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Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction

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Written in dead letters... and covered in blood! Demonic possession! Haunted condominiums! Murderous babies! Man-eating moths! No plot was too ludicrous, no cover art too appalling, no evil too despicable for the Paperbacks From Hell. Where did they come from? Where did they go? Horror author Grady Hendrix risks his soul and sanity (not to mention yours) to relate the true, Written in dead letters... and covered in blood! Demonic possession! Haunted condominiums! Murderous babies! Man-eating moths! No plot was too ludicrous, no cover art too appalling, no evil too despicable for the Paperbacks From Hell. Where did they come from? Where did they go? Horror author Grady Hendrix risks his soul and sanity (not to mention yours) to relate the true, untold story of the Paperbacks From Hell. Shocking story summaries! Incredible cover art! And true tales of writers, artists, and publishers who violated every literary law but one: never be boring. All this awaits, if you dare experience the Paperbacks From Hell.


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Written in dead letters... and covered in blood! Demonic possession! Haunted condominiums! Murderous babies! Man-eating moths! No plot was too ludicrous, no cover art too appalling, no evil too despicable for the Paperbacks From Hell. Where did they come from? Where did they go? Horror author Grady Hendrix risks his soul and sanity (not to mention yours) to relate the true, Written in dead letters... and covered in blood! Demonic possession! Haunted condominiums! Murderous babies! Man-eating moths! No plot was too ludicrous, no cover art too appalling, no evil too despicable for the Paperbacks From Hell. Where did they come from? Where did they go? Horror author Grady Hendrix risks his soul and sanity (not to mention yours) to relate the true, untold story of the Paperbacks From Hell. Shocking story summaries! Incredible cover art! And true tales of writers, artists, and publishers who violated every literary law but one: never be boring. All this awaits, if you dare experience the Paperbacks From Hell.

30 review for Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    This book is freaking awesome! There are tons of books in the book that I own or have owned. I have some that I will show. I didn't get all of them out but I will show a few and I will show a few pages of the book. I forgot to add my edition of Carrion Comfort! It's the same edition and it's laying over there and I forgot to get a picture of it. Lol. The book tells about the different books and there are sections on different kinds of horror books. There are some that I want to find! Oh well. En This book is freaking awesome! There are tons of books in the book that I own or have owned. I have some that I will show. I didn't get all of them out but I will show a few and I will show a few pages of the book. I forgot to add my edition of Carrion Comfort! It's the same edition and it's laying over there and I forgot to get a picture of it. Lol. The book tells about the different books and there are sections on different kinds of horror books. There are some that I want to find! Oh well. Enjoy Love it! Mel ♥

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”Between April 1967 and December 1973, everything changed. In a little more than five years, horror fiction became fit for adults, thanks to three books. Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, Thomas Tryon’s The Other, and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist were the first horror novels to grace Publisher’s Weekly’s annual best-seller list since Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca in 1938. And except for three books by Peter ‘Jaws’ Benchley, they’d be the only horror titles on that list until Stephen King’s The De ”Between April 1967 and December 1973, everything changed. In a little more than five years, horror fiction became fit for adults, thanks to three books. Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, Thomas Tryon’s The Other, and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist were the first horror novels to grace Publisher’s Weekly’s annual best-seller list since Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca in 1938. And except for three books by Peter ‘Jaws’ Benchley, they’d be the only horror titles on that list until Stephen King’s The Dead Zone in 1979. All three spawned movies and, most important, set the tone for the next two decades of horror publishing.” When I started in the book business in Phoenix, Arizona, the Horror section was one of the most pillaged sections in the store. Guys in ripped black t-shirts, Goths with pentagrams tattooed on their wrists, truck drivers displaying way too many inches of butt crack as they searched the lower shelves, and flirty housewives with a glimmer of something dark lurking in their pupils would bring stacks and stacks of black covered paperbacks up to the counter and leave me a heap of cash in exchange. They couldn’t get enough of it. The Goth chicks were so cool. In an attempt to look edgy and tough, they somehow came out looking adorable. Then in the early 1990s it just stopped like someone turned off the hydrant to the firehouse. The horror section that was featured so prominently when I started in the business drifted to the back of the bookstore until it evaporated all together. Other than the crossover writers, like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Peter Straub, the market for horror just disappeared. Writers began suggesting to their publishers to market their books as thrillers and not horror. So what the heck happened? Even now when I write a review of a book that falls into my Nostalgic 1970s Horror Tour Category, I notice that those reviews receive a lot less attention than other reviews I write. So in about 1990, did everyone start sleeping with Blue Smurfs under the glow of a unicorn nightlight? The publishers were churning out so much horror material in the 1970s and 1980s that there were plenty of steaming piles of drivel published, sort of like what is happening with the Young Adult market right now, but there were also writers of the horror genre who turned out some fantastic, creative, dare I say literary works, that make a book archeologist like me euphoric. Grady Hendrix has devoted a chapter to each different subgenre of horror: Hail Satan, Creepy Kids, When Animals Attack, Real Estate Nightmares, Weird Science, Gothic and Romantic, Inhumanoids, Splatterpunks, Serial Killers, and Super Creeps. I came away from this book with a list as long as my arm of novels that I need to investigate further. I was expecting that. I wasn’t expecting Grady to be so damn witty. I haven’t laughed out loud so much reading a book in a long time. My wife was frequently giving me the raised eyebrow look, so I ended up reading her little snippets like this one: ”Most important try not to have sex with Satan. Fornicating with the incarnation of all evil usually produces children who are genetically predisposed to use their supernatural powers to cram their grandmothers into television sets, headfirst. ‘But how do I know if the man I’m dating is the devil?’ I hear you ask. Here are some warnings signs learned from Seed of Evil: Does he refuse to use contractions when he speaks? Does he deliver pickup lines like, ‘You live on the edge of darkness?’ When nude, is his body the most beautiful male form you have ever seen, but possessed of a penis that’s either monstrously enormous, double-headed, has glowing yellow eyes, or all three? After intercourse, does he laugh malevolently, urinate on your mattress, and then disappear? If you spot any of these behaviors, chances are you went on a date with Satan. Or an alien.” Okay, so maybe my wife didn’t find that as funny as I did, but she still laughed despite herself. Then there was Grady’s observations on clowns and magicians. ”Hating clowns is a waste of time because you’ll never loath a clown as much as he loathes himself. But a magician? Magicians think they’re wise and witty, full of patter and panache, walking around like they don’t deserve to be shot in the back of the head and dumped in a lake. For all the grandeur of its self-regard magic consists of nothing more than making a total stranger feel stupid. Worse, the magician usually dresses like a jackass.” I’m not one for advocating shooting anyone in the back of the head and dumping them in the nearest body of water. I do have a short list of mostly politicians who I would help tie heavy weights to their legs and shiver with guilty pleasure at the sound of that final splash. I could get behind a scheme, though, to put all the clowns, magicians, and mimes in the United States on a leaky boat and ship them off to Central America where I hear their kind are flourishing. The book is an oversized paperback loaded with pictures of the innovative and evocative covers that vied for the attention of potential readers. Many have become quite collectible, and reading copies of some of these books can actually be rather difficult to find. There are some small presses, like Valancourt and Telos, who are starting to bring some of these lost treasures back into print. In the late 80s I was too caught up in reading The Beats, Woolf, Bukowski, Fitzgerald, Hemingway etc. to give any time to such “nonsense”. I’m making up for it now, and probably I’m enjoying them more now than I ever would have back then. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  3. 5 out of 5

    karen

    oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for best nonfiction! what will happen? i love this book more than anything. review to come. *************************************** actually, i'm going to pause on my chicken-pecking of this book and read it for real during spooktober. but it's great. fantastic. and i want more volumes of this to be published annually. if you don't have the book, you can look at this for now and get very excited: https://www.flickr.com/photos/reverb1... ********************* oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for best nonfiction! what will happen? i love this book more than anything. review to come. *************************************** actually, i'm going to pause on my chicken-pecking of this book and read it for real during spooktober. but it's great. fantastic. and i want more volumes of this to be published annually. if you don't have the book, you can look at this for now and get very excited: https://www.flickr.com/photos/reverb1... *************************************** FINALLY!! this is even better than i dared hope.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Char

