I first heard of and begin reading fiction from John Skipp and Craig Spector in the mid-1980s. That era is still my favorite period of the horror genre. Thanks to Stephen King, horror had been doing pretty big business, but by 1986 things were really getting wild. For most people it all started with Skipp and Spector’s The Light at the End, a new kind of horror novel, and a vampire story for a hip young readership.
The Light at the End was a radical departure from the horror fiction that came before it. Skipp and Spector’s characters were people I knew. People I partied with. There was influence from classic horror, to be sure, but these were people who listened to punk and metal. They were weaned on midnight movies, Frank Zappa, William Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson.Continue Reading
Shortly after King launched his website in 1998, a guest book was added to the site. By 2003, this was converted to a “message board,” an unthreaded list of comments from fans that were occasionally answered by the staff. Continue Reading
I first saw Joe Bob Briggs when he was on The Movie Channel. This was in 1986, before he even had his own weekly show on the network. My initial impression was something like, “Who is this chicken-fried cornball?” I was not much of a fan of redneck humor.
I didn’t give JBB a chance until I stayed up late one Friday to watch David Cronenberg’s The Brood. It was on The Movie Channel, and at first I was disappointed to see that hillbilly hayseed doing an introduction. I watched, not wishing to miss the opening credits of The Brood. I was taken aback when Joe Bob said some fairly astute things about David Cronenberg. He obviously wasn’t another braindead movie host going through the paces.Continue Reading
Two of the biggest horror-comedy films of the 1980s debuted on the exact same weekend in June 1984. Ghostbusters was the bigger success of the two, but Gremlins has remained a fan favorite amongst ’80s kids, and for good reason. It’s silly, with eye-catching character designs that just scream MERCHANDISE OPPORTUNITIES, but it’s also a pretty wicked and nihilistic horror movie. I remember both reveling in and being quite frightened by it as a boy. Gwendolyn Kiste, too, was heavily influenced by Gremlins in her youth, and she’s got some pretty cool ideas for carrying the long-dormant franchise forward. Continue Reading
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
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