It Came From the Vault: Vincent and Me – Garth Von Buchholz

 

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Vincent and Me
By Garth Von Buchholz

I wanted to meet Vincent Price. In the late ‘80s, Vincent was in his ’70s but still famous to my generation as for all his kitschy horror cameos in music, movies and TV. His voice was heard in Alice Cooper’s music, he narrated the early Tim Burton animated film Vincent, and he even appeared on Scooby-Doo cartoons, Sesame Street and TV commercials, such as the one for the bug zapper device. His last major film role was the Inventor in Edward Scissorhands. Vincent was everywhere, and all his tongue-in-cheek, campy horror, carried off with a metaphoric wink of the eye and the chilling laugh, made him into an iconic pop culture personality.

To most people, Vincent was no longer scary. He didn’t start his career trying to be scary. In the ‘40s, he was a handsome leading man in gothic romance potboilers such as Laura (1944) and Dragonwyck (1946). By the ‘50s he was doing television roles and appearances, then began his descent into the maelstrom of pop horror by starring in such classics as The Fly (1958), Return of the Fly (1959), and, of course, the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations by Roger Corman (1960-64). He brought his old world Hollywood gravitas to these sensational flicks, but even though he was creating a niche for himself, he was also losing credibility as a serious actor. Hollywood proper wouldn’t come calling until years later when Tim Burton wanted him.

By the ‘60s, Vincent was already becoming parodied, and in fact, he helped parody himself to the younger generation in Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965)and in his famous role as Egghead in the old Batman TV series (1966-67). By the ‘70s, Vincent was everywhere, a true journeyman actor. He appeared in the brilliant monologue series An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (1972), the black comedy Theater of Blood (1973) and even on an episode of The Brady Bunch (1972) and The Love Boat (1978). Clearly, Vincent liked to work, had no pretensions about himself as an actor, and had a very dry sense of humor. He simply wanted to pay the bills and earn enough money to support his two true loves: his wife, Australian actress Coral Browne, and his extensive art collection.

As a fan of Poe, I had tremendous respect for the work he did on An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe, which you can still see in clips on YouTube. When I heard that he would be appearing in my city to perform poetry by Edgar Allan Poe on stage, accompanied by live music, I decided I had to meet him. As a young writer and journalist, it wasn’t difficult for me to arrange complimentary tickets and a backstage pass to meet him before the show.

On the night of the show, I was ushered backstage to his dressing room. He was sitting at his dressing room table applying stage makeup under the bright globe lights above the mirror. When he caught sight of me, he turned with a broad smile and stood up, like a gentleman, to shake my hand.

“Hello, I’m Vincent Price,” he said, as if an introduction was necessary. His skin pallor was very pale because he had not completed his makeup yet, but his eyes were remarkably clear, and he was a tall, elegant man who stood more than six feet in height (I am six feet tall). It was like meeting a crown prince or duke from Europe. He was the personification of noble grace and elegance. I felt like a thick-tongued commoner in his presence.

I gave him a copy of my own book of poetry as a gift and an introduction (how unembarrassed I was to do that shameless bit of self-promotion!) I explained that I had been a fan of his for many years, and loved his work in the Poe stories. He said that he very much enjoyed doing them as Poe was a wonderful writer. He told me he was looking forward to his performance that evening, although it would require some effort because he had to modulate his voice so the orchestra would not drown him out during some key moments.

As I knew he was preparing to go on stage soon, I thanked him profusely and bid him farewell so that I wouldn’t be in the awkward position of having the stage manager appear to shoo me away. His performance that evening was breathtaking, made even more voluptuous and dramatic because of the orchestra’s choice of atmospheric works such as the spooky Night on Bald Mountain. I can still recall him intoning the words from Poe’s Alone, The Raven and The Conqueror Worm, the last of which made the greatest impression on me. Whenever I re-read The Conqueror Worm, I can still hear his voice.

A few weeks later, the venerable Mr. Price sent me a postcard with a contemporary painting on the front and a few words on the back, thanking me for my book of poetry. This correspondence was an unexpected pleasure, a final goodbye from a famous acquaintance who had endeared himself to me not only for his talent, but for his gentility and generosity. Did he actually read the book or simply toss it on a pile in his library? I believe he did read it. There was an honesty and forthrightness in his reply.

