Book Review: TECHNICOLOR TERRORISTS by Andre Duza

I was first introduced to Ande Duza‘s (NSFW) work in the Orange edition of the Bizarro Starter Kit. His contribution was a Roger Rabbit/Cool World-esque novella called “Don’t F(bleep)k with the Coloureds” about cartoons coming into the real world. Recently, I also read his collaboration with Wrath James White called Son of a Bitch, a horror-comedy about a demonic dog. Having read and enjoyed both of those, I was excited when Deadite Press (NSFW) sent me a review copy of his latest novel, Technicolor Terrorists.

Technicolor Terrorists is billed as a novel, but because of the episodic nature of the chapters it reads more like a collection of short stories interconnected by common characters.

Things kick off in “The Holy Ghost Claw”. Harley Cooper, head of the dying Toxic Brothers’ Traveling Carnival, has recently acquired a new attraction that he hopes will restore the former glory of the Carnival. However, when Harley is shot dead by one of his former sideshow freaks and the new attraction completely levels the carnival and the town it’s in, the surviving carnies are left to their own devices. This chapter introduces us to all the characters and gives us an idea of what we’re in for. It’s not a bad story in itself, but feels more like a prologue to the rest of the book.

Up next is “Papercuts”. Utopia Springs Estate is an average suburb, if you discount that one haunted house that’s driven out every family that lived there. To make things worse, women in the neighborhood start being attacked in their homes by a groper who leaves deep cuts on his victims. This chapter is probably the most “straight-forward” horror story in the book. It’s both darkly funny and pretty creepy. I’m avoiding spoilers here, but it makes a very clever use of one of the freaks introduced in the first chapter.

The next chapter, and my favorite in the book, is the titular “Technicolor Terrorists”. A cop named Mars Kersey gets involved in an unusual murder case. A family was slaughtered and the faces of their dead bodies were painted to look like clowns. The only survivor, a young boy, is taken into state custody, but soon finds the men dressed as clowns responsible for murdering his family are after him too. When the boy disappears, Mars Kersey takes it upon himself to find the boy and arrest the clowns. To me, this chapter is the best example of what Andre Duza is capable of as a writer. It’s a blend of horror, comedy, fantasy, and crime that is just fun to read. This part alone is worth the price of admission.

Technicolor Terrorists by Andre Duza

Technicolor Terrorists by Andre Duza

Next up, it’s “Indo and the Killer Rockstar”. Rock star Jason Sydes has been framed by his manager for starting a fire in a club that killed everyone inside. Jason flees to Philadelphia, only to find that every gang in the city is out to get him to collect the reward for his capture. This chapter is probably the most bizarre out of all of them and the most difficult to classify. Like “Technicolor Terrorists”, it’s a blend of genres, but here the conventions are played with and stretched to the point that they’re barely recognizable. This story is best looked at as a satire both of celebrity culture and gang culture. Duza has a lot to say about both the vapidness of media culture, and about inner city conditions. This is also a weakness in this story. Duza introduces a lot of concepts in this chapter, however he doesn’t develop them as fully he could. This is one story that could have benefited from being a little longer.

The final and shortest chapter in the book is “Drug Runnin’ Blues”. Gabriel Benjamin takes a job running high grade weed from Pennsylvania to Indiana, but changes his mind when he finds Jesus on the road. A giant, killer Jesus in the back of an RV. This brief and funny story gives the book an anticlimactic but oddly appropriate ending. Given the size of scope and the blending of genres in the previous stories, it’s great to see what Duza can do with a short and tightly focused piece of bizzaro like this.

Overall, Technicolor Terrorists is a strong novel/collection of unusual horror fiction. Each part is a fun read, the genre-hopping is well executed, and Duza’s prose is powerful and hard-hitting. Some chapters are stronger than others, but all of them are worth a read. I’d recommend this most to horror fans who want something different and to anyone looking to dip their toes into the bizarro genre.

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Ben Arzate lives in Des Moines, Iowa. His fiction and poetry has appeared in Ugly Babies, Bizarro Central, Spoilage, The Mustache Factor, Twenty Something Press, and Keep This Bag Away From Children. He blogs at http://dripdropdripdropdripdrop.blogspot.com/

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Comments

  1. Tim ward says:

    Ben’s first mission upon coming on board was to scare off all the people afraid of clowns. Well done, sir. 😉 Great review. I’m glad to have someone who appreciates magical realism and can review the short fiction collections like this. Good job!

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