Foreword Reviews

Paperbacks from Hell

The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction

As trends in genre fiction go, you’d be hard pressed to find a more indelible example than the paperback horror novels of the 1970s and 1980s. All manner of depravity, from Nazi leprechauns, psychic spawn, ghost trains, and flesh-eating Vikings to trained killer mantises, swarms of killer moths, feral frogs, and silver-coated rabbit gods—you can’t make this up. Oh yes, they did.

Paperbacks from Hell, from genre-bending novelist Grady Hendrix, is a hugely entertaining history of the horror books from those fear-filled times. June of 1971 marked the breakouts of Thomas Tryon’s The Other and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, which stayed on the New York Times bestsellers list for fifty-five weeks, and suddenly it was game on for another twenty-plus years, until Silence of the Lambs “convinced marketing departments to scrape the word horror off spines and glue on the word thriller instead.”

In addition to Hendrix’s tales of how the publishing industry and Hollywood exploited the horror wave, Paperbacks from Hell colorfully reprints 350 of the most outrageous, creepy, and gruesome covers.

Reviewed by Matt Sutherland

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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