Reviews
Fiction
Non-Fiction
Film

Other
Commentary
Review Index
 

ORGY OF THE BLOOD PARASITES
By JACK YEOVIL (Pocket Books; 1994) 

Those of you desiring subtlety and/or refinement take heed: you wonít find any such things here.  The title gives a fair warning of this novelís aims, and restrained they arenít! 

      ORGY OF THE BLOOD PARASITES was the working title of David Cronenbergís debut film SHIVERS, about parasites that turned people into sex-mad loonies.  Thatís essentially the premise of this book, written by Englandís prolific Kim Newman under his Jack Yeovil pseudonym.  A straightforward exercise in splatterific excess, it can be viewed as the inbred sibling of Newmanís lumbering 1993 epic JAGO, which dealt with similar themes; I actually prefer the present book, as (unlike JAGO) itís fast moving and unpretentious. 

      Nor is ORGY, despite its subject matter, entirely disreputable.  Kim Newmanís literacy and intelligence are fully evident in the early chapters, which deftly lay out the university setting and central characters.  They include members of a radical student group looking to take down an animal research laboratory on the campus, along with the workers in the lab and Clarence, a lab rabbit undergoing a scary metamorphosis.

      As it happens, the radicals stage a raid on the laboratory that releases several animals infected with a freaky virus.  These include Clarence, who makes his way into the home of a lecturer and the latterís eight-year-old son.  I donít think I need tell you that before long the virus passes from Clarence and his buddies to the human population of the University--and that all Hell breaks loose.

      Being the canny writer he is, Newman/Yeovil is careful to layer his horrors, adroitly building up to the orgies and bloodletting promised in the title.  It takes until around the halfway point--about when a guy gets his torn-off genitals jammed down his throat--for the craziness to really kick in, but kick in it does!

      Much of the second half of the novel is a joyride of surreal transformations, perverted sex and rampant brutality.  But then in the final third the tone shifts, from tongue-in-cheek horror to outright comedy, signified by the introduction of Batch 125.  This refers to a portion of the virus concentrated in the brain tissue of a scientist; eventually 125 learns to function on its own, and grows into a slimy monster with a penchant for world domination and a wisecrack for every occasion.

      This is a novel of extremes, obviously, that proudly wears its influences on its sleeve.  In addition to Cronenberg, those influences, all of them filmic, include the John Carpenter THING and THE EVIL DEAD, whereas the final chapters read like a Troma movie in ink.  Conclusion: for those with a taste for the hard stuff, this is a fun book.

      But hereís the rub.  ORGY OF THE BLOOD PARASITES, which seems to me a key entry in the splatterpunk cycle, had the misfortune to appear at a time when the genre was in hibernation.  For this reason the novel was largely ignored in its native England and never made it to the US.  Iím guessing itís quite obscure now.  I still recommend the book, though, if you can find it!
 


Home   Movies  Games  Stories  Comix  Adam's Bio