Until quite recently the legend of El Head consisted of scattered and seemingly unrelated stories, fables, folk tales and legends from among a variety of peoples in the Southwestern, Western and Border States of the United States of America. Portions of these stories served as the source material for a series of western horror novels by Grant Faust. These novels were the basis for the six or so films based on the Legends of El Head. Three of these films were made in the sixties A PRICE ON THE HEAD , HEAD HUNTERS OF THE WEST and THE VENGEANCE OF EL HEAD starring Burt Lancaster in the lead role. These legends, so far as I know, have never been completely compiled nor have the various legends from the variant cultures been put together before. I have seen the El Head tales "Head Man Breaks the Iron Horse", "Black Rain" and "Broken Arrow Head Man" in Andrew Sinclair's HOPI FOLKTALES AND CREATION MYTHS (Houghton-Mifflin, 1954) and Grierson's famed APACHE GHOST STORIES (Oxford University Press, 1901) contained three El Head tales, 'Medicine Head Man", Head Man Tames the Crows and "Body Thief Revenge"

The most complete collection of El Head stories I have ever seen is in T.R. Famiglia's very underrated BORDER MYTHS (Arizona Free Press, 1964) which contains five El Head stores: El Jefe and the Cabelllo Diablo", Vengeance of El Diablo Cabeza, El Muerte dello Murceilago", "Fuego Lagarto y El Jefe" and Cabelleros de la Cabeza"

EL Head is generally regarded as something of an obscure, western ghost or horror tale, often referred to as the Southwestern Headless Horseman or the Boogie Man of the Border. El Head is regarded by many folklorists as not genuine western lore but rather as a story imposed upon western lore. This viewpoint disregards the Native American and Hispanic legends.

Much of the problem derives from the character's nomenclature. El Head is a bastard phrasing, an awkward combination of Spanish and English, which , although not uncommon in that part of the country, usually is not so maladroit. Native American accounts refer to El Head by a variety of names but close examination of his descriptive passages buried within the tales prove references to the same being.

There is of course the wild improbability of the legend. A man, an engineer and soldier by trade, is thrown together by chance with four very different companions, most of whom have some trouble with the law. They find a deposit of gold in hidden valley in the Nevada desert and form a partnership, becoming blood brothers in some versions.

The gold mine is not that extensive and after a month or so the mine is played out. Some versions claim that the man who would become El Head sabotaged the mine so that it appeared played out and his partners killed him in revenge. Other versions claim that the partners were overcome with greed and killed him for his share of the gold. El Head was killed in a very brutal method. He was tied to a cross made of mining timbers, scalped, his legs were broken, his arms and then his head were blown off with shotgun blasts. Yet somehow he remained alive as a disembodied head and a decapitated and dismembered corpse with mobile arms.

This tale was considered more fantastic at the turn of the century than it is now. In the 1870's and 1880's the element of uranium was virtually unknown and the often bizarre aftereffects of atomic radiation were ignored or disbelieved. The modern era is all too well versed with the bizarre effects of radiation from the creation of atomic vampires, giants ants, tarantulas, scorpions, grasshoppers to the dead being reanimated from a fallen radioactive satellite to the revival of a hitherto unknown prehistoric reptile with radioactive vision and breath.

El Head was considered nothing more than a series of tales until in 1994, when a researcher discovered a cache of paper stored inside an old safe in Stout, Colorado. Upon these were written the supposed memoirs of Poul Ichabod, the man known as El Head.

These papers, not yet authenticated, were dictated to Ichabod's Mexican manservant, Dio Fuerte. They tied together many of the legends of El Head and fill in gaps of his story. Many of the stories about El Head were merely myths or exaggerations of real events. From the context of his tales and the description of his body, one supposes that he was killed in a valley filled with a radiation similar to that which revived the dead in 1968 or which gave, Ed Gein, the supervillain known as Necromancer his powers.

The Ichabod papers relate how as the disembodied El Head, Ichabod tracked down and killed his three partners, who had become mutated by the radioactive valley. He used fiendish torture devices, designed by his engineer trained mind, driven mad by an obsession for vengeance.

Ichabod tracked Dongegal Ryan to a town called Redemption City, Utah and killed him in a press which slowly crushed him to death while draining the blood out of him. The blood was then used as ink to print Ryan's Newest Testament.

