Category Archives: Halloween Season

MALDOROR 2:5 – INDELIBLE BLOOD GLITTERING LIKE A DIAMOND

mascot sword and gun picBalladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror.

PLEASE NOTE:

As I’ve warned in the past, don’t let the 1868 date fool you. There are disturbing elements to this.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you if this really gets to you. 

INDELIBLE BLOOD GLITTERING LIKE A DIAMOND

Maldoror 2 5Back to the insane, taciturn and blood-thirsty Maldoror we’re used to this time around. The supernatural being has been strolling through a particular narrow Paris alley as part of the ground he covers while taking his walk. A slender ten year old girl, oblivious to the danger she’s courting, takes to following him each time until he gets to the end of the alley where she and her mother live.

Growing bolder she even takes to playfully blocking his way sometimes. On occasions when Maldoror tries to walk through at a brisker pace she speeds up her own gait to keep pace with him. On occasions when he goes slowly through the alley the little girl matches that pace, too. When she tries to start a conversation with the monstrous figure by asking him what time it is he coldly replies that he has no watch. Continue reading

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MALDOROR 2:4 – THE MIDNIGHT OMNIBUS

Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror.

THE MIDNIGHT OMNIBUS

Midnight strikes in Paris. An eerie double-decker horse-drawn omnibus bursts forth from the ground and begins making its way through the nearly empty, night-darkened streets.

A few late night wayfarers regard the unusual omnibus with a shudder as it goes by. The vehicle carries the full passenger load of twenty-four but all of the travelers on the upper deck appear to be lifeless corpses leaned against each other.

The top-hatted driver looks like another corpse, and the whip he uses to urge on his horses seems more alive than he is. That whip appears to be what animates the arm of the otherwise lifeless driver, not the other way around. Even the passengers on the inner deck remain mute and still and are likewise as pale as ghosts.   Continue reading

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MALDOROR THIRTEEN: THE GREAT TOAD ANGEL

Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror.

THE GREAT TOAD-ANGEL 

Maldoror 13This stanza opens up with the supernatural being Maldoror contemplating the worms he pulls from the swollen belly of a dead dog. Slicing the worms into small bits he philosophizes on how human beings should learn a lesson about their own mortality from the state of such dead, worm-riddled bodies. 

Night is falling. In the distance he spies a horse-sized toad with white wings flying down from the sky and landing on the road he is traveling. As the two draw nearer to each other Maldoror senses something familiar about the creature and reflects that its face is “as beautiful as suicide”. He resents the being over how beautiful it looks even in its massive ugliness and the halo over the toad’s head tells him it has come from Heaven and his archrival God.  Continue reading

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OPEN HOUSE (1987): HORROR FILM REVIEW

Open House 1

OPEN HOUSE (1987) – This movie falls into the bizarre sub-genre of “Theme Slashers” from the 1980s. I have a soft spot for those flicks and have previously reviewed Horror House on Highway 5 (slasher in a Richard Nixon mask), The Newlydeads (undead transvestite slasher), Bloodbeat (female slasher using a samurai sword), Hellroller (slasher in a wheelchair) and about a dozen others.

With Open House we get a slasher who specializes in killing … Real Estate Agents. Now who could resist a movie about a killer with such an oddly specific obsession? Cult figure Adrienne Barbeau stars in the film and has outrightly admitted she only made this turkey to finance her child’s college education. I have no idea what motivated Sam Bottoms and Tiffany Bolling to appear in this “so bad it’s good” little honey.

Harry, our homeless slasher, wins the hearts of all lovers of bad movies right off the bat with the makeshift weapon he uses to kill his first two on-screen victims. The homicidal Harry stops eating from a can of dogfood long enough to tape razors to a toilet plunger handle and uses the improvised device to unleash bloody mayhem. He carves up the sexy realtor and her hunky househunter just as they were about to get their freak on in the house she was trying to sell him.

Continue reading

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MALDOROR 12: THE PHILOSOPHICAL GRAVEDIGGER

Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror. NOTE: As always, the Maldoror blog posts are not for the squeamish. 

THE PHILOSOPHICAL GRAVEDIGGER

Maldoror gravediggerThe supernatural being Maldoror, here referring to himself as “He who knows not how to weep”, found himself in Norway in his wanderings. While in the Faroe Islands he observed men who hunt for the nests of sea birds in mountain crevices hundreds of feet deep. He mused that if he was in charge of such an expedition he would have knicked the strong rope the mountain climbers use, weakening it so he could enjoy watching at least one of them plummet to a bone-shattering death far below.  

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This image of a human body fatally falling into a massive hole in the earth put him in mind of freshly-dug graves. Thus inspired, Maldoror indulged in a nocturnal exploration of the area’s graveyards. In one in particular he passed a band of necrophiliacs violating beautiful corpses and stopped to chat with a nearby gravedigger.

With typical vanity Maldoror told the gravedigger to consider himself lucky to be interacting with him. He (Maldoror) fancied himself a figurative “great whale” momentarily raising his head above the waters of the Sea of Death in which he made his home, granting a mere mortal like the gravedigger the privilege of seeing him in his dread majesty.    Continue reading

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THE KINDRED (1987) MOVIE REVIEW

Kindred largerTHE KINDRED (1987) – This monster movie was the third horror project from the writing and directing team of Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow.

