Tuesday, April 9, 2013

HELL COMES TO HOLLYWOOD edited by Eric Miller

I had two worries going into this anthology. 1: that, like most anthologies, we'd get a heaping dose of first-time writers still honing their craft, and ultimately falling short of anything really good. 2: That every story would in some way involve the movies. Obviously it would to some degree, based on the cover image, but an anthology that is too narrow can get old fast. Also, as someone who doesn't live far from Hollywood, and knows first hand what a dirty place a large portion of it is (that might seem harsh, and yes there are plenty of nice homes behind gates, but to anyone who only knows Hollywood from what they see in TV shows and movies, unfortunately Tinsel Town is mostly just bars, drugs, run down apartments, and graffiti), I wanted some of these stories to really delve into the Hollywood I know today.

Well, suffice to say this anthology not only proved me wrong on all those counts, but did so brilliantly. We've got everything here from the obligatory story about actors and directors, but also mail room clerks, livery cab drivers, lawyers, party girls, and more. We've even got a Mythos tale.

What really struck me about this book was the caliber of writer it contained. Kudos to Eric Miller for pulling in real talent. And why shouldn't he have? Miller is the scripter of the syfy classic Ice Spiders, which I have seen and enjoyed immensely (I'll pretty much watch anything about giant bugs). Hell Comes To Hollywood is anything but a collection of green writers, but rather seasoned professionals entrenched in the entertainment business--successful screenwriters and producers and even film directors are involved here, even if they're not household names (even the guy who created the Ghoulies has a story in here, how cool is that!)

Without going through every story, I will say that every contribution is expertly written. This is the kind of book aspiring writers should read to learn about proper sentence structure, wordage, pacing, and character development.  Even though one or two of the stories might not have been my cup of tea, all of them were just so damn well written it blew my mind.

Of my favorites were Muse by Andrew Helm, a somewhat obvious tale of a strange woman who gives inspiration in exchange for...well, you get it; The Cutting Room by Jeff Seeman, an amazingly well done bit of novelty that unfolds like a matryoshka doll; Town Car by Joseph Dougherty, wherein a livery cab driver goes toe-to-mental-toe with the latest Paris Hilton wannabe; I'd Like to Thank by Jeff Strahm and Ray G. Ing, about an aging actress who will do anything to get her lifetime acheivement award, and Not Elves, by Brian Dominic Muer, that aforementioned Mythos tale that ends both Hollywood and the anthology.

These are all, however, very good stories and this anthology is a blast. I encourage everyone to read it, especially if you love those Tales From the Crypt reruns or if you're just looking to see how good short stories are done. I'll put this up there as one of the best anthologies I've read in years!

4 OUT OF 5 worms.

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