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erislover
09-01-2001, 08:02 PM
There are three authors that I think of when I think of "horror." Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Dean Koontz. Yeah, we could count Poe and Lovecraft. I have no objections there, just that neither of them ever wrote anything that actually scared me.

So, of horror authors, who has really got the nack? My offer is King, but that judgement is based on quantity. The Shining's animal bushes really got to me when I read about them. Desperation? The whole frigging book got to me. Pet Semetary? Ugh, I see Gage's shadow every time I read it (which is a total of four times now).

As far as Barker goes, I include him because many consider him to be a horror author, but I honestly can't say much ever scared me from him. There were a few chapters in Imajica which got to me (Dowd and his mites were just evil), and I can say that the Sisters from Weaveworld were pretty creepy, but nothing I've read of his ever left me with anything after the chapter ended.

Koontz? I honestly consider him to be pure pulp, though he also managed to work some creep into me. Darkfall's little rat things seriously work me over. The baddie from Hideaway left me slightly disturbed for some time. But, for that even, Koontz just doesn't leave me with the impression King did, and doesn't have the depth that Barker displays.

So, my vote goes whole-heartedly for King. He's the master in my book.

Agrippina
09-01-2001, 08:10 PM
I'd have to go with King, too. The scariest King book, for me, was Misery. (SPOILERS AHEAD) Especially the end, where Paul arrives home to find Annie Wilkes there. Shudder. Or in Cujo when Tad sees the monster in his closet, and when Tad falls asleep the monster is watching him with "glowing amber eyes".

Lionors
09-01-2001, 08:14 PM
Poe first, then the darker works of Bradbury (I know he's not classed as a horror author, but he's definitely got some work that I think falls into that genre), then King, then Lovecraft. I'm not rating them in order of quality of writing (it's apples, oranges and kiwifruit) or by quantity of what's been produced, but by how hard their works hit overall. (I will not, will NOT, be buried, thanks to Poe.)

I like some of Dean Koontz's stuff, but what I liked most wasn't really horror, in my book (Lightning and Watchers).

I'm sure someone will nominate Thomas Harris eventually, although he's almost too much for me.

Ukulele Ike
09-01-2001, 08:32 PM
Maurice Level. Possibly David M. Keller.

But then I've always ben a sucker for [i]contes cruels.

elucidator
09-01-2001, 09:04 PM
Sartre. Hands down.

Monkeypants
09-01-2001, 09:26 PM
Yeah, that dwarf rolling his booger in La Nausee was a little creepy.

But has anyone ever read "Book of the Dead", a collection of short stories by various horror authors, all dealing with zombies? It was interesting to see the different takes.

erislover
09-01-2001, 10:27 PM
Ike, care to drop a few titles to check out?

elucidator, are we talking about the French existentialist there? i wasn't aware he dabbled in anything that would be considered horror, unless you are just joking about trying to wade through his philosophic writings...

Lion, I haven't read much of Bradbury, except for 451 and "The Illustrated Man" short stories (which were awesome). Interesting.

Mortish
09-01-2001, 10:39 PM
>has anyone ever read "Book of the Dead", a collection of short stories by various horror authors, all dealing with zombies? It was interesting to see the different takes.

I just finished reading that book tonight. :)

I enjoyed most of it, but found that by halfway into the book I was really tired of reading the details of each author's zombie descriptions (like physical appearance and behaviour)just because they were essentially the same from story to story.

mangeorge
09-01-2001, 11:18 PM
Robert McCammon. A southern writer. He's not writing horror any longer, but he did a couple of pretty good ones. Mine and Stinger come to mind. He also wrote a good collection of short stories called Blue World. I think that was it, anyway. Good stuff.
Peace,
mangeorge

Freudian Slit
09-01-2001, 11:37 PM
Stephen King is one of my favorites, but it's so hard to choose just one, you know? Others include: Ira Levin, William Peter Blatty, Roald Dahl (yes, those were horrifying tales), Daphne DuMaurier (if we're counting suspense as horror too), and Robert Bloch. I'm leaving some off the list, but when it comes down to horror, I can never choose just one.

SK is always the first who comes to mind because he was the first horror writer I ever read. Nostalgia, you know? Pet Sem is the scariest, IMHO, though Apt Pupil was disturbing and Christine was also a good one. Still, Pet Sem has that creepy aspect to it.

mangeorge
09-02-2001, 12:05 AM
Oh yeah, and Cujo. Great story. The movie really sucked, though. They entirely omitted the dog's POV, which I thought was a highlight of the story.
In fact, the only movie based on a king novel I really liked was Misery. Christine was nothing more than an exercise in special effects. No bones, as it were. The novel was good. IMO anyway.
Peace,
mangeorge

Lionors
09-02-2001, 01:42 AM
Eris, the stories of Bradbury's I'm thinking of are "The Small Assassin" and "Skeleton". ("The Veldt" wins an honorable mention.) <cringe> It's not that he's that graphic in his descriptions -- it's just that he brings up concepts that just kind of take up residence in the bottom of my mind and lurk there. I'm sure it's more properly classed as dark fantasy than horror, technically speaking. You can get all three stories, though, in The Vintage Bradbury. I'm sure he's got them in other anthologies, too.

King does the same thing to me on occasion -- I couldn't eat or prepare meat for a good month after I read "The Survivor Type". And I have NEVER been able to eat ladyfingers again.

I just had to remember that story the day before we do a barbecue, too, didn't I? Blerrrrgh...

Peta Tzunami
09-02-2001, 08:06 AM
Of those authors I've read, I'd say that Stephen King and Thomas Harris are the upper most on the list.

