Sunday, June 13, 2010

Waiting For Worse Things


Back in 1973, David Drake, Jim Groce, and the Late Karl Edward Wagner founded a small publishing firm called Carcosa Press. From 1973 to 1981 Carcosa only published four volumes, one collection each of the works of pulp writers E. Hoffman Price and Hugh B. Cave, and two collections of the pulp stories of Manly Wade Wellman. These books have become very collectible and thus, very expensive over time. Fortunately for me, the inestimable Cliff owned all four and was kind enough to loan them to me.
The volume that really stuck in my mind was Wellman's Worse Things Waiting, a collection of pulp horror with some truly amazing stories. I've talked about my admiration for Wellman before and I still think that he's a vastly overlooked and underrated horror writer. Over the years his work has been adapted for TV and films, including episodes of Lights Out (School for the Unspeakable), the original Twilight Zone (The Valley Was Still) and Night Gallery (The Devil is Not Mocked).
He's probably best known for his novels and short stories about John the Balladeer, a former soldier who wanders the Appalachian Mountains fighting backwoods supernatural menaces with his silver stringed guitar. I think these some of the most original and creepy horror/fantasy stories ever written. Planet Stories has just put out a new edition of the complete John the Balladeer stories called Who Fears the Devil, and you really should go out and buy a copy.
Anyway, Worse Things Waiting was a book I wanted to own, but I couldn't find a decent copy for under a hundred bucks, which was a bit more than I wanted to pay for it. So I did what I usually do. I kept a watch at Ebay and Amazon and waited for someone to post a copy at a lower price. I lucked out last week and someone put up a 'very good' copy for 50 bucks. I ordered it, and sure enough it's a nice copy. A little shelf worn, but a tight spine and clean pages and Wellman's signature tipped in. I was very pleased.
In an odd coincidence, the first story I re-read was one called 'Up Under the Roof' and while doing a little web search on Wellman I learned that someone has done a short film based on the story just this year. I'm glad to see that people are still enjoying Wellman's work. The film is currently showing up at some film festivals and appears to be well received. I hope the filmmakers make it available on DVD because I'd sure like to check it out. Have a look at the trailer at:

http://www.upundertheroof.com/

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