Excuse the obsessive, sub-sub-Bleiler running commentaries, but we are talking two ongoing series' here and, without a guide book, won't know where I am with either come FC #8. Obviously, not having yet seen #6, there's plenty to catch up on, but didn't find it too difficult to follow the plots of either story, and had a morbidly entertaining time with both.
Craig Herbertson - The Death Tableaux: chapters 3 & 4: Professor Annie Peralis, a respected antiquarian in her early 'thirties, lost her brilliant husband, Conrad, to a Mountaineering accident near Glencoe - he wandered away from the main party with a girl he was trying to impress. Annie has come to terms with her bereavement, and is finally emerging from Conrad's shadow. She has no idea of the fate of their daughter, Kirsty, fifteen, who was taken from her at birth because Conrad couldn't be doing with a child born out of wedlock, no matter that it was his own. Evidently the mysterious Kennedy is better informed, which, Annie supposes, is why she's shown the woman a deal more tolerance than she might, to the point of baby-sitting her Ka, "a giant imbecile," though why she should be asked to do so is as yet unclear.
Prof. Peralis keeps an appointment with potential client Bower, the reclusive grandson of a long-dead occultist, who, down on his luck and living in a beat-up caravan, is selling off the family silver. Bower is an invalid of six months - he lost the use of his legs when person unknown deliberately ran over him as he left the pub - and living in fear for his life. He cravenly presses his Granddad's silver amulet on the startled Annie in the hope that, as this is what the Cultist's are after, they'll transfer their attentions to her. And so it proves.
In her determination to learn more about Kennedy, Annie follows a lead to a Spiritualist meeting in a Manchester Quaker's Hall, only to come under intense psychic attack from the ghastly guest speaker, a monocled, corpse-like black sorcery merchant, Miss Shadfri by name. Annie finds this so disconcerting, she leaves without stopping to purchase a book bearing the replica of the distinctive talisman on it's cover.
Back at the home of Jamie, her colleague and potential love interest, the attack on Annie is renewed with a vengeance, and it takes all of her will to resist its obscene influence, which is really bad news for a neighbourhood cat ....
Am fascinated how the complete set of Wallace Wood's 'Mars Attacks' trading cards fit into all this, as am sure they do. Am look forwarding to further instalments (and catching up on that I missed).
David A. Riley - Sendings: Chapters 5-7: Self-styled "hack historical novelist" Oliver Atcheson is unusually elusive when his friend, Morgan Davies, asks about the legends attached to the vast seventeenth countryside century mansion he's recently purchased at a ridiculously low price. Beyond a curt dismissal of the local horror stories told about the place, he doesn't want to talk about it. Atcheson, recently recovered from a breakdown, is renovating the property for use as an artists commune.
Bob, genial landlord of The Hare And Hounds, is more forthcoming. The "Haunted House" stood vacant for two decades after the Murdock family's rapid departure, and the surrounding woods have a dreadful reputation. Teb, the village wino, maintains that it was the touch of "something hard and brittle and dry" brought on the stroke that put an end to his poaching days. Of course, Bob pays no heed to such preposterous mumbo jumbo and, besides, Mr. Atcheson has suffered no ill harm since he took up residence, so no cause for alarm.
Some months later, Morgan and wife Winnie accept Oliver's invitation to spend the weekend At Elm Tree House and meet his fellow creatives. These include Howard Brinsley, a temperamental but good-natured painter, Hazel Metcalfe, enigmatic poet, Tom Bexley, hale and hearty sculptor, and his wife, Alicia, who's taken on the role of house-keeper. Winnie loves the house but not the woods which have an oppressive, even disturbing aura about them. She's not best please that Morgan failed to mention the discovery of a strange artefact in the cellar. "The brass feet of Moloch" - Oliver dates them to the Roman conquest - suggest the basement of Yew Tree House once served as a Satanic Temple.
With Oliver still ratty on the subject, the Davies' launch their own investigation, inviting the village Librarian Mr Nevil Wilkes to a pub lunch. Mr. Wilkes, a keen local historian, explains that Elm Tree House was built by Sir Robert Tollbridge, a thoroughly bad egg, on the site of a medieval Monastery. During the twelfth century, amid allegations of sadism and Devil worship, the Monks were taken out and lynched in Elm Tree Wood, and their chapel burned to the ground. The Abbot came off even worse, hung, drawn and quartered in the village square, his remains suspended in a cage until they vanished during a terrible storm. He and a "twig-shinned phantom" abroad in the woods are reputedly one and the same entity.
Wilkes assures them it's not Oliver's new home has the evil name, but the surrounding wood, where several murders have been committed. But has he told them the whole story?
What a super issue. Good on the Filthies!
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.