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Donald Glut – Frankenstein Lives Again

Posted by demonik on June 4, 2009

Donald Glut – The New Adventures Of Frankenstein #1: Frankenstein Lives Again (Mews, January 1977)

Cover Illustration by Tony Masero

Cover Illustration by Tony Masero


Review by Franklin Marsh

Compared to 2,3 and 4 No. 1 Frankenstein Lives Again is very much a scene setter and consequently Boresville. An interesting pre-credits sequence with English pilot Fairfax whizzing over the icy wastes of the Arctic when Doh! the ‘plane runs out of fuel. He survives the crash and seeks out the emergency survival kit (a half bottle of scotch), gets p*ssed and walks into an ice wall. Contained within is the frozen Frankenstein Monster – worshipped by local Eskimos as the Ice God. They give Fairfax a bashing and dump him back near civilisation.

Meanwhile on a train French idiot Pierre Dupre finishes Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and hands the book back to its owner – none other than (fanfare) Dr Burt Winslow! He’s Rich! Intelligent! Long-Haired! Handsome! Top Of The Class In Everything! as he proceeds to bore the Frenchman with his life story and obsession with the Frankenstein legend. Although Burt’s not convinced it’s a legend. Pierre, instead of either leaping from the train or throwing Megabore off it, is so mesmerised by Burt’s brilliance he offers to join him. On reaching the end of the line, they team up with Morris Lamont who tips them the wink about Fairfax. They visit the mad drunken airman and get the location of ‘the Ice God’ With Lamont driving a massive truck they set off. When the truck can go no further, Burt and Pierre unload the dog sleds and set off for the ice wall. Busily chipping away, they’re attacked by hordes of irate Eskimos who want to hang on to their Deity. Dupre carries on chipping while Winslow blazes away at the ‘Natives’ dropping at least one with every shot (the Eskimos needless to say, couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo at five paces.) Despite the intense bombardment our heroes free the ice-encased monster, hitch it to their sleds and buzz off to rendezvous with Lamont. After they’ve loaded up, the Eskimos get a small consolation by wounding Dupre. Some more nonsense and Burt is winging his way with a crated creation back to Castle Frankenstein – which he bought for a song, despite the outrage of Ingoldstadt mayor Krag and huge crowds of Lederhosen clad extras. The only ray of sunshine is Lynn Powell (Huzzah!) secretary and assistant (yeah, right) who is waiting for Burt, tidying the castle. Will the second part of the book pick up? I ****ing hope so because if I have to read just how brilliant,super,wonderful Burt is much more, I’m going to have a K’niption fit.

(Later)

Forget all that rubbish I posted above. How could I have doubted Don? Part 2 is Back With A Vengeance and jet-propelled. Mr Glut has opened boxes marked Ludicrousness, Horror Cliches and Ultraviolence and gone barmy in the best possible taste. The very next page my jaundiced eye fell upon – ‘A creature had suddenly appeared in the mountains near Ingoldstadt, looking more dead than alive. His countenance was that of a dried corpse, with parched lips and sinister green eyes that stared with an unearthly fire from their cavernous sockets. He sat atop a circus wagon and grinned, showing his few yellow teeth…’ Yay! It’s Professor Dartani’s Asylum Of Horrors – featuring Vampires! Werewolves! Zombies! Witches! I nearly burst several blood vessels but its just a travelling waxworks. However despite some magnificent megaphone marketing in Ingoldstadt, Killjoy Krag runs the Prof and his human gorilla stooge , Gort, out of town.

Burt and the better looking FM (Arf!) are back at the castle. A quick brush against Lynn’s full breasts and its down to some serious Mad Scientisting. Winslow’s got the best equipment money can buy and its time for that old revival ballyhoo. Lynn changes into a short, white nurse’s uniform that reveals her gorgeous legs. Even Burt the Brain must have felt a rustling in the front of his trousers as she leans over a very important piece of scientific equipment. ‘For a short while Winslow managed to smile, considering the fact that he was working with such a vision and not with any ugly and deformed assistant named Igor.’

