One man only saw them and him they killed, hunted him down through the dense reed bed, trapped him, drove him mad with terror before they pulled him to pieces and ate every bloodied shred of his body.
And then it was quiet again for a little while.
Until they came ashore again, in their hundreds, their bodies reeking with a malignant cancerous disease that was within them. The disease that was driving them mad with pain, mad to kill, t wipe out every living thing in their path.
On that beach were hundreds of men, women and children. Food.
The awkwardness of the blurb both grammatically and in decency is just part of the charm of this series and I have missed getting my fix of those cunning crustaceans that are as big as sheep, cows or horses depending on which book you happen to be face deep in.
My hankering for the resilient sea life started whilst watching Independence Day: Resurgence, which was a terrible sequel. Adding to that a conversation about a lot of film series having their fourth installments set in space like Critters, Hellraiser and Leprechaun (all of which I enjoyed coincidentally), it was in vain anticipation that I turned to Crabs on the Rampage which I hoped would be (however implausably) set in the infinite black depths.
Being a pulpy horror, it is perhaps not such an outlandish hope but sadly it came to be set in 1980’s Britain where it seems everybody is pretty mean-spirited or downtrodden or wanting sex for the most part. To this setting, the crabs come to put people out of their misery with gory and somewhat repetitious disembowelling revenge, a lot is repeated from other books of the series but newcomers need not be put off as this installment works well by itself.
The over the top first chapter – which is pretty much the blurb – says it all really and this is the level of profundity you can expect from the rest of the book as well. If you enjoy character development this is not the book for you, with the huge body count it puts Game of Thrones to shame for wiping people out, although these deaths are all predictable and set up to be so. Not that returning characters get to develop either, plot is king in this book.
Flimsy at best is the way I would describe the plot but that may be giving it more credit than it deserves. For your money you essentially get a bunch of scenes with plenty of butchery and panic, there is little build up or tension to these set pieces, they serve to further the plot vaguely and highlight how stupid people in horror stories and films are. Don’t tempt fate and never have sex anywhere that isn’t an impregnable fortress otherwise you are doomed to put it simply.
The lack of a convincing denouement is a bit disappointing and yet I found myself thinking ‘fair enough, that’s was acceptable’, which is odd but makes the book more memorable, or at least memorable at any rate. Having read books one, three and five and six previously, this added little apart from another gruesome festival of marine surgery but it is gleefully grotesque for those of you who enjoy cheesy horror and especially the films of the genre.
I enjoyed the 80’s vibe with all it’s out of date sexism and rubbish cars but there isn’t much left to explore where the crabs are concerned, they have little depth apart from those they retreat to after another killing spree. They are just the usual indefatigable nemesis with diminishing returns seen in multitude elsewhere in horror and sci-fi.
Predictably though it won’t stop me getting the last two books that I haven’t read yet mainly because these are decent short reads that require nothing more than a vague attention span. Unlike James Herbert’s The Rats, there is a sense of these books being more tongue in cheek and for that I appreciate them more. I firmly believe it is a benefit to own such pulpy works in one’s collection, they allow the more serious books time to settle in your brain and are good for a laugh.