Speaking of libraries and books that may have gone on permanent lend, let’s talk about An Album of Modern Horror Films by Frank Machel. As a young fiend I used to renew this book every time I would return it. I believe there was a waiting period on it between lends so I’d have to make my way back to the library the following day just to ensure that it was mine for another four weeks.
For a standard library this album is somewhat out of place. I like horror films. You like horror films, but I if you look at the old the lending record in the front cover of the book you begin to realize that this book wasn’t lent to all but a few souls. Most likely it was me… over and over an over. It was in the kid’s section and just by looking at the cover can you imagine anyone’s parents letting them borrow such a nightmare inspiring book? Well of course mine did, but OTHER parents… the normal ones.
When you hop on Amazon to check it’s availability new copies go for upward of $100. Now I’m sure that’s completely ridiculous. This collection of horror photos from movies from 1983 barely contains anything of merit. Granted some of the films it focuses on are a bit out of the spotlight and we’ll go over that in a minute. Conversely you can buy this used in varying conditions for a $.01 (plus shipping). You might just find yourself enjoying some of the analysis of the history of horror thus far.
Now for the guts… what does An Album of Modern Horror Films have to offer that is so spectacular that a nostalgia ridden blog author would need to commit the pettiest of criminal acts that someday (when I’m famous… yuck) they’ll pardon him for? The images really tell the tale. Before I could read I was taking this book out based solely on the cover image. Inside there’s a world of non-popular science fiction and horror films that are perfect for the burgeoning young mind.
The references in this book are two pages long, but the images that stick out in my mind are as follows:
David Naughton transforming into a werewolf in that groundbreaking special effects scene.
An image of Nosferatu as portrayed by Klaus Kinski. This would lead me to the original film before I would discover Herzog’s vision.
The computer arm grabbing the scientists wife as she is being raped by a compute in Demon Seed. Imagine trying to explain to a six year old what rape is?
Boris Karloff having his eye lids applied in Frankenstein.
The Phantom of Paradise swinging through the concert hall. I only saw this movie a year ago, but it has climbed the ladder to be one of my very favorites. Great music. Great effects and super creepy. Marilyn Manson didn’t just steal from Alice Cooper and Kiss my friends.
Carrie with pitgs blood beaded up on her hands and clothes. If you haven’t seen this movie and view this image it’s almost more terrifying than knowing what happens next.
A picture from The Other where a young man tortures an older woman with a rat as a part of his magician act. It’s a great image.
Christopher Lee in the Wicker Man. You know I got to see this as a youngster but so cut that it was almost unrecognizable when I finally saw the full film. It certainly earns it’s X Cert.
The image from the Beast Within still leaves me uneasy. It’s just a person strapped to the bad but the face make-up is something out of my nightmares. When I finally did catch the movie I couldn’t figure out why I was so scared and then I went back to the book, opened the page and was instantly made queasy again.
An image from the movie Fright (1971) where a killer is holding a knife to the throat of a child. Something about the blood smear on this man’s face never sat right.
Just below the Fright image is an image from Let’s Scare Jessica to Death. Great title but a little slow boil for my taste. Still some great imagery.
There’s an image of “the masked one” from Alice Sweet Alice that always disturbed me. It’s a near perfect Halloween costume if you haven’t picked yours out yet.
The severed head from Prom Night makes a vivid appearance on the next page. Even though I’m not the movies biggest fan I know that it has its place in horror history and slasher history. The image itself is proof enough for me that the movie has merit beyond the soundtrack. They mention that Siskel and Ebert attacked this film. I hope the film attacked them right back.
The most stunning image to me as a child was from Tales from the Crypt (1972). First of all it seems so out of place to me. The books seems chock full of American horror classics with few exceptions. Tales from the Crypt was just a little over ten years old when this book came out. There’s an image of zombified Grimsdyke attacking in Poetic Justice. Peter Cushing at his scariest and Amicus having a profound influence on me as a young pup once again.
There’s the classic Phibes and Phibes Rises Again images. My parents showed this to me at a young age, but it gave the movie a backbone. Made it real. Other people had seen it and not just my family. It’s hard to find people who have watched the Abominable Dr. Phibes at age 8.
Following that is a whole page of Amicus featuring Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, House that Dripped Blood and the Vault of Horror. It’s my dream page.I still can’t recall seeing the image from the Vault of Horror in the film itself.
There’s an image from Ben that actually had me feeling claustrophobic as a kid. My eyes would always play a trick on me and instead of rats I saw some strange slime lurking at this person in a very tight space.
The final page is of Raw Meat and Dawn of the Dead. I only saw Raw Meat a few years ago but it stuck with me. The effects in this image really show that it deserves its place in cult status horror history.
When I was a kid I had to make sure that the back cover of this book was face down. There’s a picture of Cushing as Grimsdyke that appears in the book as well. The black and white still image is more terrifying than anything you’ll see live action in Tales from the Crypt. I’m just happy that because this book exists that I went an searched out Tales from the Crypt only to find it on television late one night. Immediately following was the Vault of Horror. This, my friends, is how you brith Amicus fans.
I owe this book quite a lot and will always cherish it dearly. I’m glad to share these images with you and hope that either you have your own special picture book from when you were a youth or hope that it brings back a few spooky memories. I hope to post more of these out of print recollections. We need to digitally document this kind of thing. The next thing you know the Nook or iPad will have taken away the musty smell of older books and these might just fall by the way side. Maybe a horror book preservation society? All in good time.
Dr. James P. Terror.
213 Seymour Rd.
Hackettstown, NJ 07840
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