The Dark Half scared the p'jeebees outta me and at age 22 or so, I slept with the lights on...also, his short story The Mist, most disturbing.

Of course, you all remember Thomas Harris from such books (and subsequent movies as) Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon (which became "Manhunter" on the screen).

I think the most disturbing aspects of horror are not merely allowing you to imagine awful things while you read, but drawing you into the characters (either as victims or in the other scary place, as somehow empathizing with the evil) and playing on the most common or base fears.

Though I haven't read the book and can only judge my opinion based on the mini-series, It is a prime example of that as "It" cues its attacks off of the characters' greatest fears--even as adults when the fears of childhood are either repressed or replaced with completely new and more "practical" fears (i.e. fear of the dark replaced by fear of winding up alone or fear of the boogie man replaced by fear of failure in business or marriage).

Another issue for me, personally, and am not nearly so effected by such authors as Poe, who are certainly masters in their own rights, is the fact that for me a lot of horror has to do with the vividly imagined. While Poe certainly weaves some wonderful words into disturbing tales, his language is such that the imagery--for me at least--is secondary and thus less impactful. I am impressed by his language and that seems to override the fear factor...

Again, that's not to say he wasn't a master at what he did and couldn't be consider "the best" nor to imply that more eloquent or poetic language shouldn't be a part of the genre, but since this is a genuinely subjective matter, I have to say for me, the contemporaries push my fear and horror buttons a bit more.

Just my 2-cents anyway...

Labdad
09-02-2001, 09:40 AM
I don't know about the "best," but I can tell you what book scared me the most: Ghost Story by Peter Straub. How scared? I read the final third of the book one sunny day at the beach. The weather was perfect, the waves were gently lapping at the shore, and I was shivering reading about that cold snowy night in the movie theater!

gobear
09-02-2001, 10:29 AM
I really liked John Skipp and Craig Spector's string of 80s novels, like The Light at the End, about a vampire hunting victims in the New York Subway system, and The Cleanup, about a man who finds out that getting wishes granted costs a lot more than he thought. I wonder whatever happened to them.

I also gotta speak up for the Master, H.P. Lovecraft. While his writing style tended to overuse the vocabulary set, e.g., "the rugose, slimy skin of the eldritch beast," his creation of the Elder Gods mythos is, IMHO, the single greatest contribution to 20th century horror fiction and a bottomless well of inspiration for other writers.

I also gotta give a shout out to Robert Bloch, an unjustly neglected horror writer. His short stories, like "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper," have the swift, steely impact of a stiletto in the heart.

Kim Newman is also a terrific horror writer. His alternate history novels in which historical and literary figures coexist in an England where Dracula killed Van Helsing, like Anno Dracula and The Bloody Red Baron, are absorbing reads. They also give the discerning reader a bit of an ego boost when one spots the literary allusions.

Dan Simmons seems to have left the horror genre behind, but he has written at least two genuinely scary novels: Song of Kali and Carrion Comfort.

I also dig James Herbert's novels, like The Spear, The Rats[/i], and The Fog. He is a British writer whose books have an atmosphere of dark knowledge and Things Better Left Alone. Great, gory fun!

TV time
09-02-2001, 01:01 PM
Lovecraft---In my mind his work defines the genre.

Infovore
09-02-2001, 01:11 PM
One of my favorite horror authors is Graham Masterton. He's a British author whose work is a bit hard to find in the U.S. (a lot of his books are out of print) but if you like dark, extremely gory, creepy supernatural horror, he's a good one to read. Many of his books concern Native American mythos--probably his most famous in the U.S. is The Manitou, which was made into a B-movie in the '70s, but it's not one of his best or goriest. Its two sequels, Revenge of the Manitou and especially Burial are much better.

A warning for all those young under-the-covers horror readers, though: Masterton isn't an author for the kiddies. Aside from without doubt some of the most extreme gore I've ever seen in a novel, he also has some rather graphic sexual stuff going on, most of it as horrific as the blood-n-guts.

carnivorousplant
09-02-2001, 02:45 PM
I was most frightened by THomas Harris' Red Dragon...stuff like that happens!

For art, Ray Bradbury's October Country.

Dean R. Koontz was a great science fiction author before he turned into a hack; Beastchild is outstanding.

Ukulele Ike
09-02-2001, 04:36 PM
Originally posted by erislover
Ike, care to drop a few titles to check out?

Maurice Level's best work was collected into Tales of Mystery and Horror (U.S. edition 1919, completely out of print, but you can probably find it with a booksearch engine), and included such jewels as

"Blue Eyes," in which a grisette is forced into prostitution to be able to afford flowers for the grave of her recently-executed young lover, who had been falsely accused of a crime. After she does so, she learns that the man she slept with was the guy who pulled the lever on the guillotine. Imagaine the poor girl's feelings!

and "The Last Kiss," in which a blinded, disfigured man who has had acid thrown into his face by his jealous lover invites her to his home to forgive her. As she weepingly begs his pardon, struck by his humility, he (yeah, you guessed it) throws acid in HER face.

...she fell writhing to the floor. Already her face was nothing but a red rag.
Then he straightened himself, stumbled over her, felt about the wall to find the switch, and put out the light. and round them, as in them, was a great Darkness...

Ukulele Ike
09-02-2001, 04:41 PM
David H. Keller is best known as the author of "The Thing in the Cellar," about a small boy who is terrified of the cellar door in his rural home, not without reason. It's in dozens of different horror anthologies.

He's done several other fine tales, such as "The Dead Woman," "The Doorbell," "Tiger Cat," and "The Revolt of the Pedestrians."

