Monday, 12 April 2010

Horror: 100 Best Books

I thought I'd post this chronologically ordered list of 100 of the Greatest Books of Horror, discussed and critiqued in Kim Newman and Stephen Jones' study Horror: 100 Best Books. I really should pick this book up, apart from the heavyweights scattered throughout the list (Dracula, I Am Legend, The Exorcist, 'Salem's Lot), most of these books are unknown to me. There's some wildcard entries in there too - JG Ballard's Crystal World, Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun - interesting stuff !

Newman and Jones wrote a sequel in 2005 entitled naturally enough Horror: Another 100 Best Books. I've reprinted the 100 strong selection here as well.

Horror: 100 Best Books
1. Christopher Marlowe - The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus
2. William Shakespeare - The Tragedy of Macbeth
3. John Webster - The White Devil
4. William Godwin - Things As They Are; or: The Adventures of Caleb Williams
5. Matthew Gregory Lewis - The Monk: A Romance
6. E.T.A. Hoffmann - The Best Tales of Hoffmann
7. Jane Austen - Northanger Abbey
8. Mary Shelley - Frankenstein
9. Charles Maturin - Melmoth the Wanderer
10. James Hogg - The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
11. Edgar Allen Poe - Tales of Mystery and Imagination
12. Nathaniel Hawthorne - Twice-Told Tales
13. Jeremias Gotthelf - The Black Spider
14. Eugène Sue - The Wandering Jew
15. Herman Melville - The Confidence Man: His Masquerade
16. J. Sheridan Le Fanu - Uncle Silas: A Tale of Bertram-Haugh
17. Robert Louis Stevenson - The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
18. H. Rider Haggard - She
19. Robert W. Chambers - The King in Yellow
20. H.G. Wells - The Island of Dr. Moreau
21. Bram Stoker - Dracula
22. Henry James The Turn of the Screw
23. Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
24. Bram Stoker - The Jewel of Seven Stars
25. M.R. James - Ghost Stories of an Antiquary
26. Arthur Machen - The House of Souls
27. Algernon Blackwood - John Silence, Physician Extraordinary
28. G.K. Chesterton - The Man Who Was Thursday
29. William Hope Hodgson - The House On the Borderland
30. Ambrose Bierce - The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce
31. Oliver Onions - Widdershins
32. E.F. Benson - The Horror Horn: The Best Horror Stories of E.F. Benson
33. David Lindsay - A Voyage To Arcturus
34. Franz Kafka - The Trial
35. James Branch Cabell - Something About Eve
36. E.H. Visiak - Medusa
37. Guy -The Werewolf of Paris
38. Marjorie Bowen - The Last Bouquet: Some Twilight Tales
39. Alexander Laing - The Cadaver of Gideaon Wyck
40. Sir Hugh Walpole (ed) - A Second Century of Creepy Stories
41. C.S. Lewis - The Dark Tower and The Day After Judgment
42. Dalton Trumbo - Johnny Got His Gun
43. H.P Lovecraft - The Outsider and Others
44. Clark Ashton Smith - Out of Space and Time
45. Fritz Leiber - Conjure Wife
46. Cornell Woolrich - Night Has a Thousand Eyes
47. H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth - The Lurker at the Threshold
48. Paul Bailey - Deliver Me From Eva
49. Boris Karloff (ed) - And the Darkness Falls
50. August Derleth (ed) - The Sleeping and the Dead
51. Walter Van Tilburg Clark - Track of the Cat
52. Sarban - The Sound of His Horn
53. William Golding - Lord of the Flies
54. Richard Matherson - I Am Legend
55. Ray Bradbury - The October Country
56. Joseph Payne Brennan - Nine Horrors and a Dream
57. Robert Bloch - Psycho
58. Nigel Kneale - Quatermass and the Pit
59. H.P. Lovecraft - Cry Horror!
60. Shirley Jackson - The Haunting of Hill House
61. Philip K. Dick - The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
62. Jerzy kosinski - The Painted Bird
63. J.G. Ballard - The Crystal World
64. Robert Aikman - Sub Rosa
65. Kingsley Amis - The Green Man
66. Anthony Boucher - The Compleat Werewolf, and Other Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction
67. John Gardner - Grendel
68. William Peter Blatty - The Exorcist
69. John Brunner - The Sheep Look Up
70. Manly Wade Wellman - Worse Things Waiting
71. Robert Marasco - Burnt Offerings
72. Stephen King - Salems's Lot
73. Harlan Ellison - Deathbird Stories
74. Hugh B. Cave - Murgunstrumm and Others
75. Bernard Taylor - Sweetheart, Sweetheart
76. John Farris - All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By
77. Stephen King - The Shining
78. William Hjortsberg - Falling Angel
79. Whitely Streiber - The Wolfen
80. David Morrell - The Totem
81. Peter Straub - Ghost Story
82. Jonathan Carroll - The Land of Laughs
83. Richard Laymon - The Cellar
84. Thomas Harris - Red Dragon
85. F. Paul Wilson - The Keep
86. Deniis Etchison - The Dark Country
87. Karl Edward Wagner - In a Lonely Place
88. Tim Powers - The Anubis Gates
89. Robert Irwin - The Arabian Nightmare
90. Iain Banks - The Wasp Factory
91. T.E.D. Klein - The Ceremonies
92. Robert Holdstock - Mythago Wood
93. Michael Bishop - Who Made Stevie Crye?
94. Dan Simmons - The Song of Kali
95. Clive Barker - The Damnation Game
96. Peter Ackroyd - Hawksmoor
97. Lisa Tuttle - A Nest of Nightmares
98. Charles L. Grant - The Pet
99. Robert McCammon - Swan Song
100. Ramsey Campbell - Dark Feasts

