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THE DISCOVERY OF THE DEAD (1910)

Discovery of the DeadTHE 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

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GHOSTS OF HANLEY HOUSE (1968) ON THE TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT

The Ghosts of Hanley House

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.

Flash Gordon Conquers the UniverseSERIAL: 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.”

Psychotronic Video GuideIn 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

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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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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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FOOL KILLER FORTY-NINE: SEPTEMBER 1911

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 illustrationPART FORTY-NINE: Some of the Fool Killer’s targets in the September of 1911 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s Fool-Killer publication:

*** Standard Oil. The Fool Killer in various incarnations fought the Standard Oil monopoly more than anyone outside of Ida Tarbell. The Fool Killer was already predicting the way Standard Oil would continue trying to subvert anti-trust laws through shell corporations.

*** Henry Clay Beattie, Jr, a wealthy Virginian who shot his wife Louise to death during a car ride then tried to blame it on a highway bandit. The truth came out and Beattie eventually confessed after a media circus of a trial. The Fool Killer also targeted the media circus surrounding the trial.

*** A gang of wild partyers in Hagerstown, MD who caused a nationwide scandal with their dancing and drinking blowout in a cemetery.

*** Samuel Gompers, whom the Fool Killer accused of starting to sell out to big-money and management over his former allies in labor. Continue reading

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TWENTY MORE SENSATIONAL BUT FAILED PREDICTIONS

masc graveyard picYes, it’s another Top 20 for 2020 list! And it’s another one about failed predictions, this time from alleged psychics of long, long ago instead of the recent past. As always these bogus predictions are fun from a Flash Fiction angle.

MALACHY O’MORGAIN (1094-1148)

Pope Hat*** The reign of the final Pope ever will come to a close in 2013. Since that is obviously wrong, these other predictions about O’Morgain’s Final Popes are wrong as well.

*** Before 2013 a Pope who was born in a Middle Eastern country will witness massive persecutions of Christians during his reign and will ultimately fall victim to the persecutors himself.

*** The final Pope to call himself Leo will oversee a period in which all of humanity unites under Christianity.

*** Petrus Romanus, Peter of Rome, will be the very last Pope. He will preside over the destruction of Rome and the end of the world in 2013.

URSULA SONTHIEL (1488-1561)

*** A Muslim leader with a ferocious army will conquer all of Europe before finally taking England itself.

*** A Holy War to retake England will break out with the United States and Russia fighting on the side of Christianity. Much of England will be laid waste.

COINNEACH ODHAR (1630-1685)

*** A submarine in Holy Loch will unleash a missile powerful enough to destroy all of Scotland. Continue reading

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL RESULTS FROM SEPTEMBER 26th

NAIA

Ave Maria Gyrenes camo helmetONE-POINT WONDER – The AVE MARIA UNIVERSITY GYRENES played host to the WARNER UNIVERSITY ROYALS yesterday. The Gyrenes were up 7-3 in the 1st Quarter but the Royals knotted things up at 17-17 by Halftime. The 3rd Quarter ended with Warner U leading 31-23 before Ave Maria University came back in the 4th to win the game 32-31.

Doane College helmetUNHAPPY HOMECOMINGS – The DOANE COLLEGE TIGERS ruined Homecoming for the HASTINGS COLLEGE BRONCOS by defeating them 52-37   ###   Meanwhile the CONCORDIA (NE) BULLDOGS won 24-9 at the BRIAR CLIFF UNIVERSITY CHARGERS’ Homecoming   ###   And the KEISER UNIVERSITY SEAHAWKS crushed the SAINT THOMAS UNIVERSITY BOBCATS 49-10 to spoil their festivities.

Bethel (KS) ThreshersCLASH IN KANSAS – The BETHEL COLLEGE THRESHERS improved to 3-0 against their hosts the STERLING COLLEGE WARRIORS. The Threshers converted a 9-7 1st Quarter edge into a 35-7 advantage at the Half. From there they outscored the Warriors 16-14 for a 51-21 victory. Continue reading

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THE FIRST TWENTY X-MEN STORIES FROM THE 1960s

Here’s another blog post for this superhero-hungry world:

Xmen 1THE X-MEN Vol 1 #1 (September 1963)

Title: X-Men

Villain: Magneto 

Synopsis: In Upstate New York, at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, a covert institution for mutants, Professor X (Charles Xavier, PhD) gives his five students a classical education in addition to secretly training them on the use of their mutant powers.

Magneto, a powerful mutant villain, uses his massive magnetic powers to seize Cape Citadel military base in the U.S. He issues public threats to Homo Sapiens about the growing numbers of mutants, or Homo Superior, being born each year.

Assuming normal humans will hound them to extinction out of fear, he is pre-emptively declaring war on humanity in the name of mutant kind, with the seizure of Cape Citadel the opening action of that war.

NOTE: Despite later retcons to Magneto’s personality, in these early appearances his thoughts make it clear he is just using his claims of “protecting” mutants as the excuse to realize his ambition to take over the world.

Professor X, saddened that humanity’s First Contact with the mutants among them is a hostile encounter, sends his X-Men to drive Magneto out of Cape Citadel. Continue reading

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SERBIA AND KOSOVO NAME BORDER LAKE AFTER PRESIDENT TRUMP

Lake TrumpSerbia and Kosovo have agreed to name a disputed border lake after President Donald Trump in acknowledgement of his administration’s peace – and job – efforts in the region. Continue reading

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