The Cellar Review

The Cellar (1980)

Written by: Richard Laymon
Published by: Dorchester Publishing (Originally), 47North

It's been a while since I've posted, I know. I've been focusing on writing and some reading as well. That being said, this little gem was suggested to me by a good friend and after finishing it, I felt it needed to be broadcast to you wonderful readers.

The Cellar is a thrilling horror novel by the talented Richard Laymon. It follows mother and daughter, Donna and Sandy as they flee their home after being tipped off that Donna's ex-husband, Roy has just been released from prison. Their journey intertwines with that of a mercenary by the name of Judgement Rucker and his benefactor, Larry as they are en route to an infamous tourist trap known as Beast House to slay the legendary Beast, for which it is named.

It's hard to pinpoint what exactly I like best about this story. There are so many facets that blend so well together: lust, hate, brutality, sensuality, etc. In the end you get this sort of goulash of good writing that keeps you sucked in and wanting to know what happens next.

Each character in the story pulls their own weight, as it were. There is a great deal of variety between them all. With Jud and Larry, you get a sort of odd rapport that just seems to work. Between Donna and Sandy, there is a bit of whimsy that keeps the story grounded. With Roy, you get the sick perverseness that turns your stomach in just the right places. Mix them all together and you have yourself a cluster-fuck of just the right magnitude to satisfy that inner voice that beckons for controlled chaos.

As an example, here's a small excerpt from the book I'm sure will make your day:

He sliced through the left side of her bikini pants. The edges flopped away. She clamped her legs shut to keep the pants from slipping down.
     "What time does your husband get home?"
     "What time?" He pulled the pants down to her ankles.
     "Maybe four-thirty."
     "It's only three now. That gives us lots of time."
     "I don't know where they went."
     "Oh?" He laughed. "You may be able to take a lot of pain. I'll be happy to give it to you. But let me tell you something: If you love that husband of yours, you'll tell me what I want to know before he gets home. When you tell me where they are, I'll leave. I won't hurt you, I won't hurt your husband. If I'm still here when he gets home, though, I'm going to kill you and him both."
     "I don't know where she is."
     "Sure you do."
     "I don't."
     "Well then, that's too bad for both of you, isn't it?"
     She said nothing.
     "Where did they go?"
     Crouching, he drew a question mark on the white flesh of her buttocks, and watched it bleed.

I can't say there was really anything I didn't like. It was one of those books that had me itching to pick it back up every time I set it down. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. It was different from what I've normally read and thus a sort of breath of fresh air. Especially the ending. I won't spoil anything, but I will say you won't see it coming. I plan to get my hands on the next title in the series soon, The Beast House.

For all you lovers of horror out there, I would highly recommend starting this series off right with The Cellar. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy on You will be delightfully repulsed and perhaps even mortified. I know I was.



Special Effects

Overall Rating: Beastly

Chain Letter Review

Chain Letter (2010)

Starring: Nikki Reed, Keith David, Brad Dourif
Directed by: Deon Taylor

We all remember back in the day (about, say, 2004, maybe earlier) when text and email chain letters were all the rage, right? Yeah, I hated it, too. And that brings us to today's film, Chain Letter.

In Chain Letter, a group of friends are slowly killed off one by one when they fail to pass along an ominous chain letter email.

This was one of those movies I'd classify very closely to "torture porn" status. Perhaps "gore porn"? I really wanted to like it, but as a story, it's a little lame. Even with three of my favorite actors (Brad Dourif, Keith David, and Noah Segan), it was sort of hard to really want to sit through this. I will give credit where it is due and say the kill scenes weren't too bad. They were gruesome, to say the least. But that being said, it wasn't enough to save this film from a poor script and in some cases, ham-fisted acting.

I guess you can say this is one of those movies helmed for the sake of taking advantage of the gore crowd and little, if anything more. Then again, according to the iMDB score, even they didn't really care so much for this movie.

With a little more effort, I think there really could have been more to Chain Letter, had it been a bit more streamlined and less cryptic in execution. I get the concept of an anti-technology cult, but if the killer was in relation to them, why did he use technology to kill? What was the deal with the chains? Was there supposed to be a sequel to explain the many questions left from the first? I honestly don't think we'll ever find out at this point.

As someone who has sat through this film several times just to make sure I didn't miss anything, I would say for most, but the biggest Brad Dourif fans (granted he was in it for all of maybe five minutes...), avoid this movie. I love Brad and Keith and Noah, but I just can't honestly recommend this one to anyone. It's not the worst film out there, but it sure as hell isn't really much good, either.

But that being said, at least I liked it more than Smiley.



Special Effects

Overall Rating: Deleted and Forgotten

The Grays Anatomy Review

The Grays Anatomy (2014)

Written by: Rob Shepherd
Published by: Stanhope Books

It's been a long time coming that I put out another review. Those of you in the know are already familiar with the fact that I've decided to devote a lot more of my time to writing. This book is one of the reasons why. The Grays Anatomy is a horror anthology of twelve unique short stories written by up and comer, Rob Shepherd. These stories are some of the best I've read in a long time and I should warn you, it's hard to put this book down once you've started it. Even the stories revolving around the well known sub-genre of zombies are great reads for all you horror hounds out there.

I found this book to be very enjoyable due to the writer's unique perspective on the horror genre. I'm also not afraid to say some of that perspective has helped to inspire some of my own writing recently, which I think is a good thing. Here's an excerpt of one of the stories available entitled, "With Friends Like These"

All the time Ryan could feel it looking at him directly in the eyes, burning a hole through him, destroying his soul. “who...” Ryan began to ask barely able to spit and sputter out the question. The question he didn't want to know the answer to. The question he already knew the answer too. The answer was already there in-front of him. “Who...are you” “I am lost, I am broken, but I am whole” came the cryptic reply. But it didn't come from the things mouth, if he could have seen it, but his head again. The creature was talking to him through his head again. This time though, Ryan knew it was all business. Job at hand. The creature slithered towards Ryan and into the light leaking out from the warm glow of the house. That was when Ryan knew he had to be going mad. This wasn't right, he had personally buried Oliver in that grave right there, beside him now. The creature looked down at the grave, stared at it, almost mournfully and then focused back on Ryan. It was almost a dare to do it. Ryan needed no encouragement, he had to do this both to satisfy himself and to rid everything of this ridiculous idea that ghosts or the undead actually exist. Suddenly the shovel was in his hand and Ryan was digging furiously, until he was 6 feet down. He threw the shovel up onto the ground above him and stopped. “Where's the body, where is the fucking body?” Ryan cried out. Immediately he felt like he should regret that.

 Each story in this book has a nice clutch of well-rounded characters and development many writers can only hope for. Personally, I had a great time reading every story in this book. With such tales as "King-Pin", "Majique" and "The Poe Paradox", it was hard to find myself at a loss for entertainment. I hope you feel the same way when you give it a try. The Grays Anatomy can be found here for ebook purchase. I'd suggest you pick up a copy today!




Special Effects

Overall Rating: Eerily Amusing