New from Quirk Books is an account of the world of horror pulp fiction of the 1970s and '80s. Author and horror historian Grady Hendrix (Horrorstör, My Best Friend's Exorcism) traces the unexpected success of Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby, Thomas Tryon's The Other, and William Blatty's The Exorcist--three nightmare novels that became bestsellers and spawned two decades of provocative horror publishing.
Stories of devils, demonic possession, strange science, and other themes are explored in devilish detail--with chapters like "Hail Satan," and "Inhumanoids," Hendrix explains how this standard checkout-aisle fare went from being the derided black sheep of the publishing industry during the 1940s and '50s to taking over bestseller lists and movie screens.
"Horror was for nobodies," writes Hendrix, that is, until books with Satan as the almighty culprit took center stage. Then, every horror story that came along tried to outgore the unholy trinity of Rosemary's Baby, The Other, and The Exorcist, ultimately leading to the genre's demise in the late 80s as a fading parody--"roadkill on the superhighway of the '90s," as Hendrix puts it. The author gleefully digs around this forgotten time capsule of the publishing world while also delving into the tales of the writers and artists who catapulted this genre into the public consciousness. Hendrix's infectious zeal for killer creatures and the undead make Paperbacks from Hell truly enjoyable.
Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction, by Grady Hendrix: Quirk Books, $24.99, 256 pages.
Image courtesy of Quirk Books