Review Index


By NICK BLAKE (Star; 1984)

“Nick Blake” is actually England’s Shaun Hutson, the eighties’ master of all things extreme, and CHAINSAW TERROR is reportedly Hutson’s most disgusting work. It was actually withdrawn shortly after it was published, and reissued in watered-down form (as COME THE NIGHT). In its uncut form this chunk of unabashed gore-nography is…well, pretty much what you’d expect.

     CHAINSAW TERROR began life, according to Hutson, as a proposed novelization of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, but when purchasing the rights proved prohibitive Hutson’s publishers elected to have him “just write a novel about a nutter with a chainsaw instead.” The result was CHAINSAW TERROR, which was supposed to be the start of a trilogy. After it was yanked from publication, however, the two follow-ups were scrapped.

     It opens with young Edward Briggs witnessing his father brutally murder his mother after learning she’s been unfaithful. Edward grows up hating women, including his sister Maureen, who he insists on keeping under his thumb at all times. Loving descriptions of knives and the power tools with which Edward makes his living foreshadow what’s to come after Edward learns his sister has a boyfriend. Finding his incestuous lusts boiling over, Edward kills and dismembers Maureen, and keeps her head--we get periodic descriptions of the thing in various states of decay--as a receptacle for his perverted desires.

     Edward also takes to picking up prostitutes and bringing them back to his home, where he gives the titular chainsaw a bloody workout. This results in lines like “Now he wrenched it free, briefly hearing the drone of metal on bone as it crunched her pelvis and lower ribs into a thousand splinters” and “Entrails seemed to snake upward like the bleeding tentacles of some stricken octopus, and a stench so rank it made him sick wafted up from the riven cavity of her stomach.”

     Such descriptions constitute this novel’s only points of interest. The ostensible hero, crusading journalist Dave Todd, certainly doesn’t inspire much interest in the reader or, evidently, the author, who doesn’t even bother introducing Todd until page 68, and then only uses him sparingly.