Stephen King's Danse Macabre Hardcover – Jan 1983
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In the fall of 1978 (between The Stand and The Dead Zone), Stephen King taught a course at the University of Maine on "Themes in Supernatural Literature." As he writes in the foreword to this book, he was nervous at the prospect of "spending a lot of time in front of a lot of people talking about a subject in which I had previously only felt my way instinctively, like a blind man." The course apparently went well, and as with most teaching experiences, it was as instructive, if not more so, to the teacher as it was to the students. Thanks to a suggestion from his former editor at Doubleday, King decided to write Danse Macabre as a personal record of the thoughts about horror that he developed and refined as a result of that course.
The outcome is an utterly charming book that reads as if King were sitting right there with you, shooting the breeze. He starts on October 4, 1957, when he was 10 years old, watching a Saturday matinee of Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. Just as the saucers were mounting their attack on "Our Nation's Capital," the movie was suddenly turned off. The manager of the theater walked out onto the stage and announced, "The Russians have put a space satellite into orbit around the earth. They call it ... Spootnik."
That's how the whole book goes: one simple, yet surprisingly pertinent, anecdote or observation after another. King covers the gamut of horror as he'd experienced it at that point in 1978 (a period of about 30 years): folk tales, literature, radio, good movies, junk movies, and the "glass teat". It's colorful, funny, and nostalgic--and also strikingly intelligent. --Fiona Webster --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The indisputable king of horror TIME One of the few horror writers who can truly make the flesh creep SUNDAY EXPRESS --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The stated goal of the book is cover Horror from 1950 to 1980. However, he cannot do this without turning to the horror "heavy-hitters" of literature - Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. According to King, these books define the three archetypes (he calls them "Tarot Cards") of horror - the Vampire, the Thing with No Name, and the Werewolf, respectively. (There is a fourth card for the Ghost or the Bad Place, but that can't be narrowed down to one book.)
He discusses movies, books, and television. What is refreshing is how critical King is - even about his own novels. He has bad things to say about a lot of popular works - he will annoy fans of The Exorcist, The Twilight Zone, and other popular books. But, as any lover of horror movies must admit, King opens up about his love of bad movies and even finds nice things to say about the movies, The Amityville Horror and The Prophecy. (I am also shocked about how many nice things he has to say about Stanley Kubrick and The Shining - a film he supposedly doesn't like.)
Fortunately, I had read most of the books and seen most of the movies that King discusses.Read more ›
The very pleasant host rightfully presumes to address horror fans but I didn’t mind being in the minority. I loved the external vantage point and believe my journey was exceptional for it. With knowledge of only a few of the most infamous horror shows, films, and books; I was an utterly blank slate as a pupil. Having no impressions of the titles we analyzed, put me in a rare position of fully gleaning the meaning of <b>Stephen’s</b> examples. I wasn’t reminiscing but learning: there’s a difference between horror and terror, how we scare from culture to culture and decade to decade. Why the entertainment mediums of radio, television and theatre excelled in some eras over others.
Even though horror isn’t for me, I would like <b>Stephen</b> to know I feel enriched by his explanations of what the appeal is. Fans admit many aspects are cheesy and unlikely but they sift for gems: a moment that is undeniably scary, superb presentation in words or technical artistry, and genuine platforms illuminating our societal positions. There is nothing trite about the implications of horror’s subject matter and our reactions to it. This education about fear and suspense is essential to any author. I felt absolutely enlightened throughout.
Also included are two appendixes, one for films and one for books that make great to watch/ to read lists. Many of the books and films suggested are out of print or have moratorium status, which will prompt a treasure hunt for avid fans. The only fault with this book is that Mr. King hasn't updated it or written a sequel since the book is almost twenty years old! An inspiring and informative book.
In terms of sheer fun, this book is a goldmine and very well thought out. You can read a chapter separately, or read the whole thing at one shot, but you keep going back to it and rereading it.
Especially useful to film fans and scholars is King's analysis and dissection of the horror movie. I'm recommending this to a friend of mine in the hopes that he will loosen up a bit after reading King's sometimes-hilarious take on the truly awful horror movies out there.
"Danse Macabre" is both a lot of fun and a great study of an often misunderstood genre. Take a look!
Most recent customer reviews
Stephen King talks about horror and horror films. How could you not want to know his thoughts and feelings. It's a great book for horror fans.Published on July 16 2014 by Jazz Virk
Aside from a mark on the bottom of the book it was in mint condition. No creases on the spine or covers. No tears on the pages.Published on Jan. 31 2014 by Jason Mercier
I'm re-reading Stephen King's books in chronological order and this was the next book in line. I can now tell exactly how old I was when I originally read his books because this... Read morePublished on Dec 14 2013 by Nicola Mansfield
This book, written using the author's notes from a college course he taught, explores the techniques that horror writers, filmmakers, and television producers use to scare us,... Read morePublished on Feb. 19 2013 by John M. Ford
Mr. King introduces several chapters in this book with apologies, along the lines of, "I hate to do this to you, but now I'm going to explain ... Read morePublished on July 13 2004 by Brian
I bought Danse Macabre when I was still in high school and read it so many times that it fell apart. Read morePublished on June 23 2004 by Amazon Customer
When I opened this book, I thought I was going to read the insights of a master of fright fiction, what I found were rambling anecdotes and recollections.
Mr. Read more
And pictures, too! Good ones! King is one of those writers who
has never known when to shut up, but I'll make an exception in the case of this book. Read more
I have probably read "Danse Macabre" more times than I have any other book. Most rereads occur when there is nothing else to do, since the book seems to always just be... Read morePublished on Oct. 7 2002 by Michael Allen
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