Everyone who loves horror probably saw a horror movie at a young age that left an impression and started them on a life long love affair with the genre. Look Back In Horror: A Personal History of Horror Film by J Malcolm Stewart is one writer’s love letter to his favorite genre. Some of the things this book touches on is the films that managed to scare J. Malcolm as he was growing up, top 50 scream queens and the movies of Mario Bava.
Look Back in Horror starts with J. Malcom explaining why he loves horror. He mentions how he has spent many nights watching movies that we were told were bad for us and then goes on to say that he finds horror fans to be the most even-tempered, honest and nicest people to be around. He goes on to say that horror fans prefer to acknowledge and confront the darkness that is in us and then points out that you have to go through the darkness to get to the light. After reading his intro I realized that J. Malcom felt the same way about horror that I did and I was really looking forward to reading the rest of the book.
There is a lot I learned from this book, its like an encyclopedia of knowledge on scream queens. It also gave a good retrospect on the career of Mario Bava. I didn’t know a lot about the work of Bava with the exception of Black Sunday and Black Sabbath which every horror fan should see. I have to say here Black Sunday is a movie that I would love to see remade, many directors have copied it, but I wonder if the mood of the original can be recaptured in an updated movie. This book also brings up movies I never knew about called The Whip And The Body and Planet Of The Vampires. Mario Bava is a director that gets his due in Look Back In Horror.
I love the fact that J. Malcom brings up the movie Equinox. Equinox is a lost gem from 1970, that most horror fans probably haven’t seen. J. Malcom mentions seeing this movie on Creature Feature many years ago and it stuck with him. As he described the movie I realized that I saw it once on late night tv years ago and I agree it is a classic. The movie deals with a bunch of hippies in the sixties running away from a devil like creature in the woods. This movie is a great example of why horror is a great genre. Its creepy and campy at the same time. I was happy to see it mentioned here as J. Malcom’s gateway to the world of horror.
There are a lot of movies mentioned in this book that some horror fans might not be aware of which shows how big of a horror fan that J. Malcom is. I loved the fact that Vampira gets mentioned in the top 50 scream queens since she doesn’t get the attention she deserves. Also liked that Felissa Rose from Sleepaway Camp gets a mention even though I think the movie is one of the worst horror films ever, I liked parts 2 and 3 though. Look Back In Horror is a celebration on what makes horror a fun genre.