Writer: DC Larson
Publisher: Retro Riff Books
Year Published: 2019
The Ballad of the Riegelsberg Werewolf and Other Fantastic Accounts is an anthology book inspired by the “creature feature” horror and science fiction films of the 1950s and ’60s. Growing up watching films and TV shows like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and Johnny Jupiter, DC Larson has assembled a collection of new stories that harken back to the early days of film.
The Ballad of the Riegelsberg Werewolf does an excellent job of recreating the feel of those older films: The quaintness of small towns and horse-drawn carriages, the inspiring feats of humanity accomplishing the impossible, and the horror of monsters coming to life. One of the best stories in this collection is Final Performance. Larson not only tells a mysterious monster story but also describes the atmosphere of movie theaters through the eyes of nostalgia, from a time when theaters were shiny and new to a time when they were less popular and becoming rundown.
At times, Larson recreates the feeling of those classic monster films too well. It seems like many of his stories are made for the 1940s and ‘50s. Women are portrayed as they were in those days: easily lovestruck and focused on marriage, clothing, and makeup. And in the Dracula vs Frankenstein story, the fate of a woman who was bitten and enslaved by Dracula is forgotten completely.
Another problem I have with many of the stories in the Ballad of the Riegelsberg Werewolf is the sudden endings. Classic Literature is full of stories that do have sudden conclusions once the mystery is revealed or the monster defeated. Seeing as Ballad of the Riegelsberg Werewolf is a modern anthology, it’s strange to see the stories resolved due to no action by the protagonists, but instead by powerful, random forces of nature, leaving the reader quite dissatisfied with the outcome. There is no follow-up to how these characters move on after the event. It seems like once the day is won, the characters continue as if nothing happened. Like there is nothing left to say after shooting your lover who had become a werewolf. I can’t imagine the trauma it would cause to see someone you love become a monster and then have to kill them.
Perhaps ironically, one of the themes that Larson develops in his later stories about cinema is the inability of people to let go of the past and live in the present. Final Performance and Just a Man in a Monster Mask both feature villains who refused to move on with their lives from the classic horror films they adored, terrorizing others who sought to follow the changing trends in cinema.
A collection of original tales and “lost episodes,” this anthology feels incredibly authentic to the cinematic features it pays homage to. The Ballad of the Riegelsberg Werewolf is an anthology of monster and science fiction stories for those who enjoy the ‘40s to ‘60s eras of film.
The Ballad of the Riegelsberg Werewolf and Other Fantastic Accounts is available to download on Amazon Kindle and other E-readers