‘Horror Unmasked’: The Conskipper Review

History of horror tomes are in no short supply at your local book store, especially around the Halloween season. And while shelves may be well-stocked with these explorations of the genre, they certainly come with varying degrees of scholarship and attention to detail, putting readers in the tough position of “letting the right one in” to their home libraries.

For those looking for a nice mix of scholarship and glossy pictures and hit lists, Brad Weismann’s Horror Unmasked: A History of Terror from Nosferatu to Nope is a worthy addition to even the most experienced fan’s collection.

Weismann arranges the book by time period and sub-genre, although not necessarily chronologically all the way through. The book starts with the very first silent horror films before Universal Studio’s monsters took over the world, dedicating the start of Horror Unmasked to the foundations of horror. Weismann offers facts, stories, and anecdotes about the essential era that will educate those without a background in the films of the early part of the century and also entertain and inform those who consider themselves well versed in the films.

Weismann doesn’t rush through the analysis (or time periods) even dedicating a whole chapter to the Tod Browning/Lon Chaney pairing and their titanic contributions to the medium. While most books (hopefully) have at least a page on each, having a complete chapter dedicated to the two pioneers was a pleasant surprise.

All of the important sub-genres and movements/trends are covered, with a distinct focus on films and filmmakers, not monsters or madmen, separating Horror Unmasked from other texts that focus on sizzle over steak.

Weismann doesn’t skimp on international material either, with distinct chapters on Italian, British, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean horror.

If you are looking for a splashy history of horror rife with two page spreads of Jason and Leatherface carving up their victim, this isn’t the book for you. If you are instead looking for an introspective examination of the films, filmmakers, and regions that have created and continue to influence the modern horror genre, Horror Unmasked is one history that you should own.

Horror Unmasked: A History of Terror from Nosferatu to Nope is currently available at finer book stores and comic shops everywhere.

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