World’s Lamest Stunt Man…The Cougar

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  Today’s topic is The Cougar! Now I know what you’re thinking, we are covering that apex predator also know as The Mountain Lion, the vicious man killer meat eater of North America..but you’re wrong We are not talking about the Mercury car called the Cougar that’s first run was in 1967 and last was in 2002. And no, we are not even covering that terrible 2009 reality TV show on TV Land about older women who love younger men.  We are not even covering Barry “The Cougar” Dawson, the black belt of man skills who was the mascot for Fosters dark rum & bourbon in Australia. We will be covering Jeff “The Cougar” Rand, stuntman and hero from Atlas comics 1975 comic series called The Cougar!

a cougarthe cougar tv showBarry The Cougar Dawson

The last time I covered an Atlas Comic was on my birthday, September 8th 2013 when I covered The Brute as well as closed and missed local comic shop The Bookie Parlor, and I felt it was long past time that I cover another series from this amazing comic company. But before we dive into this, I would like to briefly talk about another local business that is no longer around, and that’s Crazy Cats Arcade! I know, I know, I spelled it wrong the last time I talked about it on this blog and was spelling it like Krazy Kats, which is the way the local Tattoo Parlor spells their name. Crazy Cats was located in Van Buren Shopping Center.  The windows were tinted black and had decals of a cartoon orange cat dressed in a pirate outfit that graced their windows. The parking lot was always filled, and many kids hung out outside the building drinking pops and some smoking cigarettes. Once you opened the door, the sounds of arcade machines and pinball would fill the air and the place was lit with very low dimed lights…this was THE place to play video games…sure The Dayton Mall had a large arcade and Magic Castle was around and sure Captain Boogies Golf and Games showed up later, but Crazy Cats was the king. Some of my memories of going and playing games at Crazy Cats were with my brother Bryan, cousin Stephen and his dad and my uncle Bubba.  You see, when Stephen would get good grades on his report card, his dad would take him to the arcade and give him $10.00 in tokens and let him loose! Bubba would always ask our parents if we could come too, and this was really a fun time.  Family time in an arcade playing games with loved ones is stuff of the 80’s and early 90’s that’s lacking nowadays. The tokens at Crazy Cats were great and had the cartoon cat on the front doing his famous pose, while on the back it had him playing an arcade machine.  To this day, I have a few Crazy Cat tokens and even late last year gave one to Stephen as a reminder of those fun times. Some of my favorite games to play at Crazy Cats were WWF Wreslefest a wrestling game that had the Royal Rumble, Creature From The Black Lagoon Pinball (I can’t tell you how many quarters I wasted on that one) and Primal Rage, the fighting game that pitted giant monsters against each other. Sadly sometime in the late 1990’s Crazy Cats closed its doors for good, and rumors went around that it was because too many teens were fist fighting over rivalries on games and also they said drug deals were going down and disrupting the other business in the shopping center. Now I had been to Crazy Cats many, many times and I will go on record and say I never saw a fight nor drugs being sold when I was there.  While I am sure that it was possible I don’t think it was as out of control as Kettering would like to have had you think. I think the real reason it closed was because Krogers didn’t like having teens around and Kettering likes to take the fun out of everything! While gone, it’s not forgotten by those who entered.  You are missed Crazy Cats, and this update is for you and all your workers that made it such a special and fun place. 

WWF WreslefestCrazy Cats TokenCreature PinBall Holo

He ain’t Superman, and he ain’t Captain America.  So before we move onto the comics, let’s introduce you readers to Jeff “The Cougar” Rand so you can have a feel for the character. Jeff grew up in the swamplands of Louisiana and learned his fast and daredevil stunt skills from swinging from trees and acting as if he was Tarzan. His only friend growing up was an old witch named Hattie who told him the secrets of the swamps, and she was run off by the rudeness of his brother Rick. After his mom and dad were murdered and his brother went missing, Jeff moved to Hollywood and became a stunt man for the movies though at first he wanted to be an actor but his first major role in a film called The Cougar bombed at the box office. Jeff is called The Cougar by his friends because of his cat like speed and agility and is the best in the stunt man business. Jeff wears a red skintight body suit complete with a cougar head belt buckle and is a man of action! His powers and skills include great hand to hand combat, quick minded and quick on the defense.  He also don’t break under pressure and is used to seeing things of a super natural level. He can be compared to Marvel’s The Human Fly and even early Wonder Man. So there you go, you now have a little more knowledge of who The Cougar is and what he is about.

The Cougar 0

So now it’s time to go to the Hollywood back lot with our safety helmet on and see what crazy adventure and stunt our good friend The Cougar is going to do next.  I want to remind everyone that I grade comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So as Darkwing Duck use to say “Let’s Get Dangerous”! 

cougar 1

The Cougar # 1  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25   Atlas Comics   #1 of 2

The Gore Of Dracula” is a new horror flick being filmed on location at a small village complete with a old spooky castle and it’s own vampire legend! Stuntman Jeff “The Cougar” Rand along with his friend Harve are working on the picture with a complete jerk of a director.  After the day’s shoot the stuntman goes into town along with make up girl whose boyfriend has to stay behind to set up the castle for the next morning’s shoot. While Jeff and friends are in town drinking it up, the young lady’s boyfriend finds on old coffin with a stake driven through an old dusty cape and thinks it’s a movie prop and removes it setting free a real vampire named Count Krolok who kills him and enters town and falls for the make-up girl who looks like his dead lover! Krolok tries to take the girl as Jeff and Harve swing into action.  The fight leaves the vampire girl-less, Harve with broken ribs and Jeff with lots of questions. When the body of the boyfriend is found the next morning, Jeff has had enough and is going to stop the vampire once and for all.  When Krolok gets the young woman, Jeff must travel to the castle and save her from his bite! Jeff does so with the help of a wood table he shatters and rams a stake into the chest of the vampire during combat ending his blood sucking ways.

I have to point this out first the fact that Jeff The Cougar walks around town in a red tight spandex suit with a cougar head belt buckle is classic 70’s cheese, and this guy should have had his own live action show and been played by Lee Majors! Jeff is a cocky stuntman who laughs in the face of danger and even seems not to be afraid of a vampire who up to this point no one thought existed.  His fast movements and hand to hand combat skills seem to be what allows him to be so fearless and ready for adventure. But while he is daring and a butt kicker in this first issue, he lacks a personality and charm making me not attached to him just yet.  The fact he seems not to be bothered by the fact his friends ribs had been shattered and a fellow film worker is dead, those are just second thoughts as he is now worried more about the young hot make-up girl who he almost seems to be putting the moves on by the end of the issue even though she just lost her boyfriend to murder. The vampire Krolok is just as cocky and walks right into his death in the end of the issue that the likes of Count Dracula and Morbius would have seen a mile away.  I will say that his power and strength did make him a very powerful villain for a stuntman to fight. One thing that also lacking a little is that all the other characters are full fledged background players and none of them shine or make you care about them. While it sounds like I didn’t like this comic, it’s the opposite.  It was a lot of fun, and I loved the 70’s action film/show feel to it.  The art was done by two artists, Dan Adkins & Frank Springer, and it looks pretty good, not on par with major Marvel and DC books at the time but it looks well for this comic. The cover is cool, but not a very good one for a first issue and would not have drawn too many Super Hero readers in as much as it would draw the monster kids of the 70’s. Just as cheesy as I remember it back in the day, so I am hyped to see how issue 2 holds up after all these years!

cougar 2

The Cougar # 2   **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25   Atlas Comics   #2 of 2

Jeff “The Cougar” Rand is working on a new flick and during his big stunt, he finds the dead body of a man whose neck has been ripped out! This murder triggers a memory in Jeff’s mind about his youth, growing up in the swamps of Louisiana and how his friend, an old witch placed a curse on his mean brother Rick that years later turned him into a werewolf that killed their parents and disappeared into the night. And when Jeff’s cousin is killed, he knows his brother is in town, but the police just aren’t fully sold on his werewolf theory. But while his new girlfriend, Janie, a lead singer for a band, plays at her sold out concert the werewolf attacks and Jeff goes on the offense and uses a silver knife to kill the werewolf who is of course Rick, but the fight leaves Jeff injured and paralyzed for life due to a spinal cord injury.

Well this was the final issue of The Cougar that Atlas released, and just imagine if DC ended Batman like this when Bane broke his back…just yep he is paralyzed and that’s the end you don’t need to know anymore. It’s a shame that the series ended as fast as it started thanks to the closing of Atlas. This second issue also tries to add a little more to the life of cocky Jeff “The Cougar” Rand and even tries to explain that silly suit he wears around town, explains his humble beginnings and even gives him a girlfriend who is a popular singer. The telling of why he wears the costume as a joke for a film he stared in that was a bomb is really silly as is the fact that his brother is a werewolf who killed his parents and after their deaths he just goes on with his life…he doesn’t even try to look for his brother? His girlfriend Janie seems to be just flung into the story because in issue one there is no mention of her, but in this issue they act as if they have been a couple for awhile. His brother Rick is given very little to do, and the show down while he is a werewolf is a little weak. The art in issue two is done by Frank Springer and seems a little more sloppy in spots.  The cover is pretty good and shows action with another super natural being. Once more this series tries to mix superhero and horror comics and is a pretty average read.  It’s truly a shame this series did not get time to blossom into something really good because the route this was going, I could Frankenstein’s Monster and The Mummy on the plate for The Cougar to fight.

Cougar Logo 0

While Jeff Rand in the world of comic book stuntmen is not as well known as Johnny Blaze or Wonder Man, nor is he as well known as real life stuntmen like Evil Kanivel, he was Atlas comics only stuntman and he had to do. But our next update we will walk off the Hollywood set and into hot jungles of South America as we go on the hunt for The Predator! That’s right, we will be looking at Dark Horse Comics first 4 issue mini series based on the cult sci-fi action thriller.  So be ready to be watched from the shadows and look into the skies because The Predator is waiting for us! Until next time, make sure to support your local comic shop and read a comic or two.

predator logo

 

Matt Goes To The Movies 2013

Matt Goes to the Movies Logo

In 2012 I didn’t get to the movie theater as much as I wanted, and while I saw a few films on the big screen like Amazing Spider-Man, Dark Knight Rises, The Expendables 2 and The Avengers, to name a few. I missed many more that I wanted to see, so that’s why in 2013 I decided it was time to see some films, and along side brave friends like Josh Weinberg, Juliet Fromholt, Jeremy Hoyt and Steve Alexander, I made a trip every week to The Rave/Cineamark at the outdoor mall The Greene to watch films and bring you my thoughts and ratings for my # 1 film of the year and more. This year was filled with fairy tale films, super hero films, 80′s action stars and even some great horror flicks, making this a perfect year for me to start doing this style blog, and man I can’t eat anymore movie popcorn! For almost every day I went to the theater, I would buy a medium popcorn that I would add the cheddar cheese powder to and also get my bottle of water, Sprite or a Blue Icee. I would get to the theater as early as possible and get the best seat I could and sit back and watch what Hollywood had to offer me. I have always felt that there is something very magical and fun about seeing a film in the theater, and while watching a movie at home is fun, the theater experience is always better. This blog will be a huge update and I am thinking that my top films of the year will be a returning feature so hope you all enjoy the look back and my opinions of cinema in 2013. So I will have this broken into three stages: one I will rate the Horror films I have seen in the theater, two I will give you a run down, in order of what I think were the worst films of 2013 and lastly I will give you a ranked rundown of super hero films I liked. I am not sure in what order I will do these and don’t be surprised if I throw in some surprises. So sit back relax and let’s go to The Rotten Ink Theater lobby and talk some cinema!

blue icee

This update is also dedicated to some fellow film lovers who have passed away in 2013, one of them I didn’t know personally, while sadly I did know two and wish they were around to share in this blog with me. While 2013 has been a pretty good year for Rotten Ink and in the world of movies, video games and music, it’s been a terrible one when it comes to the fact that two close friends of mine have passed away.  In January my friend, film mentor and independent film maker Andy Copp passed away to the shock to all those who loved him.  Andy was a fun loving person who enjoyed watching films and making films and was always thinking about future film ideas. Andy was a staple at the Brassfield house for holidays and would spend almost every Christmas and Thanksgiving with us. He was my brother Bryan’s best friend, and I use to say he was like our older brother because when the two of them got together there was no stopping them from gabbing about all types of things like hens do. I have many great memories traveling the roads and working conventions with him as he would have me work his table at Cinema Wasteland with him and we would chat the whole ride their about films, girls and life in general. This year Andy was also given an award by FILM DAYTON, who honored him for his work on films and TV. I miss Andy and wish he was here and could have enjoyed some of these films with me. The second friend I lost that year was Max Ervin, a great fun loving guy that I have known for years! Max and I have been co-workers at two stores and have worked on many film and TV projects together. Some of my favorite memories of going to haunted places around town were with Max who loved to do some of the same strange things like this like I do. I looked at Max as a younger brother, and when I got the news of his passing that day I felt like a piece of me died with him.  I will forever look at Max as a dear friend, and I will never forget him. Roger Ebert, famed film critic who was known for his show “At The Movies,” sadly passed away from cancer this year, and while I didn’t agree with all of his reviews, his death is a sad day for all cinemas and film as he was a man who loved his craft. This update is for all of them as well as any film lover who is no longer with us to enjoy the motion pictures.

Andy CoppMax ErvinRoger Ebert

Nothing beats seeing a film on the big screen, and this year it was great being able to get out and enjoy them on the silver screen, the way they were meant to be seen. While I saw many new films at the theater, I also was able to go and see re-released ones as well in IMAX 3D.  I was able to see Top Gun, Jurassic Park and Wizard Of Oz, and let me tell you seeing Oz on IMAX made me feel like a little kid again.  It was amazing to see, while both Top Gun and Jurassic Park were entertaining to see on the big screen with friends. I also got to see a friend’s film I produced on the big screen, as Babysitter Massacre directed by Henrique Couto showed at the Englewood Cinema.  This made me proud to see my friend’s work with an almost sold out crowd. I also got to see at Neon Movies, as part of Film Dayton’s weekend festival, my late friend Andy Copp’s first film The Mutilation Man from a master cut I was able to give them. Englewood also this year let me see films like The Shinning, Blade Runner, Jaws, Back To The Future and Gremlins thanks to Fritz The Nite Owl and Nite Owl Theatre director Mike McGraner! Alsol at Horrorrama at Englewood Cinema, I got to see Hammer’s The Mummy and the Romero Dead Trilogy. Lots of great classic films and local stars and all of them worth watching on the big screen!

Wizard of OZ 3Dbabysitter massacremutilation manJawsDay Of The Dead

So let’s move onto my top three WORST films of 2013, the three I have picked in my opinion were worst of the worst and were a waste of film and digital space…and worse of all a waste of money! So here we go, let’s take out the garbage.

WORST

# 3

a good day to die hard

Bruce Willis sleepwalks through another sequel to his popular action series that all started with Die Hard. John McClane travels to Russia to get his son Jack out of jail and to take a vacation (you will know this as the terrible line Willis blurts out all through the movie), but before he can patch things up with his estranged son, they stumble onto a terrorist plot that forces the two to team up and save the day. The story in this film is weak and is clearly just the recycled, dumbed down script that had McClane team with Jack Bauer of the TV show 24. The dialogue is dumb and laughable, and as I said, Willis seems bored and half asses his performance. In fact two out of the three other people that saw this stinker with me hated it as well, as did others we could overhear leaving the theater. This bland action film brought in $67,349,198.00 at the box office in the US. I should also note I went in wanting this to be good as I liked the other four films in the series. 

# 2

scary movie 5

For some reason Dimension films decided not to make another Halloween film, but they did want to put money into yet another not funny Scary Movie film for the 5th time and this one didn’t even have the “talents” of the Wayne’s Brothers.  This one is just as crappy and unfunny as all the others in this worn out series. The film’s spoofed plot is about actor Charlie Sheen’s kids who go missing and are found in a Cabin in the Woods and are taken in by the Sanders and their smart monkey Caesar as an evil spirit wants the kids back. Because nothing spells spoof fun like the already run down your throat Paranormal Activity rip off films. I watched this terrible unfunny mess of a comedy and found that I did not laugh once as many of the others in the theater laughed like they were seeing comedy gold, yeah I don’t get it. This was a waste of $5.00 and worse, 2hrs of my life. This unfunny mess made $32,015,787.00 at the box office in the US. 

# 1

A Haunted House

A Haunted House was the worst film of 2013, and guess what? Besides being another terrible spoof film, it also starred and was written by Marlon Wayans, one half of the team that gave us those wonderful Scary Movie films….and it spoofs Paranormal Activity.  So this was doomed to suck from the start! This crapfest is about Malcolm and Kisha moving in together and being haunted by a troublemaking ghost/demon, and the pair get all types of odd balls to help them in their quest to rid the house of it. This film sucked so bad that it was the first film I ever considered walking out of before it was over, not once did I laugh, and the crowd I saw it with were hooting.  One guy laughed so loudly at every fart joke…is this what we have become, thinking trash like this is funny…oh well I guess as in all things in life, different strokes for different folks. This pile of smelly trash made $40,041,683.00 at the US Box Office and to my non-surprise, a sequel is set to come out this year.  I won’t be seeing it.

Other bad films I saw in 2013: After Earth, The Worlds End and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.

After EarthWorlds EndThe Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Who doesn’t love themselves some good old fashioned 80′s action film stars? Besides Bruce Willis, two of the decade’s most iconic actors had films out this year.  Of course I am talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.  So here is a quick run down of my top 3 80′s Action Star Films for last year.

80s action

# 3

Last Stand

After taking some time away from movies to be the mayor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger flexed his acting muscles once more for his first leading role since coming back to Hollywood. Arnold plays a small town sheriff named Ray Owens who along with his very small force must stop an escaped drug cartel leader and his men who are trying to sneak him over the border to safety. The action is over the top, the jokes about being old are out of control, but over all it’s a pretty good action film to say welcome back to Arnold with. The action stuff Arnold does in the film is not unbelievable for a guy his age, and this helps add to the over all fun feel to this film. I will say that when I saw this in the theater, I was worn out and during some slow parts I did find myself drifting off because of the lack of action. The film brought in only $12,050,299.00 at the box office in the US and that’s sad when looking at what piles of dung like Scary Movie 5 and A Haunted House brought in…shame on you for not seeing Last Stand.

# 2

grudge-match-poster

As every review has mentioned, this Drama/Comedy is like a silly version of a Hollywood Dream Match between the characters of Italian Stallone Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta without calling them by those names. Sylvester Stallone plays Henry “Razor” Sharp, a boxer who had a huge feud with Robert De Niro’s character, Billy “The Kid” McDonnen, and with each winning a fight a piece, the third fight is cancelled when Sharp retired from boxing. The two fighters hate each other and when Dante Slate Jr. (Kevin Hart), the son of a notorious boxing promoter gets them back in the ring for a fight that should have happened years and years ago, the drama and bad mistakes of the past come back to the surface. The film, while a little long, was a lot of fun to see in the theater and as the story unfolds, many of the questions you have in the beginning get answered. The comedy works in most spots, and Stallone and De Niro do great jobs as their characters.  While I’m not a fan of his comedy, Kevin Hart does a great job in the film and is not overused. I saw the film with my girlfriend Juliet, and she thought it was alright as well. The film brought in $29,134,648.00 at the US box office. 

# 1

Bullet To The Head

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Sylvester Stallone fan and have been since I was a kid.  So when I found out he had three new films this year, I was pretty hyped to see them all in the theater, and Bullet To The Head was not a letdown as I really enjoyed it. Sly plays Jimmy Bobo, a Louisiana hitman whose partner is murdered and a hit is placed on his head as well.  He meets a D.C. detective named Taylor who tries to help him figure out who has placed the hit on him and to uncover the dirty cops and bad goings on in the town which all controlled by one man including Keegan, the man paid to kill Bobo. Throw in Bobo’s hot daughter and a fire ax fight, and you have this fun action film. The film also stars Christian Slater, Alfred Gough and Jason Momoa who plays Keegan. The film has a great soundtrack done by Steve Mazzaro, and just like The Last Stand, the action while over the top, is stuff you could see a guy in shape like Stallone do. This film is very underrated and was not given a chance by movie goers this year, even my pal Josh Weinberg like it pretty well. The film brought in a very low $9,489,829.00 in the US Box Office and that’s a letdown. Oh, I also bought this film on DVD when it came out.

Sadly, I missed the Stallone and Schwarzenegger team up film “Escape Plan” because of work, and had to see it when it was released on DVD so that’s why it did not make it on this list.  I wish I would have gotten to see it in theater while eating cheese popcorn and drinking a blue Icee; that would have been a lot of fun. 

Escape Plan

Super hero films based on Marvel and DC comic book characters are big Box Office draws again.  2013 had its share of these type of films, and each did well at the box office.  I love super hero films and will admit I even have a soft spot for the 1990 Captain America film starring Matt Salinger as Cap.  So for this batch of films I am pretty hyped to bring you my ranking as I have four films of super sized action to choose from. So let’s strap on our capes and leap into this one!

SUPER HERO

# 4

iron man 3

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) can’t shake off the effects of the attack on New York as seen in The Avengers film and is loosing sleep and having panic attacks as a result. Worse, this is having a strain on his relationship with Pepper, and he also has gotten the attention of world terrorist The Mandarin. After several attacks by The Mandarin that leave Stark’s house destroyed and his best friend Happy in the hospital, and with the world thinking he is dead and only a prototype army on his back Tony must stop the sinister plot to kill the President and find out who The Mandarin really is. I saw this film twice in the theater, and the first time I had a blast with the action and laughed with the comedy aspects.  Upon watching it the second time, I found it to be riddled with flaws and was more annoyed that most of the film is Tony Stark fighting bad guys and not him as Iron Man. Plus, I have some issue with the treatment of The Mandarin (for those who have not seen it, I will not spoil it) who just so happens to be Iron Man’s top foe. But while flawed and my least favorite in the Iron Man series, it’s still worth the watch and was a great film meant for the theater. This film did an amazing $409,013,944.00 at the US box office alone and was the top grossing film of the year until The Hunger Games: Catching Fire knocked it off the throne. Again, if you check your brain at the door and are looking for a fun action comedy, then Iron Man 3 is a good film to be enjoyed. Oh, I also enjoyed the film’s score, done by Brian Tyler and have played it on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO. 

# 3

man of steel

Superman came back into theaters in 2013 with a re-boot called “Man of Steel,” and while elements of the film were great, it still had some flaws making it not the best Superman film in my eyes. The film shows the destruction and war of Krypton and how his mother and father sent the young Sups to Earth where he is adopted by the Kents and is named Clark. As he grows older, Clark has so many unanswered questions about who he is and why he is so different.  He travels the world and helps those in need and becomes an urban legend. But things get complicated for him when he finds a ship from his birth planet, meets reporter Lois Lane and must face General Zod, a castaway from his own planet. The film takes the darker route like the Nolan Batman films and while it’s nice to see a change, it does lose some of the boy scout spirit of who Superman is. I saw it once in theaters in IMAX 3D and bought the 2-disc DVD and will say it’s a pretty fun film. The film brought in $291,045,518.00 at the USA box office and was the 5th top grossing movie of 2013. 

# 2

the-wolverine-poster

The Wolverine was a great super hero film that I feel was tainted by moviegoers who had a bad taste in their mouths from “X-men Origins: Wolverine.”  While I really liked the first film, this sequel was leaps and bounds better and made me hyped to see more Wolverine films from Fox! The film follows Wolverine as he travels to Japan to visit a dying man that he saved way back during World War II.  The man wants to take Wolverine’s healing gift to save his life and this would allow Wolverine to live and die like a normal person. When he refuses the offer all hell breaks loose as the man’s granddaughter is targeted by the yakuza.  He dies and a sinister plot comes to light. Hugh Jackman does a great job as the razor clawed hero, and the film brought in $132,556,852.00 in the US box office. I bought the movie on DVD when it was released and play some of the score music on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO.  This is one X-Men themed movie I will say is a must see. 

# 1

thor the dark world poster

The Dark Elf Malekith is back after being defeated some ages back by Asgardian warriors, and he wants to take over by using a powerful weapon known as the Aether to destroy Asgard. Unlucky for Jane Foster, as she by accident gets the Aether weapon (it enters your body) and becomes the target of Malekith and his dark elf army. Thor, along with his allies Sif, Volstagg and Fandral, must learn to trust Loki in order to save their home as well as Earth from the doom that awaits them. This superhero film felt like it was mixed with the sci-fi fun of films like Star Wars, and this added even more of an epic feel to it. The action in the film is over the top and watching Thor and Loki team was super cool.  The only down side was that the Kat Dennings character, while pretty to look at, gave way to many one liners and after a while I just wished she would have stopped. Well acted, well directed, well written and to me the best Superhero film of 2013! Thor hammered out $204,674,790.00 at the US box office and did even more at foreign! Thor: The Dark World was the best comic book movie of 2013 and is one that you should see if you have not as of yet.

I would also like to point out that Kick-Ass 2 came out this year and would have been on this list for sure but sadly I missed it in theaters because for some reason The Rave only had it on the screens for 2 weeks! I ended up seeing it on DVD when it was released and must say it was a lot of fun and a great follow up to the original.

Kick Ass 2

Now I am going to focus on three films that I would say were the best of the best that were not in one of these categories.  These films were fun popcorn movies that had me thinking this is what going to the movies is all about. These type of films have you on the edge of your seat and provoke all types of emotions. Some of these films were unfairly judged, while others were hits at the box office. So let’s get to what I am calling “Best” as in best films to see in the theater….that didn’t fit in the already made categories!

Best

# 3

Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger was a big budget film made by Disney that critics and internet bloggers unfairly judged, and many of those who trashed it never even saw it! The film is about John Reid, a lawyer who returns home during the railroad construction in Texas just in time to watch his brother, a ranger, be gunned down.  John is left for dead by the outlaw Butch Cavendish, but with the help of a crazy Indian named Tonto and a white spirit horse named Silver, he becomes The Lone Ranger and must bring the outlaw to justice and stop an all out war between Texans and the Native American Tribes, that is all being put in place over the railroads taking over the tribes’ land. The film is not like the classic Clayton Moore stuff and is done more in a tongue in cheek manor, and while I can see fans of the original Lone Ranger being a little let down by this, I still found the film to be a fun kid friendly action film that was worth seeing twice in the theater. Sadly the film was considered a box office flop even though it brought in $89,302,115.00 in the US. The Lone Ranger has flaws and is by no means a perfect film, but it was one that held a lot of fun action and silly moments making it a perfect popcorn film. If you have not seen it, you should leave your brain at the door, pop some popcorn, sit back and enjoy the high adventure of The Lone Ranger and Tonto.

