There are already enough horror movie guides haunting bookstores to choke King Kong. Nathaniel Tolle justifies the existence of yet another one by employing a welcome premise: movies that conjure just the right atmosphere for Halloween viewing. He lays out his criteria in the introductory chapter of Pumpkin Cinema: nothing too slow, too long, too depressing, too cruel, or too off-season for Halloween fun. Such seasonally perfect selections as Something Wicked This Way Comes, House of Frankenstein, The Adventures of Ichabod, and of course, Halloween are shoe-ins.
Sometimes Tolle has trouble sticking to his own premise, as when he chooses the swelteringly Amazonian Creature from the Black Lagoon instead of more appropriately autumnal alternatives like The Wolf Man or Dracula (which he disqualifies for being too slow…blasphemy!). While those are some glaring omissions matched only by the near-total absence of Hammer horrors, I appreciated Tolle’s otherwise appreciation of classic monster movies from all eras and how he further distinguishes his book from similar guides by getting into cartoons, short films, and Halloween episodes of non-supernatural TV series. I also liked the fact that he selected movies he likes, so you don’t have to hunt around to locate his recommendations. You still might want to approach a lot of those recommendations with caution since Tolle can be undiscerning when it comes to direct-to-video cheapies and holiday movies starring Ernest or The Olsen Twins. That unfettered enthusiasm extends to writing that is accessible yet can get dodgy without enough editorial intervention. Someone certainly should have steered him away from writing “working quite well are the many ample bosoms that constantly struggle to stay confined in their tiny bikini tops” in his entry for the notorious rape-monster movie Humanoids from the Deep. Yeesh.
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