Where there's a will-o'-the-wisp there's a way.
We probably should have shared this cover from Grandi Edizioni Internazionali's series KKK Classics around Halloween, because it's a bit scary. Then again, maybe now is better, because Christmas is possibly even a little scarier. The art here, from Benedetto Caroselli, has a red-eyed cover figure sitting atop what is supposed to be a giant skull, which, again, is a bit scary. However, if you look at it the right way she could be sitting on a giant nose. Again, possibly even scarier.
Inside the book you get two tales—the introductory “Welcome to Blackstone, Mister Clift,” by Silvano Alessandrini, followed by the full length title story. Fuochi fatui, by the way, translates as “fatuous fires.” What the hell does that mean? Fuochi fatui are basically analogous to will-o'-the-wisps, alluring lights in the wilderness that prove eternally elusive and lead to frustration and possibly danger. You can fill in your own Christmas shopping metaphor here.
Author Sean Alexander was aka Silvano Alessandrini. The pseudonym thing with French and Italian authors back in the day is a bit strange. Since they were selling to their home markets you'd think indigenous names would be an advantage, but it's clear that the type of mayhem and terror they were going for were thought to be more credible if written by Americans. Which when you think about it is possibly the scariest thing of all. Anyway, the copyright on this is 1969, and it's beautiful.
“The Thing” that wasn't there.
We've shared several covers from Grandi Edizioni Internazionali's horror collection I Capolavori della Serie KKK but this one is kind of special. Translated into Italian by Fernanda Adami, this is a collection of horror master Robert Bloch's early short stories. In case he isn't familiar to you, he wrote Psycho. This book is called La Cosa, or The Thing because Bloch's first story, a piece called “The Thing” appeared in his school magazine in 1932 when Bloch was only fourteen. But guess what? “The Thing” isn't one of the stories in The Thing. Instead the book consists of four tales—“Colui che apre la via,” “Ritorno a Sabbath,” “Il segreto di Sebek,” and “Enoch.” In English these are “The Opener of the Way,” “Return of the Sabbath,” “The Secret of Sebek,” and “Otis.” Just kidding—it's “Enoch.” Lovecraft fans probably already know of the first three stories because they appeared in Bloch's Lovecraft inspired collection The Opener of the Way in 1945 and remain widely read pieces of Lovecraftian lore. So that makes this paperback a bit of a collector's item. As if the great art by Benedetto Caroselli didn't already do that. Yes, he painted a misleading illustration for a horror anthology but Caroselli and Grandi Edizioni Internazionali specialized in that. Want to see a particularly brazen example? Check here.
I usually wear floor length hoop skirts but for certain occasions this crimson mini is just the number.
Sometimes when classic literature was remarketed for mid-century audiences the pulp style makeovers were stretches. But in this case it works. Le amicizie pericolose is a 1964 Italian translation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's 1782 French epistolary novel Les Liaisons dangereuses, aka Dangerous Liaisons. The story features one of history's greatest femmes fatales—Marquise de Merteuil, whose pride and sexual vanity is the seed of an unspeakable tragedy. There's also an homme fatale—the serial seducer Vicomte de Valmont, whose dick eventually gets him in a crack so tight he can't escape.
The book has been filmed six times, and cinephiles argue which version is the best. While Glenn Close as the Marquise in 1988's Dangerous Liaisons was astounding, and Annette Bening's turn as the character in 1989's Valmont was also good, we recommend checking out Roger Vadim's 1959 adaptation, which was set in modern day Paris. Actually, even the 1999 Gen-X version Cruel Intentions is pretty good, which just goes to show how rich the source material is. There are also Korean and Chinese versions from 2003 and 2012 respectively.
The amazing femme fatale in red mini-dress and spike heels on the Grandi Edizioni Internazionali edition above—who of course looks nothing like the hoop skirted and white-powdered Marquise de Merteuil described by Laclos—was painted by the abundantly talented Bendetto Caroselli. Repackaging classics in this way (such as we've shown you before here and here) is usually a form of false advertising, but in this case we suspect many readers came away satisfied.
This is a mean old world, baby, to live in all by yourself.
Above, the cover of Gli Amante Perduti, which means “the lost lover,” published 1962 by Grandi Edizioni Internazionali. The author, Horace Robinson, was in reality the prolific Maria Luisa Piazza, and the evocative cover art, showing a woman distressed and alone against a backdrop of blackness, is by the incomparable Benedetto Caroselli.
You can eat an apple a day but it won’t keep this doctor away.
Above is I Capolavori della Serie KKK Classici dell’Orrore number 127, entitled Gli esperimenti del Dott. Hass, aka The Monster, published in 1969, written by Patty North, who was really Franco Marotta. And of course the brilliant art is by Benedetto Caroselli, whose work you probably recognize by now. Marotta also wrote Il robotto maledetto, which means so far he’s written about an evil doctor and an evil robot. The book also has a short story beginning on page 121 called “Violenza,” which was penned by Roland Greaves, who was really Renato Carocci. That’s a lot of entertainment for just a few euros, and well worth it.
