In Nightmare Fuel, Canadian author Nina Nesseth investigates the neuroscience underpinning why people love being scared at the movies October 4, 2022
As a primer to the ways cinematic horror works on audiences’ psyches and the specific neurological responses these techniques can elicit, Nightmare Fuel is a breezy and fluent read.
The Great War provides the backdrop for a story about death and resurrection on an industrial scale August 31, 2022
The Talosite exists at the confluence of sci-fi and body horror, with the actual horrors of the First World War a constant shadow in the background.
Claire Kohda and Rachel Yoder mix genre tropes with feminism in a pair of horror-adjacent debut novels July 5, 2022
Vampires and werewolves are the genre touchstones that get renovated in these two works of fabulism.
Trauma and revenge on the grindhouse circuit: Kealan Patrick Burke and Joe R. Lansdale provide tales of bloody retribution July 4, 2022
Two novels – one from the 1980s and one from the 2010s – showcase the grindhouse-driven mentality of horror’s golden age.
What the body remembers: Naben Ruthnum examines corporeality and identity in his novella Helpmeet June 17, 2022
Ruthnum’s brief work of fin-de-siècle body horror reads like a mash-up of David Cronenberg and Henry James.
31 Days of Stories 2022, Day 13: “Dread” by Clive Barker May 13, 2022
Barker’s psychologically tense story examines the price we pay for confronting our darkest fears.
31 Days of Stories 2022, Day 7: “Lost in a Pyramid, or The Mummy’s Curse” by Louisa May Alcott May 7, 2022
The author of Little Women was also an aficionado of “blood and thunder,” a mode represented in this story about grave robbing and its attendant consequences.
Sympathy for the devils: John Darnielle’s latest novel examines the ethical quagmire of true crime in the context of a taut thriller April 12, 2022
Focusing on a writer investigating a double murder with Satanic overtones, the novel asks uncomfortable questions about how and why we consume such gruesome material.
Vampires, mad scientists, and American psychos: David J. Skal examines some cultural underpinnings of the horror genre February 2, 2022
In its examination of the roots of American horror cinema, this single-volume survey is valuable, though it lacks follow-through in its second half.
Home is where the hellfire is: Chuck Wendig and Adam L.G. Nevill provide two stories of new homes that prove anything but homey January 4, 2022
Neither of the houses in these two books is haunted in the traditional sense; the evil comes from the people and environs that surround them.
Nic Brewer’s debut novel uses body horror as a means of interrogating the artistic process November 12, 2021
The book uses Grand Guignol techniques to literalize the process of tearing oneself open in the act of artistic creation.
A.C. Wise channels unease and melancholy in her story collection The Ghost Sequences November 3, 2021
In this suite of sixteen uncanny tales, memory and loss are manifest in the spectres that haunt various characters.
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark returns in a new book that also recalls an earlier contender for dark queen of late-night horror October 29, 2021
A volume of cultural criticism about Vampira and a new memoir by the creator of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark show how much, and how little, the two have in common.
Adam Pottle on how the CanLit establishment’s preference for literary realism downplays the value of horror writing October 27, 2021
Horror doesn’t gel with those who’ve propped up CanLit respectability – that is, chiefly cishet, nondisabled white people, Pottle writes.
Conan Tobias on a quarter-century quest to watch every episode of the vampire soap opera Dark Shadows October 25, 2021
The pop culture phenomenon resulted in board games and a central character’s appearance alongside Bozo the Clown.
Carvell Wallace on America’s history of exploiting Black pain for cheap scares October 22, 2021
Nia DaCosta’s re-imagining of the 1992 film Candyman proves more effective because it does not traffic in white voyeurism in its examination of Black trauma.
James Han Mattson’s Reprieve is set in a full-contact haunted house October 21, 2021
What could possibly go wrong?
On resilience, the pandemic, and the surprising benefits of consuming horror fiction October 19, 2021
“By scaring you in your seat without actually posing a threat, you have the opportunity to practice your emotion regulation skills, particularly with regard to fear.”
Stephen Graham Jones returns to his slasher-film inspiration with the nostalgia saturated novel My Heart Is a Chainsaw October 18, 2021
The author returns to the slasher film saturated ground he has trod before to provide a loving homage that leans a bit too heavily on insider knowledge of the genre.
Horror is as horror does: Susie Moloney on the genre’s ability to ease real-life pain October 15, 2021
“Horror movies really, really distracted me from the most painful time of my life. Alone in the theatre for a couple of hours, being manipulated into screaming, swearing, and tossing my popcorn, I was transported.”
