Issue 1 (July 1991)
50 Pages in total

Eric The Pie - Graham Masterton – 6 Pages
You are what you eat.  Or so Eric had been told from a young age.  At the tender age of seven, he believed this quite literally.  And so he didn’t want to eat anything, for fear of turning into a pie.  He didn’t want to be Eric The Pie.  But when his poor mother found out the reason for his avoidance of food, she sighed with relief.  “If you eat life, you’ll have life” she explained.  And so Eric went on to consume whatever living things he could get his hands on.  And as the years went by, the life that he consumed got bigger and bigger…

‘Eric The Pie’ is now an infamous short story, largely due to the controversy that surrounded its publication in this first issue of Frighteners.  After receiving a complaint about the story, both John Menzies and W H Smith refused to stock the magazine any further.  The issue was subsequently pulled from circulation entirely, except from orders direct from the publisher.  Such problems within its very early days saw the magazine only lasting a further two issues before it ceased altogether.  And here we have it.  The story that did so much damage.  And to be fair, it is a nasty piece of fiction, with some particularly harsh scenes of extreme animal torture, bestiality and cannibalism.  Oh yes, it’s got it all crammed in there somehow.  Aside from the controversy, as a story it’s not bad, but certainly not Masterton’s finest moment with short story writing.  Characterisation is relatively poor, even for a short.  Although captivating with its grotesqueness, the actual plot is quite weak and predictable.  However all this is pushed aside with the level of graphic violence and torture on show.  For this, and this alone, it has its worth.  It is an entertaining (don’t judge me) read.  It is engaging and climatic with its finale.  And that’s pretty much all that counts here.  So there we have it.  ‘Eric The Pie’ in all its gory glory…and still well worth a read.

Yatterjack – James Allison – 3 Pages
As he slowly comes round to his senses, he feels himself appreciating his predicament more and more.  Wrapped up tight, almost cocoon like, in the constant care of the medical staff – particularly that soft-skinned nurse.  It’s not a bad life being injured.  That is until the pain kicks in.  The pain and the frustration of barely being able to move a muscle.  Well not without experiencing stabbing pain that is.  But with consciousness comes the slow dawning of reality…and with that comes the memories.  And those memories certainly aren’t pretty ones…almost as ugly as that poor fella opposite…

Allison’s strangely disorientating short is simple in its concept, but achieves its success with the confined and claustrophobic atmosphere that it projects.  The inherent mystery behind the injured man builds with suspense-filled intrigue from the moment the reader realises where the short is located and the predicament our narrator is in.  Unfortunately, from here the author tries to throw in a clever twist, which sadly backfires due to its predictability; leaving the would-be sudden revelation at the end merely a cold moment to finish on.  That said the short is still an enjoyable and intriguing little tale to get wrapped up within for a few minutes.

Blood Of Satan – Oliver Kean - 8 Pages
The young peasant boy had to escape them.  When the grotesque Priest Gilleis forced himself upon him, he was lucky to get away.  Now with the vile priest and his master, Sir Roger Caragnac, hunting him down, he takes the only option he can now see available to him.  He must enter the dreaded forest where those who have entered have never returned.  A strange yellow mist quickly envelops the fleeing boy, and drawing him in further, is the sexual attraction of the mound.  A mound that was once a dwelling.  A dwelling that is desolate and decayed, but still holds a dark and powerful secret.  Those that discover it will fall to he who is the ultimate in evil.  Their new master.  Satan awaits…

Kean’s first instalment in the supposedly ‘epic series of supernatural evil’ sets the early premise for the series well.  The short projects an altogether eerie and smothering atmosphere that lingers over each and every sentence.  The tension is there from the start, with a tense and furious flight from the boy’s stalkers, pushing the story into purposefully disorientating and creepy surroundings.  The tale spirals towards an ending that doesn’t even attempt to throw up any clever twists or surprises.  Its strength is in the evil atmosphere that it so expertly delivers.  The short concludes detailing ‘Next Month: Into the nightmare…’ however this same first instalment was included within Frighteners Issue 2.

Mud – Rand Soellner – 24 Pages
Alice LeGuido didn’t stand a chance against the beast that lay waiting at Bat Flap Hollow in Central Florida.  Had she not run away from home, she could have had a long and enjoyable life.  But instead the sixteen-year-old ventured across the wild landscape, only to be dragged into the vast gaping mouth of the waiting mud beast.  Now, twelve years later, and Dawn Sylvestri’s construction & development team have unearthed a mass of human remains in the vicinity.  Detective Kreig Kizer is assigned the case, but what he is about to discover is beyond anything he has ever encountered before.  A great beast that is older than mankind.  A mud demon that is controlled by the forces of nature.  A colossal creature with an unrelenting hunger for flesh.  And it’s finally time they put a stop to its murderous reign…

Soellner’s short story is puzzlingly drawn out for what it actually delivers.  It’s not as if the writer is particularly verbose with his writing style, it’s just that the story takes the reader through far too much of the characters’ lives.  What slowly (and I mean slowly) emerges is that a time-old beast has been devouring hapless victims since the dawn of time.  The beast itself comes across as something that William Meikle would create.  It’s big, it’s hungry, it’s imaginative and it’s pretty darn weird.  However the beast alone works surprising well.  Although the story is certainly lengthy for a short story, it does set down a reasonably gripping tale that mounts in tension until the final showdown.  The short ends satisfyingly, but the overall mediocre writing does supress the tale from becoming anything more than just a mildly enjoyable horror yarn.

I Was A Middle-Aged Werewolf – Michel Armstrong – 5 Pages
Turning forty was never an easy milestone in someone’s life, but for him it had proved to be a painfully emotional battlefield; wrought with countless pits and downfalls to really bring him down.  The added weight, the lines, creases and sagging that had gradually begun to weave a tapestry across his face and body.  He was changing.  And not for the better.  It was so much harder than becoming a werewolf.  With that it was all hair, claws, height and bloodlust.  Not altogether horrifying changes.  Not like what comes with turning forty.  But nevertheless, he’d try his best to hide his horrific changes from the world.  Keep them secret from everyone – including Sylvia with all her facelifts, implants and other such cosmetic surgery.  There was no way he’d let on that he was actually forty now…

As you can no doubt guess from the title, let alone the above synopsis, Michael Armstrong’s tale of one man and his recent affliction is one which utilises plenty of tongue-in-cheek.  With a hefty dollop of humour, Armstrong mirrors the inherent horror of turning forty with the simultaneous infliction of lycanthropy.  As such, don’t go into the short expecting copious amounts of bloodshed and werewolf violence – it’s not that sort of tale at all.  Instead, what Armstrong offers up is an introverted look at a man who is struggling more with the emotional misery of getting older than with his other, less impactful change into a savage werewolf.  Armstrong’s narrative is quick-witted and colourful; with plenty of dry humour in almost every sentence to keep the short bouncing along until the nice little twist bounds up to the reader at the end.




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