Saturday, August 2, 2014

Make-Up for Death

Not only does the January 1952 issue of Web of Evil #2 contain two of Jack Cole's best precode horror stories ever (click HERE and HERE for 'em), it also contains this sadly uncredited, hot little number which, like the pair of Cole tales, saw multiple b/w repeats years later in the Eerie Pubs. And why yes, it's another complete issue presentation here at THOIA, --be sure to also check for the "Ghost Ship" which is still sailing around somewhere in my archive-- most likely HERE!


Mestiere said...

"My face! What's happening to my face! AIIEEE!" That first panel where the woman is worried about her face while apparently burning alive could be considered intriguing. But only if the story later offers some kind of explanation. Instead it anticipates the complete absurdity of the story.

The undead make-up artist Karl Rageese wanted revenge on three actors for lying about his talent. What did they say? We never found out.

Why did he want them to go to his funeral? Did he need them all in one place to put a hex on them? And if they drove him to poverty and death, why would they go?

Dead Karl Rageese apparently found work as the make-up artist of the people he hated. All of them died the same way as the characters they played. But only after the play was over and they had removed the make-up. But when they died the make-up came back! Or, are we to believe it wasn't make-up? Because the victims seemed to feel something. Did their faces change? And what was the point of that?

But the ending is the best part. When Karl Rageese catches fire (what was he doing in Miss Carter's apartment? The other two actors died in the dressing rooms of their respective theaters) it's finally explained in the last caption why the actors never recognized Rageese. You see, he was covered in make-up! And since he looked the same throughout the whole story, even when he crawled out of the grave, we have to assume he applied the make-up himself in the coffin. It couldn't have been anybody else because it would make no sense to disguise the body as someone else. And Rageese would need to be buried with his make-up kit! After applying it himself in the dark he would go and find three jobs even though in life he was a failure who died in the poor house. All along he had the solution to his economic problem. Make-up!

Brian Barnes said...

The always say that ideas are a dime a dozen, and execution is king, and this story proves it. The idea is original, I don't think I've seen a version of this in any other pre-code story, but the execution is haphazard at best.

I like the art, it's amateurish in places, and has some weird things in places (why is the final actress looking perfectly fine after going through a fire?) -- but the guy (or gal) got the chance to work in a lot of pin-ups, always a bonus!

This is also the first re-animated corpse that seems to want to go on after his vengeance is complete. Most would be happy to be destroyed in the flames after their mission was complete.

This is one you certainly don't want to think about as you read it, but it's quick and has some original ideals.

Eegah!! and Tabonga! said...

Can't wait to get a free moment to read this! Thanx!!!

Mr. Cavin said...

Neat theater revenge story with the focus taken off the damn opera and put on make-up where it always belonged. This would work well gothed up into a whole book, frankly, with lots of spooky stage magic and trapdoors and horror. I'd have liked to see a grinning death's head in the last panel, but this works pretty well too. I did spend a lot of time imagining the superior Lon Chaney Sr. or maybe Louis Feuillade serial version of this, though.

Grant said...

I somehow expected Jo to survive. That's often the case in these revenge stories when the victims are "sort of" guilty but not completely (like the movie THIRTEEN WOMEN) - the last one survives.

I can't help wondering about those three dressers (or whatever their exact jobs are). Each one of them encourages the actor or actress to relax in the dressing room or go home - where they'll be isolated. Is the story trying to implicate THEM in Karl's revenge scheme?