The protagonist in T.E.D. Klein’s The Ceremonies mentions that this book is on his shelf. I promised myself I would read all of the horror fiction referenced in The Ceremonies, but after attempting to read the truly atrocious Ingoldsby Legends, I had to wait a while before going any further with Klein’s recommendations.
The Alabaster Hand is the only work of fiction by Alan Noel Latimer Munby that was ever published. It’s a collection of ghost stories that were written while the author was being detained in a prisoner of war camp in Nazi Germany. The collection is dedicated to M.R. James, and James’s influence can be felt in every one of these tales.
Munby was a serious book nerd. He was an antiquarian book dealer, a librarian at Cambridge and the President of the Bibliographical Society. His characters, like those of James, share his interests, and his passion for old books creeps into several of the stories here. There’s mysterious diaries, terrifying grimoires and an antiquarian bookshop run by a pervert. The book nerd in me couldn’t help but enjoy these tales. I spend a good deal of my free time researching quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore, but Munby took these pursuits to another level. I get the sense that Munby was romanticising the life of an antiquarian though. Michael Cox, in his 1995 introduction to this collection notes, “The stories in The Alabaster Hand are deliberately retrospective in their evocation of a world that, by 1949, had largely vanished.” It’s hard to imagine anyone other than a carefree Victorian Lord having the necessary time and money to pull off a life truly dedicated to the pursuit and study of antiquarian books.
There’s one story in here called ‘The Negro’s Head’ that is liable to cause offence to modern readers. It’s about a black lad who is murdered for being black. Although the narrator does not condone this murder, he does end the story with regrets for the “savage who was so grievously wronged at the hands of one of my own countrymen.” I know words were used differently back then, but describing a murder victim as a savage seems pretty silly by any standard. I’m quite sure Munby actually meant well here, but I’d still skip to the next story if I was reading this one on the bus.
My favourites in the collection were ‘Herodes Redivivus’, ‘The Book of Hours’, ‘Number Seventy Nine’ and ‘The Devil’s Autograph’. As fun as some of these stories were, none of them were remotely scary. I recall feeling a bit creeped out when I read some of James’ stories, but nothing in this book had that effect. They’re decently entertaining though, and if you like M.R. James, this may be the next best thing. It’s quite short too. You might as well read it.
Billy, a pathetic frigid, invites cool dude R.J. on a camping trip to find bigfoot. The back cover of the book suggests that he is really inviting R.J. so that he can kill him, but this isn’t actually what the book is about. The thought of harming his friend does pass through his head when they’re on the camping trip, but only as a passing fancy.
The two lads eventually run into a gang of Bigfoot (bigfeet?), and they manage to kill one of the beasts. Unfortunately, on their way home, R.J. gets hit by a car and their bigfoot corpse gets lost in the woods.
There are a few other little bits and pieces going on in this story, but that’s the basic plot. Let me tell you why it’s stupid.
There’s too much character development for this kind of book. Billy is a little incel nerd, and he’s clearly extremely jealous of R.J. There’s a lot of backstory here, and it’s probably the most entertaining part of the book. But this is supposed to be a violent horror novel about bloodthirsty bigfeet, not a soap opera. Sure, we know why Billy is jealous of his friend, but we have no idea why he decides to try to catch a bigfoot. The revenge/jealousy part of the book has nothing to do with the Bigfoot part.
The ending is a cop-out. Yes, Billy still has the photos of the bigfoot, but by the end, I didn’t give a shit about that part of the book. I wanted to know if he was going to kill R.J. or not. That’s the story this book is set up to tell. R.J. getting hit by a car is a painful deus ex machina.
There are a few bits with bloodthirsty bigfeet, but they take up maybe 2 of the 200 or so pages of this utterly shit book. The book is called The Hunt, but “The Awkward Camping Trip” would be a far more appropriate title. (As a matter of fact, the original title of this book was “Bagging Bigfoot”. I once read a book called “Boffing Bigfoot“.)
This book tries to do several things, but it fails at all of them. Avoid this rubbish.
