First published back in 1999 ‘Horror Shorts – 1st Collection’ was the first of these staple-bound collections of short stories to be published by the prolific pulp horror author Guy N Smith. The collection contains twelve shorts spanning an impressive thirteen years of writing (from 1977 to 1990).

Crustacean Vengeance – 7 Pages
The memory of the giant crustacean army’s attack on the millionaire’s paradise of Hayman Island still haunted Kiln.  After taking a quick look at the fisherman, most would quickly avert their eyes in fear, nevertheless, Kiln the hunter of Australia’s Barbecue Bay, now feared for what he knew he had to do next. 

The crabs had gotten the young girl on the beach at Hayman Island during the last full moon.  The girl hadn’t stood a chance against the colossal beasts with their razor-sharp pinchers.  Klin had watched as she was ripped apart.  Her entrails feasted upon by the vengeful crustaceans.

Now the crabs had returned to Barbecue Bay.  They were hungry for human flesh.  They wanted a terrible revenge for what Man had done to them.  But Kiln was here to stop them.  Or he’d die trying…

Following on from the absolute carnage witnessed in ‘Killer Crabs’ (1978), much-loved gritty anti-hero Klin returns to Hayman Island to finish the crabs off, once and for all.

Smith spends much of the first couple of pages, setting the scene, whilst refreshing our memories with the events that took place in ‘Killer Crabs’ (1978).  With that done, it’s straight into the thick of the action, with Klin laying his trap to hopefully wipe out the giant crabs.

Much of what takes place in the short is particularly reminiscent of the finale from ‘Killer Crabs’ (1978).  Of course, here Smith has a slight twist up his sleeve.  For a quick-fire short story, packed with textbook Guy N Smith suspense, this story delivers the goods.  Okay, so it treads much of the already previously trodden ground, but for a short, sharp stab of crustacean horror, you can’t go wrong at all.

The story was first published within the ‘Scare Care’ (1989) anthology and later republished in the original ‘Crabs: Unleashed - The Collection’ (2009) chapbook collection, the second ‘Crabs: Unleashed’ (2009) chapbook collection and the ‘Crabs Omnibus’ (2015) collection.

The Brain Crawlers – 5.5 Pages
Bondman had been suffering from a terrible migraine. His wife, Janie, had told him to stay home for the day. Whilst she went off to work, he should rest up in bed with the curtains drawn. Although after a short while Bondman decided he needed some fresh air. After all, it might help clear his pounding head. 

He’d taken the route up to the woodlands to avoid town, so no one from his office would catch him out and about. It was up on the hillside where he found the giant ants nest. The mound was teaming with them. Thousands clambering over each other, trying to get to whatever it was they were after. How he hated them. He’d always had a phobia about ants.

That was when his vision started to go. Everything started to blur, and a blanket of impenetrable blackness swept over his vision. The first bite came seconds later. A small, needle-sharp stinging on his foot. It was to be the first of many…

The Godfather of Pulp does love his creature horror. And here we have Smith at his finest, delivering a decidedly nasty little treat about ants attacking. It’s got almost all the hallmarks of a textbook Smith short tale. A vividly painted backstory for our principal character. An inner dialogue that amplifies his fear of the swarming ants. And then the horror of the swarming attack unfolding.

It’s written as if it’s almost a nightmare sequence. The horrors undoubtedly to come unfolding before our eyes, as we read on, helpless to change the tragic event from occurring.

Of course, we have an unexpected twist ending. Honestly, it’s not one you’d expect from a pulpy horror story like this. Almost throws you back into reality.

A superb story from the veritable master of the genre.

The story first appeared in the ‘Pulp’ (1972) fanzine and was later serialised within Issues 36 – 39 of Guy N Smith’s ‘Graveyard Rendezvous’ fanzine. 

The Last Boot – 3 Pages
Reg Williams had told his son, Dave, not to attend the United vs Rovers match that Saturday. Trouble had been brewing between the two sides, and the hooligans now wanted a fight. However, young Dave Williams thought he could handle himself. He planned to be gone before the first punch was thrown. Unfortunately for Dave, it didn’t go that way, and before he knew what was going on, he was caught up in the ruckus and beaten to death by a crowd of bloodthirsty thugs.

