Thursday, 31 October 2013


THE CAMP (1989)

‘The Camp’ poses the question ‘what would happen if the British government used a domestic resort complex to conduct secret mind control drug tests on unsuspecting holiday makers?’ The answer, as you might expect, is that it all gets a bit messy.  

In a series of experiments, randomly selected people are slipped hallucinogens in order to be programmed into thinking a new Ice Age has come, for instance, or that they are kidnappers, or prostitutes. Most of the time they are simply kept in a state of permanent befuddlement, all the while being observed and recorded, their every mind controlled move monitored by unpleasant scientists. 

Far fetched? Well, yeah, until you remember that the British invented both the holiday camp and the concentration camp. Then there's Porton Down where, in the fifties, National Service Men were fed LSD and sprayed with nerve gas so that someone in a white coat could note down the results. At least one man died, with more suffering health and emotional problems for the rest of their lives. Jot that down, Professor Twattenstein.

In Smith's fictional camp, the experiment goes wrong, and the antidote doesn't work, so a brutal government assassin is sent to silence any witnesses and suspicious third parties. This fellow likes his job, so zealously goes around arranging car crashes and garrotting people and feeding them to the pigs in the Petting Zoo. 

There is a sequence in which a dozen people are killed after he sabotages a cable car, giving us several pages of terror, screaming, falling, squelching and a massive amount of trademark vomiting. It's a tour de force. In the end, the hitman starts a riot which burns the camp to the ground and kills almost everybody, including himself.

At the end, two survivors speculate that there will be a cover up and the riot will simply go down in history as 'another Heysel Stadium'. The thing that worries them most of all is:

'It's not so much what happened at The Camp. 
We know all about that. It is what is happening elsewhere, 
all around us even now, that we don't know about

Christ, that's got us worried now.  

It’s a hell of a ride and, in many respects, is unlike any other book you'll ever read (that isn't by Guy N. Smith). J.G Ballard could have easily written a book about a foreign holiday resort where the thin veneer of civilisation is torn away, but only Smith could set it in the Home Counties and make the resort a hellish cross between Auschwitz and Butlins, a kind of psycho 'Hi De Hi' with more laughs and much stronger drugs. 

And that's Smith all over - no matter how fantastic or supernatural the story, he never loses the feel of the everyday, the mundane that underpins life on this small, silly island – so, yes, in 'The Camp', The Powers That Be are overseeing a massive conspiracy and feeding people psychotropic mind benders, but they are British, so how are they administering it? It’s in the mince!    


The pictures accompanying this post are of Summerland, a massive leisure complex that was once a flagship tourist destination in the Isle Of Man

Built in 1971, the idea was that up to 10,000 holidaymakers could swim, dance, play, drink, eat and generally make merry at a constant temperature of eighty degrees, all under a bronze coloured plastic roof specially designed to turn even the weakest sunbeam into a golden ray. There was even a solarium so, like Club Tropicana, you could sun tan. 

In August 1973, some kids set alight a kiosk which then collapsed against a not particularly fire resistant external wall, setting the complex ablaze. The fire spread to the highly flammable roof, which immediately melted and fell into the building. Fifty people were killed, and eighty were injured.   

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


Two books, two authors, two cosmic bastards - one cover drawing. Editions from 1970 and 1973, respectively.

Incidentally, in 'Agents Of Chaos', the 'only one man (who) dared to fight back' is called Boris Johnson.

Saturday, 26 October 2013


Presenting an interesting artefact from a long vanished era when people treated exercise as a slightly shameful activity to be conducted behind closed doors - and 'in the absolute minimum of clothing': THE K-TEL MULTI EXERCISER.

There's nothing erotic about the instructions, but they do, in best British style, sound smutty, and you can imagine Robin Askwith gurning through the window as a slightly chubby woman in her pants pulls a rope attached to the back of a door which alternately raises her arms and legs in a jerky approximation of sexual frenzy. 

The music adds to the self-effacing comedy of it all, jolly, jaunty, shrill and silly. This is Old School Keep Fit, not a mirror, isotonic drink, or pair of £150 trainers in sight.

