Friday, October 16, 2015

Top 20 Horror Novels - #13) Vampire$ by John Steakley (from 1990)

Not only am I ranking my Top 20 Horror Movies for you this October, but I'm doing likewise with the scary books that I hold near and dear.  As with the movies that I'm discussing in that Top 20, I'm not attempting to rank these novels based on their place in pop culture, but rather their place in my heart.  Isn't that sweet?  Seriously, there are some fine books that didn't make the cut here because there just wasn't room, and there are definitely some well-regarded books that didn't make the cut because I don't really like them.  That also means there are some personal favorites of mine on this list that you may not have heard of.  If that's the case, I promise that I'll reward your trust with a gnarly tale if you give one of them a spin.  Finally, I may have shortchanged some of the titans in the genre (hey there, Stephen King) as I didn't want to overload this list with titles by the same author, though Uncle Stevie did manage to score three direct hits on my list.

The list thus far:

#20) Amok by George Fox (from 1980) 
#19) Manstopper by Douglas Borton (from 1988)
#18) Intensity by Dean Koontz (from 1995)

#17) The Terror by Dan Simmons (from 2007) 
#16) The Snake by John Godey (from 1978)
#15) Son of the Endless Night by John Farris (from 1985)
#14) Rockinghorse by William W. Johnstone (from 1986) 

Top 20 Horror Novels - #13) Vampire$ by John Steakley (from 1990)

 First off, I should acknowledge that this book was the basis for John Carpenter's Vampires, one of my favorite director's lesser films.  The movie was entertaining (a lesser John Carpenter film is still a worthwhile spookshow), but it was a far cry from this cinema titan's finest efforts.  I also want to point out that there is very, very little in the way of similarities between the book and the movie.  Honestly, they took the main character (Jack Crow, a wise-cracking anti-hero) and the idea of professional vampire hunters working for the Catholic church, and they proceeded to tell their own story.  Despite its shortcomings, I like the picture, but if is woefully inferior to this tense and exciting book that delivers a lot of terror and a number of thrills.  While the vampire mythos remains popular, vampires that are genuinely scary are certainly a rarity these days.  All too often, they've been presented as heroes of some sort or laughable caricatures in the Bela Lugosi mold.  In 1990, author John Steakley managed to give these creatures of the night some serious bite, and while legions of lovestruck females still have "Team Edward" tee-shirts hidden away somewhere, no one would want to humor the prospect of going on a hunt with Team Crow.  Though the vampire slaying business is booming in Vampire$, it is depicted as a job fit only for the truly deranged.  Thus Jack Crow is aided by a rowdy band of likable lunatics, and their frantic efforts to wage war with the undead are the backbone of this grim tale that manages to generate a few sly laughs along the way as the characters we come to love are slowly but surely destroyed by the crusade they have undertaken.  There is a section in the middle of Vampire$ where a subplot that borders on erotica nearly takes all the life out of the novel, but it is sandwiched between a wealth of carnage that is guaranteed to keep readers invested in the tale.  One can only wonder how awesome a faithful adaptation of this one would play out on the big screen, but at least we will always have this wicked book to sink our fangs into.


  1. Loved this book. Loved Steakley's Armor even better. Another one of Jack Crows finest moments.

  2. I think it's odd that while it certainly seems like we're dealing with the same Jack Crow and the same Felix, there's a disclaimer in the book stating that it's not the same Jack Crow or Felix. I wonder if it was a copyright issue or something of that ilk.

  3. They are the same, just different realities. There's a P.P.S at the end.

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  5. Cool. If you had to pick one to watch your back, would you pick Jack or Felix? I like Jack, but I think I would go with Felix. I just hope that he doesn't freeze up on me.