THE VAMPIRE OF PLAINFIELD by Kristopher Rufty (Sinister Grin Press)
There’s a line drawn in the sand. If you look closely you can see it and then if you open your eyes just enough you can see people standing on opposite sides of it. Here, on one side, you have the people that like THE VAMPIRE OF PLAINFIELD, and on the other? Those that I think (might) hate it. There’s no middle ground whatsoever. The reasons for hating it are based on the idea of Ed Gein being not just a hero, but a vampire hunter. Imagine that for a second. Let it sink in. Ed Gein, notorious serial killer not just a hero mind you, but also a vampire hunter. That’s just a small part of this novella. I think it might be a sticking point that draws people away from it. It’s almost as if you took Jesus and had him hawking nails at Home Depot. Just all sorts of wrong isn’t it? But I might be wrong!
Let’s take our focus away from those that are going to hate it and focus in on those with an open mind. Those that are horror fans that appreciate a great horror story. Are you comfy? Good, you’re the people I want to talk to anyway. Ed Gein is in fact the reluctant hero in PLAINFIELD but it’s his own doing. We know who Gein is, what he’s done. Rufty has really researched his novel and doesn’t try to pretend that he isn’t. This adds a bit into the lore of who Gein is and what he’s done. Surprisingly it works well in the novel and you don’t really want to cheer him on because it’s Ed fucking Gein! Shifting away from that we have a vampire novel, a damn fine vampire novel and one that reminds me a lot of ‘SALEM’S LOT. It’s exactly what a vampire novel should be and the beautiful thing is that Rufty knows that we know the lore and the rules. He doesn’t give us sparkly vampires. His vampires are violent nasty beasts that take what they want and like ‘SALEM’S LOT it’s wholly original and doesn’t hold back. Not once.
The strength in THE VAMPIRE OF PLAINFIELD is Rufty’s writing. He writes like a man possessed and presents us with a story that is well plotted and very dark. This is how a vampire novel should be. There are some scenes that will make you squirm, but it all blends into the plot. The plot itself is simple and moves quickly. This is a writer that doesn’t waste time in cluing you into things. He just assumes that you know. It seems like it would drag the book down but for horror fans this is basic horror 101. If you don’t know anything about vampires or even Gein, why the hell are you reading this book? Read Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, Google Ed Gein, and then read Rufty’s book.
Rufty’s THE VAMPIRE OF PLAINFIELD is a great, well written horror novel that has a classic, splatterpunk feel to it. Rufty has taken a huge risk and it’s paid off. There are some that won’t get this novel at all and that’s okay. There are plenty of us who will. As both a horror fan, and a writer, I like that he’s taken something familiar and put a fresh coat of paint on it. Horror needs a kick in the ass now and again and THE VAMPIRE OF PLAINFIELD would be about a size nine kicking a stake through your blackened heart. This is by far one of my favorite vampire novels and will no doubt be one of those novels I read again just because it was so bad ass. Cheers Mr. Rufty for giving us a vampire novel with teeth, or fangs. (Michael Noe)