Paperbacks from Hell (Paperback)

The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction

By Grady Hendrix

Quirk Books, 9781594749810, 256pp.

Publication Date: September 19, 2017

List Price: 24.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


An affectionate, nostalgic, and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of the 1970s and ’80s
Take a tour through the horror paperback novels of two iconic decades . . . if you dare. Page through dozens and dozens of amazing book covers featuring well-dressed skeletons, evil dolls, and knife-wielding killer crabs! Read shocking plot summaries that invoke devil worship, satanic children, and haunted real estate! Horror author and vintage paperback book collector Grady Hendrix offers killer commentary and witty insight on these trashy thrillers that tried so hard to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. Complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles, this unforgettable volume dishes on familiar authors like V. C. Andrews and R. L. Stine, plus many more who’ve faded into obscurity. Also included are recommendations for which of these forgotten treasures are well worth your reading time and which should stay buried.

About the Author

Grady Hendrix is a novelist and screenwriter based in New York City. His novels include Horrorstör, named one of the best books of 2014 by National Public Radio, and My Best Friend’s Exorcism, for which the Wall Street Journal dubbed him “a national treasure.” The Bram Stoker Award-winning Paperbacks from Hell, his survey of outrageous horror novels of the 1970s and 80s, was called “pure, demented delight” by the New York Times Book Review. He’s contributed to PlayboyThe Village Voice, and Variety.

Praise For Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction

“Pure, demented delight.”—The New York Times Book Review

Paperbacks from Hell 
is as funny as it is engaging.”The Washington Post

“The book is a true appreciation of the genre.”Los Angeles Times

“Just thumbing through these pages will bring back your youth -- and terrify you all over again.”Newsday

Paperbacks from Hell is as wild as its source material.”AV Club

“[Paperbacks from Hell] 
will delight anyone with an interest in horror, design illustration, or the macabre.”Print Magazine 

“A nostalgic treat.”—Playboy Online

“Just thumbing through these pages will bring back your youth – and terrify you all over again.”—Newsday

“Grady Hendrix has written a hugely entertaining, lightning-paced and knowledgeable history. I love it!”—Mick Garris, creator of Showtime's Masters of Horror

“You may find yourself trying to stock up on old titles so you can get your fill of gloriously trashy scares.”Bustle

“Terrific. . . Written with wit and affection, lavishly illustrated with a wide selection of the era’s cover art, Paperbacks from Hell was an attempt to reckon with the tidal wave of horror narratives that filled the bookshelves for two decades.”Locus

“Perhaps the best thing about Paperbacks from Hell is the voice of its author... which is always entertaining and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny.”Creative Loafing

“A reference tome so entertaining, so authoritative, and so brilliantly assembled it’s frightening.”Merry Jane

“As important and essential to the genre as Stephen King's Danse Macabre and Kim Newman's Nightmare Movies. Required reading for all ages, and filled with nostalgic, loving wonder.”—Brian Keene, best-selling author of The Rising and The Complex

“Fans of horror fiction will love this funny and insightful history.”Library Journal, starred review

“While serving as a fine resource for readers—especially those searching for the books of their youth or wanting to pick up ones they missed—this guide is also a joy owing to Hendrix’s infectious enthusiasm.”—Becky Spratford, Library Journal

“Written with wit and affection.”—John Langan, Locus

“The very best horror novel reference material on the shelves right now, bar none.”Dread Central

“As a reference book, as a celebration, and as an appreciation, it’s one of the best books about the horror genre that I’ve ever had the pleasure to read...This gets my highest possible recommendation.”—Blu Gilliand, Cemetery Dance

“Like some malevolent force in one of his beloved novels, Hendrix’s geeky enthusiasm is infectious.”—Publishers Weekly

“This visual treat is a bookstore-in-your-lap that will have you endlessly jotting down book titles to seek out.”Kirkus Reviews

“Get ready to have a traumatic flashback.”Booklist

“It’s a gorgeous, lurid deep-dive into horror’s heyday and a must-read for any self-respecting horror fan.”

