1950’s Books

The first 1950’s book I wanted to mention was recommended from Facebook by Zachary Vaudo of the band Witness The Apotheosis. It is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.  Eleanor Vance is a shy loner who has spent the last 11 years taking care of her elderly mother.  One day she receives an invitation from Dr. John Montague to stay in a haunted mansion with other people who have had supernatural experiences. The mansion has gargoyles on the outside and rooms within rooms on the inside. As soon as Eleanor enters the house she starts to hear strange voices and sees ghosts wandering the halls, but despite the supernatural activity, Eleanore feels right at home.

The Haunting of Hill House has been made into movies a couple of times. The best movie adaptation is The Haunting made in 1963 and directed by the late great Robert Wise. There was also a remake made in 1999.The Haunting of Hill House was the first horror novel I ever read and it still stands the test of time. Stephen King called The Haunting of Hill House one of the best horror novels of the 20th century.

Also written in the 1950s and made into three different movies(The Last Man on Earth in 1964, The Omega Man in 1971 and I Am Legend in 2007) is I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. It was written in 1954 but takes place in the futuristic world of 1976. A plague has wiped out most of the world’s population and those who have survived are now vampires. One man by the name of Robert Neville is immune to the plague but now in a world of vampires he is an outsider and must fight to stay alive.

If your going to mention horror in the 50’s you have to talk about EC comics. EC comics actually got its start in 1944 but the golden age of horror comics began when EC started publishing Tales From The Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear in 1950. Sadly all three books stopped publication in 1955 when the government started to censor comics and the comic companies created the comics code to keep from being shut down. Though there time was short, these three comics made quite an impact on the world. They have been made into 5 movies , a TV series and a cartoon. They also inspired many young  horror writers to start writing such as Stephen King.

All three titles were very similar to each other. with Tales From The Crypt being hosted by the cryptkeeper, the Vault of Horror being hosted by the vault keeper and The Haunt of Fear being hosted by The Old Witch.  The creators of the books were William Gaines and Al Feldstein but several writers and artists brought the books to life. These three comics were very popular but the government, parents and school teachers said that the comics were contributing to illiteracy and juvenile delinquency and they disappeared from newsstands before their time. If you want to know more about EC comic’s battle with the government over censorship check out The Horror, The Horror!: Comic Books the Government Didn’t Want You To Read by Jim Trombetta.

While on the subject of 50’s horror comics I wanted to mention a comic that I never heard of until I was looking up books to talk about for this blog post.  The comic book is The Monster of Frankenstein by Dick Briefer, it ran from 1945 to 1954. When it started in 1945 it was meant for a very young audience but starting in 1952 it tried to follow in EC comics footsteps. It became a disturbing and violent horror comic until it was censored and came to an end in 1954. The comic actually ran monthly in a title called Prize comics. The story followed Frankenstein’s monster as he rampaged through 1930’s New York City and fought with Superheros: The Bulldog, The Black Owl, Green Lama and Dr. Frost.

Going back to novels, set in the 1950’s is Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door. The story follows Meg Loughlin  and her crippled sister Sarah as they move in to a house with a woman named Ruth. Next door lives a boy named David who realizes that Meg is being tortured by Ruth and she is also letting other kids in the neighborhood torture Meg. Will David put an end to the torture or will he just watch and do nothing?

Monster Mash with Witness the Apotheosis

“They say I suffer from insanity
Just between friends
I’m not suffering at all
I kinda like it here”
— From the song “Asylum” by Witness the Apotheosis

Witness the Apotheosis is a darkwave/industrial duo from Athens, Georgia and consists of Terance Schmidt and Zak Vaudo. Both provide vocals, electronic programming and compose the music. Zak also plays cello while Terance plays other instruments. In describing their synergy, Terance said, “Zak is certainly better with beats then I am, I tend to get things started, then Zak will bring a lot to the rhythm. I tend to do pretty well with creating melody – basslines, arpeggios, that sort of thing. Zak has much more experience with the genre of music that we make; he’ll pull us back in that direction when I go too far towards my rock roots.”

