"All-Night Terror" Book Review
Written by Gabino Iglesias
Published by Sinister Grin Press
Written by Adam Cesare and Matt Serafini
2016, 187 pages, Fiction
Released on July 15th, 2016
Literary collaborations are really weird because they bring two or more authors together in hopes that their styles and voices can somehow work jointly to create something outstanding. Luckily, Adam Cesare (The Con Season, Video Night, Zero Lives Remaining) and Matt Serafini (Island Red, Under the Blade, Feral) are not only talented authors with a knack for tight storytelling and cracking dialogue, they also share a love for bloodshed, creepy settings and situations, and, perhaps most importantly in the case of All-Night Terror, an undying passion for the universe of horror movies.
All-Night Terror is a special collaboration that is more than the sum of its parts. The reader gets tales from both authors, but there is also a larger narrative that serves as both framework for all the madness and cohesive tissue between the stories. This connective tissue, in which a deranged local television employee takes over the station and fills the place with blood and the airwaves with horror movies as a kid witnesses everything on his television, helps to bring together a collection of tales that pay homage to the horror movies of the 1980s. That aesthetic can be found throughout the book, including the four new stories that are available in this new and improved version from the good folks at Sinister Grin Press. In a nutshell, All-Night Terror is a superb literary experiment that shares DNA with Tales from the Crypt, gory slasher flicks, Twilight Zone, and the melancholy brought on by the memory of those scary movie nights that lie at the core of every horror fan’s love for the genre.
The best thing about All-Night Terror is that its authors packed their stories with variety. There is plenty of blood and mayhem, but they come from narratives dealing with action figures that come to life, gigantic cryptids, an actress who wakes up after an accident to find herself in a very bizarre situation, movie directors who want their films to be respected, and even a narrative that’s pure noir mixed in with some otherworldly weirdness. As a bonus, and given the lack of names tied to each story, fans of both authors will be able to play a game in which they try to discern who wrote what. Being familiar with both of the authors’ work, I thought it’d be very easy. Yes, there are some passages in which Cesare’s talent for communicating atmosphere/melancholy shine and give him away, and moments where Serafini’s incomparable talent for ultraviolence and slashing give him away, but most of the time, the narratives are just superb short horror stories that could’ve come from either of them.
I won’t discuss all the stories, but here are some personal favorites:
- "Incident at Night" - A crazed killer is on the loose and has just killed a bunch of people. The only survivor from that attack winds up in a small store. Chad, the only employee there, tries to help. What ensues is a bloody, tense narrative about survival and the nature of impressions. This one had one of the best endings in the book.
- "Killing Time in the Off-Season" – This is a strangely heartfelt narrative about the Chicopee Butcher, a deranged serial killer, and the things he does while waiting for summer so he can start killing kids and counselors at summer camps. While it has everything you would expect from a serial-killer-in-the-woods narrative, it also has a beautiful side that makes it special.
- "The Last Remake" – This is perhaps the story that most strongly celebrates horror movies and their legacy. It deals with Sean Winters, a rich man who works for a movie studio remaking classic horror movies they acquired from Buddy Sebastian. Just like every other studio out there, they destroy the films and their legacy s in the name of making easy money from cult classics. Buddy hates it, and there’s a part of the contract that gives him the right to say something about it, but his input is not what you’d expect. What follows is a wonderful celebration of gore and a call to respect cult films for what they are.
- "The Executioner's Wish" – This one has a deceptively simple plot: a man with killing/fighting skills is looking for a girl named Casey. He finds her, but the place, people, and circumstances that surround her are out of this world. This is what happens when hardcore noir meets hardcore horror.
Coming in at almost 200 pages of pure gruesomeness from two of the top voices in contemporary horror, All-Night Terror is definitely worth the price of admission (see what I did there? Cesare and Serafini aren’t the only ones who can write cinematic puns). Collections rarely deliver the goods in every single story, but this one does. That makes it special and turns into a book that demands a space on the shelves of all horror fiction lovers. Now go “watch” this.