Wednesday, 18 July 2018

THE 'ORRIBLE 'OUSE OF TERRIBLE OLD TAT - Taste the Lolly of Dracula!

Hello dear fiends and welcome once again to the 'Orrible 'Ouse of Terrible Old Tat! In our past few trips in the chilly archives of the 'Orrible Old 'Ouse we've been looking a the weird world of 1970s ice lollies. Last week we saw how one of the twin titans of the British ice lolly market had struck gold with some spooky themed offerings, in particular the Haunted House lolly. But what were arch rivals Walls up to? Well, naturally they had something to also bring an extra chill to the freezer cabinet...

Now kids have always loved monsters and spooky stuff, but in the 1970s there seemed to be a multitude of scary things for kids (as documented in the marvelous book Scarred For Life that I reviewed here). Now Lyons Maid tapped into this horror boom firstly this the Jelly Terror and Haunted Houses lollies, and later with the Daleks Death Ray, Dinosaurs and King Kong lollies. And so they had pretty much covered all the usual scary fare bases - monsters, ghosts, aliens, and robots. However Walls did manage to fight back by resurrecting from the grave one of the most famous monsters of all-time - Count Dracula!  

Now back in the early '1970s, the immortal vampire was riding high in pop culture. His then current cinematic biographers Hammer, had recently rebooted their movie series by bringing the Count to the present day in Dracula AD 1972 (1972) and The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973), while Marvel Comics had done something similar in 1972 too with their monthly title Tomb of Dracula. And in 1974, this particular comic was to be reprinted in Britain as a weekly title called Dracula Lives by Marvel UK, something I'm sure was on the radar of the marketing department of Walls, for one of the prime places they advertised lollies was in the pages of comics. 

So then, as no one technically owned the rights to the character of the Count, Walls were free to raise the old vampire from his grave once more to sell ice lollies. Retailing at 3p, Count Dracula's Deadly Secret (later shortened to just Count Dracula's Secret) was a lolly of "midnight black" according to the advertising blurb, which entombed blood red jelly and an ice cream centre. Quite what was so secret about it, no one is entirely sure - was it that the Count was secretly an ice cream man? Sadly we will probably never know... However this enigma didn't hurt the sales of the lolly at all, for Count Dracula's Deadly Secret was a huge hit and haunted the chiller cabinets for many years. 

While most of the lollies we have discussed ultimately only lasted a summer or two, in 1976 Count Dracula's Deadly Secret was still going strong, and even got a new gimmick to keep the kids interested. Now while most lollies came on the traditional wooden stake, sorry, I mean wooden stick, over the years there were several experiments with plastic sticks moulded into assorted novel shapes. Hence in 1976, Count Dracula's Deadly Secret was now boasting it came on a Trace-A-Face stick - essentially a plastic stick that had shapes cut into to it to make a stencil. The shapes in question were assorted eyes, mouths and noses so kids could make their own monster mugshots in a crude identikit fashion. Now to be honest, looking back the shapes weren't either very detailed or particularly scary, looking more like a moron's idea of Egyptian hieroglyphics than terrifying facial features from beyond the grave. But back in the day, it all seemed terrible exciting, especially as the adverts proclaimed that the Trace-A-Face stick were in limited supply. 

Meanwhile in the wider world of pop culture we had the BBC producing a memorable version of Bram Stoker's horror classic entitled Count Dracula for Christmas 1977, while in 1979 John Badham's all-star version of Dracula, with Frank Lagella as the Count and Sir Lawrence Olivier as Van Helsing, flapped onto the big screen. And also on the small screen, in 1980 Hanna-Barbera introduced us to a modern relative of the Count in The Drak Pack. And so with the Count being still big business, in 1981 Walls released a second version of their long-standing favourite.

Taking advantage of new breakthroughs in lolly technology, the new Walls Dracula was an ice lolly actually moulded into the shape of the Count himself! Although it now it came only with one flavour, strawberry, this new vampiric snack did carry on the noble tradition that had been begun with Count Dracula's Deadly Secret of staining your lips red. Sadly however this icy incarnation of the Count did not last so long. 

However, as we all know, you can't keep a good man down, for in recent years Count Dracula has been spotted once again in freezers, now with a new cartoony look. In 2013, Unilever who now own Walls, responded to popular demand and resurrected Count Dracula's Deadly Secret, although now just under the banner of "Dracula Lollies". Yes, the Count will always rise up from the grave, and apparently that's true even in the world of ice lollies too...

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

HYPNOGORIA 95 - Rituals Unlimited: The Novels of Adam Nevill Part I

In the first of a new mini-series, we explore the novels of Britain's new master of horror, Adam Nevill. In this episode, we take a look at his debut book Banquet for the Damned (2004) and his second novel Apartment 16 (2010). Both reviews are spoiler-free.

