Thursday, September 5, 2013

Review: 'Vuckovic’s Horror Miscellany'


So, you’re on a first date, and things are going pretty well. You’re having the old getting-to-know-you chat, and the discussion lands on “what’s your favorite book?” You say, “The Haunting of Hill House, of course!” Your date just gives you a blank stare. OK, so let’s move on to your favorite film. “Obviously, it’s Peeping Tom, the movie that practically destroyed Michael Powell’s career!” Peeping Tom? Michael Powell? Never heard of them. “Fine, fine. Fair enough.” Well then, what about your favorite periodical? “Four words: Famous Monsters of Filmland.” At that point, your date stands up and heads for the door, probably not understanding that Filmland is one word.

Just last week, there’d be no way to salvage what had been, up to this point, a lovely evening. But now, there’s hope. Don’t let your date leave. Throw yourself in front of the door, and plead, “If you’ll go out with me again, I’ll give you a present!” Then immediately sprint to your local bookstore and grab a copy of Vuckovic’s Horror Miscellany.

In fewer than 100 easily digestible pages, horror filmmaker, historian, and all-around superfan Jovanka Vuckovic will fill in that massive blank spot in your potential wife/husband/sex monkey’s horror education. Vuckovic’s Horror Miscellany offers a far-reaching historical, biographical, and trivial smorgasbord of all things monstrous from movies to literature to art to television to poetry to mythology to comics to fanzines to radio dramas to pulp magazines to video games to stage plays to music to real-life killers to breakfast cereal.

Because this is Vuckovic’s Horror Miscellany and not Vuckovic’s Horror In Complete, there are some blind spots here too. There is barely any mention of werewolves, and such essential horrorphernalia as Val Lewton, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “The X-Files,” horror-comedies, and Halloween (the holiday, not the movie) are ignored. However, Vuckovic makes up for such rare oversights by expanding her horror overview to drop such oddities as Kafka’s The Trial, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Mondo Cane, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and The Bible (which she correctly categorizes as a “novel,” much to my delight) into the cannon. She also places the most essential items—Frankenstein, Halloween (the movie), King Kong, Black Sabbath, and E.C. Comics—on a level playing field with such relative obscurities as Japanese writer Edogawa Rampo, Brazilian boogeyman Coffin Joe, and Witch Hunt treatise Malleus Maleficarium. So while your future date may not learn anything about, say, An American Werewolf in London, she/he will know that Carol Clover is the film theorist who coined the term “The Final Girl.” That should be enough to get you through that crucial second date.

Get Vuckovic’s Horror Miscellany at Amazon.com here:


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