Wednesday, 4 May 2016

TOMB OF THE TRUMPS #27 - Dracula Pack XIII


Welcome once again guys and ghouls to the tat-infested realm of terrors that is the Tomb of the Trumps! And blimey! It don't half whiff in 'ere this week! Now just where is that stench coming from? Hold on folks, I think we've found our cadaverous culprit...


Of course you can't have a horror themed card game without a zombie or two, but the question is: which cinematic grave did this chap crawl out of? Now some horror trumpologists have suggested this fellow - the iconic cover star of this Lucio Fulci gut-munching classic


Now there is a certain resemblance but I'm not sure it's close enough. Plus there is a small problem of chronology, Zombi II aka Zombie (in the US) and Zombie Flesh-Eaters (in the UK) wasn't released until September 1979 in its native Italy, and somewhat later in other territories, and the Horror Top Trumps were release in 1978... So then back to the cemetery to dig again... 

Another contender is this classic screen revenant - Mr Grimesdyke from Tales from the Crypt (1972) an anthology horror from Amicus based on the infamous EC horror comics from the 1950s. 


Based on the tale Poetic Justice from the Haunt of Fear #12, the cinematic version sees the great Peter Cushing returning from the grave to wreak revenge on those who drove him to his death. However as wonderful as this decayed horror is - a brilliant make-up by Roy Ashton - although there are some similarities I'm not sure it's the model for The Risen Dead. 

Also suggested as a contender is a cadaver from early '70s Brit horror Death Line AKA Raw Meat in the US - a tale of cannibals living in the London Underground - specifically this still of one of their victims - 


However once again, while there are some similarities I don't think it's quite close enough! Indeed in general I think this one is not quite skeletal enough. So then, while there is not a shortage of corpses and walking dead with empty eye sockets, I can't seem to find one that matches well enough, for all our contenders are missing the distinctive clawed hand posture and decayed funeral suit. It looks like the secret of this card has been well and truly taken to the grave!

So then on to our next card! By the pricking in my thumbs something bony (and lot easier to identify) this way comes! 


At first you may think that this card would prove to be a tough nut to crack, for in the world of horror imagery there's nothing more generic than a good old-fashioned skellington! However this rattling hangman quite clearly has an obvious origin - for once again, our Unknown Artist has been leafing through old Vincent Price movie posters! 


Yes, although the poster is a little different - the stance is a little too widescreen for the dimensions of the old Horror Top trumps cards - this is clearly the same bony gent. And while the rendering of the ribs is certainly a bit shaky, it is very obviously modelled on the anatomy on show in the poster above, with the shading and expression on the skull showing a near perfect match. 

And old Mr Bones did actually appear in the movie too! Indeed House on the Haunted Hill was the second movie made by legendary director William Castle and featured one of his famous publicity gimmicks. For Castle, as well as being an inventive director, was a highly creative showman and came up with a variety of stunts and features to market his movies. Hence when House on the Haunted Hill hit the screens in 1959, Castle's publicity claimed the movie was filmed in "Emergo"! What this actually meant was that when the skellington appears in the finale of the movie, a matching puppet with light-up red eyes would be hoisted out over the audience, hopefully giving the illusion it that emerged from the screen. How well this worked is hard to say, but contemporary reports suggest that the skellington puppet did prove to be a popular target for popcorn boxes!

And so that rounds off another visit to the realm of old horror tat... But hold on, what's that?!? Look again at the Risen Dead card! On the tombstone in the background is a name - and as far as I can make out our Unknown Artist hasn't taken the usual route of sticking on a famous name as a jokey homage. However I can't help wondering if this is actually a secret signature! And this background grave reveals the Unknown Artist's real name! 

I'm fairly sure the first name is 'Derek' but the surname is a bit tricky to make out... Could this be the long-sought clue to the creator of the cards?



Sunday, 1 May 2016

MICROGORIA 27 - Mysteries of the Mummy Part IX: Radio Thoth II


To round off our current run of mummy shows, we tune in once again to the world of old time radio to sample some further audio terrors with an Egyptological flavour! In this episode, Mr Jim Moon presents the eerie tale of an excavated sarcophagus in We Dug It Up from Arch Oboler's Lights Out, and then visit the Hall of Fantasy to encounter the curse on The Golden Bracelet of Amoniris

DIRECT DOWNLOAD -  The Mysteries of the Mummy Part IX

Find all the podcasts in the HYPNOBOBS family here -

HYPNOBOBS HOME DOMAIN - Full archive, RSS feed and other useful links

HYPNOBOBS on iTunes

HYPNOBOBS on STITCHER

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS


MICROGORIA is hosted by GeekPlanetOnline and is part of the ROGUE TWO Podcasting network.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

COVER ART-ROCITIES #28



The world of 1970s paperbacks brought the world of terrible books two things. Firstly a slew of witchy, occult flavoured novels that not only boldly stepped onto Dennis Wheatley's turf, but were also an excuse for writing saucy smut. Secondly however the end of the decade saw the beginnings of novelty formats - embossed fonts, foil stamped titles, and most gloriously of all, the double page art spread just inside the cover! 