After listening, do go and visit his own website -

DIRECT DOWNLOAD -  Rituals Unlimited: The Novels of Adam Nevill Part I

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Wednesday, 11 July 2018

THE 'ORRIBLE 'OUSE OF TERRIBLE OLD TAT - The Blob from the Haunted House

Welcome once again my dears to the 'Orrible 'Ouse of Terrible Old Tat! Incredibly in this septic isle it is actually still summer - yes, I know, a summer that has lasted more than a fortnight! Unprecedented! Well, possibly not, but certainly for such a heatwave one probably has to go back to the 1970s, which coincidentally, is exactly what we are doing once again this week! Don't fret though, while there may be lions, and tigers and flares (oh my!),  there will at least be ice cream! 

Now ice cream itself goes back to the Ancient Greeks, and the ice lolly has been knocking about since the 1920s. However it wasn't until the 1960s that the great icy snack wars began, and these frozen treats were marketed in a host of flavours, with a legion of gimmicks (as we have previously charted in these dubious missives). Now in previously weeks we have looked at how in the early 1970s, lolly makers had hit on the idea of creating characters and mascots that tied to distinct themes to flog their wares to kids. However also around this time, the very way these chilly snacks were being made was changing. And although lollies were in rude health at the time, with a market supporting dozens of competing items, all the same, to paraphrase Oscar Goldman, they could rebuilt them, they had the technology, and they could make them better than they were! Better, stronger, and even more gimmicky! 

Now makers of lollies had been fusing different flavours together, and even making lollies in different shapes for quite a while. A recent breakthrough had been creating lollies with an ice cream centre and this would lead to the next leap forward - lollies made completely of ice cream and moulded in amusing shapes! An early hit in this new breed of lolly was the Brr Blobs from Lyons Maid. As the name suggests, the technology wasn't really up to creating a terribly exciting shape other than a roguely humanoid blob with an in-set smiley face, and they only came in ice cream flavour, but they were excitingly different.

More ambitious moulded lollies were to come however, with Lyons Maid launching Dinosaurs in 1974. Priced 8p, these were formed from two pieces of ice cream, one chocolate and one vanilla, and as you might have guessed, were moulded into the shape of a mighty prehistorical saurian. Ok, the moulding wasn't exactly super-detailed, and in fairness they looked more like generic lizardy shapes, as seen by Mr Magoo sans spectacles. But on the upside, the wrappers came with exciting dino-facts on the back, making an attractive series to scoff and collect.

Arch rivals Walls it seems came late to the moulded ice cream lolly game. Possibly the technology wasn't quite good yet, for even Lyons Maid don't appear to have attempted another shaped ice cream lolly in the rest of the '70s. However when Walls did venture into the moulded ice cream arena, they did knock it out of the park. Launching in early 1980s, the Funny Feet lolly was a deceptively simple and silly idea - an ice cream lolly shaped like a cartoon foot. And this combination of flavour and absurdity proved to be extremely popular, and when all other lollies aimed at kids had passed away, Funny Feet still endured.

However back in the 1970s, another ice cream lolly is perhaps the most fondly remembered. In July 1973, Lyons Maid launched a lolly destined to live long in the freezer and indeed in our hearts. It didn't have a fancy moulded shape, although it did come with badges. But this lolly did have another trick up its monstrous sleeve. For this lolly was the fondly remembered and much missed Haunted House!  

Now flavour-wise, Haunted House was nothing to write home about - it was just basically milky ice cream frozen onto a stick. But what made this lolly somewhat legendary was the fact each one had a picture of some horror stenciled on the ice cream in edible inks! Drawn in pink, orange, red, green and blue, there were different pictures on the lollies, with the marketing hook being that you wouldn't know which one was on until you unpeeled the wrapper. The full range was as follows - a ghost, a skellington, some bats, a spider in a web, Frankenstein's monster, a witch and something resembling a close relative of the Jelly Terror! Oh yes, Haunted House delivered a lot of fun for the 4p asking price!

And indeed, while its launch mates such as Captain Cody, Freakout and Freckles were forgotten in a summer or two, Haunted House still lived on, and indeed the memory of its simple but spooky fun is still cherished to this day. However Walls had noticed that the kids loved a monster too, and they would produce a rival icy horror... a lolly that came with a stick through its heart...

Sunday, 8 July 2018

GREAT LIBRARY OF DREAMS 57 - The Story of the Spaniards Hammersmith by E and H Heron

In this episode, we meet one of the very first occult detectives - Mr Flaxman Low, whose exploits were chronicled by E & H Heron at the close of the 19th century. In this first case, we encounter a chilling tale of a most unusual haunted house in the heart of London...

DIRECT DOWNLOAD -  The Story of the Spaniards Hammersmith by E and H Heron

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Thursday, 5 July 2018

THE 'ORRIBLE 'OUSE OF TERRIBLE OLD TAT - Captain Rainbow vs the Green Demon!

Welcome once again dear fiends to the 'Orrible 'Ouse of Terrible Old Tat! Well, the temperatures are still rising, wearing shorts has become a full-time occupation, and the fridge can't make ice fast enough... I really must repair that stuck thermostat in here! Anyhow, it's rather warm and sunny outside too, and during this heatwave we've been exploring the world of the vintage ice lolly. Now then, last time we went back the early 1970s and discovered how leading British lolly merchants Lyons Maid struck gold, or at least a rich vein of pocket money, by inventing assorted cartoony characters for their lollies.

