Our book review feature 100 Pages of Horror returns with Big Time Books, Hell Comes to Hollywood, a collection of 20 short stories showcasing the scary side of the cinema industry edited together by Eric Miller a man who knows Hollywood and horror very well.
A maverick screenwriter of films such as Mask Maker and the SyFy Channel’s Ice Spiders and Swamp Shark, Miller was also a producer on Knifepoint and The Thirst among other pictures and was the head of production for Eli Roth, Scott Spiegel and Boaz Yakin’s Raw Nerve horror film company.
All this coupled with the fact that he is a Bram Stoker Award-nominated editor makes Miller perfect for collecting together some great writers all eager to showcase their talents in scaring readers and after his acknowledgment and a foreword by director and special effects makeup artist Roy Knyrim we delve straight in with Message in a Bottle by Laura Brennan.
Brennan’s ghostly tale all told in first person starts with a Hollywood high flyer fearfully coming to the disturbing realisation he is dead before deconstructing how this came to happen and how come he is still here. Short but well-formed it is an excellently executed opener to the anthology and a chilling story setting the tone of the entire tomb well.
Moving straight into something altogether much more mysterious Muse by prolific writer Andrew Helm is set in the hay day of Sci-Fi cinema and sees an eager script writer desperate to make an impression on the producer he works for as a goffer.
Given a shot at writing a sequel to the terrible picture he is working on to be titled The Blood Beast Returns he finds himself paralysed with writers block, that is until the captivating Callie comes into his life and inspires him but at what dreadful cost? You will have to read to find out and believe me its worth it.
Screenwriter and novelist Jeff Seeman’s The Cutting Room follows with a crazy gore driven dive into self referentialism as a disgruntled screenwriter named Norman decides he has had enough of being refused by big wig producers and wants to cause them some pain. Part splatter fest, part Scream, part The Ring the story is full of cutting satire and straight up insane murders making it a whole lot of fun to read.
One of my favourites by far Town Car by award winning scribe Joseph Dougherty is written entirely from the perspective of the lead character an immigrant chauffer mussing on the myriad of mindless over privileged teens and deviant businessmen he drives around the city. Building brilliantly and placing you firmly inside the unstable yet likable lead’s head ala Bret Easton Ellis amazing American Psycho, it is a cracking read that will have you gripped throughout.
Writer, producer and director Ann Lewis Hamilton’s Pool Boy is next up mixing a murder house with the mundane life of a million dollar faded beauty obsessed with keeping her perfect tan. Haunting from the start the story threads you along till its climax which albeit predictable does the job of giving you the chills.
Having worked in a film studio mail room myself, or post room as we call it here, I loved Dog Eat Dog by John Schouweiler who began his career working as Roger Corman’s assistant and probably gained a scandalous insight into the industry. Set in the underbelly of the top agency in Hollywood the main character Stewart like so many of these stories protagonists, is working his ass off to make it big in the business by getting in with his boss the top dog in the company and the whole Hollywood game, Bryan Lassiter.
When his useless cohort is given an extremely important delivery job for Steve Job’s Stewart is devastated to hear that it has gone wrong and knowing his head is on the chopping block as much as the rest of Lassiter’s lackeys he rushes off to help. However little does he know how frighteningly far the arrogant agent will go to punish those that fail him. An excellent story that pulls no stops it reminded me of my past which is pretty disturbing once you read it I can tell you.
Adding some variety to the spooky spice that is Hell Comes to Hollywood The Bridge is a poem by writer, producer and assistant director James Grayford about a serial killer and his unstoppable urges. Brutal and beautiful in equal measures it is a putrid yet poetic pallet cleanser before journeying back into the shocking short story collection.
The last mini-magnum opus to fall under the 100 page review limit is scriptwriter William Paquet Trash Day which follows a horror writer attempting to reinvent Frankenstein for a major producer while dealing with the weird goings on in his low rent hotel home. Another great look at the writing process and all its perils it’s a funny freaky story for sure.
All in all Hell Comes to Hollywood is a brilliant collection of morbid mini masterpieces offering a range of rabid ravings and creepy creations all hanging wonderfully off the Hollywood hook. Great for short horror story enthusiast it is especially interesting if you are into the workings behind the camera as well as scaring yourself stupid.
Hell Comes to Hollywood by Eric Miller is available now at all good book retailers online and in reality and we will be reviewing two more Big Time Books very soon so check out their website HERE. If you want to read previous horror book and graphic novel reviews from our 100 Pages of Horror series just click HERE