Cinema by Jason Gehlert
Cinema is Jason Gehlert’s fifteenth entry into his library of work and his unique writing style brings horror to a new level! This collection, separated into sprawling short stories and poems, brings back several of his iconic characters as well as some thrilling new heroes. Laanes Available paints a disturbing tale about reckless teens stranded in a rundown bowling alley. Echoes is the centerpiece of the collection, featuring a group of teenagers fighting for survival inside a cave and features William, a Down Syndrome character you’ll likely not soon forget. Gehlert’s Immortal hitman Jeremiah Black (from his novel of the same name) returns in a pair of unique tales, and Malcolm Ellis for the macabre tale, My Black Valentine. Cinema also features artwork by artist Mary Ellen Doering, and marks the fifth collaboration with Black Bed Sheet Books. “Gehlert’s Cinema is a unique collection of horror stories that will keep you up at night with the lights on!” – From award-winning G.A. Minton, author of TRISOMY XXI.
I’ve been reading a lot of anthologies lately. Not a bad thing, but I have been hankering to dig into some novels and get lost for a longer term. I decided to belay that for Cinema by Jason Gehlert, and I made the correct decision. I’ve read Gehlert’s books before, and enjoyed them immensely, so I sat back to see what sort of madness he had for me this time.
The title ‘Cinema’ is fitting. Each story plays out very visual and textured, much like a good creepy movie would be; maybe showing some old rundown theater in a dirty back corner of town. The illustrations provided by Mary Ellen Doering were a nice touch, which I think helped set the stage. Starting with a story of a fisherman for hire, you aren’t sure if he’s going with ‘Old Man and the Sea’ or maybe ‘Ryme of the Ancient Mariner’. As per usual, it goes in a different direction entirely, and away we go into the darkness. The book is broken up much like a movie, with acts and intermissions. It’s a device that works because each Act has a different tone to it. Each story in Act One gives us twists and turns, keeping us interested. In Echoes, we find our hero to be not whom most would expect. In the Roade to Ruin, we find our hero to be exactly what we expect, but what he has to go through keeps you on the edge of your seat. (or bed, if you like to read in those sort of places)
The Intermission is a nice little palate cleanser. Full of poetry, dark and moving, it helps ready for Act 2 without forfeiting the tone of the anthology. I’ll admit, while I sometimes enjoy poetry, I’m not one to speak to much on it. I still think the peak of poetic genius lays with Shel Silverstein, so I’m probably not a great authority. I read each one, though. Each and every word.
Act 2 starts with a seriously creepy piece of body horror in Incision. Then we get to a treat. Combining the worlds of his previous work in Jeremiah Black and The Ferryman, we are taken on a hell of a ride in Ferrymen: Judgement Call. This is a world I wanted to read more of and hope there is more of it in the future. The Devil’s Troll and Laanes Available, both delightfully disturbing lead up to My Black Valentine, where , Jeremiah Black shows up one more time in a ‘just one more before we go’ gesture. He tussles with love, devotion, and various open wounds.
Overall, this is a fun collection of stories and poetry. Each story is a ride all in of itself, leaving a lasting impression. I highly recommend this anthology.