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Book Buzz: We Review Vampirella: Crown of Worms

Stoker Awards Ballot Released

By Tim Janson     August 07, 2011

 

In the News…
 
L.A. Banks Passes Away
 
Writer Leslie Esdaile Banks, 51, who wrote urban fantasy as L.A. Banks, died August 2, 2011 of adrenal cancer in Philadelphia PA. She was born December 11, 1959 in Philadelphia, and attended the University of Pennsylvania. She got a master’s in fine arts in filmmaking from Temple University.
 
World Fantasy Nominees and Lifetime Achievement Winners
 
The World Fantasy Awards Lifetime Achievement Winners for 2011 are Peter S. Beagle and Angélica Gorodischer.
 
The nominees for Best Novel are:
 
·       Zoo City, Lauren Beukes (Jacana South Africa; Angry Robot)
·       The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
·       The Silent Land, Graham Joyce (Gollancz; Doubleday)
·       Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada; Roc; Harper Voyager UK)
·       Redemption In Indigo, Karen Lord (Small Beer)
·       Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)
 
See the complete list of nominees here: World Fantasy Nominees
 
 
 
HOT UPCOMING FANTASY
 
The Bone House (Bright Empires) Stephen R. Lawhead [Thomas Nelson Hardcover]
 
An avenue of Egyptian sphinxes, an Etruscan tufa tomb, a Bohemian coffee shop, and a Stone Age landscape where universes collide …Kit Livingstone met his great grandfather Cosimo in a rainy alley in London where he discovered the reality of alternate realities.  Now he's on the run - and on a quest, trying to understand the impossible mission he inherited from Cosimo: to restore a map that charts the hidden dimensions of the multiverse while staying one step ahead of the savage Burley Men.
 
The key is the Skin Map - but where it leads and what it means, Kit has no idea. The pieces have been scattered throughout this universe and beyond.  Mina, from her outpost in seventeenth-century Prague , is quickly gaining both the experience and the means to succeed in the quest. Yet so are those with evil intent, who from the shadows are manipulating great minds of history for their own malign purposes.  Across time and space, through manifest and hidden worlds, those who know how to use ley lines to travel through astral planes have left their own world behind in this, the second quest: to unlock the mystery of The Bone House.
 
Hellbent ( Cheshire Red Reports, Book 2) Cherie Priest [Spectra]
 
Vampire thief Raylene Pendle doesn’t need more complications in her life. Her Seattle home is already overrun by a band of misfits, including Ian Stott, a blind vampire, and Adrian deJesus, an ex-Navy SEAL/drag queen. But Raylene still can’t resist an old pal’s request: seek out and steal a bizarre set of artifacts. Also on the hunt is a brilliant but certifiably crazy sorceress determined to stomp anyone who gets in her way. But Raylene’s biggest problem is that the death of Ian’s vaunted patriarch appears to have made him the next target of some blood-sucking sociopaths.  Now Raylene must snatch up the potent relics, solve a murder, and keep Ian safe—all while fending off a psychotic sorceress. But at least she won’t be alone. A girl could do a lot worse for a partner than an ass-kicking drag queen—right?
 
 
Legacy of Kings: Book Three of the Magister Trilogy C.S. Friedman [DAW Hardcover]
 
The young peasant woman Kamala has proven strong and determined enough to claim the most powerful Magister sorcery for herself-but now the Magisters hunt her for killing one of their own. Her only hope of survival lies in the northern Protectorates, where spells are warped by a curse called the Wrath that even the Magisters fear. Originally intended to protect the lands of men from creatures known only as souleaters, the Wrath appears to be weakening-and the threat of this ancient enemy is once more falling across the land.
 
Awakenings Edward Lazellari [Tor Hardcover]
 
Cal MacDonnell is a happily married New York City cop with a loving family. Seth Raincrest is a washed-up photographer who has alienated even his closest friends. The two have nothing in common—except that they both suffer from retrograde amnesia. It’s as if they just appeared out of thin air thirteen years ago, and nothing has been able to restore their memories. Now their forgotten past has caught up to them with a vengeance.
 
