[For the previous countdown post, click here.]
17. “Dead Celebs” (1992)
A perfect example of Partridge’s ability to meld the genres of horror and dark crime. Ray Meleski and Cardell Word are a pair of movie-industry aspirants and memorabilia collectors/dealers who arrange for some illicit business with a whacked-out Hollywood producer of horror movies (destined to be played by Dennis Hopper if this story were ever filmed). The deal involves the delivery of a capital Bela Lugosi memento, but Ray (who also appears in the collection’s title story) gets his head all turned around when he shows up at the producer’s home and finds a bizarre costume party in progress. Every attendee is dressed as a dead celebrity (there’s Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, JFK, and John Dillinger, but the blue-skinned, seaweed-sashed, dead-crab-coiffed Natalie Wood surely takes first prize). Double-crosses, dire twists, and grisly discoveries abound, amazingly so for a story this short. The subject matter of “Dead Celebs” might not be the most tasteful, but this is one delectable piece of horror noir.