The Other Pans People

Van Thal and Vampires

Herbert Van Thal – Pan Horror 3

Posted by demonik on September 14, 2007

Herbert Van Thal (ed.) – The 3rd Pan Book Of Horror Stories (Pan, 1962)

Pan Horror 3


Algernon Blackwood – The Strange Adventures of a Private Secretary in New York
Charles Birkin – The Last Night
Neville Kilvington – Meshes of Doom
Michael Joseph – The Yellow Cat
Charles Lloyd – Special Diet
N. Dennett – Unburied Bane
Edgar Jepson & John Gawsworth – The Shifting Growth
Lord Dunsany – The Two Bottles of Relish
William Faulkner – A Rose for Emily
Charles Lloyd – A Poem and a Bunch of Roses
Hans Heinz Ewers – The Execution of Damiens
Frank Belknap Long – The Ocean Leech
Charles Birkin – An Eye for an Eye
William Hope Hodgson – The Whistling Room
Signey Carroll – A Note for the Milkman
Edgar Allan Poe – The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
Elliott O’Donnell – The Mystery of the Locked Room
Raymond Ferrers Broad – Dr Fawcett’s Experiment
Edith Olivier – The Caretaker’s Story
John Ratho – Lovers’ Meeting
HG Wells – The Cone

Just as he’d cherry-picked some of the best stories from the “Not At Night”s for #1 and #2, for #3 and #4, Van Thal revisited Charles Birkin’s “Creeps” series from the ‘thirties and exhumed what he considered to be the best efforts Birkin, Michael Joseph, Vivian Meik, Elliott O’Donnell and “Charles Lloyd” (Birkin’s pseudonym: I think he’s the only author to have had three of his stories included in one collection). Birkin/ ‘Lloyd’s stories are usually pretty sadistic, and these three are well up to his usual standard, with “The Last Night” maybe the pick.

If you’re going to pad your collection out with classics then I guess you might as well go for the best. Poe’s “M. Valdemar’ is probably one of the most read horror stories ever, and the man-into-festering-pile-of-gunk transformation scene is still appalling as is “The Cone” – a tale of revenge featuring a blast furnace and the nastiest thing H. G. Wells ever wrote. William Faulkner’s story is a whole lot quieter but creepy as hell, but the worst, the very worst is Hans Heinz Ewers’ “The Execution of Damiens” because … it’s based on a true story. Read and throw up.

Sidney Carroll – A Note For The Milkman: Henry Peters dips into his Grimoire and develops an untraceable poison which he distributes indiscriminately via contaminated milk bottles, causing the deaths of several. His motive is to rid himself of his wife, Rita – Rita calls him ‘Bunny’ so it’s hard to feel too much sympathy for her – without drawing suspicion to himself. With Mrs. Peters in her grave and the police satisfied she’s the latest victim of the mad poisoner, Henry consults ‘My First Book Of Alchemy, Potions and Poisons’ for the formula to transmute garbage to gold and a spell that makes one irresistable to women.

Charles Birkin – An Eye For An Eye: Dr. Peters’ daughter, Angela, is raped and murdered on Wimbledon Common, the finer details of the crime being too ghastly to be divulged to the press. The finger of suspicion points at Peters’ chauffeur, George Yarrow, but he walks from the court a free man as there is no concrete evidence against him. Peters gives him his old job back and bides his time until such evidence is forthcoming. When Yarrow’s embittered lover, Nelly Torr, comes out of a coma, she gives him enough detail to hang the wretch, but Dr. Peters isn’t about to let him off that lighty.

Edith Oliver – The Old Caretaker’s Story: The superstitious, guilt-ridden old sea salt, Horler, manfully sticks to writing up his confession even as he’s cutting lumps out of his legs to feed to the seagulls. He’s still penning his comentary as they attack him en masse and tear him to pieces.

John Ratho – Lover’s Meeting: Greta, neglected by her workaholic husband, Leo, self-proclaimed “greatest scientist in the world”, receives a call from old flame Frank Arko and invites him to dinner. She soon realises she’s quite gone off him in the intervening years and is further alienated when he makes a drunken pass at her – witnessed by her husband. When Arko complains of a headache, the prof gives him a shot of something to take his mind off it: leprosy.

