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The slasher. It’s without a doubt the most critically maligned horror subgenre, yet it’s celebrated by die-hard fans around the world, devout followers who continually seek out films in which masked assailants carve their way through the teenage populace. Vince Liaguno (pictured), editor of the upcoming Dark Scribe Press book BUTCHER KNIVES & BODY COUNTS: ESSAYS ON THE FORMULA, FRIGHT, AND FUN OF THE SLASHER FILM, is one such devotee.
The book, set for publication this fall, is a collection of critical analyses of the slasher genre by over 70 big names in the business. In short, it’s a collection for fans, by fans—and as it turns out, its creation was inspired by a familiar magazine. “I largely blame FANGORIA,” Liaguno tells us. “Some of my best memories growing up in the ’80s were watching slasher films with my dad, then rushing out to pick up the latest issue of Fango and marveling over the elaborate, multipage spread it would give some low-budget Canadian flick—coverage that belied both the film’s cost and—often—artistry.
“My love of the formula and fun of the subgenre stayed with me through adulthood,” he continues, “and my first novel [THE LITERARY SIX] was a literary tribute to the films I had grown up loving—essentially a slasher movie in print. When my author blog, Slasher Speak, launched, I found that everyone had a memory, an opinion, a theory about these films. The idea to collect those thoughts and critical examinations into a book was simply the natural extension of my experiences with and within the form.“
So began the call for submissions, and while Liaguno expected a positive response, he found himself unprepared for the tidal wave of queries from people begging to write for the book. “We received hundreds of submissions—from bloggers to professional authors, from filmmakers to actors,” he says. “There are so many loyal enthusiasts of the slasher film out there, and all of them have something to say.” But just who did he end up including? “We’ve got everyone from author Jack Ketchum [OFF SEASON] and director Adam Green [HATCHET, FROZEN] to actress Harley Jane Kozak [from the original HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW]. We’re also honored to have FANGORIA’s editor emeritus, Tony Timpone [supplying an afterword], and we’re thrilled that Adam Rockoff, author of the seminal slasher book GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM, contributed the foreword.”
The diversity of authors extends to the topics covered in BUTCHER KNIVES & BODY COUNTS as well. “The mix is amazingly varied and very wide-reaching,” Liaguno reveals. “There are some 70-odd essays in the collection, with the bulk being on individual films—everything from the 1930s through to the present. We’ve also got some terrific themed pieces covering video games, novelizations, soundtracks and even some interactive trivia. There is literally something for everyone in here—from the casual filmgoer who has fond memories of one of the more prominent movies of their childhood to the die-hard fan who can recite every word of dialogue from all 12 FRIDAY THE 13TH films!“
With this massive compilation ready to hit shelves, Liaguno is plunging into follow-up projects. “I’ll be doing another volume of our Bram Stoker Award-winning UNSPEAKABLE HORROR anthology with Chad Helder,” says the publisher/author/editor. “UNSPEAKABLE HORROR 2: ABOMINATIONS OF DESIRE will explore the force of physical appetite and emotional need, tales that explore the strong, envious longing for the unattainable.” And he’s not through with the stalk-and-kill genre: “I’m also at work on a novel called FINAL GIRL, in which a criminal psychologist, a gay film historian and a cub reporter join forces to stop a serial killer murdering former scream queens in elaborate recreations of murder setpieces from classic slasher films.”
BUTCHER KNIVES & BODY COUNTS will be available in the fall from major retailers and on-line stores for $19.95; for more information, keep an eye on the Dark Scribe website here. For more on Liaguno, click here.
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