Book Review – Teenage Wasteland: The Slasher Movie Uncut

The history of our beloved genre has been amassed into one essential tome by J.A. Kerswell, founder of the terrific Hysteria Lives! website. Clocking in at 208 pages and published by New Holland Publishers, Teenage Wasteland is a fast, entertaining and informative read. Kerswell traces the evolution of the slasher flick beginning with the Grand Guigol in France (crowd-pleasing theatre that featured bloody effects and sadistic plotlines), stops by Hitchcock’s groundbreaking Psycho before moving on to the German (Krimi) and Italian (Giallo) thrillers of the 60’s and 70’s, detours into grindhouse and drive-in flicks, and then gets to the meat of the matter with the true birth of the slasher film – John Carpenter’s genre-defining Halloween.

Kerswell explores the slasher move explosion that followed in Michael Myers’ wake during its “Golden Age” from 1978 through 1984, but he doesn’t stop there. Looking at slasher flicks from around the world, direct-to-video DIY jobs, contemporary stabs at the genre, as well as reboots, remakes and reimaginings, he’s also thought to include a glossary of slasher terms, movie body counts, box office receipts, reviews of key slasher movies, and a list of recommended reading and websites (including – yay for us!).

Teenage Wasteland is written with a fan’s love of the genre and an obsessive’s knowledge. Kerswell certainly knows his stuff, and he happily doesn’t fall into the trap of blindly praising a movie just because it features a knife-wielding killer and a Final Girl. As a slasher fan, this book is a pleasure to read, and the colourful and perfectly appropriate eye-catching design is an added bonus that encourages the reader to linger over almost every single page.

Teenage Wasteland is a welcome addition to the list of essential books about horror movies that includes Michael Weldon’s Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, John McCarty’s Official Splatter Movie Guide and Stephen Thrower’s Nightmare U.S.A., and it’s the best resource book slasher fans can get their bloody hands on. If you’re lurking on this website, you’re obviously a slasher fan… Why don’t you have this book? Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself trying to source movies like Room 13 and Fright after you’ve been though its pages.

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About the Author

A Writer/Project Manager at Graphcom Group (an advertising agency) by day, and a freelancer at night, I’ve written, mainly about movies, for Retro, The Buzz, Rue Morgue, and Cathay Pacific’s in-flight entertainment magazine Studio CX. I’m a grad of Humber College’s (Toronto) Film & TV Production program, and I’ve directed and co-written short films, one of which (Florid) won the Viewer’s Choice Award at the 2004 Reel Island Film Festival. I’ve been heard as a movie reviewer and pop culture commentator on CBC Radio, and I’ve edited and contributed scripts and ideas to television productions including My Messy Bedroom and Thrill on the Hill (CBC-TV’s Canada Day Celebration). My movie review cartoon strip And Yet I Blame Hollywood was adapted and animated as 26 two-minute television interstitials for CBC-TV’s late night program ZeD, and I wrote every single stinkin’ last episode.

6 Responses to “ Book Review – Teenage Wasteland: The Slasher Movie Uncut ”

  1. This should be arriving in the mail in the next 5 days. I can’t wait!

  2. I cannot get enough of this book. It deserves to be on every bookshelf, bedside and spooky woodland camping trip.

  3. I wanna get it real bad.

  4. A great read, add this one to your Horror book’s a must for all slasher fans world over!!!!

  5. If it didn’t review non horror movies like “Scream” and “I know What You Did Last Summer” I’d buy it. As it stands, sadly I won’t.

  6. Last time I checked, those were both horror movies.

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