Horrere is an anthology of comic horror stories by Rob Jones and Michael Sandbrook with art by Neil Ford, Alastair McLaughlan, Gareth Sleightholme and Asildair Wood. All involved seem to have a love for all things gruesome with everything seemingly being inspired by horror both classic and modern. From the Tales Of The Crypt style cover to the dedications to recently lost genre legends Christopher Lee and Wes Craven in the credits page, and the hilariously macabre Posthumous letters section in the back pages.
The book opens with the creepy “If You Go Down To The Woods Today…” which itself starts with a noise in the night. A seemingly cute, small child hears this noise and decides he and his teddy have to investigate out into the dark. The story ramps up the tension with each frame getting further from safety, until the source of the noise is discovered, and maybe this worried little boy is a little more in the know than he is letting on to Harry.
The next story is “Aufhocker”, a vampire like creature from German folklore. I say story, it’s written in the style of a journal entry by a hunter sharing his extensive knowledge of how to survive an attack from an Aufhocker. While visually we follow the titular Aufhocker as it stalks it’s prey through the dimly lit streets. Whilst the story is a lot of fun, it does seem like filler.
Up next is a different take on the zombie apocalypse, “You Are What You Eat” which starts with a very Walking Dead like scene with zombies running amok in a city, feeding and almost destroying humanity. Until a bomb is dropped on them sending the world into a snowy apocalyptic state, where food is scarce and a new meat substitute needs to be found. The back story is told through a T.V advert and then through Maddox a survivor, working in a S-Meat factory slaughtering and packing the fresh-ish meat.
The final story is the incredible “Grimoire Chapter One: Baby Bell Jar”. Back in 1988 a young couple visit a circus psychic who gives them some promising news. In the present a young women goes back to the town she left as a girl to get some truth behind her father death. With the help of an old friend of her fathers, I guess it helps that he is with the police, she finds a few clues which lead to the circus.
The stories are all dark, scary and blackly funny with each one building upon the tension. The first two stories are stripped down to the essentials and give us only the information we need. The later stories flesh out the world they inhabit more. I’m in no way saying the first two stories are losing anything with their lack of script, the expressive face of the child in “If You Go Down To The Woods Today” and the dark gothic streets in “Aufhocker” are so descriptive that you know instantly how to feel, and that is scared. Speaking of the artists at work on Horrere, they are just fantastic with their work running the gamut from the very stark lines of “If You Go Down To The Woods Today…” to the beautifully shaded “Grimoire”. It is that black and white artwork that makes everything darker and creepier.
I am really truly looking forward to future instalments of Horrere. Fin and Ben certainly have a lot more story to tell, and the lovely little family from “If You Go Down To The Woods Today…” can almost certainly be expanded upon. Its just unfortunate the next issue will have to be dedicated to the memory of Texas Chainsaw Massacre legend Gunnar Hansen.