Monday, October 12, 2009

Halloween Reading


Did a lot of Halloween themed reading over the weekend, both fiction and non fiction. I finished off the short stories in Lovecraft Unbound save for the Michael Chabon entry, which I decided to keep until closer to Halloween. Then I switched to a recently acquired collection from 1987 called Night Visions 2. This one contains horror short stories from David Morrell, Joseph Payne Brennan, and Karl Edward Wagner. I'd already read all of Wagner's tales but I re-read one called Old Loves which is something of a salute to the 1960s British spy series The Avengers while having a nasty little horror twist at the end. Reportedly Karl Edward Wagner was a big fan of The Avengers so I'm sure he had a lot of fun writing this one.
I read one of Morrell's stories, Black and White and Red All Over, about a newspaper boy who runs into a serial killer, followed by two by Brennan, Pick Up and Starlock Street. Both of these stories are very much in the Twilight Zone mode. In the first, a man picks up a hitchhiker who may or may not be the ghost of a woman he had an affair with, and in the latter a man finds a street in his town that seems to be stuck in the Victorian era, but turns out to be something far more sinister.
I originally ordered this book because it contains one of the few Sword and Sorcery stories written by Brennan, Oasis of Abomination, but I left that one unread for now. It's October so I'm looking for ghosts and ghoulies and while I'm sure Brennan's tale has elements of horror, I figured I'd save it for when I get done with my Halloween reading.
My non-fiction Halloween book for the weekend was Michael Mallory's Universal Studios Monsters: A Legacy of Horror. This is one of the better books I've read about the classic Universal horror movies and I'd certainly recommend it for someone who was just discovering Frankenstein and the lot. I was very impressed by the way the book was structured. The author begins with a general history of Universal studios, which gives the reader some background and perspective. Then he has a chapter about Frankenstein which includes synopses of all the Frankenstein movies, cast information, on set anecdotes and the like. He doesn't spend much time talking about Boris Karloff, the man who played the monster, because a few chapters later he has a chapter all about Karloff. That's pretty much the pattern for the rest of the book. A Chapter about Dracula, then a chapter about Bela Lugosi. A Chapter about the Wolfman, then a chapter about Lon Chaney Jr. Later there are chapters about the female stars, the character actors, the directors, the special effects and make-up men, and so forth. A very well done reference volume with a ton of photographs. If you love the Universal monsters you'll want this book for your collection.

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