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review 2018-10-11 18:45
THE FUNGUS by Harry Adam Knight
The Fungus - Leroy Kettle,John Brosnan,Harry Adam Knight

Mushrooms: I'll probably never eat one again! THE FUNGUS is a fast paced, funny and disgusting 80's horror story that contains everything you'd ever want from a fungi-based creature feature. 

 

I recently read another book by this author, (two authors, really, using the pseudonym of Harry Adam Knight. Get it? HAK?), called SLIMER. I liked that one slightly more than this because there was no real science, just a fun, slimy, creature. In this narrative, we do have an attempt to be science-y, but not overly so, which I appreciated.

 

We follow several characters from the beginning, including the scientist who accidentally created this rapidly mutating fungi. Before we know what hit us, all of London is infected and not just people either. There are several types of fungi attacking concrete and other building materials eventually resulting in the literal crumbling of the city. Will any of the plucky characters survive? What about the doctor who created this mess? Will London itself make it through? You'll have to read THE FUNGUS to find out!

 

These two authors, John Brosnan and Leroy Kettle were actually very talented, (I say were, but one is still alive-Leroy Kettle,) and they knew how to write a creature feature without getting too bogged down in the fake science. Just enough to make it plausible to non-biologists is fine. Of course, using the old trope of science making a mistake and thereby destroying humanity is always rich with possibilities, maybe even more so these days than back in the 80's when this was written.

 

Being that this book was written back then, there are some sexist views, (a few racist ones too), and a few other things that don't fit in with today's culture and attitudes. There are also a few extraneous sex scenes thrown in there, because hey-in the 80's that's how the horror genre rolled. None of which bothered me much because this tale is just. that. much. fun.

 

Valancourt Books is dedicated to bringing back these out of print books, some of which have become nearly impossible to find. (If you are lucky enough to find one, you'd better be prepared to pay through the nose.) Over the years I've watched as they've become more and more popular and with their forthcoming PAPERBACKS FROM HELL series, I think they'll have reached the pinnacle as far as retro horror publishers are concerned. (They publish other lines as well, if you're interested, check out their website.)

 

THE FUNGUS isn't trying to masquerade as scientific or serious, it's just trying to provide imaginative, fast paced, creature feature fun. It has succeeded!

 

Highly recommended!

 

*Valancourt Books provided me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-10-04 18:45
WORMS by James R. Montague
Worms - Christopher Wood,James R. Montague

 

WORMS! What can I say? This is not your normal B-movie creature feature. It is more well written than most and it contains elements of guilt and psychological horror as well. I enjoyed the heck out of it!

 

Mr. Hildebrand and his harridan of a wife take a badly needed vacation together, in a more quiet destination than his wife would have preferred. She is unhappy about that and never misses a chance to remind him of that fact. In the quiet town, Mr. Hildebrand feels at home, accepted even, while his wife just complains and complains. How will he deal with her? Will they be able to enjoy this vacation together or will this be the final straw in their marriage? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I said above that this is more well written than most creature features for a few reasons. Its pacing is much slower than the James Herbert or Guy N. Smith novels of the time, and it's definitely much slower than the pacing of today's novels by Hunter Shea and the like.

 

Another reason this differs from most other novels of its kind is because of the time we spend inside Mr. Hildebrand's head. Told in the first person, we're right there to see why he does certain things, (and I admit it, I actually agreed with some of them!), and because of that the reader feels a bond with him. We shouldn't, but we do, (or at least I did.) The psychological horror that results from his actions, as well as the guilt he feels over them, adds another layer to this tale not normally found in stories of this type. The first 2/3 of this book I would label as quiet horror and the last third as pure creature feature fun, along with a few real surprises that I didn't see coming. In addition, there were some truly gross-out moments that made me laugh out loud with glee! GLEE, I say!

 

Lastly, as the final portions of the story unfolded a few events occurred that made me look back at clues I had previously overlooked. I realized then how neatly this entire story fit together, like an intricate jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces were perfectly cut. The fact that James Montague is a pseudonym for Christopher Wood, (a writer of screenplays for James Bond movies such as Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me), may play a part in that. There are scenes in WORMS that play out just as a film would, (several of them in fact), and the novel feels like it's built around those scenes and grows outwardly from them.

 

WORMS was originally written back in 1979, the era when I first got into and began to love the horror genre. Somehow this book escaped my attentions back then, and to be honest? I might have been too young at that time to appreciate this intimate look into a man's head. However, I'm sure I would have appreciated the vivid writing style and film-like quality of it. Now I'm old enough to appreciate ALL the wonderful things about this novel and I'm glad that Valancourt Books has brought it back from sure death so it can be enjoyed once again.

 

Highly recommended!

 

*I received an e-ARC from Valancourt Books in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-09-30 20:07
THE DEVIL'S FINGERS (One Size Eats All #3) by Hunter Shea
The Devil's Fingers - Hunter Shea

 

A sucker for tentacles, that's what I am. (And I can't resist the old-"Get it? Sucker for tentacles?" So sue me.). Anyway, tentacles- THE DEVIL'S FINGERS has them in spades, and oh what fun it is to be with Hunter Shea again!

