Nightmare USA

exploitationNightmare U.S.A. The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents” is an invaluable textbook that explores Independent horror films from 1970- 1985.

Written by Stephen Thrower, this is a bible for the midnight movie lovers. Choosing several directors and films that he feels best represent the genre, Thrower’s book is a well-detailed account that not only includes his in-depth analyses of the movies, but also first-hand accounts from the people that made them. It took him several years to perform the research for this book and this is made apparent in his scholarly approach to movies that are often looked down upon.

Thrower breaks the lengthy book into three sections. The first is a detailed essay on the underground horror independents and explains some of the highlights and low points. It even examines pictures (”Forced Entry,” “Hardgore”) that pushed the genres into depraved oddities of violence and sex. Section two consists of several chapters devoted to specific movies, their history and interviews with the directors and or the producers. Section three includes brief reviews and interviews for over 100 films, from “The Alchemist” to “The Witch Who Came from the Sea.”

It is a worthwhile read that leaves no lingering questions about the making of some of these films. The directors of these pictures simply relish in recounting the tales of the production of, for most of them, their only attempt to break into Hollywood. Their tales are relatable to anyone with a dream of making a movie someday and how these hardships never kept them down. It is great that their stories are finally told.

The funny thing is that while reading these accounts, you remember that their basic dream was to make a movie about a raving lunatic in the city or the woods. Sure, first-hand accounts are great, but what about the films in the book? “Nightmare” is the good, bad and ugly account of horror films.

Even if you don’t necessarily agree with Thrower’s review, he makes a well-documented argument as to why the movie is relevant. That is made clear in the first chapter, which details “Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone” and makes it sound so much better than the actual experience of sitting through it. This is especially true when we hear first-hand from James Bryant (”The Executioner Part 2.” There was no “Executioner” part one by the way.) about what it was like to direct the production.

But don’t let that chapter turn you off. The chapters to come will teach you about many great horror films that you may never have heard of including, “The Centerfold Girls,” “Don’t Go in the House,” “Fight for Your Life,” “The Strangeness,” “The Child,” “Schoolgirls in Chains” and “Death Bed: The Bed that Eats.”

Section three even covers some great films including “Boarding House” (Featuring an interview with director John Wintergate) and “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death.” Some other movies chosen for this chapter are considered not worthwhile by Thrower, so their inclusion is puzzling.

Time and time again, studies are done on some of the great and historical films of our time, but Thrower has jumped into waters that no one else has dared to tread and creates a new perspective for movie lovers. The retail price maybe considerably high, as it runs for close to 60 dollars on Amazon.com, but for hardcore movie aficionados, it’s a purchase you won’t not be sorry that you made.

The end of the book has an ad for Volume 2 with a listing of what films he will cover. However, that book has no set release date as of now.

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17 Responses to “ Nightmare USA ”

  1. I WANT THIS BOOK BUT NOT FOR 60, ILL PAY 20 MAX

  2. hmmp this book sounds intresting. 60 bucks is a bit much tho…i see if i can get the boot-leg of it

  3. I always thought The Executioner Part II was trying to play off of The Executioner (1978) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077525/), although they are unrelated in plot and production.

  4. I love this book. The photos and poster art alone make it worthwhile. Thrower, though, has done an amazing job cataloging and reporting on the making of these films, while bringing some overlooked must-sees to light. Almost as important, he has managed to capture a time in filmmaking and distribution that is all but dead now. For my money, this is one of the essential books written about horror films and independent movie making. “The Eyeball Compendium”, edited and co-written by Thrower, is just as good. Personally, I’d love to get my hands on his tome about Fulci, “Beyond Terror, but as an OOP publication, its currently going for big bucks. Indispensable.

  5. You can find it on Ebay for $50. But it definitely is worth the price tag. Its the size of a college textbook filled to the brim obscure movie goodness.

    I can’t wait for Volume 2!

  6. I downloaded this, there’s no way I was going to pay that much for a book. I appreciate all the effort that the author did, but the price is just too much. I wouldn’t have bought it, so they aren’t losing any money from me

  7. I have both this book and Thrower’s book on Fulci “Beyond Terror” and I’m utterly amazed at what is put together by him. I got this as a gift when it had been on sale for like, $40 and I think it’s worth it all.

  8. Got my copy yesterday, from Amazon.

    Here’s the thing: it’s the HARDCOVER version that’s $60.00. Amazon sells the paperback version, which goes for forty bucks–that’s what I have.

    If you simply MUST have it in hardcover–and that’s not exactly life-and-death for me–you can get it from Barnes & Noble or straight from the publisher.

  9. Hi there,

    I’m Stephen Thrower, the author of Nightmare USA. Thank-you for the kind words and positive opinions (and big thanks to Anthony Benedetto – your glowing review made my day!) I’m thrilled that the book is so popular. It took five years to write so I had plenty of time to worry that it might fail. Perhaps readers would find the films too obscure? Maybe no one would give a damn about oddities like Boardinghouse or Death Bed or Centerfold Girls? Thankfully, I needn’t have worried!

    For those who feel that sixty bucks is too much to pay, check out the paperback version, currently priced by Amazon.com at $37.77 with free shipping. Bear in mind that this is a 512-page large format book with illustrations on pretty much every page, produced by a small independent company to a very high printing standard. The price reflects an enormous amount of hard work by myself and Harvey Fenton/FAB Press. As far as I’m aware, no one who’s bought the book has complained that it fails to deliver value for money. Hopefully the paperback price will alleviate any lingering anxieties about pricing.

    Thanks again, and great site guys,

    Steve Thrower

  10. I should be getting this book in the mail this week! I can’t wait!

  11. Been on my Amazon wishlist for ever.

    FAB press has other cool trash/genre books coming up too right?

  12. Part One of my Interview with Thrower was posted today, so click my name to be taken right to it.

  13. We got to go to another site to read it?? What a rip off!!

  14. That’s a crap way to justify an illegal download. ‘I wouldn’t have bought it, so they aren’t losing any money from me.’ If you wouldn’t have bought it why bother downloading it then? Obviously you weren’t that bothered to begin with.

    I bought it for £20 and it was worth every penny!

  15. Does anyone know the films that the book studies? Can anyone make a small list of them?

  16. This book is the best book on exploitation horror ever written. I cannot wait for Volume 2. Worth well over $70.00!

  17. I have read Nightmare USA and it is exhaustive work and a must have for any fan of horror and exploitation cinema. I was extremely pleased with the in depth look at a personal favorite of mine: I Drink Your Blood which I saw a a drive-in many years ago. To have an interview with a main character from the film made me quite happy. The best part of the book is finding obscure films that after reading about you must locate by any means necessary. I can’t wait for Nightmare USA 2. Props to Mr. Thrower!

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