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Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70's and '80's Horror Fiction

Paperbacks From Hell

Grady Hendrix

An affectionate, nostalgic, and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of the 1970s and '80s

Take a tour through the horror paperback novels of two iconic decades... if you dare. Page through dozens and dozens of amazing book covers featuring well-dressed skeletons, evil dolls, and knife-wielding killer crabs! Read shocking plot summaries that invoke devil worship, satanic children, and haunted real estate! Horror author and vintage paperback book collector Grady Hendrix offers killer commentary and witty insight on these trashy thrillers that tried so hard to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary's Baby. Complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles, this unforgettable volume dishes on familiar authors like V. C. Andrews and R. L. Stine, plus many more who've faded into obscurity. Also included are recommendations for which of these forgotten treasures are well worth your reading time and which should stay buried.

The Nest

Paperbacks From Hell: Book 1

Gregory A. Douglas

It was just an ordinary garbage dump on peaceful Cape Cod. No one ever imagined that conditions were perfect for breeding, that it was a warm womb, fetid, moist, and with food so plentiful that everything creeping, crawling, and slithering could gorge to satiation. Then a change in poison control was made, resulting in an unforeseen mutation. Now the giant mutant cockroaches are ready to leave their nest--in search of human flesh!

Following in the footsteps of other "animal attack" classics like Jaws and The Rats, Gregory A. Douglas's shocker The Nest (1980) is an '80s paperback horror classic and was the basis for a 1988 cult film adaptation.

When Darkness Loves Us

Paperbacks From Hell: Book 2

Elizabeth Engstrom

Sally Ann and Martha. Two women, searching for love. Finding terror.

During a terrifying storm, a gentle childhood is destroyed by a twisted man who promises love but delivers nightmare.

In the lightless depths of an underground labyrinth, unseen creatures lie in wait for an innocent traveler, cold skeletal hands stretched out in welcome.

There is horror in darkness--horror made greater WHEN DARKNESS LOVES US

Sally Ann is a bright and bubbling farm girl, still caught in the thrill of a brand-new husband and a shining future ahead. When a careless exploration leaves her trapped underground, she learns to live again in the absence of everything she once knew. Even driven by love and light, Sally Ann finds the deepest darkness within herself in When Darkness Loves Us.

Old Martha Mannes has been a part of Morgan, Illinois since her birth. The whole town knows her as the dim-witted woman who was born without a nose, but Martha's mind wasn't always a blank slate. Unlocking the monster buried deep in her memories may bring back the sparkling child she once was... or it may send those around her crashing down into the nightmares of a little girl gone wrong in When Darkness Loves Us.

The Reaping

Paperbacks From Hell: Book 3

Bernard Taylor

When Tom Rigby is commissioned to paint a young woman's portrait at Woolvercombe House, the offer is too lucrative to refuse. But from the moment of his arrival at the secluded country mansion strange and inexplicable events begin to transpire. Soon he is drawn into an impenetrable maze of horror, and by the time he discovers the role he is intended to play in a diabolical design, it will already be too late. For the seeds of evil have been sown, and the time to reap their wicked harvest is nigh!

The classic third novel by '70s and '80s horror master Bernard Taylor, The Reaping (1980) returns to print at last in this edition featuring a new introduction by Will Errickson and the original cover painting by Oliver Frey.

The Tribe

Paperbacks From Hell: Book 4

Bari Wood

When the Belzec concentration camp was liberated in 1945, no one could explain how a group of Jewish captives had not only survived but thrived, appearing better fed than their Nazi captors. Thirty-five years later in New York, the youths responsible for the murder of a rabbi's son are found hideously slain, covered in a strange gray substance. What is the connection between these events? That is the mystery that Rachel Levy and Det. Roger Hawkins must unravel, a mystery that will hold readers spellbound as terrible truths emerge from the nightmare of the past.

The Spirit

Paperbacks From Hell: Book 5

Thomas Page

It has many names: Bigfoot... Yeti... Sasquatch.

But whatever it is, it's out there in the woods and leaving a trail of blood and severed heads behind it.

For John Moon, a half-mad Indian, it is a spirit that holds the key to his inner self. He worships its power and he'll kill to protect it. Desperate, exhausted, half-starved, Moon will follow it wherever it goes.

For Raymond Jason, killing it has become an obsession. He was the only survivor of a hunting trip to the Rockies where the hunters became the monster's prey. Now he is determined to track the creature down and destroy it.

But when the two men finally corner their quarry they set loose a flood of terror and destruction that may leave no survivors ...

This long-awaited reissue of Thomas Page's Bigfoot classic The Spirit (1977) features a new introduction by Grady Hendrix and cover art by paperback horror legend Tom Hallman.

Black Ambrosia

Paperbacks From Hell: Book 6

Elizabeth Engstrom

Angelina is a killer. You'd never know it to look at her--until you look into her eyes.

