I've read over two dozen of Stephen King's books, and this one is his best. King's short story writing is what allows him to be mentioned in the same sentence with the likes of Poe as one of the best horror writers ever. There are so many King classics in "Night Shift" it is scary. "Graveyard Shift," "The Mangler," "Children of the Corn," "Trucks," "Gray Matter," "Quitters Inc.," the list goes on and on. Many of these were made into inferior movies, but the stories themselves are are among the scariest things he's written because they reduce fear to its most basic elements. This is one King book that qualifies as a "must" read.
on October 3, 2001
You know that friend of yours that notices you reading a Stephen King tome and says, "Ugh, you like that guy?" You know, the friend who hasn't ever actually read any Stephen King books and thinks his work is simply grist for very, very bad films? Well, slide them a copy of this and they'll be a fan for life.
This collection of his short stories is the first and best one he's ever done in tone, consistency and ideas. It's no mistake that out of the 20 stories collected here, no less than 12 of them have been made into cinematic adventures (though most of them have been bad films, they were originally great stories, trust me). All of the shorts that he's known for and that made him a household name come out of this collection as well: "The Lawnmower Man" (forget the movie...this is REAL horror), "Trucks" (which was made into 2 bad movies, but don't hold that against the book), "Quitters, Inc.", "The Mangler", "The Ledge"...this is all very concrete stuff that even a non-horror fan will take to because it's simply grand story-telling.
on November 22, 1999
I recommend this very highly if you are a fan of horror fiction mostly because this is King's anthology that includes one of the scariest, most disturbing short stories of all time (at least that I've read) entitled simply, The Boogeyman. That childhood monster that never really goes away. If you have any conscience what so ever this story will rattle you, I can only think of two other short stories that I would say are scarier; H.P. Lovecraft's The Rats in The Walls and Algernon Blackwood's The Wendigo. The rest of the stories in the collection are undeniably King (if you liked Salem's Lot you get a glimpse of the shadows in the town in Jerusalem's Lot, a fantastic atmosphere piece). It's fun reading, what short stories should be and IF (note the capitalization) you have a love of entertaining, interesting reading you just might want to pick this one up. If you're not particularly a Stephen King fan I'd recommend borrowing this book from your local library just to read The Boogeyman, 'cause it's gonna end up in future horror fiction text books.
on December 5, 2005
Of King's 4 collection of short stories, I'd have to say that I like 'Night Shift' the best. It's definitely the most consistently horror oriented of them, and the non-horror stories are particularly compelling. Also his tendency to overwrite hasn't displayed itself yet. It's got a few weaker stories, such as 'Gray Matter', 'I Know What You Need' and 'The Lawnmower Man', in particular, but the good ones more than make up for these few short comings. (It's too bad that 'Suffer the Children' got cut instead of 'Gray Matter'. 'Suffer the Children' would've been one of the better stories here, while 'Gray Matter' is probably the worst.) The tales also tend to be more straight forward and conventional than his later ones, but sometimes the older stories really are the best ones. (It still get pretty damn weird at times, no doubt about it, but it's got nothin' on the level of 'You Know They've Gotta Helluva Band' or 'The Moving Finger'.)
'Jerusalem's Lot' is unabashed Lovecraft homage. It can't quite match his best work, but it's excellent and manages not to be too utterly derivative. 'The Mangler' is a strange one, as it's about a possessed industrial dryer/folder thing. It's got an unintentionally black-comic vibe to it, along with perhaps the most gruesome, disturbing violence in anything I've read from him. (Being killed by one of those things would involve being crushed and scalded to death simultaneously. Not pleasant, I'm sure) 'The Graveyard Shift' which was made into an amusingly bad movie, is surprisingly effective. The story focuses more on the conflict between Hall and his supervisor, Warwick, and keeps the rat stuff in relatively small, if still fatal, doses. 'Sometimes They Come Back' is probably my favorite story here. It's puts a few new twists on the old revenge from beyond on the grave theme, and is just one of the most powerfully moody pieces King's ever written. 'Strawberry Spring', a story about a series of murders on a college campus, has a fairly predictable ending, but has enough atmosphere to be a fairly remarkable story anyway. 'Children of the Corn' and 'Trucks' were both made into ill-conceived films, but they work well as short stories. 'Children of the Corn' is the better of the two, focusing more on the desolate town than on the children themselves, and it also has some nice gruesome imagery towards the end. 'The Woman in the Room' is one of the non-horror stories, but it's still one of the darkest things here, and is really almost unbearably sad. (It's about a man's attempt to euthanize his fatally ill mother, and obviously reflects upon the slow death of King's mother.)
I weary of discussing these individually, but suffice to say that they're almost all excellent. In a modern world were the novel has completely supplanted the short story some major King fans may be hesitant to check out these works. Don't make thsi mistake. This is some of his best stuff.
on August 20, 2005
This was King's first collection of short stories. Man, was I happy I read this!
This was the first of several books by King that I read. It really introduced me to the rest of his works, so, if you are wanting to try reading the stuff he writes, then this book serves as a great first stepping stone into his freaky world of imagination.
