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Pop culture history meets blood-soaked memoir as a horror film aficionado and screenwriter recalls a life spent watching blockbuster slasher films, cult classics, and everything in between. Horror films have simultaneously captivated and terrified audiences for generations, racking up billions of dollars at the box office and infusing our nightmares with unrelenting zombies Pop culture history meets blood-soaked memoir as a horror film aficionado and screenwriter recalls a life spent watching blockbuster slasher films, cult classics, and everything in between. Horror films have simultaneously captivated and terrified audiences for generations, racking up billions of dollars at the box office and infusing our nightmares with unrelenting zombies, chainsaw-wielding madmen, and myriad incarnations of ghosts, ghouls, and the devil himself. Despite evolving modes of storytelling and the fluctuating popularity of other genres, horror endures. The Horror of It All is a memoir from the front lines of the industry that dissects (and occasionally defends) the hugely popular phenomenon of scary movies. Author Adam Rockoff traces the highs and lows of the horror genre through the lens of his own obsessive fandom, born in the aisles of his local video store and nurtured with a steady diet of cable trash. From Siskel and Ebert’s crusade against slasher films to horror’s Renaissance in the wake of Scream, Rockoff mines the rich history of the genre, braiding critical analysis with his own firsthand experiences. Be afraid. Be very afraid.


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Pop culture history meets blood-soaked memoir as a horror film aficionado and screenwriter recalls a life spent watching blockbuster slasher films, cult classics, and everything in between. Horror films have simultaneously captivated and terrified audiences for generations, racking up billions of dollars at the box office and infusing our nightmares with unrelenting zombies Pop culture history meets blood-soaked memoir as a horror film aficionado and screenwriter recalls a life spent watching blockbuster slasher films, cult classics, and everything in between. Horror films have simultaneously captivated and terrified audiences for generations, racking up billions of dollars at the box office and infusing our nightmares with unrelenting zombies, chainsaw-wielding madmen, and myriad incarnations of ghosts, ghouls, and the devil himself. Despite evolving modes of storytelling and the fluctuating popularity of other genres, horror endures. The Horror of It All is a memoir from the front lines of the industry that dissects (and occasionally defends) the hugely popular phenomenon of scary movies. Author Adam Rockoff traces the highs and lows of the horror genre through the lens of his own obsessive fandom, born in the aisles of his local video store and nurtured with a steady diet of cable trash. From Siskel and Ebert’s crusade against slasher films to horror’s Renaissance in the wake of Scream, Rockoff mines the rich history of the genre, braiding critical analysis with his own firsthand experiences. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

30 review for The Horror of It All: One Moviegoer's Love Affair with Masked Maniacs, Frightened Virgins, and the Living Dead...

