Review: Horror Unmasked: A History of Terror from Nosferatu to Nope edited by Brad Weismann

cover of Horror UnmaskedHorror Unmasked: A History of Terror from Nosferatu to Nope edited by Brad Weismann
becker&mayer! books (September 2023)
232 pages; $24.99 hardcover
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Brad Weismann is an award-winning writer and editor who returned to the place he grew up, in the shadow of the Colorado Rockies, after 15 years of performing standup, improvisational, and sketch comedy on stage, radio, and television. He has worked as a journalist, feature writer, and contributor to publications and websites worldwide such as Senses of Cinema, Film International, Backstage, Muso, Parterre, Movie Habit, 5280, EnCompass, Colorado Daily, and Boulder Magazine.  As a film writer, Brad Weismann has interviewed figures ranging from Roger Ebert to Monty Python’s Terry Jones to Blaxploitation superstar Pam Grier, and legendary director Alex Cox. Lost in the Dark: A World History of Horror was his first book, and Horror Unmasked: A History of Terror from Nosferatu to Nope is his second.

Horror Unmasked is a photo-journey through horror cinema. Weismann progresses, era by era, from the early silent films all the way up to modern cinema, and even includes a few thoughts about the meaning and purpose of horror cinema as well. This is a comprehensive book and serves as a solid introduction and overview of horror cinema. It is graphically intense, as well, with lots of pictures and maps and art, so it serves as a beautiful visual object as well as an informative text. One could easily see this as a coffee table book in the right horror fan’s home.

Some readers may be less than enthused by the lack of deep probing in this text, but that’s not the point. This is a reference book, a visual book, meant to give an overview. It’s actually pretty impressive how much information is packed into this text, and how this could easily serve as a guidebook for those weekends when the plan is binging horror flicks, but you’re not exactly sure which ones to pursue. It would also serve as an introductory text for younger fans and students of horror film that need a solid guide to explore the field. 

Overall, Horror Unmasked: A History of Terror from Nosferatu to Nope is an excellent book. It addresses the horror film genre from a comfortable and accessible direction, providing a wide-ranging and extensive overview of the genre. While it doesn’t go into all the nuanced depth that some fans might want, as an overview and history book, it does exactly what it says its going to do, and does it extremely well. It’s a beautifully created book, too, with lots of visual components to attract readers. Fans of horror cinema, old and new, will want to own this book and display it prominently in their collection. 

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