Edward Lee is not for everyone. I’m not sure he’s even for me. Brain Cheese Buffet is like a twisted roadside accident. Messy and horrible, and even though we don’t want to rubberneck, we can’t seem to look away.
After a little research on the back cover text—“You’ve seen Cannibal Holocaust. You’ve seen Salo. You’ve seen Nekromantic. You ain’t seen shit!—I can piece together that these movies, collectively known as ‘Video Nasties’, each tried to bring a new type of deranged murder or obscene act to the audience. Sounds like some ‘Video Nasties’ were more subversive than others, but most were for pure shock—banned in 69 countries! This one goes all the way! Video Nasties appear to be the first films to push the gore envelope, and even though this collection of stories is my first real exposure to Lee, I get the feeling that he is the literary equivalent to the Video Nasties of the 70s & 80s.
I will give Lee high marks on his story ideas though. He is quite creative with the plots—quite disgusting too—and that’s refreshing in a way after reading so many repetitive concepts in horror. I do however think his sexual descriptions are ridiculous:
“Well-possessed mammarian carraige”
“Her big orbicular breasts bounced quite nicely with each step.”
“She had a nice set of milk wagons but a joyhole big enough to take a ham hock.”
Makes me think of how horny teenage boys would talk. Lee’s plots also seem like the type of violent/sexual fantasies that teen boys might have. At least I pray grown men don’t talk and think this way. However, after a few stories, I stopped critiquing the silliness and tried to take it as perhaps it was intended—an over-the-top fantasy designed to pull in Video Nasty fans who don’t read the verbose prose of Stephen King, but would love to read about the gorey stuff they’d previously only seen on film. Or, I could be totally wrong about his 'type' of fans, need more research
Without further rambling, here is my thoughts on each story in Brain Cheese Buffet
- 'Mr. Torso'
Detective Tipps is a philosophical cop on the hunt for Mr. Torso—a killer who is removing the arms and legs from women. Lud is a hillbilly doing God’s work with his ‘peter’ and ‘dicksnot’. How exactly is he accomplishing the Lord’s work this way? Well, I’ll ruin the story if I tell you that. But these two men are on a collision course with each other, and I will say that one of them gets shot in the ‘dickbag’. I can'y believe I just wrote dickbag :(
The concept of the story is great, but the southern accent got annoying rather quick. I understand that a lot of Lee’s characters are hillbillies, but there are ways to express Reckneck speech without every other word spelled phonetically. Overall though it was a good story.
- 'Miss Torso'
Yes, this story is loosely tied to the previous ‘Mr. Torso’, although it was written almost a decade later. In it we meet Spooky, a former runway model and cover girl from the 90s turned drug addict. Since falling on hard times, she’d been picked up by the Vinchetti crime family to be the girlfriend of the boss man. Unfortunately, one night when she was super high, she confided in one of his loyal henchmen that she hates fucking Vinchetti’s tiny cock. That got her a date with the blade. Her arms were cut off just above the elbow and the mob now uses her for scat videos and other disgusting fetish films…like banging women with her arm nubs, all while keeping her on a steady dose of meth. I liked this one and its position after Mr. torso was perfect. Good ending too.
- 'Grub Girl in the Prison of Dead Women'
A new military plane controlled by computer goes AWOL. Before it can be stopped, it drops a whole lot of chemicals in urban areas. About 10,000 residents became infected and die only to wake up a few hours later as ‘Grubs’—the less than affectionate slur given to these unfortunate souls due to the pasty skin that develops after they come back from the dead. These living dead creatures call living people ‘Pinkies’—on account of their fleshy vibrant flesh. The story revolves around a female Grub zombie, whose name we never learn, but she is a prostitute, telling the story from first-person perspective.
Extreme fans will love hearing about all the sick-sex people pay to have with Grubs, especially since Grubs don’t have STDs. One thing leads to another, laws are passed, and our zombie-prostitute narrator winds up in an experimental prison for female Grubs, not as bad as Auschwitz, but they are horrible to the Grubs. This appears to be a twist on the female-prison exploitation movies like Chained Heat with a dash of Ilsa She Wolf of the SS mixed in.
