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Mark H. Harris

Horror Books Roundup: Horror Noire, Life Lessons from Slasher Films, Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide

By November 12, 2012

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Horror Noire
© Routledge

If you ever manage to peel yourself away from the TV or movie screen, here is a selection of excellent books about horror movies to help you maintain some semblance of literacy:

  • Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present: As the self-explanatory title states, author Robin Means Coleman explores the role and portrayal of African Americans in horror cinema from the 19th century to the 21st century, from the silent minstrel shorts of the early 1900s to the jungle and zombie movies of the '30s to the comic relief of the '40s, the Blaxploitation ''70s, the establishment of the "black guy dies first" cliché in the '80s and the so-called "urban horror" sub-genre of the '90s. Horror Noire is a bit on the academic side, but it's chock-full of insightful information that digs beneath the surface of racial representation in horror and has to be considered a seminal work on the subject. 
  • Life Lessons from Slasher Films: Author Jessica Robinson takes an interesting approach to dissecting slasher movies, analyzing them in order to cull moral lessons such as "The past will catch up to you," "Listen to your elders" and "Learn from your mistakes," highlighting one lesson per chapter with multiple examples from slasher films that take Jamie Kennedy's "rules" in Scream to the next level. Despite the concept, it's not as lighthearted a work as you'd think, delving into sociological subtexts that will have you believing these films aren't as shallow as they're perceived.
  • Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide: Easily the least academic of the three books, Glenn Kay's book is thus the easiest read and the one that feels most like it comes from the heart of a diehard horror fan.The title is no misnomer, as it dives not only into the history of zombie movies and their relationship to historical events happening in the world at the time, but it also provides reviews of nearly 400 zombie flicks, interviews with genre talent and entertaining lists like "Zombieless Zombie Movies" and "Some of the Weirdest/Funniest/Most Disturbing Things I've Seen in Zombie Movies." Even the biggest zombie fan will likely find something new, although the book is arguably too comprehensive, including some films that many fans wouldn't consider "zombie movies" (like the Friday the 13th series).

Remember: bleeding is fundamental.

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