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The Second Pan Book of Horror Stories

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This superb new collection, specially selected for Pan and even more varied in its terrifying aspects of horror, is made up of tales of the gruesome - such as Piece-Meal, Black Creator and Boomerang - subtle frightfulness - as The Inn, The Speciality of the House and Taboo - malign insanity and sheer terror - like By One, By Two and By Three and The Vertical Ladder. Togethe This superb new collection, specially selected for Pan and even more varied in its terrifying aspects of horror, is made up of tales of the gruesome - such as Piece-Meal, Black Creator and Boomerang - subtle frightfulness - as The Inn, The Speciality of the House and Taboo - malign insanity and sheer terror - like By One, By Two and By Three and The Vertical Ladder. Together with famous classics - by Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, Agatha Christie and Bram stoker - these stories will excite terror or repulsion and guarantee you a sleepless night!


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This superb new collection, specially selected for Pan and even more varied in its terrifying aspects of horror, is made up of tales of the gruesome - such as Piece-Meal, Black Creator and Boomerang - subtle frightfulness - as The Inn, The Speciality of the House and Taboo - malign insanity and sheer terror - like By One, By Two and By Three and The Vertical Ladder. Togethe This superb new collection, specially selected for Pan and even more varied in its terrifying aspects of horror, is made up of tales of the gruesome - such as Piece-Meal, Black Creator and Boomerang - subtle frightfulness - as The Inn, The Speciality of the House and Taboo - malign insanity and sheer terror - like By One, By Two and By Three and The Vertical Ladder. Together with famous classics - by Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, Agatha Christie and Bram stoker - these stories will excite terror or repulsion and guarantee you a sleepless night!

30 review for The Second Pan Book of Horror Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Not my favourite of this series, but here's a summary of the best stories : William Sansom, ‘The Vertical Ladder’ Brilliant - A bunch of teenagers are loafing around and come to some disused gasworks. They lark about and one of the boys, trying to impress one of the girls, says he could easily climb up the six-storey-high gasometer, which has a rusty ladder attached to the side. After some banter, bragging and teasing he can't back down, so up he goes. He gets to forty feet up and it hits him how Not my favourite of this series, but here's a summary of the best stories : William Sansom, ‘The Vertical Ladder’ Brilliant - A bunch of teenagers are loafing around and come to some disused gasworks. They lark about and one of the boys, trying to impress one of the girls, says he could easily climb up the six-storey-high gasometer, which has a rusty ladder attached to the side. After some banter, bragging and teasing he can't back down, so up he goes. He gets to forty feet up and it hits him how crazy and dangerous this is. He panics. He tells himself there will be some kind of platform at the top of the ladder. When he gets nearly to the top he finds the last ten feet of ladder has rusted away. Down below his friends have got bored and are leaving. They think he can just climb back down. Stanley Ellin - 'The Speciality Of The House' A guy is introduced to the delights of Shirro's restaurant, the finest men-only(!!) restaurant one could ever wish to find, especially when "Lamb Amirstan" is on the menu. he saw with a final glance that Laffler and Sbirro were already at the kitchen door, Sbirro holding the door invitingly wide with one hand, while the other rested, almost tenderly, on Laffler’s meaty shoulders. Trouble is, you read one cannibal story, you kind of read them all. Oscar Cook – 'Boomerang' This is actually terrible but it's a good idea of what you got as a horror story seventy years ago. It's a Darkest Asia tale told in gentleman’s club as usual. Another love-triangle, again set in Borneo, this one involving two planters, Clifford Macy and Leopold Thring, and the latter's new bride, Rhona. When he learns of their affair, Thring avenges himself by inserting an earwig into Macy's ear which burrows its way through his head and out the other side, eating his brain as it goes. If you ask me, I don't think the earwig would do that. Philip Macdonald, ‘Our Feathered Friends’ Out on a date in the country, our young lovers are attacked and killed by birds and they didn't do nuffink to annoy them either. This is a short, sharp version of The Birds published 20 years before Daphne du Maurier's story, the one Hitchcock filmed. It's interesting when writers either think of the same idea or shamelessly rip off ideas from each other, and one version is a gigantic hit.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steve Payne

