The Thrill of Repulsion – book review

thrill-of-repulsionIt may not come across in the blog generally, but horror is one of my favourite genres. After cutting my teeth (probably inappropriately young) on Christopher Pike and Stephen King, in my teens I became a bit of a horror junkie. A good horror (in print or on screen) is hard to find however, especially if you aren’t a fan of gore but rather of deeply unsettling, subversive experiences. For this reason, I was delighted to be offered an advance look at The Thrill of Repulsion: Excursions Into Horror Culture by William Burns. The book is a carefully curated collection of lists, articles, and interviews spanning film, television, books/graphic novels, and music celebrating the best that horror has to offer and championing this beleaguered genre as an important part of culture. As the introduction so aptly puts it, “horror is a perspective, a way of seeing, a way of knowing, a way of feeling, a way of existing (or not existing) when faced with a malevolent and uncaring universe”.

This isn’t a book to sit down and read in one sitting, but one to dip into again and again. It is beautifully laid out in four sections, each with several chapters detailing 13 items… and the book has an actual spine, nice touch! The content is quite heavily weighted towards film – well over half of the content is film related, and so book/TV fans run the risk of table-of-contentsfeeling short-changed. However, the enthusiasm of the author for his subject is so palpable, and delivered with such wry personal inflection, that this is unlikely to be an issue for many readers. The Thrill of Repulsion avoids rehashing the same old choices in all ‘list’ books (Psycho! The Exorcist!) by choosing some genuinely eclectic topics. As a fan of the unnervingly horrific, I was particularly happy to see ‘The 13 Most Disturbing Films that Aren’t Horror Films’ included – and to see David Lynch’s masterfully unsettling Eraserhead given such high ranking in same. As overviews of/tributes to the genre go, it’s not quite up there with Stephen King’s Danse Macabre, but it comes pretty close – and from me, that’s high praise indeed.

The Thrill of Repulsion is published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd. and is available in bookstores now. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an impartial review.

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