First published back in December of 1986, pulp horror veteran Guy N Smith’s novel ‘Cannibals’ was the author’s second title to be published by Arrow.

DLS Synopsis:
Invercurie was more of a hamlet than a village.  A few scattered stone cottages on the end of a narrow peninsula that jutted out from the Scottish coastline.  A small dusty shop and a forbidding looking church the only other buildings within the out-of-the-way community.  For in Invercurie, you either fished just off the coastline, or ran sheep up on the nearby mountain slopes of Blair Long.

But Doug Geddis had other ideas.  Now in his late fifties he wanted more from the cut-off remote Highland village than just fishing its cold waters.  Much to the disdain of the locals, Geddis started to build wooden chalets on the small stretch of land known as the Beck which his late wife had owned.  Holiday chalets that would resulted in more than just hostility in the village.  The locals demanded he stopped the build immediately.  Ceased erecting the handful of clumsily built wooden chalets.  For they knew what he planned.  But they couldn’t understand how he could do such a thing!  Why would he bring outsiders into Invercurie?

Thirty-five-year-old college lecturer, Eddie Drake, arrived into Invercurie a short while later.  He’d booked one of Geddis’ timber-built chalets for an entire month, after they searched for the most out-of-the-way place they could find on the map.  With his marriage in shatters, he’d run off with one of his students – nineteen-year-old Sarah Bryant.  Now they’d come to the chalets to seek refuge from the pressure of the scandal that their elopement had made.

However, upon arriving at the remote coastline spot, they found it devoid of anything other than a nearby beach and the vast mountains of Blair Long, which formed the backdrop for the small village.  Furthermore, when the couple made their way into the village for supplies, they found the locals far from welcoming.  The shopkeeper warned them to leave whilst they still had the chance.  There were things in Invercurie which came out at night.  Of course Drake surmised that the people of Invercurie simply weren’t keen on outsiders coming into their village.  It seemed they’d do whatever they could to scare them off.  Including making up farfetched stories.  Nevertheless, they were here now, and so Drake decided he’d make the most of the time they had.

That night Sarah woke to hear strange noises coming from outside of their chalet.  Grunting and scratching sounds at the timber cabin’s door.  Something was out there.  Something that wanted in.  Despite the close proximity of her lover, it was enough to send cold shivers running down the nineteen-year-olds spine.

The next day, they decided to head off to the mountains of Blair Long with a picnic.  Following an old sheep trail, the couple pushed on up the steep stone-covered track, up the mountain side.  The climb was tough, but the vast scenic views were reward in themselves.  However, as they neared the summit, a series of dank looking caves came into view.  Caves that reeked of such an ungodly foulness.  Caves that made Sarah want to leave the area immediately.

But Drake’s interest was piqued.  The caves looked and smelled like they were still in use.  How could that be so?  Who would use these caves as a habitat – an existence within the highest regions of these precarious mountain slopes?

After a brief look around the impenetrable dark of the first cave, the pair decide to leave; Drake secretly planning to return with a torch so he could investigate the strange caves more thoroughly.

However, the people of Invercurie have been harbouring an age-old secret.  For generations, half-human creatures, hideously mutated after generations of inbreeding, have been lurking in the caves on Blair Long.  At night, the hideous cannibals would descend the mountainside, to scavenge for food in the village below.  But now outsiders had come, threatening to reveal Invercurie’s dark secret.  Even in their imbecilic minds, the cannibals knew they must put an end to the outsiders in order to keep their existence secret.  And then they would feast upon their flesh…

DLS Review:
Guy N Smith is the undisputed godfather of pulp horror.  Its novels like this one that made him such a heavyweight in the genre.  From start to finish it’s unrelenting, uncompromising horror, with blood and guts and gratuitous violence forming the gore-encrusted meal of the deal.

It’s an absolute textbook Smith tale.  The backdrop is a remote out-of-the-way location in the farthest reaches of the Scottish Highlands.  It’s rural and isolated and oh-so-ripe with potential for an age-old lurking secret.

Within a matter of just a few pages Smith has successfully painted the picture of this cut-off Scottish town to absolute perfection.  The locals are also given a broad rural Scottish accent which simply echoes the isolated locale.  Indeed, within minutes of starting the book the reader is flung into a believable environment with an unshakable feeling of unease constantly looming in the salty Highland air.

So far, so ‘The Wicker Man’ (1973).  However, unlike the gradual build-up in Anthony Shaffer’s iconic horror, instead Smith unveils the lurking menace behind his story at one of the first opportunities.  There’s absolutely no waiting around before the gruesome horror starts to pound at the door.  Literally, within the space of two to three reasonably short chapters, the cannibals that inhabit the Blair Long Mountains have already made themselves known and taken their first victim.

From here on in it’s pretty much a constant barrage of cannibalistic horror, with the ferocious pace charging forth with absolute gusto, and the resulting bloodshed splattered across almost every other page.  Throughout this hate-fuelled onslaught Smith maintains a gripping tension, with the ever-present threat of the inbred cannibals escalating as the seconds pass by.

It has to be said that this is one of the gloomier, darker and more unrelenting horrors that Smith’s penned.  There’s barely a respite from the horror from the moment of the first kill.  In fact this oppressive bleakness seems to penetrate every aspect of the tale – spilling out from the novel and flooding your senses as you turn each page.

Saying it’s almost impossible to put a book down has become somewhat of a cliché over the years.  But that’s exactly what it’s like when reading ‘Cannibals’.  The pace is so frantic, the prose so gut-wrenchingly urgent, that you feel you just can’t take a break from it.  The intensity is almost palpable as it keeps you tightly within its hungry grasp.

Even though the location of the tale is incredibly remote, Smith still has more than enough characters for the number of horrific deaths to be damn near constant.  Furthermore, each and every death seems more brutal than the last.  In fact, as the tale begins to spiral towards its adrenaline-pumping finale, the amounts of gore and the sheer savagery portrayed in each kill escalate to a gut-churning new levels.

This is how pulp horror is done boys and girls!  This is uncompromising horror, delivered to absolute pulpy perfection.  If you like Guy N Smith’s other work, then you’re going to love this one.  It’s non-stop blood-drenched horror, with unrelenting brutality pumping through its cannibalistic veins.

The novel runs for a total of 208 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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