Abby vs. The Splatploitation Brothers: Hillbilly Farm: Book Review
Written by Stephen Cooper
It’s not often, in the world of horror movie reviews, that I’m able to actually get the chance to read a book, but I knew that that would have to change when Stephen Cooper sent me a copy of his new book Abby vs. The Splatploitation Brothers: Hillbilly Farm. To be honest, I was intrigued by the genre of splatterpunk, having rarely if ever encountered it before and never in book form. Cooper is a new author, and Abby is his first venture into the realm of published fiction, a work that he wrote and self-published. Indie books?! Fuck yes!
Abby is a movie reviewer who gives a particularly harsh review to the Splatploitation Brothers’ newest film. She calls it amateurish and insulting, with many a fair critique that I myself have given to films. Abby, however, decides to go a little further than normal, insulting the filmmakers personally and not holding back a single, vicious thought (sorta like how I reviewed Murder Set Pieces, actually…). The Brothers are incensed and decide to get their revenge by sucking Abby into one of their movies with a magic video camera. Things do not get any less weird along the way, as Abby is forced to fight for survival in the world that she normally viewed from her couch.
It’s an interesting concept for a book to be sure, and there are plenty of blood and guts in Abby’s new world. Cooper does a great job of describing this world while never ceasing to critique the cookie-cutter formula of so many slashers that exist in the real world. From the set pieces that are there purely for aesthetics that have no value to the plot to the dumb blonde scream queen who can’t make a good decision to save her life, Cooper cleverly dissects every horror trope that he can get his grubby little paws on. Abby is a horror junkie and Cooper clearly is as well, as he knows every little gripe that horror fans the world over usually have to take to Reddit to decry. The book is filled with different genre commentaries, from the slow-moving zombie film to the swamp creature’s monster movie, and the book’s up-in-the-air ending shows that he’s not finished yet.
This is clearly a first effort from a new author, and there are definitely some parts that could use some cleaning up. Cooper struggles to maintain a consistent POV throughout, as the reader will sometimes be seeing through three different characters’ eyes in the same paragraph, and he often finds himself saying the same thing multiple times in different ways. This isn’t abnormal for a new author, though, and I don’t think it seriously hurts the content in the novel. There were some editing flaws as well, though I believe that could probably be laid at the feet of his editor rather than on Cooper himself. While I do think that Cooper’s first effort could use some cleaning up, the bones are there and the ideas are free-flowing; you can tell that he knows what he’s writing about, and the love for the genre drips off of every page. I look forward to reading his future work because I think it will only get better from here. For a self-published book, it’s a pretty decent effort that will legitimately keep you on the edge of your seat.
There’s not a whole lot of mystery as to how things will turn out, because at the end of the day it’s still based in the world of horror movies that usually only have one ending. The ideas are clever and interesting, though, and well worth exploring. I will always recommend works of indie horror, and Cooper’s book is no different. If, with his next effort, he can polish off a bit of the newbie rust while expanding on the ideas that he already has explored, his planned sequel (Abby vs. The Splatploitation Brothers: Savage City) could be a rousing success.
Who this book is for: Splatterpunk fans; Indie horror fans; Amateur filmmakers with an axe to grind
Bottom line: Well worth a read if you’re able to overlook a few non-fatal flaws, Stephen Cooper could very well end up being a new name in the horror genre. Abby is a compelling character who feels extremely real in the world of horror critics, and I personally identified perhaps a bit more than the general audience will. The book is filled with interesting ideas and it has a brand new concept, one that I kept envisioning as a feature film (which is exactly how a good book should feel to movie lovers.) Cooper has something here, and I can’t wait to see what he does with it in the future.