An interesting and insightful examination of the horror genre itself, Beyond Fear: Reflections on Stephen King, Wes Craven, and George Romero’s Living Dead is an ambitious historical textbook of the visionaries who created the most memorable nightmares in our society . This is a great follow-up from the creative co-writer of the epic comic masterpiece, “To Hell You Ride.” This is the book you want to read in the middle of the night.
Written By: Joseph Maddrey
Cover By: Tom Mandrake
Publisher: Bear Manor Media
Release: July 10, 2013
Review by Jorge Solis
No one can deny that the three masters of horror, George Romero, Wes Craven, and Stephen King, are responsible for making the genre what it is today. Through interviews, critical analysis, and in-depth research, we discover what made their nightmarish works a living legend. How did “Night of the Living Dead” become a staple in the zombie norm? What was it about Craven’s sense of spirituality that inspired the resurrection of child-killer Fred Krueger? Why are King’s ordinary characters revered so much by many readers? Maddrey asks these questions and finds his answers through his cinematic breakdown.
What’s really impressive about Maddrey’s writing is how he makes you, the reader, feel for the material. I’m not a huge fan of King’s “Danse Macabre” but I have a better appreciation of the nonfiction book because of Maddrey’s well-developed viewpoints. I was able to see “Danse Macabre” through different eyes because of the evaluation. As the text continues, there is such an underlining passion about each of the three subjects being critiqued.
Just like the events in “To Hell You Ride” were a metaphor to Hurricane Katrina and post 9/11 mentality, Maddrey’s analysis comes from a historical viewpoint. The ’60s were a major influence on Romero when he was starting his first “Living Dead” film. You have to understand more about art house cinema before realizing their significance on Craven’s “Last House on the Left.” I have a better understanding of what it takes for a filmmaker, through their social class and economic standpoint, to make their dark vision come true. You’ll notice that with the first draft of Romero’s “Day of the Dead.”
Saving the best for last, Maddrey dissects King’s growing line of successful books. Each novel gets a spotlight, even the more recent ones. Our author hits on the right spots, discussing the political overtones of “Under The Dome.” I never knew there was connection between Paul Edgecomb of the “Green Mile,” to Johnny Marinville in “The Regulators.” The short story, “Rage,” which is about a school shooting, is even more relevant because of Maddrey’s introspection.
I am such a huge fan of Tom Mandrake’s artwork in “To Hell You Ride.” To see Mandrake’s gritty illustration again on the cover is so worthwhile. This is another reason why you should buy the “Beyond Fear” book.
Readers will definitely have a lot of fun going their favorite subjects in “Beyond Fear: Reflections on Stephen King, Wes Craven, and George Romero’s Living Dead.” I even found myself rereading Craven’s sections the most in the book.