Horror: Another 100 Best Books
1. The Revenger's Tragedy by Cyril Tourneur
2. Pikovaia Dama/The Queen of Spades by Aleksandr Pushkin
3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
5. Rekopiz Znaleziony w Saragossie/ The Manuscrit Found in Saragossa by Jan, Count Potocki
6. New Grub Street by George Gissing
7. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
8. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
9. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
10. The Boats of the "Glen Carrig" by William Hope Hodgson
11. Le fantôme de l'Opéra/ The Phantome of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
12. Fantômas by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain
13. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by H. P. Lovecraft
14. They Return at Evening by H. R. Wakefield
15. Creep, Shadow! by A. Merritt
16. The Trail of Fu Manchu by Sax Rohmer
17. The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley
18. The Haunted Omnibus edited by Alexander Laing
19. The Edge of Running Water by William Sloane
20. L'Étranger/The Stranger by Albert Camus
21. Sleep No More: Twenty Masterpieces of Horror for the Connoisseur edited by August Derleth
22. Lost Worlds by Clark Ashton Smith
23. Jumbee and Other Uncanny Tales by Henry S. Whitehead
24. Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural edited by Herbert A. Wise and Phyllis Fraser
25. The Opener of the Way by Robert Bloch
26. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
27. Carnacki the Ghost-Finder by William Hope Hodgson
28. Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson
29. Tales of Horror and the Supernatural by Arthur Machen
30. Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell
31. House of Flesh by Bruno Fischer
32. Fancies and Goodnights by John Collier
33. The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
34. The Third Ghost Book edited by Lady Cynthia Asquith
35. The Body Snatcher by Jack Finney
36. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
37. The Hunger and Other Stories by Charles Beaumont
38. The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat
39. The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham
40. A Scent of New-Mown Hay by John Blackburn
41. A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson
42. The Weirdstone of Brinsingamen by Alan Garner
43. Tales of Terror edited by Charles Higham
44. Some of Your Blood by Theordore Sturgeon
45. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
46. The Case Against Satan by Ray Russell
47. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
48. The Collector by John Fowles
49. Who Fears the Devil? by Manly Wade Wellman
50. A Wrinkle in the Skin by John Christopher
51. Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
52. The Playboy Book of Horror and the Supernatural edited by the Editors of Playboy
53. Pages from Cold Point by Paul Bowles
54. Outer Dark by Cormac Mccarthy
55. The Book of Skulls by Rober Silverberg
56. Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon
57. The Night Stalker by Jeff Rice
58. Blood Sport by Robert F. Jones
59. Nightshade by Derek Marlowe
60. Peace by Gene Wolfe
61. The Year of the Sex Olympics: Three TV Plays by Nigel Kneale
62. Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber
63. The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
64. Darkness Weaves With Many Shades by Karl Edward Wagner
65. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
66. Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler
67. The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen by Elizabeth Bowen
68. Dark Forces: New Stories of Suspense and Supernatural Horror edited by Kirby McCauley
69. Tales from the Nightside by Charles L. Grant
70. The Thirst by Robert R. McCammon
71. The Face That Must Die by Ramsey Campbell
72. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
73. Pet Sematary by Stephen King
74. Clive Barker's Books of Blood Volumes One, Two, and Three by Clive Barker
75. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind
76. Finishing Touches by Thomas Tessier
77. Strange Toy by Patricia Geary
78. The Dark Decent edited by David G. Hartwell
79. Misery by Stephen King
80. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
81. Prime Evil edited by Douglas E. Winter
82. By Bizarre Hands: Stories by Joe R. Lansdale
83. The Grotesque by Patrick McGrath
84. Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
85. From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
86. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
87. Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite
88. The Course of the Heart by John Harrison
89. Flicker by Theodore Roszak
90. X, Y by Michael Blumlein
91. Skin by Kathe Koja
92. Throat Sprockets: A Novel of Erotic Obsession by Tim Lucas
93. The Off Season: A Victorian Sequel by Jack Cady
94. The Nightmare Factory by Thomas Ligotti
95. A Sight for Sore Eyes by Ruth Rendell
96. Reprisal by Mitchell Smith
97. A Haunting Beauty by Sir Charles Birkin
98. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
99. Feesters in the Lake & Other Stories by Bob Leman
100. More Tomorrow & Other Stories by Michael Marshall Smith

