Archive for horror non-fiction books

Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990

Posted in Books, Film with tags , , , , , on November 21, 2017 by roarvis

For Part 1 of this series, go here.

Regional

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As defined by author Brian Albright, regional horror films are movies that were made and distributed outside of the Hollywood system with predominately local casts and crews. It’s easy to assume that the bulk of these are low-budget films of varying quality, and that assumption is largely correct. Yet they aren’t all obscure.

While it takes a hardcore horror nerd to talk shop about Don’t Go in the Woods (1981, Utah) or Don’t Look in the Basement (1974, Texas), many of the films discussed in Regional Horror Films are popular and extremely influential. Night of the Living Dead (1968, Pennsylvania), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974, Texas), and The Evil Dead (1981, Tennessee/Michigan) are three of the most famous horror movies ever made, and their impact on the genre has been substantial.

StreetTrash

The book is organized into two sections. The first consists of interviews with specific regional filmmakers, including J.R. Bookwalter from Ohio and William Grefe from Florida. Albright is good at coaxing stories out of his interview subjects, and the ensuing conversations make these a fun and fascinating read.

The second part consists of entries on specific films, organized by state. The author points out that these are not critiques. He gives you the details, a brief synopsis, and maybe some trivia – enough to decide for yourself if you want to hunt down a copy. This aspect of the book reminded me of The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film by Michael Weldon (1983), an early classic that sent me spiraling down the corridors of movie madness as a young teenager.

I was pleasantly surprised to find an entry on The Wednesday Children (1973, Ohio), a film by Kent State University professor Robert D. West. West taught a class on Cult Films, which was one of the few courses I achieved perfect attendance in during my time at KSU. I’ve never seen his film, but will be sure to track it down now.

If there’s a central thesis to Regional Horror Films, it’s that the locations and communities that spawned these films were as important as the script or cinematography. None of these movies could have been made in Hollywood. Surely the characteristics that make them so terrifying and memorable would have been sanded down or altered beyond recognition.

Next up: Made for TV Movies!