Paperbacks from Hell
Take a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s . . . if you dare. Page through dozens and dozens of amazing book covers featuring well-dressed skeletons, evil dolls, and knife-wielding killer crabs! Read shocking plot summaries that invoke devil worship, satanic children, and haunted real estate! Horror author and vintage paperback book collector Grady Hendrix offers killer commentary and witty insight on these trashy thrillers that tried so hard to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. It’s an affectionate, nostalgic, and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of two iconic decades, complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles. You’ll find familiar authors, like V. C. Andrews and R. L. Stine, and many more who’ve faded into obscurity. Plus recommendations for which of these forgotten treasures are well worth your reading time and which should stay buried.

Paperbacks from Hell Details

TitlePaperbacks from Hell
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 19th, 2017
PublisherQuirk Books
ISBN-139781594749810
Rating
GenreHorror, Nonfiction, Writing, Books About Books, History, Art, Reference

Paperbacks from Hell Review

  • Char
    January 1, 1970
    A book about the period of time when the horror genre ruled the paperback racks at the bookstore? A book about the period of time in my life, (about Carrie's age, in fact), when I felt like an outsider, and horror made me feel included? Sign me up! Luckily, Quirk books and NetGalley did just that, and here we are.This book is a reference book, a guide to life and times in the United States in the 70's and 80's. Things going on in the world and in society always affect our fiction and those times A book about the period of time when the horror genre ruled the paperback racks at the bookstore? A book about the period of time in my life, (about Carrie's age, in fact), when I felt like an outsider, and horror made me feel included? Sign me up! Luckily, Quirk books and NetGalley did just that, and here we are.This book is a reference book, a guide to life and times in the United States in the 70's and 80's. Things going on in the world and in society always affect our fiction and those times were no different. Paperbacks from Hell puts it all into perspective in an easy to read and humorous way. All the while vividly punctuated with those freaking AWESOME horror book covers of that time!I bet you remember those covers too. The Sentinel with the priest looking out at you; Flowers in the Attic with those children looking out at you...and ALL those children from the John Saul books, (though at least one was blind and was NOT looking at you.) I had a mad grin on my face the entire time I was reading this, and with its funny chapter titles like "What to Expect When You're Expecting (a Hell Baby)," and its funny observations about life back then, how could I not? I'd wager that you'll have a mad grin on your face too.Contributing a great deal to this book was Will Errickson and his blog, Too Much Horror Fiction. You can and should (!) find it here: http://toomuchhorrorfiction.blogspot....Paperbacks From Hell gets my highest recommendation! Period.You can pre-order your copy here. (I did!): https://www.amazon.com/Paperbacks-Hel...*Thanks to NetGalley and Quirk books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it. *
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  • Kealan Burke
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely fantastic. Like a slighter DANSE MACABRE, PAPERBACKS FROM HELL zeroes in on the rise of horror paperbacks in the 70s and 80s through to its decline in the 90s. I especially appreciated the attention given to the cover artists responsible for some of the truly masterful and evocative covers that had me grabbing these books in my formative years.Well worth a look, but be warned, you'll immediately want to go on a book-buying spree after reading it.
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  • Cameron Chaney
    January 1, 1970
    Imagine you are in a used bookshop. It’s dimly lit, obviously, with dusty tomes creating houses on the floor perfect for guests of the smaller variety. Rats? Possibly. Evil Nazi leprechauns? That’s crazy talk! But do watch your step… just to be safe. As you venture further, you say to yourself “I should turn back. All the new releases are in the shop’s front window, baking in the sun. I have no business with these musty old things. Yuck!” But you continue anyway, pulled by the essence of some un Imagine you are in a used bookshop. It’s dimly lit, obviously, with dusty tomes creating houses on the floor perfect for guests of the smaller variety. Rats? Possibly. Evil Nazi leprechauns? That’s crazy talk! But do watch your step… just to be safe. As you venture further, you say to yourself “I should turn back. All the new releases are in the shop’s front window, baking in the sun. I have no business with these musty old things. Yuck!” But you continue anyway, pulled by the essence of some unseen force. Unseen, that is, until your eyes rest on a spinny rack of used paperbacks. It holds a copy of The Devil’s Cat by William W. Johnstone. And Spawn by Shaun Hutson. And you can’t look away. You’re transfixed by their grotesque covers as you realize there are more horrors to be discovered aside from the R. L. Stine and Point Horror novels you read as a teen. With this revelation, the floor splits open and you cascade into the hells of the horror publishing boom of the ‘70s and ‘80s. You are nosediving into… the Paperbacks from Hell !This is (kinda) what happened to horror author Grady Hendrix when he discovered a copy of The Little People by John Christopher at a convention. This book alone kick-started a passion project to chronicle the history of these long forgotten works of *cough* literature. Fast-forwarding some years later, we have Paperbacks from Hell, the new nonfiction offering from Grady Hendrix. It stands as the ultimate encyclopedia of these often times trashy, occasionally impressive, but always entertaining horrors from beyond grave.This book comes complete with publisher histories, author and artist bios, shocking book synopses, and hundreds of ghoulish full-color book covers that would make your grandma's book club protest outside the local Barnes & Noble. You’re a couple decades too late, Granny! Although these books made a killing (pun so intended) when they hit bookstore shelves in the ‘70s and ‘80s, they slowly fizzled out in the early 1990s. Many paperbacks were disposed of while others were shelved away in used bookstores, waiting for someone like Grady to dust them off and pull them out of the darkness.Because the authors and illustrators of these books are mostly unknown by contemporary readers, not much information about them exists on the internet. For this reason Grady dug deep, reading hundreds of paperbacks and interviewing many people who worked in the publishing industry at the time. The information here is fascinating, drawing a map of what the industry was like at the time, with its hits and misses, ups and downs, and reoccurring trends that spelled dollar signs.Aside from this history lesson, the plots of these books that Hendrix chose to feature are entertaining and jaw-dropping on every level. They range from mildly spoopy to downright absurd. But not boring! Never boring. Sure, your standard haunted houses and serial killers make the list, but let’s not forget the highly intelligent mobs of killer crabs, telekinetic unborn babies that will literally blow your mind, and, yes, even evil Nazi leprechauns. ‘Cuz why not?Paperbacks from Hell is beautifully formatted, providing all the information in a well-organized, compulsively readable fashion. It resembles a textbook but is never a chore to read. The paper is thick and glossy, the scans of the book covers reveal every brushstroke, the layout is convenient, and the sources are nicely cited. There is even an afterward by Will Errickson, manager of the Too Much Horror Fiction blog, which is where a lot of horror fans first discovered these wonderfully trashy books.Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks from Hell is a ghastly emporium of the bizarre. It truly casts a spell, leaving a trail of Halloween candy that will take readers far beyond anything they knew existed. I mean, evil Nazi leprechauns… c’mon! It is recommended to horror fans and publishing aficionados alike. It is available on September 19, 2017.YOU CAN SEE MY VIDEO REVIEW HERE!
