The Other Pans People

Van Thal and Vampires

Herbert Van Thal – Pan Horror 14

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Herbert Van Thal (ed.) – 14th Pan Book Of Horror Stories (1973)


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Gaylord Sabatini – Vortex Of Horror
Conrad Hill – So Much Work
Harry Turner – Shwartz
Myc Harrison – The Rat Trap
Gerald Atkins – Patent Number
David Case – Strange Roots
Alex White – The Clinic
Myc Harrison – The Spider And The Fly
John Snellings – Change Of Heart
Gilbert Phelps – The Hook
Conrad Hill – The Man And The Boy
R. Chetwynd-Hayes – It Came To Dinner

Gaylord Sabatini – Vortex Of Horror: “The man just hung there quite still while this evil vegetable, in a series of thrusting movements, sawed all round his neck.” Driving through the Kalahari desert, Dr. Bloom enters a parallel world where cannibalistic, many tentacled plants rule the roost and humans are staked out and eaten, their severed heads worn as jewellery.

Alex White – The Clinic: And I thought Charles Birkin was the last word in nihilism! This time it’s Ellen’s turn to undergo the torments of Hell at the hands of her stepfather, stepsister and mother who all loathe her for … nothing, really. Step-dad Dr. Joubert tries to molest her and her new Sis Therese ceaselessly torments her until finally they decide she should take up a job at one of Joubert’s clinics. Or that’s what they tell her. In reality, Ellen is being sent there as a patient and, this being an Alex White story, you can tell that the “cure” for her behaviour will be somewhat extreme. Quite possibly the nastiest of AW’s stories … which is saying plenty.

R. Chetwynd-Hayes – It Came To Dinner: East Anglian fenland. Herbert, a tramp, comes in a house in a state of disrepair and, thinking it deserted, decides to spend the night there. He is wrong in his assumption that the old place is empty, but Stafford Carruthers will not hear of it him leaving and instead invites him to spend the night there with Lady Carruthers, daughter Helen, and their butler, Marvin. Herbert soon notices that the Carruthers’ enjoy their food – mostly meat dishes – to the point of gluttony, but he really starts feeling uneasy with the arrival at table – unannounced – of Sir Gore Carruthers …

Apparently, after It Came To Dinner, Van Thal was keen for him to write more in the same vein, but RCH reckoned he only did that as a one off – he wasn’t much taken with the all-out horror stories that Pan (and, most likely, the rest of us) wanted from him.

“Pan loved it and wanted me to do some more, but I told them, ‘No, I can’t do any more like that.’ I just proved to myself that I could write it.”

(Skeleton Crew, Sept. 1990).

Gilbert Phelps – The Hook: Why Mrs Rydal always countersigns her invitations with a “Don’t bring your own coat-hangers” request, and why there are no hooks to be found in her plush home on the Sussex Downs. It all has to do with her horrible brush with a village idiot in a South American graveyard during her childhood. Mr. Crittal, fresh over from Brazil, seems to know more than he should about the matter …

Conrad Hill – So Much Work: Martinet Mr Nesbit leads his poor wife a life of soul-crushing misery until the mysterious intervention of Herbert and Horace Croaker, “Creative Funeral Directors”, who also do for his infernal daschund, Heinz in an unfortunate late night hearse-mows-down-man-and-dog “accident.”

Gerald Atkins – Patent Number: Eddie Richardson has had so many transplants, valve and limb replacements that it’s no wonder a little girl asks him “Are you Frankenstein’s monster ?” The inscription on his grave says it all.

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