Monday, May 6, 2013

Night of the Crabs by Guy N Smith

Do you have movies or books that everyone seems to find fault with but they have been a part of you for so long that is impossible for you to form an opinion on them?  For me, I rented Halloween III as a youngster and watched it 5 times over the course of 36 hours.  I can watch that film on a loop.  The same goes for Guy Smith’s Night of the Crabs .  I’ve read that thing more times than I care to count.  Between that and Interstellar Pig , its amazing that my mind is capable of reading any for of advanced prose.  When I read that Guy Smith had released his crab series as e-books, I had to give it a go.

From Amazon:
Holidaymakers on the Welsh coast bask peacefully in the summer sunshine, blissfully unaware of the huge and evil army of giant crustaceans that lurk in the dark, off-shore waters . . . watching, waiting . . . Then the drownings begin.

But it is not until the underwater army, driven by its need to kill and gorge on human flesh, crawls up on the beach that the authorities understand the massive threat they face.
And when the screaming stops, the crunching of bone and munching of flesh begins . . .

Night of the Crabs is as pulpy as pulp can get but the crab theme is actually handled very well.  As it usually goes with these types of stories, the audience knows that there are monsters ready to strike but the characters in the book have no idea.  Also keeping with tradition, there is one character who tries to warn everyone but is quickly shrugged off until some super-sized crustaceans emerge from the sea and start running amok.  Smith actually does a better job developing the crabs than he does the characters.  The crabs were a unique choice at the time and are a perfect pairing for summer reading.  I mean, who isn’t scared of crabs?  There is plenty of crab munching in this slim novel which is the main selling point of the story.  The characters only serve as a vehicle to further the plot (and provide dinner for the abominations from the sea) and tend to be a little annoying.  In fairness to Smith’s characters, I’m not sure if the actual characters were annoying or the dialogue they spewed out. 

The dialogue reads like a castoff script from an Ed Wood film.  It is littered with clich├ęs, lacks emotion and suits the overall tone of the book perfectly.  The characters respond to these unimaginable events with such indifference that I found myself laughing out loud.  I’ve read that Smith never intended to make this book a campy affair but it is very tough to imagine him writing these scenes without his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.  At the end of the day that is the charm of the story. It never takes itself too seriously (at least I assume it doesn’t) and I can appreciate that.  Smith knows his weaknesses (all of which are apparent after about page 30) but he doesn’t seem to care.  No sir, there is a story to tell and he’s a gonna tell it.

To call Night of the Crabs pulp might actually be too generous.  The book is about as mindless as it comes but that is why I’ve read it over a dozen times since I first stumbled upon it so many years ago.  Much like those Stephen King short stories and Halloween sequels, it is tough for me to formulate an objective opinion because it is so ingrained in my personality.  As we approach the summer months, I urge you to give this cult classic a try as you lounge by the pool or spend an afternoon at the beach. Sure, it might be written at a third grade reading level but it is one wild ride!

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Bad Day For Voodoo by Jeff Strand

It is pretty obvious that my love for Jeff Strand is almost as frightening as the tales that occupy the pages of his fantastic books but even I, the devoted fanboy, was a little skeptical when I heard that the author of Wolf Hunt and Dweller was about to pen a Young Adult novel. Of course, (as with most things in life) I was completely off-base as Strand delivers and instant genre classic.

From Amazon :

When your best friend is just a tiny bit psychotic, you should never actually believe him when he says, "Trust me. This is gonna be awesome."

Of course, you probably wouldn't believe a voodoo doll could work either. Or that it could cause someone's leg to blow clean off with one quick prick.

But I've seen it. It can happen. And when there's suddenly a doll of YOU floating around out there—a doll that could be snatched by a Rottweiler and torn to shreds, or a gang of thugs ready to torch it, or any random family of cannibals (really, do you need the danger here spelled out for you?)—well, you know that's just gonna be a really bad day ...

The Young Adult genre suits Strand’s insane style perfectly. In A Bad Day For Voodoo , Strand uses the genre’s whimsical freedom to create a crazed tale of silliness gone wrong that will satisfy teens and horror-hounds alike. Strand balances the real life turmoil of being a 16-year-old boy with his signature flair for the gleefully macabre. Dismemberment and cannibals seem just as frightening as overbearing parents. Such is the teenage life in the wild world of Strand. The only reason all of this craziness is because the main characters are so grounded in reality. I felt like I had been transformed back to my teenage years and it was one heck of a ride. The story oozes with the authenticity usually reserved for a Stephen King story or a John Hughes film. It is that good, my friends.

Jeff Strand walks a very fine line in A Bad Day For Voodoo (and most of his stories, really). He keeps the tone extremely light without ever venturing in the dreaded world of camp, while providing massive amounts of unique (albeit gory) plot points that keep the reader interested and the pages turning. I have seen this blend attempted many times with cringe-worthy results but this never happens with Strand. I would say that Strand is the preeminent voice of literary horror-comedy but he may, in fact, be the only worthy author currently taking up residency in that particular subgenre. A Bad Day For Voodoo just goes to prove that Strand can extend his talents to any subgenre within the realm of Horror literature.

If you have or know someone with children in their teens, please make sure that those kids get a copy of this book in their hands. If you are looking for some finely crafted fiction that is so unique that it is sure to blow your mind, you should also make sure this finds its way into your library.
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