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VINE VOICEon 30 July 2010
A stupendously detailed beast of a tome, Stephen Thrower's `Nightmare USA' is an utterly indispensable read, especially for any lover of the gory glory that emanates, radioactive glow-fashion, from the American cinematic underground of the 70s and early 80s. In this weighty volume, Thrower first creates and explains the context of the era, exploring precisely why America from 1970-1985 proved to be such a fertile climate for low-budget exploitation films. He goes on to chronicle the various trends and themes that pervaded the genre, before getting to the guts of the book - around 300 pages covering 23 different directors and their work, sometimes an in-depth look at a single worthy film, other times an examination of their whole oeuvre. These fascinating chapters are followed by over a hundred pages of reviews, which, if you're anything like me, may end up as a virtual shopping list for the lover of nasty obscurities.

So what makes this such a superb piece of work? Well, there's the scale and scope of it. A proposed second volume is apparently on the way, which indicates just how much fascinating, previously untouched information Thrower has unearthed. In fact, Thrower himself admits that even he was taken unawares by just how much material he was capable of mining from his beloved topic. And what material! Even in regard to films that have never crossed your path (and I defy even the most illuminated of underground cognoscenti to read this and not encounter a film previously unheard of), Thrower's enthusiastic, savvy, delightfully opinionated writing will spark fascination and possibly obsession for the films he lovingly looks over. In fact, Thrower's writing and approach to the exploitation underground in general is characterised by both intelligence and jaw-dropping dedication. 5 years in the making, the amount of painstaking research the man has undertaken has to be seen to be believed. Lengthy interviews abound, and from an aesthetic point of view, the book is filled to the brim with wonderful, lurid images both from the films themselves and associated advertising material such as posters and lobby-cards. Not simply a feast for the mind, this book is very importantly a feast for the eye too.

What is particularly refreshing about `Nightmare USA' is seeing films like these discussed with a level of insight and analysis which they deserve. Thrower is keen not simply to wallow in the sometimes morbid worlds he discusses, but to present his own insight into what he feels the films are trying to say, or are saying without trying to! But his analysis, while intellectual and often highly psychological, is not the stuff of dry academia - Thrower feels too much personal connection to the films he discusses for that, allowing him to strike a neat balance between passion and erudition.

Some personal highlights include chapters on `The Child', `Death Bed', `Messiah of Evil' and `The Strangeness' (complete with its perverse looking monster, now gracing a Code Red DVD near you!) For me, however, one the most interesting sections concerns Robert Endelson's ultra-controversial study of prejudice, `Fight For Your Life', a film which, at the time of writing I haven't seen, and I'm still not sure if I want to, but to which Thrower devotes a fascinating chapter, exploring the film's notoriety in a measured manner.

Further reading? Well, the Thrower-edited Eyeball Compendium is well worth a look, a fine compilation of articles from Thrower's influential magazine. Then there's `Beyond Terror' for Thrower's enraptured take on the Italian master, Lucio Fulci. But overall, `Nightmare USA' is a godsend to anyone willing to get grimy on a trip to the uncharted depths of American cinema - trust me, once you're in, you won't want to emerge, and if you do, you'll never be the same!
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on 9 March 2016
This is a fantastic book, one of my all time favourites. Beautifully written and designed, it is a love letter to the forgotten and obscure. Thrower has a compassion and empathy that ultimately makes this book incredibly moving . The men and women who made these often unfairly derided films step out of the shadows and are given respect and attention. The word passion is overused these days but Thrower has it in spades. I can't wait for Volume 2.
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on 15 November 2010
A laminated eye-grabbing cover (blood & tears wipe right off); lavish illustrations of high detail black and white and a substantial amount of solid colour plates, surrounding dense text. Something that sounds too good to be true?

Appeals to those who consider themselves 'jaded' or even just 'decadent' as far as horror is concerned..it is simply astounding that so many images and so much research into these obscure areas of exploitation could be conveyed so readily and so readable. Thoroughly accessible in design.

Unlike so many reference-styled large format books of similar ilk, this requires consistent reading, far beyond the infamous 'its on the shelf for skimming now' sensation that can occur with lesser works. Its perhaps obvious that it was designed to be almost 'definitive', in an era when that word has lost its weight with over use.

One flaw, if a flaw it be, is that i was constantly wanting more colour in my gaudy bloody fleshy images. Yet it must be understood, this would have made the price tag prohibitive with so much colour printing involved. As it is, the book is solidly wrought, polished and feels, most importantly, complete of itself. If you are decadent and jaded or simply want to be impressed by a more obsessive fan than should be able to write so well, then this is essential for the sturdier of ones bookshelves..or slid under ones bed to surprise errant paramours!
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on 13 May 2017
This is THE zenith, THE apex in American horror film books , you can't get more exhaustive and more detailed ; it was great to open this book and see titles id never even heard of ; mainly because they were regional productions, some of the writing by the author, could be seen as a bit self indulgent ; but after writing such an exhaustive tome ; I guess he has some licence to do so !
Highly recommended book !!!!
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on 4 July 2007
Stephen Thrower's "Nightmare USA" covers USA's golden era of exploitation cinema anthropology: 1970 - 1985. This 500+ page tome, replete with hundreds of ad-mats, posters, video covers and stills (including two colour sections) is nothing short of a triumph of journalistic endeavour, perseverance and research. An absolute delight to either just peruse quickly or anchor down in one of the many revelatory interviews with long-forgotten/"I thought you were dead!" protagonists. A sizeable number of these (in some cases astro-obscure) films have never been reviewed or celebrated before.

