RAW PAIN MAX is said to be Andersson’s most extreme book (no, I haven’t read all the others, and so will have to accept that verdict at face value). I was first drawn to it by the Amazon.com customer comments about TORTURE TOMB, an earlier Andersson book, which dismissed it as “Violent porn disguised as a horror novel” and advised prospective readers to “Buy this book only if you’re too cheap to own a VCR or DVD player and rent porn. If you do, seek psychiatric help. You need it”. (Presumably the author of those sentiments has bought and read the book in question, so I hope he/she has sought the psychiatric help demanded of us!) For me there’s no greater incentive to tracking down a book than the rantings of self-righteous assholes telling me not to read it and demanding I seek psychiatric help if I do. But an ever greater incentive was in the same customer’s comments about Andersson’s RAW PAIN MAX, which was apparently similar to TORTURE TOMB, but on “ten times the sadistic testosterone and one hundred times the blood and gore.” Needless to add, I tracked down both books immediately.
RAW PAIN MAX had potential, I’ll say that much. Trudy, its punked-out, muscle-bound protagonist, spends her nights performing in a sex club under the name Raw Pain Max, which provides a perfect outlet for her deep-seated masochistic urges. But there’s trouble on the horizon, in a reincarnation-tinged narrative so insanely convoluted it probably can’t be properly summarized in anything less than novella form (it involves someone named Demon Young, an otherworldly presence known as The Ally, and godlike entities called Pain Eaters). Trudy is somehow contacted by Erzebet Bathory, the Hungarian countess who murdered countless virgins and then bathed in their blood in an apparent attempt at achieving immortality. Liz did other things, too, in her time (read the books DRACULA WAS A WOMAN by Raymond T. McNally and THE BLOOD COUNTESS by Andrei Codrescu), but of course the author is only interested in the nasty stuff.
The novel’s primary reasons for existence are the plentiful S&M flavored
torture sequences, in which people (usually women, of course) are tied up,
gagged and suffer various genital mutilations (representative chapter titles
include “Blood and Barbed Wire” and “Sewing Lesson”). None of it is
particularly disturbing, however, simply because Andersson’s vocabulary is too
limited to do his nasty descriptions justice. How many times can the word
“pain” be used before it loses its power? “Soul” is another word Andersson
over-uses to (and beyond) the point of annoyance (often in hyphenated
conjunctions like “Soul-searing”, “Soul-penetrating”, etc.). An interesting
choice, considering that the book’s spiritual content is pretty much nil, as
exemplified by a passage in which the protagonist’s boyfriend tries to read a
Bible and gives up, deciding to watch an old movie on TV instead. I’ll confess
that, while reading this book, I often had the same idea!