Monday, October 31, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Thirty One: The Bleeding Mirror...A Terror Brewed in Cleveland, OH.

Let us end on a dark, Cleveland-based Note...

I collect and love Halloween-themed records.  I have obsessed over them.  I have spent ridiculous amounts of money on them.  I've wondered about how sitting by yourself, drinking beer and listening to Halloween sound effects records might not be healthy.  I suppose it is a way to go back in time, capture a bit of lost youth, because they DO NOT make Halloween records like they used to...

If I did not suffer from untreated Adult Attention Deficit Disorder,  I would love to write a whimsical book about how the records of Wade Denning helped shape me as a person, helped make me the person I am today...maybe one day...


I came across this mysterious, Cleveland-based (that is, recorded here in the best location in the nation) record a few years:

The Bleeding Mirror and other original tales of the supernatural.  

I have yet to find any information about it - other than what the liner notes tell us:

The theme of the album is horror - sheer occult horror to ice your spine and tingle your nerve ends.  These are stories for a stormy night, when the fire is low and the hour is late.

The author of these tales are uniquely fitted for the task.  Evelyn Martin and William Wray were both born with a caul - that birth membrane sometimes called "a veil over the face."  Those people are blessed - or cursed as the case may be - with a caul over the face of birth, are supposed to have second sight and be granted the power to see things supernatural.

Martin and Wray certainly kept the legend alive, both separately, and since their writing partnership began.  Many of these experiences are chronicled in their book, DAMNED THINGS.  Since then they have authored several books, including DEVIL'S ARCHWAY, BITTERWEED, and THE DAY THE ANIMALS LEFT.

The Bleeding Mirror is a true story, as is The Rocking Chair.  Both Martin and Wray have seen the light at Maco.  The authors have been repeated guests on the Alan Douglas Show, (NBC) discussing their supernatural experiences.

Martin and Wray together with Ilene Latter who enacts the female voices on this album, are founders of the Physical Research Society of Northeastern Ohio.

Miss Latter is equally well known in the world of the theatre and the world of radio and television commercials.  She is featured on the album together with William Wray and Carl Reese, actor and personality with Storer Broadcasting.

The album is produced by Evelyn Martin.  Recording and production engineer is Bob Nowac.  The album was recorded at Alcon Recording Studios, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.

Obviously, these folks are not out to snag the "monster kid" market of the 1970s - this is some serious stuff here.  The fact they founded something called the Physical Research Society of Northeastern Ohio, which, I will assume, must have been some sort of organization that did paranormal research tells us that these folks are not out to just give sugared-up kids the creeps.

And the early 1970s is my guess as to when this record hit the shelves or was part of some weird mailorder catalog or was featured as an item for sale in one the illusive books written by Martin and Wray - who knows!  It was released on the Macabre record label.  The labels logo was just a black circle enclosed in a box - you can see it in the bottom right corner of my shoddy photo.

There was a record label associated with the studio in which the record was recorded.  The releases on the label look like they fetch a pretty penny from the hardcore collectors of Northern Soul.

The Halloween records of the 60s/70s were fairly graphic.  When I played the classic, Famous Monsters Speak, record for my children, I was taken aback a little by the grotesque descriptions of murder described by Frankenstien's Monster.
 - Famous Monsters Speak

Of course, my kids loved it...


Wow...the description of bones cracking in a monster's horrid hands is nothing compared to the much darker regions explored on The Bleeding Mirror and other original tales of the supernatural. 

 Leave it to a couple of mystics from Cleveland to present us with a tale about the end of the world and the death of...well...listen to "The Answer":

The Answer by Hallandgorcey

Admitedly, some of the performances on the record border on the hysterical.  "Don't Bury Me!" for one is a doozy.   And, yes, the word "original" in the title of the record might be stretching things more than a bit considering every one of these tales has a classic tale of terror that influenced it.  "Don't Bury Me!" is an obvious ode to Edgar Allan Poe's tale, The Premature Burial.    "Maco Light" was surely influenced by Charles Dicken's wondrous fright tale, The Signal-Man.

And so on.


For homegrown, obscure "horror-themed" records, Evelyn Martin / William Wray / Ilene Latter / Carl Reese's presentation of  The Bleeding Mirror and other original tales of the supernatural is quite fine for this and many other Halloween's to come.  Especially the last track of the record...Sheesh!

side 1 - The Bleeding Mirror / Don't Bury Me! / Reincarnation / Maco Light / The Spider
side 2 - Baby Doll / The Rocking Chair / The Ivy Plant / The Answer

Get scared Here!

For more info on Halloween records the ONLY place to go is here.  When I discovered Jason Willis and his amazing site six years ago I felt, well, less alone in the dark.  HAhahahhahahHAahahaha!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Thirty: A William Conrad Halloween.

I admire William Conrad.  What a career the man had! 

He was a radio personality. 

A welcome heavy in any film noir.

The narrator of one of the best cartoon series known to man or moose!

A TV star.

And a director. 

It is this field that William Conrad seemed to find a quirky, sinister voice that deserves a cult following.  He did a lot of directing of TV shows throughout the 50s and 60s, but it is his five full-length features that deserve a look by any viewer who digs a bit of darkness.  His first, The Man from Galveston (1963), is a fast paced courtroom drama dressed in cowboy duds.  It is in the four films that came after that Conrad chose to wander down darker alleys.  It is these that we will concern ourselves with during this scary time of year.

He was also the producer of the earliest three, so we can assume he had more control.

Two on a Guillotine (1965)

Based on a story by Henry Slesar, Two on a Guillotine is a spooky ride!  Coffins, Morgues, Lunatic Magicians, Cemeteries.  What more can you ask for?  It is Halloween after all.

My Blood Runs Cold (1965)

More insanity here as Troy Donahue thinks Joey Heatherton is a long dead ancestor....

Brainstorm (1965) 

Mr. Conrad seems to really love using insanity as a plot device. Jeffrey Hunter fakes insanity to get out of a murder charge in this excellent film noir which is probably the best of the three films he made in the 1960s.

All four of the films he directed in the 60s are available on DVD via the Warner Brothers Archive Collection.

The most obscure (meaning you can only find it on VHS) of the William Conrad directed oddities is the film Side Show (1981).   It was produced by Sid and Marty Krofft (?) and it is probably the weirdest of all his full-length films.  I own it, but it has been years since I have viewed it.   I hesitated to comment much on any of the films listed here, because I have not seen them in a LONG time.  They all sit upon my shelf, so I will get to it one of these days!!

