Night of the Living Dead (1968). The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). The Hills Have Eyes (1977). Dawn of the Dead (1978). The Evil Dead (1981). All iconic horror films and inspiration for any die-hard horror fan. The fact I was visualising these movies throughout the novel is testament to Jim Goforth’s work. The whole book had that blockbuster feel.
If the above doesn’t clue you in, I’m a massive horror fanatic, in both books and films, and it’s always a welcome and refreshing experience to find a book that homages the movies but stands alone as a solid, effective, gut-wrenching, bloody horror tale. There’s a very thin line between homage and rip-off and a lot of books in the past have wobbled severely whilst walking it.
Plebs is the exception to this rule.
This book is drenched in original, inspiring horror folklore and (lovingly) contains several winks and nods to many 70’s/80’s horror movies. This is down to the author who creates a palpable, visual, visceral world born out of a love for the genre itself. His rich descriptions, vivid detail and enjoyable (evil, sexy, mysterious, psychotic, realistic) characters make for a great horror story. This book is no rip-off but instantly quotable and memorable due to many horror tropes that some writers find difficult to construct, yet Jim Goforth manages to pull off perfectly.
I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to the author and I know he is a dedicated Richard Laymon fan. The late, great legend of horror carved a niche for himself, his combination of sexual violence and extreme gore becoming almost instantly iconic. The author pays homage to Laymon in many different ways. On every page, there is something for any Laymon fan; be it gore, sex, gorgeous women, cannibalism, monsters, psychological terror and even a bit of rape and necrophilia.
After all, this is horror at its boldest so why leave anything out? Laymon wouldn’t have stood for this, writing for the true fans is what he lived for and I believe Jim Goforth had this mentality when writing Plebs. Writing true horror takes balls and finesse and Plebs was constructed with plenty of both in tow.
So five stars? Oh yes. I doubt I’ll read a more original and chaotic horror movie…sorry, book this year. That, in itself, is a massive achievement. Well done!