cover image Beasts of 42nd Street

Beasts of 42nd Street

Preston Fassel. Cemetery Dance, $17.99 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-1-58767-838-7

In this bleak bite-size horror novel, Fassel (Our Lady of the Inferno) transports readers to 1970s New York, where dirtbag cinema projectionist Andy Lew lives out his days getting high, endlessly rewatching a bizarre, violent, and extremely rare film, of which he owns the only copy, and daydreaming about its star, a mysterious woman who’s on-camera death captivates him. This obsession leads Andy down a path of destruction and ruin, as the sleaziest and most despicable denizens of 1970s New York attempt to get their hands on the film. Much of the story centers Andy’s deteriorating sanity and his mistreatment at the hands of those surrounding him, and the result is that watching Andy’s life unfold is much like watching a horrific accident; the first instinct is to look away, but it is difficult not to stare into the wreckage. Disappointingly, the few female characters exist only to be degraded, tortured, or murdered in explicit detail for the entertainment of these loathsome men, an homage to ’70s exploitation films that does nothing to interrogate or subvert their contents. This tale of unrelenting misery and hopelessness will appeal to a niche audience: fans of grindhouse horror and those who can stomach graphic gendered violence. (Mar.)