You see...I was too busy ripping a copy of William Conrad's Halloween Record for all of you to enjoy.

Spirits and Spooks For Halloween summoned up by William Conrad (1973 - Caedmon Records)
William Conrad - Spirits and Spooks for Hallowe'en Summoned Up by William Conrad

Side one - The Merry Night of Halloween / The Ghost's Song / Fereyel and Debbo Engal the Witch

Side two - The Hag / The Secret Commonwealth / The Horny-goloch / How a Witch Tried to Kill a King / Suppose You Met a Witch / The Strange Visitor

Get it HERE!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Twenty Nine: Five Essential Films for Halloween...or Any Time of Year

Here are five films that I do not always watch around Halloween, but I do watch at least once a year.  I usually watch them after Halloween just to get a hint of the chill of Fall or a memory of the smells that once wafted from whatever ghastly thing once brewed in the cauldron....

1. HALLOWEEN (1978)





Friday, October 28, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Twenty Eight: Christian Morgenstern's Weird Nonsense Verse.

Christian Morgenstern's collection of poems, Songs from the Gallows: Galgenlieder, is actually more fun, delightful nonsense than weird, spooky, Halloweeny, but there are a couple pieces that give me the creeps.  The Moonsheep is an stuffed with images that confound, delight and freak me out.

The Moonsheep

The moonsheep stands upon the clearing.
He waits and waits to get his shearing.
The moonsheep.

The moonsheep plucks himself a blade
returning to his alpine glade.
The moonsheep.

The moonsheep murmurs in his dream:
'I am the cosmos' gloomy scheme.'
The moonsheep.

The moonsheep, in the morn, lies dead.
His flesh is white, the sun is red.
The moonsheep.
For me, the poem has the same aura, the same uneasy vibe as many of the early tunes by Current 93:


Morgenstern also takes us to a planet of flies:

At the Housefly Planet

Upon the housefly planet
the fate of the human is grim:
for what he does here to the housefly,
the fly does there unto him.

To paper with honey cover
the humans there adhere,
while others are doomed to hover
near death in vapid beer.

However, one practice of humans
the flies will not undertake:
they will not bake us in muffins
nor swallow us by mistake.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Twenty Seven: Gore and Aged Swingers

Of H.G. Lewis and Parents Who Swing

I grew up in a small town.  One had to do a bit of work to find the glorious goods when it came to movies and music and books.  I used the the two Ms, Magazines and Mailorder, to help me reach beyond the monotonous drone of cows mooing in distant fields and the hees and haws of the townsfolk. 

One of the magazines that helped make my life more interesting was Fangoria.  Mainly the David Everett years - the early to late 1980s.  I certainly loved the coverage of the current horror films of the day.  I definitely would have NOT been present in the theatre for such life-changing wonders like Escape From New York , Lifeforce, The Funhouse and many other amazing films if my head had not been stuck in that mag every month.  The stills of Adrienne Barbeau (from Escape From New York) published in the mag were one of the highlights of my adolescence. 

What eventually became obsessions and unholy grails of horror to me were the articles about older films, actors and directors.  It was through one of these articles that I was introduced to the films of  
H.G. Lewis.

All I had was the blood-drenched film stills to go on, but the Godfather of Gore (and Direct Marketing) was permanently stuck in my craw.  These were films I had to view.

A Few Years Pass

Progress and the modern world comes to my small postage stamp of a town in the form of a video store. And what did my orbs fall upon there upon the shelf?


and this!!

and, oh yes! Yes! This!

I was over-joyed. Finally my life would be complete. This was not something I could bring up to the counter with my parents present this was something that must be rented and enjoyed with pals. Mainly my pal, Humbert, who was a year older and had a license.


A few weeks later, Humbert and I made the scene, rented the films and settled down into his basement free of parents and responsibility - we were ready for some gore...

Humbert stopped the VCR during the opening of Blood Feast and said, "I have to show you something. It's been freaking me out. I have to show someone. I just have to."

I was intrigued.

He led me to the "laundry room area" of his basement and opened a closet. He brought out a small trunk and opened it. The contents were astonishing. It was filled with Swingers' Magazines. The sort of publications a couple or a single man or woman would use to hook up with others who enjoyed meeting at hotels, swapping partners and then, well, fucking and sucking into the wee hours of the night.

"These are my parents' magazines. It all makes sense. They go away on weekends every other month...just to stay at a hotel. Sometimes in Canada, sometimes in Cleveland. My parents are...swingers."

Now...Humbert's parents were much OLDER than my parents. They were older than any of the parents I knew at the time. Humbert's brother and sister were out of the house and already had families of their own. His parents seemed more like Grandparents to my 15-year-old-view of people.

The outrageous images my hormone-infused brain conjured were terrifying. The weird visions of his sweet, elderly parents nude, sweating and fornicating with strange couples in swank hotels was much more terrifying than anything Mr. Lewis could splash onto the screen. this very day...when I re-visit the films of H.G. Lewis, I think about my boyhood friend's elderly parents and their wild, secret sex lives.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Twenty Six: A Scary Story

I've been trying to prepare a post about the career (well, the more Halloweeny parts of his career to be exact) of William Conrad and I stumbled across this nifty, creepy story written by Henry Slesar.  Many of Slesar's stories were used as the basis for Alfred Hitchcock Presents  episodes.  Hitchcock and Slesar were a perfect fit. 

You'll see exactly why when you read: 

Examination Day

The Jordans never spoke of the exam, not until their son, Dickie, was twelve years old. It was on his birthday that Mrs Jordan first mentioned the subject in his presence, and the anxious manner of her speech caused her husband to answer sharply.

‘Forget about it,’ he said. ‘He’ll do all right.’

They were at breakfast table, and the boy looked up from his plate curiously. He was an alert-eyed youngster with flat blond hair and a quick, nervous manner. He didn’t understand what the sudden tension was about, but he did know that today was his birthday, and he wanted harmony above all. Somewhere in the little apartment there were wrapped, beribboned packages waiting to be opened, and in the tiny wall-kitchen something warm and sweet was being prepared in the automatic stove. He wanted the day to be happy, and the moistness of his mother’s eyes, the scowl on his father’s face, spoiled the mood of fluttering expectation with which he had greeted the morning.

‘What exam?’ he asked.

His mother looked at the tablecloth. ‘It’s just a sort of Government Intelligence test they give children at the age of twelve. You’ll be taking it next week. It’s nothing to worry about.’

‘You mean a test like in school?’

