Samstag, 28. Januar 2012

Nights Dawning Peal

Hey folks!
This weeks book is „Nights Dawning Peal“ selected by August Derleth.
Blurb: “Tales of Horror and Terror which offer New Fillips to Jaded Appetites”.
I had to go look up “fillips”.

Fillip: “An embellishment that excites or stimulates”
           “To stimulate or arouse.“
See, you learn something new everyday.

The edition that I own is an old beat up copy of the “Consul Books” edition put out in the UK back in 1965. It was originally published by Arkham House back in 1952.

 This is another strong and enjoyable collection, as is the case with most of the August Derleth edited anthologies.
Check out these contents!
1.    "Foreword"
2.    "Mr. George" by Stephen Grendon
3.    "The Loved Dead" by C. M. Eddy, Jr.
4.    "The Sign" by Lord Dunsany
5.    "The La Prello Paper" by Carl Jacobi
6.    "The Gorge of the Churels" by H. Russell Wakefield
7.    "Dhoh" by Manly Wade Wellman
8.    "The Churchyard Yew" by J. Sheridan LeFanu
9.    "Technical Slip" by John Beynon Harris
10.    "The Man Who Collected Poe" by Robert Bloch
11.    "Hector" by Michael West
12.    "Roman Remains" by Algernon Blackwood
13.    "A Damsel With a Dulcimer" by Malcolm Ferguson
14.    "The Suppressed Edition" by Richard Curle
15.    "The Lonesome Place" by August Derleth
16.    "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" by H. P. Lovecraft
Sadly, H. P. Lovecraft’s „The Case of Charles Dexter Ward“ is not included in the paperback edition. This would have doubled the size of the paperback edition and it is anyways easily found elsewhere. It still would have been nice though to have it include here.
Derleth appears to have not been to shy about a little bit of self promotion. “Stephen Grendon” is a pen name that August Derleth used on occasion. So we end up with two Derleth penned stories here. “Mr. George” is a minor but still entertaining reprint from edited relied heavily on reprints from “Weird Tales”. And this is just fine with me since I love these kinds of stories! On the other hand, “The Lonesome place” is not only one of the best stories that Derleth ever wrote, it is, in my opinion, one of the all time great horror stories that deals with childhood fears. This would explain why it appeared in so many anthologies.
“The Lonesome Place” explores how frightening it can be for a child to walk home down a long dark street at night.  We all know how the completely familiar becomes totaly transformed by night’s darkness. I grew up in a “middle sized2 small town in Ohio. Our side streets were very dark. Back then Rugg Avenue, where I grew up, was completely lined with large old maple trees, two in front of each house between the sidewalk and the curb. Many of the houses also had hedges between the sidewalk and their front yards. There was only one Street Lamp at each intersection and these were fairly far apart. So in effect, you had long black tunnels broken at intervals by tiny islands of light. Now Newark Ohio back in the late 60s and early 70s was a very safe and sane place to live. But that didn’t make walking these streets at night as a kid any less scary. In my opinion winter nights were the scariest though.
“The Lonesome place” describes this fear perfectly and is a story that, even though I first read it as a child, I’ve never forgotten and is still as effective today as it was 40 years ago when I first read it.

“The Loved Dead” by C. M. Eddy was controversial ever printed in “Weird Tales”. Some issues even got pulled from the news stands back then because of this story. It’s basically a simple love story. You know, boy meets corpse, boy looses corpse and boy gets corpse. Yep, it’s a necrophilia story from 1924. A young and rising Necrophiliac gets a job at a funeral home and hilarity ensues!
All in all this is a great anthology. Sadly if you ever want to read any of these particular stories or any stories of this sort you’ll have to check out the library, ebay or abebooks since all of the books I present here are long out of print and I have no knowledge of any new anthologies reprinting older works. And that’s a damned shame if you ask me. Not that anyone has though.

And lastly, check out this cool cover cover from "Consul". Look very closely at it. Isn’t that one of the nastiest peieces of work you’ve ever seen? I love it. It is a “perfect” cover which probably helped sell tons of paperbacks. The Signet american paperback cover looks like something from Tim Burton's "Beeetlejuice"

Take care.

