Signet '75... but of course
"The Thang" from all-American boy Robert McCammon kinda comes off like EC Comics porn: it's juvenile and silly, there's no reason for the extreme punishment for a guy who's just lookin' to... well. I think other readers will like it more than I did, though, because it does exhibit a ridiculous kind of charm. At the other end of the spectrum is Richard Christian Matheson's "Mr. Right," which exists in that uncomfortable world of non-PC desires and behavior. Like most of his fiction, it's barely three pages long, but packs an illicit wallop. Indeed, one woman's horrifying Mr. Wrong...
Not all the stories are original to Hot Blood; Gelb and Friend looked backward as well. From 1962, "The Likeness of Jenny" by the estimable Richard Matheson is a cool, calm and plainly written story of (prefiguring King tales like "Nona" and "Strawberry Spring") an undeniable criminal urge. The comeuppance is implied, and the more chilling for that.
Her orgasm was accompanied by a howl that rose up over the Seine and was lost in the night sky above Paris where the golden sovereign of the full moon swallowed it, glowing just a bit brighter with passion.
Masques editor and prolific author J.N. Williamson gives us "The Unkindest Cut," which concerns a vasectomy *shiver*. Not bad, but it simply reminded me of an anecdote Stephen King tells in Danse Macabre about an old Arch Oboler radio program and an unfortunate day at the dentist... Editor Gelb himself contributes "Suzie Sucks," in which we get a pure example of a primal male fear (an image that appears in a couple stories here, bet you can guess what).
Several entries I was familiar with: Dennis Etchison's story from '73 before as it was included in his collection The Dark Country. May I quote myself? "I adored 'Daughter of the Golden West,' which begins as a Bradbury-esque fantasy of three college-age men (the collection is dedicated to Bradbury) and ends with a revelation of one of California's greatest tragedies." Exactly the same goes for Les Daniels's "They're Coming for You" (in Cutting Edge), Lisa Tuttle's "Bug House" (in Nest of Nightmares), and David J. Schow's "Red Light" (in Lost Angels). All fine, good stuff!
Other stories by the usual horror suspects - Campbell, Bloch, Skipp and Spector, Rex Miller - who twine sex and death in their own recognizable styles, the effects of which range from quite good to simply okay. Then there was the sensitive if perplexing "Carnal House" from the generally reliable Steve Rasnic Tem... necrophilia right? Oh well.
2004 Pinnacle Books reprint
Successful enough that it became the first of a long-running series, Hot Blood provides decent horror entertainment, with a smattering of true gems. These gems understand the id of our sexual selves from experience, not just fruitless imaginings. Several of the stories, while not outright duds, combine sex and horror in a clumsy, even trite, manner and aren't erotic at all (provocative, I suppose, yes). Some use an easy narrative trick, to greater and lesser effect, to get men understand what it's like to be a woman, that of physical or emotional transference. And I certainly would have appreciated a Thomas Tessier or Poppy Z. Brite entry (Tessier appears in a later volume, and female writers appear as well), two writers whose tales of eroticized horror are smart, sly, and modern, and lack that regrettable obsessive adolescent tone that mars the underwhelming stories here. But rereading it 20-odd years later, I still think Hot Blood is a worthwhile addition to the groaning shelves of '80s horror anthologies.