Last summer I began my journey into the sordid and macabre world of vintage horror fiction. Browsing eBay late one night, I happened to come across an auction for a book called CANNIBALS. After Googling Guy N. Smith, I discovered that he was a rather popular English writer of pulp horror fiction. In other words, if you enjoy trashy and wildly graphic horror stories, Guy N. Smith is your guy (sorry). Guy is most well known for his infamous Crabs franchise, of which he wrote no less than EIGHT books about killer crabs. I knew then that I had to buy Cannibals. Put it on my watch list and a few days later, placed my bid at the last possible second and won the sucker. The excitement level was palpable — I couldn’t wait to read my first adult horror book, something long overdue. Did Guy deliver? Let’s delve in…
Cannibals won’t win any awards for originality, but the plot is right up my alley. Of the many different horror sub-genres, I’ve always been a sucker for grotesque inbred creatures attacking poor unwitting fools. I love how the back of the book has the same killer art as the front cover. That hideous creature is just so gruesome. What is up with those webbed claws and that third eye?! Definitely not something you would want to run into late at night, or any other time of the day! I also love the simple plot and how you know there will be an uprising of the monsters. Much blood shed is promised, and much is spilled and splattered through the book’s 208 pages. It is a wild, bloody ride!
WE’RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE…
Wrong Turn opened in theaters on May 30, 2003. I scored two tickets for a special pre-screening the night before, and invited a good college buddy of mine along. It was a packed house! Lots of girls screaming in the audience and lots of funny comments like “OH HELL NO! GIRL YOU BETTER WATCH YO BACK!” made for a very fun evening of slasher movie madness. Cannibals is kind of like Wrong Turn and The Hills Have Eyes… but on steroids.
ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE
Most horror books open with an excerpt from later in the book. It’s usually a nasty bit that the author wants to highlight right from jump street. The one in Cannibals is no exception; it is a particularly abominable excerpt…
The first page introduces us to Doug Geddis, an elderly member of the hamlet known as Invercurie. We find out he’s in his late 50s and that he’s seen through shit. He is clearly apprehensive, and praying that whatever was lurking outside were villagers rather than… well, you know. Right away Guy N. Smith paints a desolate scene. One that feels hopeless, isolated from civilization and ripe for some inbred monster mayhem.
It isn’t long before readers find Doug Geddis is up to no good. Greedy to make a buck, he’s willing to risk the lives of careless holidaymakers. What a great word, by the way. You gotta love English writers; they use certain words and phrases American writers don’t. Little details like that can make a book feel “exotic” and extra fun to read. I also love his wife’s accent and how Guy writes it as how you would hear her speak it: “Douglas, ye can nae bring outsiders to Invercurie, ye can nae risk them seeing…” and then ol’ Douglas the mad lad telling her to shut up. Or think it, anyhow. The page ends on this chilling line: “Death would always stalk the night hours in Invercurie.” Ooh, spooky! Even the word “Invercurie” seems to curdle the blood… it just sounds like the sort of place where really bad and awful things happen… the type of place that deserves to be blotted off the map and blown to bits. A region where no God of any kind exists…
Soon we get some foolhardy holidaymakers crashing the scene. They’re needed for the body count, y’know. Once again we get another chilling line in italics: Invercurie ceases to be a place of beauty after dark. Ye mustna go up into the mountains. Creepy stuff!
Be ready for a lot of words written in italics. I suppose it was Guy’s way of being extra dramatic and look-at-me. Whatever the odd case may be, I find it works. My eyes were always drawn to the italics, and I knew anything in italics usually meant some sort of vulgar language or graphic description. Guy’s vivid description of the beasts is second to none. He really excels at grossing you out and making you feel super glad you’re anywhere but Invercurie!
When shit hits the fan, it really hits the fan. This is like nothing I’ve ever read from R.L. Stine, that’s for sure! Oh no, people die here and die in very gruesome ways. It is not for the faint of heart. Cannibals is balls to the walls horror and depravity personified. Being my first adult horror book read, I could not believe how vile and despicable it was. Each reading session concluded with me wanting to thoroughly scrub myself clean!
