Sonntag, 26. August 2012

THE LURKING FEAR and other Stories
By H. P. Lovecraft
Ballantine Books. Sixth Printing. November 1975. $1.50
·         The Lurking Fear
·         Dagon
·         Beyond the Wall of Sleep
·         The White Ship
·         Arthur Jermyn
·         From Beyond
·         The Temple
·         The Moon-Bog
·         The Hound
·         The Unnamable
·         The Outsider
·         The Shadow Over Innsmouth

 My copy.


Hey all!
I took off from posting anything last week since it was too hot to do any thinking or typing.
And now I’m being lazy this week since I’m on 2 weeks vacation and I picked a book from my collection whose stories I know by heart.

 And before I forget……..


HPL’s birthday was on the 20th of August.


So this week’s book is one of my most favourite HPL collections. It’s “The Lurking Fear and other Stories”. I own the old Ballantine edition from 1975. This is one of the uniform editions that Ballantine was putting out in the middle 1970s with the very odd “John Holmes” covers. I’m not the biggest Holmes fan, but these were at lest recognizable from a mile away as Lovecraft books and I did own every single one. Mr. Holmes also did quite a few covers back then for horror anthology paperbacks in the UK. I can even remember when I first bought this edition (not the one I currently own though.). I was in my sophomore year at High School and I was nerd enough to get sent down to Cincinnati to attend a Current Affairs Conference for youth. I hated the conference, met a girl and found this book. And as Meat Loaf once said, "2 out of 3 aint bad".

Now let’s take a look at the stories.

·         The Lurking Fear
This one is great fun. It has all of those characteristics we’ve come to love in HPL stories.
We have…
An Intrepid Investigator posing as a reporter.
Lot’s of gory deaths. (Faces chewed off ect.)
Panicky inbred yokels.
Ancient family secrets.
Lots of stormy nights.
And a subterranean army of inbred cannibal troglodytes!
It seems that something is terrorizing the backwoods populace of rural upstate New York and it all seems to be stemming from the mansion of an old Dutch family who disappeared over a century ago. Whatever it is that is devouring the local populace only attacks during violent thunderstorms. One the storms pass the attackers disappear until the next storm. What has all of this to do with the vanished Martense family of Tempest Mountain? Read the story and find out! You won’t be sorry!
Here’s one of my all time favourite HPL passages….

     “Then came the devastating stroke of lightning which shook the whole mountain, lit the darkest crypts of the hoary grove, and splintered the patriarch of the twisted trees. In the daemon flash of a monstrous fireball the sleeper started up suddenly while the glare from beyond the window threw his shadow vividly upon the chimney above the fireplace from which my eyes had never strayed. That I am still alive and sane, is a marvel I cannot fathom. I cannot fathom it, for the shadow on that chimney was not that of George Bennett or of any other human creature, but a blasphemous abnormality from hell’s nethermost craters; a nameless, shapeless abomination which no mind could fully grasp and no pen even partly describe. In another second I was alone in the accursed mansion, shivering and gibbering. George Bennett and William Tobey had left no trace, not even of a struggle. They were never heard of again.“

Damn, that’s’ good stuff!

I guess that this can be considered one of the very earliest of Mr. Lovecraft’s “Mythos” stories.
A sailor is stranded on a desert Island that has been raised by an undersea earthquake. He goes exploring and finds out that man isn’t the only intelligent species above or below the waves. There isn’t really any plot here, but I still find this to be carried to heights of genius just by it’s atmosphere alone. 

     I can’t decide if this counts as part of his Dreamland cycle or not.  An inmate of an Insane Asylum, yes they were called that back then, recounts his experiences in another world of dreams. This is more fantasy than horror, but a nice story none the less.

     This is Mr. Lovecraft at his poetic best. A lonely lighthouse keeper is taken aboard a magical white ship. He travels with the crew beyond the horizon into the world of dreams and beyond. Because the light house keeper can’t be satisfied with the beauty being offered to him he convinces the ship’s Captain to travel even farther still, which only leads to tragic results. I find “The White Ship” to be a simply beautiful piece of writing that impresses me every time I read it.

