Dark Delicacies III

Edited by Del Howison & Jeff Gelb

Running Press

ISBN: 978-0-7624-3648-4

$26.95 Hardcover; $15.95 Paperback

September, 2009; 336 Pages

The latest in the series of anthologies by Dark Delicacies owner Del Howison and longtime editor Jeff Gelb (Hot Blood series, Shock Rock 1 & 2) is out now. Intended to capture the spirit of the diverse group of authors, screenwriters, directors, and actors that frequent the store in Burbank, it’s an interesting collection. With contributions by actors Steven Weber (Wings, The Shining Miniseries) and Michael Boatman (Spin City, Arliss, Hamburger Hill); directors Victor Salva (Jeepers Creepers, Clownhouse), Eric Red (The Hitcher, Body Parts, Near Dark), Mick Garris (The Shining, The Stand, Riding the Bullet), and Clive Barker (Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Lord of Illusions); screenwriter/producer Richard Christian Matheson (Amazing Stories, The A-Team, Masters of Horror); and authors whose work has been turned into movies such as David Morrell (First Blood, Brotherhood of the Rose) and Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke) – this is definitely a Hollywood-tinged anthology.

But is it good? It’s, as you can probably imagine, a mixed bag as far as story quality goes. Some are obviously better writers. David Morrell’s novella “The Architecture of Snow” ranks among his best work, and is the best tale in the book. It’s a haunting story about a reclusive author, the cult of celebrity, and the cut-throat state of mass-market publishing. Richard Christian Matheson delivers an excellent, experimental tale of how far an author can go in cutting his work in “How to Edit”. Simon Clark’s “Children of the Vortex” is an interesting riff on Island of Dr. Moreau. Gary A. Braunbeck is always dependable, and this is no different with his original take on the grim reaper “Man With A Canvas Bag”. There are also strong contributions from John R. Little and Victor Salva, and it’s nice to see Del James (Language of Fear) back in an anthology again after much too long of an absence.

I was disappointed in Chuck Palahniuk’s silly contribution about a haunted tennis ball “Fetch”, Heather Graham’s standard Orleans gothic “Mist on the Bayou”, and Clive Barker’s poem “And So with Cries” (a letdown after his strong story in the first DD – “Haeckel’s Tale”). The other stories are up and down as far as it goes.

Overall, it’s an interesting mix of stories and worth picking up. I’d give it the edge over the second Dark Delicacies anthology, but it’s not as strong as the first.

Reviewed by James R. Beach

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~ by darkdiscoveries on December 20, 2009.

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