# 2 

star trek into the darkness

I enjoyed the hell out of Star Trek: Into Darkness and will say that I liked it better than the first film in the re-boot series done by J.J. Abrams, and that’s saying a lot because I really liked that one as well! The film is packed with epic sci-fi action and even has the Klingons! Captain Kirk and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise go on the hunt for a terrorist who has caused many deaths and chaos to the federation.  The hunt is filled with many dangers and many twists and turns, and when Kirk and friends find the truth of who they are hunting and why, all hell breaks loose and it’s a fight to survive. Once more I saw this film twice in the theaters and will say that watching it in IMAX 3D was one heck of an experience, and everyone I saw it with left loving the film and saying how it was once heck of a fun ride. The film is well acted and once more seeing Leonard Nimoy as Spock in a cameo made the inner Trekkie in me nerd out. The film’s score is outstanding as are the special effects.  I would say that for 2013, this was my favorite sci-fi film and has all the elements that kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what was happing next. The film did an outstanding $228,778,661.00 in the US box office, and a third film is planned in the series. I was a little light on the plot of this film because it’s packed with surprises, and I don’t want to be that blogger who ruins it for you.  So if you have not seen it…you should do so now!

# 1

OZ Great and Powerful

No 2013 film had me feeling more like a kid again than sitting in the theater and watching “Oz The Great And Powerful” on the IMAX Screen in 3D.  While not nearly iconic or loved by me as the original, this prequel was such a fun and magical film that the 33 year old me felt like the 8 year old me watching the original film on TV during the holidays. Carnival magician and conman Oscar Diggs gets sucked into a tornado while in a hot air balloon after a husband finds that he has been putting the movies on his wife and lands in a magical place called OZ! When he gets there,he is believed to be a grand wizard and becomes the idol and savior to the weak who are being tormented by two witch sisters. The film’s characters are lovable, and James Franco, who plays Oscar, does an outstanding job in the role as does Mila Kunis, who plays The Wicked Witch of the West before and after turning wicked. Speaking of Kunis, she is breathtaking beautiful in this film before she turns all green with hatred. The film did well at the US box office, bringing in a gross of $234,911,825.00 and was number 10 for domestic grosses of 2013. While not like the original or even the sequel, Return To Oz, this film was a fun time at the theater and was my favorite film of the year!

I saw many great and fun films this year.  Here is a list of the things I saw: The Great Gatsby, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Pacific Rim, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Oblivion, Elysium, Jack The Giant Killer, The Place Beyond The Pines, The Call, Dead Man Down, Admission, The Heat, 42, Pain & Gain, Gangster Squad, Olympus Has Fallen, Now You See Me, Identity Theft, Fast & Furious 6 and Snitch. All these films were entertaining as well and helped add to a fun year at the movies.

gi joe retaliationthe great gatsbypacific rimHansel and Gretel

So now we are at the part of the films of the year that always makes me hyped to go to the movies, and that’s horror films! And before we get to the horrors of the big screen, I would like to cover a few on the TV screen as I take a look at horror films that went straight to DVD in 2013.  While some had a small theater run, most didn’t, so lets take a look at my top 4 horror flicks that went DVD.

DVD HORRORS

# 4

maniac

I Warned You Not To Go Out Tonight was the great tagline to the 1980 horror film and for some reason in 2012, with a 2013 release, someone thought it would be a great idea to remake it. The film’s plot is about Frank, an owner of an old style mannequin store, who goes around and kills and scalps ladies.  But he falls in love with artist Anna and his world changes as the urge to collect her becomes stronger and stronger. The film lacks the dirty raw feel of the original and is filmed mainly in a first person perspective of Frank.  While it works in some spots, in others I felt it held it back. The film has some gore but was not nearly as gross as the original. Over all the film was worth watching if you were a fan of the original or are looking for a film where Elijah Wood plays a serial killer. During its very limited theater release in the US, Maniac remake brought in a gross of $31,081.00.

# 3

Curse-of-Chucky-2013-movie-poster

I was really hyped to find out a new Childs Play movie was in the works and was even more glad to know that it was not a remake which had been talked about for years now. The downside was the film was to get a very small theater release and go direct to DVD. What we got was the 6th film in the series that had Chucky being sent to a house where he torments a family and targets a young woman confined to a wheel chair. The film took a lot of the comedy aspect out of the series and went back for more of the scary horror as Chucky kills the family off in brutal ways. The film also adds some twists and turns and even has a cameo that will make fans of the original very happy. Plus Brad Dourif returns to voice the killer doll, and that’s a plus. The downside is that it’s very slow moving and it takes awhile for Chucky to swing his knife into action. While not groundbreaking, this film was a fun watch and just helps add to the legend that is Chucky.

# 2

Frankensteins Army

Frankenstein’s Army is one of those surprise films that I picked up on DVD the same time I did Curse of Chucky and World War Z.  I found the film to be a fun take on the found footage boom of the horror world. The film follows Russian Soldiers as they travel around and stumble on the hideout of Dr. Frankenstein who has been using the bodies of dead Nazi’s to make killing machine monsters. The whole film is from the perspective of a soldier’s camera and later that of Frankenstein. The effects are great for a low budget film, and the monster designs are pretty dang sweet.  It reminds me a lot of the underrated film called Slashers.  In Slashers, it’s a reality TV show that pits people against killers who all dress up like B-Movie inspired horror killers. While Frankenstein’s Army has flaws, I really think it’s worth a watch for horror fans.

# 1

Hatchet III

The Hatchet series is great throwbacks to the horror films of the 80′s, and it also has Kane Hodder, who is known for playing Friday The 13th killer Jason Voorhees, as the film’s killer Victor Crowley and the lovely Danielle Haris of Halloween 4-5 fame as our hero Marybeth who in this third film is stuck in the swamps of New Orleans to try and stop the Crowley curse once and for all. Along the way, Crowley makes chop steak out of a medical crew and a S.W.A.T. team. The film is filled with over the top gore and is one hell of a fun and bloody ride.  Plus I never skip a chance to see Danielle Harris.The film had a very tiny theater run but really made its money on DVD. If you like your killers unstoppable and mean as hell, then watch Hatchet III and enjoy. It’s very cool series that’s heavy on the blood, guts and gore and even has a classic small town ghost town feel to it. It’s really a fun film and a great direct to DVD horror series.

But now let’s get to the real meat of this update, my ranking of the horror films I saw in the theater this year! While some have a slight sci-fi edge, they still have that horror feel that helped add the chills and spills at Rave/Cinemark to all us who went to see them.

horror

# 13

Dark Skies

Dark Skies was one of those horror/sci-fi hybrid films that kind of creeped in and out of the theater and made a very small splash. The film follows The Barrett family who are struggling as the father has been out of work for three months and the mother is struggling as a relator. But things get very odd and crazy as their sons seem to be getting visits from shadow like people and even the older son seems to be having fits. By the end, the shadows seem to be aliens who have marked one of the family members, and it’s a struggle to save their loved one! The film has a nice pace and almost feels like a generic X-Files episode that’s just lacking Mulder and Scully. Keri Russell plays the mother, and she does a pretty damn good job; in fact the acting in the film is pretty good and standard for this style of movie. The film did okay at the US box office and brought a gross in of $17,418,667.00, meaning that Dimension Films made a profit. I watched the film with Josh Weinberg, and he had the same feeling on the film as I did, “It was okay.”

#12

last exorcism 2

The Last Exorcism Part II started out as being a good solid sequel, but by the end became a very standard generic feeling one. The film follows Nell Sweetzer, who is found in a house possessed by a demon and is taken and cured of the possession that has haunted her for years.  She is sent to a home for troubled girls, and things seem to be going good as she gets a job and even finds a young man she gets a crush on. But her happiness is cut short as the demon is not done with her, and those she trusts are not what they seem. The film is no longer found footage and plays like a standard possession film complete with an eye rolling ending. The film stars Ashley Bell once more as Nell, and it was nice to see her return to the role and once more do a fantastic job. The film is by no means a blood bath but does have a few chilling moments. The film did okay at the US box office and brought in $15,179,302.00 gross giving CBS Films a small profit. I don’t see a part three in the series’ future even though it’s left wide open for one.  Over all I found the film just okay. 

#11

the lords of salem

Poor The Lords Of Salem, which lasted about a week at the theater and when me, Josh & Lisa Weinberg saw it, maybe a total of 6 other people were in the theater. The film follows radio DJ Heidi Hawthorne, who gets a strange old vinyl in the mail that really holds a hidden message from witches who want to get revenge for a slaughter that happened decades before. They use Heidi as a tool to achive what they need and even her own apartment is not safe from the witchcraft. The film has a lot of heart, and I think Rob Zombie, who directed and wrote it, really believed in the film. While it does have some blood, this film is more of a shocking kind of horror with off the wall scenes that are used to try and shock or offend the viewer. Sheri Moon Zombie plays Heidi, and she does a pretty good job. I will say over the years she has grown as an actress.  Plus of course it would not be a Zombie film if we don’t get some shots of Sheri’s butt. This was by no means a great film, but I enjoyed it in theaters and even bought it on DVD when it was released. The film grossed $1,165,882.00 in the US box office and had a very small limited release.

# 10

Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies is a cross between a romantic comedy and a horror film that oddly works pretty well. R is a zombie who kind of wonders what the purpose of being a zombie really is.  In fact he even still collects things from his past when he was alive. Julie is a young woman who is alive who catches R’s eye during a raid to try and get food and medical supplies.  He falls in love with her and it becomes a Romeo and Juliet kind of love story about forbidden love and shows just maybe the living can live alongside the dead. This film is cheesy and silly, yet I found myself enjoying it as I drank down my Blue Icee. It’s nothing to special and not quite a throw away Twilight kind of film, but it’s worth a watch on DVD, Blu-Ray or even…Netflix (if you like that kind of poor quality streaming junk). The film at the US box office brought in $66,380,662.00 making Lionsgate a good little profit. Most of my friends who have seen it and are all diehard horror fans like myself also oddly kind of liked this film!

#9  

the purge

The Purge was one of those films that had me at the first viewing of the trailer, and while it was a good film, it didn’t fully hold up to what the trailer made it out to be in my eyes. The US Government has selected one night a year to allow murder and mayhem to go un-punished, allowing people to blow of steam and kill those who did them wrong or just people at random. James is a home security sales man and in fact is the best in the business.  He heads home along side his family to be locked into their house safe and sound, or so he thinks.  Things get out of hand as his son lets in a man running from some masked killers and his daughter’s boyfriend sneaks in with the idea of winning her father over one way or another. It becomes a fight for their lives as the killers outside want in and get in. The film is filled with lots of twists and turns and surprises and makes for one hell of a good horror thriller. Ethan Hawke plays James and is outstanding as is the rest of the cast.  The film has some blood but is by no means on par with a slasher film. After seeing it in the theater, I left feeling entertained and kind of wanting to see a part two.  Guess what – we will this year as “The Purge: Anarchy” hits theaters. The film grossed $64,473,115.00 giving Universal a great profit and proving that horror is where the money can be made. 

# 8

Insidious Chapter 2

Insidious Chapter 2 is one of those PG-13 horror films that delivers some great chills and thrills and shows that horror sequels can be as good as the original! This film follows the events that happen after the first film and shows that the poor Lambert family are not done with the evil spirit that has latched itself onto them. I don’t wanna give to much away about this film, but I will say that the ghost known as The Black Bride is one creepy S.O.B., and this film does a great job of showing his origins. Over all, if you loved the first film, this second one will chill your bones just as fast. The film did great just like the original at the American box office bringing in a gross of $83,586,447.00.  So if you like ghost thrillers with little to no blood but filled with some creepy moments, this film is for you. And oh yeah when I saw the film, the theater had a good turn out and everyone I could hear after the film had ended seemed to really dig it. 

# 7

Mama

Mama is a movie to me that blurred the lines between horror and fantasy and was done really well! Two young sisters travel with their dad on an icy road to a cabin in the middle of the woods right after he killed their mother and had plans to kill them and himself, but before he can kill his children, an unknown creature comes in and saves them and for years acts as their protector. But when their uncle and his rock star girlfriend find them and adopt them, they learn that what the girls call Mama ain’t going to let them go easily. I really struggled with not having this film higher on my list because after seeing it, I found myself really liking it.  For months and months it was ranked as my top film of the year. Mama is a great creepy looking ghost/spirit that is sure to send shivers down many spines and really is worth the watch. The film did good at the American Box Office bringing in a gross of $71,628,180.00 and making it a success for Universal. 

# 6

world war z

Word War Z the film is very loosely based on the book of the same title written by Max Brooks, son of the amazing comedy director Mel Brooks. The film follows retired UN investigator Gerry Lane and his family who are caught in the middle of a zombie outbreak, and he must work once more for his former employer in order to keep his family safe and to hope to find a cure to end the outbreak. Brad Pitt plays Gerry and is a very likable character who I felt connected to and wanted to see him survive and out smart the zombies. The film is filled with CGI, and while some scenes with the mass amount of zombies look a little cheesy, the film for being PG-13 is pretty scary and is a well made zombie film. This is one of those films that when I first saw the trailer I thought it would be a terrible main stream horror film that wimped out when it came to blood and gore, and while very light on the blood, the story was way more intense than I thought and I left the theater really liking the film. In fact I even got this film on DVD when it came out, and my girlfriend, who judged the film before seeing it like I did, also ended up liking it! The film did great at the American box office bringing in a gross of $202,359,711.00.  If you have not seen it yet, I think you should.  

# 5

Evil Dead

When I first heard they were doing a remake of Evil Dead, I was pissed.  For so many years I wanted to see a part 4, and instead all I heard that was coming was another Hollywood pooped out remake. The one good thing was the none attachment of Michael Bay and his band of hacks at Platinum Dunes.  So this gave me a slight hope that it might be good…and to my shock, it was pretty dang good and took the humor out of the series and turned it back to pure bloody horror! The film follows Mia who travels to a cabin in the woods to detox off drugs but gets more than she bargains for when one of her friends reads from a book found in the cabin’s cellar that unleashes demons that infect, possess and kill them one by one. The film is a blood bath and has some pretty gross gory scenes and is very much like a classic horror film in feeling. This film had very mix reviews by friends and family who watch horror films.  I for one had a blast watching it in theaters and it went above and beyond the low expectations I had set in my mind for it. The film did pretty well in the US box office grossing a total of $54,239,856.00 making it a hit for TriStar. I should also note that the film is produced by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell (who also has a groovy cameo) showing that the old are okay with the new being around.  The film’s success also has sparked rumors that a sequel to the original series as well as the reboot series are in the works. JOIN US….JOIN US!

# 4

Texas Chainsaw 3D

Texas Chainsaw 3D is a sequel to the original 1974 film and even has the opening taking place right after the original ended. The film centers around Heather Miller who finds out that she has inherited a mansion in Texas.  She also that she has been adopted and that she is really part of Sawyer family! While in the home, she and her friends come face to face with Leatherface, who wants them all dead, but all is not what it seems as Heather learns the truth about her true family. The film is so cheesy and is by no means a great horror film, but I do think its a fun sequel that packs some fun kills and a silly plot. I will say that it was great seeing a version of Leatherface on the big screen in 2013, and while this film’s version is pretty cool, he really isn’t given much to do and really becomes a kind of anti-hero by the films closing. Alexandra Daddario plays Heather Miller, and I must say she is one good looking lady who does a great job on what she is given in the film. To be honest, much like Mama this film was a hard one to place because while most critics and even friends of mine hated this film, I really do have a soft spot for it and even have bought it on DVD when it was released. The film at the America box office grossed $34,341,945.00 at the box office and making it a semi hit for Lionsgate who at this point is rumored to be working on another one. Chainsaw kills, lots of blood, hot women and a horror character icon are the reasons this film is ranked my # 4 horror film of the year.  While not perfect and flawed, it was one fun ride into Texas.

# 3

Youre Next

You’re Next is a film that sat on a shelf for 2 years before the powers that be at Lionsgate released it into theaters, and I must say, I am glad they did. The film revolves around a family in the middle of nowhere who are being attacked by three killers who are all wearing white animal masks and who are all very brutal. It’s up to the family to try to stay alive and fight back, and fight back they do thanks to one of the family member’s girlfriends who will fight to stay alive. The film has lots of twists and turns and even has touches of black humor. The film is pretty violent and brutal and has one scene where someone is killed with a blender! I don’t want to say too much more about the plot because I really think you should see it if you enjoy 80′s Slasher Films mixed in with some over the top moments. I must also say that at HorrorHound 2014, Baron Von Porkchop’s and my table was right across from actress Sharni Vinson, and she was one of the sweetest actress I have ever met next to Danielle Harris and Dennis Duff.  She treated her fans with so much respect and seemed like a very nice person. The film in the US grossed $18,494,006.00 at the box office and really was one hell of a fun film to see in the theaters with a crowd of fellow horror film lovers.

# 2

carrie

I am a horror film fan who likes sequels over reboots and remakes.  I feel that it’s better to tell new stories about a character than just rehashing the same one with new players and special effects. But I will say that I loved the remake to Carrie, and I know many will disagree with me on this one, but I liked it even better than the original! The film follows Carrie White who is an odd girl being raised by her crazed God obsessed mother who is also tormented every day at school by fellow classmates.  Things get worse when she gets her period and her fellow students decide to shoot a cellphone video of them throwing tampons at her and teasing her for not knowing what a period is. And it goes all down hill for all those who tormented her as Carrie is special and holds certain powers now that all come out when she is asked to prom and while there a prank goes wrong and many people die. This film updates really well and with this generation’s obsessions with cellphones and social media, it was perfect time to show how cruel some teens can be toward each other just to get some hits on YouTube. Chloe Moretz plays Carrie, and I must say she is becoming one of my favorite actress as she does great work in this film as well and Kick-Ass 1 & 2 as well as the letdown film Dark Shadows.The film did only all right in the US bringing in a gross of $35,266,619.00 but did better worldwide. When seeing this film, the theater was kind of packed and when the film was over it seemed that the crowd enjoyed it. I know my friend Josh Winberg also liked it, and I think if you’re a fan of the Stephen King book and the original film than, you should give this film a chance; I am glad I did!

# 1

the conjuring

The Conjuring is a PG-13 horror film that is based on a true story about some paranormal investigators who decide that they are going to help a family that is being tormented by an evil spirit, but this case is like none other they tackled before because this spirit is not going down without a fight. This is your classic spooky haunted house flick mixed with possession film that doesn’t rely on blood, guts and gore to scare the audience, but does so more naturally and allows the viewer to almost scare themselves as they are drawn deeper and deeper into the plot. I can say when I saw this film in the theater I took notice of something: while the more bloody films like You’re Next, Texas Chainsaw 3D, Lords of Salem and Evil Dead had the audiences laughing in spots, The Conjuring had people screaming in fear…now think about that –  a PG-13 Horror film was scaring people while the rated R bloodbaths had people laughing.  It’s a shift in the market for sure as it seems Hollywood is getting away from the slasher and more in bed with the spooky ghost/demon films. I picture the frights The Conjuring dealt out to the people in that theater were the same kind of bloodless frights Universal’s Dracula and Frankenstein delivered in 1931 to movie goers, and that’s an amazing thing for a horror buff like myself to witness. The film did great at the US box office bringing in a gross of $137,400,141.00 and making it one of the biggest money makers in the horror genre of the year and making good profits for Warner Brothers/New Line Cinema. If you like spooky mood movies, then The Conjuring is for you. I am glad I saw it in theaters with a room full of people because the atmosphere of the crowd made it even more enjoyable with the screams and gasps filled the air.

Well I know that this update is a little behind, and to many of you great readers might even be a little dated, but I must tell you all I really had a great time writing this one and had a blast going to the theater and having Hollywood entertain me on the silver screen. Thank you all for sitting here in the Rotten Ink Theater Lobby and talking films with me. I hope you enjoyed our chat.  Next update we will be going back to comics as we take a look at an Atlas Comic “icon” of stunts.  Of course I am talking about The Cougar…come on you know The Cougar, right? Well if you don’t, you’ll learn about him next update.  So until then watch a movie, support your local comic shop and Horror Host and read a comic or two and just enjoy life. 

cougar_2

The Dead Eyed Stare Of The Hugga Bunch

Who doesn’t love to get a hug from a loved one, the warm embrace and that feeling of being loved and safe is something special. Now think about getting a hug from a creepy troll faced doll with a cold dead stare that makes E.T. look normal and the Toxic Avenger look like Brad Pitt….you don’t like that image of hugging a troll faced doll, do you? Well the folks at Kenner and Hallmark Cards in 1985 thought that all kids would love to own a creepy faced doll to hug when they released the toy line called The Hugga Bunch. I am not sure why they designed them to look as weird and odd as they did, but I can remember these creepy little guys on the toy shelves at stores like Hills and Gold Circle, and the smaller ones were given at Taco Bell for a cheap price. The only Hugga Bunch I owned was one that I got from Taco Bell that my aunt got me when she worked there, and on the playground Hugga Bunch was ice cold.  To be honest, I don’t even remember one person talking about them and only think one girl I knew owned any. Below is a quick look at the creepy dolls, and you can be the judge on if you would want to hug one of them.

huggletHuggaBunch dollsHugga Bunch doll

1985 also saw a made for TV movie about the dolls by FilmFaor Communications that was made for over a million dollars and was the most expensive special at the time! The film was a live action family film about a young girl who travels to a magical land called Huggaland to find a way to slow down the aging of her grandmother, but while on this visit she also comes across an evil Queen who wants to spoil the fun and hugs. The special did fair with getting viewers, and it was later released on Beta and VHS, where it gained cult status for being so strange. And if you thought the dolls are creepy, get a look at the Hugga Bunch in this movie.

Hugga Bunch movie 1Hugga Bunch movie 2Hugga Bunch movie 3

Besides the dolls, more merchandise was released that included a board game, books, lunch box, stickers, View Master slides, Hallmark miniature figures and much more. This shows that Kenner and Hallmark really wanted these dolls to catch on and take the place of Cabbage Patch Kids that, at the time, were the premiere stuffed dolls. And they were smart for getting the smaller dolls into Taco Bell because in the 80′s and 90′s fast food toys were very popular and could help push a toy line, movie or kids’ book series up a few notches on the must have factor.

hugga bunch lunch boxHugga Bunch board gameHugga Bunch book

Now as I have stated, I only had one of these dolls and it was one of the Taco Bell ones so I have very little connection to these dolls.  So I looked high and low and found one of my female friends who grew up owning one of these dead eyed little creepers so I asked her to give us a look at what it was like to be a female and the target audience for these dolls. Her name is Jesy Anderson, and I have known her since high school.  She is an amazing person who is super sweet and super smart. She is co-owner of a local store called Sew Dayton that custom makes clothes and sells other sewing notions as well as teaches classes. She is married to a fellow geek guy like myself who loves horror and kung-fu films as well as comics named Jermie, who I also went to school with and as well is a great guy. So with that I am going to briefly turn Rotten Ink over to Jesy so that she can give you her opinions on The Hugga Bunch creepers.

Jesy Anderson

“Yes!”, is what 6 year old me said, when my dad handed me my Taco Bell kids meal. The awesomeness of what Taco Bell used to put in their kids meals in 1985, The Huglets! I had Hug-A-Bye. I thought it was so rad, Hallmark marketed it perfectly to my age bracket. Give Hugs! Hug everyone… Everyone… even that creepy neighbor. The Hug A Bunch Gang was flat out disturbing. From a cartoon on a Hallmark card, to plushie, and finally to movie! In 1985 “The Hugga Bunch”. It even won a Prime Time Emmy for Outstanding Visual Effects. Once you watch the movie, (you will because I know you are super curious now), you will leave with two realizations. 1. This movie is possibly the ONLY movie creepier than “The Strangers” and 2. WHAT THE *@&$ was the 6 yr old me thinking! I have great memories of being excited to get my own plush Huglet from inside my Taco Bell kids meal and watching the best made for tv movie of the summer. It’s strange how amazing awesome something is while you are a child; such an innocence. Aside from not understanding exactly how my parents pulled off saying the charaters names and still able to keep a straight face is beyond me! These Huglets are CLEARLY the result of too much “hugging” and inbreeding. All in all, the Hug A Bunch gang really worth a watch for those who haven’t and watch it again for those who haven’t seen it since the 80′s. Just remember to bring the popcorn and get ready for a disturbing movie~

Taco Bell Hugga

Thanks, Jesy, for filling me and my readers in on your Hugga Bunch thoughts. As you can see, she had a Taco Bell one as well and this makes me wonder who were the kids that went to a toy store and picked one of these dead eyed dolls out as a must have over all the other toys and dolls on the shelf.  I mean what was the draw of these things? One funny thing that I have to point out before we move on to the comic reviews, is that one of the Huglets’ name is Fluffer…for those of you who don’t know what that name means, it’s a person’s title who works in the adult film industry that keeps a male star “happy” in between takes.  So why in the holy hell would someone who named these creepy dolls name one after a person who has a job like that?! So below is the Huglet named Fluffer, and next to it is a picture of adult film star Tory Lane.  While she is no “fluffer” I want you to look at the two and tell me if you see any similarities between the two…cause I sure don’t….go on and look will ya.

flufferTory Lane

So after looking at the two, I am sure Tory will give you sweet dreams while good old Fluffer will be haunting your nightmares for weeks. So as you can see, at this point I have no connection to these dolls at all, and I am not sure what I am getting into as I am about to read these six issues based on these characters from the mighty Star Comics.  While a part of me wants these to be bad so I can really make fun of them, there is a side that is saying these might not be as bad as you think. So to ease my mind and to get this look at Hugga Bunch over, let’s move onto the wonderful comic reviews.  Remember I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So let’s stare these soulless happy little boogers in the eye and travel to Huggaland!

Hugga Bunch 1

Hugga Bunch   **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #1 of 6

The Hugga Bunch go on an adventure down a path called “Road To Riches”, but Huggins and her Huglet Hug-A-Bye get left behind when they hear that someone needs help.  Homer is a boy who is alone and has moved to a new town because of his fathers work, and is very sad that he has moved away from his friends and is feeling lonely.  His wishes for a new friend comes true when Huggins pops out of his mirror and takes him to Huggaland where they both are captured by the Pirate Captain Snake and become his slaves on his mighty ship. While at sea, Captain Snake attacks another ship and on board is a Princess who he wants to kidnap, but Homer comes to her aid and to everyone’s shock the Princess can also defend herself and with the help of a whale they run off Captain Snake and The Hugga Bunch return Homer to his room, and he finds the inner power to make friends.

