Blowfly  (UK: Star Books, 1984)

"A Swarming Plague of death."

Ah, before we get to the nitty gritty of this
month's offering, let us give praise to the cover.
Pretty cool, pretty graphic, pretty damn
creepy-crawly (which is, after all, what we're
after). Flies crawling over a sweaty face ready
to attack an eyeball. If you saw this at a
bookstore, you would have no doubt you were
about to launch into something that would put you off meat
for the day. That was, I think, the essential beauty (?) of
these books, the simple visceral joy: no subterfuge,
subtlety, absolutely no beating around the bush: you wanna buy
this, go ahead, but if you get sick that's your problem. And while
we're praising the cover, let us praise the title: BLOWFLY. I mean,
what more could you ask for?

There's absolutely nothing I can tell you about the author of this
one, David Loman. He doesn't seem to have written any more of
these type books. One shot? Don't really know. When a guy doesn't
have a track record writing this stuff, I get concerned (see
FLESHBAIT). I worry that some jackass who knows nothing of horror
and (worse) knows nothing of the British school of nasties might
have penned it. But in this case, I needn't have worried. For Loman
gets to the goodies in the first paragraph:

"They wriggled blindly under the animal's skin in their hundreds. They
convulsed in the rank dead flesh, smooth, white and totally parasitic."

YEAH, BABY! Bring it. You have to respect an author who tries to
disgust you right off like that. And how about this:

"Marilyn looked towards the pram and blinked. The white coachwork
was covered in flies, their blue-black bodies crawling over every
millimetre of space. She reached out instinctively and tried to get the
baby underneath. Belinda was there, under that mass of flies! 'Oh
God say she is alive,' she screamed suddenly and looking down at
the fly-specked face, she forced open the little girl's mouth.
It was full of flies."

Still slavering? Then dig into this bit of grue as an especially horny
woman steps from the tub:

"Maisie closed her eyes and dreamed until the water cooled and then
rose, naked, and looked at herself again. It was all too good, too
great, too desiring. She could close her eyes and feel his hand on her
shoulders and breasts, on her belly and between her legs...
It was then the horror bit deeply into her. Those precious sensations
were still there but their causation was totally unexpected, totally
horrendous. Those special parts of her, those erotic areas of flesh
tingled not with the memory of a lover, but with the infestation of
thousands of blowflies...

Okay. Enough. I can't have you drooling all over my webpage.

Anyway, you get the picture. Say no more. What's happening in this
charming little book is that the interbreeding of common blue bottles
and flesh-flies has resulted in a hybrid blowfly which is a really nasty
monster, we soon learn. Yes, it's trouble in the west counties as our
plague of mutant blowflies spreads from rural Devon up to Bristol.
The flies attack in swarms (as you might have guessed), cover their
prey (people), and suffocate them in their numbers by crawling up
their noses and down their throats and, of course, laying their eggs
in them which eventually hatch into maggots. They especially like
the eyes. But all is not lost! Enter Dr. Ian Wilde, a member of WHO
(World Health Organization, not the band) and an expert in tropical
diseases who knows his flies. While the flies get people in houses
and cars and supermarkets and you name it, Wilde and the army
use a chemical spray that keeps down much of the hybrid fly
population...or so they think until the flies mount a counterattack and
blanket Bristol. They also kick up their heels in rural Devon where a
movie company is filming a children's superhero show called
MANFLY. The only thing that saves our stalwart production company
are their lights--ultraviolets. It doesn't take long for Wilde and the
army to mobilize UVs and the battle is afoot!

Pros: Great fly attacks, disgusting infestations, a particularly cool
scene where swelling blisters explode and disgorge hundreds of
maggots into a woman's face. Characters are nothing special, but a
few are pretty realistic. The very best is Mark Lambert, an ex-soldier
who got his legs blown off in Northern Ireland. He thinks he's
washed up as a man, but the lighting guy on MANFLY convinces
him he's not and it works very well. Cudos to any author who gives a
disabled guy a fighting chance.

Cons: Very few. I would have liked more maggot scenes and the fly
swarms could have been nastier...but that's about it.

Overall:  A very readable and fun book. Certainly not the greatest
nasty ever written, but worth a look.

3½ bloody skulls out of five.

For our next Guilty Pleasure:

"When the nightmare ended, the real horror began..."
Copyright 2016 by Tim Curran
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