Wednesday 23 March 2016

TOMB OF THE TRUMPS #22 - Dracula Pack VII

Welcome dear fiends once more to that subterranean home of terrible old horror tat - the Tomb of the Trumps! Now then after the somewhat obscure goings-on of last episode, this week we are back in classic territory - on terror firma as it were! Heh! Heh! Heh!

Now then, do I really have to explain who The Hangman is? Well, on the off chance you don't know, this green faced sadist is actually the great Lon Chaney in the classic 1925 silent version of The Phantom of the Opera! Behold! 

Now for me, and indeed for many movie buffs, the Chaney version of Phantom of the Opera is still easily the best screen adaptation of the classic novel by Gaston Leroux. Not only is it the most faithful, but still, nearly a century later, no one has bettered Chaney's own self-created make-up for the disfigured Erik. 

However as much as I'd like to sit and gush about the 1925 Phantom - seriously folks, if you've not seen it, do seek it out - we have other business with this card! For as is traditional with these old Horror Top Trumps, there's more than one source being used here in this Hangman tableaux. For yes, his victim is lifted from a still from an old horror flick too. And it's from another classic too! Yes, the Hangman's victim is poor old Dr. Marcus (played by John Carson) in that cult collaboration between Hammer and Brian Clemens Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter (1974)!  

Although, that being said, at first I did heavily suspect the Hangman's victim was none other than Christopher Matthews in anopther Hammer flick of the same vintage, Scars of Dracula! However I think that's just down to our Unknown Artist squashing the head a bit and colouring the hair blonde!

 However we're still on a classic tip with our next card too... Hang onto your hats... and your noggins too, for it's Headhunter! 

Now then despite the fearsome appearance of this card, Headhunter doesn't hail from some forgotten green hell horror flick full of savages and tropical blood rites! Rather like his deck mate Cannibal, this fearful brute is actually based on a pic from a non-horror movie. Yes, Headhunter is actually the genie - played by Rex Ingram - from the classic fantasy flick The Thief of Baghdad, made in 1940 by cinema legends Alexander Korda and Michael Powell.   

However once again, our work here is not yet done. For does not that out-of-scale little white noggin ring a distant bell or two? Well, it certainly always looked vaguely familiar to me too. And at first from the somewhat different style of inking used, I suspected that this little white bonce was perhaps a lift from a horror comic. But then, a penny suddenly dropped - the heavy crude lines weren't due to it being a steal from a comic-book, but because it was taken from a blurry old still. And noting the wonky ears, the one quizzically raised eyebrow, and the beaky snooze, there was only one place this could have come from - Nosferatu (1922)!

Yes, I heavily suspect that Headhunter's trophy is actually based on this still from the classic silent horror masterpiece. And I'm guessing from the heavy lines used by our Unknown Artist, he was working from a poorly printed and/or much magnified picture of the face of Graf Orlock as seen in this famous shot. Hence it's something of a loose likeness I grant you, but there are clear similarities, and too many to be a mere coincidence methinks.

Of course, as usual if you have any better idea, do let me know! Next week we discover an unlikely pairing of a killer monkey and a puddle of goo! 


Anonymous said...

I always found Headhunter the most threatening card, possibly due to his larger scale and propensity for decapitating Nosferatu.
Like most of the cards, it certainly fired the imagination of a child, wondering how and where these clashes took place. I thought there were maybe early 70s foreign "Abbot And Costello Meet.." type vehicles but with vivid, surreal colours and visceral gore instead of the clapped out humour and terminally unfunny leading men.
Excellent read as always.

Anonymous said...

Martian Warrior isn't a million miles away from Graf Orlock, either. With added teeth, space-age gear and some green-felt tip.
I've always thought John Carson one of the finest actor Britain has produced. Excellent in everything I have seen him in but criminally underused. And why he wasn't cast in Star Wars as an Imperial officer beats me.

Anonymous said...

John Carson would have been superb as Grand Moff Jerjerrod as he was written in the original ROTJ script- a bitter rival of Darth Vader who is forced to kneel to him. Carson would the only guy cool enough to pull that off. He was very close to being Bond too. I imagine Cubby Broccoli vetoed it due to Carson's sideburns.
Martian Warrior is very generic looking. I think the Space Raider crisp packets showed more imagination with their space goon illustrations. Probably my least favourite card.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting St Claire but Carson was too cool to be Bond. Martian Warrior: A bit generic, granted and possibly inaccurate. I've always thought Martian Warrior would be deeply suntanned at the very least. My own favourite "space goon" is the yeti-like creature from the Space Invaders (Taito-1978) cabinet. These chaps, coupled with the two tone deep bass sound effects, make for a sublime experience at any arcade. I yearn for another game.
Strange,we didn't get a hulking Yeti style character in HTT. They never go out of fashion.

Anonymous said...

Correction: 4 tone sound effects. Just had a game.

Anonymous said...

I was very saddened to hear of the recent death of John Carson. Another master gone to join the great majority. He'll be missed.