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Robert Bateman – The Hands Of Orlac

Posted by demonik on March 11, 2011

Robert Bateman – The Hands Of Orlac (Four Square, 1961)

Inner blurb
Brilliant surgery after a disastrous aeroplane crash restored Steven Orlof’s hands – the hands of a world-famous concert pianist. Slowly his skill at the piano returned to him, but there were puzzling oddities.

Were his hands larger, clumsier than before the accident? But serious burns and plastic surgery could account for that.

Those scars around his wrists? The result of skin grafts, perhaps.

Or was it something more dramatic than skin grafting, something uncanny, haunting, even deadly?


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Edgar Allan Poe – Fantastic Tales

Posted by demonik on May 15, 2009

Edgar Allan Poe –¬† Fantastic Tales (“Special NEL edition”, March 1969)

Poe's Fantastic Tales

Poe's Fantastic Tales

William Wilson
Toby Dammit (“Never Bet The Devil Your Head”)
The Oblong Box
The Gold-Bug

Review and cover scans by Steve Goodwin

Something of a curio this one. A three-way tie-in with a (unrelated) “series of spellbinding films” based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe – one of which was never actually made.

There was nothing unusual about a Poe movie “adaptation” in the ’60s of course – films either based on stories by Poe, very loosely based on stories by Poe, or not even vaguely based on stories by Poe but availing themselves of his name or one of his titles anyway.

Quite why NEL should have produced a tie-in edition for the 1968 French/Italian Poe anthology film, Histoires Extraordinaires (AKA Spirits of the Dead/Tales of Mystery and Imagination) though, I’m not too sure.

The back cover credits Roger Vadim as director, in fact Vadim only directed the “Metzengerstein” segment with Jane Fonda. Even if it is more Barbarella than Berenice, the cover photo of Fonda is certainly… well, you can provide your own adjectives…
The “William Wilson” sequence with Brigitte Bardot and Alain Delon was directed by Louis Malle, and “Toby Dammit” (based on Poe’s “Never Bet The Devil Your Head”) was by Federico Fellini and starred Terence Stamp.

AIP’s 1969 production of The Oblong Box brought together Vincent Price and Christopher Lee but forgot to bring along much of Poe’s original story beyond the title. Michael Reeves (what was that other film he did? Oh yeah, Edgar Allan Poe’s Conqueror Worm… ) was originally up for this one but he was replaced and, as I’m sure we all know only too well, very sadly passed away the same year. As well as Price, Hilary Dwyer and Rupert Davies also reappear from Reeves’ er… earlier “Poe film”.

Having little or no shame whatsoever, AIP also planned an “adaptation” of Poe’s, “The Gold-Bug”. The fact that Poe’s original isn’t a horror story doesn’t seem to have phased Roger Corman overmuch – I mean, if you can get Vincent Price and Peter Lorre again and just recycle a few elements from The Little Shop of Horrors and A Bucket of Blood, who needs Edgar Allan Poe?
Well if you do, this book’s a nice little addition to any Poe collection (admittedly Jane Fonda’s Gothic swim-suit lends it a certain something…)

Fantastic Tales back cover

Fantastic Tales back cover

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Peter Haining – The Dracula Scrapbook

Posted by demonik on September 15, 2007

Peter Haining (ed.) – The Dracula Scrapbook (Nel, 1976)

Haining Dracula Scrapbook

Tony Masero


Peter Haining – Introduction
Christopher Lee – Foreword
Charles Dickens jnr. – Vampires And Ghouls
James Malcolm Rymer – Varney the Vampyre: Chapter 1
Madame Emily de Laszovoska Gerard – Transylvanian Superstitions
Gabriel Ronay – Exploring The Bloody Myth Of Dracula & Vampires
Dr. Franz Hartmaan – An Authentic Vampire Story
Tim Stout – The Vampire In Films
Montague Summers – The Dracu-Spirit That Bit
Kingsley Amis – Dracula, Frankenstein, Sons & Co.
Christopher Lee – Dracula And I
Forrest J. Ackerman – Bela Lugosi: Public Enemy No. 1
Boris Karloff (Michael Avallone) – The Vampire Sleeps
Denis Gifford – The Day The Comics Went Bats
Manly Wade Wellman – The Vampire Of Shiloh
Lee Coye – Weirdisms
S. J. Saunders – The Velden Hunt
Ivor J. Brown – The Unquiet Grave Of The Vampire
Elliott O’Donnell – The Vampire Society
Daniel Farson – The Cult Of Dracula
Bernard Davies – The Dracula Society
Dr. Donald A. Reed – The Count Dracula Society
Les Heinman – Meet The Real Count Dracula

