And we are beginning our voyage into the shady origins of this demented art with the Devil Priest pack (see here for a full listing of all the cards). First up we have an ugly looking cove who appears to be giving us the 'v's, the cheeky swine!
So here we have what will be two recurring features of the Horror Top Trumps - firstly a vague generic name, and secondly the sneaking suspicion we've seen this somewhere before... And in nearly all cases, that second intuitive feeling will be quite correct, for the unknown artist clearly copied from a great many sources to populate these packs of horror!
Now this fuggly fella will not doubt rings bells for the legions of us who got a good scare as nippers from this movie - George Pal's The Time Machine (1960)
Yes, you remember now! It's a bloody Morlock! Granted the Horror Top Trumps version has dyed its hair and donned what appears to be some kind of sheepskin jerkin, but you're not fooling anyone, sunshine! The freaky three fingered hands, and that squashed fizzog with snaggly choppers are unmistakable for anyone terrified by the last section of that classic SF movie. And look it's even brazenly brandishing a whip - and we all remember you lashing poor old Rod Taylor that!
We got you bang to rights sonny, now back the far reaches of future time with you "Alien Creature"! Now then, onto the next exhibit in our rogue's gallery...
Here we have The Beast, who thanks to a high Horror Rating was a good card to have handy! Heh! Heh! Heh! Now who the blood-spurting appendage belongs to we will sadly never know, but there's been a few good guesses to The Beast itself's identity.
Seeing as this is a werewolfy fellow, some have thought it may be a take on the titular creature from Amicus' lycanthropic whodunnit The Beast Must Die (1974). A good guess but sadly incorrect, for the werewolf in that movie appears not a hominid man-beast but a monstrous four legged wolf (actually a dog in make-up on screen). Other cinematic werewolves have been suggested too, with some seeing a similarity with the big haired Werewolf of Washington (1973). But in fact you are all barking up the wrong tree with the lycanthrope idea.
Our mysterious man-beast actually is copied, I mean, inspired, from a famous episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery TV series. In this follow-up show to the classic Twilight Zone, each episode the genial Serling showed us three curious paintings and each had a strange to tell. And in Episode 32 in Season 2, one of the paintings featured was Pickman's Model, a loose adaptation of a classic tale of terror by the great HP Lovecraft. The story - in both the text and TV versions - tells of an artist famed for his weird and macabre pictures, and the discovery that the horrors he is painting are not wholly imaginary. For Pickman is in contact with a race of bestial beings with links to witch cults, which Night Gallery created in fine style, becoming one of the best remembered monsters appearing in that series!
And if you want to hear a reading of Mr Lovecraft's original tale go hither! - Hypnobobs #98 - Pickman's Model