(Review excerpt from Cyber-Psychos AOD #6.)
NEEDLES AND SINS
by Michael Arnzen (Dark Regions Press: POB 6301 Concord, CA 94524 $5.95)
The small horror presses are doing some wonderful things these days, sometimes delighting me better than sex with my goldfish. Dark Regions Press, formed by some kewl folks who broke away from the Midnight Zoo fiasco; not only do a nice magazine but have also launched a 6-times a year series of small collections called Selected Works. Mike Arnzen's Needles and Sins is issue #3 of this series, and what a delight it was to read. How could I not love it when three of the stories included were published in Outlaw Biker's Tattoo Revue? The stories here aren't really horror, more like dark suspense or in the vein of John Shirley's Black Ice Books collection New Noir. Mike Arnzen is a veteran in the small press horror field (a veteran at age 26 no less), mostly known for his abundance of horror-ish poetry. This small collection does him right. Marked is a twisted hit man biker tattoo story that made me grin. Phrenological Love gets any man's sick fantasy/revenge desire for that buxom college beauty with the football-playing boyfriend and an ego bigger than John Holmse's dead cock. Receiver is a cute little story with a Hitchcock-style twist, though I imagine Ben Matlock would tackle such a case. What the fuck? Did I say Matlock? Okay look, dammit, Matlock is on the TV right now and I didn't mean that, I meant Colombo would tackle such a case... A Change in Policy is a funny little tale with a bit of a Harlan Ellison feel. My favorite is the last in the book, The Lust of Lungs, a darkly funny monologue that some of you World Horror Con 94 attendees may have heard Arnzen read aloud. I wasn't there, but I'm told he was drooling all over the place as he read it. Do a good thing and support ventures like the collections from Dark Regions and Wordcraft, who only do small runs of 250 of these books. They're nicely printed, flat-spined, and probably will be collector's items. Arnzen, in the next 5 years, will, there's no doubt here, be a Brand Name. I am now reading the galleys to his upcoming Abyss novel, a hellish tale of tattoos and death, but I'll save that for later. -Michael Hemmingson
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