This is a comic that is 100% for young girls of the 80′s as the story is so cheesy and silly that most boys would have walked away from the adventure a few pages into it. With all that said, I still would like to say that for what it is, the message and story are very positive and I am sure roped in a few young female readers and a few male ones as well. The Hugga Bunch live in a perfect fun filled world that is laced with some negative places, and these places are what make it an interesting place.  Huggins seems to be the ring leader of the fun loving group and seems to be the one who oozes more positive energy. Captain Snake is the “bad” guy in the issue who uses the Hugga Bunch as kid slave labor on his ship, and they are so fun loving they don’t even pay attention to the fact they are being used. Homer is a kid that anyone who moved into a new town can identify with as he has no friends and doesn’t know how to make new ones. Of course in the end Homer finds he does have friends and even made some with the creepy little freaks that live beyond his mirror known as the Hugga Bunch. Warren Kremer is the artist on this issue and it’s pretty much your standard kids comic fluff and looks all right. The cover is okay, but not one I would have for a first issue as it should be more eye catching. Well let’s move onto issue 2. 

Hugga Bunch 2

Hugga Bunch # 2  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #2 of 6

Huggins once more gets the feeling that someone needs help and comes through a mirror in a school locker to meet Susan, who all her classmates don’t like and tease her for being too serious. Susan goes to Huggaland with Huggins, and while there they meet a young boy who is frozen in a block of ice by the Ice Queen who runs a frozen kingdom! The boy’s name is Chipper, and he is in love with the Ice Princess who is being held captive and is not allowed to see friends or boys! The Hugga Bunch, Susan and Chipper head to the ice castle and do battle with the Ice Queen to save the Princess.  After many ice block cubes and rescues, they save the Princess who when free from her ice prison grows up before their eyes and finds that she is in fact the true Queen of the ice land.  She uses her new power to melt the ice and boots the old Ice Queen from the land. Susan returns back to her school and finds time to have fun and goes to one popular girl’s party, showing she is no square.

Well another issue with a message, and this time it’s that while hard work and school are very important, you should also spend some time, have fun and live a little. Huggins once more is the main Hugga Bunch member who once more comes from the mirror to bring a young child to her world to teach some sort of underlying message.  Wait are the Hugga Bunch like Candyman?  Do they come out of mirrors to kill….wait they help…right? The Ice Queen is the main “bad” woman, and she is 100% a generic version of any Disney Princess’s evil Queen, who uses freeze and ice as her tools of evil deeds. This issue like the first is 100% geared at girls and even throws in a generic love story between a Princess and a common boy for good cheesy measure. The artwork this time is done by Anna-Maria Coleman and is slightly better than Kremer’s work in the first issue. Over all just another average issue in a comic series based on creepy eyed dolls. Let’s get onto issue 3 shall we. 

Hugga Bunch 3

Hugga Bunch # 3  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #3 of 6

Hugsy is bored in Huggaland and wants something new besides playing and being happy all day long.  So when he hears a young girl named Bonnie crying through the mirror he comes and takes her to Huggaland as she tells the sad tale of her dog running away, but it’s because the dog is sad because she makes no time to play with him. But while they all play and talk Mr. Grabby shows up with his net, and he takes away unwanted things.  He wants Huglets and takes Hugsy’s away!! The Hugga Bunch alongside Bonnie head out to get him back and find that Mr. Grabby himself is a lonely man and after he learns his sidekick that he mistreats thinks of him as a friend, he sets all the pets and huglets free and all the pets get to go home with their owners. When Bonnie comes back to the real world she finds her dog and learns that she must find time to pay attention to her animal because they have feelings too.

Treat your animals right! Is the message of this issue and make sure to make time for them and friends because by paying no attention to them, it just might make you lose them. Hugsy is the main Hugga in this issue, and he is kind of a turd who is spoiled.  Although he learns his lesson, I was not a fan of him. Mr. Grabby is one mean man who gets joy out of taking lost and unwanted pets in his weird nets.  While he turns good and has a change of heart at the end I still would not trust him. Over all this is another average issue that holds the same mood and formula of the other two, and I am starting to see that this series will all have the same idea of a Hugga member pulling a kid into their world where he or she will learn a lesson that they will take with them when the return to the real world.  If it’s all like this I think soon it will go into yawnville! Art once more was done by Anna-Maria Coleman and looks good.  So let’s move on shall we?

Hugga Bunch 4

Hugga Bunch # 4  **
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #4 of 6

Huggins comes from the mirror and takes a chubby kid named Jackie, who overeats and is tired of hearing his parents argue, to Huggaland.  While there they meet a young cloud named Howie who wants to tell off his creator for making clouds have to do rain and thunderstorms! The Hugga Bunch and Jackie go on the adventure, and in the end with the help of Mother Nature, Howie and the rest learn why it’s important that it rains! When Jackie gets back home, he gets his parents to stop fighting and finds he has the power to have self control.

Yep, yet another lesson issue this one is to have faith in yourself and to get things done, team work is important. Huggins is the star again and is the same Huggins for the past issues, as Jackie is your typical chubby kid who doubts himself and is ashamed of his weight. While he learns a lesson of not overeating, it’s still a bland issue. The other clouds are the bad guy, and Howie is just a character to add a little more to the already so-so story. John Costanza does the art, and it looks pretty good and has that classic Harvey Comic feel to it. Over all this is just an okay issue and is nothing special, I really wish they would spice up the formula because by issue 4, I am bored with it. Let’s move on. 

Hugga Bunch 5

Hugga Bunch # 5  **
Released in 1987  Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #5 of 6

Huggins and Hugsly go through the mirror and find Alan, a young man who is super negative and looks at the downside of everything even though he has a wonderful friendship with a young lady named Doris. While is Huggaland, Alan is still negative and after kicking a tree stump he wakes up a bird named Grouse who is as negative as he is.  This little bird changes the moods of everyone he is around and is a full on mood killer! Alan gets to see how he acts towards others, and this makes him want to change as Grouse changes when he gets a massive hug from the Hugga Bunch. When Alan get back in the real world, he goes out of his way to see the positive in things and this brings he and Doris closer.

Don’t be a negative mood killer, also known as a Mood Vampire, and try to look at the good things in life as well is the message in this issue. Alan is an annoying kid who shouldn’t have any friends for acting the way he does, but changes when he sees something else act the way he does. People like this don’t change most of the time, so this one is a little lame. Huggins and Hugsly team up to bring this negative turd to their world and both are as happy and cheerful as they have been in the past 4 issues. Grouse is much like Alan and is annoying with his negative bull stuff as well. Same old, same old stuff..different kid with a different issue but it’s all stale at this point. I am so ready to move onto the last issue.

Hugga Bunch 6

Hugga Bunch # 6  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #6 of 6

Hugsly and Hugs go through the mirror and meet Danny, a young man on a baseball team that has one of the biggest egos ever! He is taken to Huggaland to enjoy the landscape, but someone is stealing the land.  Panic sets in, and Danny thinks of ideas to try and find who is stealing the land. The thief is a gnome named Satchel who uses a magic bag to suck in whatever he wants. With team work, they beat the gnome and break his bag that frees Huggaland and returns it to normal! Danny learns that there is no I in team and returns to the real world a new man and a total team player.

I need to start by saying I am so glad to be done with the Hugga Bunch series.  While not terrible, these were not something I will ever read again. This one’s main focus is the entire Huga Bunch as they must team up to clean Huggaland and later save it.  They use the power of friendship and hugs to set all right, and they let everyone know that people make the places and not the opposite. Danny is like Lex Luger when he was in the WWF and known as The Narcissist, as he likes to look at himself in the mirror.  But after some good old fashion teamwork he finds that working with others gets stuff done. Satchel is a greedy gnome who seems to be stealing the land just to be an ass, and when he gets beat, he takes his broken bag and heads right out of town. So the lesson is don’t be an ego driven ass and work with others to reach your goal as a team. Artwork is done by John Costanza again, and it looks good. So yeah, we are done.  Below is some art from issue one to show you the style of art used in this series. 

Hugga Bunch art

One thing that I must question is how this series got a total of six issues while better comics like Defenders of Earth and Inhumanoids got less! I did notice though that Star once more did not even give this series a full fledged final issue.  Oh Star, why would you never give fans closure to the series they were reading…well most of the time we didn’t get it. As I have said before besides like one girl I knew and my Aunt, no one I knew had these dolls and no one besides them even spoke of them! The thing that made this series bland and average is the fact they really did follow the same formula and like clockwork you knew at what point the troubled kid would see the light and figure out what they needed to learn. But I am so done with the Hugga Bunch, and I am going to move onto telling you what our next update is.  It’s one I have been working on all last year, my look at the films of 2013! So come back and spend some time with me at the Rotten Ink Theater as we eat some popcorn and talk about films.  Until then enjoy a comic or two, and look under your bed to make sure a Hugga Bunch is not under there waiting for you!

Films of 2013 Logo

Jason Voorhees’s Bogus Journey To Hell

As you long time readers remember when New Line Cinema told the world that Freddy Kruger was going to die in their film “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare” and that it was the final film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, it sent shockwaves through the youth at the time who believed their marketing tool. But could they trick us all again when they did the same thing with the newly acquired Friday The 13th film series? Paramount Pictures had been making and putting out Friday The 13th films since 1980 when they released the original film.  To their surprise, it was a huge hit and sparked 7 sequels for them, but this whole time while they made money on them, it almost seemed they were embarrassed to be the company making these slasher films. The final film for them came in 1989 with “Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan,” and while it made money, its profits were less than before.  Paramount had enough of the hockey mask killer, and they sold the film rights for future sequels to New Line Cinema who made the A Nightmare on Elm Street series as well as films like Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and Man’s Best Friend. This was shocking for fans of the series as now New Line had the rights, and no one knew what was going to happen.  Would they do a remake of the series or would they continue on? We got our answer as they announced Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday, and they once more let it out that this was it.  If you like Jason Voorhees, you better come see this film and say your goodbyes because this was the “Final” one. Of course time would prove that they were full of crap as sequels like Jason X, Freddy vs. Jason and even a reboot was made by a coproduction between New Line and Paramount in 2009. In 2013, Paramount has gotten the rights back to Friday the 13th for 5 years and plan on making the 13th film in the series soon for a 2015 release date. The actor best known for playing the part of Jason Voorhees is Kane Hodder, a stuntman who has been in many great horror films over the years such as the Hatchet Series, Project: Metal Beast, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, Wishmaster and 2001 Maniacs.  He is also the actor who played Jason in the film this blog update is about.

Jason Voorhees 1Paramount logoJason Voorhees 2

For those who don’t know who Jason Voorhees is, here is a quick bio for the famed hockey mask killer. Jason Voorhees was born a mongaloid, and when he was young and at camp he drowned in the lake at Camp Crystal Lake while the councilors were making love and partying.  Over the years, his mother, Pamela Voorhees, did all she could to have the camp closed.  She murdered people and even poisoned the water to try and keep people away. Pamela’s reign of terror came to an end when a young woman named Alice chopped her head off after she had already killed all of Alice’s friends and co-workers. Alice had a vision of a boy in the lake who pulled her under, but no such boy was found. Years pass, and the boy who was really Jason Voorhees killed Alice and spent all his time getting revenge on those who entered his camp. At first Jason wore an old sack as a mask, but later he was able to get a hockey mask from one of his victims. While at first Jason was just a deformed human, it was after he died at the hands of Tommy Jarvis (a young boy whose family he attacked) that he later became an undead killing machine who could not be stopped. Jason was brought back from the dead thanks to Jarvis, who over they years brooded over the killer and believing he was not truly dead dug up his body and like Frankenstein’s Monster a bolt of lightning brought back the killer who spent many years hacking up teens and even battling one with psychic powers. The hockey face killer even caught a cruise at one point and traveled to New York and later was set up and blown to bits only to be shown that he has a demon inside him that can body jump.  Le also later went to space in the future and turned metal and even fought dream killer Freddy Kruger in a bloody battle. Jason over the years has been hacked up, blown up, set on fire, drowned, hung and shot and nothing ever seems to stop him. Actors who have played Jason over the years in 12 films include Kane Hodder, Steve Dash, Richard Brooker, C.J. Graham, Ken Kirzinger and Derek Mears to name a few. Jason Voorhees remains one of the most popular horror characters of the 1980’s, and while this bio was rushed, you should do yourself a favor and watch all the films and enjoy the blood splatter goodness. 

Alice Cooper and Jasonjason x jasonremake jason

1993 marked the first film of the Friday the 13th series done by New Line Cinema called Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday, and like before they acted as if this film was the last to be made for the Jason Voorhees character like they did before with Freddy Kruger and Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. This time around while I was hyped for the idea of a new Friday the 13th film, I was not as sold on it being the final one, all that kept going through my young mind was “Why would they buy the rights only to end it with one film?” Still the hype of final did fill my mind and made me wonder just how they would kill him off, and when Fangoria Magazine started to show pictures on the set and showed a more bloated looking Jason who looked battle tested and his mask seemed fused to his face, my hype built slightly even more. I can remember talking to my brother about how they were going to kill Jason off this time and ever so slightly the rumor of Freddy Kruger being in the film echoed in my brain. The kids at school, while some horror film fans, they were few and far but the ones that did, I can remember talking of ideas of this final film and what we thought was going to happen. I can even remember Entertainment Tonight doing a big segment of the film, adding more hype to its release. The film came out and grossed $15,935,068.00 during its run at the box office, and being younger my mom and dad would not allow me to watch the film in theaters. I can remember hearing negative reviews from older friends who saw it, and even my brother got to see it and disliked it. While I heard positive stuff about the gore, the fact that in this film Jason had a little demon that lived in his heart and would body jump kept being compared to films like The Hidden. It took it coming to VHS before I was able to see it, and after watching it I found myself liking it, while I would say next to part 5 it’s the weakest in the series, it still has a charm that I find entertaining.

The film’s gore effects are great and perfect for the 90′s slasher film, and while the Jason body jumping demon was dumb, when the hockey mask wearing Jason is on screen, it’s good stuff. The end of the film when Freddy’s glove shows up and pulls Jason’s mask into Hell was so awesome and built up the fact that you knew that the Friday The 13th film series was not over and that the two horror icons would meet each other in a film. So while it did not hold the questions and mystery of Freddy’s Dead, this film still held some great memories of talking to my brother and friends of the Final Friday. 

Jason Hell 1Jason Goes To Hell PosterJason Hell 2

Jason Goes To Hell is filled with a few other horror film relics and characters.  The most known is Freddy Kruger’s glove that pops from the ground at the end and pulls Jason’s mask down to Hell while giving his evil laugh. The second is the Book of The Dead from the famed Evil Dead series that sits in the Voorhees house, making one wonder is Jason a deadite? And last is the crate from Creepshow that houses the razor teethed monster that eats Adrienne Barbeau, that is now being stored in the Voorhees basement. Very cool little surprises for fans of horror in this flick and are worth trying to spot on your next watch.

Freddy's GloveEvil Dead BookCreepshow crate

Like all good popular horror films, Jason Goes To Hell had its share of merchandise like t-shirts, trading cards, cardboard cut out, Halloween masks, model kits, toys and magazines. Some of the best are the Mezco Jason Goes To Hell figures from their Cinema of Fear line. McFarlene Toys had a Jason Goes to Hell figure in their Movie Maniac line, and Fangoria had a magazine dedicated strictly to the film.

Movie Maniac JasonJason Goes To Hell MagazineJason Model

One other cool piece of merch that came out was the soundtrack to the film done by Harry Mantredini on both cassette tape and CD. The film’s score, while updated, still holds the classic Friday the 13th feel and even has brief moments that echo the classic score. This is a score that at some point I want to get and start playing a few tracks of it on WYSO’s Sunday night radio show Alpha Rhythms.  So listeners of that, keep your ears open.  

Jason Goes To Hell Soundtrack CD

When I moved back to Kettering I hated it.  I felt like I did not connect with the other kids, and I felt like the schools themselves were nothing but one big joke more concerned with test scores than actually teaching kids. While I had some great friends in Kettering like Josh Weinberg and Patrick Neeley, it was when I was placed in the media class that I found friends who were just like me.  They were into horror films, music and being creative. Guys like Dave Wean, Rion Neeley, Linda Webb, Dan Salter, Brandon Womeldorff and Matt Hoffman were all amazing and fun people. With these guys I also helped build a small shot on video film company called Independent B Movie. One of the first people I bonded with in that class was Matt Hoffman over a T-shirt I was wearing that lead to us talking about music and then of course horror films. Hoffman was a fan of Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, and I can remember him even printing out rumors of what the Freddy vs. Jason film would have been about. One of the coolest things Matt did was he gave me a double sided official movie theater poster of Jason Goes To Hell that I still have to this day.  So once more thank you, Hoffman, for being a great friend, and this update is for you and all the other horror fans in the world who stick together.

Jason Goes To Hell Poster 2

So here we are at the point of the comic reviews, and I want to let all you readers know that the issues I am about to re-read are the same ones I bought off the news stands when they first were released. I got these comics from Mavericks Cards and Comics as well as The Bookie Parlor and have kept them all these years.  At one point in time when I sold off my comics to pay rent for me and my girlfriend’s place, I kept these as well as a handful of others so these comics hold a lot of memories. Remember I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So if you’re ready, let’s get into the Final Friday.

Jason Goes To Hell 1

Jason Goes To Hell # 1   **1/2
Released in 1993   Cover Price $2.95   Topps Comics   #1 of 3

A young woman goes to Crystal Lake and lures Jason Voorhees out of hiding and tricks him into following her into an ambush set up by a SWAT team who use a bomb and blow Jason up “killing” him once and for all. But when Jason’s body is taken to the corner’s office, something goes wrong as one of the men working on his body takes a bite out of Jason’s over sized heart and has the spirit of Jason inside him and goes on a killing rampage. Meanwhile Robert Campbell, a TV host for a tabloid show called American Case File, has put up $100,000 to bounty hunter Creighton Duke who travels to Jason’s old stomping ground and talks to waitress Diana who he thinks can help him kill Jason.  Diana’s boyfriend is the town’s sheriff, and after some heated words Duke is kicked out of the diner and arrested. Diana wants to talk to her daughter Jessica’s ex-boyfriend Steven about the family’s secret and makes him promise to come visit her at 11pm that night. Meanwhile one of the town’s cops is attacked by the coroner who has Jason’s spirit inside him and via a strange worm demon that comes from his mouth, the curse is passed onto the cop who goes to Diana’s house and attacks her while she is on the phone with the sheriff.  Steven goes in and tries to save her but during the attack Diana is killed.  Jason Cop is knocked out the window and the sheriff blames Steven for the death of his girlfriend.

The Jason Voorhees kills are kept to a minimum in this first issue as is all the cussing and naked boobs of the film.  In fact one whole scene that has a couple of collage kids getting naked and dying is missing from the issue all together. The scene should have taken place before Steven goes to Diana’s house as he is the one that picks them up hitchhiking and drops them off in the woods. Jason in this issue is seen in the traditional hockey mask very little and spends most of the issue in other bodies like the monster from “The Hidden.”  This takes away the Friday the 13th feel to the killer. Steven, who is being prepped to be the comic’s hero in this issue, does very little besides get thrown around by Jason Cop and does ram a fire poker through the killer’s body. Diana seems like a sweet woman who wanted to be happy with a husband and a perfect life.  Too bad she was the main target of Jason who wants to have his little demon thing inside her…yeah, I know how that sounds. The Sheriff and the cops seem like closed minded small town good old boys, and if they are the main protection for the town when the blood hits the fan then I feel sorry for them all. First impression of Robert Campbell is jerk, and he has that Bill O’ Reilly sleaze factor to him. Creighton Duke is badass, and I can’t wait to see him more in action.  Out of everyone shown thus far, he is the only one who stands a chance of killing the hockey mask killer. The small dinner where Diana works is also a great small town attraction as they even make Jason Voorhees burgers and are milking all they can out of the killer’s “death”. The artwork in this series is done by Cynthia Martin and has the 90’s comic charm to it.  While I am not a super fan of this style, I still enjoy it for this comic. The cover is great and has Jason’s hockey mask on blac,k and best of all it glows in the dark…classic 90’s comic gimmick stuff…oh yeah, it also came with three Topps trading cards based on the film. So with issue one down, let’s move onto issue two as we continue our comic adaptation of “Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday”.

Jason Goes To Hell 2

Jason Goes To Hell # 2   **1/2
Released in 1993   Cover Price $2.95   Topps Comics   #2 of 3

Jessica along with her baby daughter Stephanie and her new boyfriend Robert Campbell have all come to town after her mothers murder, while Steven is locked up next to Creighton Duke who is now being held because they think he stole Diana’s body that is now missing form the morgue. Duke shares some info with Steven that explains Diana and Jessica are related to Jason, and he needs one of them to make himself reborn so he can be the strong killing machine once again. Steven escapes the jail and starts his quest to get to Jessica who has allowed her friend and her mom’s co-worker Vicki to watch her daughter who takes the baby to work with her at the diner. Steven goes to the old Voorhees house and watches as Robert Campbell talking to his producer admits to stealing Diana’s body and using Jessica just to get this big news story for his show, but his dreams of having high ratings is cut short as Jason Cop enters and now inserts the worm demon in Robert! Steven rushes to Jessica and kidnaps her and runs over Robert right in front of her.  The two argue, and Jessica breaks away and leaves Steven at the side of the road who is then in turn arrested again.  As Jessica is also at the police station, Jason Robert shows up kills the cops and tries to kill Jessica as Steven comes in and tries to stop her attack.

It’s a Voorhees family reunion as it’s revealed that Jessica and her child are relatives to Jason who wants nothing more than to put his worm demon inside Jessica’s mouth…yep, again I know how it sounds. While Jessica is a major part to this comic series plot, I really don’t feel that she is fleshed out and that’s a shame because in the film you find yourself liking her more so than here in this comic adaptation. Once more Robert Campbell shows that he is a total scumbag as he steals a dead body and uses a woman just because she can get him ratings on his trash TV show.  What a turd that you find yourself happy about when he dies and the Jason worm demon takes him over. Steven turns into a macho man as he breaks free from jail and tangles once more with Jason who was in the body of Robert this time around.  It’s a shame that in the story it’s explained that he walked away from Jessica because he found out she was going to have his baby…not cool, Steven, not cool. Creighton Duke takes a backseat in this issue and is used only as a source of information to give our hero Steven all the knowledge he needs to know. Most of the cops in the issue are useless and are taken out pretty fast by Jason Robert. One character in the comic that is not in the film is Vicki’s boyfriend who gets killed getting out of the shower after Jason Cop shows up to steal the baby that is no longer there and is at the dinner safe and sound in a cardboard box…yep. This issue has more kills, more blood, more cussing and more Worm Demon Jason than issue one and keeps the pace building.  So over all, this is not a bad issue. The art this time around is done by Bobby Rubio, and in my opinion is terrible and looks more like a sketchbook than a finished comic. The cover is pretty cool and has a woman just out of the shower looking into a mirror and seeing Jason behind her…classic slasher film stuff. Well we have one issue to go, so let’s dive into it and see if Jason really does go to hell!

Jason Goes To Hell 3

Jason Goes To Hell # 3  **1/2
Released in 1993   Cover Price $2.95   Topps Comics   #3 of 3

Steven and Jessica flee the police station.  As Jason Robert makes short work of the remaining cops, they make their way to the dinner to pick up baby Stephanie only to find that the owner of the diner is not having it because Steven being wanted for the death of Diana. Things get worse as Jason Robert shows up and kills everyone in the diner including Vicki, and baby Stephanie is missing! Jessica leaves Steven behind and rushes to the Voorhees house were Creighton Duke has the baby and explains to Jessica that she must kill Jason and send him to Hell once and for all. While talking to Duke, an accident happens and Duke falls through the floor and crashes to the basement as the sheriff and another cop show up and each are suspected of having the Jason demon inside them.  After a scuffle the sheriff dies and the other Cop picks up Stephanie and is clearly the Jason Demon! Steven shows up just in time and cuts off the cop’s head, freeing the worm demon who in turn gets into the dead body of Diana and poof the Hockey Mask killer Jason Voorhees is back! Jason kills Duke by snapping his back and then goes after Steven and Jessica, but as the legend goes Jessica is able to take Jason down with a dagger to the heart and with a final blow from Steven, Jason is taken to Hell by giant demon hands and just as they think its safe he pops back up and tries to drag Steven down with him! Jessica saves Steven and as they walk off together with baby in hand.  They are about to start their new family as Jason’s Hockey mask is pulled to hell by the razor gloved hand of Freddy Kruger.

Jason Voorhees is back by the last few pages of this comic, but sadly after throwing Steven around briefly he is taken down by the dagger of Jessica really quick and we never do get the full Jason effect! Though I will say that while better done in the film, the massacre at the diner is the brutal killing style that we all know and love coming from Jason even though he looks like a TV reporter. That is the only downside to this comic and even the film is that in our Friday the 13th media, we want Jason in all his glory not a body snatching worm demon. Steven, while very noble in wanting to save his love Jessica and his daughter, is just not a badass hero as much as he is a punching bag! In fact at the end when he is the one that hits the final blow to the dagger that sends Jason to Hell, I felt like he did not deserve it as that glory should have been given to Jessica. Speak of Jessica by this third and final issue its clear that she is more of the hero and is the only one who can kill Jason once and for all. Her character comes around and you find yourself liking her more so than in the past issue. The cops once more are just filler and human sacks of meat for Jason to get his body count higher as are the workers at the diner. Creighton Duke, while the information giver, is dogged out in the comic pretty bad as he goes down for the count really easy and Jason makes quick work of the bounty hunter. One thing that has always bothered me in both the film and the comic is when Jason Demon jumps into the final Cop’s body, why in the holy hell can he talk and sound just like the cop…now that’s some dumb bull stuff. The art is once more done by Cynthia Martin and look very 90’s, while the cover once more is well done and has Jason being pulled down to Hell by the demons. This is a pretty cool horror film comic adaptation and holds the cheese of the film really well.  The series had okay artwork and the story was a mix of the final film print, the script and the comic writers’ own take making for a good read. While it does not hold 100% true to the film it was based on, it still holds up as an average 90’s horror comic read and is worth checking out if you’re a fan of the Friday series.

I should also note that all three comics came with trading cards and truly show that it is a comic product of the 90’s where gimmicks ran wild. Oh yeah, I am sure you are wondering yes, it was cool to see Freddy’s Glove in comic form pull down the mask of Jason to Hell..and made you wish Topps would have pulled the trigger and made their own version of Freddy vs. Jason in a comic book. 

