Book review: 'Unsung Horrors'
Posted Wednesday, April 26, 2017, at 4:05 AM
LITTLE ROCK — Unsung Horrors is, dare I say, a Homeric guide for obscure, familiar and unappreciated horror films. The book is also the brainchild of the crew behind We Belong Dead magazine. The book is nearly 450 pages of critical essays examining more than 200 projects from silent film originals to semi-modern day sequels like Jaws 2. The book begins with an introduction from Eric McNaugton followed by a brief foreword by filmmaker Joe Dante (The Howling, Innerspace and Gremlins).
Unsung Horrors is reminiscent of the seldomly produced horror film anthologies most enthusiasts of the genre so long for. Each article in this fanciful book is a story unto itself solely dedicated to educating its readers while still maintaining a level of diversion. Now, if you're a horror novice, you'll have to make your own decision on the quality of the movies themselves after you read Unsung Horrors.
The authors point out some blue-chip selections like a British cinematic incarnation of the "Fall of the House of Usher" (1949), while other writers do their very best to defend dreck like "Scream Blacula Scream" (1973). Author Kevin Nickelson could have scrutinized Scream Blacula Scream for twenty pages and he never would have convinced me that either Blacula blaxploitation picture was anything other than an abortion. But that's the wonder of this book. It's fun to see someone patiently discuss, defend and disseminate the films they love, even if you don't agree with them.
There's a wonderfully-written essay by Vincent Simonelli on "Son of Kong" (1933). What a lot of people don't realize is that this sequel was released in theaters only seven months after the original King Kong (1933) dazzled those early Golden-Age audiences. Can you imagine only having to wait seven months between Iron Man films? It probably wouldn't have been that much of an event, considering the cliche: "absence makes the heart grow fonder."
My personal favorite was Peter Fuller's examination of "The Last Man on Earth" (1964), which is another top-notch selection starring Vincent Price. Fuller does a great job of discussing the history of the novel (source material) and the various adaptations that sprung from author Issac Asimov's 1924 novel. This is one my Top 10 public domain movies. if you haven't seen this enthralling tale of an apocalyptic world overrun by vampire-ish zombies, check it out here.
In closing, the beautiful part of this book is that everyone from horror film aficionados to kids just starting to explore the genre can find something new and riveting to read in Unsung Horror. For me, Fangoria Magazine was my go-to connection to the world of the macabre as a youth, but for someone else Unsung Horrors could be that magical carpet ride to appreciating the wonderful worlds of scary movies and cult classics.