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Live Girls (Book)

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Reviwed by Johnny Butane

Written by Ray Garton

Published by Leisure Books


So this is why everyone credits Ray Garton as “the author of Live Girls“. Obviously I knew it was because he wrote the book, but until I read it for myself, I never got why that was so significant. Now it all makes sense…

Live Girls takes place in a time when Times Square was not the sort of place you wanted to be in when the sun went down…or even when the sun was up. Compared to its squeaky-clean (read: DULL) image now, the Time Square of Live Girls seems like it must have existed in another world. Oddly, however, the book was first published just shy of 20 years ago, which serves as a striking reminder of how much the city has changed.

But Live Girls isn’t really about New York; it just takes place there. The book is actually about Davey Owen, an employee of Penn Publishing for many long, miserable years, whose girlfriend just walked out on him again because he’s unable to ever stand up for himself, stick to his decisions, or even get angry about his dead-end job. All his life Davey’s been hurt by the women he’s been involved with, but this latest cut the deepest.

Lonely and desperate on his lunch hour one day, he decides to cab it to Times Square and take in a peep show. Davey’s not the kind to do such things, and the garish ads and voluminous barkers are almost enough to make him give up altogether…until he spots a small, nondescript place called Live Girls. He decides to go in and see what it’s all about, and before he knows it, he’s given some of the best sexual satisfaction of his life and left feeling more drained than he thought possible. He’s also enamored with the young girl behind the glass, a girl who is unnaturally cool to the touch who very much enjoys what she does. So what if he notices some bite marks in his most private of areas?

Meanwhile, a reporter for the New York Times is on the hunt for his brother-in-law, whom he suspects is responsible for the horribly mutilated bodies of his sister and niece, and tracks him back to Live Girls. Paths cross eventually, much blood is spilled, and one of the more interesting vampire novels I’ve read is unspooled before my eyes.

Yes, Live Girls is a book about vampires, much in the same way Skipp & Spector’s Light at the End is a book about vampires. In other words, it doesn’t suck (pun intended). The creatures are given just enough humanity to make them pass for one of us when it’s important they do so, but at their hearts they are nothing but carnivorous beasts with nary a care as to whom they slaughter to satiate their hunger. Garton doesn’t take the Gothic, classy approach to his bloodsuckers, or if he does, he does so without all the pretension, and adds some great additions to the mythos, like the fact that feeding off of a junkie can have severe, lasting consequences for a vampire. This “new” rule results in a final showdown of sorts that is both revolting and strangely touching at the same time.

Garton is the author of over 50 books, but Live Girls is really his crowning achievement in terms of both story and characters, and I’m glad Leisure is finally able to get this book out to the mass market after the many years and many hard-to-find editions that have come before. The book is gritty, violent, romantic, and erotic with equal measure, and I was glued to the page the entire time.

My only real complaint is the amount of time spent establishing that these creatures are vampires for both the readers and the characters. If you look at the cover, you know what it’s about, but the slow reveal of all the standard vampire lore (excluding their aversion to sunlight; these vamps just can’t take too much of it) does grind the pace down some, though after some of the bloodier set pieces you may be thankful for a breather.

Live Girls is an out-and-out classic vampire novel, not only because of how well crafted the tale and its players are, but because of the slice of American history that it takes place during, a time that we’ll likely never see again (at least not in our lifetime) that gives the book a feeling of something more important than your standard horror yarn. Highly recommended!

Click here to get Live Girls from Evilshop!

4 1/2 out of 5

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Review – A Haunting Mixture of Psychological Turmoil and Brutal Supernatural Horror

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Starring Brittany Anne Woodford, Jenny Curtis, Kanin Guntzelman, Brendan McGowan, Jake White

Directed by James S. Brown

We all like to think of ourselves as being surrounded by friends, but let’s face it, if we were to ever truly hit hard times, there are probably very few, if any, people we could truly rely on. So on some level, Friends Don’t Let Friends is a film we can all relate too, as it deals with this very issue.

Stephanie is an emotionally unstable young woman who strangles her boyfriend to death after he insults and breaks up with her. She calls her friends to help her dispose the body out in the Joshua Tree National Part area, and instead of reporting her to the police, they reluctantly comply. As their car breaks down, the four friends find themselves alone at night in the Californian wilderness with the rotting corpse in need of disposal. Given their dire circumstances, they begin to become more and more aggressive towards each other, and this was where the film was really at its best. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how far the limits of their friendship could be stretched, and who would be the first to crack and turn on the others.

