Gruesome Cargoes

Horror fiction 1925-1937: ‘Not At Nights’ & ‘Creeps’

Archive for the ‘Not At Night’ Category

Mike Ashley: Unlocking The Night

Posted by demonik on June 14, 2008

There doesn’t seem to be much literary criticism of the Not At Night and Creeps series’. The article that I’ve found of most help to date is unquestionably Mike Ashley’s splendid Unlocking The Night in Stephen Jones & Jo Fletcher (eds.) Gaslight And Ghosts (World Fantasy Convention/ Robinsons, 1988) which I’ve heavily drawn on for my CCT and Oscar Cook info. I met Mr. Ashley briefly at the Zardoz book fair in 2005 but my brain wouldn’t go and therefore I completely wasted the opportunity to grill him about anything remotely relevant.

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Micheal Foreman

Introduction: A Ripping Yarn – Stephen Jones & Jo Fletcher

James Herbert – Halloween’s Child
Neil Gamman – James Herbert: Growing Up In Public
Dianna Wynne Jones – The Green Stone
Clive Barker – The Rhapsodist
Hugh Lamb – Victorian Terror
Garry Kilworth – Beyond Byzantium
Brian Lumley – The Writer In The Garret
Ian Watson – The Case Of The Glass Slipper
R. Chetwynd-Hayes – Fog Ghost
Peter Tremayne – A Reflection Of Ghosts
Robert Holdstock – Time Of The Tree
Ramsey Campbell – Cat And Mouse
Brian W. Aldiss – Forgotten Life
Karl E. Wagner – Beyond Any Measure
Mike Ashley – Unlocking The Night
Terry Pratchett – Sphinx
Barbara Hambly – Immortal Blood
Lisa Tuttle – The Modern Prometheus
Adrian Cole – Grimander
Kim Newman – The Long Autumn Of 1888
Charles L. Grant – Snowman

If buying a book for a solitary article reeks of extravagance/ completist desperation, then rest assured that Gaslight And Ghosts has much else to recommend it including Hugh Lamb’s enthusiastic essay on Victorian Nightmares, Kim Newman’s annotated listing of Jack the Ripper movies and TV appearances The Long Autumn Of 1888 and some excellent fiction by Karl E. Wagner, Chetwynd-Hayes and Charles L. Grant among others.  It’s a weird amalgam of horror and fantasy stories, artwork, articles, extracts from then forthcoming novels, ads and co., loosely based around a  Jack The Ripper/ Victorian theme, although many of the items don’t come within spitting distance. The overall effect is like an extended, hardcover issue of Fantasy Tales magazine.

As to the short stories, Beyond Any Measure has to be the stand out, a vampire/ doppelganger classic, and the Campbell is resurrected from early Michel Parry anthology, Beware Of The Cat. Fog Ghost seems to have been written to order, but it’s mercifully free of the heavy-handed humour that blights some of RCH’s other work. Hallowe’en Child is reputedly based on a true incident on the night Herbert’s daughter was born.

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More Not At Night: Arrow edition

Posted by demonik on August 20, 2007

Christine Campbell Thomson (ed.) – More Not At Night (Arrow, 1961, 1963)

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Harold Ward – The Closed Door
Mortimer Levitan – The Third Thumbprint
Romeo Poole – The Death Crescents Of Koti
Will Smith & R. J. Robbins – Swamp Horror
Oscar Cook – Golden Lilies
Jessie D. Kerruish – The Seven Locked Room
Loretta G. Burroughs – Creeping Fingers
Flavia Richardson – Out Of The Earth
B. W. Sliney – The Man Who Was Saved
Hester Holland – Dorner Cordainthus
Robert E. Howard – Rogues In The House
David H. Keller – The Thing In The Cellar
Oswell Blakeston – The Crack
Archie Binns – The Last Trip

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The Not At Nights: About

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

Originally intended as a one off collection, the series was such a success that Christine Campbell Thomson wound up editing eleven volumes and an omnibus between 1925 and 1937. In all, there were 170 stories and, according to noted fantasy bibliographer Mike Ashley, exactly 100 of these came from the legendary American pulp Weird Tales.

The books in the series were all published by Selwyn & Blount.

