Reviewed By Jim Ruland
Even by the standards of the paranormal romances that occupy the top slots of bestseller lists, Derek McCormack's new novel of cursed crooners, murderous fashion designers and homosexual vampires is an exercise in campy excess.
Taking its name from carny speak for a performance that features animal acts, "The Show That Smells" spins off the actual premise of country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers dying young as a result of tuberculosis. Jimmie's wife, Carrie, makes a deal with the devil to save her husband's life, only in McCormack's milieu the devil is the inimitable Parisian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli -- who happens to be a vampire who can be stopped only with liberal doses of Chanel No. 5. "The Show That Smells" is redolent with such high jinks.
The story is presented as a live-action film shot entirely in a mirror maze. The characters are both the actors and the roles they play. For instance, Schiaparelli's minion is simultaneously "Dracula's" Renfield and Lon Chaney in stage makeup. Because the action is located on a set that replicates everything ad infinitum, it's never clear what's "real" and what's simply in the script.