“I was always a morbid kid”: James Grainger on respectability, experimenting on pig hearts, and the movie that got him interested in horror October 14, 2021
“If you just look at your own nightmares, you know that there are no rules.”
Why so serious? Punch, Pennywise, and the evolution of the bad clown in popular culture October 13, 2021
“It’s difficult to assign a specific cultural meaning to the bad clown, because it is such a malleable archetype,” Radford writes.
David Demchuk on queerness, supernatural horror, and the intersection of fictional and real-life monsters October 9, 2021
“A lot of it reminds me of just how much I have come through. And how much the people I know have come through. And what it was like to lose people.”
“It encourages madness of a certain kind”: David Cronenberg on the horror genre October 6, 2021
“The very things that nurture you in the horror genre are also the things that can suppress an understanding of what you’re trying to do.”
Labyrinthine nightmares: “Treading the Maze” by Lisa Tuttle October 5, 2021
Tuttle’s brand of quiet horror is at once a rejoinder to a genre that leans heavily on masculine aggression and a means to achieve effects more unsettling than an explicit presentation could ever be.
Stalking the self: “Consequences” by Willa Cather October 4, 2021
Cather’s use of a close third-person narration lends her story an uncanny element of unease and creepiness.
“They are our collective nightmares”: Robin Wood on the 20th century American horror film October 3, 2021
We can thank Wood for taking the horror film seriously, and for giving us a framework to understand many of our current cultural impasses.
The most wild, homely narrative: “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe October 2, 2021
Poe’s 1843 tale is not only one of the greatest horror stories ever written; it is also a pristine example of internal integrity in the short form.
All horror is body horror: An introduction to a month of fear October 1, 2021
The genre “specifically devoted to the arousal of bodily sensation” traffics in transgression and finds pleasure in the disreputable.
A book of blood: David Demchuk’s queer horror novel addresses real-life terrors September 9, 2021
The Toronto author’s story provides a metaphorical response to a very real history of trauma and violence.
Scary stories: a single-volume anthology from the British Library provides a cogent and concise history of the literary horror genre August 3, 2021
From 17th century Gothic novels to the modern-day zombie story, the horror novel continues to fascinate readers and evolve in the literary consciousness.
Not what they seem: P.J. Vernon and Carrie Jenkins deliver queer thrillers with very different tones and approaches July 12, 2021
A breezy, plot-driven book and an abstruse, philosophically dense ontological mystery provide different pleasures for readers.
Tales of Transgression: Joris-Karl Huysmans’s demonic inferno, Là-Bas June 14, 2021
Huysmans shared his protagonist’s disgust with humanity and longed to create a new kind of literature.
31 Days of Stories 2021, Day 18: “Jerry’s Kids Meet Wormboy” by David J. Schow May 18, 2021
The term “splatterpunk” refers to a highly disreputable, extreme subgenre of graphic horror, but its best practitioners do much more with the form.
31 Days of Stories 2021, Day 9: “The Cloak” by Robert Bloch May 9, 2021
Not a retread or homage, Bloch’s vampire story displays a momentum and technique typical of the author’s best work.
Good faces off against evil in James Herbert’s The Dark October 31, 2020
Herbert’s novel combines elements of a haunted house story, a zombie tale, and a meditation on the nature of evil.
Why it’s so difficult to adapt Stephen King’s books for film October 30, 2020
Being able to see King’s horrors is a significant drawback in terms of their emotional and affective impact – with one exception.
Michael McDowell combines Southern Gothic and a haunted house tale in The Elementals October 28, 2020
McDowell’s mashup of Southern Gothic and a traditional haunted house story provides a slow burn as opposed to the anarchic energy of his earlier novel.
Tananarive Due and the rise of Black horror October 27, 2020
Black creators have made their mark in horror film and literature, though they have had to work to get noticed. There are signs that this is changing.
Josh and Benny Safdie on what scares them October 26, 2020
“You can imagine that character – Max Renn – you can imagine him having a Twitter account after going through and seeing the true colours of society.”
Michael Kelly branches out with a throwback to the pulp periodicals of yore October 25, 2020
Weird Horror, an offshoot of the publisher’s book imprint, Undertow Publications, is a nostalgic magazine in the EC Comics, Weird Tales vein.
Psychology of the uncanny: “The Scar” by Ramsey Campbell October 24, 2020
This story of a man and his malevolent doppelgänger recalls Poe and includes a critique of apparent social respectability.
“You don’t really believe what you read”: Stephen King on the attraction of horror fiction October 23, 2020
Horror fiction provides a buffer against the ongoing stresses and upheavals of the real world.