Also included is a 100+ page review section, kick-starting with "The Alchemist", through "Jekyll and Hyde Portfolio" (cited as one of the rarest videos in the world - undoubtedly!) and finishing up with Matt Cimber's "The Witch who came from the Sea".

Solid gold from start to finish, and without question one of the film books of the year (with Part 2 on the way). You won't be disappointed.
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on 29 January 2009
This is a splendid book

Stephen Thrower's previous book from FAB press " Beyond Terror : The Films of Lucio Fulci" was a landmark book that has yet to be surpassed, a witty and intriguing examination of the work of a genre giant which was in and of itself a work of art. No wonder it is near impossible to find - my own copy remains wrapped in impermeable plastic and will have to be prised from my cold, dead hands before anyone else will get a hold of it, and even then I'll be coming after them from the grave.

This new book surpasses the high standards set by his previous work. Incredibly, from the dregs of American trash cinema Mr Thrower has created a work of art. Profusely illustrated, beautifully written and unapologetically enthusiastic for the sub-genre of American horror independents from a period in the 70s and early 80s when being "Indie" actually meant something this is a work you will return to and relish again and again.

When he considers the familiar - George Romero, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Tobe Hooper and the like - he manages to find something new to say on works that this reader at least had been discussed to death, whether it be an acid dissection of Blood Feast or an appreciation for the long undervalued and much kicked Death Trap. Yet when he turns to the obscure, the bizarre and the unknown one can only applaud Mr Thrower's diligence and commitment - I'm not sure I could sit through something like Black Devil Doll From Hell then pen a five thousand word review and examination readily. But then, I don't have to because he's already done it for me.

As I first read through this book I felt slightly guilty that I was having loads of fun reading about films I would never have to watch whilst Stephen Thrower had done all the hard work of enduring movies such as, say, Pigs or The Deadly Spawn and then sought out - hunted down ? - the people responsible for committing their creations to celluloid. Yet the more I read the more I too wanted to see these films. Well, alright, some of these films...

That's a mark of the great writers of film study - they both find something new to say about films the reader is familiar with and encourage said reader to go out and experience the unknown for themselves. Stephen Thrower did this with Fulci and he's done it again here - the pull of the American nightmare becomes impossible to resist. Buy, enjoy - and try to save the pennies for the promised second volume. But be warned - it'll be difficult because, like me, you'll find yourself seeking out the films Stephen discusses.

I suspect that was his plan all along...
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on 7 May 2016
A deeply morbid tome, concentrating, as it does, on the horror of existence. With so many fearful movies (unseen by most) exposed by Mr Thrower (a personal friend, by the way) and delineated in a non-corroborative way, throwing (no pun intended) all manner of factional musings into the physical ether. All to my profoundly troubled consternation, I should impart. Pornography and Blood-Horror would appear to be Stephen's twin concerns. They crash violently together in a manfully thick and heavy publication, that expects us to not only accept the ruddy-faced transgressions engendered within, but revel in them. "Blood and Boobs!" was the infamous (MORE than famous) call-out to the sleaze-fiends of the '70s, Stephen has collated the information, corralled the facts and deployed the succulence for a generation enriched by their own intellectual creativity, and has, I believe, delivered a powerful and persuasive bowel-loosener into the bargain!
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VINE VOICEon 6 October 2007
The Amazon description above is completely accurate and I totally agree with the previous review. This is a tremendous piece of work and well worth what Amazon is charging for it, though I would have baulked at the full price.

That's it. This isn't a review. Now please go buy it and make sure volume 2 comes out.

PS. If this appeals to you, you'll probably enjoy 'Sleazoid Express'.
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on 28 May 2016
Mr Thrower is indeed an exceptional writer. He could probably write about the Eurovision song contest and make it interesting. Seriously. He's that good.
The only downside is that you'll end up ordering a lot of films you did not even know about before reading this book. On the other hand you'll most likely be all the happier for it.
The writer strikes a balance between the scholarly, the personal and the deeply funny like nobody else.
Insightful, critical, full of interesting facts and a l w a y s entertaining.
Makes the wait for Murderous Passions 2 slightly more bearable.
Just get it. You won't regret it.
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on 26 April 2016
This was a present for my son for his film studies. He was pleased with it.
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