Monday, April 03, 2006

Gruesome Cargoes

Be a devil, Visit Gruesome Cargoes today!!!

Bassett Morgan's Laocoon: "I believe it was a mistake to feed him flesh. Better to have left him to find sea food only ...."

Professor Denham, noted back home for his brain transplants on rats and an unshakable belief that sea-monsters exist, invites Willoughby out to Papau to assist him in his research. From the moment the boat docks, Willoughby realises something's up: the houseboy, Wi Wo, is clearly terrified, and he can't find hide or hair of Cheung Ching, Denham's devoted assistant.

It transpires that Cheung Ching, having contracted leprosy, begged the prof. to insert his brain into that of the giant sea-serpent so he can continue with the research. Denham reluctantly performs the operation, but lately the Laocoon in the creature seems to have established dominance over Cheung Ching: it has become surly, taken a "sweetie" and gobbles down his hens and chickens by the bucket-load. There's only one thing for it: Willoughby will have to transplant Denham's brain into another Laocoon ..."

The above was not my synopsis, but that of Demonic, long-suffering webmaster of Vault of Evil - Paperback Anthology Hell, which I find completely addictive, and now Gruesome Cargoes, a similar forum dedicated to his pet obsession, Christine Campell Thomson's amazing and truly wonderful Not At Night series (Britain's answer to Weird Tales, if you didn't know). I have very similar literary tastes, and was delighted to find Dem's spirited synopsis of Bassett Morgan's Laocoon, a story I have a particular fondness for - one you have to read to believe. :D

Way to go, Dem'!

Look, you just know that with cover art like that, the stories have got to be great!


demonik said...

Thanks very much for those kind words, Roger.

What little comment I've managed to find on the books so far, rightfully mentions their historical importance - these were the first British publications to feature stories by HPL, Clark Ashton Smith, Seabury Quinn, et al - but the real pleasure, for me, is coming across an obscure gem like, say, Annesley's terrific Rats or B. W. Sliney's The Man Who Was Saved which features a marvellous sea monster, "a horrible mess of pulsating green matter" which oozes across the deck and devours the crew of The Scudder. And then, of course, there is the mighty Bassett Morgan, Oscar Cook and all those other worthies.
Anyhow, Gruesome Cargoes is intended as my little shrine to these and Birkin's Creeps abominations of similar vintage.

Now I'm off to check out some more of this blog!


Calenture said...

A late reply, but I've been around your sites as you know. And of course, I share your tastes for these earlier horror stories. The writing has so much character and colour. Writers were not striving to avoid tired ideas, because the ideas were still fresh and full of life, and it shows in the writing. I wouldn't feel so comfortable defending any contemporary recreations of these early writers styles... but, hell, I hope they keep trying!

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