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Acclaimed critic and broadcaster Jonathan Rigby brings his trademark wit and insight to bear on 130 of the key moments in screen horror. His scope is wide, ranging from silent masterworks like Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari to such 21st century milestones as The Descent and Let the Right One In. In between, he scrutinises the achievements of Universal in the 1930 Acclaimed critic and broadcaster Jonathan Rigby brings his trademark wit and insight to bear on 130 of the key moments in screen horror. His scope is wide, ranging from silent masterworks like Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari to such 21st century milestones as The Descent and Let the Right One In. In between, he scrutinises the achievements of Universal in the 1930s and Hammer in the 1960s, as well as considering lesser-known gems such as Blood and Black Lace, Tombs of the Blind Dead and The Blood Spattered Bride alongside acknowledged classics like Rosemary's Baby, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Halloween. Lavishly illustrated, the result is a beautifully presented history of international horror cinema that's as entertaining as it is informative. 


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Acclaimed critic and broadcaster Jonathan Rigby brings his trademark wit and insight to bear on 130 of the key moments in screen horror. His scope is wide, ranging from silent masterworks like Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari to such 21st century milestones as The Descent and Let the Right One In. In between, he scrutinises the achievements of Universal in the 1930 Acclaimed critic and broadcaster Jonathan Rigby brings his trademark wit and insight to bear on 130 of the key moments in screen horror. His scope is wide, ranging from silent masterworks like Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari to such 21st century milestones as The Descent and Let the Right One In. In between, he scrutinises the achievements of Universal in the 1930s and Hammer in the 1960s, as well as considering lesser-known gems such as Blood and Black Lace, Tombs of the Blind Dead and The Blood Spattered Bride alongside acknowledged classics like Rosemary's Baby, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Halloween. Lavishly illustrated, the result is a beautifully presented history of international horror cinema that's as entertaining as it is informative. 

