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Chris Morgan – Dark Fantasies

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Chris Morgan (ed.) – Dark Fantasies: New Tales Of Psychological And Supernatural Terror (Legend, 1989)

Introduction: No Slime, No Chainsaws – Chris Morgan

Brian Stableford – The Will
Gary Kilworth – Usurper
Stephen Gallagher – Life Line
A. L. Barker – Charley
R. M. Lamming – Candle Lies
Ian Watson – Tales From Weston Willow
David Langford – The Facts In The Case Of Micky Valdon
Freda Warrington – Shine For Me
Christopher Evans – Lifelines
John Brunner – Dropping Ghyll
Tanith Lee – Don’t Get Lost
Nicholas Royle – Archway
Ramsey Campbell – Being An Angel
Chris Morgan – Interesting Times
Lisa Tuttle – Skin Deep
Brian Aldiss – Three Degrees Over

Chances are, if you’re anything like me, when you read the title of Morgan’s introductory essay – No Slime, No Chainsaws – you’ll react with derisive sneers of “snob horror!” Don’t be deterred by the seemingly anti-splatterpunk stance, however, as this is an excellent Brit Horror anthology and, happily, far from free of bloody mayhem.

Brian Stableford – The Will: Helen returns to the sticks for her father’s funeral to be met with the inevitable barrage of veiled threats and abuse from her loathsome family. This turns to sheer hatred when the will is read and she is left “the remainder of my estate.” Why? All is revealed in a spectacularly unpleasant ending.

Gary Kilworth – Usurper: Franz Culper is upstaged by his shadow in everything it does. It is more efficient at his job, steals his friends, makes love to his wife and locks him out of his home. Driven to desperation, Franz decides on desperate measures to finally get one up on the usurper …

Stephen Gallagher – Life Line: Ryan is convinced he’s spoken to his dead fiance, Belinda, on a mysterious chat-line. His phone bill should be astronomical, but the calls haven’t been registered. He determines to discover the whereabouts of those who run the service and, of course, Belinda, a suicide whose “badly decomposed body washed up on a beach in Holland. The effects of the long immersion had been compounded by the attentions of various kinds of marine life and at least one encounter with a boat propeller.”
Scary and brilliant, and about as funny as a tale containing the lines “I’ve learned one thing. Everything you love, you lose. Everything” can be.

David Langford – The Facts In The Case Of Micky Valdon: Avowed skeptic disproves Valdon’s degeneration into “150 pounds of plump, artificially reared maggots”, as “two professional magicians can now duplicate this trick onstage.” Amongst his far from convincing evidence, he cites a former crony of the deceased’s “great merriment at a reminiscence of Valdon once dropping a wet fish down the front of an unpopular barmaid’s dress” to prove the man was nothing but a practical joker.

Ian Watson – Tales From Weston Willow: Three short stories narrated by Mrs. Prestige in “The Wheatsheaf Inn.” The first deals with cross-country runner, Charlie Fox, who sabotages the hunt and pays a heavy price for his sins. In the second story, Paul and Ruth won’t believe the former vicarage is the centre of the universe … until they’re given appalling proof. Finally, three villagers pretend to be deaf, dumb and/ or blind as they attempt to cheat their way to victory in the County inner-village quiz.

Nicholas Royle – Archway : From the day she moves into her North London flat, Bella is haunted by the scornful laughter of an old, grey faced tramp she’s see on the street. She is unfairly dismissed from her job, encounters the red-tape horrors of the DSS and faces eviction. Finally …

Tanith Lee – Don’t Get Lost: Sally and her boyfriend find it impossible to leave a council estate as the streets keep changing. They break into a house and the boyfriend discovers three headless corpses: it’s as if a giant spider has ensnared and then eaten its prey …

Chris Morgan – Interesting Times: Keith blows £95.50 when he answers an advertisement which promises to “let excitement into your life.” shortly afterward, he receives a note acknowledging receipt of his cheque and informing him he’s just been ripped off. He loses his job, wife, home (as do so many characters in Dark Fantasies) and is mugged, hospitalized, and framed for drug possession. There’s only one way to make it stop.

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