Review: Satan’s Three Ring Circus of Hell – Robert Steven Rhine

satans3ringcircus
Asylum Press

In the tradition of EC Comics, Robert Steven Rhine’s collection of horror stories offers a series of gruesome, ghastly and twistedly humorous short, sharp shockers, heavy on gore, sex, bad taste and political incorrectness. Do I need to tell that they are a lot of fun?

The stories here mostly range from two to four pages – some a little longer, with several one-page splash pieces scattered throughout. A few of the stories are little more than an extended bad taste joke, heavy on gore and gross-out but short on plot. But the bulk of them are sharp little satires, often with a freak show or carnival theme, where bad things happen to horrible people.

There’s the brain-hungry monkey of Monkey Grinder, mutant Siamese twins in Separation Anxiety, the psycho Party Clown, brain-eating vampires in The Symposium, body snatchers in Boneyard Tours and zombie strippers in Live Nudes – something for everyone!

The variety of artists – there are over 40 contributors here – means that despite all sharing the same writer, the stories all have an individual feel. Some are wildly cartoonish, others more realist in style, and with a nice mix of colour and black and white strips, you get everything from neo-noir to day-glo gorefests. There’s also a ten-page prose story, and a few spoofs of old comic books ads. It’s all splendidly sordid, and lovingly packaged.

All in all then, a tasty collection of comic book horror that should appeal to anyone into warped, weird splatter and offensive humour. And isn’t that all of us?

DAVID FLINT

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