Your Daily NEL: New English Library

Cheap and Nasty Seventies Horror Pulp

Guy N. Smith – The Sucking Pit

Posted by demonik on September 15, 2007

Guy N. Smith – The Sucking Pit (Nel, 1975)


“She needed a man. A real man. Not the boyish Chris Latimer. Someone who would dominate her. Take her as a woman should be taken.”

Following the death of her uncle, the gypsy woodsman Tom Lawson, Jennifer reads his ‘black book’, mixes up a fertility potion, and makes an instant transformation from prim-and-proper typist to hedgehog-splattering, cat-pulverising nude witch. As mentioned above, she needs a man, so she ditches her nice boyfriend and heads for the local meat-rack. Unfortunately, the poor sap she picks up isn’t on top of his game, so after a quick shag she takes a knife to his disappointing member and hitches her skirts at landowner Clive Rowlands instead. The frustrated Rowlands is powerless to resist, and they soon come to an agreement whereby Jennifer can keep her uncle’s cottage, live there for nowt, and take a regular income from him in return for her favours. She gets by far the best of the deal, because he’s pretty hot stuff between the sheets, too.

Enter Cornelius, self-styled “long awaited Messiah of the oppressed race of people” and all-round cantankerous person. He shows up looking for Tom Lawson. Jennifer explains that he’s dead, and shows him the black book. Cornelius angrily tosses it into the fire. Her uncle had foolishly been keeping a record of top secret Gipsy lore and spells which could fall into the wrong hands! Jennifer tells him about the potion she’s drunk, and the malodorous messiah goes ballistic again. Then he calms down a fraction. For special people, it’s OK to drink the potion once, but you must never, never do it a second time. The fact that she’s survived means she is a kindred spirit and belongs to him for eternity and has to obey everything he says. Just the kind of guy she was looking for! They shag. Oh joy! He’s even better than Clive Rowlands!

Cornelius is a jealous type, but he agrees that she has to keep shagging the landowner until he’s included her in his will to the tune of the cottage and “the Devil’s Dressing Room” in Hopwas Wood where the sacred stretch of bogland, the Sucking Pit lies. Cornelius takes her out there once they’ve exhumed her uncle’s body from the churchyard (he also batters a harmless tramp to death with a pickaxe in the process), because Lawson doesn’t belong in consecrated ground, but the Pit which has served as the gypsies’ final resting place for centuries. They lob in the corpse, there is some frightful manifestation, but finally the dead man descends beneath the squelching surface.

Which brings us up to around the halfway mark.

“I’ve been walking about like this for two days. Had to wear a pair of baggy old plus-fours to hide it!”

Things really step up a gear with the re-emergence of top reporter Chris Latimer, who has been keeping an eye on the cottage since Jennifer gave him the push and is aware of all the sinister goings on. Rowlands’ wife, Pat, suspects her husband’s infidelity and meets Chris when she sneaks up to the window to catch her wayward husband at it. No prizes for guessing what they’ll be getting up to within a few pages.

It all builds, inevitably, to scenes of total ultra-violence at the cottage and a final, dreadful showdown at the eerie, devil-haunted, ever-hungry pit. Personally, I prefered The Slime Beast by some margin, but for sheer energy this is full-on pulp writing at it’s most irresistable.

See also Vault’s Guy N. Smith section


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