Making and Remaking Horror in the 1970s and 2000s By David Roche Published by University Press of Mississippi, 2014. 335 pages.
Sometimes I really regret asking for a book to review. Especially when I had just finished reviewing one epic size book of Psycho-Babble, and then along comes this relatively new book by David Roche. He is a professor at the Université Toulouse Le Mirail with some publishing credentials under his belt. In other words, he’s no slouch. In fact, Roche is a very smart man and can do some amazing fact finding research, which he puts to use in this book. The concept of the book is to try and figure out the differences between the original ’70s versions of Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead, Hills Have Eyes, and Halloween, and their remakes that were all made in the 2000s, or what makes them better or worse and for what reasons.
That initial concept is what intrigued me at the start. But once I dove into it, I quickly realized what I had gotten myself into once again. This is not written for the casual fan, but for a very academic crowd. In fact, I had a dictionary opened most of the time when I was reading it to make sure I was getting the point he was stating. Gotta say though…even that didn’t help a lot of times. These University style books love to go way out of their way to explain something about a movie that really doesn’t need it or even have an explanation other than what is at face value. Here, Roche does a lot of quoting from other works of this sort, as well as giving his own insight, which I frankly think all of which is putting way too thought on this stuff. Let me give you a couple of examples.
A Companion to the Horror Film
Edited by Harry Benshoff
Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2014. 588 pages.
My first thought about this book of collected essays was the cost, retail price of $180. Now, this is a very thick and heavy hardcover book, close to 600 pages, written by a group of people that have Professor or other intellectual monikers before or after their names. But is any book worth that much? Are you going to get that much out of it? Well, right away, Tim Lucus’ Bava book comes to mind and yeah, I do think that is worth the heavy price. Plus the fact that Lucus’ tome is quite a bit larger in size, and is chocked full of amazing color photos. With a price of $180, it is going to take a special collector and fan to afford this volume for their collection. But even if you have the money, is it still worth buying?
For me personally, there were a few things that I found very interesting, such as Aaron Smuts chapter “Cognitive and Philosophical Approaches to Horror”. He discusses what is known as the Paradox of Horror, which is a slight take-off of the Paradox of Tragedy, which asks the question of why we would want to indulge in, like reading or watching something, that is “likely to arouse negative emotions.” He asks the age old question of why horror is popular. But at the end of essay, all he does is recap his and others theories but never answers the question that he posed. But none the less, I enjoyed what he was discussing.