Another spin off of my weird western series.
Raw Feed (1997): It Came from The Drive-In, eds. Norman Partridge and Martin H. Greenberg, 1996.
“Introduction”, Norman Partridge — Introduction written around the conceit that the reader is entering a drive-in.
“Talkin’ Trailer Trash”, Edward Bryant — A rather pointless story seemingly about America’s changed race relations since the ‘50s with giant chiggers standing in for blacks. I suppose Roger Corman’s occasional use of such metaphors explains the dedication to him.
“10585”, Sean A. Moore — Enjoyable story – basically a modern updating of the movie The Blob crossed with zombie movies. I particularly liked the can-do veteran Ted Mack.
“Big Bust at Herbert Hoover High”, Jay R. Bonansinga — Enjoyable and absurd story of an adolescent fixated on female breasts and their lingerie accompaniments. Thanks to one of those convenient nuclear accidents at his father’s work, the lad finds himself fused and joined to his girlfriend’s left breast – a fate he comes to gratefully accept. I liked the image of the girl’s left breast supplanting the boy’s head a lá the movie The Fly. I also liked the voice of actor Russ Tamblyn epitomizing cool.
“’59 Frankenstein”, Norman Partridge — An amusing modern version of the Frankenstein in which the boy monster, tired of yet another condescending speech by the doctor after the boy asks for the car keys, throws his creator to the alligator in the basement. After striking out in his creation – a car cobbled together from other cars, the monster encounters the previous owner of one of his arms. The man graciously helps the monster after a car accident and then returns to imprison Dr. Frankenstein who has been mangled after the attacks of the monster and alligator and get another arm. Humorous and gruesome with genuine suspense and not just camp or absurd humor.
“Tuesday Weld, Sunday Sources”, Rex Miller — This story belongs to that sub-sub-genre of humorous sf where alien or human archaeologists from the future draw wrong conclusions about our society from artifacts. Miller carries the effort off reasonably well with his aliens examining a drive-in on an Earth trashed by nuclear war. However, there seemed to be a fair number of these types of stories floating around after the King Tut exhibit came to America, and humorist Jean Shepard did a much better version.
“Die, Baby, Die, Die, Die!”, Dan Perez — An amusing fusion of the ‘50s delinquent teen and monster movie genres. A praying mantis-like alien comes down to Earth and joins a teen gang. I liked the references to Roger Corman and Jack Arnold, and the idea of teen delinquent Tab being supposedly ruined by rock and roll and “cheap paperback novels.”
“The Yellers of Their Eyes”, Tia Travis — I have a definite soft spot in my heart for the weird western and think something great could be done with it though most I’ve read have been disappointing. This is one of the best weird westerns I’ve encountered. Still, it has the problems usually associated with the sub-genre. First, Travis resorts occasionally to the type of humor that seems to be expected in a western tale: colorful metaphors and the stock western colloquialisms and accent (largely a product of fiction I suspect – especially given the numbers of immigrants) that seem to be expected in westerns. Second, there is not much of a sense of place. (But then how many short stories set in contemporary or historical settings have a sense of place? Travis does a better job than most.) Perhaps what I most criticize is the lack of Black Hills atmosphere though the story is set around the fictitious (as far as I know) town of Sand Creek by the Black Hills. Still, Travis does a fair job with describing the prairie. There is a limited number of fantastic elements one can introduce into the West to make a weird western. Time travel is the most obvious and the most unsatisfying because it is such a generic fantasy element. Ghosts are better but hard to make interesting. Figures from Indian religions seem a natural and probably work for many but bore me. The two best fantasy elements are monsters, since natural wonders and menaces fit naturally into the West motif, and mad – or, at least, crankish – Victorian scientists. Travis gives us both with the nerve and humor to accept jackalopes as a natural feature of the West even before Dr. Devereaux arrives with his control boxes. Though there is humor, this is a fairly grim tale of revenge. I liked Dr. Devereaux conducting his experiments on James Tanner, survivor – barely – of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and his friend and fellow veteran of Gettysburg, Trev T. Halleran, looking for his killer Devereaux. However, the story skimped on the exact details of Devereaux’s goals and experiments, and I think that was the story’s biggest flaw.
