Dead Trees: The Drive-In by Joe R. Lansdale

The year was 1988. I had been a serious horror reader for years and things were really starting to get interesting. We had it all then. Big names, legends, were still publishing: Robert Bloch, Ray Russell, Manly Wade Wellman, Hugh B. Cave, and others. Newer writers like Dennis Etchison, Richard Christian Matheson, Ramsey Campbell, and Michael McDowell were getting into high gear. Writers were migrating from the SF field. And there was a new, streetwise style of horror breaking barriers, from writers like John Skipp, Craig Spector, David J. Schow, Ray Garton. It was a heyday, and it seemed like every new author on the scene I heard about was well worth my time and money.

So when I read a triple review by the great Stanley Wiater in Fangoria magazine about a writer named Joe R. Lansdale, I took notice. The reviewed works in question were Act of Love, The Nightrunners, and Dead in the West.Continue Reading

Dead Trees: Shockwaves by Thomas Tessier

It was the early years of my decades-long love affair with horror fiction. I blazed through the Stephen King books that had been published at the time, with Pet Semetery being the most current. It was 1983 — a very good year for the genre, with even better things were on the immediate horizon. I eagerly devoured the Peter Straub books that were available, and they were among the finest pieces of fiction I had ever read. I enjoyed books by James Herbert, Whitley Strieber, Ramsey Campbell, John Farris. I read landmark novels by brilliant talents such as F. Paul Wilson and T.E.D. Klein. There were numerous markets for short fiction, and I was blown away by pieces from Karl Edward Wagner, Richard Christian Matheson, and Dennis Etchison. And of course I marveled at the works of Charles L. Grant. The field was on fire, and it was an incredible time to be a fan.Continue Reading

Dead Trees: The Touch by F. Paul Wilson

I first read F. Paul Wilson’s The Touch way back in 1986. I was a twenty-five year old boy, rabidly in love with horror. And after The Keep, The Tomb, and some short pieces I had read, F. Paul Wilson was one of my favorite writers.

There’s a section near the beginning of The Touch. It’s describing a seafaring historical area of a small town…

The Illusion almost worked. He could almost imagine Ishmael, harpoon on shoulder, walking down the harbor toward the Pequod…passing the new Video Shack.

Well, nothing was perfect.

I loved that. I was a modern young man and I was head over heels for the home video explosion. It was a perfect time for me. A perfect time to be a horror fan.Continue Reading

Dead Trees: Others by James Herbert

When you bring up the pioneers of hardcore, extreme horror fiction, you’re most likely to hear names like Jack Ketchum and Richard Laymon. As well you should, because these guys were important—important to the fans who were raised on George Romero, Tobe Hooper, etc., and wished to read more than traditional supernatural horror. We wanted, or perhaps we needed, to see the genre tackle more explicit subject matter.

But as great as Ketchum and Laymon are, James Herbert was there first. It’s almost hard to believe now, but Herbert’s first book, a gruesome novel called The Rats, came out in the same year as Stephen King’s Carrie.Continue Reading

Dead Trees: The Eighth Square by Herbert Lieberman

I’m going to ask you to bear with me here. Indulge your willing suspension of disbelief for a bit, please.

There was once a time when I thought that a novel about flesh-eating zombies was a great idea.Continue Reading

‘The Land of Laughs’ by Jonathan Carroll

I’m only just getting started, but I am already enjoying this column. Reading books from a time before cell phones. When people stopped their cars and jumped into a phone booth to make a call. When they went to libraries to do research. When damned near everything and everyone wasn’t available right at your fingertips. A time when people got up and out of the house to buy books at stores. Before we all (yes, I am guilty as charged) had our faces perpetually locked into electronic pacifiers.

A better time? I like to think so. Some will disagree, claiming that we are armed with information at our fingertips at all times. There may be some truth to that, but I think that all too often real information is drowned in misinformation, distortion, misdirection, propaganda, and outright lies.Continue Reading

‘Night Things’ by Thomas F. Monteleone

Hello, and welcome to the first installment of Dead Trees. I want to thank you for taking the time to check out my new column.

Most publishers and writers want to see reviews of current or recently released books. There is nothing wrong with that, and all fans should read the new stuff coming out. But in this column I intend to showcase older works. Continue Reading