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!

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