The Sin Killer is one of those killers killing in Jesus's name,
brutally killing and mutilating those he thinks have sinned by according
to a perverse idea of the punishment fitting the crime (something
to all my vague knowledge of the bible is against all of Jesus's
A man called Donavan decides to visit the grave of the
latest victim of the Sin Killer on the creepy and godforsaken Hillside
Cemetery. There, he meets a stranger who only goes by
the name of Traveler and who tells him a bunch of stories of horror, or
rather immerses Donavan in these stories:
- They’re Tearing Down Joe Finn’s Arena: An ex wrestler
revisits the arena he has had his best fights in before it's torn
down. But he did not only triumph in the ring in the arena, he also
killed a man in there in what only looked like an accident during a
fight, and now the ghosts of the deceased are calling him into their
- Between God, the Devil and a Pair of Horns: A bullfighter
recovering from a severe goring stumbles into a bullfighting bar that
holds a presentation on deaths in the bullfighting arena - to his
shock, the last death presented is his own ...
- Spook House: Damien Shaperon is a gifted painter - who does a
little demon worshipping on the side, praying to a dark God called
Olivier, to whom he has sacrificed quite a few young women already -
and now his god-fearing college-age niece Lorena comes to stay with
- Mariano: Stage magician The Great Saris has a private
and professional feud with fellow stage magician Mariano, the far more
successful of the two. And thus, Saris ultimately kidnaps his rival in
order to force his tricks out of him. Too bad then that Mariano's
magic is real, thanks to a deal with the Devil, and the Devil comes to
his rescue ...
- The Devil Waits for Nightfall: Leon Rainier is a vampire who
receives a visit from a vampire hunter reverend Sensenbrenner. Thing
is, Leon isn't really a bad guy, he only drinks animal blood, leaves
humans alone, and does his best to stay out of trouble. Instead of a
fight, the two of them have a long talk about vampirism and such ...
but you just can't expect a vampire to stay friendly forever ...
- A Pistol for Brenden Unger: Brenden Unger goes to the movies
only because he got kicked out of a bar in a drunken state. They're
playing a Western, and suddenly Brenden is sucked into the film .
Amazingly, Unger manages to make it back out of the movie alive,
despite the fact that everybody in it was gunning for him, but
somehow, someone has followed him to the real world, armed to the
- Materializations: A guy picked up a girl in a bar for some
kinky sex. Too late he had to realize she was a succubus, and now he
wants to get rid of her ...
- The Mask of the Yellow Moon: Writer Morgan Pyle has made a
fortune of the West Virginian legend of the Moth Man, claiming he has
actually seen the creature, and now he writes books and holds lectures
about it. Thing is, the Moth Man doesn't like to be commercialized and
thus strikes back ...
In the interludes between the stories it has already become quite
obvious that Donavan is actually the Sin Killer, and the Traveler ...
well, who knows what he is. But let's continue to the final story:
- Give Your Heart to Jesus: Ohio Dan, a fered river pirate, has
later decided to mend his ways and become a good Christian. He married
a nice wife and lived in a nice house ... until he found out his wife
had an affair with the reverend. He killed her and her lover, and now
he awaits his hanging - but tells his story to a reporter, telling him
that what he had done to his wife and the reverend was justified
because they were sinners, and he had killed them in the name of
Jesus. And once he has gone to heaven, he will be sent back to earth
by Jesus, as the Sin Killer, killing for Jesus.
A century or so later, Donavan, a devout Christian, finds out his
wife has cheated on him, which puts him in a state in which he is easy
prey for the spirit of the Sin Killer, who tells him to kill his wife
and her lover - but not right away, that would look suspicious, why
not kill a few others who have sinned first, to make the wife's murder
look like part of a killing spree, and he would do a good deed killing
all those sinners as well ...
Back in the here and now, Donavan has to realize that the orders to
kill haven't come from Jesus at all, but from the Dark God Oliver, and the
Traveler is actually the Sin Killer's first victim come back to life. And
the Sin Killer's victims have all assembled here on Hillside Cemetery to
finally drag Donavan to hell ...
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Basically, Tales from the Cemetery is fun genre entertainment.
Granted, the book is not overly sophisticated, it's in spots actually
pretty crude and pulpy, but the best of the short stories collected here
play like those beloved EC
Comics or Amicus
omnibus movies - and when it comes to horror short stories,
that's quite a compliment - and the finale, even though one has seen it
coming for way too long, still packs quite a punch.
That said, Tales from the Cemetery is also far from being the
perfect book, its perception of Christianity (one of the key issues of the
framing story as well as some of the embedded short stories) is very
crude, archaic even and could have done with a little (well, a lot) more
subtlety, some of the stories (including the framing story, as mentioned
above) are a bit too predictable for their own good, and then there's the
fact that author Dale Pierce is a man who's very knowledgable when it
comes to indie wrestling and bullfighting - and that pretty much ruins the
first two stories, as they are so full of details from these two rather
marginal sports and namedropping of names nobody not familiar with them
has ever heard about that any kind of tension or suspense is eventually
blown out of the window.
That all said, if you're still in for a few nights of scary stories,
this is definitely one book you might want to read, probably not the best
in genre entertainment, but fun still ...
Oh, and should you be interested in owning/reading the book, please do go