Halloween Horrors

SPOKEN WORD PART I

by Tony Maygarden

Suspense LP cover

Suspense, featuring Bela Lugosi

After a long and somewhat repetitive introduction by Bela Lugosi, Jr., Bela Lugosi the elder is featured in an episode of the radio program Suspense. Lugosi plays a homicidal whacko doctor, adding an extra degree of creepiness with his familiar accent. It should be noted that the cover drawing (and the back cover photos) of Lugosi as Count Dracula has nothing to do with the radio program.

 

 

Boris Karloff in the Inner Sanctum LP cover

Boris Karloff in the Inner Sanctum

Two Inner Sanctum episodes featuring Boris Karloff in featured roles. The first, "The Wailing Wall," is sponsored by Lipton Tea! Karloff is Gabriel Hornell, who throttles his nagging wife and dumps her body in a hole in the basement wall. He seals up the hole and thinks he's done with her. But the cat saw everything. The second episode is "Birdsong for a Murderer." Karloff plays Karl Warner, a homicidal maniac kept in check by the singing of his pet canaries. His past comes back to haunt him. Karloff is fine in both, as are the supporting cast and sound effects. The background organ music is a little distracting, though. Both episodes contain the usual Inner Sanctum pun-filled introductions and creaking door. Also included on the LP is a short thriller "The Black Chapel."

 

Roddy McDowall Reads the Horror Stories of HP Lovecraft LP cover

Roddy McDowall Reads the Horror Stories of H. P. Lovecraft

McDowall reads "The Outsider" and "The Hound," stories written by H. P. Lovecraft in the 1920s, in a crisp English accent. Listeners looking for cheap thrills and audio gimmicks won't find them hear. Deep dread and poetic eeriness will be found in these grooves. Liner notes about McDowall by Joe Goldberg, notes about Lovecraft by August Derleth. Recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, produced by Don Schlitten.

 

 

Folktellers Chillers LP cover

Chillers, The Folktellers (Connie Regan & Barbara Freeman)

Spoken word renditions of seven "chilling tales." They include previously published stories by other authors including Molly Garrett Bang, Lee Pennington, Jack Prelutsky, as well as some traditional material. "These tales are not for the faint hearted," say the liner notes, and I agree. Most "ghostly stories" are loaded with clichés, but the vivid literary imagery and rich language really pull you in. Highlights include the funny/not funny "How To Turn Into a Witch," and Prelutsky's gruesome chuckle "The Ghoul." Recorded live on Halloween night. Released on Mama-T Artists out of Asheville, NC. The gold sticker you see on the cover states that the album was an American Library Association "Notable Record" for 1983.

 

Arch Oboler Drop Dead! LP cover

Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror!

Written and directed by Arch Oboler, who produced a radio program "Lights Out" in the '30s and '40s and is perhaps best known for his film Bwana Devil, the first 3-D movie. Drop Dead! contains eight skits running the gamut from sick tongue-in-cheek humor to nail-biting-to-the-bone suspense. A great cast, and great sound effects. Nice use of stereo, too. A classic, and not for the squeamish.

 

Alfred Hitchcock Music to be Murdered By LP cover

Alfred Hitchcock Presents Music to be Murdered By

Alfred dryly and glibly introduces ten songs ("mood music in a jugular vein") such as "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You" and "I'll Never Smile Again." Also included is the "Alfred Hitchcock Television Theme." The cover above is for the 1980 reissue. It was originally released in 1958 on Imperial Records. Click here for the back cover photo of Hitch.

 

Poems and Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, read by
Basil Rathbone

Basil Rathbone is best known for his portrayal of Sherlock Homes in numerous film adaptations from the '30s and '40s of Arthur Conan Doyle's inscrutable detective. Here he brings his crisp, sturdy, and very theatrical voice to six Edgar Allan Poe poems ("The Raven," "Annabel Lee," "Eldorado," "To ____," "Alone," "The City and the Sea") and two complete Poe short stories ("The Masque of the Red Death" and "The Black Cat").

It would be interesting to know what Poe scholars think of Rathbone's interpretation. "The Raven" is delivered almost as prose, not poetry, with a varied rhythm, rendering the intense repetition of the "or" sound less tedious and predictable. As mentioned, Rathbone's interpretation of both prose and poem is theatrical -- he gets into it. Poe's writing can handle the intensity, but as presented here it can almost be overwhelming. Dullard schoolchildren everywhere should listen to this album before tackling any recitation of Poe's works.

 

Tales of Terror LP cover

Tales of Terror, Nelson Olmsted, Dramatic Narrator

Record one includes six stories by Edgar Allan Poe including "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Masque of the Red Death" and "The Telltale Heart." The second record contains stories by Charles Dickens, Theophile Gautier, Ambrose Bierce ("An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"), Fitz-James O'Brien and and two stories by Robert Louis Stevenson ("Markheim" and "The Body Snatcher"). Olmsted's narration is fine, if perhaps lacking a little weight. Occasional sound effects help. Liner notes on "The Supernatural in Literature" by H. P. Lovecraft.

 

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