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Paperbacks From Hell (Book)

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Paperbacks From Hell

Paperbacks From HellWritten by Grady Hendrix

Distributed by Quirk Books


Believe the hype. It’s for REAL this time. Paperbacks from Hell is, indeed, the very best horror novel reference material on the shelves right now, bar none. Everyone is talking about it, Facebook is damn near overrun with posts about it, and you should be running out and buying it. But, let me back up a little, first.

Growing up, I had a pretty sweet deal with my parents. For every “classic” I read, they would buy me a book of my choice, pretty much anything. As a result, a trip to the bookstore would result in The Hobbit paired with Deathbringer, Catcher in the Rye with Slugs, and Hamlet with Slay Bells. In order to read the lurid half of these odd pairings, I gladly slogged through what, at the time, I thought was junk (I know better now). Soon, and with a little allowance money, I was collecting every single book splashed with blood and the associated monsters I could find at the bookstore, no matter how outlandish. Needless to say, over time I amassed an enormous collection of the precursors to splatterpunk that came out in the ‘70s and ‘80s and developed a deep and abiding love of the genre. I thought I was an expert. I was wrong. Hendrix has me beat by a long shot.

When I caught wind of the buzz surrounding Grady Hendrix’s love letter to these twisted paperbacks I have been hording for so long, I knew I had to have it in my collection. The day it showed up on my doorstep, I cracked it open to see how good it could possibly be, and I didn’t put it down until I had finished it that evening. No lie. This thing should have a bright-red warning sticker on the cover, it is THAT addictive. It is the literary equivalent of potato chips (but with some kind of gory dip to go with them).

Hendrix breaks down the history and macabre subcategories of the horror novel scene of the ‘70s and ‘80s, giving a little peek into their start with the gothic romances of the ‘50s and ‘60s before he compartmentalizes the genre into areas such as “Hail, Satan” (authors capitalizing on rampant Satanic Panic at the time), “When Animals Attack” (everything from killer crabs and maggots from hell), and “Creepy Kids” (Damien, anyone?), as well as many others.

The glossy book lovingly presents the amazing (Spawn), disgusting (Blood Worm), and downright hysterical (Death Tour) covers of these books in great detail, but where the reference really shines is Hendrix’s descriptions of the outrageous plots of these tomes. If the author is as funny in person as he is detailing the mind-bogglingly weird storylines, I’d absolutely pay to see him do standup comedy. However, don’t get me wrong…he is not slagging these books by any stretch of the imagination. It is clear from his prose, his attention to detail, and his approach to covering even books like Satan’s Pets or Seed of Evil that he has actually read these books and loves them like we do. This is no horrific smear campaign… this is clearly devotion.

For me, reading this book was sort of akin to playing a horror version of Pokémon (gotta catch ‘em all!). As I flipped the pages, I found myself poking at the illustrations, saying: “Got it, got it, need it, got it, need it.Paperbacks from Hell is a virtual checklist for collecting the gonzo horror novels that stocked store shelves when we were growing up. Whether you love the head-snakingly weird covers that adorned these books or whether you want an informative and yet hysterically funny read, Paperbacks from Hell should be a welcome addition to the bookshelves of any true horror buff.

BUY IT NOW!

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

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Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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