A Halloween Poem, reproduced on an antique postcard


It has been unseasonably cold, and my thoughts are starting to skip past Halloween to the iron days of November. If it keeps up like this, the trick-or-treaters will have to stuff their costumes into their overcoats.

(EDIT: In case I wasn't clear, the postcard is antique, but the poem is new.)


"And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death."

I have been privileged to hear a preview of the new Sublinear album, Masque of the Red Death. It is, take my word for it, fantastic and terrifying! Red Death lacks the trip-hop beats of its predecessor, Pinned Beneath the Boiling Sky, but it shares--and surpasses!--the deep orchestral textures and atmosphere of inescapable dread. Friends, this is really frightening music.

The album will launch tomorrow, October 1st, on the netlabel This Plague of Dreaming. I will update with the link after it goes live. The full album is, as usual, free to download.

UPDATE: The album can be found HERE. Download without delay! If you like us, you will love Sublinear.

"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."



I just can't seem to drag this blog into the 20th century...

The following is reprinted from The Student, or, The Oxford and Cambridge Monthly Miscellany (1751), for your grueful diversion (with the original explanatory footnotes). A tip for modern readers: eighteenth century printing used the 'long s' [ſ] at the beginning and in the middle of words, and the 'short s' [s] at the end. It can take a little getting used to, but I've retained it because I think it adds to the archaic charm of the piece.

O D E to H O R R O R


----- Ferreus ingruit Horror. VIRG.

O Goddeſs of the gloomy ſcene,
Of ſhadowy ſhapes thou black-brow'd queen ;
Thy treſſes dark with ivy crown'd,
On yonder mould'ring abbey found ;
Oft wont from charnels damp and dim,
To call the ſheeted ſpectre grim,
While as his looſe chains loudly clink,
Thou add'
ſt a length to every link :
O thou, that lov'
ſt at eve to ſeek
The pen
ſive-pacing pilgrim meek,
ſett'ſt before his ſhudd'ring eyes
Strange forms, and fiends of giant-
As wildly works thy wizard will,
Till fear-
ſtruck fancy has her fill :
Dark pow'r, who
ſe magic might prevails
O'er hermit-rocks, and fairy-vales ;
O godde
ſs, erſt, by * SPENSER view'd,
What time th' enchanter vile embru'd,
His hands in FLORIMEL's pure heart,
Till loos'd by ſteel-clad BRITOMART :
O thou that erſt on fancy's wing
ſt terror-trembling TASSO bring,
To groves, where kept damn'd furies dire
Their blazing battlements of fire :
Thou that thro' many a darkſom pine,
O'er the rugged rock recline,
ſt wake the hollow-whiſpr'ing breeze
With care-con
ſumed ELOISE :
O thou, with whom in chearle
ſs cell,
The midnight clock pale pris'ners tell ;
O ha
ſte thee, mild Miltonic maid,
From yonder yew's
ſequeſter'd ſhade ;
More bright than all the fabled Nine,
Teach me to breathe the
ſolemn line !
O bid my well-rang'd numbers ri
Pervious to none but Attic eyes ;
O give the
ſtrain that madneſs moves,
Till every
ſtarting ſenſe approves !

What felt the Galli
c traveller,
When far in Arab-de
ſert drear,
He found within the catacomb,
Alive, the terrors of a tomb ?
While many a mummy thro' the
In hieroglyphic
ſtole array'd,
Seem'd to uprear the my
ſtic head,
And trace the gloom with gho
ſtly tread ;
Thou heard
ſt him pour the ſtifled groan,
HORROR ! his
ſoul was all thy own !

O mother of the fire-clad thoughts,
O ha
ſte thee from thy grave-like grot !
(What time the witch perform'd her rite,)
Sprung from th' embrace of TASTE and Night !
O queen ! that er
ſt did'ſt thinly ſpread
The willowy leaves o'er ISIS' head,
And to her meek mien did
ſt diſpenſe
Woe's mo
ſt awful negligence ;
What time, in cave, with vi
ſage pale,
She told her elegiac tale :
O thou ! whom wand'ring WARTON
Amaz'd with more than youthful awe,
As by the pale moon's glimm'ring gleam
He mus'd his melancholy theme :
O curfeu-loving goddeſs haſte !
O wa
ft me, to ſome SCYTHIAN waſte,
Where, in Gothic ſolitude,
Mid pro
ſpects moſt ſublimely rude,
Beneath a rough rock's gloomy cha
ſiſter ſits, ENTHUSIASM :
Let me with her, in magic trance,
Hold mo
ſt delirious dalliance ;
Till I, thy pen
ſive votary,
HORROR, look madly wild like thee ;
Until I gain true tran
ſport's ſhore,
And life's retiring
ſcene is o'er,
ſpire to ſome more azure ſky,
Remote from dim mortality ;
At length, recline the fainting head,
In Druid-dreams di
ſſolv'd and dead !

April 11, 1751 CHIM

* SPENSER's Fairy Queen, B. 3. Canto 12.

Gier. Liberat. B. 14.

Alluding to a ſtory of a French gentleman (mention'd by ſeveral Oriental travellers) who going into the catacombs, not far from Cairo, with ſome Arabs his guides, was there robb'd by them, and left ; a huge ſtone being plac'd over the entrance. I don't remember that any poetical uſe has been made of this ſtory.