Here's a brief overview of the short stories included in Night Shift:
Jerusalem's Lot: Classic King, here. A great Vampire thriller.
Graveyard Shift: Employees at a hotel (or apartment building, I can't remember) work in the basement. To their surprise, they find a tunnel that has been completely left alone for years...left alone by humans, that is...
Night Surf: Look at one of the spotlight reviews, and you'll receive what the deal is with this short story; it is there for descriptive purposes.
I am the Doorway: A handicapped man's hands go out of control...or, better yet, they are in control of themselves.
The Mangler: Clothes machine that has gone out of control and is possessed by none other than an evil spirit, and starts looking for PEOPLE to fold? Now that's the kind of stuff I like to read...one of my personal favorites in Night Shift.
Battleground: Toy Soldiers begin hunting their buyer...and if you thought they were just unarmed plastic figures, ya might wanna think again.
The Man Who Loved Flowers: Some crazy guy with a small hammer...yes, we do get a great description of the surroundings: not too much, nor too little. But this character is on the insane side.
The Lawnmower Man: Another favorite. A grass-cutter is hired to trim a lawn. Little does the lawn-owner realize that the machine isn't the only one cutting the grass...
The Woman in the Room: A fairly short piece. A mother is dying slowly in a hospital room, quite a depressing story when you read it.
The Last Rung on the Ladder: Two kids are left on their farm while their parents leave for a few hours. The girl? She climbed a weak ladder to the top beam of a 70-foot barn. And guess what: her brother is going to need a heckuva lot of hay to get her out of this predicament...
One for the road: Think of this as a story linked to Jerusalem's Lot, the fact being that vampires are there again. This story takes place in winter. An old man runs into a bar, telling a friend that his family is gone. They both set out to find them...but, who is that with the red eyes and dripping fangs out in the snowstorm?
The Boogeyman: The Boogeyman doesn't just give kids the scare.
A father is talking to the doctor about the strange deaths of his children...but maybe he should shut that closet, just to be safe.
Gray Matter: Something's breaking out over town. What's happening to the bodies???
Trucks: To think that a truckstop would be overtaken by its own vehicles. And now, here they are, circling like hawks, around a group of people that have the will to escape alive.
Sometimes they come back: A man's family is killed by what he believes to be ghosts of long-dead teenagers that tormented him when he was younger. And he'll do anything to achieve revenge.
I Know What you need: She likes him, but her friends has doubts about him. He's got a hobby of making strange dolls...and murdering people.
Strawberry Spring: Killer on the loose? In springtime? Nah, couldn't be...
Children of the Corn: A husband and wife stop in an old town, their car broke down. Hey where'd she go...? And this place reeks of old cornhusks...
NOTE: Do not watch the films of this story, they're horrible. You're much better off reading the real thing.
...I think that's all of them. I know I haven't given great descriptions of some of the stories. But you've gotta get this book. Trust me, it's worth it, new King fan or not.
on April 28, 2000
...I read this. This was the (third?) Stephen King book I have ever bought. I began reading it on the day I got it, about a year ago, and I read "The Boogeyman" first. This was an extremely creepy experience. In time (up until today, 4/28/00) I read the following: Graveyard Shift (a very dark, gory, and spooky breathtaker of the underground world). Night Surf (a grim look at how people survive in stressful situations). I Am The Doorway (a gruesome "what-if" story of what a space mission's penalties can be like). The Mangler (because of this story of a Hadley-Watson Model 6 Steam Ironer and Folder, I'm never going to look at a laundry factory the same way again...). The Boogeyman (in addition to what I've already said about this dark memoir-like story, I am scared of closets in dark rooms now). Gray Matter (no comment, though I have to admit I never really *was* fond of beer...). Battleground (a tale of the bizarre possibilities of life, toys, and death). Trucks (a very scary tale about automobiles--what if it could happen?). Sometimes They Come Back (an unforgettable story of time and its victims... and allies... should have even been a novel!). Strawberry Spring (read it and find out how good this plain "wow"-zer is). The Ledge (an acrophobic tale that rendered me afraid of heights...). The Lawnmower Man (the movie has NOTHING to do with this super twisted and scary story of the bizarre). Quitters, Inc. (a story of a great way to quit smoking--I never have smoked, and now I never will...). I Know What You Need (a story that makes you wonder more than once if you can *really* trust just anybody). Children of the Corn (a tale of an abandoned town... or is it *really* abandoned?--don't see any of the movies). The Man Who Loved Flowers (another "wow"-zer--also a mystery). All in all, the book was extremely spooky and chilling. The amount of sleepless nights it has given me is more than I care to explain, but you know what I mean... If you want genuine scares, read this book. If you want the supernatural, science fiction, mystery, gorefest, and/or any other forms of genuine horror, read this book. Horror is working the Night Shift now, but gore is running the Graveyard Shift. ENJOY!
on November 15, 2015
Easy to look at this as an uneven collection (which it is) involving all kinds of unequally spooky spooks (there's too much emphasis on haunted machinery for this reader), but truly some haunting stories. From the bookended visits to Jerusalem's Lot, where new fresh hells regularly emerge, to the short, jaunty trips along the sidewalk with complete psychopaths in love, there's enough diversity in the scares to keep each story fresh. Of course, there's a lack of diversity in settings. No surprise, eerie backwoods towns in Maine and the endless haunts of the Bible Belt factor prominently in this collection as characters as much as places.
