"The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated History" Book Review
Written by Robert Gold
Published by Applause Books
Edited by Stephen Jones
2017, 256 pages, Reference
Book released on September 21st, 2017
Allow me to start this review a little differently: buy The Art of Horror Movies today! I won’t grab my thesaurus, but there really are only so many ways I can express how gorgeous this book is. Editor Stephen Jones has compiled an impressive array of artwork, including both contemporary original works and classic marketing advertisements, such as film posters, lobby cards and magazine covers from decades past, some dating back to the silent era. Over 600 color images fill the glossy pages, each with identifying text and notes from some of the artists themselves. This edition begins with a foreword by filmmaker John Landis, who reflects on the inspirational genre posters he grew up with. This is followed by an introduction by Jones, who presents an overview of what is to come.
This hardback book researches the origins of horror cinema and follows the evolution of the genre throughout the twentieth century and into the contemporary age. Each successive decade receives a dedicated chapter in which Jones contributes a highly detailed collection of essays that traces the significance of each era and how the films shaped the genre. In addition to historical reflections, there are articles dedicated to specific performers like Lon Chaney, Barbara Steele, Vincent Price and Bruce Campbell that study their contribution to horror cinema. Once we enter the era of the 1950s and ‘60s, the pages really come to life with creativity as marketing campaigns kick into overdrive. Jones includes a wide array of promotional images including poster art from around the world.
The real highlights are the original artworks contributed by more than two dozen artists. Their love of classic horror images and iconography are faithfully reproduced here in assorted sizes. Each work is titled, the materials identified and when possible, a short quote by the artist about the inspiration is included. Going in I was familiar with some of the giants in the industry, but this publication has introduced me to countless names that I look forward to uncovering more of their works in the future. Legendary artists Basil Gogos and Drew Struzan appear alongside names as diverse as Guillermo del Toro and William Stout. One of my favorite discoveries is stained glass artist Micah Lee Mowbray, whose depictions of classic Universal monsters including the Bride of Frankenstein are quite striking.
Applause Books has done a solid job with the physical presentation of this art collection, which is well-crafted and sturdy. The cover features a beautiful portrait of Vincent Price in House of Wax by Basil Gogos. Suggested retail price is $40, and it is worth every penny. This is the perfect companion piece to Jones’ similarly themed The Art of Horror. I really can’t say enough nice things about this book, as it is likely my favorite addition this year. If you love the genre and can appreciate the artwork used to promote it, this is for you. Do yourself a favor and run to wherever books are sold and pick up this title at once. You won’t regret it.
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