Edited by Bill Breedlove
Published by Dark Arts Books
What happens when four diverse, but equally talented and demented individuals contribute a few stories, both new and previously printed, apiece to a single volume? You get one of the best collections of the year by four remarkably warped individuals, and you have a damned good time reading it. Candy in the Dumpster is that collection. Horror great Mort Castle provides the introduction, which, in its absurd hilarity, sets the pace for the rest of the volume.
First up in the collection are three stories by Martin Mundt, which bring absurdist horror to new levels. Mundt, who has previously published two collections of short fiction, The Crawling Abattor and The Dark Underbelly of Hymns and had numerous stories published here and there, showcases his dark talent here, making his name one to keep an eye out for. His first story, “A Perfect Plan”, is the detailed thoughts of a man whose bad day spirals out of control in a series of murders, plans, and revisions to those plans. Following is “The Cure”, an ode to drug addiction and how, in a different world, the problem of illegal drugs might be solved. His final story, “Babies is Smart”, is, to say the least, brutal. Telling any more about it would be giving it away, but suffice to say it isn’t a story for those with a weak constitution.
Next up on the list of demented scribes is John Everson, whose other publications include Vigilantes of Love, the Stoker-Award-Winning Covenant, and the erotic horror novella Failure. His first contribution, “The White House”, will chill the readers to their collective bones, as it is a hard-hitting psycho-horror piece. The second, “Swallowing the Pill”, is more a story of personal growth than anything. Of course that personal growth is into a sociopathic murderer, but then, no one is perfect. His final story, “Pumpkin Head”, shows shades of the John Everson that wrote failure, sadistically perverse and all. Here’s a hint . . . It isn’t Linus that’s sitting out in the pumpkin patch, and you don’t want to know what he’s doing with the pumpkins.
The third author in this collection, Bill Breedlove, also edited the book. Lest you think he’s only included because of his position, think again. In addition to his impressive resume of stories in numerous publications, his short story collection Most Curious won him a great deal of praise, as did his horror screenplay Last of the True Believers. Those still not convinced need only look at the stories he included in this collection. His first story, “The Lost Collection” hearkens back to the childhood that many horror fans had in which we were fascinated by serial killers and movie madmen. The second, “Free to a Good Home”, serves as a cautionary tale about why folks should be kind to animals. Finally, his story “Drowning in a Sea of Love” tells of a desperate woman turning to porn to make ends meet.
The final author, Jay Bonansinga, brings the clout of a national best-selling author to the table, having written more than ten fiction and non-fiction books. He is also an indie film maker, and teacher. His first story, “Animal Rights”, is one of those horrifyingly detailed tales that drags the reader in and won’t let him go. It’ll make the reader question the “sport” of hunting for sure. Following is “Stash”, in which an entrepreneur in the field of discrete porn removal encounters a face from his past, even if he can’t remember what that past was. Finally, Bonansinga pulls out all the stops by including what can only be described as a memo between Mel Gibson and Satan for the sequel to the blockbuster The Passion of the Christ, called “Deal Memo”. In it, readers can learn just how much of his soul Mr. Gibson stashed away in exchange for the movie rights, and to the rights of the sequel (Passion Two: Undead and Mad as Hell). Anyone who can read this story without at least snickering has a much stronger constitution than I, or they have no sense of humor whatsoever.
Each of the authors’ stories are well written, and choosing one to rise above the others is difficult. However, each author deserves his own spotlight for at least one of his stories. For Mundt, his best surely is “The Cure”, if for no other reason than because of the tense mood and desperate feelings he creates. For the same reasons, as well as for bringing Gothic literature back into style, Everson’s “The White House” stands above the others as superior. Breedlove’s “The Lost Collection” is a great example of how to write a story and how to build atmosphere. And although “Deal Memo” is hands-down one of the funniest things I’ve read in a while, Stash stands out as Bonansinga’s best story of the bunch.
Candy in the Dumpster may be, as the cover says, a collection of “new and used stories,” but just like looking at a thrift shop, you never know what you’re going to find. In this case, even if the stories are used, they’re still quite good, and well worth picking up.
4 ½ out of 5
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