One horror fan’s mélange of memories, opinions and movie facts.
Violent horror movies, especially of the slasher variety, tend to split viewers into two camps. Either you avoid them or, like horror aficionado and producer Rockoff (Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, 1978-1986, 2002), you adore them. This ode to the genre combines personal reminiscences, movie trivia and rambling digressions into a book that is neither film criticism nor history but more like a monologue by a well-informed and highly opinionated fan. One aspect of the book describes how the adolescent author scared himself silly watching horror movies on rented VHS cassettes and late-night cable stations and eventually worked his way into the industry as a screenwriter and producer. Another aspect is devoted to Rockoff’s commentary, which is particular and anecdotal in its approach. In one chapter, he names his top choice in a number of categories—e.g., “Greatest Kills,” “Most Future Stars,” “Most Sequel-Worthy Killer” and “Best Holiday Slasher.” In another, he defends a series of positions heretical to the fan community (for instance, that Ridley Scott’s Alien is boring). It’s likely that no one but other self-proclaimed horror geeks will find these sections of interest, but Rockoff is an amiable and often amusing guide to all this macabre minutia. Elsewhere, the book suffers from inexplicable digressions on subjects ranging from pornography (a recurring interest) to Charlie Sheen, and the author’s flippant attitude toward critics who take a more skeptical or theoretical view of the genre is off-putting. But at his best, Rockoff is a passionate defender of the creative rights of filmmakers, no matter how shocking or disturbing their creations might be, and a convincing advocate for scary movies as transgressive art—or just plain fun.
A rich but meandering book that will mostly appeal to like-minded fans.