An extreme horror Turkey Day

I love Thanksgiving.

I love turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, pies, and those little brown and serve dinner rolls. Gravy. Oh, the gravy. I love the food and the subsequent turkey coma. I love the long weekend.

But there is a dark history surrounding Thanksgiving. It is a day of mourning for some Indigenous Americans. I have a lot of thoughts regarding that history and the way it is perpetuated still, but this post isn’t about that. So when I say that I love Thanksgiving, know that I am referring to the food (both eating and cooking) and long weekend, not the actual holiday.

Long weekends mean time to catch up on chores, get the kid out of the house, and more time for reading. A splatterpunk Thanksgiving reading list feels appropriate for a holiday with bloody beginnings. I’ll get to the chores and outings tomorrow. Tonight is for turkey coma and books!

In preparation for the holiday weekend, I scoured the horror book groups for seasonal reads and picked up the three most recommended titles. Thanksgiving Day Massacre, by Brian G. Berry, Gobbler: F*ck Your Thanksgiving, by Judith Sonnet, and Am Extreme Turkey Dinner, by Sea Caummisar. Three short and brutal bites to satisfy my hunger for holiday horror.

I started with Thanksgiving Day Massacre. This is my first Brian G. Berry book, but it won’t be my last. Holy cow. This one hit the ground running. This tiny town is busy prepping for the Thanksgiving Day parade when a guy wearing a turkey mask goes on a murder spree. From the moment he strolls into town, it’s just blood and guts everywhere. You know it’s gonna be brutal when the very first kill scene involves a guy’s scalp used as a cum rag and a woman cut in half right down the middle of her body. The cover looks like a cheesy 80s slasher flick (which I love!), but this book is not that at all.

🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃 for me. Berry is a master of graphic imagery. Some of the dialog felt a little clunky, but that added to the slasher appeal. There are scenes that will push your limits. Splatterpunk is supposed to do that.

Next up, I bit into Gobbler: F*ck Your Thanksgiving. This is a brand new novella by Judith Sonnet. She’s been on my radar for a while but I hadn’t read any of the handful of her books in my kindle library yet. What can I say, my TBR is out of control. I admit that part of my decision to read this one was the title. It reminded me of a local pie shop that sells lunches along with their many sweet treats. My favorite savory pie is called The Gobbler, a turkey pot pie sitting on a bed of stuffing and topped with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a cranberry compote. The Gobbler in this story was nothing like that tasty pie, but the story was a treat. We meet the Gobbler immediately. He’s preparing his costume and thinking back to his own tragic backstory. His family forgot to say Grace before cutting into the turkey one year and he believes that they were slaughtered by god to teach him a lesson. Each year after, he dons his weird costume and sets out to teach another family a lesson about celebrating the holiday the way god intended. This novella is the story of one such lesson. The Gobbler is…an artist. His lessons are tailored to his students masterfully.

🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃 for me. If splatterpunk and extreme horror is your thing, if you like vivid gory imagery, don’t sleep on Judith Sonnet.

My last Thanksgiving treat was An Extreme Turkey Dinner, by Sea Caummisar. This one has been sitting in my kindle library for a while now. Caummisar is a very prolific author, and I own many of her books, having picked them up on various sales over the course of the last year. This is the first one I’ve read. This is the story of a woman with a lot of trauma who decides to go the revenge route rather than forgiveness. She’s been through so much and her revenge is unexpected, exacting, and brutal. It’s a bloodbath, much to Angie’s dismay. It’s great.

🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃 for me. I really need to read more of the Caummisar books in my kindle library. Truly enjoyed this one.

My long weekend is over. I’ve finished my Turkey Day horror reading list. This was my first experience with each author and I feel like I’ve been sleeping on all three. Splatterpunk and extreme horror are not for everyone, but if that’s your things, add these books to your holiday reading list.

I read a book: Popsicle, by Christa Wojciechowski

This book is weird and wonderful. I love it. We meet the main character, Andre, gnawing on a man’s face with his pants down in a sewer. He doesn’t know what he’s doing or how he got there, or even who the man is, but he knows something is terribly wrong and he needs to figure out how he ended up in this predicament. He finds something implanted in the guy’s neck and realizes that he has the same implant. In an effort to piece together the events that lead to this moment, he starts going through his internet history and social media posts.

The implant. Have you ever read The Murderbot Diaries? You know how everyone is connected to a network via tech and Murderbot hacks his way through the universe and so on? The implant in Andre’s neck is sort of like an alpha tester of that kind of device. We learn that he is participating in the testing phase for a big fat paycheck. At this stage, no one is hacking security systems. They’re mostly vegging out doing internet things like googling shit and participating in social media.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. Popsicle is exciting and well written. Wojciechowski’s writing makes the reader feel like they’re a part of Andre’s journey. The pacing fits the novella length and the author leaves out no details. Sometimes novellas of this length move too quickly and leave a lot of gaps, but that is not a problem present in this one. The story is imaginative and absurd and full of dark humor that matches my own sense of humor.

