Every now and then an anthology comes along that is perfectly suited to the drive-in fan. Tom Piccirilli's Midnight Premier, Norman Partridge's It Came From The Drive-In and Silver Scream come most immediately to mind. Now there's another on the list that is a mandatory purchase for lovers of horror fiction and film.

It's Monstrous, edited by Horror Drive-In favorite, Ryan C. Thomas. As a novelist, Ryan has given us the down-and-dirty The Summer I Died and the razor-sharp media satire, Ratings Game. Now he presents to us an anthology of short stories inspired by those grand old giant bug movies of the 1950's.

As with any anthology, some stories worked better for me than others. Rather than waste my energy on those I didn't care as much for, I'll list my personal favorites.

I had never read any of the Guy N. Smith crab books, but I had the impression that they weren't very good. Well, if his Monstrous story, simply entitled Crabs, is any indication, I need to amend that. Crabs is a tense, well-written story of genuine people caught in a deadly trap when giant crabs are on the attack. It's a brief story, but a damned good one.

One of the biggest draws of Monstrous for me is a new story by the underrated Randy Chandler. Cooties is a wickedly funny story; one of the most enjoyable in the book.

I had never heard of Aaron A. Polson before I picked up Monstrous, but I was most impressed with his entry, A Plague from the Mud. It captures the personality of a small town in the grip of mounting terror quite well.

I tried to read Nate Kenyon's Bloodstone and didn't get very far. I should try again, because his Monstrous story, Keeping Watch, is exquisitely written. It is quite possibly my favorite in the book.

John Platt's Gone Fishin' is wistful and sad, but also a frightening story of a mystery beneath a country pond.

J.C. Towler's Scales is claustrophobic and suspenseful. An excellent read.

I'm not normally a big James A. Moore fan, but his story, Whatever Became of Randy, is surprisingly good. A real highlight of the anthology.

D.L. Snell's Present Tense, Future Imperfect is the opener to Monstrous and it's a clever blend of SF and horror and it set a nice tone for the book.

Those are the ones I liked the most, but nearly every story is enjoyable. There are a couple I would have nixed had I been the editor, but we all know how tastes wildly vary. Monstrous is a fun anthology that every fan ought to own. I saw a copy in Borders the other day, so it won't be hard to obtain. Do yourself a favor and buy one to rekindle that old giant monster fun of yesteryear.

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