Rear says as much in Hollywood Paranormal Films. But he takes it further, going into the house's murderous past, from the killings that went on inside it to the trail of Butch DeFeo — the man charged and ultimately convicted of murdering his family. While I already knew much of what happened before I read the chapter, it is still an entertaining read and one that people who don't know the history will find quite enjoyable.
I also was impressed by the honesty O'Rear demonstrates. The chapter on The Changeling is a good example of this. He immediately begins the piece with "I wish I could find more information about the actual case The Changeling is based on because it is one of my all-time favorite "haunted house" movies." Right away you know that you may not be satisfied with O'Rear's findings, but he gives you fair warning. Having not known that this film was based on a true story to begin with, the information he does provide is incredibly interesting, even if it did leaving me a want for more.
While some of the movies tackled may be old hat for some (The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror and The Mothman Prophecies immediately come to mind), the stories of the other films the others more than make up for it. The biggest disappointment by far is that it's only 144 pages. Its $19.99 MSRP may be just a little too high for the casual collector (especially since there seems to be no eBook version as of this writing), but to be fair, it is printed on glossy paper. In addition, each chapter has its own background color scheme as well as numerous color photos found throughout. The seemingly high MSRP isn't without reason, this book is pretty slick. Still, it's only 144 pages.
If it were a little cheaper, I'd tell you to go out and pick it up right now as it really is a great coffee table book because it's a brisk and enjoyable read. But with that MSRP, it's tough to tell the average reader to grab a copy. People (like me) who really dig this topic will do well to pick one up, but the rest might want to wait for a better price point.