    A book about the period of time when the horror genre ruled the paperback racks at the bookstore? A book about the period of time in my life, (about Carrie's age, in fact), when I felt like an outsider, and horror made me feel included? Sign me up! Luckily, Quirk books and NetGalley did just that, and here we are. This book is a reference book, a guide to life and times in the United States in the 70's and 80's. Things going on in the world and in society always affect our fiction and those times A book about the period of time when the horror genre ruled the paperback racks at the bookstore? A book about the period of time in my life, (about Carrie's age, in fact), when I felt like an outsider, and horror made me feel included? Sign me up! Luckily, Quirk books and NetGalley did just that, and here we are. This book is a reference book, a guide to life and times in the United States in the 70's and 80's. Things going on in the world and in society always affect our fiction and those times were no different. Paperbacks from Hell puts it all into perspective in an easy to read and humorous way. All the while vividly punctuated with those freaking AWESOME horror book covers of that time! I bet you remember those covers too. The Sentinel with the priest looking out at you; Flowers in the Attic with those children looking out at you...and ALL those children from the John Saul books, (though at least one was blind and was NOT looking at you.) I had a mad grin on my face the entire time I was reading this, and with its funny chapter titles like "What to Expect When You're Expecting (a Hell Baby)," and its funny observations about life back then, how could I not? I'd wager that you'll have a mad grin on your face too. Contributing a great deal to this book was Will Errickson and his blog, Too Much Horror Fiction. You can and should (!) find it here: http://toomuchhorrorfiction.blogspot.... Paperbacks From Hell gets my highest recommendation! Period. You can pre-order your copy here. (I did!): https://www.amazon.com/Paperbacks-Hel... *Thanks to NetGalley and Quirk books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it. *

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    Paperbacks from Hell covers the horror boom that started in the early 70's until its bitter end with the dawn of the 1990s and horror's displacement by serial killer fiction. Aside from reading a ton of Stephen King in my late teens/early 20s, I'm a latecomer to the horror genre. Paperbacks from Hell was an education for me. Paperbacks from Hell is a gorgeous book, full of cover images from the more notable books from the period. It's like a catalog of obscure horror novels. Starting with the Satan Paperbacks from Hell covers the horror boom that started in the early 70's until its bitter end with the dawn of the 1990s and horror's displacement by serial killer fiction. Aside from reading a ton of Stephen King in my late teens/early 20s, I'm a latecomer to the horror genre. Paperbacks from Hell was an education for me. Paperbacks from Hell is a gorgeous book, full of cover images from the more notable books from the period. It's like a catalog of obscure horror novels. Starting with the Satanic Panic of the early 1970s with Rosemary's Baby, The Other, and The Exorcist, Paperbacks from Hell covers the various trends in horror, from Satan to creepy kids to killer animals to haunted houses and beyond, mentioning notable examples from each trend. It also added a ton of books to my watchlist. How can I ignore books like Satan's Love Child, Squelch, Eat Them Alive, and Blackwater: The Complete Caskey Family Saga? Paperbacks from Hell is a fountain of information on the glory days of horror and it will occupy a place on my coffee table for years to come so I can distract my guests with Killer Crabs and Burnt Offerings before I dismember them and feed them to the horrors living in my basement. Five out of five stars.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Justin Tate

    As a long-time follower of the TooMuchHorrorFiction blog and fan of Grady Hendrix, this ode to Horror novels in the era when they dazzled most is a dream come true. Beside highlighting some very obscure plot lines, there's a wealth of publishing history and social context on how it all happened. Written with charm and wit, this is an easy read that's as entertaining as it is informative. But Reader beware, you're going to create quite a shopping list. Even more scary, most of the books are pricey As a long-time follower of the TooMuchHorrorFiction blog and fan of Grady Hendrix, this ode to Horror novels in the era when they dazzled most is a dream come true. Beside highlighting some very obscure plot lines, there's a wealth of publishing history and social context on how it all happened. Written with charm and wit, this is an easy read that's as entertaining as it is informative. But Reader beware, you're going to create quite a shopping list. Even more scary, most of the books are pricey finds made even more expensive thanks to Hendrix. If you have these titles on your shelves and are willing to part with them, now is the time to put them on eBay. Outside of the rare few which received reprints (mostly thanks to Valancourt Books--God bless them) it's hard to find any under $50. Whether you want to revisit beastly books from yesteryear, discover some extremely unusual titles for the first time, or simply learn about publishing trends, you got to read Paperbacks from Hell.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix is a 2017 Quirk Books publication. While most teenage girls my age were reading Harlequin romances or sneaking peeks inside their mother’s bodice rippers, I was glued to Gothic Romance/Horror/Mystery novels, which morphed into a full -fledged obsession with horror novels, which continued until my late teens, slowly fizzling out, as the horror genre went into a different direction, I didn't feel compelled to follow. I wish I had had the presence of mind to ke Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix is a 2017 Quirk Books publication. While most teenage girls my age were reading Harlequin romances or sneaking peeks inside their mother’s bodice rippers, I was glued to Gothic Romance/Horror/Mystery novels, which morphed into a full -fledged obsession with horror novels, which continued until my late teens, slowly fizzling out, as the horror genre went into a different direction, I didn't feel compelled to follow. I wish I had had the presence of mind to keep those books, put them a plastic protector and store them in a dark, cool place. But, I didn’t. However, I do love searching out these old paperbacks and do have a nice collection of Gothic novels as well as a handful of vintage horror novels, too. This book really has sparked a renewed interest in these vintage horror paperbacks, so I just might start digging around and try to add a few of these to my collection. But, I digress- Like myself, the author’s interest in these vintage paperbacks also stems from the ‘collectable’ angle they inspire, and just as I do, he still reads them. In my mind, horror novels, and horror movies for that matter, of the 1970’s were best. They may seem cheesy now, and of course they followed trends, just like we do now, but… These books scared me. It wasn’t the same slasher story, told over and over and over. These books had imagination, took risks, were shocking, and terrifying, or… okay- laughable- Nazi Leprachans? Looking back on these novels now, many of which were adapted for the big screen, I’m reminded once again of the game changing books than shaped the genre and had me sleeping with the lights on. The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Other, all spent incredible amounts of time on the NYT bestseller list. They spawned countless spin-offs, all with a strong satanic element, which was a huge theme in the first few years of the 1970’s. From that point on, the horror genre created the most menacing babies and kids you could possibly image, with books like- ‘The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane’ by Laird Koenig, which I happen to be reading right now. But, the sheer volume of books written with this theme, in one form or another, was mind boggling. Some titles I found intriguing were: ‘Kate’s House’ by Harriet Waugh and ‘Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ by Mendal W. Johnson- (Tonight the kids are taking care of the babysitter!) Let’s not forget killer animals though- remember Jaws? Of course, you do. How about ‘The Rats’ by James Herbert? There were also a slew of killer dogs, cats, whales, all manner of other creepy crawlies. Not your thing? How about a good haunted house story, instead? Lots of those! But, not just Amityville! Every possible angle was covered in the 70’s and 80’s that you could possible imagine. Medical nightmares, horoscopes, psychic teens, UFO’s, Vampires, dolls, Southern Gothic, humanoids, you name it, and this book covers them all. But, the author doesn’t stop there. The fantastic cover art is included in the book. The book covers alone make this book worth looking into. Amazing!! It is also interesting to note that some of the cover artists are unknown. The primary publishers of horror novels are listed too, and frankly, I was surprised by a few- namely ‘Zebra’ which I’ve always associated with those fab historical romance novels of the same period. Who knew? The 80’s had its ups and downs with some really wonderful contributions to the genre, but also strange additions,such as, heavy metal horror! I’d pretty much moved away from the horror genre by this time, and have no recollections of this, but apparently ‘Splatterpunk’ was a pretty big movement in the mid-eighties. But, that movement seemed to fade as quickly as hair metal with the onset of the nineties, as did the horror genre as we knew it. These old horror novels look cheesy, and many are obviously dated, but if you read some of the blurbs, you will see many of them are classics now, and spawned all manner of trends, and influenced many others along the way. They are lurid, gross, often politically incorrect, and misogynist on more than one occasion, but were also groundbreaking. They, also, were a reflection of the era in which they were written, tapping in on real fears, worries, or in some cases, setting off periods of real panic. But, in the end, the slasher genre won out over killer sharks, haunted houses, creepy kids, and Satan. The name of the game is buckets of blood and revolting gore, without much originality to the plot, which is when I stepped off the horror novel train. These days, horror is a hard sell for me. On a rare occasion, I’ll try a ghost story or a haunted house novel, or a good vampire novel, as long as the vampire doesn't sparkle, although those seem far and few between these days, or I might settle in for a Stephen King thriller, once in a while. But, I do have old favorites I read at Halloween, always returning to the tried and true. But, after picking up this book, maybe I can find a few hidden gems from the past to satisfy any lingering craving for a good old -fashioned chiller. Overall, the author did a terrific job with the organization of this book, deftly adding in well- timed, laugh out loud humor, and his enthusiasm was obvious, and a little catchy. This is a fun, informative, entertaining, and well researched book, that will appeal to fans of the horror genre, paperback book collectors, or maybe even to those who enjoy nostalgia or pop culture. 5 stars

