Charles Beaumont – The Edge
Posted by demonik on July 12, 2007
Charles Beaumont – The Edge (Panther, 1966)
The Last Caper, Mother’s Day, The New Sound, The Music Of The Yellow Brass, The New People, The Magic Man, Song For A Lady, The Love-Master, The Neighbours, The Howling Man, Night Ride.
The most terrifying story identified with the gifted Beaumont (1929-1967) is that of how he came to die so tragically young. In 1964, he contracted a rare disease which aged him at an horrific rate and, when he died aged 38, he looked something not unlike the loved-up old timer on the cover of The Edge (and isn’t that one of the most disturbing designs you’ve ever seen?). As well as these and several other short stories, Beaumont had several screenwriting credits to his name including Roger Corman’s Masque Of The Red Death and The Haunted Palace, various episodes of the Boris Karloff-hosted Thriller and a number of adaptations for Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone.
As a rule, his best work is a miss-mash of fantasy,SF and psychological horror, and there’s a distinct touch of the Ray Bradbury’s about his quieter, small town America stories. He’s at his most harrowing in Miss Gentilbelle – a mad, vindictive woman subjects her ‘daughter’, a young boy, to increasingly appalling mental torment by killing his pets when he displeases her – and The Hunger. Julie, a lonely, frustrated 38-year-old, is obsessed with a sex-killer, Richard Oakes, who has recently escaped from an asylum. Oakes has already struck three times around Burlington in as many weeks since he absconded. Julie sneaks out one night in her best dress and it is only when she is confronted by the crazed rapist that she understands her actions.
In The New People, Hank Prentice would prefer not to believe Matt Dystall’s drunken ramblings of the ‘group activities’ indulged in by his well-to-do neighbours – especially as, in the past, these have included wife-swapping and black magic, leading to the suicide of the previous occupant of his new house.
The bored nouveau riche also take centre stage in The Murderers; Two youths decide they are going to kill someone, anyone, just for the sheer Hell of it. They invite home a tramp, get him gloriously drunk, and discuss how best to go about the deed.
The Crooked Man is set in a future where heterosexual relationships are outlawed, and those who conduct them are viewed as perverts. Jesse and Mina are two such sicko’s, but fortunately, they are discovered and subjected to ‘the cure.’
Sex pops up again in the jokey The Love-Master, as revived by Michel Parry for his Devil’s Kisses anthology. Cubbison consults Salvadori, the aged Love-Master, for his assistance in defeating wife Beatrice’s frigidity. When every infallible technique fails, there is nothing else for it – the ultra-wrinkly sex-God must come out of retirement, something no woman has managed to lure him into doing for decades.
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