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Mar
08

“Apeshit” by Carlton Mellick III – Horror Novel Review

Format: trade paperback
Publisher: Avant Punk – an imprint of Eraserhead Press (www.avantpunk.com)
Publication Year: 2008

Author Carlton Mellick and the folks at Eraserhead Press certainly deserve points for salesmanship. The title and cover leaped out at me as I was perusing horror books at Amazon. I mean, take a look at that artwork. What horror fan could resist?

Apeshit pays homage to the classic slasher movie formula. Six teenagers head off to a cabin in the woods for a weekend of binge drinking and crazy sex. The massive number of dead woodland creatures piled up on the secluded road to the cabin don’t deter them, but as with your standard b-movie if anyone paid attention to the obvious warning signs we wouldn’t have much of a story. The party is soon in full swing, but our young heroes are being stalked by some kind of murderous inbred mutant, made all the more intriguing by the conjoined twin fetus protruding from his skull and his apparent inability to be killed.

Desdemona is the first of the group we meet. Her status as a cheerleader might make you think she’s a stereotypical teen bimbette, but the mohawk, ridiculous number of butterfly tattoos, and a threeway romantic relationship would seem to indicate otherwise. Desdamona’s two boyfriends Rick and Kevin are starting to question the future of their threesome, but Rick has a surgically implanted surprise for the other two just the same. Stephanie is a bit of a loner in the group, hiding both the secret that her brother is forcing her to have sex with him and the fact that she has teeth in her vagina. Jason’s father has done some weird and often criminal things over the years to ensure that his son isn’t afraid of anything, and Jason’s girlfriend Crystal has somehow managed to fetishize abortion.

Mellick states in his introduction that he’s not being shocking just for the sake of being shocking, but as he puts it, he’s trying to be interesting for the sake of being interesting and that he’s never tried to shock anyone with his work. I’m afraid I have to call bullshit on that. Perhaps he’s making a joke that’s just too subtle for me, but shock for shock’s sake is exactly what is going on here. Beyond the bizarre aspects of each character, none has any real depth. The book is written in a simplistic style that may be intentional, but I found it hard to be drawn in, and the dialogue often comes off as wooden. The bizarro angles might have worked for me in a better written book, but here the strangeness is all there is to offer.

At 178 pages, Apeshit is a quick read but I still found it a chore to get through, and an unpleasant chore at that. The back cover contains a glowing quote from author Brian Keene whose work I’ve enjoyed, and the book has a number of positive reviews online so apparently there is a market for this type of fiction, but I don’t see myself seeking out any more of Mellick’s work.

 

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3 comments

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  1. Will E. says:

    The cover art looks like a terribly obvious horror comic (i.e., FAUST c. 1989) and I have never been one for slasher movies nor the retro-fetishization of them. Pass.

  2. ScaryTrue says:

    Based on the cover I thought we had a winner here, but I’m turned off by those character descriptions. I haven’t read it, but I’m thinking that Mellick is parodying slasher films by upping the shocks to ridiculous levels and exaggerating the characters. It seems like an easy kind of satire to simply magnify the aspects that are already the most prominent.

  3. admin says:

    Thanks for commenting, folks.

    I hadn’t thought of a Faust resemblance, Will, but now that you mention it I see what you’re saying.

    Scary, that’s pretty much my feeling. It’s like slasher to THE EXTREME. It definitely didn’t work for me.

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