Sonntag, 29. April 2012

"THE MIDNIGHT PEOPLE" Edited by Peter Haining


"THE MIDNIGHT PEOPLE"
Edited by Peter Haining.
Ensign Books, Manchester 1968. 30p (how much is this?).

                                               (Front and back cover scans of my copy.)





Contents:

Introduction – Peter Haining II

Fritz Haarmann‘The Hanover Vampire’- MontagueSummers   -Page15

Augustus Hare- The Vampire of Croglin Grange                   -Page21

John Polidori – The Vampyre                                                 -Page26

Thomas Preskett Prest – The Storm Visitor                           -Page50

Bram Stoker – Three Young Ladies                                       -Page57

M. R. James – An Episode of Cathedral History                   -Page62

August Derleth – Bat’s Belfry                                               -Page82

E. F. Benson – ‘And No Bird Sings’                                     - Page93

Sydney Horler – The Believer                                               -Page109

Stephen Grendon’ (August Derleth) – The Drifting Snow   -Page116

Manly Wade Wellman – When It Was Moonlight                -Page129

P. Schuyler Miller – Over the River                                     -Page147

Richard Matheson – Drink My Blood                                   -Page162

Ray Bradbury – Pillar of Fire                                                -Page172

Basil Copper – Dr Porthos                                                    -Page218

Robert Bloch – The Living Dead                                           -Page226

Fritz Leiber – The Girl with the Hungry Eyes                       -Page234

Postcript – Montague Summers 
-Page253

                                                    

„The Midnight People“is a superb collection of Vampire stories edited by the late PeterHaining (1940-2007). Mr. Haining is/was one of the all time great anthologist, if not the greatest. He put together more than 130 (139?) anthologies! He was a very busy man. To be honest I have only a dozen or so of his anthologies in my possession and “The Midnight People” is my favourite one.


 It’s my opinion that “The Midnight People” was the best of the “best Vampire stories” anthologies that have been published before “Otto Penzler’s The Vampire Archives”. Even though most of these stories have been frequently reprinted over the past 44 years since this anthology first appeared, it’s nice to have them all in one volume. It’s also nice the forward and afterward are taken from “Montague Summers” who was the greatest believer and researcher in the supernatural threats faced by mankind. His books on demonology, witchcraft, vampirism and werewolves are still available in affordable edition and are well worth reading for their informative/entertainment value.
Now let’s take a look at some of the stories.

“The Vampire of Croglin Grange” by Augustus Hare.
     This is probably one of the most famous “true and relatively modern” vampire accounts on record. Even though it has been repeatedly “disproved” it is still a great tale that I first heard about in the pages of an old “Ripley’s Believe it or not: True Demons and Monsters” comic back at the end of the 1960s when I was a kid.


 “An Episode of Cathedral History” by M. R. James.     
     This is a real goody by M. R. James. Mr. James has to be the best Ghost Story author that I’ve ever read. His stories are truly frightening and entertaining. His stories are so unique that the term “Jamesian” has been coined to describe his style and type of story. He was the true master of the “less is more” school of story telling. All of his stories are still available in affordable editions. Check out the 2Wordsworth Books library of the “Mystery and supernatural”. The folks at “Wordsworth Editions” are a true God send!  And for more things “Jamesian” go to “The Vault of Evil”. They know everything.
Anyways, “An Episode of…” is a  nice “Vampire” tale   about what happens when an old British church is renovated and something that has been resting/imprisoned under the altar gets “disturbed” and starts to visit the neighbourhood at night. Good stuff!


"The Drifting Snow” by August Derleth.
    This is another of my all time favourite stories. It is also in my opinion, Mr. Derleth’s 2nd greatest stories after “The Lonesome Place”.  Even though Mr. Derleth (admittedly) wrote mostly filler for “Weird Tales”, he could really shine when he put his shoulder to the stone.
This is a creepy little “weekend at the country estate during a snowstorm” story. It’s one of those “DON’T GO OUT THERE TO INVESTIGATED YOU #ß’%§ FOOL!” kind of stories.
The concept of wronged persons returning from the dead as vampires to get revenge on the descendents of those who mistreated them works very well here. You like the characters, but it soon clear that because of “the sins of our fathers” they are doomed. I won’t give too much away, but just remember that it is not a good idea to throw out young serving girls into a blizzard just because they have gotten pregnant out of wedlock. It’s just not a very nice thing to do! Ok? Nuff said.

“When It Was Moonlight” by Manley Wade Wellman.
     This is one of the horror stories that show how much of a master craftsman Mr. Wellman was. This originally appeared in “John W. Campbell's”, sister magazine to “Astounding”, “Unknown(worlds)”. Unknown was supposed to do to fantasy what “Astounding” did to SF. Which was to bring a new level of logic, sophistication, characterisation and intelligence to the genre that Campbell thought was missing up to then. This vision worked so well in “Astounding” that SF was never the same again. I think it’s arguable though as to how much this helped the Fantasy genre. I personally have never been all that big of a fan of the stories that appeared in “Unknown”. It only ran a few years, so I guess that the readers weren’t all that impressed either. Many of the stories that appeared in “Unknown” are well remembered and frequently reprinted though. So to be honest, quite a few of them were very good. What’s so funny is that the stories that Mr. Wellman wrote for “Unknown” were pure over the top supernatural horror that would have been more at home in “Weird Tales”. Lucky for us, Mr. Campbell knew quality stories when he saw them and published them in “Unknown” anyways.
“When it was Moonlight” tries to answer the age old question of “where do you get your ideas?”  . We find out where “EdgarAllan Poe” received some of his. Mr. Poe hears about a case of “PrematureBurial” in town and sets out to investigate for a local newspaper. What he discovers is not a case of a living person who was too hurriedly buried, but a case of someone who was buried and no one took the appropriate measures to make sure that they stay buried. This is another wonderful story.


