Halloween Month hurls toward its conclusion with another seasonal post. The Marvel Comics juggernaut is THE power in pop culture these days so here is another look at one of their horror characters from their 1970s heyday.
MARVEL SPOTLIGHT Vol 1 #5 (August 1972)
Title: Ghost Rider
Comment: Ah, the sweet simplicity of the original Ghost Rider stories! Daredevil biker Johnny Blaze makes a deal with the devil: Johnny’s soul in exchange for Satan curing the cancer in the body of Blaze’s mentor “Crash” Simpson.
We all know how deals with the devil go, and Satan cures Simpson’s cancer but the aging daredevil motorcyclist dies in an accident during his next show. When Satan comes to claim Johnny’s soul, Blaze’s true love Roxanne Simpson (Crash’s daughter) interferes and negates the infernal contract.
The stymied devil can’t take Johnny to Hell but can inflict a kind of “Hell in nightly installments” on him by cursing him to become a monstrous fiery-skulled figure every night from then on.
NOTE: Convoluted additions about soul-reaping or about Johnny’s Ghost Rider form really being a specific demon named Zarathos, or past Ghost Riders did not come along til years later. The first Ghost Rider movie should have kept it simple like this and started adding the complications beginning with the second film. Continue reading
With so many divisions of college football not playing any games this fall, Balladeer’s Blog’s readers have been asking for at least SOME kind of additional pigskin content. In that spirit here’s a look at some of the coolest football helmets from now-defunct college programs.
Enjoy this latest Top 20 List For 2020:
CANISIUS COLLEGE GOLDEN GRIFFINS
Division: NCAA Div 1
Dropped Football: 2002
Comment: “Oh, those Golden Griffins/ Oh, those Golden Griffins” … Remember the Golden Grahams commercial? Oh, forget it.
CAL STATE-NORTHRIDGE MATADORS
Division: NCAA Div 1
Dropped Football: 2001
Comment: The name Matadors is cool if you remind yourself that no bulls were killed during any of this team’s football games.
UNIVERSITY OF EVANSVILLE PURPLE ACES
Division: NCAA Div 1
Dropped Football: 1997
Comment: Purple helmets never fail to catch the eye and there’s a certain Riverboat Gambler feel to the name Purple Aces. Continue reading
THE DUST CLOUD (1912) – Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with a look at this tale written by British author E.F. Benson. The story deals with a ghostly automobile and for me the 1912 setting and several macabre touches give it a certain charm that makes it irresistible.
Our unnamed narrator is a well-to-do Brit visiting with his much wealthier friend Harry Combe-Martin near Suffolk. The pair are the stereotypical Gearheads of Old, passionate about driving and discussing every type of automobile model that comes along. Given the time period their goggles and long coats when driving are a given.
After-dinner conversation about the finer points of assorted automobiles turns to Harry’s late friend Guy Elphinstone, another car enthusiast. Elphinstone was a singularly unpleasant man and often spitefully drove over chickens and rabbits who got in his way as he flew along the roadways.
One day a few months earlier, Guy Elphinstone’s impatience caused an accident in which he ran over and killed a little girl and crashed into his own manor’s closed park gates, thus killing himself, too. His car – a twenty-five horsepower Amedee Bollee – was totaled in the wreck. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues with this slice of pure Americana.
THE GALLOWS MAN – This is another neglected American horror legend which has been presented in many different versions over the years. Ralph Sutherland was born in 1702 in either New York City or a town near the Catskills, depending on the version.
Sutherland was born into the New York gentry but in his adult years his drinking and gambling eventually embarrassed the family enough that they stopped associating with him. After boozing, whoring and gambling away a large part of his money Ralph was left with just one reasonably-sized home surrounded by a stone wall. He had enough funds left to maintain that house and took in an indentured servant – a beautiful teen girl from Scotland.
Sutherland’s foul and obnoxious nature soon led the girl to flee. In a rage Ralph mounted a horse and tracked her down before she got far. The black-hearted man tied the terrified girl to his horse and rode back to his home, but was either so furious or so drunk that he inadvertently dragged the poor female to her death. Continue reading
DOWN GOES NUMBER SIX – The Upset of the day came in the game between the SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE MOUNDBUILDERS and their hosts the 6th ranked KANSAS WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY COYOTES. The Moundbuilders led 7-0 in the 1st Quarter and 14-7 at Halftime. The 3rd Quarter ended with Southwestern College on top 35-21 before winning it 42-21.
WORKIN’ OVERTIME – The ARIZONA CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY FIRESTORM welcomed the WAYLAND BAPTIST UNIVERSITY PIONEERS (should be the Flying W’s). After a scoreless opening Quarter the Firestorm held a 14-7 advantage at the Half. That became a 21-14 lead in the 3rd Quarter before the Pioneers forced Overtime with a 28-28 tie. In the extra session Arizona Christian University won out 31-28.
HOW SWEDE IT IS! – The BETHANY COLLEGE SWEDES took it on the road against the STERLING COLLEGE WARRIORS yesterday. The Swedes watched a 6-0 1st Quarter lead turn into a 7-6 Warriors edge by the midpoint. Sterling College was in front 21-6 going into the 4th Quarter, but Bethany College exploded for 20 points for a spectacular 26-21 comeback win. Continue reading
As Halloween Month continues here’s a look at the very early years of the Marvel Comics horror character Blade the Vampire Slayer, who debuted in 1973. In retrospect I prefer the original “look” for this dynamic figure: the long coat, the bandolier of six teakwood knives and the green-hued “photo-optic visor” aka goggles aka biker shades. I’ve never liked swords for vampire slaying so the wooden knives used by Blade back then appeal to me more.
