Gruesome Cargoes

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

Posts Tagged ‘Charles Birkin’

Charles Lloyd (ed.) – Terrors

Posted by demonik on October 9, 2012

Charles Lloyd (ed) – Terrors  (Phillip Allan, 1933)


dust jacket from Facsimile Dust Jackets

Charles Lloyd – The Terror On Tobit
Guy Preston – Thirty
Francis Sibson – The “Westerdale’s” Tow
Andre de Lorde – Waxworks
Phyllis Stone – The Man With The Flayed Face
Ursula Gwynne – The Muffler
Marjory Lawrence – The Terror Of Stranger Island
Pamela James – Blue-Black Hair
John Ratho – Arabella Goes North
Phyllis Stone – Spider’s Web
Elliott O’Donnell – The Mystery Of Beechcroft Farm

Blurb:
The man with the flayed face, how the passengers of the Westerdale died, the Fear on the lonely island, and the artist who was caught in the spider’s web, make their first appearance – with other grisly tales – in this volume.

Review by James Doig

Charles Lloyd, The Terror on Tobit
Daphne and Anne are holidaying in the Scilly Islands and decide to spend a night on deserted Tobit island, much to the shock and horror of the locals, there being numerous cases of sightseers disappearing without trace. Naturally, the girls won’t be swayed. Jean, one of the local boys, has taken a fancy to one of the sweet young things and tags along with them, parking himself a discrete distance away. During the night Daphne, frightened by a strange whistling noise, goes in search of him and finds a pool of slime next to his camp fire. Hearing Anne scream, she rushes back only to find another pool of slime where Anne had been sleeping. Off to the asylum with Daphne. Seems to be some species of giant flesh-eating sea slug.

Guy Preston, Thirty
Not a bad ghost story in which an antiques dealer is haunted by a certain person counting out his thirty pieces of silver.

Francis H. Sibson, The Westerdale’s Tow
Nautical horror where a greedy captain tows a derelict ship back to shore for the scrap metal. Unfortunately for him, the derelict is home to an awful species of flesh eating insect from New Guinea.

Andre de Lorde, Waxworks
Young Parisian takes a wager that he can’t spend the night of a nasty storm in a waxworks. He just about makes it.

Phyllis Stone, The Man With the Flayed Face
Young woman’s car breaks down during a storm and she seeks shelter at the home of a man whose head is swathed in bandages. He’s a nice chap who suffered horrific injuries during the war. By good fortune the woman’s brother is an expert plastic surgeon. As there is no photograph of the afflicted man, a photograph of his dead twin brother is used as a model. All goes well, except that the man’s dead brother happened to be a student of the occult…

Ursula Gwynne, The Muffler
Sad and pointless story about a man on death row who has strangled his crippled son.

Margery Lawrence, The Terror on Stranger Island
Adventurers investigate Stranger Island, where numerous people have disappeared without trace. They find that the culprit is a monster-sized cross between a scorpion, crab and spider.

Pamela James, Blue-Black Hair
Beautiful young woman tries to prove an ancient family curse has no basis in fact. Silly girl…

John Ratho, Arabella Goes North
Nice conte cruel that someone should resurrect – eccentric, aristocratic Arabella finds herself on a train to Edinburgh without Sister to help her. The other passengers are mean to her, including the young girl she shares a carriage with. Unfortunately for the girl, Arabella is as stark raving mad as you can get.

Phyllis Stone, Spider’s Web
Bizarre story about a mother and daughter trying to con a rich artist out of his money. Mother is 47 and daughter is a 27 year old dwarf, but somehow they are able to pass themselves off as 20 years’ younger. Dwarf falls in love with artist and kills herself, mother goes mad.

Elliott O’Donnell, The Mystery of Beechcroft Farm
Woman’s aunt goes missing on her way home from London. Conventional ghost story – replete with headless ghost – made interesting because the murderer, an attractive woman who owns a nearby farm, gets away with it.

See also the Terrors thread on Vault of Evil forum

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More Philip Allan: The non-anthology ‘Creeps’

Posted by demonik on May 13, 2009

More Philip Allan: The non-anthology ‘Creeps’

Apart from the famous anthologies, there were a number of novels and single author collections in the Creeps series. From Tales Of Fear (I’ve added the year of publication, when known)

THE FAMOUS “CREEPS” SERIES

To be successful, the gruesome story must not be too long. The most hardened of us can only take this kind of thing in small doses with a breathing space between each.

The sales of these volumes have gone into many thousands. Some have gone quite out of print; but new ones are being constantly added. Each volume has about a dozen stories of sheer, stark horror – and noone, whatever their nerve strength, should read them at night. Nervous people should not read them at all.

