Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction

Quirk. Sept. 2017. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9781594749810. pap. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781594749827. LIT
OrangeReviewStarThis hilarious history from Hendrix (Horrorstör; My Best Friend's Exorcism) is a comprehensive survey of the dime-store horror paperbacks from the 1970s and 1980s—an often overlooked but integral piece of horror literature as a whole. After a brief prolog outlining the genre's history—starting with gothic romances and the influence of Fifties and Sixties pulp fiction—Hendrix delves into different subgenres of horror and the (often chuckle-worthy) jacket covers that came along with them. He devotes chapters to possession novels (influenced and seemingly borderline plagiarized from William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist), books about the spawn of Satan, monsters, and creepy children—all staples of modern-day horror. While his prose is often tongue-in-cheek, Hendrix provides readers with the building blocks of what we have come to expect from horror literature. Also of note are the brief histories of the cover illustrators of these pulpy paperbacks, shedding light on the creators of the art that initially attracted most readers to these books.
VERDICT Fans of horror fiction will love this funny and insightful history. Not only is the text informative, but readers will find themselves building booklists from it, too.
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