Category Archives: Read

Decembwhore

Shing-shing-shing-shing-shing. That’s the sound of bells, not my piss-poor attempt to put the Psycho strings into readable format.

Yes, Christmas is nigh and what better gift to give or have a tantrum over wanting than a horror book set during the holidays? …Like this one I wrote earlier.

You see how well it fits in with the spirit of the season? Santa, snow, …death

I know, I know. But I need to feed my dog turkey-flavoured kibble, man.

Should you feel the need to purchase for yourself – or your mom, dad, brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, former roomies, friends, enemies, frenemies a copy, you can get it here (UK), here (US), or here (the rest of the world).

Support your local slasher blogs. And their dog.

Happy Holidays to you all!

– Hud xx

Volume of violence – ’tis a book on the slasher film

TEENAGE WASTELAND: THE SLASHER MOVIE UNCUT

J.A. Kerswell

In case you didn’t know, Justin Kerswell is the force behind Hysteria Lives!, about the biggest slasher devoted website around now Slasherpool has vanished quicker than a horny couple at Camp Crystal Lake.

I’ve been a casual acquaintance of his a few years: I gave him my VHS of Dead Girls, he scarred me with Satan’s Blade. We’re even. Weirdly, the author biog bit in the back of the book says that Justin is a vegan. And this is Vegan Voorhees. But I’m not a vegan, merely an animal-loving 85% vegetarian (for shaaame!) Weirder still, years ago he lived in Brighton, while I was out due west and then he moved due west and I moved to Brighton. I’m pretty sure if we ever met we might both drop dead in some Drew Barrymore Doppelgangy way.

Anyway, the book. “You should have written this!” my friend Lorna told me when she found my leafing through Teenage Wasteland a couple of weeks ago. Well…not really. As much as a slasher film geek I am, I’ve never committed fully to the cause. That’s to say, I’ve not picked up a lot of memorabilia aside from a handful of posters and my beloved Jason doll. Justin Kerswell, on t’other hand, could start a museum. Frankly, if I had all the posters, quads and lobby cards he does, I’d never be happy until I had enough walls to emblazon them on, dancing among them dementedly like that chick from To All a Goodnight.

Furthermore – and this is going to make me look lazy – there’s a few chapters devoted to the prototype era of the slasher film. Psycho, fine. Peeping Tom, great. And then it goes into the Italian giallo ouevre. Being part Italian I should rightly be proud of this kind of heritage but it’s practically alien to me. I couldn’t do it. So no, Lorna, I could not have written this.

What impresses most about Teenage Wasteland is the product itself: the book is beautiful. The covers fold out to reveal pristine recreations of posters for Friday the 13th (at the front) and Terror Train (at the back); there are numerous foreign and domestic prints, almost all of it’s in colour and it’s as stunning as a Kevin Spirtas calendar.

It’s so great that there’s some tomes on the genre now, coming from my hazy early days of addiction in the 90s where there was nothing but a few scathing mentions in almanacs and the Dika and Clover academic texts, I genuinely believed nobody else watched these films. With comparative ease Teenage Wasteland outperforms the competition just by the nature of its evident love for it.

Criticisms? None really – OK so I noticed a typo – it’s a journal of a love affair between man and film. Suffice to say, after this the world doesn’t need another overview of the genre’s golden years. What could it possibly say that hasn’t been touched on here? A guide to shot-on-video films? Ugh. Perhaps in a decade or so’s time it’ll be right for a retrospective on Scream and its disciples but I think I’m gonna stick with fiction, that way I can be lazy and blame it on art!

April Argument: Final Literation

A few years ago I naively sent off a book treatment to a few small publishing houses and received the usual wad of “bugger off” letters, however one person took interest in an idea I had and asked me to read a few of their spin-off Final Destination novels. This I did, revised my idea, and eagerly awaited the outcome of a ‘pitch meeting’. Silence. More silence. Apologies. We’ve lost the contract, no more books. Yeah, ’twas a brush-off. But, y’know, live and learn…and to be honest, the four books I read weren’t all that, as you may see…

fd1DEAD RECKONING

By Natasha Rhodes

The singer of a rock band has a premonition that the club she and her group are playing in will collapse on top of the crowed, squashing the lot of them. She flips out and several individuals scarper in time to see it come true.

