Black Cat - John Russo

When I cracked this book open, the original Waldenbooks receipt fell out dated 02/1982. I found it somewhat fitting that a piece of 'ancient' history landed in my lap upon opening this book of horror. 



We're not going to discuss the fact that I used the word 'ancient' about a book that was written after I was born.


John Russo is probably best known for co-writing the screenplay of "Night of the Living Dead" and then writing the novelization several years later. I would venture that most people, save die-hard horror fans of a certain age, have not heard of this book. I wouldn't have, certainly, except that my husband collected Russo's foil covers in the early 80's.


I think I might have been the first person to read this particular copy. Unbagging a book of this age in great condition to read is somewhat nerve-racking. I respect books of all types. I'm not one of those monsters that fold down the corners or anything, but nothing beats that feeling of reading a good, pliable, well-read paperback.


So, with great tension I read "Black Cat" and I have to wonder if that didn't affect my enjoyment. Then again, 'lurid' is the adjective that is on repeat in my head to describe how I felt about it, so it could be that I just didn't like it all that much.


It's not that it wasn't well crafted or written, that's all fine. It's just that witchdoctor'd panther cults who go on murdering rampages in their thirst for blood is just not my thing. When the Martin family crosses their path after a series of unfortunate events in the desert leaving them stranded...well, I'm not sure I cared all that much when (BIG SPOILER HERE) they were eaten, partially eaten, bitten, or scratched. Husband George was cheating on his wife, wife Peg was insipid, and daughter Jenny was a mouthy teenage brat.


The saving grace and goodness of the entire book was a Vietnam vet and Agent Orange victim, Tom. After leaving his family fearing that his madness was ruining them, he has the misfortune of hitchhiking right into this gruesome mess. The silver lining here is that he sees how messed up the rest of the world is and decides that he's not alone in his crazy. Tom becomes our hero who fights the circus family turned panther people bastards and saves the day to return to his family. 


There really is a lot to the story that I'm just plain leaving out and I'm probably doing it a disservice, but there is only so much cult-like orgying that I can take. Remember, I did say lurid. So I'm just going to leave this here...