His work was collected in Tales from Underwood (1953) and The Folsom Flint (1967), both from Arkham House publishers.

Ukulele Ike
09-02-2001, 04:45 PM
Folks interested in pursuing horror fiction beyond the bestselling likes of King and Koonz should check out both Arkham House and the Ash-Tree Press...the former was founded by August Derleth in 1939 to publish the works of Lovecraft in book form (and went on to publish many other excellent pulp-mag horror writers); the latter is a Canadian house that specializes in bringing back out-of-print horror writers...they specialize in literary ghost stories, as you can tell from the name, which was lifted from the M.R. James story.

http://www.arkhamhouse.com/

http://www.ash-tree.bc.ca/ashtreecurrent.html

LateComer
09-02-2001, 05:03 PM
Repeat after me: Peter Straub, Peter Straub, Peter Straub.

and who can forget Ramsay Campbell and Richard Matheson.

Dean Koontz shouldn't be in this discussion.


I don't consider Thomas Harris horror, more like suspense. Though, I suppose for the sake of argument, one could call him a horror author.

Perhaps we should also define our terms. Are we talking about the "Greatest" or the "Best?" (We're certainly not speaking abou our "favorite) The best implies, to me, only quality of writing while the greatest means something more. To determine the greatest one has to weigh many factors such as popularity, longevity, influence, importance to the genre, etc. . .

When talking about the Greatest, I would have to say in no particular order Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft and E.A. Poe.

I don't think I have read enough to determine the best, though Straub tops my list at this moment. ("Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff" was sublime).

elfkin477
09-02-2001, 06:09 PM
Favorites are hard for me to decide. It's a toss up between Stephen King and Peter Struab. I also really like Robert McCammon, John Saul, Dean Koontz(but am I the only one who hates his titles? I can never remember which is which!) and Clive Barker.

However, I would love to be pointed in the direction of more female horror authors. I sort of like Anne Rice, but I have trouble getting into a lot of her books (Clive Barker's too, actually) since she, like Frank Herbert, write what I mentally catolog as "really boring interesting stories" meaning once I've finished them- and waded through the semantics- I better appricate them. She's the only one that comes to mind though, and I'd like to see what other women write, too. I write horror,(abet not novels. yet)too, there has to be a lot of women who do.

erislover
09-02-2001, 07:24 PM
Hmm, I never got into Ghost Story. I have only read "Shadowland" by him, which was actually superb. I will give him another try... I still own Ghost Story (actually, somehow I own two copies of it :p)

mangeorge, I also forgot about McCammon. I have three of his I haven't gotten around to readin yet (been on a non-fiction kick lately).

Ukulele Ike
09-02-2001, 07:36 PM
Originally posted by elfkin477
I would love to be pointed in the direction of more female horror authors.

Try Joyce Carol Oates,
Cynthia Asquith,
C.L. Moore,
Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman,
Marjorie Bowen,
Tanith Lee,
and James Tiptree, Jr.

(That last one is the nom de plume of Alice B. Sheldon)

Weird_AL_Einstein
09-02-2001, 08:21 PM
F. Paul Wilson. Hands down. Read The Tomb. Or The Keep.

xanakis
09-02-2001, 08:35 PM
Stephen King, of course, and also James Herbert.

Other King novels (apart from Misery) that were made into decent movies:

Stand By Me
Shawshank Redemption
Salems Lot

elfkin477
09-02-2001, 09:24 PM
Originally posted by Ukulele Ike
Originally posted by elfkin477
I would love to be pointed in the direction of more female horror authors.

Try Joyce Carol Oates,


Really? Besides that short story "Where are you going, where have you been" (? I think that's the title) I've never read anything by her that is remotely like horror. Maybe I've read the wrong novels... Thanks for the suggestions, though :)

gobear
09-02-2001, 10:54 PM
[b]Ukelele Ike[/i], for shame, how can you enumerate a list of female horror writers and leave out Shirley Jackson, the author of "The Lottery" and "An Ordinary Day, With Peanuts" [/i] and the novels, The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle?

Gyrate
09-03-2001, 07:08 AM
Lovecraft is the only one whose books gave me nightmares after reading them, but one has to recognize the genius in E.A. Poe's writing despite the fact that the impact has faded somewhat with time and with the subsequent generations of writers who have built on his foundations.

I like Stephen King's writing (some of the time), but I can't say that I find it overly creepy. OTOH, while it's not really a horror book, William Burroughs' Naked Lunch really disturbed me.

Zaphod Beeblebrox
09-03-2001, 07:22 AM
As one who DESPISES King, Barker, and other present day horror writers, I have to fly in the face of the OP, and name Poe and Lovecraft.

Since no movie or book has ever scared me, the "scary" potential matters very little to me. But I do know that if anyone ever manages to scare me, it won't be Stephen King, whom I find very unimaginative, and extremely boring.

Lionors
09-03-2001, 07:59 AM
Out of curiosity, Zaphod, what of King's books have you read?

I haven't liked everything he's done, but neither 'unimaginative' nor 'boring' come to mind for me.

carnivorousplant
09-03-2001, 08:32 AM
Originally posted by Lionors
what of King's books have you read?


Christine was plaguarized from a Twilight Zone episode.

Salem's Lot violated the 'vampire rules' wantonly.

The Stand had that crummy line in it "And they never saw them again!"

I didn't make it through the Tommyknockers...something's going to happen soon, right?

He got so good (or bad) that he overwrote his editors and published the stuff they cut out.

But hey, what can I say? I read Robert E. Howard and H. Rider Haggard. :)

Enjoy.

