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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Portmanteu horror anthology,
This review is from: The Catacombs of Fear (Paperback)The book reminds me of those old British horror anthology movies from Amicus films. A very nice wraparound stories to tie in all the stories told in the book:
Ratings 1-5: 1(poor) 2(average) 3(good) 4(excellent) 5(BEST)
Neigbourhood Watch(2): Typical tale about revenge on a dinner party from beyond the grave.
At First Sight:(3): Reminds me of M.R. James the Mezotint albeit replaced by a photo and more gore and violence.
Markovski Quartet(2): Crazy doctor tries to get new legs and body parts for his ballerina wife. An OK psychohorror story.
Mors Gratia Artis(4): I liked the atmosphere generated by this story. Quite well done. About a film producer who gets caught up in someone else's supernatural problems.
The Dance to the Music of Insantiy(4): Yeah a British giallo and the ending is just great...lots of ideas on this one. Murders done to construct a musical instrument which could bring the dead back to life.
What I liked best wss the writer's style which evokes watching those old amicus films like Vault of Horror or Tales From the Crypt. Easy to follow writing, great stuff.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fear, with a smile!,
This review is from: The Catacombs of Fear (Paperback)This book is stylistically, very similar to "The Faculty of Terror" by the same author. It follows the portmanteu format, where a loose structure allows the protagonist to listen to/share a number of horrific experiences/incidents that had apparently befallen unfortunate "others", but might happen to you, at any moment, anytime. The episodes are:
1) The Neighbourhood Watch
2) Catacombs Interlude No. 1
3) At First Sight
4) Catacombs Interlude No. 2
5) The Markovski Quartet
6) Catacombs Interlude No. 3
7) Mors Gratia Artis
8) Catacombs Interlude No. 4
9) A Dance to the Music of Insanity
*) Strolling Shadowy Corridors [Story-Notes]
Its mixture of bizarre & humour can put some of the readers "off", but might appeal others. Despite all the surreal trappings, some of the episodes are indeed scary in a genuine old-fashioned way. Recommended.
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent horror collection,
This review is from: The Catacombs of Fear (Paperback)Ah..the portmanteau of horrors, a sadly underused style these days. You know the sort of thing, Vincent Price sitting in a train telling a series of connected spooky tales whilst the main plot also moves forward in between. Crooked House, last years BBC christmas ghost story was another fine example. I like it, you get all the benefits of the short story but with the long story arc of a novel.
In this collection the five tales are linked by Chilminster Cathedral, a place of "narrow Stygian towers", where the Rev. Patrick Clements has been offered a job. On arrival at the cathedral it soon becomes apparent that things are not quite what they seem.
The Neighbourhood Watch is the first story, a tale of prejudice and murder amongst the suburban backwaters of Chilminster. It nicely shines a great big spotlight on the Daily Mail readers of Britain.
At First Sight sees a broken photo boooth in a local supermarket as the catalyst for a terrible transformation in a tale of domestic abuse and obsession. Indeed obsession is a running theme through all the tales here.
The Markovski Quartet shows a dance audition for an obscure eastern bloc ballet company which has dangerous, ulterior motives. Managing to create empathy and hatred for the antagonists in a clever piece of writing.
Mors Gratia Artis finds an unknown artist discover a new and astonishing technique to bring his paintings to life.
A Dance To The Music of Insanity, forbidden notes, obscure instruments and a family brought together by tradgedy star in this excellent country house romp. Agatha Christie meets Saw?
Linking all the stories is, of course, the realisation that Patrick Clements true role at Chilminster Cathedral is somewhat different to what he initially thought, indeed the Cathedral is different to what he initially thought.
There is something wonderfully old-fashioned about these tales. Maybe it's the way they are linked together or maybe it's the sometimes stilted dialogue. Interestingly the author provides some entertaining story notes and does point out that he wanted The Neighbourhood Watch to feel like a 1970's TV play and he has succeeded. All the stories here have a Tales of The Unexpected, or Hammer House of Horror feel, that's not a bad thing, just a bit unusual these days.
The stories are powerful and deal with some major issues but they are also entertaining and make their points without preaching. I missed JLP's previous collection, The Faculty of Terror but on the basis of what I have read here I will be looking out for it.
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The Catacombs of Fear by John Llewellyn Probert (Paperback - 10 Feb 2009)