Horror stories: Author celebrates creepy covers and terrifying tales

Horror stories: Author celebrates creepy covers and terrifying tales
Doogie Horner

Look out!

The pulpy horror novels of the 1970s and ‘80s will lurch to illustrated life at a former funeral home in Greenpoint next week. Horror writer Grady Hendrix will act out portions of his new non-fiction book “Paperbacks from Hell” at the Film Noir Cinema on Sept. 19, as part of a monthly series of lectures from the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. Hendrix says that he will use songs, images, and film clips to celebrate the two-decade reign of spooky novels over the bookstore shelves.

“I’m going to do a live performance of my book and talk about the history of the paperback boom and the lurid covers that came out of that,” said Hendrix. “It’s got songs, some slides, images from the covers, and I’m going to make it fun and entertaining.”

Return of the classics: Grady Hendrix wants to raise awareness of the books and authors of the 1980s horror boom.
Grady Hendrix

The horror novel boom kicked off at the end of the 1960s with “Rosemary’s Baby,” said Hendrix, and its film adaptation just increased interest in the genre.

“Horror didn’t exist in fiction until ‘Rosemary Baby.’ When that book came out it was quite honestly the first horror novel bestseller since the ’40s, and then the movie of course was also a big hit,” he said. “Then came ‘The Exorcist’ and that was a hit movie and both of those books were bestsellers for a long time.”

Horror authors soon spawned new and fascinating sub-genres focusing on demonic kids, medical horrors, leprechauns, and killer animals — which is one of Hendrix’s favorites.

Get away from me Nazi charms!: Artist Hector Garrido’s cover for the bizarre book “The Little People,” about Nazi leprechauns.
Hector Garrido

“I’m always on the animal’s side, and I’m always looking for the next killer animal,” he said.

The genre’s death in the ’90s came from both overproduction and an excessive focus on blood and gore, said Hendrix, with the success of “The Silence of the Lambs” leading other writers to cash in with their own serial killer novels.

“A lot of writers attempted to push boundaries and got more into gore, and right around that time more serial killer books were coming out and the genre was producing too many paperback books — so we ended up with a huge glut of gory serial killer books that stained the genre for a long time,” said Hendrix.

Hello, nurse!: The grim book cover of “Rockabye Baby,” painted by Lisa Falkenstern.
Lisa Falkenstern

After his live act, Hendrix will lead a discussion with three well-known artists who painted horror cover: Jill Bauman, Lisa Falkenstern, and Hector Garrido. Hendrix hopes his book and the show will help revive interest in the talented creators that pushed the horror novel genre into popularity

“I want people to remember that these writers exist,” said Hendrix. “This way I bring attention to the artists and these authors, because they don’t deserve to be forgotten the way they have been.”

“Paperbacks From Hell” at Film Noir Cinema [122 Meserole Ave. at Leonard Street in Greenpoint, (718) 389–5773, www.miskatonic-nyc.com]. Sept. 19 at 7 pm. $15 ($12 in advance).

Man on the moon: The paperback cover of “Sandman,” one of Hendrix’s favorite horror covers.
Richard Newton