I read a few Joe R. Lansdale books last year (Part 1, Part 2). Some were great, and I ended the year as a Lansdale fan. I gathered from social media and other blogs that his short stories are some of his best writing, and I decided to look at them next. His first story collection, By Bizarre Hands , is highly esteemed, but I opted instead for High Cotton and Bumper Crop. These are ‘best of’ collections that came out in 2000 and 2004 respectively. There has since been another greatest hits collection, but its contents are nearly all included in the collections I read, and what’s left, I can read some other time.
For the purposes of this review, I’m going to treat the two collections as one. I cannot imagine a person reading one and then not wanting to read the other. The original Golden Gryphon Press editions are hard to find now, but both collections have been reissued by Crossroads Press.
I had read one of Lansdale’s short stories in the first Splatterpunks Anthology a few years ago, and then I read the God of the Razor ones after finishing The Nightrunners. I didn’t bother to reread these ones.
I was actually working on some short fiction right before reading these collections (I’m debating whether to post it here), and I actually found these books quite inspiring. My biggest struggle with writing fiction is coming up with ideas, and it’s really cool to see an author taking what are often silly ideas and then going through with turning them into a story. ‘Fire Dog’ is a perfect example. It’s very silly, but also very entertaining.
Some of the stories are hilarious, but some are also extremely violent and deeply disturbing. ‘I Tell You It’s Love’ was my favourite. It’s the romantic tale of a couple of deranged sadomasochists. It’s quite nasty. I’m already looking forward to reading it again.
Joe R. Lansdale’s readers won’t need PhDs in literature to see that his writing is openly anti-racist, but these books contain the n-word an awful lot (well over 100 times in High Cotton). The usage of this word is to show the ignorance of the characters using it, and this is nearly always entirely obvious, but it definitely dates the writing. I can’t say for sure because I haven’t read any of his recent books, but I doubt Lansdale puts that word on paper as much as he did in the 80s. Again though, he was very clearly trying to use his writing to condemn prejudice.
Lansdale’s writing is exactly the kind of stuff I need when I’m coming down off some high falutin’ literary horror that I’ve had to push myself to get through. It’s not that his writing is dumbed down or anything like that; his stories are just a lot of fun to read. His prose is tight and he tells a mean story. I am, without doubt, going to read more of his short story collections in the future.
I read Poppy Z. Brite’s novel, Lost Souls, a few years ago, and this, his first collection of short stories, is more of the same. I’m a straight guy in my mid 30s, and I enjoyed the Hell out of this book, but if, by chance, you’re a queer goth teenager, throw whatever the fuck you’re reading in the garbage and read this instead. This reminds me so much of people I used to hang out with when I was younger that it made me quite nostalgic.
These are mostly stories about skinny, sensitive, gay goth boys who drink too much. They encounter geeks, zombies, corpse thieves and other freaks. ‘His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood’ might be my favourite story of the bunch, but I also really enjoyed reading about Steve and Ghost from Lost Souls in ‘How to Get ahead in New York’ and ‘Angels’. I know that Brite’s 2nd novel also features characters from that Lost Souls, and I intend to read that one soon too.
I realised about halfway through ‘Xenophobia’ that I had read it before in the second Splatterpunks anthology. I have seen Poppy Z. Brite associated with Splatterpunk but I don’t know why. His writing is too good. The last story in this collection, while plenty violent, reminded me more of Ligotti than anything else.
If you want to read this collection, it might be easier to find the Dell edition titled Wormwood. It’s the same book. Be careful though, because there is also a collection by Brite titled His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood. That one only contains 4 of these stories.
I really enjoyed Swamp Foetus. There was one story about a little kid dying that was a bit upsetting, but it ended the way I hoped it would. I am looking forward to reading more Poppy Z. Brite in the future.
Guy N. Smith wrote a lot of books, and I wasn’t sure of which one to read first. I didn’t want to commit to any of his series to begin with, so I looked at his standalone novels. I chose 1989’s The Festering as my starting point as it had the mingingest cover. I can honestly say that this novel is now one of my favourite books ever.
A couple move to the English countryside to escape urban life. Their plumbing is dodgy, so they have well dug in their garden. Unfortunately, an ancient, diseased corpse was buried there, and the lads who dig the well end up contracting the disease.
