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Village of Blood

Novel by Ian Dear 1975.

Another strange little offering from New English Library. What we have here is a vampire story and a curse yarn bundled up together and tied in with the production of a horror film. Ken Mathers, a brash American film director, is filming for Anvil Productions, owned and run by the reclusive Lord Bellingham. His lordship seems unusually to be getting well into this film, Mathers's fourth for the studio, as he has decreed that the script should not be altered in any way and that the film must be shot on location in the backward Oxfordshire country village of Reston where Bellingham has his estate. Mathers is quite happy to do this, until it becomes apparent that real life events are echoing the script; and that both are reenacting the ancient Bellingham Curse. He teams up with Ann Meredith, a local reporter, to find out what is behind Bellingham's film.

NEL churned these things out in the early 1970s, not always sacrificing quality for speed. This, for instance, must have been produced at breakneck pace, as is evident not only by the smooth story uncluttered by complex subplots, flashbacks or deep characterisation, but also for the fact that Ann Meredith somehow becomes Ann Green on the back cover blurb (Graham Masterton's Fireflash 5 suffered from the same error when reprinted by Star as A Mile Before Morning). But, however swiftly the plot progresses, it has plenty going for it.

We have a vampire feeding on local villagers, a revenge curse coming true after centuries, a local Lord in his castle with a private collection of big cats, and a modern day horror movie whose shoot is being compromised by a collection of half-retarded rural folk. With all this going on in the sub-130 page count, it's not too surprising that Ian Dear didn't get too much characterisation in. Along with Martin Jenson's The Village of Fear and a number of NEL's other more solid reads, this could have benefitted from another hundred pages or so. But even without it, Village of Blood is not a bad choice of tacky novel.

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