Horror in the Eye of the Beholder

By 

Marta Oliehoek-Samitowska 

The cover. Not going to lie – I don’t like it

Horror ithe Eye othe Beholder is an entertaining selection of interviews covering the links between cinematic horror and literature, and specifically the influences between both. The book contains 21 interviews with different authors, from genre legends Ramsey Campbell and Adam Nevill through to relative newcomers such as Gemma Amor.  

Each interview starts with the same question: ‘What came first: your love of literature and writing, or the love of cinema?’ but branch out from there. Many cover the same ground, with the same influences and recommendations cropping up and, as such, this is a book that’s best served by ‘dipping’ into it. This is not a criticism: I doubt there are many horror authors working today who weren’t influenced to some degree by watching The Thing, Evil Dead or the Hammer films.  

Some responses, however,  were begging for follow up questions that never arrived. For example, in an entertaining interview, John Llewellyn Probert says ‘To play on modern terminology Horror should be your “unsafe space” and it should be “triggering” at every possible given opportunity’. I would have liked the interview to explore what he means by that in a little more detail – so, what does he think about trigger warnings in books and films? Does he have any personal triggers? Instead, the next question is about film music.  

As to be expected when discussing cinema and fiction influences, many themes recur. There is much discussion about gender and its evolution in horror which I found fascinating. However, whilst there is a good balance of gender in the book, there are no interviews with POC, which is very disappointing.  

Also, the cover is a curious choice. To be blunt, I didn’t like it and it would not have made me pick the book up in a shop (haha, if we can ever go to shops again). It’s a strange choice as the inside ‘front’ page is stunning, as are the portraits of author’s eyes dotted throughout the book, but the cover is distinctly underwhelming.  

I enjoyed reading the book and have come away with a few films added to my ‘to watch’ list as well as some authors I’d like to check out. Hereditary and Midsommar have now moved to the ‘much watch soon’ category (I know!). In terms of authors, I’ve read many of the people featured here, but am definitely going to check out more by Gary McMahon, Adam Cesare and Gemma Amor thanks to this book. In fact, Gemma was recently interviewed on This Is Horror, and it is an excellent listen.  

In all, this is an interesting read, but I’m not sure who it’s for. If you want to explore the link between cinema and horror fiction, or you want to read interviews with the authors within then jump aboard – you almost certainly won’t be disappointed.  

This review first featured on Ginger Nuts Of Horror. If you don’t read that regularly, you’re missing out. Check it out here: https://gingernutsofhorror.com/index.html 

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