Vincent Price died on October 25, 1993, after completing his final work—ironically, it was voiceover work for an animated movie called The Princess and the Cobbler. He never lived long enough to see how the World Wide Web would become a new medium to perpetuate his legacy as an actor, performer, entertainer, and pop culture persona.

No need to say goodbye. Your ghost is still with us, Vincent.

Garth Von Buchholz is an author of dark fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction. His new book of dark poetry, Mad Shadows, was published in June. Garth is the founder of the Dark Fiction Guild (http://DarkFictionGuild.com) and Poe International (http://PoeInternational.com). He is also the Editor and Publisher of Dark Eye Glances, the eJournal of dark poetry.  Garth lives on Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast.  Visit his website: http://VonBuchholz.com

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Press Release: Mad Shadows

pr-mad-shadows   PRESS RELEASE : MAD SHADOWS by Garth Von Buchholz

 

A new collection of dark poetry by Garth Von Buchholz, contributing author of Horror Addicts Guide to Life, is available now.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/garth-von-buchholz/mad-shadows/paperback/product-22844308.html

 

 

 

 

To hear a reading of the poem  Mad Shadows:  https://soundcloud.com/garth-von-buchholz/mad-shadows-by-garth-von-buchholz

 

 

 

It Came From the Vault: Real Life Horror – Garth Von Buchholz

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The Lady with the Owl Eyes
By Garth Von Buchholz

When I was in college, I had a summer job at a personal care home for the elderly. I was that young kid wheel chairing the snowy-haired old doll into the courtyard, or saying carefully chosen words to the Alzheimer’s patient who wanted to know when her father was arriving, or helping a wizened gentleman in a musty suit and tie mount the stairs to the tour bus. They had their own tour bus that was used for taking residents on outings, provided their state of health was such that they wouldn’t collapse in the middle of a coffee shop in some other town.

The old folks seemed to like me. Occasionally they’d get a little cranky, but that was part of the deal. You get old, your body is sore, and you have a right to bitch at young people like me who could still get out of bed and look forward to the day instead of feeling like they were a wounded infantryman about to climb out of the trenches and onto the battlefield one more time. I liked most of them, too, but my favorite resident was Mrs. V., a Russian immigrant who settled in Canada after the Second World War. She was a cultured woman with round, glassy eyes like an owl, a haughty stance with her chin raised to a 20 degree angle, thick white hair that was styled like a movie star, and an impeccably outdated wardrobe that must have been fashionable once, though I wasn’t sure when. She looked like a living, black-and-white Kodak photo from a half a century ago.

Mrs. V and I would spend time talking after our weekly excursions on the bus. She admitted that she had no interest in most of the destinations that we visited, but simply went along with the group so she could escape her small suite. She was fairly independent, and was allowed to keep a small electric coffee percolator in her room so she could brew her own harsh, metallic java that I had to share with her. She asked me whether I had girlfriends.

“I started dating someone,” I replied.

“Are you having sex with her?” she asked me bluntly. I drank some coffee to collect myself.

“No, it’s not…we’re not at that point right now.”

She shook her head and twisted her mouth as if she had swallowed an insect.

“If I liked a man, I would give him sex,” she said in her percussive Russian syllables. “Get another girl. Don’t waste your time. You grow old fast enough, yes?”

“Yes,” was my meek reply, not certain what we had just agreed upon.

By the end of the summer, Mrs V. was ill with heart problems. She stopped joining the bus tours and started spending more time in bed. I still had my responsibilities with the tours, but I always stopped in to see Mrs. V. afterward, just to keep our little tradition alive.

The last time I saw her before she passed, she was startled as I entered her unlocked room. She had been asleep, and her curtains were drawn. When I spoke to her, she rose up on one arm and stared at me for several moments as if I were a stranger who was slowly transforming into someone she vaguely remembered.

I gave her a moment to primp her hair and sit up in bed with some dignity. I noticed she was holding a small, ornate box in her hand—not quite a jewelry box but more like a fancy pillbox that a child might use to store a baby tooth that had fallen out. She saw me looking at it, and her moonish eyes opened wider.

“It’s a lock of hair from a baby,” she explained. “My daughter.”

I was afraid to ask. “Is she still….”

“No, she died as an infant. An infant!” she emphasized.

I shook my head to show my sympathy.

“Do you know what you must suffer for your children? No, you don’t. You will have a child someday, you are young. Her name was Ekaterina. She was born in 1941, the year the Germans marched into Russia. In July, Stalin was ordering the Russian people to fight back against the Germans. Better to burn your own barns rather than leave them to the invaders, he said. My husband was fighting with the Red Army. I was alone with our child.”

