Mick Garris, J. Kenner, Kealan Patrick Burke, Del James, and Bentley Little pry open a sarcophagus of horror and dread in Dark Screams: Volume Five, from Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of the esteemed Cemetery Dance Publications.
EVERYTHING YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED by Mick Garris
It was supposed to be the night of his life: a celebration of his one hit slasher flick. But the price of admission is higher than this has-been filmmaker ever could have imagined.
THE ONE AND ONLY by J. Kenner
When he was seven, Will Underwood’s nanny told him she had the Sight. Years later, a broken heart sends him to New Orleans . . . but it’s fate that leads him to Madame Darkling’s Voodoo Emporium.
THE LAND OF SUNSHINE by Kealan Patrick Burke
Although she was mute long before the affair that nearly wrecked their marriage, her silence has tortured her husband ever since. Now he will seek out what he has lost—or be driven mad by remorse.
MECHANICAL GRATITUDE by Del James
Arnold loves his ’68 Camaro almost as much as he loves his wife, and he’s willing to do anything to protect them both—especially after hearing strange noises coming from his garage.
THE PLAYHOUSE by Bentley Little
A real-estate agent is drawn into a children’s playhouse behind an abandoned property she’s trying to sell—and finds herself strangely reluctant to leave.
Praise for Dark Screams: Volume Five
“Freeman and Chizmar’s fifth horror anthology runs the gamut from throwback horror to lyrical and heartbreaking tales. . . . This collection will satisfy.”—Publishers Weekly
“A horror fan’s dream . . . As with the rest of the series, fans of the genre should not hesitate to pick this one up.”—Examiner.com
“You can discover new authors and rediscover old ones, and that’s always a good thing in my book. Recommended for fans of short story collections!”—Char’s Horror Corner
“Dark Screams: Volume Five builds on the success of previous volumes, with the editors picking top-notch horror stories from old pros and new stars alike.”—Battered, Tattered, Yellowed & Creased
“I cannot help showering praise on every single installment in this ongoing series, with this latest being no exception. . . . Dark Screams: One through Four and especially Five are perfect reads for the Halloween season.”—LitReactor
About the Author
Richard Chizmar is the founder, publisher, and editor of Cemetery Dance magazine and Cemetery Dance Publications. He has edited more than a dozen anthologies, including The Best of Cemetery Dance, The Earth Strikes Back, Night Visions 10, October Dreams (with Robert Morrish), and the Shivers series.
Read an Excerpt
Everything You’ve Always Wanted
It had been a long time since I’d flown first class, and I must admit that I’d missed it. But here I was, winging across a vast, arid, flyover America, bound for the bustling metropolis that was Indianapolis, wondering which came first in the English lexicon: metropolis or Indianapolis. Surely the former. I’d have to remember to Google it when I was back within Internet range.
I had never been to Indianapolis before, and for that matter, don’t think I know anyone who has. Is there a reason to visit there? Other than as a special guest at the annual MonsterThon convention, of course, which was the crown of thorns I wore this particular moribund weekend. Leaving L.A. before the landlord came sniffing around for his filthy lucre was always a good idea, and to have travel and accommodations paid for—and in first class, no less!—by a third party put the emphasis on the party.
Some time ago, I had made a little independent film, one that maybe even you have heard of (let me virtually buff my fingernails on my shirt and let them gleam in the sin of pride). Taxed was one of those exceedingly rare little horror thrillers that could have happened only before the end of the twentieth century: It cost about $400,000, was filmed with an unknown cast in Florida, got picked up and released on five hundred screens by New Century Millennial, and somehow earned a box-office gross of more than $12 million (well, that’s $12 million that New Century Millennial would admit to, so I’d bet you could add at least fifty percent and be closer to the actual gross).
Taxed was crude, I’ll admit it, but that worked for the story, which was a hillbilly horror tale of rural cannibals who excelled at human taxidermy, and it owed huge debts to Tobe Hooper, Alfred Hitchcock, and Wes Craven (the movie, not the cannibals, though I suppose they did, too). But I think it was the Shakespeare references that I had injected—and expounded on in every interview—that gave it an air of respectability in the mainstream press.