  1. 5 out of 5

    Trudi

    I always feel guilty when I snag a book from NetGalley and don't love it. But hey -- impartial reviewing and honest reader response is what we all crave, right? So I get over that guilt pretty quickly. Adam Rockoff has a great idea here. While my real passion is to watch horror movies (not read about them) every once in a while a book like this sneaks past my defenses with a come hither look I can't resist. That's what this book did with its great cover and catchy (if wordy) title. Essentially wh I always feel guilty when I snag a book from NetGalley and don't love it. But hey -- impartial reviewing and honest reader response is what we all crave, right? So I get over that guilt pretty quickly. Adam Rockoff has a great idea here. While my real passion is to watch horror movies (not read about them) every once in a while a book like this sneaks past my defenses with a come hither look I can't resist. That's what this book did with its great cover and catchy (if wordy) title. Essentially what Rockoff is attempting to do here (and largely fails) is what Stephen King accomplished decades ago with flair and brilliance in his nonfiction study of the horror genre Danse Macabre. What did I want this Christmas season? What do I long for keenly every year that passes? A goddamn, updated sequel! Get on that Uncle Stevie, before it's too late! King's masterpiece covers horror in all its manifestations in print, and on the big and small screens. Rockoff narrows his focus to just the movies, and that would be enough if it had been a wide view of horror on the big screen, but Rockoff's kink is the slasher / exploitation films (the subtitle for this book should have been my first clue). Rockoff has already written a book about the rise of the slasher film called Going to Pieces -- heh, cute title -- and without having read it, I'm left with a sneaking suspicion that this follow-up book treads a lot of the same ground. In The Horror of it All Rockoff has a major rant against Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel for a special edition episode of their show Sneak Previews aired in 1980 in which the film critics lambast these "slasher" flicks as a dangerous and despicable trend in film both demeaning and dangerous to women (these men are so high up on their high horse here I can't imagine they can still see the ground). Don't get me wrong -- I love Roger Ebert, he remains one of my favorite film critics -- but boy, was he mostly a fuss bucket when it came to horror movies in general. It wasn't his genre of choice and it showed in many of his prejudicial (and often undeserved) negative reviews of some great movies. Rockoff is justified in tearing a strip off these two men in an instance where they show complete ignorance about a genre and its fans. Neither Siskel or Ebert appear to have actually sat through any of these movies they are so quick to dismiss as sleazy and misogynist. They show no awareness of "the Final Girl" who often survives to slay the "monster" herself, as well as suffering from the common misconception that it's only women killed in slasher films. Quite the contrary; studies show men are just as likely to die violent deaths on screen in horror movies as their female counterparts. But I get it. As a fan of the genre since before I could tie my own shoes, I've come up against that kind of prejudice many, many times. Horror is a genre where the consumer is attacked as often as the content itself. Understanding the appeal factor of horror is difficult for some people to accept, people who will look at you with a wary expression as they ask "how can you read/watch that stuff"? As if we should be ashamed, as if we are somehow mentally warped or our moral compass dangerously askew. Don't worry, it isn't. Horror appeals to many of us for very solid, rational, non-psychopathic reasons, I swear. And it appeals just as equally to men as it does women. And that doesn't make the men misogynists, or the women failed feminists. But I digress. Back to Rockoff. His goal here is to really champion for the slasher films and the deranged and disturbing pushing all the boundaries it can possibly think of exploitation films. And I wouldn't have had a problem with that. But it gets a bit repetitive and tiresome and a lot of the movies he winds up talking about are pretty obscure if you're not a complete and utter fanatic for everything underground and out of print (I'm not). In his introduction, Rockoff promises to approach horror in a very personal essay, knitting together his experiences of the genre using memoir as a lens. I love that idea. I love hearing about people's personal reactions to movies or what was going on in their lives when. One of my favorites of these sorts of anecdotes came from my own mother. She was dating my father at the time of the theatrical release of The Exorcist. It was a date movie for them (these are my genes). They had to park the car at the very back of the mall parking lot. When the movie let out after 11pm the mall was closed and the parking lot was almost empty. They walked to the dark, abandoned hinterland of the lot to their car. When my mother went to open the passenger door (this was 1970's Newfoundland - people rarely locked their car doors) a giant looming shadow of a man sat up in the back seat and groaned. My mother screamed. My father cursed (and probably shit himself). Turns out that while they were watching the movie, this guy stumbled out of the bar drunk and crawled into my parents car to pass out mistaking the car as belonging to his friend. Rockoff has a few personal stories like this, humorous and charming, but not nearly enough of them. He can't help but slip into the film school analysis voice, reviewing and critiquing. Too much of the book's contents feel like grad school essays, a little pompous and righteous. In an effort to "legitimize" horror and testify to its importance and validity, Rockoff comes off sounding like a bit of a haughty dick. Then there's some sections that just don't work at all, and their inclusion confounds me. Case in point -- in Chapter 5 "Sounds of the Devil" Rockoff talks about the (un)natural marriage of heavy metal music to horror movies. The two go together like PB&J in some ways, in other ways it's a misfit experiment gone awry. He raises a few interesting points and then inexplicably goes right off the reservation with a blow-by-blow account of the time in 1985 Tipper Gore helped found the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) and brought the fight to Washington in the hopes of compelling the music industry to adopt a voluntary rating system warning of the explicit lyrics destined to corrupt and warp innocent children. Halfway through this chapter I felt like I was reading a completely different book that didn't have anything to do with horror movies at all. It just seemed really out of context and ultimately onerous. I remember when this bullshit was going on at the time -- even at 11 years old I scoffed then, I scoff now. Plus, it's not nearly as interesting a story as the Comics Code Authority and the war against horror comics of the 1950's (check out The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America and Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America). And I'm really looking forward to checking out this 2014 documentary Diagram for Delinquents. If you've made it to the end of this lengthy, rambling review I thank you. You are a good sport and too kind. I didn't hate this book but it failed to really engage me or entertain. I don't recommend it; instead, pop some popcorn, turn out the lights and cue up your favorite scary movie. **This review is also posted to Busty Book Bimbo