Understandably pissed off, Death comes-a-callin’ on each survivor’s door as everyday items conspire their downfall. One is crushed by an elevator, another’s motorcycle explodes, there’s a fatal spider bite, someone is sliced by a falling sign blah, blah, blah.

Here, lead character Jess consults a psychic for advice, which is new, and has a chapter-long nightmare about death being a bridge. It drags.

Well enough written to pass a few lunch breaks and there’s no coyness about violence, sex or swearing but looking at a series that trades on visual spectacle and shock, the book form doesn’t quite work…

fd2DESTINATION ZERO

By David McIntee

A woman has a vision of a terrorist bomb on the subway and causes a commotion, which prevents a few other people going through the turnstiles, thus saving them for now, thus lining them up for gruesome deaths-a-plenty later on.

In this book, which was the best of the four by far, the heroine (Patty, I think) and her boyfriend visit the same psychic as the first novel and investigate their plight, uncovering an ancestor of Patty’s who, in 1888, had a premonition of her own that she thwarted, condemning the survivors to grim demises and something about Jack the Ripper.

There’s also some cops (I think) with some insider knowledge, who detail older cases of bizarre deaths, how planes that crash are always under-booked and stuff. A nice, interesting element to add.

In the present, people are chopped in two by falling glass, drowned in flash floods, decapitated by hubcaps and – get this – impaled by flying CDs! However, this was easily the best of the bunch.

fd3END OF THE LINE

By Rebecca Levene

In New York City, a group of teens from various countries gather for some unclear student exchange hoohah – two American siblings are included with stereotypes of other nationalities: posh Brit, permanently-stoned Dutch chick, ‘crazy’ Japanese girl, quiet, serious German boy.

One of the Americans has a premonition – again? yawn – that there’ll be a subway crash which will kill them all, so they, their aged guide and an old man escape in time. There’s also a medical intern who knows when people are going to die after a near-death experience of her own and she’s being stalked by the Mafia!

The group begin to DIE! DIE! DIE! Interestingly, one of the deaths was Xeroxed for The Final Destination (clue: the hospital and the over-filled bath). One guy gets flipped through the air and impaled on the antlers of a fucking live stag!! Two more are impaled on an umbrella display and another is done in when a flying chainsaw wraps itself around a lamppost, flying in ever-decreasing circles, sawing the victim in pieces upon each revolution. Yes, it was still running while it went round and around…

There was an okay twist thrown in but the death set-ups were so ridiculous I assumed Rebecca Levene was possibly a pseudonym for a group of 12-year-old boys ramped up on sherbert and Dr Pepper.

fd4DEAD MAN’S HAND

By Steven A. Roman

If the demises in End of the Line weren’t bad enough, Dead Man’s Hand takes a whopping half the book before we even reach the “opening” disaster. Ally is in Vegas with her on/off boyfriend, who she has married on a drunken whim and now they’re out of cash.

After we meet all the other characters, learn about their lives and Ally and new hubby bitch and moan at one another, we wait for the accident. And wait. And wait. Eventually, it comes, a neat little 70’s disaster movie type gag with an external scenic elevator shearing off the side of a hotel, killing all who tumble out and several on the pavement.

One hysterical outburst later, Ally, hubby and about three or four others are temporarily saved and later done in by electricity, broken signs and AIDS. Yes, AIDS is the final “joke” that Roman springs on us in what’s clearly something he wrote over a weekend and easily the worst of the lot.

______________________________________________________________________

So, does it work? Well, yes and no. The whole premise of the Final Destination series is gold, with no end to the possibilities of working stories for it and books (should) always allow for better character exploration and thoughtful reflection. And yet, the authors try so hard to make their leads ‘edgy’ that they largely become unlikeable walking cliches: Jess in Dead Reckoning is a klepto-Emo; Ally just bitches her way through Dead Man’s Hand and the bro-sis duo in End of the Line are as cheery as a raincloud.