Following the funeral, Reg Williams swore his son’s death would be avenged. Whoever was responsible for the lad’s demise would soon be taking their last breath. Reg Williams would see to that. And so he went to the next match, offering fifty-quid to anyone who would name Dave’s murderer. An offer that Johnny the Face couldn’t pass up on…

Here we have a short little tale emersed in deep-rooted desire for revenge. It’s a dark and bitter story, focussing purely on Reg’s loss of his son, and his subsequent promise to get whoever put the last boot in, which had resulted in his son’s death. In the story we meet a couple of the hooligans which Smith has created - Johnny the Face and Filthy Fred. A couple of cliched 70’s style thugs which just adds to the whole exaggerated flavour of the tale.

We have a bit of a twist ending. Ok, so the first twist comes as absolutely no surprise, however, the sudden comeuppance at the end feels like it came out of nowhere. Like Smith just needed to end the story with justice being served in some way or other, so he bolted on a quick finishing paragraph to the end. To be honest, it just makes you smile that much more. A great pulpy stuff.

Hellfire: A Sabat Story – 4 Pages
Mark Sabat knew all too well about Quentin’s presence within his own mortal body. His evil brother had shared his flesh and bone for some time now. However, it gave Sabat a window into the Left Hand Path. A way to see, and on occasion speak with, the dark forces.

It was this dark privilege that led him to learn of Satan’s plan to rain hellfire upon the holiest of men, one who was known to Sabat. Of course, there could be only one such man – Bishop Royston – the man who had offered Mark Sabat a priesthood, and ordained him, not as an ordinary servant of the church, but as one who would seek out and destroy evil.

Sabat knew the Bishop’s life was now in danger. He had to reach out to him. Somehow try to protect the bishop from the wrath of the Anti-Christ himself…

One of Smith’s most loved characters – ex-priest and SAS-trained killer turned exorcist – Mark Sabat returns with a short story where Satan himself is taunting our moustachioed hero. It’s only a very short offering, and much of the tale is taken up by Smith quite unnecessarily reminding us of Quentin’s presence in Sabat’s body and all the lark that yin-and-yang co-habitation brings.

When we get to the crux of the story, following Satan’s taunting that he’ll bring hellfire down upon this holy man, we’re left with a very meagre tale. In essence we have Sabat warning the Bishop of Satan’s plan, and subsequently that very night the Bishop is burnt to a crisp. That’s it. Job done, Mark loses, and it’s score one for the Dark Lord. It’s an odd conclusion, but then, Smith’s never been the most predictable of authors. And let’s be brutally honest, he’s not well known for concluding his short stories in style! This one being a prime example.

Come Back, My Darling – 8.5 Pages
Arno Kassel was a distinguished neurosurgeon who’d received the ‘Vivisector of the Year’ award two years ago. Since then, he’d achieved even greater accomplishments within his chosen field of medical science. Arno had recently transplanted the head of a living pig onto the headless body of another – and the animal had lived!

However, when Arno’s wife, Makita, is brought in with appendicitis, despite his talents as a surgeon, he and fellow surgeon, Bill Negus, find they cannot save her. It should have been a fairly routine operation, however somehow, she’d managed to contract streptococcal within the hospital. An infection that soon led to necrotising fasciitis – the so-called ‘flesh eating bug’. There was nothing they could do for her now. Unless…

After learning of this highly acclaimed surgeon’s success with transplanting a pig’s head, when his wife is on deaths door, it’s relatively obvious where this story is likely to be heading. And you’d be exactly right!

Yeah, what we have here is pretty much Smith’s rewriting of Frank Henenlotter’s cult comedy horror flick ‘Frankenhooker’ (1990). Of course, it doesn’t all go according to plan. Turns out in Smith’s version of things, the prossie’s body is more dominant than the head, and as such, the reanimated Makita becomes a sex-crazed nymphomaniac, out walking the streets in the hunt for more sexual frolics with random strangers, whilst poor old Arno is left at home wishing he’d never tried to bring his beloved wife back.

The mockery and fierceness exhibited by the reanimated Makita Kassel is textbook Guy N Smith stuff. The whole toxic environment of their broken relationship – absolute classic Smith. Then we have Arno’s dastardly plan to correct his mistake. All great stuff, until we’re hit with another rushed conclusion to the story that doesn’t really wrap anything up at all! Oh well, a fun one nonetheless.

