I jump at the opportunity to read and review movie guides devoted to spotlighting movies off the beaten path. Film buffs always hear about the “must-sees” but what about the movies which continually slip under the radar de to limited budget or lack of audience? This happens the most in the horror field, a genre often glutted with so much product it’s easy to believe they’re all crappy. I remember Fangoria putting out an excellent horror film guide a few years back, but haven’t found a similar book which capitalized on blending smaller horror movies with some which have received a bad rep. Thankfully, Aaron Christensen’s Hidden Horror is a new guide fans should look out for. With over 100 well-written reviews of movies from all walks of life you’ll immediately race to your Netflix queue to start adding movies.
As a person who tries to watch a movie a day, I was surprised at the great ratio of movies I’ve watched/heard of to movies which were completely foreign to me. The group of writers assembled cover movies from every time period and country, contemporary to classic, independent to mass-marketed. The best part is reading a review of a movie you love, but never expected to hear anyone else heap with equal praise. I’m one of the few people who thinks Eden Lake is a fantastic horror movie, and there’s a review in here! Smaller movies like The Company of Wolves, The Spiral Staircase and Tremors also are expertly reviewed and had me yearning to find the authors on Twitter and converse with them. The diversity of movies is enough to give you something in your comfort zone, as well as movies you'd probably never give a second glance to; the magic is in the writers' ability to sell you on something you'd refuse to watch and they succeed.
The group of writers assembled are diverse, from all walks of writing life. There's bloggers, IMDB contributors, staff members from Fangoria, Rue Morgue, and Horrorhound magazines (the editors-in-chief of all three provide entries), as well as past contributors to the horror film guide Horror 101. A running theme throughout the reviews is discussing their experiences watching classic films. Every movie presented has a heartfelt story of childhood terror or a desire to muster up adult-like courage associated with it. It was rather bittersweet hearing the amount of writers discuss renting movies via video chains, enticed by bizarre cover art. Hidden Horror is a love-letter to the horror genre, but also an elegiac devotional to the video store and the hidden gems found within.
Horror guides like these are quick reads, particularly if you’re interested in a certain type of movie. Each review comes with an accompanying quote and a few photos, although I would have liked maybe a short overview of country of origin or types of scares for easier browsing. There is a complete list in the back of the book but if you're like me, and I hate to admit it, you might not browse past the book itself, not to mention it can be tiresome to flip back and forth for every entry. Thankfully, the diverse writing and movies make this a fun enough book to plunker down with and just read straight through. Several of the movies listed are available on small-press DVDs with a few unavailable outright (and a few writers cop to watching copies on YouTube).
Hidden Horror is a thoughtful, wonderfully written guide to horror movies you may have missed in your film travels. Touching on every breed of horror out there, there’s a hidden movie for you to watch whether you enjoy gory monster movies or classic psychological horror. I’m interested in reading Horror 101 - a book several of the writers here wrote for, if only to add some more forgotten movies to my collection.