Samstag, 14. Januar 2012

When Evil Wakes

Hi Folks! Todays Book is one of the best anthologies that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading! It’s from 1963 and was published by Corgi Books and it’s called..............

“When Evil Wakes” and was editied by the late  “August Derleth”. Mr. Derleth was a correspondent  of H. P. Lovecraft, a prolific Author, Wisconsin historian, Poet, Editor and Co-publisher and Co-Founder of “Arkham House”. So it’s no wonder that almost all of the the Stories are copyrighted to either “Arkham House” or “Popular (Weird Tales) Publishing”.
It also contains 2 stories by Mr. Derleth himself. One of which is under his “Weird Tales” pen-name of “Stephen Grendon”, and the other is one of his post humus, and infamous collabarations with Mr. Lovecraft. I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say that these “collabarations “are basicaly stories based upon some single sentence story idea that HPL jotted down which Derleth expanded into a short story and put both his own and HPL’s names on the by-line.

When Evil Wakes
“A New Anthology of the Macabre”
Edited by August Derleth.

•    "The Eye and the Finger", by Donald Wandrei
•    "The Feasting Dead", by John Metcalfe
•    "Death Waters", by Frank Belknap Long
•    "An Invitation to the Hunt", by George Hitchcock
•    "The Tsanta in the Parlour", by Stephen Grendon
•    "Moonlight-Starlight", by Virginia Layefiky
•    "The Kite", by Carl Jacobi
•    "Sweets to the Sweet", by Robert Bloch
•    "A Thin Gentlemen With Gloves, by Simon West
•    "The Horror at Red Hook", by H. P. Lovecraft
•    "The Triumph of Death", by H. Russell Wakefield
•    "The Lips", by Henry S. Whitehead
•    "A Piece of Linoleum", by David H. Keller
•    "The Seed From the Sepulchre", by Clark Ashton Smith
•    "Canavan's Back Yard", by Joseph Payne Brennan
•    "The Shuttered Room", by H. P. Lovecraft & August Derleth
This is one of the rare anthologies that is chock full of excellent stories. Of all the anthologies that Mr. Derleth edited, this one is my favorite!
“The Feasting Dead” by John Metcalf alone, is worth the price of admission. It’s a short novel that was originaly published by “Arkham House” in 1954. It was also the only novel that they published in 1954.
It deals, without too many spoilers, with a widowed Englishman who befriends a slightly impovershed and also widowed, French nobleman who suggests that they exchange children for one summer.  The Frenchman’s reasoning is that this will broaden all of the children’s horizons. The Englishman plays along since his son and only child, whose mother happened to be half French, was ill and is lagging in his French studies. To make a long tory short, the Englsihman is totaly creeped out by the French kids who he refers to as “queer, cryptic little mokeys”. Now that’s not very nice!  At the end of summer when the young son returns from France we learn that he had a wonderful time. Possibly too wonderful since all he can talk about is that he can’t wait to return to return to the old Chateau in France. It’s seems that there happens to be a teeny weeny curse on the French family that concerns a long dead (or not) family Retainer who has fixiated on the chldren of the French family for the past several generations. Seems this dead French handyman is some kind of
1.    Psychic Vampire.
2.    Incubus.
3.    Pedarast Ghost.
It’s never 100% clear exactly what the fellow is. All that is clear is the he’s up to no good.
After a 2nd visit to France the boy’s Father is informed by his French acquaintance that the arrangement has to be terminated and that the englshman shouldn’t try to contact the French family anymore, and all of this with no explanation as to why.  It seems that the Dead Reatainer has attactched himself to the boy and has followed back to England in the form of a Scare Crow. And hilarity ensues once the story moves back to England, with tragic results.

I wish I would be able to put into words how genuinely scary this story is. It has a very strong “M.R. James” flavor to it with out having to sink into the realms of a Pastiche. The build up and slowly paced revaltions along with a strong sense of place makes this short novel a minor masterpiece.  And being a “child in danger” story just ups the Ante even further.