Next he caught up with Davidovich in what would later be known as Las Vegas. Using yet another device of his making, El Head baked and froze Davidovich, leaving a charred corpse encased in a block of ice.

For Ross Irving, El Head combined psychological as well as physical torture. El Head used much of his wealth to start up a professional baseball team in Arizona. Using proxies El Head induced Ross Irving to join his team, where upon Irving became a local star, El Head arranged for Irving's humiliation by providing evidence of him throwing games and taking bribes.

El Head allowed Irving to live under this cloud of disrepute until he was barred from the game of baseball. El Head then had his henchmen, by then called Head's Hunters capture Irving for his meeting with the Grim Reaper.

The device used to kill Ross Irving could have revolutionized baseball had El Head chosen to use it for good instead of evil. El Head created an automatic pitching machine, which could be set at a variety of pitches at various speeds and aimed at different areas of the batter's box.

El Head achieved vengeance on the last remaining partner down in Texas, near the Mexican border. According to his memoirs, Ichabod felt badly about his vengeance on Bear Marks but was compelled by forces beyond his understanding.

As El Head and his troops traveled towards Mexico they heard tales about the masked avenger who rode along the border.

This avenger was a stout man who dressed all in black leathers and wore a black hood with small pointed ears at the top. The apparition had reddish eyes and sharp fanged teeth carried a black bullwhip and a huge roan horse named Petirrojo. It was Murceilago by the border people upon hearing this, El Head knew he had found his man. Bear Marks was living out his fantasy of being El Murceilago.

El Head heard many good things about this El Murceilago and how helped various crimes and right various wrongs. El Head rode into Gotico Aldea, a town near El Murceilago's usual route of travel. El Head devised a plan that would lure El Murceilago to him but without revealing his true identity or true motivations.

El Head had a few of his minions begin muscling in on various criminal operations in several nearby towns and villages with the ultimate goal commandeering and expanding these operations.

The three men were Jacob Nathony also known as the Clown because of his previous involvement in a circus. Denby Sovellk also known as Half-A-Face because of a war injury left the right side of his face as a massed clump of scar tissue and the Dog Soldier, a man who used war mastiffs as enforcers.

The Clown became head of a protection racket over the three towns, Half-A-Face came to control the gambling and numbers rackets, whereas Dog Soldiers took over the Vice and fencing operations in the three towns. Soon after getting a taste of illicit success the three criminals rebuked to their ties to El Head and to each other and became involved in a tripartite war to control all the rackets.

El Murceilago and El Head were drawn into this criminal war. El Murceilago in his role as self appointed defender and vigilante and El Head as he attempted to rectify the situation he had caused to get his vengeance back on track.

El Head bought a small ranch centrally located to all three of the towns, using his mental powers and sending out two of his elite Head Hunters began to influence events as he desired. Head's Hunters, who by having shared blood with him gained bizarre powers began solo vigilante forays against the three renegade Head's Hunter's eventually teaming up with El Murceilago.

The two Head's Hunter's were Silent Pete and Ron Staiks also called Mucho Macho by the Hispanics. Silent Pete could move rapidly, almost twice the speed of a normal man yet the radioactive blood had also left him with a spastic, flighty nature. He was also prone to spells of massive mucoid production so vast he nearly drowned on his own snot. He described it as having a funny wet feeling in the back of his throat.

Ron Stacks on the other hand was physically deformed by his blood sharing. His left eye twitched constantly, his mouth drooled and stuttered when he spoke and his hips were so twisted so that he seemed to always be walking sideways. Yet he had also gained superhuman strength and a nearly impervious skin.

Eventually the Clown and Half-A-Face were driven away and killed by Head's Hunters.

In Apice, Texas a final showdown came between El Murceilago, the Dog Soldier and El Head.

Dog Soldier's army of criminals and prostitutes had surrounded El Murceilago and Silent Pete in a small adobe cantina and were moving in for the kill. Down the street was the newly built Apice Opera House which was giving a performance of new works from Europe.

To the background music of Wagner's "Siegfried's Death and Funeral March", El Head rode down

down the street astride his yellow horse suffused with a blue glow, like the burning Brimstone of his name. Reins in his mouth, severed arms lashed to the saddle sides and grasping blazing six shooters, El Head rode deep into Dog Soldier's and scattered them.

People fled from the apparition of a disembodied Head wearing a U.S. Calvary slouch hat and gripping horse reins in his mouth, upon the rear of the horse was tied to a moldering, aromatic corpse.

