Like most kids who proudly tout the moniker of “strange,” I grew up on a healthy diet of monster movies, comic books and horror stories, many of which were accompanied by mind-altering visions of madness. One horror story book that stands out among the rest Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell’s Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. Not only did the tales of dread in that book echo with a ring of truth, they were after all based on urban legends, but Gammell’s distrubing depictions sent shivers down my spine like nothing else could.
Niklas Coskan’s new book, COFFIN CREEK, captures the same spirit as Schwartz and Gammell’s work, but with one major difference—Coskan gives the stories their own soundtrack. Created as a “graduation project” while attending UDK Berlin, the 94-page book delivers a multimedia experience featuring four short stories—”Freaks of Fortune, Toilethead, Two-Way Truth, Trashhands”—complimented by a highly stylized set of black and white illustrations. The soundtrack, composed by Austrian band “Laser Mutants,” comes on pressed black vinyl with each track created specifically for each story.
Despite being written in German the stories are remarkably enjoyable, especially when accompanied by the soundtrack, and well worth the effort of translating online. In “Freaks of Fortune,” a carnival freakshow on the brink of collapse falls victim to a scheming salesman who promises to help if the freaks kill someone. When it turns out the salesman just wants to build on their land, the freaks decide to add introduce something new to their carnival concession stand… salesman sausages.
“Toilethead” takes the traditional nerd revenge tale and turns it on its head (literally). When a worm wiggles its way into Jeremy’s head while enduring yet another school bully swirly, he transforms into a hideous mutant and goes on a killer rampage. Not satisfied with just slaughtering bullies, the worm turns on Jeremy for one last act of revenge.
“Two-Way Truth” finds a small-time crook named Ed looking for his big score. When he inadvertently activates an old fortune-telling machine while robbing an antique store, Ed is granted one wish should he solve a riddle. A cautionary tale of “be careful what you wish for,” the fortune teller does grant Ed’s wish… just not in the way you’d expect.
The final story, “Trashhands,” delves into the world of magic with two rival magicians named Savini and Chandor. When Savini is accused of stealing, old school justice is delivered swift and Chandor cuts off Savini’s hands, tossing them in the trash as a sign of disrespect. When it turns out that Chandor is the real thief, you can bet that some supernatural vengeance is in store.
OUT OF 5
Niklas Coskan’s COFFIN CREEK sets just the right tone, especially with Halloween right around the corner. Created in the spirit of fright anthologies like Tales from the Crypt, Tales from the Darkside and The Twilight Zone, this is one book that readers can enjoy on multiple levels – language barriers be damned.