Issue 9 (September 1989)
82 Pages in total
Night Plague [Extract] – Graham Masterton – 8 Pages
Here we have a eight page extract from British horror author Graham Masterton’s novel ‘Night Plague’ (1991) which formed the third instalment into the author’s ‘Night Warriors’ series.
Cellmate – Steve Burford – 2 Pages
Life has taken on a pretty strange twist of fate for our story’s narrator. One minute he’s wasting his life away, unemployed and claiming on the dole; the next, he’s being tempted away from normal life by the well-dressed Richardson, and invited to experience something beyond a normal life’s boundaries. Disguised under the fabrication of a ‘scientific investigation’, with tubes and wires inserted across his flesh, a whole new life will be born from the body of our narrator. His reaction is only human. But unfortunately for him, it doesn’t stop there...
Clouded in mystery from the outset, Steve Burford’s surreal short delves into a seductive and mildly erotic storyline, playing out an oddly unsettling premise that the reader is never quite sure of. As our narrator explains more of his whereabouts and his current predicament is revealed, exposing the tragic turn of events that have played out his final hours; the mystery behind the storyline is adequately but not ultimately unveiled. Although the tale ends with a final explanation that falls in to place alongside the true horror of the situation, there still remains an underlying bafflement towards many aspects of the short. This is where the reader’s imagination is set to fill in the rest, after the suggestive bricks have been so carefully laid for this inspired and suffocating story.
Chic Cuisine – Brian Mills – 3 Pages
Tom and Angie have been invited to very probably the most exclusive restaurant in the whole of New York. Being a hot-shot lawyer now, Tom was beginning to expect no less. After all, his success could open doors other jobs simply couldn’t. And that night, he and his wife would be dining at the Muava Kidgo, a restaurant so exclusive that it would be serving just this one meal. Furthermore, the conditions of accepting the invitation were quite bizarre to say the least. First off, they had to have the restaurants choice in babysitter to look after their daughter Cellie whilst they were out dining. And now it appears that they were required to remain blindfolded for the duration of the chauffeur driven journey there. This was turning out to be a very odd night. But Tom was sure the food would be spectacular…
The tale starts as it means to go on, laying down an elaborate and utterly unfeasible story in an attempt to drum up some creepy mystery. The oddness of the whole set-up is certainly puzzling, but as the tale progresses, Mills just drops too many gargantuan hints at the surprise ‘twist ending’, making it just chug away towards a painfully predictable end sequence that just grates on the reader rather than anything else. The writing itself is quite accomplished, just let down by the utterly ridiculous flow of the story (especially the parents acceptance to go along with it all) and the uninspired and mind-numbingly predictable ending. Still…it’s worth ten minutes of anyone’s time.
A Storm In The Wind [Part Two] – Phillip Alton Garner – 5 Pages
Part Two of a two part story...
Starting from exactly where the first part had left off - with somewhat of an action-packed cliff-hanger; the tale follows on with John Richards hurtling towards the injured form of Jake as they attempt to get away from the MoD’s heavy-handed security. John successfully collects Jake, and together with Carol, the three head off to the Defence Plant to warn the people that there is potentially another one of the genetically engineered beasts on the loose. However, deep in the sub-basement of the MoD Plant stands row upon row of test-subjects from the military’s experimental project. Now with all hell breaking loose around them, John has an idea of how to put a stop to this whole unnatural and dangerous experiment...
This second and concluding part to the science-fiction-cum-horror short story [Part One was featured in FEAR issue 8], slams the reader straight into the fast-lane from the very beginning, with the action-packed chase and resulting shoot-out from where the first part had left off. Garner inserts a heavy slab of splatter in pure Shaun Hutson style, punching his way through the story with some over-the-top bloodshed to run in tandem with the galloping pace of the story. Somewhat disappointingly, the author takes the decision to have the origins of the beast fully explained by the grade three genetic engineer at the Defence Plant - Jake. This back tracking for explanatory detail was mostly unnecessary for the size and pace of the short, and only really succeeds in slowing down the unfolding storyline, staggering its progression, which in turn breaks away from the slow building tension of the plot. The finale is as clumsy as it is chaotic, with violent ambushes and beastly carnage a-go-go. Although surprising in some elements, the downbeat conclusion remains disappointing and ill-conceived, leaving the story on one of the weaker aspects of the whole tale.
