Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Horror of Party Beach, by Dale Bailey

★★★★☆ For Fans of 50s Horror Movies

(SF-Movie Horror) Summer of 1955, the last summer of high school. Mike remembers his girlfriend and how wonderful it was being in love. And he remembers the awful things that happened at the end. (9,434 words; Time: 31m)

"The Horror of Party Beach," by (edited by John Joseph Adams), appeared in issue 101, published on .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2018.543 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Mike himself is probably the best part of this story. He’s such a sweet, loveable guy. Witness what happens when he works up the courage to ask Elaine out:
“Hey, Elaine, you think we should go see a movie this weekend or something?” And then, when she didn’t answer right away, “We don’t have to. It was just an—”

“Shut up, Mike,” she said. “I think that would be grand.”

She touched my hand, and I dropped my beaker in surprise. I stepped back and caught my sleeve on fire.

“Gosh,” I said, as she shoved my arm under the spigot, twisted the handle, and doused the flames.

She laughed and gave me a quick peck on the cheek.

I felt like I’d caught fire all over again.
This little passage tells us that Mike is an awfully nice guy (if clumsy), that he’s really into Elaine, that she’s got experience in laboratories, and that she’s into Mike too.

The background plot, about Elaine’s mad-scientist father using her for experiments, is suitable for the era. The location seems vaguely New England, which is also suitable for a monster story.

The most touching moment comes when Mike, thinking the monster may eat him, reaches the girl inside by honoring his promise to forgive her.

The ending, where he wonders if his and Elaine's offspring are going to precipitate the end of the world, was right on target.

Con: Even for a 50s-style horror movie, it’s unacceptable that the father, having cold-bloodedly sacrificed both his wife and his daughter, simply gets away with it.

Although Brad is described as a good guy, and we see him act the part, we never get attached enough to him that we feel crushed when Elaine eats him.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 101)
Dale Bailey Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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