Gruesome Cargoes

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

Archive for the ‘Switch On The Light’ Category

Switch On The Light

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.) – Switch On The Light  (Selwyn & Blount, April, 1931)

Zealia B. Bishop – The Curse of Yig
Richard Stone – Murder By Proxy
Jack Bradley – Haunted Hands
N. J. O’Neail – The Flame Fiend
Oscar Cook – Boomerang
J. Dyott Matthews – The Tapping
Frank Belknap Long, jr. -The Red Fetish
August Derleth & Marc R. Schorer – The Pacer
J. S. Whittaker – Flower Valley
H. P. Lovecraft – The Rats In The Walls
J. Joseph Renaud – Suzanne
Amelia Reynolds Long – The Thought Monster
Flavia Richardson – The Red Turret
Edmond Hamilton – Pigmy Island
R. F. Broad – Bhuillaneadh

Zealia Brown Reed – The Curse Of Yig: Oklahoma, 1925. An ethnologists’ researches into snake lore amongst the Native Americans leads him to Guthrie Asylum where Dr. McNeill introduces him to a casualty of the curse of Yig. McNeill then relates the tragic history of settlers Walker and Audrey Davis, whose anxieties over her wiping out a nest of baby rattlers culminate in madness, manslaughter and monster births. A pulp classic with a killer ending, reputedly revised by H. P. Lovecraft.

Amelia Reynolds Long – The Thought Monster: A ‘mental vampire’, thought into existence by doomed scientist Dr. Walgate. It feeds upon the minds of its victims, whom it scares to death. Somebody saw enough worth in this ludicrous story to film it as B-classic “Fiend Without A Face.”

Frank Belknap Long – The Red Fetish: Two castaways, starving and dying of thirst, must swim seven miles to the nearest island, knowing that it is the home of cannibal headhunters. The cowardly Van Wyck almost makes it but is torn to pieces at the last in the shark-infested waters. Bill is a little luckier: he makes dry land and gets to drink gallons from the freshwater lake before he’s surrounded by his hosts. He is thanked by the chief for the gift he sent them – the red-headed skull of Van Wyck which reached the shore before him – and the natives treat him like a God. By the time he is rescued by a trading sloop three months later Bill is a raving lunatic.

Oscar Cook – Boomerang: Warwick repays Cook in kind for his story about poor Mendingham (Piece-Meal) with a gruesome shocker of his own. Another love-triangle, again set in Borneo, this one involving two planters,Clifford Macy and Leopold Thring, and the latter’s new bride, Rhona. When he learns of their affair, Thring avenges himself by inserting an insect into Macy’s ears which burrows its way through his head and out the other side, eating his brain as it goes. Also features a novel death by white ant exterminator pump (applied to the throat).

Edmond Hamilton – Pigmy Island: Russell is washed up on an island off the Carolina coast after his boat capsizes. He is met on the shore by a man who introduces himself as Dr. James Garland of the Northern University Research Centre, whose small team are conducting their research on the otherwise deserted island. After taking refreshments, the exhausted Russell falls asleep … and awakens in a glass case with the gigantic face of Dr. Garland gloating down at him – the botanist has injected him with the “size-decreasing compound”, just as he has his five colleagues!
Spear fights with rats and all the usual Shrinking Man fun and games ensue as the pigmy six try to commandeer the test-tube containing the drug that will restore them to their full height.

Flavia Richardson – The Red Turret: Roy Errington, the last of the family line, returns to England to claim his birthright, the Errington estate. His wife, Helen, is terrified of the place, in particular, a portrait of Roy’s great grandfather who had a reputation for being an ‘evil cove’. Her fears prove justified when the sinister ancestor puts in a personal appearance, mesmerizes Roy, and entices him to sacrifice Helen at a black mass in the concealed room …

J. Dyott-Matthews – The Tapping: Julian Matheson plans to rob the Priestford branch of Riley’s bank of which he is the manager. Just as he’s removing Lady Bisnell’s heirlooms, who should walk in but the detested Roach who is wise to his little caper. Matheson shoots him and leaves him locked in the strong room. But as he washes the blood from his hands, he hears a maddening tapping coming from inside the vault …

August Derleth & Marc R. Schorer – The Pacer: ” … since these souls were moving merely to and fro in the cellar, it would be a comparatively easy thing to draw them back, if one had a body to put them into.”

St. John’s Wood, London. Immediately prior to his death, the eccentric scientist Brent found a volunteer for his experiment and successfully bagged a lost soul. Unfortunately, the house at number 21 has proved difficult to let ever since, due to the sudden death of the next tenant and unaccountable noises from the locked room upstairs. Mr. Larkin, an author of romantic novels, moves in and is soon troubled by the phantom footsteps. And what’s that buried by the lilac bush …?

J. Joseph Renaud – Suzanne: Wilson, an attache to the British Embassy, is captured by the Germans and Dr. Salzmann has ways of making him talk. Either Wilson tells them what they want to know or he’ll be fed to ‘Suzanne’ – a monstrous, multi-tentacled man-eating Nepenthes plant.

Richard Stone – Murder By Proxy: Vernon Lovell, insanely jealous husband of Marian, invites Arnold Carew to stay with them for the weekend even though he’s fully aware that Carew is the man his wife really loves. A third guest, Teddy, is a War veteran suffering from shell-shock who always sleeps with a knife. Lovell puts him in ‘the haunted room’ and, having got Arnold drunk, persuades him to play a “splendid rag” on Teddy. He should dress up as the ghost, creep into his room and they can all have a jolly good laugh about it in the morning!

J. S. Whittaker – Flower Valley: “Alarmed, he glanced hastily around and saw a huge clump of ugly flowers not a yard from his left hand. A deathly looking shade of purple, that reminded him of someone being strangled …..”

Joey and Jim are loose on the sweltering Flower Island, possessed of a treasure map secured from accomplice Hook under torture. Before he died, Hook warned Joey “You will have plenty of flowers when you die. Ha Ha Ha!”, and his ghost haunts the unnerved double-crosser in his sleep.

This is terrific stuff indeed and the flowers’ revenge is supremely gruesome.

R. F. Broad – Bhuilleneadh: Scotland, a deserted mansion in the Grampians. Lance Cranford, or ‘the greatest ghost-hunter of the century’ to give him his due, pits his wits versus the foul elemental which has haunted Prof. Krondahl’s reason since the night he first set eyes on it.

“A great, shapeless black mass materialized itself from the gloom of the echoing, stone-floored hall – vile and without reason – it reached out what he calls a “tentacle to reach him …”

Cheering slab of gothic overkill featuring our old friend the voracious blob of slime.

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