Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hellbound Hearts: Horror Anthologies of the 1980s

Ah, '80s horror anthologies! These were really my favorites back in the day when I was working in a used bookstore and reading horror fiction with an all-consuming appetite. I ordered these titles like crazy, waiting impatiently for the UPS guy to arrive with boxes of new books ordered from Ingram and Baker & Taylor, ready with the boxcutter to slice 'em open and get at the goodies inside. First up? Why, it's Hot Blood (1990) from Pocket Books! Stories of horror and sex and their twining, by Harlan Ellison, Ramsey Campbell, Robert Bloch, Theodore Sturgeon, Graham Masterton, Ray Garton, David J. Schow, Skipp & Spector - oh my cup it do runneth over! I didn't know who Jeff Gelb was, but my days as a teenage Jersey metalhead had made me familiar with Lonn Friend, who edited the essential metal mag RIP.

Of course the Hot Blood series turned into quite a long-running one as the 1990s wore on; there were myriad ways to make sex and horror mix and mingle...

The Night Visions series, originally published in hardcover by specialty horror press Dark Harvest, were reprinted in paperback by Berkley. Lots of great names here, although I really only read a very few.

This series also continued into the '90s. Night Visions 3 from '86 was the first appearance of a little novella by Clive Barker called The Hellbound Heart; I think it was the basis for some movie or other.

Now we reach the Borderlands, and here there be dragons. I will always remember this great series for introducing me to Poppy Z. Brite, Karl Edward Wagner, and Joe R. Lansdale, so as you might imagine, it holds a special place in my own hellbound heart! (Oh look, it was originally published in October 1990 - no matter, it was the '80s up till at least Nevermind, if not Pulp Fiction, hope you don't mind me mixing my pop cultural metaphors.) The Borderlands went on for another four or five books, and were even reprinted by specialty gaming publishers White Wolf, and editor Thomas Monteleone started his own Borderlands Press. I simply must replace my long-gone copies for a reread.

As a young burgeoning liberal dude with female friends who all wanted to be writers (Anais Nin, to a one!) I consciously branched out with Women of Darkness (1988), and recall the bizarre delights of tales by Nancy Holder, Kit Reed, and Elizabeth Massie. Indeed there was a sequel to this as well, but I don't think I ever read it.

Whispers began as Stuart David Schiff's labor of love magazine, then in the late '70s became paperback anthologies, which were reprinted in the '80s by Jove Books, as you see here. Love the tormented silvery faces (predicting the covers of the Dell/Abyss series to come; the artist is Marshall Arisman). The stories herein seem to be much more quiet horror, and names like Charles L. Grant, Robert Aickman, Fritz Leiber, William F. Nolan, Alan Ryan, Manly Wade Wellman, Dennis Etchison, Campbell, Wagner, and the like predominate. Pretty sure I read some of this stuff well before I read even any King, but damn that was a long time ago.

Of course Texas born-and-bred Joe Lansdale his ownself edited an anthology of western-themed horror stories! Nicely titled too: Razored Saddles (1989). This one was labeled as "cowpunk" on its spine, a jokey nod to splatterpunk. Now honestly I've never really cared about westerns at all - something about all that brown dust, brown sand, brown storefronts, and brown horses bores me to impatience (the brown liquor's okay though) - so I've never read this one at all. Surely one of you folks out there has.

Other '80s horror anthologies that I've already reviewed: Cutting Edge (1986), Prime Evil (1988), and Silver Scream (1988). Which ones did I miss?


HueyLewis said...

I have a used copy of "Hot Blood" which is currently deep down on my "To Be read" list. Frankly, I'm suspicious of an anthology that needs to tell us how "provocative" its stories are, but I've heard mostly good things about it. And as for the cover, ya gotta love the big hair!

White Wolf published very nice PB editions of the first four-or-so "Borderlands" (these are much higher on my TBR list). White Wolf also published nice reprints of excellent horror novels by Stephen Gregory, Ed Gorman and some PB originals as well. These editions have a unique look and are very well put together for Mass Mkt PBs, in my opinion. I would love to hear more about this publisher. My understanding is White Wolf got out of standalone horror fiction to focus on gaming and series books, but I haven't been able to find much else out about why they got away from mainstream horror and fantasy. Some of their PBOs go for a lot of money, comparatively speaking, on the internet.

Will Errickson said...

I prefer the "erotic horror" on the second volume HOTTER BLOOD b/c you're right, "provocative" just sounds silly.

In the mid '90s I worked in a Barnes & Noble and was able to get all the White Wolf reprints of the BORDERLANDS series, but lost them years ago. Great cover art by Dave McKean. Indeed all their books had a unique look, but I never read any of those standalones. Once I get more of the BORDERLANDS in my possession I'll feature them here. Thanks for reading Huey!