The song they shared with us is “Asylum” from their debut album Monomyth. The voices inside my head that scream at me from behind my eyeballs totally love this song. Apparently I’m in good company. Zak told me that “aside from being a fan-favourite, ‘Asylum’ has always just jumped out as one of the more unique songs in our lineup; it showcases our blend of style backgrounds better than any of our other works.” Terance added, “it’s the song that we have the most fun with on stage. My favorite memory playing that song was one time we completely freaked out our audience with it. After the song they just stood there, silently. I looked back at them and said ‘your silence is all the applause I ever wanted.’”

Both Terance and Zak were originally from Queens, NY, but met in Athens, GA. Terance is a fan of the music from Athens. He said, “I enjoy the B-52s, REM and Pylon especially. Music Hates You is also an influence. The bass in Pylon and REM is something I think I may draw from somewhat.” Zak noted that there isn’t a lot of electronic music in Athens to draw from, saying, “the last one that had any influence on me was Unavox. I let Terance pull the rock elements; electronic music tends to resonate the most with me.”

Myself, I love the little references to Greek myth in their band name, album titles, and such. Terance mentioned the time he sought advice from an oracle, in this case, a tarot deck. “I did a tarot reading to get some idea of how things might work out with Zak and I doing a band. It came up with the World card, which is the best card in the deck to draw. In the explanation book for my deck, one of the lines was that ‘they will all come to witness the apotheosis’, so that was a good sign. Apotheosis means becoming god-like. I like to say that when you get up on the stage and do your thing, you transcend ordinary humanity and become something more, so the name really makes sense to me.”

Even though they enjoy playing gigs, they both agreed that creating new music was more fun. Inspiration has come from many places. For Terance it has even come from just walking down the street. “Asylum started out with the line ‘I really like the flowers but what did they do with my mind?’ I was walking down Washington Street in Athens to Hot Corner Coffee when it came to me. I started writing lyrics for it and thought it would be funny. Then it got more serious, and yet still funny. It’s rare that I sit down and say, ‘Now I’m going to write a song about X.’ Instead it’s usually things that come out spontaneously and then we’ll build on them; that seems to work best.” Zak added that “the album Monomyth draws its inspiration from Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, as does the band’s name (the Apotheosis is one of the many steps on the Hero’s Journey). The Monomyth is the singular idea, the foundation of the myth. This debut EP is our foundation.”

Witness the Apotheosis

After Monomyth, they created and released When the Night Comes. As Terance puts it, “Monomyth was a ‘gotta have something done for Frolicon,’ a convention we played. I was literally finishing it up just in time to burn it and go.  When the Night Comes was more of a remix album of the title song. It was really cool to hear what other artists did with this song that we wrote. The track I find most interesting on it is “Modern Prometheus”, which is some very out-of-genre music for us that I started playing with late one night and Zak reading a poem over it. I never imagined I’d like it as much as I do.” Zak added, “for me, I really wanted to create a single that showcased one of our favourite songs and the transition it had undergone (with the ‘New Wave Cut’ being the first draft and the ‘Album Version’ being its reinvention). It was imperative to me that any remixes of the track were strikingly different from anything else on the single; I hate remixes that sound like they’ve been added in as filler. The Dark Clan and Creation bring extremely unique sounds to the track, giving the song new and engaging faces.”

To check out the band, visit their Bandcamp site at witnesstheapotheosis.bandcamp.com. You can also find them at ReverbNation, MySpace, Facebook, and in all the dark corners of Athens, Georgia.

Incoming Fire

Be sure to check out this week’s Incoming Fire Podcast! You can listen in on Psy’Aviah answering fan questions and hear their track Sweet Hard Revenge. Also on the show you’ll hear All Living Fear, Ninja Pirate Mafia, Axis, Damaged Gods, Shultz, Witness the Apotheosis, Mary and The Black Lamb, and Ghost In The Static.

The link to the podcast can be found here @ The Grave

For more information on the Grave Concerns E-zine check out these sites: