House Of The Hatchet

Tandem Horror & Witchcraft paperbacks 1964-1975

R. Chetwynd-Hayes – Terror By Night

Posted by demonik on August 18, 2007

R. Chetwynd-Hayes – Terror By Night (Tandem, 1974: Pyramid,1976 )


The Throwback
The Ghostly Earl
Where Yesterday?: A Modern Fairy Story
Lileas And The Water Horse
Under The Skin
Lord Dunwilliam And Cwn Annwn
The Echo
Bits And Pieces
The Monster

Definitely one of his better collections, though I could have cheerfully lived without Where Yesterday? which has the suspicious reek of filler about it, even though it probably isn’t.

The Throwback: Very reminiscent of the Ghoul story in The Monster Club. Young Gregory Ames suffers a burst tyre on his way to Midhampton. He calls at a decrepit Teas Shop run by Vi and Gasper, their first customer in two years. Their son, Jason, makes himself known and is soon annoying the Hell out of Gregory, especially when he writes off his bicycle by taking it scrambling in the wood. Furious, Gregory runs after him but Jason lures him into a man-trap and our hero is helpless but to be led back to the Tea Shop and kept under the supervision of the family until he recovers. This isn’t so bad at first as he has the feisty, beautiful daughter Shona looking after him, although her ready quips and downright rudeness are a bit of a pain. But when a snuffling, clawed beast tries to get at him in the night and it becomes apparent to him that Jason’s behaviour is ruled by the phases of the moon, he realises it is time to make a limp for it.

The Ghostly Earl: The 250 years dead Charles Henry Fitzroy Carruthers, Eighth Earl of Rillington, befriends little Clare, a precocious little girl whose parents have just inherited the castle. Financially distressed, they’re on the verge of selling the property to slimy Mr. Wilkinson unless they can come up with £35,000 in a hurry. The Earl recalls that his father hid a treasure chest in one of the secret rooms. Can he find it in time to prevent his beloved home from being converted into a ghastly theme pub?

Something of a favourite with compilers of ghost story anthologies for children.

Where Tomorrow?: Henry, 34 and terrified of growing old, frets that there is never any spare time … until, walking along Shaftsbury Avenue one day he meets an odd little man working on God’s behalf who offers him a swig from a bottle of the stuff. Be careful of what you wish for, etc.

Lileas And The Water Horse:“I will come for you and we will dream together beneath the loch.”

A man claiming to be the Water Horse of legend comes down from the moors to warn Reverend Angus Buchanan that the Devil is abroad and is heading for the village to claim the souls of the congregation. He must convince his flock to paint white crosses on their doors and shun all strangers. The Reverend wisely discards this obvious madman’s advice and throws him out, but not before that worthy has made a promise to his daughter, Lileas.

That night, a beggar-woman arrives at the Kirk seeking shelter …

But for the heroine’s change of name, this is the same as the Ghosts From The Mists Of Time story, Shona And The Water Horse

Under The Skin: Amicus filmed so many of Chetwynd-Hayes stories it’s hard to believe they overlooked this one which is screaming out for the Subotsky treatment. Carl Blackwood, veteran of nine Beast Man horror movies, is slowly taken over by his character both at home – where he turns on wife Miranda during an argument over their relative acting talents – and on set – where he mauls co-star Rhoda Warren, ripping gown and flesh with his plastic claws (the director has to promise her a part in his next feature, “a harmless sex extravaganza”, to prevent her pressing charges. After watching his body transform into the hunchbacked, hirsute Beast Man as he sleeps, Miranda finally snaps. Carl ‘phones the director to tell him he’ll never play his most famous role again. But it’s too late …

Lord Dunwilliam And The Cwy Annwn: The arrogant Lord Dunwilliam, adrift in a snowstorm, chances upon a solitary cottage where live Evan ap Evans and his beautiful daughter, Silah. Dunwilliam is used to getting what he wants when he wants it and he’s decided Silah is going to be his by any means necessary. Evans spins him some cock and bull story about the girl having a fearsome lover, Annwn the Wild Huntsman whose pack are Hell-hounds, but as if an educated man would believe that …

The Echo: Old friends Charles and Anne meet for the first time in six years and he as good as begs her to come back to his scruffy mansion. They’ve not seen much of each other since she married two decades back, and Charles can’t help but blurt out that he’s always loved her. Her admission that he was “in with a chance” if he’d only given her some inkling of his feelings at the time isn’t much of a consolation.
Anne agrees to visit him again and this time he really weirds her out with a guided tour of his ‘secret’ room which turns out to be a shrine to her. Thinking it’s what he wants and certainly needs, Anne attempts to seduce him, but he flies into a rage and accuses her of all sorts, none of them pleasant. She is an “impostor” and she will be punished! Wait until the real Anne finds out! So saying, he beckons his Goddess, and Anne is confronted by her mirror-image, a cruel, sexless version of herself manufactured from Charles’ obsession. And what’s that ghastly trophy dangling from her wrist?

More middle-aged, confirmed bachelor angst, this time with a Robert Bloch-ish feel to it, and another personal contender for a fantasy Best of RCH collection.

Bits And Pieces:Alfred Cavendish, on pain of being written out of his grandmother’s will, finally takes a wife at the age of 42. She is Sarah Butcher, a fifty-something of huge proportion and very special needs, although he only learns this on their wedding night. As they prepare for bed she lets slip that he is, in fact, her fourth husband, his predecessors all having died in the same manner: they each took a header through a seventh floor window. And then she performs her striptease, although he is required to do most of the work …

The Monster: Uncle Jake and Auntie Mabs have selflessly concealed Caroline from the outside world for sixteen years, but when they catch her spying on the half-naked boy next door, they realise they did wrong in not handing her over to be sacrificed to Jehovah the moment her parents died. For she is an abomination among men.

Mortified now that her ugliness has been pointed out to her, Caroline escapes and runs off into the night. The villagers surround her with flaming torches and Jehovah’s will is done. Anyone who’s read Nigel Kneale’s Oh, Mirror, Mirror and the like will see the twist coming a mile off, but those who are only familiar with RCH in his William Kimber years might be surprised that he was capable of writing so unremittingly grim a story.

Housebound: The ghost of bank-robber Charlie Wheatland was killed in a siege at the Coopers’ new house. Celia, fifty and fed up, develops the power to draw his ghost out of the woodwork. At first he appears as a black, vaguely human shape, but gradually Wheatland manifests in all his former glory and asks what she requires of him. Celia decides she wants him to murder Harold, her boring, selfish other half. “No, I cannot kill, only free your husband from his body. Order me to free your husband from his body.” Celia does, but what will become of Harold’s vacant body?

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