DAVID SAUNDERSON reviews Horror Pickers, an excellent collection of insightful horror film reviews by Howard Jackson
How does one review a book of reviews? It’s a question I’ve found myself asking myself as I delved into the wondrous collection of horror film criticism put together by author Howard Jackson.
I suppose the only way to do it is look at the way Howard reviews his films.
Horror Pickers: Terror and Ideas in Horror Cinema contains 40 essays on classic and contemporary horror films in various media from across the world. It includes everything from the 1960s uber movie classic The Innocents to the more recent television series BBC’s Ripper Street.
Howard gives equal time to such films as Q The Winged Serpent to Village of the Damned to that of DIckens’ classic The Signalman.
I appreciate he includes television horrors in his critiques as I often feel they are under appreciated. The BBC ghost stories of the 1970s were often superior to what was being made for the big screen at the time so we shouldn’t sideline them.
Howard Jackson is known to Spooky Isles fans for his previous fiction novels and as head of Red Rattle Books, the publisher of Spooky Isles’ anthologies Dracula’s Midnight Snacks and Zombie Bites. He has written for us for some time and I have always enjoyed his work.
I’ve found over the years Howard takes his horror very seriously and while I mostly enjoy kicking back and enjoying the scares, Mr Jackson reads deep into the subtext and can deliver exquisite insight into our favourite fright flicks.
‘Horror Pickers, intellectual but not too high brow’
There have been many horror film books over the years that are either purely populist – lots of pics of Dracula and blood and little else – to dead-boring thinly-disguised university theses devoid of all sorts of fun.
I think Horror Pickers is the right mix of intellectualism and love of film. It’s also encouraged me to seek out some of the films he mentioned that I’ve not seen.
Horror Pickers, in its easy to read format – it’s basically an A to Z of horror reviews – is short and snappy. It has some surprising inclusions – such as The Night Stalker – you can see it’s all good fun. It’s an engaging, good-humoured read and I’d recommend it if you are looking for some wintery reading matter, you could do far worse than this. In fact, I see it as a book you could go back and learn from and enjoy time and time again.
You can order Horror Pickers from Amazon or at Red Rattle Books.