"Mad Mannequins from Hell" Book Review
Written by August V. Fahren
2012, 143 pages, Fiction
Released on June 7th, 2012
Some books are just fun to read. When you find that special novel, it's magical: your eyes read the words and you brain creates an amazing movie that can scare, titillate, and entertain you like no other. August V. Fahren's Mad Mannequins from Hell is one of those books that's simply a ton of fun to read. In fact, more than any other author, reading Fahren's work compares to watching a horror movie. If you can imagine an action-packed comedic horror collaboration between Takashi Miike, Russ Meyer, and Quentin Tarantino, you might be approaching something that resembles this book.
The story starts a few days before Christmas in Portland, Oregon. Burton Vilmos is an unemployed special effects makeup artist with a twisted imagination and an online show in which he kills people with his art. His show is all fun and games, but then Burton picks up a book a close friend of his got from a mysterious shop owner and performs a fake ritual for the scene. Unbeknownst to him, saying the words is all it takes to bring a slice of hell to Portland. After the summoning is finished, Beelzebub shows up along with an army of animated, possessed mannequins that begin to kill everyone they see. In the ensuing chaos, Max, Burton's son, disappears and Burton sets out to find him and send the demons back to hell. During his mission, he finds help: a trio of sexy warrior nuns that know what needs to be done and can kill demon mannequins like nobody's business.
So what exactly is Mad Mannequins from Hell? There's enough tension, action, dead bodies, demons, gore, and scary situations to consider it horror. However, there's also a healthy dose of humor and an intentional B-movie aesthetic that makes it a fun, quirky read. Last but not least, there's sufficient strangeness, madness, and enough of the city of Portland to consider it bizarro. Regardless of genre, the book is an entertaining read that brings a new mix to horror.
Fahren was obviously having fun when he wrote the story, which is the first installment of the Uncanny Valley Trilogy. The author's joy transfers to the page and then the reader as the narrative weaves together Burton's adventures with a few other small vignettes. Those small glimpses at other characters, situations, and places make Mad Mannequins from Hell very engaging. For example, a number of hip-city subcultures like mallrats, skaters, movie nerds, and hipsters all get what they deserve via a demon mannequin.
If Mad Mannequins from Hell is an indication of what's to come from the next two books in the trilogy, I strongly suggest you put it on your radar. I assure you that after reading it, looking at mannequins while walking though a mall will never be the same.