Jason Goes To Hell art 1Jason Goes To Hell art 2Jason Goes To Hell art 3

Topps Comics had a lot of guts bringing Jason Goes To Hell to comics and putting them out at your local comic shop next to Batman and X-Men.  While horror comics were being made, none of the big companies at the time were touching IP’s based on horror films so I give them a lot of respect for that. It’s a shame that Topps pulled the plug on their comic branch because I would have loved to seen what they would be working on now in 2014. While Jason Goes To Hell is not a great movie nor would I even say is it a cult classic, it is a fun cheesy film that tried to do something new with a horror icon that was running thin on ideas to keep itself fresh. While no one I knew bought into the gimmick of this being the last film in the series, it was still a fun event to think about. These past few updates have been filled with many spooky horrors from Frankenstein’s Monster to the hockey mask killer Jason, so our next one will be something a little less frightening as we take a look at Star Comics series based on the dolls The Hugga Bunch…oh wait, this might be more terrifying!! See you next update! 

Hugga Bunch Logo

Waldemar Daninsky Lives!

When I was younger, my favorite monster was the werewolf.  At times I use to dream and use my imagination that I was a werewolf on the prowl, and I am sure people thought that I was crazy or had a bad case of Lycanthropy. I for one just think that my spirit animal is a wolf. I mean my family has lots of Native American blood in the tree so it’s very possible. To me, the top werewolf of film is Universal’s The Wolf Man played by Lon Chaney Jr. and for comic books, it was Jack Russell of Werewolf By Night. The older I got, the more werewolf media came into my life such with movies like An American Werewolf In London, Werewolf of London, The Howling, Curse of the Werewolf and Legend of the Werewolf, not to mention TV show Werewolf and comic series Werewolf At Large. But my brother used to always tease me about one actor who played a werewolf more times then any other actor, one that he always claimed was the best and that was Paul Naschy.  At first I am sure it was just a way to annoy me, and boy did he take pleasure in finding goofy things like this to get under my skin.  After watching the heavily cut version of Night of The Werewolf called The Craving that we rented on VHS from Blockbuster Video, I was not impressed with what I saw and still stood by my stance that Chaney is the best. Over the years I saw more and more of Naschy’s werewolf films and started to find respect for them and liked the idea that like Chaney who played the character of Larry Talbot who was cursed to turn into a werewolf every full moon, Naschy also played the same character in every film as he played Waldemar Daninsky in over 11 films and 1 lost film! Now that’s some heart and a passion for a character. Every film the Werewolf’s look would change; sometimes it would look great like it does in Curse of the Devil, and in other films it would look like cheap Halloween do it your self kit make up like in Fury Of The Wolfman.  But even at its worst, the Daninsky werewolf has my respect. Another cool thing about this film series is that they all take place during different time periods and even have the Werewolf tangling with vampires, phantoms, space aliens and many more monsters and creatures.

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Paul Naschy, whose real name is Jacinto Molina Alvarez, grew up during the Spanish Civil War and lived a comfortable life with his parents. Growing up, he tried his hand at writing pulp western novels, drawing comic books, weightlifting and acting, and acting seemed to be his perfect fit. He made his acting splash in the 1961 film “King of Kings” in a uncredited part and later was an extra on an episode of the TV show I, Spy where he got to meet horror icon Boris Karloff. It was 1968 when Naschy wrote and stared in a film called “Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror” that kicked off his long lasting Waldemar Daninsky werewolf films and also made him a horror icon in Spain as he would go on to play almost every classic horror character from Count Dracula all the way to The Mummy in a number of films that were hits at the box office. Naschy, who grew up loving the Universal Monster films like Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, was making films that meant so much to the kids at the time watching them just as he had watched Universal films. Naschy became one of Spain’s most popular actors, and his films were even being seen all over Europe and the United States and became popular at the drive-in theaters at the time.  This lead to him teaming with many other producers from around the world to make more of his werewolf films and other horror inspired flicks.  But like all good things, Naschy’s time at the top started to come apart in 1984.  After the lose of his father, he became depressed and only returned in 1987 to direct one film called “El Aullido del Diablo” that stared his son Sergio and Caroline Munro. In 1991, Naschy had a near fatal heart attack that sparked a death rumor around the horror world.  Naschy himself had to get the word out that he was very much alive. In 1996, Naschy made his 11th werewolf film called “Licantropo” and this was said to be his big comeback film, but sadly the film did poor at the box office and the critics panned it. Naschy did not allow this to hold him back as he did a wave of b-movies that included the 12th Daninsky film called “Tomb Of The Werewolf” directed by American film maker Fred Olen Ray. Naschy would also tour the horror convention circuit and would be swamped with eager fans who wanted to chat with the horror icon. While he was not well off with money and he hated the way Spain’s film industry was going, he was touched by how well his loyal fan based loved him. Sadly in 2009 the world lost a horror icon when Naschy passed away from pancreatic cancer.  While he might be gone, the man’s legend lives on with his films. Naschy is truly missed, and I would have loved to gotten the chance to meet him at least once in my life.  Rest in peace, Naschy.

naschy 1naschy 2Paul Naschy 3

Really quickly, I want to touch up on a few things before we get into the films and comics based on Waldemar Daninsky. First I want to say that if you are a Paul Naschy fan or if this blog has sparked your interest in learning more about this horror icon, I truly recommend his biography called “Paul Naschy: Memoirs Of A Wolfman.” It’s a great read and all the stories come straight from the man’s own words. I also would like to point out that besides the comic series “Return Of The Werewolf,” a few more comics have been made including one based on his film “Panic Beats” and another Daninsky inspired comic called “Waldemar Daninsky: The Origin of the Curse” that is based around his film “Beast And The Magic Sword.”  While the issues of Panic Beats are in English, I have gotten word from the artist Javier Trujillo that Origin of the Curse is only in Spanish.  So here is to hoping that some day this comic will be translated. 

Memoirs of a Wolfman BookWaldemar Daninsky The Origin of the Curse

Before we move onto the films of Waldemar Daninsky, I would also like to invite all you readers to look up art based on the Daninsky Werewolf cause you will be amazed at how kick butt many of these pieces are! Many of them also make me wish that a full fledged comic series was being made around the character, and it also makes me really mad at Fangoria Comics for closing up shop way too quickly because stuff like this would have been a reality, as would many other cool horror film themed comics.  Oh well, can’t cry over spilled milk, right? But take a look at a few of these great art pieces before we look at the films.

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So as you know, this update is all about Waldemar Daninsky, and to get the full effect of the comic I should at least give you a rundown of the films that inspired the comic series and have been cherished by horror film fans for decades. Now I am going to only give you a small write up on what the films are about, and I am going to take them from IMDB because when I write about a Naschy werewolf film, I ramble and we can’t spend seven pages one just one film.  I am sure none of you want that! So sit back and give the film descriptions a quick read.  I should also note that I own all these films on DVD and the covers used are the DVD releases I own of the film. 

Frankensteins Bloody Terror

Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror (1968)

A man suffers from the curse of lyncanthropy and seeks out the aid of a German doctor and his wife who are experts in the occult. Unknowingly, the cursed man has summoned two vampires instead, who have plans of their own for the werewolf.

Dracula vs Frankenstein

Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1970)

Aliens from a dying world plot to conquer earth by praying on man’s superstitions. Bringing two dead scientists (Michael Rennie and Karin Dor) back to life, they use their knowledge to re-animate various earth monsters, including the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky, Frankenstein’s monster, the mummy Tao-Tet, and the vampire Count de Meirhoff.

Side note from Matt: This film is mostly known as its alternate title Assignment Terror.

Werewolf Shadow

Werewolf Shadow (1971)

Elvira is travelling through the French countryside with her friend Genevieve, searching for the lost tomb of a medieval murderess and possible vampire, Countess Wandessa. They find a likely site in the castle of Waldemar Daninsky, who invites the women to stay as long as they like. As Waldemar shows Elvira the tomb that supposedly houses the countess, she accidentally causes the vampire to come back to life, hungrier than ever. Daninsky has a hidden secret of his own, but will it be enough to save the two girls from becoming Wandessa’s next victims?

Side note from Matt: This one is better known under the title “Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman”.

Fury of the wolfman

The Fury Of The Wolfman (1972)

A man has had a werewolf curse cast upon him. If he doesn’t get rid of it, he turns into a killer werewolf when the moon is full.

Dr Jekyll vs The Werewolf

Dr. Jekyll vs. The Werewolf (1972)

Paul Naschy returns as El Hombre Lobo for the sixth time as he searches for a cure to his full moon maddness by visiting the grandson of the infamous Dr. Jekyll. What ensues next is a lovers’ triangle, and a savage sadistic Mr. Hyde who roams modern London and transforms into a werewolf on the disco floor.

Curse of the Devil

Curse Of The Devil (1973) 

The great inquisitor Ireneus Daninsky has Countess Bathory burned alive and her female followers hanged. Before perishing in the flames the countess puts a curse on Daninsky and his descendants. Four centuries later, Waldemar Daninsky accidentally shoots a gypsy while hunting a wolf. The angry gypsies, who knew of the curse, summon up the Satan and the beautiful Ilona is chosen to seduce the young lord. During a night of love, Ilona bites Waldemar who turns into a werewolf killing his preys on full moon nights. His murders are first attributed to a mad killer escaped from the asylum. Waldemar, who suspects the killer is none other than himself, falls in love with Kinga, the daughter of a professor from Budapest. When Maria, Kinga’s jealous younger sister, manages to seduce Waldemar and sleep with him, she is killed by the young man, once again turned into a werewolf.

The Werewolf and The Yeti

The Werewolf And The Yeti (1975)

Waldemar, the renowned adventurer, joins an expedition to find the Yeti in the Himalayas. While hiking the mountains, he’s captured by two cannibalistic demon nymphets guarding a remote Buddhist temple and becomes their sex-slave. They transform him into a werewolf setting him loose to roam the mountain where he encounters a sadistic bandit.

Side note from Matt: This film is also known as “Horror Of The Werewolf” and “Night of the Howling Beast”. 

Night of the Werewolf

Night Of The Werewolf (1975)

An evil witch brings back to life the infamous Elizabeth Bathory, who was executed several hundred years previously for murdering young woman and bathing in their blood.

The Beast and the Magic Sword

Beast And The Magic Sword (1983)

In the 16th century, Waldemar Daninsky goes from his native Europe to Japan, seeking a way to cure himself of being a werewolf. Only a Japanese sorcerer named Kian and a magic silver sword can save him. This film moves the Daninsky family curse back to a medieval setting, as Naschy felt the Daninsky saga need not always be confined to a modern day setting.

Licantropo

Licamtropo (1996)

Waldemar Daninsky is an aging writer still suffering from his werewolf curse, and seeking the pure woman that is the only permanent cure. A serial killer pops up in Naschy’s neighborhood, and the two compete for victims.

Tomb of the Werewolf

Tomb Of The Werewolf (2004)

Pre-credit opening sequence consists of Countess Erzabeth Bathory, making a pact with the devil in exchange for eternal youth & beauty from sacrificing young, nubile virgin women. After credits flashes to modern times, as a reality show TV crew visits Castle Daninsky, in search of hidden treasure hidden with the castle dungeons. Instead, they discover THE TOMB OF THE WEREWOLF, unleashing the cursed servant of the Countess, centuries later for all those in cable television land to see!

Licamtropo Werewolf

The films are all epic and each hold a charm that makes them worth watching.  Missing from this list are two films.  One film Naschy claims to have made but no known copy has ever been seen, and the second one is an off the wall film where Naschy plays a down and out actor who slips into many different horror icon characters that includes a werewolf. I also want to talk real quickly about the fact many horror hosts have hosted Naschy werewolf films including Commander USA who hosted The Werewolf And The Yeti under the title Horror Of The Werewolf, and many hosts have treated late night viewers to Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman. But one showing of a Naschy werewolf film that was iconic around here in Dayton, Ohio was when Dr. Creep hosted Assignment Terror (Dracula vs. Frankenstein) on his New Shock Theater in 1999 that marked the titan of late night fright’s return to TV in over 16 years! The episode was directed by Andy Copp and was about two grave robbers being sent out to find the grave of Dr. Creep and dig up the horror host’s body.  They get a surprise when the grave is empty and Dr. Creep instead keeps them prisoners and makes them watch the Naschy classic with him. The episode was filled with other funny and silly skits and showed that our host Dr. Creep was back. It was a major deal around here when Creep came back to TV, and this episode will forever have a special place in my heart. The first time I ever saw this movie was on an old VHS tape I got at Kroger’s for a cheap price under the Dracula vs. Frankenstein title.  The tape was unwatchable and was way too dark so it was nice to see it on TV with a slightly better print. This episode of New Shock Theater has come out on VHS and DVD-R so if you want to see it for yourself, it’s out in the world.

NewShockTheaterEpisode1_new

In 2011 during the first season of Terrifying Tales of the Macabre on episode, 6 Baron Von Porkchop hosted the Paul Naschy werewolf film “Fury of The Wolfman.” The episode had Baron Von Porkchop and his butler Bean going to Duke’s house for an interview with a professional werewolf hunter. For those who don’t know who Duke is, he is a character from the local horror film Wolf Hunter 2 who spends every waking moment killing werewolves in the state of Ohio. During the episode Duke shows the Baron a werewolf he has trapped in a shed and tells him of his first hunt.  The downside a wild pack of cicadas have shown up and try to ruin the interview. When planning the first season with Baron, we both knew we had to show a Paul Naschy werewolf film, and we both agreed on Fury of The Wolfman. This episode aired a number of times on DATV, MVCC, The Monster Channel and The Vortexx and remains in the airing loop still to this day. If you’re looking to watch this episode, it is on DVD-R and can be found as I stated airing on one of those stations. 

ep 6-1 copyBaron Episode 6 copyep 6-2 copy

So with a look at all the Waldemar Daninsky films, horror hosts that have shown the films and even a look at the life of Paul Naschy, we are now at the point of the update where we review the comic series “Return Of The Werewolf,” a digital only comic that I was lucky enough to get a physical copy of thanks to a team up of some friends.  So a big thanks goes out to Garrison, Eric and Amanda who made this update possible. This comic series was suppose to have come out via Fangoria Comics, but sadly the company folded before it was released.  So it’s a true honor to be able to read this comic series and review it for you. Remember I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So with that, let’s howl at the moon and return to the werewolf! 

Return of the werewolf 1

Return Of The Werewolf # 1   ***1/2
Released in 2011   Cover Price $1.99   Fangoria Comics   #1 of 2

Countess Elizabeth Bathory and her followers have been sentenced to death for crimes of murder, vampirism and witchcraft.  While her followers have a quick death, the Countess’ is long and drawn out as she is walled up in her room. Also that day Waldemar Daninsky is killed with a silver cross to his heart for being a tool for evil when the full moon was out and for being controlled by Bathory as a killing machine of revenge. Flash forward and Erika, a young student, kills her teacher for a medallion that belonged to Bathory with the hope she can use it to bring the Countess back from the dead! At the old castle two grave robbers make the mistake of removing the silver cross from the dead corpse of Daninsky who springs to life as a werewolf and kills them both with one mighty hit. Erika, along with her friends Karin and Barbara, show up to the castle and explore the crypts underneath looking for the tomb of Bathory, but what Karin finds is Daninsky and his burnt faced maid and friend, Mircaya, who scare Karin and cause her to fall and hurt herself. Durning this time Waldemar Daninsky takes as the host to the girls and allows them to stay in the castle cause its been seen by Mircaya that Karin is the woman who will love and free his spirit from the curse of the werewolf. The night of the fullmoon as Erika and Barbara get ready to try and bring Bathory back Daninsky turns into a werewolf and if not for the silver cross held by Mircaya, Karin would have been a late night snack! Waldemar Daninsky as the werewolf crashes through the castle window and flees into the night.

What a fun comic that feels like the 12 film in the Waldemar Daninsky werewolf film series! This far in the series Erika is the lead baddie and kills her mentor and teacher in order to get an item that will help her bring back an evil and selfish vampire, she is also using her two friends to achive her goal. Karin is not fully flushed out yet but you get the idea that she is a good person who don’t like messing around with things that are evil. Barbara seems like a follower and I am sure this attitude will get her killed very soon in the next issue. Mircaya is a great character who while one side of her face is badly burnt she has a beauty to her that draws you in to caring about her, I love her back story of being accused of being a witch and was sent to burn at the stake and as they did so a rain storm came and saved her life. Her village still hating her sent her away and she found safety and friendship at the castle and has been close to Daninsky sense he was brought back to life by those two numbskull grave robbers. Waldemar Daninsky is as noble as ever and once more has found a woman to love and is hoping that she is the one to finally break his curse, as a human he is very caring and a likeable guy but as the werewolf he is a pure killing machine who has no remorse for his killing ways. The comics story is done by Paul Naschy based on his film of the same name and it shows that he knows and loves this character cause he delivers a classic feeling Spanish horror film adaptation comic and his love for the film “Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman” shines through as elements of this comic are clearly inspired by that film. The art in this comic is done by Javier Trujillo and its amazing stuff and her captures the mood and look of Naschy’s vision, his artwork is truly something special. This is a great first issue and I am itching to get to # 2 so I think I will not delay any more and will move onto the final issue in the series, but before that look at some of the cool artwork from issue 1.

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Pretty great stuff right? Trujillo’s werewolf art is amazing and I wish he would do more Daninsky inspired comics. Well lets get to issue # 2! 

Return of the werewolf 2

Return Of The Werewolf # 2  ***
Released in 2011   Cover Price $1.99   Fangoria Comics   #2 of 2

Erika uses the blood of Barbra to bring back Elizabeth Bathory who repays them both by turning them into her vampire slaves and together they torment and kill near by villagers. Sadly Waldemar Daninsky at night during the full moon does the same thing, but during the day he and Karin try to find the resting spot of the vampires so they can kill them while they sleep. Bathory gets upset by this hunt and they attack and transform Mircaya into a vampire and try to do the same to Karin who defends herself and kills the vampire Barbara with the silver cross. This attack means all out war and leads to Karin being bite and being the slave of Bathory and Daninsky finding their hideout and killing Erika and turning into the werewolf and battling Bathory to the death, in the end the Werewolf kills the vampire queen but he himself is killed with the silver cross by the hands of Karin who has had the vampire bite reversed and has set the one she loved soul free.

The second issue is the wrap up issue and while it’s good I do feel it was very much rushed and lacks some of the chilling appeal of the first issue, most the the storyline comes via dialogue and not via art and this takes you a little out of the atmosphere. Waldemar Daninsky knows he does bad things and in this issue he kills a few townsfolk, but even tho he is a killer he knows that Elizabeth Bathory is the greater evil and does what he can to kill her before his own death that he knows will be coming soon by the hands of his lover. Werewolf Daninsky is a cold blooded killer and makes short work of the vampire queen Bathory and shows his power and domination. Bathory is cold hearted and along with Erika they turn both Mircaya and Karin into vampires causing Waldemar to have to kill his friend and save the soul of his loved one. I really dislike the death and transformation of Mircaya and feel that both of these acts seemed like a second thought and not that important, and that saddens me as besides Daninsky she was my favorite character. Karin while important to the story just seemed like she was around to in the end kill the werewolf, and I felt as if I could not connect with her. The issue is filled with lots of blood and murder and when the werewolf goes off he shreds and kills with no remorse and this is just perfect for a horror comic. Javier Trujillo artwork is again breath taking and amazing and his work I feel is very underrated, while he works mostly doing sex art his horror stuff is truly the best. The cover on this issue showcases the Vampire Women and is as well eye catching. 

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This is a perfect horror comic and one of the better adaptations I have ever read, the joy of finally getting copies of this comic in my hand was a highlight of 2013 and for as long as I have heard about this comic I have wanted to read it so you can imagine my delight of being able to read and review these for you my readers. With these comics being so good I would have loved to see this be turned into a full fledge comic series and companies like Fangoria, Topps and Dead Dog would have been he perfect companies to put a series like this out, but sadly they all have closed. I figured that while I am in a horror comic mood the next update will be another adaptation as we will take a look at Topps Comics three issue run based on the New Line Cinema film Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday, so I hope you will join me for that one. So with the sun coming up and the curse of the werewolf lifted I hope you enjoy a horror film or two and stay clear of wooded areas cause you never know a werewolf might be watching!

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The Lost And Found Frankenstein Monster

Hollywood has lost many films that could never see the light of day again.  Some have just been misplaced, and some have been lost to vault fires and neglect. But every once in a while, when a blue moon is in the sky, and the stars align just right, a “lost” film is found like 1922′s Nosferatu.  It had one print survive after all others were destroyed over copyright issues with the widow of Bram Stoker.  But many others stay lost like the Lon Chaney Sr. vampire mystery horror film, London After Midnight. One film that has been found by a private collector named Alois F. Dettlaff when he bought it from his mother-in-law in the 1950′s and later in the 1970′s was made known, is the 1910 version of Frankenstein made by Edison Studios. This “lost” film was like a Holy Grail for fans of the classic monsters, and many people wanted to see just what the first Frankenstein film was like, and with some film stills being around before the film was found, this just fueled the fire of fans wanting to get their hands on a copy to watch. The look of the Monster is not what most think of when the monster pops in your head.  He has no bolts from his neck, no black suit and no flat top head. Instead we have a Monster with wild hair, a crunched up creepy face, and he wears rags. Plus finding out that this 1910 Monster’s origin has him made in a vat of chemicals, not lightning, changes the image and style that we all grew up with. The first time I ever saw this version of the Monster was in the CrestWood House Monster Series Frankenstein book, and I was transfixed by the strange look of the Monster and how his hair almost made him look beast like. I always wanted to see the film to see just how the Monster acted and so that I could compare him to the classic Universal version. Below are some pictures of the Monster from the 1910 film.  I would like for you to take a moment and just look at this creepy guy, and pretend that you first saw this film in 1910 when it was made.  I want you to ask yourself, would you have been scared to sleep that night?

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As I said, the Monster himself was a odd looking creature and looked like a misshaped beast with a sinister look in his eyes and a twisted snarl for a smile. The actor who played this part was Charles Ogle, a character actor who went on to be in over 300 films of the silent era and played such characters as Long John Silver (Treasure Island, 1920), Bob Cratchit (A Christmas Carol in 1910) and a doctor in the 1923 version of The Ten Commandments. In the version of Treasure Island, he got to work alongside the master of silent film Lon Chaney Sr. This is a cool thing when you break down what both had done for the world of horror! Ogle worked in films from 1910 to 1926 and sadly passed away in 1940 from arteriosclerosis at the age of 75. While he is not as well known as Boris Karloff and while his version of Frankenstein’s Monster is not as iconic, it still remains that Charles Ogle was one of the first actors to play the part and scared the life out of those who saw the film at the time.  So here is to you, Charles Ogle, for being one of film’s first actors of fright! Oh I should also say that he is an Ohio boy like myself as he was born in Steubenville.

charles ogle

The part of Elizabeth was played by the lovely Mary Fuller who was a stage actress and a very popular one at that. Her first major film role came in the 1910 Frankenstein film that helped launch her career as an actress and later as a screen writer. For a time she was one of the most popular silent film actresses just behind Mary Pickford, but her ride came to an end in 1917 when her last couple of films did not bring in the money the studios wanted.  She became a free agent when her studio contract expired.  She was offered stage work again on Broadway but turned it down and disappeared from the public eye for almost a decade. After her film career had ended and her attempt at a relationship with an opera singer (who was already married), she had a nervous breakdown and spent time trying to get better and get her life back on track. In 1926 she tried to make a comeback in Hollywood, and it was a failed attempt.  She felt alone and always felt as if she had a void that could not be filled.  When her mother passed away in 1940, she suffered her second breakdown that had her sister having to watch over her until 1947 when she was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Washington were she would remain for 25 years until her death in 1973 at the age of 85. Her sad tale doesn’t end there.  On her passing, no relatives could be found, and she was buried in an unmarked grave at a local cemetery. Mary Fuller was a talented actress with a sad and tragic life, but her work in films will live on and keep her memory alive. This update is for you, Mary, may you rest in peace and find happiness you were looking for.

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With a film of this age, merchandise was not even thought of.  No one in 1910 walked around with their Frankenstein t-shirt carrying a Frankenstein mug filled with hot coco thinking about going home and playing their Frankenstein video game…it just didn’t happen. But over time, with the film gaining a cult status and having the “lost” film mystique, merchandise was unavoidable! Masks, models and shirts were made as well as toys! One of the toys that was found everywhere for awhile was made by Mezco as part of their Silent Screamers line, and while a cool figure, it looked NOTHING like Ogle as the Monster. Another cool item that has sprung up is the film’s soundtrack done by Life Toward Twilight.  It’s a very well done score with just the right amount of mood and brood to chill one’s bones. So if you’re a fan, there is stuff out there for you to buy and enjoy.

Frankenstein 1910 Mask1910 Frankenstein Toys1910 Frankenstein Soundtrack

My brother was attending Sinclair, a local Ohio community college, and was taking a class alongside my friend Josh Weinberg about the History of Horror Films.  The early horror film class was taught by Rick Martin, owner of RMM Agency and manager of Horror Host Dr. Creep, while the modern classes were taught by Andy Copp, a local film and TV director. While in Rick’s class, Bryan and Josh were able to see the 1910 Frankenstein as Rick showed it to his class as a part of horror history. I was so jealous when I heard this and so wanted to see it! Flash forward some years later to when I was working a table with Andy Copp at Cinema Wasteland, a Horror Convention in Strongsville, Ohio near Cleveland.  All over the convention show room were flyers for the official DVD release of the Edison Frankenstein film.  It was paired with the 1922 film Nosferatu and called “Movies First Monsters: Back to Back,” and the dvd was $20.00. I rushed to the booth that was said to have had it, and to my shock and horror, it was sold out.  The DVD was so in demand that it was gone the first day of sales. I was so bummed, and Andy tried to keep my spirits up saying that we would be back next year and that I could try and get one then.  While his words were wise and true, I still went home DVDless. By the next Cinema Wasteland, I rushed to the booth and got a copy the first day and felt like I was on top of the world. When I got home, the 16 minute film was the first thing I watched and I loved it.  In fact, I rushed and did a review for Bloodline Video and gave it 5 out of 5 stars on the site! This is one of those films that makes you truly glad that some private collector found it and released it so the masses can enjoy a piece of horror film history. If you have not seen it and are a film buff and a horror film fan, then do yourself a favor and watch it.

