Got it Grisly if You Want It
(A Tribute to Eerie Publications)
by James Goodridge
Fall 1973, my cousin David and I are down on Westchester Ave in the East Bronx at our favorite candy store/news stand to buy comics. The times they are a changing so is the neighborhood. Chestnut brown and beige tone children and teens, yet the store owner is dedicated to getting our generation our fill of pulp fun and sugary confections. I buy my majority Marvel and minority DC comic titles, a dollar taking you a long way back then and we say these days I was good. But my cousin David being the oddball he tended to back then ( He’s in real estate in D.C. these days) pulls a copy of Terror Tales off the rack. A black and white magazine-sized comic in the tradition of EC, just the cover in vivid color alone would gross most adults and kids out including me. Blood dripping font, ghouls, vampires, headless torsos etc… I start to berate cuz, because of my “Make Mine Marvel” dogma but change my mind since I got my pulp fix, plus his mom Annette will if anything will throw it in the trash, but I can’t help looking at the grotesque cover.
Terror Tales was one of (including a gangster magazine) eleven anthology format titles wonderfully published by Eerie Publications (EP) based in New York from 1966 to 1981 fighting the good fight against Warren publications the industry/genre leader with its Creepy, Warren, Vampirella and Eerie titles. With the concept of out grisly and Warren, Eerie founders Myron Fass, Stanley Harris and the mysterious Mel Lenny used pre-code reprints from the Iger Shop an indie supplier of comic work, a lot of it minus writer and artist credits to Ajax comics in the 1950’s. Mixed in with new artwork by Dick Ayers, Chic Stone, Ezra Jackson, Irving Fass and Myron Fass.The first run price 35 cents that went up to 50 cents. These black and whites had a film noir look to them, which was in contrast to the Warren titles groovy, sexy and puberty provocative 60’s and 70’s gothic swagger. Upscaled gore versus hardcore gore for those not into superheroes, was what separated the two print houses EP being of the latter term. An office rumble between Fass and Harris changed the direction of the horror pulp wars (Archie comics and Marvel tried to gain a foot hold, but failed) with Harris forming Harris Publications and taking over some of the Warren titles such as Vampirella.
In 1981, EP shut down for good, later achieving cult status and rebirth in reprints, I myself had moved on to Heavy Metal magazine by the 80’s. But as you age you look for sparks from the past, especially in the uncharted waters we seem to be in now. Funny how horror can be a comfort sometimes. I ordered Terror Tales issue #7 reprint. Opening the parcel I gave it a zombie salute (moan)Eerie Publications bloody, tendon showing, brain eating grisly if you what it. You got to love it.
Sources: Eerie Publications: Comix from Hell, www. FictionHousePress.com
Press Release : The Unfleshed: Tale of the Autopsic Bride
By Lisa Vasquez
A plague has washed upon England’s shore, bringing death in its wake. While the sickness plucks the lives of the victims indiscriminately, something else moves in its shadows, using it as a cover. Victims without signs of infection have been brutally murdered and dismembered. Suspicions already surround the infamous Doctor Wulfe when his eccentric behavior takes a more sinister turn. His interest in the young Morrigan spirals into an unhealthy obsession. Angus manipulates her father, giving him hope of a cure in return for his daughter’s hand in marriage. But, when his bride-to-be awakens with an insatiable appetite, will she be forced to go through with the arrangement? Or will the plague save her from a deal made with a devil?
Purchase here: http://books2read.com/unfleshed
or here: Amazon
Black Zombie: Hollywood and the 80’s Voodoo Revival
In the beginning, there was the Zoumbie.
What began as a mixture of the ancient spirituality, chemical sciences and social control practices of West and Central Africa ended up stranded in the former home of the Arawak and the Carib by way of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Just as water wears down stone, what started as historical reality became whittled into mythology. And where there were deep roots, the stalk that grew from that dark, fertile soil became forever altered by the gaze of the European Other.
The legendary flesh-and-blood inspiration for the modern cinematic motif arose and walked through the jungles of Haiti and other Caribbean islands in those days, allegedly bringing terror and destruction to those not wise enough to avoid the paths of voodoo, the false cognate for the misunderstood, syncretic systems of religion alternatively called Vodou, Vodun, Vaudou or Santeria.
So, naturally, someone had to make a movie about it.
In 1932, Hollywood came a’ knocking and our beloved Zoumbie left his sun kissed isle to star alongside Bela Lugosi in the black-and-white Golden Age horror classic, White Zombie. A title truly intentional in its contradiction as Lugosi plays a white Haitian landowner who discovers from his black peonage the secret of Zoumbie creation through a process of hypnosis and drugs.
Lugosi then, of course, uses his powers to cement his control over the black populace while subsequently terrorizing his white neighbors, kidnapping a visiting American co-ed and daring her beau to brave the terrors of his plantation to save her.
The strange, occult powers of his character are almost of secondary concern to our heroes given his over-familiarity with the way of “natives,” causing the boyfriend character to exclaim that if the damsel-in-distress were to accidentally fall into the hands of the black workers “it would be a fate worse than could be imagined!” His comrade-in-arms admonishes him strongly not to even consider such a horror.