Lionors
09-03-2001, 10:13 AM
That's the reason I asked him, carnivorousplant. :) Not intending it as a flame, but because there are books of SK's that I don't like either, and if I were to judge off of trying to read that one or two of them, I probably wouldn't have thought terribly well of his works overall. Christine, Cujo and the Tommyknockers all fall into that category.

The Stand, however, remains my favorite of King's books for any number of reasons, which I won't bore everyone with. I think it preys on my mind because a germ-warfare doomsday scenario seems a whole heck of a lot more possible -- and frightening -- to me than a nuclear doomsday one.

Gore and grue does not equate to horror for me. (I've been told I'm weird because of that; so be it.) To me, horror lies in that concept that creeps into the back of my mind and will NOT go away, not even years later.

While I didn't like 'Salem's Lot' at all, I don't think there are any hard and fast vampire rules. Compare Stoker's Dracula to Yarbro's Saint-Germain, or Tanya Huff's Henry Fitzroy to Rice's Lestat or ones described in Matheson's I Am Legend.

And don't worry. I'm a gourmand, not a gourmet, when it comes to reading and always have been. If it fits my mood at the time, I'll read it. I have no shame. :D

carnivorousplant
09-03-2001, 10:28 AM
Vampire rules: They are repeled by crosses and holy water, no matter the beliefs of the Good Guys.

Vampires cannot cross running water. (Dracula did sail, but he was in his native earth for the most part, he wasn't moving under his own power.

They must sleep in their native earth.

No reflection in a mirror, etc.

If you don't follow the rules, why write a vampire story? If the trains in your story can fly, they ain't trains.

THe ending of the stand annoyed me. I read all these damn pages for THIS?

Ukulele Ike
09-03-2001, 10:44 AM
gobear: Hey, I didn't say it was a COMPREHENSIVE list.

In my defense, I wandered over to my "horror" shelf and picked our chick names at random...Shirl is over on my "literature" shelves. (See, I may talk a big game about genre fiction being the equal of literary fiction, but I gotta categorize my bookshelves just like everyone else, or I'll never find anything.)

elfkin477: "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" is Oates's most widely reprinted story in the horror arena. The novel Bellefleur (1980) is definitely dark fantasy, and the following short stories are some of those cited in the Joyce Carol Oates article in The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror:

"Demons"
"The Assailant"
"The Children"
"Puzzle"
"By the River"
"Stalking"
"The Sacrifice"
"The Snowstorm"

Lionors
09-03-2001, 11:26 AM
Er, not to further an unintended hijack here, but like I said, the "rules" do not apply to all authors' vampires. Since not all authors have their vampires come to be vampires in the same way, I can't see that any hard and fast set of rules would be able to apply to them. I figure it's fiction; if they manage to come up with something that sufficiently suspends my disbelief and makes sense, I'm satisfied. Why write a non-traditional vampire? Heck, why write a non-traditional anything else?

We'll have to agree to disagree on The Stand. I honestly rarely notice the number of pages of whatever I'm reading. If I like it, I'll read it; if not, even if it's only 30 pages long, it's not worth my time. What about the ending of The Stand annoyed you, though? Not wanting to shoot your opinions down, honest, just curious as to why.

To try to help keep a really good thread on track, though, I'll add "The Bingo Master" to Ike's list of Oates works that I've liked along that line (if he'll let me :) ), and add Ambrose Bierce to the general list. (BTW, someone please slap me for being senile enough for not immediately thinking of Shirley Jackson, too.)

carnivorousplant
09-03-2001, 11:41 AM
Re The Stand: I was annoyed that I remember, evrybody died at the end. The junkyard guy and his bomb. THe efforts of the protagonists were for naught.
Anyway.

One of my favorite authors Fred Saberhagen played fast with the 'vampire rules' if not accually violating them as did Yarbrough. I expect vampires to behave according to rules described in folklore. Otherwise I don't enjoy the work. On the other hand, I enjoy James Bond's submarines that fly, so what the heck. :)

I guess my best comparison is from another genre; Whats-his-name, the guy who writes the Spenser mysteries in BGoston has the unmitigated gaul to think he can finish Raymond Chandler's Poodle Springs. This baseball playing, ale bonding designer jean wearing Spenser is nothing like Phillip Marlowe and could never hope to be.
My point being :) that King shouldn't mess with Vampire legends any more than Robert B. Parker should mess with Marlowe.

carnivorousplant
09-03-2001, 11:43 AM
Put a big ol' "In My Opinion" in front of and behind that last post. :)

Zaphod? Want to help me out here?

Annie-Xmas
09-03-2001, 11:47 AM
Two great writers of horror short stories are George R.R. Martin (no, not the Beatles' producer) and the British Conrad Hill. The later wrote a great story called "The Grief Connection" which I could see as a Simpson's Halloween segment, except it would never get past the censors.

King does write good stories. My favorite horror book is his wife Tabitha's "Small World."

gobear
09-03-2001, 12:26 PM
Re: the vampire rules. In Dracula, there is a scene where Jonathan Harker is back in London and recognizes a blood-rejuvenated Dracula on a street in broad daylight! I have no problem playing with the vampire legend. After all, invention and imagination are the hallmarks of fiction, are they not?

Re: The Stand. The ending was a literalDeus ex machina ending in which God's hand arises and blows up Las Vegas! King might as well have written (... and then they were all run over by a truck. The End)

I might also mention Ramsey Campbell, another British writer who has created some very unsettling stories.

MsWhich
09-03-2001, 12:56 PM
I read one of Richard Matheson's stories. "Red". I will never read another. I will post the plot summary if anyone is curious, but rest assured that it was the most grotesque, horrifying, and off-putting story I have ever read, or ever care to.