Not At Night (October, 1925)
More Not At Night (Sept. 1926)
You’ll Need A Night Light (Sept. 1927)
Gruesome Cargoes (July, 1928)
By Daylight Only (Oct. 1929)
Switch On The Light (April, 1931)
At Dead Of Night (Nov, 1931)
Grim Death (Aug, 1932)
Keep On The Light (July, 1933)
Terror By Night (Aug., 1934)
Nightmare By Daylight (April, 1936)
Not At Night Omnibus (April 1937)

Arrow books published three paperback compilations from the series from 1960-62 as:

Not At Night (1960)
More Not At Night (1961)
Still Not At Night (1962)

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Not At Night: Tales That Freeze The Blood

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

Christine Campbell Thomson (ed.) – Not At Night: Tales That Freeze The Blood (Arrow 1960, 1962)

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These stories are as creepy as anything that came from the pen of Bram Stoker or Edgar Allan Poe. Vampires, screams in the night, blood on the stairs, head-shrinkers, Chinese tortures, amputations, stakes – they are all here!Mary Elizabeth Counselman – The Accursed Isle
Victor Roman – Four Wooden Stakes
Galen C. Colin – Teeth
R. Anthony – The Witch-Baiter
Flavia Richardson – Pussy
Zelia Brown Reed – The Curse Of Yig
Guy Preston – The Way He Died
H. Warner Munn – The Chain
Bassett Morgan – Island Of Doom
Oscar Cook – When Glister Walked
Arthur Woodward – Lord Of The Talking Heads
Hester Holland – The Scream
Romeo Poole – A Hand From The Deep
Edmond Hamilton – Pigmy Island



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The cover artwork: “Eliza Pyke”

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

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For years it’s bugged me that I don’t know who to credit for the striking artwork which adorns these incredible books. Of course, the identity of one of the artists was sitting right there under my nose the whole time.

“The jacket for this first volume (and for many of the later ones), was designed by that clever advertising-agent, Betty Prentis, who was then working as a freelance artist under her trade name of Eliza Pyke. It was “Eliza”, with her sense of dramatic colour, who contributed not a little towards a “brighter bookstalls” movement!”

– Christine Campbell Thomson, introduction to the Not At Night Omnibus (Feb. 1936).

A quick Google reveals no details whatsoever about either Betty or her alter-ego, but at least we now have a name to work with.

My guess is that she was definitely responsible for the covers of #1 through to #5, probably contributed those of #6 – #8, possibly designed #9 but not #10 and #11!

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Nightmare By Daylight

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

Christine Campbell Thomson (ed.) – Nightmare By Daylight – (Selwyn & Blount, April, 1936)


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Many thanks to Robert Weinberg for kindly granting me permission to use his cover scans.

Charles Cullum – Scarred Mirror
Barrett Willoughby – One Alaskan Night
David H. Keller – The Dead Woman
Oscar Cook – The Crimson Head-Dress
Gordon Chesson – Little Red Shoes
Zayu Konstanz – The Yellow Paw
Dion Fortune – The Flute Of Seven Stops
Hester Holland – The Scream
Nicholas Stafford – Mirabel Houston
Walter Rose – The Horror Of the Cavern
Jessie D. Kerruish – The Gold Of Hermodike
E.M.P. Inglefield – The Cossacks
R. Dawson – Grannie
Flavia Richardson – Empty Stockings
Oswell Blakeston – The Crack

Hester Holland – The Scream: A terrible cry emanates from one of the upstairs rooms at ‘The Elms’, the new retirement home of Colonel George Dawson and his wife, Ellen, on the outskirts of Guildmore. they learn that the house has “been sold and let and sold again on account of the scream” and yet there’s no dark deed in The Elms’ brief history to account for it. The curmudgeonly Colonel doesn’t believe in the supernatural and grows steadily more insane as he attempts to penetrate the mystery.
Filmed for the TV series Douglas Fairbanks jnr. Presents … in 1953 with the host and Constance Cummings taking the lead roles.

Oswell Blakestone – The Crack: The narrator has hideous dreams involving a weird antique dealer and his horrific statuettes of animals writhing in torment. It transpires that, at an unspecified date, such events did take place when Chiffonier, the proprietor of ‘Ye Olde Yew Tree Antique Shoppe’, was “detected in a particularly repellent crime” and absconded, leaving a pig, mutilated and masked to resemble himself (!) to be hung in his place.

Three years pass before the narrator encounters the reincarnation of Chiffonier, a stage illusionist. During his performance, the magician suffers a brain seizure, runs one female assistant through with swords and sets about sawing a second in half.

David H. Keller – The Dead Woman: Mild mannered book-keeper Mr. Thompson’s wife, Lizzie, is dead. The problem is, nobody – not her mother, sundry doctors, or even the undertaker he calls to the house – will believe him. When the flies and worms get busy he decides that drastic measures are called for.

