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John Hadfield – A Chamber Of Horrors

Posted by demonik on June 29, 2007

John Hadfield (ed.) – A Chamber Of Horrors (Fontana, 1967)

Chamber Of Horrors

T F Powys – The Hunted Beast
Charles Dickens – Captain Murderer
Ray Bradbury – The Small Assassin
Edgar Allan Poe – Berenice
Evelyn Waugh – Mr Loveday’s Little Outing
John Lennon – Randolf’s Party
John Collier – The Tender Age
John Wyndham – More Spinned Against
Leonid Andreyev – The Abyss
William Sansom – A Woman Seldom Found
M G Lewis – Extract from ‘Ambrosio’ or ‘The Monk’
P.S – An Actor of Parts
Samuel Warren – The Spectre-Smitten
Villiers de L’Isle-Adam – The Desire to be a Man
Charlotte Perkins Gilman – The Yellow Wallpaper
William Fryer Harvey – Miss Cornelius
Angus Wilson – Mummy to the Rescue
Grahame Greene – A Little Place off the Edgware Road
J Sheridan Le Fanu – Green Tea
F Marion Crawford – The Upper Berth
Clifford Simak – Skirmish
Ambrose Bierce – A Tough Tussle
D B Wyndham Lewis – Envoi

A neat anthology also featuring several snippets of poetry, illustrations and a few pages of b/w plates. thanks to Rog Pile of The Haunted Dolls House for the cover scan.

T. F. Powys – The Hunted Beast : Mr. Walter Gidden, Vicar of East Dodder, is so appalled at witnessing three children torturing a rabbit in a trap, that he attacks one of them and beats her to death. Horrified at what he’s done, still he’s determined not to be taken alive and drowns a puppy when it threatens to give him away – the first time he’s ever harmed an animal in his life. ‘Harrowing’ doesn’t really do it justice.

‘P.S’ – An Actor Of Parts: Ernie becomes so engrossed in the roles he plays that he becomes them. It first occurs when he plays the Demon King, making him unbearable for his family to live with. He’s more amenable during his stint as Puss in Dick Whittington, but he comes to a dreadful end when he returns home after his first night as the lead in Mother Goose …

W. Fryer Harvey – Miss Cornelius: Scientist Andrew Saxton is asked by friends to investigate possible poltergeist activity at their home in Meadowfield Terrace. His conclusion – that their house guest, Miss Cornelius, perhaps unconsciously, is responsible for launching the flying cutlery and what have you when nobody’s looking – earns him the elderly woman’s emnity, and soon similar incidents are occurring in his own home. When a tube of sulphuric acid is lobbed in his direction, he catches his wife Molly in the act of throwing it … or thinks he does. Whatever strange powers the thoroughly evil Miss Cornelius possesses, she refuses to leave the Saxons alone and takes to stalking Andrew. It all comes to a head when Andrew takes his impossibly patient wife to be seen by a psychiatrist …

Evelyn Waugh – Mr. Loveday’s little Outing: Despite a terrible crime in his youth – he throttled a woman cyclist – Mr. Loveday has been a model patient at the County Asylum, so much so that Angela takes him for a member of staff when first she meets him(he’s been acting as her father, Lord Moping’s secretary, his Lordship having attempted to hang himself with his braces rather than attend Lady Moping’s garden party). Angela campaigns on the old boy’s behalf and secures his release …

Edgar Allan Poe – Berenice: Any story which begins with the lines; “Misery is manifold. The Wretchedness of Earth is multiform” isn’t going to be a bundle of laughs.
An almost-vampire story, by virtue of the narrator’s fixation with the doomed heroine’s immaculate teeth. Berenice suffers from catalepsy and is duly entombed alive. After she’s been consigned to the vault her cousin awakens from “a confused and exciting dream” …

John Collier – The Tender Age: Patty, the Parson’s six year old daughter has taken a shine to Mr. Renvil just back from Africa with his tales of cannibals and everything. Maybe she’d like to accompany him on a walk in the woods? Oh, go along, encourages her father. Won’t be seeing much of Patty again, that’s for sure.

Ray Bradbury – The Small Assassin: The little boy’s birth is a troublesome one and nearly kills his young mother, Alice Leiber. When Alice confides to husband David that the tiny tot is evil and confesses to having considered killing it, he consults Dr. Jeffers. Jeffers offers him glib reassurance that it’s perfectly natural that Alice should feel that way after her near-death experience and the series of accidents that have recently befallen the couple. So that’s alright then.

Charles Dickens – Captain Murderer: God, how I detested this on first acquaintance all those years ago! And now … its not so bad, certainly far less twee than the unforgivable Story Of The Goblins Who Stole a Sexton. Captain Murderer is a Bluebeard type with a neat trick. Once wed, he gets his brides to roll him out a huge pastry little realising they’re going to provide the filling.

Villiers De L’Isle Adam – The Desire To Be A Man: The actor Chaudval has reached the age of fifty and now the grey hairs are sprouting he’s decided to retire from the stage and take up the post of lighthouse-keeper. But first, he wants to feel remorse. All great men feel remorse and all are haunted by the ghosts of their victims. So he sets a massive conflagration in which a hundred innocents are burnt to death and twice that number ruined. But it doesn’t work.

D. B. Wyndham-Lewis – Envoi: The obscenely cheerful squire tortures his guests at Merryweather Hall with five days of enforced Christmas “fun” until sleep-deprivation pushes young Ebbing and Crafter over the edge. They murder him to popular approval.

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