I like many of Stephen King's books, although certainly not all. Ray Bradbury does absolutely nothing for me. I read "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and didn't find it to be particularly scary or horrifying. Or interesting, for that matter. I like Poe, but again, his stories haven't really managed to terrify me. Well, with the possible exception of "The Cask of Amontillado", because the notion of being walled into a dungeon forever really freaks me out.

Apart from that, I guess I'm just not really into horror stories. Blame Richard Matheson, if you must.

carnivorousplant
09-03-2001, 12:58 PM
Originally posted by gobear
Jonathan Harker...recognizes a blood-rejuvenated Dracula on a street in broad daylight!
Then the Master made a rule with which I was unfamiliar. :)

He has a problem with travel time to and from Castle Dracula, too. It takes a lot longer to go back.

carnivorousplant
09-03-2001, 01:02 PM
Originally posted by MsWhatsit
Blame Richard Matheson, if you must.

Hmmm...Matheson violated the Vampire Rules in "I Am Legend" from which they made the movie-which-has-almost-nothing-to-do-with-the-book "The Omega Man". It was a very good book. I'll have to change my mind...


I also thing it is interesting that Poe, who defined poetry as "the rhytmic creation of beauty" wrote "Annabel Lee". :)

mangeorge
09-03-2001, 02:07 PM
Poe not scary? I guess. His stories are just dated, IMO.
The Telltale Heart scared the bejesus out of this 11 year old boy. And The Raven, read by a good reader (a nun :)), was pretty unsettling.
I haven't read any of his works since I was a teenager, so maybe my tender youth influenced their effect on me.
I'm pretty much of the 'pop' category of reader, I guess. "I don't know art, but I know what I like" describes my tastes.
The Omen scared me. I had to take a couple of breaks while reading that one, and go for a walk in the real world. And I read it after seeing the movie. Too close to my catholic upbringing.
Peace,
mangeorge

TV time
09-03-2001, 03:09 PM
Originally posted by Ukulele Ike
Originally posted by elfkin477
I would love to be pointed in the direction of more female horror authors.

Try Joyce Carol Oates,
Cynthia Asquith,
C.L. Moore,
Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman,
Marjorie Bowen,
Tanith Lee,
and James Tiptree, Jr.

(That last one is the nom de plume of Alice B. Sheldon)

Ike, Ike, Ike--you didn't even mention the mother of the horror story, Mary Shelley.

You know whose monster will come looking for you now, don't you?

erislover
09-03-2001, 04:16 PM
carnivorous, to which "folklore" are you actually referring to? Cecil's research (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_039.html) into vampire folklore led to a world where no two vampires are killed the same, why would you conclude that they live the same? As well, you accuse King of simultaneously creating his own brand of vampire then of being a hack? I would think using the tried-and-true is the bigger hack, but I'm being defensive too so there you have it :)

And I, too, had a problem with Tommyknockers. First attempt I think I got into about 250 pages of it, put my bookmark in, and promptly lost interest. About 6 months later I picked it back up right from the bookmark and found, much to my chagrin, that the book got terribly interesting. It still remains as a favorite of mine.

"It", however... I tried that sucker three times and never found it interesting.

carnivorousplant
09-03-2001, 04:33 PM
Originally posted by erislover
carnivorous, to which "folklore" are you actually referring to? Cecil's research (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_039.html) into vampire folklore
As to Cecil's research, I can only refer to what a person said about Mr. Spock quoting Sherlock Holmes as an ancestor; Sherlock Holmes isn't real! Cecil's cool, but if he and Bram Stoker were drowning... :)

you accuse King of simultaneously creating his own brand of vampire then of being a hack?
I admit that after the mention of Richard Matheson the rules can be changed and still have a good story. I though I accused just Robert B. Parker of being a hack, but I'm easy, I'll include King too, if I didn't. :)
Hack I think is more like "they never saw them again", using a Twilight Zone plot and books longer than Charles Dickens that I think should have been novellas.

Lionors
09-03-2001, 05:28 PM
I will again, have to respectfully agree to disagree about King and about The Stand in particular. I liked it. I will continue to like it. And I'll continue to re-read it. But then again, diversity is what makes the world interesting. I just won't buy a copy for you for Christmas. ;)

However, in the interests of accuracy, there are actually two different endings to The Stand: the original version ends differently than the uncut version put out years later. (In fact, there were a number of other things which King changed before the release of the uncut version in an attempt to update it.) If I have a beef with the book at all, it's that I would have preferred to have the uncut version without the updated cultural references. However, the uncut version did contain several scenes that made some of the references I had thought were unclear in the original publication make more sense.

As far as the endings...SPOILERS BELOW....








First, The Stand did not end with the destruction of Las Vegas. There was a considerable amount that went on after that; granted, it was definitely the denouement, but there was wrap-up there. Secondly, the uncut version ended with Flagg reappearing elsewhere in the world, without memory (and by the way, if you read Eyes of the Dragon, you'll see Flagg pops up there, too, as the evil magician of the kingdom of Delain. Also, if you read Eyes, King goes into more detail about what Flagg really is.) The original version ended with Stu thinking about what had transpired, hoping their children and their children's children would learn from their mistakes but also wondering if human nature was such that it would ever be so. He asks Fran about it, and her response is, "I don't know," which clearly doesn't please her. Not a great answer...but then again, it's a worthwhile question. Also the one that disturbs me the most about humanity in general, but I won't go there.

