Category Archives: Halloween Season

THE MOST HALLOWEENISH WEREWOLF BY NIGHT COVERS

Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues with this look at pop culture mammoth Marvel Comics’ long(ish) running horror series Werewolf by Night.

Werewolf 1WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #1 (September 1972)

Title: Eye of the Beholder

Villains: Marlene Blackgar, whose horrible gaze turns people to stone, and her monstrous creation Strug

Comment: After a few issue tryout in Marvel Spotlight, 18 year old Jack Russell (really Russoff), the titular character, got his own title. He was the son of a European nobleman and the latest inheritor of the family’s curse of lycanthropy. A curse he sought a cure for.

His adventures were often like a comic book version of Paul Naschy’s Waldemar Daninsky werewolf movies from Spain. Continue reading

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MALDOROR 3:2 – VICTIMS BOTH LIVING AND DEAD

As Halloween Month continues what could be more appropriate than to resume Balladeer’s Blog’s examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror.

WARNING: THIS IS ANOTHER OF THE MOST TWISTED, DISTURBING AND HORRIFIC STANZAS IN THE ENTIRE BOOK. 

VICTIMS BOTH LIVING AND DEAD

Maldoror 2The malevolent supernatural being Maldoror commits one of his most horrific acts of violence ever in this stanza. For those horror fans who prefer to see our vile main character perpetrating genuine atrocities this is the tale for you.  

This stanza begins with Maldoror contemplating an elderly, poverty-stricken madwoman who roams the roads of France. She wears tattered clothing and her aged face is withered like a mummy’s while what little hair she has left falls like long spider-legs over her head and neck. Continue reading

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THREE MORE BAD MOVIE CLASSICS FOR HALLOWEEN

Blood SongHalloween month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog! In previous years I’ve run my list of The Top Eleven Neglected Bad Movie Classics for Halloween and even a followup list of eleven more.  Right now here’s a look at three more classically bad horror flicks for the season.

BLOOD SONG (1982) – Singer Frankie Avalon as a 1980s- style slasher villain! The godfather’s Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana) as a co-star and co-producer! Who could possibly resist that? Frankie plays a homicidal maniac who escapes from an insane asylum with his beloved flute/recorder type thingee.

Turns out years earlier a girl played by Donna Wilkes – soon to star as Angel herself – got a blood transfusion from Psycho Frankie. In this movie’s logic-free universe that means that she has a mental link with our mad slasher. This link is causing him to track her down to kill her with the single-minded fury that Mike Myers showed toward Jaime Lee Curtis in the Halloween movies. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FIFTY: 1980s SLASHER VERSION

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT IN THE 1850s, CLICK HERE 

Fool Killer Day of JudgmentThe previous 49 installments of Fool Killer lore have seen the neglected folk figure in a variety of roles: Political and cultural vigilante, slayer of lynch mobs, battler of war profiteers, foe of the Ku Klux Klan in the Reconstruction South, bastard son of a supernatural entity, guardian of Melungeon Gold, old west gunslinger, steam-punk policeman and so much more.

In honor of the Halloween season this post will look at the Fool Killer as a 1980s slasher. And I don’t mean the Fool Killer/ Angel of Death figure from the horror film A Day of Judgment (1981). I mean a true 1980s slasher in the mold of Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and others. Continue reading

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FOUR NEGLECTED HALLOWEEN STORIES

As Halloween Month rolls along here are four often-overlooked horror stories in the spirit of the season.

masc graveyard smallerA KISS OF JUDAS (1894) – Written by “X.L.” (Julian Osgood Field). Adapted from Moldavian folk tales, this story tells us that the descendants of Judas walk among us. They are evil people with sinister designs on the people they target. At will they can commit suicide and return from the dead. The Judas-Spawn can then approach their terrified victim and plant a “Judas Kiss” on them, which kills them. The Roman numeral XXX (for the Thirty Pieces of Silver) appears on the dead bodies of their victims.

COLD HARBOR (1924) – Written by Francis Brett Young. Cold Harbor is a forbidding old British mansion overlooking the sea. The Wakes, a young doctor and his wife, encounter the mansion’s sinister owner Furnival. Continue reading

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SIX RARE HALLOWEEN MONSTERS

Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog! Here’s a look at some of the neglected monsters I’ve covered over the years. These horrific figures deserve as much love as the better known characters like Dracula, Frankenstein, the Crying Woman and many others.

Squaw Hollow SensationSETHOS

First Appearance: The Squaw Hollow Sensation (1879)

Cryptid Category: Aztec mummy

Lore: Around the year 800 AD an Aztec scholar named Sethos drank the Draught of the Everlasting Covenant and went into a state of suspended animation. In 1879 mining operations uncovered the tomb where he was hidden away.

A scientist of the era mastered the technique of reviving Sethos and successfully restored him to full life. Sethos’ body was hideously mummified but intact except for a gaping hole in his skull in the middle of his forehead from the experiment to revive him. Continue reading

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THE MONKS OF MONK HALL (1844-1845)

As Halloween Month continues, Balladeer’s Blog looks at a neglected work of American horror.