An absolute belter from Peter Haining. The title says it all – this is a compilation of articles, newspaper clippings, movie reviews, short stories, stills and artwork pertaining to the undead. Wildly entertaining from cover to cover, it’s easy to overlook the fact that there’s plenty of (then) new information contained in these hallowed pages, and the exhumation of long-forgotten writings is another definite point in its favour.

Way up there on the demonik shortlist of essential vampire reads (Paul Barber’s Vampires, Burial and Death occupying the top spot), Haining was on a roll during the mid-seventies, and his The Penny Dreadful and other work¬† for Gollancz are particularly recommended.

Haining attempted to perform the same service for Mary Shelley’s immortal creation with The Frankenstein File, again for NEL, the following year, but to this reader at least, while interesting enough, it isn’t a patch on The Dracula Scrapbook.

NB: The NEL publication is not to be confused with his far later Souvenir Press offering of the same title which is actually the remaindered “The Dracula Centenary Book” given a hasty makeover and bunged back on the shelves.

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Peter Haining – The Frankenstein File

Posted by demonik on September 15, 2007

Peter Haining (ed.) – The Frankenstein File (Nel, Oct 1977)


Peter Haining – The World Of Frankenstein
Mary Shelley – How I Created Frankenstein
Anon – The Old Tower Of Frankenstein
Anon – Bringing The Dead Alive!
Ron Haydock – The Real Castle Frankenstein
Modern Monsters Magazine – The Frankenstein Movies
Forrest J. Ackerman – Universal’s Classic Frankenstein
Boris Karloff – The Life Of A Monster
Ron Haydock – Boris Karloff: The King Of Horror Films
Ted Le Berthon – Demons Of The Film Colony
Dennis Gifford – My Funny Frankenstein
Donald Glut – Peter Cushing: Dr. Frankenstein I Presume?
Peter Cushing – Dr. Frankenstein And I
Christopher Lee – Frankenstein, Dracula And Me
W. C. Morrow – The Monster Maker
Robert Bloch – Mannikins Of Horror
Harry Harrison – At Last, The True Story Of Frankenstein

A Select Guide To The Films: Sixty-Five Years Of Frankenstein On The Screen


Of all monsters throughout history, Dr Frankenstein’s is surely the greatest. Originally conceived by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley in 1816, Frankenstein’s monster has not only taken on his creator’s name, but has been the subject of innumerable plays, films, books and television programmes, intriguing and terrifying the world for generations.

This book is both a tribute to and a record of that fascinating legend. It tells how the Frankenstein films have developed from the first Frankenstein in 1910 to the most recent, Paul Morrisey’s Flesh for Frankenstein in 1975, including such unlikely titles Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter and Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster.

It contains articles written by such diverse authorities as Mary Shelley, Boris Karloff, Harry Harrison, Christopher Lee and Robert Bloch, linked by Peter Haining’s entertaining anecdotes and supported by a wealth of photographs, line drawings and cartoon strips.

The result is a compelling record that will amuse, enthrall and horrify you!

Similar in approach to the mighty Dracula Scrapbook, but to this reader it’s not quite as accomplished somehow. It’s probably something to do with the presentation, slick and glossy on this occasion as opposed to the glorified fanzine approach of the vampire volume. Still, any book that boasts contributions from Karloff, the Cush, C. Lee, Donald Glut, Denis Gifford and Forrest J. Ackerman, is gonna be entertaining and there are decent examples of monster fiction from Robert Bloch, Harry Harrison, W. C. Morrow and an anonymous eighteenth century scribe.

Needless to say, perhaps, it is indeed “lavishly illustrated”.

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