Thursday, March 14, 2013

Review: 'The Horror Show Guide: The Ultimate Frightfest of Movies'

All right, Mike Mayo, you got me. Based on your rave review in The Horror Show Guide (and I’ll admit, the presence of Naomi Watts), I watched 45 minutes of Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering. That must be the horror guide version of a Rick Roll. I should have known better. Mayo’s taste can be a bit questionable. While he gives the thumbs up to garbage such as The Lawnmower Man, Hollow Man, and the aforementioned Corn movie, he’s pretty dismissive of many of the best movies in his book, among them Bride of Frankenstein, Mamoulian’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Haunting, and Eraserhead. His problem with most of these movies? They’re “dated.” Woo-ee! Does Mike Mayo love that word! There’s barely a review of a film made before 1960 in The Horror Show Guide that escapes it. Gee, a movie from the ’30s is dated? What insight! Well, I can say the same about 1992’s Lawnmower Man, but there is a big difference between its dated early-CGI effects and the “dated” effects in, say, James Whale’s The Invisible Man: Claude Rains’ disappearance remains incredibly charming and impressive, while the sub-ColecoVision frogs and sex robots in Lawnmower Man look like shit. Mayo’s not having any of that, though. The effects in The Invisible Man are “dated.” The humor in Bride of Frankenstein is “dated.” The acting in The Haunting “has aged poorly” (nice variation!).

Still, I can’t completely write off The Horror Show Guide. Mayo has seen a lot of horror movies (though not all of these are horror movies. Whatever their tenuous connections to the genre, Dolores Claiborne, Fellini Satyricon, Ed Wood, and others don’t belong in this book. I was kind of tickled that he included Passion of the Christ, though). Like any good horror guide, his book should be read with a pen and paper in hand to jot down intriguing and unfamiliar titles for future viewing. Just be sure to take his assessments with a big grain of salt, or you may get suckered into seeing something like Children of the Corn IV, or worse, steered away from something like The Haunting.

Get The Horror Show Guide: The Ultimate Frightfest of Movies at Amazon.com here:


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