Saturday, 11 April 2015

Tome Reader

When the going gets a little tough, you can always make your own 'carrot on a stick' to keep moving forward...

Real life (TM) has been a little trying recently.  I work in an ever-changing industry which seems to be reaching the point where a week's worth of stability is now more of a change than anything else coming our way.
A born fretter, fifteen years of exposure to this has environment actually made me more of a 'Once was Worrier', giving up the illusion of security in the arms of a caring employer has left me a happier and less troubled soul. Like Doris Day, I now draw comfort in life's one sureness of 'whatever will be, will be'.

But a current, particularly prolonged period of upheaval with no end in sight is going to eventually take it's toll, no matter how thick my shiny, philosophical glaze has become.  It's times like this you often look back and draw comfort from elements of your life that have always brought you succour when you've needed it.  For me, its Horror.

Yes, not only is that paradoxical but also weird and a bit creepy. But I'm generally regarded as a cheerful, positive sort of chap,  I believe partly because immersing myself in Horror cinema is deeply cathartic and lets me work out my fears and negativity on what is happening on screen.  Not to say I don't enjoy what I watch, I deeply love the genre of chills, although my particular preference is more for anything before and including the mid-seventies.  More latter-day slash and splatter leaves me cold - I'll take venerable atmosphere over teenage viscera any day.

I have shamefully neglected attributing another of the main influences for me beginning this blog for too long. The Hypnogoria podcast is an enthusiastic and meticulously researched homage to 'fantastic fiction' of every variety, including film, and host Jim Moon's melifluous Northern tones have accompanied us on many a long car journey.

His most recent 'cast was about a book which he regards as his 'bible', one of the very first 'coffee table books' about Horror Films, Alan Frank's A Movie Treasury of Horror Movies (1974).  This is something I was always convinced I actually owned, until Moon began to describe it in detail and I realised that I actually have the follow-up book: The Movie Treasury of Monsters and Vampires, published two years later and for many years the most lavish book I had in my embryonic but growing collection.  Although some of the choices of images in this book are distinctly 'sensation-seeking' (the back cover features the creature from Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell with bloody tissue hanging from where his eyes should be) Alan Frank is no slouch as either a writer or researcher. His analysis and reviews proved invaluable for me in deciding which Sunday Horrors really were worth staying up for.

If you think the front cover is startling, you should see the back!

When Jim Moon began reminiscing about how he gained his love of Horror film and enthusiasm for writing about and reviewing them at 'Alan Frank's knee' as he grew up; returning to The Movie Treasury's pages again and again, it struck a chord with my own experience. And I suddenly, desperately wanted the book he was talking about - the one I didn't have.
Flicking speculatively to Trade Me I was astonished to find that very book up for grabs and placed my first on-line bid ever. I can't honestly say an intense biding war ensued, mainly because you need at least one other participant for a battle, but I now have A Movie Treasury of Horror Movies winging it's way to me.

When coffee table books ruled the Earth, even the grim Reaper was a Cover Boy

It's a tiny event, I know, but sometimes it's the little treats we look forward to which help us hang on through life's bumpier passages. And if the book's original owner feels a little regret that he's surrendered this tome for the price of a cup of coffee, I hope he'll take solace in the fact the Movie Treasury will be treasured for at least my lifetime.

Now I know I had this one somewhere - time for a rummage in the attic.

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