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The people behind the ownership of this film had an amazing idea when they turned the 16 minute film into a 40 page comic book that holds the thrills and chills of the movie. Remember I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So let’s get the chemical vat ready and build ourselves a comic review of Edison’s Frankenstein 1910.  

Edisons Frankenstein 1910 Comic

Edison’s Frankenstein 1910   ***1/2
Released in 2003   Cover Price $7.95   Comic Library International   #1 of 1

Frankenstein is sitting in his study writing in his journal to his future children so that they can learn from his mistake.  You see, in his youth he wanted to learn the secrets of life and death and while away at medical school he grows tired of what he thinks is just close minded teaching and decides to drop out and conduct his own experiment to create the perfect human. In his quest to make a man, he takes elements from science, black magic, alchemy and even his own flesh and blood and mixes them in a chemical vat and watches in horror as his man comes to life.  But instead of a perfect man, he has made a monster, a twisted foul thing that looks straight from the pits of hell! The Monster’s sight tormented Frankenstein who was set to be married to his true love Elizabeth.  Even this joy is being taken away as The Monster wants his soon to be wife for his own.  When Frankenstein refuses and lies to The Monster, it goes in a rage and attacks its creator! The only thing that saves him is when the Monster gets a look at himself in the mirror and its own sight saddens it and causes him to flee into the night. The Monster returns on Frankenstein’s wedding night and attacks his bride Elizabeth.  This causes a huge fight between the Monster and its creator that leaves The Monster trapped inside a mirror and Frankenstein begging for forgiveness from God, his wife and The Monster! In the end Frankenstein lives happily with his wife, and The Monster is nothing now but a terrible memory.

This comic is pretty much just a more detailed version of the film and is what a comic adaptation should be! The film is told via the words of Frankenstein’s diary and this helps preserve the silent film feel and helps add to the raw emotion of his horrific experience. Victor Frankenstein is a likable guy in this comic, and while at one point his ego to create man takes over his soul, it’s the fact he knows he did wrong and wants to fix it when he see’s the terrible monster he has made. The Monster is a mean spirited evil twisted person who loves to frighten and push around Frankenstein because he can. The fact that The Monster wants to take and do foul things to Frankenstein’s wife shows just how untrustworthy this “man” is. The symbolism of the Monster being trapped in the mirror, and Victor looking at his own reflection and seeing the Monster is a nice way to show that we all have a monster in us and only when we take notice of this will we learn to control it. The comic is 40 pages long, and the rest of the issue is filled with some bios of those involved in making the film as well as the comic. The art of Robb Bihun is simply amazing and his drawings of The Monster are top notch horror comic stuff.  In fact, his style reminds me slightly of the artwork of Bernie Wrightson who did top notch Frankenstein art in 1983. This is a great read, and I would recommend it to those who love Frankenstein and his Monster.  I would also suggest giving it a read while you listen to the score done by Life Toward Twilight! 

Edisons Frankenstein Comic Art

I have loved the story and films based on The Frankenstein Monster for as long as I can remember and reading this well made comic was one of the highlights of doing this blog so far.  That is why the next update is going to be another A-Lister as I take a look at the one and only Return Of The Werewolf two issue comic series based on the Paul Naschy werewolf films! You long time readers will remember that I talked about this comic during the Dark Horse Pumpkinhead comic review, and thanks to some friends, I was able to get my hands on copies and will take a look not only at the comics but also the films that inspired the comic…so be here next update for a howling good time! Until then don’t create a monster and don’t go out in a full moon, and enjoy an episode of your local horror host and read a comic or three!

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Stays Crunchy Even In Ink!

1985 was a good year for many things.  In movies, such classics as Back To The Future, Rambo First Blood Part 2, The Breakfast Club, Commando, Rocky IV, Clue, Return of the Living Dead, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, View to a Kill, Fright Night, Re-Animator and Day of the Dead all filled the cinemas with entertainment. Vinyl and cassettes of such albums as David Lee Roth’s “Crazy From The Heat”, Megadeth’s “Killing is My Business…And Business Is Good”, Motley Crue “Theatre of Pain” and W.A.S.P. Put out “The Last Command”. TV shows like Cheers, Cosby Show, Golden Girls, Night Court, Amazing Stories, Saturday Night Live and Growing Pains were great home entertainment for couch potatoes. Not to mention horror hosts like Commander USA just started his Groovie Movies and Dr. Creep of Shock Theater had ended his long run on Dayton television. But while stuff like this was going on, the kids of that time also knew one thing that troubled them and that was Cap’n Crunch was missing!!

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Cap’n Crunch, whose full name is Horatio Magellan Crunch, is the mascot for the surgery cereal of the same name (that stays crunchy even in milk) put out by Quaker Oats since 1963. The good Captain of the S.S. Guppy, along with Seadog and a young crew, sailed the seas and delivered breakfast to all the hungry girls and boys around the world and became beloved by all who ate his fun and good tasting cereal. As the years went by Cap’n Crunch would bring in more great tasting cereals like Crunch Berries, Peanut Butter Crunch, Choco Crunch and Vanilly Crunch and became friends with CrunchBerry Beast, a wild creature with red hair, yellow skin and red spots, Mr. Choco a creature made out of cookie dough who could shape shift, a crunch berry bush and Smedley, a peanut butter loving elephant. But while his friends, fans and crew all loved him, Cap’n Crunch did make some enemies along the way that wanted nothing more than to bring him down and ruin breakfast for everyone.

SeadogCrunchberry BeastMr. ChocoSmedley

Being a Cap’n of cereal is hard work, and you don’t get to the top of the table choice with out making some folks mad.  The poor Cap’n has his share of jealous haters. Jean Lafoote is a barefooted pirate who wants to steal the secrets of the cereal. He has kidnapped and stolen and would stop at nothing to get what he wants! Lafoote was the prime suspect for people like me to when Cap’n Crunch was missing even though by 1985 he was a second thought and not a mascot in use! While he was the prime suspect for me, many other ideas and such were given, and many people tried to figure it out to win money that was being offered to lucky winners who could figure out where the Cap’n was..but the shock of where he had been was about to hit us all.

Jean Lafoote

Kids around the US were worried and spent time trying to figure out where the Cap’n was and hoping he was okay.  They had their parents buy boxes of Cap’n Crunch cereals to try and get the clues that were inside the boxes to figure it out, to help their breakfast friend and to win some money to buy toys and video games for helping find him. But then they found him…and the place he was lost in was The Milky Way…you get it? So after all the worry and stress, Cap’n Crunch was found safe and sound and was once more on our TV commercials and cereal boxes.  But this peace of mind would only last for a year when more trauma would be placed on all the youth as once more something would happen to Cap’n and we would all have to team up again this time to Free The Cap’n from his worst enemy, and no it’s not Jean Lafoote!

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The Sogmaster, along side his henchmen The Soggies, are Cap’n Crunch’s worst nightmare.  They want to not only steal his famed cereal, but they also want to ruin it and make it get gross and soggy in milk taking away the crunch! The Sogmaster is a robot who is all grey, has a hoses for fingers that shoot out soggy gross stuff and is very mean spirited.  Amazingly enough he left me with the impression of being one of the meanest mascots in my history of watching TV. The Soggies themselves are white gloppy masses who are not very smart and are easily out smarted.  The way to tell them apart is one wears a red hat and the other does not. In 1986 Sogmaster and The Soggies did something that would shock the nation; they kidnapped Cap’n Crunch, and once more the hunt was on to find him and save him from his captors.  Once more money was given out to those who found the clues and called a 1-800 that held the answers. This is the one case that my brother Bryan and I got into and tried to find Cap’n without calling the phone number and with just small clues and our own ideas.

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One thing I would like to very briefly talk about are the cool PVC figures that use to come free in cereal boxes based on popular mascots or even Disney Cartoons. Some of my favorite ones were the Cap’n Crunch ones that had not only Cap’n but also both Soggies and The Sogmaster! My brother and I collected these and during the whole time of them coming out, we only got one Sogmaster, a few Soggies and an army of Cap’n Crunch’s who seemed to be the one they over produced. To this day I have a Cap’n Crunch that sits on a shelf near the TV. So for those who remember these, this blog update is for you!

Soggie FigureCapn FigureSogmaster Figure

The kidnapping of Cap’n Crunch not only caught the attention of all the kids but it also got the attention of super hero Spider-Man who had all ready also joined the hunt last year to find where he was lost and was now going after The Sogmaster to get his friend back! Now when Spider-Man is worried and wants to save Cap’n, you know he was in deep trouble. Marvel Comics placed a one page ad in many of their comics that had Spider-Man finding the track of the Soggies and coming face to face with them and leaving us on a cliffhanger as to what happened. This was a fun way to add to the gimmick of the missing mascot and again made you worry about your breakfast and its champion.

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But like before, Cap’n Crunch was saved.  The Sogmaster was sent packing, and the cereal Icon was free to spread his sugar coated cereal to all! But that’s the thing, while Cap’n Crunch was able to beat The Sogmaster, outstep Jean Lafoote and even find his way home after being lost, it seems that one thing he can’t shake are those pesky people who think they should tell parents what their kids should be eating. That’s one thing that annoys me about society today, everyone wants to say that these cereals are giving kids diabetes, McDonald’s is making their kids fat, etc.  While these things don’t help, it’s the job of the parents to watch how much of this type of food their kids eat, and it’s a shame companies are becoming so wimpy that they are backing down and using mascots less and allowing nut jobs to make rules for the world on what’s good for whom. But enough, let me get down from my soap box, and let’s take a look at a comic based on Cap’n Crunch that was given away to people who bought the cereal. I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material. So let’s set sail over the Milk Sea, and see if we can have an adventure with the one and only Cap’n Crunch.

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Cap’n Crunch: In The Center of The Earth  **
Released in 1986   Cover Price FREE   Quaker Oats   Comics #1 of 1

The Sogmaster is about to sog the Earth when Cap’n Crunch along with his giant robot and kid sidekicks Peter & Judy stop him and cause him to be so angry that he wants revenge. Sogmaster along with his Soggie Army go to the center of the Earth and use a giant cannon to turn the Earth’s crust in mush as well as almost everything on the planet! The government knows something’s wrong and send Cap’n along with Peter & Judy to the center of the world to stop the worlds soggy situation. While down below, Cap’n meets a race of underworld monsters who join his fight and together they all bring down The Sogmaster and his canon with one simple box of Cap’n Crunch Cereal.

This is a quick comic filled with a silly story that pits Cap’n Crunch and The Sogmaster against each other, and the end battle is pretty un-epic and not exciting but yet so fitting for a cheesy give away comic of this nature. The story is simple; Sogmaster is mad and wants to take revenge not just on Cap’n but the whole world and uses a Sog cannon on the Earth’s core making everything up above soggy and gross.  He’s stopped by Cap’n Crunch and a box of his cereal. The art in the comic is good for this free comic but would not hold up for a comic that one had to pay for and would be considered very poor in Star Comics standards. In fact, I could not find a credit in the issue of who did the art, making one wonder: was he ashamed of it or was he told not to give himself credit? Cap’n Crunch is a silly hero but is very noble to the world and wants everyone to enjoy his crunchy cereal at any cost, even traveling to the center of the Earth to protect it and its eaters. Sogmaster in the issue just comes off as a bad guy who was born to loose and surrounds himself with brain dead henchmen who only slow him down.  While he loses a lot, he never rethinks his attacks making him easy to predict and easy to defeat. Not much more can be said about this comic besides the cover is well done and makes it seem way more epic than it actually.  Also, the issue should have been longer..yeah, so to sum it up, I would say it’s okay.

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Breakfast mascots were a lot of fun for kids of the 60′s through the early 90′s before parent groups stepped in and took the fun out of everything.  I have many fun memories of Cap’n Crunch, the Trix Rabbit and Lucky and wish kids of today could also find a bond with their cereal and its spokesperson. This was a fun quick look back at a simple time when one fake junk food Cap’n worried the youth of the time by going missing and being kidnaped. Our next update however goes back to a series subject as we look at Frankenstein, and not just any Frankenstein but that of the 1910 version done by Thomas Edison’s film company and the amazing comic book done based on this one time “lost” film. So until next time, sit back, relax, eat a bowl of cereal and read a comic or two! And oh yeah Happy Super Bowl Day!

1910 Frankenstein Logo

Horror Host Icon : Commander USA

Growing up a strange kid was a very fun way to live life. I was able to be me and not worry about what others thought of me, and I must say all my fellow classmates in Waynesville were all very cool kids and no one thought it was weird that I drew pictures of Satan, demons and monsters all the time. In fact, I can only remember one teacher ever really being an ass, and his name didn’t even stick with me because he was a piss poor teacher who was younger than the rest and walked around like he was the man when really he was a dud.  He was a computer teacher and he gave me crap for writing about Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th) and The Toxic Avenger.

Waynesville was a good time and was way better than the second time I had to go to Kettering Schools who had many teachers who targeted me for being “satanic” in their eyes. Many things helped make me the person I am today and have lead to all the cool creative things I do from no budget films with companies like Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video, to the TV show Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre, to music concerts at local venue Gilly’s to even my early made comics of Benny The Squirrel and Robo-Racoon that were drawn with colored pencils. Of course my Mom and Dad played a big part in it, as they never discouraged me from being myself and even my brother Bryan played a big part of just helping my mind work with all his fake wrestling leagues and such. But of course entertainment also played a big part in warping me.  Things like pro wrestling with all the amazing characters like Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, video games on the NES with all the high adventure, Universal Monster movies with all the classic scares and horror hosts that brought me doses of comedy mixed in with my horror. The hometown Dayton area host was Dr. Creep, a lovable character who hosted Shock Theatre and later Saturday Night Dead.  While he played a part in my life at the time but more so later on, it was one horror host that aired on cable TV on USA Network that truly was an icon to me and a guy me and my brother tried never to miss.  You long time readers know who I am talking about..that’s right, the one and only Commander USA who hosted his Groovie Movies Saturdays and later on Sundays.

Commander USA 1Commander USA 2Commander USA 3 Commander USA’s Groovie Movies started airing in 1985 and would show two horror or cult type films on the USA Network. Commander USA is a retired super hero whose secret headquarters (The Video Vault) is located in the basement of a shopping mall in New Jersey and with his Heat And Radiation Screen That Protected Tel-Psychotronic Screen he would watch the film alongside us as well as his best friend and sidekick Lefty (his hand with cigar ash on it) or some other guest. Commander was part of the Legion of Decency and is a fan of all the cheesy goodness he shows and took pride in presenting the movie along side showing us how to make a mid-movie snack that was some gross mix of food that should not go together.

Groovie Movies would come on Saturday at noon and was the perfect follow up to the major networks’ cartoon blocks.  This was the perfect thing for Monster Kids of the 80′s like myself as later that night USA Network would have Saturday Nightmares that consisted of a horror film and shows like The Hitchhiker and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  Then after that, USA Up All Night would come on with host Gilbert Gottfried, making this the perfect station to watch on Saturdays. Commander USA would switch to showing one film and later even moved to Sundays before sadly going off the air in 1989. Commander USA was the first host that drew me 100% in and really helped spark my interest in slasher films and low budget horror flicks.  His style of hosting is what I would consider the best as he would have a storyline that would run through out the episode, and you would feel as if he was watching the film with you, the sign of a good solid host. Commander USA made the odd little kid me feel as if I was normal and that many of people out in the world liked the same things as I did. I know my brother and I have a lot in common, and I would almost guarantee that he would also say that Commander USA had an impact of his young life. Something about sitting down and eating lunch or a snack and watching Commander USA host films like Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, Friday The 13th Part III and Aztec Mummy are magical moments that some day I hope future kids of mine will share with their favorite horror host.

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Jim Hendricks was the actor who played Commander USA, and he was a former radio DJ and theater performer. His other acting gigs include bit parts in Law And Order: Special Victims Unit, Brutal Fury and a cameos as Commander USA in the Christmas film classic Scrooged and pool shark film The Color Of Money. While not a household name, Jim Hendricks will always be one of my favorite actors of all time for his role of being the Commander. I should also note that Jim Hendricks is talked to in the horror host documentary American Scary, a film every fan of hosting should watch.

Jim Hendricks

Commander USA is a character who has a very blue collar super hero look.  Commander wears a tight red body suit with USA logo on his chest, star suspenders, blue baggy shorts and a polka dotted cape. He also always has a cigar, and his mask is blue grease paint painted around his eyes. As I stated back in my “Top 10 Should Have Been Star Comics,” Commander USA should have been made into a comic book series because I would have been a buyer of every issue. In fact I would love to see a comic series made even now about the adventures of Commander, and I know of a few comic artist that would be perfect for that job! Below is some artwork done by two of my friends, Eric Shonborn and Bruce O’Hughes, as well as an art piece I found online.  All are different in style, and all are amazing in their own way. So make sure to take a look at these amazing drawings.

Eric Commander USA ArtBruce Commander USA artCommander USA Art 1 Commander USA was joined by all types of guests from vampires to mall shoppers, but only really had two co-hosts/sidekicks that appeared in almost every episode. The most popular was Lefty, his right hand with a smiley face drawn on with cigar ash.  Lefty was a strong willed hand puppet who had a mind of his own. Lefty was his righthand man and was always around to help out the Commander in whatever silly thing that was going on. The second sidekick was Monroe, a mounted stuffed deer head who made weird noises and would always hold the Commanders coat, and sometimes he would have some ideas for The Commander to try. So I had to give both of these great sidekicks a shout out, and I can remember loving Monroe when I was a young lad. So this update is not only for Commander USA, the fans but it’s for Lefty and Monroe as well!

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1989 was a dark year as it marked the end of the Groovie Movies and was a sad time to be had by all.  While we still had USA Up All Night and USA Saturday Nightmares, the Video Vault was closed for good and and reruns were not in the cards. For the following years, I was able to get my cheesy horror flicks fix via other horror host shows, cable TV like HBO and renting VHS tapes from the library and video stores.  While they were all fun ways to discover and relive the horrors of the movies, they were all still lacking Commander USA. I kicked myself for never recording the episodes on Beta or VHS, but the younger me was to busy taping Godzilla films and cartoons. Over the years my brother was able to track down some copies of Groovie Movies on VHS and burned them onto DVD-R’s, and we were both able to relive our youth and be reunited with Commanders wisecracks and silly jokes. We both spent time tracking down episodes and trading them to each other, and now I own a large amount of these episodes and even still to this day am inspired by Commander USA who is my favorite horror host of all time. One episode that I have been looking for is the one where he hosted the 1973 Hammer Horror film “Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell.” This was the only episode that for the first few times he showed it, my Mom would not allow us to watch cause it had the word “hell” in it! So if you have a copy of this episode or any episode of the Commander, please get in contact with me because I would love to get a copy!

So on this update I am going to take a look at some of the episodes I own of Commander USA, and I am going to tell you what the film is and what he does in each of these episodes.  So be ready to go back to the past when the USA Network was the top cable station to me and my brother.

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Before I get into these episodes I should explain a few things, like first what is a Groovie Movie?  After growing up watching this show, I can give you a run down: it’s the following type of films, classic horror, cheesy horror, Mexican horror, fantasy, low budget action, slashers, goofy comedy, low budget horror, sci-fi and kung fu films. Now on each episode that I review, I will break down the host segments as well as give a brief write up for each film he is hosting.  The film write ups I will get off IMDB, and the hosts ones I will write myself. I will also give the names of two actors in the film as well as its rating and year of release. I will not be doing my comic 1-4 star ratings for these episodes because I have such a soft spot for all these episodes that the ratings would all be high! I will also review them in alphabetical order to make it easier. I want to also credit Stumpy Disk for the cover design idea. But now that I gave you a little more info, let’s get ready to enter the Video Vault.

Commander USA abominable snowman dvd

Groovie Movies: Abominable Snowman
Starring – Peter Cushing & Forrest Tucker   Not Rated   1957

Host: It’s a heat wave in New Jersey, and Commander is happy to be in the Video Vault and wants to do summer activities indoors! He makes boats out of snack food and sails them in a bowl of water.  He butchers “fresh” fish and plays a game of fish ball where you play bad mitten with fish heads, makes a slime zoo, opens his own cloths fashions and just enjoys the cool air in the Vault.

Movie: A kindly English botanist and a gruff American scientist lead an expedition to the Himalayas in search of the legendary Yeti.

commander usa alligator people dvd

Groovie Movies: The Alligator People
Starring – Beverly Garland & Lon Chaney Jr.   Not Rated   1959

Host: It’s Halloween time, and the Video Vault is set up for the first ever Groovie Movie Halloween Party and guests include Lefty and Angela The Alligator. He also gets a visit from a zombie who brings him a voodoo doll that looks just like Commander.  He helps Dorothy escape a evil witch, makes some snacks, gets a visit from a vampire and just has a blast at his party as other ghouls and goblins come to party.

Movie: A newlywed couple sit in a train. The husband receives a frantic telegram. He gets off at a station to make a phone call, the train pulls away without him on it, and that’s the last his wife sees of him. Years later after a long search she finally tracks him down on his family’s southern estate where she discovers that a failed medical treatment has turned him into an alligator mutant.

Commander USA an american werewolf in london dvd

Groovie Movies: An American Werewolf In London
Starring – David Naughton & Jenny Agutter  Rated R   1981

Host: It’s New Years Eve, and Commander USA is going to have a pub party in The Video Vault and has some guest to help that come all the way from England in honor of the days film. In the end of course, he spends the party just with the help as no one else comes, but he has a blast with his new friends.

Movie: Two American college students are on a walking tour of Britain and are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he commit suicide to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths.

Commander USA Beast From 20000 DVD

Groovie Movies: Beast From 20,000 Fathoms
Starring – Lee Van Cleef & Paul Hubschmid    Not Rated    1953

Host: The nights film is one of Lefty’s favorite films and for the showing Lefty makes a reptile dude ranch play set! Tourists pour in to see the ranch and Commander orders and receives his very own Dinosaur who just so happens to be way to large for the miniature ranch as Monroe opens up a souvenir shop to help out at the attraction. Commander gets a little hungry and makes his own weird ice cream thats made with cheese in a can, cake frosting, avocado and ketchup, and when that don’t work he makes yet another gross snack. The Dinosaur escapes into the mall and Commander and Lefty must travel above to stop it’s rampage.

Movie: As a result of an arctic nuclear test, a carnivorous dinosaur thaws out and starts making its way down the east coast of North America. Professor Tom Nesbitt, only witness to the beast’s existence, is not believed, even when he identifies it as a “rhedosaurus” to paleontologist Thurgood Elson. All doubts disappear, however, when Elson is swallowed whole during an oceanic bathysphere excursion to search for the creature. Soon thereafter the rhedosaurus emerges from the sea and lays waste to Manhattan Island until Nesbitt comes up with a plan to try to stop the seemingly indestructible beast.

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Groovie Movies: Beginning Of The End
Starring – Peter Graves & Peggie Castle   Not Rated   1957

Host: Some one has entered the Video Vault has has stolen Commander USA’s Headcheese Tarts, and now Commander and Lefty break out a Sherlock Holmes dress up kit and are on the case to find his missing snacks. His prime suspect is Rose Rosewood whom has teamed with one of his rouges gallery before, but is she the snack thief and will ge get his tarts back in time to enter the malls headcheese bake off?

Movie: Audrey Ames, an enterprising journalist, tries to get the scoop on giant grasshoppers accidentally created at the Illinois State experimental farm. She endeavors to save Chicago, despite a military cover-up.

Commander USA Blade Master dvd

Groovie Movies: The Blade Master
Starring – Miles O’Keeffe & Lisa Foster   Rated PG   1984

Host: Commander USA brings his two prehistoric friends Fred and Wilma Fieldstone to the Video Vault to watch the days film. During this time Fred and Wilma dance around, eat a meal made of hearts, give buckets of blood to the blood drive and Wilma tries to help Commander sale a book based on the wise words given by one of the films characters. Commander also gets his mail delivered by a Wizard who he thinks looks like the wizard from the movie!

Movie: In this sequel, the Fighting Eagle returns. This time he must save a former mentor from the evil Zor. Ator battles cavemen, invisible swordsmen, and barbarians with his new sidekick Thong to finally have the ultimate showdown with Zor.

Commander USA blood beast Terror dvd

Groovie Movies: The Blood Beast Terror
Starring – Peter Cushing & Robert Flemyng   Rated G   1968

Host: In this episode Commander USA tells of a monster concert in Japan and the crazy shopping sales going on in the mall above as he is joined by a strange man who is a entomologist (studies bugs) who is trying to capture a very large butterfly, the man is annoying and keeps walking around with his net and being an over all pain and even with the help of Lefty he seems to not be able to run this unwanted guest off. The Commander is also visited by weird bug girls who flap around the video vault and once the entomologist uses his net on one of them, he pushes the Commander to far who frees the bug girl and drops a net on the entomologist!

Movie: A scientist, working with genetics, creates a creature that is capable of transforming back and forth between a giant Death Head moth and a beautiful woman. The creature masquerades as his daughter when she is in her human incarnation and feeds on the blood of her victims when she is in the moth form.

Commander USA Blood Song dvd

Groovie Movies: Blood Song
Starring – Frankie Avalon & Donna Wilkes    Not Rated     1982

Host: Commander USA is gearing up for St. Patricks Day and is making all kinds of green colored food from roast beef to mashed potatoes as well as costumes like the Map of Ireland hockey mask. Commander also changes up his look with a green mask and shamrock suspenders in honor of the holiday. He also cleans up around the Video Vault and Monroe is also dressed up all in green gearing up for the Holiday. Commander shows us a Irish Game called Potato Toss where he throws a potato into the air and shoots it with a machine gun as well gives us silly none true facts about Saint Patrick!

Movie: A psychopath escapes from a mental institution and starts a murder spree, which ends in the pursuing of a young handicapped girl, who once got a blood transfusion from him.

Commander USA Brood DVD

Groovie Movies:  The Brood
Starring – Oliver Reed & Samantha Eggar   Rated R   1979

Host: Commander USA in honor the the movie brings a crazy psychiatrist to the Video Vault named Fraud who comes complete with a straight jacket. The man is a quack and gets a crush on Monroe and speaks gibberish to Commander who seems to be in on the joke that this man is nuts. And in the end the Nut House comes looking for him. 

Movie:A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist’s therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife, while a series of brutal attacks committed by a brood of mutant children coincides with the husband’s investigation.

Commander USA CHUD DVD

Groovie Movies:  C.H.U.D.
Starring – John Heard & Daniel Stern    Rated R     1984

Host: Monroe has won the lottery, and Lefty is writing a bunch of short stories with Commander helping with the proof reading and typing of the stories. Lefty then decides to become an investigative reporter!