    3.5 The first Pan Book of Horror had 7 out of 22 stories that I especially liked; here, it’s 8 out of 15 stories. We’re definitely up a notch up! I maybe generous with the 4 mark, but most of the stories that I liked, I liked a lot. My favourite 8? ‘The Fly’ (by George Langelaan). Published in 1957, this is the story on which the films are based (the first being in 1958). A man experimenting with transferring matter from one place to another uses himself as a subject. It makes no difference that we 3.5 The first Pan Book of Horror had 7 out of 22 stories that I especially liked; here, it’s 8 out of 15 stories. We’re definitely up a notch up! I maybe generous with the 4 mark, but most of the stories that I liked, I liked a lot. My favourite 8? ‘The Fly’ (by George Langelaan). Published in 1957, this is the story on which the films are based (the first being in 1958). A man experimenting with transferring matter from one place to another uses himself as a subject. It makes no difference that we know the outcome of the experiments early on because it’s the clear and lively prose, and the manner of the tale’s telling which makes this an enjoyable read. ‘The Vertical Ladder’ (by William Sansom). A girl dares a boy to climb the ladder of a tall gas tank. A good and tense read. For such a seemingly simple story, there’s a lot going on. ‘The Inn’ (by Guy Preston). A man tells a tale of a rural inn, where resides a loathsome, blind, blood-sucking character. Some great imagery, pace and tension fight against some overly written passages that strive too hard for effect. Overall, it’s a fine and vivid piece. ‘The Judge’s House’ (by Bram Stoker). A man seeking quiet chooses a remote house; but after first facing rats, he comes up against a ghostly figure who materialises from out of a portrait. The first two thirds of this were good atmospheric horror. I just didn’t care too much for the clichéd ghosty! ‘The Last Séance’ (by Agatha Christie). An old woman agrees to do one last séance, but hasn’t allowed for a very needy customer! Well written, with its bizarreness grippingly pulling you in. ‘The Black Creator’ (by Vernon Routh). A man is invited to an island to help with experiments. He soon realises their ghastliness (resembling those of a certain Do Moreau). Interesting and atmospheric, even if it borders at times on the realms of overly written hokum. It’s enjoyable, with a lot going on. ‘The Black Cat’ (by Edgar Allan Poe). A man kills his wife in temper and entombs her. It may be a much anthologised old chestnut, but it’s a genuine atmospheric classic, and the best story here. ‘Leningen Versus the Ants’ (by Carl Stephenson). The owner and workers of a Brazilian plantation fight off an army of ants. I would normally find such a long story based on a one note premise tedious, but that’s definitely not the case here. It lingers vividly in the memory. Very well paced, it keeps its momentum throughout without ever becoming dull. It’s a good final story to a mostly enjoyable book. Originally published in 1960, my 1980 (22nd printing edition) doesn’t have one of the more memorable covers in this series. A photograph, as opposed to an illustration. Merely an eyeball floating in a bloody palm! Looking forward to continuing this series…

