A classic of the genre, Guy N. Smith's Night of the Crabs came out exactly at the right time when the world was hungry for stories about giant telepathic mutant crabs. Smith's rampaging crabs have chased soldiers, big game hunters, nymphomaniacs and even Scotsmen through eight novels and a book of short stories. It's also the only book of it's kind (that I know of) which comes with it's own mascot. And so, on the 43rd anniversary of it's publication, I'd like to present a chapter-by-chapter summary. Beginning with...
No, not that one either. Ah! Here we go. Chapter 1 -
Ian and Julie are lab assistants who work for Ian's swingin' uncle Cliff. On the last day of their vacation in Wales they visit beautiful Shell Island - half top secret aircraft base - half golden beach paradise.
They go swimming and are eaten by giant crabs.
Meanwhile, swingin' uncle Cliff Davenport - marine botanist, widower and Sherlock Holmes impersonator, is lounging around his lab, daydreaming about Ian and Julie boinking. Two police officers arrive and tell him the two are missing. Swingin' uncle Cliff has bad feels about it.
After moping around for five days Cliff packs a bag and heads out to Llanbedr, the Welsh Cabo San Lucas. He checks in at a boarding house run by the Widow Jones, questions her about his nephew, grimly drinks tea and gets all premonitory.
Later he checks in with the local constable and, after a snippy exchange, leaves.
Next day, Cliff walks over the south end of Shell Island and...wait a minute. If you can drive or walk to Shell Island, how is it an island? Shouldn't it be Shell Peninsula?
Anyway, it's only two miles to the place his lab assistants took their last swim. On the beach he finds giant crab tracks in the sand just as the tide is about to erase them.
Thinking the airplanes might have made the tracks because reasons, he goes to spy on the super-secret airbase and is immediately caught. They toss him in the brig.
Cliff sits in a dark cell, tortured by the ticking of his watch. Should have bought a digital. Eventually guards drag him into Donald Pleasance's office.
Donald's name is Meyerscough because of course it it. Cliff tells them his story, leaving out the giant crabs part. They don't believe him anyway. Fortunately Cliff knows someone in the aristocracy, Sir Ronald Bradley of Whitehall. They call Sir Ronny, he vouches for Cliff and they cut him loose.
Back at the boarding house Cliff is thrown together with the recent divorcee Pat Benson, described in the classic soft-core porn novel style. (hair color, cup size, age)
He immediately spills everything. (Swingin' Uncle Cliff has no filter.) She says she's seen the crab marks. They are both amazed. Pat offers to team up Scooby-Doo style.
The next day, Cliff reads a newspaper article about five other disappearances.
Disguised as tourists, Cliff & Patt walk hand in hand to the beach. No one will see through their clever ruse!
They find more tracks and deduce that the sheep-sized crabs come out at night to feed, particularly on the full moon. Maybe it's a village full of were-crabs? Ever think of that, Prof. Smarty-Pants?
They plan to stake out the beach hoping to see the crabs and Cliff is all "this is no job for a woman" and Pat is all "I'm going anyway" and Cliff is all "okay but I'm in charge because penis."
They see a hobo.
They almost boink but go back to the rooming house instead. Mrs. Jones explains the hobo is Bartholomew the Beachcomber and he's more-or-less harmless despite the alliteration. They argue a bit and go have a nap.
At 11 they walk the two miles back to the beach and engage in some cliches.
The crabs retreat back into the ocean. Cliff & Pat discuss what they're going to do. Pat is hysterical because girl parts. They go back to the boarding house and and talk about what they're going to do.
The next morning Cliff calls "Grisedale", apparently someone with the authority to order military personnel because he sends a Colonel Goode to check out Cliff's story.
Turns out Grisedale is 'Commander' Grisedale of the Ministry. Gosh.
Colonel Goode arrives, gets drunk, goes to sleep, gets up next morning and leaves. Cliff might as well have called the Boy's Brigade.
You are aware that there's a film version of this epic yarn, aren't you? It sounds like perfect fodder for one of those "SyFy" channel confections. It would make a change from those endless things involving whirlwinds of CGI sharks gobbling people up.
I'd probably subscribe to SyFy if they made a film version of Night of the Crabs. It's my favorite of the novel nasties I've read so far. I didn't know there's a movie. The only two giant crab movies I've been able to find are Island Claws and Attack of the Crab Monsters.
Post by primrosehildebrand on Jun 6, 2019 21:15:16 GMT
And Guys states that ISLAND CLAWS is based on his novel even though he's not credited
ML: The Crabs series has developed a following over the years. Were you surprised by the success of the series?
GNS: Yes, I was surprised by the success of the Crabs series. It was also filmed in the 1980’s as ‘Island Claws.’ Best sellers are rare, you can never forecast how a book will be received. This one came at the right time, that record hot summer of 1976 when ‘beach reads’ were in demand.
"Mr Tod Robbins shows a wild fertility of imagination of extraordinary promise, although it is now wasted on unworthy material" - Edward J. O’Brien (The Best Short Stories of 1920)
I read in an interview years ago that US 1960s "gothic" novelist Dan Ross (who published his emissions under wife Marilyn's name, presumably so she could continue to collect royalties after his death) was once so close to a deadline that the final chapters of one of his "novels" was typed by him sitting in the back seat of his station wagon, parked in front of the post office. As soon as the final page came off the rack, into a mailer and the post the completed MS went, barely on time to meet the latest contractual obligation.
I've wondered, reading these excerpts, if Mr. Smith's books were composed with a similar degree of haste and obligation.
All else being equal, Night of the Crabs resembles Roger Corman's Attack of the Crab Monsters (1956)slightly more than it does Island Claws (1980). Both have giant crabs, but Attack has a giant telepathic crab, whereas Island just has a big crab.
The airbase sentry is a slacker. The crabs decapitate him. The crabs attack the base and eat some guys, then leave.
Here we're also introduced to one of Guy's pet peeves...
In London, Cliff & Pat meet with Commander Grisedale. Due to media reports Shell Island has become THE destination tourist spot as gawkers flood the countryside. They palaver as Cliff casually gropes Pat. There's so much I don't miss about the 1970s.
The crabs dismember a fisherman in Barmouth harbor. No doubt, somewhere Pat and Cliff are boinking.
The great crab invasion begins! A tank shoots the crabs. It only stuns them. The crabs lift a tank and throw it in the harbor. British tanks are weak!
The crabs overrun the town. Fire won't stop them. Mortars won't stop them. Even cotton candy and skee-ball are useless against the relentless crab army.
Stupid Assumption #153
(No, that's not my mistake.)
Eventually the crabs get tired of pwning British tanks and leave. Immediately swarms of gawkers descend on the town because it's impossible to cordon off Welsh towns. I guess. At the Town Hall, Commander Grisedale tells the assembly that they're gonna find and blow up the crab's underwater lair, thus saving England and the world. This gives Cliff a chubby.
Back at Mrs Jones, Cliff explains the plan to Pat. She is appropriately impressed and Guy's word count is substantially lengthened.