  8. 4 out of 5

    mark monday

    A delightful coffee table book for my kind of living room. Hendrix has a sharp wit and a satirical voice, but his love for the genre is clear. Although he's a connoisseur, there's not a whiff of pretension to be found and this guidebook is crammed with plenty of context, history, and especially humor. I did not expect to laugh so much! In particular during his section on how to cope with deadly children, where he also quotes both Alain Robbe-Grillet and Erma Bombeck within the space of two sente A delightful coffee table book for my kind of living room. Hendrix has a sharp wit and a satirical voice, but his love for the genre is clear. Although he's a connoisseur, there's not a whiff of pretension to be found and this guidebook is crammed with plenty of context, history, and especially humor. I did not expect to laugh so much! In particular during his section on how to cope with deadly children, where he also quotes both Alain Robbe-Grillet and Erma Bombeck within the space of two sentences. And I loved his quick stab at Martin Amis in a later section. There were many things that I really enjoyed: his extended pieces on authors Ramsey Campbell, Elizabeth Engstrom, Michael McDowell, Russ Martin, Ken Greenhall, Charles L. Grant, and controversial bestsellers Let's Go Play At The Adams' and The Kill Riff; what is basically a love letter to V.C. Andrews; his musings on Anne Rice and the relationship between vampires, blood, and AIDS; his barely muted disdain for horror based on Native American legends, as well as much of splatterpunk; and especially his amusing sidebar on gender roles in horror. I loved that he characterized Frankenstein as the beginning of the horror novel rather than incorrectly labeling it as science fiction (a common but always annoying error). I was impressed by his focus on women writers and female protagonists in general. I appreciated how thoroughly he contextualized the ebbs and flows of '70s and '80s horror fiction, from its roots in the gothic romance genre to its serial killer-driven death rattle in the early '90s. And perhaps most importantly, he gives the often unsung cover artists for all of these horror treats their proper due, in a range of write-ups focusing on individual artists as well as with what is clearly the big draw of the book: its lavish number of eye-popping paperback covers on full display. In a perfect world, this would be twice as long in order to include a bit more on certain imprints like Leisure Books, and of course deeper descriptions of various novels (for example it hurt to see the short thrift given to wonderful books like Gwen, In Green and The House Across the Way aka Satan's Surrogate)... but why complain? this was pure pleasure from cover to cover. Kudos! Plus it led me to look into a lot of books: ⇨ Haunted Castles by Ray Russell ✔ Incubus by Ray Russell Fire Will Freeze by Margaret Millar ✔ (read) 2 stars The Stigma by Trevor Hoyle ✔ The Next by Bob Randall ✔ Halo by Chet Day ✔ Dead White by Alan Ryan The Desecration Of Susan Browning by Russ Martin A Glow of Candles and Other Stories by Charles L. Grant The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons ⇨ Fort Privilege by Kit Reed Night Train by Thomas Monteleone ✔ The Nightrunners by Joe R. Lansdale Office Party by Michael Gilbert Prodigal by Melanie Tem ✔ ⇨ Spectre by Stephen Laws ✔ ⇨ The Cormorant by Stephen Gregory Lizard Wine by Elizabeth Engstrom Ken Greenhall: ⇨ Hell Hound ✔ Childgrave ✔ Lenoir not horror Deathchain mystery ✔ (read) 4 stars I would be remiss not mentioning that I first learned about many of these books by reading the reviews of my redoubtable Goodreads friends Jack and Erin, and of course by combing through the treasure trove of articles in the blog Too Much Horror Fiction. Hail to the Chiefs!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jack Tripper

    As a lifelong fan and collector of horror fiction, I've been waiting for a book like this to come along for years. There have been several books of literary criticism focusing on horror boom-era works, but nothing really that included the trashier side of the genre, and definitely nothing with the wealth of gloriously gaudy cover art (much of it contributed by Will Errickson of Too Much Horror Fiction) featured here. Because it covers such a wide range, Hendrix only goes fully in-depth on a handf As a lifelong fan and collector of horror fiction, I've been waiting for a book like this to come along for years. There have been several books of literary criticism focusing on horror boom-era works, but nothing really that included the trashier side of the genre, and definitely nothing with the wealth of gloriously gaudy cover art (much of it contributed by Will Errickson of Too Much Horror Fiction) featured here. Because it covers such a wide range, Hendrix only goes fully in-depth on a handful of authors and books, focusing mostly on paperback originals as opposed to the bigger names. He divides the chapters by trend: evil kids, haunted houses, Satan, gothics, creature features, splatterpunk, etc, and the tone is light and humorous throughout. Some of Hendrix's plot synopses are ridiculous and hysterical, and I'm glad he included info on many of the prominent cover artists of the era, who never really got their due back in the day. I found it interesting that the artists were sometimes paid much more handsomely than the authors, as the covers were what first caught the prospective reader's eye. My only complaint is that the book perhaps focuses TOO much on the trashier side. Now I love me some schlocky B-horror when done well, but I was slightly disappointed to find little or no mention of weird fiction authors like Ligotti, T.E.D. Klein, Lisa Tuttle, Fritz Leiber, Karl Edward Wagner, and Aickman, all of whom had highly influential works (with great paperback covers) published during the horror boom. Even perennial bestseller Peter Straub gets only a passing mention (same goes for Koontz and Saul, but you won't see me complaining in those cases, no offense). I suppose enough has already been written on them for the most part, and Hendrix chose to highlight the forgotten books.* I was glad to see that Hendrix devoted a lot of ink to Brian McNaughton, Elizabeth Engstrom, Ken Greenhall and Michael McDowell, four unjustly overlooked writers in their time who are now finally getting their due thanks in part to Will Errickson's excellent blog, this book, and, in the latter two cases, the recent reissues of their works by Valancourt Books. Other authors featured prominently (meaning at least a full page devoted to them or a work of theirs) include Guy N. Smith (Crabs books), VC Andrews, Graham Masterton, James Herbert, Stephen Gresham (The Shadow Man), Bari Wood (The Tribe), Ramsey Campbell, Anne Rice, Rex Miller (Slob), Judi Miller (Phantom of the Soap Opera), David J. Schow, Mendal W. Johnson (Let's Go Play at the Adams'), and John Coyne. Funny that more words are devoted to each of them than to Stephen King (though again, plenty has already been written about him, and rightfully so). Oh and I guess there is one more negative about this book. Many of these books are going to suddenly become a LOT harder for me to find. But I suppose it's worth it if it brings more attention to some of these lost gems (and turds). *ETA: Actually I see that Will Errickson does touch on a few of these authors in his afterword, and a couple others are briefly discussed in the appendices. No Ligotti or Aickman, though. Maybe in Vol. 2 (hint, hint)? 4.5 Stars

