A hospital patient with no vital signs but full of life, a job offer for a Death Row prisoner and a mob enforcer who finds religion goes and knocks on the wrong old lady’s door wanting to talk about God. These are just a few of the stories to be found inside Michael Bray’s Dark Corners. All of the twelve stories in this dark anthology are linked together, sometimes this is through shared plot threads, and sometimes it’s something as simple as a walk on by a character at a party. It all adds tremendously to the fun of reading these competently written tales. In a way this weaving together of plot elements reminded me of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, even though each of the stories in Dark Corners is a self-contained unit that stands up to reading on its own. I can’t help thinking that it might have been quite fun to have mashed the stories together a bit more though.
There are some really clever ideas expressed in these stories, some have a certain predictability, but others have a nice little sting in the tail. One of them genuinely made my skin crawl, but to say anymore than that would seriously spoil your fun my Horror Hothouse Flowers. There was one thing I found curious about Dark Corners. For me as a Brit most of the stories are set in a very believable set of American contexts, but when Bray moved back over the pond for The Prank somehow the storytelling was less convincing, yet he is a British author resident in Leeds. It would be very interesting to get a view on that from an American reader. A minor quibble though, and it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book at all.
Dark Corners is published by Dark Hall Press.
If you like horror anthologies you should check out some of the Amicus portmanteau horror movies from the 1960s and 70s. My recommendations are:
Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1965): Five men in a railway carriage have their future told by the mysterious Dr Schreck (Peter Cushing) only it turns out that it’s their past and the train is on the way to Hell. Also stars: Christopher Lee, Donald Sutherland and DJ Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman.
Tales From the Crypt (1972): Five strangers meet in a crypt where the Cryptkeeper (Ralph Richardson) reveals how they are going to die, only its not their future – oh you know what I mean. Also stars: Joan Collins and Peter Cushing as Grimsdyke, the mild mannered dustman who comes back from the dead to exact revenge on the neighbours who drove him to suicide.
Vault of Horror (1973): Five strangers enter a lift, when the doors open they find themselves in a basement club. As they sit around the table they discuss recurring dreams of death, only you guessed it they ain’t no dreams. I like the story in this movie where Harold Rodgers (Daniel Massey) murders his sister (played by real life sister Anna Massey) and then finds himself in a vampire restaurant as dish of the day, I will never forget the waiters ‘How do you like your clots’. Also stars: Terry Thomas, former Dr Who Tom Baker, Curt Jurgens and Arthur Mullard.
Review by Simon Ball
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