Written by a lot of contributors
Published by Devastator Press
The folks at Devastator Press have a long line of comedic parody zines behind them – their lampoonery targeting all sorts from video games, tabletop RPGs and historical facts to science fiction and anime culture. Now, this collection of creatives from the likes of The Onion, Adult Swim and The Daily Show have turned their sights to the horror genre.
And, thankfully, it’s to quite often hilarious effect.
At around 60 pages of comic-book style content, infographics, fake advertisements, questionnaires, short fiction and scripts, The Devastator: Horror doesn’t take long to get through – but that’s a good thing, as it means that you’re never very far away from a belly laugh even when something prior doesn’t quite work for you.
The eclectic selection is a literal treasure trove for genre fans, and obviously written by people who know and appreciate the source material that they’re drawing from. See, for example, Liz Prince’s awesome take on Troll 2 with ‘Bistro Nilbog’ (something I would seriously love framed and put on my wall) and Todd Alcott’s ‘One Fine Night at the Overlook Hotel’, whose punch line will leave you reeling with laughter at its reimagining of a certain scene in Stanley Kubrick’s classic The Shining.
The content here is all over the map of the genre, taking on scary/demonic children, classic monsters, torture porn, urban legends and more – often taking what we think each of these tropes stands for and reshaping them into something so much more banal… and incredibly funny for it.
I’m not going to go into full detail here, because at the end of the day this is a quick read made what it is by its concepts – and when you’re treated to a new one every other page, the surprise is what makes it so good. You’ll find nods to the modern and the classical (look out for Christine remodelled as an Italian motor scooter), a selection of urban legends given very different endings and a Freddy Krueger premium-rate telephone line script that is so goddamned funny because it’s uncomfortably close to the real experience of these lines back in the day. The humour is often understated and rarely goofy – always respectful of the material it’s based on, yet cheekily sardonic.
There are a few things that aren’t quite as funny as they seem to think they are, for example a collection of backwater advisory signs (aptly titled ‘The Hills Have Signs’) that are just too on-the-nose to really work, and Van Helsing and ‘Monsters on the No Fly List’ skits that fail to raise much of a smirk.
At the end of the book, there are a few short stories written by, apparently, Neil Spitznogle entitled Scary Stories to Tell Your Ungrateful Family in the Dark, which is a total winner – written by a man desperate to get his family back after his wife left him and took the kids, his utter anguish poorly disguised in the form of campfire stories.
At a $3 digital (and $10 physical) price point, you simply can’t go wrong if you’re a horror fan on a quest for chuckles. Multi-book subscriptions are also available at prices which, if this horror edition is anything to go by, are an absolute steal. So much so, in fact, that I think I may just treat myself.
You can check out the full info on subs at Devastator Press website.
To close, here’s an example of an introduction to one skit that set me off purely because of its pitch-perfect presentation of utter banality. Make sure you read it with Rod Serling’s voice in mind:
The following may look like a series of odd symbols, but strung together they form words, and those words form sentences, and if you’re not careful, those sentences will lead you directly into… The Twilight Zone.