Kolchak: The Vampire

By Kathryn L Ramage

The Vampire

“This vampire didn’t come from Transylvania. It came from Las Vegas!”

Although no one says so distinctly–probably for copyright reasons–this episode is a sequel to the original Night Stalker movie.

Catherine Rawlins, the eponymous vampire, is another victim of Janos Skorzeny, never found during the time he stalked Las Vegas. Now, she returns from her unmarked grave.

The story begins one night about three years after the events of The Night Stalker in the desert just outside Las Vegas. A lone driver takes a wrong turn and finds herself on a dead-end road that’s closed for repairs, then she a flat tire. She gets out to change it, cutting her hand in the process and dripping a small amount of blood on the ground just off the road near her car.

While she changes her tire, she doesn’t immediately notice an upheaval in the sandy ground behind her. Two slightly out-of-focus hands emerge from the earth.

Unexpectedly for the beginning of a Kolchak episode, the car’s driver doesn’t become the newly-risen vampire’s first victim. When she finally sees the hands reaching up out of the ground, she abandons her car and runs away screaming into the night. Civilization mustn’t be very far away. …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

Kolchak: They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be…

By Kathryn L Ramage

Spaceship

This isn’t one of my favorite episodes; I routinely skip over it on the DVD. But I’ll bet that Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, likes it more than I do. He’s always attributed the inspiration for his own show to his teenaged watching of the Kolchak series, and you can certainly see some inspiring points in this particular episode.

Carl Kolchak sits at his desk in the INS offices, speaking into his pocket tape recorder:

I knew this would be more than the biggest story of my career. It was the biggest story in the lives of everyone on this planet. I fought for the story, fought harder than ever before.

I wanted people to know, to be prepared–if you can be prepared for something like this…

As usual, Carl’s story of bizarre happenings in the Chicago area begins with of a murder–not a woman or a man this time, but a cheetah at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The big cat is attacked by some unseen menace in its cage one night (and I wonder what they were really doing to the poor thing to make it look so agitated).

When his editor Tony Vincenzo tells Carl about the cheetah being “missing” …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

Dark Shadows: The Mystery of the Missing Pen

By Kathryn L Ramage

Roger, Burke, and Sam waiting

When I first watched Dark Shadows via Netflix, Collection 3 of the pre-Barnabas Beginning series wasn’t available. I skipped from the end of Collection 2, concerning the murder of Bill Malloy, to Collection 4, where the case is wound up, and missed most of the actual mystery story in between.

Since I got the entire Dark Shadows series on DVD for Christmas, I’m finally able to watch that missing section–episodes 71 through 105, about 7 weeks of airtime from the autumn of 1966.

Quick recap of the backstory: The body of Collinses’ cannery manager Bill Malloy washed up on the rocks below the cliffs of Collinwood, but the police believe that he was actually killed at a place a little farther up the coast called Lookout Point. His broken watch suggests that this happened at 10:45 pm, halfway between the last time he was seen alive at 10:30 by his housekeeper Mrs. Johnson, and the 11:00 meeting at the cannery, where Roger Collins, Burke Devlin, and Sam Evans were expecting him. Of course he never showed up.

Since Malloy intended to produce evidence that proved that Burke wasn’t driving the car during that drunken hit-and-run accident that sent him to prison …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

Storylandia 20: “Cannonfire” PREVIEW

By Ginger Mayerson

Storylandia, Issue 20
Winter 2017

PREVIEW

Cannonfire
By Lane Kareska

1899–1914:

Tribal… a dark and criminal mind… older brother… wandering alchemist… widow’s humiliation… the larger world… gypsies.

You know my name.

For the record.

Doctor Khatanbaatar Namnansüren.

Aliases…

You know my aliases…

Your mask. Speak clearly please. Aliases.

Cannonfire Khan. Nam the Cannonfire Man. Cannonfire Xan. Namnan Sussex. Doctor Eric Buck. Doctor Arne Scholes-Young. Doctor Leon Southset. Lord Conrad Sussex.