A tongue is worth a thousand words.
Is it time for another Caroselli? Of course it is. So above we have his art fronting Grandi Edizioni Internazionali’s 1971 book Troppe donne per Casa… which means Too Many Women for Casa… Casa is of course the adventurer Giacomo Casanova, and he always had time for women, especially ones like these that get all Miley Cyrus with their wandering tongues. You know, we had forgotten how much we appreciate a blatantly visible female tongue until she reminded us. So we owe her thanks for that. But we still want every piece of music she’s ever made to be rocketed into the center of a quasar. Historical note: Casanova trysted with a mere one-hundred-twenty-two women during his life. Wilt Chamberlain probably did that in a slow year. But it’s all about quality, not quantity, right? See another Caroselli/Casanova pairing here.
Oscar Wilde was an okay writer and all, but you know what his fiction really needed? Women in catsuits.
Believe it or not, this book entitled Il vizio che brucia (translation: “The Vice that Burns”) is Oscar Wilde’s macabre classic The Picture of Dorian Gray, sexed up for the Italian reading market. Who is this supposed to be on the cover? Sybil Vane, the innocent young actress? The country girl Hetty Merton? Neither, we suppose, since they didn’t wear backless catsuits, as far as we remember. But even if this pulpification of Wilde’s classic has no relationship to the actual text, the Benedetto Caroselli art makes it collectible. The edition was published by Grandi Edizioni Internazionali as part of their I Romanzi Diabolici series and appeared in 1964. See more Caroselli here.
No matter how secure the lock, he had the key.
Grandi Edizioni Internazionali published a series called I grandi personaggi, or The Great Characters, and one of those personalities was Giacomo Casanova, the famed adventurer and lover. Looking around online, we learned that GEI printed seemingly Casanova’s entire thousands of pages of memoirs as Gli amori di Casanova broken up into small novels with pulp style covers like the one above. As far as we can tell there were (no joke) sixty-nine of these books, including this one, Il cavallo di Troia, or The Trojan Horse, which is presumably about how he secretly entered an impregnable, um, fortress. The art is once again by the great Benedetto Caroselli and we can only say that to have all sixty-nine of these with Caroselli covers would be quite a coup. If you haven’t seen the previous Carosellis we’ve shared, check here and here. In our minds, the guy is a master.
She's dressed to be killed.
We found another I Capolavori della Serie KKK Classici dell’Orrore cover with Benedetto Caroselli art for your enjoyment today. This time it’s La perversa by Reg Sattle, aka Oretta Emmolo, published by Grandi Edizioni Internazionali in 1964. We’ll see if we can dig up more of these somewhere.
Another obscure Italian artist produces a masterpiece.
Some random goodness today, a cover for Sangre de toro (“blood of the bull”), book 109 of I Capolavori della Serie KKK Classici dell’Orrore (KKK Masterpieces Series of Classic Horror), a popular collection published by Grandi Edizioni Internazionali beginning in 1962. This entry arrived in ’68, and was written by R.C. Perez, or in reality the Italian author Renato Carocci, who inhabited an array of pseudonyms that included René du Car, Christian Busch, Harry Carren, Roland Graves, Lucien Le Bossu, James Darren, and Elizabeth Cronin. The incredible art is by Benedetto Caroselli, who, believe it or not, is a fairly obscure figure—at least if we’re to judge by the extreme dearth of info about him online. This isn’t the first time this has happened with Italian art. What the heck is going on over there in Italy, guys? Surely you must love these artists as much as we do. Build a webpage or two (actually, there is one, but you don't get a good look at the art). Well, in any case, we’ll definitely have more on Caroselli soon. We won’t stop looking until we do. Too bad we can’t remember where we found this piece. We bet there’s some info there. But now a search brings up nada. Stay tuned.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1910—First Seaplane Takes Flight
Frenchman Henri Fabre, who had studied airplane and propeller designs and had also patented a system of flotation devices, accomplishes the first take-off from water at Martinque, France, in a plane he called Le Canard, or "the duck."
1953—Jim Thorpe Dies
American athlete Jim Thorpe, who was one of the most prolific sportsmen ever and won Olympic gold medals in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, played American football at the collegiate and professional levels, and also played professional baseball and basketball, dies of a heart attack.
1958—Khrushchev Becomes Premier
Nikita Khrushchev becomes premier of the Soviet Union. During his time in power he is responsible for the partial de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, and presides over the rise of the early Soviet space program, but his many policy failures lead to him being deposed in October 1964. After his removal he is pensioned off and lives quietly the rest of his life, eventually dying of heart disease in 1971.
1997—Heaven's Gate Cult Members Found Dead
In San Diego, thirty-nine members of a cult called Heaven's Gate are found dead after committing suicide in the belief that a UFO hidden in tail of the Hale-Bopp comet was a signal that it was time to leave Earth for a higher plane of existence. The cult members killed themselves by ingesting pudding and applesauce laced with poison.
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