Read The Monster Show: A Cultural History Of Horror by David J. Skal Free Online
Book Title: The Monster Show: A Cultural History Of Horror|
The size of the: 6.59 MB
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Reader ratings: 6.1
The author of the book: David J. Skal
Date of issue: 1994
ISBN 13: 9780859652117
Format files: PDF
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Just in time for Halloween, and what better book to review?
You can't go too wrong with a book like The Monster Show, what with Edward Gorey covers and a healthy bit of each era, though the author does tend to favor silent and classic horror films. Not that there's anything wrong with that!
A sharply-written, well-researched and intriguing look into what and who made horror films what they have become - how they grew and changed with the fears, taboos and interests of the people.
There are good bits also on how stories of other genres often get their roots from something horrific, as well as the strange lifelong relationship that horror and erotica have with each other, and how both tend to be heavily challenged genres. If a film got picked on by censors, odds are it was one or both genres.
Horror itself is one of the oldest core genres of fiction, many early horror films and novels being inspired by themes which were already ancient and immersed in society at the time through folklore, superstition and even religion. Fun fact - The oldest known (and intact) horror film is Melies's short The Haunted Castle / Le Manoir du Diable. The oldest surviving full-length horror film is Frankenstein (1910). What is thought to be the first horror novel, officially, is The Castle of Otranto, though of course there have always been elements of horror in literature, long before that.
Overall, an incredibly interesting book that gives more insight into the genre's origins in film, how we have evolved (or devolved, depending on what you feel about modern horror) from the dreamlike surrealism of early horror movies, to the occultish and symbolic mid-century films, into the visceral, discomfortingly realistic films of today. In my own opinion, a good horror film should be unassuming, to catch one off-guard. The filmmaker shouldn't be concerned with being 'edgy' or 'shocking', but rather creating a nightmare to be seen onscreen.
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Read information about the authorDavid J. Skal became fascinated with monsters at the height of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when indestructible monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man provided a "nuclear security blanket" for a whole generation of youngsters.
Active as an editor and reporter on his high school newspaper, he was granted a journalism scholarship to Ohio University, Athens, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1974. His work as film critic, arts reporter, arts editor and assistant managing editor of the Ohio University Post, one of the country's leading college papers,led to his three-season appointment as publicity director of the University-operated Monomoy Theatre on Cape Cod. Following his graduation, he served as a public affairs intern in the office of National Endowment for the Arts chairman Nancy Hanks, and went on to the position of Publicity Director at the Hartford Stage Company, where he oversaw all media relations while the regional company fund-raised, built and opened a major new facility in downtown Hartford. In 1978, he was staff writer for the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, with responsibility for the content of all printed materials. From 1979-1982 he was Publications Director of Theatre Communications Group, a national service organization in New York City. From 1982 to 1992 he was president and creative director of David J. Skal Associates, Inc. (later Visual Cortex Ltd.), a Manhattan-based, nationally oriented design and marketing consultancy with clients ranging from the Metroplitan Opera to regional theatre, dance and music organizations.
A published writer of short fiction since his early college years (he was one of the youngest students ever admitted to the celebrated Clarion Writers Workshop in fantasy and science fiction), he authored three well-received science fiction novels: SCAVENGERS (1980), WHEN WE WERE GOOD (1981) and ANTIBODIES (1987). His long-standing interest in Dracula and his extensive contacts in the theatre world led to his first nonfiction book, HOLLYWOOD GOTHIC: THE TANGLED WEB OF DRACULA FROM NOVEL TO STAGE TO SCREEN (1990), followed by THE MONSTER SHOW: A CULTURAL HISTORY OF HORROR (1993). Many other books followed, including V IS FOR VAMPIRE (1995); DARK CARNIVAL: THE SECRET WORLD OF TOD BROWNING (1995,with Elias Savada); the Norton Critical Edition of Bram Stoker's DRACULA (1996, co-edited with Nina Auerbach); SCREAMS OF REASON: MAD SCIENCE AND MODERN CULTURE(1997); and the monumental anthology VAMPIRES: ENCOUNTERS WITH THE UNDEAD (2001, the largest such illustrated/annotated compendium ever published.
Skal began his work as a documentary filmmaker writing and co-producing segments for the A&E Network's award-winning series "Biography," and contributed scripts chronicling the lives and careers of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Angela Lansbury (with whom he had worked during his theatre career). In 1999, he wrote, co-produced and co-directed a behind-the-scenes chronicle of the Academy Award-winning film GODS AND MONSTERS. The same year, he was tapped by Universal Studios Home Video for a series of twelve original DVD documentaries exploring the legacies of the studio's classic horror and science fiction films. His DVD work has continued with Disney Home Video's "Jules Verne and Walt Disney: Explorers of the Imagination" (2003) and the feature commentary for Warner Home Video's special-edition release of Tod Browning's FREAKS (2004).
His current projects include CITIZEN CLONE: THE MORPHING OF AMERICA (Faber and Faber, 2005)and CLAUDE RAINS: AN ACTOR'S VOICE, a biography based on the acclaimed character actor's never-published reminiscences, written in collaboration with the actor's daughter, Jessica Rains.
David Skal is a member of the Authors Guild. He lives and writes in Glendale, California.
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