Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror.
THE MIDNIGHT OMNIBUS
Midnight strikes in Paris. An eerie double-decker horse-drawn omnibus bursts forth from the ground and begins making its way through the nearly empty, night-darkened streets.
A few late night wayfarers regard the unusual omnibus with a shudder as it goes by. The vehicle carries the full passenger load of twenty-four but all of the travelers on the upper deck appear to be lifeless corpses leaned against each other.
The top-hatted driver looks like another corpse, and the whip he uses to urge on his horses seems more alive than he is. That whip appears to be what animates the arm of the otherwise lifeless driver, not the other way around. Even the passengers on the inner deck remain mute and still and are likewise as pale as ghosts. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror.
THE GREAT TOAD-ANGEL
This stanza opens up with the supernatural being Maldoror contemplating the worms he pulls from the swollen belly of a dead dog. Slicing the worms into small bits he philosophizes on how human beings should learn a lesson about their own mortality from the state of such dead, worm-riddled bodies.
Night is falling. In the distance he spies a horse-sized toad with white wings flying down from the sky and landing on the road he is traveling. As the two draw nearer to each other Maldoror senses something familiar about the creature and reflects that its face is “as beautiful as suicide”. He resents the being over how beautiful it looks even in its massive ugliness and the halo over the toad’s head tells him it has come from Heaven and his archrival God. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror. NOT FOR THE EASILY FRIGHTENED.
DISTANT SCREAMS OF MOST POIGNANT AGONY
For a change of pace we readers are not immersed entirely in a first person narration by Maldoror himself. This section begins with a mother, father and their beloved child Edward spending a quiet evening together. The parents are advanced in age and did not have Edward until very late in life after years of longing for a child of their own.
The happy trio catch a glimpse of the supernatural being Maldoror peering in at them through a window. Though they think they succeed at shooing him away from their home little Edward cannot get the hideous man out of his mind. The family’s conversation is periodically and repeatedly punctuated by what the author describes as “distant prolonged screams of the most poignant agony.” Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog continues its poem by poem examination of the 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror by Isidore Ducasse, the self-titled Count de Lautreamont.
AN INSATIABLE THIRST FOR THE INFINITE
This section begins with Maldoror wandering through the darkness of the night, at times nostalgically recalling the terror and dread with which he used to regard the sounds and distant impressions of the overnight hours. But that was when he was merely a human child and his mother would try to calm him as he huddled beneath his blankets listening fearfully to the savage or vaguely sinister sounds made by the beasts who roam the night.
She would explain away the horror of the distant noises by assuring him that the beasts meant no harm, but were instead filled with an insatiable thirst for the infinite, the same thirst she sensed in the son she was trying to comfort.
Now, fully grown and more than human, Maldoror prowls the night as one of the beasts making noises that terrify others in their beds. Supreme in his element our narrator blissfully describes some of the nightly tableaus that catch his attention. Continue reading
“Maldoror and His Smile” by Lord Orlando
Balladeer’s Blog has done a comprehensive examination of The Songs of Maldoror, often referred to as just Maldoror. The original 1868 French language work by the self-designated Count de Lautreamont (real name Isidore Ducasse) was in verse form, which is great for poetry geeks like me but if you prefer prose there are plenty of prose translations available.
This work of surreal horror was so far ahead of its time that the author himself, in one of the few existing copies of his correspondence, expressed fears that he might be jailed or thrown into an insane asylum and requested that the publisher literally “stop the presses.” Just 88 copies of the book were completed in that initial run and for a few decades The Songs of Maldoror languished in obscurity.
By the 1890s those few copies of Maldoror had been circulating among the more adventurous literati of the time period and the work began to be hailed as a forgotten masterpiece by Maeterlink, Bloy, Huysmans and de Gourmont. This new acclaim ultimately resulted in a new run of copies – this time in the thousands instead of dozens like the first run. This also accounts for why some reviewers mistakenly refer to The Songs of Maldoror as an 1890s work, despite its original publication date of 1868. Continue reading
DARK INTRUDER (1965) – This thoroughly enjoyable piece of Forgotten Television was a failed pilot for a series. Supposedly the network passed on it because they thought it was too scary and gruesome for tv viewers of the time. Instead they released this 59-minute black & white gem to theaters as the second title for double features.
The story is set in 1891 San Francisco with Leslie Nielsen himself starring as Brett Kingsford, an occult expert and investigator. If this had been picked up as a series the title was going to be The Black Cloak and apparently would have been a forerunner of The Norliss Tapes, Kolchak and Spectre. In my opinion the period setting would have given The Black Cloak the edge, though.