Of course, the horror genre, particularly at that time, has always been a gutter in the eyes of the tastemakers in America. But if you can bandy about Lady Macbeth and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as well as Dalí and Gaudí, and at least have a passing knowledge of a cultural past, the pretenders of critical mass will take in your bullshit and look for Deeper Meaning and embrace your little cinematic masterpiece and give it attention. The Taxed reviews weren’t all good, but the fact that it was taken seriously enough to review at all was quite an accomplishment, so our audience went beyond the bloodthirsty gorehound Fangoria subscribers and the multiplex subbasement and into the arthouse sensibility as well. We had that rare crossover horror hit. Well, if you can call twelve million bucks a hit, and New Century Millennial did, repeatedly.
It did even better on video.
Of course, that was a nonunion film, ergo, though I wrote and directed this masterpiece, it was before I joined the Writers and Directors Guilds, so the distributors did not share any of that pie with me. No residuals, no profits, no guts, no glory. Well, maybe a little bit of the latter two, but not so much. Not until now, anyway, at the MonsterThon salute to the twenty-fifth anniversary of Taxed in the teeming cosmopolis of Indianapolis: a city better flown over than visited, I was soon to learn.
But Indianapolis was still a couple hours away as I stared down at the grids of lackluster brown ranch land between cities below me. I sipped a Dewar’s as the ice clanked against my new crown, sending a jolt of freezer burn up into my jaw. My iPad had run out of juice, so I had to flip through the airline magazine to pass the time. I’d hoped the drinks would knock me out, but I just can’t sleep on a plane. Hell, I can’t sleep in a bed most of the time.
So I was stuck in 3C, next to an enormous guy in a Sears salesman’s suit with a deviated septum and sleep apnea, snorting like a water buffalo as he jolted in and out of sleep with each trumpeting, phlegmatic blap, trying to find entertainment in a publication that is all about cramming the space between the ads with inoffensive filler.
The cabin suddenly filled with an acrid aroma, and I looked around to see that two-ton Willy Loman had wet himself in his sleep.
Ah, first-class luxury!
All I could do was sit back, hold my breath, and take stock of what had brought me here.
Taxed was a big success, and it did open a lot of doors for me. I was the flavor of the month, which was pretty exciting for a twenty-five-year-old filmmaker from the wrong coast of Florida. The film had been embraced and toasted, and doors were flung wide in welcome to me at all the studios and agencies. I pitched and schmoozed and partied and did all the things you’re supposed to do, and it worked. I signed with CAA, directed an episode of Tales from the Crypt, and made my first Hollywood studio deal with Joel Silver, which was a horror story in itself.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Dark Screams book series is more like a mini-magazine than a book, but it capitalizes on the ebook buyer looking for something quick and inexpensive. This fifth volume in the series does a nice job of pumping up the horror and keeping the reader entertained. This volume contains the following five stories: "Everything You've Always Wanted" by Mick Garris. This has a sense of the classic horror story - lots of anticipation and cringing. "The Land of Sunshine" by Patrick Burke. This is precisely what I look for in a good horror story. Beautiful language that sucks you in, with plenty of symbolism, and a horror that you can't tear away from because you recognize the longing. "Mechanical Gratitude" by Del James. This was my least favorite of the group. While it, too, had a sense of classic horror (fear and terror rather than violence and splatter), the draw of a hot car just has never worked for me and I feel I've read enough horror and sci-fi car stories that I just don't need any more. "The One and Only" by J. Kenner. College boys looking to get laid at the end of summer. Need I say more? "The Playhouse" by Bentley Little. This one made me pause and actually really think about what I was reading ... not something I typically expect with a short horror story. But the intricacies here really made it worth the read. I liked this one a lot. I really like this series because it offers just enough to make you feel as though you got your money's worth, but even if you don't like two of the stories, it doesn't feel like a waste. The series also ends to put a classic, better-known author in each volume along with some relative new-comers, and I like the opportunity to discover a 'new' writer. In this particular volume, while I recognize the name of Bentley Little, I can't say that I've ever read anything by him or any of the other authors here, so this was a complete surprise for me, and one which I enjoyed. Looking for a good book? Dark Screams Volume 5 is a terrific, thin volume of five horror stories that should appeal to fans of the genre. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
All the reviews are "paid" and the book is $4... that tells me a lot. That being said, paid reviews should be banned from B&N.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley Everything You've Always Wanted - wonderful writing and a compelling story. I loved it. The subject of a horror film maker who peaked in his 20's was fascinating. 5/5 The Land of Sunshine - Moody, atmospheric and confusing. 3/5 Mechanical Gratitude - not scary, not exciting, just meh. 3/5 The One and Only - I liked the tone of the story. It was creepy. I am not sure why she picked William. Did he have a past connection with her? 4/5 The Playhouse - This was a great story. Really interesting concept and well written. 4/5
This is a collection of five horror and suspense stories. While they were all well written, I think the first story "Everything You Always Wanted ", and the last story "The PlayHouse" were the best ones, with "The Playhouse" being the best of those two. The whole collection is worth a read and will be great entertainment for a cold, stormy night. Just remember to leave a light on. I received this arc from NetGalley for an honest review.