Breaking with the tradition that the name told you the flavour, lollies launched in 1973 such as Captain Cody, Jelly Terror and Freckles sold mostly on the little characters on the wrappers. And after the initial wave, more were to follow. Clearly Lyons Maid were onto to something as other companies began to following their footsteps. One of their big rivals had been Midland Counties, an ice cream maker who had been going since 1898, but in the early '70s got taken over by Lyons Maid. However the company continued to compete with its new owners in the chiller cabinets for several years after. But of course, Lyons Maid's real rivals, Walls, were picking up on the character concept too. Unsurprisingly perhaps, both companies too launched a range of lollies based on home-spun characters.

Now Midland Counties clearly had clocked that the youth market liked their music, and hence we had two lollies aimed at the Top of the Pops crowd, with Pop Stick appearing to be the lolly for '70s teenboppers everywhere. This move that was countered by Walls with the Superstar lolly, which seems to be aimed at the older crowd with a more glam rock feel to it. Likewise Billion Dollar Lolly and Cavalier seemed to be competing on an aspirational tip - with the former appealing to basic notions of wealth, with its gangster-like American tycoon being almost a satire on vulgar commercialism. Whereas the Cavalier proudly recall our own history, appealing to romantic notions of aristocracy. Although quite what pineapple has to do with the Royalist cause I'm not sure. Possibly the pineapple  still had a lingering reputation as something exotic and for rich folks back in the early '70s.

Lyons Maid's Red Devil got not just one but two competitors, in the shape of the Green Demon from Midland Counties and the Little Imp from Walls. Well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! And further characters were to follow too in the next few years. Midland Counties' Chocopotamus continued a long line of food products having animal mascots, although it has to be said few were as nattily dressed and quite as prone to outbreaks of jazz hands. Certainly he made Jelly Jumbo from Walls look positively dour. But on the other non-jazz hand, the Ice Warrior lolly took the cheeky move of nicking the name of one of the telly Timelord's recurring foes and creating a new monster around it. Perhaps they aiming to take a slice from the Doctor Who market so successfully exploited by Walls' Daleks Death Ray. Certainly Midland Counties had form for this type of caper - they had launched a lolly called Rocket which was a carbon copy of Walls' Skyray. Although in fairness, Lyons Maid also did a Skyray-alike called Zoom. The Great Ice Lolly Wars were often fought dirty...

Meanwhile back at Lyons Maid HQ, in 1975 they were refining the concept, and they were clearly now looking things that appealed directly to kids. Now in 1974, ITV had decided to air the third season of the 1960s Batman TV series - which so far had not been aired at all in the UK - and the result was a new wave of Bat-mania. Also after a humble beginning in 1972, by the mid-70s Marvel UK was in full flow, reprinting the adventures of Spiderman, the Hulk and the Avengers on a weekly basis. Therefore it was perhaps unsurprising that one of the first new lollies for 1975 had a superhero theme. This icy treat was called Captain Rainbow, and yes, I appreciate how camp he sounds now. Launching in March 1975, for the price of 6p the Captain offered lemonade and strawberry ice, with banana kreem and a choc dip. Sadly the Captain didn't fly for long, whether this was down to having an unusual cocktail of flavours or being three colours short of spectrum we do not know... 

Also big in Britain in the early 1970s were a legion of imported US cop shows, such as Cannon and McCloud, with Kojak in particular (which began aired in the UK in 1974) becoming a hit with the kids due to his penchant of eating lollies (but sadly just the regular non-iced versions) and being bald. And so, deftly spotting a bandwagon gathering speed, in September 1975 Lyons Maid launched Crime Squad, half blackcurrant and half mixed fruits flavour ice on the usual stick. Crime Squad also had an added gimmick too. Now back then nearly all lollies came on wooden sticks, and often had jokes printed on them. However Crime Squad had a rare plastic stick which had a stencil on it which revealed a secret code. Which was just as well, as survivors from the '70s report that flavour of the lolly itself was less than impressive. Arch rival Walls did something similar but instead tried to tap into the hip world of international espionage with the Superspy lolly. Whether the juices in it were shaken or stirred, history does not record, but declassified documents suggest it didn't have a fancy code breaking stick gimmick. 
However plastic sticks were not the only advances being made in cold snack technology, and new gimmicks and branding concepts were just around the corner. A particularly spooky corner in fact, as kids love nothing better than monsters do they?

NEXT TIME - Taste the lolly of Dracula! 

Sunday, 1 July 2018

MICROGORIA 58 - English Eerie

This week Mr Jim Moon explores the world of English Eerie, a new indie role playing game for one player from Trollish Delver Games. In this game, with a pen, a journal, and a deck of cards, you too can be part of an od school ghost story or trapped in a world of folk horror!

You can get English Eerie here 


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