Stephen Jones (ed.) - The Mammoth Book of Terror (Robinson. 1991)
Introduction:Talking Terror - Stephen Jones
Clive Barker - The Last Illusion David J. Schow - Bunny Didn’t Tell Us Hugh B. Cave - Murgunstrumm - Dennis Etchison - The Late Shift Lisa Tuttle - The Horse Lord R. Chetwynd-Hayes - The Jumpity-Jim Ramsey Campbell - Out Of Copyright Karl Edward Wagner - The River Of Night’s Dreaming Basil Copper - Amber Print Brian Lumley - The House Of The Temple Robert Bloch - The Yugoslaves David Campton - Firstborn Manly Wade Wellman - The Black Drama Charles L. Grant - Crystal F. Paul Wilson - Buckets David A. Riley - The Satyr’s Head Stephen Laws - Junk Graham Masterton - Pig’s Dinner
Perhaps it's because of their size, but I've not really followed this series like I thought I would the first time I treated myself to a Mammoth. Some are stronger than others - I remember being disappointed with the "Dracula" one - but this is a neat selection indeed.
Robert Bloch - The Yugoslaves: A youthful gang pick the pocket of an old man in Paris (an old friend of ours, as it happens). He's not worried about losing cash and credit cards, but his wallet contained a ruby-studded key of much importance. He forces one of the rogues to take him to the Fagin wannabe's hideout - the sewers - where he witnesses the gang rape of a girl of six and finds himself on the wrong end of Mr. Big's revolver. He's starting to get annoyed now. And there sure are an awful lot of rats down there ...
The story has been so grim and realistic up until now that it comes as a shock - and a disappointment - when Bloch let's on that the aged fellow is none other than .. an old friend of ours.
Hugh B. Cave - Murgunstrumm: The Gray Toad Inn is home to the ghoul Murgunstrumm and partner Marionaire - a vampire - who do away with any young woman they get their claws and fangs into. Only Paul and his fiance Ruth have ever escaped their clutches, but were each placed in an asylum when they told of their terrifying experiences. Paul is now on the run and has lured the psychiatrists who committed him to the Inn so that they can experience the horrors of the place first hand. Meanwhile, Ruth has affected her own escape and is heading for the same destination ...
Charles L. Grant - Crystal: An old woman, rejuvenated by every death she instigates.
Basil Copper - Amber Print: Silent movie buffs Blenkinsop and Carter locate an impossibly rare cut of The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari which includes some mighty sadistic scenes which didn't survive the cutting room floor. They are pursued to their doom by Caligari and Cesare.
Stephen Laws - Junk: A strange guy comes to Frank McLaren's scrapyard with a list of bizarre and morbid requests: the rear seat from an Anglia in which the passenger died, preferably decapitated: An unruptured petrol tank from a Datsun Cherry, one child fatality required, etc.
McClaren tolerates the man's sick shopping lists but comes the day when he can't provide a particular piece and he decides to fob him off with an ordinary windscreen (as opposed to that in which a victim suffered damage to their eyes). The customer sees through the deception and Frank brains him with a spanner then shoves his body inside a wreck destined for the crusher. Stranger and car are merged into a solid four foot cube which the murderer dumps in the centre of the yard. That's when his problems begin ...
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.