‘Something like that,’ his father said, getting up from the table. ‘Go and read your comics, Dickie.’ The boy rose and wandered towards that part of the living room which had been ‘his’ corner since infancy. He fingered the topmost comic of the stack, but seemed uninterested in the colour­ful squares of fast-paced action. He wandered towards the window, and peered gloomily at the veil of mist that shrouded the glass.

‘Why did it have to rain today?’ he said. ‘Why couldn’t it rain tomorrow?’

His father, now slumped into an armchair with the Gov­ernment newspaper rattled the sheets in vexation. ‘Because it just did, that’s all. Rain makes the grass grow.’

‘Why, Dad?’

‘Because it does, that’s all.’

Dickie puckered his brow. ‘What makes it green, though? The grass?’

‘Nobody knows,’ his father snapped, then immediately regretted his abruptness.

Later in the day, it was birthday time again. His mother beamed as she handed over the gaily-coloured packages, and even his father managed a grin and a rumple-of-the-­hair. He kissed his mother and shook hands gravely with his father. Then the birthday cake was brought forth, and the ceremonies concluded.

An hour later, seated by the window, he watched the sun force its way between the clouds.

‘Dad,’ he said, ‘how far away is the sun?’

‘Five thousand miles,’ his father said.

Dickie sat at the breakfast table and again saw moisture in his mother’s eyes. He didn’t connect her tears with the exam until his father suddenly brought the subject to light again.

‘Well, Dickie,’ he said, with a manly frown, ‘you’ve got an appointment today.’

‘I know Dad. 1 hope –’
‘Now, it’s nothing to worry about. Thousands of children take this test every day. The Government wants to know how smart you are, Dickie. That’s all there is to it.’
‘I get good marks in school,’ he said hesitantly.

‘This is different. This is a – special kind of test. They give you this stuff to drink, you see, and then you go into a room where there’s a sort of machine –‘

‘What stuff to drink?’ Dickie said.

‘It’s nothing. It tastes like peppermint. It’s just to make sure you answer the questions truthfully. Not that the Gov­ernment thinks you won’t tell the truth, but it makes sure.’

Dickie’s face showed puzzlement, and a touch of fright. He looked at his mother, and she composed her face into a misty smile.

‘Everything will be all right,’ she said.

‘Of course it will,’ his father agreed. ‘You’re a good boy, Dickie; you’ll make out fine. Then we’ll come home and celebrate. All right?’

‘Yes sir,’ Dickie said.

They entered the Government Educational Building fifteen minutes before the appointed hour. They crossed the mar­ble floors of the great pillared lobby, passed beneath an archway and entered an automatic lift that brought them to the fourth floor.

There was a young man wearing an insignia-less tunic, seated at a polished desk in front of Room 404. He held a clipboard in his hand, and he checked the list down to the Js and permitted the Jordans to enter.

The room was as cold and official as a courtroom, with long benches flanking metal tables. There were several fathers and sons already there, and a thin-lipped woman with cropped black hair was passing out sheets of paper.
Mr Jordan filled out the form, and returned it to the clerk. Then he told Dickie: ‘It won’t be long now. When they call your name, you just go through the doorway at the end of the room.’ He indicated the portal with his finger.

A concealed loudspeaker crackled and called off the first name. Dickie saw a boy leave his father’s side reluctantly and walk slowly towards the door.

At five minutes to eleven, they called the name of Jordan.

‘Good luck, son,’ his father said, without looking at him. ‘I’ll call for you when the test is over.’

Dickie walked to the door and turned the knob. The room inside was dim, and he could barely make out the features of the grey-tunicked attendant who greeted him.

‘Sit down,’ the man said softly. He indicated a high stool beside his desk. ‘Your name’s Richard Jordan?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Your classification number is 600-115. Drink this, Richard.’

He lifted a plastic cup from the desk and handed it to the boy. The liquid inside had the consistency of buttermilk, tasted only vaguely of the promised peppermint. Dickie downed it, and handed the man the empty cup.

He sat in silence, feeling drowsy, while the man wrote busily on a sheet of paper. Then the attendant looked at his watch, and rose to stand only inches from Dickie’s face. He unclipped a penlike object from the pocket of his tunic, and flashed a tiny light into the boy’s eyes.

‘All right,’ he said. ‘Come with me, Richard.’

He led Dickie to the end of the room, where a single wooden armchair faced a multi-dialled computing machine. There was a microphone on the left arm of the chair, and when the boy sat down, he found its pinpoint head conve­niently at his mouth.

‘Now just relax, Richard. You’ll be asked some ques­tions, and you think them over carefully. Then give your answers into the microphone. The machine will take care of the rest.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘I’ll leave you alone now. Whenever you want to start, just say “ready” into the microphone.’

‘Yes, sir.’

The man squeezed his shoulder, and left.

Dickie said, ‘Ready.’

Lights appeared on the machine, and a mechanism whirred. A voice said: ‘Complete this sequence. One, four, seven, ten . .

Mr and Mrs Jordan were in the living room, not speaking, not even speculating.

It was almost four o’clock when the telephone rang. The woman tried to reach it first, but her husband was quicker.

‘Mr Jordan?’

The voice was clipped: a brisk, official voice.

‘Yes, speaking.’

‘This is the Government Educational Service. Your son, Richard M Jordan, Classification 600-115 has completed the Government examination. We regret to inform you that his intelligence quotient is above the Government regula­tion, according to Rule 84 Section 5 of the New Code.’

Across the room, the woman cried out, knowing nothing except the emotion she read on her husband’s face.

‘You may specify by telephone,’ the voice droned on, ‘whether you wish his body interred by the Government, or would you prefer a private burial place? The fee for Gov­ernment burial is ten dollars.’

The short story (originally published by Playboy Magazine in 1958) was later used as the basis for this episode of the Twilight Zone - the revived Twilight Zone of the 1980s.

Considering the way of the world, this sort of future might not be too far off...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Twenty Five: Hanna-Barbera's Other Ghost Chasing Dog

Scooby-Doo was very successful, so (from 1973 to 1975) Hanna-Barbera decided to steal from itself and present us little kids with yet another ghost chasing dog named, Goober. Goober (who did not suffer from a speech impediment like Scooby) also had a group of teens in tow who investigated ghosts and other supernatural thingies.


What made Goober and the Ghost Chasers  more of a hoot was that unlike Scooby-Doo the ghosts were real!  Also, Goober could make himself invisible when he was scared.  Besides these two factors (and the appearances of The Partridge Kids  in half of the 16 episodes) it is pretty much exactly like Scooby-Doo...