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Posted at Shelf Inflicted This book was fantastic! It covers horror fiction from the 70’s through the 80’s, with a little glimpse of the early 90’s. Eight easy-to-read chapters with clever titles like “Hail, Satan,” “When Animals Attack,” “Creepy Kids,” and “Real Estate Nightmares,” explore different themes within the horror genre and the cultural anxieties prevalent at the time these books were written. The writing was light, humorous, informative and imbued with a deep love for the horror genr Posted at Shelf Inflicted This book was fantastic! It covers horror fiction from the 70’s through the 80’s, with a little glimpse of the early 90’s. Eight easy-to-read chapters with clever titles like “Hail, Satan,” “When Animals Attack,” “Creepy Kids,” and “Real Estate Nightmares,” explore different themes within the horror genre and the cultural anxieties prevalent at the time these books were written. The writing was light, humorous, informative and imbued with a deep love for the horror genre. “Sometimes a firm spanking is enough to drive the Devil out of a teenager, but usually they have to be shot in the face. Dogs are good and often form armies to assist humans fighting Satan, whereas cats can go either way.” Back in the 70’s and early 80’s, I was still attending church regularly, so you can imagine how conflicted I felt reading books about the Devil. They were fun and addictive and I had to be resourceful about finding good hiding places for them so the evil eyes on the covers wouldn’t terrify my grandmother. I got bored with them quickly, though, and later on had more fun reading about creepy kids and nature going wild. Some of the covers in “Real Estate Nightmares” look very familiar. I’m sure those books graced my shelves at one time, yet I have no memory of reading them. Which is surprising, really, since high crime and good friends leaving for the safer suburbs was a huge concern of mine. Then Bernard Goetz expressed the rage felt by New Yorkers tired of crime by shooting four thugs who wanted to rob him. My dad and I proclaimed him a hero, while my mom and brother felt he may have overreacted. By the time the crime rate plummeted in the city, I was already gone. I appreciate the high quality of this book and plan to buy a copy to keep on the coffee table. It has a durable cover, thick pages and eye-catching, colorful images. This brought back a lot of pleasant memories for me and makes me want to seek out the titles I haven’t read and reread the ones I enjoyed. Here’s the list I’m aiming to read before I die: The Little People Childmare Prissy Kate's house Smart As The Devil ✔Let's Go Play At The Adams' ★★★★★ Halo Such Nice People The Sibling Elizabeth The Voice Of The Clown A Glow of Candles and Other Stories The Rats Slither Squelch Taurus The Long Dark Night The Haven Killer Eat Them Alive Blight Gwen, In Green Cherron The Auctioneer Maynard's House A Manhattan Ghost Story Fort Privilege Rooftops Cellars Death Tour Night Train Our Lady Of Darkness The Mesmerist Nightblood When Darkness Loves Us Obelisk Feast The Kill Riff

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kealan Burke

    Absolutely fantastic. Like a slighter DANSE MACABRE, PAPERBACKS FROM HELL zeroes in on the rise of horror paperbacks in the 70s and 80s through to its decline in the 90s. I especially appreciated the attention given to the cover artists responsible for some of the truly masterful and evocative covers that had me grabbing these books in my formative years. Well worth a look, but be warned, you'll immediately want to go on a book-buying spree after reading it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Karl

    If you have any affinity to those old " horror"paperbacks published from the 1960's to the early 1990's then this book is a must have for you. And what a perfect time of the year to spend some time dwelling through these pages featuring some covers and plot synopsis of these spine tingling books. With "Paperbacks from Hell: A History of Horror Fiction from the '70s and '80s" Grady Hendrix makes the trip down horrible publishing lane a joy and a treat. There are also a few laughs, something every If you have any affinity to those old " horror"paperbacks published from the 1960's to the early 1990's then this book is a must have for you. And what a perfect time of the year to spend some time dwelling through these pages featuring some covers and plot synopsis of these spine tingling books. With "Paperbacks from Hell: A History of Horror Fiction from the '70s and '80s" Grady Hendrix makes the trip down horrible publishing lane a joy and a treat. There are also a few laughs, something every horror fan can enjoy, plus the author's enthusiasm toward the subject is infectious. If you are just delving into this genre of literature one will find some excellent cover scans, a nice index of publishes and cover artists to help celebrate this spooky time of the year. Mr. Hendrix attempts to follow the trends of Horror publishing through those years. The only complaint I would have relates to the size of the cover images. They are just too small. My wish would be to put larger images of the book covers into this history of the world of horror as represented here. If you need motivation to haunt any of those used book stores left, then this book will inspire you to spend whatever lunch money that is left in your pocket to spend on these treasures.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Chaney