Suffice to say FM gets revived and breaks the leather straps like paper chains (another example of Burt’s intelligence proving to be sadly lacking). The monster starts to strangle the Doc but then thinks better of it(damn!) and lumbers out of the castle. Some beered up villagers with rifles are lurking nearby on WinslowWatch. A little brains-dashing and bone-breaking later, the lone survivor speeds back to town to warn Krag and whip up the leather shorts brigade. (Many of whom have knee length socks too). The monster bumps into the Prof who charms him with ‘Friend?’ then mesmerises him and the hulk is dispatched to bump off the Mayor. He succeeds and wipes out a few townspeople into the bargain. The rest of the town light their torches and head for Castle Winslow-Powell. Amazingly, Burt manages to hoodwink them, and the saps give him 24 hours to search and destroy. Burt tracks down the Prof, Gort and FM to a rickety barn in the middle of a thunderstorm. Prof and Monster get away, leaving the other two in a furious gun battle as the barn collapses around them. Dartani and his hypnotised helper flee to the castle, where the old carney is delighted to find Burt’s pert, pouting blond bombshell all alone – ‘ ‘ Do you know what that means, my dear?’ he said, enjoying the way her breasts were rising and falling beneath the nurse outfit.’ (as are the Globeswatch team).
Nine pages to go!

(Much later)

– don’t read this if you don’t want to know how No. 1 ends (although it’s already been given away in an earlier post) – OK then – spoiler of spoilers – not only did Don string me along but also got Globeswatch into a frenzy over not a lot (no offence to Lynn). We’d left her being slobbered over by Professor Dartani.

“Like a human insect, Dartani crept along the wall in pursuit of the girl, delighting in the way she squirmed, her breasts heaving due to her frantic breathing.”

And the inspiring “In a streak of movement, one hand gripped the top of her uniform and ripped it down the front so that the tops of Lynn’s rounded breasts showed in all their magnificent abundance.”

Nice of Don to keep it clean, but it probably robbed him of the ’77 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Burt has come to in the wreckage of the barn – which handily fell mostly on Gort. He susses out where everybody has gone/is heading and makes haste to the castle. His arrival prevents the Prof from removing any more of Lynn’s clothes (shame!), who, in a frightful bate, sets FM on him. The monster, being possibly a bigger idiot than anyone else in this book has made a pact with himself not to waste Burt. Lynn, clutching what little she has on, has legged it for the roof with Dartani in hot pursuit. The villagers burst in and the Monster takes some time to grab the chief rabble rouser and lob him out of a convenient window.Everyone ends up on the roof. FM chucks Dartani to his doom, and looks longingly at Lynn. Burt piles in with a rain-proof flaming torch, and the Monster plunges from the battlements. Lynn and Burt embrace as the sun bursts through the clouds and the angry mob shrug their collective shoulders and bugger off back to the town. That’s All Folks!

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James Herbert – The Dark

Posted by demonik on May 29, 2009

James Herbert – The Dark (Nel, 1980)

Blurb:

It came like a malignant shadow with seductive promises of power. And somewhere in the night …..

A small girl smiled as her mother burned … Asylum inmates slaughtered their attendants …. In slimy tunnels once-human creatures gathered. Madness raged as the lights began to fade and humanity was attacked by an ancient, unstoppable evil ….

Mini-review by Franklin Marsh

Crammed full of good creepy, gruesome stuff. A scene set in a ‘mental hospital’ is what the critics (well the good ones) would call ‘nerve-shredding’. All this plus football violence, the National Front, acid burns, mass murder and suicide, comedy cops – and a possible contender for Worst Pub Landlord. Being British I have to complain in the strongest possible terms about the cruelty to ‘nice’ animals – he can butcher as many rubbish humans as he likes but is sawing a dogs legs off with a hedge-trimmer really necessary? Possibly the last ‘classic’ Herbert.

