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Literature / Tales For The Midnight Hour

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Tales for the Midnight Hour is a junior horror anthology series written by J.B. Stamper. The series was published from 1977 to 1991 as part of the Point Horror books and ran through four collections: Tales for the Midnight Hour, More Tales for the Midnight Hour, Still More Tales for the Midnight Hour and Even More Tales for the Midnight Hour.

This series includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Bittersweet Ending: Few if any stories end without exacting a price.
    • "The Fur Collar": The young heroine escapes whatever terrible thing murdered Susie, but she's lost her best friend and can't even bear to think of her due to the trauma.
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    • "Phobia": A young woman afraid of mice escapes from an apparent stalker who turns out to be a man-sized rat. However, she's haunted by the experience for life and even more terrified of rodents.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Multiple stories end with the protagonist alive but still in danger.
    • "The Ten Claws": The brothers wound the mysterious creature that killed the town drunk and barely escape with their lives. However, neither of them know that the creature is the grandmother who stays in their house, and it's uncertain whether she'll decide to attack again.
    • "The Jigsaw Puzzle": A young lady puts together the self-proclaimed "World's Strangest Jigsaw Puzzle", which begins to bear an unsettling resemblance to her house. When she puts the last pieces in, it reveals half of a non-human face in the window. Turning to look, she sees the face in her window too.
  • Desecrating the Dead: One story centers around a night guard who habitually messes with the exhibits to assuage his boredom and irritation with his unwanted job. The night the museum transfers him to an Egyptian exhibit, the curator warns him against his usual tricks, because the Egyptians had curses in place for those who disrespected the dead. The guard ignores him and pays the price.
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  • Driven to Suicide: In "The Face", a gold miner witnesses a bodiless hag kill his two partners by breathing into their faces. Although he escapes her, the experience has left him with a phobia of quick breathing. When he seems to hear the same sound from his lovely female traveling companion, he jumps out as the coach rounds a dangerous bend. The girl starts sobbing, having no idea why he leaped.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: "The Old Plantation" tells about a northern real estate agent spending the night in a dilapidated Southern mansion, despite being warned of its strangeness. Among other things, he finds a book called The Old Plantation, which echoes his own life. The book ends with the in-story avatar realizing something horrifying and just stopping and waiting. As the protagonist tries to figure out what the horror was, he realizes he's waiting for himself to arrive and start the evening all over again.
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  • Kidnapping Bird of Prey: "The Gooney Birds" tells about a troop of scouts who find evidence of larger and larger gooney birds while on a camping trip. At the end, the gooney birds carry them all away.
  • Killer Gorilla: Played with in "The Tunnel of Terror". A gorilla escapes from a zoo and the loudspeaker plays an announcement warning nobody to go anywhere alone. As it turns out, the gorilla has crept into the eponymous ride with the heroine. It's considered remarkable that she's uninjured. The gorilla never actually does anything to warrant its scary reputation, but its presence on the ride tips her over into madness.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: "The Attic Door" tells about a young woman named Rosalyn visiting her aunt, who lives alone after her husband's suicide and their son's death. It turns out that her uncle's experiments turned her "dead" cousin into a half-animal creature who still lives in the attic.
  • Mama Bear: One story plays maternal protectiveness for horror. A bored and disrespectful night guard, pulling himself out of staring at a princess' sarcophagus, sticks his gum to the back of a mummy's head. It crosses his mind afterwards that the mummy was said princess' son. Her spirit punishes him for desecrating her son's body by using the sarcophagus' painted eyes to hypnotize him into shutting himself inside it.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • "The Fur Collar" ends with the heroine reaching out into the darkness and touching the fur collar of her friend's bathrobe...only to find that there's now nothing above it.
    • "The Black Velvet Ribbon" ends with a man snipping the ribbon his wife always wears and her head tumbling to the floor, repeating the warning she gave him about the ribbon.
  • Revealing Injury: An example in which the injury clues in the audience but not the hero appears in "The Ten Claws". A pair of brothers go out hunting a mysterious creature that's been attacking around their town. When it attacks one of them, his brother just barely manages to reach him in time to cut off its paw and scare it away. After they come home, nobody notices the grandmother who lives in their house hiding a bloody stump under her shawl.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The story "Phobia" has a woman with a fear of rats going through the worst night of her life in a city park after dark. She's stalked by a shadowy man who seems to be able to attract rats, and ends up stumbling into a rat's nest at one point. Eventually, she learns the man is actually a humanoid rat, and even though she gets away, the incident has scarred her for life.
  • Scare Dare: Ellen asks her friends if anyone dares her to ride the Tunnel of Terror. One of them obliges her. Everyone soon wishes that they had chosen another way to liven up the afternoon.
  • Trauma Button Ending: The heroine of "Phobia" already hated rodents and would get away from them if she could. However, after escaping from a rat-man and his band of rats, the mere sight of one sends her into hysteria.
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