Another great goody included in the Anthology is “The Horror at Red Hook” by none other than H. P. Lovecraft himself!
This is a nifty little pre-Mythos story by Mr. Lovecraft at his paranoid racist best (or worse, depending on how you look at it.). It’s the story, tol in flash back, of a New York police dectective who suffered a nervous breakdown and has developed a ghastly fear of large brick buildings. It seems that the Red Hook section of Brooklyn is being overrun with a bad case of SDD’s. And I don’t mean “Sexualy Distributed Diseases” either! In this situation it means “Short, Dark & Dirty’s”!! (And yes, I’m being facetious here!). Yep! Ol’ Red Hooks being overrun with a whole slew of swarthy, shiftless, non-Christian, up to no good FOREIGNERS!!  Dective Malone works in the Red Hook district and doesn’t like what he’s seeing. He begins to notice lots of dark faces, funny languages and strange smells. The neighborhood starts going to hell with a sharp rise in organized crime, perversity, child nappings devil worship and other neat stuff. Turns out an old rich guy/foreigner is behind it all. So we end up with corpse nappings, corpse weddings, sub-terranean labyriths and all of the usual trappings of a good “swarthy menace” story. This is an immensely entertaining story if you just go and roll with the punches and accept the racism and xenephobia as just part of the insane ride which the story is.

Seriously though, normaly this kind of racism is very distasteful, but in case it is so ridiculous and hysterical it can’t, in my opinion, be taken seriously by a modern reader.

The last story I want to talk about is ...

The Seed from the Sepulchre
“The Seed from the Sepulchre” originally appeared in “Weird Tales” back in 1933.  This is a great way to close off the Anthology. It is short sweet and nasty! It a simple story about two explorers going down the Amazon in a canoe looking for Mayan ruins.  The eventually luck out and find a temple buried under the jungle growth. Of course they break in to explore and plunder. Sadly, as it always in these kinds of stories, the Temple is guarded by a sort of Man eating plant. I wonder if the guy who wrote “The Ruins” ever read this? They barely escape with their lives. This is not the end though. It’s just the beginning. They managed to inhale some of the spores that the plant released when they were battling it. And as we all know, breathing in Spores is not a good thing to do. A won’t give away anymore, except to say that the expression “a bitch of a head ache” gets a new meaning here!

Well, that’s it for this time. I got smart and used “Word” this time for the spell checking. I actually can spell. I just can’t type worth shit or proof read very well.

Take care.

Donnerstag, 12. Januar 2012

Great Ghost Stories edited by Philip Van doren Stern

Great Ghost Stories "A superb Anthology edited and with an Introduction by Philip Van Doren Stern"
Washington Square Press. 2nd printing ...July 1962
Introduction / [Philip Van Doren Stern] --
The beckoning fair one / Oliver Onions --
The mezzotint / Montague Rhodes James --
Tarnhelm / Sir Hugh Walpole --
The willows / Algernon Blackwood --
August heat / W.F. Harvey --
The mark of the beast / Rudyard Kipling --
Couching at the door / D.K. Broster --
The familiar / Sheridan Le Fanu --
The upper berth / F. Marion Crawford --
The tell-tale heart / Edgar Allan Poe --
The yellow wall paper / Charlotte Perkins Gilman --
Afterward / Edith Wharton --
Full fathom five / Alexander Woollcott.

This is one of the very first paperbacks that I bought with my own money. I ordered it from the back of "Famous Monsters of Filmland" through Warren Publishing's house retailer "Captain Company". I ordered it along with an anthology called "Things with Claws" . This must have been 1971 or so. Delivery time was the classic "6-8 weeks". And believe me, when you're 10 years old 6-8weeks is a veeeeery loooong time!
Taking a look at the contents you see that this is your generic, cliche classic "Ghost Story" anthology of old chestnuts that  have been reprinted so many times that it's not even funny. I have to asdmit though that back then  this was undiscovered country  and they were all new and amazing to me. I think that the only story missing that would make this the ultimate "cliche" collection is W.W. Jacob's "The Monkey's Paw".
To be fair though, this is a solid collection for Horror Story Neophytes.
Take care.

