Monday, November 11, 2013


I met THE GHOUL in a bookstore, not at the the movies. Guy Smith's novelization caught my attention for obvious reasons, and Smith was already a big part of my life thanks to his numerous killer crab books and 'The Sucking Pit', one of the greatest pulp titles ever.

At only 128 pages, THE GHOUL is a short read, and its tale of two British couples who race their jalopies to Land's End, an obscure coastal region of Cornwall, and end up tangling with a creature kept prisoner in an creaky old inn, is a modest winner.

As good novels do, this tale evokes much in the mind of the reader, so doesn't suffer the fallout of expectations that the film does. At some point, films must show the horror, and if the horror isn't up to scratch, the disappointment sinks in.

THE GHOUL film, which stars Peter Cushing, Veronica Carlson (she of the ample cleavage), and John Hurt, is a stodgy affair under Freddie Francis's direction. Although atmospheric and nicely shot, it never truly meshes its elements, and lacks forward momentum. With its coastal setting, it feels a little like a Brit STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP, with the mutant son of a preacher (Cushing) replacing the aforementioned STRANGLER, but it lacks that film's deep dread. Francis pipes in plenty of fog and keeps Hurt, Cushing, and Ian McCulloch (!) busy, but he mishandles the reveal of THE GHOUL (Don Henderson) in a case of too little too late.

Guy Smith provides more GHOUL action in the novel and threads in some additional backstory about the creature's origins. Although the cinema GHOUL is on the book's cover, the creature still works better when suggested and not seen. Horror's dilemma is that it risks being absolute on the screen, while the novel doesn't risk that problem.

Plotwise, there are similarities here to Richard Laymon's first novel, THE CELLAR ('80).


  1. I have GNS rather complete and even read most of the novels but this I never got. Also never watched the movie. This seem an untypical project for GNS, doing a novelisation.

  2. I'm a big GNS fan but have never read this one. The holy grail for me would be his brief series about trucker, just for curio value I guess, they are rare and ridiculously overpriced last time I looked.
    Have you read Bamboo Guerillas by him? As a fan of Eat Them Alive I reckon you'd dig it. Real Boy's Own stuff but with incredibly OTT gore and sleaze and hard sex scenes...
    I have a big collection of pulp novels - I especially dig the UK written Westerns of the 70s and 80s, Edge, Crow, Breed, Caleb Thorn and countless others. Real cinematic vibes, Fulci levels of gore, witty nihilism, sexual violence - the work of the 'Piccadilly Cowboys' was a real revelation to me. But as a Paperback Fanatic reader you probably know this?

    Anyway dude just wanted to comment in light of your previous post - discovered this blog recently and it's great, we have some convergent tastes but you've introduced me to plenty of new stuff too. I still like blogs and forums as i quit facebook due to general ennui, but they all seem quieter than a few years ago, due to everyone being on facebook! Doing stuff on the internet can feel like pissing in the wind when you get no feedback, I know this only too well, but writing about your obsessions is vital I reckon...
    Anyway please don't stop! Will check back in with some recommendations for you in a bit...

  3. jervaise brooke hamsterDecember 23, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    Merry Christmas Mark, have a great time geezer.

  4. I don't get here as often as I used to, but I always learn something. Thanks for your efforts