Charles Lloyd – A Poem And A Bunch Of Roses: Sally Russell wonders why Madame de Civennes invites her to stay at the Chateau Montnegre after the death of Andre, M. de Civennes’s husband with whom Sally was having an affair. Surely the widow should despise her?
As it turns out, M. de Civennes hates her with a passion and, on the last night of Sally’s stay, unleashes Pierre, her servant Marie’s imbecile son, with instructions to take the girl down to the dungeon and enjoy himself. Sally is a long time dying.

Charles Lloyd – The Last Night: “It’s to be our secret, my dear. You understand that, don’t you? If you tell anyone that I shall come, I’ll kill you.” Meryham Mental Home. Nora, who is to be freed tomorrow after three years incarceration, pleads with the staff not to let Dr. Morris come anywhere near her. She can’t get Dr. Patterson to listen to her, and nurse tells her to stop being a naughty girl or they’ll keep her in indefinitely. In the early hours, Dr. Morris pays her a visit. After hypnotizing her he sets out to prove that “pain exists only in the imagination.” Out comes the scalpel …

Neville Kilvington – Meshes Of Doom: Told in diary form. Jacob Trezbond, a fellow of the Botanical Society, strangles his wife Frances and buries her in the conservatory. He’s recently acquired a seed of South American origin which he sets about cultivating despite the warnings of Armand, the dealer who sold it to him. The ghost of Frances begins to haunt him and the plant-thing grows with alarming speed. As is the way with demon flower stories, Trezbond’s pets are first to be crushed and devoured, then the huge creepers turn their attention to him. An afterword from Armand gives a very different version of events.

N. Dennett – Unburied Bane: “There IT stood, its face cadaverous blue, its long fingers cold with the cold of the grave, its eyes grown empty hollows, the rank odour of stagnant water about its clothes …”

Oliver and Frances Winthrop rent rooms at a spectacularly decrepit moorland farmhouse from the emaciated, clearly demented old Ann Skegg. Frances is reluctant from the first, not least because of creepy Ms. Skegg who takes too great a delight in relating the history of the skull on the parlour windowsill which must never be removed (it once belonged to an evil crone who was drowned in the filthy pond and laid a curse on the place). Oliver, however, is delighted: he’s after a plot for his latest sensational thriller and is soon hard at work on The Death-Defying Skull. Having finished the play, he sets off to London to have it put into production, leaving Frances alone for a few days with their sinister landlady …

Elliott O’ Donnell – The Mystery Of The Locked Room: Amelia Jenkyns is taken on as a maid at 109 Bolsover Square by stern, forty-something widow Mrs. Bishop of the ‘Greta Garbo eyebrows’ and desultory wages. Amelia is of a prying nature and often tries on Mrs. Bishop’s best hats and dresses when she’s out, so it’s no surprise that she can’t help but fantasise as to the reason why one of the rooms is kept permanently locked. Convinced that this is where Madam keeps her treasure, she resolves to break in the next time the fearsome Mrs. Bishop is out. On finally entering the room she discovers that this is where the woman’s fortune is secured, but is horrified to find a man lying on the bed, seemingly oblivious to her presence. Worse – Mrs. Bishop materialises out of nowhere and smothers the old boy with a pillow.
Realising that she’s witnessed the ghostly re-enactment of a murder, Amelia turns to run – just as the flesh and blood Mrs. Bishop appears in the doorway, a length of wire in her hands …

Robert Ferrers Broad- Dr. Fawcett’s Experiment: The disgraced biologist, ‘Nicholas Fawcett’, holes up in the country where he can conduct undisturbed his researches for the dubious benefit of mankind. A luckless, epileptic tramp chooses to take a doze in his garden and the kindly mad professor takes him under his wing, helping himself to the fellow’s brain and sundry internal organs while he’s about it. Fawcett raises a murderous culture – “an obscene thing that … swelled in my glass dish like a huge puffball” – which soon runs amok in a frenzy of throat-ripping.

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