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Future Treasures: Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Paperbacks-From-Hell-smallerBack in May, during her annual trip to C2E2 here in Chicago, Goth Chick reported on a fascinating fall release she discovered at the Quirk Books booth.

Finally, a trip to C2E2 would not be complete without a stop at the Quirk Books booth… You’re probably familiar with some of their more popular recent titles including Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children and the legendary Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

We’ve found some personal favorites through Quirk including The Resurrectionist and last year’s find, My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix. As it happens, Mr. Hendrix has another gem on the market entitled Paperbacks from Hell.

Billed as “The twisted story of ’70s and ’80s horror fiction,” Paperbacks from Hell takes readers on a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s. Page through 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. Hendrix offers killer commentary and witty insight on these trashy thrillers that tried so hard to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. It’s an affectionate, nostalgic, and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of two iconic decades, complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles.

Frankly, I couldn’t have found a more perfect beach read.

Paperbacks from Hell will finally be released next month. It is lavishly illustrated, with color pics of countless 70s and 80s paperback covers. Here’s a few examples.

[Click the images for bigger versions.]

Paperbacks from Hell 1-small


Paperbacks from Hell 2-small


Paperbacks from Hell 3-small

Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction will be published by Quirk Books on September 19, 2017. It is 256 pages, priced at $24.99 in paperback and $14.99 for the digital edition.

See all of our recent coverage of the best upcoming SF and fantasy books here.


  1. That “Santa’s Sweatshop” cover for The Little People made my day.

    Comment by Thomas Parker - August 16, 2017 7:17 pm

  2. I was with James Enge when he found a copy at Worldcon… he refused to part with it, for money or friendship.

    Comment by John ONeill - August 16, 2017 8:21 pm

  3. Ah, the good old days of embossed, foil-printed covers with cut-outs …

    Comment by Joe H. - August 16, 2017 9:17 pm

  4. I’ve been looking forward to this book for some time. Heard about it first, not at Blackgate but at

    Comment by James McGlothlin - August 17, 2017 8:19 am

  5. Grady is a consistent genius…


    Comment by Sue Granquist - August 17, 2017 7:02 pm

  6. PAPERBACKS FROM HELL is gonna be amazing! It’s a gorgeously-produced book with tons of color photos of all those great book covers from back in the day. I assisted Grady with the book and provided many of the cover scans from my own collection. I hope everyone who reads it finds some new horror paperbacks & authors to enjoy!

    Comment by TooMuchHorrorFiction - September 1, 2017 2:18 pm

  7. > I hope everyone who reads it finds some new horror paperbacks & authors to enjoy!

    Thanks for the comment. And I have no doubt of that! Already this book has spurred my interest in paperback horror, and I’ve only see a handful of page scans.

    Also… kudos on a fine collection, and for preserving those fragile paperbacks for so many years!

    Comment by John ONeill - September 2, 2017 11:46 am

  8. John: I still feel bad about that sometimes. However, it’s a blast to put the book into someone’s hands and watch their visceral reaction. It is without question the ugliest book I own.

    JE (suis un monstre)

    Comment by James Enge - September 12, 2017 7:16 pm

  9. James,

    Glad to hear your conscience torments you. I tell myself someone who haunts book stores and eBay as much as I do should stumble on another copy. Eventually. On rare nights, that brings me enough peace to get to sleep.

    Comment by John ONeill - September 13, 2017 10:02 am

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