This disease causes you to grow disgusting boils all over and to leak stinking pus and slime from every orifice. It also increases sexual and aggressive urges. Those who get sick end up going on violent rampages and end up as a rancid puddle of noisome muck.
“it was surely a demented diseased stranger, some cancerous monstrosity bent on a final depravity before whatever was eating away his body claimed him for its own.”
I loved this book. It was really horrible.
It was written in 1989, and it’s hard not to think that the AIDS crisis had something to do with the plot. The Festering Death is directly compared to AIDS twice within the text. This seems rather insensitive now, but I think everyone reading this book in 2022 will understand how uncertainty about the symptoms and contagiousness of a disease can be used as an effective means to create tension. Also, the symptoms of the disease in the book are nothing like those of AIDS.
I also know that it’s not really fair to judge an author based on the tendencies of their characters, but the misogyny on display in this book is hard ignore. The men throw out phrases like “fucking little whore”, “poxy cow”, “poxy bitch” and my personal favourite, “a filthy slag offering her body for a pittance on a street corner.” This is real classy stuff.
“sores that pulsed even after life had deserted the wretched body, spreading and feeding on the dead flesh with revolting rapidity and cancerous lust.”
I liked the simplicity of the horror at work here. The focus is on how pus filled boils are really gross. This focus is utterly relentless. The boils are disgusting, and they smell really awful. Seriously, the horrible scummy slime inside these weeping sores is both vile and rancid. Ewwww, stink!
The Festering is as trashy as they come, but it was exactly what I needed. I shall be reading more Guy N. Smith in the future.
Mysterious humanoids are roaming our earth, and a diabolical plan of deception, delusion, and destruction has already commenced.
UFOs Satanic Terror – Basil Tyson
Horizon – 1977
I ordered a copy of this book immediately after discovering its existence. I knew that there was no way it could live up to its title, but I needed to have a copy of it on my bookshelf regardless.
The basic idea here is that aliens are actually just servants of the Devil who have been sent to Earth to lead people away from Christianity. The book doesn’t really give any sensible explanation of this theory though. It’s more of a “we don’t understand this, so it must be the Devil” deal.
The one remarkable thing about this book is the way it highlights the narrowness of the author’s worldview. I don’t believe in extraterrestials visiting Earth, but Basil Tyson’s arguments against this narrative are more ridiculous than the narrative itself. He uses passages from the Old Testament to explain events that were supposedly happening the the 20th century. Basil Tyson really comes across as a frightened, confused fool.
After spending much of the book discussing how occultism is dangerous, Tyson claims to be a psychic himself. This is part of the reason he knows so much about the UFO phenomenon. He claims that several demons have appeared to him over the course of his life, one was disguised as his mom. He talked to these demons, and he was even brave enough to laugh at one who was not particularly scary. A tough lad was our Basil.
Basil Tyson was a crazy man, and this is a crazy book. Unfortunately, it’s actually quite a boring read. If you’re into this kind of thing, Bob Larson’s UFOs and the Alien Agenda is a more entertaining piece of garbage on the exact same topic.
7 years ago, I published my first book review on Nocturnal Revelries. Since then, I have made 360ish other posts and reviewed more than 500 books. During the 2018-2021 period, I posted at least one review per week. By the end of last year, I was getting a bit frustrated with the weekly deadline, and in January 2022, I decided to slow things down a small bit. I’m still reading lots, and I have a ton of future posts planned, but I’m not going to force myself to waste my time reading stuff I’m not interested in just to have something to post on Sundays. This has been pretty good for me. I’ve been working on a few other projects (music, creative writing, and a very dodgy podcast), and I’ll probably use some of these projects for future posts.
Sometimes I get a bit frustrated at the lack of traffic this site actually sees. I work for months on some posts, and it’s usually the posts that I throw together quickly that search engines seem to favour. I’ve tried looking into search engine optimisation and boosting my social media presence to gain traffic, but I lose interest in that stuff very quickly. I’d rather just read a book.
