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Book Review: Creature Feature by Steven Paul Leiva

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Picture this, if you will. – Creature Feature by Steven Paul Leiva.

A popular local TV horror movie show hostess during the height of the Kennedy administration leaves the major metropolitan centre where she works for greener career pastures in New York. On the way east, she decides to pay a brief visit to her hometown that’s the epitome of typical small town America at that time. However, she realizes that something strange is going on not only with her family, but with practically every other humble citizen of that hamlet. A strange something that could lead to an apocalyptic something.

This is not an episode of The Twilight Zone, but a new novel called Creature Feature.
Written by veteran writer, blogger and lifelong baby boom pop culture maven Steven Paul Leiva, Creature Feature is indeed a novel that is a fond flashback to the Twilight Zone (minus Rod Serling), and those type of black and white graphic novel-type stories that many teens read in such pulp-type magazines as “Creepy” and “Eerie” during the 60s and 70s.

The story takes place in 1962, and centres around Kathy Anderson, who hosts a horror movie TV show called “Vivacia’s House of Horrors” under the guise of Vivacia, the Vampire Woman for a local TV station in Chicago. Kathy has garnered quite the following as Vivacia for her baby boomer viewers who get their daily fill of movies featuring Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, the Mummy and the Wolf Man.

But that is not enough for our young heroine. A serious, Actors Studio-trained actress from the beginning, Kathy believes that there must be more to success and fame in show business than dressing up as a vampire, playing old monster movies and plugging products for a local TV market. 

So Kathy turns in her Vivacia costume, packs up her car and heads east to New York City, in pursuit of a much more distinguished acting career on the Broadway stage. On her way, she stops to pay a visit to her birthplace of Placidville, Illinois. But somehow, Kathy finds out that something is not quite right. She sees it in the cold, robotic behaviour of her parents, then the townsfolk, and especially Mac, the recently new arrival who is now the town’s mayor.

But it is up Gerald, the rather geeky brother of Kathy’s best friend who got kicked out of MIT for his dissertation about interdimensional television, to give her the cold hard truth about what’s going on in Placidville. Actually, it’s slowly being invaded by aliens like something straight out of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, and have plans for the total conquest of the town. And strangely enough, these invaders worship Kathy’s onscreen persona of Vivacia. Would Kathy be willing to don her Vivacia costume for one final time for the sake of her birthplace before these strange creatures hold their convention, where they will demand a rebuilt America and comfy couches?!?

Creature Feature is almost like our worst nightmares from watching all those late show horror movies on TV during our youth coming to life. Leiva has such a vivid imagination — not to mention a vast knowledge of the baby boomer world — and it shows up on every page of this book. Inspired by all those movies, comic books and late shows, Leiva gives the reader such a roller coaster ride of a read that would certainly belong in pages of “Amazing Stories” magazine, but taken to a whole new level. And even the scenes with the proliferation of the creatures on the streets of Placidville has a tinge of timeliness to today’s headlines that it will have you guessing what the parallels are (but rest assured, it doesn’t deal with an imminent Communist invasion that will have you rushing to your nearby fallout shelter).

So if you spent your formative years collecting Aurora monster plastic model kits, was an avid reader of those EC Tales from the Crypt comic books, watched The Outer Limits on TV or checked out the latest monster movies at your local theatre every Saturday, then Creature Feature is the book for you, especially with Halloween less than a month away. But I would strongly advise to stay away from Placidville.

By: Stuart Nulman – info@mtltimes.ca

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