Monday, August 28, 2006

Friday the 13th: Carnival of Maniacs, by Stephen Hand

(pb; 2006)

From the back cover:

“After twenty-five years Pamela Voorhees is back and she's ready to join her son in a rampage of murder. Only Jason is not at home anymore; he's the main attraction in a traveling sideshow. Pamela will stop at nothing to bring Jason back to Crystal Lake, but she had better hurry, because someone at the sideshow is planning to sell Jason's body on an Internet auction site! Who would be crazy enough to want Jason in their own home? Will the FBI step in and put Jason away before the final bid?”

Review:

Jason and Pamela Voorhees (Jason's mother, decapitated at the end of the first Friday the 13th film) – working separately, but psychically linked – go on homicidal wildings when Pamela's head is discovered by a trio of adolescent goths; simultaneously (and coincidentally) Jason's nearby lifeless body is dug up by two tourist-murdering, cannibalistic hillbillies.

Pamela's hatred of procreating camp counselors (two of whom let her beloved Jason drown, in 1957) has sustained her ghost, which allows her to possess the living, resulting in a psychotic quest for her son, who's sporadically engaged in his own kill-fests, when certain situations – which I won't reveal here, but it's really plot-lame – allow.

Author Hand is a good writer. There are many flashes of sanguineous-apt wordplay, an impressive focus on all the elements (characters, history, murders) that make up the eleven Friday films – Hand even references the future set-in-outer-space Jason X. Not only that, Hand saturates the original novel's characters and slaughter-ramas (not all of them committed by Jason or Pamela) with a gleefully sleazy and appropriately cheesy jeu d'esprit. Some cool plot-twists, not completely predictable, also grace the trashy narrative, and the novel's title is fitting.

However, this is strictly slash n' hack work. Hand does the Jersey-based series as much as justice as he can, but its plot-thin, film-based elements ultimately sink it, though not as quickly as a certain fictional retarded kid sank, in a flashback 1957.

An obvious guilty pleasure, this: as a Jason fan, I'm glad I read it. Wouldn't want to own it, wouldn't re-read it, but it did turn me onto author Stephen Hand (whose non-Friday novels I may check out), and it did turn me on to other Friday novels (put out by the same publisher, Black Flame Publications ). These books are: Hell Lake, by Paul A. Woods; Hate-Kill-Repeat, by Jason Arnopp; The Jason Strain, by Christina Faust; and my titular favorite, Church of the Divine Psychopath, by Scott Phillips (which I may just read).

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