Author: David J. Skal
Original publication date: October 15, 2001

Anyone who even flirts with the idea of calling his or herself a horror movie lover needs to read David J. Skal's stellar history book, The Monster Show. It permanently rests at the top of the genre's syllabus.

Skal (who also wrote the magnificent Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen) is an old-school head, so The Monster Show's chapters on the rise of German expressionism in the 1920s, the dawn of Universal Monsters (i.e., Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, etc.) in the 1920s, and the subsequent black-and-white-cinema decades are the book's strongest, most passionately constructed sections.

His tireless research provided him with a finely tuned, seemingly on-the-scene closeness to the pre-production happenings and filmmaking shoots of movies like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Freaks, Dracula, and Frankenstein. —MB