This is an incredible book, well worth your time and money, especially if you’re a fan of the literary horrors, especially those with fantastic cover artwork at a time when it matters, and not the glossy redone versions nowadays. Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix, published by Quirk Books ventures through the archives when these books dominated bookstores and even drugstores, now lost to time, awaiting rediscovery at used bookshops and eBay stores. It harkens back to a time never to surface again, and while delivering some decent humor in the writing it serves more as a reference book, and a checklist for any fan of horror. In fact, the book went on to earn the legendary Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction at the StokerCon held at the Biltmore Hotel in Providence, RI, congratulations to Grady Hendrix!
As one reads through the 256 pages, they’ll learn about the crazy children, some from the fiery depths of hell, other maniacs wielding knives, creating shocking tales, living out nightmares at haunted houses, castles, cars, while strolling through woods and then into a graveyard. Fret not, the devil worship continues as the creepy crawlers await to feed on the flesh gulping down blood of the innocent, and a skeleton workforce looks on from your torment with glee, and this is just a summary of the horror covers awaiting in this book. Assisting Grady in this book was Will Errickson who runs and owns the popular blog Too Much Horror Fiction. The book debuted at #1 Best Seller in Horror & Supernatural Literary Criticism in September 2017 and as this publication now sits at #13.
The book also notes the history of the genre, from the rise to the decline, when stores really flourished and a horror section existed to a time when thriller replace the word on the spines, and airbrushing sanitized images gloss the covers now. While most readers over 40-years of age likely recall novels like those mentioned others will find pleasure in those sought in reference by the favorite writers Campbell and Herbert, directors and films, such as The Omen, The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror II, Rosemary’s Baby and many other b-movies .
I read this book intently, and looked at the original sickening covers, I would occasionally pause and venture over to my private library of horror collection, and nod in the affirmative that I own many of them, but sigh deeply when I discovered those I didn’t have, making me plot my next adventure to a used bookstore. Novels such as The Sentinel with the old priest looking out to you, and an oval cut-out possessed person, the only difference between the one shown here and my copy, Grady’s shows on the cover “Now a terrifying movie from Universal”, but opening the cover shows a double page spread of hellish artwork, not getting that often in books today.
The sarcastic remarks leading to talented writing truly latch onto the reader as a seduction, sinking fangs into one’s neck and leeches onto your hands sucking you deeper into this incredible read. A mix of historical referencing and fan passion, leaning to obsession, it still objective to the material, noting the demands of readers interest and film studios, for the movie-tie-ins, and new source materials rather than just rebooting. While most readers of horror, have plenty of King and Barker novels, those that seek to expand their world, need to look at this book, learning crabs, slugs, dogs, cats, and farm animals all running amok, as well as snakes slithering and frogs, that’s just in one chapter.
List the Main Chapters
- HAIL, SATAN
- CREEPY KIDS
- WHEN ANIMALS ATTACK
- REAL ESTATE NIGHTMARES
- WEIRD SCIENCE
- GOTHIC AND ROMANCE
- SPLATTERPUNKS, SERIAL KILLERS, AND SUPER CREEPS
One could finish this book in couple of days, but it will likely take months to truly memorize all the details, and even more time tracking down the books, which is exactly what I’ve been doing this past year, and acquired over 15 novels, all scheduled for reviews eventually. Grady’s novel serves as an appreciation to past novelists, and others with their wonderous tales, sensational cover art and some of the most twisted stories that will likely have readers of the Fifty Shades of Gray blushing and clamping their thighs tightly together, as the splatterpunks giggle with delight. This book gets my highest endorsement and recommendation, it is not one that will be taking space on the shelf, rather always out for another read!
Baron’s Rating: 5/5
Thanks to the website Too Much Horror Fiction, for their permission to post pictures of the book covers featured in Grady’s book.