Thursday, September 2, 2021

Horror Fiction Help XXV

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help ID these books!

1. 1980s. A man contacts various individuals and tells them they have magic potential, and he will chose one to be his successor. They all travel to his big ol’ gothic home to compete. The story switches perspective between the people. They kill each other off in magical ways over the days, until one person is left who (I think) didn’t kill anyone. Turns out the gothic house guy actually wants them all dead as threats rather than looking for a successor. The last man standing is special (of course) and more magical and can transform into animals, which is this big deal. The last man and gothic house guy do battle as various animals, last man manages to kill gothic house guy, the end. I know there’s a scene where one of the characters is on a commercial flight headed to the gothic house, and another character almost succeeds in bringing down the plane through magic - the character on the plane stops it, also through magic. Found! It's:

2. It wasn’t scary but it was all about ghosts. I think it was about a kid that moved into a new house that had a whole family of ghosts living there. There was a bit where the family of ghosts went on a trip to the beach but the moment that really stuck with me but I can’t seem to turn up anything on was that the little boy ghost got stuck between the sheets of double glazing when trying to pass through the window which turned out to be a big hazard for little ghosts. I must have read it ten times and this is all I can remember! It had illustrations throughout and I believe the front cover might have been the beach scene. It might be that it’s some very niche little British book that just happened to be in my library.

3. Very early '90s, vampire performs oral sex on women and drinks their menstrual blood (not Memnoch the Devil). A scene early in the book.

4. Scientists have literally run out of things to study -they know everything. One scientist comes across a spell for conjuring a demon. Hmm, something that hasn't been studied. He runs it through his computer and presto! a demon appears and asks his bidding. Scientist has a back and forth with the demon, demon surprised humans are no longer grasping and lustful, so decides to kill/eat the scientist. Scientist pulls out a ray gun and stuns the demon and locks him up for further study.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Latest Title in Valancourt's Paperbacks from Hell Series: Gwen, in Green!

Great news, everyone! The series of reprints of classic titles featured in Paperbacks from Hell from Valancourt Books is not over—coming next is the 1974 eco-horror novel Gwen, in Green, by Hugh Zachary. The book will feature the stunning George Ziel cover art from the Fawcett Gold Medal edition; I will be writing the introduction for it. This is a personal favorite of mine and I lobbied hard to get it back in print, while the guys at Valancourt diligently tracked down the late Zachary's estate to obtain the rights. The process seemed to take forever, but here we are! 

Valancourt hopes to have it ready to go by year's end. And Valancourt, Grady Hendrix, and I are still hoping to bring you more of these. For all information on ordering and whatnot, go here. For more on this series, go here.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Intensive Scares: The Paperback Cover Art of J.K. Potter

Vintage horror fiction fans are well aware of American artist J.K. Potter, born Jeffrey Knight Potter in California on this date in 1956. His macabre photorealistic imagery decorated the covers of dozens of small-press hardcovers, various magazines, and plenty of paperbacks throughout the Eighties and beyond, most often for such genre heavyweights as Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Ramsey Campbell, Dennis Etchison, Charles L. Grant, and Karl Edward Wagner, along with many other writers in the fantasy and science fiction fields as well. 

With its surrealistic blending of collage and contrasting elements along with ghostly hues and piercing eyes, Potter's art probably unsettled and attracted as many readers as it repelled! Here is a  sampling of his paperback work:

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Horror Fiction Help XXIV

Some recent emails I’ve received from people hoping to find these forgotten horrors. Thanks in advance for helping to ID them! 

1. A children's horror book from the late 80s or early to mid 90s, a collection of short stories. One was about a party of kindergartners who make paper lanterns and march around, disappearing over a hill never to be seen again. Another about a child in a yellow raincoat getting hit by a car. It also included a story about a kid staying home from school "sick" but the sickness was actually that he was a werewolf or something. Found! It's a 1989 Scholastic collection:

2. Cover art: a man sitting down at a table, either with silverware in each hand or eating food, and a pig standing on two legs (possibly dressed in an apron or chef's outfit) holding a butcher's knife behind his back. (ed.—Argh! This one sounds sooo familiar!) Found! It's the 1968 Penguin edition of: 

1970s: Two boys are abducted by a flying saucer, controlled by what seem to be human-sized aliens with an insectoid look. But the kids figure out all's not as it seems: the "aliens" are really evolved ants who have been living underground for ages, and they're using the UFO as a cover story for whatever their real plans might be. I don't remember much else, except that 1. I learned the word "chitin" from this book, and 2. in the scene where the kids first discuss this theory, they know the ants are listening in, so they use a private code where you spell out words with the initials of made-up names (e.g. for "ants" it'd be something like "Remember when we hung out with Amy Nugent and Todd Smith"). Found! It's a 1981 kids' book:

4. Two or 3 young kids (a teen and one much younger I think) visiting an aunt or similar. They take a train, I think, and the woods surrounding the station are covered in nightshade/belladonna. The aunt lives in some kind of old mansion and has a weird man servant/sex demon named Jared or Jarad.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Thomas Tessier: The Paperback Covers

Author Thomas Tessier, born on this date in Westbury, CT, in 1947, has long been one of my personal favorite horror writers. One of the first books I reread when I began this blog was Finishing Touches, which I hadn't read since the late 1980s. It's an erotic horror masterpiece, filled with a fatalistic conviction that I find irresistible—and featured a credible mad scientist too. He forayed into the devious mind of a stalker in Rapture and made his shocking sociopathic behavior seem rational. Nightwalker, his second novel, is an ambiguous tale of lycanthropy praised by both Stephen King and Peter Straub. Not too shabby!

Tessier's short work was published in many horror anthologies of the late '80s and into the '90s, and these should not be overlooked. Stories like "Food," "Evelyn Grace," "In Praise of Folly," "Addicted to Love," and "Blanca" brim with a wit and fearlessness that is too often absent from horror fiction; they never fail to disturb, provoke, disgust, and chill the reader. And I can't ask too much more from any horror writer than that.



Friday, April 9, 2021

Jaws Paperback/Movie Preview Booklet

What an unexpected item to add to my collection! I didn't even know this piece of ephemera existed till now: a stapled booklet the size of a mass market paperback that previews the "upcoming" film adaptation of Peter Benchley's massive bestseller from Bantam Books, Jaws. A little edgeworn and torn, it was given to me by crime novelist, journalist, and fellow New Jerseyan Wallace Stroby, who sent me an ARC of his new book with this surprise stuffed inside. 

I forget exactly how Stroby and I met online. Probably through his own blog, maybe when he'd posted his terrific 1990 interview with Clive Barker, which I recalled reading when first published. He'd reviewed some books for Fangoria back in the vintage era, which he mailed to me some years ago (and he included a CD mix of Springsteen rarities too). He told me he picked this up at a bookstore giveaway around 1974 or early 1975. Anyway, enjoy!