Hounds From Hades – 3.5 Pages
It had been nigh on twenty years since the black dogs’ mournful howl had been heard echoing across the still night air.  The legend of the hounds of hell stretched back to the Middle Ages.  Anyone who saw the dogs died, and when their howling was heard, death for someone in the hills was certain.  Head forester Frank Hall had never believed a word of the legend.  But that night, in the remote border hills, he will witness first-hand a nightmare made real.  One which will change his mind forever about the existence of the Hounds from Hell…

This one’s a classic Guy N Smith short story.  A reworking of the age-old legend of the Black Dogs.  The backdrop is typical Smith.  The setting, that of where the author himself lives in the rural border hills (although I have absolutely no idea if a Devil’s Peak exists in this particular neck of the woods).  The story itself is a simplistic but hugely entertaining one.  That classic set up, of a bunch of deer poachers out on the remote border hills in the middle of the night.  Of course, for them to break the laws of nature, they will pay the ultimate penalty.  And so, in come the black dogs, for a spot of swift justice.  Simple, but wonderfully effective.  A great little short.

The story first appeared within Guy N Smith’s ‘Graveyard Rendezvous: Summer 2009’ (2009) as well as in the standalone e-chapbook ‘Hounds From Hades’ (2009), and later again within the ‘Tales From The Graveyard’ (2020) collection.

The Ghouls – 2.5 Pages
Granger lay in the pitch black, barely able to move an inch.  The coffin was a good foot or so too small for him.  Nevertheless, his time within the coffin’s cramped confines would soon be over.  He waited there, one hand resting upon the metal cylinder suppling him with life-giving oxygen, the other clutching the .32 revolver.  He just hoped Pieter, the callow youth he’d paid to return at dawn and dig down through the six feet of fresh earth, stood by his promise.  Although if he was right about what might soon occur within the shadowy graveyard, Pieter’s services wouldn’t be required…

Here we have a great little ghoulish treat.  The story slowly, piece by piece, unravels the mystery behind the strange predicament our protagonist has put himself within.  From early on you’ll have no doubt guessed what his reasons are.  But it’s only in the last couple of pages that the full picture is revealed.  The extraordinary lengths this foolhardy fella will go to.  It’s short and sweet and packed with pulse-racing suspense throughout.

The story first appeared within Guy N Smith’s ‘Graveyard Rendezvous: Issue 2’ fanzine and later within the ‘Tales From The Graveyard’ (2020) collection.

The Baby – 5.5 Pages
Sharon Quick refused to accept that she was pregnant until a couple of days before she gave birth in the claustrophobic darkness of her single room apartment. Despite having had numerous sexual partners, she had always taken precautions. Other than when she was raped. She’d convinced herself it was just her putting on more weight and nothing else. Sharon had always been overweight. A scruffy girl who didn’t bother with personal hygiene. The men who met with her in the Horse & Jockey carpark didn’t seem to mind too much. They got what they came for. She always gave them what they wanted.

When she finally gave birth to her baby, she continued with the illusion that it wasn’t hers. That she just had to rid herself of it and all would be fine again. She could go back to the pub carpark and carry on as she had been. But first she had to dump the newborn monstrosity. Get rid of it in the dead of night and never look back. It was as easy as that. Or at least, she thought it would be…

This one’s a decidedly dark and sinister story. The principal character of Sharon Quick is the absolute epitome of an easy lay. The local slut that’s used by all. Interestingly, Smith has chosen the Horse & Jockey – a pub in Knighton nearby to where he lived – for Sharon’s prime location for her midnight shenanigans. 

The short tale doesn’t get any less downbeat as it continues. In fact, after the baby is born and Sharon’s working out what she’s going to do with it, the tale takes on increasingly more sinister undertones. Ultimately it ends in a truly nightmarish and horrific manner. It’s wildly over-the-top with no aspect rooted in reality. However, it makes for one hell of a pulpy read. Absolutely superb!

The story first appeared in the ‘Dark Voices 2’ (1990) anthology.

The Shooting On The Moss – 5.5 Pages
Charles and Peter had come up from London to the Scottish Highlands to enjoy a weekend of grouse hunting.  They’d arranged to go shooting on the Mankwill moorlands, a stone’s throw away from Loch Ness.  However, seeing a heavy mist creeping down the mountainside, their optimism of a successful shooting trip was diminishing by the minute.  But it was when the flockmaster, a rugged old farmhand called Macgregor, point blank refused to go up the mountainside to the Moss, that the pair’s nerves started to fray.  Apparently, back when Macgregor was a young lad, his father had ventured up to the Moss when the mist had drawn in and had never been seen again.  It was enough to put the two grouse hunters on edge.  But not enough to prevent them from going up into the misty Moss…

Absolute classic Guy N Smith setting.  A misty moorland with two amateur grouse hunters choosing to ignore a warning from the rugged old flockmaster who’d been spooked by his father’s disappearance on the very same moorland.  Painting the right picture for the backdrop and delivering the required atmosphere are absolute key to the success of a story like this.  Luckily, Smith knows this particular set up like the back of his hand.  He’s a master of delivering this type of pulpy tale.  Getting the characters established enough so their fate delivers the punch it needs.  Building upon that tantalising air of mystery.  The unknown.  The mounting, almost palpable suspense.  A great opening short, delivering a gloriously pulpy conclusion.