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  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    FINALLY!! this is even better than i dared hope.
  • Joseph
    January 1, 1970
    Paperbacks from Hell: A History of Horror Fiction from the '70s and '80s by Grady Hendrix is the history of the paperback horror novel. Hendrix is the author of the novels Horrorstör, the only book you'll ever need about a haunted Scandinavian furniture superstore, and My Best Friend's Exorcism.In the mid-1970s I would go to the corner store, a Lawson, and raided the book rack. There was always a carousel of books near the front counter. Horror books took up most of the shelf space with everythi Paperbacks from Hell: A History of Horror Fiction from the '70s and '80s by Grady Hendrix is the history of the paperback horror novel. Hendrix is the author of the novels Horrorstör, the only book you'll ever need about a haunted Scandinavian furniture superstore, and My Best Friend's Exorcism.In the mid-1970s I would go to the corner store, a Lawson, and raided the book rack. There was always a carousel of books near the front counter. Horror books took up most of the shelf space with everything from the Omen to countless barely remembered horror stories of all types. I remember a class mate, Pam, giving me her copy of Gary Brandner's The Howling. That book was a game changer for me. The Scholastic Books, an in school book sale, even had Stephen King's Carrie for sale. This caused a temporary ban of Scholastic Books in my school as some parents got very upset about the books available to 7th graders. There was something special about buying books that were not meant for school children.Paperbacks from Hell is a return to that time with a detailed discussion and listing of books from that period. Hendrix provides a great refresher for those who loved the horror boom of the period. What subject defined horror changed over time. Satan and Satanists made an easy subject and a lasting one through books and even music in 1980s metal. David Seltzer's novelization of the movie The Omen started a string of books and the popularization of an obscure Bible passage. Knowing that 666 was the number of the beast suddenly became a Bible trivia everyone knew regardless of religious belief.Damian also triggered the growth as a child being evil or a killer. Evil children were a shocking subject going back to the 1954 book Bad Seed. Books like The Crib and Spawn had a supernatural touch while Let's Play Games at the Adams' and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane told of normal kids gone bad or take control of their own situation. There is also the far fetched fear mongering book Rona Joffee Mazes and Monsters which turned the popularity of Dungeons and Dragons into something that will damage and warp a teenager's brain.Animals also were big sellers from Peter Benchley's Jaws to killer dogs, cats, rats, and even rabbits. Animals were killing people in untold numbers. Pick a seeming defenseless animal and there is probably a story of it being a mad killer (yes, butterflies too). If one thought animal killers wasn't quite over the top there were also killer plants. Jaws lead the escalation of wildlife killers.If it wasn't an animal or child, it was probably a haunted property. Amityville Horror was the foundation for the haunted house. Amityville spawned six books in the series, each marketed as nonfiction. The premise of haunted houses being built over vortexes, graveyards, or other mystical places expanded into haunted train lines and hospitals. Anything could be haunted or possessed.  Just ask Arnie Cunningham.Hendrix starts his book with an introduction featuring The Little People who live in a basement of a bed and breakfast, Gestapochauns (Nazi leprechauns) and ends with a genre called Splatter Punk. Not much new has been developed since the late 80s death of paperback horror. Stephen King and others still write but the present generation would rather have movies and video games rather than a cheap paperback. I revisited the era re-reading Brandner's Howling series a while ago, but I did it on a Kindle. It just didn't seem the same. While today people look for special effects in movies today, we had cover art back then. Hendrix captures a multitude of the covers that got many people reading. Cover art at the time was important in making one book stand out from the rest.   Foil covers, embossed covers, step back art, and die-cut covers became the norm and helped reveal some of the book's mystery or added a layer of shock.  This was a time when horror brought entertainment to many readers.   For those of us who had a library that was too far to walk to (or too dangerous to go to alone), the corner store became the early Netflix for many.  Well written.  Well illustrated. Well referenced. A welcomed walk down memory lane.
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  • Nenia *The Flagrant Liberal* Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestGiven my love for vintage novels of all kinds, you can imagine my reaction when I saw that vintage font peeping at me on Netgalley with its classic Gothic serifs, and red-black contrast. It looked exactly like a horror novel from the late 70s/early 80s. "What on Earth is that?" my inner book goblin cried. "I must have the precious!"It turned out to be a meta-book published by Grady Hendrix, the author of Horrorstör. PAPERBACKS FROM HELL is Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestGiven my love for vintage novels of all kinds, you can imagine my reaction when I saw that vintage font peeping at me on Netgalley with its classic Gothic serifs, and red-black contrast. It looked exactly like a horror novel from the late 70s/early 80s. "What on Earth is that?" my inner book goblin cried. "I must have the precious!"It turned out to be a meta-book published by Grady Hendrix, the author of Horrorstör. PAPERBACKS FROM HELL is a celebration of horror from its early days to the 90s. It contains bite-sized reviews from his favorites - or at least the most memorable - discusses the game-changers and front-runners in the various sub-genres of horror (e.g. Gothic romance, vampire novels, splatterpunk, serial killer books, haunted houses, etc.), has beautiful, high-quality pictures of some of the cover art (and even goes into some of the more notable arists themselves), and is basically a celebration of the creepy and the wyrd.I expected it to be good, since it was published by Quirk Books and I've liked 90% of everything of theirs I've read, but I wasn't expecting this book to be this good. Some of these meta-books can be pretentious, but PAPERBACKS FROM HELL was just pure fun. Finally, someone who gets the ironic, self-indulgent pleasure of indulging in the ridiculously dated and ridiculously fun books of yesteryear! He even gives a nod to bodice rippers, when discussing Gothic romances.OBVIOUSLY my favorite sections were the Gothic/vampire romance sections and the sections on teen horror, because those two niches are my jam and I will spread them as thickly on toast as I can until the bread tears (or until I run out of shelf space). Crummy metaphor (ha - toast, get it?); let's just say that there's a genre of horror that I like and there's genres of horror that I don't like.HOWEVER, even though not all of these horror novels are my cups of tea, Hendrix made me want to revisit the genre. I used to read exclusively horror when I was a teen - Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Anne Rice, Dean Koontz - THE DARKER THE BETTER, I thought! Until I started having nightmares all the time...and at fourteen became briefly too traumatized to stand too near the shower drain (or the sink) after reading IT. After that, I started to tone it down.His enthusiasm and the amazing cover art would make this a must-read on their own, but the content is also great and I feel like he brings fresh insight and humor to the genre that is just extra. If you're a fan of horror at all, you should pick this up. It might bulk up your to-read list, but that's ok, right?Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy! 4.5 to 5 stars
