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Archive for August, 2007

Peter Haining – The Nightmare Reader Vol 1

Posted by demonik on August 31, 2007

Peter Haining (ed.) – The Nightmare Reader Vol 1 (Pan, 1976)

Preface – Peter Haining
Introduction: “What Hath Light Wrought?” – Isaac Asimov

Matthew Lewis – The Midnight Embrace [extract from “The Monk”}
Mary Shelley – The Transformation
Washington Irving – The Bold Dragoon
Thomas de Quincy – Levana And Our Lady Of Sorrows
Lord Lytton – The Magician
Edgar Allan Poe – Berenice
J. S. Le Fanu – The Drunkard’s Dream
C. F. Hoffman – The Man In The Reservoir
Lafcadio Hearn – Haceldama
Madame Blavatsky – The Ensouled Violin
Ambrose Bierce – Visions Of The Night
Arthur Machen – The Soldier’s Rest
Lord Dunsany – The Bureau D’Exchange De Maux

Thirteen supernatural stories from the past two hundred years dealing with different facets of the mind unbalanced

Peter Haining – The Nightmare Reader: Volume 2 (Pan, 1976)

Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle – The Silver Mirror
Aleister Crowley – The Testament Of Magdalen Blair
H. G. Wells – A Dream Of Armageddon
M. R. James – A School Story
Montague Summers – The Grimoire
H. P. Lovecraft – The Evil Clergyman
August Derleth – The Slayers And The Slain
John Gawsworth [& Edgar Jepson] – The Shifting Growth
Algernon Blackwood – Along Came A Spider
Robert Bloch – The Head Hunter
Ray Bradbury – The Haunting Of The New
Arthur C. Clarke – The Curse

Twelve supernatural stories to enthrall lovers of the occult – all dealing with different facets of the mind unbalanced.

This and Volume two were published in one volume by Gollancz in 1973

Nightmare Reader Gollancz

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Tales Of Terror And Mystery

Posted by demonik on August 31, 2007

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Tales Of Terror And Mystery (Pan, 1978)

Conan-Doyle Terror And Mystery

Cover illustration: Alan Lee

Tales Of Terror

The Horror Of The Heights
The Leather Funnel
The New Catacomb
The Case Of Lady Sannox
The Terror Of Blue John Gap
The Brazilian Cat

Tales Of Mystery

The Lost Special
The Beetle-Hunter
The Man With The Watches
The Japanned Box
The Black Doctor
The Jew’s Breastplate
The Nightmare Room

The Horror Of The Heights:And then there was Myrtle’s head. Do you really believe – does anybody really believe – that a man’s head could be driven clean into his body by the force of a fall?”

Gallant aviator Joyce-Armstrong believes that the “mysterious” deaths of several pilots were caused by malevolent entities that haunt the skies 30,000 feet above Wiltshire. Taking to the air in his trusty monoplane, he seeks out the beauty and horror of the heights! Fortunately for us, Joyce-Armstrong belongs to that commendable breed who keep scribbling away in their journal right up to the moment of doom. His final entry is priceless.

The Leather Funnel: Lionel Dacre is an occultist and collector of macabre artifacts, one of which is the inscribed funnel. To test his theory that one can divine in sleep something of the history of a given relic, he persuades the narrator to bed down with it. Our man duly witnesses the ordeal of a murderess who was put to the extraordinary question in a bid to get her to name accomplices. This involves her being tied to a wooden horse while gallons of water are poured down her throat. Unsurprisingly, the narrator wakes up screaming and his host comes rushing to his bed. On being told of his dreadful nightmare, Dacre enquires:
“Did you stand it to the end?”
“No, thank God. I awoke before it really began”
“Ah, it is just as well for you. I held out to the third bucket”.

Hugh Lamb has written of The Leather Funnel: ” … the torture of a 17th century woman is observed by the narrator in a dream, in a story almost pointless other than parading this cruelty.” Yes, it really is that good.

The Brazilian Cat: Greylands, Clipton-On-The-Marshes, Suffolk. Amiable loafer Marshall King stands to gain a fortune and a title when his uncle, Lord Southerton, dies, but the old boy’s proving to be a tenacious bastard so he’s thinking of tapping up his wealthy cousin Everard who is not short of a few bob. Everard has just returned from Brazil with a wife and menagerie and is reputedly the most decent fellow on earth, so Marshall has little hesitation in accepting his invitation to stay with him in the country. Mrs. King proves to be a fly in the ointment, she’s openly hostile to Marshall from the first, but Everard – he really is a lovely bloke – explains that this is just another example of her obsessive jealousy. To make up for her rudeness, Everard treats him to a meeting with his pride and joy, Tommy the Brazilian cat, a puma-like monstrosity who, should it ever develop a taste for humans, will become “the most absolutely treacherous and bloodthirsty creature upon earth”. Thank goodness that Everard is such a wonderful fellow and not some psycho who’d lock you up with this beast to get his hands on Lord Southerton’s inheritance, eh?

The New Catacomb: Rome. Under a grilling from his friend and colleague, the brilliant young archaeologist Kennedy admits to Burger that the reason he ran away with Miss Saunderson wasn’t because he loved her – he didn’t – but for the sheer thrill of thing. The fact that she was reputedly engaged to another fellow added extra spice. Whoever this loser was, his feelings and those of the ruined Miss Saunderson are no concern of his. In his turn, Burger shares with Kennedy the location of a vast catacomb which predates those excavated thus far. It’s really not the place you’d want to be stranded in the dark by a wronged love rival as it expands for miles. A man could be stuck down there for decades without finding his way out ….