The short story was first published within ‘Graveyard Rendezvous: Issue 1’ (1992) where it was originally titled ‘Shooting On The Moss’ (i.e. with no ‘The’) and later within the ‘Tales From The Graveyard’ (2020) collection.

Wheels Of Evil – 3 Pages
John Theophilus was a loner. Aside from going to his job as a stock-broker’s clerk, he rarely left his home, and so over time had become known by the locals as somewhat of an oddball. Not that he minded what these people thought of him. Although he did curse the day, from some ten years back, when he picked up the book entitled the Powers of Darkness. It had been the beginning of his lifelong fascination with the Dark Arts.

Since then he’d constructed a dark alter within his home. He’d collected numerous books on the subject and learnt all that they had to offer. And before long he’d been gifted an ability by his dark Master. Theophilus found he could predict when a tragic event was to occur. He knew precisely when and how someone was going to die.

From that moment on John Theophilus feared for the day when he would learn of his own fate. And that day had finally arrived…

Good old fate! A concept that’s been utilised in countless horror stories over the years. In fact, Smith himself had previously penned an incredibly similar short story entitled ‘Mr. Strange’s Christmas Dream’ (1972) which later appeared in his ‘Tales From The Graveyard’ (2020) collection.

The two stories have a huge amount in common, almost to the point where this short might be seen as pretty much a rewrite of the original tale. Here though, we have a loner who dabbles in the Dark Arts – as is so often the way in Smith’s tales of the occult. It’s one that flirts with a constant and oppressive feeling of utter foreboding. Something which Smith executes triumphantly within this short tale.

And then of course, we have the twist ending. Or as much of a twist as a story about fate will allow. An entertaining little short that delivers exactly what it set out to do.

The short story was first published within the ‘Children Of The Night: Issue 3’ (1977) periodical.

Curse Of The White Rhinoceros – 4 Pages
He hadn’t always been the broken man he was today. Many years ago, he’d been the District Commissioner of Waakerstroom. It was back then that the whole ordeal took place. One which would change the course of his life forever.

He’d agreed to go on a hunting expedition into the vast wilderness of Africa. The prize being sought was a white rhinoceros the locals claimed to have seen. A white hunter by the name of Carl Craven had announced his ambition to capture or kill the rhino. The opportunity to accompany the hunter in his mission was not one which could be missed.

Unfortunately, it was a hunt which would reveal the type of man the District Commissioner really was. The cowardice within him which would haunt him for the rest of his days and condemn him to a lifetime of obedience for a curse he could never walk away from…

Smith’s passion for hunting is certainly no secret. Here we see him in his absolute element, with a story about hunting big game in Africa. The story is written in the first-person-perspective of the once District Commissioner, as he reflects back on a hunt for an elusive white rhino which eventually leads to his downfall. It’s a quick-fire short story, that gets straight to the hunt in question, and then the ordeal which he, Craven and their Zulu tracker – Umbolo – face when they eventual track down this ferocious rhino.

The story is largely focussed on this hunt. However, the supernatural horror of the piece comes with the resulting curse he receives for his cowardice. Another wonderfully entertaining short, with Smith clearly enjoying the process of describing the hunting escapades along with the big game rifles.

The Hoax – 5.5 Pages
Frank Mellor had built a career out of making latex models. Although, after his wife died, he’d put little energy into his modelling business, until finally it collapsed. However, he now had a plan. He’d taken a trip to loch ness after a successful batch of his loch ness monster models had sold out. It was there he came up with his plan to make a fortune.

He’d set sail a giant inflatable model of the loch ness monster itself, film and photograph the beast whilst onlookers gawped at the sighting, then surreptitiously shoot the thing down before anyone could see it was a fake. The plan was genius! What could possibly go wrong?...

For this final short in the collection, we have a wonderfully elaborate ploy which Smith sets down in elaborate detail. It’s a story which pulls you into the devious plan and gets you desperately guessing how it will all turn out.

Of course, the cunning plan to fool the public, leading him to fame and fortune doesn’t work out. However, because of the wondrously elaborate folly within the story, it’s an absolute joy to read. A great little short story to end the collection with.

The collection runs for a total of 59 pages.

© DLS Reviews



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