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The Little Dixie Horror Show: Volume I

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Next time you’re driving through southeastern Oklahoma, be mindful of what road you’re taking, the places you pass and the folks you see or talk with. Especially when passing through Little Dixie. Little Dixie…what…never heard of it? Doesn’t matter. Just keep on driving. Soon as you start noticing the Taco Bells and suburbs changing into trailer parks and decaying antebellum Next time you’re driving through southeastern Oklahoma, be mindful of what road you’re taking, the places you pass and the folks you see or talk with. Especially when passing through Little Dixie. Little Dixie…what…never heard of it? Doesn’t matter. Just keep on driving. Soon as you start noticing the Taco Bells and suburbs changing into trailer parks and decaying antebellum mansions, the cemeteries and pawnshops outnumbering the schoolhouses and public parks, you’ll know just where the hell you are. Little Dixie, where everyone has a story to tell, a Moonpie to share, and something ugly hanging from the family tree. Dead hookers that won’t stay dead…the frozen memories of a haunted moviehouse that refuses to let the past die…a foolhardy young boy seeking a fabled treasure within the dark recesses of an abandoned mine…desperate men doing desperate things to pull themselves out of desperation…a damaged girl seeking comfort in the arms of the dead…the ghoulish revenge of children forced into the insanity of violence…a satanic farm where murder is the bumper crop… This is The Little Dixie Horror Show.


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Next time you’re driving through southeastern Oklahoma, be mindful of what road you’re taking, the places you pass and the folks you see or talk with. Especially when passing through Little Dixie. Little Dixie…what…never heard of it? Doesn’t matter. Just keep on driving. Soon as you start noticing the Taco Bells and suburbs changing into trailer parks and decaying antebellum Next time you’re driving through southeastern Oklahoma, be mindful of what road you’re taking, the places you pass and the folks you see or talk with. Especially when passing through Little Dixie. Little Dixie…what…never heard of it? Doesn’t matter. Just keep on driving. Soon as you start noticing the Taco Bells and suburbs changing into trailer parks and decaying antebellum mansions, the cemeteries and pawnshops outnumbering the schoolhouses and public parks, you’ll know just where the hell you are. Little Dixie, where everyone has a story to tell, a Moonpie to share, and something ugly hanging from the family tree. Dead hookers that won’t stay dead…the frozen memories of a haunted moviehouse that refuses to let the past die…a foolhardy young boy seeking a fabled treasure within the dark recesses of an abandoned mine…desperate men doing desperate things to pull themselves out of desperation…a damaged girl seeking comfort in the arms of the dead…the ghoulish revenge of children forced into the insanity of violence…a satanic farm where murder is the bumper crop… This is The Little Dixie Horror Show.

30 review for The Little Dixie Horror Show: Volume I

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Raab

    Mer Whinery’s collection of location-specific horror stories run a unique gamut: ghostly ghoulish lot lizards, the selling of your soul for comfort and new chances, children turning to rational (hallucinogenic?) violence, a beautiful short about a haunted movie house, and a decidedly unserious novella about a transvestite monster hunter. The sheer variety of these bizarre and genuinely creepy tales is supported by the main character – the setting. Little Dixie is a spot in Oklahoma where all the Mer Whinery’s collection of location-specific horror stories run a unique gamut: ghostly ghoulish lot lizards, the selling of your soul for comfort and new chances, children turning to rational (hallucinogenic?) violence, a beautiful short about a haunted movie house, and a decidedly unserious novella about a transvestite monster hunter. The sheer variety of these bizarre and genuinely creepy tales is supported by the main character – the setting. Little Dixie is a spot in Oklahoma where all the worst parts of the Deep South uprooted and made their home, spawning generations of cultural, economic, and spiritual malaise. It’s a place of deep dark and people with secrets. Whinery shows us the darkest corners of Little Dixie, sparing no detail in what amounts to grisly, gore-ific, and straight up disturbing close ups on what goes bump in the night out yonder. Whinery’s stories, while dripping with horror, are also full of love for a bizarre and dying community of swamps, abandoned truck stops, and both the living and the dead. I’ll buy anything Whinery publishes next. His sense of voice is fantastic, and he’s got a great appreciation for horror (Lucio Fulci gets more than a few references) literature, films, and culture. My only complaint about the book is the editing. Another pass or two by an editor would have made a world of difference in catching a variety of errors. If my criticism seems petty, good. Because a few misspelled words and clunky fonts shouldn’t dissuade you from grabbing this spookhouse ride of an underground collection.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jose Cruz