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  • Jennifer ☼
    January 1, 1970
    This book is astonishing.First of all, Paperbacks from Hell is a gorgeous book. All of the pages are in full color, and every aspect of this book is high quality. You could call it a coffee table book, but there's a lot more to Paperbacks from Hell than just the stunning paperback images.Paperbacks from Hell is divided up into the major categories of horror fiction that were prevalent in the 70's and 80's. Topics like 'Hail, Satan', 'Creepy Kids', 'When Animals Attack', and 'Real Estate Nightmar This book is astonishing.First of all, Paperbacks from Hell is a gorgeous book. All of the pages are in full color, and every aspect of this book is high quality. You could call it a coffee table book, but there's a lot more to Paperbacks from Hell than just the stunning paperback images.Paperbacks from Hell is divided up into the major categories of horror fiction that were prevalent in the 70's and 80's. Topics like 'Hail, Satan', 'Creepy Kids', 'When Animals Attack', and 'Real Estate Nightmares' walk the reader through the history of the horror genre. The written content in Paperbacks from Hell is just as extraordinary as the visual content. There's a lot of information about publishers, authors, and cover artists, as well as insight into what the readers were wanting and how the market shifted throughout the horror boom. The commentary is filled with a lot of humor and a lot of love.I felt so much nostalgia reading Paperbacks from Hell. Whether I was remembering the books I saw growing up or remembering books I've read and loved, I had a great time revisiting the horror paperbacks of the past. There were also quite a few books that were completely new to me.After making my way through Paperbacks from Hell, I can't help but have paperback envy and regrets over the books I've purged over the years. Paperbacks from Hell has sparked a love in my heart for even the worst of books.I can't say enough about Paperbacks from Hell. It's a must read for anyone interested in the history of horror fiction, and I highly, highly recommend it.
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  • Bob Milne
    January 1, 1970
    As the cover blurb says, take a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s with Grady Hendrix . . . if you dare! Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction is a gloriously grotesque trip down nostalgia lane that works on multiple levels.First off, let's talk about the visuals. Browsing through all those bold, garish, blood-soaked covers is worth the price of admission alone. There are so many covers here that I recognized from my younger years, As the cover blurb says, take a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s with Grady Hendrix . . . if you dare! Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction is a gloriously grotesque trip down nostalgia lane that works on multiple levels.First off, let's talk about the visuals. Browsing through all those bold, garish, blood-soaked covers is worth the price of admission alone. There are so many covers here that I recognized from my younger years, many of which I still have on the shelf today - books like Isobel, Dark Advent, The Possession of Jessica Young, Cellars, Hot Blood, Animals, Ghoul, and XY. Then there were others that caught my eye, making me want to run out and hit the used bookstore to dig them up - books like The Little People, Satan's Love Child, Orca, Slither, and Obelisk. It's not just book cover porn, however, Hendrix also provides some insights and backstories of the artists behind them, many of whom have surprising pedigrees or quirks.Next, let's talk about the narrative of horror publishing, where Hendrix walks us through the rise and fall of horror publishers, whether they be major or niche. Having read so many of them, and having followed some of them as closely as authors, it was fascinating to learn about who was behind them, how they came to be, and what market pressures and personnel changes led to their demise. As a horror-addicted teenager, the business of publishing was the farthest thing from my mind, even as I noticed the best publishers disappearing from the shelves, but in hindsight I can understand what was happening.Lastly, and this is the true glory of the book, we need to talk about the evolution of horror themes and tropes. I remember so many of these fads coming and going, seeing similar covers on the shelves, and reading the same stories under different titles, but Hendrix does a great job of setting the stage and exploring the social/political background. From the Satanic panic, through creepy kids, man-eating animals (and plants), haunted houses, mad scientists, serial killers, and more, he explores how each came to be and how the themes develop. Thanks to his insights, I've added The Guardian, Scared Stiff, The Devil's Kiss, Toy Cemetery, and Soulmate to my used bookstore shopping list.Although I enjoyed it as a digital ARC, Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction is one of those books I need to pick up in paperback, just to have on the shelf so I can revisit those covers and dig into some of those themes.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.
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  • Book Riot Community
    January 1, 1970
    Okay, so this one is for a very select audience, but if horror books and/or cover art are in your wheelhouse, you’re going to love it! Hendrix, author of My Best Friend’s Exorcism and Horrorstör, presents the most outlandish, ghoulish, and creepy covers from old horror paperbacks he can find, complete with wonderfully witty commentary. A perfect gift for the horror lover in your life!Backlist bump: The Amulet by Michael McDowellTune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All Okay, so this one is for a very select audience, but if horror books and/or cover art are in your wheelhouse, you’re going to love it! Hendrix, author of My Best Friend’s Exorcism and Horrorstör, presents the most outlandish, ghoulish, and creepy covers from old horror paperbacks he can find, complete with wonderfully witty commentary. A perfect gift for the horror lover in your life!Backlist bump: The Amulet by Michael McDowellTune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books: http://bookriot.com/listen/shows/allt...
