Happy Halloween 2020 from Balladeer’s Blog!
THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND (1908) – Written by William Hope Hodgson. This tale is a terrific but often overlooked forerunner of Lovecraftian horror blended with traditional haunted house elements. Throw in material that puts the reader in mind of Madame Blavatsky’s and Aleister Crowley’s horror fiction and it’s a magnificent story for Halloween.
Our tale is set in and around an isolated house in a desolate, eerie location in West Ireland. The main character is an elderly man who lives there with his sister. His sleep is tainted with disturbing dreams that become more like occult visions of barren but impossible landscapes. (Think “If M.C. Esher did landscaping.”)
In those visions his and his sister’s house is always in the middle of the terrifying geography. After these unsettling experiences on the astral plane the material version of those forces are unleashed in the real world by a minor earthquake near our main character’s house.
Swinish humanoids that resemble the illusory pig-faced monster in the movie Boardinghouse emerge from the new fissure and besiege the two terrified humans, Night of the Living Dead style. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s Month-long celebration of Halloween nears its end for 2020 as I take a look at the most seasonal covers of the 1970s Marvel Comics series Son of Satan. The latest Marvel television show, Helstrom, is a very watered-down and weak version of their horror character Daimon Hellstrom, the son of Satan and a mortal woman. (They didn’t even use both “L’s” in the name Hellstrom for the series title, as if h-e-l-l is too shocking for public use.)
Marvel later renamed Daimon from Son of Satan to the catchier “Hellstorm” – a play on his last name. From what I’ve read the tv show doesn’t even commit to him being Satan’s son. Wimps. He FIGHTS Satan, for crying out loud, so where’s the harm!
MARVEL SPOTLIGHT Vol 1 #12 (October 1973)
Title: The Son of Satan
Comment: Daimon Hellstrom and his half-sister Satana (click HERE) were both born of human mothers but with Satan as their father. Satana followed their father’s evil path but Daimon rebelled, fighting against their father and his minions and even trying to become a priest at one time.
In his secret identity Daimon was a professor of parapsychology and religion plus he served as an exorcist. When he held up both hands with three fingers up on each hand (the sign of the trident) he mystically transformed into his Son of Satan regalia complete with a pitchfork.
That pitchfork was made of nether-metal and through it the Son of Satan generated Hellfire (like Ghost Rider wielded) and used it to fly (like Hot Stuff – rimshot). This foe of demonic forces also had an infernal chariot pulled through the sky by three Satanic horses named Amon, Hecate and Set. Continue reading
THE MAGICIAN – During Halloween Season a few years back Balladeer’s Blog reviewed the 1926 silent movie adaptation of The Magician. This time around I’ll review the original Somerset Maugham novel from 1908. It’s no secret at this late date that the malevolent sorceror of the title, Oliver Haddo, was based on the real-life Aleister Crowley. In fact, Crowley would accuse Maugham of plagiarism when he reviewed The Magician under the name Oliver Haddo, his fictional counterpart.
At any rate the 1926 film is an under-appreciated classic of the Silent Era and the novel is of an even higher quality. In Paris – where Maugham first met Crowley in real life – Dr Arthur Burdon, a prominent young British surgeon, has come to visit his fiancee, artist Margaret Dauncey.
Burdon also visits his elderly former mentor, Dr Porhoet, who has turned from medicine to the study of Magick and the occult arts. It is through Porhoet that Dr Burdon and Margaret – plus Margaret’s friend Susie Boyd – first encounter the elegant yet repellant Oliver Haddo. The cadre of friends make the mistake of ridiculing the boastful Haddo’s claims of being a sorceror in the young 20th Century. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues with this look at two neglected werewolf legends from Detroit.
I. Jacques Morand – Roughly 300 years ago Jacques Morand was in love with Genevieve Parent. Unfortunately for him Genevieve decided to join a convent. When Morand could not change her mind through pleading he turned to threats, which drew warnings from Genevieve’s father and brothers.
In desperation Jacques sold his soul through one of the White Witches of the Woods. In return he gained the unholy power to turn himself into a werewolf after dark. After preying on Genevieve’s father one night he followed that up the next by picking off one of her brothers. Continue reading
Here at Balladeer’s Blog I often hear from people who like scary movies for Halloween but who really don’t like blood-soaked or sexually explicit films. Since I review a LOT of extreme horror movies here’s some equal time for people who want chills but not graphic violence.
CROWHAVEN FARM (1970) – Do you like ghosts and witches? Do you enjoy slow burn horror like Rosemary’s Baby? Give Crowhaven Farm a viewing or two. It’s perfect for a viewing party after the trick or treaters are done for the night. And at just 74 minutes what do you have to lose?
Hope Lange and Paul Burke portray a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. When they inherit the title farm they decide to give their relationship one last try by relocating there. John “He’s probably even in the Zapruder Film if you look hard enough” Carradine portrays a creepy handyman, Lloyd Bochner tags along for some Lloyd Bochnering and William “Big Bill” Smith shows up as a policeman.
VAMPIRE (1979) – Incredibly underappreciated horror film that concentrates on atmosphere and eeriness rather than in-your-face antics. Cult actor Richard Lynch stars as the title menace, Prince Anton Voytek. When the undead bloodsucker’s tomb is disturbed by construction for a new church (talk about adding insult to injury), the vampire subjects the city to a reign of terror.
Jason The Exorcist Miller plays the new church’s architect and E.G. Marshall portrays an elderly cop who helps Miller in his struggle against Voytek. Kathryn Harrold, Jessica Walter and a very subdued Joe Spinell also star. Part Martin, part Grave of the Vampire, this flick is an excellent showcase for Richard Lynch’s villainous charisma and very odd looks. (Not being cruel, just making an observation.)
If you watch only one movie on this list, make it this one. 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
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