First published back in May of 1978, British pulp horror author Guy N Smith’s novel ‘Killer Crabs’ formed the first sequel to the tremendously successful novel ‘Night Of The Crabs’ (1976), continuing down the path towards firmly establishing Smith’s signature crab series.
Just off the Norwegian coast, a group of fishermen are brutally killed from an onslaught of gigantic beasts from within the depths of the sea. Crawling across the ragged seabed, the crabs are on the move. Their revenge on mankind burning deep in their hate-filled eyes.
Sure enough, in the picturesque setting of Barbeque Bay on Australia’s beautiful Hayman Island, the once tranquil setting is suddenly thrown into utter chaos when a local fisherman and a gang of Japanese poachers are ripped to shreds by the advancing crustacean army.
Marine botanist, Professor Cliff Davenport, is soon on the scene, joining forces with a local fisherman by the name of Klin. The battle is now on to protect the local population from these giant ruthless crabs, as the crustaceans begin to wage their war on the community.
As the authorities begin to prepare for the inevitable, the first crab assault comes crashing in from out of the water. The army bombard the advancing crustaceans with their heavy gauge weaponry, to seemingly no avail. And as the first crab falls to a lucky shot, big game hunter Harry Logan sees his chance at claiming the ultimate in big game trophies. But the battle rages on, until finally, after recovering from the devastating assault, everyone knows that there are more to come and that they are only likely to get fiercer.
However, realising that the crabs must have a breeding ground close by, Davenport et all, head to a remote and desolate island just off the mainland in an attempt to rid the crabs from the area. What was feared to be a deadly mission turns out to be even more harrowing than they could ever have dreamed, as they make their way into the thick swamps of the crabs’ new home...
Taking over from where ‘Night Of The Crabs’ (1976) had left off, there is now no need for Smith to re-establish the threat of the giant crabs or indeed set down much of the new premise before the bloodshed is unleashed. Sure enough, the tale quickly embarks on delivering absolute bucket loads of gore mixed in with an elaborate array of utterly preposterous subplots.
In amongst the furious mayhem, as a direct result of the arrival of the crabs on Hayman Island, a journalist reporter named Corder is introduced with his own little storyline surrounding his mission to obtain the story of his life. Meanwhile, Harvey Logan is loaded up and ready for the ultimate big game kill. Further still, Frank Burke is hauled up on the island, looking at hiding away with his ill-gotten gains in the remote location. And sex-crazed Caroline Du Brunner has her eyes on almost every man. These character rich subplots keep the tale hurling along with so much action and excitement, ensuring that there is always at least one dramatic turn of events on the cards at any given point.
The various characters in the tale all display wildly exaggerated personalities and brilliantly clichéd roles. In particular, the injection of Caroline du Brunner into the storyline, simply by itself, adds a whole extra layer of sleaze to the delightfully pulpish mix. With sex, death and crab mayhem firing on all cylinders, Smith keeps on cranking up the thrills until it’s time to move the novel towards its concluding scenario.
For this finale, Smith slows down the pace somewhat, moving the action off the populated mainland and out into an uninhabited island, and begins piling on an oppressive atmosphere for the novel’s showdown. Although the energy of the novel is suddenly dispelled for this finale, the ending does not suffer for it. Instead the reader is subjected to a more tense and suspenseful ending, with an atmosphere of foreboding very much as the meal of the hour.
For the sheer volume of unrelenting crab action and juicy subplots propelling the novel forwards, Smith has undoubtedly produced one of his best pulp horror novels to have ever seen the light of day. The action rich plot, the colourful array of characters, the intertwining subplots and the unreserved bloodshed together make ‘Killer Crabs’ very possibly the highlight of the entire series.
For pulp horror enthusiasts this novel is perhaps the most perfect example of what the whole subgenre is all about. It’s so over-the-top on all levels that it becomes nigh on impossible to put down. There’s just so much in the tale. So many characters. So many secondary stories. And so much glorious bloodshed.
The novel runs for a total of 158 pages.
© DLS Reviews