We’ll skip over the stories about alleged legal fights with the original creator of Blade, fights that eventually necessitated the changes in Blade’s look and trademark weaponry. Suffice it to say that the 1970s Blade strikes me as an “Indiana Jones of horror” with a vintage Pulp Magazine vibe. And football player Eric Dickerson would have made a perfect cinematic Blade if a movie had been done in the early 1980s, right after Raiders of the Lost Ark. With Pam Grier as Safron Caulder and Oliver Reed as Deacon Frost.
TOMB OF DRACULA Vol 1 #10 (July 1973)
Title: His Name Is … Blade
Comment: The very first appearance of the original Blade came in the 10th issue of Tomb of Dracula, along with Ghost Rider one of Marvel’s longest lasting horror comics of the 1970s. The title villain/ antihero was THE Dracula from Bram Stoker’s novel.
Blade made his badass debut by saving innocent British victims from three vampires who served Dracula. After killing the trio, Blade trailed Drac himself to a luxury liner loaded with the wealthy and the powerful. The vampire king planned to use the partying passengers as a blood supply AND as a cadre of Renfields to further his plans.
Our vampire slayer arrived in time to save all but a few of the “beautiful people” from Dracula.
After a battle royal between Blade and Drac, the Count escaped while Blade evacuated the surviving passengers to save them from explosives planted on the ship by one of Dracula’s thralls. Continue reading
Halloween Month continues with Balladeer’s Blog’s look at some seasonal stories by the one and only Ambrose Bierce. I think we’re all sick of Owl Creek Bridge so here are a few lesser-known tales from “Bitter Bierce.”
THE SPOOK HOUSE (1889) – In pre-Civil War Kentucky a pair of traveling politicians take shelter in a notoriously haunted house which was once the site of a bloody massacre. The eerie abandoned house features a room from which an unearthly green glow emanates … a room in which lie all the corpses of the missing massacre victims and of all those foolish enough to stay in the house ever since. Continue reading
Another neglected American horror legend from Balladeer’s Blog to help celebrate Halloween Month.
THE RED GNOME
This red-hued hobgoblin has plagued Detroit for over 300 years. The Red Gnome was one of the supernatural entities created by the Native American deity Glooskap to protect his people. When European settlers began to populate the area the figure did what he could to protect the native inhabitants but when that proved futile he turned his attention exclusively to tormenting the newcomers.
The Red Gnome was short in stature and often mistaken for a child when glimpsed from behind. The hobgoblin has rotten teeth and breath that can kill if the creature so chooses. Anyone tricked into kissing the Red Gnome is said to die immediately. In addition this ageless being has ruby-red eyes that can shoot fiery rays.
In 1701 Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac (yes, as in THAT Cadillac) battled the Red Gnome, which plagued him until he had lost all his fortune. The hobgoblin’s fiery eye-beams would cause frozen ice on the Detroit River to melt under skaters or racers, plunging them to their deaths in the icy waters below. In warmer weather he would cause small boats to capsize and then drown the passengers. Continue reading
THE DISCOVERY OF THE DEAD (1910) – Halloween Month continues with this look at a work written by Allen Upward.
This eerie tale is told in the form of a series of scientific reports about the experiments of a Russian scientist named Karl Luecke. While researching beyond the visible light spectrum he discovers necrolites, a way of making visible what remains of human beings after death.
These entities, which he dubs “necromorphs,” look like glowing brains, spinal columns and nervous systems (see the cover illustration). Necromorphs cannot stand sunlight and dwell underground by day. Continue reading
The Ghosts of Hanley House
Halloween Month rolls along!
In the middle 1980s/ Way down on Level 31 …
Before MST3K there was The Texas 27 Film Vault! Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of this neglected cult show from the 1980s. My interview with Randy Clower, my research through VERY old newspapers and emailed memories from my fellow Film Vault Corps fans have helped to reconstruct elements of the show’s history.
EPISODE ORIGINALLY BROADCAST: Saturday October 26th, 1985 from 10:30pm to 1:00am.
SERIAL: Before showing and mocking the movie Randy Clower and Richard Malmos, our Film Vault Technicians First Class showed and mocked a chapter of the 1940 serial Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe.
FILM VAULT LORE: Randy and Richard’s presentation of Ghosts of Hanley House has occupied a very odd niche in pop-culture trivia for quite a long time. To those of us who remember The Texas 27 Film Vault this episode is famous as “the one where Psychotronic‘s Michael Weldon seems to have confused T27FV with MST3K.”
In Weldon’s 1996 book The Psychotronic Video Guide he refers to Ghosts of Hanley House as having been riffed on by the folks at Mystery Science Theater 3000. Actually MST3K NEVER showed Ghosts of Hanley House but The Texas 27 Film Vault DID. Weldon was a fan of Movie Host shows like Ghoulardi, Zacherley, Elvira and others, so it’s possible he had also sampled episodes of Randy and Richard’s show in the 80s but the subsequent years blurred his memory to the point where he confused T27FV with MST3K in this instance.
It would be a very easy mistake to make given the similarities between the shows.
THE MOVIE: Continue reading