Post by franklinmarsh on Oct 22, 2007 12:03:16 GMT
The Origin Of The Crabs (NEL, June 1979). To John Wright.
'Rouse suddenly let out a piercing SCREAM releasing him from the paralysing terror in which those malevolent red eyes had held him. In panic he turned and tried to scramble up the slippery rockface. But his feet could not grip; slowly he began sliding back down, ever closer to the nightmarish formthat was rapidly approaching, its huge claws waving in the air, its powerful jaws opening and closing in anticipation...'
sayeth the back cover of GNS' third outing with those crapulous crustaceans. Poor old Origin! It always seems to be the runt of the litter. Night was first out, a best seller, great cover. Killer had a decent cover, exotic location, and seems very highly thought of. Can there be a better pulp title than Crabs On The Rampage? Moon features another great cover, and, like Night was reprinted by another publisher later on. The Human Sacrifice has scarcity value and a great premise (even if the execution doesn't quite live up to it.)
We've travelled from Wales to an Island off Australia, and now we've washed up in ... Scotland. A bit of a let down. And the title is a bit of a misnomer. A couple of vague references to Russian atomic tests in the Arctic - and a link to Night at the end of the novel confirming its prequel status.
So, what's left? A horror cliche but well used here - the isolated community. The remote Scottish estate/village of Cranlarich (including Loch Merse) is virtually ruled by complete b*st*rd Laird Bruce McKechnie who doesn't give a fig for his fellow man. He fleeces huntin',shootin',fishin' types at his expensive stately home, and has brutal gamekeeper Jock Rouse to do his really dirty work. Christine Blacklaw, thighs akimbo gold-digger, is his mistress, and eyes and ears in the village. Things start badly when ancient poacher the inappropriately named Freddie Law has a run in with 'something' in the big burn. He escapes with a slashed foot, only to run into Rouse who gives him a good kicking. Freddie literally crawls home through the village, curtains twitching all around him. A pleasant chat with passing vicar Angus Dalglish is curtailed when Freddie starts burbling about the 'something'. The minister storms off, convinced Freddie has been boozing as well as stealing.
Rouse gives McKechnie a tour of the Loch and confirms that he has seen some unusually large crabs. They pull up on a convenient beach and sure enough our red-eyed monsters put in appearance, reducing Rouse to a bloody smear in seconds. Bruce makes a getaway - every cloud has a silver lining - Rouse had been involved in a number of unsavoury events, including the death of the Laird's brother. No blackmail worries now!
The crabs couldn't have shown up at a more inconvenient time. A shooting party is arriving. When McKechnie tries to declare the Loch off limits, the guests kick up a storm. Duck and Goose shooting's in the brochure - they won't be denied. Well, two of 'em and their cocker spaniel won't. They disappear (although readers know what's going on - as does Bruce). Customers leaving, crab orgies of violence, police investigations,plus the appearance of a brother of a missing guest all put the pressure on the Laird - this turns him into Dear Drooper with hot-blooded Christine. She inevitably turns to the brother for solace, sex and her next gold mine. Shotguns, dynamite, cyanide, a car - can nothing stop the crabs this time? The small scale of this adventure appeals to me. It seems the perfect book of the series to lend itself to film. The solitary though bloody murders are perfect little set pieces. Not as outrageous as the rest of the series but if you need a breather...
Of course I was only just saying - imagine a Crabs novel with a photo cover ? Never work. Completely forgotten of course it had been done. Point proved I think. Only marginally better is the CRABS ON THE RAMPAGE photo montage cover - not much of a rampage going down tho'.
on the flipside I'm jonesing on the HUMAN SACRIFICE cover...
Post by dreadlocksmile on Jun 20, 2009 14:15:48 GMT
First released back in 1979, `The Origin of the Crabs' formed the prequel to `Night of the Crabs' from Guy N Smith's infamous 'Crabs' series. 'Night Of The Crabs' and 'Killer Crabs' had already seen publication, allowing this new installment to slot in at the very start of the series, setting down the origins of these gigantic crustaceans.
