Vincent Price reads Tales of Witches, Ghosts and Goblins

In my last post, I tracked down the probable literary sources for A Graveyard of Ghost Tales (Caedmon Records, 1974), an LP of ghost stories and other goodies read by Vincent Price. In this post, I do the same thing for Tales of Witches, Ghosts and Goblins (Caedmon Records, 1972), also read by Vincent Price.

Tales of Witches, Ghosts and Goblins, Vincent Price

As with Graveyard, the stories Price reads here are folktales, not horror. There are a couple of “recipes,” some verses, and a passage from an account of a witch trial. Three stories are again from Carl Carmer, just as lovely and romantic as the pieces on the other LP. “The Smoker” was delightful, and “Gobbleknoll” was fun, too.

In his readings, Price only gives the authorship of one piece, the first verse of “The Broomstick Train” by Oliver Wendell Holmes. So here’s my educated guess at the rest. Thanks again to Jenny Ashford from the Facebook group Alone with the Horrors: Horror Fiction for her research. Again, I haven’t read all of the texts mentioned below, so these attributions aren’t guaranteed. But I’m pretty sure they’re right.

Tales of Witches, Ghosts and Goblins: Tracklist

The Smoker (Freely Adapted From An Iroquois Legend) – by Alan Garner

Prayer – by John Day

To Become A Werewolf – adapted from an essay by Elliot O’Donnell

To Raise The Dead – adapted from The Magus, by Francis Barrett

The Witches’ Reel – Traditional Scottish song

The Broomstick Train – by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sweden (Concerning The Practice Of Witchcraft In That Country) – by Anthony Horneck

The Phantom Merry-Go-Round – by Carl Carmer

A Pair Of Gloves – by Carl Carmer

Gobbleknoll (Transposed From A Sioux Folktale) – by Alan Garner

The Lone Grave – by Carl Carmer

The Carmer pieces are in the 1956 collection The Screaming Ghost and Other Stories. I feel like I’ve heard or read “The Lone Grave” before, but it seems to be a common urban legend, as was “The Lavender Evening Dress,” which Price read on Graveyard. And I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the versions of either of these pieces that you can find on the internet derive originally from either Price’s readings, or Carmer’s original literary renditions.

Alan Garner was an award-winning author of fantasy novels, much of it aimed at children and young adults. His work was rooted in British folklore, and he compiled several folkloric collections as well. “The Smoker” and “Gobbleknoll” appear to be from Garner’s anthology The Hamish Hamilton Book of Goblins (aka A Book of Goblins/A Cavalcade of Goblins), first published in 1969 and illustrated by Krystyna Turksa. It looks fascinating; I shall have to try to get my hands on it.

“Graunt that no Hobgoblins fright me,
No hungry devils rise up and bite me; …”
— John Day

A Book of Goblins also includes a Prayer (or “Prayer for Protection”), attributed to English dramatist John Day. You can find the prayer here, as well. Price gives a lovely reading of it.

“To Become A Werewolf” appears to be adapted from Chapter IV, “How to Become a Werwolf” from Werwolves (1912) by Elliot O’Donnell, ghost hunter and author of several “true-life” books about ghosts and other supernatural phenomena. O’Donnell’s piece isn’t a perfect correspondence to what Price reads, but it’s quite close. Perhaps O’Donnell published a slightly different version of the chapter elsewhere.

“To Raise the Dead” is adapted from a passage from Chapter IX of The Magus (1801), which calls “one of the rarest and most sought after of the 19th century grimoires.”
The author of The Magus, the occultist Francis Barrett, attributes the “recipe” to Hermes Trismegistus

“The Witches’ Reel” is a traditional Scottish song/dance. I’m not sure exactly what text Price read from, but here are the lyrics, identical to those Price recited. One of the posters on this thread says that the lyrics of the reel were taken down from the testimony of Agnes Sampson, one of the accused witches during the North Berwick witch trials of 1590. The poster cites David Pickering’s Dictionary of Witchcraft as the source of this assertion. I couldn’t find any transcription of such testimony online, but a document called Newes From Scotland (1591), a contemporary (and anonymous, as far as I can tell) account of the trials describes the testimony of Agnes Sampson (or perhaps it was Agnes Tompson), including the first two lines of the reel.

And finally, “Sweden” comes from an appendix to Joseph Glanvill’s infamous Saducismus Triumphatus, a 17th century defense of the belief in witchcraft. This work strongly influenced Cotton Mather and his justification for the Salem Witch Trials. The appendix is question is “A Relation of the Strange Witchcraft Discovered in the Village Mohra in Swedeland,” by Anthony Horneck. Price actually reads extracts from two sections of the appendix: the beginning of “Of their Journey to Blockula,” and extracts from “Of the place where they used to assemble, called Blockula, and what they did there.”

Okay! Enough about the attributions. Sit back and enjoy as Vincent Price regales you with tales of witches, ghosts, and goblins:

2 thoughts on “Vincent Price reads Tales of Witches, Ghosts and Goblins

  1. What a voice. And if you’re familiar with his film work, you can’t help but smile — even, yes, as we listen to tales of witches, ghosts, and goblins!

    1. I’ve been on a little bit of a Vincent Price kick. Have you seen Theater of Blood? That was delightful.

      I also recently saw Dragonwyck (1945?), which is a completely different style of movie, and a different stage of Price’s career. The movie itself is okay, but I thought Price was terrific in it.

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