Carnivorousplant, the reason I go through all this is that you seemed to take exception to the line 'they never saw them again', and was wondering if by chance you were thinking of a different King book. Hope it helps.

carnivorousplant
09-03-2001, 05:50 PM
It is said of a group going off into the desert for some reason; but it is a trick, for they survive and the people staying there perish! Oh, how clever!

Sorry.

Tha's the kind of stuff I find irritating.

I'd like something by Robert E. Howard for Hanukkah, thank ou very much. :)

Lionors
09-03-2001, 06:23 PM
Sorry, carnivorousplant, but I still have no idea what you're referring to. I thought I had a lead on it, but your description of it doesn't match up with what I thought it might be. Most of the group from Boulder that goes to Las Vegas does not survive...no trick to it.

Can we respectfully agree to disagree on this one? Between this and the thread that mentions all the 'trash' that people like to read, I'm starting to come to the conclusion that my reading preferences are most akin to some of my dog's more nauseating ideas of things that are fun to eat. ;) (I never thought of myself as an intellectual giant, but I'm starting to feel about...oh...a millimeter high about now.)

carnivorousplant
09-03-2001, 06:43 PM
It's been a long time since I read it, so I could very well be wrong about who does what to whom and who gets whacked and who survives. :)

Lionors
09-03-2001, 07:31 PM
Just for that, I'll not only get you a Howard but a Haggard for Hanukkah, but I'll throw in something by Isaac Bashevis Singer to round it off. :) How's that?

carnivorousplant
09-03-2001, 08:00 PM
Cool.
:)

Semp
09-03-2001, 09:07 PM
The scariest book I've ever read is Pet Semetary by King. The thing about King (sorry) is that when he has a good idea he can do absolute wonders with it. The idea behind Pet Semetary, needless to say, is very good in a horrific sense. And dealing with dead kids and pets for the person who is ultimately responsible for them is probably the most terrifying thing out there. Zombies running around? Eh... Vampires down the street? Well, time to get some garlic, I guess. Your toddler son run over by a semi? Gulp! Saaaay, why not bring him back! *shudder*

As the "best" in the field I'd go with Lovecraft. Rarely is he necessarily scray, but it is stuff that stays with you a long time after you read it. I personally prefer his more random works that don't have anything to do with, say, Yog Sothoth or Nyarlathotep or that Cthulhu chap. Stories like "The Rats in the Walls," or "The Temple."

And a current author who was mentioned before, F. Paul Wilson, is one who's works I try to get ahold of whenever I can. He doesn't do "horror" so much as supernatural adventure. Fear he generates is often mundane in nature, but has its power in the fact that he makes very likable and realistic characters who find themselves in peril. Repairman Jack, the main character from The Tomb, now has a series of books of his "own" (considering that [/I]The Tomb[/I] is part of a "cycle" of five books, these new ones are mostly outside of that "cannon"). And he is one of the most likable and enjoyable characters I've come across in a long time.

Gyrate
09-04-2001, 04:23 AM
Originally posted by carnivorousplant
It's been a long time since I read it, so I could very well be wrong about who does what to whom and who gets whacked and who survives. :)
Presumably it's a reference to the group who travel to Las Vegas from Boulder. Mother Abigail predicts that one of them will never reach there, which naturally leads to an assumption that that person dies, an assumption King encourages. When said person is injured and left behind, he does, IIRC, mention that the others never saw him again (or maybe that he never saw them again, I don't have the book handy). So yes, it's a "trick", playing on the reader's expectations. But in the context, I would consider that a good thing; after all, the other way around WOULD be hack writing.

naughty wicked zoot
09-11-2001, 08:01 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by elfkin477


However, I would love to be pointed in the direction of more female horror authors. . [/QUOTE

check out tanith lee. she's mostly known for sci/fi fantasy, but she also wrote some very dark horror stuff.

there's a female author named kathe koja who has written some of the most disturbing horror fiction i've read in a long time. she's a more recent writer, but her stuff is hard to find. the barnes and noble here in grand rapids, mich, doesn't carry her, i had to go to a locally owned place to get her works, but they're really worth it.

rushtopher
09-11-2001, 01:29 PM
BTW, for the Stand fans, Flagg also appears in King's Gunslinger series, although you'll have to get to book 4 (Wizards and Glass) for the appearance.

RickJay
09-11-2001, 03:15 PM
Originally posted by carnivorousplant
If you don't follow the rules, why write a vampire story?

You take vampires way too seriously.

Fenris
09-11-2001, 04:03 PM
Originally posted by Semp
The scariest book I've ever read is Pet Semetary by King. The thing about King (sorry) is that when he has a good idea he can do absolute wonders with it. The idea behind Pet Semetary, needless to say, is very good in a horrific sense. And dealing with dead kids and pets for the person who is ultimately responsible for them is probably the most terrifying thing out there

But for me, it (ahem) borrowed too heavily from the classic short story "The Monkey's Paw". It's available for on-line reading here (http://www.geocities.com/short_stories_page/jacobsmonkey.html). It's short and one of the true classics of the genre. Read it, if you haven't, I'll continue after some spoiler space.


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As soon as their pet came back from the dead, I knew that one of the kid would get snuffed, one of the parents would use the cemetery on him and bring the kid back with horrific results. I dunno, he just seemed to telegraph it. On the other hand, there was a certain horrible facination with knowing what was going to happen and dreading it.

Fenris

papergirl
09-11-2001, 07:57 PM
My favorite book in the world is Shadowland by Peter Straub. What atmosphere. Same with Ghost Story, which also turned out to be, imo, a very creepy movie.

My *other* favorite book in the world is We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson. Her versatility as a writer is amazing...compare The Lottery with Life Among the Savages, just for fun.

