Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Macabre Marvel Monsterpieces!

From about mid-1973 to '74, Marvel's various titles began a blitz of horror-themed house ads that couldn't help but make you curious about what was going on in pop culture that the company wanted to take advantage of to drive traffic to its horror-related mags. As it turns out, there were over ninety (!) horror films released during those two years, including these popular flicks that had notable actors:
  • The Exorcist (Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair) - Box Office: $402-441 million
  • From Beyond The Grave (Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasence - Box Office: (unknown)
  • The Satanic Rites of Dracula (Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing) - Box Office: £223,450
  • Theatre of Blood (Vincent Price, Diana Rigg) - Box Office: $1 million
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Marilyn Burns - narrated by John Larroquette!) - Box Office: $30.8 million
  • The Legend Of Hell House (Roddy McDowell, Pamela Franklin) - Box Office: $2.5 million

It's a fair bet that Tales From The Crypt, released in mid-'72, and The Exorcist, released at the end of '73, were enough to focus Marvel's attention on generating horror-based product, and also perhaps responsible for the dozens of horror films being churned out afterward. Needless to say, Peter Cushing received steady work during this period, as did other reliables such as Vincent Price, Joan Collins, Christopher Lee and John Carradine. Also in the theater could be found these gems:
  • Flesh For Frankenstein
  • Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things
  • The Boy Who Cried Werewolf
  • Blackenstein
  • Satan's School For Girls
  • Drive-In Massacre
  • Killdozer
  • Let Sleeping Corpses Lie
  • Scream Blacula Scream
And from 1972, don't miss:
  • The Erotic Experiences of Frankenstein
  • The Gore Gore Girls

A movie ticket during this time was around a mere $1.75, so you got a lot of death and gore for your money. Marvel was obviously hoping you'd have some spare change left over for its horror mags, which were heavily promoted. Have a look at a sampling of their ads, where it appears that Morbius, the Living Vampire, holds a slight lead over Dracula. (Maybe living vampires were catching on, while the dead ones were becoming passé?)


If you can first guess the number of times the word "macabre" collectively appears in these ads,
the PPC will send you a free comic book of your choice!
(Not really!)



Anonymous said...

One of the best horror films from this period is 'The Wicker Man' with Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward - a superb portrayal of a pagan society, and I loved all the songs too. I remember asking my father what "macabre" meant because the Black Panther series, "Panther's Rage", had a character called Baron Macabre.

JungGRT said...

IIRC, the Comics Code loosened its rules on zombies,vampires, etc. at the time, which was another big reason why Marvel went in this direction. Do I get a No-Prize for this tidbit of knowledge?

Comicsfan said...

Gordon, that's an excellent point, and one that ties in with an earlier post on the subject. That no-prize is on its way to you! (I couldn't make it monster-proof, so I'm afraid you can only display it during the day!)

Colin, those Jungle Action issues certainly had quite a collection of horrific villains during the "Panther's Rage" story, so the good Baron was in good company in that respect. King Cadaver was another frightful sight--you can't help but wonder what made Don McGregor go that route in creating villains for T'Challa.