Cal's and Seth’s lives are turned upside down as they are stalked by otherworldly beings who know about the men's past lives. But these creatures aren't here to help; they're intent on killing anyone who gets in their way. In the balance hangs the life of a child who might someday restore a broken empire to peace and prosperity. With no clue why they're being hunted, Cal and Seth must accept the aid of a strange and beautiful woman who has promised to unlock their secrets. The two must stay alive long enough to protect their loved ones, recover their true selves—and save two worlds from tyranny and destruction.
 
Defenders of Ulthuan Graham McNeill [Games Workshop]
 
The high elves have long been the protectors of the Warhammer World, and their homeland of Ulthuan is known for the powerful magic that surrounds it. At the heart of Ulthuan lies a magical vortex, and the mages who created it remain trapped in a space out of time, endlessly working the spell that keeps the world from becoming a seething Realm of Chaos.  When Ulthuan comes under attack from the forces of Chaos and dark elves led by the Witch King and the hag sorceress, Morathi, the high elves must hold firm or face disastrous consequences.
 
With Fate Conspire Marie Brennan [Tor Hardcover]
 
Marie Brennan returns to the Onyx Court , a fairy city hidden below Queen Victoria 's London . Now the Onyx Court faces its greatest challenge.  Seven years ago, Eliza's childhood sweetheart vanished from the streets of Whitechapel. No one believed her when she told them that he was stolen away by the faeries.
 
But she hasn't given up the search. It will lead her across London and into the hidden palace that gives refuge to faeries in the mortal world. That refuge is now crumbling, broken by the iron of the underground railway, and the resulting chaos spills over to the streets above.  Three centuries of the Onyx Court are about to come to an end. Without the palace's protection, the fae have little choice but to flee. Those who stay have one goal: to find safety in a city that does not welcome them. But what price will the mortals of London pay for that safety?
 
Mayan December Brenda Cooper [Prime books]
 
Dr. Alice Cameron is a famous scientist - an archeoastronomer - devoted to studying ancient Mayan culture. The era driving her career has always been the end of the Mayan baktun, so she's on the Yucatan Peninsula in December 2012 with her daughter Nixie...and so are fellow serious scholars, plenty of end-of-the-world crazies, and - at an international summit - the President of the United States and other heads of state. When Nixie disappears into the past in the Mayan jungle, rationality and mysticism, the present and the past start merging. Meanwhile, Alice is drawn into the machinations of statecraft by an old friend. A savvy scientist, a handsome dreadlocked time-traveler, an ancient shaman, a noble Mayan couple, a computer nerd, and an 11-year old traverse the past and present in a search for the meaning of life and a way to save two worlds.
 
The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, 2011 Edition [Prime books]
 
This incomparable annual compilation of the best short fiction and novellas features an unmatched variety of the quietly weird, the merely eerie, high fantasy, modern Lovecraftian horror, nightmarish near-future scenarios, the darkly humorous, the supernatural, and the monstrously mundane from the brightest new talent, legendary authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Tanith Lee, and Gene Wolfe, and bestsellers such as Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, and Sarah Langan. Includes a 36,000 word novella by George R.R. Martin set in his A Song of Fire and Ice universe.
 
The Urban Fantasy Anthology Peter S. Beagle [Tachyon]
 
Star-studded and comprehensive, this imaginative anthology brings a myriad of modern fantasy voices under one roof. Previously difficult for readers to discover in its new modes, urban fantasy is represented here in all three of its distinct styles—playful new mythologies, sexy paranormal romances, and gritty urban noir. Whether they feature tattooed demon-hunters, angst-ridden vampires, supernatural gumshoes, or pixelated pixies, these authors—including Patricia Briggs, Neil Gaiman, and Charles de Lint—mash-up traditional fare with pop culture, creating iconic characters, conflicted moralities, and complex settings. The result is starkly original fiction that has broad-based appeal and is immensely entertaining.
 
The Magician King: A Novel Lev Grossman [Viking]
 
The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges.  Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent's house in Chesterton , Massachusetts . And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.
 
The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the modern heir to C.S. Lewis, and the cutting edge of literary fantasy.
 
