Shock Value

How did we get from Vincent Price and Boris Karloff to Saw VI? Film critic Jason Zinoman charts the evolution of old-school fright cinema into postmodern horror by focusing on the new wave of filmmakers who arrived in the 1970s, including Wes Craven and John Carpenter. As Hitchcockian subtlety gave way to splatterpunk gore, box office receipts bolstered the trend. But where this gruesome aesthetic ultimately leads, not even Zinoman can say. 

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…