Tuesday, February 14, 2023

QUICK SHOTS: Come the Night by Nick (Shaun Hutson) Blake

This little paperback from hell has a lot in common with the "Video Nasties," the list of banned videos in the U.K. in the 80s. It sorta got banned and it sorta started out as a novelization for a "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" movie. Here's the fairly detailed history of it. Star the publishjer didn't get the film rights to "Texas Chainsaw" and because who wouldn't want to write a book with Chainsaw in the title, they just had Hutson come up with his own story. So, Hutson wrote a book called "Chainsaw Terror," which got a little publishing run, but the title scared bookstores so the book quickly became "Come the Night." 

Shaun Hutson then made a name for himself with extreme horror novels like "Assassins," and "Slugs" and this book drifted into the realm of "expensive bestselling authors now pricey early work." It did eventually get republished in a three-pack with two others of his pseudonym novels which can be found fairly cheap. I have several of Hutson's other books but haven't ever gotten around to reading them, so it just made sense to start at the beginning of his career.

Now, the main reason I wanted to check this one out was the vague "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" connection, one of my favorite films and horror series. There isn't enough fine literature about chainsaws in my mind. Also, this is on the few 80s horror paperbacks that comes in a slim little package, not the bloated page-count that your usually think of with the fellow Paperbacks from Hell. After digesting William W. Johnstone's "The Devil's Kiss" I needed a thinner read. 

Okay, so the sleaze drips off the pages of this book. It's very must in the vein of the grindhouse cinema that was the jumping off point for the book. Think William Lustig's "Maniac" or Wes Craven's "Last House on the Left." Edward is the chainsaw wielding maniac of the book. When he was a younger his father killed his mother for cheating on him and Edward saw it all. That'll make ya crazy right there. Also, he's secretly in love with his sister and together they live in the soundproof (it's mentioned a lot) house where they grew up and the grisly murder took place. Edward continued his father's handyman business which means he's got a lot of sharp tools down in his basement...you see where this is going. But the sister wants to leave their odd/abusive relationship and when she makes moves too Edward blows his top, kills her and then finds he likes it and turns his sights to prostitutes.  

Then midway through Hutson figured out he needed a protagonist who doesn't hack women to bits and starts up with a hard-boiled-type reporter who's working on a story about the sleazy side of Soho in London and figures out that someone is killing the women he's met. So, together with a "hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold" the reporter and the hooker start investigating, not to mention fall in love. This all comes to a head in a truly thrilling little climax. The whole book is chock full of gross imagery, gruesome acts and a little bit of sex to liven things up. 

This is a super misogynistic, slimy horror tale. So, don't go in expecting fair treatment of women or really anything better than a first draft of the nastiest things Hutson could think of. If you're interested in checking it out, I'd suggest the three-pack novel and wouldn't bother paying the high prices for the other editions. But that being said it's still a fairly fun and thrilling ride. It really lives up to its original title "Chainsaw Terror."