The Other Pans People

Van Thal and Vampires

Herbert Van Thal – Pan Horror 2

Posted by demonik on September 13, 2007

Herbert Van Thal (ed.) – The Second Pan Book of Horror Stories (Pan, 1960)


Oscar Cook – Piece-meal
George Langelaan – The Fly
William Samson – The Vertical Ladder
H. G. Wells – Pollock And The Porrah Man
Guy Preston – The Inn
Bram Stoker – The Judges House
Stanley Ellin – The Speciality Of The House
Agatha Christie – The Last Seance
Vernon Routh – The Black Creator
Stephen Hall – By One, By Two, By Three
Oscar Cook – Boomerang
Philip MacDonald – Our Feathered Friends
Geoffrey Household – Taboo
Edgar Allan Poe – The Black Cat
Carl Stephenson – Leiningen Versus The Ants.

Oscar Cook – Piece-Meal: Cook is cornered by the ghoulish hack Warwick who extracts from him the gory details of the Mendingham case. As is so often the case, it centres around a love-triangle, this one involving Mendingham and Gregory and the latter’s wife, Moyra. While Gregory is on a year long tour of Dutch Borneo, his wife elopes with his best friend. When he returns to England, Gregory takes a houseboat on the Thames and becomes a virtual recluse. And then Mendingham disappears, although bits of him are soon clogging up the postal system.

Cook pays a visit to the houseboat. It’s a fair bet he won’t be eating any kebabs in the foreseeable future.

Guy Preston – The Inn: Frank Metheun, stranded on the mist shrouded Cumberland moors, chances upon an early theme pub with an extremely off-putting sign:
“This was in the nature of a coffin supported by six headless bearers goose-stepping towards a white headstone. Underneath … with grim irony, the legend ‘Ye Journey’s End'”.

Somewhat reluctantly, he decides to put up there for the night. At first, his main cause of concern is that the landlord is eyeless and reminds him of a slug, but there’s also a beautiful girl hanging around and at least she must be harmless …

On retiring to his room, he decides against taking a bath when he notices it is still “thick and slippery” with the blood of the previous guest. As darkness descends, the Landlord and his dishy daughter pay him a visit …

One of my all time favourites of the Not at Night’s, and the climactic pursuit across the rooftop is genuinely exciting.

Agatha Christie – The Last Seance: Simone, the most gifted medium in Paris, is all seanced out. With each sitting she grows paler and thinner. Husband-to-be Raoul has reluctantly agreed that after today she can give it all up, but she has one last engagement with bereaved mother Madame Exe. Simone is uneasy; she dislikes, even fears Madame Exe although she’s had great success contacting her dead daughter Amelie. At the previous sitting, the ectoplasm materialised into a solid image of the child: Raoul could even touch it, but withdrew his hand when he saw how much pain it caused Simone. Now, for the last seance, Madame Exe insists that Raoul be tied to his chair to prevent any trickery ….

Stanley Ellin – The Speciality Of The House: Laffler introduces his underling Costain to the delights of Shirro’s restaurant, the finest men-only meaterie one could ever wish to find, especially when “Lamb Amirstan” is on the menu ….

Geoffrey Household – Taboo: Zweibergen, a village in the Carpathian Mountains, summer 1926. Loner Shiravieff is forced into union with Vaughan and his wife Kyra when three local men go missing in the forest. The peasants are convinced that a werewolf is responsible and, surprisingly, Vaughan agrees with them after his own fashion. He and Shiravieff take it in turns to act as bait and lure out whoever or whatever is responsible. A figure crawls from a cave under the spring ……

One of the finest non-supernatural lycanthrope stories and a thoroughly ghastly twist just when you think the worst is over.

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