Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Terror Tales - James A. Goldthwaite

Terror Tales - James A. Goldthwaite
James A Goldthwaite, sometimes writing as Francis James
The Laughing Corpse
A walking corpse attacks the crew of a steamliner, his victims die laughing with the faces ripped off their skulls.

The Unwelcomed Dead
A man takes his wife to a mad scientist in hopes of rousing her from her catatonic state.  The scientist can return life to the recently deceased, fugitives that he kills with his own gallows, but at the cost of their souls.  He ties the comatose woman's nude body in front of his legion of zombies as he whips them, hoping the stimulation of pain and fear will return their souls, while the husbands tries to kill his own wife before her soul is forfeit.

Monster's Death Song
Monster killings at an inn to cover up search for hidden treasure, Scooby Doo down to an Old Man Jenkins.

The City Ruled by Death
A convicted man raises the dead to wreak vengeance on the judge and jury.

Dance of the Bloodless Ones
Rich tenants of a Florida winter retreat have their faces ripped off after complaints of something crawling over them.

The Plague From Underground
Victims are singled out with a mark on the palm of their hands, before their body bloat up and sprout black flowers.  A mention of "addicts of the unspeakable Mexican peyote", before going a different direction.

Dance to Satan's Drums
An ancient rural cult menaces fancy city folk in town to survey a damn.

Where Goldthwaite would rip out throats in his Dime Mystery collection, for Terror Tales he ripped off faces.

"One side of his face seemed torn off by the roots, skin and flesh ripped down as one would shuck an ear of corn.  Behind the jets of spurting blood, the bones showed in grisly outline."

"Some one - something - had ribboned that face with stripping of giant claws, literally cleaned off the flesh as though raked by a monstrous currycomb."

Goldthwaite reused a lot of plot elements, the main one having victims being marked prior to their grisly deaths.  Old Man Jenkins aside, not too many Scooby Doo endings - the horrible thing that appeared to be happening actual happens, and the plot is often revealed early on.  One thing I noticed in this collection is that Goldthwaite seemed to be actually trying to be scary rather than just gory.  Early chapters regularly ended with the sound of someone trying to get in the house, or already creeping up the stairs.

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