Friday Reads and a Penchant for the Macabre

Good Afternoon!161027_cbox_diabolique-jpg-crop-promo-xlarge2

So, those of you that read my occasionally weirdish posts know that I have a thing for old grave yards and historical sites that are mysterious and ookie. There’s a distinctly granular feel to these places. It’s in the air and it’s in the dust that kicks up when you walk around. Bits and pieces of the past can be tangibly felt. I like the feel of the tingle and chill. I came to the realization that I love horror movies a little bit late in life but now I relish this time of year more than any.  Maybe it’s because I can feel the power surge of my inner crone. Maybe because I know that there is no dearth of places to indulge my need to feel creeped out by imaginary things.

I’m not alone in this fascination with how humanity deals with its mortality. Not by a long shot. Stories, art, and the entire religious thing have always dealt with such topics.  We created burial rituals and tools to cope with life and death early on.  October Horror movie binges just go right along with the roots and rites of our cave dwelling ancestors who lit fires and counted on the stars to help them.  My friend and fellow blogger Pete shared this link to Donald Fagan describing his early fascination with those black and white horror movies that rocked Saturday matinees back in the day of double features and bad special effects.  I thought I’d pass it on.

Fair Lawn, New Jersey, late ’50s. I must have been 9 or 10 when my Uncle Al surprised my cousin Jack and me by announcing his intention to take us to a midnight showing of Diabolique, the French thriller. The choice seemed odd, since Al, a burly luncheonette operator from Passaic, wasn’t the type you’d expect to harbor a taste for French cinema. Then again, it was no secret that an intermittently active strain of sadism ran in Al’s branch of the family. I guess he didn’t want to miss out on a rare opportunity to watch the kids squirm.

Shot in cadaverish black and white, Diabolique is about these two hot babes, the wife and mistress of a cruel boarding school headmaster, who conspire together to murder their tormentor. They drug him, drown him in the bathtub, and dump his body in the swimming pool. When the pool is drained, though, there’s no corpse to be found. The two women freak out for the rest of the movie. At the end, there’s a scene where the (supposedly) murdered headmaster inexplicably rises out of the bathtub with only the whites of his eyes showing. That’s when I started screaming. Jack, his body quaking from head to toe, slid off his seat and ended up on the sticky theater floor in tears. When we got home, Uncle Al, who’d had a merry old time, had to endure a tongue-lashing from my aunt for permanently damaging our heretofore immaculate sensibilities. We both had nightmares for weeks.

But movie terror is seriously addictive. As soon as we were sufficiently recovered, we started taking the bus to the HyWay Theater every Saturday afternoon to see the horror double feature. At 50 cents plus the price of the popcorn (or a bit more if you wanted a box of the race-regressive Chocolate Babies), it was a bargain.

I started out on the Addams Family and the Munsters and tamer fare.  But, TV in the 1960s and 70s also included its Friday night horror shows and that’s where I got exposed to the good stuff.  BTW, the “cool ghoul” has passed for any of you that might know the work of Joe Zacherle. Every big city had its horror host back in the day.

The great John Zacherle, known to generations of horror fans as Zacherley, “The Cool Ghoul,” has passed away at 98. The news came tonight as author Tom Weaver, a close friend of the Zacherle family, began informing colleagues of the the sad news, and an outpouring of tributes has already begun across the internet.

A veteran of World War II, Zacherle started working at WCAU in Philadelphia in 1954, and in 1957, he got the job of being Philly’s first late night horror movie host on Shock Theater, creating the character of Roland (pronounced Ro-LAND), who talked to his dead wife in her coffin. An association with Dick Clark, whose American Bandstand was based in Philadelphia, led to the recording of “Dinner With Drac” in 1958. He moved to New York’s WABC in ’59, became known as Zacherley and his show was renamed Zacherley At Large. He later hosted the Newark teenage dance show Disc-O-Teen, and was a DJ on WNEW and then WPLJ, where he stayed for ten years.

Considered by many to be the greatest TV horror host of all-time, Zacherele has spent the last several decades appearing on TV, radio, and film and making personal appearances at conventions and special events.

His horror-themed novelty records have remained perennial Halloween favorites, and you will surely hear them played on WFMU and elsewhere over the course of the next week. So, instead of posting those, I’ve decided to share the REAL DEAL, actual episodes of Shock Theater and Zacherley at Large as they were originally broadcast in the late 1950s. What we have here are three classic poverty row horrors: two Bela Lugosi features – The Devil Bat and Bowery At Midnight, and Rondo Hatton as The Creeper in The Brute Man. This is how original Monster Kids in the Northeast first saw these movies, and I’d recommend taking them all in for a great Halloween triple feature this weekend, just make sure you raise a glass of blood in honor of the Cool Ghoul himself before you’re done.  He gave his all!


annex-adams-julie-creature-from-the-black-lagoon_01Now, I’m totally enjoying SYFY channel that  really rocks October. My current favorites are ZNation and the ubercreepy Channel Zero.  I think what I like best about this season of the year as we head towards Halloween, the election, and my birthday is that movie horror can be so obviously campy and fun that it gives you a sense of control over the real nightmarish fiends and ghouls.  Of course, this is a Donald Trump reference.  It had to be.   Horror movies spin yarn and tales but not quite the way Trump does.

