Tag Archives: James Herbert

Reads For A Scary (Post) Halloween Part 3: The Chills Continue

Halloween is upon us and soon shall pass like a fine mist rolling across a pale cemetery. An army of jack o lanterns flicker dimly in the silent autumn night as whispers of the haunting season linger on well into our unsettled dreams. We may grieve the parting of our favorite holiday but there’s no need for woe. With any of these marvelously malignant reads, the spooky season need not vanish entirely.  

The Living Dead – by George Romero and Daniel Kraus

That’s right, my oozing Nasties. We’re starting this list right off right with a George Romero gem. Papal Romero planned this book to be a pay-per-chapter online read and had already completed chapters to upload. Unfortunately, we lost Papal Romero (way too soon) before the web series was finished and many projects he was working on were lost with him. 

This book, thankfully, is not one of them. Luckily his notes and chapters were picked up by Daniel Kraus and what could be considered the very last of Romero’s Dead projects was brought to life. That’s right, this book comes to us from beyond the grave which in of itself gives it Halloween credit. 

As with all of his Dead projects this book covers some of the political tension and cultural paranoia of its time, which was honestly just a few years back. The book is rich with relatable characters and glows with some very nicely detailed gory moments. 

This book is a treat to horror fans. I remember reading about this book a year – or maybe two years – before its publication. Then there was nothing more said of it. I kept it in mind however but began wondering if it would ever get published or be another lost project. That mystery made me want to read the thing so much more. 

I finally found it at a Barnes and Nobles last October (2020) and kinda fucked out right there. I was shocked to finally see it. And to be frank I want more (really good) zombie novels. In a world of World War Z and The Walking Dead graphic novels, it’s great to have a fresh new vision by the man who made zombies what they are today. This is one horror fans will want to own. 

The Fog – James Herbert

This book has nothing in common with the John Carpenter movie save name alone. It’s much, much better. Before any assumptions are made let me assure you I do like Carpenter’s The Fog. Very cool atmospheric ghost story. But this book has nothing to do with specters out for revenge.

The Fog begins with a street caving in causing lots of stress and injuries to those caught on the road. But rest assured this is only the beginning of their woes as a yellow mist rises out from the cavernous expenditure. Anyone caught in the sickly fog start indulging in their most violent fantasies. Anyone familiar with the Crossed comics will have an idea of what I mean. Honestly, after reading this book I wondered if Garth Ennis might have been inspired by it when writing up Crossed. 

Oh yes, there is blood and beatings, and brains splattered about on walls a plenty. This is a meaty good one for the gore fiends among us. There are some incredible (and quite graphic) death scenes in this book. You could call this a sticky book for all the slaughter found in it. My personal favorite is when the Fog hits a cow pasture and the herd proceeds to eat the farmer alive. Absolute genius. Another scene that caused readers some genuine anxiety was the slow torture of a gym teacher at the hands of his Fog-poisoned students. 

But like his grotesque The Rats don’t think this is all splatter without substance. Herbert weaves a believable group of unfortunate survivors trapped in a world where the Fog causes carnage wherever it’s seen. The book manages some epic tense moments and plenty of chills as you follow the heroes in their apocalyptic search to defeat this bizarre intelligent veil of death.  

Said it before that it’s a shame, not more people know who James Herbert is today. So I want to change that. 

Zombie, Gates of Hell, House By the Cemetery – Eibon Press. 

Our long-time readers will be very familiar with these guys. I can’t shut up about them, but that’s only because they are so fucking good! This is where you’ll find the perfect blend of cult-horror and comic books stitched together with some of the best visual art you’ll see this side of Hell. 

Building upon the cult cinematic imagination seen in Lucio Fulci’s most beloved films, Eibon Press takes readers back to the dark side where pain is god and there is no escaping the approaching maul of doom. Any title these guys released is a great read, but for first-timers curious to try out the material of Eibon Press would be doing themselves a favor by starting out with Zombie, Gates of Hell, or House by the Cemetery

Faithfully adapting Fulci’s movies EP adds their own incredible talents of striking art and narrative to flesh out a broader lore found out of the source material. Luckily these guys are current and, unlike plenty of other horror comic publishers I could mention, are not out of print. You can log on to their website (click here I dare you) and find all these titles plus way more. They do not pay me to plug their stuff either. I pay them in fact. I’ve ordered comics, T-shirts, movies, and just everything from these guys. Honestly, they are the best horror comics out there. 

Tomie – Junji Ito

I’ve been wanting to talk about this guy for a while now. When I’ve re-read everything from Eibon Press I turn to Ito’s macabre manga. Again, this is someone I cannot get enough of. Every time I see a new Junji Ito title I can’t help myself and pick it up. His library is growing and it may feel daunting to know which title to start with though. 