  2. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    The Horror of it All by Adam Rockoff is a 2015 Scribner publication. I confess I chose this book looking for something related to the horror genre to share on my blog for Halloween. Sadly, this book is just not all that great, although that could just be me. I’m pretty picky when it comes to the horror genre, and the exploitation films are really, really, really not my cup of tea. I also fell out love with the slasher film many years ago, preferring the understated, and under appreciated chiller The Horror of it All by Adam Rockoff is a 2015 Scribner publication. I confess I chose this book looking for something related to the horror genre to share on my blog for Halloween. Sadly, this book is just not all that great, although that could just be me. I’m pretty picky when it comes to the horror genre, and the exploitation films are really, really, really not my cup of tea. I also fell out love with the slasher film many years ago, preferring the understated, and under appreciated chiller. I do believe there are some hidden gems in this book and horror enthusiast may want to give this book a try, for no other reason than sharing a great appreciation for films that fall into this category with someone who enjoys the genre as much as they do. The author is obviously offended by some remarks made by movie critics and goes on a diatribe to prove the critics wrong. This shows passion for the genre and I appreciate the enthusiasm, but for a more comprehensive listing, one that is more organized, and perhaps devoid of personal remarks that go off topic for extended periods, there are other choices available that will give you a more thorough commentary and a more professional one. However, for those who might enjoy a more casual approach, one that isn’t too dry, or falls into the ‘list’ category and is obviously written by a huge fan, then this book might be one you wish to add to your collection. For me, the search is still on for something to showcase on my blog, but I am positive, despite the lateness of the hour, I will find something that works. Wish me luck. In the meantime, this one gets 2.5 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alex | | findingmontauk1