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    Paperbacks from Hell is not the sort of book I would normally gravitate towards, in general I don’t real much non fiction and I rarely read a horror novel. But when I was a kid, mainly from around nine to thirteen I read a ton of R. L. Stine, Christopher Pike and the southern gothic horror of V. C. Andrews. When I was offered a review copy of this book I thought it would be a great opportunity to revisit some long forgotten authors, but I didn’t anticipate being so fascinated by the history of h Paperbacks from Hell is not the sort of book I would normally gravitate towards, in general I don’t real much non fiction and I rarely read a horror novel. But when I was a kid, mainly from around nine to thirteen I read a ton of R. L. Stine, Christopher Pike and the southern gothic horror of V. C. Andrews. When I was offered a review copy of this book I thought it would be a great opportunity to revisit some long forgotten authors, but I didn’t anticipate being so fascinated by the history of horror fiction! This is a cross between a textbook and a coffee table book, it sounds weird, and it totally is, this book definitely has a touch of odd, but it works brilliantly. It’s a really cool book, the pages are matte and the quality is outstanding. There is a plethora of amazingly horrifying old book covers that made me laugh and cringe, they’re so bad they’re good, and Hendrix has culminated a list of the best of the worst divided into chapters based on what was hot at the time. There are sections on creepy kids, cults, gothic romance, animal attacks and science mishaps and much more. He also provides some insight into what publishing houses were going for during the seventies and eighties and it was shocking, eye opening and totally entertaining. This was a really fun read, a total blast from the past and one that even caught my husband’s eye while I was reading it. Mostly in a WTF are you reading now kind of way, but still. I can’t wait to leave this laying around the house, it’ll be an awesome conversation piece and I can see myself flipping through it again and again for amusement. All of my reviews can be found on www.novelgossip.com
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  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
    January 1, 1970
    When I received this book in the mail, I may have squealed just a little bit. Ok, I'm lying, I squealed a LOT! As a huge lover of horror, I dropped everything I was doing and started flipping through this book and could NOT stop! I finally put it down and then kept picking it back up and running my fingers through the pages and devouring each page with my sharped toothed eyes. The '70s and '80s were prime with paperback horror novels that you don't see many people reading anymore these days. I h When I received this book in the mail, I may have squealed just a little bit. Ok, I'm lying, I squealed a LOT! As a huge lover of horror, I dropped everything I was doing and started flipping through this book and could NOT stop! I finally put it down and then kept picking it back up and running my fingers through the pages and devouring each page with my sharped toothed eyes. The '70s and '80s were prime with paperback horror novels that you don't see many people reading anymore these days. I had even forgotten about some of these until I was reading this book. I can hear my bank account emptying further with purchases I should NOT be making (but won't be able to help myself). Chapters separate into Satan (including a section on Porn Country because hello, Satan's a player!), evil children, creepy animals, science, gothic and inhumanoids. Really, this is a feast for the eyes with all the covers. THE COVERS!! We also get a history lesson about where some of the stories came from (true stories and/or based upon) and how no subject was left behind. I mean, he makes a point about how it's not just people, monsters, animals, etc. that hate us, but also vegetables! OMG, some of the books in here! I could go on and on and on about everything I love about this book, but I'll just say this - you love horror? Have an affinity and want to know more? You need to pick this up. I'll be picking this up repeatedly for quite some time.Thanks so much to Quirk Books and Grady Hendrix for this copy!
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  • The Haunted Reading Room Lifetime Lovecraft
    January 1, 1970
    Review of PAPERBACK FROM HELL by Grady HendrixHorror nostalgia rocks in author Grady Hendrix' exceptional and thoroughly entertaining recounting of two of horror publishing's most fervent decades, the 1970's through 1980's. Mr. Hendrix clearly loves and knows his topic, and for readers who also have reveled in novels produced in this period, memories will awaken. Perhaps among readers who don't know these books, inspiration might arise to search out some of these novels. Mr. Hendrix offers clari Review of PAPERBACK FROM HELL by Grady HendrixHorror nostalgia rocks in author Grady Hendrix' exceptional and thoroughly entertaining recounting of two of horror publishing's most fervent decades, the 1970's through 1980's. Mr. Hendrix clearly loves and knows his topic, and for readers who also have reveled in novels produced in this period, memories will awaken. Perhaps among readers who don't know these books, inspiration might arise to search out some of these novels. Mr. Hendrix offers clarity, humour, and the benefit of a thorough understanding of horror publishing's most prolific hour.
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  • Jeff Strand
    January 1, 1970
    This book filled me with an urgent need to read every '80s horror paperback in existence, so I guess it did its job. As a reader, I was a bit late to the game, getting really into the non-King/Koontz stuff around the Dell Abyss era, so though I have a solid working knowledge of the horror paperback boom, this book covered plenty of books I'd never heard of. A thoroughly entertaining look back at an era most horror fans wish had never ended.
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  • Ben Arzate
    January 1, 1970
    Full ReviewOne of the problems is that there was so much happening during the horror publishing boom that it often felt like Hendrix had to gloss over many parts of it. Despite that, this remains an essential read for horror fans. There are a lot of books I'll be tracking down after reading this. I hope that this book will help to renew interest in many of these books and will them back into print, or at least get them re-released as ebooks
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  • Kinksrock
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book through Giveaways, and was very excited about it.If you are a fan of 1970s and 1980s horror paperback fiction, you will want to get your hands on this. You remember those books? They were always prominently displayed in drugstores and convenience stores. They had great covers. And they were full of fun, weird, scary, and sleazy stories. This book reviews the history of those books, and the author points out that many of these books were actually well written, even when the s I received this book through Giveaways, and was very excited about it.If you are a fan of 1970s and 1980s horror paperback fiction, you will want to get your hands on this. You remember those books? They were always prominently displayed in drugstores and convenience stores. They had great covers. And they were full of fun, weird, scary, and sleazy stories. This book reviews the history of those books, and the author points out that many of these books were actually well written, even when the stories were over-the-top. He does it with humor. You have to. He knows and we know that we are not talking about high art. It's fun and compelling, and, most importantly, original. How can you not laugh about a genre that includes such things as Nazi leprechauns? Come on. You've got to love it.This is also a beautifully published book with gorgeous color reproductions of book covers. When you consider them all together in one volume, it turns out that the artwork is striking. If you are a fan of macabre artwork, you will want this book.
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  •  Martin
    January 1, 1970
    I knew if I ventured into Grady Hendrix’s PAPERBACKS FROM HELL (2017, Quirk Books) two things would eventually happen: I would...http://sleaze-factor.blogspot.ca/2017...
  • Nick Cato
    January 1, 1970
    Full review at http://thehorrorfictionreview.blogspo...
  • Jessica T.
