Vile Things: Extreme Deviations of Horror is an anthology of “extreme horror” from over a dozen different authors. The stories are supposed to be disturbing, horrifying, and taboo. Impossibly high standards to live up to, as most of these tales fail to even be interesting, let alone terrifying.
The standout tale is easily “The Worm” by John Bruni. A down-on-his-luck investor moves in with his alcoholic mother until his luck turns. Against his better judgment, he brings her home a bottle of tequila with the worm in it, which seems to possess her, and a night of filthy, incestuous fucking ensues. There is little in the way of explanation, but it is not necessary. The visceral imagery is enough to leave you feeling creeped out.
Sadly, the rest of the stories are boring, unimaginative, derivative, or poorly constructed. “The Fear in the Waiting” by C.J. Henderson should be good – it is about Nazi war criminals getting their comeuppance. Most of the story is actually the narrator whining about how ghastly a thing “it” is. It is tough to live up to a buildup like that, and this story doesn’t. The “it” is the Nazi in question continuing his experiments after the war by sewing his lab partner to himself. The Holocaust was one of the most atrocious events in all of history, and that was the scariest thing you could come up with?
“Going Green” by Stefan Pearson sees the narrator developing a method to resurrect the dead and use them as tireless labor to manually power the electricity in his house. Not surprisingly, it goes wrong – just not terribly wrong enough to make it interesting. “Coquettrice” by Angel Leigh McCoy is a predictable tale of a man who falls in love with a demon creature who uses him as the incubator for the devil’s spawn. There is a good amount of anal rape in the story, if you are into that, as that is how the man is impregnated. But the story is so poorly paced that it is a struggle to get to the climax.
“Fungoid” by Randy Chandler is a dull little piece that relies on vile, uninspired descriptions of monstrous muck to shock and horrify. It does neither. “The Fisherman” by Brian Rosenberger is a dull little piece that is a complete knock-off of Sweeney Todd and similar tales – just replace “barber” with “fisherman,” and “meat pies” with “fish bait.” “Tenant’s Rights” by Sean Logan is either poorly written or just so boring I couldn’t pay attention – in either case, unlikeable characters make this one unpalatable.
If you are looking for good horror, look anywhere but this collection.