Sunday, 29 May 2016

HYPNOGORIA 36 - HP Lovecraft's Fungi From Yuggoth

In this show, Mr Jim Moon takes a trip into the strange poetry of HP Lovecraft, and takes a look at the epic sonnet cycle of cosmic horrors and weird revelations Fungi From Yuggoth. And as well as discussing the verses themselves and their history, we also take a look at a brand new audio production from William E Hart and Graham Plowman that sets the cycle to music.

Full text of Fungi From Yuggoth
Mr Will Hart's site -
Mr Graham Plowman's site -
Fedogan & Bremer

DIRECT DOWNLOAD - HP Lovecraft's Fungi From Yuggoth

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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

TOMB OF THE TRUMPS #30 - Dracula Pack XVI

So then dear friends, we have reached the end! For here are the final two cards in the unhallowed vaults of the Tomb of the Trumps! But as a great man once said - no tears please: it's a waste of good suffering! So then, what are the last cards in our hand? 

Well, first off we have this hirsute chap! 

Now then, the last time we encountered a lycanthrope in these decks we did have a spot of bother identifying his origins. However in the case of these particular fellow, I'm sure his furry face is instantly recognisable to all fans of vintage horror flicks! For this is the titular transformer from AIP's I Was A Teenage Werewolf

Made in 1957, this fondly remembered flick was the first of four creature features made by AIP to star teenage monsters - the others being I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, Blood of Dracula and How To Make a Monster. And in I Was A Teenage Werewolf, troubled teen Tony Rivers (played by a young Michael Landon) is sent to a psychologist to sort out his Rebel Without A Cause tendencies. Unfortunately for Tone, the head shrinker in question turn out to be a budding mad scientist (played by Whit Bissel) who treats him with a serum with brings out his primitive traits... Which of course will result in poor Tony ending up having to comb his face before he goes out and eating his fellow students! 

Of all these AIP teen horrors, I Was A Teenage Werewolf has probably had the largest and most long-lasting legacy, for it launched Michael Landon's career, and inspired several imitators. Hanna Barbara clearly drew inspiration from it/ripped it off wholesale for their 1970s cartoon Fangface, and again to a lesser extent in the 1980s for The Drak Pack which featured the teenage children of famous monsters. Also in the '80s, we had Michael J Fox in Teen Wolf,  which in turn spawned a sequel and, in the last couple of years,  a TV series. Meanwhile the original Teenage Werewolf made a memorable cameo in Stephen King's epic novel It as one of the guises of the shape-shifting horror Pennywise.

So then, on to the very last card... And stop blubbing at the back! 

The Zetan factor strikes again! Presumably this fellow is an associate of the Zetan Priest we encountered in the Devil Priest pack! Now then, judging by the bestial teeth and simian snout many folks have pegged this mysterious chap as being none other than Boris Karloff as Mr Hyde in Abbott and Costello Meet Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde from 1953. And it does look to be a good fit! See for yourselves! 

But it is not quite an exact match. For where is the widows peak and beard? And the Zetan Warlord has an impressively furrowed brow! So then I have an alternative suggestion, as this card has always reminded me of something else, from an entirely different realm of fantastic fiction. For from first seeing these cards, the Zetan Warlord has always put me in mind of the Ogrons from Doctor Who! In particular, this publicity shot from the fabled Radio Times 10th Anniversary Special  - 

The Ogrons appeared in two stories in 1970s Who - Day of the Daleks in 1972 and returning the following year in Frontier in Space. Also they made a cameo appearance in another story that ran between the two - Carnival of Monsters in early 1973. And undoubtedly they made additional guest appearances in countless childrens' nightmares...

Now I reckon this famous publicity shot of them is a better fit for the Zetan Warlord - for we have a similar high domed forehead, and heavily shadowed faces as well as the simian features. And let's not forget too that our Unknown Artist had borrowed from the same era of Doctor Who several times before, nicking creatures and aliens for the Venusian Death Cell, Fire Demon, and of course, the Zetan Priest!

