Morbid Mayflowers

Horror & Supernatural paperbacks ’60’s & ’70’s

Archive for the ‘Boris Karloff’ Category

Michael Avallone – Tales of the Frightened

Posted by demonik on July 16, 2007

Michael Avallone – Tales of the Frightened: Recorded By Boris Karloff (Mayflower-Dell, 1964)

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” Could you drive a drive a stake through the heart of your fiancee if you discovered she was a vampire? (Consider the case of Count Alexis …)
Would you make a bargain with the Devil just for a face that would drive men mad? (Astra Vale did …)”

Radio tie-in. 26 stories, all written by Avallone, and recorded by Karloff for a Mercury LP, each beginning with the line “Are you one of the frightened?” Most of them run just the three or four pages. Difficult to give a flavour without giving the game away, but you’re not denied the usual parade of vampires, mummies, ghosts, witches and doppelgangers,etc. Needless to say, they’re a great laugh.

The Man In The Raincoat, The Deadly Dress, The Hand Of Fate, Don’t Lose Your Head, Call At Midnight, Just Inside The Cemetery, The Fortune Teller, The Vampire Sleeps, Mirror Of Death, Never Kick A Black Cat, The Ladder, Nightmare!, Voice From The Grave, Theda Is Death, The Barking Dog, Defilers Of The Tomb, Terror In The Window, Portrait In Hell, The Graveyard Nine, Say Goodnight To Mr. Sparko, Beware The Bird, The Phantom Soldier, Some Things Shouldn’t Be Seen, You Can Take it With You and Tom, Dick and Horror.

The Man In The Raincoat: Fatty Sylvester Dodge is terrified by a pale faced man with green hands who seems to be pursuing him with, he’s sure, evil intentions. He dodges down a side street and is killed by a falling piano.

Don’t Lose Your Head: Henry Harper awakens in his hotel room in Shanghai to find a beautiful woman sat at a dresser combing her hair. When her comb becomes entangled she lifts her head off her shoulders to release it. He runs screaming into the next room where four Chinese are playing cards. On being told of his experience they chorus “Oh, that! We can all do that!” and do. Henry spends the rest of his days in the sanatorium.

Tom, Dick And Horror: Three brothers, newcomers Greenville, are initiated into the Wood Pirates, a youth’s secret society based in Witch’s Wood. To be considered for membership boys must write their names in blood and then tell the assembled what frightens them most. For Tom, it’s fire. Dick fears water and Harry cemeteries. Next day their bodies are recovered. “Tom died in the blazing inferno of his jalopy when it fell into Carlyle Canyon. Dick drowned in Stillman Lake a few miles away. And late that evening Harry was found in Grove cemetery, sprawled across a headstone near his family plot …” The narrator finishes by offering to initiate the reader into the Cemetery Watchers. We are to meet him in Grove cemetery at midnight. Brrr! I’ll take a rain-check, etc.

The Vampire Sleeps: Bavaria. Count Alexis falls for a tall, dark haired woman when her carriage overturns on the bridge over the Kasne river and he insists that she join him as a guest at his castle. Once they’re married, his health fails and rumours spread among the people that Lady Sonia is a vampire. Alexis eventually trails her to a grave in the meadow where she lies awaiting the night to roam among the peasantry. Only when the Count attempts to put a knife through her does he realise they are now one of a kind.

Never Kick A Black Cat: Felix Darnell, construction worker, falls thirteen floors to his doom after lashing out at a vindictive pussy.

The Deadly Dress: Dolores Martinez’s pretty frock is ruined on the eve of the big wedding on Rivington Street. Her mother spends her last $10 on a cutesy pink number, little realising another girl was buried in it. Dolores dances the night and life away in one of the silliest Tales ….

Defilers Of The Tomb: Egypt. Jonathan Jenkins and his archaeological party are bumped off one by one after discovering a pyramid on a par with that of King Tuthankahmoun’s. the mummy walks and Jenkins is bandaged and enshrined in his place.

