Hollywood's insatiable demand for filmable material leads it (Hollywood) down many dark, mysterious corridors. This insatiable demand is matched only by the insatiable demands of the comic book industry, desperate to keep the presses rolling and the distributors satisfied and the children of America slightly entertained. When these two demands met up, it was dynamite! Wait, what's the opposite of dynamite?
Boris Karloff hefts an axe and tells the world to die, monster, die here in what we'd call today a "collab," in which a creepy H.P. Lovecraft story is turned into a tedious American International Picture, which is then transformed into an even more tedious Dell comic, which is now turned into a website side-eying the whole business. In Germany this film was called... "The Horror At Witley Castle", sorry Sideshow Bob fans.
You can already tell great liberties have been taken with Lovecraft's original story, on account of the story now featuring a woman with a speaking role. Will Nick Adams, star of TV's "The Rebel" and the fine art film "Invasion Of Astro-Monster," rescue Suzan Farmer, who was at one point married to Deadwood's Ian McShane?
Our happy visitor Nick Adams is welcomed to Arkham by H.P. Lovecraft's most iconic character, the creation whose very existence conjures up visions of eternal, nameless horrors, the one and only... Smiling Taxi Man. Who won't take you anywhere, Yank.
I'll say this for Arkham, they have some gossipy trees
"Susan told me all about her home. The trees, the lane, the DANGER NO TRESPASSING sign."
Only thirty rooms? A measly four-story clock tower? Slate roofs, stained glass cathedral windows? What a dreary dump. Poor Susan!
When in England don't bother to call ahead or send a card, just wander into any old mansion you happen to come across. The English love uninvited guests!
You've heard of "Wally Wood's 22 Panels That Always Work?" This third panel here is from "ZZ Top's 2 Panels That Always Work" (the other one is a sharp dressed guy wearing cheap sunglasses).
That disapproving look on Karloff's face as he watches the kissing is him trying to mimic the face Lovecraft would be making if he could see this scene. "Kissing! In MY eldritch horror??"
It's some mind-blasting cosmic terror everybody can understand - meeting your girlfriend's weird parents
"I want you to promise to take Susan away from this house as soon as you can! And also, pick me up some smokes at the corner store. Don't tell hubby. You gotta promise!"
Meanwhile, Boris Karloff and his manservant Merwyn wrap up their exciting, dangerous evening of "staring into the Glowing Pit" by doddering over to the greenhouse. They really know how to live!
Sometimes Boris needs the wheelchair, sometimes it just gets in the way of his peeping. Which he will not stop!
"What a large room! Big enough for a king's banquet! And the readers will just have to take our word for it because the artist ain't gonna draw it!"
Proper English young ladies aren't allowed onto the heath until they're at least 25. It's just how things are done here in these aristocratic old English families.
Look when Merwyn said this conversation was "boring him to death" we didn't think he meant it literally! Now go to your rooms and leave the emergency medical care in the hands of a disabled old man with so many of his own pressing health problems he can barely finish shooting this feature film.
No wonder he went mad - trying to keep up with the flood of Lovecraft knock offs and homages and spinoffs would drive anyone crazy!
"Also cursed are the drafty, uninsulated homes where the central heating is nonexistent and the rugs have never known the touch of the vacuum cleaner." Meanwhile, Susan is only on stroke 400 of her thousand nightly hairbrushes when terror strikes!
As we saw last time with the murder puppet, women in these stories are always being dismissed as nervous wrecks. I'd be a nervous wreck myself if everyone dismissed everything I ever said as nervous gibberish!
What if we kissed by the scary book warning of strange forces and destruction
Ambulance? Hospital? Doctor? No, just leave the collapsed elderly guy in the care of your cranky old disabled dad. And again! Go to your rooms!
People die all the time in these giant English mansions, Mr. Reinhart. Haven't you ever seen a horror movie? These places are corpse magnets!
Karloff is perfectly able to walk and move around and dig graves, he just has that wheelchair for respect, like Guy Caballero from SCTV
This sequence is as close as this comic's artwork comes to capturing Nick Adams in all his squinty glamour. Sources say this is John Tartaglione, but it sure looks like Tony "Dracula" Tallarico to me, inked by the singular hand of Vince Colletta. Now THAT's what I call a horror comic
Even the trees want Nick Adams to get lost!
"I've got to get to town and talk to somebody who isn't one of those superstitious villagers. Somebody who can spell the name of their own town accurately!"
"Since that day, I've been a ruined man, haunted by one question- does Karloff need that wheelchair or not? It's been driving me crazy! Now get out and let me drink in peace."
Tomatoes as large as watermelons, gourds as large as trunks, lots of other giant vegetables we aren't show. Maybe they're over in the parts of the dining room that we never saw.
Sure, fine, let's make geese even MORE violent and aggressive. Thanks, mysterious glowing rocks!
It gives off heat and glows in different colors? That's not uranium, that's a Lite-Brite, dumbass
Thank goodness Nick Adams is here to take up the slack of ordering Susan around when her father is absent!
"I'm ignoring you, rats! I can't hear you, bats! It's like you're not even there! Can you see how hard I'm ignoring you?"
Stand over here, stand over there, go to your room, go to your mother's door, don't go on the heath - the fun game of "Ordering Susan around" never seems to end in the Wintley place.
Uh oh, Nick Adams - I mean Stephen, Stephen has found the trap door that leads to the glowing room of mystery! The trap door that is now square and used to be round! Proof positive of the influence of awesome forces from beyond time and space. Or a lazy artist. Whichever.
By the authority vested in me as a certified meddler, I order you to dispose of all strange glowing rocks immediately!
Like all dreams of radioactive tomatoes and geese with worse tempers than usual, Wintley's dreams were doomed to failure.
And now we know what caused the Wicked Witch of the West to dissolve - she was dangerously radioactive!
Yup, we know... the cemetery put the gravestone in backwards. We're not going to say anything about it right now, we'll worry about it later.
Finally, old Wintley hauls out his AEC-approved nuclear material disposal axe and gets to work!
Well, it turns out the radioactive rock was some kind of horrifying radioactive space creature living inside an egg. I think this comic is trying a last minute attempt to drag the story back towards something resembling an H.P. Lovecraft plot!
Changed by the terrifying space monster from Boris Karloff into Boris Karloff's Stuntman, the atomic mutant rampages through the Wintley house leaving a trail of radioactive carpet in his wake. Does Miele or Dyson have a model that decontaminates?
We now have dead, monster, dead, whether you prefer to think the monster was Karloff, or the monster was the radioactive thing inside the rock, or the editors at Dell, or the producers at AIP, or Lovecraft himself, famously kind of a racist. They're all dead now. Oh, the horror.
Susan watches as everything she knows and loves and owns in the world goes up in countryside-poisoning smoke, and she comes face to face with the immensity of the wrenching horror that has seized her in the unceasingly powerful grip of the stunning, madness-inducing realization that she is, in fact, stuck with Nick Adams. Now THAT's scary!
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