Table of Contents
- Kirby McCauley – Introduction
- Ray Bradbury – At Midnight, in the Month of June
- Walter de la Mare – A: B: O.
- Thomas M. Disch – Minnesota Gothic
- Joseph Payne Brennan – The Jugular Man
- Fritz Leiber – Alice and the Allergy
- L. P. Hartley – The Island
- Gahan Wilson – Yesterday’s
- Dennis Etchison – Wet Season
- H. P. Lovecraft & August Derleth – Innsmouth Clay
- Robert E. Howard – People of the Black Coast
- Ramsey Campbell – Call First
- Richard L. Tierney – From Beyond the Stars
- Robert Bloch – The Funny Farm
- Carl Jacobi – The Face in the Wind
- Manly Wade Wellman – Goodman’s Place
- Mary Elizabeth Counselman – Kellerman’s Eyepiece
- Karl Edward Wagner – Sticks
- Marjorie Bowen – The Sign-Painter and the Crystal Fishes
1975 Blurb: “Eighteen spine-freezing visions of the world of supernatural terror which lurks within!
INTO THE MIND’S DARKEST SECRETS…ROBERT BLOCH, FRITZ LIEBER, ROBERT E. HOWARD, RAY BRADBURY, H. P LOVECRAFT… these are only a few of the renowned horror storytellers whose work haunts the pages of this book. Here you’ll discover a fatal night-time game of hide-and-seek… a rusted, mouldy trunk containing a ghastly artifact… a sinister fairy tale encounter in the autumn countryside… a strange device which calls the dead from the grave… an allergy with a macabre origin… a Halloween prank which brings eerie consequences… a touch of slimy evil in an ordinary family… these, and many other chilling experiences, await within these pages, to haunt the reader with a breath of cold terror.
A TREASURY OF HORROR MASTERWORKS NEVER BEFORE IN PAPERBACK!
Night Chills tends to get overlooked in the rush to praise [ McCauley’s other anthologies:] Frights  and especially Dark Forces ; but [Night Chills is] a first-class selection, reminiscent in many ways of the kind of anthology August Derleth was knocking out in the 1960s and 1970s.I
Night Chills, Story Synopses:
WARNING…MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!
Walter De La Mare – A.B.O.: Keen antiquarians Dugdale and Pelluther excavate a metallic chest from beneath an ugly, stunted yew tree in the former’s garden. Engraved on the lid, a single word of which only the first three letters have survived the elements. They lug it inside for examination but “Would to God that we had forthwith carried the chest unopened to the garden and buried it deeper than deep!” Luckily for us, Dugdale takes a chisel to the lid and unleashes a spectacularly horrible, undead walking ABO.
According to McCauley, A.B.O. was first published in The Cornhill under the nom de plume Walter Ramal which may explain why anthologists have overlooked it down the years.
Joseph Payne Brennan – The Jugular Man: Marliss, an antiquarian, buys a curious turtle ornament at a second-hand market. The dealer explains that it came from an affluent Southern family who fell upon hard times. The turtle is fitted with a concealed bell which the family used to summon the servants. When the loyal old retainer developed crippling arthritis, they discontinued the practice unless there was a dire emergency. The years of disuse mean the bell no longer works.
At the same time as Marliss makes his purchase, the city is living in fear of the Jugular Man, a burglar with the nasty habit of slitting the throats of those he robs. When Marliss disturbs him at his midnight capers, the Jugular Man comes at him with a knife. Marliss grabs the first thing at hand – the turtle. The bell shrills. The faithful retainer hasn’t worn well in the grave ….
Robert Bloch – The Funny Farm: Joseph Satterlee, a retired accountant, lives as a recluse, his only companions the comic strips he’s amassed these past fifty years, having spent a small fortune on old newspapers that ran them during his youth. Mandrake the Magician, Prince Valiant, Happy Hooligan and Little Orphan Annie & Co., are his friends of fifty years.
Lenny Morgan, a burglar with a very nasty streak, gets wind of old Joe’s collection and dollar signs flash before his eyes.
All I can think of is that the editor suffered a break-in while compiling Night Chills because here’s another one!