    Imagine you are in a used bookshop. It’s dimly lit, obviously, with dusty tomes creating houses on the floor perfect for guests of the smaller variety. Rats? Possibly. Evil Nazi leprechauns? That’s crazy talk! But do watch your step… just to be safe. As you venture further, you say to yourself “I should turn back. All the new releases are in the shop’s front window, baking in the sun. I have no business with these musty old things. Yuck!” But you continue anyway, pulled by the essence of some un Imagine you are in a used bookshop. It’s dimly lit, obviously, with dusty tomes creating houses on the floor perfect for guests of the smaller variety. Rats? Possibly. Evil Nazi leprechauns? That’s crazy talk! But do watch your step… just to be safe. As you venture further, you say to yourself “I should turn back. All the new releases are in the shop’s front window, baking in the sun. I have no business with these musty old things. Yuck!” But you continue anyway, pulled by the essence of some unseen force. Unseen, that is, until your eyes rest on a spinny rack of used paperbacks. It holds a copy of The Devil’s Cat by William W. Johnstone. And Spawn by Shaun Hutson. And you can’t look away. You’re transfixed by their grotesque covers as you realize there are more horrors to be discovered aside from the R. L. Stine and Point Horror novels you read as a teen. With this revelation, the floor splits open and you cascade into the hells of the horror publishing boom of the ‘70s and ‘80s. You are nosediving into… the Paperbacks from Hell ! This is (kinda) what happened to horror author Grady Hendrix when he discovered a copy of The Little People by John Christopher at a convention. This book alone kick-started a passion project to chronicle the history of these long forgotten works of *cough* literature. Fast-forwarding some years later, we have Paperbacks from Hell, the new nonfiction offering from Grady Hendrix. It stands as the ultimate encyclopedia of these often times trashy, occasionally impressive, but always entertaining horrors from beyond grave. This book comes complete with publisher histories, author and artist bios, shocking book synopses, and hundreds of ghoulish full-color book covers that would make your grandma's book club protest outside the local Barnes & Noble. You’re a couple decades too late, Granny! Although these books made a killing (pun so intended) when they hit bookstore shelves in the ‘70s and ‘80s, they slowly fizzled out in the early 1990s. Many paperbacks were disposed of while others were shelved away in used bookstores, waiting for someone like Grady to dust them off and pull them out of the darkness. Because the authors and illustrators of these books are mostly unknown by contemporary readers, not much information about them exists on the internet. For this reason Grady dug deep, reading hundreds of paperbacks and interviewing many people who worked in the publishing industry at the time. The information here is fascinating, drawing a map of what the industry was like at the time, with its hits and misses, ups and downs, and reoccurring trends that spelled dollar signs. Aside from this history lesson, the plots of these books that Hendrix chose to feature are entertaining and jaw-dropping on every level. They range from mildly spoopy to downright absurd. But not boring! Never boring. Sure, your standard haunted houses and serial killers make the list, but let’s not forget the highly intelligent mobs of killer crabs, telekinetic unborn babies that will literally blow your mind, and, yes, even evil Nazi leprechauns. ‘Cuz why not? Paperbacks from Hell is beautifully formatted, providing all the information in a well-organized, compulsively readable fashion. It resembles a textbook but is never a chore to read. The paper is thick and glossy, the scans of the book covers reveal every brushstroke, the layout is convenient, and the sources are nicely cited. There is even an afterward by Will Errickson, manager of the Too Much Horror Fiction blog, which is where a lot of horror fans first discovered these wonderfully trashy books. Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks from Hell is a ghastly emporium of the bizarre. It truly casts a spell, leaving a trail of Halloween candy that will take readers far beyond anything they knew existed. I mean, evil Nazi leprechauns… c’mon! It is recommended to horror fans and publishing aficionados alike. It is available on September 19, 2017. YOU CAN SEE MY VIDEO REVIEW HERE!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I never realized how bat-shit crazy the 70's/80's paperback boom and then bust was. Now I do. And Grady is funny, doesn't pull any punches, nor does he hold back on praise when he deems it warranted, which generally went toward many of the cover artists. It was wonderful hearing their stories as well as the books' stories. Loved, loved, loved this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Strand

    This book filled me with an urgent need to read every '80s horror paperback in existence, so I guess it did its job. As a reader, I was a bit late to the game, getting really into the non-King/Koontz stuff around the Dell Abyss era, so though I have a solid working knowledge of the horror paperback boom, this book covered plenty of books I'd never heard of. A thoroughly entertaining look back at an era most horror fans wish had never ended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Sumi

    I read a library copy of this book about the rise of cheesy horror paperbacks in the 70s and 80s, but now, gosh darnit, I wish I owned a copy. It would make the perfect coffee table book, something to occasionally leaf through, chuckle over and think on. And it would be a great conversation starter for guests (Nazi leprechauns! Man-eating crabs!) Plus: the physical quality of the book is outstanding: gorgeous full-colour illustrations, nice size and weight, thick stock, sturdy spine. I actually r I read a library copy of this book about the rise of cheesy horror paperbacks in the 70s and 80s, but now, gosh darnit, I wish I owned a copy. It would make the perfect coffee table book, something to occasionally leaf through, chuckle over and think on. And it would be a great conversation starter for guests (Nazi leprechauns! Man-eating crabs!) Plus: the physical quality of the book is outstanding: gorgeous full-colour illustrations, nice size and weight, thick stock, sturdy spine. I actually remember seeing some of these gaudy tomes displayed on racks in… can it be… grocery stores? (They likely wouldn’t have got much shelf room in “respectable” indie or chain bookstores.) Author Grady Hendrix does a terrific job in placing the popularity of cheap mass market horror paperbacks in a social, and literary, context. The phenomenal success of books like Rosemary’s Baby, The Other and The Exorcist ushered in scores of imitators, and Hendrix – who’s also a novelist, having penned the books Horrorstör (a ghost story set at an Ikea!) and My Best Friend’s Exorcism – entertainingly guides us through each bloody trend. There are chapters on everything from satanic possession and cults (many books inspired by the Manson murders and subsequent trials) to creepy kids/animals and haunted houses. Basically the horror trend died out when The Silence Of The Lambs spawned a taste for serial killer stories. While Hendrix has a clever way with plot synopses – there are genuine LOL moments on every page - what I appreciated most were his insights into the publishing world and the frank assessments of individual writers, illustrators and artists. There are informative sidebars on some of the genre’s most successful authors, examining their obsessions, themes, their writing style, and how they cranked out their books. He’s also very thorough on cover artists, making you appreciate an illustrator’s signature look by comparing various dust jackets. (My guilty pleasure: those books with laminated cover cutouts, or insets, say, of a head, which become totally horrific when you turn the cover and see the full image inside.) While I was unfamiliar with most names in the book except William Peter Blatty (The Exorcist), Ira Levin (Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives), Robin Cook (Coma), Peter Benchley (Jaws) and Anne Rice (Interview With The Vampire), there are other writers included like Joy Fielding (who’s since disowned one of her genre efforts) and Dan Simmons. I meant to keep a running list of books to look up, but again, I’m sure most are out of print and not available in libraries. This took me longer to read than I expected. While there are lots of illustrations, it’s no mere flip-book. The writing is smart and sharp and deserves to be savoured. Highly recommended for genre lovers.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Spuckler

