Saturday, October 31, 2015

Book Review: Eat Them Alive

Book Review: 'Eat Them Alive' by Pierce Nace

0 / 5 Stars

'Eat Them Alive' (253 pp) was published by Manor Books in 1977; it also was published in the UK as a paperback, under the New English Library imprint.

'Eat Them Alive' was published when the genre of Splatterpunk didn't really exist. But it certainly is Splatterpunk, one of the progenitor novels of the genre. Whether it's a good Splatter punk novel is open to question. Google this book and you'll get a range of opinions, most of which are not overly complimentary:

Have lots of Brain Bleach ready for when, and if, you read this. (TV Tropes).

Truly, mesmerising in it's splendid awfulness !    (Vault of Evil comments section)

Most violent book I've read, I think, although Apache Death comes close. Stupid and nihilstic, with no artistic redeeming features.        (Vault of Evil comments section)

...this book succeeded in making me giggle hysterically on the train into work providing my fellow commuters with the edifying sight of a sober suited gent biting his hand while reading a book whose cover depicted a blood-stained insect chewing a gobbet of flesh. (Trash City)

Good writing is something else you really shouldn’t expect. Pierce Nace’s prose is crude and often repetitive (to the point that I frequently wondered if I was rereading portions of the book I’d already covered), but delivers where it counts.   ( reviews)

This book is just plain gross. All the scenes of the mantises eating people are rendered in loving, bloody detail, sometimes going on for several pages. Heck, even the non-mantis violence is graphic and cruel, such as the thieves' slow torture of the man they rob. And there are exactly no likable characters. Everyone is a sadistic jerk, an idiot or a cypher. And yet I eat it up (no pun intended).    (Horror by Candlelight reviews)

Forget Guy Smith's The Sucking Pit. Forget Spawn and Slugs and Piranha and Slimer. And forget all the other tacky novels you can think of. Because none come close to's the bloodiest, nastiest, most sadistic, go-for-broke gore novel in existence......Those who despise Hutson and Smith and the rest of the gratuitous gore merchants will lose their lunch to this, but the gorehounds will lap it up and it will end up one of the most reread books in their library.      ( reviews)

The book's plot is a uniquely contrived one. As the novel opens, protagonist Dyke Mellis is eking out a meager existence as a trader in the Caribbean islands off the coast of Colombia. Dyke is a bitter man, the result of a botched murder and robbery he committed along with four other associates eleven years previously....a murder and robbery that left Dyke castrated (!) and dying on the sandy wastelands of Texas.

Only the intervention of a kindly Mexican couple, who retrieved Dyke's bleeding half-dead body from the desert and nursed him back to health, saved him from death. 

Dyke's every waking hours are consumed with angst over his mutilated state, and a desire to revenge himself on his four former associates.

But Dyke's musings are put on hold when, while out at sea, he witnesses a massive earthquake, one that tears gigantic fissures in the nearby island of Malpelo. To Dyke's astonishment, once the quake subsides, giant, man-sized praying mantises (!) emerge from the fissures and instantly go into a frenzy of cannibalism (!).

However, once he recovers from his shock at this violent spectacle, Dyke begins to audacious scheme, at that. For Dyke Mellis is going to train the largest and most vicious of the mantids of Malpelo Island to be his pet killer. 

And then Dyke and his pet mantid Slayer are going to embark on Dyke's long-sought quest for vengeance.....for his four former associates all reside in Colombia. And they have no idea that Dyke's plans call for each of them....TO BE EATEN ALIVE !

Reading 'Eat' was a considerable chore. This is due to two things:

1. The author's prose skills are barely those of a junior high-age writer. Awkward (or even nonexistent) syntax vies with pulp-style dialogue on every page. Here's a sample of the dialogue between Dyke Mellis and his pet mantid, Slayer:

Dyke said, "Good boy, Slayer. You do understand my orders, don't you ? And you will lead the mantises in my avenging destruction. The people-meat you will eat at Pete Stuart's house will be the sweetest you ever tasted. And the blood will be the reddest, the fastest-flowing, the best of all your blood-drinks."

2. Most of the novel consists of highly explicit, almost pornographic descriptions of the processes by which Slayer and the other mantises devour their screaming victims, with Dyke Mellis looking on in a state of sexual excitement. This stuff loses its shock value after it's replayed for the 7th time......

Summing up, if you are adamant that you read one of the most gory, offensive, schlock-worthy pieces of horror fiction / sci-fi ever written, then, you'll want your own copy of 'Eat Them Alive'. But if you decide to pass, you're not missing much........!

1 comment:

JessieKay said...

That's a remarkable sounding book but perfectly ghastly, however I'm curious what the thought process behind publishing something like that is? Did Manor Books always publish garbage? Who would buy it? Is it sold in pornographic shops? I thought it was harder to get published in the pre-Internet days.