Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog! In addition to covering all of my usual topics I spend each October sprinkling in neglected horror movies, stories and novels.
Isabella of Egypt is a very obscure 1812 Gothic Horror novella by Ludwig Achim Von Arnim. Under the more evocative title Alraune and the Golem it was to be filmed as a silent movie in 1919 but unfortunately it was never completed or is one of the countless silent films that have not survived to the present day (sources vary).
The story is set in the 16th Century and features the real-life Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, but in his teen years, right before he assumed the throne first of Spain and later of the H.R. Empire. The novella is not a horror classic per se, but is very eerie and features an odd variety of horrific supernatural figures in Monster Rally fashion. The story takes a variety of twists and turns too detailed for a quick synopsis but here is a look at the main characters:
ISABELLA – The main character, a teenage Gypsy girl whose father was Gypsy royalty and after he is hanged she becomes Queen of all the Gypsies. (This novel adheres to the version of Gypsy mythology which states that they were descendants of the ancient Egyptians, hence the title Isabella of Egypt even though the story takes place in various German locations.)
Isabella’s beauty spellbinds various men including the youthful Charles. The monstrous Mandragore lusts after her as well and plans to force her into an unholy union. Continue reading →
Here at Balladeer’s Blog we wring down the curtain on Halloween 2017 by revisiting our old friend Jose “Mojica” Marins, Brazil’s notorious King of Horror.
Marins’ most famous character is Ze do Caixao aka Coffin Joe, a figure who belongs alongside Dracula, Freddy Krueger, La Llorona and other horror icons from around the world.
Noteworthy movies include :
At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1963) – Brazil’s first-ever home-grown horror film was also the very first appearance of Coffin Joe, an undertaker who relishes exploiting and mocking the religious beliefs of the community.
The transgressive, hypnotic figure lords it over those he considers to be ignorant peasants and lesser beings. Ze’s reign of terror sees him inflict physical and psychological torture on his victims, including gouging their eyes out with his incredibly long fingernails.
The vile but charismatic monster is searching for a superior woman to mate with while killing off male rivals as well as women who don’t meet his expectations.
This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse (1967) – In this sequel Coffin Joe is even more powerful and depraved as he subjects Sao Paulo to another reign of terror. Ze is still searching for the perfect woman to bear his child and inflicting all manner of torture on his victims but this time around the viewer is treated to even more of the villain’s bizarre philosophy, which seems to be composed of equal parts Nietzsche and de Sade with a healthy sprinkling of Aleister Crowley tossed in.
This film is black & white like the original but features the acclaimed color portion featuring a trip to a Hell ruled by Coffin Joe himself. Continue reading →
By reader request here’s my semi-regular Halloween Season blog post Zombies of Monticello, my mock movie review. I first ran this in 2013, but it may not seem as irreverent this year in the wake of the large-scale criticism of Thomas Jefferson.
ZOMBIES OF MONTICELLO (2013) – Halloween month continues at Balladeer’s Blog with this review of cult director Eddie Wozniak’s blood-soaked combination of horror and commentary.
Learn the REAL cause of Thomas Jefferson’s death on July 4th, 1826! On the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence the zombified corpses of all of Jefferson’s dead slaves rise from their graves and besiege him and his extended family in the Jefferson mansion at Monticello!
The pompous hypocrite who penned noble words about freedom and equality while OWNING other human beings tries everything to wipe out the undead legions pressing in on all sides. Continue reading →
THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1869) – Written by Victor Hugo.
I always commit the literary blasphemy of saying that I don’t consider Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame to be very much of a horror story. I will forever maintain that Hugo’s overlooked novel The Man Who Laughs features all the virtues of Quasimodo’s tale AND presents them all in a superior fashion.
In addition The Man Who Laughs contains many more elements that lend themselves to pure horror than does The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In the past I’ve examined elements of the film adaptations of The Man Who Laughs (including the fact that the physical appearance of Batman’s foe the Joker was inspired by Conrad Veidt’s 1928 portrayal of the title figure.)
Here’s a breakdown of why I prefer TMWL, with Hugo’s tragic monster Gwynplaine to THOND, with his tragic hunchback Quasimodo:
TIME PERIOD: The Man Who Laughs has the action set mostly in England in 1705. For Gothic Horror I prefer that time period to the late 1400s, when The Hunchback of Notre Dame takes place.
ORIGIN OF THE TITLE CHARACTER: Quasimodo the hunchback was simply born in a deformed state.
Gwynplaine on the other hand, was born looking normal, but was stolen away and sold by villains to the Comprachicos, evil anatomists who distorted the bodies of children in very painful ways. Continue reading →
Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog. Today I decided to take time out from my magnum opus titled Was Paul McCartney Really John Lennon? to send a musical shoutout to Motorhead’s Ace of Spades.
This is my favorite song about a gravedigger. Not even those songs in Repo! The Genetic Opera come close. But let’s face it, I think we’d all LOVE to hear Paul Sorvino and Paris Hilton performing a duet of Ace of Spades for Lemmy’s birthday.
THE SOUL OF KOL NIKON (1913) – Written by author, poet and librettist Eleanor Farjeon as a serial in 1913. Later novelized. Halloween Month rolls along with another look at a neglected tale of horror.
In Denmark a baby named Kol Nikon is born to a hysterical woman whose husband has just died. The terrified mother is convinced that Elves caused her husband’s death and replaced her real son with a Changeling.
Kol Nikon thus grows up unloved by his fearful, possibly insane mother. Plus the young man is shunned by the equally superstitious villagers of his mother’s hometown. Kol is comforted by a pagan nature goddess and grows up with all manner of supernatural creatures as his playmates.
As the Changeling matures he longs for a soul of his own since – as the offspring of Elves who exchanged him for the human infant they stole from his mother – he is soulless. Kol Nikon’s quest for a soul to steal would make a good (but dark) companion musical to Pippin, which was also based on a work by Eleanor Farjeon. Continue reading →