Friday, May 19, 2017

WTF Friday: Beware by Richard Laymon

Well, another WTF Friday is upon us, which means we once again turn the Ruins over to my dark half. As regular visitors will know, Foster Medina has a passion for messed up literary diversions - books that are bizarre, twisted, grotesque, and kinky - and he's only too happy to splatter them across the page.

Although often problematic, with serious consistency issues, and even bigger flaws of logic, Beware is the kind of over-the-top horror that only Richard Laymon can deliver. It's gratuitous in both sex and violence, and once again plays to his fetish for rape, but it is cruel fun from beginning to end.

What makes it so much fun, as is so often the case with Laymon, is the depth and creativity of his villain. While his protagonists are usually stock characters plucked from the roster of horror clich├ęs, his bad guys are bestowed with well-developed backstory, personality, and motivation. Hoffman is a monster, no doubt about it, but he's amusing one. He's obsessive, violent, psychopathic, and (best of all) completely invisible. While he could be out robbing banks or overthrowing governments, all he wants to do is make a sexual slave out of his high school obsession - oh, and escape the evil cult goddess who made him invisible in the first place.

Yes, there are two parallel plots here, the first involving that cult goddess and her orgies of blood and sex, and the second involving that girl from high school and her attempt to stop a murderer. To be honest, it feels as if Laymon just mashed two short stories together, relying on a lot of coincidence and deus ex machina to make them fit, but the combination does make for a suitably explosive, gore-soaked climax. I would have loved to see the evil sex cult explored in greater depth (we never do get to know what their purpose is), and there is so much more our invisible villain could have done (something akin to Body Rides), but Laymon tends to go on too long, so I guess I shouldn't complain that he reigned it in here.

While Beware is far from his best, it is still an entertaining read, so long as you don't think about it.

Published November 1st 2008 by Leisure Books
(first published September 30th 1985)


  1. I agree, it wasn't his best but still a decent horror story and who doesn't love an invisible bad guy?

    1. I just wish he'd done more - there was so much potential in him being invisible. The supermarket scene was fun, and the invisible sex was fantastic (if wholly inappropriate). LOL