Monday, October 10, 2011

TERROR TALES - The Old Sea Hag (Martha Wentworth)

YEAR: 1959

LABEL: Liberty

TRACK LISTING: Terror Train, Mice From Outer Space, Devil Octopus, Shipwreck, The Spooky Wheer, Slumber Nice

IMPRESSIONS: I got this album originally from friend Roxor in the Monster Club Forum; for several years we sent each other goodie packages of movies and music before losing track of each other. TERROR TALES is a wonderfully atmospheric spooky recording which starts out like an old-time radio horror programme like "INNER SANCTUM" or, more apropos, "THE WITCH'S TALE" as the Old Sea Hag enters and prepares to spin us some horror yarns with a particularly nautical flavour. Martha Wentworth's experience as a radio drama actress serves her in good stead here because the album does indeed play like an old radio show but done by a one-woman storyteller. Wentworth also has a magnificently frightening evil laugh; not in a cute way but actually very startling and nasty sounding. Wonderful! She sounds like she's really getting into the "spirit" of things (sorry); according to her dedication on the album cover: "'TERROR TALES!' is dedicated to all who seek a new thrill in entertainment... (And a new thrill in stereo sound). It is for all hosts and hostesses who seek a different pleasure for their guests... (And for themselves). It is dedicated to all persons whose bedrooms are inhabited by friendly ghosts... (And who can't sleep at night anyway). It is dedicated to the entertainment of people -- (To all who savor a frightening story uniquely told). 'TERROR TALES!', friend, is dedicated to you!!!"


FACT SHEET: Martha Wentworth was a radio actress who began working in films during the 1940s. Wentworth appeared in DAUGHTER OF DR. JEKYLL (1957), Disney's 101 DALMATIONS and THE SWORD IN THE STONE. She also had a varied television career in programmes ranging from "DRAGNET" to "PERRY MASON" to "LASSIE". She created the character of the Old Sea Hag Mariah Halkins specifically for this album along with writer Robert P. Hamilton. According to the liner notes: "...the Old Sea Hag, Mariah Halkins, [comes] from a combination of two unrelated and different personalities. One, a person of unknown age and origin, was encountered by Miss Wentworth on the Island of Nantucket in Massachusetts many years ago, the other was drawn from a study of William Shakespeare's immortal comedies. Her dedication to the plays and poetry of the incomparable bard prompted her to transpose many of his characters into the simpler terms of modern drama. The Old Sea Hag has now become a composite of all the electrifying eccentrics the world over... an ancient woman of the sea whose beginnings are relegated to the frothy oceans of conjecture."

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