Monday, October 7, 2013

Book of the Week: Horror Show

Last year, I was browsing at Half Price Books. It's pretty much a regular haunt for me, and a lot of times I'll find odd little books there that I might not have found out about otherwise...their vintage collection is especially worth a browse. Anyway, directly at the end of each shelf there's always one of those spinning wire racks filled to the brim with books on discount (usually 1-2 bucks.) That's where I spotted this beauty, in all it's schlocky glory.

It makes an excellent companion, by the way, with the last book I reviewed (Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers.) Upon a first glance, I thought it was a murder mystery novel set in the 50s. Thankfully, I was wrong. It's actually a spooky novel about a young reporter investigating an old movie director, Landis Woodley. Think William Castle + Ed Wood + A hint of Tod Browning, and you get an idea. Landis made a lot of crazy films in the 50s on micro-budgets, the most infamous one in particular carrying it's own curse.

Then we learn the story of the curse, the movie, and Landis Woodley. This is really my favorite part of the whole book, perhaps because I have such a love for a good back-story. A satanist steals a sacred item from a tribe, summons a demon, hell nearly unleashes itself on earth, somehow this all falls on Landis Woodley's set when he finds an incredibly disgusting body at a local morgue to use in his movie.

If you've read the other book, you'll learn that there are quite a few questionable films (especially Spanish ones, apparently) in the 50s wherein actors have actually dealt with dangerous animals, dismembered human body parts, and all manner of situations I doubt the SAG would approve of. Reading this book, you can almost believe the writer experienced working on a few of these movies himself.

Ultimately, it's a great 'weekend' book. Something you'll read when you want a spooky feeling, but you don't want to invest the whole week reading it. Well-developed characters, nice transitions between past and present, and even an ending I didn't see coming. I suppose you'd say that's always the best bit.

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