Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes was an award-winning, British author and editor of weird tales and horror stories. He published numerous novels and short stories and edited over 20 anthologies, most notably THE FONTANA BOOK OF GREAT GHOST STORIES series. Two movies based exclusively on his stories, FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (1974, Reviewed here earlier this year https://horrordelve.com/2016/01/03/anthology-films-from-beyond-the-grave/ ) and MONSTER CLUB (1980), were produced by Amicus Productions.
Here’s a look at a few of his stories:
1. “Looking For Something To Suck” (1969) – A woman who once caused a spirit to psychically manifest inside a haunted house as a teenager, fears something similar is happening again as an adult when she senses something stalking her in the shadows. Her husband thinks she’s being foolish when she asks him to keep the lights on at night. This is an excellent, creepy tale that well conveys the fear of darkness and what may lurk in it as well.
2. “The Door” (1973) – A writer purchases an elaborate old door that came from an old estate being torn down called Claverage Grange. He has it installed as a closet door even though his wife is creeped out by it. The husband soon begins having dreams about an ancient blue room behind the door and hears footsteps approaching. As the dreams progress, he learns of the room’s evil history and the mortal danger he and his wife are in because of it. This excellent story was adapted for the film FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE.
3. “Neighbors” (1973) – A nosy woman insists on her family going over to introduce themselves to their peculiar new neighbors, more to learn about them than out of friendliness. The newcomers turn out to be far stranger than they could have expected.
4. “A Matter of Life and Death” (1973) – A man who’s become tired of the comfortable, yet uneventful life he has with his long time wife, contacts an old friend to kill him in order to escape it in this story with a twist.
5. “The Fly-By-Night” (1975) – A father’s adult daughter becomes attached to a strange, bat-like little creature their cat brings into the house. The father notices the creature seems to enjoy whenever he argues with his daughter. He tries to convince her to get rid of it, but she refuses leading to another big fight. The creature quickly grows larger and flies into the town where acts of violence skyrocket. This is a fun tale which introduces a unique monster.
6. “The Limping Ghost” (1975) – A young girl is shunned by her parents and brother due to her fascination with the ghost of a limping man they call Mr. Miss-One who haunts their house. Mr. Miss-One seems oblivious to them as he goes about various household chores. The daughter feels she loves the ghost and strives to make contact with him against the orders of her domineering family.
7. “The Wind-Billie” (1979) – A grandmother, rumored to be a witch, tells her grandsons about creatures called Wind-Billies who nest in chimneys to give birth. The curious boys make the mistake of going to see for themselves.
8. “The Hanging Tree” (1984) – A precocious young girl becomes fascinated by the shadowy figure watching and beckoning to her from a bench by a large tree across the street from her family’s house. None of the others attending Christmas Eve dinner there are able to see him. This is a top notch, eerie tale with a rich Christmas setting.
9. “The Passing of an Ordinary Man” (1986) – This story is about the peculiar disappearance of a friendly, ordinary man and how it affects his jovial, extroverted wife. The characters of this story are well fleshed out and the story is touching, sombre, and mysterious.
10. “Regression” (1988) – A man swallows a bunch of pills after deciding to commit suicide because of the terrible track his life has taken. While he’s in the process of dying, he begins to remember when he was at his happiest. Suddenly, he’s returned to when he was seven years old and his parents were still alive on a fateful day. While not really scary, this is a great Twilight Zone style of story with great characters and descriptions of the time period to which the man regresses back.
Article by Matt Cowan