It was my desire to escape the clinging neuroses of the dour Ms. Tyler that made me reach for a purgative in the form of a trashy 80’s horror novel I found at my local used book store. Enter The Dragon by William Schoell. Aside from the fact that the image appears more like an iguana than a creature whose rage burned hotter than the fires of Hell, but I do appreciate the scaly texture of the embossed 80’s era cover. The Dragon tells an enormous story that begins with a pre-historic prologue in New Mexico where a dragon monster, Ka Kuna, lives within the belly of an enormous desert mesa, El Lobo. Ka Kuna is no ordinary dragon, but a living-flesh computer that (feeds) off the energies of the human brain. Human sacrifice is part of the milieu–Cool!
Fast forward ten thousand plus years to where Eddie Drake, professional photographer and grieving widow, is convinced to join an old school chum, archeologist Lawrence Foster, on an excavation of….cue drum roll…the El Lobo mesa. Eager to put behind him the horror of his wife’s murder, Eddie takes the job despite his reservations about his egotistical friend who includes on the excavation team his bitter wife and his young mistress. The rest of the team is rounded out by a few cliché characters including the homely girl, the old man, and the black guy. As a reminder that 1989 was a more innocent time before the corrupting influence of political correctness (sarcasm intentional) racist and sexist language abounds (the characters not the author) . I must admit it took this reader back a bit; although nothing can offend a true horror fan.
But onto the fun parts which in this story are plentiful including the town of Mightabeen, NM being attacked by giant killer worms that emerge after a group of hapless archeology site workers (all men) become pregnant and give horrifically painful birth to the creatures through whatever orifice is convenient–I’ll leave it to the imagination. After this explosive scene, the story plods along nicely until Ka Kuna gains power through pulling energy from the explorers brains (okay, I’m with you) and the dragon/monster is released, culminating into a battle of good and evil inside the mesa that clunks along to a fairly predictable conclusion.
No grand revelations here, but as a trashy read The Dragon brings the hellfire. The end of the book interestingly includes the author’s postscript where he seems to be defending the horror genre as means of pure entertainment. He scoffs at the idea of horror as literature (despite a reverence for Lovecraft) and appears to take a swipe at King and “the future of horror” Barker. Professional jealousy perhaps? I’d love to know the story behind the rant. A quick search reveals that Schoell was quite young when he wrote his group of horror novels, and is a quite prolific non-fiction writer with a focus on Hollywood. I realize that I read his book on Joan Crawford.
Will I read more of his horror books? You bet, although Lilly is more interested in the snacks mommy eats while she’s reading. The best thing about trashy horror paperbacks (aside from the entertainment factor) is that you can dog-ear them, drop them in the bath tub, spill wine and crumbs on them, and they only get better with age.