Along with starring in some of the creepiest movies ever made (and some of the cheesiest), horror icon Vincent Price’s eclectic body of work includes numerous cookbooks, musical theater appearances, a novelty record where you can “act” in famous movie scenes with him, and a Muppet Show guest spot. But my favorite piece of Price ephemera is 1969’s WITCHCRAFT-MAGIC: AN ADVENTURE IN DEMONOLOGY — a Price-narrated record album that details exactly how to cast spells, summon demons, and sell your soul to Satan.
It’s not surprising that Capitol Records would have tapped horror movie icon Price to record a demon-soaked spoken word double album in the late ’60s. At the time, the occult was going pop — the giant monster and flying saucer flicks of the 1950s had given way to unsettling satanic cinema like ROSEMARY’S BABY, and personalities like Anton LaVey were openly pushing Satanism as a religion. Add Price’s velvety voice and perfect delivery to some witchy content… and you have a sure hit.
What’s surprising about WITCHCRAFT-MAGIC is how serious it is — there’s none of Price’s famous tongue-in-cheek humor here. The record doesn’t come across as a cheap cash-in to take advantage of a craze as much as a detailed and serious recording of occultist instruction. I can’t find any info on who wrote it or did the research, but it seems somehow legitimate — as legitimate as any occultism, anyway.
The first disc features Price detailing rumors about the occult practices of Hitler and the Nazis, giving a brief history of witchcraft in Europe, then describing some of the gruesome tortures that befell accused witches during the Salem Witch Trials.
But Disc Two is where things really go off the chain.
The second disc begins with Price issuing listeners a challenge, asking: “Do you have the heart” for demon summoning and witchcraft? If you’re not a total wuss, Price goes on to provide very specific instructions on the basics of witchcraft: Which symbols to carve onto your magic wand; what invocations to repeat; exactly where to bury your wand to charge it up with magical power; how to get the most out of your cauldron; and other practical tips for beginner magicians.
Price’s sonorous, one-of-kind voice — spiced with witchy ’60s reverb — is the perfect delivery vehicle for information on how to cast specific spells, throw curses, invoke charms, and sell your soul to the devil.
Then we get to the invocation of demons: Price’s matter-of-fact instructions tell you exactly how to summon hell-spawn into your living room — and how to protect yourself from them when they arrive.
His description of a Hieronymus Bosch-style demon invasion — accompanied by old-school analog synths — is amazing. Price promises you can summon “A scaly dog with yellow eyes,” “a fantastic holothurian with a grinning head,” “a rabid monkey with a cudgel,” “a toothless hag slithering reptilian on her belly,” “a snake with the face of a baby,” “disembodied bloodied heads crawling like centipedes,” “porcupine-scorpions,” “lizard-bats,” “flying red-eyed rats,” and a “beautiful baboon in royal robes.” Sounds like Saturday night at my house!
Like most occultist instruction, it’s complicated and esoteric — and should you fail to summon anything, it’s probably because you messed up some small step. Maybe you should start by following Vincent Price’s pickled mushroom recipe instead…?
Original pressings of WITCHCRAFT-MAGIC: AN ADVENTURE IN DEMONOLOGY are relatively rare and expensive, and will run you about $100 for a nice copy of the best version, which contains an illustrated booklet with drawings of sacred seals and a how-to on constructing a Hand of Glory (a legendary magical item of great power).
Luckily, though, you can listen to the whole haunted thing on YouTube… if you dare!
A special note to would-be demonologists and witches: In keeping with our pro-occultism policy, we insist you carelessly follow Mr. Price’s instructions up to and including summoning a holothurian and selling your eternal soul… but make sure you take pictures, and let us know how it all worked out in the comment section below!