An anthology of the undead which is as diverse as it is scary. APPALACHIAN UNDEAD tests the bloody red waters of zombie fiction and comes out dripping with new ideals, portrayals and messages.
Spanning 21 stories linked by the Appalachian mountains place-setting, the horror aspect is thick and heavy - inducing fear and terror in every corner of the landscape be it dilapidated dwellings, abandoned mines or the forest-like terrain. Influences of Romeo's famous zombie creations, The Walking Dead, and another pop culture theme tie ins are rife throughout the anthology. However, the diversification of the undead themselves separates the anthology from the stereotype while still maintaining the familiar.
Moonshine reanimates the dead, starting slowly with animals before creating the undead in 'When Granny Comes Marchin' Home' by Elizabeth Massie. In ''Company's Coming' by Ronald Kelly, the good and bad are hard to distinguish as the living are portrayed in an unfavourable light while a band of undead keep keep an elderly woman company - feeling more human than their living counterparts.
'Sitting Up With The Dead' by Bev Vincent is classic horror. A deadly plague ravishes a community reanimating the dead from their graves. This one is for the b-grade horror enthusiasts. While 'Calling Death' by Jonathan Maberry echoes horror from the black depths of a mine. A survivor slowly trudges towards the entrance in hopes in claiming a safe haven only to find decay and death waiting. Both of these stories had a distinct sense of place-setting and atmospheric horror.
Moonshine and porch rocking chairs are common throughout the stories, 'We Take Care Of Our Own' by John Everson is one of my favourite stories in this anthology. Moonshine, once again is the cause of the undead yearning for live meat. In this take, Everson creates a macabre small town factory where the production workers are chained and the dead feed off out of towners.
Hell rains down from the sky in 'Long Days To Come' by K. Allen Wood. 'Almost Heaven' by Michael Paul Gonzalez gives the zombies a voice. 'Hell's Hollow' by Michael West has the reanimated reenact a fatal shoot-out year after year before returning to their graves. While 'The Girl and the Guardian' by Simon McCaffery sees a mysterious creature watch over a young girl as the zombie plague hits her home. These stories exemplify the diversity in this collection.
There are loads of enjoyable stories in APPALACHIAN UNDEAD, however the standouts for me are 'Spoiled' by Paul Moore - an atmospheric character driven horror where pregnancy and survival horror combine for a macabre tour de force. 'Sleeper' by Tim Lebbon is in line with the Walking Dead-like take on the genre. 'Being In The Shadow' by Maurice Broaddus sees a cop seek vengance for the dead of his partner at the hands of a shuffler. While 'Hide and Seek' by Tim Waggoner also provides the requisite thrills and chills.
There is a little something for all fans of horror within the blood smeared and gore encrusted pages of APPALACHIAN UNDEAD.