Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Edward Lee is considered the father of modern hardcore horror for good reason. Stories, like Header and The Bighead, are among the most visceral and sexually perverse novels ever written. However, there is a softer side to Edward Lee. Some of his novels, such as Slither and The Black Train, are written for mass consumption and expect to garner some mainstream appeal. These novels still contain acts of extreme violence and gratuitous sex, but on a level toned down from his more notorious works.
The Golem falls into this latter category. It is the story of a couple who recently purchased a picturesque house in the Maryland countryside. Little did they know when they bought it, but the house was once owned by a rabbi with a dark past. He and his cabal successfully created two golems which they used to protect their small Jewish community. In the end, one of the golems was destroyed, when a feud with a neighboring village was pushed too far, but the other golem was never found. Now, a series of grisly murders have occurred and the couple’s new house, the rabbi, and his creation lie at the heart of it all.
Strangely enough, much of the horror in The Golem is not derived from the creature, but rather from sections of the book detailing drug addiction. The couple, known as Seth and Judy, met in a rehab clinic. Over the course of the narrative their will to stay drug free will be tested and the back slide into addiction is far from flattering. Lee manages to make their actions terrifyingly and depressingly believable.
However, the story suffers from several major plot holes and a few over-the-top passages throughout the narrative that serve to create an entirely implausible story. The villain is not just evil. He is a sort of cartoony madman with ridiculously complex schemes that make no sense whatsoever. Normally, this would not be an issue, but when tied to the very real horrors of drug addiction, it seems out of place.
Lee does a good job at staying his hand with the sex and gore. If it were a movie, The Golem would be rated “R,” rather than “XXX.” It is not appropriate for children, but it is also not so stomach churning that you will need a barf bag. This may turn off many of his hardcore fans, but makes the work accessible and entertaining for a broader audience. As a result, The Golem is not the greatest starting point for exploring the writing of Edward Lee but might be a safe starting point for new readers of the genre.