The Terrific Register

This is not quite a book recommendation. I do not, generally, find much interest in real-life horrors, and The Terrific Register (1825) is an encyclopedic catalog of allegedly true "accounts of barbarities inflicted by savage hordes; cruel punishments with which crime has been visited; barbarous murders; atrocious assassinations and diabolical cruelties; bloody duels and sanguinary conflicts; daring villanies (sic), frauds, plots, conspiracies, and rebellions; remarkable robberies, piracies, executions, and persecutions for conscience sake" (as well as "well-authenticated stories of apparitions and strange and fearful superstitions; disastrous accidents, perilous enterprises, and miraculous escapes by sea and land; awful visitations and singular interpositions; accounts of plague, famine, fire, earthquake, and other special chastisements of Providence"). Harrowing stuff, by the look of it, though to be honest I haven't actually read more than the Preface.

But no, the thing which caught my eye immediately, and my reason for mentioning it at all, was the astounding title page illustration:

(click image for larger view)

Isn't it wonderful? I love the chunkiness of the old engraving, and the overload of macabre detail, epitomized by the legend, "GOD'S REVENGE AGAINST MURDER" (the central moral conceit of the book). The draped corpse and the silhouetted figures remind me a bit of Edward Gorey's animated introduction to the PBS series, Mystery.

The reader who wishes to "scrutinize his (sic) fellow in his worst estate" can find both volumes of this ghastly collection at Google Books:

The Terrific Register, or, Record of Crimes, Judgements, Providences, and Calamities, Volume I & Volume II


Love Means...

We don't plan on doing this every time we get something new for our collection, but this is just too exciting*: we just obtained an original pressbook from one of our favorite films, The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971). It's terrific!

It's full of poster images we haven't seen before, which is great, but our favorite part is the section titled "EXPLOITATION," which includes suggestions to theater owners, like:

GADGETS LOBBY DISPLAY -- As the title character in the film, Vincinet (sic) Price creates an assortment of killing machines to do away with his victims, contraptions almost Rube Goldbergish in design. Creating gadgets simply as gadgets or as kinetic sculpture has become a popular pastime among engineers and mechanically minded hobbyists. Try to find local devotees of the art, either through employee recreation clubs in local large companies or via small ads in local papers and ask to use their creations in a lobby display for the picture.
MACABRE DISPLAY -- Have eight coffin-shaped boxes draped in white sheets placed on sidewalk in front of theatre with sign stating: VICTIMS OF "DR. PHIBES" . . . THE MEANEST MAN IN TOWN

Why don't theaters do stuff like that anymore? Or do they? We don't get out much.

*to us, that is. YMMV.


Terrifying New Netlabel (Maybe?)

[reposted from our MySpace blog]

We love monster music. Horrorpunk, horrorbeat, spooky surf, Halloween novelty records, monster film soundtracks, we love it all. We love it so much that we got together to make our own. We've had a lot of fun, made some friends, and put out a couple records that we're pretty happy with.

But it's not enough for us anymore. We want more monster music.

So we had an idea: why not start our own monster music netlabel, as a side-label of This Plague of Dreaming? In addition to hosting our own future releases, we would like the label to feature other horrorbeat and horrorpunk artists, spooky singer-songwriters, zombie disco, werewolf ballads, pipe-organ phantasmagorias, Halloween songs. Nothing too nekro or gore-drenched, just good spooky fun. Monster music, right?

We're not saying we'll definitely do it, but if we can find a few other interested artists, we just might. (This is what we were hinting at in our previous post. Seriously, if this sounds like you, get in touch!)


The mouth of the crypt yawns wide...

...and slowly, maddeningly slowly, a shambling figure emerges into the moonlight. From deep within its worm-wracked frame groans a single guttural syllable, repeated again and again, rising into a shriek: "Blog... Bloooog... Bloooog! Blooooooog!"
Then, silence, utter silence----and blind, staring, glassy eyes...

Which is pretty much the story of this blog, to date. We decided a couple years ago that it would be a great idea(?) to start a Threshold People blog, to help our fans keep track of breaking, up-to-the-minute news about our doings(??), but we didn't get around to actually setting it up until September 2008. Then we got all excited about how cool it was going to be, and argued over layout and text colors, and who was going to write content, and what should go on our links list, and it was all we could talk about... and then we just sort of stopped, and left it to gather dust for nine months [insert hideous birth metaphor according to your inclination].

Now we're back, and this time we, er, mean it. We have some cool projects tentatively in the works that you might be interested to know about as they happen, but apart from the band-related announcements, this is also a place for us to vent our enthusiasm about classic horror and kindred topics, as the mood strikes us.

It's a good bet that if you're reading this, you are already familiar with The Threshold People, but if you've somehow stumbled across us unawares: we are an electronic music group from Massachusetts (USA) that plays a style of Monster Music we call horrorbeat. Our obsession and raison d'être is Classic Horror, especially the movies, and we got together to make music in tribute to our gristly heroes.

We are fortunate enough to be research fellows at The Plaguedream Institute, and our first two EPs (and a remix album) are available for free download from the Institute's outreach label, This Plague of Dreaming. Come check us out!

If you like what you hear, we'd love to hear from you! Being a web-based project instead of a performing band, we miss interacting with our audience. If you feel like getting in touch, just comment in this blog, or Friend us on MySpace. We're especially eager (for reasons that will be made clear in a future post) to make contact with other unsigned Monster Music acts, but anyone who loves the old monsters is welcome in the House of The Threshold People.

Check back soon for updates! And watch out for snakes!