Bad Apples 2 review

Bad Apples 2: Six Slices of Halloween Horror - Kealan Patrick Burke, Evans Light, Jason  Parent, Gregor Xane, Adam   Light, Edward Lorn
What do you do when you're a collective group of five (predominantly) horror writers who released an excellent series of shorts last Halloween and called said collection Bad Apples: Five Slices of Halloween Horror? Well, obviously, you release another collection, only in keeping with the tradition of sequels across mediums you make it bigger! And call it Bad Apples 2: Electric Boogaloo, because you recognise the incontrovertible truth that ALL second sequels should have this post-colon title.

Oh, alright. Lorn, Xane, The Brothers Light and Parent did not call it Electric Boogaloo (more's the pity), but they did release a sequel and it is bigger because this time they've brought a friend named Burke. No, not Carter Burke. He died at the end of Aliens. Kealan Patrick Burke, and that, review-reader, is good news indeed...

Bad Apples 2 is the rarest of beasts: an anthology that does not contain a bad story. All six of the tales contained within fall on the good side of three stars, and one even comes close to cracking my very rare and exclusive club of five star reads.

Burke contributes the shortest of the bunch, THE ONE NIGHT OF THE YEAR, but it packs quite a bit into its sparse number of pages as an elderly man and his dog wait for the things that inevitably come on Halloween night. This one is simple in execution, but powerful in construction, and left me musing over the possible meaning of the why behind what was happening. 3.5 stars.

CANDIE APPLE by Evans Light is a nasty trip down Grief Lane as a man who lost his wife to a horrible accident the previous Halloween awakens on this Halloween to a house that feels all too quiet and empty. I really felt for the protagonist in this one, and the ending was note perfect. 3.5 stars.

Adam Light picks up from the story brother Evans told in the first Bad Apples: Five Slices of Halloween Horror with his contribution, TOMMY ROTTEN. In this one, poor dead Tommy only wants someone to keep him company in his pumpkin field grave, and on Halloween is able to put that yearning into supernatural action - which is bad news for any trick 'r treaters in the area. Light nicely builds the legend of Tommy with his seemingly effortless prose, and I like the way in which the Light Brothers play in each other's worlds. 3.5 stars.

Jason Parent provides perhaps the darkest and most richly descriptive story with DIA DE LOS MUERTOS as his Afghanistan vet attempts to deal with an exceptionally rare form of PTSD. Parent structures his story so that the action goes back and forth between current Day of the Dead in Mexico, and back in the past when his protagonist became afflicted with his "PTSD" - the past scenes being especially creepy and effective. 4 stars.

DOCTOR PROCLIVITY & PROFESSOR PROPENSITY is not just a handful to type, it's also by far the longest tale within this collection and borders on being a novella all on its own. This Gregor Xane tale contains his trademark weirdness, but it also paints a great mystery that his memorable protagonists set about solving as they suspect a puppet show which only makes an appearance on Halloween is responsible for disappearing a number of local children. Cue creepy puppets and all manner of craziness once Jimmy and Uncle Shel peer behind the curtain ... This one really had me hooked, and Xane has an unparalleled ability to pull you into his worlds, no matter how bizarre they might be. 4.5 stars.

And finally, my favourite slice of Bad Apples 2 was Edward Lorn's HALLOWEEKEND. This tale of a haunted Halloween attraction that goes very, very wrong was exactly my kind of mix of weird monsters, engaging characters and gruesome gore. It even has a mid-story twist that you might have seen before, but never delivered in the way Lorn handles it here. Plus I love how Lorn never shies away from killing any character in his stories. I mentioned above I was toying with 5 stars, and after writing this paragraph, I've decided: it's a 5 star effort.

So there you have it. Any horror loving aficionado owes it to themselves to pick up Bad Apples 2 and consume it on, over, or after Christmas. Because who wouldn't like a shiver-charged whiff of Halloween whenever the mood strikes them?

4 Reasons to Never Look Behind the Curtain for Bad Apples 2: Electric Boogaloo.