Monday, December 19, 2016

The Secret of Bat Island! / Flight into Fright

I was having a conversation with someone a few months back about a story concerning a guy who drinks bat blood to halt the aging process. It was assumed this was a precode story, but alas, digging through my 70's DC horror long boxes, it seems it actually appeared in the Jan-Feb 1973 issue of Weird Mystery Tales #4 (unless of course someone knows of a precode story I'm somehow missing!), art by Bill Draut. And since this story is kind of short, I thought we'd round trip things out with another oddball yarn featuring the world's worst (or greatest?) travel agent ever, from the Oct-Nov 1974 issue of Weird Mystery Tales #14, this issue highlighted by one of my all time favorite Luiz Dominguez covers no less! So off we go-- one by air, and one by sea, pack your fangs and hop aboard for a double feature excursion into batty bluh-bluh-bluh-blood sucker terror-tory!


Mestiere said...

Victor Zahl looked rather rough for someone who's supposed to be immortal.

Interesting that he had to drink a pint of bat blood a day using a test tube. You need about 34 of those to add up to a pint. And since most bats weight just a couple of ounces—and only 7 or 8 percent of a mammal is blood—that's like a hundred bats a day. He might not live forever but it will feel like forever.

Quasimodo must have been a vampire too to still be alive in the 70's. And who knew vampirism cures you of deafness (the character goes deaf from the constant bell tolling in the novel). I wonder how he made it to Transylvania from Paris. Sounds like an idea for a road movie.

I like the art.

glowworm2 said...

Much like the person before me mentioned, that Victor Zahl doesn't really look very good for someone who's supposed to be 350 years old. I mean what's the point in living longer through bat's blood if you look like a middle-aged Cryptkeeper?

As for the second tale, I've read it before, and it's rather silly, although I like the idea of Dracula running a travel agency for some reason.
However, how the heck is Dracula wandering around in the daytime without burning himself to a crisp pile of ashes? All the other vampires have to sleep during the daytime--why does he get to be so special?

Anonymous said...

Well, he could walk around during the day in the novel, too. (For that matter, the lesser vampires we see-- turned Lucy and the brides in the Transylvania castle-- apparently stayed asleep during the day...)

Anonymous said...

[I hope I haven't double-posted by accident!]

It may be a callback to Stoker's novel, where Dracula could walk around by day just fine. (Interestingly, his brides apparently couldn't, or at least we never see Lucy or the castle girls out by daylight.)

glowworm2 said...

Ah, I see, I never actually read Dracula, so of course most of today's references show vampires--including him not doing very well if they go out in the daylight. Thanks for correcting me.

Brian Barnes said...

I'm going to live the rest of my life waiting for the moment I can say "Okay, Count Baby -- we accept your offer!"

The second tale is great; there's no mystery and anybody fooled by the ending has the brain of a drunk hamster -- it's all about the writer who was going to stick it to 70s teen culture and this story was the weapon. Dracula and Quasimodo spent the entire story chuckling to each other and saying menacing things ... and yet, nobody gets a clue!

I am this close to writing fanfic about Dracula and Quasimodo as they gothrough life snickering at each other's barely hidden menace! I'm shipping hard!

Guy Callaway said...

As you know, (original) 70's stuff doesn't butter my muffin, but the DTT (Drac Travel Tours) story is way gone, man. I bet their TV ads are epic. Also, if Drac thinks those posers are 'Jet-setters'...
hee-hee-hee..too true, master!

Grant said...

I don't know if it's ever been given a name, but there's a whole category of horror story where thrill-seekers (or stereotyped hippies or beatniks or whatever) get caught up in occult stuff. (I don't mean those REALLY dark stories based on Charles Manson, I mean much more escapist stories, where those characters are the outsiders RUNNING INTO the occult stuff.) You even see something like it in Lovecraft's "The Thing On The Doorstep," where the "Decadents" (as they're called) are into any weird thing they can find, till the main character introduces them to things that are too weird even for THEM.

glowworm2 said...

@Grant, that almost sounds kind of like a dark version of Scooby Doo--but with actual monsters.

JMR777 said...

The Secret of Bat Island could have gone in several different directions-

Ol' Vic could have run his own exterminator business, specializing in bat removal. That way he would get all the bat blood he needed and earn a living at the same time.

Vic could have gone to where bats live, proclaim himself as Dr. Victor Zahl, world renowned bat expert and gathered all the bats and bat blood he needed with no one being the wiser.

Victor made the mistake that most horror characters make, if a certain substance is needed in a specified time period to stay alive/maintain one's magic powers/keep from being destroyed, they never have an extra supply set aside for such an emergency.
Failing to plan means planning to fail, a lesson horror characters never learn.

Guy Callaway said...

You're so right, Grant.
The early '70's is littered with many films (both semi-mainstream and below) on that skeevy theme.
I highly recommend the insane 'Love Me Deadly' - with Lyle Waggoner (!).

Grant said...

Thank you.
With him in it, I imagine it's pretty tongue-in-cheek.

Guy Callaway said...


Actually, not at all. It's about a suburban wife who gets mixed up with a necro-cult. The highlight is when a (male) hustler gets embalmed alive..only in the '70s! ;)
Some say it cost Lyle his job on the Carol Burnett Show.

Mr. Karswell said...

I always love when any horror talk finds its way into necrophilia territory, haha... you guys are the best. Happy holiday to everyone too, more fun to come-- 2016 hasn't killed us yet!