30 review for Studies in Terror: Landmarks of Horror Cinema

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    This is not for entry-level horror fans, it’s for your second or third level gorehounds. You can tell this easily because titles of the vast number of foreign movies given their two pages each aren’t translated – you have to look at the small print in the lower right corner to find out that Quien puede matar a un nino? Asks the disturbing question Would you kill a Child? (Spain, 1975) (Answer : you would if they had all gone insane & were murdering everyone over the age of 15. I guess. Up to yo This is not for entry-level horror fans, it’s for your second or third level gorehounds. You can tell this easily because titles of the vast number of foreign movies given their two pages each aren’t translated – you have to look at the small print in the lower right corner to find out that Quien puede matar a un nino? Asks the disturbing question Would you kill a Child? (Spain, 1975) (Answer : you would if they had all gone insane & were murdering everyone over the age of 15. I guess. Up to you, if you ever find yourself in that situation. ) It turns out that the British title of La novia ensangrentada (Spain, 1972) was The Blood-Spattered Bride. Is that a direct translation? Also on the subject of titles, this made me laugh – the title of the 1999 New Zealand feature The Irrefutable Truth about Demons was changed for American release to : The Truth About Demons You can imagine the meeting with distributors, there the guys from LA would have said – We like the movie, but we don’t like the title. Oh why not? Well…. Americans don’t know what irrefutable means. Oh. Ah. Okay, no problem. Also you can tell this is not for beginners because Jonathan Rigby really knows his onions and writes delightfully about silent German stuff from 1923 and weirdo indies like Pontypool (Canada, 2008) and all points in between. The only gripe I have is that he goes into trainspotter mode at the drop of a body part: For all its lividly realised bravura the film deepens its charm via numerous nods to the past. Its literally eye-popping pre-credits sequence puts Herbert West in the same compromising position Boris Karloff was in at the start of The Man they Could Not Hang (1939), after which the fluorescent titles echo Roger Corman’s psychedelic credits sequences, while Richard Band’s music offers a funked-up take on the Psycho theme. Subsequent plot developments recall the Peter Cushing surgical shocker Corruption (1967) and Frankenstein Must be Destroyed (1969). Jonathan Rigby includes a sprinkling of the big name horror movies – Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Suspiria, Carrie, Halloween, The Vanishing, Let the Right One In – but mostly this is stuff I did not know about. What a strange genre horror is, attracting the type of throbbing-brained cineastes who seem happy to wade neck-deep in high camp and misogyny, as happy as the day is long. But if you wrote a novel with these characters and this dialogue I think they’d think you were insane. SOME QUOTES: Variety : No one in his right mind would attend a movie called Frankenhooker and expect to encounter signs of enlightened thinking Zorro (a character in Frankenhooker ) : They just blew up. Fuckin’ exploded. One minute they’re my bitches, the next there’s pieces all over. Marie (in Innocent Blood, 1982): I was sad. I was starved. It was time to treat myself. And I thought : what about Italian? Farmer Vincent (in Motel Hell, 1980) : There’s too many people in the world and not enough food. Well, this takes care of both problems at the same time. Okay that’s it for this review… if you’re a horror fan and your close family member has no idea what to get you for Christmas, tell them about this. After you’ve eaten your turkey you could read all about movies where people never eat turkeys. Oh – what’s that? You want to know what the ten best horror films I saw in the last few months were? Oh sure – Rabid (Early Cronenberg – I was thinking this will not stand up, 1976? Nah – but it did! Excellent stuff.) The Host (A Korean creature feature – great helter-skelter ride, goes in completely unexpected directions) Alice Sweet Alice – another old one I wasn’t expecting much from – whammm! I was wrong) [Rec] and [Rec 2] (terrific Spanish found-footage-style ground zero of zombie outbreak story – you’ve seen all of this before but just like in a pop song, it’s in the grooves what counts) Requiem for a Dream (not thought of as a horror movie but it is, my God) V/H/S/2 (a compendium of stories – two are brilliant) Frontiers (quite insane French nonsense but vastly entertaining) Inside (even more insane French extreme splatter) Miss Violence (a very quiet film, with, ironically, almost no actual physical violence – it’s really brutal though, not for the tender-hearted) You’re Next (some people did not care for this, I thought it was a hoot) (still from Alice Sweet Alice)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim Dooley