    January 1, 1970
    (goodreads giveaway... bla bla bla) I fucking loved this.... When I was a kid my mom would read horror novels at the kitchen table.. My love of reading started with my childish desire to read these crazy looking books. By the time I was old enough to read them my mom had either loaned them out or gotten rid of them. NOT COOL. Paperbacks from Hell has given me an opportunity to find some of these novels... The book is filled with illustrations... short synopsis about the novels... it talks about (goodreads giveaway... bla bla bla) I fucking loved this.... When I was a kid my mom would read horror novels at the kitchen table.. My love of reading started with my childish desire to read these crazy looking books. By the time I was old enough to read them my mom had either loaned them out or gotten rid of them. NOT COOL. Paperbacks from Hell has given me an opportunity to find some of these novels... The book is filled with illustrations... short synopsis about the novels... it talks about the publishing aspect... it goes into brief biographies about the illustrators and the authors... IT'S A LOVE LETTER TO HORROR!!! If you enjoy horror and you remember those old creepy covers buy this book now. It won't disappoint....
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  • LK
    January 1, 1970
    This book was a stroll through the paperback rack at the grocery store by my childhood home.
  • David Sodergren
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, like this book was ever gonna get less than five stars from me!Any fans of vintage and pulp horror need to check this out for recommendations of books they might have missed, or just for the entertaining prose and fascinating stories.
  • Barry
    January 1, 1970
    NOTE: This review originally appeared on New York Journal of Books:http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-...Grady Hendrix has been making quite a splash in horror fiction over the past few years with his comedic horror novels Horrorstör and My Best Friend’s Exorcism. However, with his new book, he breaks into nonfiction territory, taking a passionate glimpse into history of the horror genre itself. A thoughtful examination of two decades that saw the major boom of dark fiction, Paperbacks From He NOTE: This review originally appeared on New York Journal of Books:http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-...Grady Hendrix has been making quite a splash in horror fiction over the past few years with his comedic horror novels Horrorstör and My Best Friend’s Exorcism. However, with his new book, he breaks into nonfiction territory, taking a passionate glimpse into history of the horror genre itself. A thoughtful examination of two decades that saw the major boom of dark fiction, Paperbacks From Hell is as much a celebration of the genre as it is an introspective look into its history.This book is split up into eight chapters, each covering a major, overarching subject, within which many different trends in horror fell. Although the history of the genre could arguably be broken up into a variety of topics, tropes, and subgenres, Hendrix’s categorizations climb up and down the timeline of releases, covering the late 1960s and up through the early 1990s.The first chapter, “HAIL, SATAN,” covers the explosion of devil-themed fiction that followed in the wake of the unholy trilogy that arguably kickstarted the horror boom: Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby (1967), Thomas Tryon’s The Other (1971), and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist (1971). In this section, books exploded with tales of satanic cults, demonic possessions, and appearances by the old devil himself. “CREEPY KIDS” is exactly what it sounds like. Beware the children! Possessed youth, bad seeds with murderous intents, alien spawn—it’s all here. This chapter starts with an obvious but important novel of a demonic child in David Seltzer’s The Omen (1976), and works its way up through many lesser-known titles within the trope.“WHEN ANIMALS ATTACK” is about much more than the various great white sharks and Saint Bernards that gorge themselves upon terrified victims. Everything from orcas, crabs, moths, and even slugs and caterpillars are out to kill you.“REAL ESTATE NIGHTMARES” is largely, of course, about the classic haunted house. The 1970s were rich with tales that turned to the home as a source of horror, and although Stephen King’s The Shining gets an appropriate shout-out, Hendrix generously dishes on the book that preceded (and inspired) it, Robert Marasco’s Burnt Offerings (1973). There also is plenty of coverage of Anne River Siddons’ The House Next Door (1978), and of course, The Amityville Horror series.As with the other chapters, Hendrix expands upon this theme, stepping outside of terror-stricken houses to explore entire towns faced with even greater horrors. (This chapter also features an excellent, two-page overview of the writings of UK legend Ramsey Campbell.)In “WEIRD SCIENCE,” Robin Cook’s novels of cautionary medical terror are highlighted. However, familiar scientific realms aren’t all that Hendrix gets into here—he covers a wide range of related subjects, from alien invaders to computer-generated evil.“GOTHIC AND ROMANCE” covers the legacies paved by V.C. Andrews and Anne Rice. Vampires, castles, and old families with many skeletons piled in their closets hold reign over this chapter, spinning many a varied cobweb of assorted combinations of tropes. What’s more, however, this chapter also covers “The Rise of the Blockbuster,” and how movies and bestselling books began to shape and direct the future of the genre.“INHUMANOIDS” gets into the explosion of tropes that were summoned, perfected, changed, melded, or created within horror. At this point, just about anything and everything was fair game, and was essentially the frenzied, and penultimate, stage of the horror boom.And finally, “SPLATTERPUNKS, SERIAL KILLERS, AND SUPER CREEPS” sees both the climactic shift of horror into more mainstream subgenres of suspense and thrillers, and subsequently, the slow, painful decline of big publishers specializing in full-blooded horror.Many a horror aficionado rolls their eyes or looks down their nose at most of the books that came out in this period. This owes largely to the fact that the ideas at work are often so over-the-top in both concept and presentation that the books are absurdly cartoonish.Hendrix is quick to point all of this out, again and again, in every chapter—but he makes it clear that he has quite a lot of affection for these ridiculous tales of terror. Never does he throw a book into the spotlight purely to mock it; rather, the reader can practically feel his elbow nudging out of the pages to welcome a collective adoration of these many wonderful (and sometimes wonderfully awful) books.Aesthetically, Paperbacks From Hell is monumentally pleasing. Printed on glossy paper and featuring a fittingly embossed cover, everything from the fonts to the layout is professionally and handsomely presented. And speaking of covers…The real icing on the cake of this book is its page-to-page plethora of so very many lurid book covers. Screaming people, snarling beasts, lurking figures, strange beings, gaudy titles, catchy taglines—and the blood, so much blood!Finally, this book features detailed appendices that highlight a number of authors and the various cover artists. These cement Paperbacks From Hell as an absolutely beautiful showcase of this period in publishing, and make the reading experience even more enjoyable.There is little doubt that, in the wake of this title’s publication, many of the featured titles will begin to disappear from various used bookstores around the world, only to reappear—with ever-increasing prices—online. If you have a box of old, “trashy” horror novels in your basement, don’t get rid of them just yet—and don’t think that they’re all necessarily trashy, either. Horror fiction is alive and well, and Paperbacks From Hell is a grand, affectionate, and informative celebration of the genre.
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  • H.
