NewsBiscuit would like to welcome a comedy-horror tale written by photographer, writer and ex-biscuiteer, Ian J Walls (AKA Wallster) and writer, actor and film-maker Richard L Markworth.
Igor and the Twisted Tales of Castlemaine follows the adventures of Igor in a twisted tale in a modern homage to the classic horror novel.
We all know Igor. You know, Victor Frankenstein’s lickspittle assistant from the ye olde horror B-movies of yore.
One of popular culture’s most forgotten, and yet oddly loveable horror characters, finally Igor arrives with his own hilarious backstory in Igor & The Twisted Tales of Castlemaine, an episodic comedy-horror tale that sees Igor pluck up the courage to leave Frankenstein’s castle and set up on his own in the village of Castlemaine – a place even stranger than fiction.
In this fully realised universe, and with an ensemble of many deliciously despicable characters all desperate to steal the storytelling glory, Igor’s fresh take on an old legend is a witty, silly and loving modern homage to the classic horror genre.
Following decades of torture at the hands of his cruel master Victor Frankenstein, the once-downtrodden and pathetic Igor finally rises up and walks out on Victor, in the hope of finding a fulfilling life-less-ordinary elsewhere. Instead, something wicked his way comes, and Igor finds his way to Castlemaine, an accursed village nestled deep in the Carpathian Mountains, where terrors stalk the waking world and ale is more expensive than in London.
Among the perverted inhabitants and spooky-goings-on Igor meets Esmerelda, the beautiful but occasionally violent daughter of Castlemaine’s homicidal innkeeper. Together, they find themselves in a whole heap of eerie trouble, fighting dark forces and demons, murderers, mediums and monsters, spirits and zombies, and, naturally, a very disturbing nun, all in the form of five neatly packaged adventures.
The authors say: “We’ve known each other for over 40 years and even as kids in the late 70s we loved all things horror and sci fi, from Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in the Hammer movies, to Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in the vintage Universal classics, combining all these threads into a raft of imaginative short stories (many bloodthirsty!) It seems all those dark monsters that were lurking in our heads back in the far off days of our childhood are finally surfacing. We’re hoping a literary future awaits - it’s either that, or an institution somewhere!”
Read Ian J Wall's interview on Profile Critics
Read Richard L Marksworth's interview on Profile Critics
Read an extract from Igor and the Twisted Tales of Castlemaine here:
Copyright - Richard L Markworth & Ian J Walls
‘Igor! I remember that name,’ said a rough voice from across the bar. ‘A name of ill omen in these parts, so they say.’
The rough voice belonged to a weathered traveller with a long, tousled beard, worn leather boots, an ancient tricorn hat that sat low across his brow and a battered and stained travelling cloak which he had cast onto the bench beside him. Until this moment, he had been sitting alone and unnoticed under the large bay window, silently watching the lightning tear up the night sky.
‘Well, they say wrong,’ replied Esmerelda fiercely.
‘Do they indeed?’ said the traveller, warming to his subject. ‘I’ve been wandering these dark roads and forests for nigh on thirty years and I’ve heard a thing or two about old Igor in my time. Even now men fear to speak his name too loudly within earshot of the boneyard after darkness. ’Tis said that he was dragged down into the fearsome sweaty pits of hell by the Devil hisself.’
‘Cobblers!’ shouted Esmerelda.
Another voice joined the conversation. ‘I heard he ran off with a pack of rampant nuns on all hallows eve, taking the gold cross from the altar and wearing a crown made from the holy relics of Saint Augustine,’ suggested a small, barrel-shaped woman with an intense stare and a long bone pipe clenched between her uneven yellowed teeth.
'Absolute rubbish…he wasn’t like that.’
‘Came back from the dead and brought pestilence to the village, and a plague of ducks…’ added another voice. ‘Least, that’s what I was told.’
Suddenly a cacophony of voices started shouting out snippets of half-heard legends and rumour that they’d picked up from very reliable and expert sources on the subject, usually in the alehouse after a long night imbibing copious flagons of Brother Percy’s Rampant Smock Lifter.