Movie: A rash of bizarre murders in New York City seems to point to a group of grotesquely deformed vagrants living in the sewers. A courageous policeman, a photo journalist and his girlfriend, and a nutty bum, who seems to know a lot about the creatures, band together to try and determine what the creatures are and how to stop them.

Commander USA death of bruce dvd

Groovie Movies:  Death Of Bruce Lee
Starring – Ron Van Clief & Phillip Ko   Rated R   1975

Host: Ralph Headwards shows up to the Video Vault and is doing a “This Is Your Life” for Commander USA! But the big issue is that the Commander does know some of the people from his “past” or they are stand ins for people he knows and some he just doesn’t want to remember!

Movie: Three rival gangs embark on a search for Bruce Lee’s handwritten “finger gifting” manual.

Commander USA Deathquake dvd

Groovie Movies: Deathquake
Starring – Hiroshi Katsuno & Eiji Okada   Not Rated   1980

Host: The Commander is pretty excited to be showing Deathquake and due to all the fright and sub plots of the film, he invites a woman named Sheare Fryte who is an expert in these things and wrote a book called The Fryte Report.  However while he was thinking she was a sweet woman, he soon finds out the she is a very mean diva who hates men!

Movie: Seismologist Hoichi loses touch with his family when he predicts that there will be an earthquake in Tokyo of greater magnitude than the one in 1923, which his father predicted. Because of this, he starts seeing another woman, who already has a boyfriend. Hoichi’s wife wants to meet her before she will grant a divorce. Eventually, the earthquake he predicted does come, which changes all relationships and exemplifies the character of the Japanese.

Commander USA Def Con 4 DVD

Groovie Movies:  Def-Con 4
Starring – John Walsch & Lenore Zann     Rated R     1985

Host: In honor of the day’s film and its scenes of space, Commander USA signs up to go to Space Camp that also acts as a Trailer Park! The camp sends a spaced out female councilor to help him get ready by the name of Astral Plane.  Can she help prepare Commander and will Space Camp even happen after a meteor shower?

Movie: Two men and a woman circle the globe in a satellite armed with a nuclear device. The third world war breaks out, and a few months later the satellite crashes. They survive the crash but one man gets killed by survivors and the other man gets caught. The woman stays by the remains of the the satellite but is soon caught by evil punks who have taken power.

Commander USA Devils Nightmare DVD

Groovie Movies:  The Devil’s Nightmare
Starring – Erika Blanc & Daniel Emilfork    Rated R    1971

Host: Commander USA decides that in this episode he is going to analyze dreams and nightmares and spends time watching the movie along with you, giving his thoughts during his breaks.

Movie: Six of seven tourists in a east European castle overnight are victims of a helper of the devil. Is Satan willing to spare their souls?

Commander USA duel of ultimate weapons dvd

Groovie Movies: Duel Of Ultimate Weapons
Starring – So-Jeon Yu & Hwang Jang Lee    Not Rated   1983

Host: Commander USA hangs around the Video Vault with his friend Debbie who is dressed as if she is from Japan, and together they watch the movie and eat and make a lot of snacks!

Movie: The evil Dong Won has unbeatable kicking legs and proudly travels the land proving his expertise. But when a young man loses his foster parent to Won’s deadly kick, he seeks out an old drunken master to learn a way to defeat the Master of the Leg.

Commander USA FINAL TERROR dvd

Groovie Movies: The Final Terror
Starring – Daryl Hannah & Adrian Zmed   Rated R   1983

Host: As part of a super hero group he has joined, Commander USA is allowing one lucky camper to spend the day camping inside inside the Video Vault! That lucky camper is a rich fun loving woman named Pearl who seems to be hyped to be camping in the Video Vault.

Movie: A group of forest rangers go camping in the woods, and trespass into an area where a backwoods mama likes to kill people who come onto her turf.

Commander USA Friday 13th 2 DVD

Groovie Movies: Friday The 13th Part 2
Starring – Amy Steel & John Furey    Rated R    1981

Host: In the Video Vault, Commander USA gives some camp safety tips like the buddy system and plans a trip to Washington D.C.! He also practices his acting skills that has him dancing with a fake bird and gives a silly daily joke.

Movie: After killing Mrs. Voorhees, who was avenging her son Jason’s death, Alice Hardy can finally sigh with relief. But there is just one problem; Jason never drowned at Camp Crystal Lake and lived in the nearby woods as a hermit all this time. The day that Alice beheaded his mother, Jason saw everything, and his heart filled with thirst for revenge. Two months later, Alice gets stabbed by an ice pick in the temple and disappears. Is Jason behind this? Five years later, a camp next do to Camp Crystal Lake is built and the counselors start snooping around the old, abandoned camp ruins. This makes Jason very upset, since his shack is next to the remains of Camp Crystal Lake and what is inside the shack shall be kept secret forever, even if it means killing nine people!

Commander USA Friday 13th 3 DVD

Groovie Movies: Friday The 13th Part 3
Starring – Tracie Savage & Dana Kimmell   Rated R   1982

Host: Commander USA is hyped to be showing Friday The 13th Part 3 and shows the viewers his new barber chair as well as the Merry Go-Around Wall and even does a recap of parts 1 and 2.  This is an epic showing for him as Friday The 13th Part 3 was new to cable and aired only once before on USA Saturday Nightmares. The Commander has thrown out his back and is waiting for his friend who can fix it by having him lay on a bed of snails, and Commander just sits around the Video Vault reading mail and eating a snack and gets a visit from vampire Count Phantom. 

Movie: Jason Voorhees, having barely survived a wound to his shoulder from his own machete, is back to revenge on all that visit “his” woods. A new group of friends come over to party at an area close to the campsite. This time, Jason will be stronger than ever, and gets a hockey mask from one of those friends.

Commander USA Gamera Vs Barugon dvd

Groovie Movies: Gamera vs. Barugon
Starring – Kojiro Hongo & Yuka Konno    Not Rated   1966 

Host: Commander USA comes face to face with his second planet doppelganger, The Evil Commander, who does bad things and they decide to watch, the film together. The two fight over the film with Commander being on the side of Gamera and the film and Evil Commander just trashing it all and more siding with Barugon. In the end Commander USA uses a spray and rids himself of the Evil Doppelganger.

Movie: After a treacherous expedition to retrieve a giant opal, disaster strikes as the opal reveals itself to be an egg which spawns Barugon, demon dog from Hell! Armed with a deadly tongue and cold beams, Barugon wreaks havoc on Japan. Gamera comes to save the day.

Commander USA The Hand dvd

Groovie Movies:  The Hand
Starring – Michael Cain & Charles Fleische   Rated R   1981

Host: Lefty feels like Commander USA is holding him back from movies and we learn that Lefty went to school with Michael Cain’s hand who is the star of this movie. So to make him feel better, Commander lets Lefty show his talents.  From stunts to music he does it all to catch an eye of a movie producer so that he can go work in Hollywood.

Movie: Jon Lansdale is a comic book artist who loses his right hand in a car accident. The hand was not found at the scene of the accident, but it soon returns by itself to follow Jon around, and murder those who anger him.

Commander USA The Hearse dvd

Groovie Movies: The Hearse
Starring – Trish Van Devere & Joseph Cotten    Rated PG    1980

Host: Commander USA has built a casket box car for the annual Dirt Box Derby and has asked for the help of a lazy mechanic named Backwrench to make sure it looks good and is built to win.  In between naps, Backwrench places all types of stuff the Commander doesn’t need on the coffin car and in the end his high bill might just keep the Commander from entering the race.

Movie: Jane Hardy decides to stay the summer in the house her aunt left her when she died, to try and recoup from a bad divorce. Little does she know, her aunt practiced witchcraft and is still thought of very badly by the town’s citizens. As soon as she moves in, she is haunted by a old black hearse and it’s creepy driver. Is she going insane or is she truly being menaced? She meets a friendly young man and becomes involved with him, but is he and the creepy driver one and the same?

Commander USA hercules 2 dvd

Groovie Movies: Hercules II
Starring – Lou Ferrigno & Milly Carlucci   Rated PG   1985

Host: Commander USA is at Mel’s Mount Olympus Diner for this episode in honor of the day’s film. The worker Feta is a goofy joke telling girl and takes a break to watch the Groovie Movie along side the Commander. The diner sits on top of the mountain, and the clouds are all around as The Commander gets some of the worse service from the greek workers, but he still is having a blast! And then at some point during the episode Commander is working at the diner and helping out. In the end the diner is closed down by the Health Inspector. 

Movie: Hercules searches for the Seven Thunderbolts of Zeus, which have been stolen by renegade gods.

Commander USA hills have eyes  dvd

Groovie Movies: The Hills Have Eyes 2
Starring – Michael Berryman & John Bloom   Rated R   1984

Host: Commander USA has won a collage degree from Publishers Clearing House but must pass a test given to him by some very bored board of education members. Can Commander’s super quick wit and charm get him his degree? Of course it can, but the important question is what is he going to do with it when he gets it?

Movie: A group of bikers, which includes some of the survivors from the original film, embark on a journey by bus to a biker race near the desert of the infamous incidents. However, because of a mistake they are late and decide to take a shortcut through the desert. Halfway through the desert the bus breaks down. While trying to repair the bus, some of the group wander off, and wind up in the traps of the survivors of the mutant family of the first. Then the mutants go after the rest.

Commander USA Horror Werwolf DVD

Groovie Movies:  Horror Of The Werewolf
Starring – Paul Naschy & Mercedes Molina    Rated R    1975

Host: When entering the Video Vault, Commander USA gets a “pentagram” message that asks if he would watch over his friend Lon’s pet named Chuck, but when the pet arrives he finds out that Chuck isn’t a dog or cat but a werewolf who is as rude as rude can be. Commander puts up with his friends rude guest for as long as the day’s movie and just as he is about to send word that Lon needs to pick up his annoying pet, Chuck turns back into human and is a pretty woman who ends up getting dinner with the Commander!

Movie: Waldemar, the renowned adventurer, joins an expedition to find the Yeti in the Himalayas. While hiking the mountains, he’s captured by two cannibalistic demon nymphets guarding a remote Buddhist temple and becomes their sex-slave. They transform him into a werewolf setting him loose to roam the mountain where he encounters a sadistic bandit.

Commander USA Horror Of The Zombies dvd

Groovie Movies: Horror Of The Zombies
Starring – Maria Perschy & Jack Taylor    Rated R   1974

Host: Commander USA decides to have a zombie super model named Savannah Bright visit the Video Vault in the spirit of the day’s film, and she is able to give him modeling tips and show that zombies aren’t very bright!

Movie: The model Noemi questions her employer Lillian about her roommate Kathy that is missing after receiving a call from Lillian, and she tells that she will go to the police. Lilian explains that Kathy is in an afloat boat in the Atlantic with another model participating of a publicity stunt, and she brings Noemi to meet Howard Tucker and his henchman Sergio that have idealized the advertising campaign. Kathy uses the radio to report that a ghost galleon without crew has arrived and Tucker sends a helicopter to bring the models back; however the pilot does not find them at the location. Tucker contacts Professor Grüber that studies the Sixteen Century galleon and they use a boat to reach the ghost vessel with Sergio, Lillian and Noemi. Soon Professor Gruber learns that the damned galleon is stranded in another dimension and the crew is composed of excommunicated Templar zombies. Now they try to leave the galleon and return to their own dimension. Will they succeed in their intent?

Note from Matt: This film that is also known as “The Ghost Galleon” and is the third film in the Blind Dead series. When shown on Groovie Movies it goes under the title “Ship of Zombies”.

Commander USA i married a monster from outer space dvd

Groovie Movies: I Married A Monster From Outer Space
Starring – Tom Tryon & Gloria Talbott    Not Rated   1958

Host: A wedding consultant named Sally McBride shows up to the Video Vault and thinks that Commander USA is getting married because of the day’s Groovie Movie! Sally, like most of his guests tries to sell the viewers her books she wrote, and Commander makes some gross snack and has some random guests pop in! Sally then starts doing home improvements around the Vault and while she is annoying, the Commander lets her go crazy with repairs!

Movie: Aliens from outer space are slowly switching places with real humans — one of the first being a young man about to get married. Slowly, his new wife realizes something is wrong, and her suspicions are confirmed when her husband’s odd behavior begins to show up in other townspeople.

Commander USA I Walked With A Zombie dvd

Groovie Movies: I Walked With A Zombie
Starring – James Ellison & Frances Dee     Not Rated    1943

Host: Monroe turns the Video Vault into a video watching night club, and as the guests pour in they are treated to the film of the day as well as other entertainment like a singing mermaid and a terrible stand up comic. The club is a hit, and all have fun in the Video Vault making Monroe’s idea a great one.

Movie: A young Canadian nurse named Betsy comes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager named Paul. Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis as a result of fever. When she falls in love with Paul, Betsy determines to cure Jessica even if she needs to use a voodoo ceremony, to give Paul what she thinks he wants.

Commander USA Infra Man dvd

Groovie Movies: Infra-Man
Starring – Danny Lee & Terry Liu     Rated PG    1975

Host: Commander USA has just gotten back from a Super Hero Convention and has gotten himself a SHERA Machine (Sanitary Household Experimental Robot Assistant) to help him do all types of stuff including make more great headcheese snacks! The Video Vault also gets attacked by a Couch Potato who blows himself up turning into potato chips, and Lefty gets a girlfriend who only has one eye. In the end Commander puts $10.00 into the SHERA Machine, and poof! a woman appears who doesn’t wanna go on a date with him.

Movie: The ten million year-old Princess Dragon Mom attempts to conquer the earth with her legion of mutant monsters. In response, Professor Chang creates Infra-man, turning a young volunteer into a bionic superhero to save the world. However, the Princess kidnaps Chang’s daughter. Can Infra-man save her and the planet before it’s too late?

Commander USA Its ALive DVD

Groovie Movies: It’s Alive
Starring – John P. Ryan & Sharon Farrell     Rated PG    1974

Host: Commander USA gets a good idea after walking through the mall.  It’s inspired by the day’s movie as he turns the Video Vault into “It’s Alive Nursery” where busy Mall shoppers can drop of their kids and have Commander USA watch them as they continue to shop. He gets a client who drops off her two monster kids who during the movie eat the Milk Man and rip the arm off of a baby expert! In the end, he must wait for his payment of $14.95 via check.

Movie: Heavily pregnant Lenore Davis tells her husband, Frank, that she is in labor. They leave their eleven year-old son Chris with their friend Charley and they head to the Community Hospital. Lenore feels that something is wrong and delivers a monster that kills the team in the delivery room and escapes through a skylight. Lieutenant Perkins comes to the hospital to investigate the murder and the press divulges the identity of the parents. Frank discovers a dark secret about Lenore and the baby.

Commander USA jaws of satan DVD

Groovie Movies:  Jaws Of Satan
Starring – Fritz Weaver & Christina Applegate     Rated R     1981

Host: Commander USA and Lefty get a make-your-own-radio-drama kit and decide to break into broadcasting and make their own old time radio show. Lefty writes a western drama called “Pa and Son” that is just plain bad, but Commander and him keep trying with many of attempts to make the show good.

Movie: A preacher whose ancestors were cursed by Druids battles Satan, who has taken the form of a huge snake.

Commander USA Kingdom Of The Spiders dvd

Groovie Movies: Kingdom Of The Spiders
Starring – William Shatner & Tiffany Bolling     Rated PG    1977

Host: Commander USA’s plant has a fungus so he calls on Dr. Root for help, and decides to have her stay in the Video Vault and watch the film of the day. Dr. Root gives plant advice as well as tries to sell the viewers things that she made like books and even a board game, making her whole appearance nothing more than a way for her to sell her goods at the Commander’s expense.

Movie: Investigating the mysterious deaths of a number of farm animals, vet Rack Hansen discovers that his town lies in the path of hoards of migrating tarantulas. Before he can take action, the streets are overrun by killer spiders, trapping a small group of towns folk in a remote hotel.

Commander USA land of the minotaur dvd

Groovie Movies: Land Of The Minotaur
Starring – Donald Pleasence & Peter Cushing   Rated PG   1976

Host: Outside the Video Vault is a raging blizzard, and Commander USA decides to turn the Video Vault into an inn for shoppers who are stuck in the mall and gets the help of Tiffany, a crazy woman who has worked for many inns in the past! He also hires a dim witted handy man, George, and finds that during this time of extreme snow people just don’t wanna stay in The Video Vault!

Movie: A satanic cult that worships a stone Minotaur kidnaps 3 young people and Priest Father Corofax and Milo Kaye must save them from the hands of this evil!

Commander USA Mako dvd

Groovie Movies: Mako The Jaws Of Death
Starring – Richard Jaeckel & Jennifer Bishop   Rated PG   1976

Host: Commander USA is having a tribute to Richard Jaeckel the star of the day’s film.  He even sets up a camera in the mall and has shoppers give their opinions of Jaeckel and his work. He also has Dr. Moist Brothers come in, and she talks about Jaeckel and the relationship with fish, and of course tries to promote her new book on the subject. Everything in the episode is in honor of Jaeckel!

Movie: A man accidentally learns that he has a mystical connection with sharks, and is given a strange medallion by a shaman. Becoming more and more alienated from normal society, he develops an ability to communicate with sharks telepathically, setting out to destroy anybody who harms sharks. People enter into his strange world to exploit his weird passion, and he uses the animals to gain revenge on anybody who double crosses him.

Commander USA mausoleum dvd

Groovie Movies: Mausoleum
Starring – Bobbie Bresee & Marjoe Gortner   Rated R   1983

Host: A worker at the mall’s morgue comes down and asks to store some dead bodies at the Video Vault, and the Commander allows it. Some of the morgue workers and other odd balls come down to work on the bodies or try and sell something as Commander is creeped out by the day’s movie. But once the bodies begin to stink, it’s time for Commander to want them out of the Vault.

Movie: Traumatized by her mother’s death, young Susan is becoming possessed by the same demon that possessed her mother before she died. More and more her husband and psychiatrist are noticing the strange changes.

Commander USA Motel Hell dvd

Groovie Movies: Motel Hell
Starring – Rory Calhoun & Paul Linke     Rated R    1980

Host: The Video Vault is now being used as a set for a Hollywood film called “Attack of the 50 Foot Cheesecake Girl,” and Commander USA will be the star and Mr. Grill is the director! During the movie Commander is reading his lines and meeting the crew, and he gets a shock when he finds out his co-star is Elizabeth Trailer famous z-movie star! In the end, Commander finds out he is not the star of the film likes he thinks and his big kiss scene with Trailer is scrapped, making the Commander see that he should not trust Hollywood.

Movie: Farmer Vincent kidnaps unsuspecting travelers and is burying them in his garden. Unfortunately for his victims, they are not dead. He feeds his victims to prepare them for his roadside stand. His motto is: It takes all kinds of critters…to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters. The movie is gory, but is also a parody of slasher movies like Last House on the Left.

Commander USA Night of Creeps DVD

Groovie Movies: Night Of The Creeps
Starring – Jason Lively & Tom Atkins   Rated R   1986

Host: Commander USA has allowed a sorority house on a tight budget to hold their prom in the Video Vault for only $14.95 for the night. Commander USA watches the film with the decorating crew and helps decorate along the way. In the end only one of the girls’ dates show up to prom, and he is just a brain in a glass bowl so Commander takes all the ladies out for an all you can eat dinner.

Movie: In 1959, an alien experiment crashes to earth and infects a fraternity member. They freeze the body, but in the modern day, two geeks pledging a fraternity accidentally thaw the corpse, which proceeds to infect the campus with parasites that transform their hosts into killer zombies.

Commander USA pandemonium dvd

Groovie Movies: Pandemonium
Starring – Tom Smothers & Judge Reinhold    Rated PG   1982

Host: Commander USA is being visited by Leo and Cleo, a pair of paparazzi junkies who take pictures of celebrities and Lefty! The pair is also on the run from someone in the mall and use the Video Vault to hideout in.

Movie: Tom Smothers stars as the brave mountie, who along with his trusty horse and bitter deputy Paul Reubens must track down a killer who is stalking coeds at a nearby cheerleader camp.

Note from Matt: This episode is missing the opening skit.

Commander USA Polish Vampire In Burbank dvd

Groovie Movies:  A Polish Vampire in Burbank
Starring – Mark Pirro & Eddie Deezen   Not Rated   1985

Host: Commander USA is hyped to see the day’s film because it’s his first time watching it and he wants all the viewers at home to join him on the watch.  But he also gets a guest to come watch it as he finds a 13 year old vampire kid who says this film is a must see for vampires his age!

Movie: A somewhat reluctant vampire is taken out by his sexpot sister for his first “night out on the town.”

Note from Matt : The version of this episode I own is sadly a very poor put together fan reproduction that cuts out many of the Commander’s skits and replaces them with segments from other episodes that deal with contests and poems. 

Commander USA Princess Of Nile dvd

Groovie Movies: Princess Of The Nile
Starring – Debra Paget & Jeffrey Hunter   Not Rated   1954

Host: Commander USA is getting bored with the look of The Video Vault and invites a team of decorating sisters over called the Little Designing Woman to spice up the look of the place. But the sisters can’t get along and argue the whole time and even during the free Christmas play that comes with their services. In the end, the Video Vault gets a minor change but pretty much stays the same, and Commander USA feels better about it.

Movie: Time: A.D. 1249. Shalimar, an Egyptian princess, striving to rid her country of its Bedouin conquerors, forms an alliance with Prince Haidi, son of the Caliph of Bagdad. She practices her intrigues both at the court and, disguised as a dancing girl, in the market place.

Commander USA Psychotronic Man DVD

Groovie Movies: The Psycho-Tronic Man
Starring – Peter Spelson & Chris Carbis    Rated PG   1979

Host: Commander USA turns the Video Vault into a place to help people with their fears and acts as a doctor to “save” them from what spooks them. He has some clients come in and tries to help them with fears of things like white paint and furniture and even gets accused by the news for taken bribes to show the day’s film from the director! In the end Commander gets a fear of other people’s fears and has to close up shop.

Movie: Just as Rocky thinks the world is proceeding along quite well, he dashes out of his barber shop in a kind of trance, as though possessed. Once outside he is driven to hunt for a victim and after he has found someone, he kills them with whatever forces are latent in his subconscious.

Commander USA Swamp Of Lost Monsters dvd

Groovie Movies: Swamp Of The Lost Monsters
Starring – Gaston Santos & Sara Cabrera  Not Rated   1957

Host: Commander USA gets a visit from a visit from a “Cowboy” who owns a store in the mall above that offers tacos, facials and boots! Commander does a lot of other things that all have a western feel to them, and he has fun with his Cowboy friend.

Movie: A disappearing body leads a detective and his sidekick into an encounter with a gill man.

Note from Matt: This episode is missing its opening skit. 

Commander USA They Still Call Me Bruce DVD

Groovie Movies: They Still Call Me Bruce
Starring – Johnny Yune & Victor Brook   Rated PG   1987

Host: Commander USA invites his friend Sue who knows secrets of the oriental massage and more to come to the Video Vault and watch the day’s movie with him. Commander is trained in the art of pressure points and even Kung Fu and is really trying to learn all he can from his guests who also includes Sue’s sushi chef and student.

Movie: Bruce Won arrives in America in search of an American G.I. who saved his life in the Korean War. He meets an orphan boy and together they land themselves in a string of outrageous situations. This high-strung farce culminates when a case of mistaken identity leads a gang of thugs to think Bruce is a karate master. They arrange a nationally-televised match which pits our hero against a monstrous brute, and Bruce is beaten to a bloody pulp.

Commander USA Toxic Zombies dvd

Groovie Movies: Toxic Zombies
Starring – Charles McCrann & Beverly Shapiro   Rated R  1980

Host: Commander USA and Lefty are all set in the Video Vault and are ready to watch the day’s film when all through it random people show up and do random things.  Even the Commander starts doing odd and random things, well more odd than usual. Over all the Commander just seems to be having fun watching the day’s zombie movie.

Movie: After drug crops are sprayed with a chemical by a passing airplane, the growers of the crop are poisoned by the chemical and turn into zombie-like mutants.

Commander USA trick or treats dvd

Groovie Movies: Trick Or Treats
Starring – David Carradine & Steve Railsback   Rated R   1982

Host: It’s a week before Christmas, and the mall above is filled with shoppers and Commander USA decides to show a movie more suitable for Halloween and has a guest named Nurse Nancy who has showed up to tell him his new gift idea (The Home Autopsy Kit) was foul. While Nancy seems negative she is also very flirty with the Commander who as always makes some snacks and even tries to sell the viewer paper plates with Lefty and his image on them.

Movie: A baby sitter is stuck watching over a young brat on Halloween night who keeps playing vicious pranks on her. To add to her trouble the boy’s deranged father has escaped from an asylum and is planning on making a visit.

Commander USA Vampires Coffin DVD

Groovie Movies: The Vampire’s Coffin
Starring – Abel Salazar & Aradna Welter   Not Rated   1958

Host: Rent is going up at The Video Vault so Commander USA and Monroe decide to open up a fast food restaurant mixed with a sock emporium to help pay the rent. Commander even hires a young woman named Wendy to help wait on the customers. Commander becomes the place’s chef and makes all kinds of gross dishes for his customers.  Of course by the end of the show the restaurant goes belly up and Commander has bankrupt yet another one of his odd business ideas.

Movie: Graverobbers stumble upon the tomb of a vampire, who turns them into zombies to do his bidding, which is to stalk and capture beautiful women.

Commander USA Witchmaker DVD

Groovie Movies: The Witchmaker
Starring – Anthony Eisley & Thordis Brandt   Not Rated   1969

Host: Commander USA has built his own Frankenstein Monster named FrankenSchtick and it’s a terrible stand up comic! At one point Commander summons the spirit of Jesse James with a can of tomato juice and spends a lot of the episode hearing the terrible comedy of his created monster and talking about the film they are watching.

Movie: A psychic researcher and his assistants investigate a series of murders of beautiful young women.

