A screaming woman in a tattered red dress is walled up alive by a sinister-looking figure. A man kneels over an open crypt from which a grotesque rotted figure reaches towards him. A bizarre hooded figure carries a woman dressed in halter and brief skirt over what appears to be a volcano. Yes, we are in Harvey Horrors territory again, courtesy of another impressive hardbound collection of vintage horror comics – one of the specialities (along with much else) of PS Publishing, the fiefdom of writer/editor Peter Crowther (who also publishes many prestigious SF and horror writers). As before, these classic (and sometimes not-so-classic) tales look better than they ever did in the poorly printed original comics courtesy of the careful rescanning and retouching they’ve now been accorded (and it’s a mark of the care taken that the stories are printed on matte paper rather than the glossy pages which — in previous such incarnations from other publishers — made the material look garish; more garish, that’s to say, than they required).

Once again, there is a cadre of highly talented artists involved (including the company’s star Illustrator Bob Powell and its wild card, Rudy Palais, whose anguished characters are usually bathed in sweat — when they are not bathed in blood).

Those who have purchased earlier volumes in this series (which also includes the iconic Harvey title Tomb of Terror) will be well aware that the writing here is very much an acquired taste, but is – it must be said – perfectly at the service of the delirious surrealistic art. Perhaps ‘Bride of the Crab’ is not quite in the Edgar Allan Poe category of writing (and that cover illustration of forced entombment has nothing to do with Poe’s black cat), but it more than does the job here – as is pointed out in Michael Gilbert’s affectionate introduction. One can only hope the publisher is making sufficient returns on these volumes – but perhaps he is, as Chamber of Chills Volume 3 has already appeared.

Chamber of Chills Volume 2 (Peter Crowther, editor) is published by PS Publishing

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