Your Daily NEL: New English Library

Cheap and Nasty Seventies Horror Pulp

Guy N. Smith – The Wood

Posted by demonik on October 6, 2007

Guy N. Smith – The Wood (Nel, 1985)

The Living died but the Dead lived on.

You only have to see that unutterably brilliant tag-line to know you’ve come to the the right place.

Carol Embleton has decided to ditch her conservationist boyfriend, Andy Dark, because he’s always looking at badgers instead of showing her a good time. Thoroughly miserable, she decides to go to the village disco alone and run away to the London the following day. After an evening’s boogieing to Status Quo (it’s the ‘eighties) she heads off home. As its sheeting down rain, against her better judgement she accepts a lift from a passing motorist. It’s not her lucky night. The good samaritan is sex-killer James Foster and his idea of a chat up line is to display the handkerchief he’s just jerked off into. Faced with death, Carol succumbs to his lust, then legs it naked into the woods with the repulsive Foster in pursuit..

Carol has never been in Droy Wood before, but she’s heard all the talk. The locals murmur darkly of the Droy family of a few generations back, landowners who tortured smugglers to death in their now derelict mansion. Of a Nazi fighter pilot who parachuted into the evil-reeking bog-land and, despite a huge manhunt, was never seen again. Local wisdom has it that, when a mist descends on the wood unpleasant things happen and you’re well advised to stay clear of the place ….

Local wisdom was right for once. Droy Wood has the uncanny knack of replaying evil deeds from days past and, if you’re caught in there when a mist falls you’re not coming out. Carol is taken prisoner by Bertie the Nazi and shackled in the rat infested dungeon of the Droy house. Meanwhile, Andy is apprehended by brutal Customs men from centuries past after witnessing them torturing a boy smuggler – he’s dumped in the same cell as his girlfriend. A police man-hunt has no luck in finding Foster, so they decide to use Carol’s best friend Thelma in a reconstruction of her abduction to see if it jogs any memories. Unfortunately, the cop who picks her up is possessed by the rapist so we have another naked girl loose amidst the “rancid marsh odours”. It’s not as if what’s left of Foster will be of much help to the police in any case because he’s fallen into the clutches of the Oak Priests, a druid-like sect with a thing about human sacrifice.

As you would expect, the deaths come fast and furious and all the disparate parties get to try their hand at murdering somebody. In one memorably gruesome episode Thelma – who really goes through a rotten time of it – meets Elsie, a little girl in curiously old-fashioned clothing, who insists on taking her off to meet her father – a rotting, animated corpse flaying around in a pit of slime. Elsie pushed him in the bog after he chopped up her mother with an axe. And now the child has it in her head that Thelma was her father’s lover. And she detests her father’s lover.

How to rate it? I thought it was fab, actually, reminiscent of his feted squelch-fest The Sucking Pit in many ways, with some very decent gory deaths to keep you on your toes. My only disappointment was that GNS didn’t make more use of the pub, The Dun Cow which, after showing some early promise, disappears from the story altogether.

Thanks to Ade ‘Killer Crab’ Salmon for providing me with a copy of this.


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