Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-61922-904-4
Evil clowns have always been a staple creep in the horror genre, and Greasepaint is another spin of the evil clown trope.
The popular Orzo the Clown had his career come to an abrupt end in 1995, when he died as a result of a fall… as the cops burst into his basement and found him with his victim. Yes, Orzo was a pedophile and a serial killer who murdered at least 20 kids. Orzo died before his latest victim could meet the same grisly fate as the previous kids in the basement. Well, cut to today – the boy is now an adult in the band. I have no idea why anyone would want him in a band, to be honest, since he’s whiny and unlikable while acting stoned most of the time. It’s not like he is their line to the best drug dealers in town or anything like that.
Anyway, Michael Talbot’s life is going to take a turn for the worst when someone decides to reissue the entire Orzo the Clown TV show in DVD – not Blu-ray? – and Mike becomes the center of attention. A Geraldo-style talk show host wants him on the show as a ratings bait, while creepy fans of Orzo the Clown view him as some kind of idol because he was the last person to be “loved” by Orzo. However, things really get worse when someone in an Orzo the Clown costume begins killing people left and right.
Now, I love a movie packed with gratuitous gore and violence like anyone else, and Greasepaint subscribes to Hatchet-style gore: you can crack open the skulls of two people just by smashing their heads together – yes, that simple – and other body parts are apparently as easily detachable. It’s like we are all action figures or something. Thing is, Jason Voorhees, Victor Crowley, and the like have some kind of supernatural strength and resilience attributed to them – the folks here have no such thing, so the way skulls cave and bones break render these scenes more cartoon-like than horrifying. As a result, these scenes are both hilarious and joyously pointless – which is good news if you like this kind of horror, or bad news if you prefer your horror to be more psychological in nature.
This story lacks strong or root-able protagonists – Mike is too passive and hapless most of the time to be worth bothering with – so the ending is pretty disappointing. This one would have been so much better if the bad guy survives with his faculties intact to continue being Orzo’s biggest fanboy – he deserves to, after setting up Mike like that and being the only memorable character in this story!
On the bright side, the pacing is great, and the dark humor works. Greasepaint is not that long a story, so it’s a pretty decent read if one is looking for some frivolous gore and darkly macabre set-ups. But it lacks elements that would make it stick to the brain, though, so it’s best not to expect too much from this one.