Gruesome Cargoes

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

Posts Tagged ‘Phillip Allan’

L. A. Lewis – Tales Of The Grotesque

Posted by demonik on May 13, 2009

L. A. Lewis – Tales Of The Grotesque: Uneasy Tales (Philip Allan, 1934)

L A Lewis Tales Of The Grotesque

L A Lewis Tales Of The Grotesque

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

Lost Keep
Hybrid
The Tower Of Moab
The Child
The Dirk
The Chords Of Chaos
The Meerschaum Pipe
Haunted Air
The Iron Swine
Animate In Death

“Squadron Leader Leslie Allin Lewis (1899-1961) was a veteran of both world wars, flying Sopwith Camels over France in 1918 and Hurricanes over England in 1940. He was also one of the best writers in the macabre and supernatural genre between wars. A collection of his unusual and excellent stories was published in 1934 under the title Tales Of The Grotesque.

From Richard Dalby’s introduction to Haunted Air in The Mammoth Book Of Ghost Stories 2, 1977.

Officially a Creep, a modern edition, edited by Richard Dalby was published by the Ghost Story Press in 1994, and includes what seems to be L(eslie) A. Lewis’s only other contribution to horror fiction, The Author’s Tale – ghosts get down to some serious bondage and caning fun (!) – from Christine Campbell Thomson’s Terror By Night. Prior to that, the excellent Hugh Lamb had revived a few of the stories for his anthologies.

The Child: The narrator, a city boy and motorcyclist – though not, as he hastens to point out, the type “that carries a leggy flapper on the pinion and sports a cigarette holder a yard long”: What’s the matter with him? – investigates an alleged haunting at a gamekeepers cottage in the woods near ‘Wailing Dip’. Some years before, a woman who’d murdered her children had escaped from the local asylum and was last seen near the site. She was heavily pregnant at the time. The woman is presumed dead down a pot hole, but who or what has been stealing poultry from the village these past years and what did a poacher see that scared him to death?

The Meerschaum Pipe: The narrator moves into ‘Heroney’, the former country residence of Harper who butchered several women and buried them in the surrounding fields. Or rather, parts of them:

“The most revolting feature of the murders was his habit of severing the head and limbs and leaving them on the scene for identification, while carrying away the trunk for addition to a sort of museum …”

In between visits to the Vicarage and brushing up on his golf handicap, the new squire takes to smoking Harper’s best pipe. The discovery of a gypsy girl’s mutilated remains in Arningham Woods signals a new reign of terror …

Hybrid: In his youth Chambers was plagued by nightmares which a clairvoyant later convinced him were flashbacks from a previous life when he was an adept black magician. when Chambers marries and takes up home in Sussex he realises that this is where his diabolical incarnation practiced evil and the adjoining field is where he was burnt at the stake. his familiar, a raven-like bird, gradually takes him over until – as his devoted wife explains to Dr. Cole – “His body is mad, but his mind is sane”. chambers degenerates into a hopping, squawking sex maniac and ravishes his wife. Dr. Cole eventually gets a specialist to take care of him but in the meantime Mrs. Chambers gives birth …

The Tower Of Moab: “A veritable flock of ghoulish wraiths whirling about a young girl who stood on the kerb, wearing on her face a look of desperation that spoke of private tragedy … She uttered a ghastly, sobbing scream and hurled herself with a kind of boneless wriggle under the wheels of a lorry.”

A salesman, down on his luck, is fascinated by a huge yellow structure began by a religious cult eighty years earlier as their answer to the Tower of Babel. Fascinated and at a loose end, he jacks in his job and takes a room at the local inn where he can drink himself insensible while investigating the tower. As he sinks further into Whiskey oblivion, he becomes aware of the Devils and Angels flitting about the top of the column until the latter descend on the unwitting public en masse, tormenting them with their sins. Eventually his own demons appear and he’s taken away to a lunatic asylum.

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 …

Haunted Air: “Apart from its extraordinary shade of pulsating, unnatural green, the object was quite evidently not a bird, and he might momentarily have dubbed it a grotesque toy balloon … but for the fact that it was so obviously – and somehow horribly alive. Carr described it as resembling a monstrous monkey, clambering with incredible speed up an invisible rope.”

A series of mysterious light aircraft crashes claim the lives of a succession of experienced pilots and their passengers. Ace record-breaker Pitchmann sneers at Carr’s death, dismissing him as an amateur and a lightweight, and takes to the skies in unpromising weather to prove how great he is. Meanwhile at the bar, Beckett gives his alarming take on the recent tragedies.

Vault of Evil’s Tales of the Grotesque thread.

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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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Shivers

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

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

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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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