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  • Originally posted by Lorne Marshall View Post

    That might be interesting just to read about his involvement in the early days of home video, if he discusses it.
    He does yes, although a bit to brief. It would have been fantastic if he went more in depth on that part.
    "No presh from the Dresh!"

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    • A fun, well written overview of all kinds of genre B films from the 70s.

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      • Originally posted by Newt Cox View Post
        Years back I got a pile of those YBH collections. Thanks to Lorne posts know I got a good idea which stories to skip. Thanks sir.
        I’ll be interested to read your perspective if/when you get around to reading them.
        VHS will never die!

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        • Might be a bit but I will make sure to post when i get them read.

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          • Originally posted by Randy G View Post
            A fun, well written overview of all kinds of genre B films from the 70s.

            Click image for larger version

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            That looks like an awesome book! I'm gonna have to track it down.
            I don't go to church. Kneeling bags my nylons.

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            • I decided to wait before moving on to the next series (you might be able to guess what it is), instead making my way through a trio of titles, the first two of which were ones I had started years ago but never finished.

              The first was FEAR WITHOUT FRONTIERS (2003), a book of essays edited by Stephen Jay Schneider. Its subtitle is Horror Cinema Across the Globe, which establishes it as sort of a younger cousin to earlier works from Pete Tombs. I didn’t find it to be quite as good as IMMORAL TALES or MONDO MACABRO, as there seemed to be a lot of familiar territory covered (Paul Naschy, Italian zombies, etc.). Yet to be fair, I’ll point out that some of what is explored was relatively new at the time, like the wave of K-horror that was just ramping up. I’m not a big fan of studies that dig deep into the underlying themes of films using some academic approach (Marxist, psychoanalytical, etc.), so I was disinterested in a lot of the more scholarly offerings. But the ones that explored genres I was unfamiliar with (pontianaks, 1930’s Mexican horror), individual filmmakers (Nonzee Nimibutr) or single movies (Maxu Weibang’s MIDNIGHT SONG) were appealing to me. Tombs even makes an appearance with an examination of Indian horror flicks.

              The second from the “to finish” shelf was THE BEST OF ROALD DAHL. I’m not totally sure I hadn’t just been reading it again back in the day and never finished, as the stories seemed so familiar. Then again, amongst the many collections of Dahl’s stuff, there’s a lot of repetition. Nevertheless, Dahl is definitely another one of my favorite writers; I love how he can effortlessly expound at length upon any subject and make it captivating as he weaves it into the fabric of his tale. My favorites in here are likely some of the faves of many fans: “Man from the South,” “Edward the Conqueror,” “Lamb to the Slaughter,” “The Way Up to Heaven,” “Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat,” and “Royal Jelly.”

              The book I definitely was rereading was Christopher Fowler’s CITY JITTERS. This was in fact the third time I read it, as I didn’t recall much about the two previous times. The linking device was pretty clever: a Brit visiting New York City and trying to find the hotel where he was supposed to be booked encounters one frustrating situation after another involving things like parking garages, taxis, and strip clubs, which then leads into an unrelated story about that topic, almost all of them set in the UK. Although the wraparound resolved in a somewhat witty denouement, most of the stories themselves are nothing special (I’ve nearly forgotten them already). But I am grateful that the best one of them all, “Loaded Blanks,” was saved for last. There was a sequel called MORE CITY JITTERS I contemplated picking up, but the one seller on Amazon wants $160. Thanks, but no thanks.
              VHS will never die!

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              • My overall assessment of THE YEAR’S BEST HORROR STORIES is that it undoubtedly took me on an educational journey through the evolution of horror fiction over nearly a quarter-century, beginning in the early 70’s. It was fascinating to experience in a little more than a year the progression (or, from my perspective, regression) from pulp horror through dark fantasy, then on to splatterpunk and finally to whatever you call the stuff from the 90’s (post-splatterpunk?).

                Karl Edward Wagner was the editor from #8 all the way to the end, for a total of 15 volumes. I’m sure the releases would have continued, too, but tragically he died in October of 1994 at the age of 48, a month before the last book was published. I wasn’t always thrilled with his choice of authors, especially since he seemed to favor a handful of ones I felt were consistently dreadful, frequently sourced from obscure zines. Soon I will be diving into another series I collected, which covers more than half of the same period, and it’s revealing that a lot of Wagner’s contributors appear infrequently or not at all in that one. It would be hard to dispute YBHS was the signature series of Karl Edward Wagner.

                Despite the recurrence of new writers in the last several editions that I found distasteful, there were quite a few I enjoyed as well. So it made me kind of sad when I would read an intro that stated something like "This is the writer's first sale,” followed by an assurance that “it won't be his/her last," or that the writer was shopping a novel around to various publishers. And then I would research that writer (30 or more years hence), only to discover it was the only sale.

                Wagner did pull some of what he considered the best from other contemporaneous anthologies, but perusing the collections I have in my own inventory (CUTTING EDGE, NEW TERRORS, HOT BLOOD, SILVER SCREAM, and HALLOWEEN HORRORS, to cite just a few), I can see he nearly always missed the finest tales. Maybe he couldn’t secure the rights to republish those, I don’t know. Even more puzzling is the absence from the series of several writers I truly admire, like Bentley Little, Clive Barker (as I already pointed out in my review of #19), and not entirely but too sparingly William F. Nolan (I think there was just one offering from him).

                There were a couple of other things I wanted to briefly mention. The first is that in the early volumes, the inner margins of pages (“gutter spaces”...yes, I looked that up) were oftentimes frustratingly insufficient, forcing me to really bend the book to allow me to read the words (although I always protected the book by keeping my fingertips on the spine). The amazing part of this is that as the series went on and the percentage of good stories decreased, this problem virtually disappeared!

                The second additional thing I wanted to mention is that I really like a lot of the artwork on the covers, even if it seldom bore much resemblance to the stories therein. I know it would have made sense for me to include the covers alongside each review, but I’m always leery of doing that, since I’m aware that it takes up more space on the site’s servers. Anyway, I didn’t do a formal survey, but I think the illustrations I liked the most were those drawn by Michael Whelan.

                Finally, I came up with a list of my favorite tales in YBHS (a total of 13, naturally). I culled this group by looking at the ones for which I indicated a preference in my reviews, trying to recall the substance of each without actually rereading it. So, using that admittedly imperfect technique, here is the list, in order of each story’s appearance in the volumes:

                “Prey” by Richard Matheson (#1)
                “Lucifer” by E. C. Tubb (#1)
                “Shatterday” by Harlan Ellison (#5)
                “At the Bottom of the Garden” by David Campton (#6)
                “Screaming to Get Out” by Janet Fox (#6)
                “Heading Home” by Ramsey Campbell (#7)
                “Broken Glass” by Harlan Ellison (#10)
                “Dwindling” by David B. Silva (#14)
                “In The Hour Before Dawn” by Brad Strickland (#15)
                “Neighborhood Watch” by Greg Egan (#16)
                “The Motivation” by David Langford (#18)
                “The Man Who Collected Barker” by Kim Newman (#19)
                “A Father’s Gift” by W.M. Shockley (#21)
                VHS will never die!

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