If you’re like me, then when you’re not ruining your brain by watching B movies, then you’re ruining it by reading about them. Sadly, most of the time, a book that was written from an existing screenplay is lacking something. Well, I found one that not only lives up to its cinematic promise, but actually surpasses it!
It’s Johnny Gruesome by Greg Lamberson. Greg, probably best known for the 1980’s classic, Slime City (which he wrote, directed and produced at the tender age of 21), has put together a book from a screenplay that he wrote himself back in 1984. Johnny Gruesome is the tale of young John Grissom, a small town guy who can’t catch a break. When his mom dies, his dad spirals down a bottle and John is left on his own, both disillusioned and filled with anger. While out partying with friends one night, one of his ‘buddies’, high on smack, freaks out and kills Johnny, then conspires with everyone in the car to stage the murder as an accident. The crime would be perfect (after all John isn’t all that well liked by the local authorities), except for one thing, Johnny refuses to die! And now that he’s back, he’s not only more angry than ever, but he decides to take his revenge on anyone who ever wronged him in life!
Johnny Gruesome is a great read, it flows along like a wild ride that the movie would probably have been (and may still be!). The characters are well drawn and Johnny’s story is both a bit sad and scary, Johnny’s not a bad guy, he’s just got some anger management problems…that carry on beyond death. One of the great things about this book is that, because it was originally planned as a movie, it really does read like one. Characters and settings are incredibly vivid in detail, you can picture everyone in your mind and I found myself actually wishing this was a movie. Lamberson is an amazing writer and this book is one of the best horror stories I’ve read in years! Ordinarily, horror books fall back on a few standard clichés, Lamberson avoids those and brings us a book that’s really a movie, and as a fan of both, I have to thank him profusely!! Add to that the great artwork provided by Zach McCain and you’ve really got something special. You can pick up a copy of Johnny Gruesome for yourself by heading over to the Bad Moon Books web site, or you can head over to Johnny Gruesome.com to find out more about the book, read comics created about Johnny, grab the CD (which has become one of my all time favorite CDs ever!!! Marcy and Giasone Italiano have put together an amazing CD!), get a mask of Johnny or find out how to vote for Johnny Gruesome for President…who seems like a far better candidate than some we’re being offered! In any case, I’m giving Johnny Gruesome four out of four cigars, because it really is one of (if not THE) best horror book of the year! So, until next time, when I’ll be sitting in front of the TV, either watching a movie or reading a book, remember that the best movies are bad movies…or books.