"The Gorehound's Guide to Splatter Films of the 1980s" Book Review
Written by ZigZag
Published by McFarland
Written by Scott Aaron Stine
2003, 390 pages, Reference
Released on July 8th, 2003
Author Scott Aaron Stine previously penned the exhaustive The Gorehound’s Guide to Splatter Films of the 1960s and 1970s. He returns with the next chapter, appropriately titled The Gorehound’s Guide to Splatter Films of the 1980s, and it comes loaded with information. The book opens with a thoughtful introduction in which Stine defines what a splatter film is and how it ties to the slasher subgenre. He explains a lot of the history of contemporary horror cinema and does so in an accessible manner. He moves on to include a “How to Use This Book” guide, detailing the numerous abbreviated categories that accompany each entry. Some of the topics covered include director, cast, music, special effects, aliases, country of origin and the film’s availability on VHS and DVD at the time of publication (2003).
From here we get to the meat of the collection, a systematic review of hundreds of titles listed in alphabetical order. Most releases are North American productions, but there are some European and Asian offerings. His capsulated reviews are thoughtful and opinionated and certain to challenge the views of some hardcore genre fans. Stine has little patience for franchise films, hates sequels and cannot stand gore that appears subpar. He remains unapologetic for his divisive criticisms, as he readily dismisses several popular titles of the genre. This brazen disregard for so many entries had me questioning why he dedicated his time writing a guidebook to the genre if he hated so many offerings. It is this hatred that makes his efforts all the more commendable, as his honest reactions may spare you the ninety minutes of time he feels are better spent elsewhere. That being said, he is generous in his praise for titles he enjoyed.
The coverage is incomplete however, and I understand it is difficult if not impossible to cover every entry released in the decade being addressed, but there are some glaring omissions. Titles like The Funhouse, Terror Train and Curtains are nowhere to be found, yet relatively bloodless films like New Year’s Evil and Crawlspace garner his full attention. A word now about titles and how some movies are listed; if a film has an alternate name in different territories, readers are referred to the most popular title. Curiously, certain movies are listed by secondary names, meaning films like Pieces are referred to by their Spanish title and Madman is credited by the moniker The Legend Lives. Aside from this occasional discrepancy, the book does a fine job cross-referencing foreign and domestic titles.
The layout is easy and pleasing and reviews are accompanied by frequent black-and-white promotional stills and movie posters. Following the main course of listings and critiques we get an exhaustive film index. This is a sixty-nine page endeavor that lists not only every film covered in the book, but also every actor who stars in the cast. This at first feels like overkill, but honestly if you can only think of the person and not the film, you are in luck. Readers will find themselves drawn back to the pages of this book either for quick reference or the search for obscure trivia. All in all this is a fine guide that while more opinionated than others, is just as passionate. The one sticking point is the suggested retail price of $29.99, which is a bit steep for a paperback book. Look for it on sale somewhere, but do consider the purchase and happy hunting.