In what may be his last black cover book and is definitely his first full-length novel, horror author Matt Shaw takes on his most ambitious project to date and pulls out all the stops to bring his readers the most grotesque book he’s ever written. Read on to find out if he succeeded.
Extreme Horror by Matt Shaw
Extreme Horror is the story of a man named Adam. Adam has an unhealthy obsession with the horror movie killers we’ve all come to love, like Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers, and even studied some of the UK’s most notorious serial killers. These killers, Art, Peter, and Chris all come from Shaw’s previous books: Art, (written with Michael Bray) Happy Ever After, and Don’t Read, respectively. Adam feels he needs to make a name for himself and sets out to make an extreme horror film people won’t ever forget, while becoming the UK’s most prolific serial killer. As a child, Adam’s parents tried to talk him out of his chosen career path. He always felt resentment toward them for not supporting his choice to become a filmmaker.
Adam (not his real name) starts his killing spree by using a lawnmower to obliterate the skull of a man named Rhett. This scene is particularly gruesome and Adam laughs as the mower cuts through the man’s face and head.
As the story progresses, Adam finds new and imaginative ways to torture and kill his victims, all the while filming each grisly death. We find that he has no real empathy for anyone, but he takes a liking to one woman, Michelle. He wants Michelle to help him put a spin on his horror film because he wants to turn it into a romance. Michelle is told that if she convincingly portrays a victim who falls in love with him, he will let her go. As with most of Shaw’s stories, the ending is not at all what I expected and this is one of the reasons I love his books so much.
Now, on to the gross factor of this book. All of Shaw’s black cover books are sickening and more than a little disturbing. Being an extreme horror fan, most of the scenes depicted in his black cover books don’t bother me. Much. I have a weak spot for eyeballs, but I can’t talk about that without my eyes watering, so let’s move on.
Don’t Read was pretty disgusting. People had their eyes cut out and one woman was cooked in a deep fat fryer after being raped with a knife. However, Don’t Read was tame compared to some of the content in Extreme Horror.
Adam is a sadistic man. In one scene, one of his victims tells him to, “eat shit.” As a way to teach her to watch her mouth, guess what he feeds her for lunch? You guessed it, shit. Now if that’s not enough to put you off brown foods for a long time, I don’t know what is. It’s not the fact that Michelle eats shit that bothered me. It’s the detail in the writing that made that particular scene so realistic and vivid that it almost made me gag. The first time I read it, I had to walk away for a moment to compose myself.
Not revolting enough for you? In another scene, Adam films two women throwing up on (and in) each other. As a person who has a strong aversion to everything vomit related, this was absolutely stomach-churning for me. Again, the details the author uses to describe the sight and smell of the vomit, on top of what he makes the girls do after throwing up is making me sick again as I write this review.
As per many of Shaw’s books, there is a lot of blood, guts, internal organs, crazy sexual situations and foul language. However, under that is the story of a man with a dream, a man who just wants to be remembered for something, and despite Adam being a complete psychopath, in some small way, I think we can all relate to that.
I’m sad knowing that this may be the last bit of extreme horror coming from one of my favourite authors, but knowing Shaw, he’ll find new and innovative ways to make his readers uncomfortable.
Look for Extreme Horror to drop on February 12. Pre-order your copy here.
**Please note: This, unlike the other black cover books, comes with a strong warning at the beginning. Please, heed that warning if you are the least bit sensitive to graphic content.