Balladeer’s Blog covers a lot of mythology and folklore, so here’s a look at five monster legends of the U.S. (Non-Bigfoot categories).
I don’t believe that there was anything truly supernatural in any of these tales, but life is less fun without legends like these. All of them are ripe for embellishment and screen adaptations.
THE VAN METER VISITOR
First Appearance: 1903
Lore: From September 29th to October 3rd of 1903 the Iowa town of Van Meter was supposedly plagued by at least two 8-9 feet tall batlike creatures who could fly, stand upright, climb up and down telephone poles and shoot a noxious odor as a defense mechanism. The three-toed creatures also had a blunt horn on their heads and said horns could supposedly cast light beams via bioluminescence.
Over the course of the visitation multiple shots were fired at the beings as they flew around town, perched on rooftops and telephone wires and roamed around a nearby brick and tile factory as well as an abandoned mine. By October 3rd an armed crowd of Van Meter citizens investigated the factory and the mine. They spotted two of the batlike creatures emerging from the mine and opened fire on them again to no effect.
Eventually the two winged beings retreated into the mine and the crowd quickly blocked off the mine entrance for good, thus ending the rash of sightings.
THE BUTTERFLY PEOPLE
First Appearance: 2011
Lore: On May 22nd, 2011 Joplin, Missouri was hit by an F5 tornado which killed 160 people, destroyed 900 homes and injured hundreds. Among those injured were multiple children and early teens who attributed their survival to the intervention and/or protection of winged butterfly people. Continue reading
Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at some of the neglected literary horror tales I’ve reviewed.
THE ENSOULED VIOLIN (1880) – Written by THE Madame Blavatsky. A gifted Austrian violin player named Franz Stenio is drawn to occult studies while away at college. Hearing dark legends about how Niccolo Paganini supposedly acquired his otherworldly skill with the violin, Franz carries out some of the rumored rituals in real life, to bloody and deadly effect. The fallout is horrific. CLICK HERE.
CITY OF VAMPIRES (1867) – Written by Paul Feval. This criminally neglected story depicts a fictionalized young version of the Gothic horror writer Ann Radcliffe when she was still Ann Ward. To try to save some friends she trails them to the Belgrade city of vampires called Selene as well as the Sepulchre. In that perpetually gloomy and overcast village Ann and company must deal with vampires of varied abilities from back in the era before vampire lore was as set in stone as it later became. CLICK HERE.
THE WERWOLVES (1898) – Written by Honore Beaugrand. A pack of werewolves prey upon victims in Canada. Plenty of unusual takes on lycanthrope lore with a north of the border touch. These particular werewolves are of Iroquois extraction which, along with the cold and snowy backdrop, helps to make this Canadian horror tale stand out from the rest. CLICK HERE. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s looks at “ancient” science fiction are always popular. Here are nearly two dozen MORE of those neglected wonders.
A FANTASTICAL EXCURSION INTO THE PLANETS (1839) – By an unknown author. An advanced alien life form makes contact with the novel’s anonymous narrator and takes him on a guided tour of other planets in our solar system. Among other things he encounters angelic creatures on Mercury, warlike males and females on Mars, enormous humanoids on Jupiter and a pack of Lovecraftian horrors on Saturn. For my full review click HERE.
THE SPIDER OF GUYANA (1860) – By Emile Erckmann and Alexandre Chatrian. It’s ancient Creature Feature time in this tale set at a health resort in central Europe. Curious patients of the resort discover that the healing waters of the place flow from a cave. Exploring the cave they encounter a gigantic spider, with a war breaking out between the creature and the patients at the resort. For my full review click HERE. Continue reading
This time around in Balladeer’s Blog’s recurring feature Forgotten Television we’ll take a brief look at some dumb attempts at launching sitcoms.
Stars: Barney Martin, Hamilton Camp, Sherry Lynn
Premise: Five actors dressed up as dogs hung out and joked about their human owners. The dogs’ owners, that is. Believe it or not the talented Peter Bonerz directed this unsold sitcom pilot and Brandon Tartikoff was executive producer. How either of them had the nerve to show their faces in public again is beyond me. (ORIGINALLY TITLED A DOG’S LIFE)
WHERE’S MOMMA? (1974)
Stars: Richard Mulligan, Michele Carey
Premise: Mulligan starred as a widowed real estate agent who was so ill-prepared to raise his twin children that his wife, played by Michele Carey, returned from the afterlife to help him out. Only Mulligan’s character could see the wife’s ghost, leading to the usual “comedy” set pieces. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at several buried treasures which legends maintain may still be out there for the finding.
Estimated Value: $52,000,000.00 in 2021 terms.
Last Seen: 1520 A.D.
Lore: Observing how the Spanish were stealing every bit of treasure they found, Aztec ruler Montezuma had his treasury and temples stripped of as much gold, silver and jewels as possible. He intended to have it sent northward and buried until the Spanish could be driven out of the New World. Over time everyone who knew where the horde was located died.
Potential Locations: Arizona, New Mexico or Utah.
THE GOLD OF REMY LEDOUX
Estimated Value: As high as $208,000,000.00 in 2021 terms.
Last Seen: Late 1780s-1790s
Lore: In the 1780s French fur traders led by one Remy Ledoux heard about rich veins of gold from some free-spending and loose-talking Spaniards. The fur traders checked out the location indicated and came across their own finds, which they worked for years.