Anyway, their body disposal endeavor soon proves to be a mistake, as Stephanie’s ex rises from the grave as vengeful zombie demon thing with claws as long as knives. I’ll admit, I first I thought Friends Don’t Let Friends was going to be a movie purely about the limits of trust, so I was pretty surprised when the supernatural elements came into play. And when they did, the trust and friendship elements of the plot were somewhat downplayed in favor of a more traditional horror approach, and while it was still entertaining, I still would have preferred for the film not to have strayed from its initial path. At least the ending came as a shocker. I won’t go into spoilers, but let’s just say the even the most attentive viewers probably won’t see it coming.

As you can probably guess from a psychologically-driven film of this kind, the performances were top notch, with Brittany Anne Woodford being on particularly top form as the manipulative and unstable Stephanie, a character who revels in the revels in the power she felt when ending another human life.

With its mixture of psychological turmoil and brutal supernatural horror, Friends Don’t Let Friends is a film I would certainly recommend, but keep in mind that it may make you think twice when confiding in people who you think of as being your friends.

8 out of 10.

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Coulrophobia Review – One of the Most Entertaining Killer Clown Films in Quite Some Time

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Starring Pete Bennett, Warren Speed, Daniella D’Ville, Roxy Bordeaux

Directed by Warren Speed


The word ‘Coulrophobia’ refers to the fear of clowns, and if you happen to suffer from it, you might want to avoid director Warren Speed’s film of the same name. However, if you can stand the sight of clowns with gaping wounds in their manly parts, then you’re in for one heck of a fun time.

An all-female hockey team get lost deep in the Scottish woods on their way to a match (don’t ask), and are captured and forced to participate in a series of horrific games by the Grock family of clowns. All of the members of said family are absolutely fucking insane, but the one that really stood out was Twitch (Pete Bennett), who wears jester cloths and it said to have a short attention span. He longs to be a violin player and wishes he could blend in with normal society like the other members of his family. And you almost feel sorry for him, even though he’s a mad killer with bells on his head.

Director Warren Speed also appeared as Milo, a grunting mute who had his tongue cut out when he was a boy. As mentioned above, we see a close-up shot of a open wound in his penis being stitched up, which is not an image that will be leaving your mind anytime soon. Speed is clearly fearless when it comes to his art.

Inter-spliced with all the torture and mayhem, we also see documentary-style telling the sad history of the family involved, and this was where the film unfortunately faltered, because these scenes seemed out of place and just didn’t flow with the rest of the plot.

Ultimately, however, Coulrophobia almost seems like a film Rob Zombie might have made before he lost his way and started churning out trash like 31. Comparisons to House of 1000 Corpses are inevitable, and I absolutely mean that as a compliment. This is one of the most entertaining killer clown films in quite some time.

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User Rating 2.94 (17 votes)
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The Gatehouse Review – What Is Found in the Woods Should Be Left in the Woods

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Starring Scarlett Rayner, Simeon Willis, Linal Haft

Directed by Martin Gooch


Now while no one will sneeze at the prospect of bringing up a bit of a rebellious child alone, it’s those damned kids that like to tempt fate by pissing off creatures in the woods…oh kids, they do the funniest things, don’t they?

In Martin Gooch’s moderately spooky presentation, The Gatehouse, a struggling writer named Jack (Willis) finds himself behind the 8-ball following the tragic drowning death of his beloved wife, and if that isn’t enough to torque your drawers, his young daughter, Eternity (Rayner) is becoming quite the salty soul herself. Unfortunately the little one has been finding herself bullied at school, and her recourse of sorts is to simply toss attitude around as if it was pleasantly acceptable. Her pastime has become lonely wanderings in the deep woods, digging for hopeful treasures…and we all know what problems reside in the woods, don’t we, horror fans? Well, Eternity’s father is attempting to re-start his writing career with a frightening backstory – taking the reigns on a novel that was abruptly ended when the author committed suicide, and supposedly the tome is quite the dark piece of literature.

Eternity’s never-ending quest for fortune and glory in the forest leads her to a most interesting (and ultimately) dangerous discovery (don’t sweat it – I won’t spill it for you). Bottom line here is this: the little girl has taken possession of something that should have been left in the friggin’ woods, and now someone (or something) wants it back PRONTO. What follows is a lackluster series of “spooky” events, and far be it from me to say, I’ve seen creepier stuff watching the evening news. Gooch then tries to bombard the audience with a plethora of instances and swerving plot direction – it’s fun at the beginning but can grow a bit tiresome over a duration.

Performance-wise, both Rayner and Willis play the perfect combination of mentally-shot dad and determined-to-be-independent daughter – their scenes are ripe with subtle contempt, and the right amount of indecision. Overall, the film is best suited for those fans of fantasy/fable-like horror, and while it might not scare the pants off of you, it definitely will give us all another reason to stay the hell out of the woods once and for all.

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3.0

Summary

Children in a forest-setting don’t always add up to cutesy-pie encounters with furry creatures – this one’s got a few scares to keep fans of coppice-horror appeased.

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User Rating 3.56 (18 votes)
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