Volume 013, Number 4, Fall, 1995

Weird Menace

edited by Fred Olen Ray

American Independent Press, 1994, $12

As if neither the cover nor the title gave away the theme of this anthology, a cursory look at the table of contents reveals a set of gory, yet tongue-in-cheek horror tales different from the raw and modern horror that is standard 1990s bookstore fare. Sure, Weird Menace has its share of psychos, but these misfits and mad scientists inhabit the sets of B-movies, not the back-alleys of blood and urine stained concrete jungles.

The evil characters herein are drawn in stark unsubtle tones of black. Yet their ink carries almost a cartoonish flair, a vivid and unreal set of panels that inhabit not the funny papers of your local upstanding newsrag, but the glory days of 1920s and ’30s Weird Tales magazine, and the later Creepshow.

Why review this anthology in Prometheus? It’s a fun read, and features several notable libertarian authors, and mixes in well-written stories, with, as the book advertises, a “tasteless talespin into terror.”

Pulp legend Hugh Cave leads off with a grand, diabolical romp, one of the more polished tales. Surprise entry Victor Koman manages a bloody (and sexist) pastiche of the classic pulps. But compared to the marvelous Elvis story, “The Eagle Cape,” I came away somewhat disappointed. Brad Strickland’s tale is funny and tongue-in cheek, while Stephen J. Dornung wields his humor as a rough-edged chainsaw. Richard Gilliam’s “Hotel Sygia” is a tense search and rescue operation.

Many of these tales involve detectives, or the art of detection and discovery. Brad Linaweaver features this variant in a strong tale of voodoo and mayhem. William Alan Rich, former Prometheus editor, does a nice twist on Janet Reno, basing his evil character on her and making her high priestess of a cult. Jerry and Sharon Ahren give us a superb vampire tale, and Martin Nicholas amuses with a dinosaur story.

Sherman Scott throws in a dark and sinister carnival mix, and Gregory Nichol’s “Nazi Jungle Fury” romps like a MST3K clip. Editor Fred Olen Ray concludes the anthology with a nasty little Halloween treat that oozes more than pumpkin innards. A funhouse of an anthology with only minor snags.

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