THE THREE FREAKS – TODD ROBBINS 1934
THE MASTER OF MURDER – TODD ROBBINS 1933
THE BUTTERFLY MURDER – CHARLTON ANDREW ????
DEVIL’S DRUMS – VIVIAN MEIK 1933
VEILS OF FEAR – VIVIAN MEIK 1934
THE STRANGE PAPERS OF DR. BLAYRE – CHRISTOPHER BLAYRE 1932
THE AIR DEVIL – BARRINGTON BEVERLEY 1934
MYSTERIES OF ASIA – SHEIK ABDULLAH 1934
TALES OF THE GROTESQUE – L. A. LEWIS 1934
VAMPIRES OVERHEAD – ALAN HYDER 1935
THE DEVIL OF THE DEPTHS – JACK McLAREN 1935

TO THE READER

If you have enjoyed the stories in this popular series – why not write one? It is very probable that other volumes will be added: and the publishers are always ready to consider the work of new, as well as established, authors.

Send MSS. to

Messrs. PHILIP ALLAN & CO., Ltd.
69, Great Russell Street, London, W.C.1

Mark envelopes ‘Creeps’

Three more books, also published by Philip Allan, which appeared too early to be considered legit Creeps were Mrs. Everett’s The Death Mask & Other Ghost Stories (1920), Tod Robbins’ Who Wants A Green Bottle? (1926) and H. R. Wakefield’s They Return At Evening (1928).

Come 1936 and the publisher seems to have veered off into a SF direction with Edmond Hamilton’s The Horror Of The Asteroid & Other Planetary Horrors and Barrington Beverley’s The Space Raiders, although that same year saw publication of Charle’s Birkin’s Devil Spawn, which collected all his contributions to the anthologies and is unquestionably a Creep!.

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The Creeps Omnibus

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

“The Creeps Omnibus”, ed. Charles Lloyd, (Phillip Allan,1935), collected together the entire contents of the first three books in the series, “Creeps”, “Shudders” and “Shivers”.

CREEPS ed. Charles Lloyd, (Phillip Allan,1932)

Tod Robbins – Silent, White, & Beautiful
H. R. Wakefield – The Red Lodge
Elliott O’Donnell – The Ghost Table
Tod Robbins – Spurs
H. R. Wakefield – “He Cometh And He Passeth By”
Philip Murray – The Charnel House
Elliott O’Donnell – A Wager And A Ghost
Charles Lloyd – The Last Night
Tod Robbins – Cockrow Inn

SHUDDERS ed. Charles Lloyd, (Phillip Allan,1932)

H. R. Wakefield – Or Persons Unknown
Tod Robbins – Toys
Elliott O’Donnell – Accusing Shadows
H. R. Wakefield – Professor Pownall’s Oversight
Charles Lloyd – The Harlem Horror
Philip Murray – The Trunk
H. R. Wakefield – The Third Coach
Philip Murray – The Crimson Blind
Elliott O’Donnell – The Haunted Spinney
Philip Murray – The Patch
H. R. Wakefield – That Dieth Not

SHIVERS ed. Charles Lloyd, (Phillip Allan,1933)

H. R. Wakefield – The 17th Hole at Duncaster
Charles Lloyd – An Eye for an Eye
Tod Robbins – Wild Wullie the Waster
Mrs. Everett – The Death Mask
Elliott O’Donnell – The Ghost in the Ring
Philip Murray – The Poplar Tree
H. R. Wakefield – “And He Shall Sing…”
Tod Robbins – Who Wants a Green Bottle?
Elliott O’Donnell – The Tank of Death

As is obvious from the above, Charles Birkin/ ‘Charles Lloyd’ was working with a very small stable of authors to begin with, but he certainly succeeded in getting the best from them. Robbins “Spurs” is the short story which spawned Tod Browning’s classic horror movie, “Freaks”. Wakefield’s Satanist in “He Commeth … ” is loosely based on the then very newsworthy Aleister Crowley, while the same writers “The Red Lodge” is among the very best haunted house stories ever written IMHO. Birkin doesn’t disgrace himself amongst such company, although why Van Thal didn’t resurrect “The Harlem Horror” – a truly sadistic tale of child abduction that gets uglier with every paragraph – along with the others for his Pan horror series is a mystery. Phillip Murray (possibly even publisher Allan under a pseudonym), perfected the short-short horror story form, rarely exceeding four pages, yet never needing to. Hugh Lamb used “The Charnel House” for one of his own excellent anthologies, as it’s one of the very grimmest pieces in here.

