STEPHEN KING'S DANSE MACABRE by Stephen King
Kirkus Star

STEPHEN KING'S DANSE MACABRE

KIRKUS REVIEW

An informal overview of where the horror genre has been over the last thirty years"--by its most financially successful practitioner. And when King says "informal," he really means it. Mixing autobiography with literary/film criticism with sheer horror-freak gush, he rambles through dozens of titles, subgenres, and theories of horror-esthetics--in a sloppy, repetitive, sometimes funny, rarely original ghoulash. . . which often descends to the level of a jivey, junior-high-school bull session. "Is horror art?" King says it is--when it hits those "phobic pressure points" as well as working on the "gross-out" level. And he traces most of the formulas back to the big three: Frankenstein, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (In a typically woozy lapse, King says Frankenstein "is the best written of the three," and a few pages later says that Jekyll and Hyde is "undoubtedly the best written.") Then come childhood memories of Creature from the Black Lagoon and of radio chills--followed by: roundups of horror movies with "political-social-cultural" terrors; top honors to "mythic" horror movies (e.g. Dawn of the Dead); favorite good moments from rotten horror movies; and a brief overview of horror on TV, with highest marks to Outer Limits but most fulsome attention to Twilight Zone and Rod Serling ("television ate him up"). Finally, then, King turns to horror fiction itself with long discussions of ten representative books (classics by Shirley Jackson and Ray Bradbury, as well as Anne Rivers Siddons' The House Next Door--included, perhaps, for its clear connections to the King oeuvre). Throughout, there are the familiar horror-analysis themes--psychological, social, sexual ("the sex in Dracula can be seen as the ultimate zipless fuck")--dispensed in pop style; plus defenses of the genre as essentially moral and conservative. And the resulting mishmash of rap and trivia should be an orgy of fun for horror/fantasy buffs--if not for the full measure of the King-fiction readership.
Pub Date: April 20th, 1981
ISBN: 0896961001
Publisher: Everest
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1981




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