Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dark Jesters: An Anthology of Humorous Horror (Novello Publishers), edited by Nick Cato and L.L. Soars

Finding humor in the darkness is one of humanity’s greatest strengths. Laughing at evil, mocking the hangman, chuckling amidst the shadows is often what allows us to survive tragedies and other horrors to push onward to another day.

Also, how often have we laughed at gruesome scenes because of the ridiculous human behavior revealed therein? Not only does horror expose the enduring human spirit, not only does it cast a trembling light upon our inner often shows how ridiculous human beings really can be.

“Dark Jesters” attempts to cast a light on this ridiculous behavior, and for the most part, it succeeds. Some of the stories enjoy promising starts but suffer somewhat unresolved endings, while others fall short of actual humor, but among the best are:

“Fossilized Braains”, by William A. Veselik is a wonderful treatment of a zombie plague amongst cavemen. Even if the cavemen’s logic occasionally seems too thoughtful, that just plays into the humor of their brethren succumbing to a zombie virus and becoming dumber than they are. The narrative reads smoothly enough that any logic bumps are quickly paved over by the entertaining story.

In “Wolf Plugs”, by Jarrod Balzer, an age-old trickster comes in the guise of a werewolf hunter and takes advantage of a town under werewolf siege. This story inspires thoughts of every horror movie in which desperate town citizens swallow completely unreasonable solutions to their supernatural predicaments at face value. A cautionary tale against accepting the wares of traveling supernatural hunters without questioning the logic of their selling points, indeed.

“Curse of the Blind Eel”, by James Del Roy is a vampire-hunting tale of scatological proportions, because really – one scenario all those melodramatic vampire movies completely gloss over? What to do when creeping into the moldering lair of the eternal undead...and Nature’s most important call cannot be ignored?

“Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” by Robert Guffey and “Retirement” by Rob Brooks round out this collection nicely. The former is a tale with a nice Bizzaro flavor to it, of – literally – the enduring spirit of the late great James Brown. The later muses on the fate of the Boogey-Man after he’s lost his touch and is consigned to cubicle-dwelling hell, where he’s forced to utilize his closet lurking skills for an entirely different purpose to survive in the cutthroat corporate world.

For the lighter side of horror, this collection offers more than enough chuckles. Visit and pick up a copy today.

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