Showcase Presents The Secrets of Sinister House Paperback – Feb 9 2010
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Well, not to worry pulp horror fans -- it's all totally nuts out there psychedelic horror freakery of the highest order ! The first few stories are vaguely related to 'romantic themes' it's true, but after that, it sems that DC forgot about their 'commitment' to getting teenage girls interested, and went back to their same old deranged formula. ( There's no knowing of course, what these far out comics actually did to the newly initiated teenage female fans though.... One shudders to think...)
All the best Filipino talent is here ( Alcala, Nino, Ruben, Yandoc ) , along with some very heavy psychedelic pop art woodcut style contributions from the American artists. The scripts are totally deranged and psychotropic too. One wonders exactly what substances these humble scribes were ingesting whilst dreaming up these far out freak tales....
It just misses a five star review because some of the stories are over long in my opinion -- the opening "romantic" stories are worthwhile,sure -- but they drag on a bit, and seem a little half hearted and unconvincing at points.
Over all though, it's hard to fault these fantastic reissues -- As soon as I got my mitts on its glossy cover,perused the titles, and saw all my favourite Filipino artists listed, I knew it was going to be a great evening's read, and I wasn't disappointed.
So -- save the book for a rainy evening on your own : brew a pot of the best English tea, or better still, top up a glass of the finest, dim the bed side lamp, draw the bed covers tighter, get comfortable -- and enjoy the "Secrets of Sinister House" trip !
I really hope we get "Witching Hour" and "Ghosts" reissue volumes as soon as possible
Secrets of Sinister House was originally called The Sinister House of Secret Love for its first 4 issues. Issues 1-4 were also double-sized comic books with one main story, and one brief back up comic, making them essentially graphic novels. These early issues had a definite horror/romance slant to them, usually involving a woman marrying an enigmatic or super attractive dude only to find out he was cursed or was in league with the devil. It was all in good fun.
From issue #5 to the end of its run at #18, the title of the book changed to Secrets of Sinister House. #5 was the last issue in the romantic horror graphic novel style, with #6 introducing its new format of 4-5 shorter tales in a normal length comic book. Eve, the mom of DC horror commentators Cain and Abel, also showed up to introduce each story Cryptkeeper-style, sometimes even becoming a character in the action. After issue #5, the stories shifted away from romance to standard scary stories involving werewolves, ghosts, and monsters. But here and there, some pretty good yarns unwind themselves that rely more on suspense, mystery, and clever endings.
Funnily enough, I actually liked the initial horror romance format of this book better. It just seemed like the writers could develop the stories better and and the climaxes had more power because of it. With #6 on, the stories became so short that the plots became ridiculous. It would go something like this. Guy is in woods, gets bit by werewolf, becomes werewolf, gets shot, the end. It's almost like watching teaser trailers of a full-length horror movie. Or they seem like story ideas, not stories themselves. It's a real shame because a lot of those issues contain some gorgeous art from some I have heard of like Don Heck, Larry Hama, Alfredo Alcala, Howard Chaykin, and Gil Kane, and some I haven't heard of like Rubeny, Alex Nino, and Jess Jodloman.
Definitely worth a read even though you will probably be disappointed with the writing of the greater half of the book. Appreciate it more for the art and the unintentional rushed humor.
Unfortunately some of the COVER art IS presented in grayscale, which IMHO does a deep disservice to Jeff Jones and others. Mostly, though, this is great stuff. Sergio Aragones throws in a page of comedy from issue to issue - his "Witch's Tails" are mildly funny and a decent counterfoil to the otherwise serious (by intention, anyway) stories in this collection.
Apparently DC wanted to make an appeal to a female readership with Daphne Dumaurier-type stories. I guess it didn't work, 'cause after issue 6 the ghostly romance stuff fades away and we're in HOUSE OF MYSTERY territory! The subtite "of Secret Love" gets dropped by #5.
The tales start as pretty predictable gothic romance, then in issue 7 turn into the harder-edged stuff that was being printed in mainstream comix at the beginning of the rebellion against the Comics Code Authority. Inspired by Jim Warren, whose contemporary comix anthologies EERIE and CREEPY were printed WITHOUT code approval (and were making money...), DC and Marvel began fumbling forays back into territory forbidden since the scapegoating of EC at the Kefauver hearings. This stuff is less violent than Warren, but for Silver-Age code horror, I'd recommend it. There are quite a few oddball gems in here.