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

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  7,909 ratings  ·  1,534 reviews
Written in dead letters... and covered in blood!

Demonic possession! Haunted condominiums! Murderous babies! Man-eating moths! No plot was too ludicrous, no cover art too appalling, no evil too despicable for the Paperbacks From Hell.

Where did they come from? Where did they go? Horror author Grady Hendrix risks his soul and sanity (not to mention yours) to relate the true,
Paperback, First Printing, 254 pages
Published September 19th 2017 by Quirk Books Inc.
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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
This book is freaking awesome! There are tons of books in the book that I own or have owned. I have some that I will show. I didn't get all of them out but I will show a few and I will show a few pages of the book. I forgot to add my edition of Carrion Comfort! It's the same edition and it's laying over there and I forgot to get a picture of it. Lol.

The book tells about the different books and there are sections on different kinds of horror books. There are some that I want to find! Oh well.

Jeffrey Keeten
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
”Between April 1967 and December 1973, everything changed.

In a little more than five years, horror fiction became fit for adults, thanks to three books. Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, Thomas Tryon’s The Other, and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist were the first horror novels to grace Publisher’s Weekly’s annual best-seller list since Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca in 1938. And except for three books by Peter ‘Jaws’ Benchley, they’d be the only horror titles on that list until Stephen King’s The De

Seeing these covers took me back. Remember those crazy covers that were so much fun to open up because they had the secret stuff on the inside?


Hendrix is actually a funny guy and I laughed quite a few times at the descriptions and his phrasing. You can really tell that he's a big old dork, which just made me like him all the more.
Because of course it did. This isn't some boring lecture on old paperbacks, it's a love letter to h
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

You need to read this book.
Yes, I'm talking to you!

If you are a horror fan, you need to read this book.
If you are a history fan, you need to read this book.
If you are an art fan, you need to read this book.
If you work in the publishing industry, you need to read this book.
If you like obscure, interesting factoids, you need to read this book.
If none if the above interests you, you need to read this book to prove that I'm wrong.

What else is there to say?
oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for best nonfiction! what will happen?

i love this book more than anything. review to come.


actually, i'm going to pause on my chicken-pecking of this book and read it for real during spooktober. but it's great. fantastic. and i want more volumes of this to be published annually. if you don't have the book, you can look at this for now and get very excited:


A book about the period of time when the horror genre ruled the paperback racks at the bookstore? A book about the period of time in my life, (about Carrie's age, in fact), when I felt like an outsider, and horror made me feel included? Sign me up! Luckily, Quirk books and NetGalley did just that, and here we are.

This book is a reference book, a guide to life and times in the United States in the 70's and 80's. Things going on in the world and in society always affect our fiction and those times
Dan Schwent
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, 2018-books
Paperbacks from Hell covers the horror boom that started in the early 70's until its bitter end with the dawn of the 1990s and horror's displacement by serial killer fiction.

Aside from reading a ton of Stephen King in my late teens/early 20s, I'm a latecomer to the horror genre. Paperbacks from Hell was an education for me.

Paperbacks from Hell is a gorgeous book, full of cover images from the more notable books from the period. It's like a catalog of obscure horror novels.

Starting with the Satan
Justin Tate
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a long-time follower of the TooMuchHorrorFiction blog and fan of Grady Hendrix, this ode to Horror novels in the era when they dazzled most is a dream come true. Beside highlighting some very obscure plot lines, there's a wealth of publishing history and social context on how it all happened. Written with charm and wit, this is an easy read that's as entertaining as it is informative.

But Reader beware, you're going to create quite a shopping list. Even more scary, most of the books are pricey
mark monday
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A delightful coffee table book for my kind of living room. Hendrix has a sharp wit and a satirical voice, but his love for the genre is clear. Although he's a connoisseur, there's not a whiff of pretension to be found and this guidebook is crammed with plenty of context, history, and especially humor. I did not expect to laugh so much! In particular during his section on how to cope with deadly children, where he also quotes both Alain Robbe-Grillet and Erma Bombeck within the space of two sente ...more
Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix is a 2017 Quirk Books publication.

While most teenage girls my age were reading Harlequin romances or sneaking peeks inside their mother’s bodice rippers, I was glued to Gothic Romance/Horror/Mystery novels, which morphed into a full -fledged obsession with horror novels, which continued until my late teens, slowly fizzling out, as the horror genre went into a different direction, I didn't feel compelled to follow.

