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review 2018-02-06 19:56
Splatterpunk Fighting Back Anthology
Splatterpunk Fighting Back - Jack Bantry,Tim Curran,Glenn Rolfe,Bracken MacLeod,Kristopher Rufty,Adam Millard,John Boden,Matt Shaw,W.D. Gagliani,Elizabeth Power
Splatterpunk Fighting Back is a charity anthology with proceeds going towards cancer. I have a love/hate relationship with anthologies/collections/whatever you want to call them. I love reading them because even if a story isn’t working for me it’s usually over quickly but I dread reviewing them. They are so much work but here goes. I’m not going to rate them because that’s kind of pointless.

I’m going to attempt to write a mini review of each story but if I start to fatigue near the end or miss one it’s nothing personal against any particular story. 

They Swim by Night by Adam Millard

A man thinks he's getting lucky when an ethereally beautiful singer makes the moves on him. But he is terribly mistaken. This was a perfectly gory start to the collection. Why lead a reader in gently when you can grab them by the hair and drag them in kicking and screaming?

Melvin by Matt Shaw

Claudia insults Melvin at a dive bar. Big mistake. Melvin is a sick bastard and seeks revenge with a detachable dick. This story was gleefully nasty and I love, love, loved it.

Side note after the first two stories: 

There is so much sex related horror in here so far. It almost feels like as if I were reading a new installment of the Hot Blood series and that’s a very good thing. I loved those books so hard back in the olden days when we didn’t have digital books and could frighten people away with a creepy cover! Just be warned if this isn't your thing.

Extinction Therapy by Bracken MacLeod

A rich man visits some expensive woo woo doctor to reach his full potential. His lust for bloodshed is awakened and he glories in it. This story is primal, brutal and ugly. There's no sex in this one which surprised me in a good way. The story did make me very sad for the state of man and that’s all I’m saying.

The Passion of the Robertsons by Duncan Ralston

Whatever you do, don't go and get yourself on the bible thumping Robertson’s naughty list. Unfortunately for the town drunk, he manages to do just that. Now that he’s on their radar, they intend to force him to accept God’s word and their methods are not gentle. I liked this one, especially the ending.

Hellscape by Rich Hawkins

The world is now a hellish landscape and a woman goes on a desperate searching to find her son, slaying monsters along the way. I can’t find my notes on this one so it was either a forgettable tale or I was too tired when I read it. I DO remember thinking it felt like an introduction to a bigger story.

Molly by Glenn Rolfe

Caleb is a front desk clerk at a hotel and has to deal with all kinds of crap. One night he spies a strange silhouette in the window that shouldn’t be there when leaving work. Turns out one of the hotel’s bitchiest guests has a traveling buddy staying with her that she keeps hidden. Bloodshed ensues. Molly was a bloody creepfest that was a lot of fun to read.

Only Angels Know by George Daniel Lee

An artist puts out a call for subjects willing to give themselves to art. All of themselves. This is a story of extreme body modification but somehow the difficult to decipher writing, never outright graphic, wasn’t able to draw me in. I much prefer Kathe Koja’s novel “Skin” which tackles this same subject matter in a devastatingly gorgeous and unforgettable way. This was my least liked story in the collection.

Limb Memory by Tim Curran

After losing his left arm in an accident, a man whines and complains about his new lot in life. Poor me, boo-hoo-hoo. But just when I was getting annoyed with the man-whining, the phantom arm comes back to life to haunt him. This was gross and fun and enjoyable even with such a whiny ass main character. It brought back images from my scarred childhood of Michael Caine and “The Hand”. I’m still afraid to stick my arms out of a moving car’s open window after that one . . .

Feast of Consequences by WD Gagliani & Dave Benton

This was a fun throwback to cannibalistic slashers and half naked heroines as a young woman attempts to outwit a bunch of hungry, human monsters. I adored the modern day twist and the ending.
 
