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Literature / The Slime Beast

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The Slime Beast is a 1975 horror novel written by Guy N. Smith (Night of the Crabs, The Festering). An expedition led by Professor John Lowson is searching for King John's treasure in "the Wash," an estuary at the north-west corner of East Anglia on the East coast of England, where Norfolk meets Lincolnshire. Accompanying him are his niece Liz Beck and assistant curator of the British Museum Gavin Royle. The trio find more than they bargained for, both in the form of hostile locals from the nearby town of Sutton who believe the treasure ought to remain where it is, and a ferocious amphibian monster covered in slime which the expedition unearths and which wants to do its darnedest to kill everyone it runs into.

Smith wrote a sequel, Spawn of the Slime Beast.

Tropes used in this novel:

  • Angry Mob: The people of Sutton, egged on by pub owner Thomas Southgate, believe the archaeological team are responsible for unleashing the Slime Beast (and they're not entirely wrong).
  • Antagonist Title: The Slime Beast is the primary threat.
  • Big Damn Heroes: All seems lost for Gavin, Liz and Professor Lowson... until Mallard Glover emerges from the shadows and fills the Angry Mob's leader full of buckshot.
  • Close-Knit Community: The people of Sutton are a pretty tight-knit little group and would very much like the archaeologists to go away, thank you very much.
  • Coitus Interruptus: Twice: first when the Slime Beast kills Mallard Glover as he's attempting to rape Liz, and then later when it kills a soldier and a local woman who are having sex.
  • Evil Smells Bad: It's made very clear that the monsters really stink.
  • Faceā€“Heel Turn: Lowson basically becomes an outright villain by the end of the first book, whilst Glover the wildfowler, despite having saved the expedition from an untimely death at the hands of the Angry Mob, ends up attempting to rape Liz out of nowhere.
  • For Science!: Lowson wants to capture the Slime Beast alive. Because reasons. His effort to communicate with the thing gets him decapitated.
  • Glory Hound: The sergeant commanding the troops sent to kill the Slime Beast. He hopes killing the creature will earn him a promotion. He even refuses to call for reinforcements for this reason.
  • Gutted Like a Fish: Happens to Mallard Glover.
  • Hope Spot: A photographer who is attacked by the Slime Beast on its way to Sutton near the end is one of the few people to survive a direct encounter with the thing, and he considers himself extremely lucky. Unfortunately, he has a second run-in with the beast as it's leaving Sutton following its rampage there, and he isn't as fortunate the second time.
  • Insufferable Genius: John Lowson is just about the most annoying and punchable example of an arrogant scientist ever to exist in written form. He comes off as a rather lazy Expy of Professor Challenger from The Lost World, with none of Challenger's redeeming qualities.
  • Immune to Bullets: Gavin (somehow) knows the Slime Beast can't be hurt by gunfire. And indeed it shrugs every form of conventional weaponry, including a direct hit from a British Army tank!
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Thomas Southgate may be a thoroughly despicable excuse for a human being, but he is right that Lowson's expedition is responsible for the Slime Beast; after all, they're the ones who dug the thing up.
  • Karmic Death: Glover, who tries to rape Liz, gets killed by the Slime Beast after failing to have his way with her.
  • Kill It with Fire: This turns out to be the only way to kill the Slime Beast. Gavin fries it with a flamethrower.
  • King John of England: The expedition starts out searching for his lost treasure.
  • Local Hangout: The Bull, a pub owned by Thomas Southgate.
  • Mildly Military: Except for their Glory Hound sergeant, the soldiers sent to deal with the monster aren't terribly professional, and seem more interested in boozing it up with the locals than in doing anything proactive. Their dereliction of duty allows the Slime Beast to get the drop on them.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Lowson theorizes that the title creature is from outer space due to the fact they found some unidentifiable metal buried in the mud with it. There's also talk of a meteorite having landed on the Wash the night before the expedition digs the creature up. Another notion floated is that it is of prehistoric origin (Lowson dismisses this as nonsense for some reason, probably because he didn't think of it first). Harborne thinks it got brought back from the Amazon by scientists. It may even be some kind of Eldritch Abomination (one of Thomas Southgate's patrons claims it is "not of this world"). Liz and Gavin do more or less accept Lowson's notion that it's an alien (even if only for lack of a different explanation).
  • Non-Indicative Name: The title aside, the Slime Beast isn't a Blob Monster or anything like that. It's really more of an ersatz Creature from the Black Lagoon covered in a thin sheen of translucent goo.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: A Retcon in Spawn of the Slime Beast turns the first monster into a female whose offspring terrorizes the town of Sutton forty years later in the sequel. That Slime Beast ends up being female, as well; the book suggests the Slime Beasts are a Single-Gender Race and reproduce asexually.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Quite a lot of the action in the book is told secondhand, including many encounters with the Slime Beast. In particular, the death of Manton Haywood is related to the main characters by the police.
  • Off with His Head!: The Slime Beast pulls Professor Lowson's head off.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Despite supposedly being an archaeologist, the second the group encounters the monster, Lowson becomes an expert on it, even though he's never mentioned as having any kind of zoological expertise. He abandons his quest for King John's treasure and begins obsessively attempting to capture the Slime Beast For Science!
  • Police Are Useless: Par for the course in a story about a rampaging lizard monster. Chief-Inspector Harborne and his partner Detective-Inspector Borg do little more than twiddle their thumbs, and Sutton's PC Thorpe isn't any better.
  • Punny Name: The local wildfowler in the first book is named Mallard Glover.
  • The Quiet One: Detective-Inspector Borg doesn't say much.
  • Quicksand Sucks: The Wash is said to be littered with quicksand pits. We never actually see any, although the Angry Mob does plan to throw the Lowson expedition into them after capturing them.
  • Rabble Rouser: Thomas Southgate. He really hates the interloping archaeologists and tries to turn the denizens of Sutton against them.
  • Rape as Drama: Wildfowler Mallard Glover attempts to rape Liz for... some reason, only to be interrupted and torn to bits by the Slime Beast. It's even flat-out stated earlier that the Angry Mob wants to rape Liz before throwing her into the quicksand with Gavin and her uncle.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Gavin Royle is the sensitive one, while John Lowson is the manly one. This is an interesting reversal of how it usually is; you'd think the younger (twentysomething) Gavin would be the manly one, being The Hero and all, with Lowson (somewhat bookish and in his fifties) the sensitive guy, but it's the opposite.
  • Shaming the Mob: Mallard Glover shames/threatens the torch-wielding mob of drunken jerks with a few carefully chosen insults and ample use of his boomstick.
  • Tanks for Nothing: Despite the fact the Slime Beast is little bigger than the average human, the tank which the Army uses against it does jack-diddly to even hurt it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The sergeant refuses to send for reinforcements because he wants to kill the Slime Beast himself for a promotion.
  • Twenty Minutes with Jerks: Except for perhaps Liz and Gavin (and even they have their moments), nearly everyone in the story is a thoroughly unpleasant excuse for a human being. Professor Lowson is a borderline Mad Scientist who schemes to murder his colleagues (including his own niece!) in order to hog the credit for the discovery of the Slime Beast, the residents of Sutton are backwards idiots and attempted rapists who'll form an Angry Mob with Torches and Pitchforks at the drop of a hat and the British Army are unprofessional louts led by a selfish Glory Hound, etc.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Lowson's expedition digging the Slime Beast up.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: The poor photographer who survives an encounter with the Slime Beast, only to run into it again in the very next chapter while he's still badly wounded and get brutally torn apart by it.