So, yeah, it is awesome!

Check out some excerpts here. 

All 16 episodes are available here for purchase so you can watch the series over and over again!


Ventriloquist and voice actor Paul Winchell was the voice of Goober.  Winchell's daughter, April, makes me laugh nearly every day with her website, Regretsy.

Paul Winchell - Chips of Wisdom

Monday, October 24, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Twenty Four: Odd Performances by Seemingly Normal Actors in Horror Films

Here are a few films that make us see that, regardless of any high-falutin' feelings one has about the poetry and art behind the craft of acting, it is just a job.  And sometimes the jobs an actor must take are not very pretty.  Some acting jobs are the cinematic equivalent of hosing out the inside of a slaughter house in 103 degree heat.

Let's Watch!

Frankie Avalon seems to be having far too much fun killing people in the 1982 slasher film, Blood Song.  

Despite the oddness of seeing Avalon playing a psychopath (in one scene he strangles a woman with her necklace and he really seems to be disturbingly into it), the film is a fairly tepid affair. 

More performances to look for are:

Gary Burghoff (Radar from MASH) plays a serial killer in the 1992 film, Small Kill 

Tab Hunter plays a sexually disturbed killer in the 1973 uber-sleazy, Sweet Kill (AKA The Arousers).

Troy Donohue as a Charles Manson-like cult leader in the 1971, Sweet Savior (AKA The Love Thrill Murders.

I could also mention William Shatner's performance in Impulse (1974), but Mr. Shatner has proved himself to be a far from "normal" actor over the years.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Twenty Three: The Haunted Hotdog and Other Tales of Terror Left Untold - A MUSIC COMPILATION!


This the third volume of Halloween music I made specifically for my kids to enjoy and they absolutely dig it! They play it all year long. It warms my heart in the deep depths of winter when I hear the clanking chains in the opening of "The Monster Mash" emanating from the stereo speakers. I might upload Volume 1 (Robert Mitchum's Zombie BBQ Nightmare) and Volume 2 (Fake Blood, Rubber Masks and a Werewolf with Palsy) if I have time.

I also have a Christmas mix of music called Santa Has Got the Asthma Just Like Your Drunken Daddy, but that is a mix for later days.

Enjoy the Music HERE


1. The Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett
2. Fistful of Terror - The Bomboras
3. The Lurch - Ted Cassidy
4. The Boogie Man - The Cadillacs
5. The Dracula Trot - Hans Conried/Alice Pearce/The Creatures
6. The Blob - The Five Blobs
7. The Goo Goo Muck - Ronnie Cook
8. Monster Surfing Time - The Deadly Ones
9.Frankie and Igor at a Rock N Roll Party - Frankie Stein
10. Monster Mash Party T- Bobby "Boris" Pickett
11. Werewolf - Southern Culture on the Skids
12. Gravewalk - Satan's Pilgrims
13. Dead Man's Stroll - The Revels
14. Haunted House - Johnny Fuller
15. Castin' My Spell - The Johnny Otis Show and Marci Lee
16. Lil' Red Riding Hood - Sam The Sham and The Pharoahs
17. Purple People Eater - Sheb Wooley
18. Spooky - George Barnes
19. The Sheik Of Araby (Shreik Of Agony Cha Cha Cha) - Bob McFadden
20. Graveyard Shift - Bobby "Boris" Pickett
21. The Howl - Johnny Eager
22. The Monster Swim - Bobby "Boris" Pickett
23. Frankenstein Stomp - Larry and the Biters
24. Werewolves on Wheels - The Born Losers
25. The Thing - Curtis and the Creepers
26. Coolest Little Monster - John Zacherley
27. Monster Party - Bill Doggett
28. Teenage Brain Surgeon - Spike Jones
29. Satan Takes A Holiday - John Cali
30. Igor's Chant (Part 1) - Ziggy Gee

Saturday, October 22, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Twenty Two: Happy Belated Birthday, Bela


Happy Belated Birthday to Bela Lugosi!  He was born October 20, 1882. 

One of the very first DVDs I purchased was the Bela Lugosi film, Scared to Death (1947).  My DVD player had a feature that allowed one to play the chapters in random order.  I suppose it was for folks who wanted to use the player for playing and shuffling the tunes on their CDs.  The player was on the Random Play function when I popped this film into the player.  As you could probably guess I spent a good 45 minutes wondering what the hell I was watching.  The film makes little sense when played normally, played out of order I thought I was watching  Last Year at Marienbad.


Watch a film with Bela in it this month!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Twenty One: Hilarious Halloween Horrors - Part 5

The conclusion of the postings regarding films that mix humor with horror ends with a splattering of selections that are worth checking it out if you have the right amount of beer to make them enjoyable.

Boys of the City (1940)

The East Side Kids (later Bowery Boys) met ghosts, monsters, gangsters, killers and Bela Lugosi on numerous occasions.  They even met Glenn Strange (he played Frankenstein's monster in the Abbott and Costello romp) in the typically ridiculous Master Minds (1949).

Glenn Strange Huntz Hall

Unfortunately the powers that be have not yet made it possible to easily see the bulk of The Bowery Boys' films.  Not a one has been released on DVD.  The earlier films (East Side Kids) are very easy to find.  You could probably spot a film of them in the check out aisle next to the candy, batteries, energy drinks and magazines at your local grocery store.

Even though Ghosts on the Loose (1943) and Spooks Run Wild (1941) are the more obvious choices for viewing on Halloween - mainly because Bela Lugosi appears in both - why not pull up a chair, sit down and feast your orbs upon the cheap, haunted hooey of Boys in the City (1940).  The film has a special spooky something.

Dig it here.

The Horror of It All (1964)

I find it odd that this is the second time this month I have mentioned Pat Boone in this blog.

This film was not the obscure gem I was hoping it was going to be.  Even with Terence Fisher (who knew his way around a graveyard or a sinister laboratory) at the helm this one does not quite cut it at as a horror film or a comedy.  Boone is supposed to be a Milquetoast sort of American who is meeting his bride-to-be's beyond eccentric (murderous, even) relatives in a old, dark house in England.  In that regard, he is well cast, but as I watched this film, I found myself wondering what Anthony Perkins would have done in the role.  I think he would have been able to throw the proceedings off-kilter - the way they should have been in the first place.

Imagine Perkins (who could carry a tune) singing this number:

The movie remains unavailable (officially) on DVD, but it plays often via the usual sources on your boob tube.  It is worth checking out.