    The best part of this book is the mentioning of titles that I may not have thought about in quite some time. And there were times where I enjoyed hearing the author's take on some of my favorite movies and killers. What I didn't like? Oh, Lord... so much. First, the writing about heavy metal music (really? I could care less about that when reading a book about a moviegoer's writing on horror). I understand how there is heavy metal in some horror movies, but let's get back to the topic at hand, pl The best part of this book is the mentioning of titles that I may not have thought about in quite some time. And there were times where I enjoyed hearing the author's take on some of my favorite movies and killers. What I didn't like? Oh, Lord... so much. First, the writing about heavy metal music (really? I could care less about that when reading a book about a moviegoer's writing on horror). I understand how there is heavy metal in some horror movies, but let's get back to the topic at hand, please. He spends way too much time tearing down and deconstructing classic horror films and basically calling them all overrated trash (without saying those words) for titles such as The Exorcist, Psycho, Suspiria, etc. Alien is a boring movie? He even calls Wes Craven's Scream a fraud... like... okay... let's see what would have happened to the slasher genre had that series NOT been so famous and awesome. It would probably still be buried in the 80s. I am all about other people having different opinions, but how can you write a book on horror and hate on every single staple horror film and think you will come off as valid and reliable? And why do I care about an entire chapter dedicated to Charlie Sheen and a snuff film? I dunno, this book was just a jumbled mess to me overall. The second half of the book goes right off a cliff quicker than Thelma and Louise. What started out as interesting, charming stories from Rockoff's experiences turns into just a roast fest of negativity and boredom. At the end of the day, I feel no better and no worse for finishing this book. I have left and feel zero impact. And that is just not how I want to feel when I finish a book. It seems that excruciatingly difficult work in writing a screenplay/remaking a CLASSIC AND AWESOME horror movie (I Spit On Your Grave) gave him some license of entitlement? His real masterpiece was naming a book "The Horror Of It All" when that's exactly how I feel after finishing. Next. 1.5 stars out of 5 for me.  I had hoped to really love this because, before finishing, I was also interested in Rockoff's first book Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, 1978-1986.  But maybe he was less pompous and entitled 10+ years before writing this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again - if you're a fan of horror, you're most likely a friend of mine. I think this is generally true of most within the horror fandom community. Wear a t-shirt with your favorite horror icon or movie to any horror convention, and chances are you won't have any problem making a host of new friends. It doesn't even matter if they don't agree with me on particular movies - part of the fun of horror-based friendships is the heated debates, after all. So I just I've said it before, and I'll say it again - if you're a fan of horror, you're most likely a friend of mine. I think this is generally true of most within the horror fandom community. Wear a t-shirt with your favorite horror icon or movie to any horror convention, and chances are you won't have any problem making a host of new friends. It doesn't even matter if they don't agree with me on particular movies - part of the fun of horror-based friendships is the heated debates, after all. So I just want to clarify it's not because I disagree with a lot of what Rockoff says in this book that I disliked it, nor does my feeling about the book mean that I probably wouldn't enjoy getting a chance to sit down with Rockoff himself and BS about the genre for hours. Different opinions aside, I bet I could get along with the guy. The problem with Rockoff's new book, however, is how unfortunately pointless it ends up feeling. Rockoff admits at the beginning that he was having a hard time even thinking of an idea for a second book (after his seminal slasher history book, "Going to Pieces"), and, quite frankly, it shows. He has settled for a Klosterman-inspired series of essays covering some of his personal views and memories of the horror genre, but other than seemingly wanting the opportunity to publicly share some of his more controversial views (like that Hitchcock's Psycho is overrated because we never see the knife actually pierce Marion's flesh), it doesn't really seem like Rockoff has anything of deep interest to say in these pages. He keeps admitting that there are far better and more researched books about the genre (even going so far as to often tell his readers to check those books out instead), and even often simply spends large chunks of text simply summarizing what THOSE authors had to say. Left to his own devices, meanwhile, Rockoff just sort of rambles on with surface-level observations about the genre and its recent history. What kills the book, I think, is that he isn't really saying ANYTHING that his target audience won't already know. "Going to Pieces" was a cool book, but it's not like it made Rockoff a star that transcends the horror genre. So I think it's safe to say that the only people who would be interested enough in reading this guy's random thoughts about the genre are huge horror-nerds themselves...but they are also exactly who will already be 100% familiar with nearly every film and genre history anecdote he brings up. This is a weird disconnect that the book can't quite conquer. I didn't feel like I was learning anything new except for Rockoff's own personal thoughts on some topics, and even there things get dicey. Rockoff spends some time complaining about how horror fans can sometimes be contrarian just for the hell of it, but he also has an entire chapter just devoted to more of his own "controversial" views ("The Exorcist isn't scary! Red Dragon is better than Manhunter!). There's nothing wrong with anyone thinking Alien and Scream are overrated movies, or that Friday the 13th is as good as Halloween (I don't agree with any of this, but the dude is entitled to his opinion). But I don't really get why Rockoff thinks these views are interesting enough to justify sections in this book, especially since he doesn't really go into deep analysis about any of it (if he REALLY dove into his conflicting views with the majority, that might make this an actually interesting read...but, instead, he sticks to just quickly and easily summarizing his points). Honestly, this often just comes across as a big horror fan sitting at a table with non-horror fans and lecturing them about things like "what is torture porn" and "who is H.G. Lewis?" Except nobody at that table even asked. And neither did anyone who will probably bother to read this book, since they will already know the answers. Here's hoping next time Rockoff really can't think of a book idea, he spends a bit more time wrestling with it before just plowing ahead anyway.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I tried. I tried so hard to finish this book. Fifty pages left, but then the final straw came when the author deemed Wes Craven's Scream as a fraud. Don't get me wrong. Assholes are like opinions; everybody has one. But I really should have set this book aside nearly 150 pages earlier when Mr Ruckoff states that the shower scene in Hitchcock's Psycho was "overrated". Seriously?? Who does this? Oh yes, someone without an original idea who felt the need to remake the exploitation classic I Spit On I tried. I tried so hard to finish this book. Fifty pages left, but then the final straw came when the author deemed Wes Craven's Scream as a fraud. Don't get me wrong. Assholes are like opinions; everybody has one. But I really should have set this book aside nearly 150 pages earlier when Mr Ruckoff states that the shower scene in Hitchcock's Psycho was "overrated". Seriously?? Who does this? Oh yes, someone without an original idea who felt the need to remake the exploitation classic I Spit On Your Grave. There's a few more of Mr Ruckoff's observations that landed me on the fence, but enough was enough. The only reason I gave this book two stars instead of one was because of his information on Siskel & Ebert's two man tirade again horror in general. I understand this book is supposed to fall somewhere between film study and memoir, or at least that's what I gather the author's intention to be. But he fell way short. It almost felt like padding before he came to the actual point of the story. Way too self indulgent for my tastes. I've not read his previous book, Going to Pieces, which details the many films in the slasher genre. However, I did enjoy the documentary that came from its existence. But this book...not so much.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Katie(babs)