"[A] literary house of horrors."Houston Chronicle

“[Hendrix] approaches 20th century genre fiction with a historian’s eye and a comic’s sense of humor and timing.”The Oklahoman

“A deep dive into the world of scary stories with a breezy, pulp-comic style that nonetheless takes these books very seriously.”Santa Fe New Mexican

“This book is a must for horror fans.”B&N Reads

“Horror fiction is alive and well, and Paperbacks from Hell is a grand, affectionate, and informative celebration of the genre.”—NY Journal of Books

“A hugely entertaining history.”Foreword Reviews

“An absolute delight.”—Forces of Geek

“Hendrix’s humorous, informative, and insightful commentary will compel you to read Paperbacks from Hell from start to finish.”Geeks of Doom

“You’ll immediately be swept up in a wave of nostalgia for the time and associations it evokes.”Locus Magazine

“The book's only flaw is that it doesn't come with a notepad to write down all the titles you'll be perusing your local shops hoping to find.”Birth. Movies. Death.

“Like Hendrix’s fiction, this nonfiction book has the snarky humor, but you can also not deny his true, undead love for these books … Anyone who has ever read a horror paperback will find something here to enjoy.”—RA for All  

“[A] comprehensive look back at the horror paperback boom.”—Bad Feeling Magazine

“I just loved this book.”—Charles De Lint, Fantasy & Science Fiction

Paperbacks From Hell is my all-time favorite book. I grew up reading these crazy things, and Grady Hendrix gleefully excavates this rich yet overlooked vein in the horror genre. It’s smart, it’s hilarious, and you have skeletons driving cars and dressed up like cheerleaders. What more could you want? This will soon become your all-time favorite book, too.”—Duane Swierczynski, author of Hammett Prize nominee Revolver

“A ferociously entertaining spook-ride through yesterday's horror fiction and their glossy, often perverse covers. My God, there are even Nazi leprechauns! This is a helluva lot of fun!!!”—Frank Henenlotter, director of Basket Case 

“An absolute delight...any fan or writer of horror will love this book.—Chris Byrnes, Books on the Square

“Hendrix’s infectious zeal for killer creatures and the undead make Paperbacks from Hell truly enjoyable.”—Fine Books Magazine

Praise for Grady Hendrix's Previous Titles

“National treasure Grady Hendrix follows his classic account of a haunted IKEA-like furniture showroom, Horrorstцr (2014), with a nostalgia-soaked ghost story, My Best Friend’s Exorcism.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Take The Exorcist, add some hair spray and wine coolers, and enroll it in high school in 1988 — that'll give you My Best Friend's Exorcism… Campy. Heartfelt. Horrifying.”—Minnesota Public Radio
“It’s clever, heartfelt, and get-under-your-skin unnerving without succumbing to any of the more predictable exorcism story tropes — things happen in this book that you will not expect. It will leave you sleepless because you won’t want to put it down, and you’ll be too scared to.”—Fangoria 

“A touching story of high school friendship and, well, demonic possession.”—Bloody Disgusting
“Sharply written...Hendrix has made strong progress as a novelist, and this book makes a convincing case for his powers as a sharp observer of human behavior, filtered through a fun genre conceit that doesn’t skimp on the spooky—or the bodily fluids.”—The A.V. Club
“Readers who thought Heathers wasn’t quite bleak enough will find this darkly humorous horror tale—filled with spot-on 80s pop-culture references—totally awesome.”—Booklist, starred review
“From the author of the acclaimed Horrorstor, this book packs all the magic of a summer horror flick.”—Bustle
“[Hendrix proves his] own black-magic mettle by conjuring up an era where ill-informed paranoia (and just plain ding-dongness) turned some of the quietest corners of America into fear factories, full of deep-rooted distrust and misspent rage. Too bad Satan never actually did show up back then. He woulda loved it.”—
“If The Exorcist had been authored by Tina Fey instead of William Peter Blatty, it might have borne an uncanny resemblance to what Grady Hendrix has accomplished with My Best Friend’s Exorcism...Fans of satire, nostalgia, dark comedy and, well, demons should read this book.”—BookPage
Horrorstör delivers a crisp terror-tale...[and] Hendrix strikes a nice balance between comedy and horror.”—Washington Post

“...disarming...”—Wall Street Journal

...wildly fun and outrageously inventive...”—Shelf Awareness for Readers, starred review

“...Hendrix conjures up some wonderfully gruesome imagery...”—Nerdist
“If you’ve ever been frustrated trying to put together furniture from IKEA, you’ll get a laugh out of Hendrix’s spoof mystery.”—New York Post

Coverage from NPR