Joyride (1983) Book Review

joyridestephencryeHorror fiction writers were slow to take up the slasher mantle back in the early 80’s even though celluloid stalkers were carving up hefty profits at the box-office. Anyone scanning paperback racks at the corner market were more likely to find novels about demon possessed houses, Stephen King rip-offs featuring evil little kids with psychic powers, or past-life-ghostly-romance crap. Slasher fans could get a quick fix from the occasional Halloween or Friday the 13th novelization but the market was painfully barren when it came to new slasher material. Finally, in 1983, slasher fans received a gore drenched gift when Pinnacle Books published Stephen Crye’s Joyride.

Nine teenagers venture into All Saints Hill Cemetery one evening in search of a quiet place to get drunk, stoned, and naked. Watching from a tool shed is Cleats, the hideously scarred caretaker who thinks the cars contain his tormentors from six years ago. Cleats locks the gates, gathers his tools, and goes hunting. Any poor soul straying too far from the party runs into the wrong end of a sickle, chainsaw, pick-axe, or ice pick. A subplot set in 1974 follows the life of Robert Atchison as he fights with his abusive father, falls in love with the most beautiful girl in school, and suffers a terrible tragedy that changes him from a dreamer into a monster.

Stephen Crye writes like a man who knows the rules of a slasher and then tweaks a few things to keep the reader off balance. Crye sets up one of the female characters as a very obvious Final Girl then turns her into the first victim. After that first kill the reader knows anyone could be next. While most of the characters are written as rather generic slasher victims, Crye’s monster has much more back story and depth than the average mad slasher. Cleats could have easily been written as a Jason clone but reading about his life before his face was blown off during a prank gone wrong makes him much more sympathetic.

The real highlights of Joyride are the extremely gory murders. Crye handles the deaths with ghoulish glee and never backs away from the descriptions. Severed limbs twitch, decapitated heads roll and fly through the air, and arterial spray stains anything in its path crimson. The most stunning image, which was also used for the front cover of the novel, is a gore splattered statue of Mary holding baby Jesus in one arm and nestling a decapitated head in the other.

At 248 pages, Joyride is a fast, thrilling read and captures the feel of the slasher genre during its golden age. As for the author, Stephen Crye remains an enigma. Joyride appears to be his only novel and no other information could be found about Crye while researching the book for this review. One can guess Crye is a fan or at least watched a few slasher films back in the day as subtle elements from Hell Night, The Burning, and The Prowler can be found in Joyride. Next time you’re in a used book store or walking through a flea market check around for a copy. Joyride is a grizzly goodtime for folks who enjoy moist slashers.

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15 Responses to “ Joyride (1983) Book Review ”

  1. Wow, and here I thought I was the only person on Earth who had read JOYRIDE.

  2. Hey Tom, great review. I bought this book on amazon a while back but haven’t gotten around to it. Nice to see a review from the old site pop up. Will the movie reviews from the site’s previous incarnation be showing up here any time soon? I keep having to use to find one when I want it!

  3. Dear Julian, yes it’s all in the process of happening. Please refer to for more, note that was in April, a long time ago – it’s a big job, and I thought it better to first square away the non-movie-review content first before moving onto those. When I do, all those reviews will be backdated so as not to clog up the front page, however we will have a master index page making it easy to access any review at a glance. Thanks.

  4. Thanks John, I remember that post, was just curious on the progress. I’m patient, and I’ll gladly wait. Keep up the good work on the site.


  5. I read this book years ago and loved it, thinking that this needs to get the film treatment (even if it was a fan-film treatment.) I actually have two copies of it, and the covers are a little different. The picture is the same, but the title of one is in the raised silver and on the other in a flat red. Definitely worth an afternoon read if you can track it down.

  6. wierd thing my name stephen j crye read book good and the head in the picture looks like me read it when first came out tried to write to publisher and forward to crye but no response just wanted to say hey

  7. anybody know if author still living let me know want to say hey thanks


  9. Billy? If you really are Ronald’s Brother I have been trying to contact him for some time but i cant seem to find anything on him. I would really like an interview with him about the book. but anyway. if you can contact me via email that would be great.

  10. Added to my favourites list and added to my blogroll.

  11. Mr. Patrick, How did you come up with Stephen Crye for a penname & a picture that looks a lot like me!!? Good book, still have a copy of it.

  12. No Marty…I read “Joyride” back in ’83 when it was released. I was living in Japan at the time and purchased the book at the post bookstore. I was about 14 or 15 years old and I remember finishing it in three days. I thought they brought it to the big screen in 2001, but alas, that was an entirely different story. However, the story has stayed with me for 27 years and I would like to get my hands on a copy to read it again.

  13. I just got this in from eBay, along with a few other “slasher novels” (Slay Bells, Deadly Detention, Apeshit, and Clawhammer).

    Can’t wait to read it! I wouldn’t have even known about (or Deadly Detention, for that matter) if it hadn’t been for this website.

  14. The guys behind the shorts Attack of the Killer Refrigerator and The Hook of Woodland Heights were going to make a film based on this. They mention it in a behind-the-scenes things done for Hook.

  15. I read this book in 1985 and loved it. Has been one of the best i ever read.

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