And so guys and ghouls, the time has come to seal up the heavy doors of the Tomb of the Trumps. However despite getting to the end of both packs of cards, some mysteries still remain, and a handful of cards are still lacking a definitive origin. So then, should new evidence be unearthed, rest assured the tat-haunted Tomb will open up once more... 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

MICROGORIA 28 - Toads on the Whole

Following on from the magic toad biker mayhem of Psychomania last week, Mr Jim Moon explores the strange world of toad lore. In this episode, we learn of assorted strange beliefs about toads, monstrous tales of their antics, and the bizarre magical and medical uses of their parts.

DIRECT DOWNLOAD -  Toads on the Whole

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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

TOMB OF THE TRUMPS #29 - Dracula Pack XV

Welcome dear friends to the penultimate edition of Tomb of the Trumps! Yes, we are down to the last four cards in the second and final pack of vintage Horror Top Trumps, and I'd love to say I've saved the best 'till last but as we've been running through the packs alphabetically that would be a blatant lie! However we do have perhaps one of the odder cards in today's rogue's gallery...

Now a doubled headed gorilla might well suggest a very lazy card creation. Draw an ape, add an extra bonce, chuck in a little bit of blood and a severed limb to keep the kiddies happy, and voilà we have a brand new monster at very notice! Job done! 

However, this card was actually inspired by a real movie. No, honest it is! Have a gander at this still from The Thing With Two Heads from 1972! 

Now if you think that's strange, prepare to be astounded! For this twin noggined primate isn't actually the titular horror in that movie! And while this atrocious ape was an early creation of make-up wizard Rick Baker, this creature is revealed early in the movie as just a dry run for the experiment a less-than-sane doctor is going to perform! Now transplant surgery has been a staple of horror a good while, going all the way back to Frankenstein. However there has never been a movie quite like The Thing With Two Heads... and probably for very good reason... I think I'll just let the poster explain it all...

Directed by Lee Frost, and co-written with Wes Bishop, no one seems entirely sure what the hell this movie is going for... Horror? Comedy? An insanity plea? I'm tempted to say perhaps it was intended as some triple-headed transplant of all three. However I suspect a fourth motive at work, for a year earlier another low budget flick The Incredible 2-Head Transplant (1971) had staggered into theatres. This movie featured a sanity-deficient doc grafted the head of a murderer onto the body of a mentally challenged man. Now details of box office takings for this movie aren't readily available but I'm guessing it made enough for Frost and Bishop to reckon there was gold in them thar two-headed hills!   

Unsurprisingly this flick often features in lists of movies so terrible they are hilarious, or round-ups of the most oddball movies ever made. Certainly it has to be seen to be believed - but I wouldn't necessarily take that as a recommendation! Now then moving swiftly on, for that is perhaps for the best, what's this web-winged horror flapping down from the skies? 

Now at first, judging by the somewhat crude art on this card you may be forgiven for thinking that this was a quick filler sketch. After all, bats are a staple of horror imagery, and this one seems to have been drawn with little or no consultation to what bats actually look like! Indeed from the slap-dash rendering, it's all too easy to imagine our Unknown Artist being fatigued and possibly overcome by paint fumes when he drew it. 

However that said, I always found the fizzog of this particular vampire bat to be strangely familiar! Now then, in previous instalments of our journey through the decks we have discovered that as well as borrowing from film and TV, the world of horror mags and comics has been ransacked for inspiration more than a few times. And I couldn't help noticing while going through my old House of Hammers in search of a Killer Rat that this werewolf rather reminds me of the Vampire Bat...

However looking inside this issue of the classic horror mag (Issue 18 fact fans) we find the comic strip featured on the cover - a one-off strip written and drawn by comic legends Neal Adams and Dick Giordano. This mini-epic features Count Dracula, Frankenstein's monster and a werewolf all crossing paths, and along the way we find the following panels which look very much like inspiration for our somewhat odd looking flittermouse!