Unfortunately, both this series and the films still shy away from investigating what unseen force bestows these premonitions upon the leads, who aren’t already psychic: Is it the antithesis of Death? Is it Life? Is Life trying to help them survive? Then there’s the fact that horror movies are usually a visual experience and that can’t be transferred to the page effectively – horror books are usually far more psychological affairs. You can’t insert stingers and ejector-seat scares on paper.

There are two or three later entries (plus novelizations of the films) but after Dead Man’s Hand I had to quit. I wouldn’t wholly recommend these books; they’re written to a strict formula and too derivative of the filmic versions, which, as we know, became progressively lame. Shamage.

I Know What I Did Five Summer’s Ago

Waaaay back in the summer of 2004, I took some time out and wrote a novella called The Beaten Track, about three college friends driving south for Christmas when they end up in a car accident with a family on a seldom used back road through Suffolk. Quite simply, their fatal error is to knock on the door of Meredith Grange for help… Middle aged spinster and infirm patriarch notwithstanding, there’s something not right about the place, which unfolds over night and soon reveals itself to be a nightmare of epic proportions for the stranded travellers…

beatentrack <<< Here’s the cover, which I quite like.

As this is a self-motivated gig, the book can, for the time being, only be purchased through the publisher’s site:

http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-beaten-track/5632935

In “six to eight weeks,” it should be on Amazon.com as well.

So, super-exciting times for Vegan Voorhees. Expect me to keep on mentioning it in an effort to force you into submission and buying your own copy… I’ll even sign it for you. Ha! Like I’m famous or something!? OK, ignore me, judge for thyself one way or another.

VALENTINE by Tom Savage

valentine

What’s this? A book!?

Yes, it has been known that I once learned to read and even sometimes do so for pleasure! OK, so I went to Mallorca for a week and took this and a couple of others with me and came around to thinking, “hmm, Vegan Voorhees could stretch to reviewing a slasher book once in a while…” As there are a few around, or, such as this, novels that slasher films were based on.

Well, there’s almost nothing in common with the 2001 Jamie Blanks film of the same name beyond the very basic outline of the plot: pissed-off psycho offs girls who humiliated him years earlier. We don’t learn this for a while in the novel, instead, after an opening murder in a chapter named ‘Fire’, we meet our heroine Jill, a famous mystery writer who is receiving creepy Valentine’s cards, creepy calls, creepy everything really. Her friend Tara convinces her to hire a private detective and her artist-boyfriend Nate dotes on her between card deliveries and such.

We later discover that Jill was part of a college clique known as The Elements who played a particularly cruel prank on geeky classmate Victor Dimorta (‘victory over death’ – cool, huh?), which ended in one broken nose, some scratches and the boy’s expulsion. Some digging on Dimorta reveals that soon afterwards, he murdered his abusive parents and was sent to prison for 12 years, released and then disappeared. Jill stresses over everything, her shrink is murdered and her every move is observed from across the street by her stalker, who also bugs her phone and dons disguises to get close to her.

Flashback chapters paint us a picture of Dimorta’s preoccupation with killing The Elements. He got plastic surgery and entered each woman’s life shortly before Valentine’s Day on consecutive years, impressing her with his natural charisma before executing them on the anniversary of their ‘joke’, telling each who is before the kill, which is based around which ‘element’ she is (earth, wind, fire, water). Back in the present, Jill decides to skip town and goes to…summer camp. Well, sort of. A writer’s colony in an old summer camp and, as V-Day looms, it seems the killer is in her midst – or is he?

Valentine is, for the most part, a straight forward mystery opus, similar to James Patterson’s less detailed work (Savage doesn’t play nearly as much on the thoughts and feelings of his killer, his hatred for his quarry or the grislier details of their deaths), but once the identity of the killer is revealed and something that’s been staring us in the face since the first few pages becomes clear, the reason the book was chosen for a film is obvious, even if the two most powerful twists are all but ignored. It leaves you with the feeling that Savage sold Valentine on the power of his unveiling and the rest of story kind of fell into place around it, buying time with some red herrings and protracted details on Jill’s life when we’d rather read about Victor Dimorta’s evil plan.

An easy read, competently written, a little light on artistic flair but with an absolute killer twist!

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