Ramsey Campbell – Call First: Ned grows obsessed with an old man’s habit of always telephoning before he leaves the library, merely to let somebody know “I’m coming home now”. He also fixates about the ring the guy wears on his wedding finger, which seems to have a human finger-nail embedded where the stone should be. He decides to break into the man’s home, where he encounters a highly sophisticated – and original – burglar alarm. Every black magician should have one.
Gahan Wilson – Yesterday’s Witch: It’s an age old tradition among the kids that, once they’ve reached the age of thirteen, come Halloween they must pay a visit to Miss Marble’s place, ring her doorbell and run away. The reclusive old woman is a reputed witch and Fred Pulley claims he once spotted her in her garden pulling bones from the ground. And her teeth! “they’re long and yellow. And they come to points at the ends. I think I saw blood on them.”
Tonight it’s our narrator’s turn. He pulls on his papier mache corpse mask and sets off with his gang. Their comeuppance is way too gentle for my tastes. I’d have preferred she set about the little bastards with a chainsaw, but thats most likely the romantic in me talking again.
Mary Elizabeth Counselman – Kellerman’s Eyepiece: When he focuses on the Sea of Tranquility with the fire-damaged lens purchased from the Cruikshank Scientific Co, amateur astrologer Cyril Kellerman observes gnat-like beings with the face of Neil Armstrong emerging from the moon’s craters. Another customer in Tokyo, sixteen year old star-gazer Hideo Nagashima, who also witnesses this phenomena, dies in an ‘accidental’ fall from the roof, but not before he’s shared his scary Earth’s conquest theory with Kellerman. Story told entirely in correspondence and a newspaper clipping.
Karl E. Wagner – Sticks: Spring 1942. Having just received his call-up papers, pulp artist Colin Leverett decides upon a fishing expedition in the desolate Mann Brook region. Tramping the cairn alongside the stream, Leverett is intrigued by the profusion of latticed stick symbols strewn through the trees, each of which “remind … him unpleasantly of some bizarre crucifix.” Having sketched several of these weird stick figures, he investigates a decrepit farmhouse where he discovers far, far worse. The events of that day haunt him far worse than anything he experiences during the war and, when he returns home, his obsession with the sticks sees him incorporate them in much of his increasingly gruesome illustrative work which by now even Weird Tales is reluctantly rejecting as too horrific.
Several years later, Leverett is offered a commission to illustrate a collection of H. Kenneth Allard’s stories by specialist publisher Gothic House. His acceptance of the job sets in motion a grisly chain of events that sees the brutal murder of several horror luminaries and culminates in his final encounter with the abomination he first saw in the farmhouse cellar thirty years previous.
In his afterword to the story in Stuart David Schiff’s Whispers (Jove, 1987), Wagner reveals that the inspiration for Sticks came from a real-life experience of Weird Tales regular Lee Brown Coye and, naturally, the truth was eerier by far than the fiction.
Thomas M. Disch – Minnesota Gothic: While her parents are in California attending Grandpa’s cremation, seven year old Gretel is dumped on ancient neighbour, Minnie Haeckel and the whatever-it-is that’s animating her brother Lew’s corpse, thirty years after she dug it up. ‘Lew’ is an invalid who Minnie keeps locked away in his pigsty of a room, just as well, really as he has nasty paedophile tendencies. Matters come to a head when Minnie bakes a gingerbread toad. Lew warns Gretel that his sister is a wicked witch and the only way she can save herself is to take some dough, mould it into Minnie’s shape, and eat it ….
Fritz Leiber – Alice and the Allergy: For these past two years Dr. Howard’s young wife Alice has been a martyr to puffy-eyes, panic attacks and depression, but as yet neither he nor Dr. Renshaw from the Allergy lab have been able to discover what exactly sets her off. Howard believes what she really needs is a psychiatrist. She was raised by a man-hating aunt who filled her head with all sorts of notions and it hardly helped matters when she was attacked by the rapist-cum-strangler who’d terrorised three Midwestern cities over a lengthy period. But that man has been dead for two years, so why is she so terrified that he’s coming back for her.