Cannibals (UK: Sheridan Books, 1994)
Tagline: "A peaceful holiday becomes a
nightmare struggle for survival..."
Yes, that's right: Cannibals! And we all know what
that means...sheer unadulterated reading pleasure
as we witness people being eaten alive (or properly
seasoned and gnawed cold). From the man who
gave us all Crabs--I mean, from the guy who gave us those fun, nasty
"Crabs" books such as NIGHT OF THE CRABS, CRABS ON THE
RAMPAGE, and KILLER CRABS etc. etc.--comes CANNIBALS. Guy N.
Smith was something of a one-man publishing house back in the '70's
and '80's as he cranked out dozens and dozens of these type of novels,
writing on every possible gruesome subject from vampires to crazed
cults, zombies to werewolves to pagan curses and missing very little
subject matter in-between. If the father of this type of fiction was James
Herbert, then its crazed den mother was certainly Guy N. Smith. Now if
you're one of those elitist assholes who think Smith is beneath you, all I
can say is shame on you! For this guy is a first-class storyteller with a
bloodthirsty penchant for great pulp horror.
Okay, let's get to the...heh, heh...meat of the matter already.
Another cool cover featuring a creature that looks less like a cannibal
and more like some kind of mutant (check out that tasty treat in
his/her/its hand, yummy), but that only made guys like me want to buy
this all the more. And although I can only speak for myself--a guy who
bought countless of these nasties for the covers alone--I was not
"She recognized the upturned face in spite of the mutilations that
disfigured it, an eye torn from its socket, hanging by a thread."
Yes, Guy, yes! That's it! That's exactly what we wanted. And more:
"And that was when the full extent of her lover's mutilations were
revealed to her--the torn abdomen gaping wide and bloody, a mess of
scarlet slimy entrails spilling from the wound..."
Smith knows his business and rarely disappoints. CANNIBALS is no
exception. The plot of this one is fairly simple: a diverse group of people
venture to the remote Scottish coastal hamlet of Invercurie for rest and
relaxation not knowing that high above the village in the mountain caves
of Blair Long there is a degenerate race of half-human monsters. The
people of Invercurie are a clannish, unfriendly bunch to say the least
and would send most tourists packing. One of their own, a farmer
named Geddis, has built some chalets to bring some tourist dollars into
his pockets. The locals are not happy about this for, like Las Vegas,
what happens in Invercurie stays in Invercurie. The tourists come and--in
the course of the next 200 pages--most die unpleasant deaths via the
cave-dwelling cannibal hordes. Who are these cannibals? Smith gives
us a fun explanation reeking with Lovecraftian themes of racial
backsliding, incest, and biological degeneration. Apparently, as the
result of relentless inbreeding amongst the locals several hundred years
before, a race of mutants were born and they, following the pattern,
bred amongst themselves creating creatures with webbed fingers and a
dormant third eye...amongst other unpleasant anatomical deformations.
Here Smith gives us a look at one of them, a dead child:
"The head was squat, with barely any neck, a hairless skull with a
horribly prominent forehead, wide staring eyes, and there was something
growing in between them. A tiny oval with a film of opaque skin covering
it as though Nature was doing everything possible to prevent the
emergence of a third eye..."
Being that the cannibal mutants are more or less blood kin of the people
of Invercurie, the locals long ago hid them away up in the caves where
they continued to breed like maggots. Between the wildlife in the hills
and the dead of Invercurie which were given to them for their feasts, the
cannibals troubled no one. But then the rabbits died out and the
cannibals started coming into the village to feed. Something our unwary
tourists learn all about as they are raped, murdered, and cannibalized
by our friends. We have a fairly large ensemble cast here, but only a few
Pros: Just about everything from our grotesque flesh-eating cannibal
mutants to a great backstory with plenty of nods to Lovecraft and
Machen to grisly descriptions of rapes and murders and flesh feasts.
And let's not forget that whacked-out village woman who actually laid
with one of these things!
Cons: Can't really find anything I didn't like. I suppose some would say
that the characters are a bit cardboard or that the idea of such a race
being hidden away in modern-day Scotland is a little unfeasible, but
screw it. This is great pulp horror!
Overall: A good read. The perfect antidote to too much cerebral fiction.
Here is a horror storyteller in fine form.
I give this four bloody skulls out of five.
For our next guilty pleasure we go fishing:
"Suddenly--the sea becomes a focus of terror."
|Copyright 2016 by Tim Curran