Now a Terrifying Motion Picture: Twenty-Five Classic Works of Horror Adapted from Book to Film by James F. Broderick
If you’ve ever watched a classic adapted horror film and wondered about its source material, you’ll immediately grasp the concept behind James F. Broderick’s Now a Terrifying Motion Picture. Broderick chooses twenty-five horror/sci-fi classics that were based on literary sources and offers a profile on the source material as well as the film adaptation. This approach is great for new horror fans in particular, as most of the films Broderick discusses are acknowledged classics of the genre, making this book a great starting point for people looking for a path into horror films.
There are several cases in Now a Terrifying Motion Picture where Broderick chooses a literary source that has been adapted multiple times, and in these cases he chooses a personal favorite to discuss. This is good for sparking conversation, both on whether the chosen film is actually the better film (or better adaptation), although in some cases a little more information on the film versions not selected for deeper investigation would be appreciated. Broderick shows a clear bias toward classic era films as opposed to more recent versions, focusing on the 1950s versions of both The Thing and The Fly over the 1980s remakes (although he does give the latter a few more words than the latter).
However, it’s difficult to argue with most of Broderick’s choices here: The Birds, Psycho, Nosferatu, The Exorcist, The Shining, Freaks, Jaws, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein and The Phantom of the Opera are all virtually guaranteed spots on any “best horror films” list. Some of his choices are more unusual: Altered States, Dead Ringers and Re-Animator are all revered 80s genre films, for example. Things get more interesting when Broderick chooses controversial films that divided audiences like Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow, Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate and Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. Broderick gives each film a fair discussion and explains his personal preferences thoroughly, which should give non-fans of these films something to chew on.
Broderick’s writing is nowhere nearly as academic as some film books released by McFarland Press, who regularly release excellent books on film and pop culture. This almost conversational style makes the book read very quickly, again making it a good choice for anyone looking for a starting point into the world of horror cinema. Most hardcore horror veterans, however, will probably be left wanting for new information, as most of these films are extremely well-known among horror fans and many of them have rabid fans who are already well-versed in the history of their favorite films.