First published back in April of 1984, British author John Halkin’s pulp horror novel ‘Slime’ was the second book in the ‘Slither-Slime-Squelch’ creepy-crawly trilogy.  The trilogy kicked-off with the first novel ‘Slither’ (1980) and was finished off with the last book in the trilogy ‘Squelch’ (1985).

DLS Synopsis:
On the seabed, a sunken cargo ship has offered up the first taste of human flesh for the jellyfish.  The bloated corpses imprisoned within the gloomy confines becoming an unsuspected new meal for the deadly marine beasts.  However it’s not long before the jellyfishes next meal is coming their way.

When seventeen-year-old Pete takes a dinghy out into the sea around the Welsh coastline, he soon realises his anger at his sister, Jenny, has somewhat clouded his judgement.  After being hit by the sail boom and then losing his footing in the small vessel, the youngster falls overboard and into the cold sea water where waiting throngs of the flesh-hungry jellyfish are waiting.  The rest of the young lad’s painful life can be countered in mere minutes.

Elsewhere, actor Tim Ewing is on set at a seaside resort in South Wales for the filming of the popular TV series ‘The Chronicles Of Gulliver’.  However, the filming hasn’t been going too well for the young star.  After receiving a highly unnecessary punch from a brutish extra by the name of Arthur, a punch that was far more real than the script called for, Ewing is getting close to his snapping point.  And then the bloated corpse of Pete is washed up beside them, a flesh-eating jellyfish devouring the young victim’s face.

As horrified as they are baffled by the jellyfish’s actions, Ewing together with his close journalist friend Jane Lowe, go off to the local library in order to hopefully identify the jellyfish that was making short work of the corpse’s facial features.  However, upon returning from their brief attempt at research, they encounter the thuggish extra Arthur and his similarly drunken pals.  With aggression in the air once again, Ewing makes a snap decision and pushes the drunken thug into the harbour.  However, they quickly realise that Arthur can’t swim and Ewing begrudgingly dives in after the struggling drunk to rescue him.  But the jellyfish are already upon Arthur, and after pulling the heavily injured man to safety, Tim only just escapes with his life himself.

Jane’s marine biologist sister, Jocelyn, suspects a mutant strain of the Pelagia Noctiluca jellyfish are responsible for the sudden attacks.  However, she’ll need a specimen to confirm her terrifying suspicions.  Luckily, after having been discharged from the local hospital following his run in with the jellyfish, Ewing manages to capture one of the vicious pink jellyfish whilst recuperating down on the Devon coast.  A specimen that’s far from dead.  A specimen that still has plenty of sting left in it, and is more than ready to use it.

The jellyfish threat is suddenly becoming much more real and deadly.  As the victims of these vicious marine monsters start to pile up, TV producer Jackson Phillips decides that a documentary on the jellyfish would help to bring this increasing threat to the general public’s attention.  And it’s a threat that’s getting a hell of a lot worse by the day.

When the weather takes a turn for the worse across the entirety of Great Britain, it brings with it a massive surge in the numbers of deadly jellyfish across the coastlines.  The beaches have suddenly become infested by tens of thousands of the carnivorous beasts.  Even inland, the public aren’t safe from the threat as the jellyfish start to make their way up the rivers and creeks.

The army are brought in as a desperate measure to hopefully eradicate a large proportion of the jellyfish population.  But by now the jellyfish have already started to breed.  And now there are even more of the deadly flesh-eating beasts to contend with.  And the new generation are horrifyingly small enough to get almost anywhere...

DLS Review:
Like with the first book ‘Slither’ (1980) from this gloriously pulpy trilogy, ‘Slime’ is so utterly over-the-top and unashamedly pulpish that it’s nigh on impossible to put the book down once you’ve embarked upon this mind-bogglingly ghoulish display of pulp fiction.  Indeed, if you thought that ‘Slither’ (1980) was the near-epitome of ‘creatures vs mankind’ fiction, then just you wait until you get your teeth into this little beauty!

For a start ‘Slime’ offers up very possibly the highest bodycount of victims in the entire trilogy.  And we’re not just talking about sweeping statements detailing mass victims here.  We’re talking individually described characters, lovingly created in order for the author to ultimately bring them to the slaughter in a mere matter of pages.  In true Guy N Smith fashion, it’s the person-behind-the-victim that makes the deaths so much more delightfully brutal.  It’s those hand-plucked victims whose gory deaths are described in such visceral detail.  And oh dear god does Halkin deliver the goods!

Yeah this is almost as lowbrow as they come.  It’s mindless horror-candy with its foot permanently on the throttle.  The manic plotline is merely an elaborate connecting thread that ties together one gruesome scene of slaughter with the next, and then the next, and the next…and so on.  The reader barely has chance to come up for air before the jellyfish are at it again, treating the Great British public like their own personal sushi restaurant.

Our principal protagonist, Tim Ewing, is the usual slight-hero with more ‘Joe Public’ running through his veins than he has any courageously heroic qualities.  He’s like a less intellectual version of Cliff Davenport, with youth slightly more on his side and plenty of libido to boot.  Mind you that’s not to say that our Cliff didn’t get his fair share of action.

Anyway, back to ‘Slime’.  With the fun and games of the jellyfish epidemic in full swing, Halkin plays the usual ‘army response’ card, utilising a mass extermination that just pumps up the overall madness and mayhem.  And all the while our actor pal Tim Ewing is on set filming his new documentary and the like; getting himself (and those around him) into all sorts of sticky situations.

And still the victims keep coming.  Halkin sets the characters up just to knock ‘em right back down again.  And then, if that wasn’t enough craziness and pulpish-goodness, the breeding jellyfishes’ offspring are so tiny that they can infiltrate the UK’s water supply.  Oh yes, it’s time for more of that madness that we saw in ‘Slither’ (1980).

As a final injection of pure wackiness, Halkin injects some outrageously over-the-top suggestions of a possible mad scientist at work, before signing off the novel with a tremendously weak and blasé conclusion; barely bothering to wrap up much at all.  But goddammit was it a damn good read through and through.

The novel runs for a total of 252 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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