The Ten Plagues of Christmas

At this magical time of the year

I feel a small frisson of fear

I was scared as a child

By the voice, soft and mild

Of a gentleman ever so queer.

It’s true — a Hogmanay screening of THEATRE OF BLOOD so terrified me as a kid, I couldn’t walk into a room for months afterwards without imaging the severed head of Arthur Lowe waiting for me. I think it was the fact that he’s murdered in bed, the place of childhood safety, and in a slow, methodical, surgical manner…

I once had a flat mate similarly traumatised, but by Robert Morley’s demise in the same film, choked to death on a cream-of-poodle pie rammed down his throat through a funnel. She couldn’t eat chicken pie ever again.

So this time of year often makes me think of Vincent Price. And since it’s near the climax of the Vincentennial, the blogospheric celebration of his hundredth blood-curdling year, it seemed mete to sing his praises.

I limbered up with this little rhyme, then decided to indulge in a ten-lim marathon celebrating each of Phibes’ phiendish phorays.

Thus: The Wreckalogue.

A further entry in the Vincentennial, dealing with the gripping WITCHFINDER GENERAL, is here. And make sure you check out everyone else’s rhymes! A big thankyou to Hil for having me.

6 Responses to “The Ten Plagues of Christmas”

  1. David, thank you for the severed head in my stocking! Limerwrecks would be a lot less joyful without you. Your Theatre of Blood limericks will be appearing throughout January.

    I still can’t believe that you were taken to this horror film when you were so young. I was scared many times as a child, and all it took was a black and white television. Hiding behind the couch from the sucking sand pits in Invaders From Mars, running from my grandparent’s living room from the moving wax dummies in Martin Balsam’s basement on The Twilight Zone, and squinting through my fingers at much less stellar material. I was an easy mark for horror, and really insipid stuff used to completely creep me out.

  2. Oh no, I stayed up late to watch it on TV. I would have been six when it first came out. I was at least 12 when it scared the bejesus out of me.

    My first TV scares were Talos in Jason and the Argonauts and the cyclops in Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. And Dr Who provided weekly innoculation against the night terrors.

  3. Invaders From Mars scared the shit out of me too. Theatre of Blood is a sophisticated black comedy. Kind of a Terry Southern version of Agatha Christie with a dash of Franju.

  4. …and a huge debt to Fuest’s Phibes. Lacking the great visuals provided by Fuest’s eye and Brian Eatwell’s design, it has a superb cast (everybody wanted to be in a film about killing critics!), it allows Vincent to move his face, and it has a gorgeous score by Michael J Lewis, with lovely titles culled from silent Shakespeare films.

    As a kid I read a description of Invaders from Mars in Famous Monsters, where it described the plot and said that because of its storyline, this was one of very few films it wouldn’t recommend kids see. Which made sense to me at the time… when I eventually saw the movie, I was too old to be scared, but it does evoke those childhood feelings of alienation from the world of adults.

  5. The space siren (who only Dr Smith sees) floating outside Jupiter 2 in an episode of Lost in Space scared the crap out of me. Probably literally. And whenever someone suddenly aged to a wizened crone in Star Trek (which they seemed to do frequently or maybe it was the same episode repeated).

  6. There was a Trek episode with an omnipotent kid who makes somebody’s face vanish which deeply disturbed me. I guess that’s where the mouthless girl in Joe Dante’s Twilight Zone episode (also about an omnipotent kid) came from…

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