Set within the murky Loch Merse of southwest Scotland, the first of the crabs begin to appear. Their first victim is a local poacher who finds himself ripped apart by these enlarged and vicious crustaceans. The crabs are beginning to build up a hatred for mankind and with their first victims; a taste for their blood.
The laird Bruce McKechnie of Cranlairch finds himself within a difficult situation, as people begin disappearing around his hunting estate. His rich livelihood depends on the high fees paid by the guests who stay at his estate to go hunting on the ideal surrounding grounds. A worried John Ryland soon turns up to begin investigating the recent disappearance of his brother from the Cranlairch estate. He pairs up with McKechnie's mistress Christine Blacklaw, and together they unearth the horrifying truth of the bloodthirsty crabs.
McKechnie attempts to cover up the disappearances whilst employing a group of hunters to kill off the crabs that are terrorizing his estate. But McKechnie has underestimated his enemy and soon finds that the crabs are now at war with him and any human they come across.
The novel starts off with a slower pace than that of the previous two crabs novels, as it sets down the first attacks on man by these giant crabs. Although the crabs are still considerably larger than that of a standard crab, they still have not yet the gigantic proportions seen in the later novels (although a much larger beast is suggested at lurking in the depths of the Loch).
With the storyline gradually building momentum and the bloodshed mounting, Smith delivers another action packed and thoroughly outlandish plot. The body count rises delivering graphic depictions of the gory deaths involved, as McKechnie attempts to rid the Loch of these killer crabs.
Smith follows his tried and tested formula once again with the insertion of Christine Blacklaw to add an element of graphic sex. The characterization is colourful and creative, with exaggerated personalities throughout the book. The addition of the rugged John Ryland, brings a somewhat clichéd but necessary hero to the storyline.
The novel's grande finale is spectacular, with plenty of nail biting crab action as they unleash a huge onslaught onto McKechnie's estate. From such an initial slow pace at the start of the book, the novel manages to rip up a massive momentum of action which builds up until the books conclusion.
Running at just 157 pages, `The Origin of the Crabs' again has the standard Guy N Smith length to it. This is an essential addition to the crabs series and a thoroughly enjoyable read to boot! Packed with over-the-top gore, this is one for all the splatter-punk and pulp horror readers out there.
I read this over the las couple of days. It really is a book that should easily be read in one sitting - but I'm on some painkillers right now, and one of the side effects is that they make you sleep. Dammit.
Anyway - this is a decent book for sure. In fact, after the nightmare read that was Hutson's Deathday, it was a relief to get back to some good old action. GNS is such a hero, he really knows what he's doing.
The story is short, and that's just fine. Perfect in fact. There are the usual assortment of over-the-top bad guys, strangers who meet and is instantly fall in love, and a few you're legitimately sad to see go.
If I had to pick fault (after all, this isn't PERFECT) it's the final couple of chapters. They've been welded on to wrap things around to Night of the Crabs, but they don't really fit with the book overall. In fact, the story of Cranlarich just gets abandoned.
But hey - this is a CRABS book! And it's all good.
Enjoyable one this - and simply essential. This is the reason I read horror novels!
beginning with FM in the first post, you've all done such a job on Origins ... that all i had left to do was just sit back and enjoyed it - which is exactly what i did.
Agree with Vaughan that Milt Hogarth's attempt to pull a Reggie Perrin at Shell island is an unnecessary bridge between this and Night Of The Crabs, but i thought the ending proper in Cranlarich with John Ryland and Christine the barmaid from The Stag Inn surrounded was perfect, not exactly a cliffhanger (you know exactly what is going to happen and it won't be nice) but extremely effective.
