You can learn a lot about life from horror films. If you need proof, all you have to do is read the aptly-titled book of horror-inspired poems from Christoph Paul: HORROR FILM POEMS. Not only do these poems read like a love letter to the genre, taken as a whole, they provide insight to the hidden depth and value this often scoffed at artform provides, by using horror as a gateway not to Hell, but to reveal either the hidden or the obvious truths about life and existence we all-to-often take for granted. Just as in making a scary movie, the art is in knowing what not to show, a poem earns its merits by knowing what not to say, and Christoph proves his poetic chops time and time again here, by letting us fill in the blanks, disturbing our senses, and pointing out the beauty in the blood. As the final poem in the collection deftly states, “a poem reminds us that life is still worth living.”
There is a lot of loving detail on display in this collection. Each poem is prefaced with a cool sketch of a character from the film it is based upon. The title font on the cover itself references PSYCHO, one of the greatest films ever made, and a clinic filmmakers have emulated ever since on how to shock an audience. The table of contents reads like a horror fan’s laundry list of quintessential films and cult favorites that some would claim stand tantamount as cornerstones of Hollywood’s go-to cash cow genre. This is a collection that no horror-fan should live without.
While some of the shorter poems are my favorites here, due to their terse yet succinct and poignant layers of meaning, there are also great moments in many of the longer pieces. I love how Christoph finds a way to speak through different characters throughout, while maintaining a casual authenticity akin to the work’s original intent and resonance. Of course, there is blood. Of course, there is death. Of course, there is psychosis and gore on display. But that is the thrill isn’t it? Much like the Roman Coliseum, we come to see the guts spill, but know we are safe in our seats.
Still, it is very hard to single out the best work in this book, as there is so much to enjoy. I loved the whole thing. The lyric poems are haunting in their stark imagery. The humorous moments work their magic on the funny bone. Every poem is like visiting an old friend and noticing how they’ve changed over the years. All that being said, I really enjoyed “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “JAWS,” Blair Witch Project,” “Pumpkinhead,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and “Evil Dead,” which might also be my personal bias of my favorite horror films showing. The thing is though, I found something to love in nearly every poem in this book, and I’m sure any horror fan would do the same. So, I recommend you get a copy, and take this trip down Horror Nostalgia Lane.