The Omen Machine Terry Goodkind [Tor Hardcover]
 
Hannis Arc, working on the tapestry of lines linking constellations of elements that constituted the language of Creation recorded on the ancient Cerulean scroll spread out among the clutter on his desk, was not surprised to see the seven etherial forms billow into the room like acrid smoke driven on a breath of bitter breeze. Like an otherworldly collection of spectral shapes seemingly carried on random eddies of air, they wandered in a loose clutch among the still and silent mounted bears and beasts rising up on their stands, the small forest of stone pedestals holding massive books of recorded prophecy, and the evenly spaced display cases of oddities, their glass reflecting the firelight from the massive hearth at the side of the room.
 
Since the seven rarely used doors, the shutters on the windows down on the ground level several stories below stood open as a fearless show of invitation. Though they frequently chose to use windows, they didn’t actually need the windows any more than they needed the doors. They could seep through any opening, any crack, like vapor rising in the early morning from the stretches of stagnant water that lay in dark swaths through the peat barrens.  The open shutters were meant to be a declaration for all to see, including the seven, that Hannis Arc feared nothing.
 
 
HOT UPCOMING SCI-FI
 
Rogue Michael Z. Williamson [Baen Hardcover]
 
Kenneth Chinran commanded the elite unit assigned to take out an entire planet in a terrible war.  Millions died; billions more perished in the aftermath.  One doesn't send a sociopath on such a mission.  A sociopath might not stop.  Chinran did stop – but in the process nearly lost his sanity and his soul.  But one of Chinran’s men was a sociopath going in.  Now he’s a trained sociopath with the knowledge and firepower to take out entire tactical teams, evaporate through security cordons and change identity at will. Who do you send after a killer like that?  There’s only one answer:  the man who trained him.  The man who made him.
 
Flash Gordon Comic Book Archives Volume 4 [Dark Horse Hardcover]
 
Flash is back! The intrepid science fiction hero returns in a new volume collecting the full run of Flash Gordon comics published by Gold Key in the 1970s. Thrill to the adventure as Flash battles shark men, evil robots, lava men, and every twisted scheme the villain Ming the Merciless can invent! Featuring sharp storytelling and classic artwork, Flash Gordon Comic Book Archives Volume 4 revisits an action-packed era in the history of one of comics' most enduring heroes.
 
Grim Reaper: End of Days Steve Alten [Forge]
 
At the start of Alten's new apocalyptic series, a plan to infect the Iranian delegation at the UN with a weaponized bubonic plague called Scythe goes awry, unleashing the plague on Manhattan . Manhattanite Patrick Shepherd, a crippled vet, is quickly tapped by the Secretary of Defense as the new poster boy for the military. Though reluctant at first, he discovers that a Scythe vaccine exists; with his estranged wife and daughter trapped in Manhattan, he begins a desperate journey through the dying metropolis to save them, along the way picking up the reluctant hero's requisite companions and going through the expected spiritual awakening by having to confront disturbing truths about reality, divinity, and the human race's capacity to self-destruct.
 
Rage Matthew Costello [Del Rey]
 
The asteroid Apophis has annihilated Earth, and only a small percentage of humanity’s best and brightest have been saved. Buried deep below the ground in life-sustaining Arks, these chosen few are tasked with one vital mission—to restore civilization to a devastated planet hundreds of years after the impact.  When Lieutenant Nick Raine emerges from his Ark , he finds a future indistinguishable from nightmare. Humankind has not been entirely destroyed on the surface world, and a primitive new society has emerged in which life is nasty, brutish, and short. Mutants and bandits prey upon the weak, and a mysterious military group known as the Authority preys upon everyone. Worst of all, a would-be tyrant seeks to impose his will upon the shattered planet. Armed with nothing more than his combat training and survival instincts, Raine must rise to meet the challenges of the wasteland.
 
The Terminal Experiment Robert J. Sawyer [Ace]
 
Dr. Peter Hobson has created three electronic simulations of his own personality. But they all have escaped from Hobson's computer into the web-and one of them is a killer.
 
The Moon Maze Game ( Dream Park ) Larry Niven [Tor Hardcover]
 
The Year: 2085.  Humanity has spread throughout the solar system.  A stable lunar colony is agitating for independence.  Lunar tourism is on the rise...Against this background, professional “Close Protection” specialist Scotty Griffin, fresh off a disastrous assignment, is offered the opportunity of a lifetime: to shepherd the teenaged heir to the Republic of Kikaya on a fabulous vacation.  Ali Kikaya will participate in the first live action role playing game conducted on the Moon itself.  Having left Luna--and a treasured marriage--years ago due to a near-tragic accident, Scotty leaps at the opportunity.
 