Gordon Chesson – Little Red Shoes: Earl Nunthank’s second wife, Gioia, quickly grows disillusioned with life at the Manor house. Frustrated at her indifference to him and all-too obvious unhappiness at her situation, the Earl refuses to let her indulge her one pleasure – playing the organ – and beats her if she so much as touches the keyboard. Something has to give and eventually it is the bannisters, sawn through by Gioia, which put paid to Nunthank. But the fiery Italian isn’t done with him yet ….

****

That’s as far as I can get with Nightmare By Daylight just now due to lack of book!

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Terror by Night

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

Christine Campbell Thomson (ed.) – Terror by Night – (Selwyn & Blount, Aug, 1934)


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Many thanks to Robert Weinberg for kindly granting me permission to use his cover scans.

Joseph O. Kesselring – King Cobra
A. Barclay – The Chamber Of Death
Merle Prout – The House Of the Worm
F. Bonney – The Flying Head
J. W. Benjamin – The Man Who Saw Red
Hazel Heald – The Horror in the Museum
Oscar Cook – Dog Death
August Derleth – The Metronome
Mary E. Counselman – The Accursed Isle
Hugh B. Cave – The Watcher In The Green Room
Robert E. Howard – Rogues in the House
Harold Ward – The Closed Door
Michael Gwynn – The Death Plant
Flavia Richardson – Behind the Yellow Door
L. A. Lewis – The Author’s Tale

Flavia Richardson – Behind The Yellow Door: Mrs. Merrill, the brilliant surgeon and pathologist, advertises for a secretary. Marcia Miles is told that her main duty will be to act as a companion to her daughter, Olivette. As it transpires, Merrill only wants some of Miss Miles to act as permanent companion to the girl, who is a horror from the waist down. Together with Dorcas the ‘chambermaid’, Mrs. Merrill overpowers Marcia and straps her down on the operating table: “Assuming that the operation is successful, as it must be, you will find Olivette’s deformed legs grafted on to your body, while Olivette will at last be able to enjoy her life as a normal human being. She has waited nearly twenty years. You have had twenty years. It’s your turn.”

Flavia Richardson – Behind The Yellow Door: More surgery as the mother of a deformed girl attempts to redress the balance with a little spare-part surgery. Incredibly depressing. Roger Pile

Mary E. Counselman – The Accursed Isle: When their boat goes down, seven Americans with little in common are washed up on a desert island. On their first night, the watch is savagely killed, someone or something tearing out his throat. As their number is whittled down, it becomes apparent that one of them is the killer although, as Dr. Kenshaw points out, it’s likely that the man responsible is unaware of his actions. Eventually only two of the seven remain alive, the doctor and family man Landers, each of them tortured by the possibility that it is they who harbour cannibalistic urges. A ship approaches the island …

L. A. Lewis- The Author’s Tale: “He would kidnap the venomous swine of a woman and hold her captive in a secret place that he knew, flogging her daily until brute force brought her to absolute subjection.”
He is ‘Lester’, usually an amiable enough fellow with a weakness for the ladies, and she is his third wife who has ruined him, while the remote spot is a deserted farmhouse where he has rigged up his apparatus, a frame with straps and pulleys attached easily capable of suspending his greedy ex until she sees the error of her ways. What he hadn’t accounted for was the place being haunted – and by fiends of particularly sadistic bent who commandeer his torture device and use it to discipline one of their own with a savagery that has even the vengeful Lester. what he witnesses that night persuades him to make a significant amendment to his plans …

Hazel Heald – The Horror in the Museum: Stephen Jones is a connoisseur of the macabre, so is fascinated by George Rogers’ wax museum where he finds hideous exhibits crafted with a skill amounting to genius. It only takes a few passages more to reveal that we are treading very familiar ground; the exhibits in the museum are of course not what they seem, and both Jones and Rogers have been browsing through the Necronomicon at the local lending library. Did the world need yet another Lovecraft pastiche even back in the days of Not At Night? How can you ask? This one is actually quite gruesome in places, and the passages describing a ruined city in the Arctic wastes are quite evocative. Roger Pile

Harold Ward – The Closed Door: Lucinda Marsh poisons her despised, bullying husband, Obie, then strangles him with a sheet, but not before he’s delivered his chilling curse: “I’ll come back from th’ grave, you hussy!” He does.

Michael Gwynn – The Death Plant:Rheingelder is in search of an exotic plant of two flowers that grow from a single stalk by which each man is governed: the pretty flower is the life plant, the hideous, hairy thing is death. If he can find his own plant and destroy the death bloom then, reasons the German, “I shall be immortal!”