I recommend Tomie, a weird story about a woman so damningly beautiful that men cannot stop themselves from falling in love with her. And the men who do fall in love with this enigmatic beauty are soon given over to an inexplicable need to murder her. And Tomie comes back again, and again, and again to ruin more lives and shatter more souls. 

I suppose one could call it a succubus story for how her beauty lures in lover’s hearts but it’s herself who lies in sawn-off pieces by the men whose hearts she’s captivated. The manga is phantasmal, eerie, and shocking. Considering how Tomie constantly is slain in many different ways you’ll find yourself sympathizing more with her killers who oddly seem to be the true victims of her wiles.

Now knowing this will not ruin the story for you though. There’s plenty of suspense and anxiety awaiting readers daring enough to pick this title up. I personally found myself dreading to turn the page because I knew something really, really unpleasant was waiting for me on the other side.

 If you find this your cup of tea you’ll want to try out even more of Junji Ito’s works. Not a one of them is bad and each broadens the writer/artist’s influence over modern horror. 

Junji Ito’s been a rising star for a while now.

Hope you all have a Happy Halloween!

Terrifying Reads For A Scary Halloween! Book Recommendations Part I 

It’s the best time of the year! The days grow darker, nights are longer, and there’s a crispness in the air that all point to the spooky season we’ve waited for all year long. We all know we’ll busy ourselves with planned horror movie marathons to keep us glued to the screen long into the wee hours of early morning, but there’s just something special about a good scary book to enhance the eerie needs around this time of year. 

Perfect time to pick out that blood-curdling spine-chiller to curl up with under a warm blanket . So warm your apple cider, grab a goody to go along with it, and join us over here at the Nightmare as we go over some terrifying choices to haunt your dreams for weeks to come. 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly

The gothic classic that’s ravaged the psyche of generations ever since its grim release. The infamous story of grave robbing and the perpetual pursuit of mankind’s need to tamper with things only God is meant to wield. Arrogantly death itself is challenged by the book’s titular character as he slips further away from the lighted world of his friends and loved ones and entraps himself in a world of darkness and isolation as the insidious work of his own hands rises from the slab to hunt down and pay revenge upon all Victor Frankenstein holds dear. No one is safe from the monster’s relentless grasp. 

I read this back when I was 17 and instantly fell in love with the narrative and cinematic scope its writer, Mary Shelley, seized in words and tone. It remains one of my top 5 absolute favorite books and is a true loss to any horror reader who has yet to discover its black magic. The movies this single book has inspired is in the hundreds so why not come into the dark with Victor and me to see true mastery of the written craft at work. You may not leave the same though. 

Not only is it one of the earliest among gothic horror but it’s heavily influenced genres such as body horror and science fiction alike. Highly influential and violently poetic.

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

This book is chilling and it’s no wonder the movie adaptation scared the devil out of the world and earned the title of ‘scariest movie ever made.’

The devil is real, at least between the covers of Blatty’s book. Upon its publication, people were not ready for the sorcery presented herein. Surely the Devil could not exist in a world of science and education. These aren’t the Dark Ages after all. But Blatty reintroduced Satan – and all his foul little ways – back to the human psyche.

Certainly the Devil was not a new concept and this wasn’t the first book to give Satan the spotlight, but there was simply something authentic, yes, indeed very real about Blatty’s presentation of evil. One that poked a cold and bony finger into the lower spine of society. 

One of my professors at seminary went to question Blatty about this book and challenge him for falsely handling the topic of exorcism. The very opposite thing happened though as my professor left (after meeting with the writer) entirely convinced the man was well aware of the occult and the supernatural dangers surrounding it. 

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Warner Bros/Hoya Prods./Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5885474g) The Exorcist (1973) The Exorcist – 1973 Director: William Friedkin Warner Bros/Hoya Productions USA Scene Still Horror L’Exorciste

The Exorcist took Satan out of the boiling pits of Hell, a vivid image everyone had in mind since the release of Dante’s Inferno, and also away from robed and darkly cloaked covens, a thing typically associated with the Prince of Darkness, and dropped him right inside the everyday home of any family. The Devil’s target is not the rich and powerful, but the young, the innocent, and, most importantly, the pure in heart. This was a Devil you couldn’t kill with a stake through the heart, holy water, or prayer. The message was Satan is far greater than we are ready to deal with. And it doesn’t matter if you believe in him or not. If he’s invited in – no matter how innocently – he will not turn down the invitation. 

Upon its publication, the whole tone of horror books changed for the following two decades to come. 

Doubtless, you’ve watched the movie. It may be time to pick up the book and let its haunting merits enter your mind. 

The Rats by James Herbert

It’s nothing short of a travesty that James Herbert is not talked about more among horror bookworms. When’s the last time you saw a book boasting his name? Can you believe this guy was all the rage back in the ‘70s? This guy was taking the world by storm with his macabre visions and graphic details. 

