Zombos Says: Excellent
The Rough Guide to Horror Movies, by Alan Jones, is a richly informative and broad discussion of American and British horror films, including coverage of horror’s important international kith and kin. The format makes it easy to read and refer back to. The book is broken into sections providing a chronological look at the horror genre and a browse-friendly, enjoy it here and there, read.
Beginning with a brief overview of the literary and celluloid origins of horror, Jones introduces his essential 50 seminal horror films that stimulated the genre to new heights. This is a section to be revisited again and again. While some of his inclusions may be open to debate, the entries provide much to think about and discuss. This list provides the budding horrorhead with the movies he or she simply must not miss.
The remaining chapters include the icons of horror, the global picture of horror films around the world, and a section devoted to film festivals, conventions, books, magazines, and websites. The chapter is not exhaustive, but it is a great starting point.
You will also find a who's-who of notable directors, actors and monsters that have shaped the genre in the Icons chapter, along with the quintessential reasons for why they have had such a strong and memorable hold on the medium. This chapter provides an excellent introduction to those “faces of horror” that have provided endless hours of chills and scares to audiences everywhere.
It is in the concise chapter on global horror cinema that the book becomes an essential guide to the various influences each culture brings to the genre. If a director is a product of his cultural upbringing, then his singular experience within (and perhaps struggling against) his culture must be understood and contrasted against his cinematic creations; add to this each culture's unique superstitions and mythologies, social mores and taboos—and musical and dancing interludes—and you will begin to appreciate how they influence the depiction of horror and terror onscreen.
From Hong Kong’s “flying ghosts, hopping vampires…killer tongues and other possessed body parts” to Mexico’s “macabre folklore,” and Italy’s giallo, horror on film is a rich tapestry where American and British influences interweave with the many globally shared themes of personal, social and religious ideations; pushing many hapless victims out of the commonplace and into the stygian realms of the cinema-horrific, screaming and dying all the way.