Archive for the 'Occult/Supernatural' Category

Black Magic Ritual Kit and Witchcraft Ritual Kit (Avalon Hill, 1974)

Black Magic 1974

Black Magic 1974-2

Black Magic 1974-3


Witchcraft 1974

Witchcraft 1974-2

Witchcraft 1974-3

Witchcraft 1974-4

Witchcraft 1974-5

The commercial popularity of the occult was no longer in doubt after the film adaptations of Rosemary Baby (1968) and The Exorcist (1973), and the identification of witchcraft with the sexual revolution dates from Sex and the Single Girl (1962), by Helen Gurley Brown, and films like The Naked Witch (1961). In the following 10 years, much more was said, prompted more by male fantasy than reality, about “swinging covens.” At the same time, Playboy and Cosmopolitan (Helen Gurley Brown became editor-in-chief in 1965) had become cultural touchstones, and Hustler launched in 1974.

These two extremely rare items play on all of the factors listed above. Billed as “how-to” guides as opposed to games, they’re very rare and very pricey when they come around. Based on what I’ve seen—the outstanding male and female witch standees, for instance—role-playing seems to be involved. You can find lots of photos at Board Game Geek (here and here), thankfully. All we need now are scans of the respective “Manuals of Interpretation.” The kits are “based on the research of Dr. Brooke Hayward Jennings,” who doesn’t seem to exist outside of these two products.

Bigfoot by Hal G. Evarts (Scribner, 1973)

Bigfoot Evarts 1973

Bigfoot Evarts 1973-2

I had this as a kid and vaguely remember the plot: an English professor researching Bigfoot hires a camping guide to help track the elusive beast. They’re later joined by the professor’s plucky daughter. Strange happenings abound, but I believe there’s some sort of rational explanation for Bigfoot at the end of the novel. I can’t quite remember what it is.

Evarts, who died in 1989, is primarily remembered for his Westerns and mysteries, although Bigfoot was a popular entry in the children’s book phase of his career. The hardcover of the book featured a slight indentation of the footprint.

Houdini Magical Hall of Fame Museum Brochure, Circa 1980

Houdini Museum 1980-1

Houdini Museum 1980-2

The Houdini Magical Hall of Fame, located in Niagara Falls, Canada, opened in 1968 and was destroyed by fire (suspected arson) in 1995. To make things even creepier, Houdini had specifically requested that his memorabilia and paraphernalia be burned and not sold for profit.

An earlier version of the brochure (below) has “Witchcraft” in the title instead of “Spiritualism.” I wonder if the change was prompted by the North American Satanic Panic.

You can see photos of the museum and related documents at the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame Facebook.

Houdini Museum 1970s

(Images via Harry Houdini Circumstantial Evidence and the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame Facebook)

The Hamlyn Book of Horror by Daniel Farson (Hamlyn, 1979)

Hamlyn Horror 1979





The second book in Hamlyn’s horror/occult series is the hardest to find at a reasonable price, and I couldn’t locate any pages online. Luckily, I found some of the interior paintings at series artist Oliver Frey’s site.

Following the two cover images, we have depictions of the legend of Sawney Bean and his incestuous, cannibal clan, who, according to legend, ate more than 1,000 people; peasants set on fire by Vlad the Impaler; and “wolf boys” allegedly found in India in 1920 (the boys were actually girls, and the story is likely a hoax). In other words, nightly reading for ’70s kids.

The Hamlyn Book of Horror was published originally, minus the illustrations, as The Beaver Book of Horror (1977), seen below. The excellent cover of the Beaver (a Hamlyn imprint) edition is by Alan Lee.

Beaver Horror 1977

(Images via The Cobwebbed Room, Oliver Frey, and misen 23)

Alien Animals by Janet and Colin Bord (Granada, 1980)

Alien Animals 1980

Alien Animals 1985

Cover and interior illustrations are by Gino D’Achille. Unfortunately, I have no scans of the latter. The cover above is from a first edition, while the back sleeve is from a 1985 edition. The book follows the format established by John Keel’s Strange Creatures from Time and Space (Fawcett, 1970). See below for that cover: yet another stunner from Frank Frazetta.

