Worms – James R. Montague
Valancourt Books 2016 (First published 1979)
After my recent spate of reading books about killer worms, I decided to cut back on that kind of thing. There’s a surprising amount of horror novels on that topic, and while none of the ones I read disappointed me terribly, I decided that it wasn’t a field in which I needed to dig much further. I told myself that from thereon I should only read only the choiciest horror novels about worms. Valancourt books, those purveyors of arcane lore, decided to reissue Jame R. Montague’s contribution to the genre after it had remained out of print for almost 40 years, so I assumed it would be pretty good.
This was a fairly strange book. It’s about a henpecked husband who acts drastically and then seems to go mad with guilt. It starts off lighthearted and funny, proceeds into the realm of psychological horror, and ends with a bang of tromaesque nuclear worm horror. It’s not a long book either, so these changes were a bit jarring. I liked the first part a lot and probably would have enjoyed everything a bit more if the rest of the book had continued that way.
Still, this was a decent read. It’s short, entertaining and quite weird.
I knew that James R. Montague was a pseudonym for Christopher Wood when I was reading this book, but it wasn’t until I wrote it down a few minutes ago that I realised that the pseudonym is M.R. James backwards. Fuck, now I want to read this again to compare it to that author’s work. Apparently Christopher Wood wrote the screenplays for a couple of James Bond films and the novelisations for 2 others. Worms has very little in common with James Bond stories.
Slither – Edward Lee
Leisure Books – 2006
I recently finished John Halkin’s Slither, and it instilled me with a ravenous hunger for books called Slither about killer worms. One simply wasn’t enough. Luckily for me, I’ve had another Slither waiting on my shelf for the past few years. I remember buying this and thinking it looked pretty gross. I knew of Lee’s reputation, and the blurb on the back sounds sickening.
Yep. This was a nasty one. Since the coronavirus lockdown started a little over a month ago, this is the 8th novel I’ve read about mutant infestations. This wasn’t a conscious decision, but I don’t think it was a coincidence either. I’m sure a psychoanalyst would be able to explain my current fascination with genetically modified insects and why reading about them commiting acts of repulsive violence seems preferable to monitoring the rising death rate of the pandemic. While I’ve enjoyed these books, I think I’m going to give this kind of stuff a break for a while. Lee’s book seems to be a good one to end with. This was by far the most disgusting out of all of them, and it was also a lot of fun to read.
The only other book I’ve read by Lee is The Bighead, an infamously disgusting work of splattergore. That book has such a reputation that I expected Slither to be less gross. Surely Edward Lee isn’t that gross all the time? Well, here he is. In John Halkin’s Slither books, a creepy crawly will occasionally chew through an eyeball. In Lee’s Slither, masses of worms are constantly spilling into and out of every human orifice. Oh, and Lee’s worms don’t just eat humans. These worms also mutate humans, lay their eggs in humans, and secrete a chemical that turns humans’ insides to liquid.
This book was fucking gross.
I did really enjoy it though. The characters are fun, and there’s a great plot twist. I had a lot of fun reading this. It’s definitely not for the squeamish though. Seriously. Blech!