Longbox Junk Halloween 2023 Part 14 Tales of Ghost Castle #3

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Welcome to Longbox Junk! I write comic reviews nobody asked for!  

 
And now we're up to part FOURTEEN of the 2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon! Only 3 more after this entry to beat my October record! GOALS!
 
Looking back over the entries this year so far, I see that it's a sort of ghost and werewolf heavy party this year. . .so how about leaning into it with some more ghosts!  The more the merrier, am I right?  Yes I AM!
 
I reviewed issue #2 of this extremely short-lived series (only 3 issues) for LAST YEAR'S HALLOWEEN PARTY and really enjoyed it, so I kept my eyes open and managed to snag another one for this year's shindig.  Will we have another certified nugget of Longbox Junk gold with THIS issue? 
 
 Let's find out!  

TALES OF GHOST CASTLE #3

DC (1975)

 
 
COVER: Luis Dominguez
 
THE COVER:
 
I like this one a lot!  It's a great Halloween cover.  There's a lot of nice detail and a good sense of movement.  I really like the poltergeist theme, and the contrast between the bright central figure of the woman and the darkened room.  Word balloons on a cover are usually sort of intrusive to MY eye, but this one actually makes the cover better!  
 
The only think I DON'T like is how the title takes up so much territory.  Don't get me wrong, the logo is cool, but definitely just too big.  All in all a great Halloween cover.  Let's get inside!
 
THE STORIES:
 
The more of these older anthologies I read, the more I appreciate the value compared to comics today.  THREE stories in ONE comic for a single, lousy quarter.  I might sound old, but they don't make 'em like that anymore.  Let's check these stories out!
 
THE DEMON'S HERE TO STAY!
 
SCRIPT:  Jack Oleck
PENCILS:  Ernie Chan
INKS: Bill Draut
 
THE STORY:
 
Medieval Europe, the village of Domray.  Paul and Marie Lebrun are terrified when their son, a slow-witted but gentle giant named Andre begins to exhibit strange powers and a violent disposition. In desperation, they turn to a friend, Trudeau the Scholar, trying to find an answer before their beloved son is arrested for witchcraft.
 
 
Trudeau is skeptical, knowing Andre is a slow-witted boy in a man's body.  But then he sees for himself! Andre flies into a rage when he is told to put his dog outside.  He throws benches and cracks the beams of the house, almost killing Truedeau.  
 
The shaken scholar proclaims that the only explanation is that Andre is possessed by a demon and he must be taken to the village priest for an exorcism.
 
 
 
They bring Andre to Father Bernot, a gentle priest who doesn't believe in witch burnings, and beg for help.  Bernot agrees to perform an exorcism.  As the ceremony proceeds, a howling wind begins to fling the church's furnishings about!  Bernot gives up and forces Paul and Marie to leave with their son.
 
 
At their wit's end, Paul and Marie are convinced by Truedeau that the only way to save their son's soul, as well as their own lives, is to turn Andre over to the Sheriff. . .even if that likely means that he will be tried as a witch and burned.  
 
Indeed, what they most fear happens.  The Sheriff forms a jury and Andre is proclaimed a witch and then burnt at the stake.  Finally, the Lebrun's nightmare is over.  All that remains now is grief over their lost son.
 
 
But they quickly discover that the nightmare has not ended after all!  Unseen forces shake their home until it collapses on them, killing Marie instantly.  Paul lives for a little longer. . .long enough to see the true face of the demon in Andre's dog!  
 
We leave the sad tale as Paul dies while the dog laughs at him.
 

The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
And we have a good start to this issue!  A chilling little tale of demonic possession set against the background of medieval witch trial fever.  It's a long chunk of a story and that gives it time to slowly burn instead of feeling rushed like a lot of these anthology stories do.  
 
It's backed up by some nicely-detailed artwork by the great Ernie Chan. . .here still being credited as Ernie Chua, so it's some of his earlier work.  Not up to his later stuff I'm more used to, but still very nice.
 
Overall, a dark little tale that takes its time and does everything right.  
 
NEXT!
 
A VERY PRIVATE !
 
