11 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Average but ammusing criticism,
This review is from: Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s (Paperback)There's lots of things to dispute in this book, one of the things you can't dispute however is the fun nature of Newman's writing. He's really into his material, and that goes a long way towards the positive response many exhibit to what is, ultimately, a poor piece of research and/or criticism.
Split into two halves, the first being the original Nightmare Movies, the second, New Nightmares, picks up where the original left off. This latter part is the better.
Chiefly, Nightmare Movies is less a piece of criticism than a list of 'films I've watched'. Newman basically breaks the genre down by genre, then lists films according to theme. So we get 'theme X can appear in films Y,Z' etc. A quick but of research however reveals most of the films Newman mentions aren't very good. He lists them purely on thematic grounds, with no care for if they're well constructed or scary. Indeed he doesn't seem to be aware of what makes films scary at all. His insights are all intellect, no emotion. And what use of intellect he does show is poorly appropriated. Unlike, say, Lovecraft's essay 'Supernatural Horror in Literature', or even some of the brief articles by M.R. James, Newman never builds his viewing list into any kind of cohesive theory of horror.
Further to that, whilst he's watched widely, he's guilty of a disturbing amount of anglo-centric imperialism. The Asian territories barely get a mention, save for in one of the latter chapters (which mentions no horror from the 40s, 50s, 60s really). For one so well regarded in horror criticism, this shows very poor research, especially when the quality of Asian horror is so vastly superior to most of the rubbish he mentions elsewhere in the book.
It's basically entertaining fanboyism, worth reading for the occasional rare gem you will find (and there are a few). But in order to get through these you have to wade through endless referencing to inferior films. Newman does little in the way of guiding us towards the gems, rather he lets us hat-pick at them. This makes him a rather futile and poor critic.