It's not until Skal reaches the 1960s, though, that the book really loses the plot. He abandons his almost strictly chronlogical approach for one that bounces erratically back and forth between the 60s, 70s, and 80s, nominally in an attempt to point out more of the underlying tropes which he had previously pinpointed quite well. This time, however, all he really manages is a cogent summary of the birth-trauma cycle that began with Rosemary's Baby, included much of David Cronenberg's work, and reached its apotheosis with Alien and Eraserhead. Even there he's sloppy, not even bothering to mention The Omen and perfunctorily shoehorning the complex issues of The Exorcist into a two-or-three-graf subsection. The slasher cycle is hardly mentioned, excised in favor of exploring the real-life subculture that's as fixated on Dracula as Skal seems to be and launching into a condescending analysis of the work of Stephen King and Bret Easton Ellis. The seismic, seminal King Kong, Psycho, and The Exorcist are inarguably three of the most important horror films of the 20th Century, yet a gossipy chronicle of the life and times of Maila Nurmi, better known as the schlocky-sexy 1950s TV personality Vampira, takes up twice the space in the book of those three films combined. As if that weren't unforgivable enough, films like Night of the Living Dead, the Hammer horror pictures, Kubrick's The Shining, and (the vastly overrated but still important) A Nightmare on Elm Street (as well as its sequels) are barely mentioned, while an almost comically wide range of key films from Metropolis to M to the Creature from the Black Lagoon to Peeping Tom to The Birds to the Italian gialli directors to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre to Jaws to Halloween to the Friday the 13th series to Aliens aren't even discussed at all! And this is to say nothing of movies that, while not horror per se, helped pave the way for the increased viscerality and intensity of modern horror: You'll find bupkis about Tittitcut Follies, Bonnie & Clyde, The Wild Bunch, A Clockwork Orange, Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, Pulp Fiction, Saving Private Ryan, etc.; Un Chien Andalou and Fellini Satyricon get one-line throwaway mentions. Even contemporary horror's real-life analogues--the modern-day media superstars known as serial killers--go undiscussed; Gacy and Dahmer are mentioned in passing, Manson, Whitman, Speck, Ramirez, Fish, and the Stranglers Hillside and Boston not at all. The JFK assassination is also glossed over, nearly unforgivable given that the Zapruder film could well be seen as the most popular splatter flick of all time. As for the horror-genre influence on the work of the 1970s young bucks like Lucas and Scorsese, fugghedaboudit; the closest you'll come is a recounting of Coppola's over-ambitious Dracula remake and an anecdote from Steven Spielberg about how he used to love reading Famous Monsters of Filmland.
"A sinister cabal of superior writers."