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novelisation by Robert Knight

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Star, London, 1980
price: 95p; 192 pages

The blurb on the back:

They took to the sewers in a holocaust of horror...
Pray you'll never be this scared again.

opening lines:
It was a dismal winter's night, the wind blowing drizzle across the dark, deserted beach and promenade. During summer, Oakhaven. 'the sunniest spot on the south coast', was alive with holidaymakers, but in winter the hotels and boarding houses put up shutters against the gales which gusted in from the Channel and went into hibernation.

This is a curious one. The half-title page says a novelisation by Robert Knight based on the screenplay by Jo Gannon. And the book is copyright Salon Productions, who had earlier given us the Adventures series of films. All of which suggests that its taken from a movie. And indeed Gavin Crimson (whose fabulously detailed comments on British movies are to be found on the IMDb website) tells me that it was indeed scheduled to be filmed but was abandoned two weeks before shooting, due to lack of finance. The director was to have been Stanley Long.

Now, Robert Knight is actually Christopher Evans under a pseudonym, and Dr Evans (he got his PhD in psychology from Reading University) was a respected figure he was science editor of New Worlds magazine and a serious research psychologist. He also edited a couple of very decent anthologies in the 1970s. So Im inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

And in fact this is a perfectly decent piece of run-of-the-mill exploitation horror. A top secret government research project goes wrong when one of the subjects a life-prisoner whos been recruited as a guinea pig turns psychotic and escapes into the sewers. The sewers? Oh yes, because he has no melanin, you see, no pigmentation at all, so he cant stand exposure to light. (Thats scientific research, that is.) Meanwhile, a local radio reporter is getting her teeth into the story.

None of it very startling then, but competent enough and filmed with some imagination and creativity it could have been a pretty decent little movie. But it never happened.