The Going Rate –John Boden

The tax man is coming and he's hungry. This was sinister and dark and creepy as hell. I loved it

Darla’s Problem –Kristopher Rufty

A young girl asks a policeman for assistance. He has no idea what terror awaits. This was another super creepy tale. Gory and not at all sweet. Great stuff!


Okay that’s all of them, I hope! If any of these stories sound remotely interesting to you then go buy yourself a copy!

 

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review 2018-01-30 15:40
Strange Weather by Joe Hill
Strange Weather - Wil Wheaton,Joe Hill,Kate Mulgrew,Stephen Lang,Dennis Boutsikaris

Snapshot is the first story and it’s narrated by Will Wheaton who does a most excellent job.

Set in the 80’s, Strange Weather is the story of a 13 year old boy and his run in with a man he calls “The Phoenician”. The Phoenician is the villain of the tale. He’s ugly, vaguely imposing and possesses a camera that steals memories. 

It’s also a story about aging, and about caring for those who once cared for you. It has some misty eyed moments and just a wee bit of eeriness. It lags pretty badly towards the end though and left me feeling gloomy. 

Loaded is narrated by Stephen Lang who is deadly serious for a deadly serious story.

This dark tale is about guns, hate, prejudice, revenge and the media. I’m going to admit that there are many days that I have to turn off the news because I can’t take in any more of the unending ugliness occurring in the US right now (as I write this there has just been another senseless school shooting that is barely getting any media coverage). This is a story I never would have chosen to spend my free time reading had I known more before going in. I read to escape this true life horror. This story introduces a group of mostly loathsome people who come together in a climax of bloodshed at a shopping mall, taking out a few innocents along the way. In the aftermath, it turns into a story of the stupidity of hero worship and the suspicious reporter who smells something fishy. Though well written, it wasn’t my favorite and I would never read it again.

Aloft is narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris and just like the previous two narrators, he nails it. 

Things go awry for a young man with an extreme fear of heights when he attempts to skydive to fulfill a wish made to a deceased friend and he ends up stranded on a cloud. This story is super imaginative but it also wasn’t my favorite. Something about Aubrey just grated on my last nerve. I don’t know if it was his fearfulness and gaseous emissions in the beginning, his never-ending pining away for a girl who was so not into him or just his personality. At any rate, it was a struggle and it shouldn’t have been. I found his thoughts boring and all we get are his thoughts. Sorry, I’m a jerk. I know this. If you’re going to throw anything my way, make sure it’s a horror book. 

Rain is the final story and, if you ask me, the best in the collection. It is read by Kate Mulgrew who is one of my most favorite of all the narrators in all of the lands. 

So many people seem to loath this story and find it ridiculous (and yeah maybe it is that) but I thought it was heartbreaking and sarcastically funny and Honeysuckle was a character I loved spending time with (unlike that Aubrey fellow) which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. She’s tough and resilient as a spiky rain falls from the sky and reigns terrors on those caught up in it.

I have to say, with the exception of Rain, I found this collection a wee bit unsatisfying.

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review 2017-12-08 16:38
Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco
Burnt Offerings: Valancourt 20th Century Classics - Robert Marasco,R.C. Bray

Marian is a 70’s housewife and she is tired of city life and coerces her husband, Ben, into checking out a summer rental with a beach that is far from the sweltering heat, stink and noise of the city. He says it sounds too good to be true and whines, “but honey, we can’t afford it”. But he caves. Should’ve stood your ground, man!

 

The rental turns out to be a giant estate on 200 acres. There are 30 rooms and all they have to do is pay $900 for the summer and leave “Mother” sustenance three times a day. Ummm, what? Yes, Mother is staying! Apparently, Mother doesn’t leave her room and will be no trouble at all as long as you keep to the feeding schedule or so say the weird brother and sister who are renting the place and who skedaddle out of town leaving no contact information as soon as the couple agrees to rent the place.

 

Marian immediately takes to the home as if it were her own, obsessively preparing meals for Mother and cleaning and fretting (which sounds like a vacation in Hell to me) while Ben, his aunt and their young son fritter away their days in the sun. But that doesn’t last long. Soon enough eerie events start to occur and Marian’s obsession with the house intensifies. They can try to escape but the house wants what it wants!