    Horror film aficionados will find some enjoyment in this book. There are many obscure horror movies listed here that you will want to look up. The horror movie industry thrived because of VHS. The author raves about Eli Roth as a horror movie director because of Hostel, and thinks Friday the 13th is one of the best horror movies ever. He doesn't have a high opinion of Wes Craven's Scream. The author spends too much time talking about himself, which is boring and tedious. I wanted more facts abou Horror film aficionados will find some enjoyment in this book. There are many obscure horror movies listed here that you will want to look up. The horror movie industry thrived because of VHS. The author raves about Eli Roth as a horror movie director because of Hostel, and thinks Friday the 13th is one of the best horror movies ever. He doesn't have a high opinion of Wes Craven's Scream. The author spends too much time talking about himself, which is boring and tedious. I wanted more facts about the horror movie industry and which movies are recommended to watch. I was surprised to find out that Faces of Death and Hannibal Holocaust have each made over $60 million since their releases. Horror movie buffs may want to check The Horror of It All out, but there are more superior books on the market I would recommend you read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    3.5 Stars This book reads like a collection of love letters to horror film buffs. Part memoir, part history, this book offers a colorful commentary of horror pop culture. Filled with personal anecdotes, the author analyzes the popularity of genre over the decades, addressing how horror enthusiasts are frequently shamed by mainstream society. Two of the chapters (heavy metal and the legal case) felt out of place in the context of this book. However, all the other chapters were on topic and highly 3.5 Stars This book reads like a collection of love letters to horror film buffs. Part memoir, part history, this book offers a colorful commentary of horror pop culture. Filled with personal anecdotes, the author analyzes the popularity of genre over the decades, addressing how horror enthusiasts are frequently shamed by mainstream society. Two of the chapters (heavy metal and the legal case) felt out of place in the context of this book. However, all the other chapters were on topic and highly entertaining. This book does not provide the most in-depth overview of the horror film industry. Instead, the narrative is more conversational than critical, with the author reflecting on his love of the genre. This book is clearly written for avid fans of horror films with the assumption that the readers have already watched the famous horror movies. Be warned that the author openly talks about the endings of cult classics, like Halloween, without giving any spoiler warnings. By reading this, I have found so many new films that I know need to watch. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves horror movies.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn Hogan

    I received a digital ARC of this book from Netgalley. I understand the impulse of the Geek(tm) to be protective of their chosen obsession. I find few things as annoying as a lit fic writer who writes something obviously genre and then denying that their masterpiece could be anything so gauche as science fiction of fantasy. So, I understand where Rockoff is coming from. But I still think he comes off as kind of a contrarian jerk-wad. Okay, you don't think the fact that women are most often menaced I received a digital ARC of this book from Netgalley. I understand the impulse of the Geek(tm) to be protective of their chosen obsession. I find few things as annoying as a lit fic writer who writes something obviously genre and then denying that their masterpiece could be anything so gauche as science fiction of fantasy. So, I understand where Rockoff is coming from. But I still think he comes off as kind of a contrarian jerk-wad. Okay, you don't think the fact that women are most often menaced in horror movies has anything to do with misogyny, but plenty of other people do, and they often have good reasons for their assertions. American Werewolf in London wasn't scary enough. Scream was a ripoff. I get that these are just one guy's opinion, but the way he expresses them rubs me the wrong way. It's like he's looking down on anyone who disagrees with him. There are a few funny moments in this book, and I've found a couple of other books I want to read based on it, but it just wasn't for me. Maybe more hard-core horror fans will enjoy.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lance Eaton

    I tend to be a fan of film critic memoirs mostly because they provide me with insight into the mind of the critic about key moments in their cinematic-taste development. I always appreciate when a film critic can crystallize their viewing experience and that's what Rockoff does a lot of in this book, mixing his life with a great deal of horror films--some good, some bad, and some we should probably not talk about. Sprinkled among his films and reflections are sometimes political or theoretical v I tend to be a fan of film critic memoirs mostly because they provide me with insight into the mind of the critic about key moments in their cinematic-taste development. I always appreciate when a film critic can crystallize their viewing experience and that's what Rockoff does a lot of in this book, mixing his life with a great deal of horror films--some good, some bad, and some we should probably not talk about. Sprinkled among his films and reflections are sometimes political or theoretical views that I personally disagree with but can see how and why he has inserted them. But the main reason I enjoyed this book is to see the great many horror films that I may know nothing about and wish to learn. Indeed, a book like this makes me go and add a bajillion (yes, that's an accurate count) new titles to my Netflix que. Horror fans may not agree with every choice or film that Rockoff brings up, but there is plenty of great content to sift through here.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Wolverinefactor

    What a steaming pile of shit.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hunter Shea

    A funny and nostalgic look back at horror for anyone who slipped on over to the dark side in the 80s. Reading it also provided a list of flix I have to watch again.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lori S.