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Powers Of Darkness

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

Charles Lloyd (ed) – Powers Of Darkness (Phillip Allan,1934)

powersofdarkness

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

INCLUDED in this volume of the “CREEPS” series are many famous names, and while stories of the supernatural will delight lovers of the psychic world, thrill seekers will find sensations in plenty.

Lord Dunsany gives the explanation of a horrible and baffling murder; Hastings Turner a grisly tale of retribution from an unexpected source; C. Fox Smith, the noted writer of the sea, a story of the fate of three mutineers under tropic skies; and other contributors of considerable merit and literary reputation.

Lord Dunsany – The Two Bottles Of Relish
A.E.D. Smith – The Coat
Charles Lloyd – Obsession
Kenneth Ingram – The Third Time
J.H. Turner – The Guillotine
Cicely Fox-Smith – The Mutineers
Russell Thorndike – November The Thirteenth
L.A. Westney – The Miniature In Black
E.R. Morrough – The Temple Servant
Maureen E. Shaw – A Nice Cup Of Tea

Lord Dunsany – The Two Bottles Of Relish: The police know that Steeger killed Nancy Elth but nobody can work out what he did with the body. And why did he cut down all those trees?
A ghoulish mystery, solved by a chance remark by Num Numo salesman Smithers to his genius flatmate Linley. Killer kiss off line.

Charles Lloyd – Obsession: Hartledean. Doris Carson and Henry Russell are to wed. Joe, the village idiot, has a massive crush on Doris as she’s the only person who has ever been kind to him. After she gently declines his offer of marriage, Joe takes to stalking both she and her burly fiancé. Henry beats him up.
Events reach their grim conclusion at the old quarry when, with a superhuman effort, Joe dislodges a huge boulder, intending for it to crush the life out of his rival. It takes a nasty deflection on the way down ..

A. E. D. Smith – The Coat: On a cycling holiday in France, the narrator stops off to mend a puncture at a deserted chateau near Vosges where he is seen off by an animated coat. He later learns that it belonged to a sadistic murderer in Napoleon’s army whose own daughter was obliged to shoot him in the back.

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Shivers

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

Charles Lloyd (ed) – Shivers (Phillip Allan, 1933)

[image]

Many thanks to Raymond Russell and Rosalie Parker of Tartarus Press and the excellent Supernatural Fiction Database for kindly granting me permission to use this cover scan.

H. R. Wakefield – The 17th Hole at Duncaster
Charles Lloyd – An Eye for an Eye
Tod Robbins – Wild Wullie the Waster
Mrs. Everett – The Death Mask
Elliott O’Donnell – The Ghost in the Ring
Philip Murray – The Poplar Tree
H. R. Wakefield – “And He Shall Sing…”
Tod Robbins – Who Wants a Green Bottle?
Elliott O’Donnell – The Tank of Death

H. R. Wakefield – The Seventeenth Hole At Duncaster: A golf club on the Norfolk coast. The course has recently been extended at the expense of a strip of woodland, but members complain the hole is unplayable and a particularly foul stench periodically emanates from the vicinity. The secretary, Mr. Baxter, suffers nightmares in which he is gloatingly informed of who will be next to die at the 17th, and the voices are never wrong. After a woman is stripped and murdered by persons unknown at the blighted spot, he wisely obtains a transfer to London, where he later learns that ‘Blood Wood’ – as it is known locally – was once the haunt of Druids.

Charles Birkin – An Eye For An Eye: Dr. Peters’ daughter, Angela, is raped and murdered on Wimbledon Common, the finer details of the crime being too ghastly to be divulged to the press. The finger of suspicion points at Peters’ chauffeur, George Yarrow, but he walks from the court a free man as there is no concrete evidence against him. Peters gives him his old job back and bides his time until such evidence is forthcoming. When Yarrow’s embittered lover, Nelly Torr, comes out of a coma, she gives him enough detail to hang the wretch, but Dr. Peters isn’t about to let him off that lightly.

Mrs. Everett – The Death Mask: Gloriana Enderby is fanatically opposed to second marriages. On her deathbed she requests that her husband, Tom, covers her face with a particular handkerchief she values among her possessions.
After the funeral Tom sets his cap at the new neighbours’ daughter, Lucy Ashcroft. When they become engaged Gloriana haunts them, the image of her face forming upon hankies and sheets. When it glowers at them from the tablecloth as they’re attempting to dine, Lucy throws in the towel.

