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Richard Carl Laymon (January 14, 1947 – February 14, 2001) was an American author of Splatter Horror and suspense.
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His works include:

  • The Beast House Trilogy (The Cellar, The Beast House and The Midnight Tour)
  • Savage: From Whitechapel to the Wild West on the Track of Jack the Ripper
  • The Woods are Dark
  • Flesh (was named Best Horror Novel of 1988 by Science Fiction Chronicle)
  • Funland (nominated for the Bram Stoker Award )
  • The Traveling Vampire Show (posthumously won the Bram Stoker Award in 2001)
  • And dozens more, including plenty of short stories.


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Tropes associated with Richard Laymon's stories:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Largely averted for most of Laymon's stories, but played straight in The Lake and The Stake. Also implied in Bite.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Since a lot of his stories have female protagonists, the readers tend to hear all about their feelings of arousal, which have a habit of striking at the most random times.
  • Ancient Tomb: Amara and its spinoff Into the Pit
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  • Attempted Rape: The best-case scenario for many female protagonists.
  • Autocannibalism: In the Dark has a particularly grisly version of this.
  • Author Appeal: Richard Laymon was a fan of Edgar Allen Poe and frequently references him.
    • Additionally, plenty of his characters who happen to be college students all major in liberal arts, such as classic literature.
    • Most of his female protagonists have the exact same physical description: Caucasian with short (or mid-length) blonde hair.
  • Author Avatar: The Stake has a horror writer as a character. If the character is anything to go by, Laymon also has a case of Author Phobia when it comes to vampires and the undead, possibly explaining why he doesn't write a lot of vampire fiction.
  • Author Existence Failure: Due to Laymon's death in 2001, some of his unfinished manuscripts were given hasty conclusions that affected the quality of his work.
  • Ax-Crazy: Most of the villains, though few actually use axes.
  • Backstory Horror: Beware!, Endless Night, All Hallow's Eve, Midnight's Lair and No Sanctuary.
  • Bastard Boyfriend: Out are the Lights and The Stake.
  • Bastard Girlfriend: Funland.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. The female protagonists always manage to get their makeup smudged and hair ruined, but they're still considered fairly attractive by their suitors and stalkers.
  • Black and Gray Morality: The protagonists will be forced to do some questionable things to survive.
  • Body and Host: Flesh is all about a parasitic worm that hides in humans and makes them killer cannibals.
  • Breeding Cult: The savages from The Woods are Dark have recently stopped killing women and instead taken them as brood wives.
  • Camp Unsafe Isn't Safe Anymore: Blood Games is very much this trope.
  • Cannibal Clan: The Woods are Dark, Midnight's Lair and The Glory Bus.
  • Captured by Cannibals: In The Woods are Dark and Out Are the Lights.
  • Child by Rape: After Midnight and All Hallow's Eve.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: All of the male protagonists.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Alarums.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Beast House trilogy receives nods in a lot of stories written after 1986.
    • Ditto The Woods are Dark in Endless Night.
    • Blood Games uses several references to Laymon's other works.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Many of the younger antagonists are this, e.g. Resurrection Dreams, Come Out Tonight, Midnight's Lair, and The Glory Bus.
  • Creepy Cemetery: In the Dark.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The villain in Island meets a particularly gruesome end. Stanley, the disgusting murderer rapist from Quake, gets beaten to death by a woman with her bare hands.
  • Damsel in Distress: Surprisingly averted, as most of the female protagonists usually have to save themselves in the end.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: Beware!
  • The Darkness Gazes Back: Something emerges from a pit at the end of The Woods are Dark, though the audience never gets a description of what it looks like.
  • Dark World: In Night in the Lonesome October, the protagonists tends to wander his home town late at night, and some really bizarre stuff happens. He ends up on streets he's never seen before, meets creepy passersby and cannibals that live under a bridge; the general feel is that the town at night is some realm completely different from daylight version of it.
  • Deadly Bath: The Tub.
  • Deadly Road Trip: Blood Games, Dark Mountain, Bite and The Glory Bus.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: The Woods are Dark and No Sanctuary.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The protagonist's girlfriend in Alarums.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The worm creature from Flesh and the pit monster from The Woods Are Dark.
  • Ephebophile: At least one in any story with a teenage character.
  • Erotic Dream: The Stake has a particularly harrowing one involving a middle-aged writer and a deceased teenage girl. Harrowing because he's seen her mummified corpse.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Everybody.
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: There is often more than threat in each story and any additional threats aren't handled, leaving each ending open to a potential sequel or spinoff.
