The Book of Horror: The Anatomy of Fear in Film

Why This Look into Modern Horror is my First Recommended Read of 2022

To say I love horror films is an understatement. I love this genre more than what any sentence can describe. This passion is why when I found Matt Glasby’s 2020 book The Book of Horror: The Anatomy of Fear in Film on the shelf of my library, I wanted to read it. Now that I have, I’m more than happy to say this is my first recommended read of 2022.   

An Analysis into Horror Films of the Last 60 Years

As described in the sub-title, The Book of Horror is an analysis of selected horror films from over the last sixty years, from 1960 to 2020. This analysis includes an overview of the premise, a look into the themes of the stories and rates them through a list of different forms of horror. These forms do include: Grotesque, Uncanny, Dread and Dead Space. A scare rating is included too, to show the climaxes within the films, as well as some other similar films readers can check out.

The Book of Horror: The Anatomy of Fear in Film by Matt Glasby (2021) Front Cover

A book on horror films is as strong as the films discussed in it. The films discussed about in this collection are especially well selected. You won’t find horror hitters like A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) or 28 Days Later (2002) being discussed in here. Instead, you will find films like [rec] (2007), The Descent (2002)and Oculus (2013) being talked about. These are films that, to this day, still can bring a sense of dread and uneasiness to viewers. Yet, despite it featuring more obscure horror titles, classics like Psycho (1960), The Exorcist 1973) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) are analysed too. The reason behind this is because, according to the author, they remain unsettling and scary to this day.

A Well Written Look in Modern Horror

Perhaps what is as strong as the included films in The Book of Horror is its writing. The book is very well written and is engaging from start to finish. The writing isn’t at all like that of an academic piece and reads like an engaging film review. Yet, unlike a film review, it has all the complexities seen in academic readings. This makes the content far easier to digest and a wonderful journey through the book.   

A Personal Journey and Some Surprising Mentions

My journey with the horror genre is one of passion and intrigue. From a young age, I was fascinated by the horror movie, from Dawn of the Dead (2004 remake)to The Shining (1980). Horror movies and later fiction are one of the many reasons why I wanted to be a writer. They terrified me, which in turn, made me want to create my own stories to replicate that same feeling of dread. Reading The Book of Horror brought back memories from throughout my journey in horror and why I wanted to be a writer in the first place. It’s helped me further understand this genre, which I’ve strayed away from over the last few years, due to fear of being labelled as a ‘horror’ writer. Yet, by doing this, took me away from the core essence of why I got into writing.

What really stands out in this book though are the films discussed in it. The films discussed here are from many different countries outside the United States. What made me happy was the Australian films that made the cut: Wolf Creek (2005), Lake Mungo (2007) and The Babadook (2014). These films, in my opinion, showcase some of the best in horror movies outside of the United States. Other honourable mentions go to Thailand’s Shutter (2004), Spain’s The Orphanage (2007) and France/Canada’s Martyrs (2008). Reading about these movies has me wanting to watch them and understand what makes them scary.

A Well-Designed Book

I’ll break from my usual formula of book discussion by mentioning about how well designed this book is. This book comes with some really beautiful illustrations, which are done by Barney Bodoano. They evoke that sense of dread these movies create and by far are better inclusions than any posters or images from the films. The colours used throughout the book’s design too are effective and the way Further Viewings are displayed make them distinguishable from the main body of text. I would like to also mention to the paper quality. It’s weighty and allows the colours to pop, making this book feel even more special.

I wanted to talk about this as it really inspired my graphic design side while reading. Seeing it all set out the way it is reminds me why I love graphic design too. My experience with this book is now making me want to go and buy it, not only for its content, but for how well designed it is. There are few books that can hit that formula for me, and this book is one of them.


The Book of Horror is a must read for any horror film fan. It contains some of the best that the genre has to offer since 1960, accompanied by beautiful illustrations and effective writing. I also recommend this book to anyone who is eager to learn about horror, or who is new to film studies. If you’re not a horror fan, but are curious in horror narrative construction, this book is a recommended text as well. You won’t regret it.  


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