I felt bad about giving another book in this series, Seeds of Fear, such a poor review. So, on the theory that the first book in the series is probably the best, I tracked down an inexpensive copy at a used bookstore. I found the Pinnacle reprint from 2004; the anthology was originally published in 1989.
Unlike the other volume, this one includes several well-known authors (Richard Matheson, Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch, Theodore Sturgeon), and several of the stories have previously appeared in various sci-fi, horror, or mens magazines.
A brief introduction reveals the theme of this collection: the authors' favorite sexual nightmares.
The 24 short stories are:
- On a business trip, a man finds himself instantly obsessed with a woman on the elevator.
- The Likeness of Julie
- A college student develops a sudden lust for a homely girl in his English class.
- The Thang
- A man seeks voodoo help for a size problem.
- Menage a Trois
- An elderly, handicapped lady takes an unusual interest in her handyman and nurse's aide.
- Mr. Right
- A woman seeks a doctor's help when her lover is a master of sexual pleasure... and psychotic.
- Blood Night
- A man's dreams - inspired by his reading - seem quite vivid. And leave marks...
- Through his dreams, a man is experiencing new sensations.
- On a nature walk, a man meets an old lady in need of help.
- Bug House
- Running away from her marriage, a woman finds her aunt in poor health, living in dilapidated housing.
- Vengeance Is.
- A stranger in a bar seeks information about two local men.
- The Unkindest Cut
- A man is forced to seek a doctor.
- A man can't stop dreaming about his high school sweetheart from 20 years ago.
- A child of the night comes to Paris.
- Pretty is...
- A beautiful college student is used to getting her way.
- Aunt Edith
- A man finds himself completely bound, being rushed into a cave...
- Daughter of the Golden West
- Bob has disappeared.
- Meat Market
- Done with the healing process, Tom is ready to date again.
- The Voice
- They fell in love over the radio...
- The Model
- A tale from an insane asylum, about a man on a cruise...
- Carnal House
- She's home dying, but he keeps coming back to his lover...
- They're Coming For You
- It was a mistake to come home early from work...
- Suzie Sucks
- A men's room prank... or is it?
- Man recalls time spent as a youth with the church organist.
- Red Light
- Only one man really knows what happened to a missing fashion model.
These generally well-written stories touch on such topics as enforced feminization, sex toys, monsters, fetishism, bondage, sadomasochism, and necrophilia, and vary from sheer fantasy to psychological horror. Many of the stories exhibit wry or dark humor, and one story is even comic in tone.
Some of these stories are also quite original, ranging from new perspectives on vampirism to a technique for reviving zombies. Others are repetitive in plot ("oh no! She's a monster!" again?), but with enough variety to still be interesting. Despite the anthology's pitch of "erotic horror," the emphasis here is on horror (often bloody) and sex (sometimes in detail), with few of the stories rising to the level of being erotic.
Obviously, readers not interested in topics involving sex and/or violence should not read this material.
Wargamers could mine these stories for horror campaign ideas (one story even involves fembots!).
If you can tolerate the subject material, this is an excellent anthology of horror stories.
Reviewed by Editor in Chief Bill .