Gruesome Cargoes

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

Archive for the ‘You’ll Need A Nightlight’ Category

You’ll Need A Nightlight

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.) – You’ll Need A Night Light (Selwyn & Blount, Sept. 1927)

Eli Colter – The Last Horror
Paul S. Powers – The Life Serum
Joseph McCord – The Girdle
Oscar Cook – Si Urag Of The Tail
Paul Benton – The Beast
Zina Inez Ponder – His Wife
Bassett Morgan – Laocoon
Flavia Richardson – Out Of The Earth
W. J. Stamper – Ti Michel
Seabury Quinn – The House Of Horror
August Derleth – The Coffin Of Lissa
R. Anthony – The Parasitic Hand
Romeo Poole – The Death Crescents Of Koti
J. M. Hiatt & Moye W. Stephens – Ghosts Of The Air
H. P. Lovecraft – The Horror At Red Hook

Eli Colter – The Last Horror: Oklahoma. Bleeker, Remington and Crickett’s fishing trip turns to nightmare when they discover a remote brick building. Venturing inside, the door slams shut behind them.

There, scattered all over the floor inside was a litter of bones. Human bones! Human skulls scattered among them! Most of them were old and dry: but some, enough to accompany one body, were still green with small particles of flesh adhering to them and marrow showing where they had been cracked and chewed in two.

These are the victims of Richard Ballymair and his pet panther. Ballymair is an evil genius who has kidnapped weasily Dr. Straub to perform a skin transplant – in short, he is a negro who wants to be white. Remmington and Crickett are imprisoned while their friend is flayed. Ballymair gets his wish but blows his brains out when Remington points out that he is now merely a mutant, white only on the surface, and responsible for the deaths of several of his black brothers. After his honourable suicide, Remington reflects: “By God! I don’t know – he was white somewhere!”

A devil in a long flying coat

A devil in a long flying coat

Romeo Poole – The Death Crescents Of Koti : South Pacific. Polynesians destroy a spindling race who live under a volcano on the island of Koti. Generations later, the menfolk of the Savaloos people are being systematically picked off by “a devil in a long flying coat” which leaves three crescent-shaped indentations on its victims who seldom survive the night. White men to the rescue yet again. This time it’s Dr. Seego and his three companions who come up with a serum before nipping off to the caves for a scrap with the human bats.

Seabury Quinn – The House Of Horror: Lost in a storm, De Grandin and Trowbridge chance upon Marston Hall, home to the brilliant surgeon Dr. John Beirsfield Marston who retired after his deformed son committed suicide when his bride to be, actress Dora Lee, jilted him. Not much has been heard of Marston since then, although a number of young girls have gone missing in the area …
Rarely was Quinn to pen anything quite as nasty as this (although he tried, and even rewrote The House Of Horror at least once: The House Where Time Stood Still). This is where my fascination with the De Grandin’s began.

Seabury Quinn – The House of Horror: Featuring Dr Jules de Grandin who, with his habit of coming out with unlikely exclamations (“Name of a little blue man!”) should spell doom to any story attempting to make the flesh creep – but doesn’t! This one is pretty nasty, in fact. De Grandin and his amenuensis, Dr Samuel Trowbridge, have been called out on a medical mission of mercy, but become lost in the driving storm. Arriving at a house with mechanically locking doors, they are welcomed in by Marsten, who prevails on them to tend his sick daughter. But de Grandin’s suspicions are arouses, the girl is not sick; she has been surgically operated on, and he’s disturbed by the girl’s grotesquely disfigured eyes. Catching Marsten in the act of sabotaging their car, they learn that he has some ‘pets’ in the cellar. Needless to say, more horrors await de Grandin and Trowbridge when they descend the cellar steps.

This story reminded me strongly of Georges Franju’s 1959 film Eyes Without a Face. It would be interesting to know if Franju read the story on its first appearance in Not at Night. Roger Pile

August Derleth – The Coffin Of Lissa: Gruesome tale of torture at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition. The narrator is placed in the titular contraption. Rats gnaw his hands. The lid slowly descends …

Zita Inez Ponder – His Wife: Hampstead, turn of the century. The narrator, down on his luck, meets a kindly stranger who offers him shelter on a bitter February night. “Shelter” is a strange basement room that smells like a graveyard. When the homeless man remarks that he is a joiner, his host is delighted. Perhaps he could make him a box to “keep my wife’s things together in?” Having prepared supper, the Good Samaritan introduces the lovely lady. Not At Night through and through, and really should have been revived by now.

Oscar Cook – Si Urag Of The Tale: Borneo. After a party of his men are massacred while investigating a spate of mysterious disappearances, District Officer Dennis leads a party upstream to investigate. Eventually they capture the culprit, a tragic, hairy figure who worships a huge, man-eating plant (he has a picture of it tattooed across his chest). Even as he’s telling them his sob-story, Si Urag is scheming how best to lure them to the sacred flower ..

Joseph McCord – The Girdle: When Pelham puts on his belt he is transformed into a werewolf. He kills five German infantrymen by tearing out their throats.

J. M. Hiatt & Moye W. Stephens – Ghosts Of The Air: Wing-walker Easley clashes with stunt pilot Bert Cottrel and falls to his death in an ‘accident’ very shortly afterward …

F. J. Stamper – Ti Michel: Porte Liberte. The death-bed confession of a liquor merchant who explains why he only serves the despised Gerdammes from the left hand barrel. Three years earlier, he’d returned home to find one of their number ravishing his daughter. Having bashed Corporal Bousset’s brains out with a claw-hammer, the publican needed somewhere to conceal the body.

Bassett Morgan- Laocoon: “I believe it was a mistake to feed him flesh. Better to have left him to find sea food only ….”

Professor Denham, noted back home for his brain transplants on rats and an unshakable belief that sea-monsters exist, invites Willoughby out to Papau to assist him in his research. From the moment the boat docks, Willoughby realises something’s up: the houseboy, Wi Wo, is clearly terrified, and he can’t find hide or hair of Cheung Ching, Denham’s devoted assistant.

It transpires that Cheung Ching, having contracted leprosy, begged the prof. to insert his brain into that of the giant sea-serpent so he can continue with the research. Denham reluctantly performs the operation, but lately the Laocoon in the creature seems to have established dominance over Cheung Ching: it has become surly, taken a “sweetie” and gobbles down his hens and chickens by the bucket-load. There’s only one thing for it: Willoughby will have to transplant Denham’s brain into another Laocoon …

Bassett Morgan – Laocoon: The plot, which mixes sea-serpents and brain transplants is both grotesque and absurd; but the setting and build-up, with a schooner making its way around the coast of Papua, and journeying upriver to a lagoon where the narrator looks down through glass clear water, watching wrecks on the river bottom pass beneath the hull, is so evocative that by the end of it the reader is prepared to let Morgan get away with almost anything. At the end of the day, the power of the narrative outweighs its absurdity. A colourful, memorable thriller. Roger Pile

R. Anthony – The Parasitic Hand: John Pendleton has a fully formed hand growing out of his side which has remained dormant for 23 years – until now. When Dr. Burnsturm decides to remove it, he has a fierce battle on his hands as it tries to drive the scalpel into the patients heart. Seven months later, Pendleton returns, complaining that “something is chewing and clawing within me.”

Flavia Richardson – Out Of The Earth: Gloucestershire. Anthony and Sylvia Wayre are attacked by an elemental at their new cottage, A greenish gas seeps under the door and takes the form of a man who gives off a dreadful, fetid stench. When it looms up and threatens to engulf them, Anthony snatches the crucifix from his swooning wife’s neck and fends it off. Their home was built on a Roman settlement.

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