Stephen King used to be IT (no pun intended) in my "Favorite Authors" book, but now I find too many intolerably long books that would have made perfectly fine short stories. Anyone read "Gerald's Game"?

***spoiler***

Great short story premise: Wife, handcuffed to bed in remote, isolated cabin during a surprise (no one else knows they are there--key foreboding music) tryst with hubby. Hubby keels over and dies.

What a dilemma! Now who can't relate to THAT?
Unfortunately, what would have made a great 30 page story stretches out over heaven-knows-how-many chapters. Chapter 2: Ooooh, she's handcuffed to the bed! Heavens! Chapter 12: Hmmm, still handcuffed to the bed! Wow! Chapter 23: STILL handcuffed to the fucking bed. Imagine that. What a shock.

But imo, The Stand and his early books are great. Not Shirley Jackson great, but great. :D

karol

Semp
09-11-2001, 08:29 PM
Originally posted by Fenris
But for me, it (ahem) borrowed too heavily from the classic short story "The Monkey's Paw".

I have read it and I can see the similarities. But Pet Semetary is written in the late 20th Century style which is so much over the top compared to "The Monkey's Paw," and works very well in that graphic style. "Paw" didn't have anything actually happen, did it? It was more the suggestion, right? The graphic nature of PS just does something more for me. But I'm something of a dork who was raised on MTV, so I probably need things spoon-fed to me.


re: Pet Semetary I dunno, he just seemed to telegraph it. On the other hand, there was a certain horrible facination with knowing what was going to happen and dreading it.

Fenris

I agree 100%. There are very few surprises in it, but I couldn't stop reading. I just had to know what happened in the end! Aaaagghhh!

Dr. Rieux
09-11-2001, 10:14 PM
I can't believe we're on the second page and nobody's mentioned Dennis Etchison yet!

Zaphod Beeblebrox
09-13-2001, 07:28 AM
Lionors

First, let me apologize for the late reply. I'd pretty much forgotten about this thread.

Anyway, I've read quite a few of King's books, and some short stories as well. I'm not in a mood to search my mental files too hard, so I'll just name a few titles off the top of my head.

The Stand - Not all bad, but way overrated.
It - Boring. As a 6 year old, I had a dream about a crazed killer clown. It was much scarier than this book, which could easily have been edited down to about seven pages.
Pet Semetary - Also quite boring. I don't see what King finds so scary about cats. I happen to love cats.
Tommyknockers - *yawn*
Salem's Lot - Double *yawn*

And, "The Wedding Gig" was arguably the worst short story ever written.

I used the word "boring" for a simple reason: none of his books entertain me.

I used the word "unimaginative" because I've never seen an instance of King coming up with any refreshing new concepts. Sometimes, I feel like he even rips himself off. And if a six year old can have clown-dream that's scarier than King's soporific clown story, then it doesn't say much for King's imagination.

I wish I could remember more titles, and discuss this at greater lengths, but like everyone else, I'm a bit out of sorts, right now.

Semp
09-13-2001, 09:17 PM
Originally posted by Zaphod Beeblebrox
The Stand - Not all bad, but way overrated.

I agree. I don't understand the hubbub about this one.

It - Boring. As a 6 year old, I had a dream about a crazed killer clown. It was much scarier than this book, which could easily have been edited down to about seven pages.

I read it in a couple sittings, so I must have liked it at the time. It's "good," and interesting, but the resolution was lacking, and I think it hurts my overall impression of the book today.

Pet Semetary - Also quite boring. I don't see what King finds so scary about cats. I happen to love cats.

As mentioned above, I think it's a great book. Flawed, but not detrimentally so. And I love cats too, but the cat was really just a minor player.

Tommyknockers - *yawn*

Agreed. I think King said he wrote this when he was hooked on pills, or was drinking heavily or something. The original premise is quite interesting, but it just doesn't pan out into something worth reading for 700 pages or whatever.

Salem's Lot - Double *yawn*

Oh no no no. I thought it was an extremely fun read. Derivative of Dracula, to be sure. Perhaps a rip-off, if you wish to see it as such. But when the tv miniseries came on as when I was but a wee laddie I convinced my parents I could handle it. Wrong! Maybe that's why reading the book years later was as effective as it was, it brought back the adolescent freak-out that I went through when the vampire kid was floating outside and scratching at the window of the hospital room.


I used the word "unimaginative" because I've never seen an instance of King coming up with any refreshing new concepts. Sometimes, I feel like he even rips himself off. And if a six year old can have clown-dream that's scarier than King's soporific clown story, then it doesn't say much for King's imagination.

I agree that he does suffer from a lack of originality from time to time (although I'd say each "time" tends to last quite a while). But I think even if he's using "non-fresh" ideas, you still feel compelled to read. He really is remarkably skilled as a wordsmith. Lovecraft, who people probably don't realize was not as original as they thought and would take ideas and styles from others liberally (although he was open about his inspirations), could write fantastically "fresh" or "original" things, but his oftentimes archaic prose is not the most easily digested of writings. He's worth the read, but it's usually not conducive to casual reading, as King's is. But if you could combine the two, wow!

BingoBurringo
09-13-2001, 10:31 PM
Has anyone read John Farris? I've had a couple of his books laying around for ten years, but have never read him. Which is a shame, because CATACOMBS really looks interesting.

I'm also surprised no one has mentioned Algernon Blackwood. His stories that I've read are full of hideous diseases, mental illness and ghostly possession. Very cerebral.

