What We Talk About When We Talk About Horror: a review of Modern Mythmakers by Michael McCarty

Posted on Feb 26, 2015 in 80's Horror, All Reviews, Best of the Best, Books, Interviews & Guest Posts | 0 comments

When it comes to inside information about the creation of our favorite horror gems, we genre nerds simply can’t get enough. We paw through one magazine article after another regarding the same films and listen in on our DVD director’s commentaries like teenage girls picking up juicy gossip. Being so beloved by us, we thirst for every bit of origin story when it comes to the horrorsphere. We want the scoop on movies we’ve seen a hundred times sometimes even more than we want the scoop on movies just slated for release. We just as feverishly read about a book as we do the book itself.

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Now, thanks to Michael McCarty and Crystal Lake Publishing, we have a book that is the about the book as well as being a definitive guide for horror and sci-fi movie history. In this staggering collection of interviews with some of the world’s greatest writers, directors and film stars, McCarty has crafted a sort of bible for the obsessive fright fan. And when I say the greatest, I mean the absolute goddamned greatest.

How great, you ask?

Some of the interviewees include Richard Matheson, John Carpenter, Ramsey Campbell, Elvira, Jack Ketchum, Linnea Quigley, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Ingrid Pitt, Adrienne Barbeau, Ray Bradbury and Mick Garris. All of these talents give thorough and insightful interviews, and they’re only 11 of the 35 conversations we get to enjoy.

The interviews cover varieties of topics as well. Instead of focusing on one specific work, the dialogue flows naturally as the artist’s craft as a whole is broken down, their personal favorites are brought to light, and even their tastes, senses of humor and other intimate details come into the limelight.

We get to read such tidbits as movie starlet Adrienne Barbeau discussing an 80’s horror classic: “I love Billie in Creepshow. She’s one of my all-time favorite characters… I just told George (Romero) I was going to do what I thought would work for her and if he didn’t like it, he’d better send me home immediately.” We marvel as Ray Bradbury discusses how his masterpiece Something Wicked This Way Comes is truly a part of his heart: “The two boys are the two halves of myself – the light half and the dark half. The father is me in the library. The entire book is me.” Jack Ketchum delves into the dark art of the extreme horror novel while Dean Koontz explains the approach of his signature style, and a cavalcade of film legends divulge some spooky little secrets.

What I enjoyed most is that McCarty’s questions are clever and unique. He doesn’t bother with the routine enquires you read in most banal rags. As he puts it, “Every interview is walking a tightrope without a net, with a strong wind blowing as you try to keep your balance.” As a veteran author of non-fiction who has been conducting interviews like this for four decades, McCarty clearly knows more about horror and sci-fi than even the most die-hard, convention-hopping, compulsive collectors and horrorhounds… people like you and me. He has also been featured in our favorite magazines, such as Cemetery Dance, Filmfax and the legendary Fangoria. He is the author of several similar books, but Modern Mythmakers is his latest and perhaps best collection, comprised of years of dedication to the underappreciated art of creepy, crawly creativity.

For a limited time, the e-book edition of Modern Mythmakers is available on Amazon for the steal of only 99 cents, and the paperback edition will be out this Friday.

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What do you think?