The Creature from Beyond
River East Press
Trade Paper, 236 pages, $9.99
Review by Sheila M. Merritt
The Creature from Beyond is a sequel to The Creature’s Curse. No Black Lagoon exists in tandem with the creature in either book, but the titular monster would feel right at home in a black-and-white B-movie from the 1950s and early 1960s: A fantasy Roger Corman production featuring Whit Bissell, Allison Hayes, Beverly Garland, Richard Carlson, plus a slew of buffed heartthrobs and chesty chicks. Crazy-wild motivations; plot holes that could sink a 1957 Ford Thunderbird; and characters that smack of Teenage Werewolves and Alligator People. It was a time of 3D movies, and a two-dimensional depth of emotion. Paul Braus, intentionally or not, has captured the feel of the era in his novel, which is set in present day.
Consider this graphic yet simplistic distillation of disposition: “There was some kind of visceral satisfaction the creature gained by completely ripping apart or pulverizing his victims. The fact was that within the creature still remained the soul and spirit of a tortured 14 year old boy who had been physically abused and psychologically tormented. It was not too hard to imagine where the extreme rage and hostility came from.” The passage is redolent of Freudian psychology popular in the ’50s and ’60s: Norman Bates in analysis. Like Norman, the creature has major turmoil concerning his mother.
For those unfamiliar with The Creature’s Curse (reviewed on Hellnotes) the tormented youth was the victim of his mother’s wrath. As a descendent of a long line of witches, she perverted her powers in a highly vindictive manner; altering and debasing her husband and son in excessive ways. The young man exacted revenge, but remains under the maternal malediction.
Almost a year has passed since the events of the first book, but Cordus, the name of the creature before his transformation, still must periodically savage and slay. Other characters that are haunted by his presence include a survivor of one of the rampages, and a law enforcement agent who suspects the supernatural is involved in the killings past and present. Of the new personages drawn into the legacy of destruction, the most prominent are: another witchy woman with ancestral ties, and an on-the-skids actor trying to salvage a plummeting career.
As the newcomers and holdovers from Curse converge, a lot of repetitive narrative takes place: Witch descendent Samantha’s sexiness is reiterated multiple times, along with the justifiable anger of the creature, plus a litany of guilt ridden obsessing by the survivor. Along the way, inconsistencies occur. During one scene, for example, Samantha utters “This is Haddis, my assistant.” Then, in the continuation of the scenario, it is stated: “She didn’t want to mention Haddis’ name – no need to do that.” On the following page, however, Samantha again says the name of the assistant; in front of the character she ostensibly chose to keep from knowing it.
The Creature from Beyond harkens back to a simpler time when horror made few demands of the reader or audience. If one doesn’t scrutinize author Braus’ novel too carefully, and can breeze through the repetitious prose, then a retro-infused good time is possible.