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I read this novel in the Richard Laymon collection 2.
The novel was first published in Great Britain in 1982.
The book is really a short novel compared to some of Laymons other classics just 200 pages long but if you get it in the 2 book edition it also includes The woods are Dark and a selection of five short stories.
The story is set around a cinema where a couple of freaks who own the cinema have decided they will kill people in a big old desserted house and show the movies as shorts before the main film is shown.
So no one recognises their victims they dubb over the voices, this is a great idea unless the person that is viewing the film is deaf and can actualy work out what the victims are really saying by lip reading.
Plenty of gore and gruesome bits for all you horror fans.
And this book has a great ending, I have found with some of his books that the endings can be dissapointing.
I must admit that one of the chapters did make me feel quite sick and I had to put the book down for a while.
For all you Laymon fans I would say in my opinion the novel is a fair to middling story from the horror master.
If you havnt read any Laymon and like movies such as Saw and Hostel then you will probably enjoy his works.
I am rationing myself as he is no longer alive so would hate to get to the point that I have no more of his books left to read.
The recent history of the horror film is not a pretty one and I don't mean in the sense that there is lots of ugly gore. I mean in the sense that the film makers have seemed to completely ignore any traces of storyline in preference to gratuitous images. Horror of yore also used to have gratuitous imagery, but it was good because it was placed in the concept of a story and characters we cared about. Films such as 'The Descent' have shown that good horror can still be made, but the 'torture porn' of more recent films is not for me. Then why do I enjoy Richard Laymon's novels much? Here is an author who crams his books full of over the top sex and violence with little regard to moderate sensibilities. It is his insistence about writing the absurd that makes him so good - welcome to the best schlock horror fiction around.
The local cinema has just reopened and has become a specialist in horror pictures. For the price of one ticket you get to see two horror classics. However, it's not the feature length films that are drawing the punters in, but the 15 minute short that is shown between them. Each month the star of the shorts will kill and torture someone in a different way in the most realistic fashion you have ever seen. But wait; doesn't that girl look like the flatmate you used to have at University and why does the dialogue not match up to the lip movements? The characters seem to be saying one thing but there lips are saying, "This film is real, they are killing me!"
'Out are the Lights' is a collection of stories that contains one full novel length tale, plus some added short stories. The main draw of the book is the titular 'Out are the Lights' and it is by far the most detailed of work on offer here. We follow a selection of characters as they uncover the truth behind a series of ultra realistic horror shorts. Rather than concentrate on one or two characters Laymon has several threads so that you never know who the hero is. This means that you are never guaranteed to discover who survives and who dies before it's too late. What made the book even more interesting was that a parallel storyline appeared that had no real bearing on the real horror films. A man is having an affair with mysterious a women who wants him to marry his present girlfriend so that she can be kept in wealth. Can the man hide the fact that he is no longer with his girlfriend so that he can carry on his torrid affair - is he willing to kill for this woman?
Having the two story arcs should not really work as they impact little on one another, however it does. This is because the affair story acts as a way of fleshing out the characters for the main horror sections. Too many horror books have faceless characters that die too quickly - we don't care. To be honest this is the case with many of the victims in 'Lights', but at least the core characters are developed.
The levels of violence and copious amounts of sex will be the elements that will put people of reading this book (or encourage them). To say that 'Out are the Lights' is a little filthy would be the understatement of the year as it is jam packed with OTT scenes of a sexual nature! It's a bit embarrassing to read about on the bus, but within the confines of the genre I expected little else. In fact I would have felt cheated if there had not been this level of schlock.
The violence and sex of Laymon's work manages to stay just on the right side of sleazy because he does develop characters. However, this means that the short stories on offer fail as they read like short vignettes of a disturbed mind. Over 15 pages you read about the torture and murder of a young woman, never getting to know her or the motives of the killer - this is too reminiscent of 'torture porn' for my liking. Despite their more hardcore nature a couple of the short stories do stand out with conclusions that are both thought provoking and intelligent. 'The Tub' in particular stands out as a strong short story as, although it's pretty filthy, the actual narrative is good.
Before picking up 'Out are the Lights' or any other novel by Richard Laymon it is important that you know what type of reader you are. He is amongst the most extreme of horror writers who is not worried about using sex, violence and strong language to get a reaction. Stephen King or James Herbert are incredibly tame compared to Laymon. Therefore, if you enjoy absolute cheesy schlock you will be in for a treat with Laymon and 'Out are the Lights' is as good a place to start as any with its extreme nature. What makes the book so interesting, and Laymon's work as a whole, is the authors total abandonment of social rules meaning that you never know who will live and who will die. This makes the book a refreshing read as well as a tense one.
Author: Richard Laymon
Price: amazon uk - £5.49
play.com - £5.49
Out Are The Lights is a collection of one novella and five other short stories-all with a short,sharp shock at the end-reminiscent of the old Tales From The Crypt comics and their ilk from the sixties and seventies.
Starting with the title story,this short mini-novel tells the story of a delapitated theatre which re-opens for the showing of classic horror movies-showing two or three films a night interspersed with little shorts directed by an unknown artist named Otto Shreck.These shorts are very Blair Witch in nature-shot on amateurish film and displaying a very realistic amount of blood and gore.Almost like short snuff films in fact.....something that becomes more suspicious when a visitor to the movie theatre on a date recognizes one of the actresses as an old school friend even though her voice has been dubbed over!!
As with many of Laymon's other novels,Out Are The Lights seems to feature two independent sets of characters whose lives appear completely seperate from each other only to be brought together at the end-an author's trick he used on many an occassion.The way the two stories slot seamlessly together is a sure sign of the talent he expressed in later work.The only fault I find with his short stories is that they are never quite long enough to get truly involved in though,much like modern sketch shows like The Fast Show etc,if you don't like one story,the next one is sure to grab your attention again pretty quickly.
The other five stories in this collection feature a serial killer who gets his just desserts in Mess Hall;an old prospector's ghost story in Dinker's Pond;the tale of a paticulary nasty boogeyman in Madman Stan;a cheating wife who finds herself in a sticky situation in The Tub and one of my all-time favourites-the ghastly Bad News in which a newspaper delivery brings more than just the free ads to a surburban neighbourhood!!!
For those new to Laymon,this collection is a good example of hat he's capable of but don't expect much to really get your teeth into-for that you need to pick up one of his full novels.....may I suggest Darkness,Tell us or Resurrection Dreams as a couple of examples.
Most of Richard Laymon's novels are available at all good book shops or I have seen them on Amazon starting from £5.59.Many of his works have also become available in omnibus editions too so you can read more than one of his books at once!!
Out Are the Lights is one of Laymon's early books, and depending on which edition you buy, it also comes with five short stories. The main novel is the story of a series of films which are shown at a cinema, and appear to show people actually being murdered, though of course no one can really believe that. For the most part the novel is competent, but nothing special, but there is one moment of brilliance which raises the novel above the average. I won't give away what happens, but it is the way that Laymon comes up with a device of pure genius, and then carries it out with flair, that makes this novel stand out. It is the first sign of the sort of thing Laymon would go on to do in later novels. The short stories which are included are OK, but in my opinion Laymon needs a longer format to really shine, and his novels are always better than his short stories.