The narrator ferries him around the East Indies for the best part of a year until, at last, Rheingelder’s faith is rewarded. Such a pity that his callous treatment of a Chinese hand along the way has alienated the captain to the point where he wants to kill him. Slowly.

Merle Prout – The House Of The Worm: “I saw for a moment – his face! Purple, bloated, the crawling flesh nearly covered his staring eyes; white worms swarmed his puffed body, exuded squirming from his nostrils and fell upon his vivid lips. The foul stench grew stronger, so thick was it that my tortured lungs cried out for relief.”

A black magic cult worship at a shrine in Sacrament Wood, unleashing a terrible plague across the US. Only the narrator, Art, and his fellow weird fiction enthusiast, Fred, know the truth behind the epidemic – but the authorities won’t believe them!

Told in a hysterical spasm of (bad) journalese, but a must for fans of festering corpse fun.

August Derleth – The Metronome: Mrs. Farwell drowns her stepson Jimmy. After the funeral he comes back to see that she doesn’t get away with it. The Coroner is mystified by all the wet footprints and the fact that Mrs. Farwell seems to have been suffocated with damp rags.

Hugh B. Cave – The Watcher In The Green Room: Anthony Kolitt has been on a five-day drunk since his wife left him. For some reason he’s started talking to a large bureau in his room and neighbour Bellini, a psychic, warns him against his morbid obsession lest he thinks what he fears into reality. We already suspect that Kolitt knows more about his wife’s disappearance than he’s letting on but still nothing quite prepares us for the gruesome apparition and bloody, mindless carnage that ensues.

This one is more ideally suited to the soon come Sex & Sadism pulps than the relatively restrained Weird Tales.

Posted in Christine Campbell Thomson, Not At Night, Terror by Night | Leave a Comment »

Keep on the Light

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

Christine Campbell Thomson (ed.) – Keep on the Light – (Selwyn & Blount, July, 1933)


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Many thanks to Robert Weinberg for kindly granting me permission to use his cover scans.

Hester G. Holland – The Library
Oscar Cook – Golden Lilies
Henry S. Whitehead – The Chadbourne Episode
Robert E. Howard – Worms Of The Earth
Flavia Richardson – The Black Hare
Bassett Morgan – Tiger Dust
Mary E. Counselman – The House Of Shadows
J. Dyott Mathews – Green Slime
Jessie D. Kerruish – The Seven Locked Room
Warden Ledge – Legion Of Evil
Don C. Wiley – The Head Of Wu Fang
Guy Preston – The Way He Died
Hugh B. Cave – Cult Of The White Ape
Rosalie Muspratt – Althorpe Abbey
Clark Ashton Smith – Isle Of The Torturers

Hester Holland – The Library: Margaret, fresh from her break up with her fiance, applies for the position of secretery to the elderly Lady Farrell at Wincombe Court. After enquiring if Margaret has any close family or friends and receiving the all-important ‘no’ in reply, Lady F. hires her to look after the place while she’s abroad. At first, Margaret is a little disappointed that her work involves so little and the library – “the heart of the house” – is out of bounds to her. Worse, Wincombe Court is alive, and it requires a steady stream of sacrifices. Eventually, Margaret gets to see inside the library and meets the girls who had the job before her. What’s left of them.

Hester Holland – The Library: Margaret has been jilted, and her doctor recommends that she takes time off work. She has no family so instead looks for work in the country; fresh air and all that. Her new employer, Lady Farrell tells Margaret that she must always be on guard against the rest of her family, who would heartlessly gut the old family home of its treasures if she doesn’t watch them. This is where Margaret is to come in: standing guard, playing the ‘Lady’ in Lady Farrell’s absence. Left in charge of the house, she is free to go where she will, except the library, which she somehow comes to think of as the heart of the house. There are one or two genuinely chilly moments in this one, reminding me alternately of W H Hodgson’s The Whistling Room and various stories by M R James. It can also be seen as an interesting precursor to Robert Marasco’s Burnt Offerings Roger Pile

Warden Ledge – Legion Of Evil: “My God! ‘Gunner’, they’re killing for the sake of killing.” When magistrate Jack Bairdsly evicts the old hag ‘Madge’, a reputed witch, from her hovel in Long Woods, she wreaks bloody vengeance with the help of an army of blood-lusting … stoats. First they attack the stable and then – with Jack, his brother-in-law, the grooms and all the horses down – they move on to the house, where Mrs. Bairdsley is sleeping …

Flavia Richardson – The Black Hare: “You be going to stay here alone, misses? … only they do say as how … strange things have happened here afore now”. So says the superstitious coachman as he and his passengers, Elizabeth and Susan, alight at Wisteria Cottage, the girls having just inherited it from an uncle, Mr. Roylance. The credulous old fool’s main cause for concern involves a black hare which can transform itself into a women and augers death or some such poppycock.
The girls are met at the door of their new home by Mrs. Verity who used to do for their late uncle. She readies a fire for them, helps them unpack and tells them to give she or her husband a shout if they need anything – she lives in a cottage at the bottom of their garden. Susan decides to explore the attic while Elizabeth settles for a relaxing bath.

