THE RED SNAKE
Written and drawn by Hideshi Hino
"For as long as I can remember I've always wanted to get away from this house"
A house so big that nobody knows its real dimensions, nor even visited all of its parts, a dilapidated maze encircled by an impenetrable forest: such is the oppressive stage of The Red Snake. The last born of an obviously disturbed family, no doubt from many generations of inbreeding, and obviously the most balanced inhabitants of the manor, this young boy penetrates in the heart of the residence, releasing by accident the demons which lives in it. The tone of the story is announced in its very first page as the boy stares into the immensity of the house. His grandfather has a large growth hanging from his jaw, his grandmother believes she is a chicken and lives in a nest, his father, who raises chickens with sadistic affection, aids her dementia by giving her baskets of eggs that he claims she laid herself, his mother tends to grandfather's boil with far too much tender loving care, and his sister fondles insects with erotic glee. As if the poor kid doesn't have enough to worry about, his grandfather tells him that the large mirror in their house is, in reality, a barrier that blocks the gates to Hell.
Cartoonist Hideshi Hino presents a gallery of baroque characters all of them disturbing, touched by degradation (physical or mental). Among this ensemble, the principal character feels insulated, a prisoner of the house. The young narrator will soon become witness to the events which he started, and that he is unable to stop. The Red Snake can be seen as an allegory of a person retreating in oneself against an unbearable reality. An illusory refuge, leading quickly to psychosis, finishing in an inextricable loop in time that finds the central character in a mental prison quite as effective as the physical prison that was the house.
In Hino's world, death is not an escape. Relying heavily on symbolism, The Red Snake is difficult to understand at times, the reader is confronted with the madness of the narrator and wonders where reality really is . Phantasm? Deformed actuality? One closes the book in a state of confusion. One thing is certain, The book is not read, it is experienced. It leaves the reader in shock, appalled at the horror, the strangely erotic danse macabre that the characters play with each other. Hideshi Hino is a terribly effective horror writer & artist. The works is both repugnant and attractive. The faintness which one feels while reading The Red Snake is the best proof of an immense storyteller.
The book is no longer in print but can be found second hand on Amazon or EBay.