Dead Trees: The Making of a Monster by Gail Petersen

banner reading Dead Trees by Mark Sieber

vintage cover of The Making of a MonsterHorror was in a time of transformation in 1994. John Skipp and Craig Spector’s final novel, Animals, had been published the previous year. The original Splatterpunk era was over. Necro Publications and the underground hardcore horror fiction wave was a couple of years ahead. Cemetery Dance had spearheaded the small press revolution, but it was still gaining momentum. The biggest thing in the genre, other than King and Barker of course, was the Dell/Abyss line of postmodern horror paperbacks.

I liked some of the Abyss titles and authors. Poppy Z. Brite and Kathe Koja were and are favorites. I liked Brian Hodge and Dennis Etchison. However, the books began to wear on me after a while. It seemed like some of the writers were trying too hard to be hip. I didn’t care for novels by Tanith Lee, Nancy Holder, and Jessica Amanda Salmonson. I lost faith in the Dell/Abyss brand and stopped buying the books.Continue Reading

Dead Trees: Stephen King: The Art of Darkness

banner reading Dead Trees by Mark Sieber

cover of Stephen KIng: The Art of DarknessEnter the Wayback Machine and go back to 1984. I was still shrugging off the science fiction habit I had all my life and becoming a full-fledged horror fan. I read authors like Grant, Straub, Wilson, Etchison, Campbell. And of course Stephen King. When I finally got around to reading him, my reading life changed forever. Pet Sematary had just been released in paperback. Ahead were wonders like The Talisman, Thinner, Skeleton Crew, and It.

Horror was in a state of flux. In the movies, the slasher era was cycling down. In ’84 we had The Mutilator, Splatter University, The Initiation, and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. A Nightmare on Elm Street was ushering in a new breed of horror. Stephen King adaptations were in a bit of a lull, as disappointing productions like Children of the Corn and Firestarter hit the screens. Bigger and better things were ahead.Continue Reading

Book Trailer: HE WHO TYPES BETWEEN THE ROWS 2: HORROR DRIVE-IN WILL NEVER DIE!

All….okay, MOST great horror films eventually get a sequel. We’re excited to announce that Mark Sieber, one of the great chroniclers of the horror scene, has jumped on the sequel train with the follow-up to He Who Types Between the Rows. Check out the new book trailer below, then grab a copy of the e-book at its special pre-order price of 0.99. The e-book and paperback will be released on April 22!

Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: Scaaaa-REEM!

banner reading Horror Drive-In and Mark Sieber and Cemetery Dance

I am the perfect age to be a slasher fan. Halloween was released when I was seventeen years old — roughly the same age as the victims in John Carpenter’s masterpiece. I saw it in a walk-in theater and the experience was truly transformational. I was on the verge of adulthood and this movie, which was based on an oft-told urban legend, felt like the beginning of something entirely new.

Halloween was a runaway success and along with the inevitable sequel, imitator movies were quickly made and released. The biggest of them is, of course, Friday the 13th. I was eighteen years old.Continue Reading

Revisiting T.E.D. Klein, The Ceremonies, and Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Magazine

banner reading Horror Drive-In and Mark Sieber and Cemetery Dance

I like to read something special for a holiday. In 2020, deep in the pandemic, I spent a long week whiling over The Cider House Rules, a novel I read and absolutely loved when it first came out. I was considering what to read this year, when it occurred to me that I had not read T.E.D. Klein’s The Ceremonies since it was originally published. That was quite a few moons ago, and my memories about it were vague. The Ceremonies is a book that requires attention and a little patience, so a week off is the perfect time to indulge in it.Continue Reading

Dead Trees: The Doll Who Ate His Mother by Ramsey Campbell

banner reading Dead Trees by Mark Sieber

Who is the best living horror writer?

The obvious, and most popular answer, is of course Stephen King. I almost agree, but King has done too many different types of fiction to be stigmatized as merely a horror writer. A lot of it can even be construed as science fiction. Especially when one considers how psi talents were an SF staple for years and years.

Despite my love of his work my answer is not Stephen King. I’d have to go with the inimitable Ramsey Campbell.Continue Reading

Dead Trees: The Fates by Thomas Tessier

banner reading Dead Trees by Mark Sieber

I read all kinds of fiction. Horror new and old, classic science fiction, modern domestic suspense, mainstream, whatever suits my fancy. There’s a  special place in my heart of hearts for small town horror. The good stuff from the late seventies and early eighties. Charles L. Grant and his Oxrun Station stories come most immediately to mind. There’s Rick Hautala’s Maine. Matthew J. Costello and his early paperbacks. Peter Straub and the Chowder Society. Alan Ryan, Lisa Tuttle, Chet Williamson, A.R. Morlan, Al Sarrantonio, and T.M. Wright all set stories in cozy small towns. Let’s not forget Mr. King and his Castle Rock fiction.Continue Reading

We Thought We’d Always Have the Drive-In

banner reading Horror Drive-In by Mark Sieber

If you had asked me if I knew that life was constant change, and that none of the things I loved would last forever, I’d have surely shrugged and said, Sure, everyone knows that. But when you get right down here, where it counts, I believed it all was permanent.Continue Reading

Dead Trees: Old Fears by John Wooley and Ron Wolfe

banner reading Dead Trees by Mark Sieber

I like a lot of new horror fiction. I just recently read one of the best, if not the best, novel in years: The Last House on Needless Street.

I never want to stop reading current writers, but I spend a lot of time back in my roots. I’m talking about the early 1980s. Post Stephen King, but pre-Splatterpunk. A time of small towns, ancient evil, diabolical children, delightfully garish paperback covers, and bookstores everywhere that still had horror sections.

It didn’t take a lot to please me. I trusted blurbs from other writers! That alone shows how different a time it was.Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: To Vomit or Not to Vomit

banner reading Horror Drive-In and Mark Sieber and Cemetery Dance

I’m a member of the Books of Horror Facebook page. They are mostly a good crowd of modern readers, but I have been feeling alienated. Out of touch with the new trends. There is so much talk of grossout fiction. People crave disgusting, perverted, vomit-inducing horror stories.

I’m not pointing fingers. How can I?Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: Preserve Our Heritage: Collect Physical Media!

banner reading Horror Drive-In by Mark Sieber

photo of a stack of vhs tapesI have a bad habit of thinking that the things I love will always be there. Like drive-in theaters. We had three of them in my hometown. I went as much as I could, but I thought they were forever. I should have been out there every damned weekend.

It seemed that the cool bookstores would always be there. I had no idea Amazon and their Kindle would tear the guts out of our communities.

It wasn’t that long ago when I used to see great old VHS tapes at the thrift stores. I’ve been buying a lot of genre stuff up as interest in them has risen. Mostly I find later things from the latter half of the ’90s and first half of the 2000 decade.Continue Reading

Dead Trees: Peter Straub’s The Hellfire Club

Author Peter Straub
Peter Straub

No one — no one — has ever done it better than Peter Straub. I admit that some of his work leaves me a little bit cold, but when Straub is on, he is on.

Not everyone agrees. I’ve heard a lot of people say they can’t read Peter Straub, or that he simply isn’t for them. The thing about his writing is, it takes effort. Most worthwhile things do require determination and patience, but the effort pays off. He isn’t an easy writer, but the rewards are well worth the investment.Continue Reading