Monks of Monk Hall

THE MONKS OF MONK HALL aka THE QUAKER CITY (1844-1845) – Written by George Lippard, this strange and macabre story was originally serialized from 1844-1845 before being published in novel form. This bloody, horrific work was America’s best-selling novel before Uncle Tom’s Cabin

I always refer to this book as “Twin Peaks Goes To The 1840s.” On one level The Monks of Monk Hall deals with crime, corruption, drugs and sex-trafficking among many supposedly “respectable” citizens of Philadelphia the way Twin Peaks did with residents of the title town.

On another level the novel deals with supernatural horrors that lurk behind the Quaker City’s murders, vices and sexual perversions, again like the David Lynch series. The center of the darkness is Monk Hall, an old, sprawling mansion with an unsavory history and reputation. Many have disappeared into the bowels of the building, never to be seen again. The power players and criminals who mingle at the Hall in bizarre orgies, secret murders and drunken debauches are known as “Monks” – Monk Hall’s exclusive membership.

Monks of Monk Hall 4

Think of Monk Hall as a combination of Twin Peaks establishments like the Black Lodge, One-Eyed Jacks and the Great Northern all rolled into one. The vast, multi-roomed Hall is honey-combed with secret passageways and trap doors. Beneath the mansion are a subterranean river plus several levels of labyrinthine catacombs filled with rats, refuse and the skeletal remains of the Monks’ many victims from the past century and a half.   

The sinister staff of Monk Hall are happy to provide their members with all the sex, opium and other diversions that they hunger for behind their public veil of respectability. Throw in the occult practices of the members and there’s a sort of “American version of Sir Francis Dashwood’s Hellfire Club” feel to it. Among the novel’s more horrific characters:

Monks of Monk Hall 2

DEVIL-BUG – The deformed, depraved and deranged bastard offspring of one of Monk Hall’s members and one of the many prostitutes who are literally enslaved there. Devil-Bug has spent his entire life in the Hall and has no other name. He is squat, incredibly strong and grotesquely ugly with one large gaping eye and one small, withered, empty socket on his face.

This monstrosity works as Monk Hall’s combination door-man, bouncer and executioner, gleefully murdering on demand and secreting the corpses away in the sub-basements beneath the mansion. Just to make him even more unwholesome, Devil-Bug sleeps next to the corpse of one of his victims and uses occupied coffins as furniture in his creepy rooms.

Monks of Monk Hall 3

RAVONI – Interchangeably referred to as a sorcerer, mad doctor, astrologer and anatomist, this handsome but sinister man pulls the strings behind the supernatural evils of Philadelphia and vicinity.

Master of an occult method of eternal youth, Ravoni has been alive for over two hundred years. (The novel repeatedly says just two hundred years, but the villain refers to having been present at the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, which happened in 1572, so it has to be longer)

Ravoni has powers of mesmerism, prognostication and can even raise the dead. He was the original owner of Monk Hall under another name long ago. Readers eventually learn the kind of dark rituals the man performed at the Hall but don’t learn the full extent of his evil plans until the climax of the novel.         

Continue reading

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TALES OF HOFFMANN: A HALLOWEEN OPERA

Halloween month is here! As usual the next 31 days will be filled with my usual topics PLUS neglected horror films, novels, operas, etc.

Tales of Hoffmann

Tales of Hoffmann

TALES OF HOFFMANN – Yes, as if I wasn’t boring enough already I’m also into opera! Now, I know traditionally “the” Halloween Opera has always been Don Giovanni , but I’ve never bought into that notion since there’s really only one scene in the whole opera that qualifies as spooky and supernatural.

At this time of year I prefer Offenbach’s Tales Of Hoffmann. Not only is it full of appropriately eerie and menacing elements, but it’s also the perfect opera for you to share with someone who’s seeing their very first opera.

One of the reasons for that is that it’s in short segments, surrounded by a wraparound opening and finale. Offenbach adapts short stories written by E.T.A. Hoffmann, who in real life was a pre-Edgar Alan Poe author of eerie short stories in his native Austria during the 1800s. At any rate since this opera’s in short segments novices to the artform won’t have time to get bored.

Another reason is that, though the climax of these tales no doubt seemed shocking to the people of Hoffmann’s (or for that matter, Offenbach’s) time period, modern audiences are so used to anthology series’ like The Twilight Zone and Tales From The Crypt, etc that today’s viewers will spot the “twist” endings coming from a mile away. This combats another common complaint of opera novices: that they have trouble following the story. Continue reading

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MALDOROR 2:6 – THE JUSTICE OFFERED BY THE LAW IS WORTHLESS

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

THE JUSTICE OFFERED BY THE LAW IS WORTHLESS

Tuileries gardens at nightThe supernatural being Maldoror, fresh off his sadistic murder of a 10 year old girl in the previous stanza, this time around turns his attentions on an 8 year old little boy. Our vile protagonist first spots the child sitting on a bench in the Tuileries Gardens. Maldoror sits down next to the boy and engages him in conversation. 

The conversation consists of the monstrous figure peppering the child with questions about his beliefs and his dreams for the future as well as his barely-developed notions of right and wrong.  Continue reading

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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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