Live Action Role Playing attracts a very special sort of individual: brilliant, unpredictable, resourceful, and addicted to problem solving.  By kidnapping a dozen gamers in the middle of the ultimate game, watched by more people than any other sporting event in history, they have thrown down an irresistible gauntlet: to “win” the first game that ever became “real.”  Pursued by armed and murderous terrorists, forced to solve gaming puzzles to stay a jump ahead, forced to juggle multiple psychological realities as they do...this is the game for which  they’ve prepared  their entire lives, and they are going to play it for all it’s worth.
 
Circle Tide Rebecca K. Rowe [Edge]
 
Noah is a rebellious son of privilege caught up in a brutal murder in a city ravaged by the eco-catastrophe Circle Tide. Promising his dying friend that he'll deliver a highly confidential datasphere, Noah plunges into a gritty subterranean world where he collides with knife wielding monks, a crew of oddball hackers and a smart intelligence bent on his destruction.  Enter Rika, a street smart data thief.
 
Heavily in debt from getting mind enhancements that fall, Rika is given one more chance to prove herself and right past wrongs - she must save the city from Circle Tide.  But to do this she needs Noah's datasphere...Thus begins an adventure that takes Noah and Rika from Los Angeles ' deepest catacombs in the Underground to the most exclusive rooftop gardens. Through their separate worlds of hardship and affluence, accused of a crime they did not commit, the unlikely duo must find clues to prove their innocence, as they seek to find a killer, and stop an eco-disaster from destroying the planet.
 
Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Ascension Christie Golden [Lucas Books Hardcover]
 
As Luke and Ben Skywalker pursue the formidable dark-side being Abeloth, the Lost Tribe of the Sith is about to be sundered by an even greater power—which will thrust one Dark Lord into mortal conflict with his own flesh-and-blood.  On Coruscant, a political vacuum has left tensions at the boiling point, with factions racing to claim control of the Galactic Alliance. Suddenly surrounded by hidden agendas, treacherous conspiracies, and covert Sith agents, the Jedi Order must struggle to keep the GA government from collapsing into anarchy.
 
The Jedi are committed to maintaining peace and ensuring just rule, but even they are not prepared to take on the combined threats of Sith power, a deposed dictator bent on galaxywide vengeance, and an entity of pure cunning and profound evil hungry to become a god.
 
HOT UPCOMING HORROR
 
Demon's Door (Jim Rook Series Graham Masterton) [ Severn House]
 
The seventh Jim Rook novel from the master of supernatural horror - Remedial English teacher and psychic Jim Rook has been feeling out of sorts all summer, and on the first day of the Fall semester he runs over and kills his pet cat, Tiddles. But halfway through his first class, enigmatic new Korean student Kim Dong Wook arrives . . . with a gift: a basket containing Tiddles, alive once more. The Korean spirit Kwisin, Jim is told, is saying “thank you” in advance. But what for? Jim can’t help but feel deeply uneasy…
 
The Leaping Tom Fletcher [Quercus]
 
Jack finished university three years ago, but he's still stuck in a dead-end job in a sinister call-centre in Manchester . When the beautiful (and rich) Jennifer comes into his life he thinks he has finally found his ticket out of there. Trouble is that his boss is interested in Jennifer as well, and there's something strangely bestial about him...So when Jennifer buys Fell House, a mysterious old mansion out in remote Cumbria , a house party on a legendary scale seems like the perfect escape. But as the party spins out of control on a seemingly neverending night, they must face up to the terrifying possibility that not all their guests may be human - and some of them want to feed. An astonishing and innovative blend of horror, folktale and disturbing realism, The Leaping is the first instalment in what is shaping up to be a genre-defining series.
 
Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery Archives Volume 6 [Dark Horse Hardcover]
 
Timeless tales of mystery and horror, hosted by the renowned Boris Karloff! Residents of a quiet mountainside face the hypnotic horror of the "opti-pus," a modern-day white knight battles a dragon from the distant past, a scientist stumbles onto proof of his wildest theories but soon wishes he hadn't, and the curse of an ancient tropical pool punishes a wicked non-believer! These fantastic stories and many more are collected in this deluxe volume!
 
