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Archive for the ‘NEL horror series 1-6’ Category

Derek Hyde-Chambers – The Orgy Of Bubastis

Posted by demonik on May 30, 2009

Derek Hyde-Chambers – The Orgy Of Bubastis [Horror #6] (New English Library, 1974)


What i was saying about Bradbury’s The October Country not being a “great NEL”? This is a great NEL.

Justin Marriott again from Paperback Fanatic #8 (Dec. 2008)

“…. a delightfully bonkers reprint of a Robert Hale hardback of a few years prior. Restaging the centuries old battle between ancient Egyptian Gods in a French health farm visited by four fading actors. Derek Hyde-Chambers takes a kitchen-sink-and-all approach to horror, chucking in a bestial dwarf with sharpened talons, a nurse who turns into a werewolf, rampant LSD abuse and torture scenes lit in multi-coloured strobes with a wardrobe published from S&M R US! …”

Thanks to severance for providing the cover scan

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Jeremy Brent – Plastic Man

Posted by demonik on May 28, 2009

Jeremy Brent – Plastic Man [Horror #4] (New English Library, 1974)


First NEL i ever bought, long since gone missing in action and i can’t tell you much about other than it concerns a scientist who builds a super-computer and before long the situation turns very Windows ME-shaped for him and those who get in his way. It seemed unusually nasty to me at the time but that might have been down to Mr. Brent’s style as much as anything else. We’ll see …


Posted in Horror Fiction, Jeremy Brent, NEL, NEL horror series 1-6, nightreader | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cyril Donson – Draco The Dragon Man

Posted by demonik on May 28, 2009

Cyril Donson – Draco The Dragon Man [Horror #5 ???] (New English Library, 1974)

Draco the Dragon Man

Draco the Dragon Man

Can’t help you much with this one but according to Justin Marriott in Paperback Fanatic #8 (2009):

“Damon Draycott, a world renowned archaeologist, discovers a race of mind-reading lizard men living in the bowels of the earth   …… Among his NEL contemporaries, Donson is neck and neck with Etienne Aubin as the least rewarding of horror authors.”

Surely there is no higher praise, especially as he’d have to fight off ‘Simon Majors’ and his notoriously punishing The Druid Stone to be in contention for such an accolade?

Thanks to Nightreader for providing the cover scan!

Posted in Cyril Donson, Horror Fiction, NEL, NEL horror series 1-6, Novel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Brian Ball – The Venomous Serpent

Posted by demonik on May 13, 2009

Brian Ball – The Venomous Serpent (Horror No. 3) ( July 1974)

The Venomous Serpent

The Venomous Serpent

The brass in the little-used Derbyshire village church has such delicate detail. Sir Jocelyn and Elizabeth Fitzalan stand together, at the side of the man a lion, and beside Elizabeth – a fanged dog. And the face of Elizabeth, is obliterated, despite the clear detail elsewhere. But Young Sal takes a rubbing none the less.

She hangs it in the bedroom, but at night the moonlight makes the straightforward take on other meanings, and static objects begin to move – and writhe. The simple rubbing begins to take on a life of its own, and to do so it must suck the life force from elsewhere. Life becomes a nightmare, and Sal is powerless to stop the evil that has grown from such innocent beginnings.

Review by Steve Goodwin

It was a dark and stormy night…

It was also the first time the priest of the little parish church at Stymead had ever seen a woman naked – the ivory skin, the deep black hair, the red lips, the sensuous curves, the exquisite breasts, the taloned fingers… the fangs.

So, exquisite breasts or not, it was probably best that the priest wasn’t alone with the Lady of Stymead, beautiful but venomous wife of the gallant knight Lord Humphrey. Probably best that some stout-hearted men of Stymead – masons, smiths & carpenters to entomb her and ensure she stayed entombed, the swine-killer with his broad-bladed knife… were also in attendance.

And something else… some small, sleeping thing curled at his lady’s feet beneath the grave-wrappings.

The lapdog.

The night creature.

And the next thing you know it’s 1974.

