Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror. This is one of the most twisted sections of a book loaded with them. And be forewarned … when I say this is twisted I mean TWISTED. You’ve been warned.
THE RED LANTERN AT TWILIGHT
All of the action in this stanza takes place at twilight and the first moments of darkness. The supernatural being Maldoror comes upon a French brothel that used to be a convent centuries before. A rough wooden bridge leads across a stream of filth to the establishment. Customers take their leave by crawling out through a grate into a courtyard littered with chickens and chicken filth.
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
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
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
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
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
Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues with this look at pop culture mammoth Marvel Comics’ long(ish) running horror series Werewolf by Night.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #1 (September 1972)
Title: Eye of the Beholder
Villains: Marlene Blackgar, whose horrible gaze turns people to stone, and her monstrous creation Strug
Comment: After a few issue tryout in Marvel Spotlight, 18 year old Jack Russell (really Russoff), the titular character, got his own title. He was the son of a European nobleman and the latest inheritor of the family’s curse of lycanthropy. A curse he sought a cure for.
His adventures were often like a comic book version of Paul Naschy’s Waldemar Daninsky werewolf movies from Spain. Continue reading
As Halloween Month continues what could be more appropriate than to resume Balladeer’s Blog’s examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror.
WARNING: THIS IS ANOTHER OF THE MOST TWISTED, DISTURBING AND HORRIFIC STANZAS IN THE ENTIRE BOOK.
VICTIMS BOTH LIVING AND DEAD
The malevolent supernatural being Maldoror commits one of his most horrific acts of violence ever in this stanza. For those horror fans who prefer to see our vile main character perpetrating genuine atrocities this is the tale for you.
This stanza begins with Maldoror contemplating an elderly, poverty-stricken madwoman who roams the roads of France. She wears tattered clothing and her aged face is withered like a mummy’s while what little hair she has left falls like long spider-legs over her head and neck. Continue reading
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.
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