The Darkest Part of the Woods Ramsey Campbell [Tor]
 
For decades the lives of the Price family have been snarled with the fate of the ancient forest of Goodmanswood . There, Dr. Lennox Price discovered an hallucinogenic moss which quickly became the focus of a cult. Though the moss is long gone, the whole forest can now affect the minds of visitors.
 
After Lennox is killed trying to return to his beloved wood, his widow sees and hears him in the trees-or is it a dark version of the Green Man that caresses her with leafy hands? Lennox 's grandson heeds a call to lie in his lover's arms in the very heart of the forest-and cannot help but wonder what the fruit of that love will be.  And Heather, Lennox 's daughter, who turned her back on her father's mysteries and sought sanctuary in the world of facts and history? Goodmanswood summons her as well . . .
 
Handling the Undead John Ajvide Lindqvist [St. martin’s Griffin ]
 
Swedish horror author Lindqvist moves from vampires (Let the Right One In) to zombies in this gripping, subtle tale. Stockholm is overtaken by the undead after a period of strange weather, and the uprising has surprising consequences for several people, including David, a comedian whose dead wife comes back to life; self-harming psychic teenagers Flora and Elvy; and journalist Gustav Mahler, whose only hope of saving his daughter and himself from grief lies in exhuming his young grandson and hoping the boy will be reanimated.
 
Soul Trapper: A Kane Pryce Novel F. J. Lennon [Atria]
 
Hollywood native Kane Pryce isn’t your average twenty-something dabbling musician. Yes, he’s an occasional substance abuser with a distrustful nature and self-destructive streak. And yes, most people might take him for a down-on-his-luck slacker. But to those in a very small circle, he’s also known as a ghost-hunting legend. Delving deep into the supernatural isn’t a lifestyle that Kane chose for himself, however; it was thrust upon him when his father vanished under mysterious circumstances. Unbeknownst to anyone besides Kane, his father left instructions to his son that led Kane to the Soul Trap, a powerful supernatural treasure that allows him to hunt down, capture, and send ghosts from the earthly realm to the afterlife.
 
For Kane, power over the supernatural has come with a price. Despite his attempts to do good with this power, his efforts often leave a path of destruction. So when his paranormal side-job attracts the attention of Eva Kells, a crack reporter intent on breaking his story, Kane is reluctant can he trust her?
 
Soon, though, risking his heart on a snooping journalist is the least of Kane’s worries. He receives a call from a terrified priest whose church is haunted by the soul of a deceased little boy. Kane takes on the case, but as he begins to learn the strange details surrounding the boy’s death, he realizes that there’s much more at stake than he ever could have imagined. And to complicate things even further, he falls hard for the boy’s mother. The only problem is, she’s been dead for almost fifty years…
 
Reviews
 
Vampirella Crown of Thorns (Dynamite Entertainment Graphic Novel)
 
 
When I was a kid, buying the old Warren black & white Vampirella magazines, I remember smuggling them in the house and hiding them from my mom in the closet. I was worried I’d get in trouble over the very risqué covers of those old mags. Vampirella has kicked around a bit since the Warren days. Harris Comics published the adventures for about a number of years although their stories were generally little more than titillation for teenage boys. Dynamite acquired the rights in 2010. This book collects Vampirella #1 – 7. Despite the cover featuring Val in her trademark barely there one-piece that hallowed costume is barely seen in the context of the story. This Vampirella is decked out in pants and a leather trench coat. It might not be as sexy but it’s a lot more practical. Eric Trautmann’s story has Vampirella investigating a nightclub that she believes is home to a nest of vampires. However she ends up getting much more than she bargained for when she battles LeFanu, Dracula’s Lieutenant who has been mutated by a horror older than time itself. Vampirella soon has to team with her old enemy to defeat the ancient evil.
 
