Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Inven ted Modern Horror
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Much has been written about the storied New Hollywood of the 1970s, but at the same time that Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorcese were producing their first classic movies, a parallel universe of directors gave birth to the modern horror film. Shock Value tells the unlikely story of how directors like Wes Craven, Roman Polanski, and John Carpenter revolutionized the genre in the 1970s, plumbing their deepest anxieties to bring a gritty realism and political edge to their craft. From Rosemary’s Baby to Halloween, the films they unleashed on the world created a template for horror that has been relentlessly imitated but rarely matched. Based on unprecedented access to the genre’s major players, this is an enormously entertaining account of a hugely influential golden age in American film.
was troubled: AI with Bogdanovich; Gordon B. Shriver, Boris Karloff: The Man Remembered (Baltimore: PublishAmerica, 2004), p. 132. 47 In an insightful essay: Renata Adler, “One Does Not Want This Sniper to Miss,” The New York Times, August 25, 1968. 47 “This is the only flaw”: Howard Thompson, “Two Case Histories of Horror Are Joined: Boris Karloff Stars in Gripping ‘Targets’ Film by Bogdanovich at 46th St. Embassy,” The New York Times, August 14, 1968. 48 “How intellectually chaotic”:
147. 88 Ackerman stood there : AI with Ackerman. CHAPTER FIVE 90 It felt clammy: AI with William Friedkin. 91 “When it came time”: AI with William Peter Blatty. 91 “Bill, when are you”: Ibid. 92 Ray Bradbury even wrote: Ray Bradbury, “Science Fiction Writer Ray Bradbury’s New Ending for ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’” Los Angeles Times, January 26, 1969. 92 “It was schlocky”: AI with Blatty. 92 “I could do something”: Ibid. 92 Jaffe decided to buy: AI with Marc Jaffe. 93 Directed by the
avant-garde artists from the 1920s first used this term (or cinéma pur) to describe a kind of film language that transcends story and character, but many American moviegoers learned about it through Hitchcock. Communicating information visually became a goal for most of those who made horror movies after Hitchcock. Once the province of talky Victorian ghost stories, horror, in large degree thanks to Hitchcock, evolved into one of the most cinematic of film genres. Hitchcock had a long career,
lounging around his house surrounded by a gang of submissive women reading magazines. Barking out orders, he comes off as a bully with no patience for anything less than total fealty. It’s almost as if Polanski had become what his original critics always suspected. Or perhaps he was playing a role. When Tynan questioned Polanski about using so much blood and excess carnage in the scene at Macduff’s castle, after the murder of his children, the director responded bleakly: “You didn’t see my house
of his mother (Angie Dickinson) in Dressed to Kill. In Blow Out, a Philadelphia soundman, Jack (John Travolta), accidentally stumbles upon evidence that an accident was murder, but his search for the truth ends in confusion and the death of the sweetly naive actress Sally (Nancy Allen) whom he tries to save. Like Tobe Hooper, De Palma focused on the horror of the helplessness of the observer. But De Palma was not interested in building a better monster. What scared him was the prospect of losing