Sally and Andy are art school drop-outs living in a converted barn in the Peak District with a large mongrel dog and two fluffy little kittens. They have a craft shop that does a reasonably brisk trade in garish candles, reclaimed Victorian scrap, one-guinea watercolours and garden gnomes, and an ovine local farmer for a landlord who wants them off his land – not taking too kindly to their co-habiting, tinned spaghetti-eating, beardy ways.

If they’d stuck to the plaster gnomes everything may have been OK, but Sally makes a fateful error – she dabbles in one of the black arts… brass rubbing.

Soon faceless, beckoning spectres are forming in the moonlight. Sheep and various small, furry animals are being found completely drained of blood. Mysterious dank-haired men with bad skin take to hanging around the craft shop full of ominous foreboding. And Sally’s not quite herself.

I enjoyed The Venomous Serpent so much that I read it in just two sittings (and I’d have probably finished it in one go, if it wasn’t for annoying distractions such as work). This is unusual for me – even for a hundred and twenty-odd pager – as being both fickle and easily distracted, I’ll almost inevitably have my head turned by some other eye-catching cover or well-turned blurb…

While not exactly a page turner, I still found myself well and truly drawn into this tale of diabolical Derbyshire which reads almost like a long short story (most of which takes place either in the converted barn, the ruined church or the brooding High Peak village of Stymead – “like a village underwater”).

The characters for the most part are fairly stock, but there are a few colourful extras brought in to considerably liven up the proceedings. Foremost among them is local eccentric clergyman, I. C. J. Cunningham, M.A.

I’ll say one thing for the New English Library, they certainly gave good vicar.

Running him a close second is Arthur “sodding townies” Meggitt, toothless, large-trousered landlord of Stymead’s only pub, ‘The Black Nigget’ (it’s an Old English word for a witch’s familiar in case you were wondering).

“I’ll have a pint of shandy.”

“Bloody fancy town drinks!”

As is usually the case with these things, the 70s period detail adds much – I was particularly struck by how much of his time our woolly-jumpered protagonist Andy spends drinking and driving.

Eerie rather than blood-spattered, I was strangely unsettled by some passages for reasons I couldn’t begin to explain;

She looked down at the kitten on the duvet and poked it with her finger.

It looked at her, mewed and then, quite deliberately, spat in her face.

This is good old-fashioned seventies British horror. Where else would you find a couple who, facing nameless nightcrawling terror – their mortal souls in imminent peril of eternal damnation, would decide that their best course of action was a pie and a pint in the local pub?

Maybe it’s a Derbyshire thing.

The book also references both of Brian Ball’s other NEL horrors of the time, Lesson For The Damned and Devil’s Peak.

Posted in Brian Ball, Horror Fiction, NEL, NEL horror series 1-6, Novel, steve goodwin | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Martin Jenson – The Village Of Fear

Posted by demonik on September 15, 2007

Martin Jenson – The Village Of Fear (Nel, April 1974)

 Martin Jenson Village Of Fear

Cover photograph: Keef

“Strange screams split the night air as a young woman cries for mercy – but none is given. There are untoward happenings, things without explanation. In bewilderment the villagers can only fear a devil or an unquiet soul is abroad in their peaceful streets.

No one is safe from the violent and malevolent intruder. Doors are bolted, eyes peer from behind curtains. There seems no end as every fresh horror is revealed, till the very fires of Hell itself are burning in their midst.

The unknown enemy that fills the night with terror is the most deadly of them all – the enemy from Within.”

