“The Slasher Movie Book” by JA Kerswell
READING “The Slasher Movie Book” is like leafing through a 1980s high school yearbook for maniacs. Look how young Michael and Jason are! Oh, and there’s Freddy in that sweater he wore, like, every day. And what happened to Chucky, that little monster?
The new book, a collection of horror film artwork to be released Friday by Chicago Review Press, features dozens of posters, commercials and video covers from the collection of JA Kerswell, 43, an Englishman who grew up watching classic American horror films on late-night television or rented VHS tapes. “I loved the scares, the thrills of the cat and mouse,” Kerswell said by phone from his home in Bristol, England.
International in scope, “The Slasher Movie Book” traces how the genre’s conventions – lustful teenagers, glittering cutlery, bloody deaths – were used to market these films primarily to young fans.
From the Age of Silence, when a frightened woman glanced at the poster for “The cat and the canary”(1927), the work of art ranges from cheesy flavor to greyness. The poster of “Happy Birthday to me”(1981), for example, shows a young man about to get a skewer of meat and vegetables down his throat. (The slogan: “John will never eat shish kebab again.”) One series even has a superstar logo: The hockey goalie’s face gear used to advertise several “Friday the 13th” sequels has become a shorthand for the franchise, much like another white mask did. for the musical “The Phantom of the Opera”.
The above slideshow includes five examples from the book that offer a cinematic timeline of the evolution of slasher movie posters. The New York Times commissioned several artists to design their fantastic poster versions for the original “Friday the 13th”; their job is here.