It’s become commonplace for an actor to write a tell-all autobiography once they become famous enough and decide they have enough interesting stories in their life to warrant one. Horror stars are a little different as most of them are not household names to anyone outside the genre fan community. As such, their books are written to cater more to their fan base.
But it’s not always autobiographies that horror actors go on to write. Some of them actually transitioned into successful writing careers and the books they’ve written may surprise you. Some went to nonfiction, others to fiction, and both proved to yield fascinating results. It’s not entirely surprising. Writing and acting are quite similar. Both require research and both require the individual to become a character, step into their shoes and their world. Both processes are an effective balance of fiction and nonfiction. Read on for some of the most noteworthy literary efforts from your favorite horror stars.
Unmasked by Kane Hodder
Kane Hodder is best known for his role as Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th VII-X and his turn as Victor Crowley in the Hatchet films. His book covers both of those eras. But it also goes into a lot more. His autobiography spans the length of his entire career, including a lot of interesting details about stunt work and life as a stunt actor. The major draw, though, is that Hodder uses the book to finally explain the stunt that went wrong—an accident responsible for the burns that cover most of his body—with brutal honesty. Definitely worth checking out for people who want to see another side of Jason Voorhees.
What Monsters Do, like Vince’s previous collection, Other People’s Darkness, is a great set of psychological horror stories. Best known for his portrayal of the Chatterer in Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II, he also featured as Kinski in Barker’s second directorial feature, Nightbreed. In addition, he wrote for both the Hellraiser and Nightbreed comic book series, but it’s in his original collections that his work really shines.
Vince isn’t the only Cenobite to take to writing. In fact, of the quartet, Simon Bamford would be the odd man out. Wilde is a great horror writer. Her story “Sister Cilice” was the best of the Hellraiser-themed Hellbound Hearts collection, and her short story “Polyp” was a standout of The Mammoth Book of Body Horror. Her novel The Venus Complex is an impressive work of psychological horror that really sticks with you after it’s done.
Doug Bradley, Pinhead himself of the Hellraiser films, did not take the expected route with Behind the Mask. It’s not an autobiography as the title may suggest. Instead, it is a thought-provoking and incredibly well-researched history of masked actors and horror actors in general. It chronicles everything from the Ancient Greek theatre performers to Lon Chaney, all the way down to Pinhead and Freddy and the like. It is appropriately peppered with personal anecdotes, but is first and foremost a superbly conducted study on masks and the men who wear them.
Islands at the Edge of Time is a nonfiction book by Gunnar Hansen about America’s Barrier Islands, which range from the coast of Texas to North Carolina. It’s a contemplative book that shows the naturalist side of the man best known for his portrayal of Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. He also goes into detail about what life is like for the isolated people who live on these islands. It’s an interesting read. Hansen is also an accomplished poet and has recently written something more fan-oriented, a shockingly insightful book about the making of his most famous movie, Chain Saw Confidential.
His autobiography If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor is a little more famous, but the total absurdity of his fake memoir Make Love the Bruce Campbell is really something that has to be read to be believed. It reads like a zany comedy that could never be made, Campbell’s trademark wit is in full effect, but at the same time it actually says a lot about the relationship between A-Movies and B-Movies and the way smaller genre films are perceived by the larger Hollywood industry.
Anyone who has seen him in an interview or has talked to him at a convention knows that Robert Englund is a natural storyteller. He has anecdotes for just about any situation that he always seems eager to tell. And that makes him the perfect candidate out of any of his contemporaries for a full-blown autobiography. He covers anything you can think of, from what got him into acting through his tenure as Freddy Krueger, plus his one and only directorial feature, 976-EVIL and tons more. It’s an enlightening book, just as down-to-earth and conversational as the man himself.