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Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction (2017)

by Grady Hendrix

Other authors: Will Errickson (Afterword)

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5583533,494 (4.28)50
A nostalgic and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of the 1970's and 1980's, complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles.
  1. 00
    In Search of Darkness [2019 Documentary film] by David A. Weiner (amanda4242)
    amanda4242: Both are affectionate looks at era-specific horror.

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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
So much fun! ( )
  JessicaReadsThings | Dec 2, 2021 |
I would call this a pretty comprehensive trip down memory lane of the heyday of pulp horror fiction of the 70s and 80s. Grady is well versed in the subject and with his researcher has collected a massive list of titles that certainly showcase the various phases' horror has passed through. But Grady treats this with just the right amount of reverence for the authors of the past and humor, because you got to laugh at just how absurd horror can become.

I remembered quite a few titles that I forgot for good reason, and have added a few gems that missed after my goosebumps days. I've forgotten what it was like to sift through the trash to find the garbage! It was so much fun finding a truly creepy book from the all the crap that was pumped out in those days. Something you really can't do in the internet age, with reviews and dedicated fans steering conversations to actually good books. ( )
  stretch | Nov 29, 2021 |
This is strictly as-advertised. I haven't been a fan of Hendrix's own novels, but his affection for the genre is contagious. Alongside his showcase of titles and covers are his thoughts on the history of the genre, it's rise and fall in popularity and perhaps where it may be heading. I added quite a few books to my reading list based on this overview, and it has sharpened my instincts in what to look for in used bookstores. ( )
1 vote ManWithAnAgenda | Nov 9, 2021 |
Really enjoyed this! It definitely made me want to read some of the crazy pulp horror described in this book. I think I actually have a copy of [b:Let's Go Play at the Adams'|477801|Let's Go Play at the Adams'|Mendal W. Johnson|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1326428642l/477801._SY75_.jpg|465995] so maybe I'll pull that out.
This book does a great job laying out the history of the books and their transformation over time. This book isn't written with a strict chronology but rather with different themes of horror books. I really appreciated the descriptions of some of the crazier books as well as the writing about some more well known books and their contribution to the genre.
I read this on kindle but this would be be a fun book to own physically. It's the perfect book to just flip through and read a random section from time to time. ( )
  AKBouterse | Oct 14, 2021 |
This is essential reading if, like me, you spent a lot of your childhood either devouring mass-market horror paperbacks or gazing in awe at the spinner racks full of ones you hadn't devoured yet because they seemed just a little too lurid and/or too stupid for you to dare to be seen with them. Hendrix knows this material inside and out (as does his collaborator Will Errickson, who's only credited for the afterword and the cover art collection but, I think, had a strong hand in putting this together) and, besides the sheer quantity of jaw-dropping covers and plot summaries, there's some solid information about how this particular genre craze came to be and why there isn't anything quite like it any more. There's a genuine respect here for stuff that's not particularly respectable, and that often wasn't very good but sometimes really really was, and Hendrix clearly wants to get people not just to gawk at it, but to seek out the best of it and keep it from being forgotten; I hope he succeeds.

It's not perfect, for two reasons. First, while Hendrix is an engaging writer, I find his humor pretty strained and grating a lot of the time (often it's based on allegedly funny synonyms, e.g. after mentioning that one horror author previously wrote a sex manual, this is immediately referenced again as "nookie advice")—and when he's not making jokes, he's often just listing a whole lot of minor variations on the same plots. Fine, I know that's part of the book's appeal, but I'm just more interested in the parts about who these authors were and how they ended up doing this and why these particular things got published, and he's very good at those parts, so I would've liked for them to be a bigger part of the text.

Second, it's kind of awkwardly organized: Hendrix breaks it up into chapters by general areas of subject matter (Satanism, mad scientists, etc.), which makes sense as an overview of genre clichés, but leads to a lot of jarring arbitrary transitions whenever he needs to either broaden out to talk about wider cultural issues or narrow in to look at a particularly interesting author who did different kinds of things. And while I appreciate the special pages given over to notable cover artists like Rowena Morrill, Jeffrey Catherine Jones, and Jill Bauman, there doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason in the choice of which covers to show nice and large and which ones to cram into tiny galleries; of course that's a matter of taste, maybe he just likes different ones than I do, but I think Bauman in particular (creator of one of my favorite covers ever) gets short shrift.

But even if this isn't the ultimate version of such a book that I could imagine (which would probably be unfeasibly huge), it's a really enjoyable passion project that illuminates an under-recognized area of English-language culture. ( )
  elibishop173 | Oct 11, 2021 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hendrix, GradyAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Errickson, WillAfterwordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Of course, every mother thinks her baby is perfect, but at some point, as her home fills with dead bodies, she has to face facts and admit that the fruit of her womb is a face-eating beast spawned from the deepest recesses of hell. If Whitney Houston is right, and the children are indeed our future, then we need to approach our future with maximum caution.
Today, we think of ourselves as responsible stewards of this big blue ball called Earth, but literary evidence suggests we’re just suckers. Given the chance, nature will turn on us in a heartbeat. This is one issue on which carnivores and vegetarians must stand united: we must eat nature, or nature will eat us.
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A nostalgic and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of the 1970's and 1980's, complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles.

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