No library should be without this book and no academic should attempt to teach horror without it. Danse Macabre explores, as only Stephen King can, the bloodline of 20th century horror through film, television and literature. It is a foundational work crucial to understanding not only the literary or visual genre but to the mind out which they spring. Other, highly academic works, exist but they lack the viseral and conversational style of King. Fear, like humor, often is most successful linking with the stresses of its context. King illustrates this by noting the most frightening scene in the Amityville Horror. It is not, he stresses, the flies, the goo, or the eyes glowing outside the window that gave the person in the theater seats the most discomfort it was instead when the lead character finds his money gone. The cash only reception payment suddenly, mysteriously, stressfully goes missing...and the film coming out in the middle of the 1970's recession tapped strait into the vein of true horror as it explored the growing stress, anger, and fear of the ensuing search. We love the gothic and atmospheric horror since it is distanced from us....the greatest of fears, the deepest horrors stem from the 'it's just little too real for comfort' bedrock of shared human experience.
Here is a link to a .pdf version (including useful bibliographies).