Now there's not an exact match in any of these to be sure, but they are close enough to prove a couple of things. Firstly they are near enough for the old Vampire Bat to seem oddly familiar to me, and secondly, that whatever source image our Unknown Artist was working from, I rather doubt it was a bat! Plus, judging by the lack of detail and the type of lines used, I would put good money on the original image being a small panel in a comic strip. And quite possibly the source being two small frames, one for the bat-wings and one for the bestial face. Perhaps one day, I shall open some old horror comic and find the Vampire Bat's doppelgänger... 

Next week, we reach the final pair of cards in the vaults of the Tomb of the Trumps... 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

HYPNOGORIA 35 - Psychomania

Roaring back from the grave, comes Psychomania! Mr Jim provides a commentary track for the cult Brit horror flick, directed by Hammer veteran Don Sharp, and starring George Sander, Nicky Henson and Beryl Reid. This movie tells the tale of a gang of motorcycling hoodlums who return to life to wreak havoc thanks to a pact with a toad! It's the only biker-zombie-magic-toad movie you need to see! 

DIRECT DOWNLOAD - Psychomania Commentary

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Friday, 13 May 2016

FOLKLORE ON FRIDAY - The Tale of the Holbeach Gamesters Part II

Inside All Saints, Holbeach by Gazmando

Last time on Folklore on Friday, we enjoyed the tale of the Holbeach Gamesters (find it here), a story of gambling and grave-robbing going badly awry. Now like many a folk-tale, this legend from Lincolnshire operates on a variety of levels. To begin with, it  is simply an entertaining yarn, one that may raise a shudder or two, or depending on the teller, possibly some ghoulish laughter. And certainly it appears to have been a popular tale, given that it exists in several variations, for as a rule of thumb, the more enduring an old tale is, the more variants of it you can find.

Initially it would appear to be a fairly standard European folk-tale, and given that it features ghosts, goblins and the Devil himself  dealing out supernatural vengeance or justice, you could be forgiven for thinking its origin was as a cautionary tale. Certainly its narrative seems tailor-made to illustrate the moral message that cards, ale, and a disrespect of the dead and the church will drag you down to Hell. However there is more to the story of  the Holbeach Gamesters than first meets the eye, for while it definitely fits the traditional pattern of the cautionary tale, a little research uncovers a rather different origin.

Now I first encountered a stripped down version of the tale in a most unusual place. British confectionery giant Trebor launched a new range of sweets at the end of the 1970s called Mummies. These rolls of black hard sweets promised a "taste of the tomb" in the form of  "hidden fruit flavours". They came two varieties with different fillings - soft centres in red packets, and sherbert in green ones. However both varieties featured one of Trebor's marketing gimmicks - printed on the inside of the roll's paper sleeve was a "Tale from the Tomb". There were twelve to collect and featured some well-known spooky legends such as the curse of King Tut's tomb, but many featured more obscure tales drawn from folklore. And #2 in the series was entitled "The Gambling Corpse" -  a pocket-sized version of the legend of the Holbeach Gamesters!

Now as we have noted there are several variations of the story, ranging from the simplest where the three friends break just into the church to play cards and disturb the body of woman laid for a funeral, to a more elaborate version recounted by a former vicar of All Saints that folklorist Ethel Rudkin recorded in 1931. Delving further back in time, we find the story being recounted in verse, with the very popular Victorian poet Eliza Cooke retelling the tale in the poem The Sacrilegous Gamesters which appeared in her collection Melaia, and Other Poems in 1843. 

However the earliest properly dated version was written in 1800 by Thomas Hardwicke Rawnsley, a rector in Bourne, Lincolnshire, who is now best remembered for his friendship with the poet Tennyson. However Rawnsley penned some verse too, in particular this ballad, which when it was first printed was billed as a true story...

The Three Revellers; or Impiety Punished
A Legend of Holbech

In the bleak noxious Fen that to Lincoln pertains
Where agues assert their fell sway,
There the Bittern hoarse moans and the seamew* complains
As she flits o'er the watery way.

While with strains thus discordant, the natives of air
With screams and with shrieks the ear strike,
The toad and the frog croaking notes of despair
Join the din, from the bog and the dyke.

