Dark Screams: Volume Five

Edited by: Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar

Published By: Hydra

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                I actually finished reading my review copy of Dark Screams: Volume Five a while ago, but thought I would hold on to the review until October, when the Halloween tales come out to play.  What better time to post a review of a horror anthology than then? 

                It all begins with Everything You’ve Always Wanted by Mick Garris.  Written in the first person, this tale is fairly lengthy…almost novella long…and starts off as a tale of boredom by a guy who is a one-hit wonder.  Jack Tarrington made one movie that ever scored big time – Taxed.  A hit when it was first released, fandom has made it a cult classic and kept Tarrington paying his bills ever since.  When he is asked to Monsterthon in Indianapolis for an all-expense paid celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his film, Tarrington isn’t going to turn it down.  The horror here appears to be Tarrington’s boredom until he meets a fan who wants to give him everything he’s ever wanted…in bed.  Only one thing Tarrington forgot – there’s always a price to be paid…that price…well, it’s about to be rather harsh.

                Next up is The Land of Sunshine by Kealan Patrick Burke.  This was a really strange tale, written in a detective noir style.  Our main character is looking for something he has lost, something that has caused a rift in his marriage, but he’s not sure he knows what it is.  He leaves his home searching for that lost thing and when he finds it, will his life return to normal, or has it been ever tainted by the way he lost it in the first place?

                Mechanical Gratitude by Del James is a story of true love that never dies.  What’s weird about this tale is that the love is somewhat of a triangle between a man, his wife and mint condition 1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS.  The car came first, the woman next in the same year and the three were inseparable ever since.  Even in death, this trio will not part.

                In J. Kenner’s The One and Only, Will Underwood had been warned as a child that New Orleans would be the place he would end up permanently.  When he was young, he didn’t much think about that babysitter’s prediction, but now, finding himself in New Orleans after a bad break up, Will wonders if his babysitter wasn’t right.  Unfortunately, Will never realized what his babysitter meant when she said he would end up in New Orleans permanently.  There are some interesting spirits roaming the French Quarter…spirits who have a special interest in Will Underwood.

                The anthology wraps up with The Playhouse by Bentley Little in which a real estate agent discovers the mystique and magic of a playhouse in the yard outside her most recent listing.  Entering the playhouse is a trip through space and time.  She becomes obsessed with the playhouse, coming back to it over and over and losing track of her own life more and more until she finally decides to remain with it.  But what about her life?  What about her family? And why is this playhouse so important?

                Though this fifth edition of the Dark Screams anthology is not my favorite, I have to say that I did find some enjoyable tales here.  Everything You’ve Always Wanted is too long if you ask me, but when it does get to the horror moment, it rocks.  I could picture every horrific moment perfectly – great descriptiveness on the part of the author.  Mechanical Gratitude was a terrific love story mixed with a ghost tale.  I am reminded of Christine and the owner’s obsession with his car.  However, this Camaro is not a murderous car, just a beloved old friend willing to stay with its owners forever.  The One and Only is one of those tales that will have you screaming at the lead character – What the hell are you doing?!  Get away!  Agonizingly awesome tale.  Unfortunately, the boring detective noir of The Land of Sunshine, the drag of most of Everything You’ve Always Wanted and the ridiculousness of The Playhouse places Dark Screams: Volume Five on my not so hot list. 


For feedback, visit our message board or e-mail the author at talonkarrde@g-pop-net.