Review by Hereward L.M. Proops
Urgh. Where do I begin? Regular readers of the mighty 'Squawk will know that for reasons unknown to even myself, I have decided to work my way through “legendary” horror novelist Guy N. Smith's series of novels featuring giant man-eating crabs. The first book in the series was pretty bad but perversely entertaining if nothing else. The follow-up was a lazy sequel that brought nothing new to the table other than a different setting. The third book in the series aimed to be a prequel to the other books but explained frustratingly little about the origins of the monstrous crustaceans. “Crabs on the Rampage”, the fourth book in the series, is the worst yet.
Four books in, the concept of flesh-eating crabs has lost most, if not all, of its charm. Smith doesn't really seem interested in developing the story in any new directions. Rather, he seems content to replay the same old clichéd situations from the previous novels. As with “The Origin of the Crabs”, Smith introduces characters with the sole intent of killing them off in various grisly ways. However, this time he's even more blatant about it. Rather than introducing a character and killing them off in the next chapter, Smith now creates and destroys in the same chapter. We meet the character, learn a bit about their (normally unpleasant) personality before watching them get snipped into pieces by the crab monsters. Blood flows, heads roll, intestines are noisily gobbled and the chapter comes to an end. This sequence of events is repeated over and over again. A single mother and her bastard offspring are on a beach one moment, crab food the next. A bored housewife has an affair with a family friend on the beach and is devoured by crabs within a few pages. A dull middle-aged couple try to escape London only to find themselves... you guessed it, eaten by crabs! Reading this novel is almost like listening to a stuck record... a really, really shitty stuck record.
Interspersed amidst all the carnage is the paper-thin plot which brings back the hero of the first two books, pipe-smoking rogue biologist Professor Clifford Davenport. Being the expert on the giant crabs, Davenport is contacted by the government to help explain why the creatures have returned to the British Isles. A quick bit of investigating and good old Cliff discovers that these crabs are all infected with a particularly virulent (and stinky) strain of cancer which is killing them. In a last-ditch attempt to take revenge upon the people who have foiled them in the past, the doomed crabs invade Britain and start working their way up the various waterways in order to strike at every major metropolis in the country. That's it. There's nothing else to the plot. Davenport doesn't come up with any brilliant scheme to stop them, the military are (naturally) unable to stop the crustaceans and the crabs rampage across the British countryside is only halted when their cancer causes them all to drop dead at the end of the novel.
There's nothing else to say about “Crabson the Rampage”. Even those who found some semblance of enjoyment in “Night of the Crabs” or “Killer Crabs” will find getting through this short book a painful chore. When Guy N. Smith is at his best, his books are entertainingly trashy reads. “Crabs on the Rampage” is just trash.
Hereward L.M. Proops