Julia – Judith Coulter – 3 Pages
She was once a happy woman, with barely a worry in the world. Indeed, even after they found out that they couldn’t have children themselves, she and her husband Tony decided to adopt and neither of them could be happier. And so Julia had come into their lives at the age of just one. She grew up quickly, becoming a timid young girl with bright red hair. But one day, she started to talk about an older boy of twelve who she had befriended. A boy with equally bright red hair. A boy who she said no one else could see. But something wasn’t quite right about Julia’s sudden invention of an imaginary friend. Something that for some reason made her mother’s skin crawl. Something very, very wrong…
Coulter’s short is certainly a slow-builder, which plays more with a parent’s inherent fears than it does any particular amount of horror per se. Okay, so there’s a strong supernatural element lurking behind the storyline, but this quietly unnerving story only really gives its final wallop to perhaps those readers who are also parents. It’s that inherent protectiveness and seemingly never-ending worry that you are constantly trying to suppress that gets caught up in the cogs of this tale. Without that background connection, I fear much of the impact that the author was clearly hoping to achieve is sadly lost. However, it’s a good, intriguing yarn; told well, but still with very little originality or inspiring imagination.
The Tale Of The Red-Eyed Rat – Chris Watson – 3 Pages
Pormal sits in the warm inn, waiting for a stranger to come in out of the cold winter night. He is a storyteller. Far from a good storyteller, but one who manages to eke out a living from it nevertheless. For he has one particular story that all those who come to Predeth will gladly pay to hear. And with the banging of the inn door announcing the arrival of a new wary traveller, Pormal knows the story of Stanis Putchave and the miserable curse that befell him will be told before the night is over…
Bookended as a story told by our narrator – Pormal, the storyteller’s tale starts off in a vaguely fairy-tale manner, with a premise of curses set by a vicious old witch and five fine warriors sent to save the village which the hag is said to be terrorising. However, the story continues to drag its feet, with an awkward storyline not ever really engaging the reader or delivering any real peaks to the tale. Much of the story becomes easily forgettable, with the supposedly climatic ending merely petering out with nothing more than a small nod towards this tale-within-a-tale.
A Taste Of Blood – Kay Callahan – 2 Pages
It was dark, she was all alone, and she was scared. And before she knew it he was upon her, ripping at her arms and legs, tearing at her clothes. A loud banging noise startled him, allowing her to break free from his grasp. Get away and keep on running. But she knew it was only a matter of seconds before he’d be on her again. So she had to get to safety. Get to her bungalow and the protection of her rifle. The chase was on...
Callahan’s short has a simple idea behind it, with a short escalating storyline that leads to a quick and easy climax. The short switches between first-person and third-person perspectives throughout its short length, allowing the reader to see and feel the woman’s desperate plight. The sudden twist ending is (for me anyway) completely unexpected and instantly changed my opinion of the whole short. What seemed like a pretty standard, run-of-the-mill, ‘stalk-chase-kill’ kind of storyline suddenly has a different angle to it. Not amazing…but not bad.
Dead She Was – Alison Brooks – 3 Pages
As Brian Moore sat in front of the Chief Inspector, after reporting a murder that he had no evidence to prove, he knew that this was going to be a tough one to call. The Chief Inspector clearly didn’t believe a word of it. After all, his story regarding the ghostly apparition of a murder victim was far from an everyday occurrence. But with Ann Walker nowhere to be found, the Chief Inspector had a duty to follow up on the tip-off. But if there was no corpse buried in a shallow grave at the nearby woods, then he was going to do Brian Moore for wasting police time. However, if the heavily mutilated corpse of Ann Walker was found there, then Brian Moore would suddenly be the prime suspect in a murder investigation. But Moore knew that the police wouldn’t keep him for long once they set their eyes on the alternative suspect...
Alison Brooks’ short starts off with a pretty standard paint-by-numbers supernatural-crime plot, with the visitation of the dead victim’s ghost being the only hint at a crime having been committed. However, as the storyline progresses and the plot develops, Brooks tries to twist the tale on its head for a substantial ‘shock twist ending’. Alas, the twist is far from clever or even mildly surprising. The sheer banality of the drawn out twist conclusion is so painfully tiresome, that the reader finds themselves pleading for a last minute saving twist to bring it back to something less tedious. But it never comes. And the short ends on a predictable and annoyingly strung out flat conclusion.
Over The Top – Duncan Adams – 3 Pages
Peter was a clinical psychologist. At the tender age of just twenty-seven, Peter still had a great length of life left in him. And, now on their end-of-the-month-night-out he had finally plucked up the courage to ask his co-worker Janet out on a date. But just as he was nearing that crucial question, she announces her recent engagement. The ring on her finger proof enough that Peter’s chances were well and truly over. And so that night, after returning home after a skinful of alcohol with his friend and co-worker Ted, Peter has the most strange and vivid dream. He dreams that the great analytical psychologist Carl Gustav, who died back in 1961, has visited him. He dreams of Gustav’s discovery regarding another element to the mind. An element he has dubbed Thanatyle after the Greek God of Death. An element that could quite possibly be a holocaust simply looking for somewhere to happen...
