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Danse Macabre by Stephen King

Danse Macabre

by Stephen King

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,216452,561 (3.79)172
  1. 40
    The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (kraaivrouw)
    kraaivrouw: Look here for Stephen King's take on The Haunting of Hill House.
  2. 40
    The Modern Weird Tale : A Critique of Horror Fiction by S. T. Joshi (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: Another fascinating overview of the horror genre in the 20th century.
  3. 10
    Supernatural horror in literature by H. P. Lovecraft (artturnerjr)

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» See also 172 mentions

English (44)  Spanish (1)  All languages (45)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
“The danse macabre is a waltz with death.”

"Danse Macabre" is a book that has been on my shelf for a looooong time. I'm not sure why I decided now was the time to read it, but I did. Also, it's interesting that the AMC channel is showing a series right now titled "Eli Roth’s History of Horror" that has King in it, and seems like the television version of this book, updated for 2018.

On these pages, King covers the horror genre for literature, film, and radio during the time period of 1950-1980. Most of this read feels like a essay, or textbook, and has a bit of a dry feel to it. I even found myself skimming some of the material. But I learned a bit, and added about ten new books to my reading list!

“The Last Waltz” is the gem in here. King's defense of the horror genre is peppered with real life examples of things that really happened, showing that reality is often worse than what appears in books, film, music, etc. People often ask me, "How can you read that stuff?" Well, Uncle Stevie has the answer that I'll be using from now on!

I also really enjoyed King's musings on how the ideas(s) for "The Stand" began! (Patty Hearst!!??!! - no friggin' way!!!)

So, it's non-fiction, sort of textbook-ish, and dry at times. But I'm glad I read it! And I'm glad he wrote it, especially this, at the end -

“Thank you again for coming with me, and rest you well. But, being who I am and what I am, I cannot find it in my heart to wish you pleasant dreams...” ( )
1 vote Stahl-Ricco | Oct 26, 2018 |
An intriguing look into Stephen King's insights and interpretations of what horror is about and why horror fiction exists. ( )
  trile1000 | Jul 1, 2018 |
This is an overview of horror movies, t.v. series, and books from roughly 1950 to 1980. King’s knowledge of the subject is both wide and deep, naturally.
Since King is two years older than I, much of the book was s great nostalgia trip for me. He’s very engaging here; reading this is like having a conversation with close but garrulous old friend.
Oddly, the largest part of the book is devoted to movies. There are some redundancies, some over-writing, some bs. But at its heart this is a fun book that doesn’t take its subject too seriously, but doesn’t treat it as trash, either.
Recommended if you’re a fan of the horror genre in any form, a fan if King, or interested in the era. ( )
1 vote bohemima | May 17, 2018 |
I was hesitant on reading this, worried it would be out of date. (It's as old as me!) There have been a lot of... advances? (I don't know what you'd call them) in horror that no one could have predicted in 1981: slasher franchises going mainstream (e.g. Freddy Krueger action figures), J-horror, psychological horror (like Black Swan), torture porn, home invasion films, indie horror (e.g. The Blair Witch Project), the second rise and decline of zombies. Enough time has passed that now we have meta-horror for all those tropes (e.g. "Scream" and "The Cabin in the Woods").

Nonetheless, much of it still holds up because it's really all about roots. And those roots take place in three things--films, TV, and books. It takes examples from timeless phenomenon like B-movie monsters, anthology suspense, and Lovecraft books. Each reflects the time period they were born into. And it's all delivered with Stephen King's tight and witty prose (he was still high in these days so the writing is good). It's the kind of book that might be assigned in an "Introduction to Horror" college class. Plus, it contains some of the missing biographical elements from "On Writing".