Review by Steve Goodwin

For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. – Luke 21:22

In thy filthiness is lewdness, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee. – Ezekiel 24

Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. – Romans 12:19

Never shoot a pigmy with a cannon. – The Village of Fear p.10

Wellesford is much like any other quiet, little English Village, with its cheery postman, its rows of quaint, white-fronted cottages, its elegant church with stout steeple, its Conservative Club…

We’re slowly but ever so surely submerged into this little world of parish magazines and boiled eggs for breakfast – rural England in the 1970s. Introduced in turn to Colonel Harry Rodgers, president of the aforementioned Wellesford Conservative Club (and his sagging wife, Dolly); Dave Marriot, manager of the local Social Club in his pale green silk suit “like an affluent bookmaker”; and shameless self-publicist and founder of the Wellesford Film Society, Tom Radcliffe complete with flares, peroxide blond wig – like Andy Warhol’s but lacking the pre-fabricated Pop Art “honesty” of Warhol’s ‘do’ – and “young, bright and promiscuous” live-in ‘friend’; Goldie of the “very large naked breasts”.

And then there is Austin Trench, M.A., Wellesford’s greying but wiry and well-tended, fifty-five year old vicar – his still powerful six-foot frame the result of years of self-denial. When we first meet Trench he seems very much your average country vicar, seated at his desk in his study, listening to the birds and the “faint rustling of the ivy” around the vicarage, at the same time drinking in the scent of “freshly clipped grass” from the churchyard outside his window.

But what is he scribbling obsessively in his notebooks? Why is he so nervous about the delivery of the small, black book in the brown paper parcel? And why does he suffer seizures and vomit up his breakfast egg when he communes with the Holy Spirit?

Jenson turns things up just one notch with every chapter.

It transpires that the Reverend Trench has discovered an ancient document in the corner of his crypt, a prophetic sermon which foretells how; “One day, men with unruly hair, wild eyed and lost in drink and other looseness” will threaten the peace and quiet, not to mention the moral rectitude, of this his little corner of England. Clearly, in Trench’s mind, a reference to those noisy, long-haired youngsters and their “sl*ttish” girlfriends who hang about outside the village Social Club of an evening. Furthermore, says our long-departed prophet of doom, we should “beware the falseness of corrupt brotherhood, the black laughter and the leperous wine of the hell-bent kinship”. Obviously the local Tories, who’ve just applied to extend their drinking licence (spot on there, I’d say…).

And what’s worse, that arrogant young trendy, Tom Radcliffe, is planning on screening Bunuel’s “blasphemous” Viridiana to an audience of naively unsuspecting villagers little prepared for the tide of filth which is about to engulf them cinematically speaking.

Radcliffe is, it must be said, a particularly irritating and self-serving character who speaks in headlines – “Raver Gives Rabies To Rapist!” – and has a habit of addressing people as, “baby”.

So what’s a reactionary, sexually-repressed flail of the Lord to do cast adrift in such Godless times? Listen to the voices in his head of course…

In Chapter 3, far and away my favourite so far, we’re introduced to the Yellow Helmets – where would any self-respecting NEL title of the 1970s be without at least one biker gang to spice up the proceedings?

The Helmets aren’t exactly your typical Angels from Hell though. The fifteen members – “ten of whom had their own bikes” – meet up each evening in the car park of the Social Club to share a couple of cans of shandy and enjoy a few games of tag and blind man’s buff. Their leader is Gunner an ex-Hell’s Angel who suffers from alopecia.

The ensuing showdown between hellfire Trench, a kind of unholy cross between Travis Bickle and Derek Nimmo, and our not-so-wayward angels is worth the purchase price alone, for my money.

“Return to the place where you learned your savagery!” (Coventry apparently), intones the silvery-headed, bible-toting ‘evan-gilante’.

“Bugger off, Vicar!” reply the Helmets from behind a hail of shandy cans.

And so onto the bar of the Conservative Club for a confrontation with Bunty Carmichael – “one of the louder ladies who attended the club regularly” – and a bed-hopping, buck-toothed builder’s wife who thinks everything is “creepy”.

At chapter’s end, we leave Austin Trench, M.A., brow-beaten but unbowed, back in his study consulting a copy of ‘The Urban Guerilla: His Methods’ and planning his Divine retribution.

Thus far it’s little short of New English gold. Strangely sinister and oddly unsettling, but I couldn’t really explain why. Not entirely what I was expecting, but really rather good.

See also Vault Of Evil’s Martin Jenson thread

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