H. R. Wakefield – “And He Shall Sing …”: “A foul and deadly stench filled the room … he saw that that Something was naked, livid, and that blood was streaming jerkily from its rotting lips.”

Mr. Kato approaches Mr. Cheltenham with a book of Japanese verse which he is desperate to see published. Cheltenham realises he has a masterpiece on his hands, but can it really be the work of the semi-literate Kato and, if not, what’s happened to the man who really wrote it? Come to that, why is he always seeing a small black figure out of the corner of his eye these days?

Buried underneath Wakefield’s usual sarcasm, a truly grim story surreptitiously claws its way to the surface.

Tod Robbins – Wild Wullie the Waster: Branstaun Tower, Scotland. A pointless argument during a billiards match leads to the premature ends of Wild Wullie Campbell and his friend Roderick Dingwall. As ghosts the “doddering old fossils” hide away in the attic by day and enjoy nightly billiards, but then the new owners arrive …
Delightful. It’s like some kind of literary precursor to the Shiver & Shake comic strip!

Elliott O’Donnell – The Ghost in the Ring: Prize fighter Jim Rogers disposes of his next opponent Eddy O’Malley by nudging him into a quicksands. Two years later O’Malley’s ghost comes to the assistance of a novice who is fighting Rogers for the Californian heavyweight championship.

Philip Murray – The Poplar Tree: Her late husband planted the tree and, at first, it was a comfort to her in her solitude. Of late it’s started to creep her out. So she instructs the gardener to chop it down …

Elliott O’Donnell – The Tank of Death: Dick ‘The Snake’ Driscoll, an ex-rugby international now gentleman thief, is hired by Prof. Carleras to steal a document from a house in Maida Vale. Driscoll’s friend Marcelle Garteau takes a job at The Herrings as a maid, fending off her lecherous employer for a fortnight until her mission is accomplished. A freak injury prevents Driscoll from taking the papers to Carleras, so Marcelle goes in his stead. Unfortunately for her, the professor has no intention of settling his debt and he doesn’t want any living witnesses to the theft either …

Part crime caper, part love story and just the one moment of horror to warrant it’s inclusion in the book, this is a more enjoyable read than The Ghost In The Ring.

Tod Robbins – Who Wants A Green Bottle?: Scotland. The Laird of Kilgour’s deathbed confession. When his miserly Uncle Peter died, Kilgour gleefully partied the old skinflint’s fortune away. One Halloween he sees a tiny man trying to make away with a gold coin. Trapping him under a tumbler, he extracts from his uncle (for it is his spirit) a wish and is soon given a guided tour of Hell. He learns that, to avoid the torments of the pit, the soul must be contained in a green bottle at the moment of death.

Plenty of potential for horror, but this is Robbins at his most whimsical.

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Creeps

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

Charles Lloyd (ed.) – Creeps (Phillip Allan,1932)

000a1creeps2
Thanks to Rog Pile for providing this scan

Tod Robbins – Silent, White, & Beautiful
H. R. Wakefield – The Red Lodge
Elliott O’Donnell – The Ghost Table
Tod Robbins – Spurs
H. R. Wakefield – “He Cometh And He Passeth By”
Philip Murray – The Charnel House
Elliott O’Donnell – A Wager And A Ghost
Charles Lloyd – The Last Night
Tod Robbins – Cockrow Inn

Tod Robbins – Silent, White And Beautiful: New York. Confession of sculptor Rene Galien as he awaits execution in the electric chair. Having been tricked into marriage to her daughter Louise by the conniving Madame Fabien, Rene poisons both, encases them both in clay and creates the finest statue of his career. But it’s not quite the finished article. “It was shortly after this that I began to visit the park. With bags of candy in my pocket, I soon made friends with a multitude of children”. A little boy and girl are added to ‘the Happy Family’. Galen decides that the finishing touch will be a husband for Louise. When a detective calls, investigating the disappearance of the infants, the sculptor is already sizing him up as the final component for his creation when he upsets M. Fabien on her pedestal and her plaster shell shatters to pieces on the floor.

H. R. Wakefield – The Red Lodge: The narrator, his wife Mary and son Tim move into the old Queen Anne house of the title, rented from an unscrupulous estate agent, Wilkes, who turns a blind eye to the numerous tragic deaths associated with the property. Before long the new residents are subjected to all manner of supernatural manifestations, beginning with the slime trodden into the carpets of many of the rooms by persons unseen and the recurrent apparition of a ‘green monkey’ sprinting toward the pond. Legend has it that, back in the early eighteenth century, the then owner brided his servants to terrify his wife to death. They succeeded all too well, and one night she ran from the house and drowned herself. Her husband wasted no time in installing a harem at the lodge, but one by one his lovers followed her example. And so it has continued to the present day.