Donald Trump actually said this on the campaign trail late yesterday:

“What a difference this is. Just thinking to myself right now, we should just cancel the election, and just give it to Trump, right? What are we even having it for?”

Whether or not Trump was joking, his supporters greeted that remark with lusty cheers. But here’s the thing: Even as Trump supporters continue to lap up his various suggestions that the only legitimate outcome of the election would be a Trump victory, the broader American public is completely rejecting the story he’s telling.

Indeed, there’s new evidence this morning that Trump’s ongoing effort to undermine faith in our democracy has been accompanied by a strengthening of confidence in it. And there’s also new evidence that majorities see Trump as fundamentally disrespectful of our democratic institutions.

The new Washington Post/ABC News tracking poll finds Hillary Clinton leading Trump by four points nationally. (There may be a tightening, but that would not be surprising; it probably represents Republicans who had been alienated by the awful headlines about his sex tape and allegations of unwanted advances coming back to him).

Now that’s a suggestion that really should strike terror in the souls of all peace and democracy-loving people.  

I’m glad our national nightmare will soon be over but we should take nothing for granted.  First Lady Michelle Obama gave another inspirational and wonderful speech yesterday along side Secretary Hillary Clinton.  All of her words were wonderful but I really want folks to take this message to heart.

Because here’s where I want to get real. If Hillary doesn’t win this election, that will be on us. It will be because we did not stand with her. It will be because we did not vote for her, and that is exactly what her opponent is hoping will happen. That’s the strategy, to make this election so dirty and ugly that we don’t want any part of it.

So when you hear folks talking about a global conspiracy, and saying that this election is rigged, understand that they are trying to get you to stay home. They are trying to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter, that the outcome has already been determined, and you shouldn’t even bother making your voice heard.

They are trying to take away your hope. And just for the record, in this country, the United States of America, the voters decide our elections, they’ve always decided, voters decided who wins and who loses, period, end of story.


And right now, thankfully folks are coming out in droves to vote early. It’s amazing to see. We are making our voices heard all across the country. Because when they go low…

AUDIENCE: We go high!

OBAMA: And we know that every vote matters. Every single vote. And if you have any doubt about that, consider this. Back in 2008, and I say this everywhere I go, Barack won North Carolina by about 14,000 votes.


Which sounds like a lot, but when you break the number down, the difference between winning and losing this state was a little over two votes per precinct.

See, I want you all to take that in. I know that there are people here who didn’t vote. Two votes. And people knew people who didn’t vote. Two votes. If just two or three folks per precinct had gone the other way, Barack would have lost that state and could have lost the election.

And let’s not forget back in 2012, Barack did actually lose this state by about 17 votes per precinct. 17. That is how presidential elections go. They are decided on a razor’s edge.

So each of you could swing. In this stadium, just think about it. Each of you could swing an entire precinct and win this election for Hillary, just by getting yourselves, your friends and your family out to vote.


That’s me at St Louis #1 for a funeral a few months ago. See, I do actually live by some historically creepy cemeteries. We love and cherish them down here in Swampland.

The Season of Horror should end here in October except on my favorite TV days.  Let’s all get every one out to vote so we can look forward to a New Year and a New Day with Madam President.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

43 Comments on “Friday Reads and a Penchant for the Macabre”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    FBI director Comey says he’s reopening the investigation into Clinton’s emails. No background info given on what this is about!

    • janicen says:

      This is outrageous. Fortunately, I think everyone has made up their minds about the emails and nobody is going to budge one way or the other. Honestly, I’d love to know what exactly Hillary’s detractors think is lurking in these emails. Given the enormous number of emails that have already been reviewed, what prosecutable offense do they think she committed? It’s scurrilous and ridiculous. James Comey is a disgrace.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    This is completely fucked up. Comey needs to release everything publicly right now!

    • dakinikat says:

      Snippet: The relevant paragraph in this brief letter is the middle one, where Comey writes that the FBI “has learned of the existence” of emails that it previously did not review. In response to this new information, the FBI will now “allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information.”

      The FBI, in other words, is not reexamining its previous findings. It is not questioning its previous legal conclusion that “no reasonable prosecutor” could determine that charges are warranted. Based on the letter, it appears that the FBI will simply provide the same scrutiny to these newly uncovered emails as it previously applied to the emails it already reviewed when it determined that criminal charges are not warranted.