As she lies in the tub, Elizabeth hears a dull thump overhead and then a droplet of blood lands in the water, followed by another. She rushes upstairs to see if her sister has met with some accident and sure enough, Susan is dead, her throat having been torn out. Elizabeth runs to the window to raise the alarm … just in time to see a black hare disappear into Mrs. Verity’s cottage …

Oscar Cook – Golden Lilies: Magistrate Chan Ah Fook must find the perpetrator of an infamous murder – the old nail-hammered-into-the-back-of-the-neck favourite – or forfeit his own life. On the advice of his beautiful wife, Lee Min Yen, who is”possessed of golden lilies incomparable in the vast domain of China”, he has the corpse brought to the courthouse. Sure enough, the dead man’s widow breaks down and confesses her guilt and Ah Fook is saved.
Ten months later, Ah Fook is wondering how his wife could have known what to do? Time to exhume her first husband …

Henry S. Whitehead – The Chadbourne Episode: Chadbourne, Conneticut. Gerald Cavenan, a veteran of Whitehead’s adventures, takes centre stage in this investigation into the disappearance of five year old Truman Curtiss, last seen in the company of ‘a lady’. Prior to the boy’s abduction, the gnawed bodies of several lambs and cats had been found up on Cemetery Ridge. Cavenan comes upon the Persian ghouls as they are feasting on the boy in the old Merritt mausoleum.

Guy Preston – The Way He Died:”No wonder none but zany’s and Lunnon-folk come nigh the place – ’tis unholy!”. The Firs has stood empty for thirty years, ever since the sadist, Mr. Grace, hung himself in despair when his plaything, Gregory Whitstable, was inconsiderate enough to die and the torture chamber, just after Grace had taken a red hot poker to him.
On the night of the anniverary, Londoner Arthur Morley is drinking in the next village at The Belhampton Arms. Learning from the landlord that the place has a reputation for being haunted, he agrees to spend the night there. Mr. Grace and his victim reenact their final moments for his benefit …

Don C. Wiley – The Head Of Wu Fang: The Mandarin is subjected to extreme torture over a period of days but remains decidedly unmoved throughout and refuses to reveal the secret of eternal life. When he’s eventually executed, his severed head curses the bandit leader, Chang, the headsman, Wong, and his sidekick, Ching Tung-Li. They each meet the ghastly deaths he predicts for them.

Posted in Christine Campbell Thomson, Keep on the Light, Not At Night | Leave a Comment »

Grim Death

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

Christine Campbell Thomson (ed) – Grim Death (Selwyn & Blount;Aug,1932)


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Many thanks to Robert Weinberg for kindly granting me permission to use his cover scans.

J. Leslie Mitchell – If You Sleep In The Moonlight
Bassett Morgan – Island Of Doom
Anthony Vercoe – Flies
Arthur Woodward – Lord Of The Talking Heads
Rosalie Muspratt – Helvellyn: Elivion Or Hill Of Baal
Harold Ward – House Of The Living Dead
J. Dyott Mathews – The Wings
Oscar Cook – The Great White Fear
Robert E. Howard – The Black Stone
Elizabeth Sheldon – The Ghost That Never Died
Flavia Richardson (Christine Campbell Thomson) – Behind the Blinds
David H. Keller – The Thing in the Cellar
Hester Holland – Dorner Cordainthus
Maurice Level – Night And Silence
Guy Preston – The Inn

Spoilers, etc

Bassett Morgan – Island Of Doom: On a remote tropical island, Bill Evans carries out his pioneering research in the field of brain surgery with only wife Nell, two Chinese assistants and a tame orang-utang, Willie, for company. “Think if we could take human wrecks and use the best bits! That’s what my surgery is for”, he explains to Mansey, the fellow who periodically visits the island to deliver the surgeon’s supplies. Mansey admires the crocodiles with the brains of hens and the fly trap orchids – “cultivated and bred for size and ferocity” – fed by Willie with lumps of pig meat. Most of all, though, he admires Nell.