Age.

100. I think. Perhaps 101.

Education.

Informal.

Place of birth.

I do not know the exact place of birth.

Be as specific as you can.

Somewhere on the slopes of the Kharidal Soridag Range. Within forty kilometers of the Bolot village, or what used to be the Bolot village; my family members were tribespeople.

What do you remember of your childhood.

Thatch huts and yurts, the damp wooden smell of dung fires, my father’s stone axe, my mother’s tobacco pipe… Goats, pigs, rams, bears, eagles. Freezing winters, burning summers. Bandits. A wind that stank in the heat and seared flesh from your face. Imagine an arid ocean of grass and then fill the air with a melancholic howl.

You remember your parents? Siblings?

A brother and a sister. My sister died in infancy. She was eaten by a foal—my foal actually. I had an elder brother. Davaajav. I remember him very well. …read more

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Christmas Mysteries

By Kathryn L Ramage

The Blue Carbuncle

For years, I collected different film & TV versions of A Christmas Carol on DVD and watched them around this time of year, until I got thoroughly sick of Tiny Tim and Jacob Marley and “Humbug!” and the rest of it.

I began to look around for other holiday-themed viewing, and eventually turned to the extensive number of mystery stories I have on the shelves. How many of them are set at Christmas, so I could watch bodies pile up at English country houses and missing jewels turn up in weird places over a holiday weekend? Quite a few.

The Blue Carbuncle

Actually, I have two TV versions of this classic Sherlock Holmes story on DVD–one from the Jeremy Brett series from the 1980s, and the other from a series made in the late 1960s starring Peter Cushing. Several episodes of the latter have been lost, but a handful including The Blue Carbuncle survive.

The story: A famous gemstone is stolen from its owner at a posh London hotel. The man sent in to repair the heating is immediately arrested for the crime in spite of his protests that he’s innocent; he doesn’t have the big, blue gem on him and a reward is …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

Storylandia 15 review at Amazon

By Ginger Mayerson

“Julie Travis’ Storylandia collection is a must for any devoted follower of weird/dark/occult fiction. … I’d also comfortably file these stories between the stranger works of, say, Jonathan Carroll or Haruki Murakami, … transcend their genre trappings into a far more magical (sur)realist territory. … I can guarantee you’ll speed through these tales and be waiting as impatiently as I for a follow up.”
Storylandia 12 Amazon review, by Jon Yates, October 22, 2016

Thank you, Mr. Yates!

And in the realm of follow up:
Ms. Travis has stories in 2 other Storylandia issues:
“The Falling Man” in Issue 7
and
“The Ferocious Night” in Issue 12 and will have a book from the Wapshott Press in the near future as well.
Ginger Mayerson, Editor, Wapshott Press

…read more

Source:: Storylandia

      

Kolchak: The Zombie

By Kathryn L Ramage

Zombie on a crosstown bus

The second episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker breaks away from the template established by the two made-for-TV movies that the show was based upon. And it’s educational as well!
No exotic dancers, massage-parlor employees, or anybody else dressed like Barbara Eden get murdered this time; it’s a clash between Italian mobsters and a black numbers-running syndicate that drives the plot of this episode. All the victims are men.

This story was co-written by David Chase, who would go on later in his career to write a great deal more about mobsters, but sadly very little about the living dead coming back to take revenge on those who killed them.