El Head was face to face with Dog Soldier and out of ammunition. Dog Soldier sicced his war mastiffs on El Head. In an agonizing use of his powers, El Head plunged deep into both canine minds and set them against the other. The two dogs tore each apart in front of their master.

Dog Soldier watched silently as his pets devoured one another, silently he worked his mouth and a deep, thick white foam formed on his lips and flowed down his chin. With a wolfish cry he bared his teeth revealing that he had all canines. He dove at El Head. So quick was the attack that El Head did not have time to subdue him mentally.

Dog Solider was nearly upon El Head when El Murceilago broke loose from his captivity and shot him down.

El Head felt grateful to El Murceilago and so tempered his vengeance by allowing Bear Marks to live. His vengeance was to publicly expose Bear Marks as El Murceilago in various newspapers. Along with the expose, several eminent doctors describe Bear Marks' desire to become Murceilago as a sort of mental aberrations derived from feelings of absolute inferiority and inadequacy due to his being of Middle Eastern descent rather than the Indian heritage he claimed.

One doctor stated that his garish costume reflected latent homosexuality.

El Head felt saddened but not at all guilty upon hearing that Bear Marks hung himself with his El Murceilago cape.

His vengeance completed, El Head decided to settle down. In Nebraska he acquired the famed Circle K horse and cattle ranch by first terrorizing the inhabitants by having Head's Hunters pose as masked night riders. El Head offered to drive away the marauders by using Head's Hunters as a security force. Once in place the security force drove away Missy Karan and her elderly father from the ranch. Missy Karan swore revenge.

Upon acquiring the Circle K, El Head became a ruthless land baron, acquiring more and more land, usually by terrorism and by forced buyouts. He became a law unto himself but soon became bored with being a feudal lord. He spent much of his time tinkering with various machines.

His ruthless acquisition of land soon ran him against the Indians. El Head settled these disputes by personal combat with the Hikowia champion, a half German named War Lance Schmidner. El Head used many advanced technological tricks to win against War Lance

El Head's downfall in the late eighteen eighties began with the thievery of his body which weakened him considerably. Although, most of his body was recovered the damage had been done and El Head had been irreparably weakened.

Head's Hunters deserted him, taking other employment. Finally he was ousted from the Circle K by a band of U.S. Marshals and Texas Rangers at the behest of Missy Karan.

El Head spent his final days riding through out of the Southwest with his faithful companion, Lizard Boy. He searched for and finally found a way to free himself of the terrible radioactive curse upon him.

El Head's last device hastened his own decay and he fell into entropy on the last day of 1899.

Rumors of his demise may have been exaggerated, there are stories of El Head in the Philippines during the Insurrection and that he became a leader of a tribe of Head Hunters near Borneo. Some sources state that he was around during World War II only to be killed in the Hiroshima or Nagasaki explosions.

The man known as Lizard Boy finished the last entry in Ichabod memoirs. Of Lizard Boy's final fate nothing is known. How the papers ended in a safe in Stout, Colorado is also unknown at this time, hopefully further research will uncover some of these mysteries.

The following narrative is Poul Ichabod's dictated memoirs along with El Head fables and stories. Wherever possible when an episode in the memoirs coincide with an El Head tale, the memoir and the tale will run consecutively. Otherwise the memoirs and the tales will be arranged in chronological order so far as can be determined.

Whenever incidences in the memoirs or the tales are corroborated by contemporary sources they will be sited as will any significant historical information.

In the following narrative most readers will find Poul Ichabod, an interesting if despicable character. He was morally ambivalent, often heroic and often criminal in his actions. He was certainly a bad man yet not altogether an evil one.

Considering however that while he survived his torturous ordeal and his victims did not, one can make the argument that his quest for vengeance was excessive and ultimately meaningless.




All the material on these web pages or any other material relating to the character of El Head are copyrighted by Dennis E. Power
1996-2009 Dennis E. Power. All Rights Reserved.
Concept of El Head 1996 created by David Rush. All Rights Reserved.
All of the persons, places and items on the El Head pages are imaginary. Any resemblance to any existing place or product is done only for purposes of fictional verisimilitude and should not be taken as an endorsement of said product or place. Any resemblance to any person living, dead or somewhere in between is merely coincidental,
and unfortunate.

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