Our book review feature 100 Page of Horror is back and after taking apart Stephen King’s most recent releases Mr. Mercedes and the sequel to The Shinning Doctor Sleep we have something completely different from British horror movie director Leigh Dovey, the Sci-Horror novel Bad Code.
Dovey is better known as the writer and director of 2009’s The Fallow Field a nightmarish indie horror that combined the amnesiac thrills of Memento with a rich and ancient element of paganism that is particularly British in its origins.
A solid horror with an engaging original story line and very well made, considering its low budget and limitations as we said at the time “If The Fallow Field is the future of British horror then I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Although Dovey sadly hasn’t made another horror movie what was next was his Science Fiction horror novel Bad Code which takes a complete departure from The Fallow Field in every way. Below we dissect the first 100 Pages of Horror of Dovey’s oppressive opus and examine the techno terror that lies within.
Opening with a mysterious prologue from the perspective of The Machine (a character we will get to know and fear a whole lot more latter on) we move straight into an introduction to our main protagonist the lovable looser Matt Walker an Englishman who has lost his job, his girlfriend and all his hope and is now riding across the lost highways and byways of America to find some sort of meaning to it all.
With his trusty Harley between his legs and faithful friend at his side American native Johnny Clark who is the antithesis of Matt in looks, attitude and personality the pair ride across the wasteland that is the Nevada desert with no goal apart from to get away from their troubles.
However when a naked and bloodied man suddenly appears in front of the pair as they race across the sand the result is a near fatal crash that destroys their bikes and leaves them both for dead.
When Matt awakens in a railroad car turned makeshift home he is shocked to find out that he has survived but even more bemused by the 15 foot high metallic monster that he see’s decked out with a psychedelic paint job and following the commands of an old man named Alvin dressed in army fatigues.
Alvin explains that Matt has somehow made it onto a military test site for experimental war machines the first incarnation of which is the metal giant that helped save his life which is named Tyson. There are more machines and more people but it seems the situation is slightly more out of control than anyone could ever have imagined.
Bewildered and disorientated Matt demands to be taken to the nearest town and although Alvin at first resists he realises the only way the doubting newcomer will understand is if he sees the situation for himself.
Heading out and leaving the terribly injured Johnny and the iron behemoth behind the pair trek to the ghost town of Folly a wild west shell of what it was where they encounter not only a group of ex-solders but also a pack of high tech all black androids known as Wardogs which are the second series of the disturbing governmental test.
After freaking out at the humanoid droids and nearly having his head kicked in by the Army men who are frantic to know how he got into the test site Matt finally receives an explanation for why everyone is so scared and why no one can leave.
It transpires that the retired soldiers had all been asked to help the military with their creation, the most advanced of all the robotic killing machines in the area, the C19 also known as The Machine.
Having survived the worst wars of the last 50 years the 12 men had the collective experience to educate the physically extremely able robot that lacked any kind of training or knowledge.
Interviewing the 12 men, recording their every memory, every experience, every thought and every nightmare from their time in combat the scientists uploaded all of this disturbing data into the C19 resulting in it losing what little mind it had and going completely insane.
Un-killable, unstoppable and uncaring the machine started destroying any and all forms of communication to the outside world and all the vehicles the captive men possessed trapping them like hunted animals in the deserted desert.
Capturing, experimenting, torturing, crucifying and skinning some of the 12 veterans it dressed itself in the flayed flesh of one of its victims like a horrifying parody of a human earning it the nickname Skin and now the surviving soldiers hide in fear of its appearance dreading whom it will take and what it will do to them.
Although at first turning on Matt in the hope that offering him up to the monstrous mechanical mad machine it would take him instead of them Alvin convinces the desperate and terrified group to leave his charge alone and the pair head back to Alvin’s cabin and its relative safety where they concoct a plan.
It seems that Matt’s bike is relatively undamaged and with some help from Tyson it is rebuilt offering them all a chance of an escape if Matt can ride fast enough to get away from the clutches of the C19 and call in for help.
The section I reviewed ends with Matt mounting his daring escape with the flesh covered murder-bot in pursuit the perfect climactic ending to a gripping 100 Pages of Horror that more than made me want to read on and discover what would happen next.
Cinematic and action packed Dovey crafts a great story in Bad Code with some excellent ideas evoking Terminator, Westworld, Richard Stanley’s Hardware and many other classic Sci-Horror’s whilst giving the book a novel twist perfect for fan’s of horror and science fiction alike.
If only he would make it into a movie!
Available on Amazon now look out for more on Bad Code soon and check out Leigh Dovey’s website here: http://leighdovey.wix.com/mr-writer