Ellen Datlow is one of horror's quintessential, bestselling, and most acclaimed editors. She has won multiple Hugo, Bram Stoker, Locus, and Shirley Jackson awards, and has received lifetime achievement awards from several organizations including the World Fantasy and World Horror Associations.She was the fiction editor of OMNI for nearly twenty years, and edited the magazines Event Horizon and Sci Fiction, and is currently a genre fiction editor at Tor.com. Her many anthologies include the long-running Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, the Best Horror of the Year series; Snow White, Blood Red; Lovecraft's Monsters; Naked City; The Monstrous; and Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror.

The Cutting Room edited by Ellen Datlow

The credits have rolled, but the lights are still off. Something is lurking on the other side of the screen. There are dark secrets, starving monsters, and haunted survivors who refuse to be left on the cutting room floor. But that's okay, right? After all, everybody loves the movies…. Here are twenty-three terrifying tales, dark reflections of the silver screen from both sides of the camera. James Dean gets a second chance at life—and death. The Wicked Witch is out of Oz and she's made some unlucky friends. When God decides reality needs an editor, what—and who—gets cut? These award-winning, bestselling authors will take you to the darkest depths of the theater and beyond.


The Queen of Anthologies turns her attention to the silver screen in this classic collection of unsettling tales, featuring top-rate talent like Peter Straub, Genevieve Valentine and Kim Newman. – Lavie Tidhar



  • "Superstar editor Datlow makes no missteps in this reprint collection of dark tales involving movies and moviemaking. The one original piece, Stephen Graham Jones's "Tenderizer," is a haunting exploration of tragedy on both a personal and national level. A.C. Wise's "Final Girl Theory," about a cult film that's an "infection, whispered from mouth to mouth in the dark," is disturbing and gory without fetishizing its horrors. Kim Newman's brilliant "Illimitable Dominion" tells an alternate history of Edgar Allen Poe, Roger Corman, and American International Pictures that's particularly suited to film buffs who will probably spot the (initially) subtle changes to the time line. Film critic and author Genevieve Valentine provides both an entertaining story ("She Drives the Men to Crimes of Passion!") and an enlightening introduction, while even Douglas E. Winter's "Bright Lights, Big Zombie"—the literary target of which has long faded—still holds up reasonably well. Strong stories by Gary McMahon and Gary A. Braunbeck, as well as poems by Lucy A. Snyder and Daphne Gottlieb, are also worth noting, but really, the entire volume is outstanding."

    – Publishers Weekly
  • "This themed anthology revolves around the idea that the separation between what is real and what we see on film is not as clear as we'd like to think it is. What if, for example, the Wicked Witch of the West didn't stay in Oz? What if James Dean got a second chance at life? These are just some of the weird-but-cool ideas explored in this tempting volume of stories from renowned editor Ellen Datlow, who collects 23 scary tales by the likes of Peter Straub, Genevieve Valentine, Robert Shearman, Laird Barron and more."

    – Kirkus
  • "This collection of 23 stories should appeal to fans of horror and SF primarily, though noir and hard-boiled-mystery readers should feel welcome too…. Definitely worth checking out."

    – Booklist



Preface to The Cutting Room

Ellen Datlow

Everybody loves the movies. From the first moving picture publicly shown—a train running into the audience—the medium has maintained its hold on society's imagination. Writers have a complicated relationship with movies and moviemaking. Some write directly for the screen, others have had their work adapted for it, with mixed results. There have been many memoirs by screenwriters and other movie creators about their experiences in the industry, some positive, many negative. This might be primarily because while writing prose is generally a solo enterprise, writing for and working on movies is always a collaborative process, one during which compromises are made over and over again, often to the extent that the original piece of text that inspired the movie is unrecognizable to its author.

Surprisingly, there have been only a few major anthologies featuring movie horror and dark fantasy: the most prominent are David J. Schow's Silver Scream; Midnight Premiere, edited by Tom Piccirilli; It Came from the Drive-In!, edited by Norman Partridge and Martin H. Greenberg; and The Hollywood Nightmare, edited by Peter Haining.

Not only do I enjoy classic horror movies, but I've come to love stories about movies of all kinds, especially dark stories about the medium. The stories herein aren't about horror movies per se, although some of the classic horror movies and some imaginary horror movies do show up. The Cutting Room is more an exploration of the dark side of movies and moviemaking, with views from both sides of the lens. As I was reading for this anthology, I became aware of several subgenres of movie stories:

The real life celebrity: What really happened to Marilyn Monroe or James Dean—were they murdered? Did they survive their supposed deaths?

Tales about actual, existing horror movies: The making of King Kong—with a sub-sub-genre about the fictional character Ann Darrow.

Protagonists or other characters who become part of a movie (by their own agency or not).

The effect of movies or a specific movie on the protagonist.

About the making of a movie (only sometimes of horror movies).

Protagonists obsessed with movies that may or may not exist.

In addition to the 21 reprints and 2 poems that I finally chose, I read more than 115 stories that were quite good, but just didn't make it into the mix. One story, "Tenderizer," by Stephen Graham Jones, appears for the first time.

Now, on with the show.