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American Gothic: Sixty Years of Horror Cinema

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From the author of the acclaimed English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema, American Gothic presents an in-depth survey of the early years of the American horror film--ranging from the birth of cinema and the silent era to the mid-1950s. Jonathan Rigby examines a great many of the seminal films, including Cat People, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, The Fly, Frank From the author of the acclaimed English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema, American Gothic presents an in-depth survey of the early years of the American horror film--ranging from the birth of cinema and the silent era to the mid-1950s. Jonathan Rigby examines a great many of the seminal films, including Cat People, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, The Fly, Frankenstein, Freaks, House of Wax, The Invisible Man, and She. He also looks at the actors and directors--Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Vincent Price, to name but a few. For fans and students of the horror classics, American Gothic is an essential work. This is the genre as it flourished from Univeral's early-thirties cycle and which culminated in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece Psycho, a film which forever changed and expanded the possibilities of horror cinema.


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From the author of the acclaimed English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema, American Gothic presents an in-depth survey of the early years of the American horror film--ranging from the birth of cinema and the silent era to the mid-1950s. Jonathan Rigby examines a great many of the seminal films, including Cat People, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, The Fly, Frank From the author of the acclaimed English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema, American Gothic presents an in-depth survey of the early years of the American horror film--ranging from the birth of cinema and the silent era to the mid-1950s. Jonathan Rigby examines a great many of the seminal films, including Cat People, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, The Fly, Frankenstein, Freaks, House of Wax, The Invisible Man, and She. He also looks at the actors and directors--Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Vincent Price, to name but a few. For fans and students of the horror classics, American Gothic is an essential work. This is the genre as it flourished from Univeral's early-thirties cycle and which culminated in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece Psycho, a film which forever changed and expanded the possibilities of horror cinema.

30 review for American Gothic: Sixty Years of Horror Cinema

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jim Dooley

    I intentionally saved Jonathan Rigby’s AMERICAN GOTHIC as my final read of his “Gothic” series. After all, I have read so many books and magazine articles about American horror films, and I’ve attended Ron Adams’ Monster Bash gathering to hear stars of those films provide behind-the-scenes information. I expected it to be a fun revisit, but I doubted that it had anything new to tell me. Of course, I was wrong. Jonathan Rigby provides a fresh perspective (as he did in ENGLISH GOTHIC and EURO GOTH I intentionally saved Jonathan Rigby’s AMERICAN GOTHIC as my final read of his “Gothic” series. After all, I have read so many books and magazine articles about American horror films, and I’ve attended Ron Adams’ Monster Bash gathering to hear stars of those films provide behind-the-scenes information. I expected it to be a fun revisit, but I doubted that it had anything new to tell me. Of course, I was wrong. Jonathan Rigby provides a fresh perspective (as he did in ENGLISH GOTHIC and EURO GOTHIC), connecting the dots between what was happening in the studios, in America, and the world at large to help the Reader better understand why a motion picture was created and released ... and the contribution it may have made to other films. In short, I found it to also be indispensable. Let me provide two examples: * The writer begins by defining American Gothic. Unlike its counterparts in Europe and Great Britain, America didn’t have the haunted castles that influenced horror films across the Atlantic. What was the start of the American Gothic? The Salem witch trials. (I do agree that was a core influence. I would loved to have asked him if an argument could have been made for the Lost Colony of Roanoke being the first American Gothic.) * He had multiple insights into Universal’s DRACULA that I hadn’t considered before. For instance, the film had such a strong impact on audiences because the supernatural was always explained in films as having a human cause ... the vampire casting no reflection in the mirror meant this was something horrifyingly different. The recent stock market crash had Americans feeling that something they had no control over was stalking them ... like a vampire. Bela Lugosi’s speech patterns came from Tod Browning giving him no direction ... he was delivering his lines the same way as he had done on stage. And the Director, Tod Browning, was bothered that he was forced to make a supernatural story because he believed that horror stories had to have a human cause ... so DRACULA often feels as if he was just “putting the play on film.” Fascinating. As opposed to the other two Gothic books, I had very few disagreements with the films he chose to spotlight. I was more bothered by his occasional omissions, such as his rationale for not including KING KONG because it is a “lost world fantasy.” Yet, as a country founded on exploration, lost worlds could be argued as being a part of the American Gothic. Be that as it may, the difference of opinion does not detract from the book’s value ... and KING KONG receives a generous mention in the narrative. Once more, the writer brought me to new titles that I hadn’t known before, such as KONGA (not the Michael Gough giant ape movie) and the delightfully warped SHE DEMONS which literally has to be seen to be believed! The book’s sole serious flaw is that it ends its exploration at 1959 as Alfred Hitchcock begins shooting PSYCHO and Roger Corman is preparing for a January shooting of HOUSE OF USHER. Being that ENGLISH GOTHIC took the Reader to 2015, I do hope Jonathan Rigby will be issuing an update ... and an ASIAN GOTHIC, too! Highly recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bill Wallace