Never fear… The movie going audience of 1932 was spared the threat of racial miscegenation when the aforementioned boyfriend confronts Lugosi and breaks the spell of the Zombie. All was again right in the world. Except it started a bit of a craze for more cinematic distortion of the Zoumbie tradition, the biggest of which was the mispronounced cultural appropriation of the Zoumbie name.
For a while, our hero held sway in the imagination of filmmakers wanting to explore the field of culturally incorrect exotica. He had regular work in those days, showing up in such forgotten gems as I Walked with a Zombie (1943) Voodoo Man (1944) and the Plague of the Zombies (1966).
Then came George Romero. And like a lot things in the 60’s, there was a changing of the guard.
With Night of the Living Dead, the (pseudo) Scientific Zombie became the king of the block and our hero was forced back into semi-obscurity, through perhaps Romero gave a slight nod of sympathy by casting Duane Jones as a protagonist who shared some heritage with our ancient hero. But mostly, the original item ended sitting around the house, downing bottle-after-bottle of Red Stripe, waiting for his next close up.
Thankfully for him, the 80’s came along. And with it, a “real-life” novel length account from Harvard researcher Wade Davis called The Serpent and the Rainbow. Davis’ book, presented as his actual experiences with so-called “zombie masters” in Haiti during the final years of the Duvalier dictatorship. And with its publication came the most pointed scholarly disagreement among anthropologists since Carlos Castaneda’s “Don Juan” thesis that stole the 70’s.
How could it not help but start a new, focused sensation about the Zoumbie and the Voodoo system?
First up in March of 1987 was Angel Heart. The all-star cast of Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro and Lisa Bonet was steeped in both anticipation and controversy. It brought together two of the most respected “Method” actors of the era, one of whom (DeNiro) had already won his Oscar and the other (Rourke) was an odds-on favorite to be the next “great American actor.” It also was greeted with tabloid buzz as Bonet was on thin ice with her TV dad and employer, Bill Cosby, due to the erotic nature of the film. Angel Heart was nearly slapped with the emerging NC-17 rating before some compromising cuts were made.
The film itself was an atmospheric exploration of the “Hoodoo” belief system, a American near cousin to Voudon and Santeria. The Hoodoo concept and practice, prevalent in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas, sets the background for the New Orleans location for Angel Heart, as Rourke is a noir-cut detective tasked with finding a semi-famous singer who doesn’t want to be found. The set up, while simple sounding, is a complete misdirection for twists and turns, including bizarre symbolism, weird sex and DeNiro as a Brill Cream infused version of the Devil.
The film, which got a fairly favorable critical reception, was less than a box office sensation, perhaps weighed down by all the expectations of fireworks between Rourke and DeNiro and the gossipy infighting over Bonet’s role. Angel Heart has grown in prominence in the decades since, with many fans citing it as a conversation piece for unconventional horror. However, the really frightening thing maybe what happened to Rourke and Bonet’s careers after the film.
Hot on the heels of Angel Heart came The Believers. The May 1987 Martin Sheen vehicle attempted to explore the dangerous side of Santeria, the Spanish Speaking cousin of Vodun, as Sheen plays a skeptical psychologist who is drawn into the world of Caribbean mysticism when his son is threatened by a group of evil Santeru.
While The Believers brought some big budget production values to the subject, the script and direction fell back into some dominant culture stereotypes as the ultimate group of villains revealed had only a flimsy link to the actual Santeria tradition. Apparently, Hollywood hadn’t found much new material for practitioners of African traditional spiritualism in the intervening 55 years between it and White Zombie.
Fortunately for traditional zombie fans, the next year of 1988 contained a much more positive development as one of the decade’s legendary “Three C’s” took on adapting Wade Davis’ book. Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow brought the spotlight back to the place where it all began for our beloved friend, Haiti
Released in Feb. 1988, Serpent took advantage of Hollywood’s renewed interest in voodoo. Craven, then at the height of his powers and popularity, dove into the trend by giving us the most “naturalistic” Hollywood zombie movie to that date.
Set on the island in the early 1980’s, our hero (played by Bill Pullman) is a biologist/ anthropologist /chemist (the script is never sure which) who comes to the island nation in order to find the ancient, narcotic powder used by voodoo masters to put their victims into a state of living death.
For Pullman’s trouble, he is kicked, beaten, buried alive and has a nail driven through his scrotum. But for his tribulations, he manages to do something thought impossible. Bring the undead back to life a second time.
Shot on location around Hispaniola in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Serpent still stands as a glorious, although slower-paced, exploration of the Haitian “voodoo” culture. The film takes considerable time to explain the theology and worldview of the Zombie Makers while also delving into the culture and politics of the proud yet troubled nation.