    January 1, 1970
    Grady Hendrix is Tor.com’s resident expert on horror. He is responsible for the Great Stephen King Reread and a more recent series, Freaky Fridays. It is the latter hilarious exploration of 1970s/1980s paperback horror novels that led to this book. Paperbacks from Hell isn’t just a fix-up of blog posts, though. There is a wealth of additional information, including dozens of book covers. (Hendrix has also written two horror novels of his own, Horrorstör and My Best Friend’s Exorcism.)Paperbacks Grady Hendrix is Tor.com’s resident expert on horror. He is responsible for the Great Stephen King Reread and a more recent series, Freaky Fridays. It is the latter hilarious exploration of 1970s/1980s paperback horror novels that led to this book. Paperbacks from Hell isn’t just a fix-up of blog posts, though. There is a wealth of additional information, including dozens of book covers. (Hendrix has also written two horror novels of his own, Horrorstör and My Best Friend’s Exorcism.)Paperbacks from Hell is a laugh out loud funny, joyful romp through the 1970s and 1980s boom in paperback horror. As such, it isn’t just entertaining, it is informative as a work of popular cultural anthropology. I may not be a horror buff, but I’m drawn to this book for some of the same reasons I’m drawn to Jeffro Johnson’s Appendix N book—I like books and I like history.Horror had been around forever, but it only came into its own with a boom that started with Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, and The Other (before those three books, the last horror novel to appear on Publishers Weekly’s annual best-seller list was in 1938). Those were “grim, sober novels.” The 1980s, on the other hand, produced horror fiction “warped by the gaudy delights of Stephen King and V.C. Andrews.” Horror survived the D&D satanic panic of the 1980s and the heavy metal satanic panic of the 1980s. We were super into panicking over Satan in the 1980s, back before he became Saddam’s b____. Horror helped keep short stories alive. Which makes sense, because most of those horror paperbacks should have been short stories in the first place. As the boom continued (and the Thor Power Tools case killed the backlist), the market transitioned from being nurtured by flourishing small horror imprints to being flooded by the big publishers that had gobbled them up. Bestsellers like Stephen King got all of the attention, and they were among the very few to survive the crash. When the crash finally happened it happened fast, but without much more than a whimper as seemingly every idea (and reader was exhausted) and writers quietly rebranded their serial killer books as thrillers.Horror paperbacks were successors to the old pulp magazines, as well as to the cheap paperback fantasy and science fiction novels of the 1960s. These are books that are unpretentious and written to entertain. “Thrown into a rough-and-tumble marketplace, the writers learned they had to earn every reader’s attention” and follow one rule: “always be interesting.” They were also the last gasp of mass marketed books for the working class (the prototypical leading man is tanned and blue-collar; the prototypical leading woman is white-collar and works outside the home).Paperbacks from Hell really has four component parts, which leads to a somewhat disjointed reading experience. There are long, funny riffs on works or series or particular trope. These are largely adapted from Hendrix’s Tor.com blog posts, and if all you really want is more of these, you won’t find it here. There are also rapid-fire examples of various tropes. These, I think, will be interesting to collectors and people interesting in finding books featuring something in particular (Hendrix manages to mention an enormous number of books), but they overall do a mediocre job of serving their apparent intended purpose of stitching the rest of the book together. Much more interesting are the bits of publishing history interwoven into the book. There are also dozens and dozens of covers, including many blurbs on prominent cover artists. For once my advance reading copy included artwork, for which I am very thankful. Even better would have been to have it in paperback.The narrative is disjointed, sure. The stitches still show, and there really isn’t a way the book could have been organized that would make complete sense. But it is a heck of a book, nonetheless. Hendrix is very, very funny:“But when plants mind-control us so that they can feed on our blood, it’s hard not to be offended. After all, most of us don’t eat plants if we can help it, and then it’s mostly vegetarians who do the eating. If the plants want to murder them, something could probably be arranged.”Books are vividly described:“Campbell’s stories feel like week-old newspapers, swollen with water, black with mold, forgotten on the steps of the abandoned tenement.”Hendrix is having a whole heck of a lot of fun. He freely mocks the excesses of the boom, but always good-naturedly and without looking down his nose at things. Nor is he ashamed to tout the best books of the lot. I had a lot of fun reading despite not having read any of the books discussed, or having much interest in reading most of them.There is a set of creator and publisher biographies after the main text. I passed on it during my initial read but paged through it before writing this review. Read it and find out which romance and men’s adventure publisher was started by a mobile home and concrete pipe manufacturer! There is also an afterword with recommended reading by Will Errickson.
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  • Daniel
    January 1, 1970
    This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 5.0 of 5This book seems targeted right at me.As a book buyer and a bookstore employee growing up in the late 1960's/early 1970's through today, I have fond memories of the plethora of horror books that were published during this time, often with awesome, creepy covers that called out to the book-buyer and let you know immediately what sort of story would be found on the inside. Now, Grady Hendrix examines this industry and the pu This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 5.0 of 5This book seems targeted right at me.As a book buyer and a bookstore employee growing up in the late 1960's/early 1970's through today, I have fond memories of the plethora of horror books that were published during this time, often with awesome, creepy covers that called out to the book-buyer and let you know immediately what sort of story would be found on the inside. Now, Grady Hendrix examines this industry and the push to pulp by publishers looking to cash in on the horror craze even as the genre changed its identity from horror to thriller and back again.Hendrix does a marvelous job, breaking down the genre by type: Satanic, kids, animals, real estate, science, gothic/romance, and on to splatterpunk and serial killers. If you've read much horror, you understand this breakdown, but even if you don't, Hendrix describes it well, often identifying the break-out book that established the sub-genre.Along with describing the books and their content, Hendrix spends a fair amount of time laying out the publishers and editors for the reader, letting the reader know that sometimes the death-knell for the category came about because of a change or loss of specific editors who understood the market.And of course there are the authors. This book is by no means a comprehensive list of the authors who worked in the genre during this time, but it does go in to some detail, including authors you might have forgotten or perhaps never knew about unless you were reading these books.But as nice and well-researched as all this is, perhaps the best part of this book is that it is lavishly illustrated with book covers from this time. Awesome, creepy, ridiculous, frightening, and ever so unique. Hendrix talks a little about the artists who created these covers but mostly in regards to a change in the publishing world when Photoshop and its clones became the norm and gruesome works of art were no longer needed, or at least publishers wouldn't want to wait the length of time it took to create one when a kid on Photoshop could whip up something devilish in a matter of hours. This is perhaps the biggest loss in the industry - the loss of fine art like this.Like others of my generation, I remember these books BECAUSE of the covers. Only some of the stories stand out to me, but the creepiness on the outside were so wonderful that I often kept the books for the covers alone.While Hendrix does a really tremendous job at bringing the history of the genre to life, I might even use this book as a coffee-table art book, what with all the glorious gruesome covers inside. It would certainly be a conversation piece!This was a wonderful read and aside from bringing back memories