PERFORMING ARTS

Fright Favorites: 31 Movies To Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond

Running Pr. Sept. 2020. 224p. ISBN 9780762497621. $24. FILM
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Launching with a history of Hollywood’s take on Halloween, Skal (Something in the Blood) offers 31 horror flicks to carry readers through the month of October. Skal’s picks are safe but not entirely predictable, skewing toward the black-and-white era (the 1930s yield five selections, whereas only three titles are pulled from the last 30 years)—all of which is understandable, since the book is published under the auspices of TCM. Skal excels at explaining how a horror film becomes a classic. His encapsulation of 1925’s The Phantom of the Opera is a delight—he discusses its production and legacy and explores how the Phantom’s facial disfigurement would have been received by an audience reeling from the atrocities of World War I. Each entry is lavishly illustrated with promotional artwork and production stills, and Skal provides slightly more obscure viewing suggestions (such as pointing Night of the Living Dead fans toward Carnival of Souls).
VERDICT Skal wrings new life from the undead in this loving tribute to horror cinema. Movie buffs will appreciate his depth of knowledge, and fright fans will treasure this gorgeous look at the ghoulish.

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