At this point, do we even need another book on the history of horror movies? How many have there been? More than I can keep track of, that's for sure.

I do, however, like to mix my reading with fiction and nonfiction. My idea of nonfiction generally being about horror in some form.

I've heard some good things about Jason Zinoman's Shock Value. It's a book from 2011 that focuses on the changes in the world of horror films in the late sixties and the seventies. A subject after my own heart, as it were. I figured I'd give it a shot.

So is Shock Value worth your time and money?

Well, my answer is yes...and no.

Shock Value is very well written. Zinoman knows his subject, and he has some good observations about it. He provides anecdotes from behind the scenes of the conception and making of horror milestones like Targets, Night of the Living Dead, Alien, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, and others. Stuff that was newto even an old horror maven like me.

So, yeah, Shock Value isn't a bad value for your dollars and your time.

Still, I sensed a whiff of disdain for the overall history of horror movies. Nothing overt, mind you, but a general feeling that it was being looked down upon. Zinoman certainly cares about the period and the type of movies covered in Shock Value, and that's good.

It seemed to me that Zinoman isn't exactly one of us. Not a true fan of the genre. Shock Value kind of had an academic tone. That's fine for some, but that stuff gets a little bit stuffy to me pretty quickly. Zinoman also loses points for ripping off the title of John Waters' memoirs.

I did enjoy Shock Value, and I think you probably would, too. But I also think you'd be just fine having not read it. Your time would be better spent actually watching horror movies, or reading something else by someone who truly has passion for the horror genre.

Written by Mark Sieber

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