“Arthur Jermyn” is another of those HPL stories that are so over the top crazy that it has to be read to be believed.
Here’s what we get.
Mad British explores.
Lost African cities.
A sub-human race.
Colonial oppression.
Dark family secrets.
Self immolation on the moors
And… (Drum Roll please)………..
I don’t want to give away too much of what happens in this story, but I will say that the monkey sex angle is driving me crazy. I only have one question and it’s “WHY????” and of course “WTF????”.
I mean, I don’t give a damn how racist people were back then. This just doesn’t make any sense.
Unless part of it went like this…
“So, what’s with this monkey sex shit?”
“I mean, you have a whole continent full of awesome lightly clad Nubian babes and you just have to get it on with the monkey woman?”
”Oh!! She Was a WHITE monkey woman and a princess!!”
“Well, why didn’t you say that in the first place”. “That explains everything!!”
     I dunno, maybe it really did go that way. People were pretty odd back then.

This is a really cool idea. A machine emits vibrations that let’s you see what’s going on around us in the other dimensions that we aren’t aware of. The problem is, what you see can also see you. And what can see you can also eat you!

     “The Temple” is one of those kinds of stories that give me the fits. A German U-Boot is trapped at the bottom of the Atlantic off of the Bahamas. Seem these were some awfully mean subjects of the Kaiser who sent to many innocents to their watery deaths. Now they seem to be haunted by a drowned youth who swims around the crippled sub inviting the to take a walk on the ocean floor one by one so they can pay a visit to a strangely lit temple that happens to also be on the bottom of the sea. This is why submarines don’t have screen windows.

If you want to rebuild a ruined castle by that happens to be next to a haunted swamp don’t make things worse by draining the swamp!
I love this story. It’s short, simple and has one terribly scary ending. At least I find the ending to be terribly frightening.

   The Hound
You have to decide. This is either HPL at his purple prosed best or worst. I understand he wasn’t very fond of it him self. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
     Two jaded grave robbers travel the world seeking tombs containing ancient secrets to plunder.
Sadly they defile one grave too many and the Wizard currently occupying it takes it extremely personal!
Hilarity concerning a demonic hound then ensues!
Here’s’ one of my favourites quotes from the story….

    “ I cannot reveal the details of our shocking expeditions, or catalogue even partly the worst of the trophies adorning the nameless museum we prepared in the great stone house where we jointly dwelt, alone and servantless. Our museum was a blasphemous, unthinkable place, where with the satanic taste of neurotic virtuosi we had assembled an universe of terror and decay to excite our jaded sensibilities. It was a secret room, far, far underground; where huge winged daemons carven of basalt and onyx vomited from wide grinning mouths weird green and orange light, and hidden pneumatic pipes ruffled into kaleidoscopic dances of death the lines of red charnel things hand in hand woven in voluminous black hangings. Through these pipes came at will the odours our moods most craved; sometimes the scent of pale funeral lilies, sometimes the narcotic incense of imagined Eastern shrines of the kingly dead, and sometimes—how I shudder to recall it!—the frightful, soul-upheaving stenches of the uncovered grave.”

“The Unnamable” should have actually been titled “The Indescribable”. Two friends spend way too much time hanging around in graveyards and abandoned houses looking into old legends. Too bad for them that they finally run into the “Unnamable”!

“Good God, Manton, but what was it? Those scars—was it like that?”
      And I was too dazed to exult when he whispered back a thing I had half expected—
      “No—it wasn’t that way at all. It was everywhere—a gelatin—a slime—yet it had shapes, a thousand shapes of horror beyond all memory. There were eyes—and a blemish. It was the pit—the maelstrom—the ultimate abomination.
Carter, it was the unnamable!”

Like I said before. It’s actually the „Indescribable“ that they run afoul of.