I was going to do a “weirdest books I’ve reviewed” list for this post, but as I looked back over the stuff I’ve written about, I realised there were simply too many to choose from. I’ve done best of posts for every year since 2016, and they might be a good place to look for the most interesting books, but the best place to see the entire range of books I’ve posted about is on the index page. I had a good look over those while writing this post, and it brought back a lot of good memories. Nocturnal Revelries may not be the most popular blog in the world, but I’m damned proud of it, and I reckon there’s another few years left in it still. Thanks to everyone who checks in occasionally. I really hope it’s enjoyable/informative.
Kenneth Rayner Johnson was an occult scholar, an alchemist, and a writer of trashy horror paperbacks. Despite the fact that he was obviously a super interesting individual, there’s barely any information about him online. The search for this information is hugely complicated by the fact that there are several authors called Ken Johnson who write about occulty/Biblical stuff and a different Kenneth R. Johnson who is an expert on science-fiction pornography. Goodreads is currently attributing half of Kenneth Rayner Johnson’s books to these other authors. I have spent the last 6 months piecing together as much accurate information about this lad as I could find, and I am excited to share these findings with the world. Kenneth Rayner Johnson worked as a journalist in the 60s. He lived most of his life in the UK, but spent some time in Canada (I wish I knew where!) Most of his books were published in the late 70s/early 80s. These books are a curious mix of B-movie novelisations, bizarre works of occultism and paperback horror novels. I did not manage to read all of his books, but I got through the important ones.
Let’s start with the novels.
The Succubus NEL 1980
First published in 1977, The Succubus, as far as I can know, was Johnson’s first original novel. I only figured out that it was largely based on a true story when I was halfway through it. In the 70s, an American woman kidnapped a Mormon, chained him to her bed and repeatedly raped him. When the story hit the news, it sent the media into a frenzy of sensationalism. This actually happened, and there’s even a critically acclaimed documentary movie about it.
Kenneth Rayner Johnson took the story of “The Manacled Mormon” and threw in a rapist demon. It’s an entertaining read, but I felt very let down by the ending.
The book starts at the court case. Candice Maltman is found not guilty by reason of insanity and is sentenced to a stay in a fancy madhouse. She is very clearly still in love with Troy Valens, the dude she raped. Troy runs out of the courtroom and straight to his friends house. When he goes to bed that night, he is visited by a ghostly woman who gives him a good ride. She comes back for a shag every night after this. At first he thinks she is just a crazy sex fiend, but then he realises she’s a ghost or something. As this is happening, Candice is acting very strangely at the mental asylum. Her brainwaves are all over the place, and it seems like she’s asleep when she’s awake and awake when she’s asleep.
This part of the book was really enjoyable. There was lots of sex and supernatural suspense. It is hinted that Candice had made some forays into occultism before abducting Troy, and I was assuming that she had summoned some kind of demon that was helping her astrally rape him or something. This would have been great. Unfortunately this is not what’s actually happening.
Next paragraph contains spoilers. Skip it if you’re planning to read the book.
Actually, the evil spirit that is raping is actually the demon Lillith. The idiot who previously lived in the apartment where Troy is staying had summoned her years ago and never banished her. He was never able to see her because the numerical value of the letters in his name are different to the numerical values of the letters in “Lillith”. Troy and Lillith’s numerical values are the same so he can see her. Somehow, and this is absolutely never explained, Lillith has also been hiding in Candice’s body, even though she is miles away in a mental hospital and has never entered the room that Lillith has been trapped in for years. Fucking stupid. It doesn’t make any sense. The whole time you’re waiting for some kind of explanation for the initial kidnapping, but that part is purely incidental to the succubus stuff. This is a book about a man who gets raped by two entirely separate females that eventually become the same female for absolutely no reason.
Kenneth Rayner Johnson was pretty heavily into the occult as far as I can tell, and he references plenty of books that I’ve reviewed on here. Seabrook, Summers, Sinistrari, Maple… but well researched as he may be, I am not sure about the veracity of some of his claims.
