Robert Muller – Supernatural
Posted by demonik on July 27, 2007
Robert Muller (ed.) – Supernatural; Haunting Stories of Gothic Terror (Fontana, 1977)
Devised and edited by Robert Muller
“During the final years of the last century, there still stood a mansion in Limehouse, to the east of London, known as The House on the River.
Here men with bizarre tastes would meet once a month in order to terrify each other by means of true stories of horror and the supernatural. Those story-tellers who failed to impress the assembly were – it is said – never seen again. Those who succeeded were permitted to join: THE CLUB OF THE D****D”.
I’ve not met anybody who can recall this BBC series, but, if this book is anything to go by, it must have been fun. From the book jacket we learn that Billie Whitelaw appeared in “Countess Ilona” and that the series was produced by Peter Rogers.The stories in this tie-in are all adaptations of Robert Muller’s original scripts, except Viktoria …, which was scripted by Sue Lake.
Rosemary Timperley – Dorabella, or In Love With Death
Mary Danby – Lady Sybil, or The Phantom Of Black Gables
Brian Leonard Hayles – Heirs, or The Workshop Of Filthy Creation
Roger Malisson – Countess Ilona, or The Werewolf Reunion
Sue Lake – Viktoria, or The Hungarian Doll
Robert Muller – Mr. Nightingale, or Burning Masts
Rosemary Timperley – Gall, or Ghost Of Venice
Rosemary Timperley – Dorabella, or In Love With Death: Two young men, Walter Von Lamont and our narrator Philip Hambledon are travelling across Europe by coach. Walter is enamoured by a fellow passenger, the beautiful young women whose constant companion is a raven in a golden cage. A jealous young poet attacks Walter with a knife, but he manages to deflect the blade all to easily whereupon his assailant inflicts multiple stab wounds on himself “with a crazed, joyous shout.”
Next day, the young man’s corpse is loaded onto a cart: “his face and throat were chalk white, as if all the blood had been drained from his veins.” Walter and Philip now join the young lady, and observe that her luggage consists of a long trunk. Dorabella is, of course, an ancient vampire and the raven her father, and between them they’ve fingered Walter as their next victim. Philip learns their deadly secret, but can he save his friend from the Undead?
Mary Danby – Lady Sybil, or The Phantom Of Black Gables: Dorking. The domineering Lady Sybil’s husband drowned himself in two feet of water, unable to take any more of his unlovely wife. After his death, Sybil and her two sons live as recluses if you discount the servants. Geoffrey is a doctor and Edward a failed composer given to boozing away his crippling frustration.
Now in her seventieth year, of late Sybil has been haunted by a shadowy figure in a cape and top hat whose slimy footprints can clearly be discerned leading to the house from the river. Has her husband returned from the grave to exact supernatural revenge or is perhaps Edward, easily led by his brother, masquerading as the ghost in order to drive the old girl insane?
We end on a note of terror with one party confined to an Asylum.
Brian Leonard Hayles – Heirs, or The Workshop Of Filthy Creation: 1882. Following in the footsteps of Byron and Shelley, the narrator, his wife Elizabeth and daughter Mary travel across Europe until they wind up at a remote Alpine Inn where they decide to remain for a few weeks until after Mary’s nineteenth birthday. The Inn is run by the ancient Hubert family, and, aside for their hospitality and culinary accomplishments, they are skilled puppeteers, putting on a unique show once a year which is as brilliant as it is horrifying. The star of the show is the black murderer: when he rises from the grave to commit his crimes it is almost as if the life-size victims bleed …
Mary who, like her father, has become obsessed with the Frankenstein novel during their stay, is to suffer the fate of the puppet show’s White Princess: she is abducted by the killer and becomes a mindless doll, having discovered the Huberts’ secret and their workshop of filthy creation …
Roger Malisson – Countess Ilona, or The Werewolf Reunion: Castle Tyrhh, East Hungary, 13th March 1880: The Countess invites four gentlemen to a reunion party at the remote castle of her late husband. The quartet from her dubious past comprise the Baron Von Hallen, Dr. Felix Krauss, arms dealer Zoltan Vinzenz and, incongruously, Hugo Hoffman, a sensitive artist. All are party to a dark secret. During the night, amidst the cries of the timber wolves, the four are torn apart and partially eaten. It transpires that each played a party in the tragedy of Ilona’s life, namely the tainted blood of her beloved son Hugo, as each had known what her husband was when they abandoned her to him in order to further their careers. A fine slab of Gothic melodrama and the episode I’d most like to see from the series.
Sue Lake – Viktoria or, The Hungarian Doll: Narrated by somebody with their head all bandaged up. Uncaring husband Paul is topped by ‘Rosa’, a dressmakers doll animated by the spirit of his crippled wife, Elizabeth. Paul has recently remarried, but he’s just as indifferent to wife #2, Theresa who promptly turns lesbian (!) The inevitable servants bring about the worthless wretch’s downfall.
Robert Muller – Mr. Nightingale or, Burning Masts: Mr. Nightingale, a shy, inexperienced 35 year old, is in Hamburg on his father’s business, boarding with the Steekebeck family who have a fancy for reading Gothic horror stories aloud. This and the close proximity of four women proves too much for Mr. Nightingale and his lecherous other self soon establishes total control. First he attacks Elyse who subsequently falls pregnant. Next it is the turn of her unstable sister, Felizitas, who longs to see the old ships in the harbour aflame like they were during the great fire of 1842. Felizitas gets her wish: Mr. Nightingale deflowers her, sets the ships ablaze and leaves her to go racing into the heart of the flames.
The ladies and gentlemen of the Club of the Damned take a dim view of his story, and, regarding him as no better than a base murderer, they dispose of him in the approved manner.
Rosemary Timperley – Gall, or Ghost Of Venice: Adrian Gall, an illustrious actor is lured back to Venice where he is convinced that something was stolen from him some years ago on what proved to be his final performance. We soon learn that he has suffered a breakdown: he attempted to kill his wife, Charlotte, onstage after his mistress Leonora drowned herself on his account. Now, adrift in the seedy world of the pimps and prostitutes he encounters the ghost of his once-lover who leads him into madness, death and damnation.
The story is related in suitably sepulchral tones by Gall’s ghost who ends by delivering a chilling rebuke to the assembled company.