Guy N. Smith is a savage. The story moves along at a brisk pace, there is plenty of monster mayhem and it never drags. This isn’t one of those lame horror stories where it’s 80% buildup and then finally the monsters appear during the final 20%. These godforsaken creatures show up early and often. At first it’s a bunch of slaughtering up in their dank decrepit cave. But before things come to a fiery conclusion, the creatures shamble out of their cave to wreck havoc and smash shit up down in the village. This was no lame first book in a series where it sets up events for the middle book. This is a standalone where Guy unleashed all hell and said, “Here, have some more hell! And take another heaping of hell after that!” I enjoyed the hell out of it, pun intended. It’s way better than any Hills Have Eyes or Wrong Turn movie. Sometimes, it’s a lot more frightening imagining something with your mind than it is to see with your eyes. Cannibals is damn bloody fun, full of wanton destruction and chaos. I was sad when it finally ended, but also relieved. I needed a shower badly! This is just one of those books… it’s completely vile and foul… and I loved every friggin’ second of it
2 thoughts on “Cannibals (Guy N. Smith)”
Like a lot of people who come across Guy N. Smith I first read one of his killer crab books. I fell in love with that considering I loved those crazy old monsters movies when I was a kid and you can’t find a lot of that in book form. So after reading that I do plan on reading the others in the series but I, of course, couldn’t help but look up his other books. I wanted to know what else was going on in that brain of his besides giant killer crabs. I came across Cannibals and was very excited to try something new from Guy. But to be honest with this novel I was left a little underwhelmed. Maybe I’ve seen the “mutated cannibal” thing so many times by other authors that I was just not into it anymore. But I found this book to be a bit boring. I’ve never really been into the “unhelpful village” and “hate all outsiders” thing and theres A LOT of that in here, and its a long while into this book befor anything of real interest happens. And it only being a little over 200 pages you don’t have a ton of room to get it all in there.I was also blown away by a line in the book. I can forgive some character stupidity in a lot of gross out monster stories, because lets face it we see it a lot. But when a guy who is supposed to be a cop basically looks at people and says something along the lines of “hey I know some people are missing including a child but lets get some sleep and we will look for them in the morning”. I can’t help but shake my head at this guy saying such an idiotic thing. A kids missing and your gonna wait till the morning to do anything about it??? The ending was kind of suspensful though. I had no idea how our heroes were going to get out of it. It looks pretty bad for them and you find yourself really wanting them to make it. Even the mean one who you can’t figure out why is still alive. This novel isn’t going to keep me from reading Guy’s other works. He has a lot of stuff I’m interested in and I’m gonna check them out. I am just hoping for better than I got with “Cannibals” its a quick enough read, and I don’t regret reading it. But go for his giant killer crabs instead.
Hi Tamiflu, first of all, wow. I am shocked — SHOCKED! — that someone left me a comment based on Cannibals. I guess it goes to show you when you put something out to the internet, you never know who it might reach and who might reach back! So very cool on that front. Secondly, I understand and hear your disappointment of this book. I think for me, because it was my first legit horror novel that I ever read (R.L. Stine’s Fear Street and Point Horror stuff, which was aimed at teens, clearly doesn’t qualify as such)… I was so blown away by the ample amount of violence and depravity. It was the right book at the right time sort of thing. I still think it’s balls to the wall madness, but I can see your perspective if one has already read many of these type of books. For me, it was a brand new experience and so I was probably very impressionable and easily pleased. I have yet to read any of his Crabs books but I definitely will one day. Coincidentally, my next review will be about another Guy N. Smith book, so be on the lookout for that. My second Guy experience, however, wasn’t nearly as memorable or pleasant, and I will discuss why in that upcoming review.
On a side note, I had a ton of fun with Guy’s Alligators! I thought that one rocked. Read Snakes earlier this year… that one not so much. Still readable but felt very by the numbers and a bit uninspired.
Anyway, good to have another Guy/horror reader roaming around here! I was pleasantly surprised to read your comment; I guess part of me never imagined that fellow horror book fanatics would find their way to a site largely dedicated to old Super Nintendo video games I know I started writing about these old books recently but my brain never thought it would attract other people who have read these ancient novels as well. Cheers!