Blame it on Dokken. Or, more specifically, George Lynch's skull and crossbones guitar.
I was never much of a horror movie fan. But in 1987, I became obsessed with Dokken's Dream Warriors video. It was the title song from the A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors film and the video featured a young Patricia Arquette in addition to the mind-blowing (at least to a 15-year-old kid in Kentucky who just wanted to rock!) guitar. After repeated viewings of that video, I rented the first three Nightmare movies and watched them, back-to-back-to-back, on the small television in my bedroom. In spite of my previous indifference, it was fascinating to watch the horror franchise morph over the course of the sequels.
So I was probably pre-disposed in some hair-metal-teenager with a VHS-video-rented-from-a-grocery-store way to enjoy Stephen Graham Jones's Demon Theory.
A three-part novelization of a feature film trilogy based on an unathorized bestseller inspired by the case notes of a doctor (who may or may not have existed) at mental hospital, Demon Theory is ambitious, challenging, quirky, not-for-everyone, humorous, and even educational if you want to learn about horror film history, the etymology of the term "BFE," the legality of three-wheelers, and the ingredients of cucumber-cream soup.
The tale begins on Halloween night when Hale and six medical school colleagues rush to his mother's aid at the dilapidated country house where his sister suffered a horrific accident years ago. The young doctors (some in lust, but none really in love) don't find Hale's mother but they do encounter the carnage, monsters, and incredible, almost unbelievable, plot twists of a mid 80's slasher flick. The book then continues through two sequels, both honoring and satirizing the gyrations needed to keep a horror film franchise alive. All the while threading footnotes upon footnotes upon footnotes.
The reclamation of those dreaded academic tools has been ongoing amongst literary hipsters for some time now. Jones continues the modern usage of footnotes as a mechanism to "layer meaning, to introduce 'play,'" into a novel about demons and death. The last word of that quote is crucial. Instead of simply using the footnotes to support the main text, in many instances, Jones uses them to playfully subvert the primary point. They often provide comic relief during lengthy scenes of violence and gore. Taken as a whole, the footnotes in Demon Theory are, among other things, a grimoire of horror film trivia and hair metal esoterica.
Twenty years after my weekend immersion in the world of Freddy Krueger, I still haven't managed to get a skull and crossbones guitar like in that Dokken clip. But I did become equally fascinated by Stephen Graham Jones's Demon Theory, absorbing the book in one marathon sitting. Now, if there was just a music video for it...