This is another goodie! A fellow who has lived his entire life alone in a huge mansion surrounded by a dark forrest climbs all the way up to the top of the house through the attic. He finds another door in the roof of the attic and climbs through it only to find himself emerging from a crypt in a cemetery. Sadly he crashes a party and looks in a mirror.

“The (weird) Shadow over Innsmouth” has to definitely be in the HPL top five.
This is the one Lovecraft story that newbies need to read to be able to “get” the entire HPL thingy. “Innsmouth” is suspenseful, well written, tightly plotted and pretty much covers the entire “Cthulhu Mythos” concept. I’m of the opinion that this is even a better story than “The Call of Cthulhu”.  And this time we get sex with fish people!

I’ve linked every story to an online version. So if you don’t want to purchase any books you can still read all of these wonderful stories on-line.

All of the stories are still in print. I feel that the “Wordsworth” editions are the best buy since they only cost about 5 bucks a volume! And each “Wordsworth” volume has hundreds of pages of HPL goodness.  So just go to Amazon and search for H. P. Lovecraft. The Penguin editions aren’t bad either. They cost more though. I even think that the Ballantine editions are a good bargain if they weren’t printed with such thin flimsy covers.

So thanks for stopping by!

Take care!


Montag, 13. August 2012

 Alfred Hitchcock Presents
12 Stories for Late at Night
Dell Publishing Co.
New Dell Edition 9th Printing.  January 1973

                                                                        My copy.

  • 9 · Death Is a Dream · Robert Arthur · ss AHMM Jun ’57
  • 23 · The Whole Town’s Sleeping · Ray Bradbury · ss McCall’s Sep ’50; EQMM Jun ’54
  • 43 · Evening Primrose · John Collier · ss, 1940
  • 57 · The Cocoon · John B. L. Goodwin · ss Story Sep/Oct ’46
  • 77 · Vintage Season [as by Lawrence O’Donnell] · C. L. Moore · na Astounding Sep ’46
  • 131 · The Ash-Tree · M. R. James · ss Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Edward Arnold, 1904
  • 147 · Side Bet · Will F. Jenkins · ss Colliers Jul 31 ’37
  • 159 · Second Night Out [“The Black, Dead Thing”] · Frank Belknap Long · ss Weird Tales Oct ’33
  • 171 · Our Feathered Friends · Philip MacDonald · ss When Churchyards Yawn, ed. Cynthia Asquith, London: Hutchinson, 1931
  • 183 · Back There in the Grass · Gouverneur Morris · ss Colliers Dec 16 ’11
  • 201 · D-Day · Robert Trout · ss Saturday Review of Literature Oct 27 ’45
  • 205 · The Man Who Liked Dickens · Evelyn Waugh · ss Hearst’s International Sep ’33

12 Stories for Late at Night” is one of my favourite “Alfred Hitchcock” anthologies and is one that once again shows us what a fine anthologist “Robert Arthur” was. It’s a terrible shame that he was always stuck behind the “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” header and never truly received the fame or credit that he deserved.

This anthology contains 12 very strong stories which cover a broad spectrum of stories that can be classified as “horror”.  What I find so great about these “Hitchcock” anthologies is that they helped to bring a lot of great stories out of the genre ghetto by introducing some wonderful stories and writers to a reading audience that usually wouldn’t be seeking these kinds of stories out.  I’m not a 100% positive on how many there were exactly, but from the ones that I’ve seen and owned, it appears to me that the majority of these anthologies from Dell contained mostly suspenseful murder stories with the occasional “horror” story. “12 Stories for Late at Night” contains nothing but horror stories. I’m betting that tens of thousand of folks were introduced for the first time by this series to such genre greats as “Ray Bradbury”, “John Collier”, “M.R. James”, “Frank Belknap Long”, “C.L.Moore (with Henry Kuttner) and many others. All of the above mentioned authors appear in the volume alone! Like I said, this anthology offers a huge spectrum of stories across the entire spectrum of horror short stories! Heck, I even had an old Aunt who many years ago ravenously read the “Hitchcock” anthologies even though she wasn’t, as far as I knew, a “horror fan”. That proves to me both the quality of the stories chosen by Mr. Arthur for these anthologies that and Mr. Arthur’s extreme good tastes in short stories in general.
Thank you very much Mr. Arthur!

