Nick and Christine Marino move their young son, Joey, and the family dog to a remote Long Island community called Mill Harbor. Their new domicile is within driving distance of Nick’s job at his father’s Italian restaurant while offering a private beach and stables shared with their privileged neighbors. The moving crew barely leaves their driveway before a mysterious man on horseback, who can’t stop ogling Christine, invites them all over to meet the rest of their neighbors. These include a strange but handsome Professor of Anthropology (who also can’t stop staring at Christine) along with a burly, Norse-looking man named Karl Anderson. Not only can’t he stop looking at Christine, but proceeds to grab her crotch after she extends her hand in a greeting – the result of which earns him a much-deserved drink in his face. Things get even worse when the family returns home and finds their dog with its head completely “twisted” off. After just one chapter, it becomes painfully obvious that Robert C. Sloane’s “A Nice Place to Live” (published 1982) is anything but!
Two lovers gaze into each other’s eyes on a beautiful, warm summer night. The handsome couple has dated throughout high school with both now settling into steady jobs. At long last, the time is right for Jay to pop the Big Question. “Bobbe,” he asks with anticipation. “Will you marry me?” Suddenly, she goes cold. “Oh, Jay,” she replies. “I can’t marry you. I’ve just decided to go to a Convent and become a Nun! (???)” This news doesn’t just come as a surprise to her would-be fiance’ but to Bobbe as well. That’s because, unbeknownst to either of them, Bobbe is possessed by a sex-crazed demon determined to get his beautiful host/victim behind enemy lines so she can become a Nun in the service of Satan. And so lies the premise for John Tigges’ “Garden of the incubus;” a supernatural ‘80s Paperback from Hell that just turned forty. Continue reading
Most of the vintage horror paperbacks in my collection are a lot more fun to look at than they are to read. I should know. I plowed through as many as I could last year before landing myself in a reading rut; fatigued from an overdose of absurd plotlines and bad writing. Lately, I’ve had more success with modern novels while peppering a few old pulpy Paperbacks from Hell in-between. My latest choice, PIN by Andrew Neiderman (1981), proved a pleasant surprise. Despite featuring many of the fantastical elements of your typical ‘80s horror paperback, there are interesting psychological twists as well. Consequently, PIN is more sophisticated than many in its genre.
My New Year’s Resolution for 2022 was the same one I had for 2021 – Read more books! You see, despite having a small library in my apartment, I’d been neglecting them in favor of zoning out in front of the TV. On the rare occasions I cracked one open, I’d find myself dozing after just a few pages. Clearly, my frenetic job coupled with social media had zapped my attention span and it was high time I did something about it. So, this time last year, I signed on on Goodreads and challenged myself to read twenty-five books in 2021. Spoiler alert: I didn’t succeed. The official number of books I completed was eighteen garnering me 72% on Goodreads. But hey, that’s still passing, right? Not surprisingly, most of them were horror or thriller stories and the ones I’ll be focusing on today.
Always like to start the new year with a horror paperback post. The movement started by Grady Hendrix’s “Paperback from Hell” back in 2017 has continued to gain momentum as more people seem to be interested in vintage (specifically ‘70s to mid-’90s) horror paperbacks than ever before. In fact, Valancourt Books has even begun reprinting some which I’d love to see usher in a new era of horror paperbacks with cover art comparable to the ones I grew up with. Can you imagine a whole new generation of killer kids, mutants, demons, and skeletons with eyeballs? Having just finished reading William W. Johnstone’s “Sweet Dreams,” I can honestly say these books are as outlandish as their covers. And speaking of which, I’ve been scanning mine as I go, hoping to use them for upcoming projects. I thought it might be nice to post them for your enjoyment as well. Today’s theme is “Skeletons,” which I suspect might end up with “Part 2” eventually. Although most horror PB publishers used skulls and skeletons in their cover art, none did so with the fervor of Zebra Books. In fact, their skeletons did just about everything. To quote Grady Hendrix, “Lazy bones? We think not. Zebra Books and other horror publishers showed us that if they put their minds to it, skeletons could do anything from lead a pep rally to earn an advanced degree.” See for yourself…
Last Christmas I talked about Grady Hendrix’s wonderful Paperbacks from Hell and how it reignited my passion for those horror “trash novels” I read faithfully back in the ‘80s. Since then, I’ve been avidly searching for them online and on foot and can now boast a solid collection of 150 books; a number I hope to double by 2020. I’m also reading them again at a steady rate of two books a week which has not only proven a great way to unwind after a busy day at work but improved my attention span for more serious reading as well. Now, I’m not here to make scientific claims on the importance of mindless reading, but rather share updates on my collection and what I’ve learned since that Christmas 2017 post.