Mrs. V opened the box and beckoned me to touch the hair inside. It was blonde. I didn’t want to touch it.

“One morning, the neighbors came to my door. They were fleeing. ‘The Germans are only a few kilometers away!’ they cried. My best friend, Sofia, told me the Germans were raping women and bayoneting babies to the walls of their homes. She was shaking so badly it made her baby’s little head nod up and down as if it were agreeing with her.”

“Terrible,” I said, for lack of anything else to say.

“I wanted to run with them, but I had valuables, things my husband entrusted to me. If I left without taking them along, he would never forgive me. It was all we had, something to help us start anew after the war. “

Mrs V. stopped and stared at a point just above my head. I could see the memories returning to her, at first like a slideshow and then as the frames started appearing more quickly, a movie.

“What was I thinking?” she asked herself, alarmed by some impending crisis that had, in fact, happened decades ago. “The time flew. As my mother always said, ‘Pray to God, but keep a sharp mind!’ I was tying a satchel and dressing the baby when I heard it.” She stopped and went still.

“Mrs. V?” I prodded. Was she having a stroke?

She looked at me gently, her eyes more glazed than ever.

“I heard my neighbors screaming,” she said. “I heard cars, tanks. The invaders had arrived. They were almost at my doorstep.”

My mouth was open, but I could not speak.

“The women were screaming. And children. ‘Mama, mama!’ I had no where to hide. I could not outrun their vehicles. That was when I knew that I would be raped in a few minutes. Raped. And my baby….” She trailed off.

I glanced at the open box again, and the little lock of golden hair seemed ghoulish, as if I were standing beside an open grave. I was stiffened by the horror of what had become of Ekaterina. It was too much for me to hear. I wasn’t certain I wanted to know what happened next. I tried to fast-forward her story.

“How did you finally get away? How did you survive?”

She laughed. “Oh, yes, it was survival of a sort. We were interned by the Germans, then the Red Army pushed back the German front and freed us into poverty a few months later. Here…” she said suddenly, pressing the little pillbox into my hand. “Keep it. You can throw away the contents, but not until after you leave this building, please. Maybe you give your girl a little ring inside it someday?”

I was aghast at her offer. I did not want the box. I did not want to touch the baby’s hair, ever.

“Please,” she begged. “I have no one left. The people here will put it on the table to be sold at one of those silly craft sales they have here. I want you to have it because you know the story now. Part of the story.”

I nodded weakly. I would accept it, just to honor her wishes. Then I would throw it away the first chance I got. She placed it in the palm of my right hand, and closed my fingers around it.

“The Germans did not kill my baby,” she said. There was a long pause. I counted her breaths: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6….

“Do you understand?” she asked.

I did not.

She whispered. “I would not wait for them to stick my baby on the walls with the tip of their bayonet. My mother taught me how to bleed a goat or a lamb. When I walked into my front yard carrying my child and my razor, Ekaterina’s sweet blood was soaking the front of my dress. It made me go mad. I was smiling because I knew she was in heaven and would never be harmed by those devils.”

I stopped breathing.

“When the Germans saw the crazy woman with the dead baby, the soldiers and their motorcade veered around me. They never even came near me.”

Garth Von Buchholz is an author of dark fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction. His new book of dark poetry, Mad Shadows, was published in June. Garth is the founder of the Dark Fiction Guild (http://DarkFictionGuild.com) and Poe International (http://PoeInternational.com). He is also the Editor and Publisher of Dark Eye Glances, the eJournal of dark poetry.  Garth lives on Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast.  Visit his website: http://VonBuchholz.com

Horror Addicts Guide to Life Author Spotlight: Garth Von Buchholz

unnamed (1)Garth Von Buchholz writes poetry and essays and has been featured on the Horror Addicts podcast before. For Horror Addicts Guide To Life  Garth wrote two articles, One is called “Vincent and Me” which is about the time that Garth got to meet Vincent Price. The other one is called “How To Become An Immortalized Author Like Poe” where Garth gets into how you can become as well-known as Edgar Allan Poe. To read Garth’s articles along with several other articles on living the horror lifestyle, pick up a copy of Horror Addicts Guide To LifeRecently Garth was nice enough to tell us what he likes about horror:

What do you like about the horror genre?