  • Fan Disservice: The sex scenes involving incest and mutilation, as well as the mummified corpses of naked women in Amara and The Stake. One of the girls from The Glory Bus is an unflattering caricature of Laymon's typical female leads.
  • Fanservice: But not all of his sex scenes are Fetish Retardant.
  • Femme Fatale: Out Are the Lights.
  • Giant Spider: The climax of Funland.
  • Gold Digger: The lead from The Tub and one of the villains from Out Are The Lights.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Bad people rape. Subverted in The Glory Bus, where the male protagonist loses his virginity in a threesome with two people he would normally avoid.
  • Gorn: His works are not for the faint of heart.
  • Handicapped Badass: The protagonist of Out Are the Lights is deaf, but can read lips, which becomes crucial to the plot later on.
    • The villain from The Stake has one eye, but is a skilled archer.
  • Hell Hotel: Blood Games, The Woods are Dark and Midnight's Lair.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Laymon really hammers home the idea that we could turn into any one of his villains. Despite the presence of sex-crazed ape-men, vampires, mummies, reanimated corpses and mind-raping tapeworms, it's always a human who winds up being the Big Bad.
    • Played with even further in The Glory Bus; the village of cannibals are actually the good guys.
  • I Can See You: What makes In the Dark so terrifying. Invoked to a lesser degree in other stories.
  • Idealized Sex: The sex scenes that aren't rape always end with the woman having an orgasm. Again subverted in The Glory Bus, which has two men in a threesome with a slovenly girl.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Describes just about every third act.
  • I Love the Dead: Resurrection Dreams inverts this by having the dead come back as sex-addicts. The Stake plays with this.
  • Infant Immortality: Graphically averted in Endless Night where Andy gets his head blown off with a shotgun at the very end.
  • Initiation Ceremony: Funland has a fairly erotic one. As does Beware!
  • Jail Bait: The Woods are Dark, Funland, The Stake, Endless Night and a few others featuring pretty teenage girls.
  • Karma Houdini: Special cases such as Amara and Out Are the Lights.
  • Karmic Death: Most of the time.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: The Woods are Dark was re-released in 2008 with an additional 50 pages that were initially edited out.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Flesh, Resurrection Dreams, Amara, Bite and All Hallow's Eve all feature standard loners.
    • The Lake, Dark Mountain, No Sanctuary and Blood Games include the hermit variety.
  • Lover's Ledge: The Lake, Among the Missing and several others involving teenage girls as protagonists.
  • Mask of Sanity: The Stake, Bite and Midnight's Lair.
  • Mate or Die: The savages from The Woods are Dark use this as an ultimatum for new tribe members, but only for young women. Men and post-menopausal women are killed outright.
  • Mills and Boon Prose: Averted. Everything is described in the most carnal detail imaginable. One of the most common phrases is "She impaled herself".
  • Monster Misogyny: The creatures Flesh tend to target women.
    • Inverted in The Stake, wherein the "vampire-killer" targets female vampires because he's a lech.
  • Moral Dissonance: Most of Laymon's short stories have protagonists who do horrendous things but act as if they're completely justified.
  • Mummy: Amara.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual: Funland.
  • Noodle Incident: The Lake, In the Dark, Amara, Blood Games and The Glory Bus all have moments that remind the audience that Laymon has written a singular universe with multiple threats.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: There's hints of this in The Woods are Dark, Resurrection Dreams, The Lake, The Stake, Bite, After Midnight and The Traveling Vampire Show.
  • Not So Different: Lander Dills from The Woods are Dark claims to be a pacifist but takes out a few of the krulls and gets a taste for it resulting in him raving like a madman and eventually becoming a worse version of the krulls.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • The Stake dances around the idea of the existence of vampires and whether or not the old superstitions are true. It eventually turns out vampires are real, but aren't hurt by sunlight or crosses and are actually quite passive. They don't even kill or change the people they feed on.
    • The vampire in Bite has steel fangs and a reflection.
    • Their existence in The Traveling Vampire Show is open to debate, but generally assumed to be false as the star of the vampire show bleeds and has a heartbeat. Her manager also offers her part to a normal woman after she's killed. On the other hand, the protagonists suspect that the legless man in the hearse might be the real vampire.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Revealed to be hypertrichosis in The Lake.
  • Parental Incest: Mentioned in The Traveling Vampire Show.
  • Pen Name: Richard Kelly.
  • Police are Useless: Not out of incompetence, but mostly because the protagonists have some skeletons in their closets.
