NIGHT VISIONS 9 by Thomas Tessier


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 Introducing this ninth volume of an usually vigorous series, F. Paul Wilson decrees that horror is ``not dead''; the mostly lackluster tales that follow, though, say little for the genre's state of health. A prime case in point is ``The Dreams of Dr. Ladybank,'' the gruesome lead-off novella by Tessier (Rapture, 1987, etc.) that treads no new ground even as it takes full advantage of the publisher's proclaimed tolerance of explicit sex and gore. Dr. Ladybank is a sadistic telepathic psychiatrist whose mental reach extends only to Tony, a 16-year-old transvestite prostitute, and to Snake, a vile drug-dealer. Within graphic scenes of masturbation, anal stimulation, murder, and dismemberment, Ladybank toys with his two guinea pigs until one stabs him in the eye. A distasteful tale, but Tessier, a careful stylist, just salvages it with lively prose and genuine sympathy for his grimy characters. Not so Kisner (Nero's Vice, 1981), whose ``Fugyu'' crudely reiterates Tessier's hackneyed theme of the vengeance of the oppressed by having a foul baglady dispense with a madman who's been killing homeless people. Two other weak Kisner tales deal with vampirism (sentimentally) and Jack the Ripper (portentously). His remaining pair, however, display glimmers of wicked humor, particularly ``Moose Oysters,'' in which a hunted beast turns bloody, ironic tables on its hunters. Popular mass-market-novelist Hautala (The Moonstone, etc.) winds up the collection with its only genuinely entertaining work, ``Untcigahunk,'' four linked and suspensefully chilling, if truncated, tales of traditional gory horror in which an ancient race, deformed cousin of humanity, wreaks havoc throughout Maine. Undistinguished horror: these night visions are, for the most part, grainy and dim.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1991
ISBN: 0-913165-63-8
Page count: 300pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1991


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