      Though the initial narrative to emerge from this new letter — a narrative pushed by Republican House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz — is that the FBI has “reopened” the case against Clinton, several reporters did acknowledge on Twitter that this narrative is not true.

    • Fannie says:

      Exactly BB. Here’s the thing, they are going to be talking about Hillary in such a bad light, from now till election day. And then on Nov 9, they are going to do what McConnell did, only a slight different version. In other words they are going after her as Madame President. We need to get people out to the polls, donate to her, and realize Michelle Obama was right, they are trying to deny the good citizens hope. If they stay home they can steal this election. We won’t let them, we didn’t come this far to let them shit on us. We get the senate, and those investigations that are pumped up full of shit, isn’t going to happen!

      My antenna is on high alert. After listening to Hillary Clinton, they better release all the information!

  3. Ron4Hills says:

    Comey is playing dirty. This is just like that ridiculous press conference he gave.

    • dakinikat says:

      Comet definitely being political…

    • Fannie says:

      This has been in the works for some time, it’s gonna play out, and we are all going to be relieved that it’s nothing more than the grinding down of Hillary in order to win votes.

  4. palhart says:

    Re: Comey’s re-opening Hillary’s e-mail case to examine newly discovered e-mails

    Even if he’s coming forward now, 11 days before Election Day, to protect the FBI, and himself, from whistle blowers, it’s a hellava untimely surprise of something that may have nothing further to add. I don’tbelieve it will change many votes, but it gives Trump and the GOP more ammo before the election and beyond.

    I voted today in my battleground state.

    • dakinikat says:

      Think the repugs are afraid of low Republican turn out and losing senate and house. This was to gin up turn out.

    • palhart says:

      At the early afternoon time that I wrote the above comment, the news broadcasters were saying “reopen.” In fact the case is not closed, but ongoing. Comet should have not committed in July about the FBI’s conclusion. Then he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to tell the Republican committee witch hunters that he would notify them if there was any new case info. Then he wouldn’t have had to send the letter to the committee today, Comey should follow the guidelines and shut up about the FBI’s decision. Transparency doesn’t work here.

  5. janicen says:

    Have y’all seen the latest? The THREE emails they are talking about were discovered as a result of Anthony Weiner’s sexting investigation. Anthony Fucking Weiner. I shit you not.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Yup. What the hell does that have to do with Hillary? The three emails didn’t even go through her server and weren’t sent to her. Comey needs to resign. Obama should ask for his resignation today.

      • janicen says:

        I think whatever damage he hoped to do to Clinton has been and will continue to be undone. As soon as it broke that the emails were Weiner’s it became a joke. And at least they stopped talking about that Doug Band BS. There was nothing there, but it was a little more complicated which of course, the public cannot deal with so they jump to the conclusion offered by the catchiest soundbite.

    • Fannie says:

      Who leaked those emails janicen?

      • janicen says:

        They weren’t leaked, they were revealed as part of the investigation of Weiner’s texting pics of his junk to minors. Why Comey felt the need to send this letter at this particular time, one can only speculate.

  6. palhart says:

    Paul Ryan is an ass for commenting on this news without having read the e-mails and the FBI’s analysis of them. You damn straight the Clinton campaign needs further explanation as to reason for Comey’s letter to Congress. Never select a “long time” Republican for one’s Democratic cabinet or other positions.

  7. Riverbird says:

    An anti-Trump group has filed a complaint against Comey with the Department of Justice.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hillary should sue Comey personally. He had no business commenting on the investigation last summer. It was totally inappropriate. Then he testified to Congress and released notes on Hillary’s meeting with FBI. It’s completely outrageous.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Meanwhile, NPR is still reporting that they have reopened the investigation, which was never in the letter.

      • janicen says:

        Exactly! That falls in the realm of prosecutorial misconduct. Imagine doing that to a private citizen, “Here’s a press conference and we thoroughly investigated Jane Smith and found nothing illegal but we feel she must have been up to something and she acted irresponsibly!” Now, Jane Smith, try to get on with your life.

  8. Minkoff Minx says:

    Love the post Dak. I just started rewatching the entire original series of Dark Shadows from episode 1. They have it on Hulu.

    As for our own horror story playing out now, eesh will this thing ever be over. Lol

  9. Pat Johnson says:

    I am heartsick and terrified at the same time.

    • NW Luna says:

      Chin up. Madame to-be-President provides us a role model on how to look focused, calm, and above the mud regardless of the kindergarten antics and persecutorial plots of the enemy (even if we do feel worried on the inside).

  10. Ron4Hills says:

    Just voted!!! Go Madame President Go!!! Way more AAs in line than I expect. We may not swing Georgia but we are trying! I was very proud all the way around.