Jaws-Inspired Summer Reading, Part 2

In Part 2 of this series (read Part 1 here), I’ll be covering even more fantastic trashy pulp fiction horror novels that either pull themes and imagery directly from Jaws or are at the very least indebted to Jaws’ very existence, this time focusing on bizarre books written between 1985 and 1995.

A list about eco-horror novels would be incomplete if the works of British writer Guy N. Smith were not mentioned. Some circles disregard Smith and chalk him as being another hack writer, but in others he’s praised as a writer who has produced troves of enjoyable books ranging from soft-core adult fiction to gory eco-horror. For our purposes here we’re clearly more interested in the latter, of which he’s penned a huge number of books about killer crabs, locusts, werewolves, alligators, bats, various bugs and crustaceans, dogs, ghouls, monsters, snakes… Should I go on? Much like Part 1 of this series, I’m convinced there’s something on here for everyone…

Happy summer reading!

Jaws The Revenge (1987) by Hank Searls

In the fourth and final installment of the Jaws series, well-known writer Hank Searls attempted to salvage what can only best be described as a silly, Swiss cheese plot. (Now, I’m not saying that Jaws The Revenge – both book and film – aren’t fun, but when compared to the originals, well, there is no comparison).

Searls, who was also behind the novelization of Jaws 2, is much more effective than Jaws The Revenge director, the late Joseph Sargent, at establishing some realistic plot points including Ellen Brody’s grief over the death of her youngest son and husband as well as her flashbacks to previous Jaws films/books. Sargent, who made little to no effort at acknowledging any of the events from the previous films, falls flat in this department, which is why so much of the movie version of Jaws The Revenge feels like it’s taking place in a silo with Michael Brody making zero references to anything that happened to him in his younger years (events from Jaws 2 and Jaws 3) and with Ellen experiencing flashbacks to shark encounters she was never present for.

Ultimately, this book is passable – particularly if you’re a fan of the franchise like I am. Plus it’s widely available on the web or your local used book store – and usually cheap – so gambling on a copy won’t break your bank. To get an even more in-depth opinion of the novelization of Jaws The Revenge, check out this Dread Central review by Matt Serafini from 2012.

Alligators (1987) by Guy N. Smith

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To those of you who are toying with the idea of breaking into your local zoo to free alligators, I beg you to reconsider.

This is precisely what some animal activists attempt in this gory paperback and, not surprisngly, the outcome is deadly. Alligators was written by Guy N. Smith of Night of the Crabs fame (yes, really) and is considered by those who have read most of Smith’s other books (I’m not one of those people) to be a mediocre effort. However, most of those same folks also agree (as do I) that it’s light fun and packed with plenty of fast-paced action to keep the reader entertained. Plus there is a guy in this story who spends the majority of his time corresponding with a teddy bear. So, there’s that.

Deadly Nature (1988) by V.M. Thompson

Deadly Nature is a fun slice of 80s mutation horror fiction. When a young boy brings a series of mutated animals home with him from the woods, his father becomes concerned. And why wouldn’t he? From mutated wolves to even butterflies, there’s clearly something strange going on with the animals in and around the town of Brixton. But what could it be!?

Following the familiar trope of “when crazy things happen to insulated, seemingly idyllic communities,” this book is loads of fun, plenty weird, and a fairly fast read. In my opinion, it’s a shame that this one was never adapted for the big screen… I’ve always wanted a killer double-winged Monarch butterfly film. SOMEONE PLEASE MAKE A KILLER DOUBLE-WINGED MONARCH BUTTERFLY FILM.

Carnivore (1990) by Guy N. Smith

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Another pick from the vast horror bibliography of Guy N. Smith – one that dates back to 1974 with the publication of Werewolf by Moonlight. Lacking his well-known sex scenes, this story focuses on a subject Smith knows a great deal about: gamekeeping.

The synopsis for Carnivore on Smith’s website reads: “The first victim to die on the Corby estate is a starving poacher, condemned to a terrible end by both man and beast.

He is not the last.

The mad Earl of Corby’s ancient law has been repealed and bloodsports are to be allowed once more on the land. But, the pact with Nature broken, the wildlife turn on their killers. Savage, predatory and murderous, they seek and take revenge on the flesh and blood of those who dare to defy the Corby Curse.”

If you’re still on the fence about this one, allow me to help convince you that this is worth the read: At one point in this story the question is presented: “What chance did they stand against this army of attacking pheasants?”

A valid question and one I implore you to explore further this summer!

Hunger (1993) by Willam R. Dantz

This genre is no stranger to stories about genetically modified animals that end up engaging in some kind of chomping spree – usually at the humans’ expense. This one in particular may actually be (based upon online reviews) the most well-liked of the bunch from either Part One or Part Two of this series.

Genetically altered mako sharks escape from their holding quarters and proceed to wreak havoc on anyone unfortunate enough to cross their path. As a result of the story’s ability to write fairly believable characters and convincingly unravel the development of the super sharks – it has been suggested by some that Hunger was a source of influence for the writers of Deep Blue Sea. Interesting…

Grab a copy for yourself and see if you think they’re right! (On a side note, I should mention that there’s no love lost between the author of this article and Deep Blue Sea).

The Lake (1993) by R. Karl Largent

Rather than offer you a synopsis of this book with some of my own thoughts, I would instead like to ask you to meditate on the cover and imagine what the meeting with the publisher could have been like, particularly the very moment when this cover art was proposed. Let’s all imagine that moment together… Wow.

Just, wow.

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John Campopiano

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