‘Rue Morgue’ Review of The ‘Handbook’

I was pleasantly surprised by the great review of The New Horror Handbook in Rue Morgue magazine 95 (November). As there doesn’t seem to be an online version of that piece, I’m reprinting Brad Abraham’s piece below:

“It isn’t easy being a horror movie fan in this still-young century; years of repeated abuse in the form of terrible films have left us bloodied, bruised and battered, yet we still go back to the well again and again, hoping that maybe this time it won’t hurt so much. Author A.S. Berman feels your pain, but also gives fans reasons to rejoice because, as his New Horror Handbook illustrates, things aren’t as bleak as they seem.

Comprised of equal parts interview and analysis, Berman hits the ground running with chapters on current genre heavyweights Eli Roth and Greg McLean, discussing what forces drove them to create their most memorable works. Canadian horror gets ample examination with the Ginger Snaps series and Vincenzo Natali’s Cube — in the process Berman reveals just how interconnected the Canadian horror scene is. Likewise France’s New Horror Wave receives coverage in the form of in-depth analysis of Inside and Frontieres, which links them thematically to the current wave of xenophobia washing over that nation (as exemplified by the fear of “the other” in these titles). We would also be remiss in mentioning that there is a chapter devoted to Rue Morgue‘s creation and operation, but for the sake of professionalism we decline comment, other than agreeing that it is quite comprehensive.

Berman is also not afraid to critique and criticize; the Saw sequels get an evisceration that would make Jigsaw proud (ditto the Ginger Snaps sequels). He is equally unafraid to defend controversial figures such as Roth, and while his praise is unlikely to earn the filmmaker many new fans (especially among those who’ve already dismissed his work), Berman raises many valid points in Roth’s defense.

Ultimately The New Horror Handbook succeeds in its goal of demonstrating that even in this first decade of the century, horror is just as vital as ever, especially if you’re not afraid to travel off the beaten path and face what lurks in its shadows.”

Many thanks, Rue Morgue.


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