Welcome back dear fiends to the 'Orrible 'Ouse of Terrible Old Tat! Well, summer is well and truly here with dear old Blighty sweltering in a heatwave and tabloid editors wondering if they can run that "COR WOTTA SCORCHER! " headline again yet. Well then chums, we are going to be keeping our cool with another visit to the cryogenic vaults of the 'Orrible Old 'Ouse and exploring once again the wonderful world of ice lollies...
Now previously we have seen how in the 60s, 70s and 80s, purveyors of ice cold snackage successful prised pocket money from the nation's children by firstly linking their lollies to well known characters from film and TV. Later on, this marketing gimmick would blossom into branded icy treats, a wild world where characters as diverse as the Daleks, King Kong, Bananaman, and the Mister Men would get their own lines of ice lollies. However these kind of tie-in deals cost money and could be something of a risky proposition, for the favour and fashions of the playground are fickle and hence while the Daleks conquered the chiller cabinets for several years, and during many of which they didn't cross paths with the Doctor on the telly mark you, no one was particularly rushing out to buy the Black Hole lolly when Disney's answer to Star Wars died a death at the box office.
However, and let's be honest here, as makers of all kinds of tat have realised down the years, kids are bloody morons. If you can make something that is bright, colourful and sounds cool, even if it is a truly bloody awful product, you can create a playground sensation. Back in the '60s and '70s, no one had coined the term "viral marketing", but the concept that some products could magically capture the public's imagination was already well understood. And in the world of the ice lolly, if you could create a playground craze for your frozen wares, you were quids in. And hence many makers of lollies and assorted sweeties discovered that the right wrapper and the right name could outsell the biggest branded tie-ins.
Now, at first many lollies had just had names derived from their flavours - the all-time classics being the Orange Maid and the Mini Milk - but soon lollies with more inventive names started to appear such as Wiz, Rev, Woppa, and Mivvi. And this was a major breakthrough, as such names gave no clue to their flavours but still sold well because they sounded hip and cool. After all, what self-respecting junior hepcat wants a boring old Lemonade Fizz when you could discover what a Kinky tasted like?
However while this advance in lolly nomenclature was a seismic shift in the way icy treats were sold, the novelty of giving lollies trendy and abstract names soon became normalised. And hence in the early 1970s, lolly branding was to evolve again, and various characters started appeared in the chiller cabinets that didn't exist anywhere else. Given the hazy and ephemeral nature of ice lolly history, I am not entirely sure who first made this next breakthrough, but a good contender is probably Lyons Maid who launched the Red Devil in April 1973. A regular in the freezers for many years, the Red Devil was a lolly comprising of an ice cream centre encased in fruity red ice. Some of us who remember this lolly may well be inclined to think that perhaps the name came from the fact that it was indeed a bit of a devil to eat, as all too often often the crimson ice you fall away from the ice cream and seek out brand new tops to stain and ruin.
However despite this lolly's propensity for getting kids in trouble with Mum, I suspect it was simply a case of the marketing chaps casting about for a suitable name that was a bit trendy and sounded cool without mentioning a flavour. But the real stroke of genius came when the graphics department designed a wrapper with a little cartoon imp on it. And in a stroke the concept of a brand name and an image coalesced into the idea of creating brand characters, for looking at Lyon Maid's production history, the Red Devil was closely followed by a range of lollies that crystallize this moment in marketing.
Now all of these lollies were united by the fact they they appeared at the same time but also were accompanied by a series of button badges to collect. A vanilla ice cream bar with chocolate chips was named Freckles, which clearly was the name of the cute cartoon spotted dog on its wrapper. Then there was Captain Cody, a old school cartoon hunter who lolly was cream soda flavour with a "raspberry kreem centre" apparently. However typifying the fact that lolly branding was a tipping point, the range also included Freak Out, a strawberry and lemon ice cream whirled together to allegedly "form a psychedelic pattern on a stick", whose badge featured a trippy vision of a long haired singer of indeterminate gender and sanity radiating acid drenched colours. However my favourite of this bunch was the brilliantly designed Jelly Terror. The lolly itself comprised of a creamy vanilla shell, topped with chocolate, and entombing a strawberry jelly centre, but despite this generous combo of flavours the real draw was the titular Jelly Terror, a marvelous monster with fangs, swirling eyes and a great many legs/arms/tentacles/whatever they are.
