Ginger Nuts of Horror
To some the glory days of of horror in the 1970's are a time best forgotten. A time when to many of today's readers and critics, the genre had devolved into the most basic and explicit of forms. With to some no redeeming factors. To these people I blow a big raspberry in your general direction. To me the 1970's and the 1980's were a time when horror had a heart, soul, and an ability to be just great, great fun. A time when buckets of blood and buxom babes jostled for screen time.
Luckily for you folks at home, the five horror authors featured in this anthology clearly love this period in the genres history, and provide you lucky people five stories that capture, perfectly, the feel of that bygone age.
Kicking of the anthology is another great example of the talent that is Stephen Bacon. Pseudonym, is the quietest of the five stories on offer here. Told in the first person narrative, this story deals with journalist finally getting to meet and interview one of his heroes. While this story lacks the more overt and over the top elements of some of the others, Bacon injects his story with a Hammer Horror gothic feel, with an old reclusive author shut off from the world in his old mansion. With a narrative that smoulders as it slowly and surely builds up the tension to a gruesome ending, Pseudonym is a an excellent start to this anthology. Bacon's writing is strong and assured, and his love of horror shines through in this story.
The second story in this anthology The Cannibal Whores of Effingham by the irrepressible Johnny Mains, could not be further away from the open story if it got on a rocket and flew to Mars. This sick and twisted story about what happens when a brothel full of cannibal whores comes face to face with the most vilest and sickest serial killer, is a glorious over the top explosion of bad taste and sick laughs. This is the sort of story that if it were a film would have had Mary Whitehouse reaching for a brand new pen and letter set. This is a fantastic gorefest of a story that will have any male reader wincing and cringing as the whores go about there business. Deftly written with a nice touch of subtle humour, Cannibal Whores entertained me to the max.
After the excesses of Johnny's story it's down to the Gentleman's Gentleman of Horror, John Llewellyn Probert to bring the tone of book back to a more respectable level. Out of Fashion, reaffirms my beliefs that JLP is one of the finest writers of good old fashioned fun filled horror. Set in Victorian London, and told in the first person JLP uses his vast medical knowledge to tell a gripping story about some strange going ons on Old London town. With a brilliant almost apocalyptic ending to his story JLP has pulled crafted another fantastic short story.
And Now we come to the sickest and most perverse story in the anthology. That's right folks you may have thought you that you couldn't top Johnny's effort, and normally you would be right. However, Stephen Volk, takes the primes of this book and literally craps all over it. With a protagonist that to anyone who works with other people will know all to well. You know the type, the one how is always far too keen to help those above him, the type who will always buy the boss a coffee. That's right an Arse Licker. Well this time the Arse Licker gets his comeuppance. By the time that you finish reading the extended scene of revenge, you will have been put of baked beans for life. While this scene is shocking, it is the finale of the story that truly shocks the reader. Stephen Volk makes a canny side dodge as to the consequences of what happened, and leaves the reader with a sobering image of just how sick and twisted this particular arse licker really is. In the hands of a less gifted writer this story would have degenerated into a shock for the sake of shock story that in all honesty would have become rather dull. However, Stephen Volk is a true talent, and he injects just the right amount of tongue in cheek humour to lift this story to an brilliant look at office politics.
Closing the anthology is Mark West's story The Glamour Girl Murders. Those of you who are familiar with my reviews will know that I hold MarK West's writing in the highest regard. Mark has a rare talent when it comes to writing horror. I mentioned it at the start of the review, as being one of the things that made the 1970's such an important time in horror for me. Mark infuses everyone of his stories with a heart and soul, and when he writes sets his stories in this time period, he elevates his stories from excellent to phenomenal. I don't know who he does it, but he really does transport the reader right back to 1970's, and this story does it brilliantly. This grimey little murder mystery was a joy to read, a sleazy photographer with a peculiar fetish, a crazy rich debutante with a terrible secret, and a killer straight out of the glory days of British horror, made this a Pulptastic way to close this fantastic anthology.
The Anatomy of Death is a hedonistic mix of sex drugs, bodily fluids and murder to the extreme. Gloriously over the top in places, but never failing to entertain, Anatomy of Death will make you squirm, shiver laugh and gasp from the cover to