Playful and Serious. This has been one of my favorite of the series. I love Bentley Little and his story here is true to his character. This was a good read for me with stories I feel I could read again and again. If you have read any of the other volumes then this is must read also. If you have not read any of the Dark Screams yet then this will be a good treat for you also.
Everything You’ve Always Wanted (Mick Garris) The first half was very entertaining, but then it started getting downhill. At the end it was neither fish nor flesh - too absurd to be either earnest or humorous. Definitely not my cup of tea. 2 stars. The Land of Sunshine (Kealan Patrick Burke) Dark and very dense - not just each sentence, but each word carried a world full of meaning. The shortest story of the collection in physical length, but like a fan it unfolds to reveal a large canvas full of images and impressions. 3 stars. Mechanical Gratitude (Del James) Simple and straight - perfect short story with a nice twist at the end. 4 stars. The One and Only (J. Kenner) From the beginning, this one oozed gothic ghost story atmosphere. Well done. 3 stars. The Playhouse (Bentley Little) This story tells how something strange and otherworldly can hide between the facade of something completely innocent looking. Expertly and seemingly effortlessly written - my favorite story in this collection, and I'm glad it was last in row. 5 stars. Not as a good as the last DS collection, but still a worthwhile collection. (I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)
A couple of great stories, but some not so great. The stories show good imagination, but one is written so pretentiously it is hard to figure out what it is about. The first and last stories were the best of the bunch.
Dark Screams: Volume Five: A Review Edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar Standard Disclaimer: I received this book as a free download with the expectation that I would review it. By doing so I am eligible to receive other titles in this series. Another solid outing from editing team Freeman and Chizmar. This time around we have material from five of horror’s best and brightest. “Everything You Have Always Wanted” by Mick Garris is a morality tale wrapped up in a bloody bit of body horror. The longest of the stories in the book, it is also one of the most engaging. The reader jumps right into the world of horror movie fandom and conventions. Anyone who has ever vended at a Con will relate at least a little. “The One and Only” by J. Kenner New Orleans, the perfect city for a group to boys to go party, the best spot to see ghosts, and for one young man, it will complete a life long prediction that he would end up in the Big Easy. “The Land of Sunshine” by Keelan Patrick Burke plunges the reader into a dark, atmospheric world where people avoid the main character. He is constantly shut out by those he has known his whole life. A journey, a mysterious box, a mute wife, and a surprisingly touching ending. “Mechanical Gratitude” by Del James There is the love between a husband and wife and the love of a many for his car. Both of these culminate in a shocking act and a tie the lasts forever. A nicely written story but it loses something at the end. “The Playhouse” by Bentley Little A creepy story about the perfect playhouse, one so perfect that even adults get pulled in. The fact that time passes differently for those inside the house as out adds an additional wrinkle. All together, it is a great compilation of stories. Some are stronger than others, but they are well written, well executed examples of modern horror.