It wasn’t for nothing that the old parish priest used to warn us off demon ventriloquism. He knew those painted wooden puppets were evil little fuckers. You see, at school we’d all seen the ad for a book of “voice throwing courses” in the comics we shared round the yard. I dreamt of sending off any spare cash for a copy of this prized guide. Alas the ad wanted dollars and I was living in McButthurt, Scotland, where dollars were as rare as virgin births. Mind you, having said that, there was a girl in high school who used that excuse for her trouble. “It must be the second coming, Father.” “Ye mean ye did it twice? Ye filthy little….”
Sadly, no dollars. But maybe that was a good thing—for the old priest with the whisky breath said ventriloquism was a “dabbling in the occult” kinda thing—involving ne’er-do-wells gathering in a graveyard to communicate with the dead. When a voice projected from the stomach—he claimed—this was “yer actual dead speaking to ye.”
I nixed the plan for the voice projection book and signed-up for a visit to the local cemetery to speak with the dead. Unfortunately, when I tried, all I ever heard was gas and the rumble of a ravenous tummy.
It’s probably that once upon-a-time, long, long ago tenuous connection with the occult and all things strange that makes ventriloquist dolls seem so creepy. They exude evil. They exude menace. You know as soon as you turn your back they’re up to no fucking good. Just ask Candice Bergen. She knows. She grew up in a home with Charlie McCarthy—the evil-looking ventriloquist doll that her father Edgar Bergen made famous. When Candice was growing up, Charlie always had the bigger bedroom. When Daddy wanted to spend quality time with Candice he often give her a:
...gentle squeeze on the back of my neck [which] was my cue to open and shut my mouth so he could ventriloquize me. Charlie and I would chatter together silently, while behind us Dad would supply the snappy repartee for both of us.
When Daddy Bergen died he left Charlie $10,000. Candice? Candice got zip.
So you see, all those movies (Dead of Night, Magic) and episodes of The Twilight Zone are actually all true—ventriloquism is waaaaaay baaaaad juju—which is kinda evidenced by this short selection of various ventriloquists and their devil dolls.
Leatherface as a child?
Jules Vernon as a young ventriloquist with his extended family.
Jules Vernon in old age. He went blind one Christmas during his stage act in 1920 but continued on until his death in 1937.
More creepy woodentops, after the jump…
Posted by Paul Gallagher |
Leave a comment