And now to the stories….

“Death Is a Dream” by Robert Arthur.

     A young Lawyer, during the first week of marriage with his young bride, starts having problems with nightmares, a split personality and a deceased first wife who doesn’t seem to be so dead after all.
     The ending is telegraphed, but still it’s still a fun piece of grisly and hysterical melodrama.

“The Whole Town’s Sleeping” by Ray Bradbury.

     Before he became “RAY BRADBURY” Mr. Bradbury penned quite a few genuinely effective horror stories for “Weird Tales” and some of the other magazines.
This one which originally appeared in the women’s magazine “McCall’s” was one of those doozies.  It’s incredibly similar to a story by “Charles Beamont” called “The Hunger”. Both stories deals with attractive spinsters in their late 30s who flirt with death had the hands of serial strangler rapists. I guess it’s some sort of sexist “she was askin’ for it” sexual frustration thing.  Mr. Bradbury’s story shows us how dumb it is to challenge death in a town being terrorized by a serial rapist strangler. Our heroine just has to go and ignore all warnings by walking all the way home after midnight from the movies through a heavily wooded ravine by her self.

 This is one scary story, which even though you know it won’t have a happy end, which keeps you on edge up to the very end. It just goes to show that some people need to get laid more often.

“Evening Primrose” by John Collier

     This is a great story with an awesome premise which must have been highly original back in the 1920s. A poet turns his back on society by deciding to hide out and start a new existence in a large department store. He even has to pose as a mannequin to avoid being caught by the night watchman. It turns out he’s not the only one who lives this way and discovers a hidden society of misfits living in the cities department stores and other institutions such as the city morgue. They have a strict moral code of conduct which is enforced by the morgue dwellers. Sadly our poet falls in love with an orphan who has been enslaved/indentured by some of the fallen aristocrats living in hiding and runs afoul of the ghoulish morgue enforcers who are both taxidermists and cannibals.
This is a great story told in a genteel style which still manages to be suspenseful and gory.

“The Cocoon” by John B. L. Goodwin

     I’ve covered this one before in my post about “Things with Claws”. This one scared the spit out of me as a kid. A spoiled little rich boy loves to collect and torture butterflies and moths. He finds a very large and odd cocoon which he takes home and pins to the wall. The ending is so terrible that I’ve never forgotten it even after 40 years. That it’s a child who suffers such a nasty death makes the ending almost unbearable.

"Vintage Season"· C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner [as by Lawrence O’Donnell]

The wife and husband team of “C.L. Moore” and “Henry Kuttner” were a big deal back in the 1940s. They were responsible for many classic stories such as “Mimsy were the Borogoves” and “Vintage Season”. Both were very successful alone back in the 1930s with many stories that appeared in “Weird Tales”.  Their most special stories were collaborations under the names of “Lewis Padget” and “Lawrence O’Donnell”. Vintage Season is a melancholy and somewhat frightening Science Fiction novella about Catastrophe Tourists from the far future who rent a mansion in a small town during the month of May.  Their purpose and origins slowly unfold during the story as the owner of the rental slowly starts a romance with one of the female visitors. It turns out that something very bad is going to happen and these “tourists” want to witness it. This is an extremely sad story and one of Catherine Moore’s very best if not the best thing she ever wrote. Many scholars credit her with most of the writing in this story. It bet the readers who were expecting a murder mystery got their socks knocked off by this one.
“Vintage Season” was filmed in 1992 with Jeff Daniels as “Grand Tour-Disaster in Time”. Check it out if you can find it. But Hollywood being Hollywood the film has a happy ending.

