Friday, October 17, 2008

The Ghost of Castle Karloff

Here’s a different kind of ghost tale, starring a spunky, Bettie Page look-alike trapped in a pulpy, supernatural nightmare of evil ‘n bondage. Hmmm… Karloff Castle, eh? Wonder how they came up with that? And I may be looking too much into the art here but does anyone else detect a few Bill Everett swipes? Classic front cover typo on this issue too--- zombie is spelled with two O’s?!

From the June 1952 issue of Strange Terrors #1







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TOMORROW: Paper or Plastic?
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Another night of great terror classics on TCM: The Stepford Wives (’75), Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (’76), Wicked Wicked (’73), and my favorite Hitchcock film Frenzy (’72.) Also, Saturday morning Joan Crawford in Berserk! (’67.)

Check TCM for more info and show times in your area.

14 comments:

AndyDecker said...

Now that was fun :-) Bettie Page indeed. A bit of an abrupt ending, but still a great pulpy tale with some nice cheesecake. Damn, are these german Fräuleins resourceful. *g

What about the other tales. Are they any good? "Vampires dance at dusk" sounds interesting.

Tim Tylor said...

Cheesecake aside, it's nice to see an unashamedly tough non-squeaking non-fainting female lead. Olga sounds a bit skeptical in that last panel, methinks. Can't quite work out what happened with that pitchfork - either Celeste got a little excessive, or Otto was a very bad shot.

Art's okay, but the last two panels of page 3 look too much like bad day-for-night Hollywood shots - all the regular daytime colors, just darkened a bit. Even the moon looks like the sun.

Mr. Cavin said...

Awesome. Maybe my favorite silly thing in these stories is the tendency for the characters to self-narrate in an effort to prevent possible reader confusion: "They see me, but apparently father is invisible to them." Or: "She's trying to pull down that lantern!" Or: "The tines have pierced her heart!". Respectively: she can't know that; the conversation is between two people who are both observing the same action; and his diagnosis is both obvious and impossibly detailed. This dialog exists only because the author doesn't trust the artist to get the point across. This is the banal cousin to that tendency the Vicar's always pointing out: when the characters converse in protracted comic time: "That lightning is about to strike me. Ow, my frontal lobe is being electrocuted."

But some notes: why does everyone think quicklime accelerates decomposition? Even the death squads of real-world despots think this. It actually preserves bodies (even in a damp atmosphere). That's why we can always prosecute war criminals decades after the fact when their lye pits are unearthed. Honestly, one of the things we all use quicklime for is preservation.

I love that last panel. Good morning sis! Hey, dad's dead. Here's a bag of loot.

But not as much as panel six page two: Bettie Page thinks that the evil servants are trying to poison the sisters with odd-tasting coffee, so she pours hers into the plant. She already suspects that something bad has happened to dad. Does she tell her sister? No. Her sister is like an experiment to see if she's right about the poison. Good thing its just a mickey and not, you know, a cup of quicklime, huh?

I suspect that either, a) Bettie hated her sister and wanted her dead; or b) the writers forgot that their characters could not, at this point in the story, understand that killing them would be a disservice to the antagonist's rather mundane grand scheme. Possibly the writers also forgot that the characters both suspected the servants of abetting in the recent disappearance of their father, mostly because he was a threat to their being uncovered as war criminals. A threat the sisters, of course, had inherited. As far as the sisters knew by the end of page two, they were themselves in mortal danger from the servants. Oh, wait, funny tasting coffee. Let's see what happens when sis drinks it down.

I'm going with b. I think the writers got confused between what represents a predictable cliché to a jaded readership and what might be predictably cliché to the characters themselves.

Absinthe said...

I love Olga in the last part - oh dad's dead and told you where to find the loot - i.e. - he must be a ghost. She is very accepting of all this!

silvano said...

Nice lil' story ; loved the girl , let alone being hotter than hell she can kick some serious ass without flinching an eye even when confronted by her father's ghost !
By the way he artwork is superb , but the index carries no names : do you know who's the artist ?
Thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

Fairly conventional story with some very interesting underlying issues and references - the Bettie Page look, the ambivalent attitude towards Germans, the strong resourceful female, the juxtaposition of traditional horror elements and post-WW II elements, etc.

Btw.: I think the idea of quicklime is to minimize the risk of infections and disease, not accelerated decomposition.

Hugomarink said...

I enjoyed it. It's so great being able to take a break from work and get a daily fix of pre-code horror. Thanks again and keep 'em coming!

The Fortress Keeper said...

Celeste is my new action heroine.

prof. grewbeard said...

a tear gas ring?!?...

Anonymous said...

REALLY ENJOYED THIS ONE TOO, AND WHAT A COOL NAME FOR THE CASTLE.

AND I TOO LOVE A STRONG FEMALE LEAD, EVEN IF THEY TEND TO OVERLOOK THE OBVIOUS DANGERS TO THEIR SIBLINGS!!

LOOKS LIKE SOME GOOD STUFF ON TCM TONIGHT TOO. OCTOBER IS ALWAYS THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR FOR CABLE TV.

Dane said...

Of all the stories you've posted ever, this is one of my favorites. It's fun to read and pretty to look at, and as others mentioned, it's just so nice to see a woman kick some ass for a change in these stories.

Karswell said...

Well, that's it for our Ghost Week Marathon, thanks again to those of you for stopping by, for commenting, and for basically doing what us bloggers appreciate most, joining in on our efforts instead of just quietly playing lookie loo from the shadows (you people know who you are, and I know who you are too... Stat Counter doesn't lie.)

This weekend I have a peek at the funnier side of horror, which some of you will love and others of you will whine about of course.

See ya tomorrow.

Horror pariah said...

Gotta say the art held my interest more than anything in the story except the "Karloff" bit,it doesn't appear to be swiped SPECIFICALLY from Everett,but Everett is UNDENIABLY who this artist is trying to imitate,right down to the inking.

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