First published back in January of 1981, ‘Doomflight’ was another wonderfully pulpish offering from the Godfather of Pulp Horror - Guy N Smith.

DLS Synopsis:
Frank Steele had taken eighteen-year-old Sue Kemp to the old disused Fradley aerodrome for driving lessons.  It was the perfect spot to learn the basics of driving a car.  A vast open ground where only a few people came.  But it’s also where Sue decided she’d break up with Frank.  She knew he’d been playing around behind her back.  And she was fed up with it.  Fed up with him.  It was time to end their little fling.

However Frank doesn’t take the news too kindly.  Sue can see a smouldering hatred in his eyes.  His fists clenching.  She knew she had to get out fast.  Get away from this man before he did something terrible. Before he killed her.

She flees into the desolate ruins of Fradley aerodrome hoping to hide amongst the rubble and scrubland.  But in the gloomy shadows of Fradley’s abandoned outbuildings, an ancient evil is lurking.  Sue’s fate was sealed the minute she entered the wartime aerodrome on the fringe of the city.  As she’s about to discover, there are far worse things in Fradley aerodrome than an enraged ex-boyfriend.  And she’ll learn this mistake with her life.

The next morning Kemp’s mutilated body is found on the cracked concrete runway.  Frank Steele is brought in for questioning – the prime suspect in Kemp’s murder.  But he wasn’t the one responsible for this horrific murder.  Something far more evil was the cause.

Sue Kemp isn’t the only one to lose their life on the desolate ruins of Fradley.  Within a matter of weeks another horrific death occurs.  The police are now on the lookout for a serial killer.  However they have little to no clues to assist in their search.

Meanwhile, the ruins of Fradley aerodrome have gone up for sale.  The wealthy investors looking to buy the site use their underhanded influence to secure the deal.  Despite the protests from the residents of the nearby village, the sale goes through.  And within weeks the once empty and abandoned ruins becomes a hive of activity.  The build is going ahead.  In a short while, the area which had been left to go to ruin ever since the RAF closed it down in 1943, will become one of the UK’s largest airports.

But Fradley can’t escape its history.  Fradley aerodrome had been built on the site of an old Druid stone circle.  A sacred spot where human sacrifices were once carried out.  The soil is drenched with the blood of countless victims.  The vast boulders still buried under the concreted runways.

Now with a vast modern airport being built upon that very spot, the ancient evil that saturates the soil there has awoken.  The followers of the Old Religion will exact their vengeance.  Even if their stone circle has been destroyed, they will live on, an angry and invincible force.  And they will wreak their terrible vengeance upon those who seek to defile their sacred temple of worship…

DLS Review:
What a textbook Guy N Smith plot!  We’ve had a few similarly plotted offerings from Smith over the years have we not?  In ‘The Pluto Pact’ (1982) we had a nuclear power station being built on cursed land.  In ‘The Walking Dead’ (1984) new houses were being built upon Hopwas Wood where the infamous Sucking Pit was located.  And in ‘The Festering’ (1989) a water-well drilled into the ground surrounding Garth Cottage where a vile centuries-old plague was buried.  Indeed, this idea of building upon cursed ground is something that Guy’s utilised a few times.  It’s a classic pulpy plot.  Ripe with potential for some terrible ancient evil to be reawakened.  Altogether absolute textbook Guy N Smith stuff.

In ‘Doomflight’ Guy follows his tried and tested formula for a mounting pulp horror that’s drenched in blood and gloomy bleakness.  Indeed, there’s very little respite from the long stream of oppressive horror that gradually builds up with an unstoppable momentum throughout the novel.  The first vicious death appears within the first handful of pages.  From then on its just one ‘accident’ or sacrificial death after the next.  There’s really no let up from it.  No glimmer of light.  Nothing at all to bring about even the smallest hint of hope from this spiralling descent into utter gloom and tragic despair.

As with most Guy N Smith offerings, there’s a veritable army of characters utilised within the novel.  You’ve got the corrupt money grabbing investors and site developers who care little for the warnings about the sacred land.  Then there’s ex-headmaster turned amateur archaeologist  - Hartley Lowe – who’s there to keep up all the warnings and protests.  Flying school instructor Lance Evans is a sort of wishy-washy rough-around-the-collar protagonist, along with the hot-blooded Pamela Bridges (very much a Caroline du Brunner style of character).  Along the way you’ve got countless others – most of whom will become victims to the Fradley Druids at some point or other.

So yeah, all typical Guy N Smith stuff!  And from start to finish it’s all damn entertaining.  However, ‘Doomflight’ is one of those novels from Guy that nevertheless feels just a tad too disjointed.  Like with ‘The Wood’ (1985), the story reads like a mishmash of pieces which have been haphazardly glued together.  There’s no smooth running plot that flows through the whole story.  Instead it’s a latticework of tragic events and ritualistic killings that together make up pretty much the entire body of the tale.

With ‘Doomflight’ a lot of the horror you get is delivered through the (usually dazed) first person-person-perspective of the victim as their fate unfolds.  If it’s a ritualistic sacrifice by the age-old Druids, then we’re transported back in time to a rocky landscape where the Druids had once performed their ghastly rituals.  These sequences are nightmarish and hauntingly sketchy – with Guy focusing more on the mounting terror than in describing much about the sudden change in backdrop.

On the other hand, if it’s one of the many aviation ‘accidents’ that plague the newly built airport, then it’s once again shown from the first-person-perspective of someone involved (or someone witnessing the tragedy) as the horrific scene and mass confusion unfolds before them.  Again, it’s all a nightmarish daze – usually with smoke and flames masking the enormity of the horror until the very end of that particular chapter.

Although it’s got all the makings for an absolute classic Guy N Smith offering, the disjointed construction of the story, the lack of any proper principal protagonist, and the ever-so-slight lack of gorehound pulpy gruesomeness (which usually accompanies a Guy N Smith offering) makes for a novel that delivers slightly less of a punch that the others in Smith’s arsenal.  That’s not to say it’s not damn entertaining stuff – but when stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of ‘Night Of The Crabs’ (1976), ‘Satan’s Snowdrop’ (1980), ‘Deathbell’ (1980), ‘Thirst’ (1980) or ‘Cannibals’ (1986) – if we’re honest, it really doesn’t compare.

The novel runs for a total of 221 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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