BOOK REVIEW: Horror Film Poems by Christoph Paul

Horror film poems

As the title implies, this is a collection of poems based on horror films. They cover classic films from Friday the 13th to contemporary films like The VVitch. Each of the poems is illustrated by Joel Amat Guell.

“I don’t know…maybe a poem is just a
Twinkie in words. That in a fucked up
world of horrors that barely makes
any sense, a Twinkie or a poem reminds us
that life is still worth living.”

The poems fall under a wide range of styles. The above quote is from the poem “Zombieland,” a metafictional poem. It’s the final poem in the book and serves an excellent thesis statement for the collection. Another poem in this vein is “Misery,” written as a letter from an obsessed fan to Christoph Paul himself.

“I’ve been your biggest fan
Since you published
The Passion of the Christoph.

I even copy and pasted
Your old blog posts
Into a special word doc.”

Several of the poems take a humorous tone, such as the poem “Blacula” and “Krampus.” The former is written as lyrics to a funk song and the latter a parody of “Here Comes Santa Claus.” It makes for an entertaining read.

“Krampus knows we’re God’s lost children
And laughs when we all die.
So fill your throats with tasty eggnog
Cause Krampus is coming tonight.”

While most of the humor in the book is very dark, it reaches the apex early in the “American Psycho” poem. While these poems are based on films, this one reminded me more of Bret Easton Ellis’s book and it captures the style of it well.

“For a cocaine user
She is very silent
Which is quite the plus.

I take her home and smash an 81′
Chardonnay across her head.”

Not every poem here is humorous. For example, the first poem in the book is “Alien” which takes the perspective of the ship’s computer in the movie. It analyzes the damage the Xenomorph is doing to the ship and realizes that it must be causing horrible pain to the human passengers.

“fatal acidic properties
make my circuits
shorten and spark.”

Several of the poems are more about the themes of the films rather than about the characters or the plots. “A Serbian Film” is about the extreme pessimism of the film with abstract references to scenes in the movie. There’s a guest poem here by Leza Cantoral, “I Spit On Your Grave,” which does the same. Appropriately, these are the most disturbing poems in the book.

“The girls know
The sun is inside them.

They want you to come and get it.”

There are a couple concrete poems here as well. I’ve never been a fan of concrete poetry, but the poem “Blair Witch” is well done. The text is cleverly arranged to resemble the iconic stick figure doll. It took me a moment to figure out the meaning, but the way the text is arranged does make sense when read correctly. The “Videodrome” poem, however, I found uninteresting. It simply reads, “Long live the new flesh” and the arrangement of the text does nothing to enhance it.

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