Too Spoopy

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  • Off Season…Still Crazy After All These Years

    The king of social horror, Jack Ketchum is one of those rare individuals that seems to want to scare you so bad, he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about his reputation. The man writes such horrifying, disgusting things, and the worst part is often there is a tiny bit of fact behind his work. The Girl Next Door is based on the real case of Sylvia Likens, and the book Red could be pulled right from the headlines. However, the one that started it all, the one that left Ketchum’s first scar upon the world of horror literature, was Off Season. I won’t go into the history of the book, but if you have the time, Google its title, and read about the trouble Ketchum had releasing it. He was only able to come out with an uncensored version a few years back.
    A couple of people stay in a cabin in the woods of Dead River, Maine, and are attacked by a tribe of cannibals that live in the woods. That’s all you need to know.
    To paraphrase, Ketchum explain that he wrote this book to mirror the violence he saw in horror films like TCM (original) and Last House on the Left; movies like these which took place in real-time. The book was first released in 1980, and The Village Voice called it “violent pornography.” It isn’t, though this turn of phrase reminds me of the current “torture porn,” which is equally inane. To my mind, both of these descriptions are of a certain kind of porn containing s and m, or a snuff film; they are not adequate to describe gory films, unless there is a sexual element infused. A Serbian Film is the only movie I can think of that might be classified as such.
    If you’re going to read this beast, I suggest you read the unexpurgated edition, if only because it has a recipe for human being jerky in it. I think the cover looks way niftier too.
    So, holy shit, how do you even review this book? You know when you watch a film, or read a story, and you feel like you are taking a ride with a rebel? When you feel like anything could happen? Well, that’s my favorite kind of a journey. With Off Season, you’re reading a book, made by someone who first and foremost wants to scare the piss out of you. This is a book written to not so much go over the line, as to skip screaming over said line, and then grab a bazooka and blow the line to millions of fucking pieces. And I loved every damn minute of it.
    It’s bleak, it’s dark, it’s gory, and it is frightening. It may make you never want to visit the state of Maine ever again. Hell, it may make you never want to go in the woods again.
    For fans of shocking horror, but most of all, for fans of well written page turners. Its sentences are short and sharp, like a quick knife wound to the gut. Off Season will grab you by the tender parts, and head butt you in the damn nose…metaphorically.
    Welcome to Dead River.