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DarkEcho Horror
deccoclock by Rick Berry
Book Review

Horror Show
by Greg Kihn
Tor
US$23.95/350 pp.
ISBN 0-312-86045-5

Sometimes, you just have to relax and have fun.

Greg Kihn's Horror Show is a piña colada of a book, not a serious single malt whiskey or even an earnest wine. Once you accept and gulp down its pleasant, fruity blend, it's pretty effective and fun.

Horror Show is more cinematic than literary, which, considering it deals with horror movies of the fifties, is just as well. Clint Stockbern, cub reporter for Monster Magazine, is assigned to get an interview with reclusive fifties horror movie mogul, Landis Woodley. More determined than Jimmy Olson, Clint manages to ferret out the bitter old curmudgeon. Amusing, if macabre, reminiscences to into -- flashback to 1957 -- a tale of True Horror involving a real demon, Hollywood, cadavers and cross-dressing.

Woodley is both a genius and a clown and he surrounds himself with flawed but talented fools. He knows the essence of horror movies has little to do with art and everything to do with shock. When he and his crew start filming his magnus opus. Cadaver on location at the Los Angeles morgue and wind up using a dead body as a special effect, Woodley inadvertently combines real horror with reel horror.

Meanwhile, Satanist Albert Beaumond (Anton-LeVey-as-an-anthropologist) has discovered a real demon and accidentally unleashes evil on the world in an attempt to impress Devila, a sexy Saturday night Movie hostess on a local TV station. As insanity and greed start impelling this plot into the parallel Cadaver plot, we start to see just how this is all going to work. Unfortunately author Kihn isn't as comfortable with the demon raising as with the film making. Although I'll admit that an evil demon unleashed in Los Angeles (certainly a center of demonic and other evil) circa 1957 is as plausible a reason as any for the world to be as it is in 1997, the author just leaves too many loose ends dangling.

Once we flashforward to "Now" things plotwise are otherwise all tidied up -- except for how the person who wound up with the devil-summoning devices got them and why this person is not afraid of The Curse.

This exotic drink of a novel is smooth enough, as long as you relax and remove the little paper umbrella of truly fluid writing before you take a big swig. This is Kihn's first outing as a novelist and he doesn't yet have the recipe perfected. But his blend of words serves well enough to convey the movie unreeling in his head. With a book like Horror Show that's all we really need.

So, take another sip, watch out for that little umbrella and enjoy. -- Paula Guran

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Copyright © 2002 Paula Guran. All Rights Reserved.