Clive Barker's introduction is as good as the stories themselves, stating in regards to the melding of horror and erotica that "In an age when characters in all manner of fiction have forsaken their blushes to fornicate, horror fiction clings to its underwear with a nunnish zeal." Since Scared Stiff was first published in 1988, this was one of the influential books that led to the production of more erotica in horror, such as the Hot Blood series.
There are only seven tales in this collection, making it a wonderful traveling companion or vacation book. Starting with `Dolls', we visit a quiet village and the witch's coven that conjures the devil during orgies, leading to `The Other Woman', a tale of an artist's obsession with his work bleeding over onto the canvas of his own life.
Next is `Liliths', probably my favorite story in the compilation. A strange shop appears out of nowhere, and a man makes a purchase that changes his life. A life sized doll that fills him with compulsive behavior. `The Seductress' is a low-key suspense tale, of obsessive love and a mother's revenge. `Stages' tells of us a deadly combination of $ex, drugs, and voyeurism. `Loveman's Comeback' speaks of possession, and the lengths one will go to in order to break out of a bad relationship. And finally, `Merry May' is about wandering into a strange town, and finding their odd celebration a little more than you can handle.
While in comparison to today's erotic horror, Scared Stiff is a bit tame for this blossoming genre, but Ramsey Campbell's early foray into this forbidden realm truly opened doors for those of us who enjoy peeking into the bloody rooms to find titillating delights within. If you are really a fan of visceral lust run amok, then you should own a copy of Scared Stiff. Enjoy!
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