Bill Evans’ neglected but loving wife has another admirer, Dink Forster, Bill’s fellow surgeon, whom she jilted, and when he arrives at the island to assist in his rival’s experiments, it is with malice aforethought. Forster takes advantage of Nell’s brief sojourn to Australia (where she’s gone to have a baby) to operate on her husband, transplanting Willie’s brain into his head and vice versa. As he crows to the horrified Mansey: “He’ll have time to think of the Hell I’ve endured thinking of Nell with him. Only with Nell and me the seperation was geographical. With Nell and Bill it’s biological!”

Mansey is clubbed unconscious and strapped down for brain surgery, but the orang-utang with Bill’s brain rescues him, slashes Forster to pieces and then throws himself into the midst of the monstrous vampire flowers.

Guy Preston – The Inn : Frank Metheun, stranded on the mist shrouded Cumberland moors, chances upon an early theme pub with an extremely off-putting sign:
“This was in the nature of a coffin supported by six headless bearers goose-stepping towards a white headstone. Underneath … with grim irony, the legend ‘Ye Journey’s End'”.

Somewhat reluctantly, he decides to put up there for the night. At first, his main cause of concern is that the landlord is eyeless and reminds him of a slug, but there’s also a beautiful girl hanging around and at least she must be harmless …

On retiring to his room, he decides against taking a bath when he notices it is still “thick and slippery” with the blood of the previous guest. As darkness descends, the Landlord and his dishy daughter pay him a visit …

One of my all time favourites of the “Not at Nights”, and the climactic pursuit across the rooftop is genuinely exciting.

J. Leslie Mitchell – If You Sleep In The Moonlight : Psychological terror: did he stick a knife into his cheating wife’s throat and then place her corpse in a trunk in the garden shed, or has he dreamt the entire episode?

Rosalie Muspratt – Helvellyn: Elivion Or Hill Of Baal : Campbell Martin meets a stranger in black on the way to Grisedale tarn. The man, Jones, warns him that it is not safe to be on the mountainside after dark as the Druid’s used to carry out human sacrifices here and the place has a bad reputation.

Muspratt was AKA “Jasper John” who contributed two stories to Montague Summers’ Supernatural Omnibus. Unfortunately, Helvellyn is among the weaker stories in this fine collection.

Arthur Woodward – Lord Of The Talking Heads: At the museum of Indian and African artefacts, Benson, the prematurely aged night-watchman, visits the curator with a bundle he wants kept on display in a sealed case, and his dreadful story of how he came to obtain it.

Two years earlier, Benson had been treasure-hunting in Equador when his guide betrayed him to the Jibaro tribe, “uncivilised brothers who make it a national pastime to remove people’s heads and convert them into household ornaments”. It transpires that their leader talks like something out of The Black And White Minstrels Show, hates honkeys and wants one as his slave.

“Git down on yoh knees, white trash. Git down on yoh knees and crawl heah and kiss mah feet.”

What was there to do? A bloodthirsty, traitorous Indian behind me, a mad coon in front of me, ready to blow my guts out. I did what you’d have done, brother. I crawled.

There is a plus side. Benson learns the secrets of head-shrinking and imprisoning souls by sealing the lips, all of which will come in handy later. Several poles are already decorated with same, and “the Big Smoke” warns Benson that, ultimately, there’s one with his name on it. The worst of it is, the leader is a voodoo adept and can read minds.

“Thinkin’ uh leaving me, wuz yoh? Jus’ try it, white trash! Yuh haid will look purty fine up dar among dose fine gemmemun. Yassuh, soon’s yoh daid I’m gonna sew yoh soul inside yoh head and keep yoh to help me lak I does dem other white folks. Yassuh, dyin’ won’t let yoh go. I keeps yoh atter you-all am daid. Oooee, I got power, I’se got conjure medicine …”

Obviously, Benson turns the tables – otherwise he’d not be a night-watchman at the museum, right? – so you’ve probably guessed what’s inside the bundle. But that’s just the beginning of his worries …

Lord Of The Talking Heads was Woodward’s solitary contribution to Weird Tales (December, 1931). It was later reprinted in the May 1954 issue.

Anthony Vercoe – Flies: A starving tramp breaks into a vacant Elizabethan house in Holborn, and is transported back in time to the height of the Great Plague. Another overwraught mini-masterpiece, revived by Herbert Van Thal for his Pan Horror series.