Some memorable cameos; Don Phinney, ace reporter whose sensationalist "NESSIE MAKES THE TRIP TO LOCH MERSE: IS SHE RESPONSIBLE FOR MISSING PEOPLE?" in the Record entices overwrought monster hunter Martin Bryant to Cranlarich and a ghastly date with the crustaceans (they make an almighty mess of his Cortina, too). Also liked the deadly Cranlarich bog which comes on like a low rent Sucking Pit minus the gypsy curse. It's just such a shame that Mrs. Mudie copped it during the attack on the hotel.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
Got my copy of this direct from the UK and so far I'm liking it. My first Crab book! Fitting it should be the first chronologically.
Smith's style is very descriptive and enjoyable, making something as mundane as Freddie the fish poacher sneaking around seem interesting. I can easily picture the dark, spooky woods surrounding Loch Merse. Freddie himself I for some reason envision looking like Sam Kydd. Barely into it and I'm already casting the characters in my head!
I'm surprised that Freddie managed to escape the first crab! I figured he was gonna either get munched, or fall into the mire Smith established earlier, but instead he runs into something worse than giant crabs (arguably): the local bigshot's goon squad! Gosh, what jackasses. Freddie rightly calls them thugs later when he's talking to the priest, although Joe seems sympathetic enough (which probably means he's doomed). Rouse clearly is calling the shots, so Freddie gets a beatdown. If his henchmen are this nasty, I can't wait to see what sort of a man McKechnie himself is.
Love Freddie's theory that Rouse put the crab there! Yeah, Freddie, McKechnie's goons just had a giant crab lying around which they use to scare off poachers.
Can't wait to see what Smith does use that swampy mire for. Someone has to sink in it!
Moving swiftly along. Phil's brother is on the case now and hired Freddie the fish poacher, much to Freddie's misfortune. I knew the crabs would get him sooner or later.
Also in retrospect, is McKechnie an idiot, or what? His reason for keeping the crabs' existence secret is that he's worried they'll spoil the shooting parties he hosts. But does he ever stop to think that maybe the rich snobs who pay to come hunt on his estate might want to shoot at something new? And that gigantic crabs might prove an exciting new sport and lovely after-hunt dinner?
I mean, sure, we know bullets do diddily squat, but McKechnie doesn't. Why he is hellbent on preventing his guests from learning about the crabs, then, when he can pass them off as something he stocked the loch with for them to hunt? For a guy who only cares about money he sure is uncreative at making it. Would've been funny to see an intentional crab-hunting party go disastrously wrong. Maybe we still will? I'm only halfway through, after all.
Should've mentioned this previously but I only just now remembered it, I didn't like Rouse dying so soon. I knew he was a goner 'cause of the blurb on the back but he was set up to be such a bastard in the opening chapter I expected him to hang around a while. Instead he's offed in his second appearance in the book and his replacement is the inoffensive Joe.
Well, I'm all done. I just knew Joe was gonna bite it, the poor guy, so that wasn't a surprise. John and Christine dying is shocking on the surface, but, since this is a prequel and they aren't in Night of the Crabs from what I understand, them not living to the final page is a bit of a foregone conclusion.
I have to say that despite being impressed with the first half of the story I was severely disappointed in the last half of it. The attack on Joe and Canvers was essentially a repeat performance of Phil and Barrett: two guys see crabs, try to run, with one falling and his partner tripping over him. It felt like Smith copied and pasted the earlier scene and changed the names, with the added bonus of Joe firing his shotgun (I don't remember that happening with Phil and Barrett earlier).
The crabs' attack on McKechnie's house was great and should've been the climax of the book. After that, nothing much interesting happens and the sparsely spread attack scenes just seemed dull. it honestly felt like Smith should've given the book's last half a rewrite or two.
Another thing I found unusual is that Bryant and the rich embezzler at the end are literally introduced and killed off in the same chapter, with their deaths coming right on top of their detailed backstories. I'm fine with introducing characters just to kill them off, but the ending seemed a strange place to do it not once but twice. The beginning or middle is the best place for that.
All in all, though, despite these complaints, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. That's all I ask out of these books. I just love nitpicking (don't get me started on the crabs' godlike invincibility!). I'll eagerly be devouring Night of the Crabs soon, and I am also certainly glad to have found this board.