Rita Kendall, scream queen of schlock horror films of times past, is perhaps past her prime herself, and she now spends her halcyon days languishing in front of a swimming pool with strong drink at her side. Expecting to recount juicy details of her days in the film business, and eager for an extended modicum of fame, she accepts an offer to have an in-depth piece written about her by a visiting writer in residence. Martin Smart (Smartin), the ‘writer in residence’, has been commissioned to write an in-depth piece on her by a mysterious patron, a horror aficionado, who wishes to remain anonymous and assemble a collection to be titled: The Horror of Horrors Anthology- the HOHA. In the space of the story AJ Kirby draws what feels like an effective in-depth portrait of his heroine, using flashbacks, psychological fugues, fragmentary well chosen observations- all infused with rich film imagery that increasingly draws into question Rita Kendall’s fragile mental condition.
Common Myths and Misconceptions Regarding Rita Kendall by AJ Kirby. Is an account of past her prime horror actress Rita Kendall, who is recounting her life for a reporter commissioned to write an article for The Horror of Horrors anthology. This is a well written, story, that draws you in with some excellent use of flashback story telling.
This is an ingenious exploration of identity, with a protagonist we empathise with from the start, even as we gradually realise how little she is in touch with reality. There is a tragic past, some things we are all actually afraid of, and a proper horror story moment.
Werner Herzog said that the thing to be avoided at all costs, in cinematic terms, is the clichéd image, as presented through the lens of any Hollywood movie. The stories in this anthology avoid the clichés of horror, either by creating fresh sources of disturbance or by getting inside the horror image to dissect its psychological power. In “Common Myths and Misconceptions Regarding Rita Kendall”, A.J. Kirby exposes the world of an aging horror starlet whose famous scream is subjected to analysis by a bored magazine writer who thereby uncovers the star’s secret source of guilt. As Rita Kendall’s shadowy doppelganger is slowly and clumsily sleuthed out by the hack we slowly witness the pain behind the melodrama and the emptiness of the celebrity life that conceals it.
Any further reviews after 20 Jan 12 will appear in the comments below.
My own views: http://horroranthology.wordpress.com/editors-story-by-story-commentary/