“Over the River” by P. Schuyler Miller.
     I hate to over use the expression “classic”, but this is the only appropriate term to describe most of the stories in this anthology.  “Over the River” is the first “1st person” vampire tale that I ever read. It’s an amazing story. It’s told through the eyes of a man is killed while deep in the woods by a vampire and who then arises from the dead and makes his way home never truly realizing that he is now on of the undead. This story is simply amazing. It’s simultaneously bloody, frightening and tragically sad.
                               Here’s the story online. Please check it out!!


“Drink My Blood” by Richard Matheson.
      This is one of those rare Richard Matheson stories that actually have a (sort of) happy end.
“Jules” is a misunderstood little psychopath who wants nothing more than to be a vampire.
This is one grim nasty little story. And that’s exactly what you expect from Mr. Matheson! Read it an you’ll never forget.

“Pillar of fire” by Ray Bradbury.
This is my favourite anti-censorship/anti-fantasy/anti-PC from Mr. Bradbury.  “Pillar of Fire” originally appeared in the September 1948 issue of “Planet Stories” and contains the core philosophy that he completely fleshed out later on in “Fahrenheit 451”. After a centurys long sleep a vampire wakes up into a future where all fear of death and the darkness has been eradicated. No one knows of ghosts, devils, monsters or any of the things that go bump in the night. Society/the govt. has decided that these concepts are unhealthy for young minds and all fantasy has been removed from society and our culture. Fear of the dark is totally unknown.
This makes it hard for a vampire’s existential existence. So our (anti)hero decides to reintroduce these concepts to the world. Sadly he fails and voluntarily pays a visit to one of the “Pillars of Fire”. I won’t say more!


“The Girl with the Hungry Eyes” by Fritz Leiber.
     This is Mr. Leiber’s  take on the concept of “vampirism”. Here we get to see psychic/emotional vampirism at work in the advertising industry. This is a famous story that has been constantly reprinted and even though I’m a huge fan of Mr. Leiber, I don’t care much for this story.



Well that’s it for today’s post!  I just want to explain how good this anthology truly is. I haven’t read a single on of these stories since the early 1980s and I can still write about them today without having to reread any of them. That’s how damned good most of the stories in this anthology are. Buy it f you can find it! It’s been reprinted several times in both the UK and the US, so there are plenty of cheap copies on EBay and Abebooks.


Here are some other editions!


                         (Vampires at midnight is the US title)
(The wonderful US cover was painted by the amazing  "Jeff"Jeffrey  Catherine Jones. One of the great all time cover painter/illustrators! Ms. jones was able to give the most masculine covers an air of feminine beauty like no one else. She did many wonderful covers back in the 1970s!! Sadly she passed away last year on May the 19th. As sad as this is, at least Frank Frazetrta has some company now.



"Jeff Jones" gallery

Another "Jeff Jones" gallery

And some more "Jeff Jones"



Take care and thanks for taking the time to stop by.
 Doug
   
P.S.
"Wordsworth Editions" will be bringing out 2 long awaited AFFORDABLE COLLECTIONS THIS YEAR!!!


Voodoo Tales: The Ghost Stories of Henry S. Whitehead

 Night Terrors: The Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson

Check out also their collections from H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and M.R. James!!

These are affordable and attractive books! check out their entire selection of horror stories!

 Take care.
Doug


Kommentare:

  1. What a very complete treatment of an anthology. Definitely makes me want to get it and read these little gems. Always been fascinated by vampires since I read Stoker as a child, though I mostly, with a few exceptions abhor the modern concept of vampires. I prefer the evil, merciless killers who unlive to feed and feed to unlive. Actually wrote a vampire novel, The Hunger, in which the vampire is the hero, but is still evil and merciless. That just works better for creatures of the night.

    AntwortenLöschen
    Antworten
    1. That last image (1970 US hardcover from Grosset & Dunlap)is glorious. Unfortunately I don't think many of Haining's anthologies were published here in the States; I've run across few if any in my used bookstore expeditions over the years.

      Löschen
    2. Hi Doug,
      these are nothing but old school vampires! No sparkely folks here!
      Doug

      Löschen
  2. Hi Will,
    the Us cover was painted by the great Jeffrey "Jeff" Catherine Jones. She was/is one of the greatest illustration painters ever.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Catherine_Jones

    Take care.
    Doug

    AntwortenLöschen
  3. Jeff also did the one cover of "Darker than you Think" that I posted last week. She had a very desticntive style. She painted most of the REH covers on the "Zebra Books" editions.

    Doug

    AntwortenLöschen