|Reginald Easton's miniature of Mary Shelley|
is allegedly drawn from her death mask (c. 1857)
Frankenstein: Grandmother of the horror genre. Written at the tender age of 18 as part of a friendly competition between herself, Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley to write a "ghost story" during a rainy weekend in the country. Unfortunately her story which is based on what it means to be truly human, with the Monster being literate, reading Paradise Lost and sympathizing with Milton's heroic Satan figure, becoming eloquent, kind, and well-mannered, has been reduced in film after film to a shambolic monstrosity. Still, its impact cannot be denied, as evidenced by refernces in Eando Bender's I Robot short story (not to be confused with the Asimov anthology of the same name, or the Will Smith blockbuster), in which the humanoid robot reads Frankenstein (mirroring The Monster's reading of Paradise Lost) during his own existential search for meaning and humanity. The story has such staying power that modern horror writer Dean Koontz has even penned a quadrilogy of "sequels" set in modern times in which Victor Frankenstein is alive and well, as is his famous creation. Shelley has left such an impact on the modern psyche that to this day many educated people continue to refer to The Monster as simply "Frankenstein."
Dracula: This book put vampires on the map, and they've been here to stay ever since. Like Shelley's Frankenstein, Stoker used the technique of multiple narratorive perspectives to craft a masterpiece. In a preview of how popular and enduring the story would be, the first film adaptation, Nosferatu, was produced during the lifetime of Stoker's widow, and was such a blatant rip-off that it prompted a court case which was eventually resolved in Stoker's favour. Though Stoker's Count Dracula is a far cry from the sexy vampires of today (we forget the long nails and hairy palms), Stoker's work was seminal in establishing vampire writing as a horror genre unto itself. Without Dracula, it is arguable that we would have no Lestat, no Angel, no Blade, no Lost Boys, and no Edward (though that last would not have been much of a loss.)
3. Shaun Hutson
|My all time fave Horror novel.|
2. James Herbert
| Portent a shinning|
example of Herbert's
fascination with the
1. Clive Barker
When you mention Barker, most people immediately think Pinhead. Described as one of the leading horror writers, Barker's incredible body of work includes The Damnation Game, The Books of Blood (1-3 and 4-6), Cabal, (adapted to film as Nightbreed), Weaveworld, The Great and Secret Show, and of course, The Hellbound Heart, which Barker himself adapted and directed in the classic Hellraiser film. Barker describes his own work as "dark fantasy," though horror elements are front and center in most of his writings. Barker deftly constructs entire other worlds alongside our own, and deals with questions of sexuality and the supernatural in a compelling yet disturbing fashion. No less than Stephen King said, "I have seen the future of horror, his name is Clive Barker." He is also a skilled visual artist, as I mentioned in a previous post. Other of Barker's works adapted to the silver screen include Lord of Illusions, Midnight Meat Train, Dread, The Forbidden (released as Candyman), and "Clive Barker's Books of Blood."
Here's a great Barker interview with Craig Ferguson. Bear with the slight video glitch at 3:44 just as Barker mentions Hellraiser. I blame Pinhead. Jesus Wept!