Monday, April 29, 2013
Darkness, Tell Us by Richard Laymon
Synopsis From Back Cover:
It started as a game. Six college kids at a party. Then someone suggested they try the Ouija board. The board that Corie had hidden in the back of her closet and sworn never to touch again. Not after what happened last time. Not after Jake's death...
They were only playing around, but the Ouija board worked, all right. Maybe too well. A spirit who called himself Butler began to send them messages - and make demands. Butler promised them a hidden treasure if only they would follow his directions and head off to a secluded spot in the mountains... a wild, isolated spot where anything could be waiting for them. Treasure of death. Or Butler himself.
Every once in a great while, I get into a mood where I want to delve into the darker side of life. Normally that requires me to watch a few of my favorite horror movies, but occasionally nothing will scratch that itch quite like a good horror novel. And I must put the emphasis on good, because sadly, most horror novels suck. They play with cliches and tend to be the most formulaic of all genre fiction. There are exceptions to that rule, and when a horror novel is great, it's a treat to get lost in the author's imagination.
When I was at The Dollar Tree a few weeks ago, I happened to run across three paperback horror novels, that had promising synopsises. So I took them home, and devoured all three within the span of a few days. For the most part, it was a mixed bag. I really enjoyed one, feel kind of blah about the second, and really didn't care all that much for the third. Darkness, Tell Us by Richard Laymon is the book I really didn't care all that much for.
I was a book riddled with one cliche after the other, some of which seemed so out of place, that it felt as if the author put some ideas in a hat, and just drew them out. And since I suffered through every single cliche and ill conceived plot point, I'm going to let you guys feel my pain. We have misfit college kids having a rather tame after term party with their professor. They find a Ouija board and decide to play around with it. For whatever reason, this college proffesor has kept the board all these years even though it predicted the death of her husband. So kids start using the board, one girl is humiliated by it, and they are all told of a vast treasure that awaits them in the mountains. Long lost brother of the dead husband show up out of the blue, breaking up the party. Kids leave, but not before stealing the board for their own uses. And at this point in time, I should have stopped reading, but hindsight is always 20/20.
So that same night, kids decide to go on a camping trip to find the treasure. Meanwhile professor and long lost brother are getting it on, after they both admit to the feelings they have had for each other. The nerdy kid, and yeah, there is a nerdy kid hero, has had a crush on the professor this entire time. But now he has a thing for the humiliated girl, cause he saw her bra. So as the kids are getting ready to leave, the rich girl and the jock, pick them up one by one, and when it's time to get the humiliated girl, nerdy boy volunteers to go in. Come to find out, humiliated girl has been living with a much older man who while he pays for her education, is sexually assaulting her and forcing her to wear panties with Bengay smeared in them. Nerdy boys comes to her rescue, locks the pervert in the closet and convinces humiliated girl to leave with him. Rounding out the crew are the loud obnoxious girl and dumb jock number two.
After a night of sex, the professor and long lost brother figures out what happened, so they decide to chase after the kids into the backwoods of nowhere. Meanwhile the kids, after a long car trip, arrive at a lake that sits at the base of the mountain that Butler told them to go to. They start to relax and let their guard down. Humiliated girl confesses to nerdy boy that she comes from a very abusive background. Mother died in a "car accident" after a long camping trip, her stepfather and twin stepbrothers then molested her for years and years afterwards. They would kidnap other girls and do the same thing to them. She tried to run, they caught her, thought they killed her, and she started her life over again. She was taken in by a foster family, where the mother molested her, but since it wasn't violent she put up with it. And oh yeah, the pervert we met earlier, was that foster mother's father.
Then this crazy. pieced together story gets even stranger. Loud obnoxious girl has gone off on her own, and is summarily attacked by wild crazy guy wearing nothing but a thong and a machete. She escapes his evil clutches, he escapes into the woods, and the kids start to think something is off. But do they leave, of course not, that fortune waiting up in the hills is too much for them to resist. Who cares that there is a machete wielding crazy guy running around, and who attacks them once again later on that night. Instead this time, he tries to run off with rich girl, and she is saved by the first jock.
In the meantime, it's late at night, and the professor and long lost brother come across an abandoned car near where the need to turn off to find the kids. There is nobody around, but since it's not the kid's car, and there is no signs up violence, they ignore the car and continue onto the old dirt road they need to take to find the kids. Once they get to where the kids had to leave the car, the decide to spend the night and hike to the lake in the morning. Once they get there, they find that the kids have already left camp to go find the magical mine shaft, so they decide to have sex, which they have already done nonstop since the night they were reunited. While she is skinny dipping, long lost brother is attacked by thong wearing crazy guy. Crazy guy grabs the professor once she is out of the water, and drags her off into the mountains.
The kids by this time had already found crazy guy's hideout, and discovered who he is, which by the way really doesn't matter because there is no back story on the guy. He's just there to add extra danger to the mix. While there, they for whatever reason use the Ouija board to contact Butler, because they want their money. Then the big reveal happens, Butler is in fact the departed soul of humiliated girl's mother. She has lured them there in order to collect her remains and bring them back. It seems that she didn't die in a car accident, but that the crazy stepfather killed her. So humiliated girl collects the bones, and they start to make their way down the mountain again.
And do you know who they run into, I bet you can guess anyway. The come across the professor after she has fought off the thong wearing crazy guy, for the second time. The first time she was rescued by obnoxious girl who didn't feel like going to the mine shaft with them, so she stayed behind and came across the professor fending off the attacker. She shoots at him, and he falls down into a rushing stream, presumed dead. Then he comes for her again, this time when the long lost brother has caught up to her, they scuffle and the brother falls down the mountain, getting caught on the ledge. Wild crazy guy is put out of his, and our, misery once and for all, but the details on that really don't matter, because he never really mattered.
So the kids find them, and decide to leave when the can't help long lost bother get off the ledge. Professor stays there, patiently waiting for the kids to get back to civilization and reach help. By this time, the entire day has come and gone, and it's night time again. At first they were going to wait until morning to hike back to the car, but they then decide to continue through the night. Once they reach the car, and take off, they spot a bus back in the woods. Now "Butler" had mentioned a bus the last time they talked, and they were still hungry for this fortune. So instead of continuing on for help, they decide to head to the bus. And do you know who those wild and crazy kids find there? Come on, I know you already know this by now, well I'll tell you anyway.
At first all they see is a woman bound to the seats, the missing woman from that abandoned car. She reports that they have already killed her husband, and just as they are about to let them woman go, most of them are shot dead. Guess what people, the stepfather and twin brothers are back and they are still raping and pillaging as they go. Rich girl, jock one, and dumb jock 2 are killed outright. Nerdy guy is left for dead, loud obnoxious girl is missing, and humiliated girl is once again left at the mercy of the men she escaped so many years before. Well nerdy boy isn't dead, he comes to her rescue, kills all three men and escapes with nerdy girl and the found obnoxious girl.
Flash forward a few months and the professor and long lost brother are married, the nerdy guy and humiliated girl are moving in together, the loud and obnoxious girl is still the same, and the fortune has been found. Come to find out, the pervert the humiliated girl was living with, died the night she escaped him and his life insurance policy was in her name. So the survivors live happily ever after, the end.
Now if you are pulling your hair out by this point in time, welcome to the club. This plot was ridiculous, Ouija boards, backwoods hillbillies, and sexual abuse all rolled up into one horrible story. Way too many coincidences, putting everyone back in the same area it all started in. The wild thong wearing crazy guy, I still have no frickin clue where he came from. But the worst part, are the hours I missed out on reading something else. Something that would have made sense in the end.