and giving me some interesting history of the genre, it also gave me a few authors and titles to look for.Looking for a good book? Paperbacks from Hell: A History of Horror Fiction from the '70s and '80s by Grady Hendrix is a well-researched, gritty look at the horror books in the 1970's-80's as the market peaked and then dwindled. It is recommended for its information and for the tremendous book covers from the period.I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Quirk Books for the copy in exchange for my honest review!Are you a fan of horror? Specifically the awesome 70's and 80's decades of horror? Well, PAPERBACKS FROM HELL by Grady Hendrix (author of MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM and HORRORSTOR) is everything you've been looking for.With his witty and hilarious commentary, readers are brought through the iconic 70's and 80's horror stories, but these are the ones that flopped. I really enjoy the term "trashy thrillers" that was used to describ Thanks to Quirk Books for the copy in exchange for my honest review!Are you a fan of horror? Specifically the awesome 70's and 80's decades of horror? Well, PAPERBACKS FROM HELL by Grady Hendrix (author of MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM and HORRORSTOR) is everything you've been looking for.With his witty and hilarious commentary, readers are brought through the iconic 70's and 80's horror stories, but these are the ones that flopped. I really enjoy the term "trashy thrillers" that was used to describe these - because it's completely accurate. These are all books that thought they'd be the next EXORCIST or ROSEMARY'S BABY but fell a little short. The book is divided into chapters based on subject - "When Animals Attack" and "Creepy Children" to name a couple - that really illustrated how many horror books were written on these common topics and the authors' takes on them.Hendrix offers great insight and some history on the books and genres within horror. Since these were all before my time it was fun learning more about this boom in the horror genre. Even if you're just flipping through this one, you'll see some great books that you'll find yourself wanting to track down! Everything from possessions, Satan worshiping, animals, dolls, and children, Grady Hendrix covers them all.If you want a stroll down memory lane, to learn more about 70's and 80's horror, or to find some vintage books, then you'll have to pick this up! It would make for a great coffee table book - something to flip through and share with other fans.I give this 5/5 stars!
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  • Andrew Nette
    January 1, 1970
    I loved Grady Hendrix’s soon to be released book, Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction. From the opening, his discussion of John Christopher’s totally bizarre 1966 novel, The Little People, about an assortment of unsavoury individuals who spend a weekend in an Irish castle which is also inhabited by evil Nazi leprechauns (‘the Gestapochauns’) to the last few pages, the dying days of American mass market paperback horror, it is a wild, exhilarating ride.But as I loved Grady Hendrix’s soon to be released book, Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction. From the opening, his discussion of John Christopher’s totally bizarre 1966 novel, The Little People, about an assortment of unsavoury individuals who spend a weekend in an Irish castle which is also inhabited by evil Nazi leprechauns (‘the Gestapochauns’) to the last few pages, the dying days of American mass market paperback horror, it is a wild, exhilarating ride.But as well as being a lot of fun, Paperbacks From Hell is also an important work of pulp fiction and pop culture history.The book comprises a series of thematic chapters, grouped from the most part around one or two foundation texts. Thus the chapter on satanic pulp and mass market paperbacks opens with a look at the cultural importance of Ira Levin's Rosemary’s Baby and Peter Blatty's The Exorcist. The Omen (1976) is the starting point for a look at the large sub-genre of books about women being impregnated by all manner of hell spawn and murderous offspring. Peter Benchley’s paperback sensation, Jaws, is the precursor to a discussion about the wave of pulp and mass market paperback books featuring murderous creatures and animals turned homicidal: rats, dogs, cuts, pigs, insects, even rabbits. Robert Marasco’s book, Burnt Offerings (1973), introduces the chapter on haunted and possessed houses. There are also chapters on weird science and medical horror, the Gothic romance, 'inhumanoids', and tapping into Satanic panic of the 1980s, the last chapter focuses on deranged and murderous teens, a trend which coincides with the last gasp of mass-market horror paperback.One of the reasons I appreciate how much work Hendrix has put into this book is that over the last few years I’ve undertaken a similar effort with Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 – 1980, the forthcoming non-fiction book I have co-edited that looks at how youth sub-cultures have been portrayed in mass market pulp fiction in the US, Australia and UK.For one thing, the source novels are hard to find, necessitating some serous spade work, searching the Internet and frequenting various musty second hand bookstores, as well as throwing yourself at the mercy of numerous paperback collectors, who approach your pleas for high resolution cover scans of rare novels with varying degrees of enthusiasm and technical competence.What makes Paperbacks From Hell special is not only the fact Hendrix has curated (with the help of obscure horror book reader and collector, Will Erickson, who first drew my attention to the existence of Hendrix's book), a terrific collection of cover images. He has actually read the books. Pretty much every one featured. This means he is able to admire these books not just for their outré covers, but for how they reveal a narrative about the 1970s and 1980s.He uses the books to create a road map that navigates everything from American mainstream society’s reaction to the rise of HIV/AIDS, growing economic anxiety, nuclear war, pollution, and Vietnam, to America's cultural guilt over its treatment the native Indian population. His deep knowledge of the subject matter also enables Hendrix to explore some little known detours along the journey. These include the Satan Sleuth books, a cross between Kolchak and James Bond, on a one man mission to track down and destroy the devil worshipers who murdered his fiancée; Holloway House editor Joe Nazel’s blaxsploitation take on The Exorcist, The Black Exorcist; and the literary career of Cleo Virginia Andrews, whose 1979 book, Flowers In the Attic, singlehandedly kick started the modern iteration of dark gothic romance fiction.Hendrix uncovers some schlock masterpieces. For example, The Searing (1980),  set in a remote stretch of American countryside that is visited every couple of hundred years by invisible aliens that kill people with spontaneous orgasms that melt their brains. But for my money, the prize for the most bat shit crazy novel goes to William W Johnstone's Toy Cemetery (1987), the story of a Vietnam vet who returns to his remote town with his young daughter, only to discover it has fall under the  thrall of its two main industries, a high security metal institution cum underground research facility that houses the ‘products of incest’ produced by the evil owner of the town’s second industry, a giant doll factory.He also highlights a number of forgotten books that sound genuinely good, such as Herman Raucher's Maynard’s House, about a Vietnam vet (there are lot of them in 1970s/1980s horror fiction) who takes on a witch in rural Maine, and Elizabeth Engstrom’s Black Ambrosia, about a female drifter vampire.The hardest aspect of writing about pulp and mass paperback fiction is straddling the divide between just how outrageous poltted, badly written and politically incorrect many of these books are by today’s (and probably yesterday’s) standards, with the fact that they represent a rich, hidden seam of alternative historical consciousness. Striking the right balance is a hell of a lot more difficult than it looks. Approach the books too reverentially and you sound silly or like you are praising their worst aspects. Tackle them purely from the standpoint of the standards and identity politics of 2017, and the writing feels detached and usually misses the book's hidden cultural connections and significance. It is an operation that requires the delicate application of a scalpel not a chain saw and Hendrix is a master surgeon.I devoured this 254-page tome, almost in one sitting, like one of the starving giant killer crabs featured in a series of late 1970s horror pulps, discussed by Hendrix in his book. It’s a must read for all fans of horror fiction and pulp history.
