Saturday, June 11, 2011

Christopher Lee's New Chamber Of Horrors

Peter Haining (ed.) - Christopher Lee's New Chamber Of Horrors, (Souvenir, 1974: Mayflower [2 vols.], 1976)

C. Lee; reluctant as ever to exploit his despised 'Dracula'/ Hammer credentials.

Introduction - Christopher Lee

E. F. Benson - The Room In The Tower
M. R. James - Count Magnus
Mary Shelley - The Transformation
Bram Stoker - The Burial Of The Rats
Sax Rohmer - The Whispering Mummy
Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle - The Leather Funnel
Arthur Machen - Out Of The Earth
Lord Dunsany - The Magician
Algernon Blackwood - The Empty Sleeve
H. P. Lovecraft - The Thing On The Doorstep
Robert Bloch - Return To The Sabbath
Fritz Leiber - Four Ghosts In Hamlet
John Collier - The Devil, George And Rosie
Ray Bradbury - The October Game
Dennis Wheatley - A Life For A Life
Richard Matheson - No Such Thing As A Vampire

About Christopher Lee - Peter Haining

"Christopher Lee, the 'Crown Prince of Terror' certainly knows a monster when he sees one! ... Herein are not only his favourite tales of fright, but a discussion of his own career and the important part horror plays in it" enthuses (presumably) Peter Haining on the inside cover blurb. A class if, again, over familiar collection with a 14 page photo-insert, the bulk of the contents have already been given the treatment on here. My guess is that many of these were Lee's choices whereas the selections in his anthologies with Michel Parry were most likely picked by his co-editor. Ray Bradbury's The October Game, wherein a man realises that the only way he can get back at his despised wife is through their daughter, remains one of the most shocking horror stories I've ever read. Bloch is less jokey than usual in his story of a film star who upsets his fellow Black Magicians by incorporating some of their secrets into his movies. Collier's The Devil, George and Rosie is too whimsical to be horrible, but fun for all that. No such problem with Conan-Doyle's The Leather Funnel, once lauded by Hugh Lamb for its "pointless cruelty". The Burial Of The Rats is memorable for its chase scene conducted in near silence, while A Life For A Life catches Wheatley in uniquely boring non-fiction mode. The vampire content - Matheson, E. F. Benson and James - is impeccable. The three i need to re-read are the Rohmer, Leiber and Machen for, despite scoring them highly in my tragic red asterisk/ blue asterisk/ no asterisk phase, i can no longer remember a damn thing about them.

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