“Mister Dead” was a cultural phenomenon when it first debuted in 1961. By all accounts, it was a terrible show, with bizarre set pieces and a horrible horned horse as its host. The horse’s guttural voice was incredibly unpleasant to listen to, sounding like broken glass and gravel being slowly ground into powder. No studio notes ever listed who provided the voice for the host. They only listed, comically, “Mister Dead as Himself.” He would command his audience at home to watch the screen closely and be prepared for the coming darkness. The horse host would then stare intently at the camera for several minutes while his elfin assistant Willard wandered around in the background muttering to himself. Despite its weird premise, millions tuned in weekly, making it the highest rated show in the country. Even more strange, after each new episode, 13 random people died under unusual circumstances. The next week, those 13 names were shown and Mister Dead called them his disciples, cackling madly as the lights in the studio were turned down, leaving the horned horse enveloped in blackness, with the exception of his blinding white, pupil-free eyes.
Due to the show’s intense popularity, it’s no surprise an album was released a year later. “Straight from the Destroyer’s Mouth” is an exercise in patience for its entire 66 minute run-time. How they were able to include 66 minutes on one side of a record is still unknown, but despite the obvious technical achievement, there’s not enough here to fill 6 minutes. The tracks bleed into each other, consisting of Willard’s inane mumbling and Mister Dead’s haunting growling. The horse seems to be speaking in a foreign language that sounds a bit like ancient Aramaic. There was also an issue with the album’s pressing, which caused the record to heat up when brought near a religious establishment.
Sadly, the album didn’t get a chance to chart as it was quickly pulled from the shelves after the show was cancelled following the apparent murder-suicide of Mister Dead and Willard, which occurred shortly after the album’s release. It’s still unclear who wielded the shotgun. There’s word of a potential resurrection of the series and possibly another album. It’ll be intriguing to see what they keep from the previous incarnation and what they lose in order to make it more palatable for today’s audiences. Mister Dead will probably be riding a skateboard or something.