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  • Gene Heinrich
    January 1, 1970
    LOVED this book! When I first received it I thought - well, I will just pick it up every now and then and read a little, look at the great covers of horror books past but that sure didn't happen. I couldn't put it down. It was such a fun read, and it was great to relive some of my youth (I remember seeing and reading many of these lost treasures). Now, for the negative... ready???I ended up with a giant list of most likely out of print books that I want to own!!!! I am not afraid to admit it - t LOVED this book! When I first received it I thought - well, I will just pick it up every now and then and read a little, look at the great covers of horror books past but that sure didn't happen. I couldn't put it down. It was such a fun read, and it was great to relive some of my youth (I remember seeing and reading many of these lost treasures). Now, for the negative... ready???I ended up with a giant list of most likely out of print books that I want to own!!!! I am not afraid to admit it - these books bring out the hoarder in me.
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  • Trey
    January 1, 1970
    If you were literate and curious in the 80s - or by some quirk of fate, are literate and curious in this century - this book is a treasure map of the forgotten forbidden delights that await you in used book stores and flea markets. Here be the weird shit.
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  • Jim Lay
    January 1, 1970
    Review to follow
  • Kitten Kisser
    January 1, 1970
    I love this book! The author has an amazing sense of humor & as a result the book is a pleasurable learning experience. I wasn't born yet for some of the books, but for many others, the author gave me a bit of history that explains the insanity of my childhood. Too many times to count my jaw would drop while reading through this entertaining book as I realized that this (& this, & this, & yes this too!) is why my family did the things that they did. Speaking in tongues, obsession I love this book! The author has an amazing sense of humor & as a result the book is a pleasurable learning experience. I wasn't born yet for some of the books, but for many others, the author gave me a bit of history that explains the insanity of my childhood. Too many times to count my jaw would drop while reading through this entertaining book as I realized that this (& this, & this, & yes this too!) is why my family did the things that they did. Speaking in tongues, obsession with Satan & being possessed, hidden messages in music, it just goes on & on. I had no clue when I selected this book to feed my nostalgia for all those fantastic horror novel books I took home from the library when I was a kid, that I would also gain valuable insight to what made my family do what they did. It's incredible to me that people can be lead along to believe these silly ideas. My Garbage Pail Kids collection didn't pass muster either & one day I found my carefully collected cards ripped from their pages to never see again. Why? Because they promote abortion. Sigh.Anyway, be warned this book will make you want to hunt down nearly all the books within to either read for the first time or read again for a trip down memory lane. It is stuffed full of images from paperbacks. He discusses the art & artists behind some of the works as well as the content of the books themselves & as mentions societies various obsessions over the years.Make sure you leave this lovely gem out on the coffee table. It's sure to inspire some lively conversation.
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    To say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover was probably never less relevant than with horror paperbacks from the 70s and 80s. This time period offered the most insane covers, enticing you to untold nightmares inside. In those days of pre-Internet, pre-blogs, and widespread reviews you’d find a book just by browsing the shelf. A cover that stood out would make all the difference. It seemed as though artists had free reign to sell the book in ways you would never see now. Did the text match th To say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover was probably never less relevant than with horror paperbacks from the 70s and 80s. This time period offered the most insane covers, enticing you to untold nightmares inside. In those days of pre-Internet, pre-blogs, and widespread reviews you’d find a book just by browsing the shelf. A cover that stood out would make all the difference. It seemed as though artists had free reign to sell the book in ways you would never see now. Did the text match the quality of the cover? Not always, but as Hendrix tells us, they accomplished the most important thing – they were not boring.After reading an extremely bizarre, long forgotten paperback, our author became addicted to the hunt, and we follow his journey of discovery through used book stores in search of more lost gems. Paperbacks from Hell offers the history of some of the most interesting paperbacks from the halcyon days of print horror publishing. He takes us into a world of killer clowns, mannequins, and possessed animals and that is just scratching the horror paperback surface.The book is separated into chapters which cover different themes of books, such as satanic, creepy kids, animals, and haunted houses. The author offers social commentary on the historical time period during which specific books were written. He talks us through the wider cultural happenings that the popular horror books drew from to sell books. For example, the release of The Exorcist spawned all kinds of demonic rip-offs and The Omen spawned devil child stories.The author discusses a number of the leading book cover artists. There are hundreds of outstanding and often odd covers throughout the pages of this book. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the book is reading the plot synopses of the most interesting books that Hendrix has chosen. Nothing was really taboo, with lots of sex and violence as the norm. Some of the titles discussed include Satan’s Love Child, The Voice of the Clown, Horrorscope, and Dracula in Love. We also tour the major horror paperback publishers and authors. You’ll see the works of Graham Masterton, James Hebert, Ramsey Campbell, and Anne Rice to name but a few.Grady Hendrix has two great fiction titles under his belt, My Best Friend’s Exorcism and the striking IKEA based romp Horrorstör. Paperbacks from Hell is an insightful and enjoyable read, full of interesting stories that set the context for the paperbacks. The book offers great nostalgia for those of us who remember the era. It’s also a great way to make a reading list for hitting the used book stores and garage sales to see what you can discover.
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