Wednesday 27 January 2016

TOMB OF THE TRUMPS #15 - Devil Priest Pack Part XV

Welcome to another exciting adventure into the strange and demented world of vintage Horror Top Trumps. We are now at the penultimate stop in our journey through the Devil Priest pack, but fear not dear friends, the lurid weirdness is by no means running out! I mean, just look at this! 

Ah dear old Venusian Death Cell! One of the most infamous cards in the benighted world of vintage Horror Top Trumps! Obviously this deranged vision lingered long in the minds of a generation of kids due to its marvelously gratuitous blood-gushing severed bonce, but it also bedeviled legions of young minds with tantalizing questions such as - what exactly was a "Death Cell"? Is that a sunrise on Venus? Is mauve now in fashion? And why were Venusians so pissed off with us anyway? 

Of course, for many of this deck's owners who were in the UK, there was another question - "Hang on, that's a ruddy Sea Devil from Doctor Who isn't it?" 

Well, yes the "Venusian" is indeed a Sea Devil. This race of intelligent marine reptoids, a sea-going cousin of the Silurians by the way, first appeared in the Third Doctor adventure "The Sea Devils" which aired way back in 1972, and have been a firm fan favourite ever since, making several comebacks over the years.   

However the rip-off don't end there! For as we have discovered in previous installments of this epic journey into old horror tat, quite often assorted victims and/or body parts have been pinched from other sources too! And this card is no exception, for I believe that the glorious blood dripping noggin is directly inspired by this illustration for Oscar Wilde's Salome by the great Victorian artist Aubrey Beardsley 

Considering that Mr Beardsley was no stranger to controversy and his illustrations frequently caused outrage, I'm sure he wouldn't mind his work being pilfered for a children's card game that upset many a parent... But moving on now, here we have a familiar furry face but with somewhat less than familiar accouterments! 

Now obviously the Wolfman needs no introduction, after all, he is one of the famous Universal Monsters. However I don't think this particular image is actually based on any stills of the great Lon Chaney Jnr. - for this lycanthrope appears quite different from the wolvish form of old Larry Talbot. In fact it doesn't really match any screen werewolves terribly well, and the fact that he is carrying an axe and wearing an overcoat rather suggests a non-lycanthropic body is the source picture. Facially however, there is a certain resemblance to this publicity still from Hammer's classic Curse of the Werewolf -

However the real puzzle in this card is what the hell is that weird shape with a googly eye in the bottom left-hand corner? I mean, what the hell is it? And what's it doing there? Other than a fragment of another drawing erroneously left stuck onto the Wolfman art, my only guess is that this is a bizarre homage to Star Wars! No, seriously! Could it be a guest appearance from the Dianoga from the Deathstar trash compactor?

OK, that's a long shot, but the first movie was all the rage when these cards were produced... And if you have any other better ideas, do get in touch!


Mr Adrian Hird, Mr Griffin Madill and the Reverend Peter Organ (of the bOrgcast) got in touch to advance the theory that the strange floating eye is part of a foreground silhouette! And Adrian reckons that it might be Frankenstein's monster too, as seen in this handy diagram he sent me via the Twitters! Case closed I reckon!

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