Dienstag, 10. Januar 2012

Hi! In todays post I'm presenting  "Things with Claws" which was the 2nd paperback that I ordered from an Ad in the back of "Famous Monsters" along with Great "Ghost Stories".
"Things with Claws" edited by Whit & Hallie Burnett
Ballantine Books.1961. cover price 35cents.
"Terrifying Tales Of Clawed Creatures With Murderous Motives" 
  The wonderful cover was painted by the amazing Richard M. Powers who seemed to have illustrated the covers of the majority of SF paperbacks from the late 50s to the early 60s. You can recognize his work a mile away. Anyways, here are the contents............
It's been almost 40 years since I've read this. So to refreshen my memory a little Bit I went and read through 3 of the stories last night. I skipped over reading du Maurier's "The Birds" since I've read it several times over the years and I remember it pretty well. My picks to reread last Night were "The Cocoon", "Congo" and "The Cat Man". I was in for quite a suprise. Except for "The Birds", these are all reprints from "Story Magazine". And to be honset, I've never heard of the magazine. I new that Colliers and the Saturday Evening Post printed their share of the Fantastic, but this magazine is/was way under my radar. And like the stories printed in Colliers and the Post I assumed that these would be fairly tame. Boy, was I wrong! These are some pretty nasty and mean spirited little tales! This was a very pleasant suprise.
Starting with Goodwin's "The Cocoon" we have a spoiled and neglected fat little rich kid who loves collecting butterflys. Actualy though, he loves chloroforming the little bugger even more. He finds a strange/large cocoon one day during his wanders on the family estate and brings it home to hatch(?). What do Cocoons do? Hatch? Give Birth? Extrude? I dunno. Eventualy a large freakish Moth emerges and gets sent to the gas chamber right away. The poor things takes forever to die, upon which the little fart pins it to the bed room wall by the foot of his bed. SPOILER ALERT::: The next day Nanny goes up the next morning with his breakfast when he fails to show up at the table.  She comes running back down the stairs  with stained drawers and screaming her lungs out. Dad goes up to investigate and finds Jr. with a chewed up face and his head sown to the carpet! And of course the Dead Moth is missing from his place on the wall, having left a patch of stinky fungus in it's place.
Pretty nice eh?

Nex up is "Congo" by Stuart Cloete. This one left a pretty bad taste in my mouth and put me in dire need of some Listerine!! It's brutal, misogynist and racist. I can't decide if this is on puprose, since the characters are Belgians or it's just taken for granted. It's tells of a Belgian Scientist, his Assistant and the Scientist's wife who travel down Congo way to do some experiments on increasing the sap flow on Rubber Plants. YAWN!. Did I mention that said Scientist also whipped up some home brewed  multi-purpose Tropical Disease Vaccine that  he innoculates his fellow travelrs with? Well he did/does. So there! Finaly they arrive deep deep deep in the Congo where Whitey has never had the guts to go. We are then immediately informed how much they detest the local population and that once the experiment is a success the whole area can be opened up to useful exploitation. Now isn't that special! Right away the Scientist manages to knock up his much younger wife who is of mixed Russian and Greek descent. This isn't just background coloring, it plays a role later on. After Jr. comes along he manages to be careless enough to get himself bit by a poison snake and die before he is a even a few months old. At the same time the locals catch a Gorilla that has been raiding their crops for a while. The locals commence to joyfuly torture the poor ape while SHE is trapped in HER cage! Yes it's a lady gorilla and she is about to give birth!! The Dr. Sees his chance and  (shades of "The Cocoon") uses Chloroform on the poor Ape and performs a C-Section before the Gorilla lady expires.

" She lay there grinning up at us, blood and saliva were running down her face. Her great canine teeth were bared like those of a snarling dog as she let out yell after yell. The whole cage rocked with her efforts, the mighty muscles of her swollen belly stood out like cords and the milk spurted from her breasts."

That is not a pretty picture.  So, after the baby is delivered/cut out, it manages to get immediately taken by Mrs. Scientist who gives it the breast on the spot. She ends up adopting the "Baby" and takes him back home with them when they return to Belgium. Mommy is basicaly insane and this is evenly attributed to the loss of her child and to her mixed heritage!! Never mix Greek and Russian I suppose. hmm. Wow! "Baby" grows up, gets treated as a human child and sleeps with mommy for over EIGHT YEARS!. Mommy has an affair with the assistant. "Baby" pushes Daddy out the window. Daddy dies. Oh, and did I mention that there are some VERY strong hints of Bestiality? Well there are. The story ends with the New Daddy being scared. Very Scared. AND ALL OF THIS IN  ONLY NINE PAGES!! Phew!

