Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Alfred Hitchcock's Ghostly Gallery (1962)

By the time I'd reached third grade, I knew the names of exactly three film directors: George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Alfred Hitchcock. I'd seen "The Birds" and "Rear Window", and was aware of "Psycho" (although had not yet seen the entire film), and had seen several reruns of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents". So his name was not new to me when I first came across this anthology of "eleven spooky stories for young people" from nine authors, illustrated by Fred Banbery and with an introduction by Hitchcock.

Hitchcock's tradition of cameo appearances in his films extended to the cover of this book as well.

(As a brief aside, the phrase "ghostly gallery" was already familiar to me from Disneyland's Haunted Mansion attraction, specifically the long-playing record "The Story and Song From The Haunted Mansion". In Hitchcock's first-person introduction to this book, he describes himself as a "ghost host", and just like the Haunted Mansion's ghost host, he begins his monologue with two words: "Good evening." Could Hitchcock's "Ghostly Gallery" have been among the Disney scriptwriters' research materials?)

The complete contents of the book are:

Introduction (Alfred Hitchcock)
Miss Emmeline Takes Off (Walter Brooks)
The Valley of the Beasts (Algernon Blackwood)
The Haunted Trailer (Robert Arthur)
The Upper Berth (F. Marion Crawford)
The Wonderful Day (Robert Arthur)
The Truth About Pyecraft (H.G. Wells)
Housing Problem (Henry Kuttner)
In A Dim Room (Lord Dunsany)
Obstinate Uncle Otis (Robert Arthur)
The Waxwork (A.M. Burrage)
The Isle of Voices (Robert Louis Stevenson)

My favorite is "The Waxwork" (A.M. Burrage), about a journalist who wishes to spend the night in the Murderers' Den section of a creepy wax museum, hoping to parlay the experience into an interesting article. One of the figures depicts a Dr. Bourdette, a hypnosis expert who mesmerized, then murdered, several women, but was never apprehended.

Several times throughout the night, the journalist thinks he sees the figure moving slightly in his peripheral vision, and things only get scarier from there.


Kiyote said...

I loved this book as a kid! Thanks for scanning all of those wonderful illistrations!

Darren said...

I also loved this book as a kid, and managed to buy a copy years later. To this day, "The Upper Berth" is one of my favorite short stories.

CurshDude said...

Awesome. Checked this book out from the library many times as a kid. Loved other Hitchcock editions as well. I have this and other ones to this day. The best stories that never get old. Why can't people write stories like this anymore?? Thanks for the great illustrations. Glad there are others that appreciate this stuff.

Unknown said...

I love this book as well! My favorite is "Miss Emmeline Takes Off".

Thomas DiMaggio said...

I've never forgotten the stories in this book; they helped to shape my understanding of just what language can do in a creative context. I still remember how I laughed at how the author of "Miss Emmeline Takes Off" described the end of Mr. Maule: "With a triumphant expression on his face, he rose into the air and flew out the window. But since he had no broomstick to steer with, he rose swiftly and disappeared in a southwesterly direction; and there is really very little point in speculating about what became of him, for he was never seen again." These are GREAT stories for readers of all ages; like all good fantasies, you can enjoy them just as much at 60 as at 6.

Todd Mason said...

Robert Arthur ghost-edited this and most of the other Random House YA "Hitchcock" anthologies, as well as ghost-writing the introductions. Arthur also edited the AH PRESENTS: anthologies for Random House from 1956 through his death in 1969. He almost always included a few of his own stories. (After Arthur's death, Henry Veit died a couple more YA anthos, and Harold Q. Masur edited a number of the adult books till Hitchcock's death in 1979...and Patricia Hitchcock and Muriel Fuller edited one early Random House volume, the former in the adult series and Fuller with the first YA anthology, AH'S HAUNTED HOUSEFUL.

Brother Bill said...

@Todd Mason thanks for those insights. I think I still have an old copy of Arthur's "Ghosts and More Ghosts" lying around here somewhere.

Unknown said...

I have found memories of this book. All of the stories were great, but my favorites were the haunted trailer and obstinate Uncle Otis.