TWISTED VISIONS (2017) Book Review

Twisted Visions: Interviews with Cult Horror Filmmakers – Matthew Edwards

As a regular reader of horror reference books, there is clearly a wide range of themes, approaches and overall quality. Some books are merely lists, while others are in-depth biographies or deep film-by-film studies. Some wade in the pool of psycho-babble and find meaning where it was never intended. Other books, though well-written, rehash topics that have been tackled again and again (90 years after the fact, can we really say much more about “Dracula”, for example?).

Probably my favorite kind of horror reference is the interview book, a format really mastered by the likes of Tom Weaver. The format is usually quite readable, as the style is obviously conversational. Generally, you find information that was never published anywhere else before. And if you have a good interviewer asking the questions, you dig deeper than anyone ever has before on a given topic.

Matthew Edwards’ “Twisted Visions” is a darn fine reference book of interviews. Weaver may have some (friendly) competition on his hands. What Edwards has done is track down and question a few handfuls of lesser-known directors who have made some notable horror films. A couple are known to the horror community fairly well, but most are not. At least one film covered – “Schalcken the Painter” – I had never even heard of, which is a feat in itself.

Edwards knows the films he has chosen to cover inside and out. He knows the shots, the scenes, the subtext and more. On multiple occasions, readers will notice the directors pointing out how perceptive or thoughtful Edwards is, and they are absolutely right. Even the films I love most in this world I feel like I know less than Edwards knows his titles. And this, of course, allows him to bring even more out of the directors because he can move beyond the basic, surface-level questions.

The interview with Jack Sholder hit me particularly hard. Having met Sholder, I was aware of his status as an unsung horror hero. But the interview further clarified how much he has been overlooked, and it seems that an entire book on his career is well-deserved. (Perhaps a follow-up book, Matthew Edwards?) Within that chapter, it also occurred to me that Bob Shaye of New Line has no biography to my knowledge. If he wrote an autobiography, it would fit in well alongside the lives of Roger Corman and Sam Arkoff.

Though not written by Edwards, the Buddy Giovinazzo chapter is also interesting and timely. The interview itself is short, but the write-up of Giovinazzo’s life in cinema (and authoring books) is thoughtful and gives a fuller picture of who Giovinazzo is for those who are not aware. The reason I say it is “timely” is because Giovinazzo is also involved with the growing “Untold Horror” movement, an effort to get films, books and other projects brought to light that never got off the ground. Exactly which project of his is being pushed, I don’t know, but getting the spotlight from Dave Alexander and his friends at Rue Morgue can’t hurt.

The Jorg Buttgereit interview is a welcome addition. Although his work as a whole may not be well known, most horror fans have experienced “Nekromantik” (and even the most jaded might have been a bit shocked). This discussion does a great job of showcasing how the punk and industrial music scenes were sort of the primordial swamp that brought forth the so-called German gore movement. And that movement continues to spawn newer directors, like Ted Geoghegan, making it well worth another look.

This is just a sampling of the names and films covered in wonderful detail in “Twisted Visions”. Anyone who loves obscure horror films and wants to know more about the movies that get the least attention, this is a true must-have book for the shelf. I found myself engrossed in every page.

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