The Dreadful Tales family is an international entity. Although our staff are only currently represented by America and Canada, Dreadful Tales is connected to writers and fans all over the globe. I have a special connection with Japan and a deep love of Canada, for both their contributions to horror and the friends I’ve made there. But this weekend it’s all about the U.S.A.! Typically this is an excuse to exhibit our independence by getting drunk in the early afternoon, blowing shit up, and eating brats until we pop. This year I started to reflect on all the fictional characters I would want to spend Independence Day with. I orchestrated a fantasy BBQ with my favorite all-American authors and their bigger than life creations. In celebration of America’s independence I offer my picks of the greatest Patriots of modern fiction. These are the men and women who protect us from evil, monsters, and the general riffraff who threaten our freedoms. Enjoy beyond the break!
Tag Archives: Richard Laymon
The Woods Are Dark by Richard Laymon
Funland by Richard Laymon
Funland is one of those books that seem to fall squarely in the “good-but-not-great” category amongst Richard Laymon aficionados. This absolutely baffles me. All of the classic Laymon conventions are perfectly executed in Funland– the carnage, the humor and the weirdness- Funland has it all!
The resort of Boleta Bay is not the carefree place it used to be. A series of unexplained disappearances, and holiday-makers threatened by an army of leering bums, casts a shadow over summer pleasures. But now Boleta Bay is fighting back and their campaign leads them to the abandoned Funhouse.
Boleta Bay is the perfect Laymon setting. It is a resort town with plenty of tanned bodies and crazed tramps. This makes for the perfect venue for Laymon to indulge in his classic recipe of splatter and sensuality. He shifts between hot-and-steamy and disemboweled-and-decapitated so naturally. It is the contrast of the beautiful bikini clad girls with the shabby hobos that really encompasses what Laymon’s writing is all about.
Funland sports one of Laymon’s more robust plots. There are up to six subplots taking shape at any given point in the novel. Usually when dealing with so many characters and intricacies I tend to find flaws with at least one or two. Luckily this is not the case with Funland because (as usual with Laymon) he crafts some genuinely engaging characters. Laymon gets you into the head of each character with subtle ease. There is no clunkiness or awkwardness. It just flows. This is really the backbone of Funland. At no point do you ever getting bored with any particular plot because the individual characters are just so damn strong. When all of these plots finally come together it is truly remarkable. It is a real testament to the literary talent of Richard Laymon.
Of course, all of these characters give Laymon ample opportunities to indulge in the blood and brutality that have become his grisly calling card. The gore flies as the hobo population is terrorized by a group of local teens, known as The Trollers. The Trollers wage their war against all those who oppose them and Laymon finds some truly inventive ways to get the reader cringing by utilizing the unique midway setting of Funland. There are scenes of graphic torture and humiliation as The Trollers attempt to intimidate the bums that will have even the most seasoned Laymon fan squirming.
The final 100 pages of Funland are Laymon at his finest. In fact, I would say that the last five chapters may be the best chapters I have ever read. Absolutely sick and brutal! The pacing and action will have your heart thumping and the pages will keep turning. In typical Laymon fashion he takes the story from a place of normalcy (normal for Laymon at least) and then he ups the ante- resulting in some out-of-your-skull absolute insanity. He masterfully mixes the horror of the situation with the natural desires of the characters with perfect results.
If you are looking for a book that showcases, not only Laymon’s ability to frighten and arouse, but also his talent as a master storyteller- Funland is the book for you!
The Wilds by Richard Laymon
Beware! by Richard Laymon
Where exactly should I start with this one? Maybe with the invisible man running amuck in a small town? No. How about the crazy bizzarro cult that has infiltrated every facet of the normal world? I guess that might not be the appropriate launching point either. Well we always have the abused heroine who is willing to forego revenge on a man that repeatedly assaulted her in order to give some two-bit author a good story. No, not that either. I guess I’ll just start at the very beginning.
I had no idea what Beware was about when I opened the book. I was immediately hooked when it started to play out like a violent ghost story. There were unthinkable murders and assaults committed by an unseen assailant- all of which were masterfully told through a series of newspaper clippings. I was in heaven! This was shaping up to be one fine novel. Then everything got kinda……. well,weird. Yeah, I guess weird would be the word for it. It wasn’t necessarily bad but it certainly wasn’t what I had hoped for. Things just spiraled out of control in a completely unexpected way. The ghost turns out to be an invisible man who kidnaps a woman he has been lusting after for years. He intends to keep her as a prisoner in her own house. Of course she escapes and we are led on an insane adventure that leads to Las Vegas and the surrounding dessert where she is assisted by a novelist and some sort of super-human strong man private detective. All of this happens while a blood thirsty cult is closing in on the invisible man. Things got so out-of-control that I was fully expecting a UFO to swoop down and bring the story to an end.
Now I realize that I sounds like I didn’t care for Beware but that isn’t the case. Laymon had ample amounts violence and action which held my attention throughout. His writing was so tight and fluid that I had to keep reading. The problem was that I found myself being entranced by the writing and not the story. This makes for a very difficult read.
I voiced some of these concerns to the almighty Colum and he wished that someone had warned me about Beware before diving in. Apparently it is known amongst Laymon fans that Beware is his completely insane over-the-top story that doesn’t jive with his normal style. I think with that in mind I may go back and give it a second chance. Until then I will continue to slowly shake my head every time I think of Beware.