“Underground Atlanta”, Gregory Nicoll — A schlocky – but well-done – drive-in movie idea: a band of recalcitrant, slave-holding Confederates living beneath Atlanta and emerging for one more battle against the Federals.
“The Morning of August 18th”, Ed Gorman — This story uses the not terribly original conceit of sentient characters inside the universe of film. Gorman tries for poignancy in having a family constantly destroyed by bikers over and over but doesn’t really succeed.
“The Thing From Lover’s Lane”, Nancy A. Collins — Basically, this is a sequel to H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror” set in the 50s. It works pretty well as a story using Lovecraftian trappings. Old Gooney’s grandmother was a Whateley – the infamous family of Lovecraft’s story and Cthulhu deity Shub-Niggurath is an attack on Lovers Lane — involved in a murder. The story takes place in Misty Place in the Miskatonic River valley. The sheriff remarks that at least they don’t have the problems of Dunwich and Innsmouth.
“Jungle J.D.”, Steve Rasnic Tem — A pointless, surrealistic story that baffled me. The plot involves a juvenile delinquent being taken to Africa and falls in with Nazis.
“The Blood on Satan’s Harley”, Gary Jonas — Basically a sort of modern Legend of Sleepy Hollow story with a murderous headless biker.
“I Was a Teenage Boycrazy Blob”, Nina Kiriki Hoffman — An amusing feminist take off on the movie The Blob. The girls of the story are obsessed with getting boys and plot various ways (science, clothes, cooking) to attract them. Eventually the blob narrator renounces killing any more people and heads for the sewers.
“Bullets Can’t Stop It”, Wayne Allen Sallee — A rather straightforward science fiction tale of a virtual reality parlor where the elements of 50s drive in movies are custom blended for customers. A session is sabotaged and tragedy results. This is not a monster from the id story. Rather “autistic” Clement Wing (in an ironic playing out of the Robert Burns’ line about seeing ourselves as others see us) goes psychotic after learning others’ perceptions of him.
“Race With the Devil”, Randy Fox — I didn’t quite understand this story. The point of it seems to be about not forgetting your youthful goals no matter what happens in your life, no matter your mistakes or setbacks. However, I don’t understand why an Elvis-like figure is cast as a seeming villain.
“The Good, the Bad, and the Danged”, Adam-Troy Castro — A fun, surrealistic story about some Western desperados trapped in a weird version of a Western movie set complete with killer carnivorous tumbleweeds, boots stuck in the ground of Boot Hill, slow hangings, and rattlesnakes with faces. The whole affair has been created, and is ruled over, by the malevolent Marshal Kane. What I didn’t understand about this otherwise good story is why the villain is named after Gary Cooper’s character in High Noon.
“The Slobbering Tongue That Ate the Frightfully, Huge Woman”, Robert Devereaux — This semi-pornographic story was amusing for its simultaneous grossness and eroticism (particularly when a normal sized man is used as a dildo by his giant wife) as well as being a takeoff on those giant beasts (here a giant tongue formally owned by a rapist scientist devours people) and giant women (well, only Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman comes to mind) movies.
“Plan 10 from Inner Space”, Karl Edward Wagner — An amusing mélange of a Nazi dominatrix (“Elsie von Kampf – She Werewolf of the SS” – the She Wolf of the SS movies is only one of the tv shows and movies parodied: also alluded to are Dragnet, Ed Wood’s movies, giant monster movies), Nazi flying saucer and Antarctic base, and teen gangs. Funny and clever enough to make you want to see it filmed. Unfortunately, Wagner died before doing a proposed sequel with Mexican wrestlers, robots, go-go dancers, and beach parties. This story also has an amusing intro detailing the fictitious meeting between screenwriter Wagner and Roger Corman.