Angelina doesn't kill out of hatred or fear--she kills out of love, bringing solace to her victims, guided by the seductive Voice that speaks only to her.

Angelina offers you eternal peace--at the cost of your soul!


Paperbacks From Hell: Book 7

T. Chris Martindale

As a soldier in the jungle of Vietnam, Chris Stiles learned how to fight against a deadly enemy. Now the war is over, but when his brother is slaughtered in Central Park, Chris finds himself called back into action, this time to battle a different kind of foe: an army of the undead!

His quest for the creature that killed his brother brings him to Isherwood, Indiana, home to 800 people--and one ancient vampire. As all hell breaks loose and the townspeople are turned one by one into blood-sucking monsters, will Chris's tactical skills and his arsenal of automatic weapons be enough to stop the vampire menace?

A Nest of Nightmares

Paperbacks From Hell: Book 8

Lisa Tuttle

Table of Contents:

  • Bug House - (1980) - shortstory
  • Dollburger - (1973) - shortstory
  • Community Property - (1980) - shortstory
  • Flying to Byzantium - (1985) - novelette
  • Treading the Maze - (1981) - shortstory
  • The Horse Lord - (1977) - shortstory
  • The Other Mother - (1980) - novelette
  • Need - (1981) - shortstory
  • The Memory of Wood - (1982) - shortstory
  • A Friend in Need - (1981) - shortstory
  • Stranger in the House - (1972) - shortstory
  • Sun City - (1980) - shortstory
  • The Nest - (1983) - novelette

Let's Go Play at the Adams'

Paperbacks From Hell: Book 9

Mendal W. Johnson

"They're just kids... It's only a game." That's what Barbara, a lovely twenty-year-old babysitter told herself when she awoke bound and gagged. But the knots were tight and painful and the children would not let her go.

"They're just kids... It's only a game," she told herself again. But the terror was real... and deadly!

In the decades since its original publication, Mendal W. Johnson's bestseller Let's Go Play at the Adams' (1974) has gained a reputation as one of the most harrowing horror novels ever written, and copies have long been unobtainable except at exorbitant prices. This edition reproduces the original paperback cover art and features a new introduction by Grady Hendrix (Paperbacks from Hell), in which details about this cult masterpiece's enigmatic author are revealed for the first time.

The Pack

Paperbacks From Hell: Book 10

David Fisher

In the August heat they frolicked on the beaches, fetched sticks, played with the children. Then the summer dwellers left, abandoning them to the island's harsh winter. Ravenous hunger and violent rage have brought them together under a cunning, ferocious leader. Man has betrayed his best friend-now the dogs will have their day. Bitter winter, and the dogs of summer have grown hungry and vicious.

Stage Fright

Paperbacks From Hell: Book 11

Garrett Boatman

Out of the darkness of the fetid Hudson River, the undead rose to eat their victims alive....

Horror-movie monsters burst from late-night TV screens -- to turn their viewers into victims.

Biker gangs of decomposing corpses rode the highways of America, on the hunt for unsuspecting motorists....

Take a front seat in the baddest nightmare in town. Superstar Izzy Stark has the power to make your dreams -- and nightmares -- come true. He's the master of disaster, the guru of gore, the doctor of doom, the duke of death and destruction -- and you can't escape this command performance.

In a world where the movies have been replaced by the Dreamies, movies projected into the minds of the audience. And no one can create a more terrifying Dreamie than Izzy Stark. But Izzy's gift for Dreamies turns into a nightmare when Izzy goes insane and the Dreamies begin coming gruesomely to life!

Familiar Spirit

Paperbacks From Hell: Book 12

Lisa Tuttle

When Sarah breaks up with the partner she has shared her home with for the last year, she is determined to make a new start. And the house she finds, nestled in the woods just back from the road, seems like the perfect place to do that. Almost from the moment she looks at it, Sarah knows that it should belong to her.

But this house has invisible eyes that watch Sarah from the darkness. For the previous owner, Valerie, is keeping a secret: one that involves the house, a ritual... and a spirit called back from the grave.

The Auctioneer

Paperbacks From Hell: Book 13

Joan Samson

One of the finest and best-selling horror novels of the 1970s returns at last to chill a new generation of readers

In the isolated farming community of Harlowe, New Hampshire, where life has changed little over the past several decades, John Moore and his wife Mim work the land that has been in his family for generations. But from the moment the charismatic Perly Dunsmore arrives in town and starts soliciting donations for his auctions, things begin slowly and insidiously to change in Harlowe. As the auctioneer carries out his terrible, inscrutable plan, the Moores and their neighbors will find themselves gradually but inexorably stripped of their possessions, their freedom, and perhaps even their lives...