 

This was an unnerving listen that allows the dread to slowly build. It is read expertly by R.C. Bray who is perfect for this kind of old-timey story. His voice is so serious and wizened just enough to set the scene and make the words even creepier. But, folks, it was written in the early 70’s and its 70’s roots are definitely showing in some of the dialogue.

 

“I’ll do the talking. Just look pretty and keep your mouth shut.” Ben says this to Marian and she doesn’t punch him the face.

 

At another point Marian says (out loud, mind you) to Ben, “You know I’m the dumb one.” He accepts this as fact and again does not get punched in the face and they move along with their day.

 

Ahhh, the 70’s. I am so very glad I was too young to have to deal with this WTFery!

 

If you like haunted houses and haven’t listened to this story on audio, what the heck are you waiting for?

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review 2017-12-04 18:18
Dream Woods by Patrick Lacey
Dream Woods - Patrick Lacey,Joe Hempel

Vince remembers Dream Woods through a pleasant veil of childhood memory. Even though bad things (murder, murder and more murder!) were rumored to have happened there and it was shut down years ago, Vince learns that the bloods been cleaned up and it’s been re-opened. He decides that it will be a most excellent vacation destination even if his wife would much rather head to a resort and lounge around a beach all day (I’m with her). He feels it will help bring his family closer together.

 

He is quite mistaken.

 

Right away things seem a little off. The people staffing the place aren’t quite right. They don’t seem completely . . . human? But Vince, the eternal optimist, holds out hope that this magical place will make his wife love him again.

 

Awwww. You can’t but help but root for the sap, right? His wife, who has already left her family once, seems to resent her husband for abandoning his anarchist roots and settling down into a real job after she becomes pregnant with twins, one who has diabetes. She reminded me a bit of that teacher in the 90’s named Pam Smart who fell out of love with her husband when he cut his 80’s rocker locks to become an insurance salesman and I had zero sympathy for her. I kept reading on hoping she’d be the first victim of Dream Woods. So yay for keeping me interested during my reading slump ;)

 

This story was decent, not earth shattering but a solid little horror story that kept me hooked and that bloody bear mascot will haunt my dreams. Dream Woods has some gore and loads of decent characterization and narrator Joe Hempel does an excellent job with the voices.

 

*I received a copy of this audiobook via Audiobookboom. Thanks!

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review 2017-11-17 19:44
Hell House by Richard Matheson
Hell House - Richard Matheson,Ray Porter

Bought during Audible's $2.99 sale (10/13/17)! . It's more now, sorry about that.

 

A rich guy offers to pay a group of people to stay a few nights in a haunted house to prove there is life after death. All previous attempts to do such a stupid thing at this particular house have ended very badly for the suckers brave or stupid or hard-up enough to have a sleep-over. It’s no different this time around.

 

I read this book closely on the heels of finishing up Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House which was probably a big mistake on my part as the premise of these two books is nearly identical and Jackson’s story didn’t thrill me the way it did most people. Same goes for Hell House though I did like it a wee bit more than Jackson’s story but probably only because it was more lurid and crazy-pants and I like that kind of thing but it does suffer from the same over the top characterization.

 

This story is much more sexually horrifying. Some of the things that happen within these pages are upsetting. Trust me on this. The house was basically turned into a pit of debauchery and hellish events when its original owner cuts loose with a group of hangers-on who dip into orgies, drugs, murder, cannibalism (as you will, I guess) and every other nasty thing your brain can imagine! The house is tainted and incredibly haunted by a horny ghost who eventually infects the woman folk and does shocking pervy things.

 

I listened to this story on audio and the narrator, Ray Porter, does an excellent job. He is deadly serious which suits the story and he manages to deliver the lady voices in a way that doesn’t make them sound completely ridiculous even when they’re forced to behave in overly hysterical ways. He does a good job with the men and the evil inhabiting the house as well.

 

I’m going to give this the same rating as the Jackson book. 3 Stars.

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