Sex, Drugs, and Country and Western Horror

A review of Derek McCormack’s The Haunted Hillbilly (ECW Press, 2003)
By Derek Newman-Stille

Hank is a country and western star looking for an image that will bring him success and Nudie is willing to assist him with an eye toward aesthetics he picked up in the carnival. Nudie recreates Hank in an image he desires, planting evidence of infidelity to cause his wife to break up with him, putting him into an alcohol rehabilitation clinic that uses extreme forms of aversion therapy, and arranging his conception of a child. Girls want to be with him and boys want to be him, but there is a price paid for fame. He is subjected to sexual assaults by Nudie, a man with a close personal relationship with bats. So strong is Nudie’s belief in his marketing of Hank that he sews a label into his spine “Design by Nudie”, claiming ownership and control over his body and his role in Hank’s fame. In the good old traditions of the West, he is branded.

McCormack’s The Haunted Hillbilly is told in short spurts of action which contributes to the sense of movement and the fast pace of the book. It is fast, dark, and disturbing.

The Haunted Hillbilly is a conversation between fame and freak show.

You can explore Derek McCormack’s website at and can check out ECW press’ website at .

Derek Newman-Stille

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