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Best Books on Horror Movies: Directors, Iconic Characters, and Special Effects

A list of literary must-haves for readers who celebrate spooky season all year long.

Bill Skarsgård Pennywise the Clown It

Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the Clown in “It”

Warner Bros./Youtube

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There’s something exhilaratingly terrifying about being scared that keeps horror fans coming back, no matter the time of year. Horror movies have an important place in cinema; it’s the genre that never really gets old. But to be fair, the genre itself is pretty old. The first supernatural work to be classified as a horror film was an 1896 short film, “Manoir du Diable” (“The House of the Devil”).

It’s safe to say that horror has expanded vastly since then, with films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Psycho,” “The Blair With Project,”Hellraiser,” “The Amityville Horror,” “The Exorcist,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” giving us scary memories for years to come.

Aside from being space for filmmakers to build entire careers out of scaring audiences, horror films have expanded into a sub-genre that includes goth horror, psychological horror, splatter films, body horror, horror-comedy, postmodern horror, monster movies, and tons more.

Also, horror films don’t typically require huge production budgets, but the financial return can be astronomical. In fact, the most successful horror films of all time were made under relatively modest budgets in comparison to their box office gross.

If you love horror films, or really anything related to the dark arts, and Halloween than you won’t want to wait until the spooky season to catch up on these spine-chilling titles. See below for our picks of the best books on horror films.

 “Stephen King at the Movies: A Complete History of the Film and Television Adaptations of the Master of Horror”

A comprehensive ode to Stephen King, the purveyor of fright. King has probably had more books adapted into movies and TV shows than any other author in America. “Stephen King at the Movies” presents a complete guide to King’s catalog of iconic horror films such as “Carrie,” “Salem’s Lot,” “The Shining,” “Cujo,”  “Misery,” “Pet Sematary,” “It: Chapters One and Two,” and “Doctor Sleep.”

“My Favorite Horror Movie: 48 Essays by Horror Creators on the Film That Shaped Them”

In “My Favorite Horror Movie” over two dozen horror filmmakers, actors, writers, directors, painters, musicians, journalists, and film festival directors open up about the films that inspired their work and fed their obsession with the dark arts. The list of films include “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein,” “Alien,” “An American Werewolf in London,” “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” “Creature From The Black Lagoon,” “Day of the Dead, “Drag Me To Hell,” “The Exorcist,” “Friday The 13th: Part 2,” “Fright Night,” “Halloween,” “It,” “Jaws,” “Night Of The Living Dead,” “A Nightmare On Elm Street,” “Poltergeist,” and “The Shining.”

“Analog Nightmares: The Shot on Video Horror Films 1982-1995”

If you love shot on video horror films you’re likely to enjoy “Analog Nightmares.” Written by Richard Mogg, the book serves up an all-inclusive look into the niche technique by way of films such as “Boardinghouse” (the first shot on video feature-length horror film ever made), “Bloodcult,” and “Sledgehammer.”

“The Science of Women in Horror: The Special Effects Stunts, and Stories Behind Your Favorite Fright”

Let’s hear it for the scream queens! Horror isn’t a genre just for the boys, which is where “The Science of Women in Horror” comes into play. Authors Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence gives readers a guide to the feminist horror movies, TV shows, and characters we all know and love. The book explores outdated tropes involving female characters and delves deeper into women-centered TV shows including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “The Haunting of Hill House,” “Teeth,” and the “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”

“Horror Film Directors 1931-1990”

Published in 1991 and authored by Dennis Fischer this spooky read offers an extensive look at directors from horror film that have spanned nearly 60 years. The book is perfect for horror movie buffs who want to learn about lesser-known trailblazers along with some of the more popular names of the genre. Included among the list of 50 directors are John Gilling, Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Wes Craven, and Brian De Palma.

“The Art of Horror: An Illustrated History”

Horror is as much a genre as it is an art form. “The Art of Horror” collection features a trio of books, including this illustrated celebration of horror photos, along with showing how the horror world has expanded since the days of Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley. The book explores dust jackets, book illustrations, pulp magazines, movie posters, comic books, paintings, and filmmakers who bring the horror genre into the digital space.

“Wes Craven: Interviews (Conversations with Filmmakers Series)”

“Wes Craven: Interviews” takes a look the filmmaker’s life and career as told through a collection of 29 interviews spanning from 1980 until Craven’s final interview before his death in 2015. A trailblazer of the horror genre, Craven became known for legendary films such as “Scream,” “The Last House on the Left,” “The Hills Have Eyes,” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”

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