Tag Archives: Halloween stories

THE DUST CLOUD (1912)

Amedee BolleeTHE 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. 

masc graveyard smallerAfter-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

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THE GALLOWS MAN: NEGLECTED HORROR LEGEND

Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues with this slice of pure Americana.

gallows-manTHE 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

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HALLOWEEN WITH AMBROSE BIERCE

ambrose-bierce

Ambrose Bierce

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

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THE RED GNOME: HALLOWEEN SEASON CONTINUES

Another neglected American horror legend from Balladeer’s Blog to help celebrate Halloween Month.

THE RED GNOME

Red GnomeThis 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

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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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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): HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Happy Halloween! Balladeer’s Blog marks it with a neglected work of American horror.

Monks of Monk HallTHE 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 4Think 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 2DEVIL-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.

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.

Monks of Monk Hall 3Master 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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RAPPACCINI’S DAUGHTER (1844): HALLOWEEN STORY

Halloween Month continues with this neglected femme fatale from Nathaniel Hawthorne. FOR THE OTHER CREATURES IN THIS MONSTER RALLY CLICK HERE 

Rappaccini's Daughter 2BEATRICE RAPPACCINI

First Appearance: Rappaccini’s Daughter (1844)

Cryptid Category: Human-plant hybrid.

Lore: Beatrice Rappaccini, also called the Poison Woman, had been experimented on by her mad scientist father since infancy. Some dark rumors even held that the father – Doctor Giacomo Rappaccini – had spawned her from a seed-pod and that his tales of a wife were lies.

Beatrice was so toxic that she was the only one alive who could come into contact with the monstrous and deadly plants in her father’s courtyard garden. The Poison Woman’s beauty drove men wild, tempting many admirers to brave the dangers of her father’s mutated plant life.

The dark beauty’s flesh was a toxic poison and her breath could kill insects, snakes, rats and small children. Dead creatures made the ideal fertilizer for the creations of Beatrice’s father. It was hinted that Beatrice fed on the vermin killed by her breath, just like Venus Flytraps and other carnivorous plant-life. Continue reading

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GRAVEYARD SHIFT: JON MALIN AND MARK POULTON’S HALLOWEEN HEROES

Graveyard Shift vol 2Halloween month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with a look at the first two volumes of Graveyard Shift, the “monsters as superheroes” sensation drawn by THE Jon Malin and written by Mark Poulton.

The introductory Graveyard Shift graphic novel presented the team’s “senses-shattering origin.” To quote the creators: “Scientists Vladimir Blud, Lillith Mayhew and her husband, head of security Mick Mayhew are working on advance human regeneration for the mysterious ATLANTIS CORPORATION. Betrayed, murdered and put into their own experiments they are reborn with super human abilities, they are the GRAVEYARD SHIFT and they are all that can stop a rising supernatural evil from taking over the world!”

Graveyard ShiftGraveyard Shift Volume Two featured the team taking on the reborn menace of Dracula himself and his legions. The first two installments raised six figures each on Indiegogo and it is presumed that the third volume, expected in 2020, will continue that trend.

Malin is one of the comic book “Outlaws” going their own way to pursue their vision free of the corporate influence of the Big Two publishers. He has also worked with fellow Outlaw Richard Meyer on his indy superhero team called Jawbreakers. Continue reading

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