Tuesday, November 1, 2011

He might try to help you, in his way. And that could be pretty horrible. If he didn't like you...well, that could be worse

OK, so it took me awhile to get this next post written, but I had a good reason: I'm lazy. Also I'm going to blame this on the recent snowstorm that hit the Northeast, even though that happened way after I finished reading Horrorscape. But seriously, we got a foot and a half in Jersey and it wasn't even Halloween yet, so I think that excuse can work retroactively.

Since I have been lazy getting these posts written I figure I'll just combine the last two sections of Horrorscapes together in this single entry, and instead of reviewing a couple stories, like I did in my last post, I'll give you a quick comment about each of them.

Part 3: Belief and The Supernatural
Pickman's Model by H.P. Lovecraft - This is the first Lovecraft I'd read and it is what makes me want to read more of the guy. Plus it takes place in Boston's North End, which I lived in for awhile, and could totally believe that evil things are crawling around just below the city.
The Roaches by Thomas Disch - A good though somewhat forgettable creepy crawly horror story and what happens when someone is a lonely clean freak.
The Boogeyman by Stephen King - You can always tell a King story without even knowing he wrote it. He has a certain tone and no matter how crazy things get the characters sound real and flawed. It's fun to see him take on the creature that hides in children's closets.
It's a Good Life by Jerome Bixby - You (probably) know this one, even if you don't know you know it. Twilight Zone and Simpsons did it. Little kid can read thoughts and control things with his mind and hates when people are unhappy or think bad things. What happens when someone with a 5 year old understanding of morality has complete control over everyone? It just confirms that kids are terrifying.

Part 4: Avenging Angels and Faustian Devils
They Bite by Anthony Boucher - Locals tell outsider of the haunted house. It's a simple premise that every horror writer has taken on at some point and this one has a little lesson worked into it. Granted the lesson is along the lines of don't be an ass or you'll get bitten but still.
The Black Lake by Tony Richards - I always have to remind myself that this isn't a King story. It feels like it could be. Who knew a lake could be such a successful predator?

The Raft by Stephen King - OK, so this one is actually a King story. It has those believable characters and then a crazy (and gory) attack. I probably mix up The Black Lake with this one because they're next to one another and they're both about malevolent lakes, which really isn't a horror category I thought would exist, but there you go. I saw a short film version of it but like a lot of King things, go for the book instead of the movie.
Sweets to the Sweet by Robert Bloch - First up, I love the Shakespeare reference. Second, it's another story where children are terrifying. This time the kid's behavior is more justifiable but still, don't mess with kids. If you call someone a witch often enough, will they become one? Bloch is also the guy that wrote Psycho, so you know he can do some quality writing. This is no exception.
If Damon Comes by Charles L. Grant - Another horror story about a kid. See how scary kids are? Although this is more like Bloch's tale where the kid being a super creepy is kind of justified. Kinda creepy but not outright scary like some of the other stories in here.
Ceremony by William F. Nolan - It's kind of like the Boucher story, where someone gets punished by these "avenging angels". Also it's a good reason to avoid taking long bus rides because those always seem to invite creepy things to happen.
Dark Angel by Edward Bryant - Don't think that this is like that Jessica Alba TV show. It's a question of how far should revenge go and how do you know when you've gone too far?
The Playground by Ray Bradbury - Again! children are the creepy factory here. How much can you really protect your children? How far will you go? What do your childhood memories mean for your kids?

Title quote from page 132, from the story It's a Good Life.

Goshgarian, Gary ed. Horrorscape. Kendall Press, 1993.