Not All Of The Creature Feature Stories Were Good
It was a fun October, wasn’t it? Now that it’s over, I wanted to go over the project I just finished. I looked at every single story in the Creature Feature collection, reviewing as I went. And, yes, I did have several negative things to say about basically every story, but I also liked things about each of them. It was informative as a horror fan—and a critic—to see how varied things can be within a storytelling theme.
And throughout those articles, I kept mentioning which stories were my favorites and how they stacked up against each other. And that strikes me as a perfect reason to finish up this project with a ranking list. Starting worst and going toward best, this is a shorter but much more spoiler-heavy breakdown of these six spooky tales.
The framing device, in a vacuum, felt fresh, and there were enough allusions to science to make it a more grounded tale. I like it when horror uses real-world anxieties to evoke fear, and climate change is an easy option. Furthermore, the idea of a monster so primordial it causes the human mind to regress to the mindset of a microscopic organism is simply something I’ve never seen before. Even the rushed ending had salvageable parts—it’s hard to go wrong with a kaiju attack. But it’s just a shame its presentation made it boring, tedious, and long.
This one spends so long lingering, not getting on with the story, overstaying time in our main’s head, and all for a series of scares that aren’t anything special. There’s also something tonally off and thematically confusing about a horror monster obsessed with beauty who doesn’t seem to actually use the faces they steal.
I’ve not read a lot of stories that explore lycanthropy this way, and I would’ve loved more of that—and its themes better intertwined. There’s such a microcosm of drama in this, and I consider it a triumph when short stories effectively hint at a bigger world and history without dire amounts of exposition. “Big Bad” also has the bonus of reading like a story, without lots of info-dumping, unlike previous entries on this list. But it’s still not as good as the next three.
This wins on technical writing skill and cohesion of intent more than anything. There’s some strong dread in this one and a shocking series of brutal conversations between the main couple, but otherwise, this was kind of forgettable. Troubled people encounter a supernatural thing, one or more of them don’t just leave it alone, and for a little while, things seem like they might go well—and then someone(s) dies. It’s textbook, except for the potentially triggering discussions of a character having a miscarriage.
I’m still, at time of writing, not willing to get out of my bed without first turning on the lights. That’s how evocative and primal the idea of this monster is. I adore the visual of an octopus monster made of human arms that eats people. I’m fascinated by the weird dream logic of it being powerless if the bed doesn’t have any space between it and the floor. There’s so much to like in this one. It’s a fantastic horror story.
The story is just so cohesively put together that I am in awe of it. It’s got the edge and gore of a horror story, the poignant implications and deft communication of good social commentary, and the breezy pacing you’d want from a short story. It’s two men. One has a shotgun, the other just woke up, and only one will live to the end of the story. This is currently my favorite piece of short fiction I’ve ever read, horror or otherwise.
Possibly Related Posts:
- Friday Fiction: Snowperson’s Life
- Limetown: Should’ve Been A One-Shot?
- Doctor Who Special Reviews: Wild Blue Yonder
- Friday Fiction: Every Leaf The Same (Part 2 of 2)
- It’s Magic Systems All The Way Down