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Directed By James Cameron

Piranha 2 The Spawning (1981) may be one of the most spectacular false starts in Hollywood Cinema, and while most if not all commentary on the film deem this one to be an atrocity, Piranha 2 actually turns out to an efficient and entertaining B-movie, and in light of Cameron's later films, its rather fascinating to watch. A loose follow-up to Joe Dante's 1978 favourite, Piranha 2 relocates the killer fish to a Jamaican beach resort, but this time the piranha have been gifted with the power of flight (?) courtesy of an experimental mutation...

Cameron joined the American/Italian production of Piranha 2 to work on special effects, but when the original director bowed out, Cameron was handed the directorial reigns for what would be an unhappy shoot. The newly promoted director was unable to gel with the Italian-speaking crew and had to battle with producers for any degree of control over the film. Cameron himself was unapologetic:
I only shot half the picture. I got fired after a few weeks. The producer took over the picture and shot all these scenes of naked women that had nothing to do with the script...I have a limited responsibility for whatever is wrong with it, which is a lot.
Indeed Piranha 2 does feel disjointed and pieced together. The film is not without its strong moments - there's a great sequence in a morgue involving a chest-bursting piranha, but much of the good stuff is undone by some inept comedy involving boneheaded bikini girls, horny hotel guests, and some pretty bad rubber fish-on-wires during the climax when the piranha take the skies for some human chowder.

In the best B-movie tradition of the Bert I. Gordon style laserdisc sleeve above the movie offers none of the carnage it promises, but for all its failings, it remains an energetic nature-on-the-rampage movie, and moves along with a good pace, has three good leads, including Lance Henriksen, who would reappear in Cameron's next two (significantly better) films, and features some meaty gore effects by Lucio Fulci's perennial make-up maestro Giannetto De Rossi. Its a rather drab, dreary looking picture, the film most definitely feels shot off season, and its hard to believe that Cameron would have the eye for turning LA into an eerie nocturnal hunting ground for his 1984 debut-proper The Terminator. Visually, the best stuff in the movie are the underwater sequences, filmed in and around a sunken ship, which seem like a dress rehearsal for the epic undertakings of The Abyss and Titanic, and Cameron's later obsession with the deep sea, which he explored in a trio of documentaries, Expedition Bismarck (2002), Ghosts of the Abyss (2003), Aliens of the Deep (2005)

I'm guessing James Cameron would have no problem with Sony's Stateside DVD of Piranha 2 The Spawning which is one of Sony's very worst transfers, featuring a soft fuzzy image, cropped from its original 1:85 ratio. It's unlikely anyone would shell out money for this platter, and even more unlikely that Sony would ever revisit the film for a remaster. I haven't seen the current UK edition (which had an earlier DVD release retitled Piranha 2 Flying Killers) but I imagine this DVD, like its US counterpart might be one to approach with caution. Its a shame really as the film would make a great B-movie double-bill with fishmen-on-a-rape-rampage Humanoid from the Deep...