Review: Ad Nauseam: Newsprint Nightmares of the 1980s by Michael Gingold

This book is everything I could dream of in a book like this. Now that I’ve said that, you can consider everything I have to say next filler.

Actually that’s not that really that simple. The truth is there are a lot of books on b-movies and horror that are dreadful. For every John Kenneth Muir guide you have a wall of snark. So many books almost feel like places for the writer to make the leap to fame instead of good reference. It’s easy to imagine the bad version of this book. So let’s discuss why this book is definitive.

First off, it’s shocking it took until 2018 for this book to exist. A complete compendium of horror newspaper ads from the 1980s cries out to be found. This was such fertile ground after all. If you’re at newspapers.com you can find such curated sets. But a physical volume makes sense. So it’s definitely filling a niche.

And this is as high tier as it gets. This is a physically stunning book. It’s been extremely well crafted with a solid binding and smooth paper. Printing is high grade. All the ads are scanned in high resolution and it’s obvious this collection Gingold kept was well preserved. This is after all his personal file. And it is a true reference quality guide.

But of course what counts is the caliber of what he had. He was in New Jersey so he had access to the biggest grindhouse market in the nation and this is pretty complete. The most notable omission is Pumpkinhead which didn’t play in the market but otherwise this is more than all you’d expect. You’ll find a wealth of ads you never knew existed.

These provide such a fascinating journey. As the decade evolves the ads get slicker. At first you’ll see a lot of grimy ads that don’t really look vaguely appealing and often lie. Yet as the book ends, there’s a gloss, a prestige. And it’s not lost on me that horror will vanish into the ether the next year. Things were so bad in the 1990s Gingold’s second volume includes the 2000s. Perusing this book is to see a genre price itself to death. It reemerged but the B-movie died.

The book does have bonus material. There’s critical quotes for the premiere titles including one by my former coworker Eric Harrison. There’s the occasional comment on ads that to be blunt lied like a dog. Every so often gimmicks are cited. But the book knows its bread and butter. It’s mainly vintage ads and it glows for it.

Ad Nauseam is available from Amazon and directly from the publisher. I can’t imagine a better item for horror fans.

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