Freaky undead doings abound, making for some killer scenes. Zombie hands in pea soup, crazy chicks eating glass, a corpse-bride with a python tongue… The topper of an undead Paul Garfield pulling off his own head to throw it at a freshly returned Bill Pullman was one of my personal favorite horror moments of the 80’ . And while it wasn’t a big hit for Craven, it’s remembered fondly by many fans as one of his most unique films, despite its over-the-top ending.
Despite the flurry of interest at the end of the Reagan years, Hollywood quickly returned to the modern Zombie model, pushing out the Romero clones with frightening efficiency during the last 30 years. There haven’t been a ton of films Hollywood exploring the flavors of the voodoo belief (2005’s The Skeleton Key comes to mind), but that’s not to say our hero’s time won’t come again.
In 2017, you can’t go anywhere in the horror genre without finding a Romero style cliche showing it.
The Occult World of Phillippa Schuyler by James Goodridge
The circumstance was the visit of my son and his girlfriend visiting for the holidays Christmas 2016 a brutal year in the world of music that made me do what I did.
“Hey, pop can I play with this ?” Ruth asks (name changed for this story)
Smiling at my OUIJA board sitting all by its lonesome self on a shelf among CDs,DVDs, VHS tapes (don’t judge me I keep them because among the tapes I have left to view is a classic home recorded Plan 9 From Outer Space I taped off of the old WOR channel 9) and books. I myself have never used the board having bought the glow in the dark, hours of fun item at a thrift shop for a dollar. But after hearing way too many stories on late night radio advising against its use, being that it could be a portal for unnamed evil unknowns, in other words, you think you’re talking to Grandma, but in fact, you’re chatting with the Demon Box of Ebril.
I give into her innocent pleading, but I warn her sounding like Peter Cushing in an old Hammer film what she may be in for trying to contact her aunt, but Ruth being a millennial doesn’t pay me no mind. A lone red candle helps us see the OUIJA board in the living room darkness, my son Monte I can see doesn’t what to do this but he’s a trooper. We get a message from her aunt more like a warning that who or whatever is NOT her aunt. The planchette moves back and forth. Then I can’t help it ” Phillippa are you here ?” I yell out.
African American classical pianist, a right-wing journalist, feminist in her later years along with parleying with Stokley Carmicheal and devout Catholic, Phillippa Schuyler was a woman of paradoxical life flows. A child prodigy with an IQ said to be 185, the biracial daughter of George Schuyler a figure in the Harlem Renaissance Movement and Josephine Cogdell Schuyler a member of a prominent rich Texas family, Phillippa would be compared to Mozart early in her career (for a haunting rendition of Ravel’s “Alborada del Gracioso “) i as a composer. I first came across Ms. Schuyler”s life story while doing research
Initially, I came across Ms. Schuyler’s life story while doing research on lesser known black historical figures to be included in a series of occult detective stories. I was fascinated by the contradictions in her life. A role model to the Black community yet, at one point she tried to pass herself off as white using the name “Monterro” in the classical music world which had its biases. ” Compositions in Black and White” by Kathryn Talalay (Oxford Press 1995) is a well-written biography of Schuyler’s life, the racial dynamic, and conflict during the pianist’s life, I credit her book with helping my research. But it seems whether intended or not Schuyler’s occult leanings were left out.
By chance, while online looking for a book on dream divination, I came across a title : Kingdom of Dreams by Josephine and Phillippa Duke Schuyler, (1966 Award books) and then reprinted in 1968, a year after her death and around the time of her mothers suicide. I ordered it. While this book is not mentioned in Talalay’s book (another mystery is the middle maiden name Duke) she does let on that Schuyler’s interest started in 1952 while on tour in Curacao. This was a failed kidnapping attempt, she met a mysterious Herr van Kleed who introduced her to the reading of TAROT cards and a crystal ball reading, which among other visions predicted a plane crash. Kingdom of Dreams seems to me having read her style of writing in snippets was written by Phillippa in the majority. A book that speaks to us in symbolic terms about dreams (as a child she would sleep for ten plus hours dreaming) and their meanings and self-help, it stretches into a defense of alchemy and its heroes the immortal St. Germain, Paracelsus and Robert Fludd. Schuyler also felt a connection between Karl Jungs theories and the alchemists work within the natural world was the key to life along with dream divination and numerology.
The unseen realm of demons, vampires, goblins, werewolves, leprechauns, gnomes, pidwidgeons, mermans/maids, trolls succubi, incubi etc.. included. And while she admits it is a fake Schuyler has a defensive interest in theWheelof Pythagoras representing: God, microcosm/man, and macrocosm/world. Schuyler believed that science was not infallible and that there was a “theory of analogy or the magic association of ideas” led by the signs of the zodiac. Phillippa Schuyler drowned off the coast of Vietnam in the Da nang sector when a U.S. Army helicopter crashed, she was riding in with Catholic orphans she was taking to a safer haven crashed into the ocean in 1967. After a funeral in St. Patrick Cathedral she was cremated.
My temples feel as if someone is pressing books or something hard on both sides, the planchette moves under Ruth, my son Monte and I hands across the board giving Phillippa’s or I hope Phillippa’s answer: N V 3 . N V 3 ?