Thursday, 1 September 2011

Death Rattles & Delicate Toxins

Do you remember? And were you afraid?

Back in the mid-80s, a UK genre television show was aired on Channel 4 that pushed the boundaries of accepted broadcasting standards. As far as can be established, only six episodes were ever shown, but hardly anybody can remember seeing them. Official records offer scant information, and no recordings of the episodes seem to exist. Rumours abound about brief clips on Youtube and water-damaged master tapes found in a media vault, but nobody has stepped forward with anything more solid than hearsay.

But six authors do remember watching the series, and their imperfect recollections form the basis of the stories in Death Rattles.

I'm one of the six. I only saw one episode. It was called "Antlers" and it disturbed me profoundly. I saw it via a grainy pirate broadcast on a public-access channel one night when I was very ill, so my memories of it are pretty messed up. As was my head after seeing it.

You'll almost certainly never get to see the show in its original form, so this may be your only chance to experience . . . DEATH RATTLES . . . the notorious lost TV series.


Rattling Cages: an Introduction by Stephen Volk
Episode 1: Scattered Ashes - John Llewellyn Probert
Episode 2: Seen And Not Heard - Gary Fry
Episode 3: Antlers - Thana Niveau
Episode 4: The Children of Moloch - Simon Bestwick
Episode 5: Cow Castle - Paul Finch
Episode 6: His Father's Son - Gary McMahon

(I thought MY story was disturbing until I read some of the others!)

Don't let the title DELICATE TOXINS fool you: there's nothing delicate about this collection, its inspiration or indeed my contribution to it, "White Roses, Bloody Silk".

The anthology is a tribute to the weird fiction of Hanns Heinz Ewers (1871 - 1943), a controversial German writer who explored themes of obsession, transformation, decadence and blood. I set my story in Victorian England, where a dinner party disintegrates into murder and madness when the hosts' mysterious German guest livens things up for them and shows them that they really have no idea what true decadence is.

I had a blast writing this story and I was delighted to learn that it's featuring in a course study on gothic literature at a university in the States.

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