Attack from the ’80s edited by Eugene Johnson
Raw Dog Screaming Press (Fall 2021)
Reviewed by Dave Simms
Nostalgia can be horrific and, in this case, also incredibly fun. With over twenty tales thrown back into an era where horror bled out of every corner of the literary universe, Attack from the ’80s culls some of the best writers today, many of whom suffered through the decade to carve deep into the psyche.
The eighties rocked and rolled those of us who survived those decadent, indulgent days. Even better, it was the golden age of horror with an explosion in the genre never witnessed before (for better or worse). Still, the novels and short stories crept out of every corner in mass market paperbacks, spinning tales that matched the wild mood of spandex, Aquanet, and Bon Jovi.
The stories that Johnson chose for this anthology cover a wide swath of the decade, from the films that molded our childhoods to dark taboos which latchkey kids often feared.
After director extraordinaire Mick Garris provides the introduction to the eclectic array of stories, the party gets started. Weston Ochse hits the ground running with his “Top Guns of the Frontier,” a tale that takes on the famous film in a coming of age narrative that is both touching and terrifying. Easily, this was the best choice to open the anthology.
Superstar Lee Murray damages the psyche with her “Permanent Damage,” a story best experienced, not described. Those familiar with her work know she rarely misses on a brilliant tale.
“When We Was Fab” hits hard, as the legendary F. Paul Wilson strikes the power chord of the book in a story of musicians that is pure fascination.
Finally, “Ghetto Blaster” by Jeff Strand is exactly what Strand fans have come to know and love: something wild and over the top but utterly entertaining with a character most of us still could remember from those hazy days.
The rest of the collection is quality as well. Depending on where you were at this time might steer you to a favorite or more, or those who have fallen in love with the nostalgia of Stranger Things might lean in a different direction. All in all, this is an anthology one could imagine Nicholas Cage or Jeff Spicoli-era Sean Penn narrating through the lens of Wes Craven.
From subtle to all out gore and glam, this anthology rocks harder than boomboxes, MTV, and hair-metal! Do not miss it.