    Horror being, among other things, the genre of subversion, it stands to reason that the authors working in this mode should frequently take the landscapes that make up their homes and their travels and introduce elements of the fantastic to both accentuate and complement the darker qualities inherent in those landscapes. Mer Whinery has managed to do this with his first collection, staging his sordid dramas in the lonely country heart of the eponymous Little Dixie, the greasy twilight zone of Ok Horror being, among other things, the genre of subversion, it stands to reason that the authors working in this mode should frequently take the landscapes that make up their homes and their travels and introduce elements of the fantastic to both accentuate and complement the darker qualities inherent in those landscapes. Mer Whinery has managed to do this with his first collection, staging his sordid dramas in the lonely country heart of the eponymous Little Dixie, the greasy twilight zone of Oklahoma. Having immensely enjoyed Whinery’s story “The Projectionist” in the anthology High Strange Horror from Muzzleland Press (also collected in the author’s Phantasmagoria Blues), I eagerly took the opportunity to explore this collection of formative stories working in the same dirty, brawny style as that excellent little tale. While Whinery’s laconic, homespun voice is in evidence throughout the collection, progressing through The Little Dixie Horror Show reveals that, at the time of publication, the author had yet to fully develop the considerable talents that were on hand in “The Projectionist”. Two of the five entries, “Last Halloween” and “Only Shown at Midnight,” don’t quite satisfy as full-blooded narratives; it’s less noticeable in the latter, which works as a “historical” account of a grandiose movie-house that has more than its fair share of ghostly patrons and blood-spackled walls, but both stories feel as if they’re attempting to cover a lot of ground in a fairly short amount of time, leaving some threads dangling. This is especially felt in “Last Halloween,” which starts out with the incredibly queasy scene of two young siblings being lured into a murder den whilst trick-or-treating, later picking up strong resonance with the grown brother’s visions of his dead sister’s spirit before becoming slightly derailed by a subplot involving an age-old sect of violence-loving demons. The interactions between brother and sister could’ve been enough to fuel the story and put the reader through an emotional wringer, and the mission of vengeance that occurs halfway through distracts us with B-movie dynamics from what could’ve been a tale of great despair and longing. This is not to say that B-movie dynamics are not appreciated, as Whinery is clearly an ardent fan of grindhouse cinema and wields the tropes of same with the appropriate enthusiasm. “The Little Dixie Butcher Barn,” which name-checks Lucio Fulci and includes a cameo appearance by the severed hand with glitter nail polish from “The Projectionist”, acts as Whinery’s ode to the monster-fests and exploitation classicks that he holds so dear. The novella shoots for the grand scale alluded to in the aforementioned stories, pitting the Texan drag queens of The Flirty Cock against a ravenous horde of gut-munchers and a towering mummy-king known on the first-name basis of Daddy. It’s a tale with some flashes of assured writing and wonderful insights—a memorable line compares the zombies’ snarl to a lawnmower low on gas sputtering to a stop—but for large chunks it still feels like an outline that needs to have the finer details filled in. It’s when Whinery works consciously in established tradition—like an old timer’s standard issue spooky backstory explaining the history of the story’s evil—that Whinery tends to stumble, but it’s in the moments when the author trusts his own instincts and goes for scenes that could’ve only come from his own imagination, such as the practically pitch-perfect chapter when our hero is kidnapped by the smiley Reba McEntire-lookalike den mother of the Butcher Barn and faces the prospect of being “tenderly” loved by her randy undead sons like the shattered-pelvis cadaver of the former abductee, that Whinery reminds us of his unique prowess to disturb. “Girls of Rebel Run, 1976” and “A Box to Hide Yer Bones” fare better because they have the benefit of the author’s patented brand of Southern fried weirdness and a shorter length to better focus on and strengthen their central conceits. “Girls…” finds a seasoned truck driver taking the enigmatic suggestion of a foul-smelling girl and inadvertently pulling into a dilapidated speakeasy haunted by the moldy ghouls of former flappers, nailing that middle-of-bumfuck-nowhere desolation and vibe of rusty ruin paramount to these surroundings just right. The slight air of melancholia to the trucker’s recollections is resumed by the protagonist of “A Box…” A divorced, jobless father struggling to earn enough money for Christmas presents that won’t provoke further disappointment from his children literally stumbles upon the chance of a lifetime when he comes upon a storage space housing a pristine muscle car and some cool cash. Unfortunately, the space is the property of two black-tongued agents who work for a shadowy figure and delight in supping on fresh bodies. The title becomes an allusion to our hero’s recurring disengagement from the bizarre and bloody events that unfold around him, a means of keeping his eyes on the plentiful prizes offered by his new job and away from the screaming faces begging for mercy, a place to store away all the lives he’s broken in his ascent to the peak of a mountain of sorrow. The tale effectively straddles the border between high strangeness and low brow pulp horror, setting the action to a dungy winter terrain that acts as barren limbo for the lost souls who filter through. The print edition from Literati Press suffers slightly from its Courier typeface and multiple instances of typos and grammatical errors, mostly noticeably in “The Little Dixie Butcher Barn.” Even in the face of these deterrents, the stories in Whinery’s freshman effort manage to glow with promise for the demonic craft that he is assuredly set to bring forth in his future efforts. If you happen to be passing through Little Dixie, keep an eye out for him. He’ll be the grim-eyed man sitting on the porchside cracker-barrel with the soft weeping sounds coming from inside. If you have the time, sit down and listen to him awhile. He’s got a story for you.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joel Hacker

