HORROR FICTION – There are 2 main horror fiction sub genres, with further delineations and specificity. Classic slasher, serial killer and gore–undiluted by any paranormal or fantasy element–features a psychopath/s on a murderous killing spree. These always take place in a conventional world but flexibility happens at times with alternate timelines/ histories. Supernatural horror covers everything else: a creature, supernatural entity, monster, ghost, etc. These stories take place in a conventional world with the monster inserted. Or in an imagined world built from pure fantasy. Either variety (slasher or supernatural) can be told from the point of view of the killer/ monster, the victim or both. Obviously, some stories blend both elements. As part of speculative fiction (supernatural, fantasy, superhero, science fiction, horror, etc.), supernatural horror features worlds with fantasy or futuristic elements. Classic slasher is closely related to crime and thrillers, but the focus is on the act of terror itself, not the crime and investigation elements.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 1818
A scientist develops a technique to impart life into a non-living humanoid, pieced together from collected parts.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde 1890
A hedonist wishes his image would age instead of himself. He experiments with every vice, influenced by a morally poisonous French novel. 

Dracula by Bram Stoker 1897
When a solicitor visits a Transylvanian castle, he soon realizes he’s the Count’s prisoner.

The Call of Cthulhu by H. P. Lovecraft 1928
A writer working on a manuscript discovers a cult that worships the Great Old Ones and awaits the return of a monstrous being.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson 1959
A paranormal investigator rents Hill House for a summer, inviting guests who have had past paranormal encounters.

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty 1971
Two priests attempt to exorcise a demon from the 12 year old daughter of a famous actress.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice 1976
A vampire tells a reporter about an encounter, whereby another vampire turned him into his immortal companion.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King 1983

When a doctor and his family moves into a new house, his elderly neighbor warns him about the highway that runs past them.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis 1991

An investment banker narrates his midnight murders in Manhattan during the late 80s. 

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill 2007
An aging collector of the macabre gets more than he bargained for when he buys a heart-shaped box. 


S31 Ep8: Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive

Best known for his Gothic horror tales and narrative poem “The Raven,” Poe’s stories are the basis of countless films and TV episodes, and have inspired even more, as has his name and image. Determined to re-invent American literature, Poe was an influential – and brutally honest – literary critic and magazine editor, who also invented the detective protagonist with his character C.



EDGAR ALLAN POE – Eliza Arnold, an angelic 18 year old widow, married David Poe, Jr. in 1806. She’d been a traveling stage actress since 8 years old, dubbed The Nightingale for her sweet voice. When David saw her perform, he decided to join her traveling troupe. Their first child was born in 9 months and their second, Edgar, was born in 1809. Times were tough for the young family, who relocated to New York City that same summer. David wasn’t doing well, partly because he was an angry drunk with stage fright. But also, because Eliza’s performances were lauded while his own were harshly criticized. He couldn’t handle the criticism, abandoning both the stage and his young family, 6 weeks later. Pregnant Eliza had a third child after he left. When she died in 1811, the children were split up amongst relatives. Edgar Poe was taken in by John Allan but remained forever marked by his mother’s death. In fact the deaths of women–his mother, adopted mother and wives–are recurrent themes in his important stories. His first recognized short story came in 1833, when he won a $50 prize for MS. Found in a Bottle. This success led to editorial work in early periodicals, writing short stories and publishing reviews. He took his literature reviews very seriously, which were usually scathing, earning him more than one enemy. He worked all day and then wrote fiction late into the night, always unstable since he couldn’t keep a job for long. Poe wrote in a range of genres to reach the widest possible audience. His C. Auguste Dupin tales spawned the detective genre including The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Mystery of Marie Roget and The Purloined Letter. He sold The Raven to The American Review for $9 in February 1845 under the pseudonym Quarles. Poe was found delirious in 1849 and taken to the hospital, where he died soon thereafter under circumstances that are mysterious to this day. He was buried after a 3 minute funeral attended by 7 people in a cheap coffin without a nameplate, cloth lining, or head cushion. Poe’s rival Rufus Wilmot Griswold wrote an obituary describing him as a mad, drunken, womanizing opium addict who based his darkest tales on personal experience. Today Poe remains best known for his most popular tales of gothic horror, which are relatively few in his larger body of work. 

1. The Cask of Amontillado
2. The Black Cat
3. The Tell-tale Heart
4. The Masque of the Red Death
5. The Fall of the House of Usher
6. The Pit and the Pendulum
7. The Premature Burial
8. Ligeia
9. Bernice 
10. William Wilson 
11. The Oval Portrait
12. Hop Frog 


HARDBOILED FICTION – Both hardboiled and noir crime fiction are rooted in dime novels, muckraking newspapers and pulp novels beginning in the depression and eventually going out of fashion by the sixties. A hardboiled protagonist is a cynical detective caught up in aftermath of violent crime or a corrupt legal system very often portrayed as an antihero. A noir protagonist is a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator with a self-destructive streak often put in a position to victimize self or others, trapped in a losing situation. The following are some of my favorites. Enjoy! ­­­­

The Maltese Falcon (1930)
Dashiell Hammett
When a detective’s partner is shot, he finds trouble, desperate to track down a valuable treasure.

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934)
James Cain
A drifter gets himself caught up in a bizarre love triangle.

The Big Sleep (1939)
Raymond Chandler
A PI agrees to help a family with a case of gambling debt but once the murders begin, he finds himself in over his head.

The Black Curtain (1941)
Cornell Woolrich
An amnesiac can’t remember anything yet finds himself identified as a murder suspect.

I, The Jury (1947)
Mickey Spillane
A tough detective investigates the brutal murder of his best friend.

The Nine Wrong Answers 1952
John Dickson Carr
A whodunit featuring a series of nine incorrect answers, leading up to the final correct answer.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955)
Patricia Highsmith
A father gets more trickery than he bargained for when he asks a supposed friend for help to convince his playboy son to come home.