The episode begins with Carl Kolchak’s pithy voiceover narration introducing us to a trio of low-level mooks counting up the receipts from their small-change racket in the otherwise empty back section of a parked semi-truck. Their work is interrupted when someone starts banging on the barred truck doors–the cops, they think as they scramble to destroy incriminating evidence, but the unseen person who bursts in on them proves more dangerous. After firing some ineffective shots, two of the men jump out of the trunk and escape. The third man, named …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

Kolchak: The Ripper

By Kathryn L Ramage

The Ripper

Carl Kolchak (Darrin McGavin, now and for always) is riding on an El train through Chicago and talking into his little pocket tape-recorder. Although his lip movements don’t match the narrative voice-over, this is what he says to get our story started on the right note:

“If by chance you happened to be in the Windy City between May 28 and June 2 of this year, you would have had very good reason to be terrified. During this period, Chicago was being stalked by a horror so frightening, so fascinating, that it ranks with the great mysteries of all times. It’s been the fictional subject of novels, plays, films, and even an opera. Now, here are the true facts…”

The first episodes of the television series Kolchak: The Night Stalker aired in September of 1974, a little less than 2 years after The Night Strangler.

Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson were no longer involved in Kolchak‘s production, but the template for the episodes that followed was already established by the two hugely successful made-for-TV movies created by these two men: world weary and wise-cracking reporter Carl Kolchak will continue to have brushes with the occult in the course of his regular newspaper …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

CD Review: Return to Collinwood

By Kathryn L Ramage

Return to Collinwood

I’m not done with Dark Shadows yet. An extra feature on one of the final DVDs for the television series, after the last episodes, was about an audio play written by Jamison Selby, David Selby’s son; it was performed by some of the show’s actors at fan conventions in the early 2000s, then they went into a studio and recorded it.

I checked for it on Amazon. Still available!

The story is on 2 discs. Some of the actors play their old, familiar characters again. Nancy Barrett is Carolyn Stoddard, now owner of Collinwood since her mother Elizabeth has passed on. David Selby is Quentin Collins, 140 years old, but he puts gray streaks in his hair to look like a well-preserved 50ish. Kathryn Leigh Scott is back as Maggie Evans. John Karlen is still Willie Loomis, living at the old Collins house.

I like that Jamison Selby has followed some of the projections for these characters provided by the show’s writer Sam Hall. Carolyn has been working for years as Head of Psychical Research at the University of Maine (sadly, not Miskatonic U). Maggie was married to Joe Haskell and has been widowed for about 1o years. Maggie now works at …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

Excerpt from “Who Killed Toby Glovins?”

By Kathryn L Ramage

Toby Glovins cover detail

The bride’s and groom’s friends prepare decorations in the garden the evening before the wedding…

The last chain of flowers was finished as the sun sank out of sight behind the garden wall. Bicky and, at his brother’s insistence, Dotty joined the girls and Felix to help hang the garlands up around the bower frame. Evelyn, who had been working swiftly to finish before sunset, put down the knife he’d been using to trim the flower-stems, washed the green stains from his hands in the water from one of the tubs, and hastily left. Phillip went over to Kell and the two began to talk quietly.

Freddie lay back on the grass and stared at the sky overhead as twilight settled in. The color had waned from bright, cloudless blue to a dusky lavender and was beginning to deepen. It was a beautiful evening, still, clear, and quiet. He could hear Kell and Phillip whispering together, and the smell of Kell’s cigarette in the cooling air made him wish he had one of his own.

There was some animated discussion at the bower, then Felix, Piggy, and Perdita came to stand over him.

“The girls,” announced Felix with a grin, “have a proposal.”

“A dance!” …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

The Ghost of a Tower

By Kathryn L Ramage

Layer Marney towers

Or, the story behind a cover photo.

The photograph for the cover of Who Killed Toby Glovins? was taken at a place called Layer Marney, which is about 1/2 an hour’s drive outside Colchester in the UK. I went there at the end of the same day I wandered around the lanes of the Suffolk countryside in search of Abbotshill; after I visited Lavenham, I drove south again down around the other side of the city. This was my last stop of the day.

Let’s call this part of the journey “Looking for Foxgrove.”

I’d never heard of Layer Marney until last spring, when I was searching online for places to see in the vicinity of Colchester. While making my travel plans for my upcoming trip, I came across the Web site for this house and not only though it looked interesting, but that a photograph of the towers might do nicely for the cover of my next Freddie Babington mystery. The story had already been finished and sent to my editor at that time.

