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Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 18. Juli 2008


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This classic horror collection showcases the early career of one of the field's most influential and innovative writers. Much of Richard Matheson's work has found its way into pop culture: the title story became a memorable episode of television's The Twilight Zone, and horror aficionados reading "Prey" will immediately visualize Trilogy of Terror's Karen Black hunkered down with a butcher knife. But this collection's power lies in its wide-ranging exploration of style and subject and the literary skill that Matheson demonstrated right from the start of his career. Many of his stories were decidedly unconventional when published (most in the 1950s and early 1960s), and still have the power to shock or to satisfy with their graceful inevitability. Matheson is not primarily a monster writer: rather, he examines how we create monsters from our own fears and frailties, and sometimes become the monsters ourselves. Nightmare at 20,000 Feet is a must-have collection for Matheson fans and readers who like their horror spare, precise, and chilling. --Roz Genessee

Pressestimmen

"Be warned: you are in the hands of a writer who asks no quarter and gives none. He will wring you dry . . . and when you close this volume he will leave you with greatest gift a writer can give: he will leave you wanting more."-Stephen King, from his Introduction

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48 von 49 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A classic collection 21. Januar 2002
Von mrliteral - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
His name might not be as big as Stephen King's or Dean Koontz's, but Richard Matheson is nonetheless a master of horror fiction. Even if the name is not familiar, his works are: the title story has been shown in both Twilight Zone the TV show and movie and even been spoofed on the Simpsons. Another story in the collection, Prey, has also become a TV horror classic as part of the 70's movie, Trilogy of Terror. Matheson is also the author of the Incredible Shrinking Man, What Dreams May Come, Somewhere in Time, Stir of Echoes and I Am Legend.
In this set of short stories, Matheson shows he is worth all the praise he is given. The weakest of these stories are merely good and the best are not only great, but classics. Besides his talent to create fantastic horror scenarios and true suspense, he also can leave you thinking at the end of the story. In many of these tales, you are never quite certain if there is something supernatural going on or if it is all imagined by the main character. This intentional ambiguity, done incorrectly can frustrate the reader but in Matheson's hands, it adds an extra level of depth.
If you enjoy horror fiction, this collection is a must. It gives you an opportunity to read one of the most important and underrated persons in the genre.
36 von 37 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Wonderfully Wicked and Entertaining Tales 12. Juni 2003
Von Jeffrey Leach - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
In the introduction to this collection of classic Richard Matheson short stories, no less of a figure than Stephen King delivers oodles of praise to this author. According to King, Matheson emerged in a time (the 1950s and early 1960s) when the horror genre desperately needed a kick in the pants. King attributes his very existence as a horror writer to Matheson's influence. With that type of praise, the stories here need to live up to a tremendous standard, which they do easily. It should go without saying that Richard Matheson is the grandfather of modern horror; his stories created indelible impressions on millions of people when Hollywood translated "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" and "Prey" into memorable television moments. But nothing beats going to the source to see how the original stacks up to the adaptation. You will not be disappointed with this collection, I assure you.
This compilation starts off with the slam-bang "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," a story made into an episode of "The Twilight Zone" with William Shatner staring as the nervous wreck of a lead character. An unbalanced traveler on a flight through a rainstorm sees something terrible on the wing of the plane, something no one else sees and which paints him as a potential troublemaker to the flight crew. This man immediately associates the thing he sees with a gremlin, or creatures that WWII pilots claimed they saw in the skies over Europe while on their bombing runs. Whatever this thing is, time is running out because this humanoid is tearing up exterior parts of the plane. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be), our neurotic hero has a gun on the plane. When he takes action everyone thinks he is nuts, but is he? And will people think him crazy when they eventually see the outside of the plane?
Then there is "Prey," a story instantly familiar to anyone who ever saw Karen Black's performance in "The Trilogy of Terror." In this tale, a young woman named Amelia is planning to go out on a big date. She even bought a present for her beau, a Zuni fetish doll. Then Amelia's overbearing mother steps in and insinuates that Amelia needs to cancel the date in order to spend time with her instead. This is regrettable for Amelia because she is now cut off from the help she will soon need to survive. The doll is no gag gift; it holds the spirit of a real African warrior, and when the charm holding back the spirit in the doll falls off it comes alive and attacks Amelia. The twist ending is nice and scary.