    • The Woods are Dark has this, but the police are working for a villain, so it's played straight.
    • Averted in Among the Missing both the protagonists and Big Bad are cops, which sets up the third act..
    • No-one calls for police in The Glory Bus on account of everyone having something to hide. Ditto the deuteragonist in No Sanctuary.
    • The police officer in All Hallow's Eve is led on a wild goose chase before being abducted and held prisoner.
    • The Traveling Vampire Show incapacitates the chief of police so that he can't get involved in the third act.
    • Played as straight as possible in Resurrection Dreams, with the police being either leches, jerks or jobsworths.
  • The Power of Blood: As seen in Blood Games.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Lander Dills in The Woods are Dark who becomes a savage himself after he finally succumbs to his desires to rape and murder the Krulls as revenge for taking his wife.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: It's telling of Laymon's sense of morality that plain old serial killers aren't portrayed as the Big Bads of his stories but rather as supporting villains.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: The M.O. of every Laymon antagonist.
  • Replacement Love Interest: Funland, Alarums, Out Are the Lights, and Come Out Tonight all fulfill this trope.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: All Hallow's Eve.
  • The Savage South: The Lake.
  • School Bullying Is Harmless: The Stake and A Good, Secret Place both have pretty extreme examples of bullying, but they are handwaved by the victims.
  • Seductive Mummy: Averted really hard in Amara: the titular princess was a beauty when she was alive, but now, as a mummy, she's creepy, disgusting and carnivorous.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Stanley from Quake murders his overbearing mother in the first ten pages after the quake hits.
  • Serial Rapist: All the antagonists to varying degrees.
  • Sex Slave: Amara and Bite, averted in In the Dark and implied in both Funland and The Traveling Vampire Show.
  • Shower of Love: In the Dark and The Stake. Resurrection Dreams has a more perverse version of this.
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Most of the female protagonists are blonde.
  • Spooky Silent Library: In Your Secret Admirer, an early YA novel by Richard Laymon (writing under the name Carl Laymon), the teenage female protagonist is seriously spooked while searching for a friend in the public library's stacks at a late hour.
  • Stalking Is Funny If It Is Female After Male: Averted in Amara. It's just as creepy. The stalker in The Traveling Vampire Show is harmless at first, but her infatuation gets darker with each passing chapter.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Flesh, Alarums, The Stake and Among the Missing. None of them end well.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: The Woods are Dark, Dark Mountain, and In the Dark.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The Stake, The Woods are Dark, Flesh & The Glory Bus.
    • The town in The Traveling Vampire Show is wholesome enough, but attracts creeps and has a sordid past.
  • The Undead: Resurrection Dreams, Mess Hall, and Dark Mountain.
    • Several vampire stories such as The Stake, Bite & The Traveling Vampire Show.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: In the prologue to The Stake, it's mentioned that female vampires are incredibly attractive, to the point where men can barely contain themselves.
    • The vampire in Bite keeps the female lead alive so he can have his way with her while he feeds.
    • Valeria from The Traveling Vampire Show is Ms. Fanservice incarnate, letting men strip her and feel her up, and even offering to either wrestle another woman completely naked or have sex with a teenage boy.
  • Villainous Incest: The Lake.
  • What You Are in the Dark: The titular story deals with how far one person will go for some extra cash.
    • Also invoked by one of the characters in The Glory Bus after witnessing a murder, he grows paranoid and starts killing policemen. He also later develops a rapist mentality.
    • The tritagonist in The Traveling Vampire Show physically abuses his sister (and is implied to have molested her at some point) and tries to rape a woman when he believes she's unconscious.
  • Wish Fulfillment: Body Rides got hit with this pretty hard. The protagonist meets a pretty young thing who instantly falls for him and lets him have his way with her. His girlfriend finds out about this...then has a threesome with the two of them, even having a girl-on-girl moment.
  • Witch Doctor: The villains in Beware!, Dark Mountain, One Rainy Night and Blood Games.
  • A World Half Full: Only the immediate threat gets resolved in each story. The chances of a character getting offed by one of the background menaces is still fairly high.
  • You Bastard!: A lot of the horror elements come from realistic scenarios such as rape and stalking. The most common reaction to Laymon's novels is "This will be my last Laymon novel", due to the horror elements overstepping most reader's comfort zones. Despite this, there are still fans who read his stories. Make of that what you will.
    • Herman plays this trope fairly straight, with a heroic figure who admits he wanted to watch a girl get raped before rescuing her.

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