I would point out a few of the better stories in "Night Shift" don't involve the paranormal at all. Rather, they plumb the depths of loss and expertly present the imprint suicide and old age leave on those left to make sense of what happened. These stories are the most poignant because they most closely reflect our lived experience. And under King, time is simply the the most savage, unforgiving of all of his nightmarish monsters.
on June 24, 2004
Over the years I have watched several movies based on Stephen King stories. Some I have liked very much while there were some I didn't care for at all. I finally decided that I wanted to read one of his books and this was the one I picked because I figured it would be best to start with a collection of short stories rather than a novel. I am impressed! If this is a true taste of King's other books I think I may have become and avid fan.
As with any collection of short stories I found that I liked some more than others, but even the stories that did the least for me were quite good. King's style of writing draws the reader into the story and makes one really feel as if he were right there with the characters that make up the story. Needless to say, chills will run up and down the reader's spine on several occasions. I couldn't put this book down and devoured every page and I think most everyone who gives it a try will find the same to be true.
Several of the stories in this book have been made into films but as is usual, the written story is much better. Even though I liked "The Mangler" in it's film form I wasn't all that impressed by it but the story in this book is not bad at all. As for "The Children of the Corn", I didn't like the movie at all but the story in this book is excellent. The reader will also find two stories of the place known as Jerusalem's (Salem's) Lot in this book. One is set before the time frame of the novel while the other comes in after the novel ends.
Some of the other stories that really drew me in were, "Trucks", Sometimes They Come Back", and "I Am the Doorway". All of the stories were good but those caught my extra attention. I may never go to another truck stop in my life!
If you have never read any of Mr. King's works I suggest you give him a try, and I suggest you start with this book. I'm hooked and I think you will be also.
on December 18, 2014
The good ones in this collection (The Last Rung on the Ladder, Children of the Corn, etc) are a solid 4-5 stars, but the bad ones are REALLY bad. Sweet Jesus, the Lawnmower Man is a genuinely stupid, pointless story deserving one star, if that (and I can't believe I'm saying that about something written by my favorite author!) Other stories are worth two and three stars.
This collection (because of the bad stories, which are truly bad) makes this the weakest of all of King's works, in my opinion. King's short stories (and many of his novels) have gotten much, much better over the years, I think. "Full Dark, No Stars" ties with Clive Barker's "Books of Blood" as my favorite collection of short stories of all time.
Overall, the collection is worth buying and reading if you need some way to pass the time. Be prepared to roll your eyes and feel exasperated with the bad ones, though, and on the other end, feel like you need therapy to process the few good ones.
on March 19, 2005
Stephen King is an undeniably talented writer. He has written several books that really and truly scared me. But of the many works of fiction he has published, I find that the most effective are the shorter ones: CARRIE, SALEM'S LOT, CUJO, the Bachman books. Even some of his misfires (CHRISTINE, GERALD'S GAME) still make for some compelling reading. But the novels I am less impressed with -- THE STAND, IT, THE TOMMMYKNOCKERS -- take too long to tell what are essentially simple stories. I feel that the more time King spends on a story, the less effective it is. That's why I think I like NIGHT SHIFT so much. Sure, there are a few clunkers here: "The Mangler" is a less-than-thrilling thriller about a killer shirt-pressing machine (!), in "Battleground" killer toys come after a poor sap wanted by the Mafia, and "I Know What You Need" is predictable and silly. But never mind... there's alot of great stuff here: if you only know "Sometimes They Come Back" and "Children of the Corn" from their incredibly lame film counterparts, now's your chance to revisit them in their fullest (and most effective) forms; "Jerusalem's Lot" and "One for the Road" revisit SALEM'S LOT to wonderfully creepy effect; "Night Surf", "I am the Doorway", "Quitters Inc.", and "The Lawnmower Man" supply a generous portion of gleefully grotesque weirdness; "The Ledge", "The Last Rung on the Ladder", and especially "The Woman in the Room" all represent a change of pace, though no less disturbing than the more overtly horrific tales on display here; "Gray Matter" and "Trucks" are solid horror tales; "Graveyard Shift" will test your gag threshold (at one point I had to stop reading it to keep from tossing my cookies -- and THAT'S hard to do to me!); and "The Man Who Loved Flowers" is a swift little shocker reminiscent of the writings of Robert Bloch. But the best story here -- a crowning achievement for King, if you ask me -- is "The Boogeyman". This is the single most terrifying Stephen King tale I think I've ever read. In fact, I've read it several times, and it still scares me every time. This story alone makes the book worth buying. Most of these stories come from the earliest part of King's career, back before he was apparently paid letter by letter. I enjoy the stories in this book immensely (even the mediocre ones), and I hope if you haven't read it that my review has painted a clear and accurate picture of what you're in for. Thanks.