Film Reference Books

The following are books that I've read and found useful in one way or another. I'll try and write separate reviews for each at some point but for now I'll include a description and also an Amazon link if they're still available to purchase.

The Story of Film: A concise history of film and an odyssey of international cinema

Author: Mark Cousins
Size: 512 pages
Publisher: Pavilion Books (20 Sept. 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 186205942X
ISBN-13: 978-1862059429

Buy: Hardback / DVD

I Say: Possibly the best book I've ever read on cinema. Also available in as a televised series.

Amazon Says: This new edition of The Story of Film, published to coincide with the fascinating 15-hour film documentary airing in September 2011, updates the most accessible and compelling history of the medium yet published. Film critic, producer and presenter, Mark Cousins shows how film-makers are influenced both by the historical events of their times, and by each other. He demonstrates, for example, how Douglas Sirk's Hollywood melodramas of the 1950s influenced Rainer Werner Fassbinder's despairing visions of 1970s Germany; and how George Lucas' Star Wars epics grew out of Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress. The Story of Film is divided into three main epochs: Silent (1885-1928), Sound (1928-1990) and Digital (1990-Present), and within this structure films are discussed within chapters reflecting both the stylistic concerns of the film-makers and the political and social themes of the time. Film is an international medium, so as well as covering the great American films and film-makers, the book explores cinema in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia and South America, and shows how cinematic ideas and techniques cross national boundaries. Avoiding jargon and obscure critical theory, the author constantly places himself in the role of the moviegoer watching a film, and asks: 'How does a scene or a story affect us, and why?' In so doing he gets to the heart of cinematic technique, explaining how film-makers use lighting, framing, focal length and editing to create their effects. Clearly written, and illustrated with over 400 stills, including numerous sequences explaining how scenes work, The Story of Film is essential reading for both film students and the general moviegoer.

Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s

Author: Kim Newman
Size: 640 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 2 edition (18 April 2011)
ISBN-10: 1408805030
ISBN-13: 978-1408805039

Buy: Paperback

I Say: An excellent synopsis of horror in cinema since Psycho. Warning, you may grumble that your favourite films are not included - this is not an a-z!

Amazon Says: The classic volume of cult film criticism, now brought completely up-to-date

'Nightmare Movies is thrice welcome. As a guide to the current movements in horror cinema, it is indispensable. As a work of analysis, it is insightful and incisive. And as a book of celebration, written by a man who takes a healthy pleasure in his subject, it is a joy.' -- Clive Barker

'Nightmare Movies is indeed a cinematic Encyclopedia of Evil!' -- Robert Bloch

'Nightmare Movies: the widest ranging study of the modern horror film - detailed, incisive, and a great deal of fun - the book that reaches horror films that other books don't reach' -- Ramsey Campbell

'Encyclopaedic, insightful, and entertaining - no bookshelf should be without Newman's frighteningly readable Nightmare Movies' -- Mark Kermode

Eaten Alive!: Italian Cannibal and Zombie Movies

Author: Jay Slater
Size: 256 pages
Publisher: Plexus Publishing Ltd (30 Aug. 2002)
ISBN-10: 0859653145
ISBN-13: 978-0859653145

Buy: Paperback

I Say: Required reading for all fans of Italian exploitation movies.

Amazon Says: From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, Italian exploitation moviemakers produced the most vividly gory horror movies ever made - using the recurring plot devices of Third World cannibalism or putrified 'zombie flesh eaters' returned from the dead. Eaten Alive! comprehensively tells the story of this outrageous period, setting it within its cultural and cinematic context. An illustrated, chronological film-by-film history of Italian cannibal and zombie movies, it includes irreverent but informative contributions from such legendary figures of the horror genre as David J. Schow, 'splatterpunk' author and screenwriter of The Crow, Herschell Gordon Lewis, the godfather of the gore movie. Other contributors including horror novelist Ramsey Campbell, film critic and science fiction author Kim Newman, horror anthologist Stephen Jones, TV cult-movie presenter Mark Kermode and gothic-horror expert Prof. Christopher Frayling all add authoritative material to this unique compendium. A grassroots subculture has built around the ultraviolent Italian movies highlighted in Eaten Alive!