A chilling masterpiece of terror whose sense of creeping menace and dread increases page by page, Joan Samson's The Auctioneer (1975) is a rediscovered classic of 20th-century fiction. With echoes of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" and Stephen King's Needful Things, Samson's novel returns to print at last in this long-awaited new edition, which features an introduction by Grady Hendrix (Horrorstör, Paperbacks from Hell) and an afterword by the author's husband.

Gwen, in Green

Paperbacks From Hell: Book 14

Zach Hughes

After receiving a large insurance settlement, young couple Gwen and George fulfill a dream by buying their own little island, a secluded, private paradise surrounded by a lush green landscape of plants.

What the real estate man didn't tell them was that years earlier a tragedy took place nearby in the cool, clear pool, whose waters still hold a terrifying, centuries-old secret.

Soon George begins to notice strange changes in his wife. Always so reserved and demure, suddenly Gwen has become passionate and insatiable. And could there be any connection between her altered personality and a recent series of mysterious disappearances?

Progeny of the Adder

paperbacks from hell: Book 15

Leslie Whitten

Homicide detective Harry Picard had seen a lot of violent deaths... but never like this. Three bodies -- blonde, female, strangely emaciated -- were found in the Potomac River with their throats brutally slashed. Each had been seen in the company of a huge, hulking man dressed in black. Picard's investigation catapulted him into a roiling morass of passion, sexual intrigue, violence, and primordial fear... as he faced an enemy as powerful, and as horrifying, as man's oldest superstitions!

Hell Hound

paperbacks from hell: Book 16

Ken Greenhall

'What are the possibilities of my strength? That is a thought I have never had before. What if some morning as the old woman stood at the head of the staircase she were suddenly to feel a weight thrusting against the back of her legs? What if she were to lunge forward, grasping at the air, striking her thin skull against the edge of a stair? What would become of me if she were found unmoving at the bottom of the stairway?'

Such are the thoughts of Baxter, a sociopathic bull terrier on the hunt for the perfect master, as he contemplates the demise of his first victim. The basis for the acclaimed 1989 film Baxter, Ken Greenhall's utterly chilling and long-unobtainable Hell Hound (1977) has earned a reputation as a lost classic of horror fiction. This first-ever reissue includes a new introduction by Grady Hendrix.


paperbacks from hell: Book 17

Peter Tonkin

They were caught in the ultimate trap. They faced the ultimate terror.

Five men and one beautiful woman. Marooned on a floating island of arctic ice. Together they had the equipment and skills to fight the freezing cold, the violently savage storms.

Then suddenly from the angry seas the jaws of horror opened wide as nature's deadliest creature rose from the depth--a huge killer whale of enormous intelligence, incredible power, indestructible endurance, ravenous for human prey....


paperbacks from hell: Book 18

Thomas Tessier

Tessier explores the terrible, destructive power of an obsessive and perverted love.

It begins when Jeff Lisker, a successful businessman in California's high-tech computer industry, returns to Connecticut for his father's funeral. He fixes on Georgianne Slaton, an old friend from high school and now a suburban wife and mother, as the object of his desire and sets out to make her his own. No matter that Georgianne is happily married and has not thought of him in years; Jeff must have her - whatever the cost. Slowly and with insidious power, the reader is drawn into the increasingly twisted world created by Jeff's unbalanced mind as he plots a murderous path to the fulfillment of his pathological dreams. "Rapture" is a riveting tale of horror that depends not upon invasive super-natural forces but upon the even more frightening force of a mind gone mad.

Finishing Touches

paperbacks from hell: Book 19

Thomas Tessier


  • Finishing Touches - (1986) - novel
  • Father Panic's Opera Macabre - (2001) - novella

The Abyss

paperbacks from hell: Book 20

Jere Cunningham


It is the deepest coal mine ever created. But when the miners dig too far, they violate the earth's most ancient and closely guarded secret.

Now blood flows from faucets, and huge thorns tear the ground apart.

Now grotesque, half-seen creatures terrorize the town, as the stench of sulfur fills the air.

Now the legions of Hell itself raise their unspeakable dominion over heaven and earth from


The Legacy

paperbacks from hell: Book 21

Jere Cunningham

"No one would believe what I have witnessed tonight - how can I even bring myself to tell what I saw on Sprague's cellar stairs, too late to even save the girl? Now I am convinced Sprague is a black master who must be destroyed. I am considering his murder or the end of myself..."

These words from his father's diary chilled David's blood. Now he knew. Sprague was the reason for his father's death. Exactly how, he did not know. But the sorrow was the thing that tormented his father's mind. Now Sprague was trying to get into their minds. David's mind, his wife Sandy's, and his daughter Melanie's. Sprague lived in a mansion near them but few people had ever seen him. But David knew one thing for sure. He must take his family and flee. Or was it already too late?