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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)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5313035,002 (4.29)48
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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» See also 48 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
This one gets all the stars for quite a few reasons.

First, overall, like the two fiction Hendrix books that preceded it, it's fun as hell.

Second, kudos for dredging up some fascinating, and, at times, truly awful books that somehow actually managed to slip past an editor and into a reader's hands. I was probably familiar with a quarter of the books mentioned, but goddamn, even some of the worst sound like fun.

Next, it was great to get little side notes on some of the notable cover artists of the time, because many of them raised the classiness factor of the books by measurable degrees. They essentially put master-chef level icing on a stale, moldy cake at times.

Finally, it was also interesting to get some insight into both the publishing world in general in the 70s and 80s, as well as some of the major players.

If I have any complaint, it's that I wish the book was twice as long. Paperbacks From Hell 2: The Hellish Return to the 70s & 80s, anyone? ( )
  TobinElliott | Sep 3, 2021 |
I’m a big fan of horror and have been since the first time I caught a secret glimpse of a slasher movie at a cousin’s house (the Friday the 13th movie with that famous not-Jason killer...Roy). I dove deep into Goosebumps, Fear Street, Christopher Pike’s bizarre space lizard books, and landed on the rock Stephen King has been haunting for decades. In that time I’ve read a ton of schlock because horror and schlock go together, often deliberately, like pizza and Coke. You know it’s not good for you, you know you could do better, but sometimes that sugar and grease is all you want. Here Grady Hendrix celebrates the two schlockiest decades horror has ever seen. While Jason, Freddy, Michael, and Chucky were teaching a generation to fear camps, sleeping, babysitting, and ugly dolls, tons of cheap pop-up publishing houses were putting skeletons and demon babies on every paperback they could get their hands on. These covers were tantalizing to a baby horror fiend, the art lurid and memorable (who remembers the cheerleader skeleton on The Girl Next Door or the downright classy covers on the murderous incest dramas from V.C. Andrews?). Hendrix explores them all, goes over the familiar trends and highlights the (often female) artists who lovingly put corpse brides and deadly rabbits on covers to tempt us into sneaking just a little peek inside. Often the genre went too far, way too far, and sometimes those covers promised a wild ride the book didn’t deliver on but this book definitely does. Long live the new flesh and pay no attention to the doll in the rocking chair. It came with the house. ( )
  jobinsonlis | May 11, 2021 |
(I spent 20 minutes writing a review of this book on the app, turned my phone, and the entire review disappeared. Will rewrite in an hour or so on a real computer.)

Okay, enough time has passed that I can re-rewrite this review without feeling so upset!

This is the IT book of the moment! It seems like everyone is reading it. This book is witty, entertaining, and informative. Who knew, for example, that IRS rules regarding depreciation of unsold books in publisher's warehouses would have resulted in a smaller choice of books to read in stores? I learned quite a bit reading through this.

It is a testament to just how good this book is when I actually want to run out right now and look for some of these paperbacks, regardless of their lack of political correctness, their misogyny, sexism, and violence. Or maybe, I just want to check out the covers. The author did a great job with the covers and telling us the stories of the cover artists. I remember when these books were everywhere, in used book stores, and book sales. I had two of the books pictured in these pages.

In reality, I think I may check out George R R Martin's Fevre Dream. That looked really good.

Or maybe I will look for Blood Worm from 1987 after reading this plot summary: ". . . the main character's wife sleeps with an enormous number of men during the worm-and-beetle apocalypse and then leaves a note for her husband saying she's a slut and, by the way, their daughter is missing. She immediately becomes an alcoholic hobo and is last seen stumbling around the ruins of London, which has been abandoned to the inevitable postapocalyptic motorcycle gangs." I laughed so hard I cried at that summary.



Another gem: the back page. Remember the paperback lists you could order from? There's a list of books here and a coupon. Upon further examination, you need to send your money c/o Damien Thorn and enclose 50 cents for postage, handling, and your soul.
( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
Fun and informative guide to horror paperbacks of the 70's and 80's. ( )
  LynnK. | Aug 4, 2020 |
Aside from what I learned about this period of horror fiction, this book made me really wish that there was an artbook of the covers from the horror novels from this period. ( )
  Count_Zero | Jul 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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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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