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Panther Horror Paperbacks 60’s & 70’s

Archive for July, 2007

R. Thurston Hopkins – Cavalcade Of Ghosts

Posted by demonik on July 12, 2007

R. Thurston Hopkins – Cavalcade Of Ghosts (Panther, April 1963: originally Worlds Work, 1956)

R. Thurston Hopkins – Introductory Survey

TRUE GHOST STORIES

The Nameless Horror Of Berkley Square
The Wicked lord And The Veiled Phantom
Fitzalan’s Dog
The Demon Mummy Case
The Strange Mystery Of Julia Sheward
The Obstinate Phantom Of Calverley Hall
The Cold Phantom Of Kemp Town
The Curse Over Chung Ling Soo
The Mystery Of The Seven Hunters
The Witch Of Tucks Wood
The Hand On The Wheel
The Renishaw Coffin
Behold This Dreamer
Frank D. Gardner -Only The Dreamers Die
Nancy Price – The Powers Of Darkness
S. Baring-Gould – Parson Rudall’s Ghost

FICTITIOUS GHOST STORIES

E. G. Swain – The Man With The Roller
E. G. Swain – The Indian Lampshade
Anon (R. Thurston Hopkins) – The Glass Staircase
Anon – The Restless Dead
Brigadier C. A. L. Brownlow, DSO – The Man With The Crumpled Ear
Brigadier C. A. L. Brownlow, DSO – Shadrach, Meshach And Abed-nego
Michael Saltmarsh – Old Godet’s Ghost
Michael Saltmarsh – Haunted Hands
Michael Saltmarsh – The Riddle Of The Thetford Vampire

The Michael Saltmarsh stories feature “the famous ghost-hunter and detective” Valentine Vaughn. Old Godet’s Ghost is harmless enough – an inventor in search of his suicide note – while Haunted Hands features a High Priest Of Kali whose soul has been trapped inside a bear. More interesting is The Riddle Of The Thetford Vampire. Colonel Bardolph of Abbot’s House in Norfolk asks Vaughn to investigate the cause of the wasting disease that afflicts his daughter, Ann, and seems to have something to do with the plague of bats which have descended on Thetford during a drought. Naomi Vambery, a refugee from Budapest, has stolen the Colonel’s heart, but his housekeeper is deeply suspicious of her and detests her with a passion. Vaughn forces the undead to show herself and in the ensuing struggle she meets her doom.
Vaughn offers that “between the ‘psychic’ folk and the vampire folk are the religious fanatics, split personalities, anarchists, sadists, wife-beaters, people who are cruel to animals and pathological criminals.”

There is no credit to Saltmarsh in the acknowledgements and no mention of where these stories were previously published (if at all) so there remains the possibility that Hopkins wrote them?

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E. F. Benson – The Horror Horn

Posted by demonik on July 12, 2007

Alexis Lykiard (ed.) – The Horror Horn: The Best Horror Stories Of E. F. Benson (Panther, 1974)

The Horror Horn

Introduction – Alexis Lykiard

The Room In The Tower
Gavon’s Eve
Caterpillars
The Thing In The Hall
The House With The Brick Kiln
The Horror Horn
Negotium Perambulans
Mrs Amworth
The Face
“And No Birds Sing”
The Bed By The Window
Monkeys
The Sanctuary

Negotium Perambulans: ” … and him that had been a great burly man was withered to a bag o’ skin, for the critter had drained all the blood from him.”

A horror masterpiece. Polearm, an isolated fishing village in Western Cornwall. A panel in the church depicts a priest stood at the lychgate brandishing a crucifix at the huge caterpillar-cum-slug-like entity, “the pestilence that walketh in darkness”, reputed to have destroyed at least two Godless men. Now John Evans, a likable local artist who grew up at the rectory, moves into the cursed Quarry-house. In no time he’s cultivated a serious Whiskey habit and his paintings take a turn for the monstrous. The narrator is present to witness his terrible doom.

The Room In The Tower: “Suddenly a voice which I knew well broke the stillness, the voice of Mrs. Stone, saying ‘Jack will show you to your room: I have given you the room in the tower.’ It seemed to come from near the gate in the red-brick wall that bounded the lawn, and looking up, I saw that the grass outside was sewn thick with gravestones. A curious greyish light shone from them, and I could read the lettering on the grave nearest me, and it was ‘In evil memory of Julia Stone.’

From his early teens the narrator has been plagued by the same ominous dream. Now aged 30, his premonition is about to be played out for real when he visits his friend John Clinton at the Sussex cottage and Mrs. Clinton repeats those words he’s come to dread: “Jack will show you to your room now. I have given you the room in the tower.”