The duo got started while they were film students at UCLA and released the regulation 1982 slasher movie Death Dorm aka Pranks aka The Dorm That Dripped Blood. Next came The Power (1984), about a cursed Aztec relic.

Neither of those works were exceptional nor were they trying to redefine the genre, but there was noticeable improvement between the 1984 project and the 1982 debut film. The Kindred continued that professional refinement and is the most watchable of “Carpbrow’s” early horror efforts.

THE Kim Hunter is in a few early scenes as Amanda Hollins, a biochemist who was engaged in some ethically questionable research before a car accident left her in a coma for years. She has just emerged from that coma and wants her son John (David Allen Brooks) to go to her old beach house and destroy all of her work, including her notes.

Rod Steiger, just one year away from his outrageous tour-de-force performance in the slasher film American Gothic (with YVONNE DE CARLO), plays Dr Phillip Lloyd, the villain of the story. The mad Dr Lloyd has been trying his own hand at the kind of research that Amanda Hollins excelled at. To that end he’s been paying an unscrupulous ambulance driver to covertly provide him with accident victims to use as human guinea pigs.   Continue reading

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MALDOROR 11: DISTANT SCREAMS OF MOST POIGNANT AGONY

Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror. NOT FOR THE EASILY FRIGHTENED.

DISTANT SCREAMS OF MOST POIGNANT AGONY

Maldoror 11For a change of pace we readers are not immersed entirely in a first person narration by Maldoror himself. This section begins with a mother, father and their beloved child Edward spending a quiet evening together. The parents are advanced in age and did not have Edward until very late in life after years of longing for a child of their own. 

The happy trio catch a glimpse of the supernatural being Maldoror peering in at them through a window. Though they think they succeed at shooing him away from their home little Edward cannot get the hideous man out of his mind. The family’s conversation is periodically and repeatedly punctuated by what the author describes as “distant prolonged screams of the most poignant agony.”  Continue reading

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MALDOROR 8: AN INSATIABLE THIRST FOR THE INFINITE

Balladeer’s Blog continues its poem by poem examination of the 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror by Isidore Ducasse, the self-titled Count de Lautreamont.

AN INSATIABLE THIRST FOR THE INFINITE

Maldoror 8This section begins with Maldoror wandering through the darkness of the night, at times nostalgically recalling the terror and dread with which he used to regard the sounds and distant impressions of the overnight hours. But that was when he was merely a human child and his mother would try to calm him as he huddled beneath his blankets listening fearfully to the savage or vaguely sinister sounds made by the beasts who roam the night.

She would explain away the horror of the distant noises by assuring him that the beasts meant no harm, but were instead filled with an insatiable thirst for the infinite, the same thirst she sensed in the son she was trying to comfort.

Now, fully grown and more than human, Maldoror prowls the night as one of the beasts making noises that terrify others in their beds. Supreme in his element our narrator blissfully describes some of the nightly tableaus that catch his attention. Continue reading

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MALDOROR: A NEGLECTED MASTERPIECE OF SURREAL HORROR

“Maldoror and His Smile” by Lord Orlando

Balladeer’s Blog has done a comprehensive examination of The Songs of Maldoror, often referred to as just Maldoror. The original 1868 French language work by the self-designated Count de Lautreamont (real name Isidore Ducasse) was in verse form, which is great for poetry geeks like me but if you prefer prose there are plenty of prose translations available. 

This work of surreal horror was so far ahead of its time that the author himself, in one of the few existing copies of his correspondence, expressed fears that he might be jailed or thrown into an insane asylum and requested that the publisher literally “stop the presses.” Just 88 copies of the book were completed in that initial run and for a few decades The Songs of Maldoror languished in obscurity.  

By the 1890s those few copies of Maldoror had been circulating among the more adventurous literati of the time period and the work began to be hailed as a forgotten masterpiece by Maeterlink, Bloy, Huysmans and de Gourmont. This new acclaim ultimately resulted in a new run of copies – this time in the thousands instead of dozens like the first run. This also accounts for why some reviewers mistakenly refer to The Songs of Maldoror as an 1890s work, despite its original publication date of 1868. Continue reading

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DARK INTRUDER (1965) – LESLIE NIELSEN IN A HORROR STORY

dark-intruder-2DARK INTRUDER (1965) – This thoroughly enjoyable piece of Forgotten Television was a failed pilot for a series. Supposedly the network passed on it because they thought it was too scary and gruesome for tv viewers of the time. Instead they released this 59-minute black & white gem to theaters as the second title for double features.

The story is set in 1891 San Francisco with Leslie Nielsen himself starring as Brett Kingsford, an occult expert and investigator. If this had been picked up as a series the title was going to be The Black Cloak and apparently would have been a forerunner of The Norliss Tapes, Kolchak and Spectre. In my opinion the period setting would have given The Black Cloak the edge, though.

dark-intruder-4Brett Kingsford maintains a quasi-secret identity. On the surface he’s known in San Francisco as a bon vivant and ladies’ man and when the police want to consult him over something supernatural he dons various disguises to rendezvous with them. That way nobody in his usual social circles is made aware of his connections with the cops.  Continue reading

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