Big thanks to Christa Wojciechowski and BookSirens for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. You can buy Popsicle, by Christa Wojciechowski on Amazon for a couple bucks.

Monthly roundup – October 2022

Spooktober was filled with mostly great reads. I read horror year round, so this month wasn’t really different except that I hosted two Book Lovers Cafe group reads because my first choice didn’t win. My insistence on exposing the masses to extreme horror (and doing 31 days of horror movies) did get in the way of my usual schedule, so I didn’t get to everything I had planned. However, I did get to a bunch that have been on my tbr for a while (and they were amazing!) so I consider it a win.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
A Soul to Keep, by Opal Reyne
Full Brutal, by Kristopher Triana
The Troop, by Nick Cutter
Gyo, by Junji Ito
The Girl on the Glider, by Brian Keene

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
The Tooth Fairy, by Davide Tarsitano
The Haunting of Ashburn House, by Darcy Coates
Lil’ Bastard, by Matt Shaw
The People Look Like Flowers at Last, by Charles Bukowski
Morning Glory Milking Farm, by C.M. Nascosta

⭐️⭐️⭐️:
Against the Lockers, by Aiden E. Messner
Jokes to Offend Men, by Allison Kelley, etc
When the Dark Spoke to Me, by Christabelle Marbun
Heartstopper Vol 4, by Alice Oseman

The rest kinda sucked. Two were Halloween themed monster romances that are actually pretty well liked on Goodreads. They just didn’t do it for me. One was straight up bad. Honestly don’t even remember how I came across the Hucow stuff. I don’t think I’ll do that again. And the last one was Little Women, but with vampire references woven in. I was not impressed.

Pictured but not rated: Island of the Dead, by Brian Keene. This is not actually a book, it is a Kindle Vella series. The story was interesting, but I kinda hate the serial format.

All of my four and five star reads have been on my tbr for a while and all were amazing. Several of those authors were already on my insta-buy list and now the rest are as well. Beyond that, the only one I’m interested in reading again is Messner. I feel like they’re gonna be one of those writers who just gets better. Time will tell.

On the agenda for November? One book club read (thriller), two Cool Ghouls books, the backlog of loaners from my enabler, the next Duskwalker Bride book, and hopefully several from my NetGalley shelf. I have a few Thanksgiving themed horror books and movies to share. Holiday baking. Dragonflight! Lots of fun stuff coming up.

Day 30 of 31 days of horror: Cargo (2017)

Thoomi: Proper creepy in there.
Andy: It’s proper creepy out here too.

Martin Freeman in a zombie movie? Yes, please. It is immediately apparent that this is not your average zombie flick. Cargo is a post apocalyptic story that takes place during an aggressive pandemic that turns people into snot dripping flesh eating zombies. They’re far enough into the pandemic that they’ve figured out how much time you have before you turn and there are these little kits that included a symptom card with a timeline, a watch that counted down from 48 hours, and a brain jabbing device in case you wanted to take care of yourself before you ate your family. This movie follows a man who is trying to find a safe place for his baby before his time is up. Several heartbreaking moments. I really liked this one.

At the beginning of the month, I made a list. 31 movies for 31 days, with 5 alternates. I watched 14 of them. Cargo was not on the list, but I am glad I took a chance on it because it’s really good.

I read a book: Zombie Makeout Club Vol 1: DeathWish, by Peter Richardson

I’m not entirely sure what I expected going into this, but it’s not what I got. Zombie Makeout Club sounds like something out of Tina Belcher’s erotic friend fiction. What I learned, after reading the entire manga and then doing some googling, is that Zombie Makeout Club is a brand of clothing sold at places like Hot Topic and Spencer’s, catering to fans of manga and Junji Ito. The story itself is called DeathWish.

The art is cool, but the plot is lacking. This is a horror manga, so of course it has its share of gore and violence. There’s no world building. This is the first volume, so I expected a little more of that. It’s about a teenager who is brought back to life after committing suicide. The description of this book states that she is piecing together her fragmented memories and trying to find out why she was resurrected, but if I hadn’t read the description, I would not have gotten that from reading the book. The characters kept referring to a backstory that isn’t included in the book.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. I found myself lingering between pages just exploring the art. Fans of Junji Ito are not going to be impressed. If you’ve ever read his work, you know his imaginative storytelling and artwork are on another level. However, I think it would be right at home in the hands of the folks who love the clothing brand.

