Original release date: August 14, 2010
Publisher: Deaf Mute Press
Science fiction, double-feature
Dr X will build a creature
See androids fighting, Brad and Janet
Ann Francis stars in Forbidden Planet
Oh-oh-oh-oh at the late night double-feature picture show
—Science Fiction/Double Feature, The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Everyone has a memory from their past that sticks with them long after the wonder years and well into adulthood. I have two such memories and both stick out equally in my mind. Saturday afternoon monster movies…Godzilla, THEM! and The Monster Squad to name a few. I remember being glued to the television on Saturday afternoon watching and not being able to tear my eyes away. I loved every moment of these movies. Also, these were movies that my mother was willing to watch with me and being able to share a good family monster movie with my mom was the greatest thing in the world. My other childhood memory involved sneaking down the hall to sit as close to the television as I could with the volume as loud as I dared to watch the late night Creature Features. In the 80’s I was introduced to some of the original creatures, such as The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Blob, Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman, King Kong (my favorite), and, of course, I eventually met Freddy and Jason as well. These types of films were everything I was looking for in a movie. Thrilling adventure, exotic far-off locations, cheesy dialogue, and just a bit on the scary side. What was not to love? Add in the fact that I was being a rebel, sneaking out to watch these movies, and it all made for an amazing experience. (Hey, for me it was rebellious, especially when it came to Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th) These wonderful movies with giant monsters that destroyed entire cities, insects larger than your imagination could even fathom, adventures to distant fantasy lands, and poor “innocent” campers being slaughtered for no apparent reason helped make me into the movie and book lover that I am today.
Now, you may be wondering why I’m taking you down memory lane in regards to movies, especially since this is a book review. Well, let me get to the reason for my little voyage into my past. The book I being reviewed here, “Red Band!” by Jay Franklin, is written as if it were a B-Movie, complete with cheesy dialogue, highly inappropriate innuendos, non-pc stereotypes/statements, and lots of crazy creatures. Just to be clear, “Red Band!” is, seriously, meant to be bad. The author gives four rules in the introduction; Rule #1 states: This is not to be taken seriously nor is it anything to be considered literature. This was written as a B-Movie in mind. This is my Plan 9 from Outer Space.
The story opens with our hero Sergio attempting to coerce his girl, Darla, into some, shall we say, adult play. A deal is made that he will take Darla to the Texas State fair in exchange for said playtime. Enter stage left Dr. Rib! The self-proclaimed Rib King is determined to take claim of the title “World’s Hottest Chili Sauce,” a title which currently belongs to the French and he will do anything to get this label. What follows in “Red Band!” is an entertaining tale of genetically-altered chili sauce, zombies, beer, and a group of “survivors” that occasionally makes you root for the zombies.
Prepare yourselves to journey through to another state (unless you happen to live in Texas) to a fair where you not only take in the sights and sounds, but the scents of the Chili cook off. A journey to a wondrous land of beer and carnival rides. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the G.O.R.E. Score…
G: General Entertainment – I cannot tell a lie: Franklin’s story thoroughly entertained me. I laughed and rolled my eyes quite a bit at the silliness that was happening on the page. I’m not one to get easily offended, especially when I know that certain statements/phrases are jokes and only meant to be viewed as such. Yes, there was some politically incorrect lingo being tossed around in “Red Band!,” but taken in the context of fun, it was great. The characters, while amusing and annoying at the same time, were not overly developed, but with an introduction telling me that this book is the author’s Plan 9 from Outer Space I didn’t really expect a lot of time to be spent explaining the finer details of the characters and what their motivations were. Franklin used the dialogue between the characters to give tell me all I needed to know…it was darn near perfect. 9/10
O: Original Content – I have to, again, give it up to the author for originality in this book. Yes, the concept has been done…in the movies. I’ve never read a book that was intentionally written in the same vein of a B-Movie. Even the cause of the zombie-ism was unique to this reader. Can you tell me another book where genetically engineered habañeros aid in creating a zombie epidemic? 9/10
R: Realism – This is a difficult area to rate “Red Band!” because, quite frankly, it’s not realistic at all. However, looking at the authors attempt at making his book an homage to the B-Movie horror films of the past, he did well. The setting is simple. Events primarily took place within the fairgrounds with occasional scenes taking place in the lab where the habañeros were tested upon. The creatures are menacing and “acting” was completely over the top. That’s what we look for in those old campy movies from back in the day, right? 8/10
E: Effects/Editing – I was not able to get my hands on a physical copy of “Red Band!,” therefore I am unable to give input in regards to its physical construct. I was given a PDF of the book to read on my Kindle, and while Kindles are able to work with PDF files they do not always format properly. I actually had a pretty difficult time reading the book as the font was tiny and could not be adjusted. Minimal spelling/typographical errors were noted. I will refrain from commenting on any grammatical errors; due to the type of book this is, I am going to assume most errors in grammar were intentional. 6/10
TOTAL SCORE: 8/10
“Red Band!” is a book for fans of creature features, B-Movies and those who enjoy being entertained purely for the sake of entertainment. If that is you, then give Franklin’s world a try and see what you think.
All right, you primitive screw-heads, listen up! See that? That…is The G.O.R.E. Score!