  3. 5 out of 5

    Aussiescribbler Aussiescribbler

    The second volume in this legendary series contains less stories than the first, but it is a fine selection, including three stories which have been adapted as movies, two of them more than once. Oscar Cook - Piece-meal Judging by the three stories I've read by him so far, neither subtlety nor good taste are among the virtues of Oscar Cook. If you like your horror stories gross and unsophisticated he's your man. He had one story - His Beautiful Hands - in The First Pan Book of Horror Stories and h The second volume in this legendary series contains less stories than the first, but it is a fine selection, including three stories which have been adapted as movies, two of them more than once. Oscar Cook - Piece-meal Judging by the three stories I've read by him so far, neither subtlety nor good taste are among the virtues of Oscar Cook. If you like your horror stories gross and unsophisticated he's your man. He had one story - His Beautiful Hands - in The First Pan Book of Horror Stories and he has two in this second volume. Piece-meal is a story of revenge, primitive tribal culture and a disgusting practise which, though frowned upon in civilised society, appears in three of the stories in this collection. I won't say what that practise is or in which stories it appears as it is generally meant to come as a surprise. The three Oscar Cook stories all follow the same formula. The narrator and his friend Warwick, both journalists, meet for drinks at their club. One tells the other some gruesome tale which occurred to some acquaintance. The narrator is always disgusted by Warwick's delight over gruesome events and sometimes says he's not sure he wants to hear more but can't let the story go. Sometimes Warwick, though keen to tell the story, grows pale and queasy at his own account. While the stories are genuinely gruesome, all the fuss and bother and growing pale can seem a bit like gilding the lily. George Langelaan - The Fly The Fly is a classic tale of science fictional horror which has inspired five movies directly and had a major influence on popular culture by introducing the concept of a the matter transporter, a device which disassembles an object, an animal or a human into a their constituent atoms and then transmits those atoms to another place and reassembles them there. The Fly was first published in Playboy in 1957 and filmed in 1958. Star Trek then popularised the concept of the matter transporter further when it debuted in 1964. As you would expect the story differs quite a bit from the film versions but is much closer to Kurt Neumann's original 1958 version than to its sequels or to the 1986 Cronenberg film. The story is both more subtle and more horrific and I can only imagine how shocking it must have been to those who read it before it became so well-known. We've become somewhat desensitised to the idea of a man becoming half-man half-fly because we have seen the movies and the parodies of the movies, etc. But when you read the original story and put all of that out of your head you realise just what a nightmarish conception it is. William Sansom - The Vertical Ladder This story stands out because it is about something very ordinary and believable. No monsters or demons or medieval torture devices, just a young man dared to climb a ladder up the side of an old oil tank in the middle of nowhere. But the horror is no less for its realism. I imagined myself in the place of the central character and whenever I think back on the ending of the story my mind recoils from contemplating it for very long. H. G. Wells - Pollock and the Porroh Man H. G. Wells may be better known for his science fiction, but he also writes a mean horror story. This one deals with the popular subject of tribal black magic. An arrogant Brit kills a witch doctor and finds himself cursed. A fairly conventional story but with lots of effectively creepy detail. Guy Preston - The Inn If reading horror stories teaches you anything it is to be careful not to stay anywhere that isn't listed in the Lonely Planet Guide for the country you happen to be in, especially if you are caught out in the middle of nowhere in a dense fog. And if, as in this story, the innkeeper has no eyes you better take that as a warning that you are not going to get a good night's sleep, unless it is an eternal one. As you might guess this is pretty traditional horror story territory, but it is handled with plenty of style, atmosphere and grossness. Bram Stoker - The Judge's House Stoker's story The Squaw was one of the highlights of The First Pan Book of Horror Stories and he doesn't disappoint with his entry in the second volume. Stoker's short stories are very similar to those of Edgar Allan Poe, he has a real flair for gothic atmosphere, melodramatic flourishes and imaginative surprises. Here a young student stays in a house which once belonged to a notorious hanging judge. At first he thinks that his only companions are the masses of rats that scurry around behind the walls, but... Stanley Ellin - The Specialty of the House Not too many surprises about where this story is going. Seasoned horror readers will catch on pretty quickly. But it is written with great character and subtlety and has the ability to haunt the imagination in a way that a more blatantly gruesome story probably would not. Agatha Christie - The Last Séance I never realised that Agatha Christie wrote horror stories. I'm familiar with her mysteries and spy stories, and I know she wrote romance novels, but I didn't suspect she would have a creepy little tale like this in her. There isn't a lot to it but it sets up a disturbing situation and plays it out to a grotesque conclusion. Vernon Routh - The Black Creator This story is in a similar vein to H. G. Wells The Island of Dr. Moreau but its villain Dr. Diaz Volo is more sadist than scientist. His island includes half-human half-animal creations among other atrocities, but his only motive appears to be the destruction of anything beautiful and the power-mad desire to inflict maximum physical and mental anguish on all who fall into his hands. The story itself is not exceptional, but when it comes to grizzly horror and hints of things unspeakable it certainly delivers. If you like the stories of H. P. Lovecraft and Seabury Quinn, this will probably be right up your alley. Stephen Hall - By One, By Two, and By Three Be careful about dabbling in the Black Arts. This story deals with a man who gets more than he bargained for, as do his friends, when he reverts to an old family tradition - that of witchcraft. This is a longer story with plenty of build-up and characterisation which leads to some good old-fashioned chills. One scene in particular is nail-bitingly tense. Oscar Cook - Boomerang It's our old friend Oscar Cook back again, and this story picks up where Piece-meal left off, beginning with a reference to that story. Here we have another story which is perhaps best read on an empty stomach. Contrary to the title it doesn't take place in Australia but in Borneo. It's a revenge story. A friend assures me that what happens in this story is not physically possible. But most of us are not that well-informed on anatomy and Cook certainly makes it sound convincing. Eeeeeuuuuuuckkk! Philip Macdonald - Our Feathered Friends This is a very strange, haunting tale. What happens in it is not dissimilar to what happens in a rather famous story and in a number of different movies, but where it differs from them is in its poetic tone and hints that it may be about something more than what it appears to be. Geoffrey Household - Taboo Is this a werewolf story? You'll have to read it to find out. A psychiatrist tries to make a point about the importance of letting out one's feelings in order to avoid what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder. To illustrate his point he tells the tale of a horrific event in his own life. Household keeps you guessing about where the story will lead and he has a dry wit which adds extra appeal. Edgar Allan Poe - The Black Cat What can I say about this story? If you are a self-respecting horror fan you've already read it. It's one of Poe's most famous classics, a cautionary tale about being cruel to animals. The demon alcohol turns a good kind man into a monster who beats his wife and gouges out his cat's eye. You just know it is all going to rebound on him. This is one of those stories which set the standard against which other horror stories are judged. It's been filmed many times. Carl Stephenson - Leiningen Versus The Ants With its jungle setting and its macho hero who smokes a cigar the size of a corn cob, this is the epitome of the sort of stories which filled the men's adventure magazines which were so popular in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Leiningen runs a jungle plantation in Brazil. He is advised to flee when a ten mile long and two mile wide army of ants is headed for his plantation. This particular kind of ant eats everything in its path. They overrun animals and strip them down to a skeleton in a matter of minutes. But Leiningen is made of sterner stuff. He's determined to stay, along with his nervous indian workers, and pit his brain against the power of the ants. It's fascinating to see the ways in which his carefully thought out defences fail in the face of the inexorable march of the ants. And the climax is particularly exciting. This was filmed as The Naked Jungle in 1954 with Charlton Heston as Leiningen. I haven't seen the movie but Heston sounds like perfect casting. Being a Hollywood movie they added a love interest who is not in the story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Graham

