Who, you say, is John Halkin? Honestly, I have no idea. Really. None of the internets could help me find anything about him but that he was born in 1927. Fortunately before slipping into an utter and a completely deserved obscurity he bestowed upon us several British pulp-horror novels that were graced with some of the cheesiest and most ludicrous cover art of the day. They're almost not even funny. Would you wanna be caught reading one of these monstrosities?! Ha. Were the titles Guts, Gore, and Gross already taken?
The art is on par with an eighth-grader creating his imaginary tattoos in art class. The titles were inspired by, I'm sure, the infamous '76 flick Squirm, while the plots seem to be sub-James Herbert style monster mayhem, with populations of innocents bedeviled by creepy-crawlies like mutant jellyfish, legless lizards, and ravenous caterpillars. All three in this "series" - Slither, Slime, and Squelch - were published first in the UK by Hamlyn, and then reprinted in the mid-1980s in the States by some publisher called Critic's Choice. Of course they were!
Okay, one last one before I go: Bloodworm! Actually, this cover's more like it, that's some serious bad-assery going on there. Cover design looks like something Tor would've published, and those eyes of obsidian are appropriately unholy. Years ago I had some copies of Halkin's stuff at the old bookstore I worked at but I'll tell you, there was so much sleaziness emanating from them I kinda didn't want to even touch them. Just ick. But certainly that can't be as bad as all that. So I must ask: Anybody read any of these?
A Pocketful of Horrors, Some of Them Used...
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