Brett Kingsford maintains a quasi-secret identity. On the surface he’s known in San Francisco as a bon vivant and ladies’ man and when the police want to consult him over something supernatural he dons various disguises to rendezvous with them. That way nobody in his usual social circles is made aware of his connections with the cops. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s love of quality horror ARGs (Alternate Reality Games) has been well established. In the past I’ve examined productions like Local 58, Claridryl and Jack Torrance (NOT the character from The Shining.)
This time around I’m taking a look at what I call Poland’s answer to Twin Peaks – MAGICZNY SWIAT ANI or MAGICAL WORLD OF ANIA. Like Local 58, this ARG is still going, so if you’re interested in pitting your wits against the producer’s, the various mysteries remain unresolved as of this writing.
NOTE: BE SURE TO USE THE CLOSED CAPTIONING FOR TRANSLATION FROM THE POLISH LANGUAGE.
The eerie storyline revolves around the disappearance of a beautiful young Polish woman named Ania Slowinska and the dark, seemingly supernatural forces behind it. As the tale unfolds it becomes apparent other women have fallen victim to the same forces, with one having had all her teeth removed after being murdered.
Among the many suspects and supporting characters in the drama are Ania’s mother Kristina, who seems to be morbidly enjoying the attention her daughter’s disappearance has brought her. Others include Ania’s birth-father – whom she never knew – plus her step-father, an infatuated stalker, a jealous female friend and a faith healer with a very strange band of disciples.
Organs and limbs seem to be stolen for transplant use and replaced with porcelain or papier mache substitutes. This practice extends even to the heads of the victims … sometimes while they’re still alive. Obviously this is for adults only. Continue reading
Anna aka That Star Wars Girl, brings her considerable artistic abilities to the 50th Anniversary Celebration of horror icon Vampirella. Fresh story content is being created this year regarding the figure’s half-century of existence along with special commemorative covers.
Anna, a free-lance artist, pop culture critic, co-host of The J.A.C.K. Show and founding member of the Fandom Menace, has her Indiegogo project for Dynamite Entertainment up right now.
Not only does Anna’s cover (at right) look terrific, but the rose in Vampirella’s hand is in memory of Anna’s younger sister Ellen Rose, who passed away last June.
T-Shirts are also available (see below). Continue reading
Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog often ask me why I make so many references to ARGs (Alternate Reality Games) and feature tie-ins to some of them in my blog posts. It’s because they are a terrific example of modern day myths relayed through technology.
The effort that some creators put into building their world and the effort taken by their audience to solve the ARG’s mysteries make the experience so interactive it’s fascinating to watch unfold … when they’re done well.
As always, my hat’s off to Night Mind, who is in my opinion the best internet detective when it comes to horror ARGs. The video below features the ultimate example of this niche artform.
It’s Night Mind’s magnum opus: Jack Torrance: Fully Explained. (NOT the character from The Shining.) You’ll see why I find ARGs so addictive. Please subscribe to Night Mind’s channel, too. He deserves a lot of love.
Balladeer’s Blog’s 31 Days of Halloween continues with this neglected horror hero.
THE COFFIN (2000) – Written by Phil Hester and drawn by Mike Huddleston, The Coffin was originally a four-part serial before being collected into graphic novel format. I’ll provide details below but right up front let me point out that the horrific but intriguing premise is that the Coffin is a dead scientist whose soul is trapped within a polymer techno-suit of his own creation.
Dr Ashar Ahmad, the brilliant scientist in question, is employed by Heller Technologies, whose eponymous owner is a vile and amoral tycoon. Heller himself is a figure straight out of a horror film.
He’s incredibly old and his withered, wrinkled body is still functioning only because of all of the legal and illegal organ transplants he has had. His body is a battleground of scars from all that surgery. Obviously immortality is what our power-mad plutocrat longs for.
And so Heller Technologies recruited Dr Ahmad to devise strong, lightweight polymers for medical purposes. To that end Ashar has developed polymers that can be used to form an artificial membrane that is perfectly impermeable and incredibly durable.
Extensions of that technology result in masses of polymers – literally thousands of layers – some of them only a few molecules thick. Dr Ahmad has managed to make it so that these polymers react to electronic pulses like the kind from a human brain to its body’s muscles, making the polymer “skin” or membrane expand or contract in response to those electronic pulses. Continue reading