    3.45 stars While the author is an interesting person who had some interesting stories to tell about Horror movies and their history, etc., he drove me nuts with his constant asides into his teen years and just how, erm, desirous he was of female attention to certain body parts. It was annoying to being TMI. I really do not want to know about your lusts dude. I was hoping for more really and this didn't quite deliver. sigh. 3.45 stars While the author is an interesting person who had some interesting stories to tell about Horror movies and their history, etc., he drove me nuts with his constant asides into his teen years and just how, erm, desirous he was of female attention to certain body parts. It was annoying to being TMI. I really do not want to know about your lusts dude. I was hoping for more really and this didn't quite deliver. sigh.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    The Horror of It All: One Moviegoer’s Love Affair with Masked Maniacs, Frightened Virgins, and the Living Dead… is the follow up non-fiction work to Adam Rockoff’s successful Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, 1978-1986. Going to Pieces was an insightful read and was later made into a documentary. With this book Rockoff widens the focus from slasher films to cover more of the genre. The Horror of It All is personal, charming, and funny. Rockoff is a horror fan, just like the The Horror of It All: One Moviegoer’s Love Affair with Masked Maniacs, Frightened Virgins, and the Living Dead… is the follow up non-fiction work to Adam Rockoff’s successful Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, 1978-1986. Going to Pieces was an insightful read and was later made into a documentary. With this book Rockoff widens the focus from slasher films to cover more of the genre. The Horror of It All is personal, charming, and funny. Rockoff is a horror fan, just like the rest of us, and this book envelops you in a history of shared excitement about films and experiences. It’s obvious that he’s one of us and not just passing down a critique from on high. The personal perspective makes this very different from the usual horror movie non-fiction. It’s part biography and part horror history, which is really how we all experience horror, since we grow up during times of different sub-genres and movements. He has some great and often very funny stories related to horror movies. In addition to his own experiences, he also discusses the views of critics, the general public, and politicians’ reactions to the genre. I can totally relate to many of the things he talks about from the standpoint of a horror fan, and I’m sure you will too. He talks about becoming a fear addict, with each new horror film being a test. This was exactly how I felt as I became interested in horror movies – at first terrified by the VHS covers in the video store, to finally being able to watch them. The book is split into chapters, with each one covering a different topic. The chapters are inventive and I especially enjoyed his novel way of presenting a “best of” list, the slasher yearbook chapter. Entries included Most Annoying Character, Most Likely To Succeed (But Didn’t), and Most Sequel-Worthy Killer. You get the idea. Another chapter reviewed heavy metal’s ties to horror and the political witch-hunt of how this music corrupted society. There are so many movies and themes discussed in the book. It’s a wealth of interesting content, from torture porn and J-horror to zombie-mania. The colorful mix of personal anecdotes, in-depth detail on horror, and Rockoff’s conversational writing style is a successful cocktail. This might be the least dry discussion of horror movies you’ll find – not that there is anything wrong with academic discussion of our genre – but Rockoff makes it fun without sacrificing depth. I highly recommend this entertaining and informative read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lindy Loo

    I lovelovelove horror movies & I lovelovelove reading about horror movies, but I gave up on this book not even 1/4 of the way in. Rockoff thinks he's way more funny & witty than he actually is & reading this is like watching someone laugh at their own jokes & congratulate themselves over & over for being so fricking hysterical when they really really aren't. He also has an enormous chip on his shoulder about Siskel & Ebert's opinions of horror movies & in the process of arguing about how stubbor I lovelovelove horror movies & I lovelovelove reading about horror movies, but I gave up on this book not even 1/4 of the way in. Rockoff thinks he's way more funny & witty than he actually is & reading this is like watching someone laugh at their own jokes & congratulate themselves over & over for being so fricking hysterical when they really really aren't. He also has an enormous chip on his shoulder about Siskel & Ebert's opinions of horror movies & in the process of arguing about how stubbornly & unwaveringly opinionated they are & how unwilling they are to consider an opposing view, he comes across JUST AS stubbornly opinionated and unwilling to consider an opposing view. And when he tries to argue a point, he sounds like someone who never took a basic composition 101 class on how to develop a solid argument. The book also meanders a ton & is unfocused, and while HE seems to be charmed by his incessant asides, I definitely was not.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This was a disappointment for me. I was hoping for a rather scholarly treatise on the appeal of horror movies, but got more of an autobiography in which the author wrote about his experiences watching horror movies. Couple that with some truly perplexing pronouncements about how moms don't listen to Black Sabbath, "Psycho" and "Alien" were both incredibly boring, and the author's inexplicable dumbfoundedness that any woman actually uses a diaphragm, or that anyone even knows a woman who uses a d This was a disappointment for me. I was hoping for a rather scholarly treatise on the appeal of horror movies, but got more of an autobiography in which the author wrote about his experiences watching horror movies. Couple that with some truly perplexing pronouncements about how moms don't listen to Black Sabbath, "Psycho" and "Alien" were both incredibly boring, and the author's inexplicable dumbfoundedness that any woman actually uses a diaphragm, or that anyone even knows a woman who uses a diaphragm. What the hell...? Then there was the chapter about the use of heavy metal music in horror movies which turned into a long discussion about Tipper Gore and the PMRC. Gee, how timely. I finished it, but it was a slog. It was somewhat redeemed by a nice chapter about zombies. A far superior book that really goes in-depth about horror fiction is Stephen King's Danse Macabre. Perhaps I'll read that again as a palate cleanser.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    The writing of this book was alright. It didn't really fit with a non-fiction book in my opinion. It was easy to read, so that should at least count for something I suppose. I mostly felt like the book did not know where it was going. Based on the title and the description of the book I expected a somewhat one-sided book about why the author likes this genre so much and maybe a bit of a history of this book. It wasn't that. It was mostly him criticising people for having a different opinion than The writing of this book was alright. It didn't really fit with a non-fiction book in my opinion. It was easy to read, so that should at least count for something I suppose. I mostly felt like the book did not know where it was going. Based on the title and the description of the book I expected a somewhat one-sided book about why the author likes this genre so much and maybe a bit of a history of this book. It wasn't that. It was mostly him criticising people for having a different opinion than he does and just making fun of them for not understanding. His arguments where therefore pretty weak and mostly based upon the fact that a certain person doesn't understand the genre or goes into it with intentions different from him. The last chapter pulled everything a bit together, but it still wasn't really good. It still made me want the time back that I spend reading this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jessrawk

