Vintage Pulp Jul 23 2013
BAR NONE
Hitchcock presents thirteen excellent tales of terror.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Bar the Doors contains some of the best macabre fiction we’ve ever read. The collection begins with H.G. Wells’ violent, oppressive tale of murder and voodoo in Sierra Leone “Pollock and the Porroh Man.” The story was written in 1895 and comes with the sort of classical styling you might expect, but with a surprisingly modern pacing as the first paragraph finds the lead character caught in the middle of a stabbing. Pollock pulls a gun to defend himself and the Porroh Man flees, but not before casting an infuriated gaze back that promises revenge. Little does Pollock know that revenge can take supernatural form. You’d expect the tale to be laced with racism, and it is—this line from the first paragraph is simply amazing: “At any rate, the Porroh Man stabbed the woman through the heart as though he had been a mere low class Italian.” African characters fare far worse. However in this context of mortal struggle between a voodoo conjurer and a self-entitled Englishman, racism comes off as impotence against overwhelming powers. 

“Pollock and the Porroh Man” was written four years before Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” Conrad’s work is a novella-length masterpiece, whereas Wells’ story is under ten pages, but Wells is quite successful at exploring a different heart of darkness by bringing to life the deepest colonial fear, the one chortling, brandy-swilling men laugh at as long as they’re in a well lit room bolstered by their own numbers—the fear that munitions and cruelty will suffice to maintain control only insofar as natives aren’t pushed too far. But when that day comes, when native peoples have had enough, then colonials will find that voodoo and magic are real, that technology is truly the illusion, and bloody payment is due for crimes committed against people that wanted only to be left alone.
 
There are other great stories in the collection—F. Marion Crawford’s “The Upper Berth” tells the tale of a man who has an unwanted supernatural visitor in his stateroom every night; Alfred Noyes’ “Midnight Express” preys on readers’ classic misgivings about deserted tube platforms; Ambrose Bierce’s “The Damned Thing” tackles the Lovecraftian theme of an other-dimensional beast that cannot be seen; and McKnight Malmar’s “The Storm” might be of interest to those who just experienced last night’s thunderous downpours in Great Britain. In fact, the entire collection is stormy night reading. Obviously, we very rarely discuss books in detail here, because—let’s face it—it’s tedious, but we’ve made an exception this time because Bar the Doors is an unusually good collection, first published in 1946 and reprinted numerous times, as the selection of alternate covers above reveals. Highly recommended.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 30 2012
BLOOD CURSE
Pay no attention to the fiend behind the curtain.

Above is an absolutely vibrant cover for Charles Higham’s vampire anthology The Curse of Dracula and Other Terrifying Tales, published by the Aussie imprint Horwitz in 1962. Inside you get six stories by Theophile Gautier, H.T.W. Bousfield, Ambrose Bierce, E. Nesbit, Honoré de Balzac, and that one guy, er, what’s his name? Ah! Bram Stoker. The cover artist was Frank Benier, who was Australian by birth but Basque by ancestry and saw his first piece published when he was but fourteen. Apparently, he was primarily a cartoonist, but this is a top tier pulp painting he’s put together here. Hopefully we’ll run across more of his work down the line.  

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Vintage Pulp Oct 20 2012
BUST OF PLENTY
Chestnuts roasting by an open fire.


After a few weeks of uncharacteristically normal models, the guys from Goodtime Weekly get back to business as usual with a photo from Ron Vogel and model who is—there’s no other phrase—enormously endowed. Autumn is here, after all, so perhaps she symbolizes the stockpiling of food for winter, the horn of plenty filled with inexhaustible gifts, the warmth sought on cold nights. Or maybe they just liked big boobs. Anyway, we said last week we’d try a few of the Goodtime quips in the real world, and, “Ahhh!” Ahhh haaah!” was usually the reaction. Or, “That’s, um—where did you hear that?” But a few went over well. So experiment inconclusive. We’ll continue testing during the next couple of weeks, because the American expat clique has a few Halloween related social gatherings coming up. When we’re done with this experiment we will know definitively whether Goodtime Weekly humor is timeless, or should simply be forgotten.
 
Oct 20: “Mother-in-law: A woman who arranged a match for her daughter and then intends to referee as well.”—Pat Buttram
 
Oct 21: “Bar bells are sometimes easier to pick up than bar bills.”—Sam Cowling
 
Oct 22: “The wife of an archaeologist says, ‘The older I get the better I look to my husband.’”—Phyllis Diller
 
Oct 23: “A bore is a person who talks when you wish him to listen.”—Ambrose Bierce
 
Oct 24: Cars are not the only things that can hit and run a man down; gossipers have done worse.
 
Oct 25: “A perfect husband is one who can understand every word his wife isn’t saying.”—Sig Sakowicz
 
Oct 26: “Some wives cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go,”—Freddie Flintstone

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 19
1934—Arrest Made in Lindbergh Baby Case
Bruno Hauptmann is arrested for the kidnap and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr., son of the famous American aviator. The infant child had been abducted from the Lindbergh home in March 1932, and found decomposed two months later in the woods nearby. He had suffered a fatal skull fracture. Hauptmann was tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and finally executed by electric chair in April 1936. He proclaimed his innocence to the end
September 18
1919—Pollard Breaks the Color Barrier
Fritz Pollard becomes the first African-American to play professional football for a major team, the Akron Pros. Though Pollard is forgotten today, famed sportswriter Walter Camp ranked him as "one of the greatest runners these eyes have ever seen." In another barrier-breaking historical achievement, Pollard later became the co-head coach of the Pros, while still maintaining his roster position as running back.
1932—Entwistle Leaps from Hollywood Sign
Actress Peg Entwistle commits suicide by jumping from the letter "H" in the Hollywood sign. Her body lay in the ravine below for two days, until it was found by a detective and two radio car officers. She remained unidentified until her uncle connected the description and the initials "P.E." on the suicide note in the newspapers with his niece's two-day absence.
September 17
1908—First Airplane Fatality Occurs
The plane built by Wilbur and Orville Wright, The Wright Flyer, crashes with Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge aboard as a passenger. The accident kills Selfridge, and he becomes the first airplane fatality in history.
1983—First Black Miss America Crowned
Vanessa Williams becomes the first African American Miss America. She later loses her crown when lesbian-themed nude photographs of her are published by Penthouse magazine.
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