SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 628 Hellz Bellz, by Randy Chandler Book Review |

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Hellz Bellz, by Randy Chandler
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Hellbound
Published: 2004
Review Posted: 7/21/2005
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10

Hellz Bellz, by Randy Chandler

Book Review by Benjamin Boulden

Have you read this book?

I first heard of a horror writer named Randy Chandler when I stumbled across his novel Hellz Bellz. At first I was skeptical. The title is a little juvenile, and the cover art is terrible-there is a cheesy red brick bell tower on a smudged gray and white background. It doesn't help that the artwork seems just a little pixilated, and the font is a poor imitation of flames. Then I read the first paragraph, which led into the second and then I was hooked. I read it all.

Hellz Bellz is a mixed bag horror story. It has the feel of a slasher novel. You can almost hear the head-thumping heavy metal music playing in the background, but there is something more to Hellz Bellz than just a slasher novel. It is thoughtful, unassuming and damn fun. It is the story of the small town Druid Hills, Rhode Island (I know, another goofy name) and the supernatural events that occur there one hot summer evening. The novel starts in a convenience store: Joe Carr only wants a pack of cigarettes, but before he can pay and get out, the bell of the abandoned church across the street begins to toll and all hell breaks loose.

A tattooed thug robs the convenience store and literally eats the clerk. A couple cops respond to the robbery, but they turn on each other in a very violent way. Joe meets up with a mid-twenties vixen (isn't horror great?) and together they decide to get the hell away from the insanity of the convenience store.

The bell keeps ringing, and the whole town goes crazy. Everyone. It seems to affect different people differently. Some become psychotically violent, while others become lusty and wanton. The characters' inhibitions are gone: a priest walks the streets shouting that the time of judgment has arrived; a perp is sodomized by a cop with a broom stick; two men take the baby from a woman's womb; a daughter smashes her aged mother into a coma. The cast is large, but the focus is placed primarily on Joe Carr and his vixen. They, along with a small group of hangers-on, smash their way through the city trying to get out-of-town, dodging psychos and freaks the whole way. Unfortunately they can't leave Druid Hills. The bell, or whatever supernatural entity that is ringing it, won't let them. They theorize it's the work of the devil, or perhaps God's vengeance on the wicked. They don't know what, or who is causing the bedlam, but they figure if they shut down the bell everything else will take care of itself. The problem now, is getting there alive and then silencing the toll.

Chandler is a writer to watch. His characters have an easy appeal and likeability that is rare in the horror field. The story is actually fun. The violence and gore don't detract from the story, but instead they are used properly and add-as they should-to the story. The tension is built with the skill of a professional, and it is added to by the reader's knowledge that every character is expendable. Hellz Bellz is good fun. There is sex, violence and a hell of a story. This novel reminds me just a little of early-Stephen King mixed with everything Richard Laymon ever wrote. This one, you should read.
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