‘He turned the Burgermeister into a pig and spit roasted him,’ called a voice.
‘Cut off his own head and played skittles with it,’ suggested another.
‘He lay with a cat.’
‘Ate people’s livers while they were asleep.’
‘Drank the blood of virgins…well, not in Castlemaine, obviously.’
‘Cavorted with witches and warlocks.’
‘Taught Morris dancing.’
‘NOW THAT’S ENOUGH!’ shouted Esmerelda. ‘I won’t hear any more of these lies about…’ she paused, trying desperately to hold her emotions together. She failed.
‘About the man…I loved,’ she ended, slumping down into her chair, and burying her face into her hands, tears leaking through old bony fingers.
The crowd, mumbling and abashed, settled back to their tables. Father Price put a caring arm across Esmerelda’s shoulders.
The rough traveller threw back his head and laughed hard. As he did so a shower of food morsels dropped from their hiding places within his grizzled and twisted beard. He cared not a jot. His beard contained more decaying crumbs of bread and flakes of meat than the grocer’s barrow and village midden pit combined. With a beard such as his, no man needs go hungry for long. It was said that travellers’ beards were highly prized among the starving poor, who could sustain their families for many weeks on the edible remains contained within the longest and most tangled examples.
It was mainly for this reason that the bearded traveller was becoming so rare a sight these days, and was believed by many to have been pushed to the brink of extinction by hungry beard hunters. The traveller by the window was long in both tooth and beard and gave not a fig for such trivial dangers.
‘She loved him!’ he taunted quietly from his window seat. ‘It’s all lies, she says.’ He spat onto the beer-soaked floor, improving it slightly.
‘Good riddance to bad company I say,’ cursed the traveller, rising to his feet. ‘And this Igor, so the old folk tell it, was the darkest company you could ever fear to find yourself troubled with in those days. Brought evil and damnation to the land hereabouts, so he did. Are you all fools? Do you all not remember the dark tales of Igor?’
He sat down with a thump, scattering bits of cheese and cake across the table from deep within his bushy follicles.
Slowly, the pike sharpening former priest stood up and cast a withering look around the hushed and sceptical gathering.
‘I remember!’ he proclaimed. ‘I remember what Igor did for the people of this town all those years ago. He was no villain. He was no Devil. He was no saint, I’ll grant you. He was no murderer. Well, OK, maybe he was a bit of a murderer, but only when absolutely essential, and only ever for the greater good of the community. But those were indeed dark times, and Igor was a beacon of hope when all forms of law, order and authority had sought to beat us down. It was a time of vampires, of werewolves and lunatics. Of dangerous, mad scientists, necromancers, and ghastly demons. And worst of all,’ the old man’s voice fell to a whisper, ‘Nuns!’
An awed silence fell upon all those present as the former priest’s sermon continued.
‘When we’d all but given up the dream of ever finding peace in our tormented lives it was Igor who came to Castlemaine and brought with him hope, and a means to fight back. Do you not remember that?’ The old priest resumed his seat, wearied by the exertion and emotion.
‘Thank you,’ said Esmerelda placing her gnarled old hand gently on his.
‘Pisspots!’ said the traveller.
You knew him so well,’ put in the pipe smoking, swivel eyed, barrel woman. ‘Tell us then. Tell us the truth about this ‘holier than thou’ Igor of yours.’
Esmerelda felt her face getting hot and her eyes dampen as she fought back the tears of memory and loss.
‘I can’t,’ she whispered weakly.
‘Pfft! What did I tell you?’ crowed the weathered traveller. ‘’Tis nothing but lies and mummery from those who would hide their own past crimes. There is nothing good to hear about that devil, Igor. Why, if she could tell us but one single piece of good that that man had done, then I’d happily shave off my beard, strap a full-grown badger to my naked buttocks and run from this place to spend the rest of my days in service to the sea dwelling monks of St Olaf the Salty.’
Esmerelda slowly lifted herself upright, a steely look of resolution in her keen, greeneyes as she stared down the traveller.
‘Alright then,’ she said firmly, ‘You’re on.’