6WH: Halloween Season’s Readings

Every year, the Six Weeks of Halloween marathon creeps up on me, and I completely forget to line up some good horror books to read. Well not this year! I’ve already detailed my first season’s reading a couple weeks ago, the near-comprehensive Slasher Movie Book, and in this post, I’ll chronicle some other recent readings along those lines, as well as some genuine horror fiction. Let’s get this party started:

  • Red, White, and Blood by Christopher Farnsworth – The third book in a series chronicling the adventures of vampire secret agent Nathaniel Cade (I’ve already written about the first two novels. Highlight: a fictional account of “Bin Laden’s assassination – by a vampire who stuffed a grenade in his mouth and then threw him over a cliff so he exploded in midair.”) Interestingly, this novel seemingly works on a smaller scale than the previous entries, and that actually brings some much needed focus to the series. In the first book, you’ve got a shadowy conspiracy creating a small army of Frankenstein-like monsters. In the second book, another shadowy conspiracy (actually, multiple interlocking but distinct conspiracies) unleashes Reptilians on the world. In this third installment, we get the Boogeyman. Oh sure, that shadowy conspiracy angle is still there, but it’s pushed way into the background (and it does help set up the next novel), but the general thrust of the story is more personal. Both the Boogeyman and Cade have done battle before (multiple times), with the basic tally of their encounters being a stalemate. And this time, the Boogeyman has switched up methodology! It’s not going to win the Pulitzer or anything, but it was great Halloween reading, and the Boogeyman makes for a great pseudo-slasher villain (he even wears a chinsy rubber mask in the form of a big smiley face, which is so awesome I’m surprised there isn’t a real slasher movie featuring that kinda mask). Fun stuff.
  • Books of Blood Volume 2 by Clive Barker – I don’t normally get all that “scared” by most horror books, and even this collection of short stories isn’t that fear-inducing, but Barker’s shear creativity and inventiveness can get unsettling at times. Nothing in this book stood out as much as some of Barker’s other short stories (my favorites being “In the Hills, The Cities”, “The Last Illusion”, and “Twilight At The Towers”), but there’s some freaking, weird stuff going on here, as I generally expected. Reading these short stories, I really wish Barker would get off his butt and finish The Scarlet Gospels (seriously dude, it’s been well over a decade, almost two decades actually, since you started talking about that book!) and the third and final Book of the Art (the second book was published in 1994, for crying out loud). Fortunately, I have plenty of other Barker short stories to work through. I forgot how much I enjoyed them.
  • Morning Glories, Vol. 1: For a Better Future and Morning Glories, Vol. 2: All Will Be Free by Nick Spencer (Author) and Joe Eisma (Illustrator) – These are comic book collections recommended to me by the Radio Free Echo Rift podcast a while back. It’s an interesting series. Perhaps not strictly “horror” but there’s enough creepily bizarre events that it sometimes reads like it. The story follows a few new students at an exclusive prep school as they realize that the school is more of a prison with nefarious purposes. I’m actually getting a very Lost TV show vibe from this, in that I’m not entirely sure they’ll be able to resolve all the disparate threads and mysteries, but so far, they’ve done a pretty good job of it… and I have Vol. 3 sitting on my shelf right now…
  • Crystal Lake Memories by Peter M. Bracke – If the breadth of film knowledge covered by the Slasher Movie Book came at the expense of depth, Crystal Lake Memories sacrifices breadth for depth. It’s actually made a great one/two punch, though I should admit that I have not yet finished it (it’s only 300 pages, but the pages are huge and the type is very small!) It basically chronicles the origins and production of the entire Friday the 13th series in exhaustive detail. Bracke seemingly interviewed everyone ever involved in the Friday the 13th movies, from the lowliest crew member or teen victim to the producers to the directors to other folks only tangentially related to the series (like Wes Craven). So far, it’s actually been one of the most fascinating books about the film industry that I’ve ever read. Since Bracke spent a lot of time talking to producers, and since these movies emerged at a key time in the movie industry, when production and distribution were being revolutionized and streamlined, you actually get an intensive look at the business side of things and how studios drove the creation of franchises in the 80s, and so on. Again, I’m only about a third of the way through the book, but it’s been a really great read so far. Plus, the book is filled with gorgeous full color images, including a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that I’ve never seen before.

And that’s all for now! Stay tuned for some batshit insane Italian horror on Sunday.