In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the spiritualist movement came to the fore. Spiritualism popularized the idea that one could contact the dead. Fascinated with bridging the gap to the "great beyond", many attended seances in hopes that they could contact a lost relative. The funny thing is, seances operated in much the same way as I've depicted in this animation. A group would gather in a darkened room, a medium* would chant, you might hear a knock on a drum or table...you might not. Occasionally the medium would pull seaweed out of his/her mouth and tell you it was ectoplasm**. That last part is actually kind of cool...unless you'd seen seaweed before***.
Anyway, I felt that the concept of the seance was perfect for an episode of Victorian Cut-out Theatre. This was completely unintentional, but I think this episode has the strongest Monty Python vibe to it. I feel like I was subconsciously doing a John Cleese impression while performing the role of Peter Pennywinkle, especially when he becomes outraged. I should also mention that the original title for this episode was "The Bell Tolls for Thee" but since I didn't end up using a bell, the title turned into the dreaded "single entendre". "Drums of the Dead" had the proper tone, especially for a Halloween episode. I'm also aware that this was used for a Mike Mignola Abe Sapien One Shot. I didn't remember that until the episode was rendering and by that point, it was too late. I adore Hellboy and the rest of Mignola's work, so I could have done worse. I also want to mention that I originally had plans for an alternate version of this episode, were the ghosts would be rendered in old fashioned 3-D. I couldn't get it to look right, so I abandoned the idea. Maybe for a DVD release, I already have the glasses designed.
I do hope you enjoy this episode this All Hallows Eve, before you go trick-r-treating, while your staying in, handing out candy, or partying with your friends. If you want to see the previous Halloween episode (perhaps the most popular episode) CLICK HERE. I'll be continuing my own Halloween tradition, by dressing in my Slytherin House robes, watching Hammer Horror Films and drinking spiked butter beer until I'm violently ill.
P.S. Special thanks to my wife for puting up with my long work hours, my friend Steve for helping me wade through the list of ideas for this episode and to the fine people at Cinevore.com for their patience and support.
* A person who claims that they can channel spirits and contact the great beyond.
**Seaweed. No shit.
*** Famed magician Harry Houdini spent the later part of his career debunking mediums. He felt that these people were hucksters, taking advantage of those in mourning. He also claimed if there were a way to make contact from the spirit world he, The Great Houdini, would be the one to do it. Harry Houdini died October 31, 1926 at the age of 52. Following his death, several seances were held in the magician's honor. To date, he has not made contact.