CriminOlly thinks: A haunting horror novel that’s kind of a vampire story but mostly a fascinating study of obsession. 5/5
Title: Throat Sprockets | Author: Tim Lucas | Publisher: Fourth Estate | Pages: 232 | Publication date: 1st July 1996 | Source: Self-purchased | Content warnings: Yes | Tolerance warning: No
Throat Sprockets is a wonderful horror novel that’s far less well known than it deserves to be. Originally conceived as a comic strip, the first two parts of it were published in the anthology horror comic Taboo in the late 1980s. That’s where I originally came across it, and it’s subtle, psychological impact made such an impression on me that when I stumbled across the novel in a second hand bookshop years later I bought it immediately.
It’s a book about cursed art, a topic that has always fascinated me. In this case it’s the movie of the title. Throat Sprockets is a weird, story free film riddled with apparently excises sections, that revolves around the fetishisation of women’s throats. The unnamed protagonist of the novel discovers it playing in an adult movie theatre that he frequents in his lunch breaks out of boredom with the sterile modern world. He becomes obsessed with the film and his search for more information about it, as well as the impact it has on his life, occupies the rest of the book.
It’s a riveting and beautifully constructed novel. The protagonist’s obsession with the film is contagious and I found myself desperate to get through the book to uncover all of its secrets. Those secrets are wonderfully teased out as the story unfurls, with snippets revealed to the narrator and reader with tantalising but exquisite slowness.
It’s also brilliantly satirical, casting its eye over both the advertising industry and the media in general. In part it’s a book about our fascination with works of art and our need to feel personally connected to them. If that was true in 1994, it is even more so in the age of Men’s Rights Activists trolling actors on social media when they don’t approve of them appearing in beloved film franchises.
I only finished it a couple of days ago, but this is a book that already feels like it will linger with me like the original comics did. It’s weird, compulsive and convincing in the dreamlike way of the best horror. It’s a book that reaches inside you and taps into your subconscious fears and obsessions. It’s also a book that should be far better known than it is. If you like weird things I strongly recommend finding yourself a copy while you still can.
Spending his lunch hours in a porno theater to relieve his boredom, a young advertising executive discovers an obscure film called Throat Sprockets and develops a fascination for women’s throats that gradually consumes his life.
Content Warning: Sexual violence
Tolerance Warning: All good