The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966)

In all honesty, this film was a thousand times better when I was ten years old.  There are three reasons to see this film:  Boris Karloff, Nancy Sinatra and Basil Rathbone

Also, there is a guy in a gorilla suit.

Saturday the 14th (1981)

I love the late, great Severn Darden.


He had a flair for playing loony intellectuals, professors and mad scientists.   He brings that air of wackiness to this film!

Student Bodies (1981)

This film was the second to last word on slasher film parodies.  Hilarious, absurd and brilliant.

 Pandemonium (1982)

This film was the last word on slasher film parodies. Mostly hilarious, absurd and brilliant. 

Transylvania 6-5000 (1985)

Norman Fell steals this film in the five minutes or so he is on the screen.

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988)

This film is based solely on Elvira's wisecracks and her breasts.  If you are a fan of any of these three elements you will dig this film.

Have a Hilarious Halloween!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Twenty: Hilarious Halloween Horrors - Part 4

If I was cornered in a dark alley by a gaggle of brain-eating zombies and they asked:

"What is your all-time favorite Horror/Comedy film?"

I would answer:


It was released the summer before my sophomore year of high school.  I saw it four times in the theatre.  It is the perfect ghoulish mixture of horror and comedy.  The performances of Clu GulagerJames Karen, Don Calfa and Thom Mathews are wonderful.   The soundtrack to the film was a dazzling map to major musical discoveries that changed my life.   I was turned on to 45 Grave, The Flesh Eaters, the solo work of Roky Erickson and a killer non-LP Cramps number via the film's unequalled soundtrack.

I would venture to say that as soundtrack records made up mainly of bands and their tunes go this is the best. OK - the soundtrack to The Harder They Come is pretty damn sweet,too...

But (as usual) I digress...

Of course, there is Linnea Quigley...Her nude dance in the cemetery certainly pushed all the buttons on my sixteen year old brain. Twenty odd years later and my buttons are still being pushed by this one of a kind film.

Horror and Comedy (both drenched in blood) never looked better.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Nineteen: Hilarious Halloween Horrors - Part 3

Day three in the Hilarious Halloween Horrors series of posts continues with Roman Polanski's 1967 film, The Fearless Vampire Killers.

An atmospheric (it could be called a parody of a Hammer Horror film) black comedy that features a Jewish vampire, a gay vampire and the 3 Stooges-like antics of the wonderful vampire-hunting duo, Jack MacGowran and Roman Polanski.

And there is
The Gorgeous
Sharon Tate

In a better world, there would be more Sharon Tate T-shirts and less Charles Manson T-shirts.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Eighteen: Hilarious Halloween Horrors - Part 2

The five days of Hilarious Halloween Horrors continues with this classic from 1948:

"I've had this brain for thirty years. It hasn't done me any good!"
-Lou Costello (as Wilbur Grey)  in ...Meet Frankenstein

Even though I feel their films Hold That Ghost (1941) (with Shemp!) and Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949)  are better than this meeting of all the monsters,  it would just not be right to not include it in the week of  Hilarious Halloween Horrors.

The scenes with Lou and Lon make it a keeper.


The "moving candle routine" from Hold That Ghost.

These ten ridiculous minutes from ...Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff slay me.

Monday, October 17, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Seventeen: Hilarious Halloween Horrors - Part 1

The next five days will be dedicated to celluloid moments that are wacky, absurd and tinged with Terror.

Let's begin with two shorts.

 Spook Louder (1943):

The mystery of the pies remains unsolved to this very day.

The Ghost Talks (1949):

The Ghost Talks was later recycled and released (with additional footage that made the ghost in the suit of armor a more aggressive sort of spirit) in 1956 as Creeps. This was a year after Shemp passed away.  The cinematic reanimation of the dead stooge is kinda creepy don't you think?

My children revealed to me a few months ago that they think The Three Stooges episodes with Curly are  generally better than the ones with Shemp.  This hurt a little.  I'm a Shemp man. Heepeepeehepee!


They did agree (after I whined a bit about the greatness of Shemp) that The Ghost Talks is overall one of their all-time favorite episodes.  I supposed that is why we watched it once a week for about three months...

and that was absolutely cool with me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Sixteen: A Styrene Halloween

Paul Marotta (a member of three legendary Cleveland bands: Electric EelsThe Mirrors and The Styrenes) is going to make the days after Halloween a little more creepier with his musical interpretation of Oscar Wilde's novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.


Beginning on Halloween 2011, and approximately every two weeks thereafter, another chapter of the Marotta's musical adaptation of Oscar Wilde's classic gothic horror story will be made available as a free download.

Subscribe to The Styrenes' channel on YouTube to keep in the loop.

Thanks to My Mind's Eye Records for sending me the info. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Fifteen: Lovecraft Noir

In my opinion, the idea of combining the supernatural, Lovecraftian terrors and the shadows and hard-boiled detectives of film noir has been very under-utilised.

Here are three of the only attempts of making a go of that ghoulish mix:

the "sequel" to Cast a Deadly Spell

Friday, October 14, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Fourteen: The Dark Side of Bert Convy

I never have enough time to prepare blog posts. Well, I have the time, but I never use it wisely. About 98% of everything written here is typed out as I sit in my gruesome cubicle on my hour-long lunch break.

I'm far too busy chasing children, reading books, running the vacuum cleaner, washing dishes, picking up legos, swilling beer and watching films at home to sit down and do some good research for a blog post. 

So...the idea for something to write usually occurs after the kids are asleep and I'm in between reading a book or drinking a beer or watching a movie...

What I'm trying to say is most of these posts are better suited to be twitted on Tweeter - a place where a short and sweet bleat of wordage is the only way to go. 

Nine times out of ten, the posts are just jumbles of thoughts that have not quite congealed into something solid.

Not unlike the following:

The germination of this post came from thinking back to the great days of Made-For-TV films of the 1970s.

It was a treat to see the familiar face of  a TV Star (or a quietly fading movie star)  in the cast of these often compelling movies...Telly Savalas, William Shatner, Robert Conrad, Elizabeth Ashley...this list of great faces and quirky mannerisms is endless. 

Nowadays seeing a "guest star" (which is typically some reality TV star) on the tube is like those times when you find an onion ring in your  french fries at Burger King.  It's fun, but, in the big picture, it's just more crap in crap.

But I digress.

The thoughts of Made for TV Films of the 1970s made me think of  Bert Convy.


Convy's ghost once appeared to a  friend and I during an acid trip we took in the mid-90s.  It was mid-December.  His spirit flitted about the leafless branches of  the trees.  The trees pulsated like the synapsis of nerves in our craniums.  My friend turned to me and said,

"The password is: Freakout."

