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Stephen Jones & Ramsey Campbell – Best New Horror 4

Posted by demonik on June 12, 2008

Stephen Jones & Ramsey Campbell (eds.) – Best New Horror 4 (Robinsons, Carroll & Graf, Nov. 1993)
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Stephen Jones & Ramsey Campbell – Introduction: Horror In 1992

Scott Edelman – The Suicide Artist
Roberta Lannes – Dancing On A Blade Of Dreams
Clive Barker – The Departed
Poppy Z. Brite – How To Get Ahead In New York
John Brunner – They Take
Lisa Tuttle – Replacements
Graham Joyce – Under The Pylon
Thomas Ligotti – The Glamour
John Gordon – Under The Ice
Joel Lane – And Some Are Missing
Les Daniels – The Little Green Ones
Steve Rasnic Tem – Mirror Man
Sarah Ash – Mothmusic
Karl Edward Wagner – Did They Get You To Trade?
Nicholas Royle – Night Shift Sister
Simon Ings & M. John Harrison – The Dead
Christopher Fowler – Norman Wisdom And The Angel Of Death
Kim Newman – Red Reign
Peter Atkins – Aviatrix
Ian R. MacLeod – Snodgrass
Kate Wilhelm – The Day Of The Sharks
M. John Harrison – Anima
Douglas E. Winter – Bright Lights, Big Zombie
Peter Straub – The Ghost Village

Stephen Jones & Kim Newman – Necrology

In their introduction, the editors refer to 1992 as the year of the vampire but, judged on this selection at least, there was also a trend for festooning your horror fiction with pop culture references. Rog has already tackled several of these on a Giant Book Of Terror thread, but no harm in having another go. As Nemo Skagg would say, “It’s all bollocks anyway”. So, to bollocks.

Douglas E Winter – Bright Lights, Big Zombie: “Miami is gone, carpet-bombed back into swampland … Food riots in Boston and Providence … A news team in Palm Springs got footage of what looks like a zombified Tom Cruise, his buttocks chewed away but otherwise intact ….”

Black Wednesday was the day the zombies rose from their graves to re-enact The Night Of The Living Dead for real, great news for horror fans until all zombie and cannibal films were banned outright by the state, leading to a flourishing underground trade in badly recorded pirate copies of Cannibal Holocaust, Eaten Alive, Trap Them And Kill Them, etc.

We follow the adventures of a horror magazine editor as he and his colleagues try and acquire more stock and keep their glossy going in the face of police harassment. When they’ve bought up everything available, the logical next step is to make their own flesh eating films. How timely that the living dead version of Miranda, the only woman our hero ever loved, should show up as they’re filming a live zombie massacre. Well, she always wanted to be in the movies.

This one references John Lydon, P.I.L.’s This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get, Billy Graham (still leading candlelight prayer vigils!), the Forbidden Planet chain and Oingo Boingo.

Christopher Fowler – Norman Wisdom And The Angel Of Death: “I would like to say that he died in order to make the world a safer, cleaner place, but the truth is that we went for a drink together and I killed him in a sudden fit of rage because he had not heard of Joyce Grenfell. How the Woman Who Won The Hearts Of The Nation in her thrice-reprised role as Ruby Gates in the celebrated St. Trinians films could have passed by him unnoticed is still a mystery to me.”

Stanley Morrison, a Hospital Visiting Friend in the employ of Haringey Council, readies his patients for death by instructing them on the history of radio shows and Brit films from the ‘fifties and ‘sixties and those who starred in them. If that doesn’t bore them into the next word, his tampering with their intravenous drips certainly does. Morrison’s dark secrets are exposed when he takes in the wheelchair-bound diabetic and nosey parker Saskia who, despite sharing his fondness for Norman Wisdom, Tony Hancock, Hattie Jacques, the divine Joyce & co., frowns on his mass murdering tendencies. Do you suppose Harold Shipman added names to his ‘to do’ list on the grounds they weren’t au fait with Carry On Again Doctor? And what did Haringey council ever do to our Chris to upset him so?

Karl E. Wagner – Did They Get You To Change?: Nemo Skagg, former lead singer with hugely influential punk band Needle (Excessive Bodily Fluids, The Coppery Taste Of Blood, etc.), is now a grimy down and out alcoholic, cadging cigs and 10p’s with the best of us. Ryan Chase, a good natured American portrait artist, generously funds their pub crawl from Bloomsbury through to Kensington Market in return from Skagg’s story of “where it all went wrong”. Finally, in the squat-cum-vault that Skagg has made his “home”, Ryan learns that the fallen idol is one star who never forgot his loyal fans, particularly the dead ones.

Name-checks include Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungeon, Betty Page, Brian Jones, Elvis, several dead rock and film stars and Tennant’s Super.

Nicholas Royle – Night Shift Sister: Record shop owner Carl finds a map in the street and is henceforth haunted by a teenage goth whose face is a perfect composite of his heroine, Siouxsie Sioux and his former partner, Christine. She lures him to his doom by means of a white label pressing of … a gasholder in action. Royle works plenty of Banshee lyrics and titles into his prose – “His stomach went into a slow dive. But it was love in a void …” etc – which some may find inspired. My eyes just shot to the ceiling. Intriguing supernatural mystery or smarmy horror with way too many ‘O’ levels? You decide …

See the Vault of Evil Best New Horror 4 thread

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