Mrs Amworth: The village of Maxley, Suffolk, is roused from its slumbers with the advent of a very merry 45 year old widow, fresh back in England after a soujourn in India. Only one person doesn’t take the gregarious Mrs. Amworth – Mr. Urcombe, a retired professor with a deep interest in the occult who suspects there’s something of the night about her. when the residents begin falling ill and one young boy teeters ion the brink of death, Urcombe confronts her. She is so angered by his accusation that she walks in front of a car. But a small thing like death isn’t going to stand in the way of her bloodlust.

When it comes to my personal favourite Benson trad. vampire chiller, The Room In The Tower just about has the edge over this ripping yarn, but Mrs Amworth is another instant classic from one of our greatest horror authors.

Caterpillars: “Gradually, like some hideous tide of flesh, they advanced along the passage …” Villa Cascana, Italian riviera. Benson has dreadful visions of ghostly mutant creatures crawling over the bed of his friend and fellow visitor Arthur Inglis. At breakfast the following morning Inglis hands him a pill box in which he’s captured a caterpillar with curious crab-like legs – with grim irony he refers to it as species Cancer Inglisensis. Mindful of his ominous dream, Benson hurls it out of the window and into the fountain but the furry little fiend refuses to drown. It seems to have designs on Inglis. Only much later, when Inglis is no longer with us, does Benson learn the dreadful fate of the man who’d previously stayed in his friend’s room.

” … And No Bird Sings”: Hugh Granger and his wife live on the verge of a patch of woodland wherein something terrible lurks. “It has to be kept alive by nourishment and that explains why every day since I have been here I’ve found on that knell we went up some half dozen dead rabbits.” Benson suggests stoats or weasils might be responsible but Granger sets him straight on that: “These rabbits have not been eaten, they’ve been drunk.” Excellent, suspenseful climax in which Benson is attacked by some cold, hairy, slimy thing. It extends a tube-like protrudence which fastens on his neck …..

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Robert Bloch – The House Of The Hatchet

Posted by demonik on July 12, 2007

The House Of The Hatchet (Panther 1976)

Robert Bloch – By Way Of Introduction

House Of The Hatchet
Return To The Sabbath
The Mandarin’s Canaries
Waxworks
The Feast In The Abbey
Slave Of The Flames
The Shambler From The Stars
Mother Of Serpents
The Secret Of Sebek
The Eyes Of The Mummy
One Way To Mars

Waxworks: Paris, the fogbound docklands. Bertrand, “a poet, a very bad poet, with the sentimentally esoteric nature such beings effect”, is the latest man to have become obsessed with the strikingly beautiful waxwork of Salome in the local chamber of horrors. The proprietor, a shabby, fat little grey haired man informs him that he moulded the figure in the image of his wife, a reputed witch guillotined for the decapitation murders of five young men. Bertrand notices that the head of John the Baptist she brandishes on her silver platter periodically changes, and the horror escalates when he recognises one of them as that belonging to a family friend, Colonel Bertroux …

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Dr. Christopher Evans – Mind At Bay

Posted by demonik on July 12, 2007

Mind At Bay: Stories Of Horror From The Skull’s Unmapped Depths – ed. Dr. Christopher Evans (Panther, 1969)

This collection is an exceedingly personal one which may be dipped into at random or, preferably, read in the sequence I have chosen, for this has a deliberate logic which should give the interested and contemplative reader some insights into my own thought processes … Perhaps they will be of even greater interest to some (fellow) psychologist of the far distant future, when the phantoms that inhabit our minds may be taking quite a different form again

Editor’s Introduction – Christopher Evans

H. Russell Wakefield – The Frontier Guards (Fear Of The Supernatural)
M. R. James – The Ash Tree (Fear Of The Power Of Magic)
John Connell – Back To The Beginning (Fear Of Hell)
Jane Rice – The Idol Of The Flies (Fear of The Power Of Evil)
E. F. Benson – Caterpillars (Fear Of Cancer)
Conrad Aiken – Silent Snow, Secret Snow (Fear Of Going Mad)
John Sladek – The Master Plan (Fear Of Death)
J. G. Ballard – The Watch-Towers (Paranoia)
Alex Hamilton – Breakaway (Fear Of Isolation And Of Fate)
Perry A. Chapdelaine – We Fused Ones (Fear Of The Possibilities Of The Future)
George MacBeth – Crab Apple Crisis (Fear Of The Escalation Of War)

An anthology of horror/SF stories with mental illness as their theme. In Alex Hamilton’s “Breakaway”, the narrator is cast adrift on an iceberg which is slowly melting as it enters a warmer climate. “Silent Snow, Secret Snow” charts a boys decline into autism. In Benson’s unforgetable story, a man’s cancer manifests itself in the form of squirming yellow caterpillars. “Crab Apple Crisis” sees a petty squabble between two neighbours quickly degenerate into all out war between their families.

I’ve not been able to trace any more horror collections by Evans, but this is certainly among the more interesting of its day.

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