I look back at the nineteen-eighties, which some consider the Golden Age of Horror. I was a rabid fan at the time and I continue to be one. There were milestones in the genre in this renowned era, especially, I’d say, from 1984 to 1988.
Stephen King’s It certainly qualifies. Clive Barker’s The Books of Blood brought a baroque aesthetic to horror fiction. John Skipp and Craig Spector’s The Light at the End ushered in a new breed of horror and a new breed of fan. Robert McCammon’s Swan Song would make the list.Continue Reading
As the 1700s drew to a close, the public furor over The Castle of Otranto, The Monk, The Mysteries of Udolpho and other gothic horror novels continued. Societal keepers and the media of the time became concerned that commoners, particularly young people, were spending too much time engaged in reading, particularly such gruesome fare as The Monk. In our last chapter, we talked about how cancel culture came for Matthew Gregory Lewis, forcing him to revise further editions of The Monk, and to issue a public apology. Continue Reading
I love anthology horror movies. You get a variety of stories, often exploring wildly diverse themes and subject matter, presented with the compactness and plot-driven fun of a short story. While anthology horror movies had certainly come before it — including the iconic Trilogy of Terror and Black Sabbath — it was 1982’s Creepshow that really set the standard, paving the way for an explosion of anthology horror shows and movies in the ’80s. Creepshow being one of my favorite horror movies, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the film helped inspire a love for horror in author Paul Michael Anderson.Continue Reading
You think climate change fear mongering is something new? Well, then you never watched a nature gone wild movie from that gloriously gritty decade, the ’70s. When we weren’t terrified that the Rooskies were going to strafe us with A-bombs, we were pretty damn sure the ozone layer would be gone any day and the end of the world was nigh. The ’70s is when we got woke that we were making a mess of the planet, and the ensuing guilt had to find an outlet, a way to make us pay for our wrongdoing. Or at least pretend to pay, just like Earth Day is when we pretend to be nice to the world. Continue Reading
I read my first Ramsey Campbell novel, Creatures of the Pool, in October 2010. A little over ten years ago. Yes, I know. A little late to the party, right? But, like so many other horror authors, Ramsey Campbell was just another name I’d heard spoken reverently as “an author all aspiring horror authors should read.” Continue Reading
Chupacabras don’t have the same name recognition as, say, Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, but I’d argue that they’re much scarier and menacing than either of those oft-mentioned cryptids. If you’re unaware, chupacabras are mythological creatures found in the Americas that look reptilian (or like wild dogs) and go around sucking blood from livestock. Yeah, they’re weird little vampires that get high on cow blood. Yuck.
Matt Hayward hasn’t run into a chupacabra himself (he’s not a believer), but these bloodsucking creatures did make an impact on him nonetheless—made possible by a chance viewing of a low-budget ’90s documentary. Continue Reading
In our last column, we discussed Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto—a novel written in 1764 that merged supernatural situations with realistic characters in a natural setting. I mentioned that while it was inarguably the world’s first supernatural horror novel, the marketing category of Horror wasn’t invented until the Eighties, so it was instead categorized as a “Gothic.” Continue Reading
2020. As I write this, the new year and new decade are seven hours away. I think back to the years and years I have spent as a horror reader, and I am reflecting on the one moment when it all crystallized and became embedded into my soul.
I’d have to say the year was 1984. Thirty-six long years ago. Years that brought joy beyond belief, heartbreak, laughs, fun, agony, laughs, tears. All of this and lots more.Continue Reading
As an aspiring writer, you often don’t realize the influences certain authors have over your developing style and voice. You’re busy reading books and stories which really excite you, writing away in your own little world, and in many ways, you can’t see the forest for the trees.
I’ve been especially prone to that over the years. I tend to read many books simultaneously at frenzied paces (I’ve often said I read like other people breathe), and it’s sometimes hard to keep track of where I draw my inspirations from. It was once said Rod Serling was the same. When Ray Bradbury actually accused Serling of stealing his work for The Twilight Zone, some said Serling could never completely deny it, because he’d read so many things so quickly, he always had difficulty attributing a source to his story ideas.Continue Reading
Of the countles sub-genres of horror, body horror is one that I don’t often turn to. There’s just something too real, too personal about it. Sure, a madman wielding a weapon is scary, but you can (unless he’s teleporting Jason Voorhees) theoretically escape from that. You can’t, however, run from a horror that’s coming from within your very own bones, your blood. Author Chad Lutzke doesn’t have such reservations. As a matter of fact, he got into body horror as a kid, courtesy of the 1965 horror flick Curse of the Fly.
Chad Lutzkeis a writer from Battle Creek, MI. He has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue, Cemetery Dance, and Scream. He is the author of dozens of short stories and books such as Of Foster Homes & Flies, Wallflower, Stirring the Sheets, Skullface Boy, The Same Deep Water As You, and The Pale White.Continue Reading
I’ve read a lot of books. Some have been modest little stories; entertaining, but slight. And that’s fine. Others are written by craftspeople. Meticulous prose with riveting plots. Then there are writers who elevate fiction into works of art. Elizabeth Engstrom falls into the latter category.
I first encountered the work of Elizabeth Engstrom in a book called When Darkness Loves Us. I heard that Engstom had been mentored by the great Theodore Sturgeon, and that alone was enough to convince me to give it a try. When Darkness Loves Us is a collection of two novellas. That’s common today, but back in 1985 it was nearly unthinkable. Especially for a virtually unknown author.
Both stories in When Darkness Loves Us are excellent, but the title piece is more than that. It is a masterpiece.
As much as I love When Darkness Loves Us, it isn’t my favorite Engstrom. One of her novels hit me harder, in the places that really count. That novel is called Lizard Wine.Continue Reading
The works of Ray Bradbury have inspired countless horror and dark fantasy writers over the years, myself included. Bradbury’s vivid imagery and dreamlike, poetic prose is something to behold. But how do his works translate to the screen? Is it possible to capture the thrills and magic of Bradbury’s work in television or film? I absolutely adore his 1962 novel Something Wicked This Way Comes (it’s one of my all-time favorite books), in which a dark carnival descends upon Green Town, Illinois, but I’ve yet to see the 1983 film adaptation (to be honest, I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of the ’80s anthology series The Ray Bradbury Theater). After my conversation with horror author Scott Thomas, I think I need to add the movie to my queue. The film had a deep impact on Thomas as a child, one that informed his sensibilities and led him to create dark, twisted tales of his own. Continue Reading
I remember my first Robert Aickman story vividly. It was in February. Early in the morning. As the snow fell outside on an already white winter morning, I sat very still in my favorite chair, reading “The School Friend,” and wondering…just what was I reading? A story about a long-lost friend returning after her father’s death, to comfort her old school friend, who had fallen into a lonely life? Or was this friend something…more? Continue Reading