There is one part where Johnson claims that Saint Aloysius Gonzaga masturbated himself to death. I love reading about Saints and Popes who have done messed up stuff, and I had to check this out. I’m pretty sure that Ken just made this one up. He references Butler’s Lives of the Saints as his source for this information, but I checked a couple of editions of that book and neither mentioned death by wanking. They actually claim that Saint Gonzaga died of a disease he contracted while tending to sick people. He is believed (by some) to have lived his entire life without committing a mortal sin, and he’s known for his devotion to chastity. I’m always down to trash Christianity, and I think it’s hilarious if Kenneth Rayner Johnson was being deliberately offensive here, but I am also very, very intrigued. Are there any other sources that claim that Saint Gonzaga died from wanking? I can’t find any online, so I asked the experts. I still haven’t gotten a response.
Like I said, I really enjoyed most of this book. It’s just the ending that’s absolutely shit and stupid.
The Homunculus NEL – 1982
I have wanted to read this novel ever since coming across it while working on my lengthy post about Aleister Crowley’s attempt to make a homunculus. There’s not much info about Johnson’s The Homunculus online, but the cover is a thing of beauty. Look at it there. Fantastic.
There’s a weird cult called Supra Obscurans in London, and it’s led by a 9 year old homunculus with a massive cock. He plans to take over the world by impregnating a bunch of English women with his demon spawn. Things are going well for this lil’ pipsqueak until he kidnaps the girlfriend of a hologram scientist.
The story for this one was pure shit, and the characters were flat and uninteresting. The Homunculus is not a good novel.
I’ve read a quite a bit about creating a homunculus, and Kenneth Rayner Johnson obviously did too. Aside from the cover, the coolest thing about this book is the fact that the author clearly had a serious interest in the occult. Each chapter begins with a quote, and while most of these are from Nostradamus or The Bible, there were some from Crowley’s Book of the Law, Maugham’s The Magician and Kenneth Grant’s The Magical Revival (apparently Grant and Johnson were buddies). Johnson also repeatedly references Paracelsus. Reading through these bits made me feel like a knowledgeable wizard, but they didn’t save the book from being shit.
The novel ends on Glastonbury Tor, the place where Anthony Roberts would mysteriously die 7 years after its publication. I mention this because I believe I read something about a link between Johnson and Roberts a long time ago, but I can’t remember where I read it. They would have been working in the same circles at roughly the same time, so they may well have known each other.
Johnson apparently intended to release a third “Satanic” novel, but this never happened. His next and final major work of fiction was quite different.
The Cheshire Cat Dell – 1983
Allison, a photographer, dumps her rockstar boyfriend when she’s 8 months pregnant and moves to some small town in Wales for a bit of a holiday before the baby is born. The manager of the hotel she’s staying is the leader of a Theosophist cult, and most of the people staying at the hotel are mothers and daughters who belong to this cult.
One of the guys who helps take care of this gang of little girls is an epileptic named Trevor Lewis. He makes friends with Allison. The only other guest at the hotel is a professor who is often seen arguing with the hotel manager.
It turns out that the entire neighbourhood is haunted by the ghost of Lewis Carroll, the guy who wrote Alice in Wonderland. Despite what some of his naïve fans claim, Lewis Carroll was undoubtedly a dodgy paedophile in real life, and I was a bit apprehensive that a fictional portrayal of him would try to make him out to be a good person. This book does no such thing. He’s not just a paedophile here; he’s also a psychopath. He’s the creepiest paedophile ghost with a speech impediment since Stephen King’s Library Policeman.
I actually really enjoyed reading this book, but I only finished it 10 minutes before writing this, and there’s so many things about it that didn’t make sense. There’s the whole spiritualism/theosophy thing going on, and while the haunting part kinda fits in with that, Charles “the paedophile” Dodgson doesn’t really come across as a Mahatma or Master of Wisdom here. The Cheshire Cat, which briefly appears a couple of times, is also referred to as a Guardian at the Threshold. It’s implied that some of the creatures from Alice in Wonderland are coming to life, but that side of things is never fleshed out.
There’s another part where Allison stumbles across a house with a pair of ugly women and a screaming baby in a cottage in the woods. This seemed like that scene with the Duchess and the pig from Alice in Wonderland, but it doesn’t add anything to the story apart from confusion.
Perhaps the most confusing part of the book is the Trevor Lewis character. A big deal is made out of the fact that this guy has epilepsy, and this is something that the real Lewis Carroll suffered from. Look at his name too. I think there’s even a part where it’s suggested that Trevor has a mild stutter, just like Lewis Carroll. I kept expecting him to be Carroll’s great-grandson or maybe possessed by Carroll or something.