But that is another story.

I began to think about Bert Convy's career and paused when my thoughts traveled back to a time when he was known not as an actor or game show host...but as Bert Convy, the singer.

And that is where the fodder for this post was found.  Dig Bert's wonderful Halloween-tinged single:

and its (my personal fave) b-side:

Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Thirteen: The Monster Mash

There are MYRIADS of great Halloween tunes. But, for me, the number, that says it all is Bobby “Boris” Pickett's graveyard smash, The Monster Mash. It can turn a bad day into a better day at the very second I hear the bubbling of the liquids in the laboratory and the shaking of the chains:

Hands down, the best cover version was recorded by these wonderful weirdos:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Twelve: The Haunting of Julia is Still Not Available on DVD

Great Horror Films NOT Available on DVD - Part One.

The Haunting of Julia (AKA Full Circle) (1977)


The edited synopsis from IMDB:

After the sudden accidental death of her small daughter, Julia Lofting (Mia Farrow), a wealthy American woman living in London, leaves her gold-digging husband (played by Ex-Clevelander, Keir Dullea) and buys a house in Kensington which is haunted by the ghost of a nasty little girl who died in the 1950s and plans to use Julia as her pawn in a terrible revenge.

From beginning to end, the air of sadness and genuine creepiness this film conjures never lets up for a moment.  Well, there is a moment of (in my opinion) dark comedy when Tom Conti's character is electrocuted in a bathtub while this Pat Boone number plays in the background:

Side note: The late David Hess co-wrote this wacky tune.  The addition of Mel Blanc's voice changes the winsomeness of the lovable mouse.  The song makes him out to be a hard drinker who is away from home whoring about with some floozy named, Flo.  For me, Speedy never seemed like the type for this sort of behavior...his cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez, now that guy I could totally see him in this precarious position...

Beside the weird aversion to coffee/caffeine that two of the characters in the film display (what is this supposed to symbolize?  Am I reading to much into this?), there is nothing I can add to the already glowing commentary regarding this wonderful film. 

That graveyard, as they say, is already full.

I could complain that this film languishes unseen and unavailable on DVD yet the unending stream of re-makes (The Thing?  Come on!!) continue to flow out of Hollywood like snot from my nostrils during the height of the ragweed season.  But this is the way of the world today, I guess.  Maybe if someone decided to remake The Haunting of Julia then we would finally see a DVD release of the original version.  This very thing happened when Bedazzled was re-made.

Could liking a Facebook Page help get this film out and in your DVD player?  I've been liking the shit out of the Surf II:  The End of the Trilogy Page for months now and I have yet to hear a peep about a release of that unheralded classic.

Also, there is the matter of the unavailability of the very appropriate eerie, melancholy soundtrack composed by Colin Towns. The score was released in 1995, but now it is long out of print.


I wonder if Pat Boone is behind the fact this film remains unavailable on DVD...Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Eleven: Ants on Film

Spiders are more Halloweeny, but we have been battling an ant problem at my house the last few weeks so I have had ants on my mind and on my kitchen counter and on the floor...

Them! (1954)
Thanks, America.
Thanks a million for the gigantic, mutant ants.

The Naked Jungle (1954)
Can the wealthy, sexually-inexperienced, plantation owner (Charlton Heston) and his "purchased", intelligent new wife (Eleanor Parker) stop arguing long enough to stop the ants from destroying everything Heston has spent his entire life building?

Can William Conrad tolerate their insane attempt to fight these tiny warriors?

Watch this thrilling, campy number and find out!

Phase IV (1974)
Saul Bass directed only one feature length film. This was it. When it came to creating a title sequence for a film, Saul was THE MAN. A Saul Bass title sequence looks like nothing else but a Saul Bass title sequence.

I'm still not quite sure if this one is REALLY any good, though.

I saw this more than a few times on TV as a child. I never failed to fall asleep before the ending. I bought the DVD when it came out and I still find that it lulls me to sleep.  This is by no means a comment on the quality of the film.  It's just that the film is slowly paced and Brian Gascoigne's electronic-drone score just does has that certain sort of hypnotic something that just sends me off to dreamland.

The word on the virtual street says the film is grand, so one day with enough caffeine I will have an opinion on this surreal, somber film.

Empire of the Ants (1977)
If seeing the name Bert I. Gordon (or Samuel Arkoff, for that matter) does not say to you that you are in for a good time in front of your boob tube then, pal, you better fire up your search engine and get to researchin'! Nowadays, I tend to gravitate towards his more "serious" films like The Mad Bomber, Picture Mommy Dead or Necromancy, but back when I was still digging eating dry, sugary cereal out of a cup in the shape of Batman's head his big creature films were the ultimate in Saturday afternoon derangement. Even as a child, I thought Joan Collins looked incredibly uncomfortable in this one.

It Happened at Lakewood Manor (Made for TV 1977)  AKA: Ants.

I recently purchased this film. I have yet to watch it.  By the looks of the trailer, it was three bucks well spent!

Monday, October 10, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Ten: Horror Films Bring Us Together

I managed a video store for almost ten years. From about 1994 to 2004. It was eight years of absolute immersion in film. The last two years were more of a pathetic ride into the belly of ugly Failing American Corporate Chain Store Reality, but that's a very sad story for another time. Being a life long lover of movies, the idea of being able to take home two or more movies a night for free and receive NICE discounts on films for sale was absolute heaven to me.

Of course, the job was not all days and nights filled with watching obscure crime and horror films and kibitzing with fellow lovers of funky, cinematic ephemera - there were late fees to be collected and phone calls to be made to folks with long overdue movies on their accounts.

There was one terrible moment during one of those late calls that has really stuck with me through all these years. I accidentally dialed a wrong number and left a message on an answering machine regarding a late copy of Jerry McGuire or something hot and new on video at that time.

The human with that number got home from a hard day at the office, checked his messages, heard the message meant for someone else, promptly freaked out and placed a call to the offending video store.

It did not take me long to realize the error.  I quickly explained to the frothing man-thing on the line that I had transposed the numbers.  The call was meant for someone else. The fellow's heavy-breathing and yelling slowly calmed to a low murmur of disgust. Through clenched-teeth and spittle he said, "I knew there was no way this message was for me or any member of my family. We do not watch movies. We are not MOVIE PEOPLE."

You see, I understand not everyone likes the same things. I can understand if someone is just not into listening to Free Jazz or reading the nonsense verse of Edward Lear. It was the sneering tone of the words, MOVIE really got to me.