Portrait In Hell: Robert Raeburne, an English master, toils over a portrait of Satan giving the arch-fiend his own face. Delighted with his creation he titles it “Blasphemy In Paint”. When they break down his door the following morning, they discover his body, but …

Children Of The Devil: Innisfree, Ireland. Astra Vale is an ugly child until, at the age of twelve, she meets the silent man who invokes the powers of darkness over her. Thereafter she is “the loveliest woman who ever lived”. A year after her marriage to Tom Reilly she bears him a grotesque son and receives a second visit from the dark stranger who mockingly informs him she’s the mother of Satan’s child. Astra knows what she must do to put matters right. she kills the baby with sewing shears then repeatedly drives them into her own face.

Theda Is Death: Carlos Luga, a steward on the freighter Caledonia, is approached nightly by a tall dark man requesting a light for his cigarette. When he’s transferred to the passenger ship Theda the same thing happens. Worse, Luga discovers that the man has his own face! He strangles his doppelganger, killing them both.

Say Goodnight To Mr. Sporko: Little William Weltes sneaks downstairs to spy on his parents and their guests. He witnesses a wild party in full swing attended by strange people in weird clothes, skull-faced and spectral like they belong in the graveyard. he never sees his mum and dad again. Were they dead all along?

The Phantom Soldier: World War II. sergeant Brown is on reconnaissance duty with ten of his men. A machine gun nest spells the end of his party but the plucky sarge rises from the grave to inform Captain Troy of the Nazi’s whereabouts.

The Hand Of Fate: India during a period of famine and plague. Vashtu Singh sees Death in the village and flees to Samarra. But this is where the Grim Reaper has prearranged a meeting with him for the following day.

The Ladder: Gaspand and Francois, a pair of cut-throats, overhear a merchant boasting of his wealth as they debauch in the tavern le Cog D’Or. They follow him home and Gaspard tries to break in via an upstairs window but the merchant runs him through with his sword. Gaspard falls on his accomplice, skewering him through the heart. Moral: don’t walk under ladders.

Nightmare: Bell prison. Lifer John Dag has terrible dreams in which a pair of thick, calloused lumpy hands throttle the life from him. When the prisoner in Cell 13 escapes the nightmare becomes reality.

Beware Of The Bird: Monah Trent, a spinster on Elm Street, lives alone but for Blue-boy, her pet canary. When Mr. Benning unexpectedly proposes marriage, Blueboy is very upset. On her wedding day he pecks her face and she kills him. When she sees the little bird’s corpse she goes insane.

Some Things Shouldn’t Be Seen: New York. Hugo James’ curiosity gets the better of him and he unwisely investigates the scratching noises coming from Mr. Tarbox’s room at a few minutes to midnight every night. Hugo suspects that Mr. Tarbox is a drunk, but he’s something far worse, “a hunched, demoniac nightmare creature with claws for hands, blood red lips drawn back in a fiendish leer exposing pointed horrendous teeth. Giant bat wings fanned out from misshapen shoulders …”
The landlady discovers Hugo’s body the following morning.

The Graveyard Nine: The Ravenswood Ravens baseball team put on a dismal performance against the Melville Hawks but at least they have an excuse. They were killed an hour before the game when their team bus crashed through the safety barrier on Melville Bridge and plunged into the river.

Just Inside The Cemetery: Arthur Wingate, well to do lawyer of Morrisville, comes upon two gravediggers “grimly spading the earth into heaping ugly mounds” and wonders who the grave is for. that night he is compelled to return to the cemetery where a coffin awaits him. “Sprawled across the tab in a spidery hand were the words ‘ARTHUR WINGATE 1907-1964’. He saw no more. A hideous scream ripped his throat and he pitched forward into the empty box, the lid slamming down behind him, shutting him in.”

Thanks, yet again, to Justin for providing the scan of what must be the most inappropriate cover art this book would ever warrant.

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Posted in Boris Karloff, Mayflower Horror, Michael Avallone | 3 Comments »