Tuesday, August 2, 2016

...review of _The Thrill of Repulsion: Excursions into Horror Culture_ by William Burns...

The Thrill of Repulsion: Excursions into Horror Culture by William Burns
Size: 6″ x 9″ | No illustrations (but beautiful typeface and design throughout) | 280 pp
ISBN13: 9780764351433 | Binding: hard cover
“This collection of carefully curated lists, articles, and interviews celebrates the beleaguered horror genre across different media while tracing the history of its acceptance into popular culture. Divided into four sections—Film, Television, Literature & Comic Books, and Music—this book groups horror movies from the Silent Era to today, as well as classic horror books and cult musical albums, into top-13 lists. Enjoy detailed reviews and analysis in categories such as the 13 Most Deranged Horror Director Debuts, the 13 Horror Movie Adaptations That Are Better Than the Book, and the 13 Most Terrifying Horror Film Soundtracks. These chapters, together with in-depth conversations with musicians, demonstrate how horror has penetrated our culture in more ways than we know. Fans of experimental cinema, heavy metal, industrial music, comics, and the occult will be delighted to see their favorite, yet far too often critically marginalized, works of art reviewed with a fresh, exhilarating voice.”
About the author
“William Burns is an English professor at Suffolk County Community College. He teaches classes on horror films and horror literature, and lectures widely on the topics of experimental films, graphic novels, postmodernism, and surrealism.” 
From the college blog, Burns appears quite popular among the study body. You can also follow the link to see his zombie statue ;D

I was excited to read this but slightly foiled by the title and description. This book is about *film.* Even the section Literature and Comic Books includes film adaptations “that are better than the book” (seriously? The Masque of the Red Death is better seen than read?!? *insert eye roll* And I’m not even going to share with my fella that #2 is The Shining since he continually points out how much better the book is than the movie and he’s a huge Stanley Kubrick fan. I’m not saying that a film cannot be better than a book. In fact, I believe they’re quite different but dude, I cannot support the trumping of Poe). There is two focused chapters on H.P. Lovecraft stories, and also a section on Music but again this includes film soundtracks. There is a chapter on “The 13 Most Riotous Horror Bands/Musicians” with Skinny Puppy coming in at #6 and the Misfits at #1 but really most of the music noted falls out of the Venn Diagram where Dr. Burns’s and my interests overlap. If I cannot focus on the literature, and really I’m not a Lovecraft fan girl, then I have to consider his movie categories.

The chapters include the 13 most “disturbing”, “sickening art house”, “deranged”, “satanic” etc. horror movies. There is also a focus on “the 13 scariest horror TV shows” with Scooby Doo and The Twilight Zone (the 1980s version…what??? Why not the original series?) being included. Tales from the Crypt made honorable mention but what about Tales from the Darkside??? The opening still creeps me out. Click here. My favorite section was the chapter on the made for television films. Salem’s Lot (1979) was #2 with Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973) being #1.

The introduction fooled me a bit because I thought the book was going to have more of an academic focus. It’s actually written more from a fan’s point of view. Don’t get me wrong; it’s smart and well-written. It just begins a bit on the defensive of “why horror” and drops some academic jargon and theorists. The book is set up so that there is a brief 1-2 page introduction and then the countdown from 13 to 1 of each of the works. What is lacking for me or a point that seems obvious that I missed is how the ranking occurs and how certain texts make the cut and others don’t. Overall, this would be a great read for those in a horror film course (which Dr. Burns teaches) or for someone really into horror films.

I’m left thinking that it would be fun to just be in a room with the author. We could have a nice debate about his choices over a few glasses of wine. I could tell him why he’s wrong; he could tell me to go and write my own book, and I would say, “touché”. 

For more information about the book, visit the publisher's website
2016 NetGalley Challenge

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