    Paperbacks from Hell: A History of Horror Fiction from the '70s and '80s by Grady Hendrix is the history of the paperback horror novel. Hendrix is the author of the novels Horrorstör, the only book you'll ever need about a haunted Scandinavian furniture superstore, and My Best Friend's Exorcism. In the mid-1970s I would go to the corner store, a Lawson, and raided the book rack. There was always a carousel of books near the front counter. Horror books took up most of the shelf space with everythi Paperbacks from Hell: A History of Horror Fiction from the '70s and '80s by Grady Hendrix is the history of the paperback horror novel. Hendrix is the author of the novels Horrorstör, the only book you'll ever need about a haunted Scandinavian furniture superstore, and My Best Friend's Exorcism. In the mid-1970s I would go to the corner store, a Lawson, and raided the book rack. There was always a carousel of books near the front counter. Horror books took up most of the shelf space with everything from the Omen to countless barely remembered horror stories of all types. I remember a class mate, Pam, giving me her copy of Gary Brandner's The Howling. That book was a game changer for me. The Scholastic Books, an in school book sale, even had Stephen King's Carrie for sale. This caused a temporary ban of Scholastic Books in my school as some parents got very upset about the books available to 7th graders. There was something special about buying books that were not meant for school children. Paperbacks from Hell is a return to that time with a detailed discussion and listing of books from that period. Hendrix provides a great refresher for those who loved the horror boom of the period. What subject defined horror changed over time. Satan and Satanists made an easy subject and a lasting one through books and even music in 1980s metal. David Seltzer's novelization of the movie The Omen started a string of books and the popularization of an obscure Bible passage. Knowing that 666 was the number of the beast suddenly became a Bible trivia everyone knew regardless of religious belief. Damian also triggered the growth as a child being evil or a killer. Evil children were a shocking subject going back to the 1954 book Bad Seed. Books like The Crib and Spawn had a supernatural touch while Let's Play Games at the Adams' and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane told of normal kids gone bad or take control of their own situation. There is also the far fetched fear mongering book Rona Joffee Mazes and Monsters which turned the popularity of Dungeons and Dragons into something that will damage and warp a teenager's brain. Animals also were big sellers from Peter Benchley's Jaws to killer dogs, cats, rats, and even rabbits. Animals were killing people in untold numbers. Pick a seeming defenseless animal and there is probably a story of it being a mad killer (yes, butterflies too). If one thought animal killers wasn't quite over the top there were also killer plants. Jaws lead the escalation of wildlife killers. If it wasn't an animal or child, it was probably a haunted property. Amityville Horror was the foundation for the haunted house. Amityville spawned six books in the series, each marketed as nonfiction. The premise of haunted houses being built over vortexes, graveyards, or other mystical places expanded into haunted train lines and hospitals. Anything could be haunted or possessed.  Just ask Arnie Cunningham. Hendrix starts his book with an introduction featuring The Little People who live in a basement of a bed and breakfast, Gestapochauns (Nazi leprechauns) and ends with a genre called Splatter Punk. Not much new has been developed since the late 80s death of paperback horror. Stephen King and others still write but the present generation would rather have movies and video games rather than a cheap paperback. I revisited the era re-reading Brandner's Howling series a while ago, but I did it on a Kindle. It just didn't seem the same. While today people look for special effects in movies today, we had cover art back then. Hendrix captures a multitude of the covers that got many people reading. Cover art at the time was important in making one book stand out from the rest.   Foil covers, embossed covers, step back art, and die-cut covers became the norm and helped reveal some of the book's mystery or added a layer of shock.  This was a time when horror brought entertainment to many readers.   For those of us who had a library that was too far to walk to (or too dangerous to go to alone), the corner store became the early Netflix for many.  Well written.  Well illustrated. Well referenced. A welcomed walk down memory lane.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael Jandrok

    Anyone that knows me also knows that I simply cannot resist a book sale. I can sniff ‘em out anywhere...garage sales...library sales...thrift stores….sidewalk sales….Goodwill….chances are good that if I am out shopping somewhere I will manage to find a book or two to add to my massive “to be read” pile. It is also well known that I have a weakness for grungy old paperbacks of just about any genre. That said, my fascination with vintage paperbacks TENDS towards science-fiction, adventure, western Anyone that knows me also knows that I simply cannot resist a book sale. I can sniff ‘em out anywhere...garage sales...library sales...thrift stores….sidewalk sales….Goodwill….chances are good that if I am out shopping somewhere I will manage to find a book or two to add to my massive “to be read” pile. It is also well known that I have a weakness for grungy old paperbacks of just about any genre. That said, my fascination with vintage paperbacks TENDS towards science-fiction, adventure, westerns, sleaze, and horror. When I was young and growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, I had amassed quite a collection of paperbacks. But time and an old girlfriend or two whittled that number down to just a few holdovers. I have spent a lot of time over the last few years rebuilding my paperback library, recovering old favorites and discovering new gems. This effort to discover and rediscover new frontiers has led me to a few publications that have been helpful to me, in particular “The Paperback Fanatic” and “The Sleazy Reader.” Both of these independently-published magazines have added a lot of depth and fun to the chase. They not only feature a lot of great articles and reviews, but they both print a TON of full-color and B&W cover photos of the books they highlight. I can’t begin to tell you what a great resource that is. With all that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was an entire BOOK on the market dedicated to the high art of collecting horror paperbacks from the over-the-top golden era of the 1970s and 1980s. Grady Hendrix’s “Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction” is indeed that book, and it’s a wild roller-coaster ride through a couple of decades that helped to define and expand mass-market paperback horror publishing for an entire generation. Hendrix’s introduction should tell you all you really need to know about what you are in store for. Starting with author John Christopher’s “The Little People,” a hard-to-find classic featuring a chilling story of an Irish bed & breakfast where the guests are terrorized by a fiendish group of Nazi leprechauns. Psychic Nazi leprechauns. Psychic Nazi leprechauns with an affinity for S&M and whips. And one of them is named Adolph. And that’s not the most outlandish plot featured in this book. With a rollicking start like that, it quickly becomes apparent as to exactly what you are in for as you explore this book. Broken up into 8 horrifying chapters, Hendrix attacks his subject matter with all of the deft precision of someone wielding a Texas chainsaw. And I mean that in a good way. Each chapter presents a different segment of the paperback horror publishing market, delivered with a healthy dose of good humor and fun. You also get a massive amount of full-color cover reproductions, in the grand tradition of “Paperback Fanatic” and “Sleazy Reader.” A large number of the cover images were provided by Will Errickson, who wrote the afterword for this volume. Hendrix also includes an appendix that gives short biographies of selected authors and publishing houses and their associated paperback imprints. Chapter One: “Hail, Satan” - Beginning with the landmark publication of “Rosemary’s Baby” and the even bigger landmark of “The Exorcist,” Hendrix takes us on a whirlwind tour of the devilish doings that were landing pell mell on the racks at K-Mart and your favorite local grocery or drug store. Satan was big business, and any author that could churn out a tale smelling like brimstone could find a place on the shelf. There are some great titles featured here, including a few that I read back in the day such as “The Sentinel” and “The Other.” But the real finds here are the blaxploitation Satan nation novel “The Black Exorcist” and author Brian McNaughton’s pornographic and creepy “Satan’s” series, beginning with the aptly titled “Satan’s Love Child.” Chapter Two: “Creepy Kids” - Children in peril made for great horror material in the ‘70s and ‘80s, as the market saw a slew of tales with dangerous juveniles with titles like “Seed of Evil” and “The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane.” Satanic possession was still a plot device, led by the success of the “Omen” series, but the pick of the litter in this chapter is “Let’s Go Play at the Adams’,” a truly creepy tale of amoral and senseless violence written by Mendal W. Johnson. Be careful taking those babysitting jobs, kids. Chapter Three: “When Animals Attack” - Daphne du Maurier may have begun the animalistic horror theme back in 1963 with “The Birds,” but it took the publication of “Jaws” back in the early 1970s to give the genre its teeth. There are a ton of great titles to found with various animal threats featuring bears, whales, dogs, cats, pigs, even sinister rabbits, all hungry for human flesh. But the most fear-inducing terrors to be found in this chapter, by far, are….CRABS! That’s right, CRABS! Believe me when I tell you that there is nothing scarier than demonic crabs clickety-clacking their way into your deepest nightmares. Chapter Four: “Real Estate Nightmares” - Haunted abodes galore, beginning with a novel that was actually pretty good, Robert Marasco’s “Burnt Offerings.” Thomas Tryon’s “Harvest Home” was also on the high side, but a lot of the literature here is of the derelict kind. Most of these books were definitely low-rent, but you should try and seek out Fritz Lieber’s “Our Lady of Darkness” for a cerebral and original take on the haunted real estate theme. Chapter Five: “Weird Science” - The success of Robin Cook’s “Coma” started a craze in medical thrillers that tended to eschew supernatural frights in favor of crazed experiments and sinister doctors. The real revelation in this chapter is the popularity of computer-themed frights. Personal home computers were an exciting new novelty back in the 1980s, and the new machines invading our homes and lives were low-hanging fruit for horror writers looking for a new angle on old potboilers. You really need to go back to 1969 to find the best of all of the science-thriller sagas, Michael Crichton’s excellent “The Andromeda Strain.” Chapter Six: “Gothic and Romantic” - V. C. Andrews created a cottage industry of books dealing with captivity, psychological terror, and incest, but it took Anne Rice and her sensual take on the vampire myth to send gothic horror to the top of the bestseller lists. Sensual and erotic vampires sold big to a largely female audience, but astute readers would be smart to seek out Michael McDowell’s six-volume “Blackwater” series for a different and earthy iteration of true gothic horror. Chapter Seven: “Inhumanoids” - Aliens, swamp monsters, and literal walking skeletons make for a scary stew of sensational sagas, but it was apparent that American Indian legends provided a wellspring of aboriginal ideas for horror writers in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The book I personally remember the most from this era is Graham Masterson’s “The Manitou,” which was made into a terrifically bad movie starring a really old and really bored Tony Curtis. Masterson would go on to produce a number of squeamish and lunatic books that took horror to places that it didn’t need to go, but once they got there were kind of fun anyway. “Feast,” Masterson’s 1988 tale of cannibal cults, is one that shouldn’t be missed. Chapter Eight: “Splatterpunks, Serial Killers, and Supercreeps” - In the 1980s, the Satanic Panic scared the bejesus out of parents as their kids got swept away by backwards-masked messages on heavy-metal albums and bad drugs. It seemed like the Dark Lord had gotten a foothold deep into suburbia, and every kid was out looking for tapes and records that had a “parental advisory” sticker slapped on them. Clive Barker entered the conversation as an author of note with his six-volume “Books of Blood” short-story series, but the real action was in serial-killers. Hannibal Lecter made a bit-part appearance in Thomas Harris’s “Red Dragon,” but took center stage for the follow-up book, “The Silence of the Lambs.” Killings began to make the nightly news on a more frequent basis, and America decided that real-life terrors were much worse than ghostly, supernatural spooks. By THAT time, the big paperback boom in horror had effectively ended, to be replaced on the charts by techno-thrillers and hipster mysteries. Paperbacks became more expensive, authors had to have some sort of “name” to make any dent in sales, and readership for books in general began a long, slow decline. Still, for many of us, that era of horror publishing was sheer gold, producing a number of instant classics and hidden gems. I really can’t recommend this book enough if you have any sort of interest in the subject. The physical copy of “Paperbacks From Hell” is gorgeous in and of itself. French flaps, thick, quality paper, and those oh-so-much-fun cover reprints in full color make this a must-have for paperback collectors. I think that Grady Hendrix and Quirk Books did a really great job with this edition. It will sit pretty on my shelf and be used as a reference for a long time to come.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Every horror imaginable and the first thought I have to share is WHAT A BEAUTIFUL BOOK....inside and out! Review on the way.....

