The Other Pans People

Van Thal and Vampires

Herbert Van Thal – Pan Horror 21

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Herbert Van Thal (ed) – 21st Pan Book Of Horror Stories (Pan, 1980)

Carl Schiffman – Throwback
Thomas Muirson – The Gibbet Inn
Ian C. Strachan – The Incident At Scanham
Fay Woolf – Slowly
Alex White – Cynthia And Charles
Rosemary Timperley – The Thug
Ruth Cameron – Dolly
Brian Mooney – Baby, Baby
Ken Johns – Mumsy And Sonny
Stephen King – Graveyard Shift
Stephen King – The Mangler
James McClure – God, It Was Fun!
Harry E. Turner – Flayed
Carolyn L. Bird – The Black Bedroom

I think they must’ve had a “they’ll buy anything with Stephen King’s name on it!” moment at the office. Fine stories, sure, but anyone who was remotedly interested in the great man would already have had “Graveyard Shift” and “The Mangler” a zillion times over. Anyhow; The Alex White story is well handled, the Fay Woolf is suitably nasty and there’s a horrible twist to Carolyn Bird’s story. It’s unlikely that “Dolly” and “Baby, Baby” will turn up in any “Best Horror” collections …

Fay Woolf – Slowly: Little Darren is trapped beneath the rails after the collapse of the Big Dipper at the Happyland funfair. Calhoun and his crew try to save him from being transformed into a human torso …

Alex White – Cynthia And Charles: Yes, it’s exactly the same as every other Alex White story except this time the doomed heroine, Cynthia, recently divorced, heads off to Essex to spend a month with kindly Mrs. Castleton. Unfortunately, the old girl has a nephew who Cynthia can’t abide, and his nocturnal wanderings give her the creeps, especially as there have been a series of rape-murders in the area. To make matters worse, Mrs. C. has been called away to visit a sick friend …

Rosemary Timperley – The Thug: A young woman can’t help but notice a squat, lonely figure whenever she’s out shopping. Despite being strangely frightened of him, she allows him to persuade her back to his house. He shows her a beautiful carpet and explains it’s history – it’s connected to thuggery and Kali worship. Annually, he is required to make a sacrifice …

Brian Mooney – Baby, Baby: The boorish Tom makes the lives of his wife and father-in-law a misery. Eventually they turn on him with cleaver and knives. When the police arrive, they make a strange discovery regarding the tot the wife and her epileptic dad dote on.

Ruth Cameron –  Dolly: A circus ventriloquist uses his daughter as a doll, and she grows up to behave more like a dummy than a flesh and blood woman. Then she falls pregnant.

Carolyn L. Bird – The Black Bedroom: The scene is a “Gothic madhouse in Oxfordshire”, home to the multi-millionaire Sheldrake and peopled for the weekend by his Old Harrovian and Etonion chums. The highlight of Sheldrake’s programme is the shoot, but the narrator, Daniel, isn’t much interested in decimating the local wildlife population and contents himself romping with the host’s daughter, Nerissa.
Sheldrake then introduces Daniel to his menagerie: “Do you like my monkeys? Elsa, the hairless Javanese is on heat, but I can’t get the other males to cover her. She tends to bite their throats out during copulation, and she’s got venereal disease …”
That night, Daniel is awoken in the pitch dark when something climbs on his bed and attempts to mount him …

Thomas Muirson – The Gibbet Inn: The narrator arrives at a gloomy village inn at Manton and, on jokingly enquiring of the barmaid how the pub came by its grim name, learns that it was because they hung her father “across the way on the village green, you see.”
Ellen, for that is her name, is soon joined by a bulbous, piggy-eyed wretch who cuffs her for talking to the stranger and orders him to leave. He wanders on until he arrives at the church where he learns that he’s just encountered two spectres and the revenant of a long gone pub. The girl, Ellen, commited suicide by slashing her throat with a broken bottle in 1783 after her father, Jacob Farley, caved in the head of young Tom Reynolds with a stake when he learned of their affair. The villagers then hung him.
The priest consoles him by telling him that he’s indeed fortunate he didn’t see Reynolds ghost, as the three people who have all died shortly afterward …

Ken Johns – Mumsy And Sonny: A pair of circus freaks, their minds and bodies mangled in an accident caused by the Ringmaster’s negligence, methodically decimate the troupe.

Carl Schiffman – Throwback: Richard Hargreaves, anorak, is playing with his metal detector when he discovers a coin. Digging deeper, his spade strikes a cylindrical object … and he’s thrown back in time to the 15th century. The villagers are the of the usual superstitious bent and Hargreaves is put on trial for witchcraft.

Ian C Strachan – The Incidents At Scanham: Hopping vampires, toadstool-like in appearance, have plagued the quiet Nottingham village for centuries. Things come to a head over the months of March to May 1978 when the bodies of several people are found drained of blood. The grey and white terrors lay siege to a house until a farmer with a flame-thrower arrives at the scene. Great fun.

Harry E. Turner – Flayed: Trapelli, a ruthless NYC gangster, went off the rails aged 14 after his brutal father stamped on his pet squirrel and all its guts spilled out. years later, with the assistance of a Zulu, Trapelli exorcises the dreadful memory of the incident, having lured his father to Central Park after dark.

James McClure – God, It Was Fun: A seriously disgruntled wife kills eminent plastic surgeon Dr. Agostino and then customises his body. Sergeant O’Hare sums it up best: “Like I say, you ain’t gonna believe it … It looks – ever heard of Humpty Dumpty?”

See also Vault Of Evil’s Pan Horror 21 thread


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