Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Horrible House!

Atlas had a habit of recycling story titles, like the wonderfully weird 'n creepy Al Eadeh classic also called "The Horrible House" that I posted in the second half of a double feature way back in 2009, CLICK HERE. But this time it's Bill LaCava's turn to show you how horrible a house really can be-- even when you unfortunately have a whole lot in common with its other unlucky inhabitants. I would love to see this as an old-time horror film quickie starring Basil Rathbone!

From the June 1952 issue of Spellbound #4.

And if you can't save your own head-- at least save your hair!


Brian Barnes said...

OK I'm not sold on the story of this one because the story element (got heads chopped off, can now remove them) comes out of nowhere ... it might have been better to use another page to preview our murderous bar owners, which might have made a bit more impact on the ending. Still, it's fun, and the ending made me laugh. The entire last page is scary/silly in the best Atlas way.

The art is great. The splash is a fun image (I'm not sure about the layout with the trees, the image doesn't look centered but that's a small nitpick.) LaCava gets in a nice pin up on page 2, and the whole head reveal on the first two panels of the last page is great (and another, sort of headless, pin-up!) Coloring is universally good.

I know some folks that like to go on "non-tourist" adventures, and that usually means finding out of the way places. For our "hero", it means fist fights with knife wielding dudes and drunk dancing!

Grant said...

I'm sure I would be one of those traditional tourists that Trumbull makes fun of (especially since I would immediately think of souvenirs in those curio shops he mentions), but at the same time I sympathize with his attitude.

Of course, I'd never want to visit a "squalid" place like Cano to begin with (and the first two pages really lay that on heavily). There'd be too much guilt in going there as a tourist.

Bill the Butcher said...

I'm basically with Trumbull in that conventional guided tours are useless; you might as well just be looking at photos in an encyclopaedia of on a website. Drinking and a series of flirtings and brawling, all in one night, too, seems to be taking the full immersion experience a wee bit too far. The ending is pretty silly but less bad than it could have been. At least there was no skeleton like in the splash panel and I'm always grateful for stories that avert the skeleton cliche.

Bill the Butcher said...

Oh yes, what is this "hair" thing this advert is so worried about saving?

Glowworm said...

I agree with Brian here, the sudden twist with everybody at the place being a headless spectre comes out of nowhere. This was never hinted or mentioned anywhere before Trumbull meets the lady combing her hair. No one warns him not to go there, or that it has a terrible reputation, he doesn't even have a nightmare that he's been beheaded.
It feels like two different stories tacked together--and the second half is the better part. I also love the cover for this issue even though it has nothing to do with the actual story. A bit disappointing. I was hoping for a man who was dating a woman who could remove her head.

Okay, I'll admit, I'm one of those tourists--the ones who enjoy the cruise stops, the sights and the gift shops--I have fun.

Also, the idea of waking up with your head chopped off reminds me an awful lot about the urban legends where a person wakes up with one of their kidneys missing.

TheHolderOfTales said...

I remember hearing a version of this story on the old Boris Karloff radio show, except it was in China and the protagonist wasn't dead (he did go insane though).

JBM said...

Hang on to your hats for this was one wild ride. Thank you Mr.K!

Guy Callaway said...

Any story that has a skeleton in the splash is okay by me.
About the ad: was there a lot of balding teens in the '50's?
Much goodness,Mr.K.

Mr. Cavin said...

I'm interested in that first page. It's actually got three splashes. It's neat that, even in a story this slight, they spent so much time establishing a mood and a setting. Comics are often guilty of privileging plot over other storytelling elements like character, tone, etc. This one takes a little time for those things, and I appreciate it. I generally do think the skeleton shadow panel on page one is underdeveloped, though. I might not feel that way if the art in the rest of the story wasn't so much better. But in that splash, all the actual shadows are going a different direction than that bony figure, and also the composition is flat. The other two panels are marvelous. So is that wonderful drunken montage on page three. That one would have made a great splash.

What I loved most here was the character art. I loved the tourists at the beginning, and all the neat faces in the town and tavern. I also liked the ending. For just another "surprise, you're dead" type of a twist, I have to admit that I actually was kinda surprised. Any foreshadowing would have just mitigated that effect. I thought the heads were a great way to develop the picture, here--a funny and creepy image, a sly clue to the events of our protagonist's blackout, and a creepy glimpse of the ongoing horror story that our central drunk is simply a minor footnote to.

Todd said...

I know I said the two most recent stories were both bonkers, but I hadn't even noticed this one yet! Yowza! I'd seen the cover art the other day and hoped for a related story, but there's so much going on here. One angle no one else has commented on, though:

"Cano was one of those typical Mediterranean villages! A squalid semicircle of ancient shacks looking down on a harbor full of worn-out fishing boats!"

Was the writer a prisoner of war over there or something? I lived over there and have zero idea what he's talking about. Anyway, I like the weird angles where the girl's combing her hair, and you can't tell right away why he's having a meltdown.