For a period in my early Twenties I was a horror nut - my viewing and reading had to be in the scary genre, I voraciously read the works of Stephen King, James Herbert, Clive Barker, Guy N. Smith, Shaun Hutson, I became friends with horror author, Steve Harris after interviewing him for a magazine, I would stay up until stupid-O'clock if anything even vaguely horror related was on the TV. For several years back then I used to write for magazines like Samhain, Skeleton Crew, Interzone, Peeping Tom and even selling a spooky little story to the radio. Alas, this one was never broadcast and seemed to vanish with the change of producers. I wrote many stories for the small press horror mags, all the while wishing I could be as prolific as D. F. Lewis who seemed to pop up everywhere - anyone remember him?
There was a great magazine out called Fear and I never missed an issue - it was published by Newsfield Publications who were big in the computer gaming magazine market. The magazine was edited by John Gilbert, a huge and knowledgeable horror fan, and featured as much coverage of books as it did of films. For a genre magazine it was very intelligent and I was gutted when it eventually folded.
It was this magazine that encouraged me to try the old masters - Poe, Lovecraft and co. And although I moved onto other genres I still hold a lot of these old macabre classics in high esteem. The Monkey's Paw, for instance, I still rate as one of the best short stories I've ever read. And I was once so into Poe that I wrote a short story entitled, A Continuation of the facts concerning M. Valdermar.
These days the horror genre seems to be gore obsessed rather than concentrating on creating unease in the reader/viewer it goes for gross out which, in my opinion, isn't half as effective. The big names are still out there Stephen King especially and although James Herbert is still writing I find his recent books derivative and think his last classic was the elegiac Magic Cottage.
So has the horror genre lost it's bite?
I don't think so - like the western, the horror genre has been pronounced dead many times but it's still out there kicking about, refusing the remain in its mouldering grave. And this Halloween the Archive is going over to the dark side for many horror related posts.
Next up - HAMMER FILMS: The studio that dripped blood and boobs.