Cannibal Ferox, advertised as 'the most violent film ever made', has recently been released on DVD by American distributor Sage Stallone, son of Sylvester; in the late 1990s, Quentin Tarantino's distribution company, Rolling Thunder, gave a theatrical release to the surreal zombie pic The Beyond; recent graphic novel adaptations of spaghetti gore films include The Beyond and Zombie, emphasising their cult status among young fans. Contributors to the book also include several legends of modern American horror: apart from Schow and H. G. Lewis, there is Brian Yuzna (director of cult US zombie movie Re-Animator), Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and Jim Van Bebber (director of ultraviolent cult movies Deadbeat at Dawn and Charlie's Family).

The New Flesh: 21st Century Horror Films A-Z, Volume 1

Author: Stuart Willis
Size: 450 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (27 Mar. 2015)
ISBN-10: 1511490810
ISBN-13: 978-1511490818

Buy: Paperback

I Say: Don't let the fact that this is privately printed deter you as I'm about half-way through this at the moment and am thoroughly enjoying it. Personal and, on occasion, extremely funny reviews from Stuart on both mainstream and underground horror films. I've chatted with him and he reports that the next volume will contain even more underground films!

Tormented Imp Review

Amazon Says: From ‘Hostel’ to ‘August Underground’ … ‘The Orphanage’ to ‘Martyrs’ … ‘I Saw The Devil’ to ‘Gutterballs’ … Whether it be the extreme terrors of the French New Wave, Spain’s love for a good old-fashioned ghost story, or the influx of no-budget “found footage” pseudo-documentaries favoured by wannabe filmmakers the world over, psychotronic movie output in the 21st Century has been more prolific, and arguably more challenging, than ever before. Author Stuart Willis aims to examine the many trends and sub-genres that have contributed to horror cinema during the last fifteen years. The New Flesh - through the course of an ongoing series of tomes, collectively and over time - is designed to provide a definitive reference guide to the seemingly bottomless pit of movies striving to keep the flames burning in recent years. The New Flesh: Volume 1 covers a wide range of sub-genres, as well as highlighting a small number of those twisted non-horror features that fans owe it to themselves to check out. The globe is traversed, and the small-time directors toiling independently are given equal exposure to both old hands continuing to ply their trade - such as George A Romero and Dario Argento - and the studio-produced bigger affairs. From torture porn through European Gothics, treading through the murky waters of the remake phenomenon and even taking in a spot of animation here and there, three hundred films are covered. All reviews are new and exclusive to this book. Each review offers a brief synopsis, full critique of the film in question, and titbits of trivia - along with nods to the movies of old that provide their influence, examining the legacy of onscreen brutality that has been embraced by contemporary filmmakers while placing their own works in a modern cultural context. Stuart Willis has written extensively about horror films, modern and old, for SexGoreMutants website. He has also had reviews published in the likes of Deranged fanzine and Chas Balun's legendary Deep Red magazine.

The Psychotronic Video Guide

Author: Michael J. Weldon
Size: ??? pages
Publisher: St Martins Press (Jun. 1996)
ISBN-10: 0312143974
ISBN-13: 978-0312143978

Buy: Paperback

I Say: This used to be the definitive guide to the weird and wonderful. It's a little old now and refers to VHS rather than DVD and Blu-Ray but is still a great resource.

Amazon Says: The Complete Viewers' Guide to the Weirdest Movies of All Time!

From the slightly offbeat to the outlandishly bizarre...from the no-budget quickie to the multimillion-dollar box-office smash...

Psychotronic films range from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes to E.T....from Angel's Wild Women and Hellcats of the Navy to/Dismember Mama and Let Me Die A Woman...from sincere social commentary to utter trash.

Psychotronic stars are ex-models, ex-sports heroes, dead rock idols, future presidents, would-be Marilyns, and has-beens of all types.

Psychotronic films keep sleepless fans glued to their TVs and lined up outside revival houses in big cities and small towns all over the country.

See these outrageous films through the eyes of Michael Weldon, the world's leading authority on Psychotronic films!

Arranged from A to Z! 
Crammed with rare illustrations!
Featuring cast, crew, and characters!
Uniquely eccentric reviews of over 3,000 movies!

