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Samstag, 20. Oktober 2012
Hallowe’en Horrors (Halloween Horrors)
The US edition.
Edited by Alan Ryan
Sphere Books. 1988
Charter Books 1986
My UK copy.
The US edition.
“Hallowe’en Horrors” editied by the late Alan Ryan is the oldest Halloween theme anthology and it’S from only 1988. So I’m once pushing the boundaries of what I consider “Vintage” again. But considering that Halloween themed anthologies are scarcer than Skanks Teeth I thinks it’s safe to stretch my definitions a little bit this time. I read this jut last year for the first time and found it to me a pretty satisfying, if grisly, collection of Halloween stories. What I fond to be interesting about Mr. Ryan’s anthology is how grim and grisly the selection of stories is. There’s nary a drop of whimsy in this collection. The closest any of them come to being “traditionally spooky” is Ramsey Campbell’s “Apples”. And that’s simply because no children die in it. Dead kids makes some of the stories hard going emotionally. Aside from that every story fits it’s Halloween theme perfectly. Get it if you can find it!
Blurb from the back cover….
“HALLOWE'EN - A TIME FOR PUMPKIN LANTERNS AND TRICK OR TREAT, FOR HOT SPICED DRINKS AND PARTY LAUGHTER. FOR SOME. BUT NOT FOR ALL. FOR THOSE LONELY SOULS HALLOWE'EN IS A NIGHT OF NECROMANCY AND BONE-CHILLING FEAR, WHEN THE WILD OCTOBER WIND CANNOT QUITE MASK THE HIGH, KEENING SCREAM OF TERROR, WHEN THE ANCIENT EVILS ARISE ONCE MORE FROM THE UNDERWORLD TO LURE THE UNWARY TO THEIR DARK AND TERRIBLE DEATHS ...”
HE'LL COME KNOCKING AT YOUR DOOR - ROBERT R MCCAMMON
EYES - CHARLED L GRANT
THE NIXON MASK - WHITLEY STRIEBER
THE SAMHAIN FEIS - PETER TREMAYNE
TRICKSTER - STEVE RASNIC TEM
MISS MACK - MICHAEL MCDOWELL
HOLLOW EYES - GUY N SMITH
THE HALLOWEEN HOUSE - ALAN RYAN
THREE FACES OF THE NIGHT - CRAIG SHAW GARDNER
PUMPKIN - BILL PRONZINI –
LOVER IN THE WILDWOOD - FRANK BELKNAP LONG
APPLES - RAMSEY CAMPBELL
PRANKS - ROBERT BLOCH
Now let’s take a look at the stories……
“HE'LL COME KNOCKING AT YOUR DOOR” by ROBERT R MCCAMMON.
A working class family finds out that maybe the new job with a promotion and getting an affordable home in the new sub-division doesn’t come with out sacrifices, especially on Halloween. I enjoyed this one. Sometimes an unpleasant ending is just what the doctor ordered.
“EYES” by CHARLES L GRANT.
Only the late Charles Grant can combine incredible Halloween atmosphere and mood with heart breaking loss, regret and punishment. This story is a perfect example of what Mr. Grant meant by describing his style as “quiet horror”. Saying that I enjoyed this one would be a lie. Considering it deals with the abuse and subsequent death of a boy with Downs Syndrome makes it too sad and painful to be considered enjoyable. Still, it’s an amazing and powerful story that will stay with you for a long time.
“THE NIXON MASK” by WHITLEY STRIEBER.
This is Mr. Streiber’s take Halloween paranoia in the Nixon Whitehouse. This is a wonderfully weird story of how Richard and Pat Nixon have to deal with “Trick or Treaters” and the significance of not letting your mask slip and showing fear to outsiders. I’m not sure, but I think this is actually about the loss of control and how we try to hide the loss. I didn’t like this one a lot, but it is bizarre enough to keep your interest.
“THE SAMHAIN FEIS” by PETER TREMAYNE .
A little boy in Ireland moves with his widowed mother in a remote house in the mountains and meets an invisible friend named “Sam”. I’m assuming that you can figure out where this one is going. It’s well written with a strong sense of place, but it’s a “been there, done that” kind of story.
“TRICKSTER” by STEVE RASNIC TEM.
I liked this one a lot. It’s definitely a Halloween story, but with a modern urban and not traditional setting. A man is haunted by both his dead/missing trickster brother and the dysfunctional relationship they shared. I loved this story. It’s a modern and non-traditional story that manages to still be 100% Halloween with great mood and an unsettling ending that gets under your skin. Not the easiest read in the book, but well worth it.
“MISS MACK” by MICHAEL MCDOWELL.
This is a great story that could have appeared in a later edition of “Weird Tales”.
It tell the story of a very deep friendship between two female teachers in a small southern town clear How “deep” the friendship actually is, is never made clear and is totally beside the point. What is important is how a jealous rival responds to the relationship between the two women. What makes matters worse it the jealous mans mother is a witch. This is one of those stories where bad things happen to good people and there are some fates that are worse then death. It’s scary , sad and actually keeps you hoping right up to the bitter end.
“HOLLOW EYES” by GUY N SMITH.
This one is a goodie! I man goes searching Halloween night for his arrant teen age daughter who’s run away with her delinquent boyfriend. He soon discovers that what used to be considered teen age seasonal hijinks have taken a very nasty and deadly turn. I would have been disappointed if this one didn’t have an awful end.
“THE HALLOWEEN HOUSE” by ALAN RYAN.
A group of teenagers decided to visit a local haunted house on Halloween and run into something straight out of one of Manly Wade Wellman’s “Silver John” stories.
This one is a great “spooky” Halloween story.
“THREE FACES OF THE NIGHT” by CRAIG SHAW GARDNER.
This has to be the most ambitious story in the collection. A young man has a Halloween encounter with a Warlock neighbour which changes his life. This one is just to weird to even bother describing. Let’s just say he becomes a force of evil and leave it at that.
“PUMPKIN” by BILL PRONZINI.
If your hired hands advise you to leave the evil pumpkin alone and to let it simply rot on the vine, then maybe you should listen to them. This is a very simple, but effective Halloween shocker. I enjoyed it.
“LOVER IN THE WILDWOOD” by FRANK BELKNAP LONG.
An old woman in a nursing home convinces her care giver to sneak her out of the home on Halloween night so that she can meet her lover for one last tryst. This one is a surprisingly sweet and touching story written by pulp meister Long. It’s a wonderfully written story.
“APPLES” by RAMSEY CAMPBELL.
“Apples” is a wonderful non-cryptic Halloween story about a group of kids who steal some apples out of their weird old neighbors garden and the crazy shit that goes down on Halloween as he take supernatural revenge. This story shows what I love so much abour most of Mr. Campbell’s writing. It’s also the only other story next to “Lover in the Wildwood” that doesn’t end in God awful horror and death.
“PRANKS” by ROBERT BLOCH.
“Pranks” is the kind of Robert Bloch story that has all of his strengths and none of his weaknesses. There are no stupid puns or black humour in the story. Think of it as really good EC horror with out any of the gallows humor or eye winking. Trick or Treat goes horribly wrong for 13 children and their parents. If you have children then this one will be keeping you up nights!
I think the “Hallowe’en Horrors” is a very solid anthology of Halloween stories that never stray from the theme. I strongly recommend that you seek out this book and buy if you can find an affordable copy.
Take care and thanks for stopping by!
Here's a new Halloween Anthology that's still in Print!
It reprints many of the stories that appeared earlier in the classic and sadly out of print "October Dreams".