The Lost Picture Show series I write as Garth Owen, is inspired by genre film. But horror paperbacks of the seventies and eighties are sneaking a bit of influence in there as well.
I don’t have anywhere near as many to read as the guy interviewed here (the book he’s just published is on my to-read list, though, so I can find more to look out for). My interest was renewed a couple of years ago, by re-discovering the works of Guy N Smith (Crabs, etc), and finding a big pile of them in a charity shop. I need to sit down and devour half a dozen or so over a week some time soon.
The next planned Lost Picture Show story is going to have a few nods to the sub-genre, with satanic rituals, sex in odd places, and gore. All updated and given a smartphone and internet twist.
Another slice of 70s/80s horror, though it might be better described as a disaster story with gruesome bits.
Racing to make a delivery, the driver of a lorry hauling a tanker of weedkiller goes off the road and into a reservoir. Weedspray, as it’s imaginatively named, is the strongest, most horrible concoction imaginable. Painfully and incurably toxic- whether drunk or just through skin contact- it’s also, somehow, highly flammable, even when watered down. This stuff is so ridiculously deadly that it’s impossible to believe in. I know the story’s set in the late 70s/early 80s, but surely even then they weren’t this lax on health and safety.
Anyway, thanks to criminal incompetence and industrial cowardice, the poison enters the water supply of Birmingham, condemning most of the city to horrible deaths.
Ron Blythe is the main viewpoint character- though there are cuts away to others occasionally- and he’s a long way from sympathetic. A serial adulterer and snob, who created Weedspray seemingly by mixing every other weedkiller together, he ends up trapped in Birmingham as part of the ineffectual disaster committee. As the city descends into chaos and carnage, he somehow gains a girlfriend whilst avoiding contact with poisoned water but being otherwise useless.
Sadly, from somewhere around the mid-point, the story’s something of an extended, gruesome anticlimax. Timelines and logic get garbled. Somehow, in the midst of the ongoing disaster and social breakdown, one of the sub plots manages to include a full formal funeral. Even with suggestions that various events overlap each other, it still feels like they unfold over a month when I’m sure it’s supposed to be less than a fortnight.
Not as much fun as Night of the Crabs, I’m afraid. However, I recently found a bunch of Guy N Smith, and similar vintage, books, so the trip through 70s/80s horror shall continue.
Ah, the glory of mid-seventies horror pulp. I’m sure I read this as a teenager, but the only thing I remembered from it was the sex in the dunes (don’t look at me like that, I was a teenager).
A young couple on holiday in Wales go missing whilst swimming. The readers know that they didn’t simply drown- something violent happened- but no-one else does.
The uncle of the dead boy- and boss of his girlfriend- drives down to Wales to try to find out what happened. Here he meets hot divorcee Pat, who tags along when he goes out investigating. This is when the sex in the dunes happens, shortly before the couple witness a deaf mute beachcomber being torn apart by a horde of crabs the size of cows.
Of course, no-one believes them, not until the crabs come ashore and tear up an army base.
Now, the authorities take notice, and tanks and soldiers appear on all the beaches. Not that it makes much difference. The crabs are impervious to gun and tank fire, and are led by an intelligent King Crab. It’s only a last minute, poisonous, solution that saves the day.
The story is nowhere near as gory, or sexy, as I remember it (I was a teenager, okay). It rattles along at a great pace, though it could, on occasions, do with a bit more detail. I finished it in a couple of hours.
There are another four or five Crabs stories, and Guy N. Smith’s back catalogue is now available for the Kindle. I think I’ll be picking up more of them.