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest Given my love for vintage novels of all kinds, you can imagine my reaction when I saw that vintage font peeping at me on Netgalley with its classic Gothic serifs, and red-black contrast. It looked exactly like a horror novel from the late 70s/early 80s. "What on Earth is that?" my inner book goblin cried. "I must have the precious!" It turned out to be a meta-book published by Grady Hendrix, the author of Horrorstör. PAPERBACKS FROM HELL is Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest Given my love for vintage novels of all kinds, you can imagine my reaction when I saw that vintage font peeping at me on Netgalley with its classic Gothic serifs, and red-black contrast. It looked exactly like a horror novel from the late 70s/early 80s. "What on Earth is that?" my inner book goblin cried. "I must have the precious!" It turned out to be a meta-book published by Grady Hendrix, the author of Horrorstör. PAPERBACKS FROM HELL is a celebration of horror from its early days to the 90s. It contains bite-sized reviews from his favorites - or at least the most memorable - discusses the game-changers and front-runners in the various sub-genres of horror (e.g. Gothic romance, vampire novels, splatterpunk, serial killer books, haunted houses, etc.), has beautiful, high-quality pictures of some of the cover art (and even goes into some of the more notable arists themselves), and is basically a celebration of the creepy and the wyrd. I expected it to be good, since it was published by Quirk Books and I've liked 90% of everything of theirs I've read, but I wasn't expecting this book to be this good. Some of these meta-books can be pretentious, but PAPERBACKS FROM HELL was just pure fun. Finally, someone who gets the ironic, self-indulgent pleasure of indulging in the ridiculously dated and ridiculously fun books of yesteryear! He even gives a nod to bodice rippers, when discussing Gothic romances. OBVIOUSLY my favorite sections were the Gothic/vampire romance sections and the sections on teen horror, because those two niches are my jam and I will spread them as thickly on toast as I can until the bread tears (or until I run out of shelf space). Crummy metaphor (ha - toast, get it?); let's just say that there's a genre of horror that I like and there's genres of horror that I don't like. HOWEVER, even though not all of these horror novels are my cups of tea, Hendrix made me want to revisit the genre. I used to read exclusively horror when I was a teen - Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Anne Rice, Dean Koontz - THE DARKER THE BETTER, I thought! Until I started having nightmares all the time...and at fourteen became briefly too traumatized to stand too near the shower drain (or the sink) after reading IT. After that, I started to tone it down. His enthusiasm and the amazing cover art would make this a must-read on their own, but the content is also great and I feel like he brings fresh insight and humor to the genre that is just extra. If you're a fan of horror at all, you should pick this up. It might bulk up your to-read list, but that's ok, right? Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy! 4.5 to 5 stars

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    PAPERBACKS FROM HELL: The Twisted History of '70's and '80's Horror Fiction, by Grady Hendrix was one of the most FUN books I've read in a while! A fantastic "reference guide" to some of those old paperbacks that many of us grew up on, Hendrix includes many facts about the horror industry, publishers, cover art, and even the "type" of horror that was in style during certain periods. Along with the factual information, there are many humor laced commentaries that had me grinning from ear to ear. F PAPERBACKS FROM HELL: The Twisted History of '70's and '80's Horror Fiction, by Grady Hendrix was one of the most FUN books I've read in a while! A fantastic "reference guide" to some of those old paperbacks that many of us grew up on, Hendrix includes many facts about the horror industry, publishers, cover art, and even the "type" of horror that was in style during certain periods. Along with the factual information, there are many humor laced commentaries that had me grinning from ear to ear. For example, there is a section on "PARENTING THE HOMICIDAL CHILD". After determining the type of "homicidal child" you have, Hendrix gives the reader some great advice stemming from the pages of these old paperbacks. "Adopted or chemically altered children should be destroyed immediately because they can not be reformed. No matter how hard you try, they probably will, at some point, go on a rampage and murder all your other children . . . " There are also precautions to take to make sure you are not dating the devil. If, however, you still give birth to the spawn of Satan, "all is not lost. Look on the bright side: deadly children are the best-dressed children. . . . A coat and tie says either "tiny funeral director" or "psychopath". . . " This book had me scouring my TBR piles for these "golden relics"--and soon to be camping out at any used book store I can find. Personally, I found the uniformity in covers during certain periods to be shocking. When reading all of those books by Patricia Wallace or Ruby Jean Jensen, it never occurred to me at the time that nearly all of the cover art depicted skeletons, in some form or other. Of course, a wise word of warning was included by Hendrix: "Skeleton doctors are the worst doctors." ". . . To be honest, I'm not even sure their licenses to practice medicine are legal. . . " Overall, a fantastic addition to any horror enthusiast's bookshelves, and a great reference on which "forgotten gems" you should run out and spend more money on! Highly recommended!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jen (Book Den)