Mid scenes that the senses annoy and appal
Sad and sullen old Holbech appears,
As if doomed to bewail her hard fate from the Fall,
Like a Niobe washed with her tears.

From fogs pestilential that hovered around,
To ward off despair and disease,
The juice of the grape was most generous found.
Source of comfort, of joy, and of ease.

At the "Chequers" long famed to quaff then did delight
The Burghers both ancient and young.
With smoking and cards, passed the dull winter night.
They joked and they laughed and they sung.

Three revellers left, when the midnight was come.
Unable their game to pursue.
Repaired, most unhallowed, to visit the tomb
Where enshrouded lay one of their crew.

For he, late-departed, renowned was at whist.
The marsh-men still tell of his fame,
Till Death with a spade struck the cards from his fist
And spoiled both his hand and his game.

Cold and damp was the night; thro' the churchyard they prowled,
As wolves by fierce hunger subdued,
'Gainst the doors they huge gravestones impetuous rolled
Which recoiled at such violence rude.

From the sepulchre's jaws their old comrade uncased,
(How chilling the tale to relate),
Upreared 'gainst the wall on the table was placed
A corpse, in funereal state.

By a taper's faint blaze and with Luna's faint light
That would sometimes emit them a ray,
The cards were produced, and they cut with delight
To know who with "Dumby" should play.

Exalted on basses the bravoes kneeled round
Exulting and proud of the deed,
To Dumby they bent with respect most profound
And said "Sir! it is your turn to lead."

The game then commenced, when one offered him aid,
And affected to guide his cold hand
"While another cried out, "Bravo! Dumby, well played,
I see you've the cards at command."

Thus impious, they jokèd devoid of all grace.
When dread sounds shook the walls of the church,
And lo! Dumby sank down, and a ghost in his place
Shrieked dismal "Haste! haste! save your lurch!"

Astounded they stared; but the fiend disappeared
And Dumby again took his seat,
So they deemed 'twas but fancy, nor longer they feared
But swore that "Old Dumb should be beat."

Eight to nine was the game, Dumby's partner called loud
"Speak once, my old friend, or we're done
Remember our stake 'tis my coat or your shroud
Now answer and win — can you one?"

"What silent, my Dumby, when most I you need
Dame Fortune our wishes has crossed,"
When a voice from beneath, howled, "your fate is decreed
The game and the gamesters are lost."

Then strange! most terrific and horrid to view!
Three Demons thro' earth burst their way:
Each one chose his partner, his arms round him threw
And vanished in smoke with his prey.

* a local term for seagull

Now it is interesting to note that while this version is highly detailed, other versions of the tale do actually name the men involved. As we saw last week, one claims the men were Slator, Watson, Barker and Codling, while another puts two other fellows in the frame - Abraham Tegerdine, Mr Slater, Dr Jonathan Watson and Farmer Guymer. It is also curious that some versions actually give us a date for these eerie events at Holbeach, with the Barker/Codling variant reporting it took place in 1793, while other versions placing them a decade earlier in 1783. Now usually folklore tends to be somewhat vague on details such as names and dates, so then could this tale be, as Rawnley claimed, a true tale?

In the 19th century the first proper scholarly studies of folklore began - indeed the term 'folklore' was originally coined by the antiquarian William Thoms in 1846. Fortunately for us, the legend of Holbeach was one that was investigated by the pioneers of this new field of study, and the surprising truth is that the story was inspired by actual events! What really happened was this - there were indeed four fellows who loved a game of Long Whist - apparently named Dr John Watson, John Key, William Slator and a chap called Whedale. And in 1783 three of these fellows were indeed drinking in the Chequers Hotel, and mourning the death of their friend. Just like the legend, a mixture of grief and alcohol led these fellows to think it would be a fine idea to dig up their recently buried pal for one last game. And again just like the old tale, they broke into the church and sat round the altar with the corpse of their late friend to play cards.