Anthony Vercoe – Flies: The old tramp dying in the hospital ward had a strange story to tell about the Elizabethan house where he had sheltered from the rain. Fully furnished, and with food upon the table, but no one home. Only the coffin with its solitary occupant, and a strange sound from the street… Roger Pile

Maurice Level – Night And Silence: A pair of wretched beggars – one blind, the other a deaf mute, both crippled – freeze the night away in their hovel. The third of their number, a woman, has just died and is lying in her coffin in the same room. The blind man hears scratchings and muffled cries coming from within the box …

Harold Ward – The House Of The Living Dead: “Living corpses! Men and women filched from the grave, festering in their mouldering cerements, talking, laughing, dancing, breathing, holding hellish jubilee!”
So begins The House Of The Living Dead, and Ward keeps up this hysterical note for the entire 33 pages. Dr Darius Lessman, mad scientist, abducts and kills several persons with no strong family ties and projects their minds into various corpses to reanimate them. Fortunately, Ada Rider, PI, is on to his pranks and determines to put a stop to these macabre games of musical chairs.
Graverobbing, Egyptian mummies, shambling corpses gyrating to Betty Coed on the radio – in many ways, the quintessential Not At Night story.

Flavia Richardson – Behind The Blinds: Everyday story of a brilliant scientist “stricken with a loathsome disease” and his elderly assistant, who keep girls chained up in the spare room and starve them to death. As the twisted old spinster explains to plucky Joan Morgan: “slimming is so fashionable now. Our method of reducing is a little drastic perhaps, but so efficacious … in a few days you will hardly know yourself. Your clothes will hang on you so loosely that it will be simpler to remove them entirely …. we keep our patients under a very strict regime – no outings, and no visitors – except the doctor, of course. And he comes twice daily”.
She’s the talkative one of the two. It’s the best the wheelchair-bound old boy can do to slobber “too fat … too fat” and chuckle with “filthy, senile amusement.”

Robert E. Howard – The Black Stone: Stregoicavar, Hungary. The eerie wood houses a monolith which causes madness and suicide in all those who gaze upon it for too long. The narrator, aware that it is at the height of it’s powers on Midsummer’s Eve, witnesses a bestial and bloody ceremony from the past in which a child has it’s brains dashed and a hideous, toad like God manifests on the altar. Excavating beneath the stone, he discovers a pile of bones, and a document which holds terrible implications for mankind.

Elizabeth Sheldon – The Ghost That Never Died: “You can go to bed at night and set your will to do something you want to accomplish – miles away – and it will do the thing for you, just as if you were there.”: Evelyn Renard, editor-in-chief of Mother And Child, eliminates her rivals by ‘astral murder.’ Unseen by them, her ghost hangs on their shoulder, nagging at them to commit suicide. Young Blanche proves entirely immune to her suggestions, which is doubly unfortunate for Evelyn …

J. Dyott Matthews – The Wings: Greatcombe, a small Devonshire village. Larsden is a member of the Psychical Research Society. The previous year he’d experienced some horrible phenomena in a hotel room where a man was once tied to a bed and torn apart by vultures.

Gerald Lennox is a convalescent. His Doctor has warned him that he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown if he doesn’t rest up.

Larsden persuades him to take the shunned room 12 …

Hester Holland – Dorner Cordainthus: Another demon flower story, this one set in Surrey. Palaeobotanist Dormer patiently cultivates the maggot-like seed he’s brought back from his travels in Gondwana Land. The thing rapidly grows into a many-tentacled, carnivorous monstrosity that crushes and devours every living thing that strays too close.

Oscar Cook – The Great White Fear
Mervyn Aird, District Officer, falls for a beautiful woman who is shunned by his natives as the spirit of the Great White Death, although he knows her to be the orphaned daughter of a former D.O. Against the advice of he heads out to her cave and she agrees to wed him if he will not be ashamed to show their union in front of his people. So he takes her back downstream with him, the beautiful woman who is the embodiment of cholera …

David H. Keller – The Thing In The Cellar: From the age of three months, young Tommy Tucker has been terrified of the cellar. His parents take him to see Dr. Hawthorne who learns that the child’s fear is rooted in his belief that there’s something lurking down there. Hawthorne advises the Tuckers as to what they should do to disillusion the boy of his ridiculous fancy.

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At Dead Of Night

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007


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Many thanks to Robert Weinberg for kindly granting me permission to use his cover scans.