    A splendid follow-up to the first anthology; there aren't as many tales collected here, on account of some of them being longer, but for the most part they're brilliant with only a few duds. Things kick off in grand style with Oscar Cook's PIECE-MEAL. For those who don't know, Cook was a British author who spent some time living in the jungles of Borneo, a setting which influenced all of his exotic horror stories. This one's a classic tale of body horror which packs a real punch. George Langelaan A splendid follow-up to the first anthology; there aren't as many tales collected here, on account of some of them being longer, but for the most part they're brilliant with only a few duds. Things kick off in grand style with Oscar Cook's PIECE-MEAL. For those who don't know, Cook was a British author who spent some time living in the jungles of Borneo, a setting which influenced all of his exotic horror stories. This one's a classic tale of body horror which packs a real punch. George Langelaan's THE FLY follows next, and it's the story that the famous '50s movie was based on. Suffice to say that the film follows the story very closely, and the story is just as good. William Sansom's THE VERTICAL LADDER is the third in the anthology and it's another wonderful premise and perfect for a reader who's scared of heights (like yours truly). It's a simple story about a kid who decides to climb a high and rusting ladder, only to have second thoughts once he's up there. It's quite like Jack Finney's CONTENTS OF A DEAD MAN'S POCKET from the first anthology, and just as tense. POLLOCK AND THE PORROH MAN, by H. G. Wells, is another exotic horror effort, this time detailing an African tribal curse. It's a classic piece of writing and one that's just as good as the best-remembered efforts in this genre, so it's a wonder you don't hear more about it. Wells keeps you guessing as to whether the events are physical or purely psychological, and it has a fine nasty edge like THE CONE. Guy Preston's THE INN is a bit of an old chestnut - a guy breaks down in the middle of nowhere and is forced to spend the night in a lonely inn. However, sometimes the old-fashioned stories are the best, and that's the case here in this delightfully gruesome effort. Bram Stoker's THE JUDGE'S HOUSE, a relatively obscure effort by the DRACULA author, is almost as effective and a clear influence on Lovecraft's RATS IN THE WALLS. THE SPECIALITY OF THE HOUSE is a story by Stanley Ellin that details an unnerving experience in a weird restaurant. The story is fairly guessable, but the subtlety and quality of the writing are what make it work. The next two stories are lesser fare; Agatha Christie's THE LAST SEANCE mixes the quaint and nasty, while Vernon Routh's THE BLACK CREATOR is an unoriginal variation on the Wells novel, THE ISLAND OF LOST SOULS. Stephen Hall's BY ONE, BY TWO, AND BY THREE is another grand old tale of black magic and sinister familiars, containing some great set-pieces. Imagine Dennis Wheatley but with more of a pulp angle and you'll be there. Then we get the return of Oscar Cook, whose BOOMERANG is probably the most singularly grotesque horror story ever written. It's also highly memorable for that reason. Things drop off again for Philip Macdonald's OUR FEATHERED FRIENDS, which is like a weak-sauce version of Hitch's THE BIRDS, and Geoffrey Household's TABOO, which is a well-told but standard werewolf story. Then we get an old favourite, Poe's THE BLACK CAT, which is a classic for a reason, a quality piece of writing that proves to be completely readable and loaded with a spooky atmosphere. The collection finishes with a novella, Carl Stephenson's LEININGEN VERSUS THE ANTS, and boy is it a cracker. It's about a plantation owner in Brazil who learns that an army of millions of flesh-eating ants is on its way, and who refuses to abandon his estate. What follows is ferociously exciting, inevitably horrible, and completely, utterly compelling; truly one of my favourite stories ever written. And on that note, THE 2ND PAN BOOK OF HORROR STORIES is doubtlessly one of the best horror anthologies I've ever read!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mark Hodder

