Horror Author Aria Cain

The Vintage Horror Vault

The Vintage Horror Vault by Aria Cain

There are few things I love more than vintage horror — the language, the discretion, the restraint, then the unexpected Grand Guignol excess. From films by Hammer and Amicus to pulp magazines and Penny Dreadfuls, I can’t get enough. The digital age has brought much of this full circle. Long lost or forever archived works (whether masterpieces or best left forgotten) are finding new life on the Internet.

In the flickering dark, DailyMotion accounts like Film Gorillas are archiving digital copies of some of the best (and worst) horror flicks ever committed to celluloid. Films you may only otherwise find on a dusty VHS tape or at a midnight cult screening now appear at the click of a button. Don’t believe me? Why not sample Die Sister Die, Don’t Open the Door, or the classic Black Christmas. If those don’t satisfy you, there are dozens of others to choose from.

If you prefer your terror typeset, browse over to the Internet Archive. A volunteer staff has digitized more than 41 million texts, preserving them for future generations. While many of the novels and scripts are of dubious quality (and only provided on a short-term, lending basis), the real treasure here lies in the wealth of early horror magazines available for download. Following you’ll find three of my favorites.

Early Pulp Magazines

First launched in 1922, Weird Tales is still anthologized today. Called “the most important and influential of all fantasy magazines,” Tales was the first to feature H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos stories, a style that other Tales authors soon mimicked as the subject skyrocketed in popularity. Other authors, such as Seabury Quinn, Robert Bloch, and E. Hoffmann Price, made their names among the periodical’s pages, adding to a unique blend of horror, fantasy, science fiction, and supernatural. The editors were known for pushing the boundaries of genre, social morals, and (broadly defined) good taste. The result was a heady mix of pre-Code horror and suspense that was never rivalled.

View Weird Tales on the Internet Archive > 

One of Tales’ earliest competitors, Ghost Stories published a few dozen issues in the 1920s and 30s. Unlike its predecessor, Stories focused exclusively on tales of the supernatural and occult. Many of the submissions were presented as true-life accounts, often written by better-known authors under a pseudonym. The magazine also included reprints of stories by the likes of Agatha Christie (“The Last Séance,” partial inspiration for the lamentable A Haunting in Venice), H. G. Wells (“The Red Room”), and Charles Dickens (“The Signal Man”). Despite a strong launch, the publication failed to catch on with the public. After a change of owners and publishers, it folded for good in 1932.

View Ghost Stories on the Internet Archive >

Twelve years after Weird Tales jolted the pulp magazine marketplace, Terror Tales (and sister publication Horror Stories a year later) upped the ante with a focus on the shocking, macabre, and horrific. Blending the horror tropes of the earlier Tales with the weird menace genre of pubs like Dime Mystery Magazine, Terror and Horror pushed the envelope with lurid titles, shocking prose, and provocative cover art. With the advent of World War II, paper shortages devastated the pulp industry. Both magazines closed shop in 1941, although wildly popular publisher Popular Publications kept its doors open until the early 1970s.

View Terror Tales on the Internet Archive >

View Horror Stories on the Internet Archive >

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Horror Author Aria Cain

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