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And Now the Screaming Starts...

Novel by David Case (USA) 1973.

Expanded from his short story 'Fengriffen', first published in Fengriffen and Other Stories (1971), to coincide with the 1973 film, directed by Roy Ward Baker and starring Peter Cushing, Herbert Lom, Patrick Magee and Stephanie Beacham, which was released under this title.

Dr Pope, a psychologist trained at Leipzig in the fledgling days of that science, is summoned to Fengriffen Manor by its master, Charles Fengriffen, who is troubled by the unusual behaviour of his wife, Catherine. Though very much in love with him, her character has changed considerably since becoming pregnant. Dr Pope discovers the presence of a curse, aimed at the next virgin bride of the Fengriffen dynasty in retaliation for the inhumanity of Charles' grandfather, Henry. It seems that a young Fengriffen woodsman named Silas had married a comely young woman, whom Henry in a drunken lust had promptly raped. The girl suffered severe mental damage, and Silas was disfigured. Catherine is of the belief that, as a consequence of the curse, she in turn has been raped, in her sleep, by an incubus and that she is bearing the demon's child. Dr Pope must persuade her otherwise before her sanity is lost.

David Case has either a deep-seated love of language, or an extremely well-thumbed thesaurus. He's obviously fond of using such professionally daunting words as 'fuscous', 'grume', 'flagitiousness', 'albescent' or even 'synallagmatic': sometimes even in dialogue! The ever-astute Isaac Asimov once wrote, "So look it up. How will you become a writer if you don't develop your vocabulary?" Very true, and you won't be much of a reader either, but some of David Case's words don't even appear in my spellchecker or (admittedly concise) dictionary! He also makes quite a few allusions to various classical and biblical sources, from Hypnos and Morpheus to Laodicean indifference. The result of all this admirable literacy is that I had to consult my dictionary more during the course of reading this book than I've needed to since attempting John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids at age eight. But back to the book at hand, and looking carefully there isn't too much to say: the plot is essentially very simple, the catch was expected and the characters are pretty much stereotypes. But like Lovecraft or Poe, Case injects such a depth of feeling into his work that you can literally feel the tension. Catherine felt the evil of Fengriffen Manor the moment she saw it, and the reader feels no less. For a breathtaking ride, this one's worth the price of admission.

This was Case's first novel, but he had already published an acclaimed collection entitled The Cell (1969). After this book, his next novel seems to be a western called Plumb Drillin' (1976), but according to book expert Mike Ashley in his excellent Who's Who in Horror & Fantasy Fiction, he has written about three hundred porn books under seventeen different pseudonyms!


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