The popular “Forgotten Horrors” series of books that has played a major role in lifting low-budget horror movies and B-level genre pictures into the more respectable realm of film scholarship offers an entertaining new installment in “Forgotten Horrors to the Nth Degree: Dispatches From a Collapsing Genre” (Cremo Studios, Ltd., $30).
The book by series originator Michael H. Price and frequent collaborator John Wooley follows the authors’ hallmark style by offering a wealth of arcane background information, sharp and witty insights, pithy anecdotes and concise, loving scholarship to scores of the weirder productions (“The Barn of the Naked Dead,” “Werewolves on Wheels”) from old Hollywood’s low-rent precincts.
Collecting more than a decades-worth of Price & Wooley “Forgotten Horrors” columns from Fangoria magazine, utilizing images from both authors’ extensive collections of publicity stills and movie posters, that new book unearths many startling revelations and a treasure trove of entertaining tidbits.
While the five previous books in the series have covered the evolution of the horror genre chronologically from 1929, the new collection leaps forward to a period from the 1960s to the 1980s, chronicling a revolutionary upheaval in the cinema of terror that included the invention of the so-called “splatter movies” in 1963 to the collapse of the low-budget independent theatrical chiller upon the rise of the made-for-video feature in 1985.
“Here lies a genre in upheaval,” Price & Wooley write in the introduction, “given such audacious benchmarks as the gore pictures of Herschell Gordon Lewis and David F. Friedman; George A. Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’and Tobe Hooper’s ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ and Larry Buchanan’s minimalist Dream Logic fugues, such as ‘Zontar, the Thing from Venus.’ The species had turned itself inside-out by 1985 -more revolution than evolution.”
The “Forgotten Horrors” series originated in 1979 with a survey of the genre during the Depression years, from 1929 into 1937. Companion volumes have brought the series into the 1950s, with five volumes in print and a sixth book (covering 1955-1957) in preparation for publication during 2013.
Price is a long-time Fort Worth film critic, scholar, programmer, illustrator, musician, author and playwright. He originated the series with late George E. Turner. Wooley is a former entertainment writer for the Tulsa World, as well as an accomplished novelist, playwright, screenwriter and film historian.
- Dennis King