By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin December 13, 2009 at 4:11AM
No director in the history of cinema has marketed himself quite like Alfred Hitchcock. He began appearing in specially-filmed trailers for his films in the late 1940s, and by the time he began hosting a popular weekly television show in the 1950s—which lasted ten years—he became a bona fide...
celebrity, widely imitated by comedians. He lent his name to a mystery-story magazine, board games, paperback books...and yes, a record album of ghost stories for children. MicroWerks has repackaged this piece of Hitchcockiana from 1962 as part of its Golden Records reissue series. There are six eerie stories in all, written (for the most part) and read by actor John Allen, with minimal sound effects and music, but the treat is listening to Hitchcock’s introductions, done in the dryly humorous tone of his television show. (The album even opens with his by-then familiar theme music, Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette”.) He begins by saying, “How do you do, boys and girls. I’m delighted to find that you believe in ghosts, too. After all, they believe in you, so it is only common courtesy to return the favor.”
The second album in this CD reissue package, from 1963, is equally unusual. Famous Monsters Speak bore the images of Dracula and the Frankenstein monster, as well as the logo of Forrest J. Ackerman’s monthly magazine, which celebrated them and other horror icons every month. Side One of the album—now a cut on the CD—featured a lengthy monologue, imagining what the monster would say upon his awakening. Side Two was another extensive speech by Count Dracula. These well-written pieces by Cherney Berg were performed by Gabriel Dell, best-remembered as one of the original Dead End Kids, but around this time he was a member of Steve Allen’s comedy troupe on television, where he frequently did his uncanny Bela Lugosi impression. Listen to the CD and you’ll hear just how well Dell channeled the great Lugosi voice and intonation. (After all, he met Bela when they were working on adjacent sound stages at Monogram Pictures in the early 1940s.)(MicroWerks)