12 November 2009

Forgotten Books: KILLERS AT LARGE, Alfred Hitchcock

This week's contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books.

This is one of the intriguing titles in my little green record book. I read KILLERS AT LARGE towards the end of 1988. So what was it?

According to Alfred's Place, "Uncaged terror when Hitchcock lets loose 14 masters of shock-suspense!" Dell. © 1978 Davis Publications. 223 pages. "A Hitchcock's-eye view of a world of evil. Alfred Hitchcock invites you to join him in exploring the lower depths of human deviltry and the heights of hair-raising suspense.
He has generously provided 14 excruciatingly exciting novelettes and stories to transport you far beyond the borders of safety into the realm of cunning, violence, and perverse poetic justice. And he has personally selected the finest of modern storytellers to be your irresistible guides.
Here are unforgettable terror tales by
Richard Deming, Elijah Ellis, Richard Hardwick, Glenn Canary, Max Van Derveer, Philip Ketchum, James Holding, Richard O. Lewis, Donald Honig, William Brittain, Fletcher Flora, F.J. Smith, Arthur Porges, C.B.Gilford.
From the Introduction by Mr. H. - "I now invite you to entertain yourself with the works of another group of specialists, the contrivers of the superb suspense tales that follow. I promise you that you will find their specialty a nerve-tingling delight."

Some of us moved naturally from a diet of Edgar Allan Poe's nightmarish tales into selections like this, sometimes via English Gothic novels, and of course Hitchcock catered for us by making books and stories like Daphne du Maurier's DON'T LOOK NOW, REBECCA, and THE BIRDS into films to both horrify and delight.

It's interesting to me that none of the names in the KILLERS AT LARGE collection mean anything to me now. But I think that may have been the point. It was a chance for an author to get a single story into a Hitchcock collection, and perhaps through that get stories into other anthologies. Look at the lists of authors in the anthologies listed at Alfred's Place, and you'll see others that are familiar.

Fantastic Fiction
lists another dozen or so Hitchcock collections.


Anonymous said...

Kerrie - I'm so glad you decided to highlight this collection : ). I've got book - read it several times - and there really are some great short stories in it. One of my favorites is C.B. Gilford's Swamp Rat. There's a wonderful use of setting to add to the tension and suspense.

Dorte H said...

Great post, and thank you for sharing that cartoon!

Deb said...

Although Hitchcock did direct "Rebecca" and "The Birds" (plus "Jamaica Inn") from works by Daphne du Maurier, another director (Nicholas Roeg?) made "Don't Look Now." It was very explicit--especially for the time period. I don't think Hitch would have ever filmed those sex scenes!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Great picture. I bet there are a million more like it out there.

Todd Mason said...

Kerrie, this is one of a long series (actually more than one series) of anthologies drawn from the pages fo ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, not edited by Hitchcock but by the editors of the magazine (who would also ghost the introductions for Hitchcok, who was on the verge of becoming a ghost himself). The writers you cite are almost all notable veterans, an Edgar winner or two mixed in I believe, and unsurprisingly were frequent contributors to AHMM in the '60s and '70s. Dell had published a series of such anthos drawn from AHMM at least since the early '60s, while also publishing reprints of the longer ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: anthologies that Robert Arthur ghosted for Random House (Dell would reprint those in two-volume sets). After David Publications bought AHMM, they started publishing magazine versions of the reprint books as ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S ANTHOLOGY to go along with their longstanding ELLERY QUEEN'S ANTHOLOGY magazine issues (Davis had published EQMM since buying that magazine from Mercury Press in the late '50s). That caricature looks like it comes from one of the AHMM covers published during the Davis years.

Todd Mason said...

Deb, while Hitchcock never got as explicit as DON'T LOOK NOW the movie in sexual terms, FRENZY was moving in that direction, and the movie he abandoned before FRENZY had some footage of completely nude actresses...a first for him.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have the feeling we don't really want to know his romantic predilections.


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