But rather than ghosts and goblins breaking up the macabre party, it was something far more mundane. A local man was passing by All Saints and saw lights flickering inside the darkened church. He peered through the window and was rightly horrified by the ghoulish game, and hence ran to the Chequers and raised a gang of stout fellows to apprehend the gamesters. As far as we know the men escaped any criminal charges, but records preserved in local history tomes by Grant W. Macdonald, the clergyman at another Holbeach Church St. Marks in the 1890s, show that the gamesters did make payments for the damages to the grave.

However while they escaped criminal charges and the affair was very much hushed up, there was a deep sense of scandal with Ethel Rudkin reporting that years later the villagers still did not like to speak of it. In her introduction to The Sacrilegious Gamesters, Eliza Cooke claims that the stories she heard said that "the affair created so much horror and disgust, that the wretched profligates who enacted it were eventually compelled to quit the town". And according Rudkin, it was said that locals became a little nervous of venturing round All Saints after dark, and thus tales of a haunting began.

However, as ever with folklore, some mysteries still remain. Some twenty years later in 1803, one of the gamesters, Dr John Watson, apparently took his own life, although whether this was anything to do with the infamous gaming night at All Saints we do not know. What we do know though, is that ironically the doctor was denied a burial in the churchyard of All Saints. But this was nothing to do with his previous ghoulish antics, but because he was supposed a suicide, and therefore not allowed to be buried in consecrated soil. However rather being interred just outside the churchyard,  Dr Watson was apparently buried in accordance with another piece of old folklore - out of town, on the Spalding Road, so that should he return as a ghost, his restless spirit would not be troubling the local people.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

TOMB OF THE TRUMPS #28 - Dracula Pack XIV

Welcome once again guys and ghouls to the tat-haunted Tomb of the Trumps! Once again we are delving in to the mysterious inspirations of the original Horror Top Trumps, and this week we open our investigations with this shrieking horror! 

Now for years I had always suspected that the old Sorceress was inspired by something in an old horror comic, or possibly, given the sketchy style, that rarest of beasts in these decks: an original creation! However enlightenment came when I was enjoying a Bert I Gordon binge a couple of years ago. Now Gordon is most famous for his movies that featured things getting very large such The Amazing Colossal Man, Earth Vs the Spider and The Beginning of the End - living up to his initials of BIG! However he did produce other genre movies aside from his giant monster epics, and The Magic Sword from 1962 saw Gordon taking inspiration from the legend of St. George and the dragon to produce a fantasy flick for the children's market. 

Now the movie tells of our hero George (Gary Lockwood) setting out with six knights to rescue a princess (Anne Helm) who is being held for ransom by the evil wizard Lodac, (the great Basil Rathbone). In classic folk tale fashion, the band of seven heroes face an assortment of different challenges, which will whittle down their numbers before reaching the final showdown with Lodac. And it is during  one of these challenges in their quest that we encounter the model for the Sorceress! 

Sir Dennis of France is lured into a trap by the beautiful Mignonette, played by Danielle de Metz, However she is soon revealed to be a hideous hag bent on slaying him, played by Maila Nurmi, best known to fright fans as pioneering horror hostess Vampira. Actually Nurmi had appeared earlier in the movie as a sorceress, a confederate with Lodac in the kidnapping of the princess fair, and thanks to some green glowing eyes in both scene we know it is the sorceress who is behind this transformation of the beauty into a crone. So then, here we have a card with an accurate title for a change!

And we are still in not-quite-classic B movie land with our next card! But now we are into the realm of science fiction, and this many legged horror hails from outer space!  

Now despite the card's title, this isn't a beastie to be found in Howard Hawks's classic SF movie The Thing From Another World (1951). But this space monster does come from the strange worlds of  '50s cinematic science fiction - a low budget flick called The Angry Red Planet (1959).

Made by another mover-and-shaker in the realm of low budget fantastic film, Ib Melchior, the man who brought us gems such as Reptilicius (1961) and Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964), this movie tells of a mission to Mars by brave astronauts from Earth. In the wilds of the red planet, they encounter all manner of alien threats including carnivorous plants and giant amoebas. Now when our heroes first come across our creature, commonly called the bat-rat-spider, they mistake its legs for strange Martian trees! Yes, that's how big as this hybrid terror is! No wonder it got the prime spot on the movie's posters! 