The Case Of Lady Sannox: Her loose behaviour scandalises polite society and drives her husband to distraction. The latest to share her bed is the brilliant young surgeon Dr. Douglas Stone, renowned for his prowess between the sheets as much as his cool handling of the scalpel. How can his Lordship make the baggage less lippy and ruin Stone into the bargain?

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W. H. Cozens – Pan Book of Revenge Stories

Posted by demonik on August 31, 2007

W. H. Cozens (ed.) – The Pan Book of Revenge Stories (1971)

Revenge orthodox and unorthodox – a wild justice, an inexorable hate, a triumph over death, hot as the fires of Hell, cold as Arctic depths, a sweetness to woman, and it’s own executioner.

Introduction – W. H. Cozens

W. W. Jacobs – Captain Rogers
Jack London – The Sun-Dog Trail
Jack Cope – Stonewall’s Ghost
Guy De Maupassant – A Vendetta
John P. Foran – No Alibi
John McGhee – Little Kind Of Fellow
Saki – Laura
Brian Cleeve – The Revenge Of Big Michael
H. G. Wells – The Cone
David Alexander – Scarecrow
Arthur Gordon – Arctic Vengeance
John Steinbeck – The Murder
A. Neil Lyons – The Honeymoon
Edgar Allan Poe – The Cask Of Amontillado

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Ornella Volta & Valeria Riva – The Vampire

Posted by demonik on August 31, 2007

Ornella Volta & Valeria Riva (eds.) – The Vampire: Presented by Roger Vadim (Pan, 1965)

Roger Vadim Vampire

Foreword – Roger Vadim

Augustine Calmet – The Vampires of Hungary and Surrounding Countries
Lawrence Durrell – Carnival
Sheridan Le Fanu – Carmilla
Theophile Gautier – The Beautiful Vampire
Edgar Allan Poe – Berenice
Simon Raven – Chriseis
Guy de Maupassant – The Horla
E. F. Benson – Mrs. Amworth
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire
Robert Bloch – The Cloak
Nicolai Gogol – Viy
E. C. Tubb – Fresh Guy
Luigi Capuana – A Vampire
Ray Bradbury – The Man Upstairs
Bram Stoker – The Death of Dracula.

An early attempt at compiling the very best bloodsucker stories into one volume, which accounts for the familiarity of many of the tales that made the cut. The Stoker, Raven and Durrell items have all been extracted – not too painfully – from their host novels, and Calmet’s piece comes from his classic examination of the vampire myth, The Phantom World.

Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle – The Adventure Of The Sussex Vampire: Holmes is asked to investigate when Ferguson’s second wife, a Peruvian, is twice discovered looming over their newborn child, sucking from a wound in her neck. On the face of it, a classic case of a vampire caught red handed (and fanged), but as the super-rationalist scoffs to his ever-bamboozled sidekick: “What have we to do with walking corpses who can only be held in their graves by stakes driven through their hearts? It’s pure lunacy.”

J. S. Le Fanu – Carmilla: “Everyone must die. And all are happier when they do.”
Laura’s father takes in the beautiful Carmilla after her carriage overturns, and it is agreed that she will remain as his guest until her mother is well enough to return and collect her. She and the narrator, the shy, lonely Laura, strike an intimate friendship, but Laura’s health declines the while and a plague decimates the peasant population situated around the schloss. Carmilla is prone to “sleepwalking”.

Beautifully told, and with several memorable scenes, notably Carmilla’s reaction to one of the many funerals and her fury at a hunchback who offers to file her elongated tooth. The gory climax, made all the more appalling because we’ve come to sympathise with a monster, and it’s chilling coda will be with me to the grave.
And, hopefully, beyond.

E. C. Tubb – Fresh Guy: After the big bang, the few surviving humans dwell underground until such times as it’s safe to return to the surface. Their reemergence is eagerly anticipated by Sammy the Ghoul, Lupe the Werewolf, trad. vampire Count Boris and his despised progeny, Edward Smith. Smith has decided that he’s going to run the show his way. Sammy and the Count agree that, in this particular case, they might suspend the agreement by which monster does not feed on monster.

Robert Bloch – The Cloak: Henderson buys a cloak for $5 from a mysterious Hungarian in a costumiers. He wears it to the Lindstrom’s Halloween ball, he steals the show, attacking the host and generally causing a stir with his increasingly bizarre behaviour. Famously filmed by Amicus for their The House That Dripped Blood omnibus.

Luigi Capuana – A Vampire: Luisa’s dead husband preys on the blood of the child by her second marriage.

Edgar Allan Poe – Berenice: Any story which begins with the lines; “Misery is manifold. The Wretchedness of Earth is multiform” isn’t going to be a bundle of laughs.
An almost-vampire story, by virtue of the narrator’s fixation with the doomed heroine’s immaculate teeth. Berenice suffers from catalepsy and is duly entombed alive. After she’s been consigned to the vault her cousin awakens from “a confused and exciting dream” …

Ray Bradbury – The Man Upstairs: Mr. Koberman is strange. He works nights, barely speaks and eats with a wooden fork and spoon. Neither is he fond of young Douglas, who spies on him through the panes of coloured glass between floors of the lodging house where they both reside. When the glass is smashed, Douglas is blamed and punished. His hatred for Koberman intensifies and when he overhears other boarders discussing a spate of mysterious murders in the town, which one of the men attributes to a vampire, he plans on a course of action.

And then it all gets decidedly weird.

The Vampire

Cover of the 1972 edition

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