And with that this marks all the single feature episodes I own, and be warned at some point we will get into the double features!! 

commander usa autoAs you can see I have been collecting and trying to get as many old Commander USA episodes as I can get.  It’s been great reliving those days of watching Commander on my TV screen though nothing can take away those Saturday afternoons of eating lunch or some sort of junk food and spending two hours (four when he showed the double features) hanging out with my brother and watching Commander USA during his time of broadcast. I can remember the excitement of waiting for him to come on, and Groovie Movies became the true highlight of my weekends. Commander USA’s Groovie Movies was the first place I saw horror films like Friday The 13th 1-3, Final Terror and Motel Hell.  It’s the place where I became a super fan of films like Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell and Horror of the Zombies.  Plus Commander USA is one of the main people that made me the creative person I am today, and for that I want to truly say THANK YOU. If not for the Commander, I would have not seen half the horror films I saw at a young age because of where I lived, and seeing these films on his show as well as USA Saturday Nightmares and Super Scary Saturday helped spark the interest in wanting to make my own shot on video horror films. One regret I have is never writing to the Commander and becoming a member of his fan club.  In fact I am not really sure why my brother or I never did do this. I should also take this time to thank some people that over the years have helped me on my quest of collecting and re-living the Groovie Movies experience: Bryan Brassfield, Stumpy Disks and my pal Darren Young.  

commander usa card

In 2013 at Horrorhound Weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio Commander USA got one of the highest honors a host can receive as he was inducted as one of the thirteen hosts of that year into the Horror Host Hall Of Fame. When I heard that he was going in, I asked if Baron Von Porkchop, the host I direct could induct him as I would feel that it would be the highest honor I could give back to him for being such a major influence in my life, but it was not to be as New Jersey Horror Host and all around great guy Halloween Jack was asked to do so. While I would have loved to have had the Baron do it, Jack was a great pick and did the speech with lots of class and respect. Baron Von Porkchop did get to induct Florida’s own Shock Armstrong, the 1964 host of Shock Theatre, and that as well was an honor as he meant a lot to many kids of the 60′s and was a great host who looked like Frankenstein’s Monster in a football jersey. 

Horror Host Hall Of Fame 2013 Commander USA

Commander USA was the logical pick for me when doing the first Horror Host Icon update as he was the host that was the first to mean something to me as does the next host on my list, but you all will have to wait and see who it is! This update is in honor of Jim Hendricks, the man who played Commander USA, and it’s also for all the fans of Groovie Movies who were glued to their TV’s and watched a spooky cheesy film and laughed alongside the Commander and his sidekicks. I have had a lot of fun doing this update, and while I could say a lot more, I think this will do for now as I can not express in words the wonderful impact this host and his show have had on my life.  If and when I get more episodes at some point, I would love to do an update blog and tell you a little more about the episodes I own…but that will be a while aways because we have lots of comics to read and other hosts to celebrate! Our next update takes us from a Commander to a Capn’ as we take a look at a free comic give away from Quaker Oats that allows us to set sail with the one and only Capn’ Crunch! So till next time, support and watch you local horror host and make sure to read a comic or two!

capn crunch logo

Thundercats Are Ho..Ho..Ho!!!

Rotten…Rotten….Rotten Ink Ho! Yeah, I know that one was lame but welcome back to my little flashback place on the web, and with it being Christmas Eve, I decided to take a look at one of the heavy hitters that Star Comics has to offer, something that I watched the cartoon of and even collected the figures when they came out.  Of course I am talking about Thundercats! The cartoon hit airwaves back in 1985 and was a solid hit with the youth at the time.  The animation was done better than Masters of The Universe and had a Japanese flair to it that made us believe we were watching something more than a cartoon. I was about six years old when the cartoon was out and was in first grade and can remember kids talking about the cartoon and how epic it was on the playground at Beavertown Elementary.  This led to every boy I knew wanting to collect the action figures that were being made by LJN. I even remember one kid saying that Thundercats was better than Masters Of The Universe and many of the kids agreeing with him.  I for one was on He-Man’s side, but I could not doubt the power and impact this cartoon was having on all our young minds. The odd thing though is when I moved to Waynesville in the 1st grade, I only remember a handful of kids being totally into the cartoon and toys, and they had other top toys to worry about. The cartoon, as I said, aired in 1985 and had a total of 130 episodes and ran for 4 seasons ending in 1989. I can remember being so hyped to watch the first episode of Thundercats and after seeing it, I was not let down.  It was adventure and fantasy wrapped into a nice package and had elements of Masters of The Universe, Voltron and The Beastmaster, and this made it a must see toon for me. I stuck with watching Thundercats till the end but will admit that midway through season 3 my watching habits had changed, my interest in them lessened and I watched it sporadically at best. My favorite characters in the cartoon were Lion-O, Mum-Ra, Jackalman and Monkian.  For some reason when I was younger I always liked the bad guys more, like in He-Man I liked Skeletor, Star Wars was Dark Vader and in G.I. Joe I liked Cobra Commander! The cartoon has been released on VHS and DVD and for those looking to capture the magic of watching again or want to share with their children, you have the chance to thanks to Warner Brothers. Well I guess it would be smart of me to tell you readers what the plot of Thundercats is about now wouldn’t it? It’s about a race of feline humanoids who have to flee their planet of Thundera and find a new place to live.  They are attacked by their enemies, the Mutants of the planet Plun-Darr, and one ship is left that holds the Sword of Omens that houses the Eye of Thundera, the source of the race’s power. They crash on Third Earth and Lion-O who was a boy at the time of his escape from his doomed planet has now has a grown up body but still the mind of a young child! Mumm-Ra is an evil powerful wizard who wants the Eye of Thundera for himselfm and this begins the long battle of The Thundercats! I could explain a whole lot more, but if I did we would be here a long time.

Thundetcats Cartoon 1Thundercats Season 1 dvdThundetcats Cartoon 2

The first episode of the cartoon also helped spark the playground talk of Cheetara being the sexiest cartoon character, and that’s because in this episode she is shown nude!! Cheetara has her boobs out, and while she had no nipples, we kids thought we were seeing something naughty. I can remember one of my friends drawing pictures of her and always talking about how much hotter she was than other cartoon girls. Isn’t it great that when I was younger in the 80′s, we spent time talking about who was hotter in cartoons and comics instead of truly looking at real life girls…but the interest in girls was close at hand for many of us. Nowadays the naked female cartoon character would not pass the censors who would be in an uproar way before it hit the airwaves, and thats why I am happy to say I grew up in the 80′s and 90′s where cartoon cat girls could be naked and we kids had the freedom to think she was hot stuff! Below is a pic of Cheetara that amazed us all!

Naked!!!

Long before all kids wanted were ipods, tablets, cell phones and ipads, actions figures, board games and video games were on all our minds. When LJN put out the action figures for Thundercats, kids went crazy and the toy shelves of Children’s Palace, Hearts, K-Mart and Hills were left with empty spots or characters no one wanted. These toys were so popular. I was also very much taken in by the hype and the cool designs of these figures, and for my 6th or 7th birthday my mom and dad took me to K-Mart and said for me to pick out three Thundercat figures that I wanted.  This was on a good day, and the shelves were filled with all the main figures.  The only one missing was Cheetara, but this didn’t matter to me as I was not looking for any of the members of the Thundercats. I was looking for the bad guys, and I was so happy when I found Jackalman, Monkian and Slithe! I already had Mum-Ra as I was able to gain him in a trade, and this made my legion of bad guys complete. At this point Mum-Ra and his crew in my toy playing world joined the side of Skeletor and were all trying to stop He-Man! I was so happy to get these figures, and my favorite was Monkian who I would carry around the house and even bring on a long trips to visit my grandparents who lived on a farm. Later on for another birthday I got the super cool Vultureman, and he became one of my favorite figures of the time. The kids on the playground with the most cool and modern toys always seemed to be the most popular and for a short time, and these figures made me a king….well a toy king. The figures were all well done and come with weapons and some even had light up eyes like Lion-O and Mum-Ra. The Thundercats figure lasted for many lines but as all things lost steam, and they were phased off toy shelves and replaced with the next popular toy. I should note that my cousins Dino and Norman had the biggest Thundercats collection of any kids I knew and even had the Cats Lair base playset!

mumm-ra toylion-o toyjackalman toy

I can remember one Christmasm I think it was 1986, that it was a very Thundercats and Masters of The Universe Brassfield Family Christmas. Back in the 80′s and most of the 90′s, we would always have Christmas Eve at my Brassfield Grandparents’ house, and all the cousins would gather in the living room that held the tree as well as a fireplace that would be cranking out super hot heat. Well this year I can remember that my aunts and uncles got me and my brother some really sweet action figures! I can remember that on this Eve I got a Lion-O figure as well as Mantenna from Masters of The Universe.  I can remember my cousion Nathan getting Beastman, Norman getting Battlecat, Dino getting a walking robot with a dinosaur head and my brother getting Panthro from the Thundercats….those were the days when the family would all be together and all us young Brassfield kids would spend the night playing with toys and having a blast. Below is a picture of that Christmas Eve of 1986 and all of us having a blast.  Yeah, that’s me with my Lion-O.

Brassfield Old School Christmas

In 1985 Burger King also had kid meals that came with Thundercat prizes like plastic cups featuring your favorite character, a light switch sticker cover, a ring and even a Snarf pencil topper! Of course when the news broke of Thundercats at Burger King, my brother and I had to go and my Mom and Dad gave in a few times and we were able to get the light switch cover both times that made our Dad get mad at us when we used it on our rooms light switch.  He got over it. The crown jewel of these prizes was the Snarf topper figure who kids wanted so they could use when they played with the LJN figures. We never got one from the kids meal but one day at school on the playground at Beavertown Elementary I found one and took it home.  Yeah, it was the old finders keepers rule.

BK Light SwitchBK Kids MealSnarf topper

As I said Thundercats had a video game for the Commodore 64 made by Elite, and it played like a standard 8-Bit action side scrolling game, making one wonder why it never made it to the Nintendo Entertainment System. The game’s plot is about Mumm-Ra stealing the Eye of Thundera, the source of the Thundercats’ power and its up to Lion-O to battle through 14 levels of action to get it back. It’ a very cool and challenging game and is well worth tracking down if you like The Thundercats and retro gaming.

Thundercats video game 1Thundercats video game c64Thundercats video game 2

In 2011 Thundercats was brought back to the airwaves in a new series thanks to Warner Brothers and Cartoon Network, the series only lasted one season but for a total of 26 episodes. The style and look was changed and was not the same. I only seen some brief moments of this series and lost interest quickly.  I would rather have just popped in the classic series than watch this new one. Sometimes you just don’t need to remake things because while it could be good, it’s also just not the same. Below is the new looks for the new Thundercats.

New Thundercats

Before we dive into Star Comics 24 issue run based on the classic Thundercats, we should take a drink of eggnog or whatever other holiday drink you like, and take a look at some cosplay girls dressed as Cheetara.  If your a kid of the 80′s you know this is kind of hot in a weird way.  My favorite is the woman in the middle but sit back and enjoy.

cheetara cosplay 1cheetara cosplay 2cheetara cosplay 3

When Star Comics was going strong in 1985, they were looking for kid popular IPs and were nabbing up such things as Star Wars: Droids, Care Bears, Fraggle Rock and of course Thundercats! Star kept the series going until 1988 for a total of 24 issues, and it was one of the longest running series for them next to Heathcliff and Muppet Babies. Growing up I watched the cartoon, collected the toys and even read a few of these comics so with that on this very cold night, I am going to sit back with a blanket and some hot chocolate and I am going to travel to Third Earth and review these comics.  Oh yes Santa Claus wanted me to remind all you readers that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, its art and story. So with that while not a creature is stirring besides a Streets J. Cat (my cat I rescued from the streets of Dayton), I am ready to read Thundercats!

Thundercats 1

Thundercats # 1  ****
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #1 of 24

The Planet of Thundera is doomed and from space Jaga, along with fellow passengers Panthro, Cheetara, Tygra, Snarf, WilyKat, WilyKit and Lion-O, watch as their beloved planet explodes and is no more. Jaga takes the young Lion-O to an important part of the ship and shows him The Eye of Thundara, a stone that holds the power of their planet, as well as the Sword of Omen, a powerful sword that will house the eye and become the most powerful weapon in the world. While they all wait and learn of the things to come, they are attacked by Mutants lead by Slithe who wants The Eye of Thundara, and all their fellow ships are shot down leaving them the last survivors of their race.  As the Mutants enter the ship, the Thundercats spring into action, and young Lion-O swinging the Sword of Omen scares them off. The ship is damaged and the nearest planet they can land on is light years away so Jaga places them all into sleep pods and mans the ship and for this he dies in time for his friends to make it safely to their new home. As the ship crash-lands, the remaining Thundercats wake up from their sleep pods and Lion-O who went in as a young boy now has a grown up body yet still the mind of a young man! The Mutants followed them to the planet and after a quick fight they find an old castle crypt and make a pack with the evil old wizard inside named Mumm-Ra.

This is a perfect first issue based on a cartoon/toy line and is nothing more than a condensed version of the first episode of the cartoon. This issue is the origin story of the Thundercats and follows them from the death of their home planet to their landing on Third Earth. It also explains The Eye of Thundara and the importance of Lion-O who is to become the leader of what’s left of their race. It’s also great to see Lion-O as a young adult at the start and by the end of the issue, while still young in the mind, his body grows and he comes the hero we all know him to be. Jaga is the wise one who knows the history of their doomed planet and is the Obi Wan Kenobi to Lion-O’s Luke Skywalker as he can speak to him in spirit forum. The rest of the Thundercats in this issue are played up as more background characters. and you know that they will be more major players as the series goes on. This issue’s main bad guy is Slithe who leads the Reptilians as well as makes an alliance with Jackalman (leader of the Jackalmen) and Monkian (leader of the Simians) in order to steal the Eye of Thundera.  He is a strict leader who means business and will kill to get what he wants. Mumm-Ra in his old wizard look makes a brief cameo in the end to make an alliance with Slithe in order to rid the planet of the Thundercats. Now let’s get to Snarf who is the small cat like babysitter of Lion-O who whines and complains a lot and is that annoying sidekick character that plagued the cartoons of the 80′s.  While he is not terrible in this issue, the groundwork is being built that he will be very annoying in future issues. This issue is filled with action, drama and even a little comedy and this makes for one fun comic that is a great start to the series. The art is great and well done by Jim Mooney who is clearly Star Comics’ best artist of the time, and the cover is really bad ass and should have been made into a poster! So let’s see how issue 2 does as we go now to the follow up to this great A+ issue. 

Thundercats 2

Thundercats # 2   ***1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #2 of 24

A race of robot bears named The Berbils live on Third Earth and are the allies of The Thundercats and have helped them with food as well as building a giant base called The Cats Lair. While out “practicing” with the sword of omen, Lion-O disobeys Snarf and eats a wild berry that is poisonous and leaves Lion-O with a very high fever and at death’s door! Snarf goes to the old wreckage site to find Lion-O’s old stuffed animal and is kidnapped by Slithe and the other mutants who use him as bait to lure out the rest of the Thundercats into a trap! Lion-O pushes himself forward to come to the aid of his friends and by doing so helps break his fever and not only saves himself but his friends.

This second issue packs just as much of a punch as issue one and is filled with action, drama and a message, all the things one would want from a comic based on an 80′s cartoon. Lion-O almost dying helps add the feel of doom as the mutants are attacking his friends and you find yourself cheering for him to push himself to save them, but yet you are worried that the strain and stress could also lead to his death. Snarf comes off as a caring friend for Lion-O, and it’s clear that he is not just the young leaders guardian but also his dear friend. The Berbils are pretty cool and to make the connection to Star Wars again, they are just robot versions of the Ewoks. Mumm-Ra makes a small apperance once more and this time transformers into the warrior version of himself to punk out Slithe and company who are questioning him on his part of the alliance. I feel like the rest of the Thundercats again play background parts but yet they all seem important to the story arch. The cover is pretty well done and is very eye catching for fans of the cartoon and toys, and the artwork inside done by Jim Mooney is top notch stuff and looks like the work of an A list Marvel artist. So with a solid issue # 2 let’s see how issue # 3 holds up, shall we?

Thundercats 3

Thundercats # 3   ***
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #3 of 24

Lion-O is working on the roof of the Cat’s Lair and uses the Sword of Omen to call all the Thundercats to help.  When they get there and find that no danger is around and it’s just that Lion-O wanted help moving shingles, they all get mad about the misuse of the sword and leave him and Snarf to finish the job. Panthro takes the Thundertank to get more fuel for it as well as the base and comes across a human girl named Tessa who is being attacked by a horde of Rockmen who wish to do her harm. Panthro springs into action and saves her for the time being.  As the two rush off in the Thundertank, it runs out of gas just as he is able to use it to trap them in a cave and away from the swords and spears of the Rockmen. While in the cave Tessa tells him that she is from a race of warrior women and that she left her home due to uncontrollable powers she got from a spell in order to save her village from a magical giant bird that was sent by Mumm-Ra and how the power has not left her so for the safety of her people she left and was attacked by the Rockmen who, while story time is going on, are trying to still get inside the cave. Lion-O with the Eye of Thundara sees that Panthro needs help and rushes to his aid, not calling upon his fellow Thundercats and in his rush is trapped in living vines! Panthro has the woman use her powers to charge the Thundertank, and they escape and her powers are depleted letting her return home.  Lion-O escapes the vines and is shown by Jaga that its ok to call for help when it needed but something goes wrong the Jaga’s spirit is ripped away!

This is a showcase of Panthro, and it works well to highlight another member of the Thundercats besides Lion-O. Panthro comes off as a catman who has honor and risks his own life to save that of a woman he does not know.  Plus it shows that he has a sharp mind as he is able to save them both with ideas. Tessa is a good character who when unleashing her power against the magical bird shows how powerful she was.  It’s a shame she lost the power cause she could have been a major help to the Thundercats in their war against Mumm-Ra and the Mutants. Lion-O shows that he still does have the attitude of a child but is learning to be more adult like with his powers and responsibilities. The Rockmen seem like mindless brutes who want nothing more than to destroy things, and I think I see them teaming with Mumm-Ra in a later issue. The cover is pretty good but not as eye catching as the first two, but fans of Panthro I am sure love it. The art inside is once again done by Jim Mooney and is fantastic! The issue also had a ten cent price increase for those of you readers you pay attention to those details. With this issue ending with a cliffhanger of the Ghost Spirit of Jaga being ripped from the sky, I am pretty hyped to get on to issue 4 to find out why.  So let’s get to it. 

Thundercats 4

Thundercats # 4  ***
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #4 of 24

The Thundercats are all out looking for clues to why Jaga’s spirit is missing and all are worried about the reason why.  Even though Lion-O is the only one who can see him, they all still believe in his visions. They all go out to look for clues and each are captured by an unknown attacker who seems to know the ways of the Thundercats. Lion-O finds the spirit of Jaga who tells him that what had happened to him was just a change in the planets atmoshere and that he is well and with them once again, but when Lion-O leaves to tell the others the good news it’s clear this spirit is not of their friend!  Upon returning to The Cats Lair, Lion-O finds that his friends are missing and goes to try and find them only to come face to face with female one time Thundercat Lynxana The Hunter who has captured his friends for the mutants and was banished from Thundara by Lion-O’s own father some years back! The two clash only for them to be on the same page when the Spirit of Jaga shows himself to really be the mighty Mumm-Ra! After Mumm-Ra leaves them the pair of Thundercats decide to team up and rescue rest in order to ride the planet of the evil grip of Mumm-Ra.

This issue is filled with drama and action as Lion-O must face the fact that his guiding spirit Jaga is missing still and he was duped into making bad decisions and worse that his actions of having his friends look for clues leads to them all being captured and in the hands of The Mutants! Lion-O is clearly the star of the issue, and he is the brave one that goes toe to toe with whatever stands in his way to help his friends. Mumm-Ra is a tricky one as he uses his powers to trick Lion-O into trusting him and even makes him second guess the Eye of Thundara who tries and warns him of the trap that awaits ahead of him. Lynxana The Hunter is one butt kicking woman who is part Kraven The Hunter (Amazing Spider-Man) and part Boba Fett (Star Wars) in the way she handles herself.  Shes a very nice addition to the story line this far and helps add to the building aspect of the rescue that is about to happen in the next issue, because it makes you wonder can Lion-O trust her? Very good storyline that helps build the excitement of the next issue and this is truly this far what a kid comic based on a toy/cartoon line should be! The art is once more done by Jim Mooney and is top notch and the cover is a nice homage of The Uncanny X-Men #141 cover for Days of the Future Past. Well I for one can’t wait to see what happens in issue 5, so let’s get to it.  

Thundercats 5

Thundercats # 5  ***
Released in 1986    Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #5 of 24

Lynxana The Hunter has seen how evil Mumm-Ra is and makes a plan with Lion-O to rescue the rest of The Thundercats from the Mutants who plan on torturing and killing them all by Slithe orders. Lynxana takes Lion-O prisoner and marches him to the gates of the Mutant base.  She knocks out our hero and takes the Sword of Omens and delivers both of them to Slithe who now feels as if the war with the Thundercats is over. Later in the night Lynxana free’s Lion-O and steals back the Sword of Omen, and together they fight off the mutants and rescue all the Thundercats! As they all escape the Mutants’ hideout, Mumm-Ra appears and blows up the Mutant base and now wants a battle with the Thundercats! 

A very cool issue that builds upon whether you can trust Lynxana or not.  When she knocks out Lion-O and delivers the Sword of Omen/Eye of Thundara to Slithe, you start to wonder if she can be trusted and if she has just played Lion-O like a fiddle. Of course it turns out that you can trust her and she becomes a great ally in the rescue of the Thundercats. Lion-O is growing as a hero and leader and this issue shows how brave and loyal he is to his people and his friendships. Mumm-Ra takes a back seat as the main bad guy in this issue though he is such a mean ass as he blows up his allies base and wants to show off how powerful he is to anyone who can see his actions. Slithe is one dumb leader of the Mutants as he could have ended it all by killing Lion-O and not leaving the Sword of Omen in plan sight.  I guess cheesy cartoon kid show bad guys will never learn. The odds are against the Thundercats as they all band together to escape and this adds some fun action moments that have you cheering as they make their way out of danger’s way. Jim Mooney’s artwork once again is great, and the cover this time around is okay with the Lizard man Panthro is punching face being very weird looking. Well let’s see if Lynxana stays with them to help fight Mumm-Ra and how this battle will end in issue 6!

Thundercats 6

Thundercats # 6  ***
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #6 of 24

The Thundercats are shocked as it looks as if Slithe and all his mutants are all dead at the hands of Mumm-Ra who had blown up their base. Lion-O figures out that the destroying of the hideout was just an illusion done by Mumm-Ra and the Mutants come out and are ready for another battle.  But as the fight is taking place, the Giant Mumm-Ra shows up once more and attacks both sides declaring war with both sides who now must team up to stop the evil wizard from taken over Third Earth. Slithe and Lion-O make a treaty and join forces and head to Mumm-Ra’s pyramid and start attacking the Giant Mumm-Ra who seems unstoppable! During the attack Lion-O along with Lynxana and Cheetara use the Thunder Tank to drill into the pyramid and find that the source of Mumm-Ra’s new power lies in versions of himself from the other Earths and Jaga’s spirit that is trapped in a crystal.  After a fight with some stone soldiers, Loin-O busts the crystal and undoes the spells of Mumm-Ra leaving him weak. Slithe, who is about to attack the Thundercats now that the battle is over, is scared away by harsh words from Mumm-Ra.  The Thundercats are saddened when Lynxana turns down joining them for she needs to think about her life.

A team up that none of us readers saw coming, The Thundercats and The Mutants joining forces to save Third Earth from the mighty and more powerful Mumm-Ra who has gone even more mad with power. Lion-O once more plays the hero and with the help of Jaga, he brings the final blow that ends the battle and leaves Mumm-Ra weak from the battle. Slithe, while teaming with the Thundercats, did have it in his mind to turn on them once the fight is over, but when he hears that he and his band of goons are now on Mumm-Ra’s hit list, he and his men flee back to their hideout to make it stronger. Lynxana once more proves she was a great ally and sadly after they win, she leaves The Thindercats to get her head on straight and rethink her life.  I like this character and hope she comes back in future issues. I love the fact that Mumm-Ra’s new power was coming from not only the captured Jaga but as well as the Mumm-Ra’s of Earth 1 and Earth 2 who he held in his tomb! Very fun issue filled with lots of battles and some cool and interesting ideas and has the Multi Universe feel to it that DC Comics is in love with. The art is done by Mooney again but this time it seems a little rushed and not as detailed as the other issues, while good it’s just not as pretty. The cover is well done and eye catching and the Giant Mumm-Ra helps add to the “epic” feel of this issue. I am 6 issues in and this series has yet to lose steam, so here is to hoping this stays that way as we head into issue 7. 

Thundercats 7

Thundercats # 7  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #7 of 24

Third Earth is having a terrible storm heavy rain and red lightning is striking all around causing damage to the small village of the Berbils when Lion-O uses the Sword of Omen to knock the lightning away and causes it to hit the near by mountain. Lion-O is missing his home world and his spirits are down.  He feels like he does not belong on Third Earth. But when a glowing light is seen on top of the mountain where the red lightning hit, the Thundercats go to investigate.  Lion-O and Cheetara get separated after a land slide, and they find a portal that leads them to the past on back on Thundara as the rest are being attacked by Insect people lead by their queen Sectra. While Lion-O and Cheetara play the role of heroes to the primitive cave Thundercat people, the rest are in deep trouble as the insect army horde just keeps coming! In the end Lion-O and Cheetara return to Third Earth to save their friends, and Lion-O learns that home is with his friends…oh yeah and the red lightning and the insect people’s attack was all set up by Mumm-Ra!

This issue only slips a little and by no means is it a bad one.  It just is very average and seems almost like a throw away issue used to fill space in the series. Lion-O is a sad sack at the start of this issue and misses his home planet, and when he gets the chance to go to the past of his home world his spirits are lifted and he even finds love in a cave girl Thundercat.  But even in his happiness, he learns that home is where you’re loved and with your friends and family. Cheetara is also homesick but she also acts as the guardian of the young leader and even tries to smooth over his disruption with one of the Cave Thundercats who seems to not like the young heros fame among his people. Mumm-Ra is the pain in the butt who had set all this up from the insect people attacking to the portal to the past all in an attempt to once again rid Third Earth of Thundercats. Sectra The Queen of the Insect people and her army are the major threat of the issue, and they are very mean as at one point they want to pour lava on the Thundercats below.  But while mean and a threat, they were played like fools by Mumm-Ra who used them to battle his enemies. The art this time is done by Jose Delbo, and while good, it’s no Mooney and lacks the charm of his artwork.  The cover on this one is also a little cheesy yet fun. Let’s see if issue 8 can lift it back into three and four stars or drop it lower than two and a half.

