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Carry On Screaming – Slime by John Halkin (1984)

Welcome, ladies, gentlemen and fellow horror lovers, to the first of December’s two bonus Carry on Screaming posts. You can read previous posts in the series by clicking on the ‘Carry on Screaming‘ category.

Slime by John Halkin

A boy accidentally fallen overboard…a child in a paddling pool…an old man taking a daily swim…These are their first prey.

They arrive originally in ones and twos – deadly jellyfish eager to feast on human flesh.Attaching themselves lovingly to their victims’ bodies. Then stinging…paralysing…feeding. Nothing can stop them – not even on dry land. Thousands surge over the beaches…fight their way inland up creeks and rivers…leaving behind their telltale smears of luminescant slime.

But the final horror starts when they begin to breed. For now their young appear in reservoirs and storage tanks…slipping through drainpipes and water taps… And humankind faces ghoulish extinction.

Title: Slime | Author: John Halkin | Publisher: Hamlyn | Pub. Year: 1984 | Pages: 252 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 2 out of 5 | Source: Self-purchased

I enjoyed John Halkin’s previous book ‘Slither’ despite its many flaws. It was a silly, fun horror novel in the classic 80s Brit horror mould. Slime’ was a disappointment by comparison. It’s incredibly similar to the earlier novel, with another hero who works in the TV business and another set of aquatic monsters. Unfortunately, it fails to capture ‘Slither’s’ cheesy fun and it left me cold.

This time around the hero is an actor in a popular soap opera. He witnesses an early attack by a new species of jellyfish (replacing the water worms of ‘Slither’) and becomes vaguely involved in the fight against them as they spread like a plague around the British coast. He also sleeps with a lot of different women because he’s ruggedly handsome.

The plot covers the gradual escalation of the jellyfish threat, with the normal formula of new characters being introduced and then killed off. Eventually the creatures get into the water system, prompting the great copy line “Turn on the tap…and die of terror”. Halkin never makes the most of this though, the attack scenes are dull and lack the gory entertainment value that they might have had in the hands of someone like Shaun Hutson.

The book is just too long as well, nowhere near justifying its 250 pages. Much of it is taken up with descriptions of the hero’s love life and failing marriage, both of which are far less interesting that people dying slimily.  

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I’m adopting a slightly different rating system for my Carry on Screaming review, because, let’s face it, vintage horror novels are about more than just the quality of the actual book.

Book: 2 out of 5

Cover: 4 out of 5 – The UK paperback first edition has the gloriously inappropriate “glamour model in a gunge tank” picture, the second edition from the following year replaces this with the creepy “tentacle face”. I like them both.

Nastiness: 2 out of 5 – Despite the promise of the concept it never really gets into gear.

Sauciness: 3 out of 5 – A fair bit of sex, but all pretty boring.

Cover promise vs delivery: 2 out of 5 – Sadly the book doesn’t live up to either cover.

Overall Carry on Screaming rating: 13/25

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Our first book of 2020 will be from an author we haven’t covered before. Stephen Laws takes on British Rail in ‘Ghost Train’

Published inCarry on ScreamingHorror Book ReviewsUnstarred Reviews
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