Part of the success of this bunch which were launched back in April 1973 was down to the nature of the graphics themselves. Quite cleverly, Lyons Maid had opted for a style that was very kid-friendly. It was individual, energetic and lo-fi, but perhaps most importantly of all, generally the characters looked like something that a kid - admittedly a talented kid - had drawn on a school exercise book. Clearly they were on to something here, for the following year, they even launched a rival to their own Orange Maid, in the form of the Orange Dragon lolly, with a mythical fire-breather rendered in the same style. And in 1974 some new lines sporting more freshly dreamed up characters would appear too. And naturally other companies soon followed suit...
NEXT TIME - we round up more of these forgotten characters from the chiller cabinets and discovered the spookiest lolly of the early 1970s!
On my little show this year, we have been exploring the history of the Gill-man and similar aquatic horrors. Starting with a look at assorted legends and folklore about aquatic monsters, we traced appearances of dwellers in the deep in weird fiction, and discovered how Universal came up with the iconic Gill-man. The series then explored the various sequels that followed, including Del Toro's The Shape of Water, a love letter to the Creature from the Black Lagoon. We then went on to uncover assorted cameo appearances by the Gill-man and finally we have looked at the assorted similar creatures, both reverent homages and outright knock-offs that followed in his wake.
In celebration of Guillermo del Toro's new opus The Shape of Water, Mr Jim Moon sets sail on a new new podcast series and submerges the Great Library of Dreams Bathysphere into the deeps to discover all manner of aquatic horrors. In this first episode, we explore the Gill-man's ancestry in mythology, legend and folklore, encountering kappas, nixes, nymphs, tritons and of course various mermaids and merfolk.
In this episode, Mr Jim Moon invites you all to take a leisurely boat trip down the Amazon river to the Black Lagoon. Here we'll learn of the origin and history of its famous resident monster the Gill-man, and all about the making of the classic movie The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954). DIRECT DOWNLOAD - HYPNOGORIA 86 - The Chronicles of the Creature Part I
In this episode, we continue on your exploration of the Gill-man and take an in-depth look at the classic horror SF movie The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954) directed by the great Jack Arnold. Plus we also take a peek at the Gill-man in print and unearth various plots for remakes. DIRECT DOWNLOAD - HYPNOGORIA 87 - The Chronicles of the Creature Part II
In this episode, Mr Jim Moon takes an in-depth look at the Oscar winning monster movie from Guillermo del Toro. First we have a spoiler-free review of The Shape of Water, and then in the second half, we delve deeper, exploring its connections to The Creature From the Black Lagoon movies and other connections to folklore, fairy stories and classic films.
Beginning a new mini-series, Mr Jim Moon returns to the world of aquatic horrors to discover assorted ameos and homages to the Gill-man, not to mention a few outright rip-offs too! We have a look at Return of the Creature (1955), Castle of the Monsters (1958), Monster Of Piedras Blancas (1959) , Mad Monster Party(1967), Chabelo and Pepito vs. The Monsters (1973), The Monster Squad (1987), plus some small screen appearances in McHale's Navy and Night Gallery.
We continue our exploration of the Gill-man's kith and kin, this time rounding up assorted Black Lagoon knock-offs! We take a look at The She Creature (1956), Creature From The Haunted Sea (1961), Horror of Party Beach (1964), Beach Girls and the Monster (1965) and The City Under The Sea AKA War-gods of the Deep (1965).
