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She Loves Monsters
Simon Clark
Necessary Evil hardcover $35

review by Andrew Darlington

Horror has a torturously long history. As a gothic outgrowth of fantasy it predates, and will probably postdate science fiction too. And as such it's had more than enough time to assemble its own internal myths and legends body-part by body-part, with its own pantheon of watchful guiding deities including - as Simon Clark, its current greatest practitioner, points out here. Lon Chaney, H.P. Lovecraft, Tod Browning. Yes, yes - and yes. But 'Vorada' - the mythic lost movie by Christopher Lake? - er, no. Horror is a place where film and the printed page have, from its murky origins, interacted in some kind of demonic symbiosis, the one provoking the other to even greater excesses of shock and gore. And 'Vorada' is Simon's insinuation into that horror weave.

She Loves Monsters is a slim volume. Little more than a novella book-ended by an introduction from Paul Finch and a revealing autobiographical essay by Simon himself, spaced with entrails-smear wash-illustrations by David G. Barnett. And it's a playfully filmic chamber piece, complete with false ending, razored down to a minimalist four-piece cast, one of whom is virtually catatonic. That's Lake himself, a former Orson Welles-lite prodigy now turned comatose recluse, with hard-as-(coffin)-nails Jack Calner on a venal quest to prize the lost footage from his grasp. Aided - or perhaps not, by Lake's 'pretty fawn-eyed' sister Venus who he first encounters in the first paragraph by impacting her with his silver BMW as she jogs in a naked streak across a deserted forest road.

Although he uses Americanisms such as 'cell-phone' and 'blacktop' the setting is the isolated extravagant 'Montage' in Cumbria, and "forgive my purple prose. But this is just the kind of place that provokes melodramatic notions. Strange house. Strange, strange inhabitants." It's a place of gods, monsters, madness and LSD distortions. Clark addresses the reader conversationally as 'my friend', until he thumbs the internal prose rheostat up, cranking the voltage into tight, frighteningly vivid prose that electrifies language. Divulging the hideous secret of the film itself, which - without giving too much away, will alter your perception of every CNN-newscast martyr killing you see afterwards. She Loves Monsters is a powerful addition to Simon Clark's torturously expanding canon.
She Loves Monsters

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