OF FRIGHTS FROM THE HORROR ZINE
Here we have the fourth anthology culled from the Jeani Rector edited Horror Zine website. Each of these anthologies has been bigger and better than the last, meaning A FEAST OF FRIGHTS is the most substantial of them all (at least until the next one). As in the previous collections it contains fiction, poetry and artwork, and also a nonfiction section new to this volume. It all adds up to a terrifically eclectic collection that mixes big names (Graham Masterton, Joe Lansdale, etc) with up-and-coming ones. There’s even an admiring introduction by Ramsey Campbell, whose enthusiasm for The Horror Zine and this book seems genuine. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you this is as strong as any anthology published in 2012, and a must-buy for any horror fan.
Among the fiction entries are several reprints, among them Joe R. Lansdale’s unforgettable “Incident On and Off A Mountain Road,” about a survival trained woman taking on a homicidal freak, Ed Gorman’s “Scream Queen,” about some not-entirely-stable video store nerds and their fateful encounter with an aging horror movie actress, and Jeani Rector’s own “The Golem,” a powerful fleshing out of a legendary folk tale.
Further standouts include “Germ Warfare” by Eric J. Guignard, about an ultra-paranoid man’s attempt at ridding himself of toxins; “Mouthpiece” by Mike Goddard, concerning a guy who develops a second mouth; “Husks and Formless Ruins” by Tom Piccirilli, which explores lust, disillusion and the limits of religious mania; and “The Tide Clock” by James Strauss, an unrelenting evocation of extreme pain experienced by a man trapped under a downed tree.
The poetry section is shorter here than in the previous volumes, but contains some potent entries. “Where the Dead Go” by Ian Hunter offers a sharp and disquieting evocation of confinement and oppression experienced by a dead--or soon to be dead--person interred in a coffin. Wesley Dylan Gray’s “The Skittering” is even chillier in its depiction of insectoid horror (“On his skin they crawl/as he sleeps they dominate/his flesh”). “Judgment From Beyond” by Andrea Latham may indeed be about the otherworldly judgment suggested by the title, or possibly just retribution by a jilted lover; either way it’s a standout. I know I won’t be forgetting “The Diagnosis” by Elise R. Hopkins any time soon, with its overpowering depiction of a woman’s hand slowly rotting from some unexplained contagion.
Of the nonfiction, the standout offering is by true crime impresario John Gilmore, who provides a pungent overview of his life as a Hollywood native obsessed by the Black Dahlia murder. Rounding things out is Joe Lansdale, who tells how it is he became a writer, while TV legend Earl Hamner reminisces about writing for the original TWILIGHT ZONE, and Graham Masterton provides a deeply poignant remembrance of his recently deceased wife.