Books: Larry by Adam Millard

Mohawked and prolific author Adam Millard has written a few dozen novels and novellas and a couple hundred short stories, but for some reason, I only just recently got down to starting to read his stuff. He normally writes in the realms of bizarro or erotic horror, but the novella I picked up to start off my Adam Millard journey was a brief, super fun slasher parody called Larry, which was published in 2014. I say I “picked it up,” but I actually read the ebook for free on my Kindle Unlimited subscription; for whatever reason, paperbacks of Larry were going for as much as $800 on Amazon at one point, and now they’re not available at all anymore.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is a fan of over-the-top, eighties-style slashers and horror comedies, and just wants something short, gory, self-aware, and hilarious to kill an afternoon. This is actually one of the funniest things I’ve ever read; not every single joke lands, but the ones that do are pretty damn great. Just the premise of the story in itself is delightful and makes me cackle with glee.

Back in the 1970s, at a summer camp called Diamond Creek, a serial killer known as Larry “Pigface” Travers hacked thirty-odd camp counselors to death with an axe. He was called Pigface, obviously, because he wore a pig mask while he went about his nefarious deeds. During his last spree in 1978, though, he was actually outsmarted by the final girl, who convinced Larry that he wasn’t allowed to murder her specifically because she was the final girl and those are the rules. Larry, who isn’t the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, fell for it, at which point the final girl trapped Larry in a cabin’s bathroom and burned the place down. Subsequently, Camp Diamond Creek was closed and abandoned, and everyone assumed that Larry was killed in the fire.

Then we jump ahead to 2014. It turns out, of course, that Larry survived his injuries, and in the thirty-six years since his last massacre, has been living quietly in a shack in the woods alongside his very elderly mother and a pet pig named Wilbur. The urge to kill has never left Larry, but he’s 65 years old now, in somewhat poor health, and his mother tries to assure him that he would make better use of his few remaining years by playing Sudoku and learning to knit.

But the allure of the pig mask in the barn proves just too strong, and Larry longs to return to his heyday, when he slaughtered teenagers with wild abandon. To that end, he begins to make a plan to relive his glory days.

The old Camp Diamond Creek is long gone, but a much newer summer camp has been built only a mile or so from the old location, and it attracts clichéd slasher fodder just as effectively as the old place did. The new crop of potential victims includes all your standard, dumb-as-rocks, stock players: the jock, the geek, the ditzy blonde, and the token black couple, all of whom have names referring to famous horror movie characters. The remainder of the story is Larry joyously picking them off one by one, usually in hysterically funny and intensely gruesome ways, though the most amusing part of the whole thing is that Larry is 65 years old and sometimes gets out of breath or has problems with creaky joints, so the chases and kill sequences have that extra bit of humor. There’s just something inherently hilarious about a slasher killer who has to ask his victims to slow down a bit because he ain’t as young as he used to be.

Though I’m sure the humor won’t be for everyone, those who are really into things like The Evil Dead, Dead Alive, or slasher-style comedies like Tucker & Dale vs. Evil will probably really dig this, as it’s essentially a very exaggerated Friday the 13th parody that makes outrageous jokes about every single slasher trope in the book. The only thing that I found slightly jarring at first was the fact that although I assumed the story was supposed to be set somewhere in the United States, and it homaged slasher clichés that I associate with American horror films, Adam Millard himself is British, so every now and then one of the characters would use a turn of phrase that an American wouldn’t. I think I went, “Wait, what?” the first time it happened, but after I realized that the author was British, but using a mostly American setting and parodying a particularly American style of slasher, then I just rolled with it. It even became part of the humor for me after a while.

Larry was followed—because of course it was—by two follow-ups, Larry II: The Squeequel (from 2015), and Larry 3D (from 2017). I love Adam Millard’s commitment to making it a trilogy, in a further meta-homage to the beloved slashers of the 1980s that this series so lovingly pays tribute to.

Until next time, keep it creepy, my friends.

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