Monday, September 22, 2014

The Wax Witch vs. From the Graves of the Unholy

Here's a wonderfully typical Eerie Pub slop-job of a brilliant Lou Cameron golden age Ace classic, originally featured in the February 1953 issue of Web of Mystery #17, and this time re-drawn by Mariana Cerchiara for the April 1971 issue of Weird Vol. 5 #2, among other Eerie issue reprintings. Compare the two, and see if there's any actual comparison! :P Also, enjoy the infantile art scribblings on my poor cover :( We'll take a look at Devil Statues in our next post, since someone asked nicely...


Mestiere said...

This story was almost incoherent. If I had to choose one I would prefer the original.

Vern and Clara blow a tire and find a dagger that looks the same as one they had bought at a curio-shop days before but had left at home. A strange zombie-like man appears and seems to put Clara in a trance for a moment. Having recovered her wits Clara and Vern notice that there was an amusement park there all along and decide to visit it.

There a witch appears, sprays some witch's brew on Clara to control her and get her to kill the owner of the curio-shop where they had bought the very same dagger that blew their tire. That's because the curio-shop owner, the previously unmentioned Madame Mozelle, has the corpse of the witch's sister preserved in wax for some unrevealed reason. If Madame mozelle is killed the sister will be "released". A zombie tells Vern that his dagger can kill the witch. Vern is later knocked out by one of the witch's minions and when he wakes up he discovers that the amusement park had burned down twenty years before, the car's tire is fine and the dagger is back home.

But where is Carla? Back at the curio-shop trying to murder Madame Mozelle while under a trance. Vern stabs the wax statue containing the witch's sister causing her and her sister to both die but not before killing Madame Mozelle. Why did both sister's die? Because it turned out that killing one witch killed the other. And where is Carla? Why, back at the burned-out amusement park, of course. Wait, what?

The people in the amusement park had been spirits in bondage to the witch and were now free.

A question: Who caused Vern and Clara to hallucinate that their tire had been punctured by that dagger? Not the witch, since she would not have wanted to reveal the means to kill her. Not Madame Mozelle, who was never shown to have any powers. Plus the dagger had been originally hers. She could have stabbed the witch herself had she known. Was it the zombie? Ah, but he was under the control of the witch! It's a mystery, then.

From punctured tires that unpunctured themselves, to disappearing amusement parks, to a teleporting Clara, this story was too much.

JMR777 said...

Thanks for the synopsis Mestiere, this/these stories sound like an Italian giallo that Dario Argento or Mario Bava would direct, though maybe not since the plot makes some kind of weird, bizarre sense.

Mr. Cavin said...

Oddly, I feel as if I have read this story three times in the last half hour.

Obviously I found the Lou Cameron art to be far superior, but I know that was just a rhetorical question. Also, the colors on this one were very sophisticated--the witch's face at the bottom of page three is spectacular, as is every panel of page six. How can that fail to be superior to those crappy gray smudges that were all the rave in the sixties and seventies horror mags? Please.

Still, I have to give some kind of credit to Mariana Cerchiara for sticking with conventional paneling (even if this is a side-effect of her slavish recreation of the original pages), and I do like some of the panels she produced even if they are examples of lucky failing. The third panel of page three--where Vern suddenly looks skinned and Carla has donned one of those Topstone Vampire Girl Mask--is one favorite. For some reason I also like that panel--page five number two--with the egregious art deco spiderweb failure. It should be colored like Tiffany glass. If that was a seventies paperback book cover, I'd probably read it.

I love these comparison posts! Thanks a lot Karswell.

Mestiere said...

JMR777: An Italian giallo! Good comparison. Now the story seems almost cool!

Mr. Cavin: Sorry for the long comment. I was trying to make sense of the story, with limited success. Thanks for reading my comment despite its length.

Mr. Cavin said...

Sheesh, Mestiere there's nothing wrong with your comment. My comment is also long. If anyone needs to apologize it's Myron Fass.

Brian Barnes said...

I'm glad I'm not allergic to exposition, could you imagine this as a movie? It'd stop every minute to spill stuff. The exposition dumps in this thing reach their dizzying conclusion with a diary entry that starts "tonight, I, Madam Moselle, Owner of the Wax Museum.."

It's a diary, for you, you know this information!

From now on, I'll comment with "Right now, I, Brian Barnes, internet blog and video guy with band who likes to comment on my favorite sites, am commenting here!"

There is no doubt who did the better art (Cameron), but this kind of caused a problem for Cerchiara, because she was trying to come up with camera angles of her own, and Lou basically nailed almost every panel, leaving Cerchiara with very little other options, only improving in a few small places (I like page 2, panel 3 better than the original, it's more cinematic.)

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Mestiere's review is perfect! I prefer the original version because I grew up with the "warren style" and I think the fifties were somewhat "fresher" (is this a weird word?).
I didnt'know the infamous Myron Fass (Split!) was behind this. Cool!
"Every hour, every day, I'm learning more..."

Keir said...

Just left shaking my head...

Grant said...

Even though I liked it already, that comparison to an Italian horror film clinched it for me (I'm incredibly biased about them, from the ones considered masterpieces all the way to the other extreme).

Even though I'm not afraid of them myself, there's just something about a carnival in a weird story that gives it a real head start. (Evidently Charles Beaumont had a real fear of them, which is how he wrote the famous TWILIGHT ZONE story PERCHANCE TO DREAM.)