Other stories are not as good in terms of real chills and thrills, but still show Matheson's attempts to challenge conventional narrative techniques in order to create a foreboding sense of doom. "The Dress of White Silk" tells the story of a weird, deceased mother through the crude, rambling baby talk of her young daughter. "Through Channels" takes the form of a police interrogation, with the "swish" of the tape recorder reminding us of the atmosphere the characters are in. These stories work, not because they are overwhelmingly scary, but because they reveal how to rework stories that are usually tired and formulaic (such as the vampire genre) into something that has real potential.
My favorite story in this book was "Disappearing Act." In this frightening description of a man not only losing his identity but also his very being, Matheson traces the increasingly eerie events that occur when a poor bloke realizes the people and places he has known for years either vanish completely or fail to recognize him as a corporeal reality. The chills come in the languid way Matheson unfolds the story, quietly escalating each new shocking realization towards a dreadfully wicked climax. The author never explains why or how this is happening, which makes it even more jarring. For what can be worse than losing your very existence while you are aware that it is occurring? The story makes you wonder how you would react in the same situation.
Nearly every type of horror story is present in this collection. Vampire tales, ghost stories, haunted towns, plagues, and yarns about psychotics all appear throughout the book. Stephen King almost certainly borrowed the plot of "Needful Things" from the Matheson story "The Distributor," a tale about a new neighbor who creates all sorts of problems for those living around him. In short, nearly every story here shows Matheson's huge influence on succeeding generations of horror hacks. The stories included in "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" makes me want to go out and pick up other classic Matheson collections, both his short stories and his novels. This author strikes quite a figure in the world of the horror fan, but he ought to be better known in the general population because his stories have a timeless quality to them that promise to entertain again and again.
13 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Twenty Horrific Hauntings 18. Mai 2002
Von Bruce Rux - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Each of the twenty Matheson short story/novella gems in this collection represents a separate haunting, of sorts. There are traditional haunted houses, haunted psyches, and beings from elsewhere who haunt and bedevil unsuspecting souls in strange places. Unlike most horror authors, Matheson excels both in the writing of novels and the writing of short stories, and each of these little nightmares are quite well-crafted.
The two showpieces, beginning and ending the book, are among the author's most famous stories. The former is the title of the book, in which a fearful flyer becomes engaged in a private little war with a gremlin that is dismantling the engine of the plane in which he is riding. This story was the concluding one of the Twilight Zone movie, and was probably the best known (or at least best remembered) of the original series. The latter, "Prey," was adapted into the central piece of two Dan Curtis T.V. movies, Trilogy of Terror and Trilogy of Terror II. "Prey" revolves around a Zuni fetish doll called "He Who Kills," who - needless to say - lives up to his name.
These two stories alone are worth the price of admission, but Matheson has included eighteen more from his early 1950s to late 1960s period, when he was at his peak. Among them are found psychopathic interlopers, men driven mad with their own rage or paranoid obsessions, psychotics, ghosts, vampires, unearthly predators...something for everyone.
I am a lifelong Matheson fan, and was surprised at the number of stories in this collection I had never seen before. I meant to savor them over at least a week, but found myself reading the whole lot from start to finish in a single sitting - without even going to the bathroom!
Highly recommended for all fans of horror stories, and lovers of short stories in general. Matheson is a genuine master.
8 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Excellent collection 11. April 2002
Von K. H. ZAINAL - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Included in this collection are twenty of Richard Matheson's best tales of horror. These stories were written some forty-fifty years ago and the fact that they still manage to chill and thrill proves its lastability and Matheson's talent as a writer.
Many will probably remember the "Nightmare..." tale from the Twilight Zone episode and movie but any of the others would have fitted nicely in that series as well.
Not all of the tales have a supernatural tinge to them. Some are purposely left ambiguous (yet still sinister), while others suggest that man's greatest enemy is man himself. All of them, though, can make your skin crawl, your spine chill and your heart beat just a little bit faster.
And leave you wanting more...much more.
8 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A Collection that is, in certain pieces, absolutely riveting 8. April 2007
Von Jordan Edward - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Richard Matheson penned strikingly resonant short fictions of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, the best of which he produced during the 1950s up until the early 1960s. During this period of production, Matheson's themes of alienation and of a method, through alienation, in which our perception of reality can be blurred or transfigured to the point that nightmarish improbabilites manifest themselves as physical forces that are very real and very threatening.

