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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 2018-09-23 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 2018-08-01 18:45
THE AUCTIONEER by Joan Samson, narrated by Matt Godfrey
The Auctioneer: Valancourt 20th Century Classics - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Joan Samson

 

 Evil in a small town is one of my favorite horror tropes and books like this are the reason why!

 

Harlowe, New Hampshire is a small town surrounded by small farms. It's a tightly knit community, or at least the townsfolk believe it is, until an outsider comes to town and things begin to unravel.

 

Perly Dunsmore is an auctioneer. Taking over a recently available old mansion in town, (due to the death of the previous owner), Perly sets about "improving" Harlowe by holding auctions to benefit the police department. These auctions are funded by the generous donations of the townspeople. Until they're no longer able to do so, (eventually there's nothing left), in which case they are gently and quietly threatened to come up with more donations, or ELSE. Will Harlowe survive these auctions or will it rise up against Perly in protest? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I've been thinking about what this novel was really about and I'm still not quite sure. The strongest feeling I have about it relates to that old poem: "First they came for the Socialists...", but that's not quite right. Then I was wondering if it was really about fascism-the auctions after all first funded a police department, to the point of having almost as many officers and deputies as there were citizens in the entire town. But that doesn't quite fit the bill either, especially in light of the finale. Then I finally gave up the analyzing and endeavored to enjoy this novel for the yummy, atmospheric piece of horror fiction that it was.

 

If this is the type of story that usually works for you, (quiet, small town horror a la Tryon's HARVEST HOME, or maybe Michael Rowe's ENTER, NIGHT), I highly recommend you give this book a shot! I listened to it on audio, narrated by Matt Godfrey, whose voicing of Ma Moore I will never forget.

 

Atmospheric, full of tension and palpable fear, THE AUCTIONEER still holds up as an excellent tale, even now, 40 years later. I give it my highest recommendation!

 

*I received this audiobook gratis from the narrator in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it! Further, I consider Matt Godfrey to be a friend, although we've never met in person. This has not affected the content of this review.*

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review 2018-04-27 15:32
FIGURES UNSEEN: SELECTED STORIES by Steve Rasnic Tem, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Figures Unseen: Selected Stories - Steve Rasnic Tem,Matt Godfrey

 

FIGURES UNSEEN: SELECTED STORIES by Steve Rasnic Tem is an exceptional example of short fiction at its best. I've been reading Mr. Tem's work for years, but never have I seen so many of his short stories collected into one volume- and what an outstanding collection it is!

 

There are far too many tales to go into each one individually, but my favorites were:

 

JESSE: A very disturbing story that tricked this reader-I picked the wrong bad guy.

 

CITY FISHING: Other than the word "unsettling," I have no idea how to describe this. It was the first tale in this collection and it hasn't completely left my mind since I finished it.

 

HUNGRY was just...sad.

 

"It's like the love goes inside me and gets lost. And then it just isn't there anymore-like I eat the love, momma. And then I'm still hungry." 

 

RED RABBIT: Yet another disturbing tale which starts out being about one thing but by the end it was about something else entirely.

 

LEAKS: This one gave me a bad case of the creeps. Something was wrong with this horrible, damp, wet house. I shudder in disgust just thinking about it.

 

MIRI: is a special kind of stalker. INVISIBLE: Who in their life has not felt invisible at times? Those points where it feels like no one in the world even knows or cares you're there? This one touched a chord deep inside.

 

THE MEN AND WOMEN OF RIVENDALE: There are a lot of stories in this volume about grief. I felt this was one of them. Grief is powerful, but extended family can be a big help when they're there for support, right? Right?

 

GRANDFATHER WOLF actually made me grin, though I'm not sure it was supposed to. It makes me wonder what lengths a family would go to to keep a family member close, even if that family member is dangerous.

 

VINTAGE DOMESTIC: This one turned my stomach. Then I laughed with delight.

 

PREPARATIONS FOR THE GAME is a tale that started out one way and then slowly morphed into something else entirely. Better get dressed now, it's almost time to go.

 

I guess I'll stop there. Not every story in this collection worked for me, but most of them did, and they worked WELL. I know these tales won't be for everyone, but for me this was a perfect collection of stories. They all complemented each other and flowed like a freshwater spring from one to the next. In short, (too late!), they left this reader blown away.

 

I listened to this book on audio, narrated by Matt Godfrey, whose laid back style is perfect for this collection. The combination of Steve Rasnic Tem, Matt Godfrey, and Valancourt Books is like some unholy trilogy of excellence and FIGURES UNSEEN: SELECTED STORIES is the result of their union. Don't let it pass you by.

 

My highest recommendation!

 

*I received this audiobook free, in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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