Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Horror Show, by Greg Kihn

(hb; 1996)

From the inside flap:

"When Monster Magazine reporter Clint Stockbern sets out to interview the legendary fifties horror movie director Landis Woodley, he finds a reclusive, forgotten, and bitter old man. Worming his way through the front door of the Scotch-drinking, cigar-smoking filmmmaker's home, Stockbern finds a treasure trove of B-movie memorabilia. Playing to the movie genius's ego, Stockbern does his best to dig up a few good anecdotes from the past -- but what he uncovers is a story of real-life horror!

"Flashback to 1957 Hollywood, where Landis Woodley is getting ready to shoot his latest movie, Cadaver, set in a real-life L.A. morgue. He is also bent on throwing the ultimate Halloween party. Attendees will include Lucifer-obsessed anthropologist Albert Beaumond and Devila, the celebrated TV horror-show hostess. Even Satan himself may put in an appearance. And when cheap special effects are replaced by real corpses, a deadly curse may wind up taking its toll on all those foolish to become involved with the filming of the cult movie classic, Cadaver."


This novel reads like H.P. Lovecraft salad-tossed with Ed Wood and Anton LaVey, liberally sprinkled with a film geek's love of fifties kitsch equals Horror Show. Kihn's assured, homage-laden writing made this unputdownable, the perfect autumn novel.

The characters, thinly-veiled fictionalizations of real-life people, are funny and (often) tragic, most of whom have seen their unrealized dreams come and go.

Ed Wood is divided into two characters: Landis Woodley, the canny filmmaker who holds his shoestring crew together with warmth, bluff and bull***t, and Neil Bugmier, the brilliant ex-Marine scriptwriter whose cross-dressing puts off more distinguished Hollywood types. There's also Albert Beaumond, a literary stand-in for Anton LaVey, now-deceased founder/high priest of the Satanic Church. There's Devila, stand-in for the real-life Vampira. And, of course, there's Jonathon Luboff, the dying heroin-hooked homosexual, whose life facts (like everyone else's) stem directly from his real-life counterparts, Bela Lugosi (a real-life heterosexual) and Criswell.

This is great homage from an excellent writer. Can't wait to see what Kihn does next, bookwise (he's also the founder of the Greg Kihn Band, and a disc jockey).

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