SCRIPT: Robert Kanigher
PENCILS: Frank Redondo
INKS: Frank Redondo
 
THE STORY:
 
Family man Tyrone is having an affair with a younger woman named Tina.  When Tina tries to break things off and mocks him for being old enough to be her father, her laughter drives Tyrone to push Tina onto the subway tracks, where she is killed by the train.
 
 
As time goes by after the murder, Tyrone is haunted by nightmares of Tina's mocking laughter.  His wife thinks it's the pressure of his job and living in the city, and convinces him to move the family out to the country.
 
 
But moving out of the city and to the countryside doesn't help.  Where Tyrone's family sees beautiful trees and a nice house, Tyrone sees a decaying dump and a gloomy landscape.  There's nothing good in anything Tyrone sees.
 
 
The first night in their new home, as Tyrone struggles to sleep he hears strange noises.  When he gets up to investigate, he realizes the noise is laughter. . .HER laughter!  He grabs a knife from the kitchen and runs outside, believing Tina has somehow survived and is torturing him!
 
 
Tyrone stumbles through the nearby graveyard, following Tina's laughter, determined to finally end it!
 
The next morning, workers at the graveyard find Tyrone's body inside a freshly-dug grave they had readied for a funeral that morning.  He had fallen in and broken his neck.  The grave?  It belonged to Tina!  DUN-DUN-DUNNNN!
 
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay, not as good as the first story, but still a mighty fine read.  A lot of building tension as Tyrone descends into his own private where nothing is good in his eyes, and then we find out it WASN'T just his own guilt driving him crazy, but Tina's vengeful ghost!  Very nice.  But the REAL star of the show here is the art!  It's just wonderful.  Lots of close-up panels and so much detail.  The art here really pushes the story up a notch.  
 
So that's two for two so far in this issue.  Will we hit the home run with a third good story? 
 
Let's find out! NEXT!
 
IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
 
SCRIPT:  Mal Warwick
PENCILS:  Bill Draut
INKS: Bill Draut
 
THE STORY:
 
Robotic aliens descend to study Earth.  They are impressed with them many forms of life they see, metallic like they are.  Such a shame there are so many tiny organic parasites infesting the life forms of this world.
 
 
But they have a solution!  They will help the beings of Earth with their infestation problem!  The aliens use gas to kill all the parasites, leaving the machines free of all these tiny little humans.  Now off to help another world!
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
And we're three for three folks!  It's a short little story.  Barely more than a filler at 3 pages, but it's a pretty good one.  A nice little twist on the classic "alien invasion" story in which the aliens are just trying to help out a fellow machine race.  The art isn't anything spectacular, but it's good and tells the story nicely.  
 

CONCLUSION

 
Okay, NOW I have definitely keep my eye out for the first issue in this series.  Wait. . .can three issues REALLY be called a series at all?  I guess back in 1975 they hadn't really started doing limited series yet, which this would be if it came out a bit later on.  BUT I DIGRESS!
 
With two really solid issues reviewed in a row, I almost HAVE to find the third for next year.  I now have a mission.  Tales of Ghost Castle has really been one of the best series(?) of Bronze Age horror anthologies I've read yet.  It's a shame there are so few issues of it.
 
As far as the issue at hand goes, three nicely-written stories, backed up by some very good artwork means I give this one the official Longbox Junk gold seal of approval!  If you're looking for some cool Bronze Age horror/suspense stories then you won't go wrong with Tales of Ghost Castle (I'm just gonna assume issue #1 is a winner too).  
 
These issues haven't been reprinted or collected in English (it looks like there are some French reprints), so you'll have to grab the actual comics.  I found both of mine in the back issue bins (Paid two bucks for one and five bucks for the other) so they're out there.  Keep your eyes peeled, Tales of Ghost Castle is some quality Bronze Age spooky stuff!
 
UP NEXT. . .
 
I've got a special treat for my Longbox Junk readers.  
 
I'm digging into the definitely NON-Junk end of my collection to do a GOLDEN AGE horror review!  That's right. . .I've got a gen-u-wine EC horror comic for you!  The kind of stuff that brought on the Comics Code! Because you deserve it!
 
Seriously, as far as I can tell, mine will be the FIRST review of this Golden Age goodie that's ever been done. EC'S VAULT OF HORROR #36!
 
Be there or be square.
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