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

Thursday, September 6, 2012


GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM, 1978 - 1986. Adam Rockoff. McFarland; 2002.

When such films as Halloween  and Friday the 13th became big money makers, there was a rush to come out with cheap, gory films with psychos on the loose slashing and hacking at everyone in sight. Rockoff intelligently dissects the genre, which he loves, examining the styles of different directors, as well as going behind the scenes of many productions. The book is bolstered by comments from producers and others. A final chapter looks at the revival of the genre with the Scream movies. [It's too bad this came out too early to cover all the recent remakes of famed slasher films such as Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine, and others.] Being human, Rockoff does at times tend to be kinder to films made by people who consented to be interviewed as opposed to others, but when he thinks a film is a stinker he isn't shy about saying so. The book is quite well-written as well.

I appreciate that Rockoff mentions my 1985 tome Stay Out of the Shower: 25 Years of Shocker Films Beginning with "Psycho," and acknowledges it as one of the very first books to discuss slasher films (along with other horror films.) However, I can't say that I "loathe" such movies as he claims [I've certainly seen plenty of them, then and now.] I've always enjoyed the original Friday the 13th, among others in the genre, but I confess I do prefer films -- slashers, among them -- that have decent production values, a firm directorial hand, some three-dimensional characters, generous suspense, and a plot with some kind of mystery to it, and most slasher films -- maybe most movies -- don't fit that criteria, more's the pity. So I would say I don't so much loathe slasher films but am disappointed by them.

Verdict: Slasher movie fans will love this. ***.

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