I had no specific house in mind when I’d first described Foxgrove, where Toby Glovins’s murder occurs, but I haven’t been visiting stately homes all …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

DVD Review: The Uninvited

By Kathryn L Ramage

The Uninvited ghost

I first saw this film in the early hours of a New Year’s day, when I was about 12. After spending the week after Christmas at my grandmother’s house, my family drove home on a snowy New Year’s Eve and got in in time to watch the usual Times Square midnight countdown on TV.

Mom and Dad went to bed right afterwards, but before my little sister and I could pack up the big Christmas box of Legos, the same TV station began to show a movie; its opening caught our attention.

We stayed up to watch the whole thing, and didn’t get much sleep afterwards.

The opening scene? A black and white shot of waves crashing on a ragged, rocky coastline, and Ray Milland’s voice saying:

“They call them the haunted shores, these stretches of Devonshire and Cornwall and Ireland which rear up against the westward ocean. Mists gather here, and sea fog, and eerie stories. That’s not because there are most ghosts here than in other places, mind you–it’s just that people who live here are strangely aware of them. You see, day and night, year in, year out, they listen to the pound and stir of the waves. There’s life …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

DVD Review: Night/Curse of the Demon

By Kathryn L Ramage

Dana Andrews said prunes gave him the runes...

This 1957 film is loosely based on M.R. James’s 1911 short story, Casting the Runes–a story about a warlock who sics a demon on his enemies by secretly passing them a slip of paper with a runic curse on it. The only way his victims can escape a horrible fate is by giving the runes back to him without him knowing it, so that the curse rebounds back on the caster. Although the plot and characters are altered from those in James’s story, this version is generally considered one of the best films adapted from his work, and one of the best horror films of its era.

It’s a British film with a mostly British cast, but with an American star to draw a U.S. audience, which was a common practice at the time. It was released in the UK under the title Night of the Demon and in the US as Curse of the Demon.

The DVD has both versions of this film on it: the 95-minute original UK version and the US release, which is about 10 minutes shorter. The order of the scenes are slightly rearranged in the US version, and two full scenes plus some other little …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

Now on sale: Storylandia 19, Who Killed Toby Glovins?

By Ginger Mayerson

Where to buy: online store; also Amazon (eligible for free shipping); and Kindle.

Sample pages

Where to buy: online store; also Amazon (eligible for free shipping); and Kindle.

Who Killed Toby Glovins?
Kathryn L. Ramage
ISBN: 978-1-942007-10-4

Freddie Babington has solved two mysteries. When he travels to Norfolk in the autumn of 1923 to attend the wedding of Amelia Marsh and Evelyn Tollarhithe, he doesn’t anticipate a third murder investigation. Then, on the evening before the wedding, a friend of the groom is found stabbed under circumstances that look compromising for Evelyn. Freddie agrees to take the case for Amelia’s sake. As Freddie digs deeper behind the friendship between Evelyn and Toby Glovins, and uncovers old family secrets, he learns that the question of who murdered Toby is more complicated than it first appears. And so, he discovers, are his feelings for the disappointed bride.

Kathryn L. Ramage has a B.A. and M.A. in English lit and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She lives in Maryland with three cats. As well as being the author of numerous short stories, novellas, and essays, she is the author of “Maiden in Light,” “The Wizard’s Son,” and “Sonnedragon,” novels set on an alternate Earth whose history has diverged from ours somewhere during the medieval period. All three are part of an intended series of fantasy novels that mostly take place in a dukedom called the Northlands, a part of the Norman Empire that roughly covers the north-eastern U.S. For more information, please visit her website at www.klr.wapshottpress.com.

