Duncan Ralston describes Video Nasties as a “Horror Mixtape.” The descriptive writing in each story of this sixteen story collection will allow the reader to “see” or experience dread and horror for 426 (Kindle) pages. Readers can then close the book and go back to a cheerful, safe, and sane real world. If that were only so.
HOW TO KILL A CELEBRITY ***** Annie Watkins wrote obituary “standbys” for Channel 5 news. If someone famous or noteworthy died, Channel 5 had to be ready with breaking news. The trick was to write the obituaries in advance. Many of Annie’s obituaries were spot on. She should advance quickly in her career.
CHOMPERS ***** Everyone hates to go to the dentist. A large part of that feeling involves the high cost. When Ray heard from a friend about Dr. Barrera, a dentist who worked cheap because he wasn’t technically “legal,” Ray was happy. He could even pick out the teeth he wanted from a display full of available teeth. Ray didn’t wonder where they came from. Too bad for Ray.
MENTAL ***** Marigold was an empath. True, her powers weren’t great when she was younger. Luckily, the government had discovered her before her teenage years. They were able to nurture her development and powers during her teenage years. Despite being under constant observation, Marigold had her doubts about the ultimate purpose of her training. Dr. Lex solved the problem for her by falling in lust with Mary. Now, she had to escape.
DEAD MEN WALKING ****** Standardized procedures for execution by lethal injection insured a choreographed ceremony ending predictably. Jose Vasquez didn’t go quietly into that dark night. But there was a lot of justice meted out to more than Jose on the appointed date. Palomino might even get a promotion. Or he could win the lottery.
THE EYE AT THE DOOR ***** Todd’s problem was that he never stood up for himself. He was a doormat, all his colleagues directed the most unpleasant projects to him, and he was too timid to do anything but accept the abuse. Until the unacceptable behavior of the guy in the next stall of the public restroom enraged Todd with its inappropriate crudeness. All it took was a little outrage to make a new Todd.
CUTTINGS ***** Katie made acceptable earnings as a writer, it paid the bills. She knew that the situation was uncomfortable for Gavin, a husband who was trying to find himself. Although she was upset when Gavin spent their last $1200 on a decrepit “ex-hippie” van, she was willing to help him convert the van into the couple’s dream job of a mobile florist shop. The shop succeeded financially but Gavin’s behavior changed as he spent more “alone” time with the van. And who was Tony?
BUS DRIVER MAN: A DARK PINES STORY ***** Mr. McAllister was scrupulous in his duties as a school bus driver. He was always on time or checked in if there were unavoidable delays, and kept his bus spotlessly clean. He also liked order and didn’t like bullies on the bus, like the insufferable Jessie Kinsmen, the mayor’s son. McAllister was politically aware enough to not push things too far until the day McAllister decided some sort of revenge was necessary. But he went too far. And that was when one of his student riders, Janey Freely, taught Mr. McAllister a lesson.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE MASTERS ***** Tremaine was an art forger. Paint a forgery of a great master, break into a museum, switch the original for the fake, and sell the original to private collectors. Tremaine didn’t work alone; he was practically a slave to Ziminski, an employer he despised. Tremaine hadn’t been to Ziminski’s house more than a couple of times and had never been with Ziminski to see the vault. He had met Magda, Ziminski’s trophy wife and had enjoyed meeting her (several times). She could not compare with the art in the vault.
MY PROTECTOR ***** Jenny was sometimes bullied at school but she never lost a confrontation. Aaron was there to help her. No one else could see him but the results were visible to all that Jenny did not lose. The school’s inability to believe Jenny led to her expulsion and sent to special camp. The rules there did not allow her to tell tall tales that would scare others. When she did so, she was to be punished. Jenny warned them not to punish her. They should have listened.
SANCTUARY ***** This is a straightforward nature strikes backstory. In a meme from the past, “You shouldn’t mess with Mother Nature.”
DO NOT SHAKE OR RATTLE ***** Donnie should have known better. The warning was printed clearly. The result was predictable. As his wife Grace said, “Merry Christmas.”
STRAY ***** Max was a high school teacher of history to several groups of unappreciative students. Max was taking it more than a little bit seriously when he packed a duffel bag with guns and ammunition and proceeded to his high school earlier than usual. He would teach the students realistic history. But he had not counted on the dog.
HE IS RISEN ***** Madison was Colin’s latest teacher assistant (TA). With a large disparity in age, she served Colin inside and outside the classroom. The two were on vacation and stopped in a town with an unpronounceable name. The people of the town were in the midst of unique and unfamiliar ceremonies and invited the couple to join. It was an invitation they couldn’t refuse. This story has some interesting language unique to Scotland.
SQUIRM ***** Libby first noticed the problem with her husband, Bill. Humans should not have a nictitating membrane closing to protect the eyes. Then Libby noticed the same thing with sons Ryan and Dylan. Her family was becoming reptilian. What did this mean for her? What about her place in the family?
SHARP ***** The truck with JERRY’S GRINDING SERVICE lettered on the side announced its arrival with a musical tune that was not reminiscent of an ice cream truck. It was more funereal than happy. True, Jerry was providing a service by sharpening knives. But he was also looking for “Sandras,” an objective that, if achieved, would bury childhood trauma. Jerry could never have anticipated the healing powers of Rose.
VIDEO NASTIES ***** Think of this story as similar to Poltergeist. It is a “spirits trapped inside the machine” story. After reading this, many will examine their VHS tapes before discarding.
This is a collection of stories with no “clunkers.” I encourage readers to read a story and then go do something else. This is a collection that should not be read in one session. There would be a sort of sensory overload. I put this in my “currently reading” collection of about six novels. I read one story here, another novel, then back to another story. It’s equivalent to not eating one food item at a time when there are several dishes in a meal. This is a five Amazon star read and a great example of its genre.