There's only two ways this is going to go - women and Germany. Our rag, tag and bobtail hard-drinking, chain-smoking, skirt-chasing rogues have no sooner escaped death at the blade of a crazed Scotsman than their excessively air-conditioned coach has broken down in the grounds of a remote stately home in Northern England. If a blood-lusting pack of Doberman Pinschers aren't clue enough, the strangely Teutonic (not to mention vaguely feminine) Lord soon has the lads locked up in a cellar with unlimited Blue Nun and the real aristocrat, before releasing them to face a cloned team of Nazi Amazons. Will their nightmare never end? Not just yet. Arguably the greatest 70s signpost yet is the shoehorning in of the Bermuda Triangle. Some clues to the real identity of the man behind the Staines can be glimpsed via a (censored?) thesis on Catholicism and a disturbing familiarity with Leslie McManus' WWII melodrama Jackboot Girls.
America's on the receiving end this time. Glorious stuff, with Vince discovering that the wide open spaces of Texas look just like a long episode of Rawhide (except in colour) and small town America can be a frightening place, but not as frightening as the Astral Plane where a most unique game of football takes place. Weird dreams, sinister monk-like apparitions and Jack Parsons namechecked. Huzzah!
They Think It's All Over
Sadly we come to the end of this odd but howlingly accurate glance at a different world. The transposition of homosexuality with vampirism skewers both targets (even though the dartboard keeps falling off the wall). Vince's puzzled assertion that gays didn't exist before 1967 apart from Oscar Wilde (who had the decency to get married and father a couple of kids) and the parody of the laborious Dracula AD 1972 anagram working out had me laughing out loud.
Nothing like this exists elsewhere. Thank goodness.
Superb match commentary, Mr. Marsh! That Stainsy has been continually denied a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award confirms my long-held suspicion that these jumped-up Johnnies and Joannas know "sweet F.A." about "the people's game ™" We scan the Best New Horror 27 TOC all set to burst into a rousing "No one likes us we don't care!" at inevitable inclusion of Get Your Fritz Out For The Lads. We scan in vain. This is the price you pay for TELLING IT LIKE IT IS.
Personally, I blame Len "Birch 'em!" Shipman and Lady Gaga.
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.