How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror
ISBN 9781594203022 | 272 pages | 07 Jul 2011 | The Penguin Press | 6.14 x 9.25in | 18 - AND UP
Summary of Shock Value Summary of Shock Value Reviews for Shock Value An Excerpt from Shock Value
An enormously entertaining account of the gifted and eccentric directors who gave us the golden age of modern horror in the 1970s, bringing a new brand of politics and gritty realism to the genre."If you think you already know everything you need to know about the '70s revolution in American film, think again, and take a trip to the (very) dark side with Jason Zinoman's astute, informed and vivid exploration of how the horror movie came back from the dead and walked among us once again. The decade that stretched from Rosemary's Baby to Alien saw the creation of just about every template for modern horror, and Zinoman brings a fan's appreciation, a critic's tough-mindedness and a reporter's zeal to his group portrait of the movies that reshaped a generation's sleepless nights. Aficionados should love it, and skeptics may find themselves giving this always disreputable genre the fair shake that, as this smart and savvy book makes clear, it deserves."
Much has been written about the storied New Hollywood of the 1970s, but at the same time as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola were making their first classic movies, a parallel universe of directors gave birth to the modern horror film-aggressive, raw, and utterly original. Based on unprecedented access to the genre's major players, The New York Times's critic Jason Zinoman's Shock Value delivers the first definitive account of horror's golden age.
By the late 1960s, horror was stuck in the past, confined mostly to drive-in theaters and exploitation houses, and shunned by critics. Shock Value tells the unlikely story of how the much-disparaged horror film became an ambitious art form while also conquering the multiplex. Directors such as Wes Craven, Roman Polanski, John Carpenter, and Brian De Palma- counterculture types operating largely outside the confines of Hollywood-revolutionized the genre, exploding taboos and bringing a gritty aesthetic, confrontational style, and political edge to horror. Zinoman recounts how these directors produced such classics as Rosemary's Baby, Carrie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Halloween, creating a template for horror that has been imitated relentlessly but whose originality has rarely been matched.
This new kind of film dispensed with the old vampires and werewolves and instead assaulted audiences with portraits of serial killers, the dark side of suburbia, and a brand of nihilistic violence that had never been seen before. Shock Value tells the improbable stories behind the making of these movies, which were often directed by obsessive and insecure young men working on shoestring budgets, were funded by sketchy investors, and starred porn stars. But once The Exorcist became the highest grossing film in America, Hollywood took notice.
The classic horror films of the 1970s have now spawned a billion-dollar industry, but they have also penetrated deep into the American consciousness. Quite literally, Zinoman reveals, these movies have taught us what to be afraid of. Drawing on interviews with hundreds of the most important artists in horror, Shock Value is an enthralling and personality-driven account of an overlooked but hugely influential golden age in American film.
-Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution
"Vivid and fascinating, Shock Value chronicles a period that feels both close and, sadly, remote. It is the fresco of a brave, uncompromising era in genre filmmaking. Mavericks, madmen, mutants and monsters populate this entirely relevant book."
-Guillermo del Toro, Director of Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy
"If the soul of American cinema in the glory years of the 1970s belonged to names such as Altman, Coppola, and Scorsese, then its flesh and blood came from directors like Carpenter, Craven, Hooper, and Romero. Jason Zinoman shows us how and why by giving these pioneers of modern horror a chance to tell their own story, often in their own fascinating words. The result is a riveting history of fear and film that will thrill anyone who believes that movies can open our minds while they rip out our guts."
-Adam Lowenstein, author of Shocking Representation: Historical Trauma, National Cinema, and the Modern Horror Film
"This is a titillating, insider's guide to the most influential horror movies of our time, and the men who made them. Full of weird personalities, studio- screwage, and pesky mental breakdowns, Shock Value does for horror what Peter Biskind's Down and Dirty Pictures did for the studio system. Zinoman gives the genre what it needs most: an intelligent vivisection. I'll never think about Wes Craven or Brian De Palma in the same way again."
-Sarah Langan, author of The Keeper and Audrey's Door
"An engrossing look at an important cultural moment and a valuable addition to the canon of popular film history"
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