I like how the core of the horror genre is metaphysical. Horror stories or films are modern myths about something that terrifies your very soul, and they may or may not involve actual violence and death. For example, to a person who is claustrophobic, being locked into a confined space is horrifying, even though that scenario may not end in their death. And there’s a difference between horror stories and real life horror. The tortures, rapes and beheadings in the Middle East right now are just horrible — brutal, tragic and inhuman — but they are not “horror stories” until they are mythologized, e.g. as a tale about how a spirit of evil is at work in our world.

What are some of your favorite horror movies, books or TV shows?unnamed (2)

Everything by Poe. He’s the master. And I’m a fan of William Peter Blatty (Bill, why haven’t you responded to my fan letter?). I love The Exorcist and Legion, the novel that the Exorcist III film was based on. You know, I met Linda Blair in person at a film festival and she looked great and was really cool. Also, I have mad love for another lesser known William Peter Blatty novel and film: The Ninth Configuration.

Although I’ve read many Stephen King novels, I’m a huge fan of The Stand, so I’m excited about the upcoming movie trilogy. As for TV, I’m not into zombies and The Walking Dead, but I’ve read and watched The Game of Thrones series, which has some chilling horror elements…dragons, torture chambers, whitewalkers. Okay, I guess the whitewalkers are zombies.

In what way do you live the horror lifestyle?

On my Twitter it says I’m “goth by birth” because of my German name and background. But in addition to my outwardly gothic clothing and tattoos, I meditate on the Latin words “Memento mori” (“Remember death”). Even on the sunniest of sunny days when the birds are singing arias, I am constantly aware of the horrors unfolding elsewhere in this world. With that, I keep things in perspective.
unnamedAnother thing to mention — Edgar Allan Poe is an important influence in my horror lifestyle. I’ve been closely associated with the late Mr. Poe, partly because of my work on the Edgar Allan Poe 200 Project in 2009 and partly for my social media content on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ieaps) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/EdgarAllanPoe). In 2012, I was interviewed about Poe by the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/raven-cusack-try-to-capture-edgar-allen-poe-in-way-other-films-failed-to-do/2012/04/25/gIQAyLUNjT_story.html) and I continue to network with the Raven’s followers worldwide.
What are you currently working on?
In some ways I would like to be that person who writes inspiring poetry that gets repinned all over Pinterest, but my verse tends to be quite dark. This year, I’m writing more poetry because I want to publish a collection of new verse. And I’ve never written a novel before, but I started working on a strange novella called Overture that incorporates some very personal memories and even alludes to other stories or poems I have written. Then there’s my Poe-related performance art project. I’m going to be recording and publishing a reading of Poe’s The Raven because after studying it for many years I realized it’s not just a poem, it’s a dramatic monologue.
Where can we find you online?
My literary website is http://vonBuchholz.com and links to most of my social media pages are at http://About.me/vonBuchholz.  I’m not hard to find. Many of my works of poetry, fiction and non-fiction are available online, including anthologies such as Horror Addicts Guide to Life or my book of poetry, Mad Shadows. Sometimes when one of my works goes out of print I will even republish it myself to make it available again.

Horror Addicts Guide to Life – Available now!

FinalFrontCoverHorror Addicts Guide to Life

Available now! 

Cover art by: Masloski Carmen

Editor: David Watson

Do you love the horror genre? Do you look at horror as a lifestyle? Do the “norms” not understand your love of the macabre?

Despair no longer, my friend, for within your grasp is a book written by those who look at horror as a way of life, just like you. This is your guide to living a horrifying existence. Featuring interviews with Midnight Syndicate, Valentine Wolfe, and The Gothic Tea Society.

Authors: Kristin Battestella, Mimielle, Emerian Rich, Dan Shaurette, Steven Rose Jr., Garth von Buchholz, H.E. Roulo, Sparky Lee Anderson, Mary Abshire, Chantal Boudreau, Jeff Carlson, Catt Dahman, Dean Farnell, Sandra Harris, Willo Hausman, Laurel Anne Hill, Sapphire Neal, James Newman, Loren Rhoads, Chris Ringler, Jessica Robinson, Eden Royce, Sumiko Saulson, Patricia Santos Marcantonio, J. Malcolm Stewart, Stoneslide Corrective, Mimi A.Williams, and Ron Vitale. With art by Carmen Masloski and Lnoir.