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.
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.
Artist C. Renè makes a bold statement in blue.
Finally, an Italian horror novel that wasn’t illustrated by the incomparable Benedetto Caroselli. This time the artist is someone billed as C. Renè, and he/she’s created a beautiful blue cover for Mark Hawk’s Morbo Azzurro (Blue Disease), opting to show a very detailed eye and set of lips rather than a whole face. Very effective work, we think. This appeared in 1961 and was a ristampa—a reprint—of a 1960 release.
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.
He’s everything a man is, except he turns on only when you want him to.
Above, Edizioni Periodici Italiani’s Il robot maledetto, 159 in the I Capolavori della Serie KKK Classici dell'Orrore, written by Dyana Evan, a psuedonym of Franco Marotta, 1971. The art featuring a lingerie clad woman and a phallic robot is more suggestive of romance or sleaze than horror, but it’s great work by Benedetto Caroselli, who you can see more of here.
When the wolf is on the prowl.
Above, the cover of Ken Atkins’ 1965 werewolf novel Belva nella notte, aka The Wolf in the Night. This was published for Edizioni Periodici Italiani’s I Capolavori della Serie KKK Classici dell’Orrore, and Atkins was a pseudonym owned by Domenico Dubbini, who also wrote as John Durbin, John Lane, Hassan Mills, Perry Rock, and other names. The art is by Benedetto Caroselli, who we knew nothing about until a couple of years ago, but who we’re now obsessed by, as evidenced by our posts here, here, and here. We have even more to share from Benedetto, so stay tuned.
That dream she keeps having about an icy hand at her neck? Not a dream.
Above is another cover by Benedetto Caroselli for I Capolavori della Serie KKK Classici dell’Orrore. That’s a real mouthful, but really it just means “KKK Masterpiece Series Horror Classics.” This one, number 116 from 1969, is entitled Il vampiro and it was written by Liz Lawrence, who was a pseudonym of Franco Marotta. We don’t know if it’s the same guy, but a Franco Marotta wrote for Italian cinema for forty years, and among his work was the original Inglorious Basterds. Probably the same guy. Anyway, brilliant piece of art from Caroselli here, featuring the menacing shadow of a vampiric hand looming over a sleeping nude. See more Caroselli by clicking his keywords below.
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.
1927—First Prints Are Left at Grauman's
Hollywood power couple Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, who co-founded the movie studio United Artists with Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, become the first celebrities to leave their impressions in concrete at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, located along the stretch where the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame would later be established.
1945—Hitler Marries Braun
During the last days of the Third Reich, as Russia's Red Army closes in from the east, Adolf Hitler marries his long-time partner Eva Braun in a Berlin bunker during a brief civil ceremony witnessed by Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann. Both Hitler and Braun commit suicide the next day, and their corpses are burned in the Reich Chancellery garden.
1967—Ali Is Stripped of His Title
After refusing induction into the United States Army the day before due to religious reasons, Muhammad Ali is stripped of his heavyweight boxing title. He is found guilty of a felony in refusing to be drafted for service in Vietnam, but he does not serve prison time, and on June 28, 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court reverses his conviction. His stand against the war had made him a hated figure in mainstream America, but in the black community and the rest of the world he had become an icon.
1947—Heyerdahl Embarks on Kon-Tiki
Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl and his five man crew set out from Peru on a giant balsa wood raft called the Kon-Tiki in order to prove that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia. After a 101 day, 4,300 mile (8,000 km) journey, Kon-Tiki smashes into the reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947, thus demonstrating that it is possible for a primitive craft to survive a Pacific crossing.
1989—Soviets Acknowledge Chernobyl Accident
After two days of rumors and denials the Soviet Union admits there was an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Reactor number four had suffered a meltdown, sending a plume of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area. Today the abandoned radioactive area surrounding Chernobyl is rife with local wildlife and has been converted into a wildlife sanctuary, one of the largest in Europe.
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