Little Nemo
09-14-2001, 12:02 AM
On the principle that the purpose of horror writing is to cause horror, I'm nominating Richard Laymon. I've read a lot of horror novels and he's the only author who can regularly force me to take a break while reading his books because of how disturbing they become. In his books, bad things happen.

Lionors
09-14-2001, 05:02 AM
Zaphod, with the exception of The Stand, the ones you named aren't my favorite ones he did, either. King gets my mention primarily because of The Stand (I can't help but think about Captain Trips whenever a flu outbreak happens)and "Survivor Type". (In that one, it was not just what the guy did to himself but how his sanity was eaten away along with his own flesh that...arrrgh! I'm stopping now!) But you get the idea.

As I said in my first post, though, I think what constitutes horror for me may be a bit different than what it is for some people. A story with circumstances that stick with me and creep me out at odd times is 'horror' to me. Thus, Poe. Thus, the two Bradbury works I mentioned. For that matter, Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" scared the liver out of me -- not because of gore, but because of the beast lying beneath the placid farm-fresh faces of that community.

An odd definition of horror, but I freely admit to being an odd duck. <quack> :)

bashere
09-14-2001, 01:34 PM
I've got to stand up for Clive Barker here. He's novels aren't scary, so much as creepy, but his short stories are terrifying. Candyman kept me from sleeping for a week. The Hellbound Heart makes the movie look like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. In fact, all the stories in The Books of Blood are pretty chilling.

I also want to mention Tim Powers. He's not technically a horror writer, and he's certainly not the best horror writer, but he manages to freak me out more than a little bit. Some scenes in The Stress of Her Regards are really, really disturbing.

AuntiePam
09-14-2001, 08:47 PM
gobear -- you mentioned Kim Newman's alternate history/Dracula series -- I haven't read those yet but plan to. Stephen Jones' Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Vol. 9 has a Newman story -- "Coppola's Dracula" -- I know I didn't catch all the references to Apocalypse Now, but the story was original and fun and Newman's writing is flawless. (Martin Sheen collapsed playing Jonathan Harker.)

Little Nemo - Richard Laymon? I've read just one of his novels, "One Rainy Night". I liked it -- would have made a great drive-in movie. Laymon was a genuinely nice man too, and a mentor and friend to many of the new crop of writers.

Speaking of drive-in movies, you guys need to read The Drive-In (both 1 and 2) by Joe Lansdale. Plenty of tension and dread and lots of bad stuff.

BingoBurringo -- I'm glad you mentioned John Farris. I remember reading his stuff as a teen, and I'm in my mid-50's. I picked up "Sacrifice" a few days ago. Have you read that one? I've sort of forgotten him in favor of the newer writers. It'll be interesting to see if he's still got it.

I can't think of anyone you guys probably don't already know about. John Shirley's "Black Butterflies" collection will stay in your mind longer than you'd like. Daniel Rhodes wrote one really evil book, "Next, After Lucifer", and then nothing. "Perfume" by Patrick Susskind deserves your attention.

Guess it depends on what you like. "Horror" is too broad a term nowadays. There's Ramsey Campbell and Dean Koontz -- both horror writers but as far apart as Sartre and Charles Schulz. Or maybe not. :)

Anyone here admit to reading Edward Lee?

Fenris
09-15-2001, 07:26 AM
Originally posted by Zaphod Beeblebrox
Lionors

The Stand - Not all bad, but way overrated.

Agreed, plus the whole luddite thing was just annoying. And the updated version was even more annoying as he didn't update it consistantly.


It - Boring. As a 6 year old, I had a dream about a crazed killer clown. It was much scarier than this book, which could easily have been edited down to about seven pages.

Four if you leave out the "kiddies having tantric sex beats the evil space-spider" bit.


Tommyknockers - *yawn*

Oh man, I hated this one. It was dull but more than that,it was irritating. I'd be hard pressed to imagine a more obnoxious, annoying protagonist.

Salem's Lot - Double *yawn*
This one, I disagree with you on. For me, it was King's masterpiece. Atmospheric, moody, well characterized. Great stuff!

Fenris

Phlip
09-15-2001, 09:49 AM
Bentley Little? Hes not awesome, but his books are good for a quick read. Lots of gore and shock horror though. Leaves you thinking,"I cant beleive he typed that!". Check out UNIVERSITY for a good example of this. Also THE STORE.

TroubleAgain
09-15-2001, 12:11 PM
I can bash King with the best of them, but didn't anyone here enjoy The Green Mile? In spite of the fact that I was pissed off about it being published as a serialized novel (more money for Mr. King that way), a friend loaned it to me and I read it. I was moved and horrified by that thing. And damn, it made a good movie.

I can also bash Koontz with the best, but I read his stuff anyway. What can I say? I either love or hate his books--it's about 50-50 with him. But the ones I love make it worth reading the crappy ones because I never know until I've read it all the way through which it will be.

Oh, yeah, and who was that other guy who wrote a serialized novel--John Saul? I HATE his books. I read them in high school until I figured out they all ended the same way. Pbbllllttthhhht.

elfkin477
09-15-2001, 06:28 PM
Originally posted by bodypoet
My favorite book in the world is Shadowland by Peter Straub. What atmosphere. Same with Ghost Story, which also turned out to be, imo, a very creepy movie.


Two of the books (the third being Floating Dragon) that make it so hard for me to decide if I like King or Straub better- so I liked that they write together. I think Straub is a slightly better writer, but far less prolific, so... About Shadowland, though, I was profoundly disappointed to read the description of his newest book of short stories, because since it had "Magic" in the title, I was sure it was going to be a sequel to Shadowland. Oh well, his short stories are pretty good anyway.