Herbert Van Thal – Pan Horror 4
Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007
Herbert Van Thal (ed.) – The 4th Pan Book Of Horror Stories (Pan, 1963)
William Sansom – Various Temptations
M. S. Waddell – The Pale Boy
Ray Bradbury – The Emissary
Robert Bloch – Lucy Comes To Stay
Richard Davis – Guy Fawkes Night
Vivian Meik – The Two Old Women
Alexander Woollcott – Moonlight Sonata
Septimus Dale – The Little Girl Eater
Rosemary Timperley – Harry
Ray Russell – Sardonicus
Robert Aickman – Ringing the Changes
Hugh Reid – Dulcie
M. S. Waddell – The Importance of Remaining Ernest
Joseph Payne Brennan – Slime
Adobe James – The Ohio Love Sculpture
Davis Grubb – The Horsehair Trunk
Alex Hamilton – The Attic Express
Elliott O’Donnell – The Haunted Telephone
Sir Frederick Treves – The Elephant Man
The real oddity is Sir Frederick Treves true account of his experiences with John Merrick which is the basis for the movie of the same name. Amazingly, it works very well in this context.
Bloch’s story is probably best known from Amicus’s Asylum, with Britt Ekland taking the part of the murderous Ms. Hyde of the piece.
William Sansom – Various Temptations (Something Terrible, Something Lovely, 1948): Ronald Raikes, 31, is wanted for questioning in connection with the Victoria murders. Four London prostitutes have been strangled in a week and the known sex-offender has gone to ground. On impulse, he climbs a ladder and climbs in the open bedroom window of Clara, a plain and lonely woman who’s just been reading about the slayings. Telling her not to be frightened, he finds himself pouring out a very diluted account of his life story. Despite suspecting him to be the murderer, still she shelters him, finding it all a great adventure and soon they are making arrangements for their wedding. To celebrate his 32nd birthday, Clara throws him a party and, much to her own amazement, dolls herself up for the occasion, getting her hair done, buying a new blouse and even applying a dash of lipstick which is probably not the most advisable course of action in the circumstances, though the creepy undercurrent suggests she had a death wish all along.
Joseph Payne Brennan – Slime (Weird Tales, March 1953): “A thing of slimy blackness, a thing which had no essential shape, no discernible earthly features. It was a shape of utter darkness, one second a great flopping hood, the next a black viscid pool of living ooze which flowed upon itself, sliding forward with incredible speed.”
Blown from the ocean bed by a volcanic eruption, the slime takes up home in Wharton’s Swamp on the outskirts of Clinton Center. Cursed of an insatiable appetite, it devours all living things in its path, getting its first taste of human flesh when wino Henry Hossing sets up camp in the trees. Next up is old man Gowse’s cow, followed shortly afterward by his neighbour, Rupert Barnaby. At first his claims that there’s something terrible lurking in the swamp are laughed off as further evidence of his lunacy, and the slime amasses a considerable number of victims before Chief Underbeck realises he’s right.
Ray Russell -Sardonicus: Sir Robert Cargrave, Harley Street specialist, receives an invite from old flame Maud Randall to visit she and her husband at Castle Sardonicus in Bohemia. When he arrives, he finds his former sweetheart much changed, the once carefree and vivacious girl now sad and distant. One look at her pale-to-the-point-of-translucence husband explains the situation: he is disfigured with “Ricus Sardonicus”, his lips permanently pulled apart to display his teeth in perpetual ghastly smile. The affliction was brought on when, as a young man, he dug up his father’s body to attain the winning lottery ticket that was buried with him(!).
Sardonicus first tries to bribe the doctor by promising him a night of passion with Maud if he’ll operate, then threatens to rape her when the disgusted Cargrave refuses. Reluctantly, our hero complies with the madman’s wishes …
Martin Waddell – The Pale Boy: Mrs. Ethel Burnell is set upon adopting a little boy and when she visits the orphanage and is introduced to Paul, not even husband George’s indifference can thwart her. “Little Paulie” is weak and impossibly thin with two worryingly over-sized front teeth which he certainly doesn’t waste on munching his greens. First the kitten, then George go missing and when they find the latter’s skeleton gnawed to the bone, the Police alert the community that there’s a wild animal on the prowl.
Hugh Reid – Dulcie: World War II and a Jack the Ripper type is loose in London, this one targeting lone women as they make their way to the communal air raid shelter prior to the night’s bombings. Five women have been slain in a week, their sliced and decapitated remains left slumped in shop doorways. Now the sirens wail again, and Dulcie sets out into the street.
Septimus Dale – The Little Girl Eater: The pier has collapsed leaving Mason, his back broken, trapped beneath a steel girder with the tide coming in. His only hope is that little Miranda will inform her mummy and mummy’s “friend” Johnny of his plight. But Johnny, full of himself having just given the girl’s mummy one, fills her head with some scary tale about a little girl eater, and Miranda no longer wants to help Mason – she wants to kill him.
Robert Bloch – Lucy Comes To Stay: Vi is in rehab, drying out after a humiliating drunken episode at a party. Her friend Lucy convinces her that her husband George and special nurse Miss Higgins are having an affair and that they have no intention of seeing her released from the Asylum. In alcoholic and psychological meltdown, Vi is easily persuaded to make a desperate bid for freedom ….
Vivian Meik – The Two Old Women: A sequel to his Honeymoon In Hate from Devil’s Drums. “They are human ghouls – perverted, secret drinkers and probably given to morally corrupt practices.” Meik moves into a multi-occupied house near Havestock Hill and befriends a young woman who has been kind to him from the first. He learns that she is being preyed upon by the two Mrs. Kemp’s on an upper floor, a pair of voodoo-practicing horrors and the elderly relatives of Martin, whose body they claimed when he eventually died the previous year. First they accuse the girl of owing them £10 and even produce an IOU signed by her to that effect, then they waver the debt in exchange for a half a pint of her blood, which they forcibly attract. Now, they are after her flesh to revive Martin.