Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Carlton Mellick III is among the most well-known authors writing within the bizarro movement of speculative fiction. Bizarro is not horror per se, but often includes horrific elements, such as the gratuitous sex and violence prevalent within the splatterpunk subgenre. It is fiction taken to absurd extremes often as a way of providing social commentary on the workings of the ordinary world.
Apeshit is one of the over forty novels written by Mellick since the early 2000s. It takes on the slasher film beginning with a traditional premise. A group of teenagers, including cheerleaders and jocks, heads off to party at a remote cabin in the woods. Once there, they are stalked by a disfigured mutant intent upon killing them. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
Yet, the entire situation is flipped on its head. The cast of characters are anything, but familiar archetypes. One of the cheerleaders sports a Mohawk and has covered her body in butterfly tattoos. Another has a sexual fetish that involves abortions.
Then there is the whole mutant serial killer circumstance. One expects the good guys to shoot the villain numerous times only to see him get back up and kill them, but what happens when the teenagers can also not die? The mutant can eviscerate and embowel, but the teenagers just keep rising from the dead.
The result is a very over-the-top vomit-inducing narrative akin to early Peter Jackson films, particularly Bad Taste. In some ways, Apeshit is more hardcore than hardcore horror. It takes the already absurd violence of Edward Lee and Ryan Harding and cranks it up yet another notch wrapping the package in a sort of smart and whimsical way that pokes fun at the genre Mellick is imitating.
Certainly, this is not for everyone. Apeshit is not scary. It is gross, but more to the point it is ridiculous. Mellick is taking a horror premise and integrating it fully within the bizzaro genre of speculative fiction. It has the potential to make fans of Stephen King and Peter Straub cringe and not in a good way, but for those looking for something different, Apeshit delivers.