Jory Sherman – Chill (Nel, 1979: originally Sepulchre: Chill #2, Pinnacle,1978)
Patty and Tom were delighted when they inherited the old mansion in Louisiana. But their delight rapidly turned to fear, and then blind terror as the house took over their lives.
Whenever Patty looked at the building, the ground seemed to move and she felt giddy and faint. Then their beautiful daughter Joan fell into a coma and they knew that the drama was just beginning. The house became alternatively icy cold and stifling hot. And as Joan ‘slept’, a terrible creeping slime worked its way into her I.V. drip.
Psychic Investigator Russell Chillders had come to attend a birthday party; he stayed to perform an exorcism …
The second of (I think) seven Dr. Russell “Chill” Chillders adventures and up until now its done exactly what it says on the cover. Patty Brunswick keels over every time she turns around to look at the Grandier mansion (so why look?) and after yet another turn, Moses Petitjean, the gardener who the Brunswicks inherited with house, flips out, points at Patty’s daughter Joan and accuses her of knowing what’s going on. She immediately falls into a coma which her GP, Dr. Morgan, diagnoses as hibernation. Luckily, this happens on the eve of her sixteenth birthday and Chill has been invited along by her dad. As yet, his telepathic, sometimes other-half Laura Littlefawn hasn’t put in an appearance – quite a result, as it happens, with gorgeous Kim Micheals, Bob’s administrative assistant, all over him like a rash.
Chill has already worked out that the cause of all these faintings and comas is some form of evil spirit. He visits out Moses at his junkyard hovel to gently grill him. The gardener lets slip that there is a Grandier family crypt cunningly concealed in the trees over yonder, and begs our phantom fighter to stay away from it.
Sex, you’ll be delighted to hear, has reared its ugly head. Tom Brunswick, big-shot TV producer by day, alcoholic dexy-guzzler by night, has been drunkenly necking teenage older- man fetishist Ginger Branson. Wife Patty catches him in the act before things can get out of hand. Meanwhile, tormented by Kim’s boobs “rising, full and round as melons out of the bodice of her negligee”, Chill finally succumbs and climbs out of his pyjamas. Hardly has the wrestling match on the bed got underway than in bursts Patty with her tale of woe and, simultaneously, the phone rings. Its Laura Littlefawn (star of the book, no question) who has been following the action telepathically and decided to offer Chill a little vocal support.
For Ginger’s dad, Ozzie, it is all too much and he confronts his daughter over her continual slaggy behaviour. The trouble is, he fancies her himself and it’s getting worse as his wife’s been perma-drunk for five years. Their row gets heated and Ozzie pummels her. As Ozzie, filled with remorse, throws up down the toilet, Ginger runs off into the woods. Toward the Grandier vault. Toward the swamp.
After 90 pages I didn’t hold out too much expectation for Chill but with Ginger’s disappearance, Sherman gets down to business and before you know it we’re in full-blown The Exorcist/ Amityville Horror territory with a splendid creeping vine rampage to top it off. Even our hero is bamboozled by who is behind the possession which is in some way connected to Urbaine Grandier and the Nuns of Loudon, further complicated by all too human agencies who know something about the Brunswick’s property that they don’t. There are some exciting set-pieces – a life or death struggle in the sucking mud of the swamp, the ever-multiplying creepers’ attack on the machete handed Chill and friends, the discovery of a child’s remains in the sepulcher – and the action packed final third decided me that its time for that rematch with Chill #4: Vampire, if only to see how Laura’s getting along and find out if there are any more gratuitous references to Chill’s appearance on The Phil Donahue Show.