However I've never been entirely sure what that lone arm is doing in this picture... The flailing arm of a victim? A black power salute? I personally favour the theory that it's some maniac throwing a punch at the long legged beastie! Possibly for spilling his pint or maybe just "looking at me funny"! 

Anyhow that's all for this week - next time we reach the penultimate pair of cards - a truly gruesome twosome! 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

TOMEGORIA 16 - Disclaimer

In this episode of Tomegoria, Odile and Jim venture into thriller territory with Renee Knight's acclaimed mystery novel Disclaimer 


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Friday, 6 May 2016

FOLKLORE ON FRIDAY - The Tale of the Holbeach Gamesters Part I

Once upon a time, not so long ago, decks of cards were referred to as "the Devil's picture-books", for card games lead to gambling, and gambling leads to damnation. And there have been many tales told over the years to illustrate this point. Take for example the legend of the Holbeach Gamesters... Now Holbeach is a little market town in the fenlands of southern Lincolnshire, believed to date back to Roman times at least. And to this day, stories are still told that warn the unwary not only of the perils of card playing but also to steer clear of All Saints Church after nightfall. Like many old tales, there have been several variations told over the years, but the essential details remain the same. 

According to most versions, the strange events took place in 1793 after a man named Codling, or sometimes Farmer Guymer, passed away. He was part of a group known locally as the Holbeach Gamesters, four friends who loved to play cards, often at the Chequers Hotel. After this jolly gent's passing, the surviving three, men named Watson, Slator and Barker according to most versions, were drinking together and mourning their friend. They were bemoaning the fact that their games would never be the same now their quartet was shrunk to a trio, when one of them had a great idea - well, what seemed a great idea to a drunken fellow that is - they would have one last game with their departed friend! So the three made their way from The Chequers Hotel over the road to All Saints Church. Many versions of the tale hold that there, Codling's coffin was already lying inside, ready for his funeral on the morrow. But some insist that the departed gamester was already buried, and so armed with lanterns, shovels, and pitchers of ale, the three friends set about disinterred him from his freshly filled in grave. 

Either way, the end result was the three men ended up sat inside the church with the corpse of their friend, and set about a final session of cards with him. The tale often has them using the very altar as a table, others the coffin, and another version has them propping up the cadaver of their old chum by wedging him in the altar rail. However regardless of the specifics, a game of cards was had with the corpse playing a dummy hand (it is often said whist was their game of choice), or his surviving friends taking his turn for him. Full of ale, the gamesters had a fine old time, joking that the dear departed was doing better than ever. Of course, things were to take a darker turn. As the hands of the clock crept towards midnight, they noticed that their dead friend's face had developed a nasty leering grin. And worse was to come - for as the chimes of midnight sounded, the corpse began to laugh. One version goes further, and has our card playing fellows looking around to see the Devil himself taking the place of their dead compatriot.

What followed is the subject of some controversy. In some variants, the foolhardy fellows continued their game, determined to finish the hand even after these ominous events. However most versions end up in the same place - with demons or goblins rising up from the church floor or flying out of the crypt, and dragging the trio off to Hell. And according to some there is a final ghoulish detail, that the only trace of the gamesters was that on the morrow the congregation were met by the grinning corpse still propped up by the altar. 

But one version reckons that Slator managed to avoid the clutches of the fiends and escaped out of the church door. He dashed back to the Chequers Hotel and there, no doubt fortified with yet more drink, he gathered a party of men and hurried back to rescue his friends from the horrors. However, on reaching the benighted church, they did not dare enter. For coming from within, they heard peals of hideous laughter and horrible screams. It was only when morning broke that they chanced venturing inside. They found no sign of Watson and Barker. 

But it is said that if you should pass by All Saints after dark, you may see flickering lights within the church. And should you be brave enough, or maybe that should be foolish enough, to take a look inside, there you will see the lost gamesters, presumably now damned to play for all eternity. And according to some, the phantoms will eagerly invite the foolish join them in their infernal never-ending game... 

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

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