It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Halloween of course. Who doesn’t like a good scare every once in a while? Not to mention the beautiful tradition of Samhain, welcoming the darker half of the year and celebrating the end of the Harvest season.
This year I’m celebrating with some delicious pumpkin beer and reading from one of my newest favorites, Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction (Quirk Books). Last year, author Grady Hendrix released My Best Friend’s Exorcism—a comically horrific tale of teenage friends growing up in the ’80s dealing with something a little more devilish than puberty. This year, he’s back with a journey through one of the most fascinating eras in pop publishing.
Paperbacks from Hell includes 350 full-color reprints of some of the “creepiest, weirdest and most gruesome covers ever produced” in the realm of fiction. The book’s eight chapters (with names like “Hail Satan,” “Weird Science,” and “Splatterpunks, Serial Killers, and Super Creeps”) dive deep into pulp publishing that in a way that will delight anyone with an interest in horror, design, illustration or the macabre.
Below are just a few of the images included in the book that has critics smiling.
’70s and ’80s Horror Books and their Covers
Cover by Terry Oakes from Birthpyre by Larry Brand, Corgi & Avon, 1980
“Pure, demented delight.” —The New York Times Book Review
Cover by Richard Newton from Cat’s Eye by William W. Johnstone, Zebra, 1989
Cover by Lisa Falkenstern from Childgrave by Ken Greenhall, Pocket Books, 1982
Cover by Lisa Falkenstern from Crib by Harold Lee Friedman, Pocket Books, 1982
“Paperbacks from Hell is as wild as its source material.” —AV Club
Cover by Jill Bauman from Dark Companions by Ramsey Campbell, Tor, 1985
Cover by Thomas Hallman from Fangs by William Dobson
Cover by Bob Larkin from Feast by Graham Masterton, Pinnacle, 1988
“Grady Hendrix has written a hugely entertaining, lightning-paced and knowledgeable history. I love it!” —Mick Garris, creator of Showtime’s “Master of Horror”
Cover by Bob Larkin from The Guardian by Jeffrey Konvitz, Bantam 1979
Cover attributed to Lisa Falkenstern from Legion by William Peter Blatty, Pocket Books, 1983
Cover by Terry Oakes from Maggots by Edward Jarvis, Arrow, 1986
Cover by Lisa Falkenstern for The Nestling by Milton Charles, Pocket Books, 1982
Initial sketch by Lisa Falkenstern for The Nestling by Milton Charles, Pocket Books, 1982
“You may find yourself trying to stock up on old titles so you can get your fill of gloriously trashy scares.” —Bustle
Cover by Terry Oakes from Slime by John Halkin, Critic’s Choice, 1984
Cover by Terry Oakes from The Abyss by Jere Cunningham, Simon & Schuster, 1981
Stepback by Ed Soyka from The Manitou by Graham Masterton, Tor, 1975