First published back in April of 1976, the classic pulp horror novel ‘The Slime Beast’ was Guy N Smith’s third novel to see publication.  The novel saw its publication just five months after that of ‘The Sucking Pit’ (1975); starting off an impressive trend for one of the most prolific horror writers careers ever.

DLS Synopsis:
On the treacherous swampy landscape of ‘The Wash’, a mile or so east of Sutton Village, a small group of historians are searching for King John’s missing treasure buried somewhere on the saltings.  The expedition is being led by Professor Lowson, accompanied by his twenty-year-old niece Liz Beck and the British Museum’s young Assistant Curator - Gavin Royle.  However, after only two false alarms, the third dig unearths a couple of mysterious metallic objects constructed from an alloy unknown to the professor.  Upon digging further, the trio discover a strange gargoyle like beast that was fully submerged in the mud-flats.  They soon fully uncover the strange beast like creature, to discover that it is still breathing and must therefore still be alive!  To further prove that the creature is not just a mummified remains, the trio witness copious amounts of a strange and foul smelling slime dripping off of the motionless creature’s body.  With the sun beginning to set, the trio decide to return to their temporary base, a blockhouse located in the direct vicinity, to return to investigate this strange discovery first thing the next day.

That evening, Gavin and Liz decide to drive into Sutton Village for a drink at the local pub – The Bull.  Upon arriving, the reception from the locals to these two newcomers is far from friendly, especially from the pub’s landlord - Thomas Southgate.  Before they have barely had a chance to taste their drinks, they are informed of the strange occurrences that have taken place out on The Wash, notably a recent meteorite that crashed down on the saltings, just the other night.  Putting together the recent discovery of the slime beast with the knowledge of this meteorite landing in that very same vicinity, the two come to the conclusion that their might well be a connection and decide to return to the blockhouse to inform the professor straight away.

However, that night, whilst the professor is getting some rest and Gavin and Liz are quickly getting intimate, the now awakened beast (already dubbed ‘the slime beast’ by Liz Beck) begins an assault on the haphazardly constructed door of the blockhouse, in an attempt to get in.  Only once Gavin confronts the beast, dashing a flaming newspaper into its prone face, does the slime beast desist with its assault, fleeing into the night.

The next morning the trio are met by the local Chief-Inspector Harborne and a Detective-Inspector Borg, who inform them of the terrible mutilation of the local bird-watcher – Manton Haywood.  They are told that the entrails had disappeared from the corpse and amongst the mass of blood was a great deal of slime that was currently baffling them.  Nothing is said by the professor about the slime beast or indeed their close encounter the previous night.  However, Royle confronts the professor after the officers have departed to establish why nothing was said.  The professor subsequently explains that first they must obtain some solid proof of the beast’s existence in order for their otherwise far-fetched story to be believed.  The two youngsters reluctantly agree with the professor, and so the three of them once again go in search of the slime beast to obtain some proof of its existence.  Alas, the search proves to be a fruitless exercise.

The following night, the local wildfowler, Mallard Glover, bursts into the blockhouse where the three are camped, seeking refuge from the slime beast that is roaming The Wash.  The professor and Gavin go out in the dark in search of the beast, leaving Glover behind with the professor’s niece.  However, the slime beast has many more victims in line in order to quench its bloodlust, and the young Liz Beck is far from safe in the company of the lecherous Mallard Glover.  Furthermore, the locals are far from happy with the newcomers and the professor has begun having power-hungry thoughts of enslaving the slime beast for his own control.  This volatile situation promises to get a whole lot worse before long.  And there will no doubt be plenty of bloodshed left in its wake...

DLS Review:
Smith leaps straight into the storyline from the very start, unveiling the hideous beast in all its delightfully over-the-top pulpy glory.  From the moment the beast first strikes, Smith throws in a veritable litany of goretastic bloodshed interspersed with injections of sleazy sex and plot-hungry suspense.  Indeed, for all of its short length, Smith crams in a wealth of thrills and kills, creating a monumental example of 70
s pulp horror fiction.

Numerous flimsy excuses are utilised throughout the tale to laughably back-up the direction of the developing plotline.  In typical Guy N Smith style, the characters allow themselves to be put in the most dangerous of places at the worst possible times, under some incredibly ludicrous reasoning.  This complete disregard for any realistic backbone to the portrayal of the characters just enhances the colourful pulpish delight of the tale.

Similarly, the relationship between Gavin and Liz is formed within mere seconds, quickly leaping into a moderately graphic sex scene that soon develops into a full blown relationship, which in turn ultimately leads to the beginnings of a marriage and even thoughts of children…all within the space of a couple of nights spent together!  Genius!

Like with his gigantic crabs from his signature ‘Crabs’ series, the Slime Beast draws many physical similarities with the huge armoured crustaceans in its general make-up.  Indeed, when the army are eventually called in to fight off the threat of the Slime Beast and protect Sutton Village from another midnight visit from the creature, the failure of the weaponry on the beast’s impenetrable armour is almost word for word in its similarity to the assault of the crustaceans' shells.

Although the storyline delivers countless flaws and implausible reasoning from the characters, the pace is still fast with numerous twists and turns and unlikely subplots to keep the tale utterly gripping.

The novel’s grand finale is suitably dramatic, with plenty of bloodshed wrapped around a wholly satisfying conclusion.  Indeed, the last-minute inclusion of the final moments of an unimportant secondary character, who is on the saltings to hopefully capture a picture of the slime beast, is certainly surreal.  And with it Smith shies away from equating the man’s joyful embrace at the beast’s return as anything other than a madness he has induced from the first attack upon him.  Indeed nothing more is said of the matter and its inclusion into the storyline seems to be somewhat of a filler, or more probably simply an excuse to throw in another helping of bloodshed!

For the sheer pulpy pleasure of the novel, ‘The Slime Beast’ is an absolute winner.  The carnage at the hands of the beast is graphically gory with plenty of scenes for the beast to cause its unrelenting havoc.  The smatterings of lurid sex are appropriately sleazy in their descriptive nature to maintain the pulpy essence of the novel.  The inclusion of Mallard Glover’s unwanted sexual advances on Liz Beck and the resulting attempted rape, simply add another level of gritty Guy N Smith-esque sleaze factor to the tale.

The novel has all of the pulp horror goodness that you want (and expect) from a piece of this nature.  The roots of Smith’s writing style and tastes in fiction are all too evident in this early piece of his work.  This is a definite must read for all connoisseurs of this sleazy and utterly over-the-top literature.

The novel runs for a total of 110 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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