Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book Review: HIDDEN HORROR: A CELEBRATION OF 101 UNDERRATED AND OVERLOOKED FRIGHT FLICKS (2013)


Dr. AC Presents
HIDDEN HORROR: A CELEBRATION OF 101 UNDERRATED AND 
OVERLOOKED FRIGHT FLICKS (2013) 

Hidden Horror is the first title under the Kitley's Krypt Press banner and it's quite a page turner for obscure horror-seekers. It's a compilation of horror essays celebrating 101 underrated fright flicks edited by Aaron Christensen with a forward by director William Lustig (Maniac) who is not only a director of note but a cult-film preservationist and the man behind the cult label Blue Underground, definitely a man who knows a thing or two about obscure horror movies. 


In the days before the Internet and the advent of genre film blogs and IMDB the only resources I had to aid me in my search of fright cinema were a mangled thrift store edition of The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film and the rare issue of Fangoria. Without the benefit of a guiding hand I was left to discover new horror titles by scouring the the local VHS shop selecting films based on the VHS art which rarely delivered on the macabre promise of the artwork. It was through sheer quantity and a bit of luck I was able to shake out a few gore-soaked gems from the hordes of mediocre schlock, a lot of that schlock I now enjoy quite a bit. Reading through this book I only wished I'd had such a fantastic resource as Hidden Horror as many of these films have only come to my attention in the past few years, and if I'd had this in my youth the quality over quantity quotient might have greatly improved.


After making my way through the films of John Carpenter, Dario Argento and George A. Romero I made a concerted effort to sift through the dusty bins in search of forgotten cult-classics and still I have only seen about 75 percent of the films contained within these pages. As I turned the last page my list of to-see films had nearly doubled, it's just one of those reads so have your pen and notepad ready because you're gonna discover a lot of new titles. Not just old Hammer (The Devil Rides Out) or under appreciated titles from the masters (Carpenter's In The Mouth of Madness) but some truly excellent modern entries like Eden Lake, Habit and The Signal. 


I certainly enjoyed reading the write-up on some of the kookier 70's entries which I have a fondness for such as the intensely eerie Let's Scare Jessica to Death and The Brotherhood of Satan and The Legend of Hell House - movies some might consider guilty pleasures but I took great joy in reading these write-ups knowing others relish them much the same way. A few of the titles seemed not quite so obscure or under appreciated: Argento's Tenebre, Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes, Lucio Fulci' City of the Living Dead are outright classics in my opinion but I no less enjoyed the write-ups which only reaffirmed by love for each and gave me a new appreciation for certain aspects of each. I don't consider myself the most cerebral appreciator of horror and for the most part key into the more visceral aspects without thinking too much on the socio-political overtones but a few of the writers here do and I enjoyed it, none of which were too bookish, which I appreciated. 

Hidden Horror is a great read that I poured though in just a few days, each entry truly a love-letter to a particular film - and it's infectious stuff. My copy is already a bit dog-eared and tattered as I've bookmarked titles I've yet to see or need to re watch. A definite recommend to any horror fan looking to discover something new and out of the ordinary. 4.5 Outta 5 


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