REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books

‘How to Survive a Horror Movie’ By Seth Grahame-Smith, Illus., Quirk Books, paperback, 176 pages, 2019, $14.99


Telltale signs fester everywhere with the approach of Ridge Writers’ Edgar Allan Poe Tea, My Enchanted Cottage’s Witches & Warlock Tea, and the spooky certainty that we ought not accept invitations to tea of any description from disemboweled ghouls bent on drawing us into Victorian crypts. Fortunately, New York Times bestselling author (“Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies”), screenwriter (“Dark Shadows”), and producer (“It”) Seth Grahame-Smith has written a book to prepare you for the season. In fact, it came out in 2007 with a foreword by Wes Craven, but now Quirk has brought out a new edition with more movies referenced and added all-important tips.

“How to Survive a Murder Movie” starts with the key premise that perhaps you’ve walked into a horror movie and worse, never left it. How can you tell? Smith offers hints such as “take a look around.” You may have a problem if everything seems grainy or poorly lit. From this point, gleaning warnings from frightening flicks, he suggests 10 places to never, ever go, among them “summer camps whose annual counselor murder rate exceeds 10,” “any log cabin anywhere on the face of the earth” and “Maine.”

He considers how to prevail against multiple situations: a horror movie high school, a haunted house, a killer doll, aliens, witches, ghosts, vampires and zombies. He includes helpful guidance regarding “poor career choices for horror movie characters” (a job that requires you to dig graves, polar scientist, security guard and more). He goes on to arm your arsenal of tricks with “how to stay awake for a week and “how to tell if you’ve been dead since the beginning of the movie.”

Smith concludes with pithy reviews of classic films in the genre, for example, “’Dawn of the Dead’ (1978) —What has a more painful bite, the zombies or the social commentary? George A. Romero skewers American consumerism (and several characters) in this scary, funny, gory, satirical, sort-of sequel to ‘Night of the Living Dead,” “’The Sixth Sense’ (1999) — The movie that made Shyamalan a verb,” and “’The Shining’ (1980) — The best movie ever made? Or merely the best horror movie ever made? A question for the ages.”

Do you wonder how you will react to “How to

Survive…”? Quite simply, you will howl.

This monthly column is written by members of Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Thursday evening of each month at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church and free programs are offered throughout the year. Ridge Writers’ book “Planet Mojave: Visions From a World Apart” is available at the Historic USO Building, Jawbone Canyon, the Maturango Museum, and Red Rock Books.

Story First Published: 2019-10-18