    For me, STUDIES IN TERROR: LANDMARKS OF HORROR CINEMA, was an interactive book. I was unable to read it without comparing my thoughts with those proposed by the writer. And considering that the writer is Jonathan Rigby, the book became something of an extended and fascinating “discussion” mentally similar to those I frequently have with friends when discussing films and filmmaking. The writer states that “the primary meaning of ‘landmark’ is a conspicuous landscape feature that helps travelers f For me, STUDIES IN TERROR: LANDMARKS OF HORROR CINEMA, was an interactive book. I was unable to read it without comparing my thoughts with those proposed by the writer. And considering that the writer is Jonathan Rigby, the book became something of an extended and fascinating “discussion” mentally similar to those I frequently have with friends when discussing films and filmmaking. The writer states that “the primary meaning of ‘landmark’ is a conspicuous landscape feature that helps travelers find their way around ....” So, the book isn’t so much a history of the horror film as it is a recounting of moments that made the film stand out. Admittedly, he also includes some of his guilty pleasures. So, while reading, I would find references to films that I not only thought weren’t landmarks, but that should be buried as compost. Two that immediately come to mind were: * HAXEN - A “classic” that is so poorly constructed that it bores me to the point of checking my email when it is run; * THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE - The film is a complete mess with plot points that skip all over the place, and extensive sequences of dialogue and driving used merely to “burn” running time. In a sidebar, he mentions the much better THE HEAD, which is the one I thought should have been featured. Then, there are the acknowledgments of films that I agree have long deserved much more attention. Those included: * EXORCIST III - All I ever seem to hear is, “It’s not as good as the original.” However, it is an unnerving companion film that takes some of the original’s themes and expands on them. It also contains the most jarring scene I’ve ever seen in a horror movie shot from a distance in a hospital corridor; * CASTLE OF BLOOD - This story really chills me. A man accepts a wager to spend a night in a haunted house, where the ghosts of the house’s victims are supposed to return for one evening every year; * THE CHANGELING - One of the classiest ghost stories I’ve ever seen, starring George C. Scott in an outstanding performance. The mileage that movie gets out of something so simple as a ball bouncing down a dark set of stairs is impressive. Finally, I hope that Jonathan Rigby receives a kick-back from Amazon on Blu-ray and DVD sales generated by Readers of his books. This time, I added three to my collection: * DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS - Not really a horror movie, but a top-notch gothic thriller about a young Irish woman who is not quite the person she appears to be; * THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED - I haven’t seen this one yet, but it apparently had an influence on Dario Argento when he made SUSPIRIA; * LISA AND THE DEVIL - This is a film I never particularly liked ... then I read Mr. Rigby’s perspective. Now, I have to admit, I really enjoy it! Of course, the danger in writing a book such as this one is that Readers will interpret it as a “definitive” text noting the best horror movies. However, that is not its intent. It is designed to share an opinion ... to say why certain movies stood out for one particular Viewer (albeit a highly informed Viewer!). As such, it invites the Reader to add or subtract from the list. In the meantime, the descriptions brought back many wonderful times spent watching most of these shows. It also has an extensive collection of photographs, and valuable information such as alternate titles used for films outside their country of origin. If film discussion really isn’t your cup of tea, it is probably better to give this one a miss. If it is something you enjoy, then this is a delightfully worthwhile book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael Samerdyke

    An interesting and eccentric survey of the horror genre by one of the best authors on the subject. Instead of a history, such as "English Gothic" or "American Gothic," Rigby selects key films from around the world. Some of the "old stand-bys" are here, but Rigby approaches them from an off-beat perspective. (Looking at "The Wolf Man" in light of Bela Lugosi's role in it, for example.) And Rigby selects a number of films that he thinks have been overlooked, such as "Psycho III" and "The Hidden" (b An interesting and eccentric survey of the horror genre by one of the best authors on the subject. Instead of a history, such as "English Gothic" or "American Gothic," Rigby selects key films from around the world. Some of the "old stand-bys" are here, but Rigby approaches them from an off-beat perspective. (Looking at "The Wolf Man" in light of Bela Lugosi's role in it, for example.) And Rigby selects a number of films that he thinks have been overlooked, such as "Psycho III" and "The Hidden" (both from the Eighties.) He also brings to light many Italian and Spanish horror films that American viewers are probably unfamiliar with. So even if you are a well-rounded horror buff, there will be plenty in this book that will be new to you. A most enjoyable read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christian Bates-Hardy

    While it's not quite as exhaustive or insightful as his book on English Gothic, Studies in Terror is a must-read survey of the global history of horror cinema for any devotee of the genre. While it's not quite as exhaustive or insightful as his book on English Gothic, Studies in Terror is a must-read survey of the global history of horror cinema for any devotee of the genre.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Lamkin

    Fascinating chronological overview of important films in the horror genre. A must for serious horror fans' libraries. Fascinating chronological overview of important films in the horror genre. A must for serious horror fans' libraries.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dani

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mari Elise Baustad

  8. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jade Willer

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ken

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Palmer

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Newton

  14. 4 out of 5

    Laurie McHale

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ashley E.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael McGuire

  17. 4 out of 5

    OTIS

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rick

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dustin Putman

  20. 4 out of 5

    Neil Snowdon

  21. 5 out of 5

    Paul Vindici

  22. 4 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  26. 5 out of 5

    David

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Lincoln

  28. 4 out of 5

    Deanna Hammond

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pentheus Bacchus

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