- Length: 352 pages
- Original Publisher: Tor Books
- Original Publication Date: 1996
- Availability: Digital
Most people probably associate the name Greg Kihn more with eighties earworms and the early days of MTV than horror novels, but as I recently learned, he has spent rock-star retirement enjoying life as an accomplished author. When I found out his book Horror Show was a Bram Stoker Award finalist for Best First Novel, I was instantly intrigued enough to include it in our Six Weeks of Halloween celebration without so much as even reading the synopsis. Luckily for me, this book hit the sweet spot on a Venn diagram of my interests: horror books, cult horror films, and classic Hollywood.
“Monster Magazine” writer Clint Stockburn is given the assignment of a lifetime – to interview the infamous director, Landis Woodley. Once the king of B movie schlock, Woodley is now a lonely, bitter recluse ambling around his decrepit Hollywood home. Despite his reputation for disdaining the press, Woodley seems almost eager to tell the true story behind his cult film classic, Cadaver…perhaps a little too eager. Could Woodley’s tale of devil worship, corpse stealing, and demonic possession actually be true? Is there any truth to the rumor concerning a curse on the movie’s cast and crew? And just why has Woodley decided to unburden himself now?
I really enjoyed this love letter to old Hollywood. It’s a quick read in the same style as the movies it honors – slyly witty, sensationalist, and silly, scary fun. People familiar with horror films of the 50s and 60s will find an added level of enjoyment in reading between the lines to discern the icons who inspired Kihn’s characters. Unfortunately, it’s such a faithful homage that if you’re not already a fan of those films, I’m somewhat doubtful you’ll appreciate Horror Show. It’s geared toward a niche audience, and Kihn doesn’t really do much to move beyond it, which is why I didn’t give the book a higher rating. Personally speaking though, I’m looking forward to reading more of his work in the future.