HueyLewis said...

Thanks for writing! Fantastic blog.

francisco said...

what about Masques by JN Williamson? and wasn't there a book with the best of Twilight zone magazine? The Dodd, Mead gallery of horror by Charles L Grant, the Omnibus of new horrors by Ramsey Campbell, the annual anthologies by Terry Carr, a best of The magazine of science fiction and fantasy... I know and have read them because are some of the very few translated to spanish

by the way I think like you the 90's started with Nevermind, hehehe I thought you was speaking about some film and then I realized is the album by Nirvana

wormface said...

The Best of Masques ed by J.N. Williamson (1987)

^^^Two of my all-time favorites are in that - "Soft" by F. Paul Wilson and "The Yard" by William F. Nolan.

A few others...

Shock Rock - ed. by Jeff Gelb and Lonn Friend
(Shock Rock 2 wasn't very good though)

Midnight Graffiti - ed. by Jessica Horsting and James Van Hise - good stories by Schow, Gaiman, and Boyett - "Cattletruck" by Cliff Burns was pretty good too.

It Came From The Drive-In - ed. by Martin Greenberg and Robert Devereaux - not great but a few fun stories

Psycho Paths - ed. by Robert Bloch - never read it but seems ok

Razored Saddles wasn't that great, but "Yore Skin's Jes's Soft 'n Purty" by Chet Williamson was a pretty nasty tale iirc.

That first Borderlands was good too. "Oh What A Swell Guy Am I" is a favorite of mine. Wild stuff!

wormface said...

Oh, one more... The Further Adventures of The Joker was a good one too! That was a theme anthology based on the Joker but most of those stories were close enough to call horror.

Great post btw!

James Everington said...

Oh I have that Hellbound Heart one - some great stories from all three contributors as I remember.

I'm loving the covers to the 'Whispers' ones.

Will Errickson said...

Francisco - I've never found any MASQUES copies. DODD MEAD GALLERY has the most boring cover(s) ever but has good stories.

Justin S. Davis said...

I, too, was a sucker for anthologies.

This post brought back some great memories about covers of books long forgotten.

Thank you for all you do here, sir.

francisco said...

oh and I thought they only did bad covers in Spain!!!

and what about the anthologies Stalkers, The architecture of fear or Post mortem? Along with Blood is not enough and the first Hot blood were published in Spain in the first 90's, I have Stalkers, The architecture of fear on the to be read books pile and I have read Hot blood, I'm very interested in buying Post mortem but not so in Vampires, maybe for completism...

Masques is a very interesting series of anthologies very comprehensive of the trends in the horror field in the last 80's and first 90's

what about a poll or something like that for choosing the best anthology of modern horror?

Will Errickson said...

Thanks for mentioning all these great anthologies! Some are from the early '90s and I'll probably feature them in their own post. There's a review of MIDNIGHT GRAFFITI here:

Have to get those MASQUES, and I just remembered Etchison had MASTERS OF HORRORS. Lots of series! I'd never heard of ARCHITECTURE OF FEAR, sounds cool. As ever, more to come!

Rabid Fox said...

Great post. My wish list just grew another little bit, as I hadn't heard of the Hot Blooded anthologies until now. Hopefully, with the nicer weather I'll be able to get out around further to scrounge the used bookstores.

Jamie Rosen said...

Who did the art for the Whispers covers? I love them.

Will Errickson said...

Jamie, it was the artist Marshall Arisman.

S. said...

Just bought the Borderlands collection off AbeBooks. What an awesome post this was, I think I'll be referring to it for a long time as I keep buying stuff you listed.

I'm especially looking forward to reading my first Bentley Little, heard him described as the thinking man's horror writer. Heard some bad things about Brite, so this short story will be a good start. Never heard of Wagner and Lansdale, which you mention, so looking forward to them.

By the way, my edition has this cover:

Great post, great blog. I love digging into forgotten '80s lore.

John Scoleri said...

An interesting note on that first Hot Blood cover - I purchased the original from Jeff Gelb a few years back and was amazed to see that it was actually an original portrait photograph with the torn paper eyes painted directly on it. I would have sworn from seeing the cover that the entire piece was a painting. It's still my favorite 80s horror anthology cover (but not my favorite 80s horror anthology - without question that's David J. Schow's Silver Scream).

Will Errickson said...

S. - Hope you enjoy your intro to Brite, Lansdale, and Wagner!

John - SILVER SCREAM is one of my faves of the '80s, always has been.