Hook-toothed serpents and leathery alligators seek the greatest prey of all - humans! Nothing like some vintage horror cover art featuring animals gone amok. Although man-eating creepy creatures, whether mutated or in just their natural state of deadliness, have always been one of the horror genre's mainstays, after the success of Jaws (1974) you could barely escape them. Today I present a fearsome collection of herpetophobic paperback horror. First is Fangs (Signet 1980) which features an added taste of exploitation, the ever-popular naked lady.
Now I remember furtively reading a copy of Gila! (Signet 1981) in the public library when I was 11 or 12, marveling over, of course, the conflation of sex and violence and its overall tawdriness. Les Simons is the pen name of Kathryn Ptacek, wife of the late Charles L. Grant and prolific author in her own right.
One rattlesnake is plenty scary, but a nest, a swarm, a rhumba of them? Rattlers (Signet 1979) might be Indiana Jones's purest nightmare.
This 1977 Dell paperback of the prosaically-titled Alligator (what, no exclamation point?) is excellently done; how can you not love those forest green scales? And something about mysterious underwater action - seen much more often post Jaws, duh - coupled with above-water scenes has always fascinated me: this back cover is an undeniably glorious work of horror/thriller paperback art.
...and it makes The Snake (Berkley 1979) seems tame by comparison!
Oooo, Death Bite (Ace 1980)! Actually Brent Monahan went on to write more horror fiction alone, including one title that I see on almost all my used-bookstore jaunts, The Book of Common Dread from '93. This falls just outside my (self-imposed) vintage-era limit, so...
Heavy Metal magazine October 1985
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