Original horror short stories that run the gamut from inane to inflammatory. With their deliberate lack of editorial constraint, the Night Visions anthologies have become today's boldest showcase for experimental horror. But, perhaps for marquee value, writers of every stripe contribute--and so this volume headlines Farris, whose old-fashioned entries pale next to Gallagher's and especially beside Lansdale's, and are bracketed by some dreadful poetry (""Rosiebays a/dea/d one/sheare/d hea/ dless. . .""). Farris's three stories include the poetically vengeful ""Hairshirt""; ""Good Morning Daddy,"" a vampire variant; and the sweetly demonic ""More than Mischief."" Each is smooth but shows none of the innovative schlock of Farris's older work or the humanism of his recent novel, Fiends (p. 361). More inspired are the four stories by Gallagher (best known for his psychothrillers, such as Down River, p. 822, etc.), particularly the ""The Back of His Hand,"" a crime tale with wicked whiplash; also memorable, for its eerie atmosphere, is the Twilight Zone-y ""Comparative Anatomy,"" about a ferry ride to nowhere. But the powerhouse here, and by far the most innovative writer, is rising splatterpunk star Lansdale (The Nightrunners, 1987), who--in four genuinely disturbing tales--shuns the occult to mine the nexus of sex and death. ""Incident On and Off a Mountain Road"" is the slickest yet shallowest, as a woman takes on a lunatic; ""Steppin' Out, Summer, '68"" is an outrageous tale of misspent youth; and ""The Phone Woman"" is a grisly but precious look at necrophilia. Lansdale's last tale, ""Drive-In Date,"" again about necrophilia, good ole' boy-style, is the book's ferocious standout, drenched in sardonic irony. (A high-horsed swipe against censorship by Robert R. McCammon concludes the collection.) An eccentric mix, like Cracker Jacks, with the Lansdales the prize worth digging to the bottom for.
Pub Date: Feb. 3, 1990
Page Count: -
Publisher: Dark Harvest (P.O. Box 941, Arlington Heights, Il 60006)