Make horrid scars and gashes.


Christmas 1978, Halloween 1980

Well I usually don't post stuff like this, but my audio server is tragically out of bandwidth for the month (I'd allotted myself a bit more than $200 for Oct & was crossing my fingers that it would hold out, but I got over 7,000 uniques yesterday alone with lotsa repeat traffic so it looks like I'll really have to up the ante next year). Anyway given the situation it seems like it might be a good time for me to dip into some personal nostalgia in visual form, and to that end here's a quick trip down some of my own spooky memory lane:

The first pic you see is me & my brother Craig on Christmas of 1978. As you can tell I'm proudly modeling my (Sears Wishbook bought!) Famous Monsters sweatshirt here (and while you can't see it, he's actually sporting a Dawn of The Dead shirt himself). I later rebelliously wore this sweatshirt for my 3rd grade yearbook picture; partially because it was my favorite, but mostly because my teacher forbade it & claimed she'd yank me out of line if I dared to come dressed for such an important day with the visage of a decomposing ghoul on my person. She didn't do a thing, and in the finished shot you can clearly see the corpse reaching up out of the bottom of the image. I thought that was pretty cool.

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UPDATE: Three pages of ads for the Warren shirt line (Famous Monsters #129, Oct 1976)

Next up it's me flexing my "artistic talent" in public for the first time. In Lawrence KS where I grew up, the downtown merchants allow kids from local grade schools to paint tempra recreations of pictures (that they cook up themselves) on the windows of their businesses for Halloween. It's a really cool program and makes shopping downtown during the Fall extra creepy & special. Somewhat amazingly, this still goes on there today, and you can even see a short video clip about it here.

So back in 1980 I entered a drawing into the competition for the first (& only) time, and here you can see me proudly standing next to my finished piece "Rotting Corpse (with one "Tales from the Crypt" inspired eyeball) Hanging from a Noose in a Graveyard Above a Bloody Axe While a Bat Flies Toward the Full Moon". Extra cool was that as I was painting it, a newspaper photographer came by & took some snaps of me at work (though these aren't those), and I ended up getting a big picture in the paper for my efforts (I think he picked me partially because he thought my painting was good, and partially because he thought it was funny that it was painted over half of an Air Force recruiting office window. Well and maybe because I looked like such a hippy). Oh, and you probably can't tell, but I'm wearing an iron-on t-shirt design that I ordered from the Johnson Smith Novelty Company showing an undertaker excavating a corpse above the words "I Want Your Body". This was by far my favorite shirt in 1980; I guess I had a thing about the rotting (sentient) dead.

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Here's a detail of just my painting:

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...and to cap it all off here's the (Yeah! That's right!) FIRST PLACE PRICE that I won for my efforts. Naturally, to inspire my current visual output, to this day I have this rather prestigious award proudly displayed on the walls of my home office:

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You know, it seems that sometimes my lifelong desire to hold on to weird junk from my past (either physically or as memories) can pay off in unexpectedly cool ways, and the reaction I've gotten from far & wide to this blog is easily the most amazing example of that I've encountered in my life to date. Thanks so much to everyone for making this stuff more fun for me than ever before, and a heartfelt wish to you all for a really, really Happy Halloween (oh and don't worry, I should still be here throughout the rest of the year sharing some of my other audio obsessions.)

Thanks again everyone! Happy Haunting!


Richard Taylor "Nightmare", "Horror", "Terror", "Fright" (Major/ Random Records, 1962)

Acting as both an addendum and a slight re-cap of two earlier Scar Stuff posts (feel free to check out my earlier entries on "Nightmare" and "Terror"), here's the complete 4 LP run of Edgar Allan Poe stories narrated by Richard Taylor. Well, probably the complete run -- an additional record entitled "Strange" (Random cat #40) is mentioned on the back cover of some volumes in the series, but I can't find evidence of it anywhere else (I'd love to be proven wrong here, so if anyone has a copy please drop me a line.)

Mr Taylor's sketchy profile claims him as "one of the newest sought after 'thriller' actors on the scene today", with producers allegedly finding "his sinister voice mystifying and full of suspense, and in direct contrast to his handsome appearance". Now this all may well be true, but what really strikes me in his delivery is the breathy, manic and nearly unhinged quality he gives these readings. In the best parts (like when the character is all worked up), there's a real sense of low-budget madness coming across -- kinda like the archetypical creep in the cellar was awarded a recording contract or something.

These LPs were initially issued under the "Major Records" name (here's an early ad), but over the years could be more commonly found with the "Random Records" logo attached to a generic cover design (hand stamped in the upper left corner with the word "Nightmare", "Horror", "Terror" or "Fright"). While these dime store sounding recordings got their start in life at the beginning of the "Monster Kid" boom in the early 1960's (they were heavily advertised mainstays in pages of Famous Monsters, Horror Monsters, Mad Monsters, Monster World and probably 50 other magazines with the word "monster" in the title), amazingly enough as late as 1981 you could still pick them up in the back of FM for only $1 each. Since I've already shown the classic early '60's ads on Scar Stuff a couple of times, here's a slightly more "contemporary looking" variant that ran in Creepy, Eerie & Vampirella after Bill DuBay took over as their editor and changed up the art direction in the early 1970's.

