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The Terror of the Seven Crypts

Novel by Etienne Aubin (Canada) 1974.

Back in the early 1970s, New English Library churned out vast amounts of thin pulpy paperbacks, many of which fell into the horror genre. Laurence James, an inconsistent but sometimes brilliant author who wrote horror novels in his own right, was head of NEL editorial up to 1973, and as such edited many books by the Canadian James Moffatt. Noted mainly for his skinhead and biker series for NEL, Moffatt wrote a few hundred novels before his death in 1994. Most of these were written under numerous pseudonyms, one of which was 'Etienne Aubin'. The Terror of the Seven Crypts was the first and is a particularly interesting novel.

What we have is a French Revolution precursor to the 1980s slasher movie. Marcel Fournier, high up in the Citizens' Committee, has appropriated large amounts of royal treasure, which he hides inside the seven crypts of Chateau Deveraux. Naturally all who help are killed off to protect Fournier's secret; but a group of aristocrats, fleeing from the guillotine, hole up at the chateau, only to fall foul of a Phantom-esque Fournier. Severely beaten and disfigured by a street mob, he has returned to his treasure but cannot remember the details of his cruel traps. He must use the aristocrats, one by one, to trigger the traps. But Jacques Rolande, former captain of the King's Guard and the natural leader of the ragtag band of aristocrats, is a formidable opponent.

In modern times, there has been a noticeable move towards contemporary horror. This was perhaps inevitable, as audiences become jaded to what have become cliched Hammer horror settings. But history is a large entity, and there is a huge scope for horror there. Unfortunately, while The Terror of the Seven Crypts is undoubtedly historical there is no history whatsoever. And with characters stereotyped and wooden, there is little to recommend it other than its over the top title and unashamedly pulp sentiments.

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