Crown of Worms has a definitely Lovecraft influence. The ancient creature even has a very Lovecraftian name—Yad-Ath Vermellus—and its origins certainly hint at being something from outside of our world. Vampirella is all bad-ass. She dispatches enemy vamps with precision and gusto. Trautmann’s story is complemented by beautiful artwork from Wagner Reis, Fabiano Neves and Walter Geovani. Their art is squirms with dark delights and bubbles off the page with blood, worms, and maggots. Frankly I haven’t enjoyed Vampirella this much since I was sneaking those old magazines many years ago. And look, if you’re disappointed that Vampy isn’t dressed in her usual garb, don’t worry. Dynamite has include a 30 page cover gallery of all the regular and variant covers from the likes of Alex Ross, Joe Jusko, Joe Maduriera, J. Scott, Campbell, as well as the three story artists, and the all feature Vampirella in the costume we know and love.   Grade A
 
Naked City Edited by Ellen Datlow (St. Martin’s Griffin)
 
 
Naked City is a brand new anthology featuring all-new tales of urban fantasy by some of the genre’s top names including Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Melissa Marr, Peter S. Beagle, Caitlin Kiernan, Elizabeth Bear, and Holly Black. Urban fantasy has become the dominant genre in fantasy these days, replacing the epic and heroic fantasy that had long been so dominant. With Ellen Datlow at the helm as editor, you know you’re going to be getting top flight stories.
 
The edition kicks off with a new Harry Dresden story from Butcher called “Curses”, a humorous tale about a fairy curse on the Chicago Cubs. It’s a light story but Dresden fans will enjoy it. And it certainly explains why the Cubs have not won the World Series in over 100 years. 
 
Ellen Kushner offers up “The Duke of Riverside” a story set in her Swordpoint world that explains how two of her most well-known characters, Richard St. Vier and Alec, first met in the slum of slum of Riverside. Beagle’s story “Underbridge” is a darkly uncomfortable tale about a failed professor and his strange encounter with the statue of a troll in Seattle. 
 
“Priced to Sell” by Naomi Novik is another strong tale that is also quite funny. This tale is about a unique Manhattan real estate company that caters to the special needs of its supernatural cliental. Another light story like Butchers but very witty and fun.
 
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Nathan Ballingrud’s “The Way Station”. Emotionally haunting the story is about a homeless man and former resident of New Orleans who is haunted by the old city before Hurricane Katrina. Bear’s story “King Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree” is set in her Promethean Age Universe and will definitely delight her fans. Honestly there isn’t what I’d call a throwaway tale in the entire volume. Some are better than others but there’s not one I’d call bad and that is quite a feat for any anthology. Grade A-
 
Shock Value Jason Zinoman (The Penguin Press)
 
 
Shock Value is subtitled How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror. The book is a refreshing look at how the horror genre changed in the 1960s and 1970s and spawned what we know as modern horror today. Zinoman looks at great films and the even greater Directors who made them…men who became legends like George Romero, Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Brian DePalma, Alfred Hitchcock, William Castle, and more. 
 
Zinoman looks at the films and how these directors influenced each other, even to the point of essentially rebelling against such as Hitchcock with Psycho. The ending in Hitchcocks The Birds is suggest as the Director’s response to the criticism he received for Psycho’s nicely wrapped ending. While it’s also suggested that The Birds claustrophobic setting inspired George Romero’s similar setting in Night of the Living Dead.
 
One of the most enjoyable sections of the book deals with how directors overcame the “monster problem”. In other words, how do you make a horror film without traditional monsters like vampires, werewolves, mummies, and the like. John Landis points out that those old B horror films of the 50s and 60s weren’t bad stories but featured guys in stupid monsters costumes that ruined the films. Then in the 70’s the monsters became smart but the stories were stupid. Touché! To this problem Hollywood offered monsters that were largely unseen as in Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.
 
Zinoman tends to skip around haphazardly. The initial chapter looks at the making of Rosemary’s Baby, then goes back in time with a look at Psycho, then back to the mid/late 1960s for looks at the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis and Mario Bava. A centerpiece of the book is the relationship between two young USC film students…Dan O’ Bannon and John Carpenter and their contributions to the genre.
 
You might not always agree with everything that Zinoman says but Shock Value is a great and entertaining read for any fan of horror films. Grade B+

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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NDorado 8/8/2011 7:19:40 AM

Shock Value and Naked City sound great.  Thanks for the reviews. 

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