    The first volume was excellent. This, the second, is brilliant. Fifteen tales of terror and not a weak one among them. Extra bonus: this one includes THE FLY by George Langelaan, upon which the 1958 and ’86 movies were based.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hill

    I read the Pan books of horror stories when they originally came out and they are still good reading with a good assortment of stories. No's 2-10 are available on Wordpress.com under Thal van, Herbert. I read the Pan books of horror stories when they originally came out and they are still good reading with a good assortment of stories. No's 2-10 are available on Wordpress.com under Thal van, Herbert.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Don

    Brain candy. The volumes of Pan Book of Horror Stories were handed round the playgrounds of schools back in the 1960s in the way kids swap video games today. I picked this up on the stall of some second-hand book shop for a few pennies and tried to get back to the moods that these stories put me in all that time ago.... Never quite happens, but the attempt was worth it. The story that inspired the two film versions of 'The Fly' is here, as is 'Leiningen Versus the Ants' - which was made into a bi Brain candy. The volumes of Pan Book of Horror Stories were handed round the playgrounds of schools back in the 1960s in the way kids swap video games today. I picked this up on the stall of some second-hand book shop for a few pennies and tried to get back to the moods that these stories put me in all that time ago.... Never quite happens, but the attempt was worth it. The story that inspired the two film versions of 'The Fly' is here, as is 'Leiningen Versus the Ants' - which was made into a big movie starring Charlton Heston ('The Naked Jungle') in 1954. The very best story is William Sansom's 'The Vertical Ladder'. A gaggle of pre-teens wander aimlessly across a derelict industrial estate and find a ladder that extends high up a gas tank. A hot, sweaty day, testosterone fuelled head-butting between the males, and the desire to impress a pretty girl leads to a challenge being thrown-out. Forget ghosts and ghouls - this is truly the most horrifying scenario of them all....

  8. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    Loved these as a young reader- thrillingly scary

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alan Thomson

  10. 5 out of 5

    Owl

  11. 4 out of 5

    K.A.P.Perera

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mavis 69 420 666

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ian Munro

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mads Karlsholm

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nick

  16. 4 out of 5

    David Evans

  17. 5 out of 5

    Arielle

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  19. 4 out of 5

    Wayne Owens

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gerry

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erica

  22. 4 out of 5

    Arthur Chappell

  23. 4 out of 5

    Petra may have a boyfriend - or two, lol

  24. 5 out of 5

    P.S. Gifford

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bill

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kirk King

  27. 5 out of 5

    Simon Hedge

  28. 4 out of 5

    CybcA╥

  29. 4 out of 5

    Vince Stadon

  30. 5 out of 5

    BookAmbler

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