Witching Hour Theatre by Jonathan Janz

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“Because Fridays at midnight, long after the casual moviegoers filed out of the exits, the Starlight Cinema transformed into something dark and perilous. Theater One, the newer half of the Starlight, closed for the night, while the other half, Theater Two—the older, original theater—was plunged into a shadowy world of hauntings and serial killers, werewolves and cannibals, slaughter and mayhem. Witching Hour Theatre. It was the one place he could go and allow his imagination to run rampant.”

Um, excuse me but why doesn’t my town have something like this?! Well, minus the disappearing horror movie patrons and the creepy figure slowly making their way to the front of the theatre. I could do without a night like what our main character Larry Wilson experiences. But honestly this is such a unique, fast paced, and enjoyable read – and you can tell that it is written by a lover of horror films.

“The video guide gave it just one star, so he hoped it would be bad enough to amuse him, for that was all he really asked of the third features.”

As a lover of horror, and particularly B-horror, I really connected with Larry’s love for the genre and his weekly routine. The MST3K and Rocky Horror shadowcast vibe for the movie showings sound like such a fun experience, and the reader is sucked into it quickly.

“[Horror movies] tap into something primal in all of us. Horror is one of the only genres that’s truly universal.”

I honestly was on the edge of my seat while reading this novella, but unfortunately the ending felt a little confusing and anticlimactic to me. I have a lot of questions that just aren’t answered, which honestly is kind of typical of horror movies in a way but personally irksome all the same. Regardless, Longface can stay the heck away from me, please and thank you. Janz never fails to deliver me the chills I am constantly craving with his writing: I can see and smell and hear because he is such a captivating storyteller.

This is a re-release of Jonathan Janz’s first published work, originally published in 2005. While this wasn’t a perfect read, it was instantly captivating and as a lifelong horror fan it spoke to me deeply. From wishing that my town had a weekly Witching Hour Theatre for me to attend to cringing at Longface, I was fully enthralled from start to finish and recommend this novella to fans of the horror genre.

🤝 Buddy read with the wonderful Destiny!

★★

You can find information about my rating criteria here.

On a cool October night at the Starlight Cinema, an all-night horror movie triple feature is about to begin: Witching Hour Theatre. It’s the one exciting thing in Larry Wilson’s life, not counting the lovely brunette who works the concession stand. Settling in, he loses himself in the atmosphere of the old place: the crowd, the screams, the popcorn and the blood.

But when the second feature ends, only thirteen moviegoers remain. Among them, a woman of nineteen with a fondness for piercings and the macabre, a cop and his wife, a trio of bad-tempered bullies, and a solitary figure sitting silently in the shadows of the back row.

On this endless October night, Witching Hour Theatre will become Larry’s worst nightmare. For the movie on the screen is growing stranger by the minute. His fellow theatergoers are disappearing one by one.

And the figure from the shadows is advancing.


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Hi! I’m Kaleena: book lover, runner, wanderer, and philanthropist. Life is an adventurous gift: through the outdoors and books. I run Reader Voracious Blog, where I post spoiler-free book reviews of science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, and mystery & thriller.

15 thoughts on “Witching Hour Theatre by Jonathan Janz

  1. I’m not usually one for horror that much (I’m a huge wimp 😂) but the plot of this books sounds super interesting! It kind of feels a bit old school horror (if that makes sense). I’m trying to expand my reading and leave my comfort zone a lot more this year and so this is definitely one I’m going to add to my TBR. Great review!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I am not normally a horror fan (especially since horror movies give me nightmares for weeks), but I love the idea of a secluded, creepy theater. Honestly, it’s the jump scares in horror movies that I am not a huge fan of, so I might be able to give this one a try! Sometimes, I can enjoy the odd, horror book and this one seems like it would be scary enough to keep me on the edge of my seat while not plunging me into weeks of nightmares.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jumpscares are honestly kind of the worst and to me it feels… cheap? Lazy? I don’t know, but I think that is largely why I haven’t liked most horror from the past two decades because it seems they rely more on jumpscares than anything else. This is definitely a creepy and interesting read!

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  3. *shivers* this sounds delightfully creepy! it reminds me of a short story I read, I think it was in Summer Days and Summer Nights? but even better. not for me, because I have an overactive imagination and insomnia already without adding nightmare fuel, but for those who like a good thrill 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was such a cool idea and something I wish my town would have!!! I really am enjoying his work and as I work through his backlist you can see that he had it from the start but has grown a lot as a writer. My favorite so far is a tie between this, The Children of the Dark, and The Siren and the Specter.

      Liked by 1 person

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