Thursday, December 2, 2010

Richard Matheson: Shock! The Paperback Covers

X-- This day when it had light mother called me a retch. You retch she said. I saw in her eyes the anger. I wonder what it is a retch.

With those opening lines to his first published short story "Born of Man and Woman" in 1950, Richard Matheson was let loose upon the world. Many of his short stories became famous "Twilight Zone" episodes or appeared in Playboy, the Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and various mystery/crime magazines. Just the other night I read for the first time "Prey," his 1969 short that became the legendary episode "Amelia" in Dan Curtis's Trilogy of Terror TV movie (1975). The story was splendid: perfectly conceived and then executed with stark believability and conviction. I can't imagine there's a horror fan out there without at least some passing knowledge of that horrific Zuni fetish doll!

These four different Shock collections gather those tales, and though long out-of-print they seem to be fairly widely available online in various editions: the original Dell publications from the early and mid-1960s, as well as the Berkley reprints from the late 1970s (cover art by Murray Tinkelman).


Eric Rex said...

in 2003, Gauntlet press in three volumes collected all of Matheson's short fiction. You can find them for about $10 a pop at Amazon. The covers aren't nearly as exciting, but the chance to read stories I'd only heard of elsewhere was more than enough to make up for them.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

For new horror fiction, check out Dreamspell Nightmares an anthology of 20 unique horror stories from:

Unknown said...

I certainly mind stumbling across this on my treks to used-book shops. Anything with Matheson on the cover, and I'm game.

Anonymous said...

I'm in a hurry to finish Lansdale's LEATHER MAIDEN so that I can FINALLY start HELL HOUSE after all these years of meaning to. It's going to count as this year's X-Mas story.

Regarding all those terrific vintage Matheson paperback repros in this thread, I want some!
They're just too cool.
In my vintage paperbacks collection I have plenty of Blochs, some Ray Russells & a plethora of others, but no Mathesons. My collection of his work is a modern one just published a couple of years ago.
Which is, of course, fine for reading. But, NOTHING beats the originals for collecting.
Right Will?

Anonymous said...

Long story shortened up a bit, I'm whoafully behind in my Matheson reading considering my age ( I just turned 49 in October ) & the fact that I'm basically a lifelong voracious genre fiction fanatic ( since about 1975 - '76 ).
Oh, my intentions have been good as I've managed to get through a fair amount of his short work in various anthologies over the years, but it wasn't until just a couple of years ago that I finally read one of his major works in I AM LEGEND.
Which was every bit the classic that everyone has said it was IMO.
Though for whatever reason I left the rest of the volume unfinished until now, including amoung others his PREY, DUEL & HELL HOUSE.
Each of which has spawned terrific filmed adaptions that my childhood would have been incomplete without.
And, although TRILOGY OF TERROR & DUEL provided me with absolutely unforgettable & terrifying nights of viewing, it may have actually been my many weekend afternoon viewings of THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE that left the most indelible mark on me.
Which is why I'm SO looking forward to finally sitting down & reading the novel after all these years.

Will Errickson said...

Yep, anybody can just go to Borders or Amazon and buy the latest trade paperback edition of classic horror tales, but there's something special about doggedly tracking down lovely cheap old paperbacks! I have HELL HOUSE but just haven't gotten around to it yet; my girlfriend read it recently and liked it but said it was very, very dark and unrelenting. Cool!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it'll be right up my alley for the holidays!
If one can't immerse one's self in something dark & unrelenting at this time of year, then when exactly CAN one? LOL
The novel itself takes place in the days leading up to X-Mas, so it's just a perfect fit.
The film adaption didn't use that angle that I recall, but they should have.
While the movie is something less than perfect, THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE does have it's fair share of chills IMO & it's got LOADS of atmosphere. Which, I am absolute sucker for...