And this pair would meet spectacularly in this edition of Jane Pankhurst's Isobel - saucy cover and then open it up and get this paperback equivalent of a heavy metal gatefold sleeve! This demented and gorgeous art was the d├ębut of Rowena Morrill, who would go on to be come a highly respected illustrator! 


Yes Virginia, there is a crocodile pretending to be a jawa with a boob out! 


Wednesday, 27 April 2016

TOMB OF THE TRUMPS #26 - Dracula Pack XII


Welcome dear fiends once again to the haunted chamber of tat that is Tomb of the Trumps! However this week for a change, we actually have some quality finds in our lurid art autopsies! And we kick off with a name that surely needs no introduction! 


Now the Phantom of the Opera has already made a couple of appearances in this series before, courtesy of the great Lon Chaney Snr. For his marvellous depictions of the disfigured Erik have already been ripped off, I mean, inspired a couple of early cards, The Hangman and the Lord of Death. 

However I'm sure it will come as absolutely no surprise that by the time we actually get to the old Phantom himself at last, in true Horror Trumps fashion,  the image gracing the card isn't him at all! For while this fellow at an organ certainly looks the part, he doesn't hail from any version of Gaston Leroux's classic horror tale. No, it's an entirely different well-loved horror icon, the abominable Dr. Phibes!  


Now in fairness, the legendary Phibes does owe something of a debt to the Phantom - for like Erik, he is a musical, genius, loves playing the organ, and the first movie features a starling unmasking scene where his disfigured skull-like visage is revealed. And what's more both are a dab hand at creating memorable set-piece deaths for their victims. 

Played by the great Vincent Price, the not-so-good Doctor wreaked havoc in two cult movies directed by Robert Fuest. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) saw the undying genius taking revenge on the surgical team that failed to save his wife by recreated the Biblical plagues of Egypt, while the sequel Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972) saw him devising similarly ornate deaths for all those standing between him and the fabled Waters of Life. 

Now I am a huge fan of these movies, and for more information on this celebrated duology and the possible sequels that never materialised, tune into these pair of episodes from my podcast - I thank you!


So then, onto our next exhibit! And rather appropriately this too is another cult classic getting a spurious new title in the Trumps-land!  


Now then, while you may be forgiven for thinking that this card was inspired by demoniac imagery from some medieval horrors, in fact this Satanic chap isn't in fact even a gentlemen! Actually this card is derived from a famous still from a classic Japanese film - Onibaba (1964)




Onibaba, which literally means "Demon Hag", was written and directed by Kaneto Shindo and was inspired by a Shin Buddhist parable. Critics are seemingly unsure as whether this movie should be classed as a period drama or a horror movie, but it is widely agreed to be a classic. Set in the 14th century, the story tells of two women, one older and one younger, who kill passing warriors and samurai and sell their armour and weapons for profit. However this set-up get more complicated when they team up with a soldier Hachi, and then things go badly awry when the older woman acquires a demon mask from one of her victims...

However for some bonus points, that's not the only rip-off in this card. Yes, that bloodied blade at the top has been borrowed too - for if you look closely you can see that it is the titular device in  this poster! 


Based  - very loosely  I might add - on the Edgar Allen Poe tale of the same name, The Pit and The Pendulum (1961) was actually the second of a series of movies inspired by Poe which were helmed by Roger Corman. They nearly all starred the great Vincent Price, and several, like this one, boasted a script by the great Richard Matheson too. A first class horror pedigree I'm sure you agree for a humble blood-splattered blade! 

Next time, there's a distinct touch of the grave to the next two cards we will be excavating here... 


Sunday, 24 April 2016

HYPNOGORIA 34 - MYSTERIES OF THE MUMMY Part VIII - The Chronicles of Kharis


This week we investigate the further adventures of Universal Mummy Kharis! Now played by the great Lon Chaney Jnr., Mr Jim Moon breaks into The Mummy's Tomb (1942), encounters The Mummy's Ghost (1944) and falls prey to The Mummy's Curse (1944). We also regrettably discover what occurs when Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy (1955)

DIRECT DOWNLOAD -  The Mysteries of the Mummy Part VIII

Find all the podcasts in the HYPNOBOBS family here -

HYPNOBOBS HOME DOMAIN - Full archive, RSS feed and other useful links

HYPNOBOBS on iTunes

HYPNOBOBS on STITCHER

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS


HYPNOGORIA is hosted by GeekPlanetOnline and is part of the ROGUE TWO Podcasting network.