Apparently the first ghost story Wakefield ever wrote, this has endured as a genuine creepy classic. As with all but two of his contributions to the series, The Red Lodge was reprinted from his excellent collection They Return At Evening (Philip Allan, 1928).

Tod Robbins – Spurs: Famously, the basis for Todd Browning’s infinitely scarier Freaks. Copo’s Circus. “She loved Simon LaFleur: but she well knew this Romeo in tights would never espouse a dowerless girl”, so when the 28-inch tall Jacques Courbe proposes to her, bareback rider Jean-Marie agrees to marry him as a means of getting her hands on his inheritance. The truth emerges in a drunken moment at the wedding feast and the humiliated Jacques ensures her life is a living hell from then on. A fine story in its own right, but don’t expect the notorious chicken woman episode from the movie as the punishment the dwarf inflicts on his gold-digging wife is one of degradation as opposed to vivisection.

Elliott O’Donnell – A Wager And A Ghost: Valladolid. Luzan challenges fellow medical student Juan de Garez to spend a night alone in the dissecting room at St. Fernando Hospital. It is agreed that he will remain there from 11 at night until 4 in the morning whereupon Luzan and their mutual friends Hervada and Suarez will come and release him. Juan’s only conditions are that he is allowed a fire and they give their solemn oath that they’ll not play a trick on him. Luzan gives his word when, of course, he’s already instigated his macabre prank in collusion with the night-watchman. Unfortunately, he’d not counted on the corpse of a murderer, Enrique Geraldo, being laid out in the dissecting room the previous day.

H. R. Wakefield – ‘He Cometh And He Passeth By’: A clever reworking of M. R. James’ Casting The Runes. London, in and around Shaftsbury Avenue and Museum Street. Oscar Clinton (a thinly veiled Aleister Crowley) is a master Satanist, incorrigible sponger, ruiner of women and patron of the Chorazin Club. Philip, fearful that Clinton will abuse his friends’ good nature as he has his own, veto’s his application to join ‘Ye Ancient Mysteries’ – “it meets once a month and discusses famous mysteries of the past – the Marie Celeste, the ‘MacLachlan case’, and so on with a flippant but scholarly zeal” – and, when the black magician learns of this, he sics a demon on him via a curious paper doll he sends him in the post. Philip’s friend, Edward Bellamy is unable to save him from the huge, shadowy form so instead vows to destroy Clinton.

Charles Lloyd – The Last Night: “It’s to be our secret, my dear. You understand that, don’t you? If you tell anyone that I shall come, I’ll kill you.” Meryham Mental Home. Nora, who is to be freed tomorrow after three years incarceration, pleads with the staff not to let Dr. Morris come anywhere near her. She can’t get Dr. Patterson to listen to her, and nurse tells her to stop being a naughty girl or they’ll keep her in indefinitely. In the early hours, Dr. Morris pays her a visit. After hypnotizing her he sets out to prove that “pain exists only in the imagination.” Out comes the scalpel …

Philip Murray – The Charnel House: Henry Vokes is a mortuary assistant. One night he admits a ghoulish thrill-seeker to watch him embalming one lucky corpses and muses: “I wonder if I shall come to this myself?” When he dies, he gets to find out, as he remains conscious throughout the whole procedure, right down to the lid being screwed shut on his coffin.

Elliott O’Donnell – The Ghost Table: Val buys the fiendish furniture in an Earl’s Court antique store at a ridiculously reasonable price. He is particularly impressed with the finely carved legs which end in clawed feet. The first night they have it, the heavy oak table goes on the rampage, trashing the drawing room. The second, and the cat, Miggles, is “literally pounded to pieces”. It is not so much a ‘Ghost Table’ as a possessed one, animated during a seance by a professor experimenting in telekinesis.

Tod Robbins – Cock-Crow Inn: On Halloween night, the notorious pirate Whitechapel Willie climbs down from the gallows and sets off for the village of Wishbone Point to avenge himself on Hangman Tibbit and steal from him his girl, Nancy Greer, the innkeeper’s daughter. He’s been swinging for twenty days and the crows have modified his looks, but then Nancy always was sweet on him. Although Tibbet survives, Nancy is a madwoman from that day forth and the Tibbet family are cursed to be born with elongated necks. It’s widely held amongst the villagers that Nancy is entirely to blame: if she’d only attended the burning of witch Anna Mulvane that night as a good Christian woman should then none of it would have happened.

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