The history of horror: What are the best books in the genre? October 22, 2020
There are certain core texts that must appear on any list of the “best” horror novels ever written. Then what?
Sue Carter on sleepovers, un-ironic humour, and why she’ll never watch The Human Centipede October 21, 2020
“I have always been drawn to adrenaline-cranking moments that straddle that delicate space between hysterical fright and laughter.”
The law of unintended consequences: “The Fly” by George Langelaan October 20, 2020
The story, which originally appeared in 1957, includes a framing structure that distances the reader from the main action.
Tony Burgess on the most terrifying reading experience of his life October 19, 2020
“I thought there were things this book could do to me that were dangerous.”
Joyce Carol Oates on “the psyche’s deepest and most profound revelations” October 18, 2020
In a brief survey of some core Western texts, Oates asks the key question, why do we want to experience fear in an aesthetic context?
Terror takes flight: “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” by Richard Matheson October 17, 2020
Of all the genre master’s classic novels and stories, none comes close to the sheer paranoid terror of this ruthless chiller.
Christopher Sharrett on neoconservatism in the 1980s and ’90s horror film October 16, 2020
Upending the radical vision of much 1960s and ’70s American horror cinema, the following decades saw a reactionary retrenchment, argues the academic and critic.
“The actual worth of the things you make”: “Wolverton Station” by Joe Hill October 15, 2020
Hill’s Gothic tale is an exuberant mashup of Warren Zevon, Little Red Riding Hood, and “An American Werewolf in London.”
Nathan Ripley on the intimidation of writing in “the best genre” October 14, 2020
The author of psychological thrillers says his respect for the horror genre may explain why he has had difficulty writing in the genre.
“I am a singularity”: “Event Horizon” by Sunny Moraine October 13, 2020
The house in the story – a living thing that demands to be fed – is a metaphor for difference and the other.
Nick Cutter, aka Craig Davidson, on the allure of Asian horror October 12, 2020
Manga creator Junji Ito’s work is a terrifying combination of enclosed spaces, group mania, and obsessive desire, writes Cutter.
Critic Darryl Jones on the history and appeal of a disreputable genre October 11, 2020
The Irish critic writes that horror, like all avant-garde art, operates at the extremes and tests its recipients’ tolerance levels.
Gary Sherman’s Death Line is a downbeat film that sympathizes with its monster October 10, 2020
The 1972 British film, about survivors of a cave-in relegated to life as cannibals in the tunnels under London, is a grim critique of how capitalism treats its workers.
Stephen Graham Jones’s self-aware metafictional slasher The Last Final Girl October 9, 2020
The American novelist’s violent, cheeky 2012 book displays a true fan’s knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, the cinematic subgenre.
Andrew Pyper on why he writes horror fiction October 8, 2020
The number one reason? It’s fun.
The mystery behind the death of Edgar Allan Poe October 7, 2020
Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7, 1849 under conspicuously mysterious circumstances. A Buzzfeed mini-documentary speculates on what might have happened to him.
Carol J. Clover and gender subversion in the modern horror film October 6, 2020
Clover codified the notion of the final girl, but her 1992 text on the modern horror film extends her inquiry further than just that.
Gunnar Hansen on what constitutes horror October 5, 2020
The original Leatherface asks whether Tobe Hooper’s 1974 film classic can be considered horror without any supernatural elements.
“What did he have to report?”: “Paranoia” by Shirley Jackson October 4, 2020
Jackson’s story of the commute from hell is one of her most nerve-shattering, Kafkaesque tales.
“I was thinking about my neighbours”: Shirley Jackson on her literary inspiration October 3, 2020
Shirley Jackson on the inspiration for her classic 1948 chiller, “The Lottery.”
The automaton cometh: “The Sandman” by E.T.A. Hoffmann; Ritchie Robertson, trans. October 2, 2020
The Prussian author’s 1816 tale is an early 19th century progenitor of the modern horror story.
What we fear October 1, 2020
The genre that preys on the subconscious is more varied and interesting that it is frequently given credit for.
Grady Hendrix recalls popular horror’s heyday in Paperbacks from Hell August 15, 2020
Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks from Hell is a nostalgic tour through 1970’s and ’80s horror fiction.
31 Days of Stories 2020, Day 24: “Sardonicus” by Ray Russell May 24, 2020
Ray Russell’s 1961 modern Gothic tale has lost none of its power to shock its reader.
Thieves in the night: “The Body-Snatcher” by Robert Louis Stevenson October 19, 2019
Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1884 chiller “The Body-Snatcher” is a tale of supernatural horror with moral overtones.