Time for a book recommendation.
Years ago (1992 to be precise), Christopher Golden edited Cut! Horror Writers on Horror Film. In and among the various essays in this fascinating tome were those special joys for the dip-in-dip-out reader: the list. John Skipp and Craig Spector offered “Death’s Rich Pageantry, or Skipp & Spector’s Handy-Dandy Splatterpunk Guide to the Horrors of Non-horror Film.” And Stanley Wiater contributed an essential guide for the daredevil viewer: “Disturbo 13: The Most Disturbing Horror Films Ever Made” (collect ‘em all!).
Golden’s book is can be tracked down from various used booksellers, and it’s a great read if you can find it, but now comes a tome that is filled to the brim with lists, and might well rank as the ultimate bathroom reader for the horror fan: The Book of Lists: Horror. Editors Amy Wallace, Del Howison and Scott Bradley have turned to quite the collection of horror practitioners to gather a delightfully eclectic collection. Some examples: “Edgar Wright’s ‘Ouch! I’m Sorry, But That Has Got to Hurt!’ Moments in Horror Films (Plus One Very Honorable Mention),” “Eli Roth’s Top Ten Nastiest Horror Movie Genital Mutilations” and “Edward Lee’s Ten Best Horror Movies with Gratuitous Nudity.”
I could go on, but you get the idea. But the other idea that you should be getting is how this book has to potential to be the new bible for cult/sleaze/horror mavens. Pick a list and ask yourself whether you’ve seen every film on it (or read every book/story). If you haven’t, why not? Entire home cinema film festivals can be built on this text.
But the book’s value as a viewing resource extends far beyond tracking down genital mutilations (fun as that may be, not to mention there’s the inevitable desire to correct or add to the list, and you start to realize, for instance, just how many genital mutilations there are in horror films). Consider “Caitlín R. Kiernan’s Thirteen of the Top Ten Lovecraftian Films Not Actually Based (Or Only Loosely Based) on the Works of H. P. Lovecraft.” This piece provides wonderful food for thought. Chances are, many of the films on the list you’ve seen (Alien, The Thing, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and so on). And some have had their Lovecraftian influence pointed out before (Stephen King saw this in Alien back in 1981, and Kim Newman memorably described Ghostbusters as “National Lampoon’s Call of Cthulhu”). But seeing all these titles, familiar or not, in one place encourages viewing the films with a new eye. I love, for instance, Kiernan’s interpretation of Event Horizon as being “a pretty effective look at mankind come face-to-face with Azathoth,” and I can’t wait to go back to the Black Lagoon again with “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” at the back of my mind.
In other words, this is essential reading. It will remind you of films you’d forgotten you wanted to see, reveal new titles to you, and refresh your perceptions of old favourites. You’ll also get more than a passing cackle along the way.