See also The Dark thread on Vault Of Evil

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Robert Lory – The Drums Of Dracula

Posted by demonik on May 23, 2009

Robert Lory – The Drums Of Dracula (NEL, Feb. 1976)

Robert Lory - The Drums Of Dracula

Robert Lory - The Drums Of Dracula

Blurb:

Jenny Harmon, Professor Harmon’s young niece, is staying in Jamaica to study the mysterious and infamous cult of voodoo. But her investigations anger the hostile followers of the forbidden religion. She is kidnapped — and a ransom note is delivered to her uncle demanding $500,000 or she will die screaming!

Only a power of greater evil than those of the voodoo witchdoctors and their terrible zombie slaves can save young Jenny. Dr Harmon is forced once again to turn to Count Dracula for aid — the most dreaded creature of the night, the greatest vampire of all, whom Dr Harmon has resurrected through his great knowledge.

A violent battle for supremacy is played out against the throbbing of voodoo drums and the dark Caribbean night.

Review by Franklin Marsh:

We’re off to Jamaica for some voodoo in this one. Sound ridiculous? It is but Lory somehow keeps it compelling. Just like the Hammer Draculas you wish the Count had more …er…page time. Lory is on top form whenever the Lord of the Vampires is around. He’s used sparingly though but to very good effect. Our heroine Jenny arrives on the island, upsets the locals within minutes, changes into a skimpy bathing costume, is caught by the voodooists and chained up naked. You can’t ask for much more than this. Lory deflects accusations of sexism by having Cam captured and chained up naked too. At last – equality in exploitation! Tops for atmosphere and zips along faster than you can query any plot holes. Dracula may be on the side of the good guys but he still exudes evil given a chance.


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John Godey – The Snake

Posted by demonik on May 16, 2009

John Godey – The Snake (NEL,  Oct 1979)

The Smake

The Smake

IT IS AS HOT AS HELL IN THE CITY. Everybody is out on the streets, trying to get cool. Somehow, a lethal eleven-foot Black Mamba gets loose in Central Park. One of the most deadly and fast-moving snakes around, it strikes repeatedly without warning.


With hysteria rising, the police department and a young snake expert have to hunt it down before it claims further victims. A task made no easier by the city’s unhelpful politicians, eccentrics and even religious freaks who regard the snake as the Devil incarnate. The hunt becomes a race against death, and tension mounts towards a spine-chilling climax.

Franklin Marsh writes

An oddball, this one. John Godey’s claim to fame is the great subway train hijack thriller, The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3, and this is very similar. More of a thriller than a horror, and certainly not a nasty, it holds your attention, but isn’t horrific.

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James Herbert – Lair

Posted by demonik on October 6, 2007

James Herbert – Lair (NEL 1979)

James Herbert Lair


James Herbert! The Rats! The Fog! Where did it all go wrong?

Nowhere really. He just honed his craft and continued as a best-selling author without the need for that good ol’ mid 70s sex ‘n’ violence delirium in such an extreme form. Pity, really. But his writing is so good and, if needs be, he can still send shivers down the spine and get the gorge rising so his later novels are always worth a look.

Before returning to Lair I had the feeling it may have come after Fluke. Following the two trail-blazers JH had come up with The Survivor – mucho toned down from his previous excesses but with a tense supernatural flavour and enough nastiness to pique interest. ‘Twas then he went wildly experimental with Fluke. Anyone who has read this after reading the previous novels must have had a shock – but not in a good way. All power to Mr H for trying something different but – what a disappointment! I was wrong – the partial return to form The Spear followed. Taking into account the gap between hardback and paperback – and the fact that Fluke may not have been quite a best-seller as the original Herbert tomes – was a sequel to The Rats a necessity? Without sales figures I’m speculating wildly but I can’t help wondering if a real return to form meant an attempt to recapture former glories. But James didn’t just want to replicate. He wandered from the straight and narrow and had little fun along the way. No way could The Rats be duplicated.

The Rats had a little epilogue, hinting that there was more to come. This is reproduced as The Prologue of Lair. We are then faced with Signs, Onslaught and…er…Lair.

