Horrormeister Jones defends his collections against Internet carpings that he favors British writers in his horror annual. While two thirds of the present one is British, that’s not the usual balance. And much British material was first published in the US, while other stuff was taken from e-books and small press publications.
The 72-page introduction is astounding, a survey of the horror field for the past year that covers every nook and cranny, from George Lucas’s $400 million earnings to Stephen King’s e-book flop with The Plant to his new $40 million three-book contract with Simon & Schuster, and $65 million earnings, to J. K. Rowlings’s $42 million rake in and the failed plagiarism suit against her. Jones goes deep underground as well, assisted by Kim Newman, in rounding up the dead for the collection’s 40-page annual necrology: farewell Curt Siodmak (age 98), scripter of Universal’s The Wolf Man and dozens of other horror flicks, goodbye Robert Cormier and L. Sprague de Camp, adieu John Gielgud of Frankenstein: The True Story, and a deep bow to stage actor/director Stuart Lancaster (Batman Returns, as well as the lead in Hamlet for a Little Theatre production in which the present reviewer played Bernardo 45 years ago). Top choices herein include two excerpts from Kim Newman’s coming fourth Anno Dracula volume, Johnny Alucard, a film noir piece. In “Castle in the Desert,” a detective meets a 550-year-old lady vampire who tells him about Noah Cross (the John Huston character in Chinatown) moving all the stones of Manderley to the desert in 1920, while in Newman’s “The Other Side of Midnight,” a hymn to Orson Welles and his unfinished “The Other Side of the Wind,” Welles is filming the last days of Dracula, with John Huston as the lead. Also on hand: Thomas Ligotti, Ramsey Campbell, Kathe Koja.
As ever, the finest horror collection going, with no leaning on hackwork.