[Book Review] “The Slasher Movie Book”

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In the UK, author JA Kerswell is the resident expert on slasher films. Not only has he been running the slasher site HysteriaLives.com for over 10 years, he’s also the author of 2010s’ Wasteland for teens, which also told the story of the slasher movie. He brings his obvious love of the bloody stabbing to The Slasher Movie Book, a fleshy and colorful tome that effectively encapsulates the entire subgenre in its 200+ pages. Packed with international posters and spooky marketing imagery, The Slasher Movie Book serves as a totem pole for the anti-Kindle mob. It’s an undeniable collector’s item for horror fans, although I don’t necessarily agree with everything Kerswell postulates in its pages.

A lot of The Slasher Movie Book is written from a defensive perspective. As Kerswell stated in his introduction, “The Slasher is often unfairly viewed as a boy whipped to the bottom of the barrel, often accused – by critics and genre fans – of bending to the lowest common denominator.” And while it’s refreshing to read Kerswell, defend hidden horror treasures like Torso and Tourist trap, he tends to defend vigorously practically all entry into the subgenre, something to keep in mind when looking for the unknown movies he recommends.

I don’t want to give the impression of criticizing the beautiful opus that Kerswell has concocted. The Slasher Movie Book is a pleasure to read. The author postulates that the golden age of the slasher film took place from 1978 to 1984, to which he devotes the middle third of the book. He starts from there, devoting individual chapters to the Grand Guignol, Italian giallo, and even German krimi. Most films are summarized with a mandatory paragraph, and Kerswell goes through each epoch in the film with clear and easy summaries.

The Slasher Movie BookKerswell’s main selling point is the dozen international images that Kerswell has compiled, movie illustrations, and lobby maps from the United States and beyond. In fact, some may view Kerswell’s effort as a book of vintage movie posters studded with commentary, but it’s more than that. The Slasher Movie Book is the perfect slasher preview for a new fan who has just entered the subgenre. Everything is covered here, if only very briefly.

4 of 5 skulls

By the way, would readers agree that 1978-1984 was the heyday of the movie Slasher? I’m sure we can all name a few founding slasher movies that didn’t come out during this time …

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