Nightmares Unhinged: Twenty Tales of Horror might make an interesting read for anyone using Freud’s theory as a dissertation piece. While there were a couple of well developed stories in this mix worthy of standing as a work of horror and works of writing, most were boringly predictable and several were just downright weird and unnecessary. Overall, the collection isn’t exactly a shining example of horror stories and not anything I can recommend reading.
Two of the stories I loved from this collection were “The Librarian” and “Taking the Dare”. “The Librarian” wasn’t necessarily the best example of horror from the grouping as it was without gore or even a sense of fear as one read it; on the contrary it was almost emotionally sterile, however it was very original and clever so I had to love it. Who would have guessed a demon would be frequenting a library and using books to convey a message! My favorite story was hands down “Taking the Dare” which dealt with a group of teenagers using a psychic power to identify a child killer although they run into some problems trying to prove this. It was a realistic idea and well done with a Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street feel to it and I could easily see this even becoming a novel and movie with little effort.
There were several stories that were more or less ok but so predictable or the writing itself was so mediocre that it didn’t shine. My favorite of these stories was “Danniker’s Coffin” which I felt if the author didn’t drone on with his narrative in such a monotone voice this story would have been amazing. Other predictable stories such as “Needles”, “The Brollachan” and “The Man Who Killed Texas” fill in most of the 20 slots contained in this collection.
And then there were the really weird ones. My first most memorable weird story is “Zou Gou” and honestly I’m mad it got weird because it otherwise would have been a great story that reminded me almost of the horror reflected in Edgar Allen Poe. The weird part is a description of a four way sex scene that was completely unnecessary and allowed the villain the upper hand in the end. It completely ruined the ending for me. But by far the most jaw dropping, utterly ridiculous story here is “Lost Balls” which entails three guys golfing when on disappears in a strange way only to then lure one of his friends to the monster he has discovered who eats penises and they argue over who has the bigger one for the monster to eat. I wanted to put the whole volume down after reading this ridiculous piece.
As a volume, the writing is average, lacks personality, and is full of underdeveloped and unmemorable characters. The few stories I enjoyed weren’t enough to flesh this book out and didn’t make it an enjoyable read. It lacks charisma and creativity; mostly playing it safe and dull with a couple of completely insane pieces to further drive a stake through this volume.