 “The Ash-Tree” by M. R. James

„The Ash Tree“has the odd honour of being Mr. James’ most literal story. What was always so much fun with the ghost stories of Mr. James was trying to figure out at the end what exactly happened. That’s not the case here and it actually seems to help make the story more accessible for readers new to M.R. James.

It seems Sir Richard helps get an old woman, who has been accused of witchcraft, condemned and hanged. Her dying words are “The will be visitors at the Hall”.  This warning is of course ignored and with bad results. Afterwards Sir Richard decides upon moving his bedroom to another wing of the house. Directly outside his window is a huge and ancient Ash tree. It’s seems that folks thought that trees outside the bedroom made for unhealthy air. And what’s odd is that at night small cat sized animals can be seen scurrying among the branches. And even if the can’t be seen clearly they give the impression of having more than four legs!  Something also at this time keeps scratching at Sir Matthew’s window at night which disturbs his sleep greatly. This doesn’t worry Sir Richard though. This is a shame; because he wakes up dead the next morning after deciding to sleep with the window open. He’s discovered black, swollen and with two small bite like punctures on his torso. And from the position of the corpse it seems he died in great agony. So the room gets closed up for a hundred years or so, until his great grandson moves in and decides to take over his ancestor’s old bed. Did I mention that during the years after Sir Richard’s death all livestock that isn’t safely locked up at night mysteriously dies?

I guess that we can all see where this is going.


"Side Bet" by Will F. Jenkins (Murray Leinster).

This is a fairly short story about the battle of wits and will between a man and a rat that are shipwrecked on a rock in the middle of the pacific with hardly any food or water. This is a fun little story the ends better than expected.


“Second Night Out” [“The Black, Dead Thing”] 

by Frank Belknap Long

This one by Mr. Long is a great “Wierd Tales” reprint that had only been reprinted once before in Mr. Long’s “Arkham House” collection “The Hounds of Tindalos”.

This story is pure pulp madness! Something slimy and most likely dead appears on a Caribbean bound cruise ship “the second night out” of ever cruise and makes off with parts of unlucky passengers.

This one is lots of gruesome insane fun!


"Our Feathered Friends" by Philip MacDonald

This pretty odd story that starts out light hearted ends up pretty grisly. A young couple on a summer’s Sunday drive decide to take a walk in the woods. The woods are full of singing birds that aren’t as sweet as they appear to be at first. I guess Mr. MacDonald’s heirs could sue the makers of “Angry Birds”.


"Back There in the Grass" · Gouverneur Morris

This is a good story with some stupidly racist overtones. But, hey what can you expect form a South Seas story written in 1911. We have a foot tale Polynesian snake woman who falls in love with an American telegraph operator on a treeless tropical island. This story has one of the most cold hearted and callous endings that I’ve ever seen in a story.


“D-Day” by Robert Trout.

This is a very short but good story that is the weakest selection in the anthology. It was written in 1945 and take place in the 1960s. After 20 years of world peace we get a Radio reporters minute by minute account of what appears to be a massive nuclear sneak attack on America in transcript form. Mr. Trout was a genuine radio journalist during WWII.


“The Man Who Liked Dickens” by Evelyn Waugh

This is another of those stories that has such a disturbing end that it keeps you occupied for days on end. An upper class twit decides to finance and join a very poorly planned Amazon expedition with the sole purpose of punishing his unfaithful wife. I know, I can’t really follow his logic either. What starts out as a comedy turns into a horrible surrealistic tragedy. Our twit is the sole survivor of his expedition when he stumbles into a jungle clearing while in a state of delirium. He is rescued and cared for by a local man who is half English and half Indio. Because his benefactor is illiterate, our twit reads Charles Dickens daily to the man during his convalescence. After a while our twit realizes that his rescuer doesn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to let his “reader” go.  I guess that you can once more see where this is going.


I found this to be an extremely satisfying collection with a wide choice of stories covering different styles and genres. With “horror” being the combining thread running through all of the stories.

Get it if you can find it. It’s well worth it.

 Thanks for stopping by!












Montag, 6. August 2012

Forgotten, but not completely gone.