In thisepisode Mr Jim Moon brings this series of podcasts on gill-men and aquatic horrors full circle with a look at some curious cases from the annals of cryptozoology which seems to have echoes of the Black Lagoon...
Midsummer’s Day, also known as St John’s Day, is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and I’m sure I don’t need to remind you how this was an important day for our pagan ancestors. For example, every year we are treated to footage of assorted folks gathering at Stonehenge, so much so that that now it is part of pop culture to know than that Midsummer is a sacred day for both druids and hippies.
However flippancy aside, as the longest day of the year, the summer solstice has been recognised and marked by a host of different cultures over the centuries. As it stands, we are not actually particularly sure what significance Midsummer had for our own pagan ancestors and the whole business at with druids at Stonehenge and other standing stones is very much speculation constructed from what little we actually know of ancient British and Celtic cultures. However as the longest day and indeed its opposite number the winter solstice (the shortest day) are reliable markers for organising your calendar, there is no doubt it would have been significant.
And thanks to this practical usefulness to agriculture in particular - after all it is very important to know what to be planting what - Midsummer remained a key date in the folkloric calendar long after paganism gave way to Christianity in these isles, and hence there are many festivals and traditions associated with it. In addition however, the night before the longest day, Midsummer’s Eve was widely reported to be a significant night for all manner of folk charms and rites. Generally it was thought that it was a time when the veil between worlds grows thin and hence it was an auspicious night for magic of all kinds.
A common example of this is the assortment of love charms to practised upon Midsummer’s Eve - there are various little rites, such as casting rose petals into water or placing special plants and herbs, such as St John’s Wort, under your pillow, which it is claimed will result in visions which reveal your future true love. Interestingly, similar folk rituals for divining your future true love are connected with several other days in the calendar. For example, while we think of Halloween as the spookiest night of the year, it was traditionally actually a night for carrying out such love charms. Midsummer is also one of the nights of the year in which church porching was conducted. This was a similar simple divinatory practice, but one with a darker purpose. For it was said that if one held a vigil at the local parish church door, or in some version at the lich gate, one would see the souls of all those who were due to die parade into the darkened church. However like the love charms, church porching was also conducted on various special nights of the year such as Christmas, Halloween and assorted Saint's days. It seems that in ages past, any significant day in the calendar was held to be a good time for attempting to divine the future.
But there is lore that more specifically relates to Midsummer. A favourite of mine is the old folklore that claims that ferns only bloom on Midsummer’s Eve. According to these old legends, the fern produces a blue flower at the moment when the sun has finally set, and this bloom releases a seed at midnight. Now this seed was highly prized, for there were many claims about the magical powers the seed could confer upon its finder. Over the years, it has been claimed that if you could catch that elusive seed, you would be able to find hidden treasure, see the future and even gain eternal youth. Now the roots of this widespread bit of folklore undoubtedly lie in the fact that unusually ferns reproduce without producing either flowers or seeds, and clearly this presented something of a mystery to your ancestors. Hence anyone who could actually see a fern flower or catch one of its seeds was clearly some one very special. However other than the fact that in summer ferns sprout up everywhere, quite how and why ferns began associated with Midsummer in particular remains lost in the mists of time.
Other traditions advised holding all night vigils at sacred places, often the local standing stones, to gain the magical talents of a bard, although they also warn of only gaining madness, insanity and possibly being abducted by mysterious powers. For indeed many folk traditions hold that strange forces are abroad on Midsummer Eve, indeed it was widely held to be the best night of the year to see faeries. And we must remember that the faeries of folklore are not cute little Tinkerbells but capricious creatures capable of much malice and mischief. Hence folklore has lots of advice for herbs to hang up to protect your house and home from unwanted faerie visitors on Midsummer Eve, and there are numerous cautions that to be abroad on this night was to court danger and peril. For with the the barriers between our world and theirs being thinnest upon this night, being out and about was to risk being pixy-led - that is magically befuddled and hopelessly lost. Even more alarming there was the possibility that you might be whisked away forever into the realm of the fair folk, never to be seen again. So then, perhaps think twice before going church porching or hunting the elusive fern seeds!
