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Archive for September 2nd, 2007

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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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.

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Herbert Van Thal – Pan Horror 8

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Herbert Van Thal (ed.) – The Eighth Pan Book Of Horror Stories ed. Herbert Van Thal (Pan, 1967)

Pan Horror 8

Raymond Williams – The Assassin
John D. Keefauver – The Most Precious
W. Baker-Evans – The Children
Ray Bradbury – The Illustrated Man
A.G. J Rough – Playtime
Maurice Sandoz – The Tsantsa
Dorothy K. Haynes – The Bean-Nighe
Raymond Harvey – The Tunnel
Bruce Lowery – The Growth
Frank Quinton – Lover’s Leap
Basil Copper – The Janissaries of Emilion
Raymond Williams – The Coffin Makers
Gerald Kersh – Sad Road to the Sea
Dulcie Gray – The Brindle Bull Terrier
AGJ Rough – Sugar and Spice
Rene Morris – The Computer
Martin Waddell – Suddenly – After a Good Supper
Walter Winward – The Benefactor
Charles Braunstone – Suitable Applicant
Priscilla Marron – My Dear How Dead You Look and Yet How Sweetly You Sing

See Also the Vault Of Evil Pan Horror 8 thread

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Herbert Van Thal – Pan Horror 11

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Herbert Van Thal (ed.) – The 11th Pan Book Of Horror Stories

David Case – The Cell
Bryan Lewis – A Question of Fear
Harry Turner – Hell’s Bells
Bryan Lewis – The Lift
Gerald Atkins – The Midnight Lover
Barry Martin – Case of Insanity
Robert Duncan – The Market-Gardeners
James Wade – Snow in the City
Stephen Grendon – Mrs Manifold
Barbara Benzinger – Dear Jeffy
Simon Jay – Spider Woman
Charles Birkin – Au Clair De Lune
Christine Trollope – Oysters
Nigel Kneale – Minuke
Barry Martin – The Easiest Thing in the World
Dulcie Gray – The Babysitter
Brian Middleton – Hand in Hand
Norman P Kaufman – Getting Rid
David A. Riley – The Lurkers in the Abyss
Martin Waddell – Fried Man
Gerald Atkins – The Scientist

David Case – The Cell: For one night every month the narrator locks himself away in the padded cell he’s had built in the basement. He’s a werewolf or at least, that’s what he’s desperately trying to convince anybody who finds his diary and, most of all, himself. How could such an upstanding citizen inspire banner headlines of the Sex Fiend Murder or Mangled Corpse In Lovers Lane variety? It’s preposterous! He even considers suing for libel …

Helen, the long-suffering wife he half patronises to death, entertains his bizarre behaviour out of fear but when she realises that he’s most likely the man the police are after, her curiosity gets the better of her: what happens to him when he’s in the cell ….?

If you can imagine The Beast In The Cellar as told from the point of view of the pathetic “monster” with maybe a dash of Carry on Psycho thrown in, then you’ve maybe some idea of what Case’s minor masterpiece of gallows humour is like. That it works has everything to do with Case’s deadpan delivery and his economic prose really suits – it makes a sixty pager read like twenty. As with Minuke, The Lurkers At The Abyss, Mrs. Manifold and probably even Case Of Insanity, it’s deserving of better company than it’s made to keep in this collection.

Brian Middleton – Hand In Hand: A huge warehouseman, friendless because his colleagues find his girth too imposing, is picked up by a pretty “filmstar-ish” girl in a coffee shop after his usual Saturday night alone at the cinema. As they walk in silence through the park, he takes her hand and gives it a friendly squeeze … This one doesn’t really warrant a spoiler warning because you’ve guessed what will happen long before it does.

Martin Waddell – Fried Man: More slapstick horror as old Bunting has the inspired misfortune to fall in the deep fryer during a ciggie raid on the Valentia Supper Saloon. The corpses pile up as the gang try to dispose of the body. Everybody frets about exposure in The News Of The World.

Barry Martin – Case Of Insanity: The narrator’s wife, Clara, is always on at him for not providing her with a child when Margaret and Tom down the road already have two! “You bloody ponce! … If you can’t do right by me why don’t you go out and get yourself some pretty, sweet queer to have your sex with? It would suit you down to the ground”. Doesn’t she know she’s in a Barry Martin story? Narrator duly hacks her to pieces and stuffs her in a suitcase before an inopportune car accident settles his hash. Probably the best of Martin’s Psycho rip-offs.

Gerald Atkins – The Midnight Lover: First person account of an insatiable mortuary groupie. I can’t make this out: he’s obviously not doing it for sex (“I have never actually had intercourse with any of them …”) so it isn’t the necrophilia story I wrongly remembered it as and what’s this stuff about people trying to stop him using “primitive means”? A stake perhaps?

Harry Turner – Hell’s Bells: As FM mentioned, this one is festooned with pop culture references. British Rail, Tesco’s, W. H. Smiths, Readers Digest, a camp Devil who says “Ducky” etc. Quite sobering to learn that as early as 1970 Tony Blackburn was already a standing joke. Personally, I always had Hell down as attending a Christopher Lee signing in a Dracula AD 1972 shirt while a Chas N’ Dave album loops for all eternity ….

Bryan Lewis – The Lift: Leonard Norton has some kind of hallucination in which he’s visited by the ghost of his dead son, a suicide. Norton ruined the boy’s life and now he wants his pound of flesh – in short, he wants the old man to cut off his own hand at the wrist.

Charles Birkin – Au Clair De Lune: Grisly poem in which Thelma tries to blackmail Rodney over their affair and is eaten by rats for her sins. Eventually she’s reduced to a fungus-ridden compost heap which the hero henceforth utilizes whenever he wishes to be rid of a troublesome woman.

Bryan Lewis – A Question Of Fear. The indominable Major Rupert Denny accepts a stranger’s wager that he won’t be able to remain the night at a secluded house without experiencing sheer terror. Turns out that the stranger is an electronics genius, and he’s rigged the place to ensure the Major endures his full share of psychological shocks. A tape-recorded message reveals his motive.

David A. Riley – The Lurker’s In The Abyss. Lovecraftian horror that dispenses with all the usual props – obscure tomes, references to Cthulhu, Miskatonic University, etc. – in favour of pitting the hero, downtrodden Ian Redfern, versus a bunch of high street thugs who are not what they seem.

Simon Jay – Spiderwoman: Maude Roxby is laid to rest in “the sodden little churchyard on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors”. The few mourners are not for her but her saintly husband Tom who survives her. Buxom Rose Hardcastle decides that Tom is the man for her and makes a successful play for him. But Maude refuses to take this lying down and takes the form of a monstrous arachnid. The dead witch pulps her rival, then turns her attentions to Tom, who poisoned her.

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