The Other Pans People

Van Thal and Vampires

Herbert Van Thal – Pan Horror 5

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Herbert Van Thal (ed.) – The 5th Pan Book Of Horror Stories  (1964)

William Sansom – The Man With The Moon In Him
Adobe James – I’ll Love You – Always
Martin Waddell – The Treat
Seabury Quinn – Clair De Lune
Christianna Brand – The Sins Of The Fathers
Christine Campbell Thomson – Message For Margie
John Keir Cross – The Other Passenger
Basil Copper – The Spider
Edward Lucas White – Lukundoo
Alex Hamilton – The Words Of The Dumb
Adobe James – The Revenge
E. F. Benson – The Confession Of Charles Linkworth
John D. Keefauver – Kali
Gerald Kersh – Men Without Bones
William F. Nolan – The Small World Of Lewis Stillman
Rene Morris – The Living Shadow
C. A. Cooper – Bonfire
Martin Waddell – Hand In Hand

Another classic cover, and another mixture of the old and the new. I’ve began rereading it because, despite remembering just how effective stories like the voodoo classic “Lukundoo” and “Bonfire” are, I can hardly recall a thing about the rest. I’m about halfway through and the stories that have most grabbed me so far include:

William Sansom – The Man With The Moon In Him William Sansom’s atmospheric story is a brave choice as opener (I know, I know. After all the griping about Pan#1 & co. I never said I was consistent). We follow a clearly unbalanced wretch as we handers around an underground station at night, waiting for the last train. It’s obvious this man is on the verge of doing somebody – a woman – serious harm, if not within the confines of the story, then shortly after it ends …

Christine Campbell Thomson – Message For Margie A semi-legitimate Psychic comes to grief in the great Christine Campbell “Not At Night” Thomson’s final horror story, according to Mike Ashley, her personal favourite.

C. A. Cooper – Bonfire Kent: A deranged headmaster, murderously jealous of a younger teacher, decides to be rid of him. Guy Fawkes night provides a perfect opportunity. Reminiscent of Richard Davis’ classic in #4, but still terrifying on it’s own very nasty terms.

John Keir Cross – The Other Passenger John Aubrey Spencer, concert pianist, is haunted to suicide by his doppelganger. Even when he strangles his persecutor and has the remains burnt as a guy, still the double returns. How much of all this is imagination and how much is real is never clearly defined, although a woman on a railway platform certainly witnesses the other passenger fall beneath the wheels of a train.

A lot can change in 13 years. I detested this story as pretentious drivel when I first read it. Second time around wasn’t much better. Third, and I snapped up a copy of his collection of the same name which I consider to be … a neglected classic! I think “Music When Soft Voices Die” was the turning point. Apparently, JCK also once tried to summon Satan on a live radio broadcast.

John D. Keefauver – Kali Calcutta is the setting for Keefauver’s story of a beautiful tour guide who is either an incarnation of the Goddess, or has merely taken her name. She leads the narrator to the temple where he witnesses the blood sacrifice of a goat, then back to her room where he drinks a strange liquid. Returning to San Francisco, he discovers the terrible legacy of his soujourn East.

Seabury Quinn – Clair De Lune Madelon Leroy, “The most wonderful actress in the world” visits Harrisonville on an American tour. Unfortunately for her, de Grandin notices straight away that she’s not aged a day since he saw her perform as ‘Madelon La Rue’ at the Theatre Francois in his youth, nor from her previous incarnation as nude dancer ‘Madelon La Rose’, the toast of Paris, during his grandfather’s.
Why are so many young women enraptured of her, and why does their health go into terminal decline?

William F. Nolan – The Small World Of Lewis Stillman.  Stillman, possibly the last man alive, is holed up in the sewers below LA, hiding from the tiny savages the aliens have left in charge of the planet following their effortless conquest. Stillman’s love of books proves his downfall – never take Ernest Hemingway to heart – and we end with a dramatic revelation.
Chetwynd-Hayes ripped the plot off wholesale for his short story The Brats!


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