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Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction Paperback – September 19, 2017
Enhance your purchase
Take a tour through the horror paperback novels of two iconic decades . . . if you dare. Page through dozens and dozens of amazing book covers featuring well-dressed skeletons, evil dolls, and knife-wielding killer crabs! Read shocking plot summaries that invoke devil worship, satanic children, and haunted real estate!
Horror author and vintage paperback book collector Grady Hendrix offers killer commentary and witty insight on these trashy thrillers that tried so hard to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. Complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles, this unforgettable volume dishes on familiar authors like V. C. Andrews and R. L. Stine, plus many more who’ve faded into obscurity.
Also included are recommendations for which of these forgotten treasures are well worth your reading time and which should stay buried.
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“Paperbacks from Hell is as funny as it is engaging.”—The Washington Post
“The book is a true appreciation of the genre.”—Los Angeles Times
“Just thumbing through these pages will bring back your youth—and terrify you all over again.”—Newsday
“A loving examination of lurid pulp book covers from the 1970s and ’80s.”—Atlas Obscura
“Paperbacks from Hell is as wild as its source material.”—The A.V. Club
“[Paperbacks from Hell] will delight anyone with an interest in horror, design illustration, or the macabre.”—Print Magazine
“A nostalgic treat.”—Playboy Online
“You may find yourself trying to stock up on old titles so you can get your fill of gloriously trashy scares.”—Bustle
“Terrific...Written with wit and affection, lavishly illustrated with a wide selection of the era’s cover art, Paperbacks from Hell was an attempt to reckon with the tidal wave of horror narratives that filled the bookshelves for two decades.”—Locus
“The very best horror novel reference material on the shelves right now, bar none.”—Dread Central
“As a reference book, as a celebration, and as an appreciation, it’s one of the best books about the horror genre that I’ve ever had the pleasure to read...This gets my highest possible recommendation.”—Blu Gilliand, Cemetery Dance
“[A] literary house of horrors.”—Houston Chronicle
“[Hendrix] approaches 20th century genre fiction with a historian’s eye and a comic’s sense of humor and timing.”—The Oklahoman
“Really fun to flip through if you love kitschy ’70s and ’80s book culture.”—CNET
Praise for We Sold Our Souls:
An NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour Pick
An io9 2018 Fall Preview Pick
“Kickass, horrifying, and smart as hell. It certainly earns my two horns up.”—Dread Central
“Wild and fun, genuinely terrifying in places, and also somehow heartfelt.”—Tor.com
“A fast-paced ride, firmly rooted in the pulp horror tradition…Hendrix’s darkest novel yet will leave readers begging for an encore.”—Booklist, starred review
“Hendrix's pulpy love letter to heavy metal music is a gloriously over-the-top scare fest that has hidden depths. Readers will root for Kris all the way to the explosive, poignant finale.”—Publishers Weekly
“Horror and humor play off each other in a delicate dance.”—Nightmare Magazine
Praise for My Best Friend’s Exorcism:
“National treasure Grady Hendrix follows his classic account of a haunted IKEA-like furniture showroom, Horrorstor (2014), with a nostalgia-soaked ghost story, My Best Friend’s Exorcism.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Take The Exorcist, add some hair spray and wine coolers, and enroll it in high school in 1988 — that’ll give you My Best Friend’s Exorcism...Campy. Heartfelt. Horrifying.”—Minnesota Public Radio
“Clever, heartfelt, and get-under-your-skin unnerving.”—Fangoria
“A touching story of high school friendship and, well, demonic possession.”—Bloody Disgusting
“Terrific...Sharply written...[My Best Friend’s Exorcism] makes a convincing case for [Hendrix’s] powers as a sharp observer of human behavior, filtered through a fun genre conceit that doesn’t skimp on the spooky—or the bodily fluids.”—The A.V. Club
Praise for Horrorstor:
“Horrorstör delivers a crisp terror-tale...[and] Hendrix strikes a nice balance between comedy and horror.”—The Washington Post
“Disarming.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Hendrix conjures up some wonderfully gruesome imagery.”—Nerdist
“An inventive, hilarious haunted house tale.”—Bustle
“If you’ve ever been frustrated trying to put together furniture from IKEA, you’ll get a laugh out of Hendrix’s spoof mystery.”—New York Post
About the Author
Grady Hendrix is a novelist and screenwriter based in New York City. His novels include Horrorstör, named one of the best books of 2014 by National Public Radio, and My Best Friend’s Exorcism, for which the Wall Street Journal dubbed him “a national treasure.” The Bram Stoker Award-winning Paperbacks from Hell, his survey of outrageous horror novels of the 1970s and 80s, was called “pure, demented delight” by the New York Times Book Review. He’s contributed to Playboy, The Village Voice, and Variety.
