Tales of Terror in the Cinema
by Alan G. Frank
Octopus Books, 1974
When I first spotted this book on the shelves of the public library in my hometown in upstate New York in the mid-70s, I immediately checked it out. It went on to become one of my favorite books of that era.
While nowadays you can go to an online book store and easily find any number of volumes on horror movies and horror films, back in 1974, there were few such publications. Some were academic studies that were unrewarding to read, while others were perfunctory affairs designed as 'budget' treatments of the genre.
'Horror Movies: Tales of Terror in the Cinema' (160 pp), with its higher quality binding and higher quality reproductions of stills and posters, was a welcome advance in terms of surveying the genre.
The text sections are necessarily limited, and consist primarily of providing an overview of theme for a given chapter, with longer descriptions or synopses afforded to those films that the author feels are truly memorable.
In the U.S. in the mid-70s, of course, video cassettes were still in their infancy. There was no internet, and cable TV choices were limited. Accordingly, many of the Hammer films (and films from other UK companies, such as Amicus), if they were viewed at all by American audiences, were done so as features in drive-ins or 'grindhouse' movie theatres.
That said, I'm skeptical that younger members of contemporary horror film fandom will find the movies described in 'Horror Movies' to be all that compelling. The slower-paced films from Hammer, with moments of grue carefully parceled out in-between lengthy segments of dialogue, will probably seem stilted and dull...... I recently watched the 1957 film The Curse of Frankenstein on the TCM channel, and I had to conclude that it likely will have little appeal to those raised on The Walking Dead, or the Paranormal Activity movies.