I wish I had had the presence of mind to ke
Jack Tripper

As a lifelong fan and collector of horror fiction, I've been waiting for a book like this to come along for years. There have been several books of literary criticism focusing on horror boom-era works, but nothing really that included the trashier side of the genre, and definitely nothing with the wealth of gloriously gaudy cover art (much of it contributed by Will Errickson of Too Much Horror Fiction) featured here.

Because it covers such a wide range, Hendrix only goes fully in-depth on a handf
Michael || TheNeverendingTBR
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An overview of '70s and '80s horror fiction, full of pictures of book covers and commentary of the funny, campy and horrific books that marked a new publishing genre and filled the shelves in those decades of horror fiction publication.

The books they've decided to highlight from during this period are a lot of the main ones that we all know, but also a fair bunch of obscure ones I've never heard of and they go onto detail of what they're about - and due to this I've stacked some books onto my TB
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

This book was fantastic!

It covers horror fiction from the 70’s through the 80’s, with a little glimpse of the early 90’s.

Eight easy-to-read chapters with clever titles like “Hail, Satan,” “When Animals Attack,” “Creepy Kids,” and “Real Estate Nightmares,” explore different themes within the horror genre and the cultural anxieties prevalent at the time these books were written.

The writing was light, humorous, informative and imbued with a deep love for the horror genr
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you have any affinity to those old " horror"paperbacks published from the 1960's to the early 1990's then this book is a must have for you. And what a perfect time of the year to spend some time dwelling through these pages featuring some covers and plot synopsis of these spine tingling books.

With "Paperbacks from Hell: A History of Horror Fiction from the '70s and '80s" Grady Hendrix makes the trip down horrible publishing lane a joy and a treat. There are also a few laughs, something every
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, library-book, 2019
Are you a horror book lover?!

Do you love to read books about a priest that’s possessed by a demon?
A serial killer trying to stab someone in the middle of night?
Do you love gothic and haunted houses?
Creepy kids and they're carrying a knife?
Porcelain dolls with glass eyes that watch you move around the room?
How about some demented clowns just trying to make a living as a carnie?!

Look no further then reading, Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendri
The lesson horror teaches us is that everything dies. The horror fiction boom of the 1970s and ’80s became roadkill on the superhighway of the ’90s. Authors disappeared, cover artists found new outlets, and this publishing Titanic hit an iceberg, split apart, and released its cargo into the cold, dark waters to wash up on the shores of thrift stores and used paperback emporiums for years to come.

There is such a genuine love and enthusiasm for his subject matter that when you start reading this b
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I never realized how bat-shit crazy the 70's/80's paperback boom and then bust was. Now I do. And Grady is funny, doesn't pull any punches, nor does he hold back on praise when he deems it warranted, which generally went toward many of the cover artists. It was wonderful hearing their stories as well as the books' stories.

Loved, loved, loved this book.
Cameron Chaney
Imagine you are in a used bookshop. It’s dimly lit, obviously, with dusty tomes creating houses on the floor perfect for guests of the smaller variety. Rats? Possibly. Evil Nazi leprechauns? That’s crazy talk! But do watch your step… just to be safe. As you venture further, you say to yourself “I should turn back. All the new releases are in the shop’s front window, baking in the sun. I have no business with these musty old things. Yuck!” But you continue anyway, pulled by the essence of some un ...more
Jen - The Tolkien Gal
Jul 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-buy, horror, 2021
Review to come! Jesus Christ on a cracker, what a ride!

I actually gasped out loud when I saw this was on the Audible Plus catalogue. Last time I checked, there was nothing. I'm going to put everything else on pause and start with this.

My favourite abstracts of pulp fiction thus far:

1)Sade-masochistic, tiny Nazi leprechauns that live for hedonism

2)Little girl and her stuffed clown kill her step mom because she doesn't want...to go to first grade.

3)One of the purveyors of splatterpunk, a niche ge
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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Given my love for vintage novels of all kinds, you can imagine my reaction when I saw that vintage font peeping at me on Netgalley with its classic Gothic serifs, and red-black contrast. It looked exactly like a horror novel from the late 70s/early 80s. "What on Earth is that?" my inner book goblin cried. "I must have the precious!"