I really liked the fact that this book attempts to sully Lewis Carroll’s reputation. The pacing is good too. Lots of stuff happens in these 330 pages. Aside from that, this book is quite ridiculous. It doesn’t make much sense at all.
The only other original fiction written by Johnson that I know of was a short story called ‘Pelican’ that was included in the Summer 1995 edition of Terminal Frights magazine. I have not been able to find a copy of this. Please contact me if you have one or if you know of any other fiction written by Johnson.
Before writing his own original novels, Johnson wrote 3 novelisations. The first of these was for a 1973 Italian movie called The Last Snows of Spring. It’s about a neglected 10 year old kid who dies of leukemia. The tagline of the book reads “Daddy, there’s so little time.” There is a 0% chance of me ever reading this book. Jesus Christ. As far as I can tell, the book came out 2 years after the movie. Johnson also did a novelisation of Blue Sunshine (1977), a horror movie about LSD that turns people in murderers. I didn’t feel any great desire to track this one down.
In fact, the only novelisation by Johnson that I bothered with was Zoltan, Hound of Dracula from 1977. It actually seems to be the best known of all Johnson’s books. There was 3 separate editions of this book, all with different names. (It also goes by Dracula’s Dog and just Hounds of Dracula.) It’s about Dracula’s dog, so I had to read it.
All three editions of this novel contain text that reads “now a motion picture” on their covers. This would suggest that the movie was based on the book, but that’s not true. Both the movie and the novel were based on Frank Ray Perilli’s screenplay. It seems as though film companys thought it would help novel sales if people believed the book was so good a movie was made of it. (The same trick was also performed on the covers of Johnson’s other novelisations.)
This book is a piece of crap to be honest, but I enjoyed it well enough. It’s short, and too silly to get upset over. Some Romanian soliders unearth the Dracula family’s tomb, but they burn all of the vampires inside except for the servant vampire and his dog. These two loyal servants are left in an awkard position: they no longer have a master as all the Dracula family are gone.
Or are they?
No. It turns out that Dracula’s great-great-great-great-grandson moved to America and changed his name to Drake. The vampire and vampire dog head across the Atlantic to find him. When they arrive, they discover that their future master (who is not a vampire) is camping with his family. They really want this guy to tell them what to do, so they try to make him a vampire too. Their plans are complicated when a Romanian military officer comes over and tells Drake about the trouble he is in. The way in which the American man accepts the fact that an evil dog is trying to make him a vampire is pretty funny. He doesn’t get surprised or ask any questions. It seems like a perfectly natural course of events for him.
I finished the book in one sitting, and I was reasonably entertained. I thought about watching the movie version for comparison’s sake, but after skimming through it I decided not to. I don’t mind wasting 3 hours of my time reading through an awful novel, but I will be damned if I waste an hour and a half on a shitty movie. (This always happens to me. I should probably watch the movies before reading the novelisations in future.)
Part of what makes Johnson such an alluring person is that he was not just a fiction writer. He also published several peculiar books on occult phenomenon.
In 1975 a mysterious book called The Zarkon Principle appeared. It was written by a myterious weirdo named Zarkon, and it presented information about ancient aliens and predictions for the future. I haven’t read the book, but from what I have read about it, it seems that most of its predictions did not come true. It seems pretty similar to some other books that I have read, that whole fantastic-realism movement that I can’t stomach anymore.
In 1996, a new version of The Zarkon Principle was put out by Creation Books. It was retitled Armageddon 2000. This book confirmed that Zarkon was actually Kenneth Rayner Johnson.
Armageddon 2000 claimed that the world was dying and would definitely die soon.
It also claimed that ancient civilisations knew a lot and had very surprising technology. Many of these civilisations had stories featuring gods travelling in eggs. These eggmen were probably aliens who came to earth. Ancient religious texts say we come from clay. We probably do; ever hear of primordial soup? Who told us these clay stories? Aliens.
I could not bring myself to finish this book. Like the original Zarkon book, this one is full of predictions. Now, 26 years after it was published, few of these predicitons have come true.
