How to Survive a Horror Movie by Seth Grahame-Smith
Quirk Books (September 2019)
176 pages; $11.99 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand
It’s the middle of October, just a couple of weeks away from Halloween as I write this, and I find myself (like, doubtless, many of you) in the midst of a horror movie marathon leading into my favorite holiday. Most of what I watch this time of year are classics that I’ve seen a time or two (or ten) before, and — again, I suspect, like many of you — I find myself constantly second-guessing the actions of the characters on the screen.
“Don’t do that!” I yell at the group as someone suggests they split up.
“Don’t go in there!” I cajole the young girl approaching the dark camp cabin.
“Don’t touch that!” I command the curious kid reaching for the cursed doll.
They never listen.
Seth Grahame-Smith feels my pain. He feels it so acutely, in fact, that he (with a helping hand from the good people at Quirk Books) has expanded his 2007 survival guide, How to Survive a Horror Movie, to help hapless horror movie characters navigate the deadly mazes of barbaric zombies, Babadooks and bad CGI leading them to a grisly death.
The book opens with an introduction by the late Wes Craven (reprinted from the original edition) which shows off the sense of humor that simmered beneath Craven’s best work—the original Scream in particular. It’s that humor that allows Craven (and Grahame-Smith) to satirize the horror genre, to poke at its weaknesses, without degrading it.
Grahame-Smith’s approach is to take topics near and dear to lovers of horror films—“What to Do if Your Corn Has Children in It” or “How to Survive a Summer Vacation” for example—and provide those much-needed answers. Some are so common that you can’t help but laugh, such as the first survival tip for “What to Do When an Evil Vehicle Wants You Dead,” which is “If you’re in the vehicle, get the hell out.” The author has all the bases covered, from alien invasions to high school to witches to Satan his own badself.
There are also some great lists spread throughout the book, such as “Poor Career Choices for Horror Movie Characters” (Gravedigger and Hooker, among others); “Signs That You’re in a Sequel” (Jamie Lee Curtis is your mother, or You’re in 3-D); and “10 Things to Never, Ever Put in a Child’s Room” (windows, doors and closets are frowned upon).
How to Survive a Horror Movie is the perfect coffee table/nightstand (do people still have those?) book for the horror fan who still maintains a sense of humor about horror. These are all things we’ve said or thought during the upteenth viewing of that favorite slasher flick or creature feature, but it takes a writer of Seth Grahame-Green’s talent to put it together in a relentlessly entertaining package such as this. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy…it just might save your life….or it might make you laugh yourself….to death…..