Book Review: Ad Nauseam is a Charming Trip Through Curated ’80s Horror Newsprint Ads

Like your favorite fright flick marathon, Michael Gingold’s Ad Nauseam: Newsprint Nightmares from the 1980s is a nostalgic trip through ’80s horror. The frightful twist? The perspective of the undead, provocative art of newsprint advertising.

Cataloging the likes of Halloween to its decade spanning (loose but indebted) predecessor Friday the 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan, Gingold curates the 80s horror boom with over 450 of his personal clippings acquired throughout his childhood. These well-known slasher movies make nice bookends, but Gingold’s celebration of promotional weirdness covers B-horror as obscure as Kung Fu HalloweenStudent Bodies and Night of the Bloody Apes. Gingold covers just about every obscure gem, major studio release and sequel released or redistributed within the decade. And, with the ad’s artful imagery and bold promises, invites the reader to be excited about each film. A testament to their strategic long-standing marketing prowess and macabre intrigue.

Many of the ad posting featured in Ad Nauseam are accompanied by snippets of reviews or complimentary insight and commentary. Some especially fun contextual moments highlight the adaptation of foreign films for the American market, as well as fruitless tagline promises. For instance: the misleading promise that Screamers would contain “men turned inside out!”  As Gingold notes, this wasn’t exactly the case.

Review snippets add an interesting retrospect to horror’s tumultuous history with critical reception. Many movies now considered classics were maligned at the time. A notable favorite: A review for The Thing detesting it as “foolish, depressing, overproduced…instant junk.” (I would love to hear Carpenters thoughts on that one.)

That being said, just about every ad is accompanied with the film’s show time listings local to New York. This fleshes out some additional world building to the horror infused 80s of Gingold’s childhood. These are his personal clippings, after all.

Capping off Ad Nauseam are an introduction by Gingold and closing “Art of the Sell” section. This section includes an interview with the Aquarius Releasing’s Terry Levene and his longtime artist Wayne S. Well. Due to their experience behind the scenes this makes for a captivating ending.

The Takeaway

Ultimately, as a genre fan it’s easy to fall in love with Ad Nauseam’s historical window through the weird, outlandish takes on promoting horror movies at their peak of popularity. Whether you’re flipping through for the visual feast of hundreds of old horror posters or for the history and nostalgia of physical media film promotion, it’s a delightful treat. Not to mention the inclusion of rare vintage ads you won’t see collected anywhere else.

Ad Nauseam is a breezy, coffee table read, sure. But to a careful reader this is also a crash course on film marketing and reception. This isn’t a straightforward lesson in marketing. However, there’s plenty of insight to be mined in Gingold’s careful and thoughtful curation. MM

Ad Nauseam: Newsprint Nightmares from the 1980s released October 9, 2018. Image Courtesy of Rue Morgue. 

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