Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The Anatomy of Fear – review

Authors: Christopher Vander Kaay & Kathleen Fernandez-Vander Kaay

First Published: 2014

The Blurb: During in-depth conversations with 21 horror and science-fiction film writers and directors, filmmakers Chris and Kathleen Vander Kaay get the inside story on the inspiration, creation, and behind-the-scenes experiences of box office blockbusters.

Horror movies have a shady reputation because of their flaws and eccentricities. Horror wants us to laugh when we're uncomfortable, keep looking when we want to turn away, and live with a total lack of happy endings. Perhaps that's why we respect these films as a subculture. And because no one expects horror films to toe the line, they get to flirt with madness and imperfection while making the most interesting, controversial observations.

That's why this book exists. Part of the subject matter in horror film is blunt and graphic and doesn't need further illumination. Other parts are brave, transgressive, explorative, and restless. In addressing these issues, a surprisingly honest appraisal of the human psyche begins to emerge.

That's why The Anatomy of Fear is essential reading for every horror movie buff

The review: The Anatomy of Fear is a series of interviews with (primarily) writers and directors of horror films. Some of those interviewed have several segments as several of their films are looked at through in-depth interview.

From our point of view there is a chapter dedicated to vampire films and this saw interviews with Tom Holland, the writer and director of Fright Night, Jim Mickle, the co-writer and director of Stake Land, Eric Red, writer of Near Dark, and Larry Fessenden, writer, director and lead actor of Habit.

Beyond this we also have an interview with Stephen Chiodo, who co-wrote and directed Killer Klowns from Outer Space and William F Nolan who wrote the Norliss Tapes both of which we have looked at as ‘Vamp or Not?’ and both of which I went ‘Not Vamp’ on – but of interest nonetheless.

What you get out of each interview very much depends on the interviewee. The actual interview questions are skilfully done, engaging their subject and teasing information from them at times. Whether the book is worthwhile for you, as a punter, will boil down to the fact that it is a series of interviews and whether you would find such Q&A interesting.

I did and thus recommend the book. 8 out of 10.

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