    Of the three Gothic books by Rigby, I saved this one till last, mostly because I thought I already knew most of the story. As with his other books though, this one is full of surprises. As familiar as the Universal horrors and the films from other major studios are, this book reveals numerous forgotten works and obscurities that have sent me down the backwaters of the Internet to find. Also as with the other two Gothic volumes, this book is far more than a filmography. Rigby's history is a narra Of the three Gothic books by Rigby, I saved this one till last, mostly because I thought I already knew most of the story. As with his other books though, this one is full of surprises. As familiar as the Universal horrors and the films from other major studios are, this book reveals numerous forgotten works and obscurities that have sent me down the backwaters of the Internet to find. Also as with the other two Gothic volumes, this book is far more than a filmography. Rigby's history is a narrative, the story of America from the 20s through the 60s, told through the lens of national fears and obsessions, as expressed by the scary stuff on the screen. Beautifully illustrated and a joy to read. This book ends at 1960 and I can only hope Mr. Rigby someday continues the story.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    If you are a classic gothic horror film, then you will enjoy this large and loaded book. It covers gothic films from the silent film era and ends the Hammer films and its clone films of the 1970s.. There are sections on foreign language films, too. This is good reference for fans of gothic horror films.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tim Chmielewski

    An interesting book that had a lot of stuff in it I haven't heard of and also a lot of photographs that I drew sketches of the ones that I liked. I would recommend getting this if you are a horror fan and don't already have something similar. An interesting book that had a lot of stuff in it I haven't heard of and also a lot of photographs that I drew sketches of the ones that I liked. I would recommend getting this if you are a horror fan and don't already have something similar.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Pascal

    Good, add a star if you are a really big Fan of the films reviewed and presented.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Josh Hitch

    A great overview of the first 6 decades of horror film. With plenty of pictures and insights, along with more detailed asides on the more influential films, this book is good for aficionados and novices alike. Highly recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark Forrest

    Simply exceptional. The skill behind this series of books is not just the in depth knowledge, but the way they transcend being a series of chronological lists and are instead a narrative, filled with stories and anecdotes which bring all the films back to life and make many of them required viewing once again.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bass

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris Bonven

  10. 5 out of 5

    margaret walchak

  11. 4 out of 5

    Debra Manskey

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mark A Simmons

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chris Dauten

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  15. 4 out of 5

    Perfectmask

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Samerdyke

  17. 4 out of 5

    Court

  18. 4 out of 5

    James Evans Remick

  19. 4 out of 5

    Valkyr Johnson

  20. 4 out of 5

    Truant

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Garlen

  22. 4 out of 5

    Thommy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Adam Grimes

  24. 4 out of 5

    Deanna Hammond

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andy Parsons

  26. 4 out of 5

    Markus Svensson

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Knutson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eliot Blades

  30. 4 out of 5

    Daniel M Quinlan

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