Strange Creatures Keel 1970

(Back cover image via Library of the Phantasmagoria)

The Hamlyn Book of Ghosts in Fact and Fiction by Daniel Farson (Hamlyn, 1978)

Hamlyn Ghosts 1978

Hamlyn Ghosts 1978-3

Hamlyn Ghosts 1978-7

Hamlyn Ghosts 1978-2

Hamlyn Ghosts 1978-5

Hamlyn Ghosts 1978-6

Hamlyn Ghosts 1978-9

Hamlyn Ghosts 1978-8

The Hamlyn Book of Ghosts in Fact and Fiction was the first in a four-volume series by UK publisher Hamlyn. The other volumes, which I’ll post about separately, are The Hamlyn Book of Horror (1979), The Hamlyn Book of Mysteries (1983), and The Hamlyn Book of Monsters (1984). All but one were written by Daniel Farson (Bernard Brett wrote The Hamlyn Book of Mysteries), and all featured spectacular wraparound cover art by Oliver “Zack” Frey.

The series was probably prompted by rival publisher Usborne’s The World of the Unknown series (see here and here), first published in 1977 and aimed directly at the paranormal-obsessed youth market, although Hamlyn had been dabbling in the subject for many years: of particular interest is 1971’s Witchcraft and Black Magic by Peter Haining, a well-written overview featuring surreal, nightmarish illustrations by Jan Parker.

Ghosts in Fact and Fiction is not quite as garishly illustrated as Usborne’s All About Ghosts, though Hamlyn would ramp up the intensity for The Hamlyn Book of Horror. Usborne responded in kind—or maybe it was simple coincidence—with their Supernatural Guides (1979), three of the most delightfully gruesome introductions to occult subjects ever published.

Writer Daniel Farson led quite the eccentric life. He started his career as a journalist and appeared on several groundbreaking, investigatory news programs in the 1950s and early 1960s. He abruptly quit television and left London in 1964 to become a full-time writer. His 27 books include biographies (including one on his great-uncle, Bram Stoker), several memoirs of bohemian Soho (of which he was a contributing rake), travelogues, and two horror novels. He also wrote a volume for Aldus Books’ A New Library of the Supernatural called Vampires, Zombies, and Monster Men (1976), and a volume for Smithmark’s Great Mysteries series, Mysterious Monsters (1980).

Special thanks to The Cobwebbed Room for an excellent entry on the Hamlyn series, including full artist credits and contents lists.

(Images via Flickr and Pinterest)

Signs of the Zodiac Iron-On Transfers (Roach Studios, 1978)

Roach Astrology Aquarius

Roach Astrology Cancer

Roach Astrology Leo

Roach Astrology Sag

Roach Astrology Taurus

These are all I’ve been able to find. It should be enough to give every t-shirt in your closet an inferiority complex.

Frank Frazetta Cover Art for High Times #57 (May, 1980)

High Times #57 May 1980

Frazetta Mothman 1980

John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies (1975) popularized what several witnesses described as a man-sized, winged creature with glowing red eyes sighted in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, during 1966 and 1967. As far as I know, this is the only Mothman illustration Frazetta did, so I’m not sure what the “Exclusive Frazetta Inside!” refers to.

A 12-foot tall Mothman statue was unveiled in Point Pleasant in 2002, and appears to be based on Frazetta’s dramatic rendering more than actual eyewitness accounts.

High Times, as you might have guessed, is “the definitive resource for all things marijuana.”

Harry Borgman Cover Art for The Dracula Horror Series (Pinnacle, 1973)

Dracula Returns 1973

Hand of Dracula 1973

Dracula's Brothers 1973

Dracula's Gold 1973

Borgman illustrated the first four volumes of the nine-volume series, which you can read about at Too Much Horror Fiction and Monster Memories. The Groovy Age of Horror reviews all of the books here. Images are via Monster Memories.

Borgman talks about the covers here.

Great Tales of Horror and Suspense (Galahad Books, 1974)

Great Tales 1974-2











Great Tales of Horror and Suspense would be a superfluous anthology of famous horror stories if not for the extraordinary illustrations of Norman Nodel and Harry Borgman. Nodel painted the cover and did interior art for the first half of the book, while Borgman handled the exquisite line art for the Dracula section. See more of Borgman’s Dracula at And Everything Else Too. The black and white pages are from Borgman’s blog, where he talks about the assignment:

The art was rendered with a Crowquill pen with brush accents using India ink. It was a fun assignment and a real break from some of the Detroit automotive work that I was involved with at the time. Randy Mulvey, my New York [agent] during that period, landed this assignment for me as well as a series of Dracula paperback covers.

He goes into more detail about the gig in another post. I’ll post his Dracula covers later.




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