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Oh and one last warning before you get going, side one of "Fright" (aka "the House of Fright") is missing a few lines right at the tail end, but it really doesn't detract much from the story, which is a two part adaptation of "The Fall of the House of Usher".

Okay! Let's get those "Eerie Midnight Ghoul Parties" started!

Links Removed


Mail Order Monsters

Hey everyone! Well this week has been a lot crazier than I thought it would be, but I'm still planning on getting my act together enough to post a few more pre-Halloween audio goodies. In the meantime however I figured I'd issue a stop-gap in the form of some visual treats, specifically several scans I've made of (mostly) monster-related mail order items from the 1960's.

Some background: The majority of these come from Charlton Press' "Mad Monsters" & "Horror Monsters" magazines, and a smaller percentage are from even less common mags like "Modern Monsters" (Prestige Publications), "3-D Monsters" ("Fair Publishing" -- actually Myron Fass!) and "Monster Mania"(Renaissance Productions).

Warren Publications and the Captain Company are represented by a few pages from "Monster World" & "Spacemen" (most of the "Spacemen" ones are at the end of page 4 -- some cool stuff I'd love to check out there), but for the most part I tried to avoid the big guns (Famous Monsters, Creepy, Eerie, etc) since many of those ads are readily available online (case in point: here's a great Flickr set.)

I also avoided using anything from the 1970's (Monster Times, Castle of Frankenstein, House of Hammer, etc etc), but I bet I eventually break down & just start scanning everything in. That's how this stuff always starts, isn't it? Anyway, enjoy!

Monster Magazine Ads from the 1960's


Gayle House Records "The Haunting" (Gayle House, GH-101, 1971)

You know, the last year of my life has been absolutely amazing in terms of fulfilling my childhood comic-book dreams. Nearly everything I'd ever lusted for in those (already) out of date pages has fallen into my lap. Abstract art paintings done by a chimpanzee? Check! That Super-Cool "Giant 'Life Size' Moon Monster Poster" I'd dreamt of for so long? Check! With all of this good fortune sailing my way, what could be left?

Well truth be told, there was only one more "top of the list" type thing I could think of. One more thing that (casually but persistently) still preyed on my comic-book-ad-loving imagination. That's right -- the record described in the ubiquitous early 1970's ad with the cloaked ghoul commanding the reader to "Invite Your Friends Over For A Haunting". Sooooo rad looking; it just HAD to be great. I mean -- how could it not deliver the goods? Just look at that fantastic copy:

"Just imagine how scared your friends will be when you flip out the light and they start hearing creepy sounds like the howl of a wolf, a creaking door, chains rattling, and then a man's voice telling them that the house is haunted and they are to die -- one by one. They'll be scared stiff when they hear footsteps coming across the floor, the sound of people fighting, glass breaking, hideous laughter, terrible shrieks and screams, eerie moaning and then more footsteps, more screams... Each person in the room will think that he is going to be the next victim."

Man. How fucking awesome was this record going to be? Why, completely and utterly off the scale of awesomity, naturally. So yeah; I'd poked around for this one pretty frequently over the years, but the few people I could find who'd actually heard it assured me that it was both "pretty bad", and that it was "basically the same as the Johnson Smith Novelty Company 'Horror Record'". Naturally the first statement made me want it all the more, but the second statement actually gave me pause. In fact the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me that a single company might well have churned out just one 7" 33 RPM record's worth of spookiness in the early '70's, and then licensed it off to a few mail order companies simultaneously. Yeah, that's probably what happened. Oh well, it was still a cool ad.

Well as it turns out that's not what happened at all. In fact as you'll soon be able to discover, not only are the sounds on the Gayle House single unique, the record has a freakishly lame and astoundingly perfect charm all its own. It even manages to scrupulously follow the rules of the mighty Rip-Off Halloween Record genre (those being: a totally half-assed "story telling" side, and a banded "sound effects" side using most of the same audio library just without the narration), while still happily amplifying both their cheapest AND most exploitive qualities! Yeah! I honestly don't want to spoil it for you too much (Threadbare plot! Terrible narrator! One sound effect repeated ad nauseam! Children in peril!), but believe me, as far as I'm concerned it was more than worth the 30+ year wait. And hey, it even works just like the ad said it would!

Oh, and one more side note, here's a link to the current owner of the PO Box featured in the ads. My guess is that they probably don't have a lot of leftover "Haunting" records laying around but hey -- you never know.

