Remember those groovy Time Life book series from the 80s and 90s? I know they had several different series, such as woodworking and DIY fix-it-all books, but my absolute favorite was the Mysteries of the Unknown series. And while I was never allowed to order them (try though I did to convince my dad that there was a supernatural conspiracy underfoot in this country that needed to be revealed!), one of my very groovy aunts did purchase several of these books.
I remember the first time I discovered the books in her collection. I picked out several titles that I simply had to read: Hauntings, Mysterious Creatures, Phantom Encounters, and Witches and Witchcraft. I read each book in one sitting. I was vaguely aware that people were around me, trying at various points throughout the evening to communicate with me. However, I was way too deep in “true” stories about vampires, succubi, hauntings, possessions, demons, and all things that were guaranteed to build within my mind and freak the crap out of me.
When I was finally finished reading all the books, my brain was so crammed with creepy stories and imagery that even walking to our car for the ride home freaked me out. Every snap, crackle, and pop made me jump. I was certain that something was waiting for us, in the night…in the dark. I’m also sure that I spent a long time that night checking closets and under beds. Behind the couch. Behind the shower curtain. In the attic. You name it, I probably checked it.
Why anyone would let a kid with an overactive imagination lay hands on these books is beyond me. What were my relatives thinking? 😉
Every now and then on visits to my aunt’s place, I would return to these books, pulling them from the shelf and perusing them yet again, reliving all those phantasmagorical stories and illustrations. Also, these books taught me actual facts, like the role of Vlad the Impaler in the Dracula legend. Who knew these books would actually teach anyone anything real?
I loved those books. So, when my aunt decided to pare down her library during a move, guess who got her Mysteries of the Unknown collection? Oh yeah, betches, it was Loba B. I still have those books. I was hoping to snap a photo of them since I am right now at my parents’ house, where the collection now resides. However, I seem to have done too good a job reorganizing all my stuff here…and now I can’t find the books. Ironically enough, while looking for them, I found the TI-99/4A computer.
Anyway, since I don’t have a decent photo, here’s the original commercial that used to air all the time on television, usually during those late, late, late horror movies playing on the syndicated channels like Fox 5 and WDCA-TV 20, before they became inundated with reality television shows.
Side note: I actually had planned on making this entry about Dario Argento’s 1987 movie Opera. The only memory that I carried around in my mind regarding this movie centered on those effing needles taped underneath Cristina Marsillach’s eyes during the murder scenes. That image still makes my eyes water just to think about it. Then I went back and watched some clips on YouTube and remembered what complete torture porn this movie was. I couldn’t in good conscience link to any of the clips showing the killings from this movie, simply because they’re so over-the-top horrible, but not in the delightfully campy style of Freddy or Jason. This was just creepy, too realistic over-the-top. So I changed my mind and went with these books, which successfully scared the Holy Trinity out of me on several occasions. However, here’s the cover art for Opera, just so you can see the needles under the eyes. Tell me that isn’t Clockwork Orange one step worse?