Johnson published The Ancient Magic of the Pyramids in 1977. He also edited Robert Scrutton’s pair of 1979 books on the lost conintent of Atland (The Other Atlantis and Secrets of Lost Atland) and Scrutton’s 1982 The Message of the Masters. These all seem like pseudo-sciencey nonsense, so I didn’t try to track any of them down.
TheFulcanelliPhenomenon Spearman – 1980
Of all Johnsons books, this is probably the most sought after. I think it’s a pretty important book in the field of Fulcanelli research, and despite my disdain for alchemy, I was mildly intrigued.
As far as I know, nobody has ever turned lead into gold, and alchemy’s greatest achievement was when Paracelcus made a goblin in a pooey bottle. Fulcanelli was some French dude who wrote two books about the alchemical symbolism inherent in gothic architecture. He is best known for appearing in Pauwel and Bergier’s very stupid Morning of the Magicians. There’s a bunch of stupid stories about this lad. Apparently he went missing for 30 years and then showed up looking younger than he did when he was last seen. He also took one of his students to a magic castle in Spain where they travelled back in time and Fulcanelli changed his gender overnight. Nobody really knows who this lad was, and I, for one, don’t care. Johnson’s book is half the history of alchemy, half the legend of Fulcanelli. The author is clearly very passionate about this stuff, but this wasn’t enough to keep me interested, and I ended up skimming huge sections of this book.
My favourite thing about this book was the helpful list of Johnson’s other books included before the text. I tried contacting the people mentioned in the thank-you section here to see if I could track Johnson down, but none of the people on facebook with the same names as his thanks-yous responded.
Creation Books planned to release an updated version of The Fucanelli Phenomenon called The Immortal in 1996, but from what I can tell, it was never actually published.
According to Greenmantle magazine, Johnson also ghost wrote the autobiography of Lady Dowding, a wealthy theosophist, and animal rights activist. There are two autobiographies of Dowding, Beauty: Not the Beast An Autobiography (1980) and The Psychic Life of Muriel, Lady Dowding: An Autobiography (1982), but these might well be the same book with different titles. I can’t pretend I have any interest in reading them in any case.
Aside from these books, Johnson wrote articles for several occult magazines including The Hermetic Journal, Rapid Eye, and Greenmantle. He also contributed articles to the legendary encyclopedia of occultism, Man, Myth and Magic and other occult themed collections. He worked as a journalist from the 60s, so I’m sure there’s lot more of his writing out there. In Zoltan he introduces a chapter with a quote from an interview he did with Christopher Lee. I’d love to read that one!
In truth, none of Johnson’s books were good enough to cement his reputation as an amazing writer. The novels I read were all enjoyable at points, but they were all pretty silly too. His non-fiction is outdated, and I found it unbearable to read. Regardless of this, I still think Kenneth Rayner Johnson was a pretty cool guy. I spent a lot time trying to track him down while I was working on this post, but after emailing an old publisher of his, I discovered that Ken Johnson died of cancer in 2011. Once I knew he was dead, I googled his obituary and found an article about him in an old edition of Greenmantle. That article provided me with some of the biographical details I’ve included here and the only picture of Mr. Johnson on the internet:
The Satanic Orgy – Edmund Blackmoor Tiburon Books – 1974
When I first saw this cover, I thought it was a modern book designed to look old. No. Edmund Blackmoor’s The Satanic Orgy is actually a real work of occult pornography from 1974.
A young couple’s wedding night is ruined when Ralph, the prudish husband, prematurely ejaculates on his wife Rena’s bush. It turns out that this only happened because a satanic witch has put a curse on him. Ralph is the mayor of Garden City, and when he gets back from his honeymoon, the Satanic witch drugs and seduces him and records it. This part was pretty good. She makes sure to degrade him thoroughly, eventually making him wank himself off into the toilet bowl. She then shows the video of their encounter to his wife and gets Warren, her gangster friend, to rape Rena while she’s in shock. The witch also makes a video of this. She then uses these video tapes to blackmail the mayor into allowing Warren to open up a bunch of casinos and brothels in his town.
