Classic Horror Lovers discussion

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Classic Horror Writers > Who are your favorite classic horror authors?

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message 1: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
Tell us who are your favorites in the classic vein of horror. Which books would you recommend?


message 4: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
My list is ever-growing:

Nathaniel Hawthorne--he's brilliant at atmosphere and subtle elements that make you question if the events are real or in the character's head.

I know that some literary purists would cringe at calling it horror, but The Scarlet Letter had this very gothic, sinister element that made me a fan of his. Also, Young Goodman Brown. I have a couple of his short story collections that I have. I just need to dive into them.

Richard Matheson is a 'modern' writer who seems to have a more classic vibe, although he does have some suspenseful works that seem more on the modern side. He manages to take any situation and heighten the sense of fear and dread inherent in those situations. I've read I Am Legend and Nightmare At 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories By Richard Matheson, and I enjoyed both collections.

Shirley Jackson--can I be honest and say I've only read two of her stories? But they were so great at disturbing/frightening me, that I'm a big fan of hers. I read Lottery in high school, and it is one of the memorable short stories I've read. I also read a short story with a housewife who was losing her mind. It drove home the aspect of fear as not always being of that alien and unfamiliar, but also of what's familiar suddenly turning against you. And the quiet desperation of the woman who was driven insane..it was chilling.

Edgar Allan Poe--my list is not complete without him. He's another I discovered in school reading. I actually enjoyed reading his stories. It wasn't a chore, even though it was assigned reading. He's so good at building suspense.

Manly Wade Wellman--I discovered him via one of his Silver John stories in 100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories. I was hooked on his Southern folklore-rich horror stories. He's more dark fantasy, but he has the horror aspects down.

Montague Rhodes James--Writes the best ghost stories I've ever read. "The Ash Tree" and "O Whistle to You and I'll Come, My Lad" sent shivers down my spine. His collections are free on Amazon.com for Kindle.

I'll post more later.


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 212 comments There are others I may list later, but let me list Poe, probably THE horror writer (for me anyway). He's the one who hooked me when I was young and reading him even now, he can still raise the hair on the back of my neck and disturb my sleep.

Then there's H.P.Lovecraft who had a way of creating a whole new world of terror. He could write a "ghost story" that would have you leaving lights on. On the other hand he could weave an entirely new reality with it's own past and it's own universe of mind bending horrors where insanity might just be preferable to understanding. Great writer. When I first found a book by him, I set out to run down all the others I could find.


message 6: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
HP Lovecraft is very influential in the horror genre. He had a crazy imagination. How did he come up with that stuff, and imagine back then when he wrote. My favorites by him are:
Pickman's Model
Beyond the Wall of Sleep
The Dunwich Horror
The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward
Dreams in the Witch House (creepy, creepy story)


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 212 comments I was always creeped out by Lovecraft's "Cool Air". "Rats in the Walls" also stayed with me.

You know...while not know for "classic horror" we might also include Ray Bradbury. He wrote some very good classic horror between some of his short stories and novels like "Something Wicked This Way Comes".


message 8: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
I definitely like Bradbury. I'm going to read The October Country in October.


message 9: by Amanda (new)

Amanda M. Lyons (amandamlyons) Mike (the Paladin) wrote: "I was always creeped out by Lovecraft's "Cool Air". "Rats in the Walls" also stayed with me.

You know...while not know for "classic horror" we might also include Ray Bradbury. He wrote some very g..."


Love the Bradbury suggestion. I'm also a fan of "Cool Air"


message 11: by Mohammed (last edited Sep 04, 2010 09:12AM) (new)

Mohammed  Burhan Abdi Osman (mohammedaosman) | 122 comments Edgar Allan Poe

William Hope Hodgson

Robert E Howard

Richard Matheson

I enjoy Sheridan Le Fanu alot too but i havent read enough to give him a fair rating in comparison to others.

Have not read Bram Stoker,Shirley Jackson,Blackwood,Clark Ashton Smith.

Dont like HPL. This is like a record of my classic horror reading of the usual big writers.


message 12: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
I've heard Stoker criticized as being a 'hack writer', but I disagree. Dracula was more than just horror. It was a good detective fiction novel, with some insights into Victorian society that made it a very rich novel. All my humble opinion.

The Judge's House is a quite harrowing story. Stoker wasn't afraid to go there with this one. He's earned his place on my list.