- Publisher : Quirk Books; First Printing edition (September 19, 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1594749817
- ISBN-13 : 978-1594749810
- Item Weight : 2.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.99 x 0.86 x 9.99 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #25,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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I really like this book. I recommend it highly. It fills a void and it's interesting to see some of these titles going from give-aways to upwards of $2000 for heretofore unknown masterpieces such as The Voice of the Clown.
If you're at all intrigued, you'll enjoy this.
A thing that really bothers me is how incomplete the listing of books in each subcategory is. Most of the plot details are drawn from the excellent Too Much Horror Fiction website, and I'm not sure that the author has read all of the books he talks about (I have). Very little space is given to the short fiction end of the mid-70s-late-80s horror boomlet, as the author concentrates on the 80s version of horror with its splatter and werewolves doing it doggystyle, and entirely whiffs on genre originators like Stephen Gilbert and Thomas Page in certain subsections and Michael Crichton in others, and ignores the ecofiction/sf/horror vein that informs some of the later growth in written horror fiction.
I suppose this volume would do for people who are ignorant of the genre and just want an overview. It isn't for people who have detailed knowledge.
The text that goes along with the pictures is funny and informative. If I had to compare it to something then Stephen King's Danse Macabre would be the closest comparison. But while Danse Macabre got bogged down occasionally in dryness Paperbacks from Hell never does.
With headings like 'Parenting the Homicidal Child' (first make sure you're not dating Satan) and phrases like "Before Anne Rice, vampires killed humans. Now they got in touch with their sensitive sides while muffin-spelunking inside of them." (page 153) this book left me actually laughing out loud. That's no easy trick, I haven't laughed at a book (in a good way) in quite a while.
I sincerely hope that Grady Hendrix follows up his book with a journey through the nineties and on. While some plots may not be quite so creatively insane there are some out there and some cover art that deserves showcasing. I was also very pleased to see some 'forgotten' favorites of mine in there.
If you're looking for a quick, funny overview of the crazy days of the horror industry then I can't recommend this book enough. I wanted to rip through Paperbacks from Hell but also take my time enjoying the crazy, beautiful covers of the '70s and '80s.
Paperbacks from Hell is a funny romp through the craziness that defined two decades and never leaves you bored. The commentary from Grady Hendrix (Horrorstor) will never leave you bored.
Top reviews from other countries
There are plenty of familiar names here with the likes of Stephen King, Ann Rice and James Herbert all discussed but it also provides incite into many of the lesser known authors and their works from the period (I was particularly pleased to see Robert McCammon getting a name drop...but no Night Boat mention unfortunately - seriously, Nazi Zombies on a U-Boat!!!! How did Hendrix miss that!!!). It covers both the critically acclaimed and the "so lame its funny" trash that sprang up with alarming regularity - indeed some of the plot lines are so bizarre as to be laugh out loud hilarious (murderous demonic prehensile Penises anybody??? No? How about Nazi Leprechauns then???).
Hendrix tells his story with a fair amount of tongue in cheek and isn't afraid to have a laugh at his subject matter. His style is easy and conversational while still being informative but it does show at times that he is writing for an American audience.
The book is well illustrated with a plethora of cover art work however some of this is a bit graphic so probably not one to leave on the coffee table to let the kids flick through.
All in all a thoroughly entertaining book for any fan of the genre and I defy you not to have composed a large "to read" list once you've finished it.