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Interview

Peter Normanton p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. Peter Normanton is a writer of fiction and the author of The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies, as well as the editor of The Mammoth Book of Horror Comics. This interview features some excellent reading tips for horror fiction.

For writers, reading Peter Normanton’s encyclopedic roundup of slasher movies from the past 60 years is almost as good as watching them. Writers could learn how hundreds of screenwriters created stories that hooked the reader in and skipped along nicely to a sometimes gruesome conclusion. These slasher movies were made to entertain, which is enough. They evoked a fun combination of fear and laughter. Mr Normanton found there were more than a thousand slasher movies worthy of mention in The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies, but he whittled it down to 250 entries in the A-Z reference section. This mainly focuses on the late 1970s to mid-1980s golden era of slasher and splatter movies, although classics from other eras are included. Basket Case, Halloween, and Friday the 13th are covered along with more obscure titles like Blood Cult, Blood Song, and Blood Feast. Mr Normanton writes about them with a humorous turn of phrase. eg. “By 1983 the microwave cooker was becoming increasingly popular in kitchens across the globe; it was only going to be a matter of time before the slasher and splatter generation included them on their inventory of murderous implements” (Microwave Massacre, 1983). Mr Normanton also pays attention to classic slasher movies from Japan, Italy, the Netherlands (Amsterdamned), not to mention a Cuban zombie movie. The book covers both supernatural and just plain evil characters. A great reference work for slasher movie fans and writers of any genre.

READERSVOICE.COM: The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies would be a good resource for writers, and not just people who wanted to write a slasher movie, so they could see what techniques to use, and what’s been done before. Did you have this audience in mind when writing the book?

PETER NORMANTON: The main intention of the book was to introduce younger slasher and splatter fans to the wealth of material from the 1970s and 1980s. Since first watching these films, from around 1980, I was intrigued by the factors which had led to what was then a new phenomenon. My initial notes for the book flow in a kind of chronology, trying to trace trends and developments over the passing years, but for the final version I chose to present the films alphabetically for ease of reference. I should say at this point the original title of the book was The Mammoth Book of Slasher and Splatter Movies, but late in the day the marketing people abbreviated the title to The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies. The result confused many readers and had them wondering if I actually knew what I was writing about, so with this in mind it would be immensely rewarding to think a future writer would use this book for reference.

RV: How are horror comics stories different from slasher and horror movies, apart from length?

PN: I still think the slasher film has the edge over the comic book due to the limitations of the comic’s format. As you turn the page you already have an idea as to what will happen due to the comic’s layout. However, the comic book has the capacity to dwell on certain key scenes, allowing the reader to focus on either a grisly or shocking moment. Most of the slasher comics I’ve come across are adaptations of films, so it is very difficult for them to bring anything new to the table. Nevertheless, it is difficult to resist them. Unless you have an extensive collection of music, it’s difficult to capture the atmosphere of the horror movie; music plays such an important part in these films. I’ve learned to treat these as two very different mediums.

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– copyright Simon Sandall

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