With the recent publication of horror reference book Hidden Horror—which I had a hand in writing—I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at some of the horror reference books that have served me well over the years, starting with this indispensable and monumental guide: The Aurum Encyclopedia of Horror, edited by Phil Hardy.
The Aurum Film Encyclopedias were as pricey as they were hefty, but well worth the investment, each book providing an unparalleled study of that respective volume's genre. Before the advent of the internet, these mighty tomes provided the best way to develop an exhaustive knowledge of a particular genre of film; eager to learn all I could about scary films, The Aurum Horror Encyclopedia became my bible, the book covering a vast range of movies, each with a concise synopsis, review, and details on cast and crew.
Regularly thumbed for over twenty years, my second edition (published in 1993) has become tatty and dog-eared, the cover ripped and creased, the spine now held together by parcel tape. Much of the information the book offers is now readily available on the internet, and yet I still return to its pages on a regular basis, often to simply save turning on my computer, but also to continue a personal challenge: to underline every film I watch with the aim of completing at least one entire decade.
Needless to say, with such a comprehensive book, I still have a way to go.
Essentiality rating: 10/10
Comprehensiveness: 9/10 — a few missing titles, mostly indie horrors, but still one of the best for obscure films. Shame there was never another edition.
Pretentiousness: 7/10 — some of the writers tend to over-intellectualise matters.
Pics: Black and white on most pages, but there is a nice 16-page colour section in the middle.