As if a person who watches movies is in the same category as a Nazi, child abuser or killer of kittens.

If he knew the call was surely a wrong number, why did he call and scream as if I had commented about his wife's butthole or something equally as offensive?

Well, obviously he was an asshole, but maybe not having films in his life had dimmed all the lights in his noggin and crushed any sort of humanity in his soul.

This angry man obviously lived an empty, sad, little life.  An existence concrete and reality-based, devoid of flights of fancy, musical numbers, slapstick routines, car chases, dark alleys, adventures in foreign lands, trips to outer space, outlandish dream sequences and freakish landscapes, gorillas, romantic interludes, talking animals, melodrama, wacky histrionics, Doris Day, Marie Windsor's beautiful eyes and  M. Emmet Walsh.


It's just a theory.

But this is a post about Halloween, right?  I kinda got side-tracked there  thinking back to those days behind a counter foisting videos, pop and over-priced snacks to the great unwashed.  I just wanted to get that off of my chest. Ruminating over the anecdote I'm going to relate next got me thinking about that awful moment with the barking man who lived the vacuous life without movies...

I do feel better.


Here goes:

Horror films can bring folks together.

Let me tell you about this fellow...

He walked into the video store to browse a little while he waited for his prescription to be filled in a drug store that was located in the same strip mall as the video store.  He was probably in his early 80s.  He had the sort of wrinkled face that a person gets from a lifetime spent laughing and smiling...

He approached the counter after a few minutes of wandering about the aisles and asked:

"Have you ever seen the movie, The Body Snatcher?  The one with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff?"

I answered, "Of course, good gosh, that is my all-time favorite horror film!!"

Then, regardless of our places in that present moment - me, a 26 year-old-college-drop-out-video-store -manager and him, a jolly looking Senior Citizen who lived volumes past my meager years - we were both twelve years old again.

We gushed over Karloff's performance in the film.

We talked a little about some of the other times Karloff and Lugosi shared the screen together.

It was the ending of that film, the mention of the still-to-this-very-day horrifying ending that he stopped and asked:

"Did you feel that?"

"No, What, what was it?"

"The chills!  Did you get chills down your spine?"

And I had felt chills down my spine.

We both laughed.

He became a regular customer.

Over the next few years, he slowly revealed himself to be a racist, sexist, anti-semitic prick,
but for those few seconds
when we talked about Boris and Bela
we could see eye to eye.

Happy Halloween.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Nine: Frankenstein is Everywhere

Director Joe Dante loves to pay homage to classic horror films.  The reference (even the same music from the 1935 film is used in the "laboratory" scene) to Bride of Frankenstein begins at about 50 seconds into this clip:

Friday, October 7, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Seven: Have Seance (or Gorilla) Will Travel

Roger Ebert once wrote:

“No movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad.”

This comment is sometimes referred to as The Stanton-Walsh Rule.

Here are a couple of others I came up with that are inspired by Ebert:

"Any film that features a man in a gorilla suit is better than a film that does not feature a man in a gorilla suit."


"Films containing the gloomy trifecta of a seance, a corpse, and secret panels in ancient houses are never boring."

Here is fine example of the latter:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Six: Haunted House Chamber Music From Belgium

I bought this record in the late 80s solely based on the cover. Photobucket

The fog, the rain, the mud, the grim Europeans (they had to be from Europe - look at them!!) dressed in black, the antique wheelchair, the sunglasses...It had to be good!

I was very pleased with the darkness that emanated from the grooves of the record. According to the Wikipedia entry about the band, many reviewers "have cited it as the darkest album ever recorded." 

It is the perfect replacement for any great silent horror film that has the unfortunate skating-rink-organ grafted to it. 

The very brave listen to it alone in the dark.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Five: The Day Cherie Currie Met a Carradine

Wavelength (1983)

She also met Demi Moore earlier in 1982.  

Parasite (1982)

But for alliteration purposes I posted the Carradine meeting as the premier.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Four: Dinah Shore's Foray in Fright

Dinah Shore.

Singer, talk show hostess, actress, cradle-robber (Burt Reynolds was 20 years younger than her) and golfer.

For this performance, she turns a song about a stolen kiss on a moon-lit night into something slinky, sexy and, a little,


Monday, October 3, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Three: Ogden's Nut Gone Creepy

Ogden Nash is not known for tapping his tootsies into the macabre.  This nifty site states simply that Nash was  "America's most accomplished writer of light verse, (he) applied his love of language to poems, stories, and lyrics. A 'versifier' who invented and mispelled words to create unexpected rhymes, Nash's fables on human foibles continue to delight, inspire and enlighten people worldwide."

Whimsical, hilarious and droll - those are the words one can use to describe the poems of Ogden Nash...

But here, in the poem below, Nash slips out of his proper suit and tie, dons a shroud  and takes the reader on an elevator ride to a Hell where the doomed are damned not once, but twice.

The poem is crammed with ghastly images and creepy rhymes.  Maxie "dropped the ode as it were a toad" and "he squashed the latch like a fungus patch."    Oh, and dig that "loathsome" conga line!

My first introduction to this poem was in Marvin Kaye's essential collection of nightmarish tales, Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural.

If the bookshelf in your reading room lacks that fine tinge of ghoulishness, the addition of the book does wonders for any tomb...I mean room.

A Tale Of The Thirteenth Floor

The hands of the clock were reaching high
In an old midtown hotel;
I name no name, but its sordid fame
Is table talk in hell.
I name no name, but hell's own flame
Illumes the lobby garish,
A gilded snare just off Times Square
For the virgins of the parish.

The revolving door swept the grimy floor
Like a crinoline grotesque,
And a lowly bum from an ancient slum
Crept furtively past the desk.
His footsteps sift into the lift
As a knife in the sheath is slipped,
Stealthy and swift into the lift
As a vampire into a crypt.

Old Maxie, the elevator boy,
Was reading an ode by Shelley,
But he dropped the ode as it were a toad
When the gun jammed into his belly.
There came a whisper as soft as mud
In the bed of an old canal:
"Take me up to the suite of Pinball Pete,
The rat who betrayed my gal."

The lift doth rise with groans and sighs
Like a duchess for the waltz,
Then in middle shaft, like a duchess daft,
It changes its mind and halts.
The bum bites lip as the landlocked ship
Doth neither fall nor rise,
But Maxie the elevator boy
Regards him with burning eyes.
"First, to explore the thirteenth floor,"
Says Maxie, "would be wise."