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Samhain "Live At The VFW#18 in KC, MO Aug 21, 1984"

In keeping with the season and my desire to get some more of my old live recordings out there, here's a complete Samhain show I taped way back in 1984. I've only copied this off one or two times over the years, but (as I've seen it pop up on a few tape trader lists since then) I guess that was enough for it to start making the rounds. However the good news is that this is the first time it'll be taken from my original source cassette so even the biggest Samhain fans out there will at least be getting a sonic upgrade.

So let's see, how to frame this? Well I guess it'd be easy for me to open up by casually bragging about how I snagged a copy of the Misfits "3 Hits From Hell" single (ahem, 1st pressing with Fiend Club insert, if you must know) for 10 cents at Kief's Records in 1981. Sounds pretty good, right? Well it's accurate and everything, but to be honest I had no fucking idea who they were at the time. None. In fact I only bought it because it WAS 10 cents, the Misfits logo on the insert was swiped from Famous Monsters magazine, and I noticed that the skull on the back was nicked from the 1972 Amicus "Tales From the Crypt" flick (which had blown my mind during its 1978 re-release). So no, I wasn't the hippest 12 year old in the world or anything, it was just total blind luck. Kinda de-cools it, I know.

Of course that single was GREAT and I played the hell out of it, but somehow I still managed to keep the Misfits pretty low on my radar over the next few years. In fact I was out of the loop enough that by Sept of 1984 I didn't even know the band had been broken up for almost a year -- not till I saw the flyer for this show which announced that "from the ashes of the Misfits" something called Samhain (which my friend Andre kept telling me was properly pronounced "Sow-ween") had risen. So while I was curious enough to wanna check 'em out, my investment level wasn't terribly huge. Really, I was more pumped up about catching 7 Seconds (who were on the same bill) for the first time. Kinda de-cools it, I know.

Flash forward to the show: 7 Seconds went on first and they WERE great; easily the best time I would ever see them over the course of the 80's. They played a very tight set to a packed floor and when they were done I enthusiastically picked up a copy of the "Nuke Your Dink" single (from Kevin) and a semi-slick fanzine called "Hard Times" (from some other guy) outside the hall. Samhain seemed to be taking forever to set up and when I finally wandered back in I noticed that the crowd had kinda... changed. Instead of the "hyper youth" that had been all over the place 30 minutes earlier, these older looking folks were up front and a bunch of local KC punkettes were confusing me by busily screaming the word "Mommy!" over and over (I hadn't heard "Walk Among Us" yet). All of a sudden Samhain started playing and to be honest, I didn't know what to make of them at first either; a lot of their music was slower (with melodies hidden more deeply inside the dirges) than most of what I'd been listening to, and what the hell was this "harmonizer" that they kept demanding be turned on? Where were all of the catchy pop choruses? Did I like this or not?

Well by the end of their set I'd figured out that I liked it a lot (perhaps you can make out some of the, uh, insightful conversation my friends and I are having during the encore clapping), and I played the hell out this tape that fall and for several falls to come, sparking a real obsession. Coming across more of this kinda stuff was somewhat hard in those days (I remember driving for well over 2 hours to the house of a guy I didn't even know so that I could try and convince him to dub me a crappy 10th generation tape of a few Plan 9 singles), but 23 years later the magic of the internet allows me to easily share my little time-travel memory trip with YOU. All Murder, All Guts, All Fun!

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Samhain "Live At The VFW#18 in KC, MO Aug 21, 1984" (192 kbps)


Halloween Safety [Second Edition] (1985, Centron)

Okay Educational Short Film Fans! Direct from 1985 I present "Halloween Safety [Second Edition]", yanked straight from the Centron/ Coronet film vaults. Produced 8 years after the original, this was also filmed in my hometown of Lawrence, KS and stocked with local acting talent & scenery.

Really more a complete reworking than a "second edition", the difference in both era and production aesthetics is apparent within the first few seconds of the film's un-spooling: check out that killer montage of awesome dime-store masks flying through the air! Yeah! This is immediately followed up by some great & simple shots of kids walking around in cheapo store-bought Ben Cooper & Topstone getups, which felt just perfect. I mean, maybe I'm just speaking for myself here, but despite the fact that on the real Halloween night in 1985 I was busily enjoying something billed as "The Scum Of The Earth Costume Party", seeing those kids parade about in their outfits more than managed to resurface plenty of decade-dormant memories. Sadly none of my childhood regional Midwestern candy faves show up during the treat sequences though -- where the hell are the Cherry Mashes & Valomilks? Ah well, I guess you can't have everything.

So anyway, settle back from the vantage point of 22 years worth of hindsight and help yourself to loads of quality advice on pumpkin carving, fire hazards, costume functionality, mask visibility, street crossing etiquette, vandalism & mayhem, treat tampering (bear in mind that this was only a few years after the 1982 Tylenol murders), and more -- all told against a sub-Michael Jackson soundtrack by an animated Jack-O-Lantern narrator!

Part One:

Part Two: