House Of The Hatchet

Tandem Horror & Witchcraft paperbacks 1964-1975

Charles Birkin – Where Terror Stalked

Posted by demonik on August 18, 2007

Charles Birkin – Where Terror Stalked (Tandem, 1966)



Where Terror Stalked, New Faces, Obsession, Shelter, The Orphanage, Paris Pilgrimage, The Belt, Softly … Softly, Old Mrs. Strathers, The Harlem Horror, Gran, Bring Back My Bonny, No More For Mary.

To Ralph Stokes for no good reason

Just a quick note for the time being: The Harlem Horror, Shelter, Obsession and Old Mrs. Strathers are all from the Creeps series although they’ve reputedly been slightly amended/ updated. I’m sure that The Belt is also a reworking of Henri Larne.

Old Mrs. Strathers: Paralysed by a stroke, old Mrs. Strathers is powerless to intervene on her doting son’s behalf when his faithless wife, Molly, sets about poisoning him. As Ronnie lies dying, with a supreme effort she raises herself from her chair, and … pitches headfirst into the fireplace ….

Paris Pilgrimage: A revamped, extended version of The Cockroach from ‘Monsters.’ Thirty years on from the awful events, we catch up with Jane on her return to the scene of the crime.

New Faces: “You mean it’s the bloke what was in the news tonight … the fellah what could ‘elp the police in connection with doin’ in all those perverts?”. Thomas Brown’s murder spree has accounted for the death of eight homosexuals, but the net is closing in and he’s aware of being watched wherever he goes. To get away from one plain-clothes policeman, he slips into the waxworks and hides himself away in the Chamber of Horrors for the night.

The Harlem Horror: The Harwoods, Michael, Mary and little Clare, move from London to New York. There have been a spate of child disappearances in the Big Apple, and one day Clare goes missing. Some months later, the grieving, broken parents attend a funfair on Coney Island. During a sudden downpour they take shelter in a tent which turns out to be the entrance to a freak show. The star exhibit is the ‘What-is-it?’, a one-eyed, hideously deformed creature which the barker assures is female and aged no more than ten. On the boat home to England, Michael buys a newspaper. The lead story tells of a police raid on a laboratory in Harlem where the brilliant – albeit criminally insane – plastic surgeon, Sir John Trowbridge, has been performing abominable vivisections on children and animals which he then sells on to the freak shows …

Obsession: Hartledean. Doris Carson and Henry Russell are to wed. Joe, the village idiot, has a massive crush on Doris as she’s the only person who has ever been kind to him. After she gently declines his offer of marriage, Joe takes to stalking both she and her burly fiance. Henry beats him up.
Events reach their grim conclusion at the old quarry when, with a superhuman effort, Joe dislodges a huge boulder, intending for it to crush the life out of his rival. It takes a nasty deflection on the way down ..

Shelter: Brazil. Paul Christie spends the night at the home of Lopez, his wife and their daughter when they kindly give him refuge from a terrible storm. In the dark, he is visited in his room by one of the ladies of the house who shares his best. As he rides away next morning, he learns of the existence of a second daughter. He was lucky to catch her, actually, as she’s being consigned to a leper coloney later on today.

No More For Mary: One of Birkin’s rare and increasingly bizarre excursions into SF. Author Toby Lewis, holidaying in San Bernando, discovers a beautiful jewelled insect and decides it will do nicely for sister Mary who’s something big in Lepidoptera at Oxford. The “bug” is actually Zeon, a visitor from a far more developed and benevolent society than our own who are intent on colonising Earth by peaceful means and saving us from ourselves. After the hapless Toby has left him exposed near an ants nest, Zeon suffers a cruel and agonising death while trying to free himself of his spacesuit.
In his introduction to Tales Of Terror From Outer Space (Fontana, 1975), R. Chetwynd-Hayes writes;  “Charles Birkin has given us a new kind of invader from outer space in No More For Mary. I can only suggest you be very careful with the insecticide spray from now onwards. That over-sized bug crawling up the table leg might well have the kindest intentions.”

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