    To say this book meanders all over the map would be an understatement. The dude takes a whole chapter to dissect, moment by moment, the hearings about warning labels for records (why?? Nor does he tie it back to horror in any way), adding in what I guess he thinks is colour commentary. Really, you’re just waiting for him to make a point, or for it all to be over. It’s not terrible, really, but there’s not much substance to it either. Who wants a chapter-long story that is nothing more than an an To say this book meanders all over the map would be an understatement. The dude takes a whole chapter to dissect, moment by moment, the hearings about warning labels for records (why?? Nor does he tie it back to horror in any way), adding in what I guess he thinks is colour commentary. Really, you’re just waiting for him to make a point, or for it all to be over. It’s not terrible, really, but there’s not much substance to it either. Who wants a chapter-long story that is nothing more than an anecdote (that he once turned down a hand job to watch a horror film)? & his love for Howard Stern (I’m guessing) is not much of a joy to read. He does think Paranormal Activity & its row of sequels are the pinnacle of modern horror, so I guess that says it all. Oh, and hokiest ending ever.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Right at the outset, the author admits that this is his attempt to write a Fargo Rock City for the horror genre. I think he succeeds to some extent - unfortunately, he doesn't have Klosterman's ability to find entertainment in the mundane details of his life and the decision to discuss "horror" broadly kind of weakens the impact (basically, it would be like if Fargo Rock City wasn't about '80s hair metal and instead attempted to discuss all of rock 'n roll). That being said, as a horror fan, it Right at the outset, the author admits that this is his attempt to write a Fargo Rock City for the horror genre. I think he succeeds to some extent - unfortunately, he doesn't have Klosterman's ability to find entertainment in the mundane details of his life and the decision to discuss "horror" broadly kind of weakens the impact (basically, it would be like if Fargo Rock City wasn't about '80s hair metal and instead attempted to discuss all of rock 'n roll). That being said, as a horror fan, it was definitely a fun read and I walked away with some movie ideas just based on the way that the author gushed over them, so obviously the effort worked to some extent.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    A fun, easy read for horror movie fans. It initially felt like Rockoff was going for a version of Stephen King's Danse Macabre, but for movies. The problem is that it didn't offer much in the way of analysis (either of Rockoff's personal life or the horror movie genre), and so can't get anywhere near the intellectual or personal insight of Danse Macabre. That said, if you're after a light read, there were some interesting tidbits for the casual fan. However, the bizarre anti-French rant near the A fun, easy read for horror movie fans. It initially felt like Rockoff was going for a version of Stephen King's Danse Macabre, but for movies. The problem is that it didn't offer much in the way of analysis (either of Rockoff's personal life or the horror movie genre), and so can't get anywhere near the intellectual or personal insight of Danse Macabre. That said, if you're after a light read, there were some interesting tidbits for the casual fan. However, the bizarre anti-French rant near the end came across as racist, and if it was meant to be funny – well, it wasn't.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mouse

    Blah Blah Blah Blah! This book has a pretentious air about it as the author spouts out facts that only he knows or cares about! I was so bored not even halfway through! It’s dense and all over the place! And even though some of the writing about his life was kind of funny... but let’s face it... we don’t care!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Burley

    2.5 stars. Rockoff is a funny writer and this is an easy, enjoyable read, but he's also a smug, douchebag who often got on my nerves with his self-satisfied, contrarian, opinions. So, a mixed bag.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Wood

    Rockoff strives for edge and humor with his blunt and contrarian views but he doesn't achieve it. A jumbled mess of horror observations, anecdotes, and opinions.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jackson

