The Art of Horror: An Illustrated History
Edited by Stephen Jones
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books
If you're having a Halloween party and you leave this amazing 256-page coffee table book out where your guests can see it there'll be more interest in it than in that punch bowl of spiked apple cider. Editor Jones is himself an illustrator and here he puts his keen eye to work in selecting about 400 striking pieces of graphic art to fill the book's 10 chapters, drawing from both public archives and private collections and featuring works that appeared on movie posters, pulp magazine covers, comic books and more. Needless to say there are vampires, monsters, ghosts, demons and assorted scary creatures galore. Each chapter is themed and begins with an essay by a known horror authority; for example the chapter "We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes" is about psychos and slashers, is intro'd by British author and illustrator Barry Forshaw, and touches on everyone from Jack the Ripper to Norman Bates to the Phantom of the Opera. Witches, zombies, aliens, Frankenstein and friends and werewolves are the focus of other chapters, and there's a Cthulhu-happy chapter devoted to the work of H.P. Lovecraft. Each art depiction, whether you're looking at a truly horrifying piece or a campy cover of "Spicy Mystery Stories" magazine, each piece comes with a paragraph or two detailing where it was used and who it was created by. Fun for all and a must for horror aficionados.
The Curious Case of H.P. Lovecraft
While The Art of Horror includes an homage to Lovecraft, this is a very thorough biography about the man that Stephen King called "The 20th century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale." Readers will find out that Lovecraft was fatherless at the age of seven-years-old, didn't get along with other children and suffered at the hand of a mother who today would be considered a helicopter parent. Indeed Lovecraft is shown to only be happy when immersed in fantasy, of his own making or through the works of writers like Edgar Allan Poe. When his grandmother died, Lovecraft started having nightmares filled with horrifying creatures, and when he tried to enlist to serve in World War I his mother sabotaged his medical exam so he couldn't. Author Roland details how all this darkness fed Lovecraft's creativity, leading to dozens of youthful short stories, and how it continued to influence his writing throughout his life. The creation of all his major works is chronicled, and fans of metal music will particularly enjoy the chronicling of character invention, like the ever popular-in-song Cthulhu (whom Metallica called Ktulu.) Much of Roland's info here comes from Lovecraft's correspondence and the long-lost memoirs of Lovecraft's estranged wife. The book is appended with a roster of films and music inspired by Lovecraft, which leads us to our next Halloween itemů
Add this Swedish band to the long list of groups influenced by the work of Lovecraft; the band says this concept album is inspired by the Cthulhu mythology. And while there are plenty of dark passages in the album, including in album opener "Enter the Mountains," the band's forte is actually melodic, classic-era leaning rock. "Closer," for example, sounds like a modern day mash-up of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, complete with bright vocals from Anders Ljung. So this one won't scare the daylights out of you but songs like "My Shadow out of Time, the punk-tinged and slide guitar showcasing "Name Rank Serial Killer" and the bluesy slow burn (and Scorpions recalling) of "She Was the One" are shockingly good. The album builds to a great climax with closer "Exit the Mountains," making a strong case for the band having left the best for last.
Now That's What I Call Halloween!
Here's a compilation to play during your Halloween party or perhaps in the car on the way to the spookfest. Of course the Halloween chestnut "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers is included, as are "Dead Man's Party" by Oingo Boingo, "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon, "Dragula" by Rob Zombie and "This is Halloween" by the Citizens of Halloween. Among the other contributors to this fun set are INXS ("Devil Inside"), Run-D.M.C. ("Ghostbusters"), Donovan ("Season of the Witch") and the Specials ("Ghost Town"). Spooky instrumentals include John Carpenter's eerie "Halloween Theme," Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells (Theme from the Exorcist)" and Danny Elfman's "Beetljuice" theme.
Halloween 2: Creatures Collection
A 3-disc set, this is actually quite the Halloween package. One disc holds originals written by Mannheim Steamroller main man Chip Davis along with reimagined versions of theme songs from TV shows like "The Addams Family," "Dr. Who," "The Outer Limits" and "X Files." But to really creep out your party guests or trick-or-treaters play the disc full of Halloween sound effects! And if you dare, pop in the DVD to view the "Creatures of the Night" dance instruction video!
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