Your Daily NEL: New English Library

Cheap and Nasty Seventies Horror Pulp

Errol Lecale – Castledoom

Posted by demonik on October 7, 2007

Errol Lecale – Castledoom; Specialist #2 (Nel, Jan., 1974)

 

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Glenballoch, Scottish Highlands. In the sixteenth century, Chieftain Red Rory MacGlennie was duped into selling his soul to the Devil. From that day forth he was accompanied by an all-seeing raven, Clootie, and his already brutal nature took a turn for the sadistic. When Clootie informs him that his wife, Fiona, is having an affair with inoffensive young scholar Donald Og he demonstrates his cruelty, blinding the boy with his sword then falling upon his wife and hacking her down, cutting off a breast and toasting it on the fire for he and his familiar to share. With her dying breath, Fiona curses her husband that he will never know rest until he has been quartered and the pieces buried in four separate parishes.

Donald Og survives his mutilation to tell the MacLeans what Red Rory of the abominations Red Rory has performed on their kinswoman. They retaliate by drugging the Chieftain’s drink, tying him to a chair and walling him up alive in the dungeon of Castledoom, lobbing in his infernal bird before the last brick is laid.

Cut to the present day (it’s difficult to tell when that is supposed to be: it doesn’t seem to be the nineteen-seventies) and Ewan MacGlennie, Laird of Glenballoch and master of Castledoom is preparing to wed the haughty, schooled Lady Morag MacLean. During construction work at the castle, the sealed room is opened and out burst Red Roger and his cawing sidekick. Within a short time of their escape three young women – all of them MacLeans – are set upon, and in the worst instance, one of the victims is left with a red scar that encircles her breast. Red Rory is gaining in power the longer he remains at liberty. What is there to be done?

Laird MacGlennie wisely travels down to London and seeks the assistance of – the Specialist!

****

I’ll say this for Mr. Lecale. He gives good gruesome murder. Once Red Rory is reacquainted with his magical brooch and dagger he makes a terrifying adversary, tearing open bodies and ripping out the internal organs whenever he feels peckish. After his beard and kilt are set ablaze he’s more disgusting to look upon than ever – which is bad news for Lady Morag, him having taken such a shine to her that he wants a quick snog before her tears out her intestines and feeds her eyes to Clootie!

On this performance, Eli Podgram is the ego-tripping glory seeker of the trio as he makes as many bad calls as good and without Hugo’s bravery and resourcefulness the ghoul would have decimated the village population to just himself and Clootie. Mara twice saves Morag’s life, on the first occasion grabbing her by the hair and yanking her back into the room when the fiend has nearly enticed her to jump from the window (the spookiest moment in the novel).

See also Vault’s The Specialist thread.

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