cover image Classic Monsters Unleashed

Classic Monsters Unleashed

Edited by James Aquilone. Black Spot, $31.99 (444p) ISBN 978-1-64548-122-5

The 30 gory but playful stories in this bursting anthology gleefully riff on the famous monsters of stage and screen. Indeed, much of the reader’s enjoyment will come from noticing that the hideously scarred young protagonist of JG Faherty’s “Beautiful Monster” is being cared for by her aunt Victoria Frankenstein or recognizing just what the chatty green narrator of Kelsea Yu’s “A Tale of Wickedness” is doing to the children she’s captured. Though some pieces are restrained in their ghastliness—including Richard Christian Matheson’s “Dead Lions,” a sly update of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Ramsey Campbell’s quietly disturbing “Someone to Blame”—most are constructed to permit maximum bloodshed, such as Owl Goingback’s “Blood Hunt,” a gothic western yarn about Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull running into Count Dracula, and the reprint of Joe R. Lansdale’s rambunctiously horrific “God of the Razor.” But that’s what this variety of fiction is about, and it’s hard to imagine a crew of Nazis landing on the island of Dr. Moreau (as they do in Jonathan Maberry’s “Höllenlegion”) without massive trauma resulting. It’s a star-studded lineup that succeeds in giving its audience a chance to fully immerse themselves in B-movie horror. (July)