This collection showcases some of Matheson's best short fiction but is certainly not "all thriller and no filler". I rate the collection five stars because the stories that are worthy of considerable attention are some of best examples of American short fiction in any genre or study. Half of the stories, however, fall incredibly short of the same worthiness.

The best of the collection showcases Matheson's ability to transcend the horror genre to illustrate the dreadful aspects of the American experience.

"The Distributor" is the finest story in the collection. Published in 1958, it still grips the reader today. Matheson utilizes a minimalist writing style to brilliant effect in a story about the random element of a disciplined sadist named Theodore disrupting the rational order of a typical American neighborhood when his small, purposeful actions cull much larger prejudices and hidden hatred from the neighborhood residents.

"Legion of Plotters" is on an equal level with "The Distributor" in written execution. It deals directly with alienation as a solitary man is driven to unreasonable means of explaining the common, everyday annoyances of American life. Like "The Distributor", the story is carried swiftly to a perfectly executed climax and an ending expression that our lives are, in fact, governed by forces beyond our control.

"The Likeness of Julie", "First Anniversary" and "Disappearing Act" round out the best stories in the collection. All three explore a character's struggle once beset by an unexplainable set of circumstances. Unlike "Legion of Plotters" or "The Distributor", these stories use supernatural reasoning to explain the improbable circumstances. All three feature male protagonists that, in "The Likeness of Julie", force themselves to act upon buried desires; or, in "First Anniversary", are confronted by a discovery that living the dream of the good life may, in fact, be a nightmare; or, in "Disappearing Act", the existential terror of falling out of existence alltogether.

The other notable stories of the collection are: The title story, "Prey", "Mad House", "Blood Son", and "Long Distance Call". Though these stories may seem standard or tired today, it must be remembered that Matheson was the spark that initiated the countless imitations on these themes and plot elements.

The title story is the strongest of this final group. It is related to "The Likeness of Julie" in that it concerns a protagonist that is confronted with the unexplainable and is provoked to fateful action on account of it.

"Prey" is effective in evoking horror but falls short of transcending to greater thematic heights.

"Mad House" is not only horrifies but packs a considerable emotional punch by the final portion of the story. The only flaw is that the story is much too long as well as "Disappearing Act" displaying the common theme more powerfully.

"Blood Son" is original and well written but builds to a predictable and unwarranted ending.

"Long Distance Call" is very well written and builds on themes of alienation and isolation as well as any other Matheson fiction. The story feels very much like a Bradbury tale, "The Emissary" perhaps, and builds to a shocking and sudden ending that has been shamelessly ripped by subsequent writers countless times.

Little of the positive can be said of the remaining stories in the collection.

"Dress of White Silk" is generally uninteresting and Matheson's style of a child narrating the horror was more skillfully achieved in the earlier "Born of Man and Woman", a piece found in his other collection, Duel.

Several stories are ideas or situations that are never fully realized in the light of Matheson's short narratives. As a result, the stories seem terribly formula-based and contrived. Among these are "The Holiday Man", "Wet Straw", "Crickets", "Old Haunts", "Witch War" and "The Children of Noah".

"Slaughterhouse" is an uninspired effort in the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft. "Through Channels" and "Dance of the Dead" are stylish pieces that lack tension due to their sylish construction.

On a final note, many of these stories inspired subsequent writers to the point that it is often forgotten that Matheson was the original seed. Stephen King borrowed endlessly from Matheson, most notably from "The Distributor" for his long novel, Needful Things. The killer fetish doll, from "Prey", is generally responsible for any killer doll treatment that followed. A final interesting observation is that Rod Serling, who borrowed greatly from Matheson for The Twilight Zone adaptations, took great liberties in adapting Matheson stories, like "Disappearing Act", for Twilight Zone episodes, like "And When the Sky Was Opened", but still credited Matheson except in the one case where it seemed to be the most obvious borrowing. The second season Twilight Zone episode "A Thing About Machines" is nearly identical to Matheson's "Mad House" but is not credited to the writer. This has always seemed odd to me since, by that point, Serling and Matheson were friends and frequent collaborators for the show. Anyway . . .

Though only half of the stories are truly worthy, the stories that are good are not only good, they are fantastic. Matheson's writing, at its best in many of these stories, is terse and effective. I highly recommend the collection for any reader looking for horror/suspense fiction that is thoroughly American, where the mundane of everyday life turns savage and dangerous, and transcendant of the genre itself. Though some of the themes and plots seem cliche by today's standards, the reader will soon discover that Matheson handled these better than anyone else.
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