Mary Danby (ed.) - The 9th Fontana Book Of Great Horror Stories (Fontana, 1975)
"Tales of Tingling Terror, by 15 Experts in Evil!"
Evelyn Waugh - The Man Who Liked Dickens Joyce Marsh - Tomorrow's Child Joseph Payne Brennan - The Horror At Chilton Castle Hugh Walpole - The Silver Mask Elizabeth Fancett - Dark Dream Rosemary Timperley - The Bandaged Man Charlotte Perkins Gilman - The Yellow Wallpaper Rick Ferriera - The Girl From Tomango Thomas Burke - The Hollow Man Roger F. Dunkley - Miss Brood's Speciality Stuart Cloete - The Second Nail Kay Leigh - The Sanguivites Wilkie Collins - A Terribly Strange Bed Sydney J. Bounds - Homecoming Mary Danby - The Natterjack
Hugh Walpole - The Silver Mask: Kensington, West London. Miss Sonia Herries, 50, falls foul of her good nature when she invites a starving, exceptionally handsome young man into her lavish home when he stops her in the street. Henry Abbott makes no bones of his daily business - "I am a pimp, a thief, a what you like - anything bad" - but he has the nicest smile and a fine eye for beautiful objects like that silver clown's mask on the wall. After a good feed Abbott returns to his starving wife Ada and their baby leaving Miss Herries unmolested, her possessions ditto (save for a valuable cigarette box which he later returns). Over the next weeks he insinuates his way into her life until he and his ghastly relatives have ousted her altogether.
Hints of the supernatural but E. F. Bleiler got it spot on when he classified the story a case of "social vampirism". Needless to say, it's excellent.
Rick Ferriera - The Girl From Tomango: Movie writer Sinclair returns to Tomango to find Lily Carew, the girl he fell in love with when they visited the shunned Turk Island together. She insisted on returning to the mainland alone, but hasn't been seen since. Only one man ever takes a boat across to Turk and that's old Ramos, Lily's father. Why would he maroon his own daughter on such an inhospitable island, where row upon row of carrion crabs, "big as turtles", crucify their victims before stripping their skeletons of meat?
Evelyn Waugh - The Man Who Liked Dickens: Brazil. The hapless Mr. Henty, the sole survivor of the ill-fated Anderson expedition is taken in and cared for by McMasters, an Englishman who has lived in the jungle among the Shiriana Indians for close on sixty years. McMasters is illiterate and his pleasure is having others read to him so - once he has recovered from malaria - the grateful Henty obliges the old boy with some chapters from mouldering copies of Bleak House & Co. Worryingly, he finds his rescuer stoically silent on the subject of his return to civilisation and it is soon clear that McMasters will stop at nothing to preserve his daily dose of Dickens …
Joseph Payne Brennan - The Horror At Chilton Castle: Wexford village, North of England. Brennan, on a working holiday in England, has a chance meeting with William Cowarth, factor of the castle, who informs him that tonight's the night when Frederick, the 13th Earl, must learn the sinister secret of the locked room. Brennan's arrival is providential as another of the blood is required to accompany him, and Frederick's father has recently died. Within, fettered to the wall, awaits Lady Glanville who made a pact with the Devil in the 15th Century. How has she survived that long?
Ramsey Campbell was impressed enough by The Horror At Chilton Castle to include it in his Fine Frights: Stories That Scared Me.
Kay Leigh - The Sanguivites:Larch Cottage, Ashton-Carvel: Meg and John unwittingly discover the ancient shrine of the vampire Sanguivites and plan to sell it for a small fortune to "a chappie from the museum." Said chappie is well impressed: he's only ever heard of one other such sacrificial alter being unearthed, in Hungary, and that one in badly damaged condition. Meg goes out on a dress-buying spree to celebrate, but that night they're paid a visit at home by a party of beautiful strangers. The Sanguivites have decided the shrine is going no place and Meg and John are to be its guardians - or else.
Joyce Marsh - Tomorrow’s Child: Post nuclear holocaust and London is plagued by giant insects. Paul Mandrake, one of the few human’s left in one piece, conceals himself in a shop doorway, determined to survive. Rationalized.
Sydney J. Bounds - Homecoming: Michael Wilde overdoses in the bath after his girlfriend leaves him. He's been a week in the grave and he's not looking or smelling so pleasant when a mad scientist and his assistant dig him up and revive him Frankenstein fashion. Pitchfork wielding villagers pursue his festering corpse to the graveyard. No surprises, but much lovely pus oozing, dripping blue flesh and rotting teeth action in this one.
Rosemary Timperley - The Bandaged Man: Louella Grant, 32, devotes herself to looking after invalid husband Robert, hideously mutilated and bandaged from head to foot after a plane crash. After five years of this selfless drudgery she meets and falls in love with John Maitland. Not wishing to hurt Robert, she conducts the affair in secrecy. But now she’s begun to wish him dead for all their sakes. On New Years Night she finally decides to give nature a hand by drugging her husband and dousing the room in petrol before meeting John at The White Rose. A bandaged man invades the dancefloor.
Elizabeth Fancett - Dark Dream: A woman watches helpless as her surfer husband is picked off by a blue pointer shark.
Roger F. Dunkley - Miss Brood's Speciality: She has premonitions, always gloomy, never wrong. But when she dreams of a tall, dark stranger coming to her in the night she predicts a marriage proposal is imminent. At last, a happy vision! She's wrong.
Mary Danby - The Natterjack: Sprightly sixty-year-old Celia buys Marsh cottage. The late occupant, another old girl, was considered a bit strange locally, on account of her morbid fear of toads. Celia doesn't pay any attention to this silly gossip ... until the day she finds a pumpkin-sized natterjack eying her from the back doorstep. Upset and strangely terrified , she confides her fears to old Jack, the simpleton Gardener with the warty wrists ....
Take it away, Rog!
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. - Christine Campbell Thomson