Welcome to the Hotel El Dorado. For photo-journalist Chris Latham, it's the chance of a lifetime. She has been invited to join the Beautiful People from all over the world, and cover the grand opening of a fabulous luxury hotel carved out of the primitive jungle. But while the celebrity guests indulge their wildest fantasies, blood pours like champagne and moans of ecstasyWelcome to the Hotel El Dorado. For photo-journalist Chris Latham, it's the chance of a lifetime. She has been invited to join the Beautiful People from all over the world, and cover the grand opening of a fabulous luxury hotel carved out of the primitive jungle. But while the celebrity guests indulge their wildest fantasies, blood pours like champagne and moans of ecstasy turn to screams of horror. Something is killing them one by one....
|Number of Pages||:||369 Pages|
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1981 Corgi mass-market (304 pages)*Savage has a pretty great setup for a slasher novel. There's a grand opening of a luxurious seaside hotel in the middle of a South American jungle, but, sadly, only seven people attend due to the recent terrorist threats and political instability in the fictional country of Panaguas. The rich, semi-celebrity guests don't know that the site was once the stomping grounds of a savage tribe with purported extraordinary strength and supernatural abilities, who were wiped out to make room for the hotel. And now, while the patrons are all drinking martinis and sleeping with one another, some thing starts taking them out one by one, beheading them. Too bad the plane that will take them all home doesn't arrive for a few days, and they're cut off from the rest of the world, surrounded by the ferocious jungle on three sides and the ocean on the fourth. Magazine photographer Chris Latham, assigned by her editor to cover the opening, attempts to unravel the mystery of these inexplicable murders.Like I said, great setup. Unfortunately it takes about 170 pages or so to get to the good stuff, which is more like 200-plus due to the small font size. The first half is taken up detailing the spoiled guests being inconvenienced by local government officials and military/guards who've taken up residence in the hotel to ensure their safety, and to look for a terrorist/freedom fighter supposedly in their midst. These sections were rather drawn-out and and uninteresting, because the characters weren't very interesting. Boorstin's workmanlike prose didn't help. Of course, I don't mind no-frills writing in a slasher novel, but this had so many different character arcs and mini-plotlines we're supposed to care about, that I felt I needed something more than stock characters and standard, unwitty dialogue.But once the guests start getting picked off, it's a lot of good, cheesy (and gruesome) fun. Anyone who's read my reviews knows that I love the whole "trapped while being hunted" theme in horror, and this was a decent -- if overlong -- example of the trope. If Boorstin or his editor had cut out about half of the early shenanigans between the government officials and guests, this probably would have been a 4 star novel. Alas, the first half was a bit of a slog to get through, and I nearly gave up before getting to the actual horror. I'm glad I didn't, as Boorstin really ramps up the tension and terror in the latter half.Still, I would only recommend this to fans of slashers and "trapped and hunted"-type novels, though two other books I've read recently -- Richard O'Brien's Evil and Stephen Crye's Joyride -- are better, more tautly-paced examples from the era, imo.3.0 Stars*I don't own this edition, but I thought I'd post the cover anyway (thanks to Calenture on the Vault of Evil boards), as it's pretty awesome. At least my slightly less awesome Berkley mass-market (310 pages) has gloriously gruesome stepback art, which I'll have to take a picture of and post here.
Finding slasher novels is hard to do, especially when you're looking for a straight-forward one. Here's a slightly convoluted but altogether satisfying gore-fest by Paul Boorstin that will have you cringing in disgust but begging for more. A high body count and a strong cast of characters make this one a must-read.
I first commented about the cover. Its one of those awesome (now retro) double covers with Scene 1 on the outside, (with a hole in it somewhere), then you flip it open and see the horrifying scene 2. I call it the VC Andrews cover (I think all of her novels have it, or did, the early ones in the 1980s).The 'Savage' front cover shows scene 1 as a tropical Eden with a pretty girl's face looking out from between leaves. (Also, the sky of my copy -- the copy which Goodreads is showing -- is a nice shade of blue, almost a Klein blue, if you know Klein. So that was a plus too.) Then you open it up and Scene 2 shows the same girl lying in a bed in a skimpy negligee looking all sexy with that pretty look on her face that was looking through the leaves -- but SHE'S DECAPITATED!!! AWESOME!Anyway, the book is good too. Characters who are actually distinct from each other (rarely happens these days in a lot of lit, especially mass market pulp stories: mom, dad, two-point-five kids, all normal, all like happy things like their happy neighbours ... until the EVIL MONSTER comes into their lives and now they have to struggle to survive. I'm telling ya: the whole communist paranoia that created 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' has now been transposed to any popular fear -- gangs, terrorists, angry chefs -- that will attack right-thinking and right-acting mom and pop. Life is not even close to the average horror novel. Thus, all horror novels are actually fantasy novels.Anyway, I could go on and probably will during some other book review. Just to say, I liked this book, kinda wanted more action to happen (me wanting a book to be longer? wha?) and for some of the charatcers to venture into the jungle a bit more instead of staying close to the hotel. I wanted to get scraed with them as the headed in.Loved the shrunken heads!!!! Not too many spoilers. But sphrunken heads just aren't done anymore, but they should be. (This book was published in 1980 or something. An episode of The Love Boat, I think, involved shrunken heads, or voodoo. And Gilligan's Island was rife with cannibals! Ah, the good old days, when fear was lame and funny.)Read this.
...There was a trend in horror literature and film in the early eighties to make the whole slasher genre semi-realistic. That is, instead of using the tried and true mystery formula (you're introduced to a number of folks, and you know one of them did it), the intrepid adventurers out to right the world's wrongs have no connections with the killer, and while we might meet him at various times during the narrative (Rex Miller's excellent debut novel, Slob, is the first good example of this I can think of; the most popular that comes to mind is the last Dirty Harry film, The Dead Pool), said intrepid adventurers don't meet the bad guy until the final showdown. The idea certainly has its good points. Aside from the aforementioned realism, it also puts a stop to such dialogical insanities as "So, Professor Moriarty, we meet again!"That said, a lot of the first attempts to marry the idea to the slasher genre were exceptionally bad. Savage isn't quite as downright stupid as some (my favorite target is a 1981 film, later made into an equally bad novel, called Final Exam)...Our heroine is an investigative photojournalist, Chris Latham, who is sent by her editor to cover the opening of a new luxury resort that just happens to be situated in a war-torn South American country (named Panagua in the book; the similarities to Nicaragua are a little too obvious to be overlooked). Because of the area's sociopolitical instability, only seven of those who received invitations to the grand opening actually show up. P>Savage might have actually been salvageable. Had an editor managed to get Boorstin to lop off the first chapter and a half, and had the last couple of chapters been handled just a bit more slickly this might have crossed the line into "good enough to be noticed." As it stands, however, it's been out of print for quite a while, and not really worth going out of your way to hunt down.
Paul Boorstin's 1980 novel, Savage, is a very fast and easy story to spend time reading. It's cast of characters are simply drawn and somewhat stereotypical. Nevertheless, I found it a nice change of pace from other books that I have recently completed. Perhaps because it has been a number of years since I first read this novel, I was still caught off guard by the plausible ending.
300 pagesAwful book!