It turned out to be a meta-book published by Grady Hendrix, the author of Horrorstör. PAPERBACKS FROM HELL
Glenn Sumi
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read a library copy of this book about the rise of cheesy horror paperbacks in the 70s and 80s, but now, gosh darnit, I wish I owned a copy.

It would make the perfect coffee table book, something to occasionally leaf through, chuckle over and think on. And it would be a great conversation starter for guests (Nazi leprechauns! Man-eating crabs!) Plus: the physical quality of the book is outstanding: gorgeous full-colour illustrations, nice size and weight, thick stock, sturdy spine.

I actually r
This was the coolest book I have read in a long time!

It brought back so many memories of when I was younger and I would delve through the thrift stores looking for horror books to sink my teeth into. The covers of those books always drew my attention more than the stories. The spookier the better!

The author did an awesome job of putting this book together for all horror fans as he researched from the beginning of the horror era.

I could not put this book down and after reading it, I have to go b
Cameron Chaney
This was a reread for me. I read the ARC before it came out, the finished copy a few months later, and now I have listened to the audiobook too. Damn, this is just such a fun read. Five stars forever!
Joe Valdez
Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction is a book I purchased (used) to stock my first proper bookshelf with my new apartment. Published in 2017, this 249-page big book with color art and criticism in many subgenres of horror is a fine one for the '80s kid to keep around the house. It was my introduction to Grady Hendrix and if I had to guess, I'd presume Hendrix provided a lot of the class wit and writerly panache, while his co-author Will Errickson was the arc ...more
Jeff Strand
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book filled me with an urgent need to read every '80s horror paperback in existence, so I guess it did its job. As a reader, I was a bit late to the game, getting really into the non-King/Koontz stuff around the Dell Abyss era, so though I have a solid working knowledge of the horror paperback boom, this book covered plenty of books I'd never heard of. A thoroughly entertaining look back at an era most horror fans wish had never ended. ...more
Horace Derwent
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Jandrok
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Anyone that knows me also knows that I simply cannot resist a book sale. I can sniff ‘em out anywhere...garage sales...library sales...thrift stores….sidewalk sales….Goodwill….chances are good that if I am out shopping somewhere I will manage to find a book or two to add to my massive “to be read” pile.

It is also well known that I have a weakness for grungy old paperbacks of just about any genre. That said, my fascination with vintage paperbacks TENDS towards science-fiction, adventure, western
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every horror imaginable and the first thought I have to share is WHAT A BEAUTIFUL BOOK....inside and out!

Review on the way.....

May 21, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had my eye on this one for a while and, thanks to a good friend buying it for me (thanks Brad!), I finally got around to reading it this week.

This book is fantastic. It's a cracking history of the horror fiction of the '70s and '80s, beautifully illustrated with full-colour, high quality reproductions of some of the original book covers from the period (and even including some previously unpublished artwork). It's engagingly written by people who clearly love their subject and is often very
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-borrowed
Millions of these books were sold in the Seventies and Eighties!

Paperbacks From Hell is the complete guide to everything you ever wanted to know (and in some cases, really didn’t want to know about the genre that exploded in the 70s and 80’s of horror paperbacks and all the cool cover art they generated. Meticulously researched, told in historical context, this book starts with the beginnings of the genre and shows the campy crazy outlandish paths that these novels tread from vampires to Satan w
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Grady Hendrix is the author of the novels Horrorstör, about a haunted IKEA, and My Best Friend's Exorcism, which is like Beaches meets The Exorcist, only it's set in the Eighties. He's also the author of We Sold Our Souls, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, and the upcoming (July 13!) Final Girl Support Group!

He's also the jerk behind the Stoker award-winning Paperbacks from Hell,

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Buying a gift for a bookworm seems like it should be easy, but it proves to be a daunting task year after year. Before you drive...
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“Of course, every mother thinks her baby is perfect, but at some point, as her home fills with dead bodies, she has to face facts and admit that the fruit of her womb is a face-eating beast spawned from the deepest recesses of hell.” 2 likes
“Hating clowns is a waste of time because you’ll never loathe a clown as much as he loathes himself, but a magician? Magicians think they’re wise and witty, full of patter and panache, walking around like they didn’t deserve to be shot in the back of the head and dumped in a lake. For all the grandeur of its self-regard, magic consists of nothing more than making a total stranger feel stupid. Worse, the magician usually dresses like a jackass.” 2 likes
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