Also by Kathryn L. Ramage
The Wizard’s Son
Maiden in Light
Sonnedragon
Storylandia 10: Death Among the Marshes
Storylandia 16: The Abrupt Disappearance of Cousin Wilfrid

Where to buy Storylandia …read more

Source:: Storylandia

      

DVD Review: The Night Strangler

By Kathryn L Ramage

Murder in Pioneer Square area

Both this movie and The Night Stalker are on the same DVD. I was originally planning to do both as one review, then cut it into two pieces at the last minute.

After the enormous success of The Night Stalker, a sequel was inevitable. This second movie aired on ABC in 1973, about a year after the first. The plot follows the same general outline as its predecessor: newshound Carl Kolchak investigates the bizarre murders of a number of women and discovers that the killer is a man with supernatural powers, but Carl has trouble getting the truth published due to the efforts of the city’s officials and his own newspaper’s management. But there are several differences that make me prefer this sequel to the original. First, the city where this second series of murders occurs is Seattle instead of Las Vegas, and the story makes use of an interesting historical attraction. And while I like movies about vampires and werewolves, I like it more when the monster is something a little more out of the usual.

In addition, the tone of this sequel is lighter, less cynical and more comical, and the story sets up tropes that will be part of the television series that eventually followed.

Like The Night Stalker, this movie begins with Carl Kolchak’s pithy narration describing the late-night murder of a young woman who worked as an exotic dancer (not a stripper; she and the other girls who work at place called Omar’s Tent wear outfits like Barbara Eden’s from I Dream of Jeannie) under the stage name of Merissa. As Merissa walks through the darkened streets of the Pioneer Square area, the oldest part of Seattle, a cadaverous-looking man leaps out of the shadows to throttle her. Police will find her with her neck broken …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

DVD Review: The Night Stalker

By Kathryn L Ramage

Second murder

Now that I’m finished with Dark Shadows, I’ve decided to go on to another short-lived but influential series that began life as a Dan Curtis production and the movie that started it off.

The Night Stalker, screenplay by Richard Matheson, aired on ABC in 1972. According to the interview with Dan Curtis on this DVD, it was a huge success, hitting the highest ratings for any made-for-TV movie up that point. Different from Curtis’s previous work with its gothic settings and trappings, this was a thoroughly modern and cynical horror movie that let a vampire loose to hunt in a big and brash city, and introduced a vampire hunter who was nothing like Van Helsing.

We first see Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin), not in what would become his trademark seersucker suit and battered straw hat, but as a guy in a T-shirt in a small and shabby apartment. He pushes the Play button on his pocket tape-recorder, then gets a beer from a tiny fridge, and wanders around in the background before settling down on the bed to listen to his own recorded voice saying:

“This is the story behind one of the greatest manhunts in history. Maybe you read about it–what they let you read about it, probably some item on a back page. However, what happened in that city between May 16 and May 28 of this year was so incredible that to this day the facts have been suppressed to save certain political careers from disaster and law enforcement officials from embarrassment.

This will be the last time I will ever discuss these events with anyone. So when you’ve finished this bizarre account, judge for yourself its believability and then try to tell yourself, wherever you may be, it couldn’t happen here…”

We have it right up front …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

CD Review: Dreams in the Witch House

By Kathryn L Ramage

Dreams in the Witch House scrapbook

Brown Jenkin has always creeped me out more than any of the betentacled, rugose, crinoid, or even squamose eldritch monstrosities that feature in Lovecraft’s other stories. It’s not Brown Jenkin’s rattiness that disturbs me, but his little human face and tiny human hands and feet, and his nasty way of chittering. Not to mention the gruesome death of the protagonist at the end of this story.

The first time I played this CD, it was during an evening hour with the light slowly fading as the sun went down. The Calico Horrors Part 2 and 3 were having one of their wrestling matches, so the sounds of squeaks and soft, furry thumps in the shadowy recesses beneath the living- room furniture, plus the occasional skitter of little claws on the floorboards augmented my listening experience of this audio drama about a malignant, mathematical witch and her rat-like familiar.

The Lovecraft story is online at http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/dwh.aspx.

