List books of scariest films are a fairly well treaded area of horror movie non-fiction. The 101 Scariest Movies Ever Made tackles this with a fresh perspective and an up-to-date list of films. The presentation is well structured and concise. It also contains a foreword by Herschell Gordon Lewis. You will find the titles you would expect, such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Suspiria, Halloween, etc. The book does include more recent titles, such as Sinister, The Babadook, and The Conjuring. The earliest film covered is Nosferatu (1922), and the most recent entry is It Follows (2014). There is pretty broad coverage over the decades – it’s not all about the eighties.
For each film title there are sections including Why it Made the List, Synopsis, Scariest Scene, Memorable Dialogue, Did You Know?, and What the Critics Said. This makes the book highly browsable. The book contains movie posters and stills. For the hardened horror fan you’re not going to find anything too groundbreaking. However, this would serve as an excellent entry point to the genre for newcomers. Detailing the scariest scene of the movie is a bit of a spoiler if you haven’t seen the film. The Did You Know? and critic quotes were my favourite parts. I like that the critics quotes are from a diverse variety of publications.
Of course any book such as this will open up a debate about whether a title should be on the list or not. There are some titles I disagree with, but with 101 films, the coverage is pretty broad. It’s a good reference book for a quick read over the titles that make our beloved genre what it is today.
Review by Andrew Tadman. @thebooksofblood.