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Hellz Bellz, by Randy Chandler Book Review | SFReader.com
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
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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