In thisepisode Mr Jim Moon brings this series of podcasts on gill-men and aquatic horrors full circle with a look at some curious cases from the annals of cryptozoology which seems to have echoes of the Black Lagoon... DIRECT DOWNLOAD - HYPNOGORIA 94 - Spawn of the Gill-man Part III
Find all the podcasts in the HYPNOGORIA family here -
Harvest Hymns Volume 1 - The Twisted Roots of Folk Horror music
An exploration of the artists and their music who laid the foundations for future generations of Folk Horror musicians. Taking in Murder Ballads, Acid Folk, Occult Rock, The Blues and Traditional Folk Music as well as Film Soundtracks Twisted Roots is a collection of articles, interviews and album reviews from the likes of Maddy Prior, Jonny Trunk, Sharron Kraus, John Cameron and Candia McKormack and many more. Featuring an article on the Psychomania soundtrack by Mr Jim Moon!
This volume focuses on music that has been inspired and influenced by those artists, composers and albums covered in Vol.1 (Twisted Roots’) to create the music that we now would consider to be `Folk Horror’ – or that at least grazes in the same pastures as those artists. A mixture of interviews, articles and reviews from, about and with the likes of Adam Scovell, Moon Wiring Club, Drew Mullholland, Broadcast, The Devil & The Universe, Jim Jupp, Inkubus Sukkubus and A Year in the Country.
Keep your eyes peeled for Scarecrows, Horn Dancers and Corn Rigs, Hamlets, Fetes and Villages, Black Eyed Dogs, Hanging Trees and the mist rising in Fields of Blackberries, Weeping Willows, the Rolling of the Stones, and the Great God Pan sat upon his throne… and beware of all that goes on Beyond the Wych Elm for there ‘tis the Season of the Witch
Welcome once again dear fiends to the 'Orrible 'Ouse of Terrible Old Tat! Well then, since we last spoke a remarkable thing has occurred! For in the possibly ironically named Great Britain, the first signs of something resembling summer have manifested! Something rare and wonderful indeed! Furthermore forecasters are predicting a long hot summer and newspaper editors are I understand already dusting "Cor wotta scorcher!" headline layouts. Of course, it's probably all tosh but while there's still some sunshine knocking about, it's time to return to the cryogenic vaults of the 'Orrible Old 'Ouse and discover some curious relics from the chiller cabinets of days gone by...
Now last summer, we had an extensive look-back at the history of ice lollies down the ages. We charted the rise and fall of these chilly summer treats, and discovered how various strategies were used to flog variously mixes of flavoured liquids and ice cream frozen onto sticks. And along the way we met a great many icons from pop culture and cult fiction who were pressing into service in the Great Ice Lolly Wars! However we didn't cover quite everything... But before we embark on a freshly thawed chapter, here's the original series of posts all collected together for your reading pleasure!
We continue our exploration of the Gill-man's kith and kin, this time rounding up assorted Black Lagoon knock-offs! We take a look at The She Creature (1956), Creature From The Haunted Sea (1961), Horror of Party Beach (1964), Beach Girls and the Monster (1965) and The City Under The Sea AKA War-gods of the Deep (1965). DIRECT DOWNLOAD - HYPNOGORIA 93 - Spawn of the Gill-man Part II
Find all the podcasts in the HYPNOGORIA family here -
Beginning a new mini-series, Mr Jim Moon returns to the world of aquatic horrors to discover assorted ameos and homages to the Gill-man, not to mention a few outright rip-offs too! We have a look at Return of the Creature (1955), Castle of the Monsters (1958), Monster Of Piedras Blancas (1959) , Mad Monster Party (1967), Chabelo and Pepito vs. The Monsters (1973), The Monster Squad (1987), plus some small screen appearances in McHale's Navy and Night Gallery.