Big thanks to Peter Richardson, Diamond Book Distributors/ABLAZE, and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. You can pre-order Zombie Makeout Club Vol. 1 on Amazon in multiple formats and begin reading it on November 22, 2022.

Day 29 of 31 days of horror: The Munsters (2022)

I almost skipped this one because Rob Zombie movies just aren’t my favorite. But I love the Munsters, so I decided to give it a chance. In the beginning, I thought it was visually appealing and fun. A decent homage to the original Munsters. But the lack of a cohesive plot and an overly long run time highlighted the poor acting and badly set up bad jokes. The Munsters is not known for subtle acting either, but there is such a thing as over-overacting. But Rob Zombie casts his wife Sheri Moon Zombie in all of his movies, so this was to be expected. The Munsters is also known for its specific humor, which to be fair, the jokes were pretty well suited to some of the characters. But the timing and responses were off. I was missing the echoing stomp sounds and shaking rooms when Herman got excited and started jumping around. The Lily we know and love wouldn’t moon over Herman the way this Lily did. Our Herman always had a high opinion of himself, from his looks to his varied talents, but he was not cocky like this Herman. I did enjoy Grandpa, known as the Count in this movie.

It’s not the worst Rob Zombie movie, nor is it the worst reboot/prequel I’ve ever seen. It’s fun for a while. I think if I had just turned it off around halfway when I started getting bored, I would have a higher opinion of it. It’s okay, but you’re not missing anything if you skip this one.

I think I’ll watch one of the Netflix serial killer miniseries now. Son of Sam, maybe.

Day 28 of 31 days of horror: Army of Darkness (1992)

Good. Bad. I’m the guy with the gun.

Another comedy horror kind of night, though this one has a stronger horror element. Army of Darkness is the third installment of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series. It is also my favorite. It’s full of goofy special effects and one liners. I watch this highly quotable classic yearly. It’s great.

Day 27 of 31 days of horror: Raw (2016)

What are you hungry for?

This movie is about a vegetarian veterinary student who is forced to eat meat during a hazing ritual and is suddenly hungry for all the meat. All sorts of weird shit happens, aside from the hunger. It’s weird af and kind of…wonderful?

I read the description and hit play before realizing that that this is a French language film with English subtitles. I think that, and the score, actually added to the atmosphere of this movie. Anyway, it’s pretty good.

Day 26 of 31 days of horror: Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

So this is more comedy than horror, but I’m counting it. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is a super campy fun movie with thin plot and deep cleavage. Full of silly one liners and innuendos, this was a pleasure to watch. It’s pure fluff. And of course there’s that boobie dance number at the end. Not a movie I’m gonna add to the rewatch rotation, but it’s a fun one.

I read a book: Against the Lockers, by Aiden E. Messer

I don’t know much about Aiden E. Messer, other than what they post on Instagram. They write extreme horror with LGBTQ+ characters and read and review lots of extreme horror. And sometimes they see my review previews on Insta and tap that little heart. Which is cool. I love author interactions. I downloaded a sample of Against the Lockers the first time I saw their name on my notifications.

I finished up Full Brutal, by Kristopher Triana a little while ago. Since the work day is half over, I didn’t want to dive into another full length book that would only end up put aside until the weekend once the work day is over. So I scrolled through my kindle looking for something to kill an hour or so and there was that sample. It’s time.

Content warning: sexual assault, blood, gore

My first thought is that it could benefit from another round of editing. There are a few typos and inconsistent verb tenses. There’s some odd paragraph formatting. None of this takes away from the story, but some readers are nitpicky about stuff like that. I am not bothered by that stuff because my brain autocorrects, but I do notice.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. This story has a good premise. The idea of a sexual assault victim getting revenge on their rapist in the most brutal fashion is quite appealing, but I wish it was more fleshed out. This feels like it’s not quite finished. I would have liked to see more details, more descriptions of the impactful moments. The revenge is great. The reactions of some of the supporting characters like the dean, the police, and a couple of Colin’s friends feels pretty realistic. It is not uncommon for authorities to ignore or downplay sexual assaults, particularly of LGBTQ+ people. And sometimes friendships don’t survive difficult times. And if real life judges go on the record saying that victims’ bodies can prevent rape, it is certainly believable that fictional characters would also believe that a victim has control over their bodies’ responses. So yes, this is a good story. It’s just missing a little something to make it a great one.

For a buck and a half and an hour of your time, Against the Lockers, by Aiden E. Messer is a no brainer. It could use some fine tuning, but it’s still a good read.

Afterword

Aiden, if you read this, I hope you don’t feel like my review is too harsh. On my personal rating scale, 3 stars means I liked it! I look forward to reading your future works.

Best,
Monica at Totally Normal Human (aka @mononorama on the ‘gram)