    This book is astonishing. First of all, Paperbacks from Hell is a gorgeous book. All of the pages are in full color, and every aspect of this book is high quality. You could call it a coffee table book, but there's a lot more to Paperbacks from Hell than just the stunning paperback images. Paperbacks from Hell is divided up into the major categories of horror fiction that were prevalent in the 70's and 80's. Topics like 'Hail, Satan', 'Creepy Kids', 'When Animals Attack', and 'Real Estate Nightmar This book is astonishing. First of all, Paperbacks from Hell is a gorgeous book. All of the pages are in full color, and every aspect of this book is high quality. You could call it a coffee table book, but there's a lot more to Paperbacks from Hell than just the stunning paperback images. Paperbacks from Hell is divided up into the major categories of horror fiction that were prevalent in the 70's and 80's. Topics like 'Hail, Satan', 'Creepy Kids', 'When Animals Attack', and 'Real Estate Nightmares' walk the reader through the history of the horror genre. The written content in Paperbacks from Hell is just as extraordinary as the visual content. There's a lot of information about publishers, authors, and cover artists, as well as insight into what the readers were wanting and how the market shifted throughout the horror boom. The commentary is filled with a lot of humor and a lot of love. I felt so much nostalgia reading Paperbacks from Hell. Whether I was remembering the books I saw growing up or remembering books I've read and loved, I had a great time revisiting the horror paperbacks of the past. There were also quite a few books that were completely new to me. After making my way through Paperbacks from Hell, I can't help but have paperback envy and regrets over the books I've purged over the years. Paperbacks from Hell has sparked a love in my heart for even the worst of books. I can't say enough about Paperbacks from Hell. It's a must read for anyone interested in the history of horror fiction, and I highly, highly recommend it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This is such a beautiful and well put together book. I loved everything about it. Grady definitely did his research along with Will Errickson from Too Much Horror Fiction and their collective love of the genre and time period shines through. Thanks, Grady. You just cost me a bunch of dough. I want these books. All of them. Thanks a lot.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Horace Derwent

    I have a faith, faith in those old paperback horrors, now I'm reading a Bible of this faith :D Thank you, Mr., no, Dr. Hendrix!!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    It was great to learn about the history of horror lit! And to see so many old covers! Also, my TBR is now much larger than when I started this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    This was the coolest book I have read in a long time! It brought back so many memories of when I was younger and I would delve through the thrift stores looking for horror books to sink my teeth into. The covers of those books always drew my attention more than the stories. The spookier the better! The author did an awesome job of putting this book together for all horror fans as he researched from the beginning of the horror era. I could not put this book down and after reading it, I have to go This was the coolest book I have read in a long time! It brought back so many memories of when I was younger and I would delve through the thrift stores looking for horror books to sink my teeth into. The covers of those books always drew my attention more than the stories. The spookier the better! The author did an awesome job of putting this book together for all horror fans as he researched from the beginning of the horror era. I could not put this book down and after reading it, I have to go back into the book to make a list of horror authors from days gone by. I will definitely be seeking out the older books as I would love to revisit those memories from the past. Five stars for this one!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Spencer

    This is a fascinating look into the the resurgence of horror literature in the 70s and 80s, the trends of the genre and how world events shaped the state of horror at this time.  Grady Hendrix has a wonderful flow to his writing, it's a congenial and easy to read style that is well suited to something like this. I often find non-fiction can be dry and stuffy but the tone of this remains light and relaxed, I read through the book in no time at all. What I also loved about this book was that the st This is a fascinating look into the the resurgence of horror literature in the 70s and 80s, the trends of the genre and how world events shaped the state of horror at this time.  Grady Hendrix has a wonderful flow to his writing, it's a congenial and easy to read style that is well suited to something like this. I often find non-fiction can be dry and stuffy but the tone of this remains light and relaxed, I read through the book in no time at all. What I also loved about this book was that the stunning covers from the books at this time were given the respect and visibility they deserve and some of the best artists had some focus shined on them. The art from this time is amazing and really makes you wish for a return of the style and effort put in to those covers as an unfortunate number of books now are ugly and uninspired. Despite having a huge to-read list, after finishing this I've now addded dozens more books to it and I've been encouraged to try out sub-genres that I haven't considered before!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bob Milne

    As the cover blurb says, take a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s with Grady Hendrix . . . if you dare! Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction is a gloriously grotesque trip down nostalgia lane that works on multiple levels. First off, let's talk about the visuals. Browsing through all those bold, garish, blood-soaked covers is worth the price of admission alone. There are so many covers here that I recognized from my younger years, As the cover blurb says, take a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s with Grady Hendrix . . . if you dare! Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction is a gloriously grotesque trip down nostalgia lane that works on multiple levels. First off, let's talk about the visuals. Browsing through all those bold, garish, blood-soaked covers is worth the price of admission alone. There are so many covers here that I recognized from my younger years, many of which I still have on the shelf today - books like Isobel, Dark Advent, The Possession of Jessica Young, Cellars, Hot Blood, Animals, Ghoul, and XY. Then there were others that caught my eye, making me want to run out and hit the used bookstore to dig them up - books like The Little People, Satan's Love Child, Orca, Slither, and Obelisk. It's not just book cover porn, however, Hendrix also provides some insights and backstories of the artists behind them, many of whom have surprising pedigrees or quirks. Next, let's talk about the narrative of horror publishing, where Hendrix walks us through the rise and fall of horror publishers, whether they be major or niche. Having read so many of them, and having followed some of them as closely as authors, it was fascinating to learn about who was behind them, how they came to be, and what market pressures and personnel changes led to their demise. As a horror-addicted teenager, the business of publishing was the farthest thing from my mind, even as I noticed the best publishers disappearing from the shelves, but in hindsight I can understand what was happening. Lastly, and this is the true glory of the book, we need to talk about the evolution of horror themes and tropes. I remember so many of these fads coming and going, seeing similar covers on the shelves, and reading the same stories under different titles, but Hendrix does a great job of setting the stage and exploring the social/political background. From the Satanic panic, through creepy kids, man-eating animals (and plants), haunted houses, mad scientists, serial killers, and more, he explores how each came to be and how the themes develop. Thanks to his insights, I've added The Guardian, Scared Stiff, The Devil's Kiss, Toy Cemetery, and Soulmate to my used bookstore shopping list. Although I enjoyed it as a digital ARC, Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction is one of those books I need to pick up in paperback, just to have on the shelf so I can revisit those covers and dig into some of those themes. Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jim Lay

    I'm not kidding when I say I've been waiting for this book for most of my life. My love for horror fiction started when I was 13 and read Gary Brandner's "The Howling". For a lonely ADHD kid, it was a revelation to me and launched a lifetime hobby of reading and collecting horror novels. Hendrix awed me with his novels "Horrorstor" and "My Best Friend's Exorcism" and his love for the genre, along with his smart and snarky sense of humor, make this a must read. I would love to see a volume 2. There I'm not kidding when I say I've been waiting for this book for most of my life. My love for horror fiction started when I was 13 and read Gary Brandner's "The Howling". For a lonely ADHD kid, it was a revelation to me and launched a lifetime hobby of reading and collecting horror novels. Hendrix awed me with his novels "Horrorstor" and "My Best Friend's Exorcism" and his love for the genre, along with his smart and snarky sense of humor, make this a must read. I would love to see a volume 2. There are so many more paperbacks-- and awesome covers-- that need to be celebrated!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Rolfe

    A very fun and informative trip through the days of horror paperbacks. Hendrix doesn't look very old, so he must have done a ton of research for this project. Kudos to him for braving the massive pile of mostly horrible books so that we could experience it without regret. I did note all of the books I haven't read that sounded great. Now I have an even crazier To Be Read pile. Thanks, Mr. Hendrix. I give PAPERBACKS FROM HELL 5 stars.

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