All always loved it that my parents never realy paid any attention the the books I read!  They were so freaked out by the horror comics that I was bringing home that they were probably relieved that I had a "normal" book in my hands!

The last story I read last night " The Cat Man" actualy comes off as a light comedy in comparison to "Congo". This one  has a set up that telegraphs the end from a light year away. Old guy leases private Atoll. Old guy doesn't like all the rats on the tiny 1 mile x 100 Yards Atoll. Old guy brings 6 cats with him. 2 Toms and 4 ladies. Rats disappear pretty fast. Old man has to import more and more food. Food only get's delivered every 3 months. Did I mention that none of the cats are Spayed or Neuetured?

 Go do the math now! The guy who delivers the supplies has a little run in with a tropical storm and arrives a few months to late with the Cat food!  I'm ending it here since we all know where this story is going. don't we! This is a pretty gnarly anthology considering it was sold in the back of a magazine aimed at kids! HaHaHa. You have to love those folks!
Nighty night!

Montag, 9. Januar 2012

The start of a lifelong obsession.


     I  was truly a weird kid. Everyone was more than happy to inform me of this. Parents, Teachers and Friends.
as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with monsters, Horror, SF, Fantasy and the Fantastic. In my heart of hearts I know that the written word is the greatest medium for this stuff. In my minds eye I supply my own illustrations, which no one else can top. One of my earliest memories is sitting in the back of my parents car at a Drive-In somewhere around Newcomerstown Ohio.  Honest to God it had to have been either 1963 or 1964. My parents must have thought that my sister and I were sleeping and didn't notice me watching the screen. What unfolded before my eyes, was what I would find out many years later, was the trailer to "Twice Told Tales" starring the wonderful Vincent Price. I remember  watching a  man sitting in a chair when the room starts to shake, the ceiling cracks open and a long skeleton arm reaches down and starts to strangle him!!!!

It wasn't until the early 90s that I finaly saw the film on TV and discovered it was the "House of 7 Gabels" episode from the above mentioned film.It had to have been been the trailer since I seem to  remember lots of text on the screen even though I couldn't read a word at the time. I was only 21/2 or 3 years old then. Anyways, it must have blown a dozen or so circuit breakers in my brain and damaged me for life. Which is as it should be in these sitiuations.I was in love from that day on.

The next stop was horror comics at the end of the 60s, beginning of the 70s. Sadly the "Code" comics never ever lived up to fun that their covers promised!

No way in hell could any Gold Key comic's Cover deliver that kind of mayhem between the covers! I did though, force one little girl from down the street to play Spring Heel Jack with me as I chased her while riding a Hippity-hop.

Sad, odd and true!
Thank god that the library at Johhny Clem elementary School in Newark Ohio supplied my salvation and saved me from shitty  watered dowen "kids" horror comics.

These 4 hardback collections were the next stage in the evolution in my love of all things horror. These 4   "Robert Arthur" edited anthologies featured reprints from the old pulp magazine "Weird Tales" and a good mix of Edwardian Horror fiction from the likes of  Algernon Blackwood and Lord Dunsany and A. M. Burrage.
This was great Brain Food for a 10 year old! These four anthologies were, for me,  the final proof that NOTHING could be better than a written story! This was also the start of the time where I didn't have to stay with my parents and sister when we went shopping. By the time Ii was 10 years old I had the run of the little shopping center that we had at the north end of town. This contained 2 super markets, a drug store and a Woolworth's among other businesses. One of the sueprmarkets,  the Woolworth's store and the Drug Store all had fairly large selections of paperbacks. I started browsing these and they deposited me into a whole new level of  garish Nirvana!

This freedom of movement and the ads from "Captain company" in the back of "Famous Monsters of filmland" showed me what could be found out there if only you persevered enough.

By the beginning of the 1970s I was so deeply infected that I've never found a cure, or even sought one, for my passion.

I'm planing on posting scans of my collection of garish vintage/retro Horror anthology paperbacks that I've collected over the years. I hope that this will be fairly entertaining and informative and that my writing will become better as I gain more experience. So please stay tuned and THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!!!