Warning: The author of this book has been watching these movies obsessively since the age of 6. He is now unfit for conventional employment. Because of the addictive nature of these films, we the publishers cannot guarantee that your sanity won't be endangered by reading this book.

The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies

Author: Peter Normanton
Size: 528 pages
Publisher: Robinson (18 Oct. 2012)
ISBN-10: 1780330367
ISBN-13: 978-1780330365

Buy: Paperback

I Say: An extremely useful guide to the major slasher films and the handy splatter ratings give a quick idea of how gruey a film is before watching/ordering. The DPP Video nasty list comes in handy as well.

Amazon Says: An engrossing A-Z of over 60 gory years of slasher and splatter movies, from Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later to Lucio Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters. Here you will find the low-down on over 250 movies with entries from 23 different countries. The index, which includes every movie mentioned in the A-Z and accompanying notes, runs to 540 movies. The book includes the list of video nasties which the UK government attempted to ban.

Peter Normanton is the editor of The Mammoth Book of Best Horror Comics along with twenty- eight issues of the horror comics fan publication From the Tomb. He is currently writing a series of short biographies for PS Publication's fifteen-volume Harvey Horrors.

Horror!: Films to Scare You to Death

Author: Kim Newman, James Marriott
Size: 360 pages
Publisher: Carlton Books Ltd; Reprint edition (15 Aug. 2013)
ISBN-10: 1780973918
ISBN-13: 978-1780973913

Buy: Paperback

I Say: This book isn't by Kim newman and James Marriott, but is rather a compendium of reviews by other "experts". Pretty good but quite superficial and contains mostly mainstream films.

Amazon Says: In this book a team of seasoned, top horror experts, lead by uber-critic Kim Newman, carve their way through a century of fear with authority, humour and encyclopaedic knowledge. Packed with photographs of the most terrifying scenes in cinema history, this unique, definitive, comprehensive guide traces the story of horror, decade-by-decade, and provides a witty and informative critique of over 300 films from all over the world. Also included are entries covering writers whose work has had a profound effect on horror cinema, influential literary works, TV series that made an impact on the genre and other themes, figures and ideas. All the key horror themes, from comedy horror to slashers, are covered in feature spreads throughout.

"An extremely engaging and intelligent guide to horror film... informative, opinionated and downright interesting to read." -- London Review of Books

Kim Newman is a novelist, critic and journalist. His non-fiction books include Nightmare Movies, Ghastly Beyond Belief (with Neil Gaiman) and The BFI Companion to Horror. He has won the Bram Stoker Award, the International Horror Guild Award and the British Science Fiction Award. James Marriott completed an MA in Film Studies at Exeter University and has wrote Horror Films, which was selected by The Times as one of their film books of 2004. He also wrote a series of essays for Creation Books and articles for magazines and websites including cult periodical Headpress ('Essential reading' Fortean Times). He died in 2012.

Shock Xpress: v. 1: Essential Guide to Exploitation Cinema

Author: Stefan Jaworzyn (Editor)
Size: 192 pages
Publisher: Titan Books Ltd (28 Aug. 1991)
ISBN-10: 1852863927
ISBN-13: 978-1852863920

Buy: Paperback

I Say: A compilation of articles from Shock Xpress zine. All excellent but one of the stand-outs is an interview with James Ferman, then head of the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification). Well worth tracking down and I really must get the other volumes.

Amazon Says: A collection of features, interviews and reviews covering the excesses of 1990/91 in the world of exploitation cinema. Included are interviews with directors such as David Cronenberg ("The Fly") and John Waters ("Hairspray"), as are features on obscure "classics" such as "Hitler's Wild Women".

Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: Dark Dreams of Dario Argento

Author: Maitland McDonagh
Size: 293 pages
Publisher: Sun Tavern Fields; New edition edition (5 Mar. 1993)
ISBN-10: 095170124X
ISBN-13: 978-0951701249

Buy: Paperback

I Say: I used to own this book but sold it a few years back and sort of regretted it. A dry-as-a-bone but in-depth analysis of Argento's films.

Amazon Says: Traces the career of the Italian horror film director, Dario Argento, discusses each of his films, and looks at his approach to film making.

