Following the success of their sold-out volume, 70s Monster Memories, We Belong Dead brings us Unsung Horrors, a 400+ page monster of a book on less celebrated horror films. Edited by Eric McNaughton and Darrell Buxton, with a foreword by Joe Dante, Unsung Horrors is more than an academic guide. The writers of these essays offer something that can’t be bottled or replicated through research (though there’s plenty of that as well): the collected knowledge of growing up watching genre movies. While each essay starts with a personal agenda—to promote a chosen film—additional references and comparisons within ensure heated debate over which films to track down first.
That horror fans should treat themselves to a copy of Unsung goes without saying. To limit this text’s appeal to horror fans is to lowball its accomplishments. As a person who can count the number of horror films she’s watched on one hand (I Know What You Did Last Summer is my idea of scary), every stolen second spent leafing through this book was a joy. Some of that comes from a blanket love of cinema. I may not know him from Dracula Pére et Fils (1976) but Christopher Lee was an incomparable actor and his credits frequent these pages.
The best writers don’t require you to come in with a pre-existing love for a subject but, through their writing, spark an interest you never knew you had. That’s Unsung Horrors.
While it’s difficult to imagine a dry discussion on 1968’s The Lost Continent‘s absurd plot, encyclopedias don’t always make for cover to cover reading companions. This one does. Toting full color pages, every essay has a different background color, removing visual monotony and adding movie posters. As someone who often gets interrupted reading, there’s a satisfaction from being able to get through a color before putting the book down that promotes picking it up again.
The way the essays are organized is also interesting, in that they’re not organized. Lady Morgan’s Vengeance, an Italian gothic from 1966, appears next to Der Student von Prague, a German silent from 1913. It! (1967) and The Golem (1920) both feature a golem but are separated by almost a hundred pages. At first this lack of order can be frustrating. Many of the titles aren’t familiar anyway but that doesn’t mean you don’t seek out comfort zones—a decade, creature (vampires in 1960’s Blood & Roses), or subgenre you’re more inclined to enjoy. In a book where the theme is “unsung,” discovery is the intention. The random order quickly becomes part of the fun, as you never know what’s coming next.
But the crème de la crème part of Unsung Horrors is the recognition that comes as you get further into the book. Reading about Kuroneko (1968) there’s an exciting sense of being in the know when you remember director, Kaneto Shindo’s, previous film, Onibaba (1964) from an earlier essay. Maybe the achievement’s exaggerated but the girl who never watched horror is currently searching for a copy of 1973’s Seven Dead in A Cat’s Eye. Either she’s been possessed by some malevolent spirit or a Horror Fan initiate has been born.
Unsung Horror is available to purchase HERE. All orders placed before the end of November are £5 off.