The Making of Horror Movies: Key Figures Who Established the Genre

White Owl. Jun. 2021. 232p. ISBN 9781526774705. $34.95. FILM
Film critic Selway (formerly of The Observer and Time Out) offers an absorbing deep dive into horror films from the 1920s–1980s, shedding light on creative forces behind such classics as Dracula, Frankenstein, and Halloween. Each chapter is focused on a different person in horror movie history, from actress Elsa Lanchester to producer Roger Corman to director John Carpenter. Selway notes that many of horror’s major players had theatrical roots (Bela Lugosi originated the role of Dracula in a stage play). She also explores her subjects’ feelings about horror films (some positive, some negative), their quirks (Val Lewton, who produced the 1942 hit Cat People, was terrified of felines), and how fame affected their lives. Though horror is a much-maligned genre, and some of the individuals profiled here have dismissed their work in horror films, Selway argues that each of them made a permanent mark on film culture and that the success of their movies is a result of the talent and hard work of people in front of and behind the camera.
VERDICT Reveling in Hollywood legends and magic, this is an enjoyable, eye-opening romp through horror film history that will inspire readers to look at classic horror films in new ways.
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