You know the routine: you walk into that used bookstore, the one with the loose floorboards and the bookshelves that are held together by two-by-fours jammed in-between them; they’re kind of dangerous, those shelves, but who cares? You don’t. You’re kind of … well … poking-around-but-not-really, because, deep down, you’re serious. You know what you’re looking for, what you want. You’re on your way. You’re headed to the Horror Section.

I love the thrill of the hunt. The book hunt, I mean—there is something scary-cool about finding a gem in a local used bookstore. So, as you may have guessed, I walked into that used bookstore, the one with the loose floorboards and the bookshelves that are held together by two-by-fours; they’re kind of dangerous, those shelves, but who cares? It’s what’s in the shelves, man—that’s what I care about. I entered into the Horror Section, and, boy, did I find a gem, one I’m proud to be reviewing.

It’s actually an anthology, though, and before you groan and click off the page (saying, “oh, great, here he goes, the new guy, spouting off about some lame collection of stuff we’ve all read before; kill me, won’t you, please?”), let me promise that this is the perfect anthology to pitch to the Horror Drive-In crowd.

The anthology is called ‘The Ghouls’, edited by Peter Haining, and it’s a paperback that was published in April 1972. The book contains 18 stories, some short, some a little longer in length. But here’s the kicker: all 18 stories are collected together in this one volume because each story has brought about a movie, and nearly every movie represented by this collection is what we now consider a classic.

I mean, the thing was dedicated to the memory of Boris Karloff (“—gentleman of the cinema and the greatest Ghoul of them all,” it says …), so how could you go wrong? There is an introduction by Vincent Price, and an afterword by Christopher Lee. There is a cast/credits list in the very back of the book. And in the center, there are pictures of the old films—there is a great shot of the movie version of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, based off ‘The Fog Horn’, a short story written, of course, by Ray Bradbury!

The contents make it special, though. Freaks by Tod Robbins, The Fly by George Langelaan, The Oblong Box by Edgar Allen Poe, The Devil in a Covent by Francis Oscar Mann, and All That Money Can Buy by Stephen Vincent Benét, to name a few of the selections (most all of them are enjoyable, even Somerset Maugham’s The Magician, although I’m not a huge Maugham man). You really could read a story out of this book only to then watch the movie straight away after, and be entertained for a good, long while.

For the sake of this review, I won’t go into detail on each story. Instead, I’ll post a list of the contents below. You’ll thank me for that later, believe me. Stories are in generous supply in ‘The Ghouls’.

The best part, though? For me, the best part is that it’s in paperback form and cheap (although the cover says $1.25 and I bought my copy for $2.00; some used bookstore that was, huh?). Now, I love hardcovers. I always have and I always will. But, if you want something to take with you on the go—something that isn’t an e-book, say—here is this little anthology, and, hey, once you finish a story (while sitting on the library john, perhaps, or while waiting in the line of your favorite coffee shop), you can go home and watch the movie and answer that question, the one that will be carved into Mark Sieber’s tombstone: which was better, the movie or the book?


Introduction, Vincent Price

The Devin in a Convent, Francis Oscar Mann

The Lunatics, Edgar Allen Poe

Puritan Passions, Nathaniel Hawthorne

Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux

The Magician, Somerset Maugham

Freaks, Tod Robbins

Most Dangerous Game, Richard Connell

Dracula’s Daughter, Bram Stoker

All That Money Can Buy, Stephen Vincent Benét

The Body Snatcher, Robert Louis Stevenson

The Beast With Five Fingers, W.F. Harvey

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, Ray Bradbury

The Fly, George Langelaan

Black Sunday, Nikolai Gogol

Incident at Owl Creek Bridge, Ambrose Bierce

Monster of Terror, H.P. Lovecraft

The Skull, Robert Bloch

The Oblong Box, Edgar Allen Poe

Afterword, Christopher Lee

Cast and Credits

Review by David M. Wilson

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