A man has killed his wife. Now he wants to bury her body in Headstone,
a ghosttown - only Headstone doesn't seem half as devoid of people as it
was supposed to be, at least the cemetery man hasn't left yet. And happy
about the newcomer, he gives him a graveyard tour that ends at the grave
of one Luther Moorehouse, a writer who is said to tell stories even from
beyond the grave, all our wifekiller has to do to hear some is to leave
some money on his gravestone. To not arise suspicion, our killer does just
that, and to his greatest surprise he hears a handful of stories ...
- Tell Them Joe Is Coming: Quite some time ago, three outlaws
have murdered a black man. Now they hide out in a ghosttown, and are
confronted with the black man's ghots.
- Headstone: A man is plagued by recurring nightmares about the
shootout between a shady headhunter, an assfucking farmer and the
family of one of the men the headhunter has killed that he finally
decides to visit the scene of the shootout at the advice of his priest
... and apart from a few weird voices that could have been the wind,
nothing much happens. But when he comes home, he finds his wife in bed
with the priest and suddenly finds himself possessed by the
headhunter's spirit, and ...
- The Monster Within: A man has moved into a house stained by
the sin of its former owners, an incestuous brother-and-sister duo and
their bisexual lover. Worse, the house is still haunted by them. At
first, the man feels nothing but repulsion, but eventually gets more
and more attracted to the former owners' sexual shenanigans, until he
commits suicide to join in ...
- The Rope Museum: The first time in a big town, an outlaw of
the old West visits the titular rope museum, a museum about hanging -
not the best place to visit for a man who has escaped the hangman quite as many times as he did ... especially when he recognizes his
guide to be a man he has shot long ago ...
- Sanctuary: A ruthless killer has become a bounty hunter after
he had killed a priest and felt some kind of remorse. Sure, as a
bounty hunter he has continued killing, but on the right hand of the
law. Now he has been shot by one of the outlaws he wanted to kill in
the middle of nowhere, and he has only just managed to drag himself
into an abandoned church. There he has to (violently) learn killing is
a sin no matter what side of the law you're at ...
- Graves: A man who had never amounted to much has made a
documentary about gravestones from the old West, hoping to become
immortal through his film. As a consequence (?), he shoots himself for
- Wrestler: A wrestler with a traveling circus faces a gunman
who wants to avenge his brother the wrestler has killed. Looks like an
uneven duel, but the wrestler has some supernatural curse to his
- Zealot: An insane religious fanatic kills those he thinks
have sinned. He also thinks he does the work of the lord ...
- Burning Candles: Three college girls visit a graveyard one
night to hold a séance to bring the spirit of a serialkiller back
from the beyond. I wonder at which point they though that was a good
- Ride the Man Down: A gunman out for revenge goes after the
gang that gunned his family down. He tracks down and kills the outlaws
one by one, only to ultimately find out their leader has changed his
life and become a priest. And in stories like this, killing a priest
never goes unpunished ...
- The Camp: Out in the plains, a bounty hunter after notorious
outlaw Johnny Dragon has a chance meeting with an undertaker - and in
stories like this, it's never a good omen to meet an undertaker out
in the plains ...
- Angel: A killer for hire has been saved by a mysterious
gunman so many times he regards that man as his guardian angel. Too
bad there are no guardian angels in the real world ...
- Big Chief Pain: Drunk and furstrated, a man who has just been
left by his girlfriend visits a carnival to go on an allegedly scary
Western-themed ride. The ride starts out ridiculously fake - until it
becomes all too real ...
- The Dangling Man: Johnny Dragon, legendary outlaw with his
killings notched into his forehead, is about to be hanged. But he has
struck a deal with Satan, and Satan has promised to return him to
(eternal) life if he has killed the right amount of people ...
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Western - The Horror Novel
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just there !!!
All the stories told, the wifekiller from the wraparound segment has to
realize they were all just parts of the puzzle leading to his own terrible
Basically, Western, the Horror Novel is not a novel at all, but
a collection of shortstories of the old-fashioned kind, with twist
endings. Both the macabre details in these stories and their moral
outcomes also bring the legendary EC
Comics to mind. This is also true for the wraparound story that at
the same time serves as the culmination of several of the stories and some
interwoven narrative threads, like the Johnny Dragon subplot.
The stories as such vary considerably in quality, while some are really
exciting in both structure and narration, others like Headstone and
The Monster Within try too hard to be offensive by overemphasizing
on their sexual aspects and this way losing steam halfway through. On the
other hand, stories like Tell Them Joe is Coming and The Rope
Museum brilliantly succeed in marrying Western genre mainstays to
As for the West author Dale Pierce tries to portray: He has written
several non-fiction books about heroes and villains from the old West,
which painfully shines through in some stories, especially Graves,
where he can't stop himself telling anecdote after anecdote, losing sight
of the actual story he's telling. However, in
general Pierce's portrayal of the old West is closer to that of spaghetti
Westerns than anything else, where everything's dirty, dusty and overly
violent - which is just fine by me because Pierce really knows his way
about spaghetti Westerns. And to blend the spaghetty Western genre's macabre elements with actual
horror stories doesn't sound like too much of a stretch to me, either.
Some stories though, especially The Monster Within and Zealot,
have nothing to do with the old West, and consequently feel a tad out of
place in a collection like this. Interestingly, both The Monster Within and Zealot
have been made into feature films by low budget Ohio production company Blue
Kat Boneyard ...
In all, you better not expect a Pulitzer-prize winning novel when
picking up Western, the Horror Novel - but somehow I suspect the
title alone suggests as much anyways. Expect instead pulpy genre
literature that at times scares you, at times grosses you out, and at
times manages to create quite a bit of tension and suspense, and you will
not be disappointed!
The book may be ordered online in book or economical e book form at http://www.lulu.com/content/9396160.