Edited by: Stephen Jones
Published by: Applause
The Art of Horror Movies is a follow up to 2015’s highly successful “The Art of Horror” and once again is edited by the esteemed Stephen Jones. As the title suggests this book once again traces the history of horror art but this time specifically covers art in horror movies including posters, lobby cards, and modern illustrations. Jones provides an introduction and Director John Landis contributes the book’s foreword.
The Art of Horror Movies is divided into nine chapters, each of which covers a different decade/era of horror films. Each chapter is headed up by a different writer, each either a horror writer or historian, and expert in the genre. These include Sir Christopher Frayling, Tom Weaver, Barry Forshaw, David J. Schow, Kim Newman, Jonathan Rigby, Lisa Morton, Anne Bilson, and Ramsey Campbell.
In addition to reprinting original poster, theater, and advertising art, the book also features modern illustrations by some of the top artists in the world including Basil Gogos, William Stout, Alex Horley, Drew Struzan, Jeff Stahl, Dave McKean and many others.
Frayling kicks things off with a look at horror art from the silent era starring such early film greats as Lionel Barrymore and Lon Chaney. Many of the posters presented are from European releases which many film fans have likely never seen before. Among the rarities presented is the only known three-sheet poster for the lost Chaney classic “London After Midnight”.
Tom Weaver, one of the foremost authorities on the Golden Age of horror films is next up with his chapter on 1930s horror films and the many Universal films that the genre was built on like “Frankenstein”, “Dracula”, “The Mummy”, “Freaks”, as well as the many lesser known films: “Doctor X”, “Murders in the Zoo”, “The Return of Chandu”, and “The Bat Whispers”.
One of my favorite chapters is Kim Newman’s covering the 1960s. This was the height of the monster era when horror films made their way into pop culture by way of magazines, toys, model kits, board games, comic books and puzzles. It was a wonderful time to grow up!
Before you get the idea that the book is just a nice looking gallery of images, think again. Every single image has an entry noting its film, year, media type, artist and other information. Jones isn’t looking to give readers mere eye candy but also a book that contains a hell of a lot of substance. Even the most passionate film fans are likely to find a lot of images that they have not seen before and each writers take on their assigned decade is a thoroughly fascinating read.
In addition to what I have noted above there are numerous short, side articles profiling some of the lesser known horror actors and directors like Tod Slaughter, Lionel Atwill, Rondo Hatton, and Terence Fisher.
Checking in at 260 pages The Art of Horror presents hundreds of illustrations but also a vibrant historical look at the horror film genre. This is a book that any horror fan will want to add to their library.