Thursday, October 13, 2011

REVIEW: Raw Pain Max by C. Dean Andersson

I can’t remember exactly where I first came across the mention of Raw Pain Max, other than that it was in one of those lists of books that someone felt should be banned, mutilated, and destroyed. Even if the very concept hadn’t piqued my interest, there’s no better recommendation for me than being told NOT to read something.

Yeah, I’m a little bit perverse that way. LOL

Anyways, it lingered on my watch list for several years until I managed to find a tattered paperback copy, and then lingered on my shelves for a while longer. Fortunately, we went on a road trip this weekend to an outdoor fair, and I wanted a quick paperback read to take along, not trusting my e-reader to either the elements or the crowds.

Raw Pain Max was it.

What a fun read! Yes, it’s violent, sexual, sadistic, and bordering on the pornographic, but with a compelling take on the Countess Elizabeth Báthory story to propel it along. Diverting from the vampire mythology to which she’s so often tied, the story here delves into witchcraft and demonic possession instead, setting up the Countess as a young woman at first in love, and then at odds, with the sorceress who shares her bloody perversions. First lovers, then rivals, the two women eventually sacrificed one another to their respective demons, only to continue their rivalry through centuries of reincarnation.

We catch up with Erzebet (Elizabeth) and Darvulia in the late 80s (a time of corvettes, black leather, heavy metal, and a pre-internet amateur sex industry) through a pair of women who look as if they stepped out of some teenage boy’s Amazonian dominatrix fantasy. In fact, that’s precisely the role Trudy plays in her life (whether it’s on stage, on screen, or within the insulated walls of her own private dungeon), and certainly the image Liz works hard to portray. Both women are sexy . . . and dangerous as Hell!

What ultimately gives the story the edge it needs to carry the reader beyond the bondage/torture titillation factor (which, despite some repetitive language, never really gets old), is the mystery behind the occult elements. Through Trudy’s memories/fantasies, Erzebet runs the gamut of sadistic villainess, tortured victim, reluctant ally, and round again. We’re never sure of whose sides she is really on, or what role her demonic Ally really intends to play. In fact, for a while, we're not even sure whether it's really Erzebet with whom Trudy shares a past life.

Fortunately, Trudy has a good man on her side in Phil, the silent loner who shares her stage, her screen, her dungeon, and (less frequently) her bed. He comes across as a realistic hero, a man who is far more interested in saving the life of the woman he loves than in trying to save the world. He’s definitely flawed, and probably suffers more than anybody in the book (who doesn’t end up a corpse), but he’s also what keeps the story grounded and the reader involved. 

If you have fond memories of 80s slasher flicks and splatterpunk horror novels, a strong stomach, and a bit of a twisted sense of sexuality, this is definitely a fun read. I can certainly see how some readers would be turned off by the violence and the sexual nature of the torture, but it’s never merely gratuitous, as hard as that may be to believe. My only regret is that I didn’t come across this in the 80s, when it was fresh and new, but I enjoyed it just as much now as I’m sure I would have then.

1 comment:

  1. Certainly edgy. I sometimes enjoy a twisted tale, but I have to take them in small doses. :)

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