Horror Review: Night Show by Richard Laymon

While it is still a decent horror read, Night Show is a rather average, middle-of-the-stacks title from Richard Laymon that does nothing to showcase the man's true splatterpunk madness.

The novel's best scenes are dumped in opening chapter, which sees beautiful young Linda abducted by a carload of teenage punks and left tied up inside the haunted Freeman house, where she is all-too briefly terrorized. There's so much potential here, both in the house and in Linda's slow-burning desire for revenge, but it's left largely unexplored as we switch to the main story. Anticipating King's Misery by almost a full year, it's the story of a Hollywood special effects queen who is stalked by a crazed teenage fan. The problem is, the Chill Master is more sad than scary, and more embarrassment than threat. Despite what little page time she gets, Linda is the far more terrifying of the two.

Either piece could have been interesting as a short story, but they're unnecessarily padded out and awkwardly forced to converge in a climax that's neither as entertaining nor as clever as you'd expect from Laymon. There are several moments of gore, a handful of potential frights, and the requisite amount of sex, but it all feels too basic, too generic. Night Show reads like a standard 80s horror novel, which may be fine for some has-been authors, but Laymon has done much better. If you don't believe me, check out The Cellar, The Stake, or (my personal favorite) One Rainy Night.

Kindle Edition, 214 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (first published 1984)

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.