Best of all, there is no cachet in exercising in this way, no early starts, punishing routines, burns to feel or broken personal bests to relay to bored colleagues and friends - especially as, about two weeks after buying the thing, it inevitably went back into the box for twenty years before being sold at a car boot sale, at which point the whole sorry cycle started again.

Here's a contemporary advert that emphasises the DIY bondage elements of the device.    

Remember, you can use it 'at home or in the office', so don't forget to take it to work on Monday. All you need is a waist level doorknob.

The record has a b-side, of course, but we'll get to that later. This isn't over.

Thursday, 24 October 2013


One of the most wonderful things about this awful country is how it's always 1641* somewhere, even if its just in our heads. In the town or city it is difficult to walk around and not feel the weight of our long history; in the country it is virtually impossible.

We're not talking about simply putting a floppy hat on, by the way, or knitting your own underpants and only eating Sugar Beet. As above, it is perfectly possible to channel the past without pretence or pose, and to actually add something to the sum, not just simply plunder the accumulated parts.

Oh, and who knew that the analogue synth would become as much a folk instrument as a dulcimer or a harmonium? 

* i.e. Pre-Civil War. But any date from 10,000 BC up until tea time yesterday would be equally valid.  

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


This is Guy N. Smith's old Amstrad Computer Word Processor, which sold on e-bay recently for the princely sum of 99p. It could have perhaps achieved more if the seller had been less honest, as stating that it was only 'probably used by Guy to write a number of his well known novels and reference books' might have put off people with two pounds to spend. 

There is an easy authentication test, of course: simply see if the keys v-o-m-i and t are more worn than the rest - if the answer is yes, then congratulations, you have yourself a relic.

Sunday, 20 October 2013


"Hello, I'm Vincent Price. There are three things that really turn me on, as the current saying goes, one is work - I'm never really happy when I'm not working - another is art, and the third is food".


The food featured in this book was made in the seventies so, inevitably, generally looks like it has already been eaten once then regurgitated onto an ugly dish. That said, there would have been a riot in our house if we’d been given something as alien as Pommes De Terre Savoyade to accompany our fish fingers, so it's all a bit academic (academic is definitely the wrong word, but we're too thick to think of another). 

To file alongside Boris Karloff’s Practical Plumbing, Peter Cushing’s Car Maintenance Manual and Christopher Lee’s Complete and Utter History Of Auto-Eroticism.

Saturday, 19 October 2013


Note zip and belt buckle.

A selection of x-rays taken after a BARIUM MEAL. The meal itself is slightly radioactive, which bothers people, although the same people usually think the x-ray process is pretty routine, despite it often being more dangerous. Why do you think the radiologist hides to take the photograph? 

For us, it seems to prove that people will quite happily suffer on the outside (tattoos spring to mind, not to mention tanning booths and those big lug hole ring things), but can be very picky indeed about what they put in their mouth if it isn't marketed properly. 

One suggestion would be a Barium Happy Meal, same chalky, glowing, horrible tasting sulphate but with a tie-in toy from a blockbuster film. People would make themselves poorly just to collect the set. 

There's something eerie about these pictures, as if the stomach were haunted. We're reminded of the crazy fake ectoplasm mediums used to pretend to produce until 'Ghostbusters' came along and raised the bar (note to Editor: check chronology; note to Selves: get Editor). 

Outrageously, these were once used as promotional items, with the fluffy stuff cited as visual proof of contact with the beyond. People were funny in the olden days. Now they're just tosspots.

Thursday, 17 October 2013


Like many people around the world, one of our hobbies is taking photographs of Milton Johns off the telly. Here is one we took today, although, for Milton, this was 45 years ago. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Another from the TOMTIT underground facility housing our priceless Stonehenge collection. Ironically, the building of the archive resulted in the destruction of several megaliths.

Monday, 14 October 2013


'The Strange World Of Your Dreams' only ran for four issues, but what issues they were.


'It's a bizarre outlandish world 
which we share with the night!' 

Twenty five dollars was a pretty sweet deal in 1952. The only problem was that Richard Temple would then own the rights to the dream you had sold him - so, if you had it again, he'd take you to court. 