Adams’ short is certainly a strange one. The concept is quite clever - when a person is under considerable stress with the imminence of death, an element to the human mind descends on them like a great anaesthetic, making them disregard their own mortality or that of others. And there’s still a lot of this powerful element to the universal subconscious floating about! Around this elaborate and intriguing concept, Adams has concocted a vague storyline of an everyday life for our narrator – Peter. For the vast majority of the short, the reader can’t see where on earth the storyline is going. That is until the last chunk of the tale, whereby Adams pulls in the glorious horror aspect to the tale, bringing it to a dramatic and downright pulse-racing conclusion. However impactful and energetic the run-up to the end is, the short as a whole still lacks any consistent flow, feeling clumsy and totally imbalanced. With some further expansion to the surrounding storyline, this could well have been a very intriguing and entertaining read.
Michael Stewart- Monkey Business – 2 Pages
“Author Michael Stewart braves the unexplored and often dangerous frontiers of science fiction in his brilliantly written thrillers. His latest book, Grace, is already a bestseller and the hugely successful movie version of his first novel, Monkeyshnes, is about to hit the UK. John Glbert puts the man under the microscope.”
James Hong – Big Trouble From Chinatown – 1 Page
“James Hong reveals the secret of eternal youth as he stars in and co-directs New World’s latest horror movie, The Vineyard. John Gilbert samples the vintage.”
Steve Patino – The Ball Game – 2 Pages
“The tools of horror often become more famous than the movie stars they kill. That’s certainly the case with those deadly, silver spheres from Phantasm II. But just how do these death-dealing macabre miracles work? John Gilbert pumps all the grisly details from their creator, FX maestro Steve Patino.”
Alan Grant – The Many Lives Of Batman – 3 Pages
“At Last: It’s Here! The controversial interview that separates Batman the comic book hero from Batman the movie. Alan Grant, current writer of D C’s Detective comic, gives FEAR’s Stephen McGinty his views on the Batman character, his transformation from cowled investigator to vengeful dark knight and his launch onto the big screen.”
John Bolton – The Only Thing It Doesn’t Do Is Move – 5 Pages
“John Bolton has been a freelance artist for some fifteen years. During this time his work has embraced illustration, comic strips, book jackets and the storyboards for a number of major films, including Mel Smith’s latest comedy The Tall Guy. But with a new novel, Someplace Strange, just out and a full colour adaptation of Clive Barker’s In the Hills, the Cities on the cards, it is clear that graphic horror is where his heart is, as Stan Nicholls discovered.”
Charles L Grant – The Quiet Wolf - 3 Pages
“Bestsellerdom may have eluded him, but Charles L Grant, acclaimed horror author and anthologist, has one of the most revered critical voices in the genre. And, as FEAR’s Paddy McKillop soon found out, new writers would do well to listen to him.”
Maine - The Maine Man Part Two: Overlooked – 2 Pages
“Curse or blessing? The Stanley Hotel is the role model for Stephen King’s bestseller The Shining and the staff there are willing to cater for, and often exploit, King fans. But, as Paddy McKillop finds out in the second instalment of his pictorial tour of Kingdom, the novelty appears to be wearing thin.”
Forbidden Planet – Life On Another Planet – 1 Page
“In the first visit in a nationwide tour of specialist shops, Stan Nicholls looks in on the UK’s largest and most successful SF store.”
Dragon Prince – Melanie Rawn
An Excess Of Enchantments – Craig Shaw Gardner
Hero Of Dreams – Brian Lumley
Arthur – Stephen Lawhead
Slaves Of The Volcano Gods – Craig Shaw Gardner
The Dragonbone Chair – Tad Williams
Darkwell: Moonshae III – Douglas Niles
The Mummy – Anne Rice
Forge Of God/Eon – Greg Bear
The Diamond Throne: The Elenium Book One – David Eddings
The Mask – Dean R Koontz
The Alien’s Dictionary – David Hallamshire
The Night Mayor – Kim Newman
Necroscope III: The Source – Brian Lumley
The Island – T M Wright
Dark Fantasies – Chris Morgan
Pet Semetary - Directed by Mary Lambert
The Fly II – Directed by Chris Wales
The Abyss – Directed by James Cameron
Monkeyshines – Directed by George A Romero
The Vineyard - Directed by Bill Rice & James Hong
She Devils On Wheels - Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Bad Blood - Directed by Chuck Vincent
The Hammer Horror Collection - Directed by various directors
Grievous Bodily Harm - Directed by Mark Joffe
Shadow Dancing - Directed by Lewis Furey
The Case Of The Hillside Stranglers - Directed by Steven Gethers
Andy Colby’s Incredible Awesome Adventure - Directed by Deborah Brock
Beverly Hills Body Snatchers - Directed by John Mostow
King Kong Lives - Directed by John Guillermin