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 212 comments I've "read" that assessment of Stoker to, and I to disagree with it. Dracula (especially) is a great novel and has remained in print since 1897. If that's the sign of a "hack writer" I hope I manage to become a "hack writer". I'm not as impressed with the other of his work I'm familiar with, but I haven't tried to run it all down.


message 14: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
Well, a lot of the classic authors started out being dismissed. So I guess time really does tell. I know Charles Dickens was looked down on too.


message 15: by Robert (new)

Robert Dunbar | 18 comments Wonderful to hear see this discussion. Didn't think people were reading real writers anymore. Just been editing an anthology called SHADOWS (for Uninvited Books), with stories by Henry James and Edith Wharton and Willa Cather. So wonderful to have an excuse to read all those wonderful ghost stories again and make selections, then arrange them like flowers in a vase.


message 16: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
That's a nice proposition, Robert. I bet you're enjoying yourself. :)


message 17: by Cathy (new)

Cathy | 164 comments That sounds extremely fun! Also, Willa Cather wrote ghost stories??? How did I not know this? I love her!


message 18: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
There are quite a few 'literary' authors back in the day who also wrote ghost stories. I think it's interesting. I like that you can cross over between genres as a writer.


message 19: by Amanda (new)

Amanda M. Lyons (amandamlyons) Lady Danielle "The Book Huntress" wrote: "There are quite a few 'literary' authors back in the day who also wrote ghost stories. I think it's interesting. I like that you can cross over between genres as a writer."

Back then most of them tried to write stories in a few different genres. Writing ghost stories was considered a test of skill and pacing ability.


message 20: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
I think you're right, Amanda. It helps to be diverse, both financially and creatively-speaking. I think writing ghost stories requires a lot of skill.


message 21: by Cathy (new)

Cathy | 164 comments Scaring people is really, really hard. It's all too easy to make them laugh, instead.


message 22: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 3 comments Shirley Jackson
Richard Matheson
Edgar Allan Poe
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Bram Stoker
Sheridan LeFanu

Although their work is more recent, I would like to include Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, F. Paul Wilson, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Anne Rice and Clive Barker in the group.


message 23: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
Love your list, Lisa Marie. :)


message 25: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 164 comments I'm fairly new to classic horror.

Before Joining this group, my favorites were:
Edgar Allan Poe
H.P. Lovecraft
Mary Shelley
and
Bram Stoker

I can add a couple more to the list now:

Algernon Blackwood
Arthur Machen
and
Wilkie Collins, though Collins wrote mostly detective fiction, I believe.


message 26: by David (new)

David The best comprehensive collection of Gothic tales of terror I ever read was edited by Peter Haining and came out about 1975 in 2 volumes: 'Great British Tales of Terror' and 'Great Tales of Terror from Europe and America'. There were lots of tales that had been out of print for over a hundred years. I wonder what happened to P Haining.

The death of Leslie Nielsen this week reminded me of Montague Summers because Nielsen was hilarious by saying things with a straight face, and Summers wrote outrageous things about vampires and werewolves as if they were the most natural things in the world. 'The Vampire in Europe' is a case in point, and he insisted that all witches should be burnt (this was in the middle of the twentieth century). His anthology 'The Supernatural Omnibus' is a classic collection of tales by the likes of Vernon Lee and Le Fanu. Has anyone read it?


message 27: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
I didn't even know that Leslie Nielsen had died. How sad.


message 28: by Martha (new)

Martha (hellocthulhu) | 325 comments Mod
I have Haining's collection Great Irish Tales of Horror: A Treasury of Fear but I haven't read it yet.

The Supernatural Omnibus sounds good, I need to track it down. Sadly I have not heard of Montague Summers before, I don't think. Do you recommend anything of Summers' other than the anthology?


message 29: by David (new)

David Absolutely - 'The Gothic Quest' is the real biggie, the definitive work on the genre, sadly out of print. But guess who has a first edition? It's the Holy Grail of all lovers of Gothic fiction. 'The Vampire - His Kith and Kin' is also a classic.

Here's a link:

http://www.gothicpress.freeserve.co.u...


message 30: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 164 comments That is too bad about Leslie Nielson. He cracked me up! May he rest in peace!


message 31: by David (new)

David He's probably at this very moment giving the Devil a hard time. Go to hell. Shirley you must be joking.


message 32: by Simon (new)

Simon (friedegg) | 133 comments David wrote: "The best comprehensive collection of Gothic tales of terror I ever read was edited by Peter Haining and came out about 1975 in 2 volumes: 'Great British Tales of Terror' and 'Great Tales of Terror from Europe and America'. There were lots of tales that had been out of print for over a hundred years. "

How interesting; I saw both these volumes in my local second hand store the other day. Perhaps I should go back and pick them up...


message 33: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
I have a few of Haining's collections. He's quite the anthologist.


message 34: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 164 comments Does anyone know if any of Haining's collections are available as ebooks? I checked at Project Gutenberg but didn't really get anywhere.


message 35: by David (new)

David Lady Danielle "The Book Huntress" wrote: "I have a few of Haining's collections. He's quite the anthologist."