The Dark Adventure Radio Theatre’s version of Dreams in the Witch House is narrated from the point of view of a character who barely features in Lovecraft’s tale, a young man named Frank Elwood (Sean Branney). He’s the only other Miskatonic University student who has a room in the same ancient Arkham house as the hapless Walter Gilman (Andrew Leman); the other inhabitants of the house are all immigrants, mostly Poles. After the horrific events of the original story have concluded, Elwood goes to see a priest–not for confession, but for guidance and some spiritual comfort in light of the terrifying things he’s witnessed. He tells Father Ivanicki about his friendship with Gilman, beginning with the day of their meeting and ending with Gilman’s ugly death.

Walter Gilman was a brilliant young mathematician. Like so many Miskatonic students, he also dabbled in the occult and sought to read …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

DVD Review: The Dunwich Horror

By Kathryn L Ramage

Wilbur Whately's idea of a date

In some ways, this is a rather silly film as well as a loose adaptation of the original short story, but I can’t be too hard on it. It was, after all, my childhood introduction to the works of H.P. Lovecraft; if I hadn’t watched this movie and noted that it had some unusual elements that I hadn’t seen in other horror movies, and then seen the same title on the spine of a library book a few years later, who knows where I’d be today?

This was on television more than once in the early ’70s, and for years I was under the impression that it was one of those scary made-for-TV movies that aired during that time period and traumatized so many of my generation with images of little goblins dragging Kim Darby into the chimney or a Zuni fetish doll chasing Karen Black. Now that I see it on DVD, I realize that it was an AIP theatrical release. It’s actually one of the early examples of sexed-up Lovecraft–see also Dagon and From Beyond. The bowdlerized version I grew up with didn’t have visions of naked orgies, nor did the tentacled horror locked up on the top floor strip the clothes off one of its victims.

What we did see, even on ’70s television, was that Wilbur Whately gets a girlfriend so he can try to repeat his mother’s experience with human / Old One hybrids.

This version of The Dunwich Horror begins with a prologue at the Whately house, which is much larger, fancier, and in better condition than the dilapidated farmhouse of Lovecraft’s story. When we get a better look around the place later on, we can observe that the interior has the same sort of decayed opulence as the Usher house… and will meet with …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

CD Review: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

Photograph of Charles Dexter Ward with his ancestor Joseph Curwen's portrait

“From a private hospital for the insane near Providence, Rhode Island, there recently disappeared an exceedingly singular person. He bore the name of Charles Dexter Ward and was placed under restraint most reluctantly by the grieving father who had watched his aberration grow from a mere eccentricity to a dark mania involving both a possibility of murderous tendencies and a profound and peculiar change in the apparent contents of his mind. Doctors confessed themselves quite baffled by his case, since it presented oddities of a general physiological as well as psychological character.”

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
H.P. Lovecraft

When I began …read more

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Revisiting the Dark Shadows movies

Old Barnabas

A little while ago, I came to the conclusion that I’d watched House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows too early in my viewing of the television series; I decided that I’d watch them again after I’d finished the show to see if I understood how they fit into the overall story better.

With that purpose in mind, I Netflixed both this past weekend. I also took the opportunity to get some screencaps to dress my old reviews up.

House of Dark Shadows

At the end of my original review of this film, I said that I could never …read more

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Dark Shadows: The Very End

The Lottery (not by Shirley Jackson)

We’ve seen the last of Barnabas Collins, Julia Hoffman, and the Collins family of the 1960s/70s.

Back in 1840, Desmond Collins tears down the transdimensional stairway built by his cousin Quentin. He tells his fiancee Leticia Faye what Barnabas told him about the room in Collinwood’s east wing that intersects with an alternate reality, then they go upstairs to take a peek into the room.

Desmond and Leticia watch as the alt-Flora and alt-Julia discover the body of Lamar Trask on the carpet. The two alt-ladies have no idea who this person could be, but assume that he must have been stabbed …read more

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