Category Archives: Halloween Season

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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ASK BALLADEER: DARK SHADOWS (1966-1971)

Dark ShadowsQUESTION: Recently you recapped the saga of Laura Collins the Phoenix from the old Gothic Soap Opera Dark Shadows (1966-1971). Do you plan to review any of the other story arcs from the show?

ANSWER: At this time I don’t but I would emphasize that the original series is always fun to watch for people who like horror, sci-fi and fantasy. Like early Doctor Who episodes, part of the charm comes from the unrefined, seat-of-their-pants, low budget nature of the 5 day a week Dark Shadows.

Even people who aren’t fans of the show seem aware that it featured a vampire, a witch, ghosts and a werewolf. There were also warlocks, a Dorian Gray figure, mad scientists, zombies, an artist whose works came to life because his canvases were made from enchanted wood, plus lots and lots of time travel.

In addition to the aforementioned Phoenix and other tales, Dark Shadows featured two other fun storylines which I’ll summarize briefly:

masc graveyard newThe Leviathan Cult: The supernatural Collins family clashed with what was basically an imitation Cult of Cthulhu. Dan Curtis (creator and guiding creative force behind Dark Shadows) made the undersea entity worshiped by the cult be Leviathan from the Bible. (“Try suing us NOW, Arkham House!” I’m kidding.) Other serpentine figures from world mythology were tied to the Leviathans, too, like Nagas. 

You know the drill: the Leviathans ruled the world long before the dawn of humanity and wanted to rule it again with the help of their human cultists. The thwarted Leviathans punished Barnabas Collins by returning the curse of the vampire upon him. (In a disastrous move that was up there with New Coke, the show’s creative team had actually had Barnabas cured for a while, but babes just didn’t go for the less-than-smoldering Jonathan Frid without his fangs.)

Even the witch Angelique had given up her evil pursuit of Barnabas for a time and had settled down with wealthy publisher Sky Rumson (Geoffrey Scott of First and Ten). When it turned out Sky was really one of the Leviathan worshipers, the heart-broken Angelique was once again free to stalk the re-fanged Barnabas. 

The second of the two storylines came by way of Mary Shelley – Continue reading

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DARK (SHADOWS) PHOENIX

masc graveyard newThe latest attempt at cramming the X-Men’s lengthy, years-long Dark Phoenix storyline into one movie is now in theaters. With everybody reviewing that cram course Balladeer’s Blog will instead take a look at the female Phoenix character from the original 1966-1971 run of Dark Shadows.

Amazingly enough, I often encounter people who claim to have never heard of the Gothic Horror soap opera Dark Shadows. Not the original 5-day a week cult series (still available in reruns), not the movies, not the attempted reboot in 1991 and not the ongoing series of audio plays set in the 1970s onward. If anything they’ve heard of the incredibly lame Tim Burton comedy version of the show starring Johnny Depp.

Laura the Phoenix paintingDecades before Bella Swan was torn between a supposedly hunky vampire and a supposedly hunky werewolf in the Twilight novels, female readers of Tiger Beat magazine were torn between Dark Shadows‘ horror heart-throbs. Jonathan Frid’s vampire Barnabas Collins was one and David Selby’s werewolf/ warlock/ Dorian Gray-figure Quentin Collins was the other.  

Diana MillayIn terms of female horror heart-throbs from Dark Shadows, Lara Parker’s evil witch Angelique is the best known, but obviously this post will address the unusual supernatural menace the Phoenix, aka Laura Collins, played by Diana Millay (right) on the original Dark Shadows.      

