“It was a pleasure to burn” famously wrote Ray Bradbury—but I doubt he was thinking about the kinds of fiery lust found in Pyro-Sex. Seemingly unhinged in its presentation of clearly fictionalized case studies, the book validates itself by arguing that the “sexual root of pyromania has been entirely overlooked by almost all criminologists” (8). With the aid of allegedly real criminal confessions, the book claims it will leave readers with a new understanding of sexuality’s role in the “impulse to pyromania” (166).
In these pages we meet such disturbed characters as Steven, the “runt” whose reduced stature makes him appear significantly younger than he is. Worse yet, his dick is also diminutive. After ridicule in gym class and traumatic dates where girls laugh at his little pecker, he begins to have pyromaniac fantasies.
Read more “Johann Kreig – Pyro-Sex: The Erotic Response to Fire and Flame (1969)”
A new novelization of an old film? Genius! There’s never been anything like this. The book is a genre all unto itself—part novelization, part expansion of the original premise, part close reading and part spoof of a spoof.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes premiered in 1978 and wears its status as one of the worst films ever made like a badge of honor. The jokes are lame, the budget is next to nothing, and the premise is absurd beyond comprehension. Yet somehow it continues to satisfy as a parody of B-movies and societal failures.
Read more “Jeff Strand – Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: The Novelization (2023)”
“Oh—it is so huge—so very big,” she whispered, aghast.
Thus spoken is Adrienne’s deliciously Freudian description of Castle Caudill, home to her cousin Lord Vincent Stanton. Vincent is known as “Lord Satan” among the locals because of his ferocious temper and cruelty. Also he performs black masses in the cellar and is on friendly terms with Lucifer. But Adrienne finds all that out later, after marrying her cousin unwittingly in a demonic ceremony. “Unwittingly” is a bit of an understatement, she was drugged and unconscious at the time.
Adrienne does love Vincent, though, so she’s in a terrible pickle. It’s that classic situation of trying to domesticate your husband’s embarrassingly diabolical behavior—only in this case, he literally is a demon. Can the tender heart of a woman soothe the blackened soul of a fiend, or will Adrienne succumb to temptation and willingly join the satanic rituals?
Read more “Louisa Bronte – Lord Satan (1972)”
There’s a lot of ball juggling in this book, if you catch my drift. The “plot” consists almost entirely of bedroom scenes. There are, however, fleeting moments of macabre clown imagery to jazz up the D-grade erotica.
The opening image is red, green and blue strobes from car headlights passing the stained-glass window of a Victorian mansion. Mark, a clown accountant, has set up a compound in the mansion for his wildly successful troupe, Bring in the Clowns. Their financial success proves there’s a special synergy among the clowns. As we soon discover, it likely has to do with their limitless dedication to customer service. The juxtaposition of jolly clowns living in a creaky old mansion is really quite sublime.
Read more “Ed Kroch – Bring in the Clowns (1990)”
Let’s take a moment to admire that title. Wow. I mean, if that doesn’t catch the eye, what will? Of course the cover is less appealing. It has all the ingredients of Gothic standard, but on an eighth-grade art class budget. Nevermind that the novel itself is 0% Gothic.
What we have here is a zany mystery with a little travel writing and a lot of absurdity. Most of the specifics are vague, confusing, too ridiculous to explain or all of the above. What I can say is that there is a brother and sister eager to escape their traumatic past via a guided tour through Spain. Previously, the brother got mixed up in dealing drugs. One day a deal goes wrong and the siblings’ father is killed. The brother blames the sister because she was screwing Lance—he’s either a secret agent or another drug dealer, I honestly never figured it out—when it all went down. Lance could have, somehow, prevented the murder if he hadn’t been so preoccupied.
Read more “Elaine Turner – Garlic, Grapes and a Pinch of Heroin (1977)”
Carol wanted to cry, but couldn’t. She was going to be slaughtered like a helpless animal, butchered and drained for their demonic rites, and then cremated and scattered over the potatoes.
Indeed, Carol gets herself into quite the pickle (or potato) when she takes up a housekeeping job at the mysterious Holderness Farm. Orphaned and penniless after escaping a manipulative relationship, she doesn’t question the peculiarity of being hired by a household of thirteen elderly women. They don’t ask for references or prior experience. It’s as if they’re only interested in her youthful vitality…
Read more “Dennis Fowler – The Ladies of Holderness (1976)”
A “major influence” to Graham Greene and described as a “superb writer” by the New Yorker, Marjorie Bowen (1885-1952) might be one of the most popular authors you’ve never heard of. Her extensive bibliography is an endless list of novels and short stories, mostly within the romance and horror genres, but also includes history and biography.
In 1949, near the end of her life, she gathered a humble collection of her favorite eerie tales and had them published as The Bishop of Hell and Other Stories. Now newly reprinted under the “Monster She Wrote” banner, celebrating women writers of the macabre, Bowen’s words find a new generation of enthralled readers. Here’s my review of each story:
Read more “Marjorie Bowen – The Bishop of Hell and Other Stories (1949)”
After a Jack-O’-Lantern ate Lizzie’s brother and a Turkey gobbled up Dad, I was ready for Mom to get her turn. Mom is clearly the most antagonistic character in this series. She’s constantly on Lizzie’s case and siding with the brother nearly 100% of the time. More clinically, she may even be a source of mental abuse for the way she belittles her daughter and seemingly makes up mistakes for the pleasure of punishing her. Of course, we are reading the story from Lizzie’s point of view, which is almost certainly skewed to portray her as the victim.
In any case, I wondered if this book would go darker than the others. Might Mom get roughed up a bit? Symbolically taught a lesson for all the unfair groundings? (These desires probably stem from the troubled relationship I have with my own mother).
Read more “Dean Marney – The Christmas Tree That Ate My Mother (1992)”
Pulp paperbacks were the wild wild west of publishing. I’ll never tire of learning about these books, authors, cover artists, and the barrage of taboo subjects explored during this time of sexual awakening in American history. It was a time that tested the limits of free speech, with many publishers having to defend their books all the way up to the Supreme Court. These books also became an outlet of self-expression to marginalized communities. For better and for worse, admittedly.
I believe the literary quality of pulp fiction is higher than most would expect, but that’s not to say there aren’t clunkers in the mix. For every pretty good book, you have to sift through ten that are terrible. There’s something visceral, deeply subconscious, and a little terrifying about even the worst-written pulps though.
Read more “John Harrison – Hip Pocket Sleaze (2011)”
This Thanksgiving the turkey bites back! In the same universe as The Jack-O’-Lantern That Ate My Brother, Elizabeth is once again faced with a holiday foe. She doesn’t remember her prior supernatural adventures, but something tells her these strange events are linked to a mysterious man named Ralph.
It all starts with a bizarre advertisement for a giant paper turkey. The cost is free and the delivery is free. Just call this number and speak to Ralph. Of course the kids place an order! What could go wrong?
Read more “Dean Marney – The Turkey That Ate My Father (1995)”