Critic, lecturer and TV commentator Maitland McDonagh is the author of "Movie Lust," "Filmmaking on the Fringe", "The 50 Most Erotic Films of All Time" and "Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento," and has contributed essays to books ranging from "The Time Out Book of New York Walks" to "Zobie.". Formerly TV Guide's Senior Movies Editor, she writes for Time Out New York, Film Comment and other magazines, has been interviewed for many film-related documentaries and is currently preparing to publish the first of a projected series of vintage gay adults-only novels through 120 Days Books. The first two-in-one tete-beche volume features the 1970/'71 thrillers "Man Eater" and "Night of the Sadist," available November 2012 on

A Pictorial History of Horror Movies

Author: Denis Gifford
Size: 216 pages
Publisher: Hamlyn; 1st edition (27 April 1973)
ISBN-10: 0600369269
ISBN-13: 978-0600369264

Buy: Paperback

I Say: Possibly the most famous horror book ever and the one that every child in the 1970s owned.

Amazon Says: Absolutely nothing!

Monsters of the Movies

Author: Denis Gifford
Size: 96 pages
Publisher: Corgi Childrens; 1st Edition edition (Sept. 1977)
ISBN-10: 0552541184
ISBN-13: 978-0552541183

Buy: Paperback

I Say: I loved this book as a child. Full of classic movie monsters like Dr. Orloff, Carmilla, The Creature (from the Black Lagoon). I think I may still own this - I'll have to have a look.

Amazon Says: Absolutely nothing but the second-hand prices are scary!

Weng's Chop

Author: Brian Harris (Editor)
Size: varies
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN-10: varies
ISBN-13: varies

Buy: Paperback

I Say: A great horror, exploitation and trash zine. Weng's Chop has been going for several years and is now up to issue 8 with several smaller .5 zines sitting between the main issues. Informative, funny, with a nice clear layout. So far I've only read the first issue (#0) but so far I really like it. Read my review here.

Amazon Says: Join the geeks of WENG'S CHOP as they dig deep thru the outer reaches of oddball and obscure to bring you the wildest and weirdest in global cinema!

So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films, Volume 1, 1963 to 1973

Author: Troy Howarth
Size: 28cm x 22cm
Publisher: Midnight Marquee Press Inc.
ISBN-10: 1936168502
ISBN-13: 978-1936168507

Buy: Paperback

I Say: A terrific encyclopaedia of Giallo with an impressive number of titles, many of which I've never heard of. Troy's opinion, whilst personal, is never overbearing and always tries to find the positive points in even the most derivative of films. Read my review here.

Amazon Says: Beginning with the release of Mario Bava's THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH in 1963, Italian filmmakers developed and perfected their own peculiar brand of mystery-thriller known as the giallo. Named after the yellow (giallo in Italian) covers of the murder mysteries published by Mondadori, the giallo is awash in fetishistic imagery. For many fans, these films—popularized in the works by writer-director Dario Argento, whose name is synonymous with the genre, thanks to such films as THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE and DEEP RED—focus on stylized images of violent death: killers dressed in black stalking glamorous-looking victims through baroque architecture, literally painting the walls red with their blood. This is only one aspect of the giallo, however. With their groovy soundtracks by legendary composers like Ennio Morricone and Stelvio Cipriani and glamorous damsels-in-distress like Edwige Fenech, Rosalba Neri and Asia Argento, these films offer a heady mixture of sex, horror and suspense; at their best, they took excess to a hypnotic level. Troy Howarth, the author of THE HAUNTED WORLD OF MARIO BAVA and the co-author of the up-coming THE TOME OF TERROR series, examines the genre from its inception through its inevitable decline. Covering everything from popular fan favorites by the likes of Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento to lesser-known gems by Cesare Canevari, Massimo Dallamano and Paolo Cavara as well as the worst of the worst by the least inspired of hacks, SO DEADLY, SO PERVERSE provides an in-depth examination of a genre that has too often been marginalized in other studies of the horror film and the thriller. In addition to reviews of every giallo made between 1963 and 2013, this two-part study of the giallo—with volume two (covering 1974 onwards) coming later in the year—is also lavishly illustrated with rare and colorful stills and poster art.

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