In Dark Shadows lore Laura Collins was sold to a Phoenix Cult in Egypt in the 1700s by her evil lover, for whom she had abandoned her husband back in America. The cult used Laura as an offering/ guinea pig, transforming her into a supernatural figure called the Phoenix. Continue reading

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CURSE OF LA LLORONA: MOVIE REVIEW

masc graveyard newBalladeer’s Blog’s coverage of earlier film versions of The Curse of La Llorona (“The Crying Woman“) has always been popular with readers. Here’s my 2011 review of The Curse of the Crying Woman. And for more of my reviews of neglected Mexican horror films which may themselves be getting big-budget remakes if La Llorona is a hit, click HERE 

Curse of the Crying WomanCURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN ( 1961 ) – The crying or weeping woman, called La Llorona in her native Mexico, is the undeniable queen of Mexi- Monsters. This ghoulish menace has appeared in many, many films before and after this one, but this 1961 version was the one that added witchcraft to her powers and spawned the “Llorona- mania” that shows no signs of abating.

The most recent Mexican horror film about her in 2007 used the tag line “The legend of La Llorona never dies”.

Since I’m a mythology geek I’ll point out that variations of the story of La Llorona can be traced all the way back to Aztec times, but the Christianized version of her story goes like this: Continue reading

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SLAUGHTER HIGH/ APRIL FOOL’S DAY (1986)

For April Fool’s Day here at Balladeer’s Blog I’m giving a rest to my usual holiday offering, my review of Aleister Crowley’s Clouds Without Water, to review a movie instead.

Slaughter HighSLAUGHTER HIGH/ APRIL FOOL’S DAY (1986) – This is the low-budget horror film made in England and set on April Fool’s Day. There are still VHS tapes and YouTube videos that show the original title, but the title was changed to Slaughter High because of the year’s OTHER April Fool’s Day slasher film with a gimmick ending.

Slaughter High starts off showing us April Fool’s Day of 1976, when a group of “teenagers” including 30-something Caroline Munro go to bizarre lengths to degrade and victimize their nerdy classmate Marty. These “kids” aren’t so much bullies as they are psychopaths, actually.

Slaughter High bAfter an April Fool’s Day “prank” involving nudity, electric shocks and near drowning, Marty is still alive through no fault of his classmates. The supposed popular kids get punished for their criminal assault on Marty, and perversely blame him for it! It’s that kind of movie. Hell, Marty’s tormentors were caught in the act, it’s not even like he peached on them (since this was made in England I couldn’t resist writing “peached on them”).

The psychotic teens-in-their -thirties decide Marty deserves some payback for the way they got in trouble for nearly killing him earlier, so they stage a new “prank” involving tampered-with marijuana, dangerous chemicals … and acid. C’mon, you kidders! Stop giving Marty the business! Just cut off one of his limbs or something and call it a day, ya jokesters! Continue reading

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MOVIE HOSTESS DRACULEENA AND MANY OTHER NEGLECTED HOSTS

DraculeenaHere at Balladeer’s Blog my fondness for the really old Movie Host/ Horror Host shows is well known.

Courtesy of Gary P here are some very old television listings for a neglected hostess called Draculeena. Her show debuted on October 28th, 1960 on KVAR in Phoenix, AZ.

Draculeena 2Gary has uncovered a wealth of info and clippings regarding this figure plus many more neglected Movie Hosts.

Find out about overlooked stars like Miss Nightmare, Iago, Timmy the Timid, DracuLinda, Satina, Dr Wolfgang Von Schrecklich and many more.

For all the details plus photos when available click Continue reading

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HEMISPHERE HORRORS: FILIPINO HORROR FILM BOX SET

-“They Came From the Philippines” you could say. ORDER BELOW. It’s a Five-Movie “Hemisphere Box of Horrors” featuring:

Blood DrinkersTHE BLOOD DRINKERS (1964) Also released as The Vampire People and Kulay Dugo Ang Gabi, this was the very first COLOR horror film made in the Philippines.  

Special Features for The Blood Drinkers:

  • Manong of the Philippines: Interview With Script Supervisor and Gerry De Leon’s AD Dik Trofeo
  • Hemisphere Appreciation by Filmmaker David Decoteau
  • Audio Commentary With Film Historians Nathaniel Thompson and Howard S. Berger
  • Partial Audio Commentary With Hemisphere Marketing Consultant Samuel M. Sherman
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Blood Drinkers Trailer
  • Vampire People Trailer
  • Radio Spot Continue reading

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