Necessary Death: What Horror Movies Teach Us About Navigating the Human Experience (Paperback)
Email or call for price
Based on very real and practical commentary, life experience, and occasionally, tongue-in-cheek-misfortunes of horror legends, Necessary Death explores how the horror genre, its motifs and characters, offer individuals a unique opportunity for insight and understanding of their own lives.
Necessary Death looks back on several iconic horror films and finds that maybe the genre wasn’t ever really just about men in hockey masks chasing good looking coeds through old dark houses. Even a cursory examination of the horror convention will reveal a plethora of stories from recovering addicts, survivors of trauma and sexual abuse, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and minorities. So what, then, can this genre so concerned with death teach us about being alive—and how can we apply those lessons in our day-to-day existence?
Using some of the most quintessential movies in the genre, Chris Grosso and Preston Fassel invite readers to an in-depth examination of the human condition—its fears, anxieties, hopes, joys, sorrows, and everything in-between—and how it’s all grist for our personal and collective evolutionary mill. A hallmark of the genre is how horror films force their characters to find some semblance of inner strength and wherewithal in order to stand up to the monster, ghost, or villain that is trying to take their lives. Through fascinating discussion of this and other elements, Fassel and Grosso relate these films’ dark subject matter and characters to real world issues people face every day, showing that there’s something deep within us that, if even just metaphorically, can relate to the pain in these stories. This sharp analysis is complimented by exercises that prompt readers to consider gratitude, forgiveness, determination, and bravery in the face of adversity.
An unusual mix of film study and self-help, Necessary Death might surprise or even shock readers, but it will also enlighten, educate, and most importantly hearten those looking for an unexpected source of inspiration.
About the Author
Preston Fassel is an award-winning novelist and journalist whose work has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue, and Screem Magazine. His debut novel, Our Lady of the Inferno, and debut novella, The Despicable Fantasies of Quentin Sergenov, each won the Independent Publisher’s Gold Medal for Horror in 2019 and 2022, respectively. His debut nonfiction book, Landis: The Story of a Real Man on 42nd Street, the first published biography of film critic and magazine founder Bill Landis, was nominated for the 2022 Rondo Hatton Award for Book of the Year. His second novel, Beasts of 42nd Street, will be published in March of 2023. He graduated Cum Laude from Sam Houston State University in 2011 with a BS in psychology.
Chris Grosso is an artist, counselor, writer, and film producer with fourth. MEDIA. He is the author of Indie Spiritualist, Everything Mind, Dead Set On Living, and the children’s book, I Love Drums (co-written with Mark O’Connell, drummer of Taking Back Sunday). You can usually find Chris somewhere in San Diego up to some kind of spirited mischief.
“Necessary Death is a handbook for dealing with our most primal and ultimate fear. Grosso and Fassel pull off the amazing feat of using horror films as a way of making peace with the reality of impermanence. This is a special book.” —Michael Imperioli, actor, writer and musician. (The Sopranos, The White Lotus, The Perfume Burned His Eyes, ZOPA)
“Necessary Death dares to take on the biggest of monsters…horror films and the human psyche. The fact that Chris Grosso and Preston Fassel have created a spiritual wellness narrative wherein horror film stories and plot lines are the lens for the reader to view this through is wickedly thought-provoking and its execution is masterfully spot on. They seamlessly prove that spirituality and wisdom can be found behind any veil, we just need to allow ourselves to be bold enough to pull that veil back and absorb it all. Prior to viewing any horror film from now on, I will always recall the nudge Necessary Death gave me to know there’s always more there than just the scare!” —Dan Cortese, actor & author of Step Off! My Journey from Mimbo to Manhood
“This is an absolutely unique look at not just horror movies, but mental health and wellness and how those seemingly disparate things connect. It’s a must read not just for horror movie fans, but lovers of cinema in general and anyone who has ever felt alone and in need of some friendly advice. I highly recommend and love seeing a former student excel as masterfully as has Preston Fassel.” —P.C. Cast, author of The House of Night series
"If you've ever wondered how Leatherface's collection of human-skin masks relates to Jungian ego death, your own sense of self, and the genuine benefits of loving-kindness meditation, Necessary Death is 100% the book for you. Never before has a book about such abject horrors been filled with such warmth and care — reading it is like sitting down with a couple of old horror obsessed friends who are equally happy to discuss brain eating zombies and the kind of trauma informed self-care practices one would need to employ after, well, surviving something like brain eating zombies. Entertaining, erudite, and all around lovely, Grosso and Fassel's ode to the beauties of both horror film and humanity is full of hard-fought wisdom, cool trivia, and damned good advice." —Jeremy Robert Johnson, author of The Loop
"If you thought horror was just about beasts, blood and violence, think again. Chris Grosso and Preston Fassel take us into the depths of the genre and show us how we can use it to help grow and shape our own lives. Could it be that these monsters actually make us more…human? Grosso and Fassel have such sights to show you.” —Ben Scrivens, owner and founder of Fright Rags
"Necessary Death is an airy deep dive into the psychological shadow self of classic and modern horror films. Chris Grasso and Preston Fassel take the reader on a thoughtful tour and a twist in approaching our beloved genre monsters." —Heather Drain, film critic and historian
“Analytical writing can often veer too far into cold, God’s eye clinical observations removing the reader’s ability to engage with the subject. In Necessary Death, Fassel and Grosso pull off a bit of otherworldly magic in bringing a deeply familiar humanity and effortlessly readable touch to life’s toughest subjects. As you breeze through passages on Candyman, Pennywise or Pinhead, before you know it, you’re packing away kernels of wonderful wisdom applicable to any challenge life throws at us. As someone who often finds themselves preferring to be alone, I didn’t realize how much I truly needed the chapter on Stephen King’s It and how it teaches us to reach out more—that being solitary can only get us so far. I found myself profoundly moved by the section in ways I wasn’t prepared for.”
—Brandon Streussnig, film critic, Secret Handshake Cinema podcast
“Horror wakes our inner shadow-man, that old archetype from fairy tales that haunts the psyche and reminds us that we all have one foot in the grave, that we are most alive when we tend a kinship with death…As the old Irish proverb goes, may you be in heaven an hour before the devil knows you're dead; horror films invite you to meet your monsters so you might stay one step ahead of them. To that end, if you're still breathing, Necessary Death is an essential addition to your library. Read it, and someday your ghost will thank you."
—Danielle Dulsky, author of Bones & Honey: A Heathen Prayer Book, The Holy Wild: A Heathen Bible for the Untamed Woman, The Sacred Hags Oracle, and founder of The Hag School
“Necessary Death doubles as a dual exploration of horror films and human psychology. Never thought you'd relate to the desperation of the mask-wearing Leatherface or get a life lesson from the troublesome shark from Jaws? Think again. It's a delightful (and thoughtful) read!”
—Daniel Dockery, author of Monster Kids: How Pokémon Taught a Generation to Catch Them All
"For anyone doing the work and wants to do it in the dark scared out of your wits, this book is for you. The teachings will surprise you, as will some things on the screen.” —Damien Echols, author of Life After Death, High Magick, and Ritual.