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The Faculty Of Terror
John Llewellyn Probert
Gray Friar paperback £7.50 / $14

review by Sean Parker

Ah, this one is fun. John L. Probert writes with some of the same warped humour as the late Robert Bloch, and here he has written a book which can be seen as a tribute to the anthology movies of the 1960s and 1970s, especially those produced by Amicus. Bloch wrote several tales that were used in these anthology films (as well as the screenplay for the classic Asylum, starring Robert Powell) and Probert has captured the feeling of these films perfectly.

This is not to say that these tales are enjoyable as a tribute only. Each of them works perfectly as a standalone. The framing device (of a dinner party) adds to it by combining everything into a unified whole, as well as providing the surprise ending. The book even has mock-DVD style 'extras', and suggested theme music and credits. The stories themselves, well...

There is a tale of revenge set in an office, with something nasty in the fax machine. There is trouble caused by a window which holds someone (or something) trapped in its glass. We have the misfortune to witness the horrors inflicted by a criminal doctor in the pay of an underworld boss. Then we move on to visit an old stone cottage with something old and terrible in the walls, detouring for a quick journey through some very mysterious paintings, until we reach the story of a musician and the price he pays to have his revenge on those that have wronged him.

Each of these tales is effective and provokes either shivers of fear, or repulsion - there is some very effective nastiness to be found here. The only tale which didn't quite work for me was The States Of The Art, which is, intentionally so, much lighter in tone, but failed to grab my imagination in the same way as the rest of the book. This should be put down to personal taste, though, nothing more.

A fitting tribute to the anthology films, this is definitely one for Amicus fans, and also anyone else that enjoys a good old-fashioned horror read. Recommended.
Faculty of Terror

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