Amid growing hostility with Spanish prospectors and Native Americans in the area, Remy and his colleagues buried the gold in anywhere from 1 to 3 locations and headed back to civilization until tempers near their gold veins could cool. They suffered more Native American attacks and only Ledoux made it back east alive. The map he left behind has proven to be either incredibly wrong or coded.
Potential Location: The San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Continue reading
James Woods is like a force of nature. When he’s on the screen he virtually blows away most of the people with whom he shares that screen. His staggering versatility also marks him as one of the few true actors in the industry. Here are some of the movies which harnessed Hurricane Woods:
Role: Max Renn, cable television entrepreneur
Comment: Sorry to start with such an obvious choice but I’m amazed that there are still people out there who haven’t seen this movie. David Cronenberg’s patented body horror and other surreal visuals needed a thespian who wouldn’t fade into the woodwork among them. Woods as the intense, sleazy Max Renn fit the bill perfectly.
James proved you don’t need to be twitchy and leering to portray a character who is virtually amoral in his pursuit of money, kinky thrills, Deborah Harry … and the ultimate underground broadcast called Videodrome. Anticipating the Deep Web, there was this magnificent film about how – before the internet came along – it was cable television that was considered a doorway to the forbidden and the depraved.
A cable titillation peddler tries to locate and strike a broadcast deal with a seeming Snuff Show called Videodrome. The sinister parties behind the pirate broadcast are the ultimate villains for the time period, and Cronenberg’s treatment of them shows that SUBTLETY can be more effective than hammering your audience over the head. LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH! Continue reading
With President’s Day coming here’s a look at some of the people who proved pivotal to the administrations of the Presidents of the United States. Many of those Secretaries may not be household names here in the 21st Century but they would definitely stand out on any staff. Here is an examination of sixteen such figures in chronological order.
Figures like James G Blaine, William Seward, and Henry Kissinger are so well-known that they are not included on this list.
1. TIMOTHY PICKERING (1795-1800)
Served under: Presidents George Washington and John Adams
Noted for: Conspiring with Alexander Hamilton to undermine some of the policies of the Washington and Adams administrations. When Adams discovered this he ordered Pickering to resign, but Pickering refused, forcing Adams to fire him. Pickering remains the only Secretary of State to officially be fired by the President.
2. HENRY CLAY (1825-1829)
Served under: President John Quincy Adams
Noted for: Fighting a duel with Senator John Randolph, one of Clay’s critics who felt he had struck a “corrupt bargain” with Adams to get this prized cabinet position. Also for completing the first commerce treaties between the young United States and the various nations in Scandinavia and Latin America.
3. JOHN FORSYTH (1834-1841)
Served under: Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren
Noted for: Obtaining long-disputed reparations from France for U.S. commercial losses suffered during the Napoleonic Wars. Also for threatening to resign early in Van Buren’s administration before his relationship with the new president improved. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s previous lists of failed predictions from psychics, religious figures and even scientists have been big hits. Here’s another list looking at such failed predictions, made in 1975.
*** By 1980 doctors will be able to grow new hearts and livers for human beings and after 2 or 3 years insert them into the patient’s anatomy to replace the failing organs.
*** In “the near future” cloning might be used to develop a superspecies of human beings.
*** By 2018 hurricanes will be controllable and used as weapons in warfare. Continue reading
If I ever formed a rock band of my own I would, needless to say, base the name on something from Bad Movie Lore. Something like Renegade Belgian Cardinals – based on a line of dialogue from the Serial-Killer Priest flick The Confessional.
Putting that aside here’s a quick Balladeer’s Blog list of Oddly-Named Bands of the Past. It’s strictly for people who sometimes wake up at 3am and wonder if Gene was only pretending to love Jezebel.
THE TRASH CAN SINATRAS
When you hear the name Sinatra you immediately think of … Scotland? Well, no you don’t, but that’s where this band hailed from.
Used in a Sentence: “The Trash Can Sinatras is a hell of a mean-spirited way of referring to Nancy and Tina!”
For decades this band was known as THE influence in Belgian Industrial Rock, complete with all the massive cultural firepower that implies. (Oh, sure, Balladeer, pick on the Belgians!) Continue reading
Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are used to my posts about spectacularly failed predictions. Many of this blog post’s batch of predictions from 1975 came with no set date so they may possibly still come true.
Dates are provided when they were included.
*** In 1984 a succession of sudden surprise nuclear explosions will strike an American city. The Nuclear Uses Technology Reaction Analysis Team (NUTRAT, and how appropriate is THAT acronym?) will investigate and declare China to be the culprit.
*** In Phase Two of Bundy’s bizarre, yet apparently sincere prediction, the U.S. would have retaliated by nuking a large city in China.
*** Next Bundy predicted that China would assume that the Soviet Union was behind America’s blaming of them for the initial nuclear explosions and would in turn nuke a large Russian city. All of this reads like something from a satirical tale like Dr Strangelove but was meant seriously.
*** It would turn out that terrorists from two totalitarian countries hostile to the U.S. were really the forces behind the original attack.
*** The U.S. would pay reparations to China. Ten million people would have died in the three destroyed cities. Continue reading