The Woods Are Dark

The Woods Are Dark

Book - 2008
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When it was first published, Laymon's classic novel about a group of cannibalistic humanoid creatures was heavily edited. Now, for the first time ever, the missing text has been completely restored, allowing this horrifying novel to be read the way Laymon intended. Original.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Leisure Books, 2008, c1981.
ISBN: 9780843957501
0843957506
Characteristics: 215 p. ; 18 cm.

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Sarah1984
May 06, 2016

A blurb on the back of the book, by Gary Brandner (author of The Howling), describes this as being "more disgusting than The Caller", which means nothing to me as I've never heard of The Caller but does tell me that this book is pretty disgusting (at least in Brandner's estimation). Just being disgusting isn't going to cut it these days, it might have worked in 1981, but the average reader expects realistic reactions from characters and having sex on the brain within minutes of being pelted with a severed hand is just not realistic.
This really is pretty disgusting, so Brandner was right about that, but that's about all it's got going for it. Most of the characters are completely ridiculous. We've got Neala and Sherri who show a stupid lack of fear all through their abduction and being handcuffed to a tree, mostly making wise cracks that aren't particularly wise. Then there's Robbins, he was one of the girls' abductors, who upon seeing Neala has a change of heart and decides to go back for her because the sight of her face moved him (or some ridiculous shit like that). This made it necessary for him to put his and his family's life on the line for this girl, who he's seen for all of ten mins and who probably hates him for abducting her. Worst of all is Lander, father to Cordie and husband to Ruth, but none of that matters because as soon as he catches sight of a pair of female Krulls (savage, mutant/deformed, humanoid cannibals who enjoy the feel of the wind on their nether regions as they hack their victims to death with whatever blade is handy) having a little lesbian fun during bath time all thoughts of the likelihood that his wife's brains are currently being eaten out of a bowl made from the top of her skull go straight out of his head. All he can think of is killing the ugly and non young and nubile (just like his daughter) girl, raping the Cordie replacement and then killing her too. What kind of father/husband... what kind of person is he?

The majority of the characters are stupid and completely unrealistic, people just don't behave like this in situations of extreme terror. I'm pretty sure that other men who have been the victims of extreme violence and terror - the men in a place like the Congo who were forced to watch as their female relatives were raped and murdered - failed to feel any kind of sexual arousal after watching their families being murdered. Men aren't robots with an on/off switch (although, I'm sure some wish there was), so either Lander's a newly emerged psychopath who belongs with the Krulls or he's a poorly drawn character (usually I'd go with the latter, but in this book anything could be happening).

Women, as a general rule (though there are exceptions), are terrified of being kidnapped and handcuffed to trees. I find it highly unlikely that upon seeing further hostages being handcuffed to their own tree a woman would calmly say "Hi", or that one of the other hostages (another woman) would just as calmly ask in response "Young ladies, do you know what's going on?". Where's all the screaming, crying, pleading, praying etc. that would surely be going on? I've never been sacrificed to naked cannibals, but if I am you can bet I won't be politely asking what's happening in the same manner I might ask my parents what their plans for the weekend are. I'll be screaming bloody murder until my voice gives out or they slit my throat just to shut me up.

Finished and I have to ask, has no one thought of sending in the army? I suggest 1000 men with Uzis and body armour and night vision goggles (they had those in 1981, didn't they), and even a few airstrikes and maybe a tank or two. That should take care of the cannibal problem in Barlow with a minimum loss of life (to the good guys, at least). Final thoughts: the premise was good, but the characters were unrealistic and the apparent motto of 'lets have sex despite the probability of cannibals lurking in the forest' was a bit much.

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Sarah1984
May 06, 2016

Sarah1984 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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