Friday, 22 April 2016

FOLKLORE ON FRIDAY - Strange Burials


Over the last few weeks we've been excavating the folklore and legends linked to William Mackenzie's tomb on Rodney Street, a striking monument often referred to as the Great Pyramid of Liverpool. We have discovered that tales that Mackenzie was buried inside seated at a table to cheat the Devil of his soul, and how his cloaked spirit stalks the area, appear to be very recent additions to Liverpool's ghostly lore. And last week we learned these tales may well have their inspiration in a ghost story, The Tractate Middoth, penned by the great MR James, who in turn may well have been inspired by folklore surrounding other real life weird burials. 

Last week we learned how possibly James had been inspired by tales of the burial of "Mad" Jack Fuller. However while it is often claimed that this Georgian eccentric was buried in a pyramidal moment and seated at a table in full evening dress with a roast dinner before him, similar to Mackenzie and James' Dr Rant, there doesn't appear to be any talk of his ghost walking the area or any other tales of anything sinister of spooky. So then perhaps we should look elsewhere. And certainly there are other possible sources of inspiration, for there appears to have been a fad for unusual burials from the 18th century onwards. 

The remains of John Baskerville sketeched by Thomas Underwood

Many versions of the William Mackenzie legend state that he was a vehement atheist and gambler, which is how he ended up playing cards with a sinister stranger and wagering his soul away. And while there appears to be very little evidence at all in his diaries and contemporary writings that Mackenzie was either an atheist or given to gambling, often other strange interments and funeral arrangements were the final wishes of radical thinkers and rebels. For example, Birmingham printer John Baskerville, who invented the Baskerville font we still use today, was a staunch atheist, and in particular was opposed to the notion of bodily resurrection on Judgement Day favoured by some branches of Christianity. And so, he instructed that he was to be buried, standing up, not "laid to rest" in his own garden. And indeed when he died in 1775 he was buried according to his wishes - at least until his house was demolished and Birmingham Library built on its ground. Then Baskerville's body was displayed to the public for some years, before finally being re-interred. However in Birmingham Library archives, there is a sketch of his body made by Thomas Underwood in 1829, and with it you can see a preserved piece of Baskerville's shroud, and it is said anyone who touches it will be cursed! 

Closer to the tales we have been discussing is the philosopher Jeremy Bentham, who instructed that after his death in 1747, his mortal remains were to be preserved and displayed in a glass case. It is usually thought that Bentham hoped the transformation of his mortal remains into what he referred to as an Auto-Icon would break down some of the taboos around death, in particular the religious objections of the day to doctors performing autopsies and learning from dissecting human cadavers. Although others have proposed it was merely an eccentric act or vanity or some macabre joke on Bentham's part. Either way however it is alleged that Bentham's ghost has been seen many times strolling around the University College of London where the Auto Icon is still on display. However Bentham's shade appears to a benign presence rather than the somewhat sinister spectre of Mackenize or the down-right terrifying Dr Rant. 

The Auto Icon of Jeremy Bentham

But there is one weird burial that does seem to fit very nicely both the dread phantom of The Tractate Middoth and the spooky tales of the Rodney Street Pyramid. Not far from St Mellion, Cornwall is Pentillie Castle, a country house built by Sir James Tillie in 1693. Also in its grounds, at a location he dubbed "Mount Ararat" , Sir James erected a folly, a three storey gothic tower. On his death in 1713, Sir James will instructed that his body should be interred inside the Mount Ararat. And what's more his mortal remains were to be fastened to his favourite chair, dressed in his finest clothes, and surrounded by his books, fine wines and his pipe to await the resurrection. 

Whether these instructions were intended as a morbid mocking of religious beliefs, an act of bizarre piety or merely an eccentric whim, no one is entirely sure. Possibly it was some mixture of all three for a contemporary of Sir James, William Hals reports that his will was "atheistic in principle" but also demonstrated "an utmost submission to the will of Divine Providence". Whatever the truth of the matter however, it was not long before accounts of his eccentric burial were being embroidered. A few decades later it was being claimed that he had also instructed his servants to bring his seated body fresh wine and food every week, which the poor souls continued to do for some two years before the decayed state of the corpse made the job impossible. For elaborate stories claimed that Sir James, a self-made man, had such a high opinion of himself and his admittedly impressive rise to riches, that he believed that death could not hold him and he would resurrect himself - hence the servants bringing him fresh food every week. Furthermore over the years, Sir James often was painted as "a celebrated atheist of the last age" (William Gilpin in Some Observations on the Western Parts of England 1798) and it was said that the restless shade of this impious fellow now stalked the night, and locals avoided the folly-turned-mausoleum after dark for fear of meeting his ghost. 

