Criticism—effective, conscientious criticism—is not simply a means of informing the reading public about the availability of books. It is vital to the integrity and advancement of writers as well as of the literary form in which they work... traditionally [horror fiction] has found its best critics within the ranks of its working writers, as attested by H.P. Lovecraft's Supernatural Horror in Literature and Stephen King's Danse Macabre.
The Delicate Dependency is disappointing?!). Stephen King contributes a short review of Red Dragon, praising the novel's "raw, grisly power" and laments the fact that "serious critics" won't deign to review such a work of suspense, even though "the best popular fiction can combine art with nearly devastating insights into The Way We Live Now."
Karl Edward Wagner takes a look at "an original visionary," Dennis Etchison and his outstanding collection The Dark Country. Jack Sullivan covers Ramsey Campbell's short fiction, noting his "uncompromising bleakness" and "compression and intensity" as he moved from Cthulhu Mythos tales to his own "fragmented, jagged" psychological horror. Charles L. Grant reviews Peter Straub's Shadowland, Alan Ryan reviews titles by Charles L. Grant, Michael McDowell, and Thomas Tessier, Winter himself talks to David Morrell about the part violence plays in fiction, while others like Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, John Coyne, and Suzy McKee Charnas also weigh in (no one more perceptively than Etchison, however: "I submit that death, like anything else in art, may be used as a symbol"). Also included are several essays on "modern" horror films, Cronenberg, Creepshow, et. al. All this and more!
Douglas Winter, 1985
One can find copies of Shadowings online for around $10, which is what I paid for it; I'd say it's worth the sawbuck for an in-depth tour through early '80s horror at ground zero, back when Stephen King had published novels that numbered in the single digits and nobody yet, no matter what they thought, had seen the future of horror. Also: dig that typeset!