Zinoman, Jason. Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Press, 2011.
Zinoman's Shock Value gives a historical account of the most crucial films to the horror genre that changed the face of the genre. The book reflects on the upbringing, the influences and the circumstances that led the champions of horror to produce films such as Alien, Rosemary's Baby, Halloween, The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead and Carrie. The book delivers an in depth reflection on the production, creation and the institutionalization of these films into the classical cinematic canon.
In the first few chapters Zinoman defines horror and then separates it from terror. Horror was typically related to the supernatural and during the early stages of the genre there were very few auteurs in this era. Instead of auteurs the stars where the icons within the genre. The author discusses the golden age of horror equipped with gothic towers, Vincent Price and Christopher Lee in cloaks of black. The author then elaborates on the subtle transition that began to occur in the wake of the travesties that were occurring in Vietnam. Films such as Targets articulated the transition from classic horror monsters to the brutal, visceral and bloody horror of the 1970s.
The remainder of the book draws from interviews, personal accounts, articles and a slew of other historical texts to reveal an in depth portrayal of the visionaries who would bring the world some of the most frightening visions of humanity on celluloid. The book goes as far as to reveal who these men were and how they came to construct the cinematic nightmares that would be the foundation modern horror. The book is both playful and revealing and the author’s sporadic style makes the book an easy read.