The ending is satisfying
- The 'Dritiphilist'
“I have this…problem,” Phillip admitted.
I do not want to spoil what his problem is for readers. But I can assure you it is the grossest fetish you could have, and I want it to shock you the way it shocked me. Physical illness gripped me while reading this story. The ending, if you can last that long, is actually fantastic though. At its core, I believe The Dritiphilist is a heart-warming story about love and finding someone who can accept you for who you are. Lol.
Interesting yarn about a client who wants to do business with an ultra-successful drug Kingpin. He visits the man on his island and trouble ensues. Much tamer than all the other stories in terms of sex, violence, and gore. A bit predictable and would have preferred a bit more at the end though.
- 'The Mother'
This one started off great, and along with 'Makak', was the other non-extreme horror story, although it did have some intense scenes. I was very fascinated by the dreams the main character was having and how it revolved around a toxic waste barrel that seemed to be left by… no one knows. One character claimed it fell from the sky, inferring perhaps aliens. Unfortunately, I felt this one fell flat at the ending too. After being really intrigued by the set-up, I felt left down. Just adding another page or two could have made this a killer story.
- 'The Wrong Guy'
I really enjoyed this one, especially since the women got to do the killing. Seems like in extreme horror it’s the men torturing the ladies. Wendlyn and Rena see themselves as “…Philosophers of the new dark age of sexual terror, chameleon siren songs of the nihilistic 90s.” Their goal is to turn the tides on men and pay them back for years of exploiting women. This involves luring men back to their home and raping and mutilating them.
“It’s this simple. I’m going to fuck you, and if you go soft on me, Rena, here will cut off your cock with those tin snips. Is that perfectly clear?”
Even though I liked this one, again I didn’t care for the ending. I think Lee could have come up with something more interesting/bizarre than the creature he choose at the end for the twist. But it was still a stand out story.
- 'The Baby'
If you thought The Dritiphilist’ was bad, this one might possible be worse. More because the gross factor involves a child. The main character Rosser pulled a fast one on his clients at a construction job, and after collecting massive money, he hits the road without being held accountable for a faulty building that resulted in the accidental death of innocent people. Rosser is now hiding out in the backwoods with the money he pinched. Too bad for him, hillbillies are different than most folk. The reoccurring theme of prostitutes and southern drawl is back, but Lee takes it to a whole new level of grossness. Not sure how I feel about the act that happens in this one. It’ll make you sick but in a different way that The Dritiphilist. I'm sure this is considered one of his classics by fans. LOL
- 'The McCrath Model SS40-C, Series S'
A new spin on The Human Centipede. The Vinchetti crime family is back. This time they are torturing traitors to their organization. Their mob doctor has been tasked with finding creative methods of torture. With a few quick surgical cuts, and the aid of a McCrath Model stapler, the good doctor has been able to connect certain body parts together. Gives the term 'ass to mouth' a new meaning. Yuk! I could take or leave this one.
In summation, I am willing to give Lee another reading with a novel next time. I’m open to suggestions before I commit, because I may only get one more shot at this before I’m too sick to try a third book lol.
In summation, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. And I am willing to give Lee another chance with a novel next. I’m open to suggestions still because I may only get one more shot at this before I’m too grossed out to try a third book. Lol. Brain Cheese Buffet was different than the other extreme horror I’ve read, but I’m glad I can say I’ve experienced Ed Lee. Like surviving any ordeal, I can now wear this as a badge of honor since many call him the Godfather of Gore.
I recommend this collection for the gorewhores and those whose guilty pleasures are violent sex fantasies, or perhaps someone who just wants a good laugh. Even I was able to have some fun with it through sharing the shock with friends and interacting on social media. And if you have fun, who cares if it’s a literary masterpiece, if it’s edited correctly, or if people really talk this way. After all, as Lee would say, “a nut’s a nut, brother.”
If you want to experience a great female author who also made me cringe, check out this one from KJ Moore: #Horrible --it's different than Lee, more disturbing in some ways, but also much tamer in other ways...if that makes sense.