It all began with Dime Mystery Magazine in 1933. Its brand of fiction came to be called Weird Menace. The mystery-and-menace formula proved so successful that publisher Popular Publications threw all pretense to the wind and issued a companion title unashamedly dubbed Terror Tales. The slant, or formula, was simple: "Terror Tales wants the eerie atmosphere, in which the menace is centralized against one character or one group of characters, who, above all, are thoroughly terrified by their helpless situation." If you recognize the motif, it's classic Hollywood horror fare, still in vogue today. When the blood-stained Terror Tales went into the black and stayed there, Popular Publications decided to add Horror Stories. This completed the triumvirate of terror edited by Rogers Terrill that dominated the Weird menace genre all through the 1930s. As one editor told writers, "Horror Stories needs the bizarre and the horrible; monsters, torture, butchery-anything that is really horrible. The mystery angle is not so important here." In other words, damn the plot. Pour on the menace!
Horror Stories debuted in 1935. It immediately ran into trouble. After the third issue, the magazine vanished from the stands for two full months. It's unclear why. But once it returned, Horror Stories kept going. The same crew who filled the pages of the other terror titles got busy keeping this offering on schedule. They comprised a Who's Who of Popular Publications pulp giants, yarn spinners such as Norvell W. Page, Frederick C. Davis, Wyatt Blassingame, Paul Ernst, Arthur Leo Zagat, Francis James, John H. Knox, and Arthur J Burks. Once again, we've combed through innumerable issues to cull the best - or should we say worst? - offerings torn from the torturous pages of Horror Stories. These terrific tales have been handed to Milton Bagby, who delivers them with gruesome gusto. Listen with the lights on. You might end up sleeping the same way.
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