Terror Tales January 1936 (Hugh B. Cave, Wyatt Blassingame, Emerson Graves, Paul Ernst, Novel Page, G.T. Fleming Roberts) Review
Although Terror Tales is typically classified as a Weird Menace pulp magazine, only two or three of the seven stories in this issue adhere to stipulations of that subgenre-- lustful foes, implied supernatural happenings, and a mundane resolution that is the pin of exposition, popping the balloon of atmosphere by explaining away all of the mystery. For me, a horror magazine like this one, which mixes Weird Menace and committed supernatural horror, is a superior experience since the outcomes are not uniform and do not undo all of the supernatural goings-on. Additionally, the prose and psychological complexity of some of these tales are far richer than I expected, comparing more to Weird Tales than Uncanny Tales or Dime Mystery (even though many of the same authors appear).
I've read that the steeper cover price for Terror Tales (a whopping 15 cents as opposed to a mere 10 pennies) was supposed to indicate a higher quality of fiction, and actually, the number of standout stories in this issue proves that to be the case. Although there are not any stories as compelling as my favorite HP Lovecraft, CA Smith, and Donald Wandrei stories, this January 1936 issue of Terror Tales has four stories worthy of anthology, and two other enjoyable yarns, and just one lone dud, by Francis James (who consistently writes tedious tales with clunky prose).
Hugh B. Cave provides the solid, though standard feature tale (Daughters of the Plague) that I would expect from such a workhorse, and G.T. Fleming-Roberts's Father of the Monsters is not very well written, but certainly ugly enough to elicit a chill. But things get noticeably better elsewhere: Wyatt Blassingame and Paul Ernst's well told tales (Satan Sends a Woman & The Devils Cistern) are both highly atmospheric and satisfying---both of these could have been highlights in an issue of Weird Tales and display the art of two strong craftsman; Norvell Page's lunar story is an unlikely, but volatile fable that moves far too quickly to leave room for logic; and Emerson Graves provides a genuinely haunting look at dementia with a bigger temporal scope than is usually achieved in most novelettes.
Four really good, well-crafted stories and two solid yarns comprise this remarkably artful and consistent issue of weird pulp fiction, the January 1936 issue of Terror Tales.