    Mer Whinery's (I believe first?) short fiction collection is not only set predominantly in one of the more poverty stricken (though arguably not bleakest) parts of Oklahoma, but published locally as well. While we've seen plenty of Southern Gothic influences on horror in the last several decades, and perhaps more recently also seen much done with western themed horror, Mer is working in a setting both less one dimensional than either of those and more genuine in its presentation of the unique me Mer Whinery's (I believe first?) short fiction collection is not only set predominantly in one of the more poverty stricken (though arguably not bleakest) parts of Oklahoma, but published locally as well. While we've seen plenty of Southern Gothic influences on horror in the last several decades, and perhaps more recently also seen much done with western themed horror, Mer is working in a setting both less one dimensional than either of those and more genuine in its presentation of the unique melange of cultural influences in the region. Being set in a modern era helps in avoiding the tropes, stereotypes, and caricatures of 'back woods' folk and the region more broadly. But more importantly, growing up and continuing to live in the regioion allows Mer to create complex, believable characters and settings firmly grounded in reality. The little snippets of his memories and life experiences before each piece help frame that for the reader as well. If you have never before read his work, you're in for a real treat. Stories internally flow seamlessly from what often initially seem to be atmospheric pieces to well paced action sequences with just enough gore to satisfy without getting bogged down by becoming focused on needless murder-porn-esque narratives. The final story in the collection, the closest thing a 'titular' story, is a particularly enjoyable treat full of the unexpected and what feel like deeply considered authentic characterizations. I'd love to see some of the characters established here make appearences in other stories later. A quick note on formating, as I had seen some mild criticism of it in other reviews. I actually enjoyed the somewhat clunky and outdated seeming font choice. As someone else who living in Oklahoma, it often feels like as though its a state that has not so much been left behind, but rather has refused to update itself with the times, and the font and formatting choices seem to subtly reinforce that. And maybe its a little bit of nostalgia for the small and independent press zines, limited runs, and personally published stuff of yesteryear that made it appealing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tom Smith

    A fantastic collection of Southern Gothic horror Each and every story in this volume is a gem. Someone needs to buy up the film rights ASAP and get this onto Amazon Prime, Netflix, or one of the other streaming platforms. For those burned out on run of the mill horror, your deliverance has arrived. Thank you Mer Whinery

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Drenning

    One of the best short story collections I've read in ages! Man, this dude can write. I'm reading everything he writes. One of the best short story collections I've read in ages! Man, this dude can write. I'm reading everything he writes.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John Bender

    Yes! Read this! Whinery takes all of the stuff you love and mashes it together. Loved the Italian director references, loved it all.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Caldwell

    Little Dixie is the southeastern corner of Oklahoma. It stands out from the rest of the state in that its culture is patently southern. This includes the speech patterns, the gastronomic delights, and its superstitions. Now some of you might be thinking that this means it is full of barefoot rednecks and hillbillies (yes, those are different groups) with no running water, drinking homemade moonshine, missing most of their teeth, and a sixth grade education at best. It is true that that those typ Little Dixie is the southeastern corner of Oklahoma. It stands out from the rest of the state in that its culture is patently southern. This includes the speech patterns, the gastronomic delights, and its superstitions. Now some of you might be thinking that this means it is full of barefoot rednecks and hillbillies (yes, those are different groups) with no running water, drinking homemade moonshine, missing most of their teeth, and a sixth grade education at best. It is true that that those types do exist, but that is not the norm for most. Luckily, this author is familiar with the real south and doesn't play to the stereotypes that you usually get with most stories set in the south. What you do get with this collection is five little horror stories with a distinctly southern feel. The stories are a mix of horror and fun that will keep you entertained. Are they great literature? Not really. Are they worth reading? Most definitely. These tales will at times give you a chill or two, make you laugh, and just possibly make you see somethings in a new way. If nothing else, you will learn to be careful what roads you take when you get out into the southern countryside.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Pool

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cody Taylor

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mer

  11. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Pool

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nathan A

  13. 5 out of 5

    Naomi E. Collins

  14. 4 out of 5

    Doctor Gaines

  15. 4 out of 5

    T. Giachetti

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nicki Jacobs

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robin

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cyan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jack

  20. 5 out of 5

    kitty

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tamara

  22. 5 out of 5

    Adriene

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Peters

  24. 5 out of 5

    Annie

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lashawna Merrida

  26. 4 out of 5

    Charles Martin

  27. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Stith

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  29. 4 out of 5

    nita wussick

  30. 4 out of 5

    K

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