    I think what I liked most about this book was my ability to recognize a lot of the obscure movies Rockoff has seen, rather than the book itself. That said, there were still a ton I hadn't heard of, so this book is really only for horror fanatics. There wasn't anything revelatory in his writing, and though I sometimes disagreed with his tastes—Alien is boring? Scream sucks?—I found him to be quite funny and redeemable in his self deprecation. I appreciate that he tried to spend some time on horro I think what I liked most about this book was my ability to recognize a lot of the obscure movies Rockoff has seen, rather than the book itself. That said, there were still a ton I hadn't heard of, so this book is really only for horror fanatics. There wasn't anything revelatory in his writing, and though I sometimes disagreed with his tastes—Alien is boring? Scream sucks?—I found him to be quite funny and redeemable in his self deprecation. I appreciate that he tried to spend some time on horror in music (Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, The Misfits etc.) and in other mediums. More often than not, he would go on really long tangents, long enough that he might as well put the information in another chapter, but I could tell he was just really passionate about the subject. The most interesting chapter focuses on Roger Ebert's and Gene Siskel's crusade against horror movies (mostly slashers), and Rockoff does a great job defending the movies from their often overly-subjective and unfair reviews (while still loving Ebert and Siskel). I will always continue to rely on Ebert for trustful movie reviews he had written before his passing, but not when it comes to the horror genre. It is clear in his reviews that he conflates the genre itself with the few unsavory viewers who happen to be in the theater that day, though most true horror fans are not these people. Although Rockoff's book didn't enthrall me, I'm glad for the simple fact it exists. There aren't many books that explore the horror genre so deeply, and I'm thankful that horror continues to be such an explorative and groundbreaking genre.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nate

    As a functioning horror junkie myself (for the curious, I find being scared provides the same rush as other much more unhealthy addictions I’ve battled), this book is an absolute delight. Rockoff gets it. While this book isn’t a history of the horror genre, rather a history of Rockoff’s experience with the genre, it is surprisingly well researched, and whether or not you agree with some of his views (ahem, Alien is masterful), his arguments are presented in a form still open to (at least an iota As a functioning horror junkie myself (for the curious, I find being scared provides the same rush as other much more unhealthy addictions I’ve battled), this book is an absolute delight. Rockoff gets it. While this book isn’t a history of the horror genre, rather a history of Rockoff’s experience with the genre, it is surprisingly well researched, and whether or not you agree with some of his views (ahem, Alien is masterful), his arguments are presented in a form still open to (at least an iota of) discussion. Also, this book is just hilarious. His self-deprecating humor shines in all the right places and often led to awkward slightly-fibbed explanations of my laughter in the atrium of religious college. The only complaint against The Horror of It All is that I now have to delete a bunch of those pesky non-horror films in my Netflix queue to make room for those Rockoff mentioned that I haven’t yet seen. If you’re a horror buff or even a frequent memoir reader, check it out.

  25. 5 out of 5

    JL Shioshita

    I was enjoying the book up to a certain point. I did really like the chapter countering Siskel & Ebert's diatribe against horror films, specifically slashers, but after that the book stumbled all over the place, from chapter to chapter, no coherence or unifying thread to lead me along. I agree with other reviewers that Rockoff did come across as a bit bloated and pretentious. Also, not a lot was really said. It was a whole lot about nothing. I guess you'll either get his sense of humor and enjoy I was enjoying the book up to a certain point. I did really like the chapter countering Siskel & Ebert's diatribe against horror films, specifically slashers, but after that the book stumbled all over the place, from chapter to chapter, no coherence or unifying thread to lead me along. I agree with other reviewers that Rockoff did come across as a bit bloated and pretentious. Also, not a lot was really said. It was a whole lot about nothing. I guess you'll either get his sense of humor and enjoy his views, or find him annoying and snobbish...I guess I fell into the latter.

  26. 5 out of 5

    April Forsythe

    The premise of it is great, however, The Horror if it All is a compilation of essays about Rockoff’s grievances within the horror movie community. He takes critics of horror to task, which was a fun read, however, most of the chapters read like filler. There were so many tangents when they finally led to a point, you forgot that you were reading about horror movies. I couldn’t help but be bored for three quarters of it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Candice

    I spent most of this book wanting to put the book down to watch the films the author was talking about. I wish there was a list of the films mentioned at the back of the book, like a checklist.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Hall

    It’s no Danse Macabre, but Rockoff shares his views on the rich history of the horror genre, and why it has captivated and terrified audiences for generations. Definitely worth a read!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    A lot more references to pornography than I expected from a horror memoir, but I dug it just fine.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Horrorsage

    This man's life of falling in love with Horror Films almost mirrors my life. I disagree with some of his choices of great horror, but still a great read for any horror movie fan.

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