Having loved Eric Miller‘s Hell Comes to Hollywood I was more than happy to hear there was a sequel and hoped it would disprove the usual rule of thumb that all follow ups are failures. Thankfully it was brilliant and contained just as many chilling and cruel tales of cinema as the first, making it a fantastic read.
With 22 more shorts full of celluloid screams it includes tales from horror veterans including Eric Miller himself and Insidious actress Lin Shaye alongside Brad C. Hodson, Doug Molitor, Ron Zwang, Kelly Kurtzhals, Carla Robinson, Katarina Leigh, Tim Chizmar, Heather E. Ash, Jeffrey Reddick, Donny Broussard & Erin Bennet and Graydon Schlichter. It also contains two Bram Stoker Award nominated stories; Hot Tub by Hal Bodner and Dreams of a Little Suicide by Eric J. Guignard.
After Miller’s Acknowledgments which discuss how Hollywood loves a sequel the Foreword is by screenwriter, actor and producer Jeffrey Reddick who goes into great detail on why Hollywood is such a good setting for horror with its underbelly of true-life murders, lecherous power players and the terrible studio system itself which takes innocence and talent and spits out the same old schlocky stories again and again
The first entry is in fact an excerpt from acclaimed author Richard Christian Matheson’s Created By a novel about Network TV which works brilliantly when pulled from its main plotline. Entitled Setting it sees Alan a high flying Hollywood big shot viewing a perspective new home. As he wanders and wonders at the excessive decor and spectacular views he can’t help thinking he has seen the house somewhere before. When he finally remembers the horrifying events that occurred in the habitat his reaction is not exactly what the realtor or reader may expect.
The Last Great Monster by Del Howison, the owner of Dark Delicacies one of the most famous horror stores in America, is a lovely blend of humour and terror that tells how “Early Saturday morning Shelley Cherwinski killed the last great monster.” Over worked and over tired Shelley is driving home from an 18 hour production day at a film studio when she hits something unbelievable in the woods. Although the insurance and emergency services who arrive at the scene think she is delusional one lone cop sees an opportunity and calling up a film crew from Shelly’s studio returns latter to document the dead beast which goes about as well as you would expect.
A hybrid of crime thriller and supernatural horror Mexican Clown Hands is by R.B. Payne whose amazing Big Water was one of the standout stories in Big Time Books 18 Wheels of Horror. With an unstoppable serial killer on the loose in Hollywood who strangles his victims leaving a pair of ridiculous homemade Mexican clown hands behind each time, partners Trang and Rodriquez are stumped by the surreal slayings. That is until a tenuous connection to an old studio brings some incredibly coincidental clues to light and takes them into the darkness to stop the killer.
Working in a cinema myself I loved Anthony C. Ferrante’s The Crimson Marquee a twisted tale about a haunted old Hollywood picture house that more than delivers in its story and scares. Considering what a well written and spooky piece it is you will be surprised to find out that Ferrante is the director of Sharknado and Sharknado 2: The Second One as well as a ton of other horror movies. One of my favourites from the book it nearly made me re-watch and re-evaluate Sharknado, nearly but not.
Another perfect piece of puerile and putrid prose follows in screenwriter, non-fiction author and Halloween expert Lisa Morton’s She-Devil A-Go-Go a sex filled thrill ride about the making of a Russ Myer-esque exploitation flick staring three very generously endowed actresses and a director who loves the ladies a bit too much. Funny, foul and fantastic it’s an entertaining oddity that works wonderfully within the collection.
Written all in the first person Daniel P. Coughlin, an author who also interned for Wes Craven as a script analyst, completes the trio of my favourite tales with From Script to Scream a wickedly well executed story about a first time script writer finally getting his horror movie made. What excels the project into production is the monster he has created but soon he finds the killer has taken a life of its own beyond the page and into the real world. Gripping and gruelling Coughlin places the reader firmly into the central characters fractured mind and it’s all the better for it.
Charlie’s Angel by title sequence designer William Lebeda lies just in the 100 page limit of this article and offers up a hilarious ode to horror and comic heroes, both of which I love, seeing a failing producer at a comic convention looking for his next hit and finding himself in a scenario straight out of one of his own films. It’s a great palate cleanser to the more serious stuff which is needed every so often in such an anthology.
Just as good as the first Hell Comes to Hollywood part II gives you plenty more petrifying mini masterpieces about the people behind the movie industry in the city where dreams can come true or be crushed and everyone is only as big as their last hit.
Hell Comes to Hollywood II Edited by Eric Miller is available now at all good book retailers online and in reality so check out their website HERE. If you want to read previous horror book and graphic novel reviews including the other Big Time Books reviews from our 100 Pages of Horror series just click HERE