    I’ve received thousands of letters saying more or less this…
  “Hey Doug, that may be all well and good that you love these stinky, yellowing old books. But where can I, the young un-initiated reader find these treasures in a more modern and accessible form?”
  Ok, no one has actually asked me that. This is though, a suggestion sent to me by contest winner “Nick Montelongo”. He suggested that I show readers where many of these stories that I write about can be found today. As much as I lament the disappearance of many of these authors and stories there are still quite a few affordable collections to be found out there. All of these editions I’m presenting today are still currently in print and are all available from either “Barnes & Noble” or “Amazon”. They are also all available directly from their respective publishers.

 I’m trying to make some changes in my Blog format. I’ve tried to “improve2 my Blog header and I’ve change all of the texts to a more readable Font type. This suggestion came from contest winner “Patrik Halberg”.

The title of the “Mystery Cover” is “The Red Brain”. Edited by “Dashiell Hammett” and published by Belmont Books back in 1961. “Roger Reus” was the only person to know the book! Congratulations Roger! Your book is on its way! Nick wins the copy of Bloch’s “The Star Stalker” and Patrik has won a copy of “Night’s Yawning Peal”. Thanks guys!

And now to the books!!

All of these anthologies contain reprints  that are from the late 19th century when the horror story started to take on it's modern form up to the pre WWII  Horror Pulps such as "Weird Tales". Many of the stories in these new collections have appeared in earlier out of print anthologies from the 1940s. 1950s,1960s and 1970s. 

All of these books are all "affordable" paperbacks that can be optained on-line or hopefully from most "non-virtual" book stores. 

  The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard. Del Rey Books

The Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales by Robert E. Howard.. "Wordsworth Tales of  Mystery & The Supernatural"

Tales of the Lovecraft Mythos. Del Rey Books.

The Haunter of the Dark. By H. P. Lovecraft.  "Wordsworth Tales of  Mystery & The Supernatural"

The Right Hand of Doom and Other Tales of Solomon Kane. By Robert E. Howard. "Wordsworth Tales of  Mystery & The Supernatural"

The Horror in the Museum. By H. P. Lovecraft.  "Wordsworth Tales of  Mystery & The Supernatural"

Night Terrors: The Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson.  "Wordsworth Tales of  Mystery & The Supernatural"

The Collected Ghost Stories of M. R. James.  "Wordsworth Tales of  Mystery & The Supernatural"

The Devil's Bride: Mysteries of Jules De Grandin. By Seabury Quinn. Creation Oneiros books.

Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood. Dover Publishing.

Adrift on the Haunted Seas: The Best Short Stories of william hope Hodgson. Cold spring Press.

Fangs: The Vampire Archives Volume Two.  Vintage Publishing.

Blood Suckers: The Vampire Archives Volume One. Vintage Publishing

Coffins: The Vampire Archives Volume Three. Vintage Publishing

The Vampire Archives. Black Lizard Publishing.

Voodoo Tales: The Ghost Stories of Henry S. Whitehead.  "Wordsworth Tales of  Mystery & The Supernatural"

The Whisperer in Darkness. By H. P. Lovecraft.  "Wordsworth Tales of  Mystery & The Supernatural"

The White People and other Weird Stories. By Arthur Machen. Penguin Books.

Tales of Terror. Booksurge Publishing

Who Fears The Devil?. By Manly Wade Wellman. Paizo Publishing.

Return of the Sorcerer: The Berst of Clark Ashton Smith.  Prime Books.

Mysteries of the Worm. By Robert Bloch. Chaosium Books.

Murgunstrumm & Others. By Hugh B. Cave. Illustrated by Lee Brown Coye. Wildside Press.

Horror Gems Volume One. Armchair Fiction.

Horror Gems Volume Two. Armchair Fiction.

Horro Gems VolumeThree. Armchair Fiction.

Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!. Black Lizard.

The Big Book of Ghost Stories. Black Lizard.

Well that should give you all a start.

Take care and thanks for stopping by!