Monday, November 19, 2012

A Plea to the Horror Authors of the World

I have a predicament, and I'm sure I'm not the only one in the world that struggles as I do... but I am a big horror novel fan, and lately the horror just isn't up to par. Sure, it's gross, but not gross the way it should be. While I am craving blood and guts and monsters and bump-in-the-nights, the horror and splatterpunk authors of late have done nothing but throw liberal amounts of sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, all up in my face. Rape and molestation are one thing, sexual pervesion is okay in small doses, and they can definitely add a creepy factor to any story, but lately that's the only thing I've managed to read about in horrible from lesser-known authors.

Any time I mention horror, I get the 'big three' thrown at me : Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Dean Koontz.

While I'm not familiar with Koontz's work, I've read a good deal of King and Rice. These authors' works are pretty tasteful all around so it's no wonder people prefer to read their scary stories over some of the others. Everyone else, like Kim Armstrong and Lauren Hamilton, just right urban paranormal romance... where the concept of a vampire is creepy, but no, their otherworldly lovers are anything but creepy.

Pfffft. Please....

Craving something a little more, I decided to look into the 'splatterpunk' genre. For those of you who don't know ::: SPLATTERPUNK, courtesy Wikipedia. And the TL;DR version - "bills itself as horror with no limits; hypertensive"

Well known 'splatterpunk' authors include.... Clive Barker (best known for his 'Hellraiser' movies and the short stories series 'Books of Blood'), Richard Matheson (Twilight Zone screenwriter and best known for his books 'I Am Legend' and 'Hell House'), Edward Lee (whom I will complain about momentarily), Richard Laymon (again, complain about), and Poppy Z. Brite (gay underaged vampire incest.)

Now.... Barker and Matheson are legends, and for a reason, they successfully balance sex and gore in their work. I've no qualms; in fact, I have recommendations. For those who think King and Rice too meek, check out ....

... the former being a delightful haunted house story and the other is a collection of shorts.

But these are considered the classics. The contemporaries are pathetic by comparison ....  let me give you an idea of what I'm talking about...

First up on my chopping block, Mr. Edward Lee. The evidence ....

Let's start with The Golem....

What the hell is this novel about? - well, it's supposed to be about a demented rabbi who is raising people from the dead for his own personal political gain and killing other people in the town.

The Golem has a lot of good things going for it- 1) It has a monster that it familiar to most but not exploited on like vampires or werewolves which keeps it relatively fresh, 2) it has actual religious mysticism in it which means that there is some history and some sense of realism, 3) Edward Lee writes really good scenes of violence and shadowy descriptions of monsters/demons which adds to the excitement factor.

The Golem unfortunately has a lot of bad things going for it as well - 1) this story takes place in two different time periods and it almost constantly flipping back and forth between them. It would have been a lot better if he had simply stuck with one setting and explained everything from there. He creates too many storylines and characters within and single story for anyone to really give a damn about anything, 2) this particular story is a little misogynistic. All of the women are either sex tools or drug addicts and treated worse than the animals. As a woman reader, I did not find any of this very tasteful while I realize that sex is a large part of the horror genre. Lee doesn't write it as scary or frightening but just something that happens. That is what disturbs me.

And did I mention all the sex? Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. There were, I kid you not, four accounts of rape within the first fifty pages. That's just ridiculous. It's not scary. It's just distasteful.

And if you thought that was bad, just wait until you board The Black Train.

What the hell is this novel even about? - well, it's supposed to be a ghost story about a cruel Civil War railroad owner whose spirit still inhabits a local hotel and influences the patrons. But all he really influences the patrons to do... is be obnoxiously horny. Yes, you heard me right.

The narrative in this book is nonexistant. The only well-written parts are the lucid Civil War dreams. For two-hundred and eighty pages, this book could not decided what the hell it wanted to do, everyone had sex with everybody, and then the last sixty pages Lee crams in a romance and a haunted house tale to boot.

This would have been a much better short story, but dragging it all out for over three hundred pages? - it just became a perverted snoozefest.

I am not impressed, Mr. Edward Lee. Not at all.

I don't have as strong an opinion of Mr. Richard Laymon because I only read one of his novels....

 [ x ]

I was unable to pull up a picture of the cover of this book so pretend the [x] is a haunted house with a red sky and the words THE MIDNIGHT TOUR in gold letters. Ok?

I later learned that this books is actually the third in the series, so I'm giving myself a little room for doubt because the first two books could have been really good and the third book really crapped out on everything, but considering it has an interesting background - a previously haunted manor where a bloodthirsty monster ripped people to shreds and now it's open as a tourist attraction and only the bravest ones dare take what is called 'the midnight tour' - it has a lot of promise, am I right?

It fails. My first reaction was "What is this? I don't even ._. ... "

What is really sad about this book is that the characters are great and believable and fun, but as far as the plot goes, it is lamer than lame. Great premise but there's no action. It read more like a love/sex/romance/drama story with a couple of ugly, graphic killings in between, but an almost total lack of suspense. Everybody is the book is just kind of screwing around. Literally.

The scariest part is when they describe the various museum murder recaptures.... and that isn't even real.

You disappoint me, Mr. Richard Laymon.

I'm not even going to bother with Poppy Z. Brite. Her 'best known for' above explains it all... appeals most likely to yaoi fangirls.

.... so these are the books that I have to sit and read while the big 3 write (or have ghost writers write) more, and Clive Barker directs movies now, and Richard Matheson is dead (I think...)

Can we please do better than this, splatterpunk and horror authors? Try a story formula a little more like Ben Winters's Bedbugs.

Sexually implicative title. Discreet amount of sex. Heavy on the suspense. Bits of creepy moments here and there, and then let the flood gates loose and completely horrify everyone at the end. Marvelous.

In the meantime, I'll be going through Dean Koontz's novels. The question is... where do I begin?

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