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Friday, January 20, 2012

Holmes' review of Merritt's Burn Witch Burn!

     Earlier today, James at Grognardia wrote, as part of his Open Friday column, that "today is the 128th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Merritt, the early 20th century pulp writer admired by both H.P. Lovecraft and Gary Gygax" and "During his lifetime, he was a highly successful and well-paid journalist and editor and several of his stories (Seven Footsteps to Satan and Burn Witch Burn!) were made into motion pictures. Nowadays, though, his name is barely known, let alone lauded, which is frankly a pity, as Merritt's best work is indeed worthy". James later followed up that the movie version of Burn Witch Burn! is called The Devil-Doll, rather than the movie Burn Witch Burn, which is instead based on a Leiber story.

     Later in the day I remembered that J. Eric Holmes reviewed Burn Witch Burn/Creep Shadow Creep on Amazon in 2002. It's his only fantasy review there, and just about the last thing I've found that he wrote in public. He gets the movie right as Barrymore is in The Devil-Doll (1936).

      Holmes' review of BWB/CSC on Amazon:

      "Merrit wrote spooky fantasy for Argosy Magazine in the 1920-1930s. Fans argue endlessly about which is his best. These stories are pretty good. (Shadow is a sort of sequel to Burn Witch Burn.) The evil old witch makes lifelike dolls that come to life and kill people. She is brought down by a rational doctor and a superstitious Mafia boss. Made into a movie with Lionel Barrymore as the witch (really!). Strong stuff for the time it was written."

     I've read Merritt's Dwellers in the Mirage and Face in the Abyss, which are each "lost world" adventure stories with elements of horror. I would recommend them to anyone that likes Haggard, Burroughs, Howard or Lovecraft, particularly Dwellers, which I liked the best of the two. I have yet to read BWB! or CSC!.

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