KING, STEPHEN – DANSE MACABRE 1981 Warner Books.
The title is deliberately mi-spelt for effect, as worked quite well for King’s novel Pet Semetary, but as Danse is a non-fiction work, the distortion is a little pointless. Tat said, this is an excellent history and appreciation of all aspects of the horror genre by one of the leading writers in the field. King looks at he fascination we have for being frightened out of our wits, and explores the work of writers from Mary Shelley, through Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker, etc, up to modern goosbump raisers like James Herbert and Ramsey Campbell. He also looks at the horror movie, from The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari to The Exorcist. He also takes in macabre comics like the Tales From The Crypt series, which included graphic images of people playing baseball with human body parts for bat and ball. King is scathing towards those who think that they are unaffected by horror. He challenges anyone to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and then spend the night in a derelict house on a building site. He is convinced that they would be taken away to an asylum if they stayed all night. The anecdotes come thick and fast and are written with genuine love and affection for the genre. It is good to see King’s influences at work here. On the film, The Man With The X-Ray Eyes, (starring Ray Miland), King refers to the ending we never saw. The film ends horribly enough. Miland, having experimented with -Ray vision, is driven insane when he can’t even close his eyelids and sees through the fabric of the Universe into the eyes of God himself. Crazed, and standing before an incredulous priest, he rips his own eyes out of their sockets. The film ends on a frozen image of his empty eye-sockets. The bit we don’t see, as it was deemed too horrible for us, was the final line of dialogue when Miland screams that he can still see. There is a useful index of films, books, etc cited and the book is as worthy for study as any of King’s early novels. http://www.horrorking.com/skeleton.html
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