The Horror Show Guide: The Ultimate Frightfest of Movies

Do you think you are a horror film aficionado?  Maybe so.  But you’ve met your match with Mike Mayo. Are you a casual visitor to the “dark side” of horror? Maybe you’re a film fan of any type?  Whatever category you’re in – come along for great fun and insight by reading The Horror Show Guide: The Ultimate Frightfest of Movies.  The book is a delightful collection of reviews and facts about films and will appeal to hard-core or casual admirers of the horror genre. 

Films are listed in alphabetical order so readers can search for a particular film and quickly read a review, or they can read the book straight through for the overall experience.

Author Mike Mayo is a former host of the nationally syndicated radio programs “Max & Mike on the Movies” and “Movie Show on Radio.”  He is a journalist and member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Mystery Writers of America.  That he knows his subject becomes evident very quickly.

This book  looks at films of the past 15 years but also combines core elements from a previous Mayo book, Video Hound’s Horror Show. The result is an extensive list of films from 1910 to 2012. The Introduction is one of the most entertaining I’ve read and sets the tone for the book. The author gives forth with thoughts on the popularity of horror films, the evolution of them, and some comments on specific films within the genre. Readers will know they are in for a good time.

There are the obvious choices such as The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, the Alien series, and The Birds but also countless, lesser-known gems. In addition to the reviews and information about the quirky, obscure films, another fun aspect reveals some big names who dabbled in the horror genre, such as Nancy Davis (who later became Nancy Reagan, First Lady of the U.S.), Liam Neeson and Meg Ryan.

Those who follow horror extensively will probably know this, but others will learn as they read the book that humor has played a large role in horror films.  This is not limited to the Abbott and Costello Meet… series or the Vincent Price Dr. Phibes series.  One does not think of humor and horror as being joined together but read this book and learn otherwise.  Even the names Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, sprinkled throughout because of their extensive careers in the genre, were not without humor, it seems.

Scattered throughout the book are quotes from various films.  Also included are numerous “Top” Lists, with some very serious recommendations of best in a legitimate category, such as Top Seven Alien Invaders Movies or Top Twelve Vampire Movies. Other lists may be legitimate recommendations but their categories are amusing and fun.  These include Top Nineteen Rural/Redneck Horrors, Top Seven Motels-You-Absolutely-Do-Not-Want-to-Visit Movies and Top Twelve Nasty Bug Movies. By the way, in the Top Twelve Vampire Movies?  Legions of teenage fans will be horrified to learn that the “Twilight” series did not make the cut.

This reviewer agrees with many of Mayo’s reviews of such films as the underrated “From Hell” starring Johnny Depp as an investigator of the Jack the Ripper killings.  I disagree with other reviews, such as that of 1963’s The Haunting, which I consider to be one of the best I’ve seen for subtle, no-special-effects-needed fear.

Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with the reviews, there are bound to be some suggestions to place on a “to do” list of renting or downloading. My list includes “The Mothman Prophecies”, which I’d heard of but am now intrigued by thanks to Mayo,  “The Legend of Hell House”, “The Astronaut’s Wife”, “Dracula 2000”, and “Devil Doll”.

Give the book as a gift to a horror fan or keep it for yourself.  It will provide handy reference clues when renting or downloading, or when coming across a showing of a film on television.

Mayo’s exhaustive research and knowledge shines through as does his sense of entertainment and love of the genre. Enjoy!

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