 

A group of 20 somethings head out into the woods to help their friend say goodbye to his recently deceased dad. They've come to spread his ashes at his favorite spot. Along the way though, they encounter a strange growth of fungi that somewhat resembles the pods in Alien. What is this gross looking fungus? It can't spread to humans can it? And if it can, will these humans survive the encounter? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

 

I'm keeping this review short because I don't want to give anything away and because I don't want this review to be longer than the book. I liked how this group of friends was written and I really liked how they had the strength to stand up when the time came. For me, with creature features, (even ones featuring a nasty fungus as the creature), the story lives in those who fight it, and in this case they fought hard. I also thought their actions were believable-even during the crazy action scenes and BOY, were there action scenes! Complete with the sounds and smells-everything you would need to create a vivid picture in your head-you are THERE.

 

In this, the third installment in the One Size Eats All series, Hunter Shea shows he is the master of bringing home dark and amusing B-style movies in Halloween fun-sized nuggets. What horror fan wouldn't love that?

 

Highly recommended!

 

 

Available everywhere October 23rd, or pre-order now: HERE

 

*Thanks to Kensington, via Net Galley, for the e-ARC of this novella in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-09-23 14:46
SLIMER by Harry Adam Knight
Slimer - John Brosnan,Phil Kettle,Harry Adam Knight

 

SLIMER is a perfect example of why I loved (and still love), horror from the 80's! It's fun, it's fast paced, unpredictable, imaginative, and did I mention it's FUN?

 

Three couples find themselves stranded in a life boat after the yacht they were on sank. After several days they come upon an abandoned oil rig, and are grateful to be on solid ground again. After they start looking around, their gratitude turns to confusion and eventually fear. Why are there scientific labs instead of oil production equipment? Where are all the people? Most importantly, why are they finding piles of clothing all over the place? Piles with undergarments and socks inside, almost as if the person vanished into thin air? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I know that the title doesn't bring to mind great works of literature, but this book towers above most creature features, and unlike a lot of horror from that time period, it's actually pretty well written. I'm not looking for Shirley Jackson all the time, you know? Sometimes I want lots of action and in your face horror and both of those are found here in spades! I've been trying to think of movies or other books I can compare SLIMER with, and all I can come up with is The Thing. Instead of the arctic setting, we're on an isolated oil rig in the middle of the deep sea...but all the other main components are there. The growing fear, the confusion, and suspicion regarding your fellow man, all of it's here. And all of it spells F-U-N!

 

Valancourt Books' PAPERBACKS FROM HELL series is going to be a lot of fun if this is the kind of stuff they'll be putting out. I, for one, am going to be lined up for each new release like a shopper at midnight on Black Friday!

 

If you liked John Carpenter's The Thing, if you like creature features, and finally, (maybe especially), if you liked the best works that 80's horror had to offer, SLIMER is a MUST-HAVE for your home library. My highest recommendation!

 

Available on October 2nd, but up for pre-order now, here: SLIMER

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review 2018-08-17 18:30
CREATURE by Hunter Shea
Creature (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Hunter Shea

 

CREATURE! It. Knocked. My. Socks. Off.

 

Kate and Andrew have certainly been tested. Her health, (a horrible litany of problems due to auto-immune diseases and problems arising from the treatment of them), and his care of her, has tested the strength of their marriage at every turn. Now with Kate trying an experimental treatment, they are in for their biggest test ever. In an attempt to alleviate the tension and bring some relaxation to their lives, Andrew rents an isolated cabin in Maine for the summer. Instead of being the serene, quiet time they had both hoped for, their cabin becomes the target of something in the woods. Will they return from their vacation relaxed and refreshed? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

This is not the book I expected from Hunter Shea. What I expected was a creature-feature, (one of those words is right there in the title after all), and it sort of was. But what it mainly was, was the story of a strong marriage and how chronic disease attacks every component of your life-and this is a tale I recognize from my own life. I had a period of years with an un-diagnosed disease, which in the end WAS diagnosed as an auto-immune condition. I know what it is to be frustrated, to have my patience tested, to be told it's all in my head, and to be poked, prodded, and experimented with like a lab rat. So, when Mr. Shea wrote about Kate's inner thoughts I totally understood and I recognized the pure truth of them.

 

What Mr. Shea did with Kate's thoughts is another thing entirely. It was brutal, yet beautiful at the same time. The imagination and creativity here was astounding. It was also frightening and spellbinding. I read the last 40% of this book straight through, because that was what the story demanded of me. I loved these characters, each and every one of them, and I rooted so hard for them all-I simply could not leave them at the height of their struggle.

 

Now, I find myself almost speechless, (and if you know or follow me, you know that's rare!). I want you to understand that this is a powerful tale, about so much more than what it appears to be on the surface. I hope that if you've ever trusted a review based solely on a reviewer's word, that you choose this one to trust. You will not be disappointed.

 

CREATURE gets my highest recommendation!

 

Available everywhere September 6th, but you can pre-order here: CREATURE

 

*Thank you to Flame Tree Press via NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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