As with The Cryptkeeper, The Old Witch, and others, Fawcett Comics' This Magazine Is Haunted had a character who introduced each story of horror and the supernatural; in this case it was Doctor Death -- a lipless ghoul-like man with deep pits for eyes, pointed ears, and wearing a top hat and opera cape. Unlike other such characters, Doctor Death had no sense of ghoulish humor; he juisy told it like it was in as frightening a manner possible.
I don't know if this is typical for the whole series but, as several commentators noted, the artwork is great but the colorist did a lousy job, lessening the impact of each tale. O well.
Let us begin.
"Something moved in the leeching mud---slimy and serpentilian! Some weird unearthly form that poked and clawed and reached out for 'Goldie' Ricon---to submerge him forever in...The Slithering Horror of Skontog Swamp!" Goldie is on Death Row in Skontog Penitentiary and is next in line to be executed. He managed to escape by holding the warden captive, which brought him to the dreaded Skontog Swamp, where every other escapee before him returned a drooling madman. Chased by guards and hounds, he lies flat on the swamp floor and smells something like burning flesh. Rising above him is a dark, misshapen monster with charred flesh, rawling on all fours and pulling at him, trying to drag him further into the swamp. Now other monsters are rising from the swamp. Goldie manages to escape them but not before one bites him on the shoulder. Somehow he made it through the swamp and managed to contact members of his gang. Hiding out in a large house, his shoulder wound grows worse, he becomes pale and his eyes grow haunted. He finds himself walking unconsciously through town, images of those swamp things surrounding him. He begins to lose his grip on sanity. Soon he is recaptured and finally sent to the electric chair. He is supposed to be dead but Goldie finds himself back in the swamp, surrounded by the slithering creatures of his dreams, only to find that he is now one of them -- "the electrocuted dead -- seeking vainly forever to cool our charred flesh in the swamp, from the burns of the electric chair!"
"The Ghost of Fanciful Hawkins" takes us back to the late nineteenth century, back to the Ozark hills, where awkward, big-footed Fanciful Jones has won the heart of Nell, the prettiest girl in the area. this doesn't sit well with Hugh, the town bully, who wants Nell for himself. Hugh pummels the smaller man and Fanciful falls in the river and drowns. Hugh now thinks the way is clear for him with Nell but she spurns him. Walking home, he hears something following him. It's Fanciful's shoes. They seem to follow him everywhere for days and days. Finally as Hugh is walking by the cemetery, Fanciful's ghost rising from the grave, surrounding by flames. The ghost grows and soon towers over the murdering bully. Running away from the apparition, Hugh slips, falls in the river, and drowns. Fanciful may be dead, but he returns each night to dance with Nell in her cabin. Sixty-eight year later, now an old crone, Nell waits happily for her nightly dance with the only man she loved.
Finally, we have a story scripted by "Earl Hammer, Jr.," who probably was the novelist and television writer Earl Hamner, Jr. misspelled. Hamner was probably best known for his novel Spencer's Mountain, which he adapted into the long-running television show The Waltons. Among his many other credits were eight episodes of The Twilight Zone. The story is titled "The Last One" and concerns four carnival workers looking for a place to stay. The hotel in ton wants to charge them each five bucks for a night. That's too rich for these carnies so they decided to find some barn or some place else to spend the night. Even better than a barn is the old deserted Geyer house, rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Edward Geyer, who killed his friends there with a hammer. Well pish posh to superstition; carnies are made of stern stuff. The house is a large mansion and each man stakes out a bedroom for himself. They are wakened by the tapping of a hammer. Actually, three of them are wakened -- the fourth is in his bed with his skull crushed. They are confronted by a "shadow" carrying a hammer and run from the house screaming. The three survivors decide to sleep on the floor of the carnival tents but the ghost follows him and soon there is just one left -- "The Last One." His hair has turned white overnight and soon he comes face to face with the hammer-weilding ghost.
By now you realize that I have included spoilers for each story. No matter. You would have figured them out after a few page anyway. the stories are surprisingly well written and the artwork is good. It it weren't for that darned colorist...
Enjoy these little trips to terro.