Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


BLOOD MONEY: A History of the First Teen Slasher Film Cycle. Richard Nowell. Continuum; 2011.

This book reads like a college thesis, which is probably how it originated. An editor would probably have been wise to cut out the passages where Nowell writes about what he's going to be saying in the rest of the chapter, which we can actually read for ourselves on the next pages. His constantly spelling out and summing up -- making the same points over and over -- gets annoying. That being said, it must also be said that this is not a critical study of the slasher genre, at least not of individual movies, although Nowell does make some interesting points about them as a by-product. Instead the book looks more at the business end of the teen slasher cycle, how it came about from a commercial stand-point, and which films actually influenced the cycle in both the financial and creative sense. Nowell argues that the first teen slasher pic was actually the Canadian Black Christmas (1974) and not the better-known and more successful Halloween. [Of course many consider Friday the 13th to actually be the first "mad slasher" film -- or at least the one that engendered so many others -- and the poster art for the film adorns the cover.] Nowell intelligently and successfully argues that far from being misogynous, many of these movies were actually geared toward a female sensibility. He also puts other myths to rest. Nowell's discussions of how and why certain films got made is also of note. While the academic style may initially be off-putting, Blood Money is nevertheless well-written and more interesting than you might expect it to be.

Verdict: A bit dry at times but not without interest. **1/2.

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