Phil Hardy, who died on 8th April 2014, was a film and music industry writer. Born in Yorkshire in 1945, Hardy studied at the University of Sussex and the University of California, Berkeley. As a busy journalist he contributed to Variety, Time Out, and other magazines while acting as a consultant on music business issues and founding Music & Copyright, an influential industry publication.
His 1986 tome The Encyclopedia of Horror Movies (Harper Collins) covering nearly 1,300 films from across the globe, via 400 pages, with over 450 black and white, became a must-have for serious horror aficionados. But it was as editor of four encyclopaedia of films that Hardy is best remembered by genre fans. Beginning with westerns, then science fiction, horror and finally gangsters, these epic works provided new insights into many obscure movies.
Published in 1984, The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction, followed the history of the genre chronologically, from 1897 – 1983. Unlike the previous Westerns volume, silent genre titles are included, and even minor genre films are reviewed in the main text. Also unlike the first volume, Hardy mentions the names of the various critics who provided the reviews in the text, which in this book were Denis Gifford, Anthony Masters, Paul Taylor, and Paul Willemen. The Science Fiction volume included titles, such as the works of David Cronenberg, that many would have expected to be considered as being in a horror book, although films such as Shivers and Videodrome obviously fall within both genres.
Video Watchdog‘s Tim Lucas wrote of the first sci-fi edition that “no self-respecting film library should be without it”, noting that it was “particularly recommended for its coverage of the early silent trick films – perhaps the most complete document of its kind ever published.” An expanded second edition, longer by 62 pages, was published in 1995, with new entries on all films that had received a theatrical release through 1994.
Meanwhile, it was as the chief editor and contributing writer of the hugely influential The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror, Hardy will best be remembered by hardcore horror fans. Also published in 1984, the book provides a chronological history of the horror film since its inception in 1896 through 1983. Like the previous volumes, most theatrically released films, including those from the silent era, have entries. The horror volume is genuinely international in scope, providing coverage of all films from all countries that have ever produced a horror-related title. The contributors were Tom Milne, Paul Willemen, Julian Petley, and Tim Pulleine.
Tim Lucas has acclaimed the first horror edition as “the greatest and most influential of all books on the subject”. In a later review, he described the book as “an intoxicating road map to further study and the enthusiasms of its authors (…) planted the seeds for the rediscovery and reappraisal of such cinéastes as Jesús Franco, José Mojica Marins, Pupi Avati, and Jean Rollin… Hardy’s hefty tome redefined how horror cinema was perceived by its admirers more so than any other single work…”
An expanded second edition, nearly 90 pages longer, was published in 1993. Kim Newman wrote nearly all of the book’s new material. This second edition was reprinted in 1995. As an indication of their massive worth, all four volumes of Phil Hardy’s Aurum Encylcopedia (horror, westerns, science fiction and gangsters) have been published in the U.S. by The Overlook Press, with the same contents.
Horrorpedia salutes Phil Hardy’s huge contributions to our knowledge of films and music and we have to say that despite the wealth of information on the web we still consult his Aurum Encyclopedia books regularly for reference, opinionated prose and pure pleasure.