in Horror Book Reviews

American Gothic by Jonathan Rigby – Book Review

American Gothic by Jonathan Rigby

I have read some pretty good books on American horror movies in my time, but I have to say that American Gothic by Jonathan Rigby has got to be the best of them all, and that is certainly no exaggeration.

American Gothic: 60 Years of Horror Cinema is a weighty, highly informative and extremely engrossing tome that EVERY horror movie fan should have on their bookshelf. Mr Rigby certainly knows his stuff when it comes to putting together such gorgeous encyclopedic-like works as this, as every single page of American Gothic clearly bears out just how well researched this book is, and just how much the author loves the genre.

American Gothic covers, in wonderfully great detail, six decades of classic horror cinema. It chronicles the story of the Hollywood horror film from its 19th-century beginnings right through to the arrival of Vincent Price as a leading actor in such macabre classics as The Raven, The Fly and The House On Haunted Hill. These 60 years of iconic horror cinema encompass the shadowy, chilling scenes depicted in the productions of the silent movie era, the legendary successes of Universal, Warner Brothers and MGM in the early period of the talking pictures, the brilliant RKO thrillers of the 1940s, and the post-war boom in lurid science fiction tales and rampaging teenage monsters.

I especially love the way the book is so flawlessly set out, with chapter after chapter packed with well-detailed and plentiful text, interspersed with a variety of both black-and-white and colour photographs, many of which I have never seen before. As I devoured each chapter avidly, I found myself wallowing in the sheer nostalgia these pages evoked of when I used to stay up late as a kid and watch all these classic movies on my old black-and-white TV. Marvellous memories! You just couldn’t beat a classic monster movie screened late on a Monday or Friday evening, and starring such horror legends as Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr.

Another enjoyable, most interesting aspect of the book was the inclusion of many critical reviews of the movies when they were first released in the cinemas. I also loved the picture on the front cover of Bela Lugosi and his vampire bride. Brilliant stuff!

American Gothic really is an absolute treasure trove of a book, a well-written mine of information for anybody interested in the history of American horror cinema. It’s just an absolute joy to browse through, as there is so much to read and learn about here. So if you haven’t got a copy of American Gothic, then I would strongly recommend that you buy yourself one right now. Believe me, it will be money certainly well spent, as this masterpiece of a book really is worth every single penny.

Well done, Jonathan Rigby, for gifting us horror fans with such a highly entertaining, endlessly fascinating and stunningly beautiful book. And I certainly look forward to reading your other two, equally acclaimed, works in the Gothic trilogy: English Gothic and Euro Gothic.

You can buy American Gothic now by clicking on the book’s image link above this article.

Alan Toner