However, I don't think it's required for any horror aficionado. There's a lot of examples from the 50s-70s that maybe influenced King more that it influenced everybody. Read this if you're a fan of Stephen King's style. You get to see him put on his college professor hat. But there are more current books that do just as well. ( )
2 vote theWallflower | Dec 19, 2017 |
Stephen King, A horror author who has not doubt heard time and time again that ever-repeated question, "why do you write the things you do?" Well, in novel form and with many great points and references Mr. King turns the question around on the reader and asks "If you say that I write horror, then what makes YOU READE IT?" "What makes you good out to see the latest horror movie?" Well, in this book Stephen King takes us on an interesting and informative field trip through the world of horror fiction...both books and film...and why we enjoy it so much. ( )
1 vote Emery_Demers | Feb 26, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephen Kingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dufris, WilliamReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gantt, SamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ibânez, LouisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Körber, JoachimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leonard, JamesAuthor Photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Litwack, LisaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lopes, Maria Claudia SantosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murail, LorrisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nesi, EdoardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rostant, LarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruoto, WilliamDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steenhouwer, AntonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turchetti, EmanuelaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zimmermann, NatalieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Enter, Stranger, at your Riske: Here there be Tygers.
"What was the worst thing you've ever done?"
"I won't tell you that, but I'll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me...the most dreadful thing..." Peter Straub, Ghost Story
"Well we'll really have a party but we gotta post a guard outside..." Eddie Cochran, "Come On Everybody"
It's easy enough--perhaps too easy--to memorialize the dead. This book is for six great writers of the macabre who are still alive. Robert Bloch, Jorge Luis Borges, Ray Bradbury, Frank Belknap Long, Donald Wandrei, Manly Wade Wellman.
First words
For me, the terror--the real terror, as opposed to whatever demons and boogeys which might have been living in my own mind--began on an afternoon in October of 1957.
Have you ever stood in a bookshop, glanced furtively around, and turned to the end of an Agatha Christie to see who did it, and how? Have you ever turned to the end of a horror novel to see if the hero made it out of the darkness and into the light? If you have ever done this, I have three simple words which I feel it is my duty to convey: SHAME ON YOU! It is low to mark your place in a book by folding down the corner of the page where you left off; TURNING TO THE END TO SEE HOW IT CAME OUT is even lower. If you have this habit, I urge you to break it...break it at once!
Being who I am, I cannot find it in my heart to wish you pleasant dreams.
“I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I'll go for the gross-out. I'm not proud.”
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The French book Danse macabre is the translation of Night Shift, a collection of short stories. The English non-fiction book Danse macabre, on the other hand, was published in French translation under the title Anatomie de l'horreur.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0425104338, Mass Market Paperback)

In the fall of 1978 (between The Stand and The Dead Zone), Stephen King taught a course at the University of Maine on "Themes in Supernatural Literature." As he writes in the foreword to this book, he was nervous at the prospect of "spending a lot of time in front of a lot of people talking about a subject in which I had previously only felt my way instinctively, like a blind man." The course apparently went well, and as with most teaching experiences, it was as instructive, if not more so, to the teacher as it was to the students. Thanks to a suggestion from his former editor at Doubleday, King decided to write Danse Macabre as a personal record of the thoughts about horror that he developed and refined as a result of that course.

The outcome is an utterly charming book that reads as if King were sitting right there with you, shooting the breeze. He starts on October 4, 1957, when he was 10 years old, watching a Saturday matinee of Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. Just as the saucers were mounting their attack on "Our Nation's Capital," the movie was suddenly turned off. The manager of the theater walked out onto the stage and announced, "The Russians have put a space satellite into orbit around the earth. They call it ... Spootnik."

That's how the whole book goes: one simple, yet surprisingly pertinent, anecdote or observation after another. King covers the gamut of horror as he'd experienced it at that point in 1978 (a period of about 30 years): folk tales, literature, radio, good movies, junk movies, and the "glass teat". It's colorful, funny, and nostalgic--and also strikingly intelligent. --Fiona Webster

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:33 -0400)

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The adventures of the Darling Children in Never-Never Land with Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up.

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