Horror has always fascinated people, and has been the inspiration for artists since the dawn of time. Depictions of Hell and monsters have been a staple in sketches, carvings, and paintings long before the movies and comic books of the last century.
What this latest hardback coffee table book aims to do is put in perspective the history and variety of the depiction of horrific images from all aspects of visual media. In his foreword, legendary author Neil Gaiman (Coraline) states, “art that takes its impetus from horror is fun for the observer … and enormous fun for the artist”, and that’s more than proved within the first few pages. Classical paintings by the likes of Peter Paul Rubens, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, and Hieronymus Bosch sit alongside the beautifully illustrated film posters of the Universal Horror pictures, pulp novel covers, and the famous comic books that caused such a furore in the ‘50s.
With commentary from such noted writers as Kim Newman and David J. Skal, the ten chapters cover the full gamut of the genre, from vampires, werewolves to giant monster and aliens. The stunning plates on display are not exclusive to the Golden Age, as Anthony Petrie’s You’ve Got Red on You, inspired by Shaun of the Dead and the mixed media No Escape by Steve Upham, which perfectly represents a living nightmare.
A chapter dedicated to the worlds of H. P. Lovecraft open up a wonderful world of surreal imagery not limited to, but certainly dominated by, Cthulhu and provide some stunning representations of the literary legends work, as well as a brief overview of his output.
Halloween is celebrated in glorious style with some whimsical artwork among the terrifying that features witches and, predominantly, pumpkins, with a very brief history of what has become a juggernaut occasion all over the world.
Beautifully presented, the book is a wonderful work, as easy to dip into as it is to devour and would bring joy to any fan of horror movies, novels, or indeed, art in general.
THE ART OF HORROR: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY / EDITOR: STEPHEN JONES / PUBLISHER: APPLAUSE THEATRE BOOK PUBLISHERS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW