Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Nest - Gregory A. Douglas

Published in 1980, and as you can see, my copy is brand new.
The residents of the beautiful and peaceful Yarkie Island, just off Cape Cod, think they’ve got a rat problem.
What they of course don’t know is… they AND the rats, have a roach problem The big, beautiful Yarkie dump, once home to happy rats, is now teaming with rodents writhing like mad and scurrying the hell out of there, dropping like flies as the legion of roaches take no prisoners. But rats, and a vast dump… just aren’t enough. When a dog is found sans eyes and mutilated, and a drug addled trespasser disappears leaving only a trail of gore behind, it’s time to bring in the big guns. Dr. Peter Hubbard and his assistant are brought in from the mainland in an attempt to find out what exactly is driving the rats mad. But I’ve already told you, it’s not the rats. Our core group of characters will find this out too, as the island turns into a war zone in a man vs. insect hole of hell. The Nest, written by Eli Cantor under the pen name Gregory A. Douglas, is about as good as a book involving over-sized, teamwork oriented roaches devouring everything in their path is going to be. The characters and the island are totally believable, man and insect alike. I buy it. Sold! There’s that real “small town on an island” feel going for it (and there is a feel for that, surprising how many dumb bastards meet their end on a homey island), and the people, whom are far from perfect, really don’t make a “I’m a character in a book well aware of our sneaker-sized roach problem… let’s have sex under this tree” kind of move. Hell, it’s important. My biggest complaint would have to be the “insert here” lustful hero/heroine sex scene, which is just out of place. Get the hell out of my super-roach book, right now!

If it’s the written bloodshed buffet you’re looking for, bon appetit! While our people characters spend a good portion of the time attempting to learn of the rat madness, there’s no shortage of roach mayhem. There’s masses of them, and they take down anything and everything. Men, women… and children, by the boat loads. Zero reservations about taking anyone down, and taking them down in gloriously graphic detail. So if you’ve no problem with the aforementioned, and perhaps wonder what roaches burrowing through your skull read like, have a go.

It’s a book that’ll have you doing that uncomfortable head tilt as you read it, but if that’s anywhere near your thang, this one is well written and worth a look.

Made into a movie, The Nest (1988)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dogs (1976)

Dogs (1976)
a.k.a. Slaughter

D: Burt Brinckerhoff
C: David McCallum, Sandra McCabe, George Wyner

Paranoid the next door neighbors pooch is giving you the stink eye? Well, Fido just may be sizing you up.

It's all in the timing in Dogs. When a few cows and the dude that owns them turn up mutilated in a small town in California, college professors Harland Thompson and Michael Fitzgerald (McCallum and Wyner) academically stand around and talk about what animals could do such damage. Lucky for them, Fitzgerald had just been giving a lecture on what may very well be the cause...pheromones! Unlucky for them, they appear to be in a town whose common practice appears to be letting their four-legged companions collectively run free. When the bodies start piling up, Thompson and Fitzgerald take their theory to the mayor, and he promptly does what any good mayor of a small town should do. Opts to ignore the problem in the towns best interest. Which, incidentally, is a confidential government accelerator that for whatever reason this town has been chosen to test.
Dogs runs into the problem that countless other killer dogs on a blood thirsty rampage because of pheromones or a linear accelerator movies run into: Fluffy cute dogs that were bred to be cute and fluffy, aren't frightening. Granted, there are some breeds in Dogs that can certainly scare if they wish too, but there are those who just don't make the cut.

The characters range from McCallum's terrifically unexciting professor (I imagine a painted rock with a voiceover accompaniment would have had the same effect) to dislikable townsfolk, to a large group of college kids who do not possess a shred of common sense. Wyner's performance as Professor Fitzgerald, while not Earth shattering, is human, and welcome. Its hard to care for our human fodder when they're losing a personality contest with a Doberman.

The film does occasionally muster up some nice atmosphere, used most effectively in a sequence involving a posse vs. the pack. It's also worth mentioning that we're treated to some effectively eerie background baying here and there throughout the movie. Enough so that I almost forgot that the film I was watching wasn't all that good. As for attack scenes and blood shed, the pooches rack up a nice body count tearing into any and everyone in their path, highlights being a full scale assault on a large group of college kids and a Norman Bates-esque shower scene with a young lady and a Doberman. Even then the numbers should be higher, as far too many people in Dogs outrun the determined mongrels with relative ease. That being said, for those that do get dropped, most of the onslaught plays out the same way. Dog leaps out at unknowing dumb bastard, latching onto his/her arm. There's some violent shaking, followed by growling and screaming, and then cut to completely mutilated body seconds later. The state of the canine casualties would perhaps be better suited to a pack of dogs carrying metal rakes and blow torches.
The end result is a film that takes itself very seriously, and aside from a few moments that work, Dogs is a some what sub-par addition to the much beloved Nature-Run-Amok genre.

In the beginning...

I could have gone ahead and started a political blog. Perhaps covered my favorite sports teams or fashion trends. Done a daily update of who's crotch was out when they left their sports car/limo/SUV. A tactful "who's in rehab today" blog, maybe.

Instead I opted to appeal to a wider audience. A mass market. Something that everyone cares about, and flocks to on a daily basis.

The nature-run-amok genre.

That's correct.

Animals and insects have been throwing down the gauntlet on humans for decades. Rarely it's a championed piece, often it's media that slides into the unknown oblivion of the Nature-run-amok genre.


Well, probably still...

But that's what this is all about.

Animals and insects attacking, large and small.
Angry or engineered.
In great numbers or a lone threat.
Books or movies, you'll find it here.


You're already excited.