Horrorscope #2 | The Revenge of Taurus
Robert Lory | Pinnacle Books | 1974 | 178 pages
In a short prologue echoing that of the first book, a mysterious figure in a long grey robe and hood makes an invocation, activating one section in a radial symbol on the floor of a strange, cave-like chamber. Mad laughter accompanies his call to Taurus for a deadly story, designed for our—the reader’s—amusement. What follows is less an astronomical Danse Macabre, than a retelling of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
Leander Maxwell, a has-been movie producer whose old-fashioned subjects have long fallen out of favor with modern audiences, summons a group of old associates to his remote house in Crete, ostensibly for one last film project. Ed Banner, an American screenwriter specializing in European genre films, and his fledging actress love interest, Michelle “Mike” Conant, arrive at Maxwell’s isolated estate only to find that the other guests have little information regarding the new film, other than the prospective title,The Labyrinth. While waiting for the appearance of their host, horror strikes, and all gathered come to realize the true nature of their congregation.
Will Weisenbacker, cameraman on several Maxwell productions, dissolves into a fleshy soup after he dives into the estate’s swimming pool—which has been filled with acid. A recorded message from Maxwell announces, “Welcome to my labyrinth!” Further communications from their absent host spell out his plan to revenge the perceived wrongs he has suffered at the hands of his guests, by killing them all one by one. The aging actress, Leah Arnold, even makes an offhand allusion to the “ten little Indians” of Christie’s tale by dismissing Michelle as “little Mike.”
The ever-dwindling guests are directed through increasingly elaborate and believability-shattering traps in Maxwell’s labyrinth of revenge. Some personality flaws and weaknesses, such as gluttony and fear of dogs, are exploited, as characters are torn apart by vicious dobermans, drowned in a vat of valuable wine, and impaled upon a wall of spears in a slowly contracting room.
To ultimately answer the question, “What does all this have to do with the robed figure from the prologue?”, the anticipated figure of myth makes an appearance—thanks to the location of Maxwell’s estate on the site of the original ancient labyrinth of Minos—if for no other reason than to allow the story to circle back to the zodiac theme.