They say the devil’s in the details and they’re right! Especially when it comes to the grotesque mastery of this one man’s writing skills. He just knows the perfect spot – the one that that’ll hurt the most – to stab and get under your skin. Not only that, but he will gleefully start scraping a nerve before you can beg for the whole nasty ordeal to stop. And he’ll do so with a pleasant smile – one only the English can muster – on his face. He’s a lovely chap but a true sadist with a typewriter. 

In The Rats, we are given exactly what we’re expecting from a title like this. That is if you’re expecting to read a book about legions (I mean legions too) of greasy overgrown rats set upon tearing the citizens of London to weeping bloody shreds. No one is safe from these violent, blood-thirsty terrors either. 

Think a sweet old woman is gonna make it just because, well, she’s an old woman? Well, that’s rich. She gets it pretty bad. And, if memory serves me correctly, she gets taken down and torn apart because she had the audacity to rush over and help some other poor soul being attacked. That’ll teach ya for being nice! 

How grizzly is this book? Well by the time you get to chapter three a baby has already been flooded by a living flow of red eyes, yellow teeth, and no mercy. And just for good measure, as if a fine fuck you especially from the writer, in the same instance the rats kill a puppy as they chew the bones away from the baby. That’s the kind of book you’re getting yourself into.

It’s brilliant stuff for the gorehounds out there. It’s messy and it’s almost smelly like you can sense the filthy sewers these giant feral things swarm out of.  And this book has nothing in common with the Bruno Mattei film, Rats: Night of Terror. In case you were wondering.

Just imagine yourself sitting at a red light when suddenly – and for no good reason – your car is gnawed through by rats. You are trapped. Your instinct is to get out but when you look out the window the whole road is alive with flesh-hungry rats. You cannot escape and can only sit and wait for the pain the stop as you slip into the embrace of the Abyss. That’s the genius of The Rats. I guess it bears similarity with a zombie plague, that overwhelming sense of ‘escapelessness.’ Something about knowing we, human beings, are victims to nature really has a way of chewing us up. 

Not for the faint of heart but is perfect for a great creepy feeling as the world hides in shadows… what else might be hiding out there with the night? Be wary of things that can scurry across the floor and climb up into your bed and glide like phantoms under the sheets. 

James Herbert needs to be more recognized by us horror fans. The man was brilliant. 

Off Season by Jack Ketchum

Let’s keep it nasty, shall we? Many fans might be surprised I didn’t go with his The Girl Next Door and I do recommend it. But Off Season fits the fall mood more, kind of like the title suggests. 

It’s the perfect time to go relax at that cabin by the lake. Or so our cast of characters think. What awaits them though is a painful and agonizing fate wrought by a feral family who lives in secret out in the woods and who hungrily stalk any poor soul who has the shit fortune to pass by. 

The book opens with a Good Samaritan (the Hell is it with these stories punishing folks for being nice?) stopping her car to help a seemingly injured young girl. It’s all a sickening ruse as the kind woman soon finds herself in a ring of dirty, smelling, inbred teenagers who see her as less than human. They came to play and she’s the toy. The ruthlessness depicted at the story’s beginning lets the reader know that the main cast of unsuspecting characters (to come) is in for Hell. 

Jack Ketchum was my mentor and I miss him dearly. The man is the reason why I’m writing today and it all began with me picking up this book from (get this) Wal-Mart of all places! I like to think some soccer mom also picked up a copy and threw it away in disgust once she realized just what the fuck she purchased. 

This is splatterpunk kind of stuff and proves that pain is scary and the human body has very little worth in the eyes of psychopaths. 

Psycho by Robert Bloch

I feel it fitting to end this first part with the book that creeped out the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock. The man could not put this book down and it drove him to make the one horror film that would dare change the tone and attitude for horror movies for ever. Much like, I might add, The Exorcist did. 

We’ve all seen the movie (I mean assumedly) and know the story very well. However, and very interestingly, unlike the movie’s adaptation that follows Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane, the book makes us follow Norman Bates. It gets uncomfortable too as poor dumpy Norman casually talks with Mother come morning to night. It had to have been fun for early readers not to know (SPOILERS!!!!!!!) Mother is in fact dead and he’s interacting with dried-out husk. 

Like I said we have to tag along with Norman Bates. If you read this book there’s simply no choice. We become unwilling voyeurs into the daily routines of a man who is not at all right in the head. And there is no reflection of Anthony Perkins in this Norman Bates. None of that handsome and clean-shaven man of mystery.

The book did inspire sequels, just like the movie did, but I’ve not had the chance to read those yet. Although I’ve heard that they greatly differ from the cinematic continuation. Speaking of which I do strongly recommend the film sequels. They have no business being as good as they are and I think horror fans get cheated for not giving the movies a chance. I snubbed my nose at them because, well, how dare they make a sequel to Psycho? But to my surprise, the films really hold up. Ok tangent over… I guess I should get copies of the book sequels too.