After a couple of lines from The Teddy Bears’ Picnic the book proper begins with “Bloody vermin!”. We’re on Ken Woollard’s farm and his two top mousers are missing. He’s seen Rat signs but is loathe to report them (even though it’s now the Law.) Even when he discovers the tatty remains of one of his cats, he doesn’t want to involve the authorities. Ken lives near Epping Forest. That’s the big change. Having been Urban Guerrillas in the first outing, the deadly rodents have seemingly repaired to the countryside – although Herbert frequently points out just how close to London this rural idyll actually is. A couple of wicked wind ups – The forest headkeeper’s horse takes flight in panic from….a white deer – some kind of warning symbol. A sunbathing girl is stalked by….. her husband and children. Nice topicality – the family are having some fun days out because the husband is on strike at the local car factory. Lots of hints of something lurking in the forest. What can it be?

Luke Pender is on the case! Ratkill troubleshooter. Returning from the North he’s almost instantly despatched to the forest Conservation Centre. They’ve had a few odd incidents. Luke knows Ratkill supremo Stephen Howard from University. He’s got a good career, making good money, but there’s something else….

He’s discovered brown rats around the country are becoming resistant to warfarin. That’s the problem with Rats – adaptive little buggers. He’s been given a bit of background on William Bartlett Schiller – the nutter who picked up a rat or rats from a New Guinea atomic testing range and bred them with good ol’ British black rats – forming the horrendous mutants of the first Outbreak. But he feels Howard’s holding something back.

A few Herbert vignettes – a Reverend who worries about losing his faith, a well dodgy flasher and Cor! Jenny Hanmer – who runs classes for children at the Conservation Centre. She’s busy teaching the kids about wildlife and avoiding the advances of fellow tutor and beardie-weirdie Vic Whittaker – who’s married – the bounder! Her latest class get a rude shock when fishing for water skaters in a handy pond. Three large and unfriendly rodents are swimming across it. Luke turns up and investigates. An eerie sequence as the couple investigate the unwelcoming forest t’other side of the pond – and find a family of stoats ripped to pieces.

Despite their best efforts to get forest authorities to take this seriously (remember last time?) the inevitable red tape, dithering, internal politics and ineffectual authority figures conspire to frustrate them. Indeed, when Luke contacts Howard, he’s keen to down play their discoveries – the forest superintendent having used a contact at the Ministry Of Agriculture. A big meeting of all concerned is called. And so ends Signs.

Many commentators cited part of the popularity of the film version of Jaws striking a chord with American audiences as down to the Mayor’s efforts to keep the beaches open and hush up shark attacks as being a parallel to the Watergate affair. Always annoying in this type of book. The heroes just can’t get their message through and you know there will be deaths.

Onslaught begins with an explanation of the Rats’ migration and the hideously deformed mutant leader. Then some classic Herbert Rat attacks. An adulterous couple – they’ve got to go! This is a morality tale. Not necessarily – surely a Barnado’s boy made good and his fellow campers will not succumb? Even the Reverend is not safe. A throwaway refence to the abandoned and ruined Seymour Hall Estate. The return of the flasher. The meeting – gas ’em! Then we go into overdrive as the Rats decide to hit the Conservation centre, a Police training camp, a mobile home park.

OK,  it’s not The Rats but Herbert does a great job throughout the book of maintaining suspense – and the rat attacks are truly harrowing in places. Even minor characters have a bit of background and substance. There’s just enough pulp roots showing to make it a fast, enjoyable read. And the second half of the book is very very good. Rats vs The Army. Ratkill protective suits proving less than adequate. A truly chilling denouement. When Luke and Vic are faced by a marauding army of Rats you do wonder – what would it be like to be in that situation – I’m gonna die!

And there’s an epilogue…..

Review by Franklin Marsh 

(Republished by PanMacmillan 1999 – thanks to Alastair Brannen and the Barbican library – if you thought the ’79 cover was sh*te…..)

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