Statue of Sir James Tillie at the Mount Ararat folly

Sir James Tillie's burial proved to be something of a bone of contention among antiquaries and historians in the 19th century, for the folly clearly held no body, only a statue. Some argued that the corpse had been removed and buried properly in a local church, while others held that he had been interred beneath the folly itself. The argument would continue into the last century and were only finally resolved in 2013 when renovation work uncovered a sealed vault beneath the folly containing an ancient skeleton and leather-covered pieces of wood, thought to be the remains of a chair. 

Given that Sir James' strange post mortem affairs have been so widely discussed over the years, earning a mention in many different tomes and journals, it is hard to see how as an antiquarian himself James would not have been familiar with the tale. And certainly the lore and legends do seem a good match for old Dr Rant. However there are clear parallels with the tales told of William Mackenzie's monument too, and indeed with the shared concept of a blasphemous burial there is arguably a closer correlation with the Mackenzie stories than with The Tractate Middoth.  And so , it might be the case that the stories that have grown up in recent years about the pyramid tomb of Liverpool were perhaps directly inspired by the legend of Sir James Tillie. 

However the talk of losing a hand of cards with the Devil does remind me of another old well-known legend... More on that next time! 

The Mount Ararat folly

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

TOMB OF THE TRUMPS #26 - Dracula Pack XI


Welcome once again to that benighted realm of old horror tat that is the Tomb of the Trumps! No, don't touch that! You look with your eyes not with your hands! ...Anyhow, now that you're all behaving yourselves, let's unveils this week's lurid exhibits! First up, we have this goggle-eyed twonk! 


Now quite why this being was called Maggot we know not. For he is not some species of fly larvae, and is also clearly of a far too strapping build to warrant a name that implies being small and 'orrible. Although 'orrible and slimy 'e certainly is - enough to make me drop me aitches all over the shop! But enough quibbling over nomenclature, for considering some of the title/image combos served up by these deck, Maggot is definitely at the sensible end of things. So then where does this fellow originally hail from?

Well, as fans of tatty of TV SF may well have guessed, this beastie is actually one of the many silly aliens that menaced the Robinson family in the classic show Lost in Space! And here he is getting up close and personal with the nefarious Dr Smith! 


Yes, this was Keema who appeared in the episode The Golden Man in Season 2 of the cult series, and originally appeared in a somewhat less drippy from as, you guessed it, a golden man. Airing on December 28th 1966, this episode had the Robinsons encountering Keema who claimed to fighting against an evil frog - no, seriously! However in classic/cliche style (delete as applicable) it turned out that the nice and bling looking Keema was really the nasty one and the frog was nice. In traditional fashion, in the end the shifty sod was unmasked as being even more disgusting looking - yes, Keema didn't really look like a space glam rocker, but more like a meatball that had lost a fight with a pizza... 


Yes, this is one of those very rare instances where the Horror Top Trumps card actually is an improvement on the original! Anyhow, we are sticking with the outer space theme for our next exhibit! 


Now this knobbly horror will surely be easily identified by lovers of classic old SF flicks. And neatly enough, once again this is the revealed true form of a nefarious alien up to no good - the titular creature from 1958's I Married A Monster From Outer Space! 



Now if you don't know, this movie tells the tale of Marge Farrell (Gloria Talbot, no relation to Larry) who has just got hitched to Bill  (Tom Tryon). However very soon Marge suspected that he isn't quite the man she married? Is Bill ill? Unfortunately for Marge, Bill has been taken over by a monster from space, part of a covert invasion from a race facing extinction thanks to their own females dying out! Things look grim for humanity as these aliens just happen to be immune to bullets, but luckily for us, they prove to be powerless against dogs. And hence after their advance party has been torn to shreds by a pair of German Shepherds, the invasion is called off, and Marge is reunited with the real Bill who was stashed in their spaceship. 

And things turned out pretty well for Bill in real life too, with Tom Tryon making a successful leap from acting to writing, and penning a string of novels. And these days Tryon is probably bettered remembered as a novelist, having written several books such as The Other and Harvest Home that are now regarded as modern classics of weird fiction. 

Next week, we are once again in classic horror territory, with a pair of mis-titled cards featuring images from cult fright flicks!