Ralph and Rena stick together, and now that they’ve seen eachother fucking other people, they open up to eachother and their relationship dramatically improves. Unfortunately, Warren, the guy who raped Rena, decides he wants to rape her again, so he kidnaps her, gang-rapes her with his buddies and then turns her into a prostitute. Gang rape is not at all funny, but this scene was made rather humourous by a gay gangster who kept trying to suck his friends’ dicks while they were busy having a rape. The kidnapping and raping of the mayor’s wife are deemed too much by a higher ranking satanist, and the mayor and his wife are reunited and live happily ever after. The Satanic witch who caused all the trouble is then demoted and impregnated by Satan.
The focus of this story is sex, not Satanism. Sure, there are satanists in here, but the only orgy that occurs seems like a pretty regular orgy to me. The few mentions of anything to do with occultism or witchcraft serve solely to induce more fuck scenes. Whoever wrote this might well have limited their research to a single viewing of Rosemary’s Baby.
According to Kenneth R. Johnson’s article on science-fiction pornography in the July 1977 editon of Science Fiction Collector, this book was originally published as The Witch’s Spell by Gunthar James. I have not been able to verify this, but given my experiences with this kind of stuff, I don’t doubt it’s true.
I got my copy of this in a lot of other works of occult porno. I never enjoy this stuff as much I think I’m going to when I see the covers, but it’s really hard for me to resist. I’ve been researching old porn a bit recently, and a lot of it is very seedy. Human beings are filthy animals.
Circle of Deceit: A Terrifying Alien Agenda in Ireland and Beyond
Dermot Butler and Carl Nally Flying Disk Press – 2018
The first half of this book is the boring,yet rather upsetting, account of the mutilation of hundreds of sheep on the McLaughlin’s farm in Derry. A bunch of sheep on this one particular farm had their tongues and eyeballs and other bits sliced out. The farmer believed this was being done by his neighbour, and he tried to get help from the local police force and government to put a stop to it. The police put up a few security cameras but wouldn’t let the farmer ever see the footage they captured. The authorities’ conclusion was that birds were responsible. The farmer didn’t agree that it was birds. The lad who he thought was responsible died, but the mutilations continued. The farmer was very upset that the authorities weren’t doing more to help him. It seemed like they were ignoring him.
There’s nothing about that story that’s hard to believe. Animals were being mutilated. There’s tonnes of evidence that show this. Before we go any further, ask yourself the following questions:
Are the police force and local politicians in Northern Ireland capable of not giving appropriate attention to the problems of one specific farmer farmer?
Are there people in Derry who are willing to act out on grudges that go back generations?
Are there any other possible explanations for the unfortunate mutilations of farm animals?
To me, it seems that the answer to all of these questions is a big fat yes. The authors of this book claim that the mutilations were caused by aliens. That seems unlikely to me, but I’m definitely willing to consider it. The difficulty for me is that the authors of this book claim that the authorities in Northern Ireland were trying to cover up the fact that the mutilations were caused by aliens.
Here’s another question:
Is it more likely that the authorities in Northern Ireland are so disorganized that they can’t deal with the problems of a single farmer or so organized that they are working together with global governments to cover up the existence of aliens?
I’m sorry, but this is silly. There’s a difference between being open-minded and gullible.
When it comes to this kind of stuff, I can suspend disbelief for the sake of entertainment, but after spending roughly half the book discussing real events that actually happened, the authors jump straight to quotes from the Old Testament to suggest that the mutilations on the McLaughlin’s farm were caused by aliens who are using sheep’s tongues to keep themselves alive for millennia. Come on guys, you’re supposed to ease us in. I need a little foreplay before you start quoting scripture at me. After this they go on to point out that over 100 legal firms refused to get involved in the case. They claim that this was because the legal firms were being intimidated by the government into refusing service, but it seems far more likely that the firms didn’t want to deal with the crazies that had attached themselves to the McLaughlins.
The authors go on to suggest that aliens are abducting and treating humans in the same way. They seem to believe we should all be very worried about this.
I want to believe. I really do, but this book wasn’t remotely convincing. The authors mention countless cases of animal mutilations and human disappearances, but there’s little here that sticks these cases together apart from paranoia and a willingness to ignore common sense.