Unmann-Wittering once read a book called 'Your Dreams Explained'. Apparently, it was all something to do with strong cheese. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


Guy N. Smith has written over a hundred books since 1974, most of them in the horror genre. He also writes about hunting and pipes and country life, as well as being an editor and book seller. He'd be called a polymath if he was working in a more respectable area, but I doubt Guy cares what people call him. Several times a year he sits down and creates a new novel. He's a professional, he doesn't sit on his pink panniers waiting for inspiration. He has an obsession with screaming death, cringing horror, cruelty, torture, vomit and nasty things invading orifices. He is our hero.


'Abomination’ is about what happens when big business and bad people combine to cause (un)holy havoc. A chemical plant in Wales has been experimenting with the ‘perfect pesticide’, a deadly chemical compound supposed to accelerate insect life cycles to hasten their early death - except, mercenary, corner cutting arseholes that they are, it leads to everything they spray it with turning big and nasty and massive termites start crawling up peoples bottoms and huge killer frogs form violent gangs. It’s a bloody bloodbath.

A keen ecologist, Smith gives full rein to the idea of nature fighting back, with an enormous number of human fatalities from biting, nipping, sucking, stinging, sliming and internal nibbling. It's not possible to accurately measure the exact volume of puking that goes on, but it's probably enough to fill a tanker lorry. As above, Smith also seems unhealthily preoccupied with the idea of the creatures targeting private areas, and so throwing up and insect sexual battery become an integral part of a recurring pattern of violent, humiliating death. 

For example --

'Martha struck at the earwigs blindly. She sent two tumbling back, but there were five or six already beneath the hem of her skirt and travelling upwards, fast. Swiftly she closed her thighs and pressed them tightly together. 'No, not there! Oh, my God!' 
'He could feel them on his thighs and knew only too well that they were seeking out his genitals. Soft tender flesh, sweetbreads for the taking'.
'The ants were everywhere; not an inch of her body was spared. It was obscene. She cried out, a strangled shriek of anguish. The dirty bastards are raping me!'
'She was laughing and spitting mangled ants all down her tits. And she had a suspicion that she had messed her pants, too. Or it could just have been the ants running out of her'.

(this poor soul has an ant induced orgasm at the point of death).
'He thought his genitals were gone, but he didn't mind that'.

'Randolph winced, knowing now what it felt like to be circumcised and castrated at the same time'

This list is not exhaustive. 

Sometimes Smith writes his equivalent of a happy ending - i.e. the evil is temporarily vanquished - but more often he takes the microcosm of horror he has created and then insinuates that it will spread across the world and wipe out all we know. This is one of those stories - everybody is going to have ants in their pants by midnight. 

When you think of Smith sitting down to write these books, don’t think of a man who labours over the prose or sits around ruminating, think of him pounding the keys in a white hot blur of activity, the sound echoing around for miles like a series of shots. Not everything is perfect*, but it’s immediate, energised; it’s not crafted in the sense of a load of phonetic curlicues and a well planned narrative, but this is not literature, it’s story telling.

We imagine him typing the last full stop, pulling out the paper and thinking ‘right, there you go, one book’ - no fiddling, no agonizing about semi colon use, no poncing about - then onto the next. His sheer stamina and fecundity are the things we admire about him the most. 

He'll be back.

We can't stop him.

* How else can you explain lines like 'Les had the same pair of briefs on - perhaps he slept in them'?  

Saturday, 5 October 2013


Nobody could give a hard stare like Oliver Reed. When he looks at you, you know you've been looked at, and you also know that he is not impressed by what he sees and is now planning to fuck you up in some way just for getting in his line of vision

In Curse Of The Werewolf (1961) he plays a Spaniard whose birth was the result of a hairy, feral maniac raping a busty, mute serving wench in a dungeon. Apparently, science and the relentless logic of Hammer concur that this particular formula = WEREWOLF, something most people simply aren't aware of but, as you can see from the last shot, is absolutely correct. 

Thursday, 3 October 2013


Where did they go? Hold on, isn’t that them behind that rock?

Incredibly popular on its publication in 1976 (in Chesterfield, knowledge hungry kids pounced on it, borrowing it as much as twice in nine years), this book was part of a series that included ‘Fakes, Frauds and Phonies’, ‘Strange, Sudden and Unexpected’, ‘Catastrophe, Calamity and Cataclysm’ and ‘A Child’s Treasury Of Speculative Bullshit’.