Do you have his trilogy 'The Evil People', 'The Unspeakable People' and 'The Midnight People'? He was a great anthologist. 'The Necromancers' is also very good.

Just beside the point... I read a series of NEL paperbacks in the seventies about Dracula in which he's brought back to life by a surgeon who has implanted a small sliver of pointed wood next to his heart which he can drive in by telepathy if D doesn't do as he's told. I can remember nothing else about it, except that it was fast-paced and exciting. Maybe if I came across it again now it would seem banal rubbish.


message 36: by David (new)

David What about Clark Ashton Smith? 'Lost Worlds' I adored. He was very inventive. I liked his tale 'Empire of the Necromancers' and also 'The Colossus of Avignon'. There was a good one that started out as a typical Gothic, with a vulnerable little man walking along a quiet road near a castle at midnight and a werewolf hunting him down, from the werewolf's slavering POV. Turns out in the last line (SPOILER) where the werewolf gets blasted that the man is a robot programmed to destroy non-human life forms in a futuristic society. It blew me away.


message 37: by Martha (new)

Martha (hellocthulhu) | 325 comments Mod
I have been completely blown away by most of Clark Ashton Smith's stories I have read. It's too hard to pick a favorite! I am definitely seeking out everything I can get by him.
He's so hard to classify because he seems to write equal amounts horror, fantasy, and science fiction.


message 39: by David (new)

David 'The Case of Charles Dexter Ward' was Lovecraft's masterpiece, closely followed by 'At The Mountains of Madness'. I got addicted to him when I read 'The Outsider' short story as a young teenager - what teen wouldn't identify with that sense of not belonging?!

And how about William Hope Hodgeson?! 'The House On The Borderland' was dramatised for the umpteenth time on BBC Radio 7 recently. Demonic pigs erupting from a pit is so cool. And as with 'The Turn of the Screw' you're left wondering whether it was real or the main character's madness. This was also in a NEL edition. 'The Night Land' was incredible - strange life forms on earth after the sun has eventually died. Did anyone apart from me read it?

'The Annotated Dracula' with fine ink drawings by Satie and edited by Leonard Woolf had a good recipe for goulash. It was a facsimile of the first edition, and I still have it.


message 40: by David (new)

David Are poems allowed here? This is my favourite, recently voted England's fave poem:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y73wu...

Apparently, the horseman is the ghost.


message 41: by Cathy (new)

Cathy | 164 comments LOL -- the Annotated Dracula includes a goulash recipe?! You have just pushed my mild desire to own that book into a mad craving!

I want it almost as much as I want the Vincent Price Cookbook.


message 42: by David (new)

David The hardest part is catching the ghoul, they move so fast.


message 43: by Cathy (new)

Cathy | 164 comments rim shot!


message 44: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
I really like William Hope Hodgson, David.

As far as poems, I will create a thread to post poems you'd like to share.


message 45: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  Burhan Abdi Osman (mohammedaosman) | 122 comments William Hope Hogdson should be alot bigger rep wise in horror classic talks.


message 46: by David (new)

David Thanks for the poems thread, Danielle - you'll probably live to regret it :)


message 47: by mark (new)

mark monday (majestic-plural) | 34 comments David wrote: "There was a good one that started out as a typical Gothic, with a vulnerable little man walking along a quiet road near a castle at midnight and a werewolf hunting him down, from the werewolf's slavering POV. Turns out in the last line ..."

i wish you or someone else knew which story this is! i love CAS and this story sounds typically awesome.


message 48: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
David wrote: "Thanks for the poems thread, Danielle - you'll probably live to regret it :)"

You're welcome, David!


message 49: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Jamesian Enthusiast (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
Mohammed wrote: "William Hope Hogdson should be alot bigger rep wise in horror classic talks."

I agree, Mohammed!


message 50: by Simon (new)

Simon (friedegg) | 133 comments David wrote: "'The Night Land' was incredible - strange life forms on earth after the sun has eventually died. Did anyone apart from me read it? "

I read it and I'm sorry to say that the only way it was incredible for me was that it was incredibly turgid. I didn't think it was very effective as a horror story because of the poor use of psudo archaic phrasing and the deliberate distancing effect of the narrative style which was told in the first person relaying the story after the event.

It was more interesting as a work of fantasy envisaging the strange condition of the world and bizarre creatures that inhabit it at the end of days.


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