Quoth the bum, "There is moss on your double cross,
I have been this way before,
I have cased the joint at every point,
And there is no thirteenth floor.
The architect he skipped direct
From twelve unto fourteen,
There is twelve below and fourteen above,
And nothing in between,
For the vermin who dwell in this hotel
Could never abide thirteen."

Said Max, "Thirteen, that floor obscene,
Is hidden from human sight;
But once a year it doth appear,
On this Walpurgis Night.
Ere you peril your soul in murderer's role,
Heed those who sinned of yore;
The path they trod led away from God,
And onto the thirteenth floor,
Where those they slew, a grisly crew,
Reproach them forevermore.

"We are higher than twelve and below fourteen,"
Said Maxie to the bum,
"And the sickening draft that taints the shaft
Is a whiff of kingdom come.
The sickening draft that taints the shaft
Blows through the devil's door!"
And he squashed the latch like a fungus patch,
And revealed the thirteenth floor.

It was cheap cigars like lurid scars
That glowed in the rancid gloom,
The murk was a-boil with fusel oil
And the reek of stale perfume.
And round and round there dragged and wound
A loathsome conga chain,
The square and the hep in slow lock step,
The slayer and the slain.
(For the souls of the victims ascend on high,
But their bodies below remain.)

The clean souls fly to their home in the sky,
But their bodies remain below
To pursue the Cain who each has slain
And harry him to and fro.
When life is extinct each corpse is linked
To its gibbering murderer,
As a chicken is bound with wire around
The neck of a killer cur.

Handcuffed to Hate come Doctor Waite
(He tastes the poison now),
And Ruth and Judd and a head of blood
With horns upon its brow.
Up sashays Nan with her feathery fan
From Floradora bright;
She never hung for Caesar Young
But she's dancing with him tonight.

Here's the bulging hip and the foam-flecked lip
Of the mad dog, Vincent Coll,
And over there that ill-met pair,
Becker and Rosenthal,
Here's Legs and Dutch and a dozen such
Of braggart bullies and brutes,
And each one bends 'neath the weight of friends
Who are wearing concrete suits.

Now the damned make way for the double-damned
Who emerge with shuffling pace
From the nightmare zone of persons unknown,
With neither name nor face.
And poor Dot King to one doth cling,
Joined in a ghastly jig,
While Elwell doth jape at a goblin shape
And tickle it with his wig.

See Rothstein pass like breath on a glass,
The original Black Sox kid;
He riffles the pack, riding piggyback
On the killer whose name he hid.
And smeared like brine on a slavering swine,
Starr Faithful, once so fair,
Drawn from the sea to her debauchee,
With the salt sand in her hair.

And still they come, and from the bum
The icy sweat doth spray;
His white lips scream as in a dream,
"For God's sake, let's away!
If ever I meet with Pinball Pete
I will not seek his gore,
Lest a treadmill grim I must trudge with him
On the hideous thirteenth floor."

"For you I rejoice," said Maxie's voice,
"And I bid you go in peace,
But I am late for a dancing date
That nevermore will cease.
So remember, friend, as your way you wend,
That it would have happened to you,
But I turned the heat on Pinball Pete;
You see - I had a daughter, too!"

The bum reached out and he tried to shout,
But the door in his face was slammed,
And silent as stone he rode down alone
From the floor of the double-damned.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day Two: Motown's Prog Monster

The reasons behind Motown's decision to sign the Italian Prog band, Libra, remain a mystery.  There was certainly a big hole left when the label lost Holland–Dozier–Holland and Norman Whitfield in the early 70s.  Was it a desperate attempt to snag a piece of the more sophisticated, Progressive Rock and Roll fan's pocket money?  They surely would not have thought that there would be enough money in those pockets to fill that hole.  Were the rumors true about Lionel Ritchie's terrible flirtation with the Black Arts?  Did the dabbling in the darkness conjure something out of the depths that poor Lionel (or any member of the Commadores for that matter) could not control?  Did Barry Gordy himself step in and (in order to appease Lucifer) sign a Prog band from Italy?

Who knows? 

Libra - Libra

Libra - Winter's Day Nightmare

For our purpose - this being Halloween season and all - the scariest thing about these two records ( "Libra" released in 1975 and "Winter's Day Nightmare" from 1976) are the LP covers.   According to collectors of prog rock, the music on the record inside those terrifying sleeves is "not bad", "pretty good" or "worth listening to".

The band broke up in 1976, reformed in 1977 (with a member of Goblin in their midst) and scored legendary director Mario Bava's  final film, Schock (1977).

Things got really terrifying then:


I can't really comment on the film.  I have not seen it in years.  I bought the DVD when it came out via Anchor Bay in 2000.  I watched it and remember liking it but back then I would sometimes watch five or more movies a day - memories of movies tend to blend into other movies.  The years 1993 to about 2003 tend to be one grand, psychedelic, beer and pizza dreamscape, but that is another story...

The music for the film is something I revisit as often as I can.  It's scary, funky, dreamy and even charmingly, instrumentally bloated just like some of the finer progressive bands of the era. 

All in all, it is gloriously Goblinesque:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

31 Uncanny Bits of Terror for October - Day One: Horrifying Toys

Hugo: Man of a Thousand Faces

There are a handful of toys I owned in my youth that I wish I could still play with...Hugo is certainly one of them. He arrived on the toy shelves in 1975. I was 8 years old when Hugo appeared under my Christmas tree. I never asked for Hugo, but I think my obsession with horror films made my parents realize that Hugo's presence would be welcome in my life.


Dig for a second Hugo's vacant stare.


Have you ever seen such malevolence? I don't think there has been a toy before or since that has had such an eerie countenance as Hugo.

Look at his disguises:


What are we to make of the grotesque, swollen, stitched eye, the eye that is glazed over and sickly white, the astonishing selection of scars and the ridiculous Beatle wig? These are not the accouterments of a wholesome puppet. What ever situation this puppet gets into we can be assured that it will be nefarious and awful.

Of course, Hugo was not the only one who would sport a plastic scar. I'm assuming every kid did finally resort to sticking them on his own face. I know I did.

The Wikipedia entry has a complete list of all the delightful items that came with Hugo. I forgot about the bandage (with fake bloodstain!).

One amazing fact I discovered was that Hugo was designed by Alan Ormsby!

Alan acted in and co-wrote this film with the late, great Bob Clark:

He directed this:

He wrote this:

It took a man like that to design I wondrous, horrifying toy like...HUGO.