Christine Campbell Thomson (ed.) – At Dead Of Night – (Selwyn & Blount, Nov, 1931)


Lorretta G. Burrough – Creeping Fingers
F. A. M. Webster – The Owl
Geoffrey Vace – Four Doomed Men
Seabury Quinn – The Curse Of The House Of Phipps
Oscar Cook – His Beautiful Hands
David H. Keller – The Seeds Of Death
Henry S. Whitehead – Passing Of A God
August Derleth – Prince Borgia’s Mass
Flavia Richardson (Christine Campbell Thomson) – Pussy
Jessie D. Kerruish – The Wonderful Tune
Paul Ernst – The Scourge Of Mektoub
Michael Annesley – Rats
Richard Jackson & A. Edwards Chapman – The Idol Of Death
Everil Worrell – The Grey Killer
Charles Henry MacKintosh – Guardian Of The Guavas

Michael Annesly – Rats: A Berkley barn is besieged by million upon million of them. The occupants, Sir Edward Fanshawe and his camping party, including a young mother and child, are soon fighting a losing battle in the dark. “Oh God, I’m up to my waist in rats. I’m being eaten alive!”

Oscar Cook – His Beautiful Hands:The ghoulish journo, Warwick, may have had his heart broken by the heroine of this nasty tale, but he’s not one to let sentiment stand in the way of his profiting from a sensational scoop.
A manicurist extracts deliberately protracted revenge on a man who wronged her mother. Incest, rotting flesh and a deformed baby also loom large. Never let it be said that Cook did things by halves.

Oscar Cook – His Beautiful Hands: As soon as you see a title like that, alarm bells start to ring because you know that something very nasty indeed is going to happen to those hands. The hands in question belong to a violinist who is besotted with a young woman manicurist in a hairdressing salon. It soon becomes clear that something is terribly wrong, but neither the young woman nor any of the salon’s customer’s can persuade the man that he is in need of something other than a manicure. It’s a story of revenge and obsession, and more than that cannot be said without giving away the story. Roger Pile

Richard Jackson & A. Edwards Chapman – The Idol Of Death: “Bad luck is prophesied to each seventh owner of the idol.” The narrator is assured that he’s the unfortunate seventh, but he remains supremely sceptical about the whole business. When it’s stolen, the thief learns to his cost that somebody got their sums wrong …

David H. Keller – The Seeds Of Death: The Duke of Mercia, down on his luck, agrees to investigate a series of disappearances around the Andoran castle of Lady Helen. A demon flower tale which makes fine use of gothic paraphernalia and also scores by having the bad guy – or girl – come out on top.

August Derleth – Prince Borgia’s Mass: Satanists are stealing the bodies of the dead and using them in their blasphemous ceremonies. Cesare Borgia and his men sneak up on them as they celebrate Walpurgis night and, at his command, all nine participants are crucified upside down. Together with his Magi, Rene, he performs his own variation on the Black Mass. He and Rene are more adept practitioners of the Black Mass than their captives and summon Beelzebub who reduces the sorry sect to ashes.

Flavia Richardson – Pussy: Godfrey Ellington buys a little green cat figure in a shop off the British Museum. His own puss, Simpkins, has an aversion to it from the first – as well it might. The ikon is the earthly receptacle of Bubastis. It doesn’t stay small for long …

Loretta G. Burrough – Creeping Hands: The hotel is full save for the rarely used room 317. The manager advises Kent that it is perhaps not in his interest to use the bath as “people don’t like it”. Kent pays no heed and is nearly drowned when a ghost tries to reenact its crime of three years ago …

F. A. M. Webster – The Owl: Alison of Horley Grange is “one of the loveliest creatures ever created by the good God”, so it’s a foregone conclusion that she’s in for a tough time of it. Her father owes sinister Simeon Stroud £20, 000, so she selflessly agrees to wed him despite his having pointed ears. But then she falls for nice Tom Mercer who has just returned from South America and knows all about Stroud’s involvement with an evil Aztec bird cult. Stroud is furious when Mercer pays the old man’s debt and weds his bride-to-be. As the happy couple celebrate their honeymoon at Ulswood in the Lake District, Stroud attacks them in the guise of a huge owl, training his talons on the sleeping usurper’s eyes ….

Geoffrey Wace (Hugh B. Cave) – Four Doomed Men: Oriental Stories, Summer 1931). Delhi. Chowkander King of the secret service investigates a stabbing in the house of Sikh agitator Rahman Singh after four men met to view his “priceless” ruby. One of their number stole the gem and now each guest is under a death sentence, but who is carrying out the murders? Mystery rather than horror.

Seabury Quinn – The Curse Of The House Of Phipps: Woolwich, Massachusetts. In 1775, Joshua Phipps and his Puritan stooges murdered French slave Marguerite DuPont after she’d given birth to his son. As she was buried alive, Marguerite avowed that whenever a child was born into the family, the father would die with blood on his mouth.
In the present day, Edwin Phipps approaches De Grandin and Trowbridge to rid him of the curse. They camp down in the haunted house where Marguerite was forced into a hole and sealed in beneath a heavy hearth-stone …

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