Thundercats 8

Thundercats #  8  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #8 of 24

The Thundercats have built a reservoir to get fresh water to flow to the Cats Lair and decide to have a field day to enjoy themselves with sports events. But the day of fun turns into a huge argument amongst them all when WilyKat and WilyKit start fighting over tying during a race and sharing the prize. The fight leaves them all not speaking to each other, and this leads to both WilyKat and WilyKit being kidnapped by Slithe and the mutant, the reservoir being blown up and the Cats Lair being flooded and taken over by the Mutants. It takes the team work of the youngsters WilyKat and WilyKit to force the mutants out and allow the Thundercats back in.

This issue has a message that its best to work together and work out problems instead of brooding on them. WilyKat and WilyKit are the focus of the issue and their fighting and rivalry gets out of hand, but when it comes down to it they both step up to bat and help each other as well as their fellow team mates. Slithe is the main bad guy and sets up the attack on Cats Lair that actually works, once again though he and his band of mutants are out smarted and out classed. Mumm-Ra is MIA and doesn’t even have a small cameo. Over all this issue is 100% average, and there is not much to talk about for it. Art work is done by Jose Delbo and with the inks added I think it all looked a little odd and off.  The cover reminds me of that issue of Amazing Spider-Man (#33) were Spider-Man was holding back water from a cracked wall…here is to hoping issue 9 is better than 8.

Thundercats 9

Thundercats # 9  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #9 of 24

The Thundercats are building a wall to help protect the Cat Lair, and Lion-O and Panthro have been working at it all day in the heat.  Little do they know that they are being spied on by the Rockmen, and an accident leaves their Prince injured and to them Lion-O was to blame. The King of the Rockmen with a little mental push from Mumm-Ra sets up attacks on the Thundercats that leaves poor Snarf with a bad head injury, and this pushes for a full on battle between The Rockmen and The Thundercats! Snarf in a daze follows his friends into battle and meets the injured Rock Prince and the two figure out the whole fight is based on an accident and together they stop Lion-O and The Rock King from killing one another in a battle that was sure to end badly for one of them. In the end it appears as if peace has happened between the two sides and Mumm-Ra’s plan once again has failed him.

This issue gets back on track and is a pretty fun read and once more has a message packed into the pages: don’t over act on things before you get the full facts. Lion-O loses his cool in this issue and acts out of pure anger and rage and is letting vengeance cloud is judgement. Poor Snarf takes a nasty hit to his head and even with his major injury, he helps set the facts straight and stops the battle. I will say I like the fact that Snarf in the comic is not annoying and is used just right in the series and not over used. Making the Rockmen return was also cool to see showing that even these other races that live on Third Earth are not forgotten and pushed to the side like some of the other Star Comics we have read, the one that sticks out the most for doing this has to be Wally The Wizard. To sum it up this issue has drama, action and even slight humor and gets the series right back on the perfect kids comic track. So let’s not wait, let’s get to issue # 10! Oh yeah, Jose Delbo does the artwork and it looks pretty dang good as does the cover. 

Thundercats 10

Thundercats # 10  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #10 of 24

The Thundercats are on the hunt for meat as they are all a little sick of eating Snarf’s veggie stew. The hunt is going nowhere fast, but Panthro does not want to give up and breaks off from Lion-O and the rest who are all now heading back home.  Each hit a snag in their quest as Lion-O’s group runs into mutants who attack, and Panthro finds an old graveyard for an ancient race called the Si-Tare and upsets the spirit of the leader of the race named Ashtar who wants vengeance for what he thinks is disrespect from Panthro who entered their final resting place. As Lion-O and the rest escape the Mutants so does Panthro who flees from the angry spirit, and they all make it home to the Cats Lair

This issue once more is a spot light on Panthro who once more on his own stumbles into a bad situation.  This time instead of Rockmen, it’s the spirit of a pissed off king. Panthro in this issue as well really knows the odds are against him and runs away from the battle with the spirit causing even more drama as the spirit takes its revenge on his fellow Thundercats hoping this will cause a final fight with its attended target. At this point in the series its starting to become clear that Panthro does not mix well with other races/monsters of Third Earth and has caused many fights, even tho for the most part he does not intend for bad things to happen nor to piss them off. Lion-O once more gets a high fever and this makes one worried for this young heroe’s brain as it’s had some major illness dished out to it. Ashtar is sinister and while bad, one gets the feel that he does what he does for honor. This is a great issue and showcases Panthro again in just a way that makes you really start to bond with the character. While the momentum is this high, let’s get onto issue 11! 

Thundercats 11

Thundercats # 11  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #11 of 24

Small earthquakes are striking all around Cats Lair causing damage and injuries and almost leading to the drowning of WilyKit! The Thundercats figure out that it was not natures doing but that of molemen who have taken residence under that Cat Lair and this was their way of striking out at those who live above them. Lion-O leads them all underground and finds that the molemen are lead by Rix who is ordering his men to destroy the Thundercats! After a quick battle, a cave-in happens that separates Panthro, WilyKit, WalyKat and Snarf from the rest and they all find themselves prisoners, as Lion-O and the rest resurface and find that the Molemen’s past home has been taken over by an insect monster.  Lion-O figures out that the molemen are blaming them for this and decides that to get things back to normal they must team with the molemen and rid the land of this insect problem. After some heated words both sides come together and kill the monster, and a new friendship is in place.

Pretty fun issue that has Lion-O using his brain over his muscles and turning a bad situation into a new friendship and a way to help a race of people get their homes back. The rest of the Thundercats are around but none of theme really get to shine tho we do find out that WilyKat is scared of the dark and not being able to see.  We also get to find out that Cheetara loves her garden…yep. No Mumm-Ra or Mutants this issue, and Rix is the main “bad” guy who really is just a headstrong leader who thinks he was doing what was right for his people. Taking the Thundercats off the land and putting them underground was a nice touch as I felt that they were truly the underdogs…wait undercats in the battle and were out of their home turf leading to be that they could loose this fight. The Insect Monster was straight out of a horror movie as many tiny bugs come together to make one giant pissed off one, I love the fact at the end it’s set on fire and dies a painful and horrible death. The art work is once again done by Jose Delbo whose stuff just keeps getting better and better issue after issue and I am starting to really dig his style.  The cover on this one is just ok and nothing special. Over all another solid issue and fits nicely in the series this far.  Now let’s get to issue # 12 that marks the half way mark for Thundercats and let’s see if it can keep up the three star ratings. This also marks the point that the series had a price markup from .75 to $1.00. 

Thundercats 12

Thundercats # 12   ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #12 of 24

A small fishing village on Third Earth has been attacked and taken over by a band of Berserkers lead by the ax wielding Horak.  One female escapes capture and asks Lion-O for help to free her people and to run these mad man from their land. Lion-O agrees to help as Cheetara is annoyed and thinks the only reason they are going to battle is cause Lion-O thinks the young lady pretty.  When they get to the village, they see that the Berserkers are terrible people, but they also see that the villagers will not help themselves and with the odds against them, the Thundercats might just be over their heads on this one.  Will Lion-O be able to raise the spirits of his team?  Will he be able to get the villagers to also fight for their own freedom and will he be able to beat Horak in a one on one fight? Well of course he can on all these questions and along the way learns that it’s a good thing to stand up for those weaker than you.

Lion-O, once more being headstrong and not looking into facts, dives his team head first into a battle that they could have easily lost. And as always once it’s too late he looks back at his rush decision and second-guesses it. I do find the sexual tension between Lion-O and Cheetara interesting, and it’s very subtle and with Lion-O being younger, it’s less on his part and more on her’s as it’s clear she kind of has a thing for him. The villagers are odd ones as they do not lift a finger to help in the battle till the very end.  It’s almost like they are too lazy to fight for their own lives. Horak is one mean mother who carries a huge ax and is ready to fight and kill at the drop of a hat.  This is a guy Mumm-Ra needs to get on his side to help kill the Thundercats! It would have also been cool to see The Molemen or The Rockmen get involved in the fight as both have joined sides with the Thundercats and would have made great allies in the battle with the berserkers. Over all this is a great issue filled with action, a message and some great art by Jose Delbo, not to mention an eye catching cover! This is a solid issue and shows that this series at the half way make shows no signs of slowing down.  So with that let’s get to issue 13 and see if the # will be unlucky and get the series its first one star or less!

Thundercats 13

Thundercats # 13  **
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #13 of 24

Slithe has stolen a farmer’s herd of unicorns, and she rushes to the Thundercats to help get them back. The Thundercats rush to the Forest of Silence to get them back but instead they find traps set for them all and with this they become the prisoners of Mumm-Ra who had sent the mutants out to execute his plan. The only Thundercat left is Snarf who was helping some bats make nests and now has the gift to talk to the planet’s animals. When he finds out his friends have been kidnapped he goes to rescue them with the help of animals from the planet. In the end he frees them, Lion-O beats back Mumm-Ra and they all escape and return home to Cats Lair.

This issue seems like nothing more than a fill in and was very lack luster all around! The story has the Thundercats not taking Snarf serious as a fighter and in the end his skill of talking to the animals of the planet save them from doom at the hands of Mumm-Ra….so now Snarf is like Mark Singer, The Beastmaster! Not to mention now all of a sudden Mumm-Ra is afraid of his own reflection and is beat when he sees it in the Swords of Omen. Even the art of Jose Delbo is not as good in this issue making me think that 13 might be a curse for this series.  I don’t know what else to say besides this issue is a major disappointment and is bland.  So let’s waste no more time on it and get to issue 14 that I hope is better.

Thundercats 14

Thundercats # 14   **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #14 of 24

Safari Joe, a galaxy famous hunter, has landed on Third Earth and is on the hunt for Thundercats! One by one Joe uses the Thundercats’ own fears and weaknesses against them leaving only Lion-O and Snarf left as the rest are all placed in cages waiting for their own D-Day. Safari Joe comes to the Cats Lair and tries to bag himself a Lion-O but with the help of Snarf, the two defeat Safari Joe who turns out to be a coward when the odds are against him.  This leads to all the Thundercats being set free and Joe promising to stop hunting.

Another issue with a message, and this time around its about bullying and how most bullies are cowards and can’t take what they dish out. Lion-O once more uses his head and outsmarts Safari Joe and uses a simple bucket and a kick from Snarf to knock him down a peg and turn his spine into jelly. Snarf comes off again as a hero and is an up swing for the character making two issues in a row where he is a hero. Safari Joe and his robot sidekick Mule are great bad guy characters who use technology to hunt and by using his machines it also points out his preys powers and flaws making him very dangerous. Once more Mumm-Ra missed the boat and should have had him join his team of baddies trying to kill The Thundercats. The art work is pretty bad, this time done by Ernie Colon, and to me looks like sketehes and not a finished product, I am hoping they don’t let this guy take over from here because his stuff is weak. The cover is pretty good, nothing special, and sums up the issue pretty well itself. Over all no one likes bullies, and Lion-O and Snarf takes one down a peg making for a fun issue.  Now let’s see what issue 15 has in store for us.

Thundercats 15

Thundercats # 15   **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #15 of 24

Lion-O is once more homesick and is missing Thundara.  In his downtime he gets a visit from Jaga’s spirit who tells him of a crystal that holds all of their doomed home planets history that was lost during the wreckage! Lion-O makes it a top priority for them to find this, and they all head out to find this key to the past, each go their own ways and each run into the likes of The Unicorn Farmer Girl, The Rockmen, the massive Black Widow Shark and even the Molemen! In the end Lion-O finds the crystal in the arms of some cavemen who are using its power to grow food for their village.  A fight breaks out as Lion-O wants his history back but quickly gives in when he see’s that it will do more good to help feed hungry people than to live in the past. In the end all the Thundercats meet up and each feel better about the future they will all be sharing with each other.

This issue is all about looking to the future and not allowing the past to rule your life.  It also touches on putting your own selfish wants and needs to the side if your wants and needs can negatively affect others around you. Lion-O once more learns that with being the leader of the Thundercats comes the weight of others’ fates by his decisions and that they are more important than silly quests. Rix, the leader of the Molemen, is now called Mole Master and has turned bad as he is bullying his own people and The Rockmen once more go in for the attack throwing out the friendships the past issues has built up between the two races and the Thundercats. Over all this is a pure go and fetch issue and is a fun average read.  The artwork is done by Jose Delbo again and looks fantastic.  The cover is misleading.  While the Black Widow Shark is a pretty big part of the story, it also makes it look like a solo adventure for WilyKat and WilyKit that it is not. Average sadly seems to be the new norm for the series now and here is to hoping that some of these future issues capture the magic back of the past issues….wait, I must not have learned a thing from this issue, so it’s best that we move onto issue 16.

Thundercats 16

Thundercats # 16   **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #16 of 24

Mumm-Ra has yet another scheme in mind to stop and kill the Thundercats and it involves the newly hatched Spidera the Queen of the spiders who is hungry for flesh. Mumm-Ra transforms himself into a tiny fairy and goes to Lion-O for help and uses his magic to hypnotize the young leader into following him into the forest and to the lair of the Spider Queen.  Lucky for Lion-O ,Snarf follows and is able to wake him from his trance but not in time to stop him from being taken to Spidera’s web where the tiny Thundercat is used as bait for Lion-O who comes to his aid along with the other Thundercats.  Together they defeat Spidera and trap her back in the egg from which she hatched.

This seems like yet another throw away issue and has filler written all over it as large panels and very little story is used to tell the very basic plot. Lion-O seems younger and not as wise as he does in issues before this, and with Jim Mooney back on art, this makes me wonder is this issue was one that had been done for awhile and had sat around the office waiting for a time when some one was behind on the current issue so they could use this one to meet the pressing. All the Thundercats besides Lion-O and Snarf are wasted and not used, and Mumm-Ra himself mostly appears as a rainbow winged fairy and in no way comes off as a threat. Spidera is a mindless insect and when the battle gets thick is easily defeated. The reason I would say that this is an average issue that holds some fun moments is because it reminds me of early Conan The Barbarian stories and pits a hero against a giant spider. Not much to say about this issue besides feels and reads like filler and served its purpose, as I was at least entertained. 

Thundercats 17

Thundercats # 17  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #17 of 24

WilyKit and WalyKat are in the woods of Third Earth and try and help a man who is being robbed by Gargoyles who steal his daughter’s wedding gift that was left to her from her mother who had passed away.  Sadly they get away with the crime and take the gift to The Black Tower that is the hideout of Baron Karnor who is the king of these winged thieves. The Wily ones travel to the tower to get the gift back but while there WilyKat goes missing leaving WilyKit by herself, that is till Lion-O with the help of the Sword of Omens finds that his friends are in trouble and comes to their aid. Lion-O and WilyKit enter the tower and find that it’s filled with traps and dangers and finally they find WilyKat and get the gift back and find that Baron Karnor has been dead for years and the Gargoyles only do this because of magic! Lion-O calls the rest of the Thundercats and they destroy all the Gargoyles who were made out of stone and make it to the wedding on time to deliver the gift.

This is what I want from my Thundercats Star Comics, and with this issue they strike back being a A-List kids comic series with a good story and some great adventure. WilyKit takes the lead role in this issue and runs with it as she is the one who teaches WilyKat a lesson that it’s not nice to pull jokes on people.  She is the one who shows the pure heart as she wants to get back the stolen gift because she understands its meaning. WilyKat also has a bigger role and comes off as a jerk as pulling pranks seemed to be more important to him than helping a stranger in need as he plays dead after a brief scuffle. Lion-O of course plays a big part and flexes his muscles and leadership and helps the Wilys escape the tower. Great haunted house feel as well to the issue as the Tower is dark, scary and filled with traps making it feel right at place with a Vincent Price film, not to mention the Tower is also the main source of bad in the issue with the Gargoyles acting as its henchmen. Artwork done by Jose Delbo again looks amazing, and the cover once more is eye catching and well done. Here is to hoping that this is a sign that the series is back on the up swing and that it stays this solid for the remaining issues. So let’s get to issue 18 cause now I am back looking forward to the next issue. 

Thundercats 18

Thundercats # 18  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #18 of 24

Slithe and mutants have attacked Cheetara and while she’s knocked out, Mumm-Ra transforms himself into a Thundercat and calls himself Pumm-Ra and acts as her savior. He is welcomed into a friendship with the rest of Thundercats for his rescue and taken to Cats Lair where at night he breaks their defense systems and steals the Sword of Omen. The next morning as all the Thundercats minus Lion-O and Snarf go on a hike Pumm-Ra shows his hand and calls in Slithe and the Mutants who take over the Thundertank.  A brawl with Pumm-Ra gets the Sword of Omens back in the hands of Lion-O and together they run off the Mutants and get Pumm-Ra to show his true identity of being Mumm-Ra and they run him off as well.

The message of this issue is don’t trust strangers because they are more than likely an evil ancient wizard! Mumm-Ra as Pumm-Ra comes very close to finally beating the Thundercats but once more puts way too much faith in the mutants for assistance who are cowards and always flee when the tide turns in battles. Lion-O once more wants to rush into things and wants to make Pumm-Ra from the start a full member of the Thundercats and if not for Jaga’s ghost he very much so would have been one! Tygra for once gets to play the hero as he risks his own life to enter a vent that could be filled with fire at any moment to get inside Cats Lair after Pumm-Ra locks himself inside, and I will say I am really happy to see him finally get a heroic moment and I feel in the series he is the least used one. Ernie Colon returns to art and while still not the style I like, it’s better than the style he had in issue 14.  The cover is eye catching and has Pumm-Ra standing over the knocked out body of Cheetara, and I am sure got a few new readers at the time to give the series a chance. Over all this is a pretty good issue and is above average but by no means a true stand out issue. 

Thundercats 19

Thundercats # 19  ***
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #19 of 24

A Man-O-War JellyFish Cloud has entered the small village and has kidnapped the robot bear girl Ro-Ber-Belle right before the Thundercats eyes! As Lion-O and Snarf head one way, Cheetara rushes ahead all in hopes to save their friend. Along the way Lion-O witnesses Jackal steal the shoe off a unicorn, and Cheetara has some of her hair cut off by Slithe, all in some sort of odd way this all seems to be connected. With the help of the Sword of Omen, they find that they have taken Ro-Ber-Belle to the top of a mountain and they are doing a spell to free Mumm-Ra’s sister Ta-She from a prison that has her roam the worlds forever. Ta-She is powerful and holds the power of the Doomgaze that can make anyone do what she wants them to and to be free she must have Lion-O take her place in the prison! She uses the doomgaze on him and all looks lost until he is able to use all his power and break free and send out the call that has the rest of the Thundercats crashing the party and sending the Mutants running and Mumm-Ra and Ta-She defeated…in the end Ta-She returns to her prison as Ro-Ber-Belle is rescued.

For some reason this issue reminded me of the old board game CLUE and had me thinking Mumm-Ra with the Unicorn Shoe at Cats Lair! Mumm-Ra is the main bad guy again in this issue and once more losses with the help of the coward mutants.  You would think by now he would give up using those knuckleheads and would go and find himself some major help in his quest to kill the Thundercats. His sister Ta-She gets to do very little besides use the Doomgaze on Lion-O and to everyone’s shock it fails as his will was strong enough to break it with ease. Speaking of Lion-O, he once more shows why he was chosen to lead as his will and noble heart leads them to win and save their friend. I also once more picked up on some tension between he and Cheetara as he says in a round about way he was able to break the Doomgaze cause of thinking of her…yep, he wants her. This one was a lot of fun and I enjoyed every page and action packed moment, not to mention the artwork done by Mooney again is well done. Great issue and now let’s get onto # 20!!

Thundercats 20

Thundercats # 20  ***
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #20 of 24

Mumm-Ra looks to the past and finds the tale of King Author and his mighty sword Excalibur and decides to trick the Lady of the Lake and get the mighty sword and use it to beat the Thundercats’ mighty Sword of Omens. Making himself look like a knight Mumm-Ra gets Excalibur and comes to Cats Lair and challenges Lion-O to a duel that happens the next morning all in the name of honor. The duel is going back and forth, and both swords and their handlers are holding their own until finally the swords take to the air by themselves.  Excalibur wins by cutting the Eye of Thundara and making all the Thundercat loose their power! As Mumm-Ra brags of his win, the great Wizard Merlin appears and takes away Excalibur and returns the power of the Eye of Thundara to the Thundercats! In the end Merlin takes Lion-O to the Lady of the Lake, and he returns Excalibur to its watery resting place.

What a fun way to mix the legend of King Arthur with that of the Thundercats and to pit two of the worlds most powerful swords Excalibur and Sword of Omens against each other in such an epic way. Lion-O has the true warrior spirit and fights for the pride of his fellow Thundercats as their honor is questioned by a knighted stranger. Mumm-Ra for once has a great idea and if not for Merlin would have beat the Thundercats once and for all making this the closest he as been in 20 issues! The artwork is done by Colon and is some of his better work. At this point in the comic run it’s clear many of these stories in the issues are just adapted from the cartoon and its scripts, but at the end of this one they flex some muscle and claim from here on out they will be doing more original stories.  So let’s see how this goes shall we?

Thundercats 21

Thundercats # 21  **
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #21 of 24

Snarf is home alone at Cats Lair and finds that he has been left a baby to watch who is as strong as Hercules and as destructive as a tornado! While watching from the woods, Vulture Man thinks that Snarf has invented a formula that causes superhuman strength and with the blessing of Slithe he steals the baby and his bottle and brings it to their base only for the baby to run wild and break all that’s in its way! Snarf comes after the baby to rescue it but is meet by Slithe, Jackalman and Vulture Man who beg him to take him back! In the end the parents come and pick the baby up, and Snarf is worn out from his babysitting adventure.

They break into doing an original story and what they do is one generic and stale idea of having the un-wanting babysitter and the pain in the butt kid. Snarf is the main focus of the issue and all the “action” is done in slapstick and your very typical kid comic kind of way. While reading it I was like wow look it’s Vulture Man….wait, he being beaten up by a baby….look, Jackalman….wait, a baby just threw him into the water. It was very plain and kind of bland and so far I would say the worst issue in the series. Mooney returns for art and does a pretty good job even though there is not much to the story at all. This also marks the final issue for STAR comics as the remaining issues would be put out by Marvel, and it’s a shame that this generic issue marks the end for a company I love so much. I don’t wanna waste any more time with this vanilla issue, so let’s get to # 22. 

Thundercats 22

Thundercats # 22  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel   #22 of 24

Lion-O and the Thundercats are the guests of honor at the small fishing village, and as they go to have a fun filled day WilyKat and WilyKit are left behind to watch Cats Lair and are attacked by robot clones of themselves made by Vulture Man for Slithe. When Lion-O returns to the Cats Lair, he finds out that the Wily’s are being held ransom for diamonds and will be killed if those diamonds don’t make it to them on time! Lion-O, Cheetara and Panthro go and rescue the Wily’s and spend the day playing kickball with them to show how much they all love them.

Robot Wilykittens and a greedy Slithe make up this issu,e and this marks the first issue to be made by Marvel.  While good, once more it has that VERY average feel to it. Slithe is a evil man and means to kill his prisoners who are children all over diamonds that he can’t really spend anywhere! Vulture Man shows that while a lack,y he still has a big brain as he is the one who creates the robot clones. Lion-O once more shows he is a man of honor and risks his own safety to save his fellow Thundercats in need. Art done by Jose Delbo is good, while the cover is generic and bland.  This issue is just kind of around and was so average that I am looking forward to just moving on to the next issue, so that’s what I will do. 

Thundercats 23

Thundercats # 23  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00  Marvel  #23 of 24

Dr Dometone along with his giant robot frog named Hercules watches over a plug that helps keep Third Earths waters safe, but a bad man named Scrape has been sent to pull the plug that would cause doomsday for all that live on the planet. Lion-o and WilyKat and WilyKit go with Dometone to try and stop the destruction and finally with the help of the rest of the Thundercats, they are able to stop Scrape and protect the Plug from being tampered with.

This issue is filled with way too much slow drama and the action is very generic and bland.  While not 100% terrible, this is by no means a good issue. Lion-O, while the main hero, is wasted and given nothing to really do besides dress in a shark suit and swim around. The rest of the Thundercats take back seats and are barely used and are wasted on this lame story line. Scrape is no real threat and could be knocked out by a sneeze.  His only threat really is his eel ship. Dr Dometone is lame and talks way too much though I do love that his two giant frog robots are named Hercules and Samson. The art work is done by Dwayne Turner and has that classic late 80′s Marvel Charm.  In fact even the cheesy cover has that Marvel feel. Over all this issue is kind of bland and makes for a quick read. 

Thundercats 24

Thundercats # 24  ***
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel   #24 of 24

WilyKat and WilyKit are in the woods when they stumble on some pods that hatch and unleash evil clones of all the Thundercats that were created by Mumm-Ra! These clones’ main purpose is to help spark a war between two mountain tribes so that the evil Mumm-Ra can weaken them and then rule them! The clones keep WilyKat and WalyKit hostage and start their evil quest and succeed in getting both sides to prepare for war. But the Wilys get free and help the good Thundercats defeat the evil clones, and Lion-O with the Sword of Omen is able to get the feuding sides to calm down and talk of peace. 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is what this final issue reminded me of and in fact it had a very Sci-Fi meets Fantasy film feel to it. The Clones were darker versions of the Thundercats and each were turned up a notch to be very narcissistic and self serving. The Wileys were the main heros of the issue as they were the ones to help find the sinister plot, tell the right people of said sinister plot and were the ones who help the real Thundercats win. Lion-O once more is very noble and carries the weight of Third Earth on his shoulders as he tries so hard to keep it a peaceful planet. Mumm-Ra, while having a good idea to use clones to start a war, once more should have pushed harder and helped his evil army to succeed. The issue also had a feel of importance as at any moment a war was about to pop off and all sides would have lost many lives and each also were targeting the Thundercats. Marvel in my opinion did disrespect the series and let it end with this issue and did not give it a clear cut final issue like it deserved.  In fact I am going to say that Marvel as a whole disrespected Star Comics and did not fully support nor give them the time to grow as a power house in kids comics. The issue’s cover is cool looking, but not as epic as is should be, and the final issues art is done by Rodney Ramos and it looks okay. Over all this is a great issue and it makes me happy that at least the series ended on a high note!

Thundercats Comic Art

Thundercats by Star Comics had many great issue, and while it did have a few duds, this is by far my favorite series I have read this far by Star! I am sure you are all noticing that this update has been posted way after Christmas Eve, and I must say that I am sorry for that. I had a few roadblocks in getting this one up from computer issues and long days At work, normal holiday stuff and even had a terrible case of the flu! But I hope that you all had a wonderful Holiday season and that your 2014 is going well this far. But to get back on topic Thundercats was a big part of my childhood as with many kids of the 80′s, and I was glad to see Star give these characters comics that fans enjoyed. I will say I wish they had less issues that were just based on the cartoon episodes cause this took away the fun factor of this being your fix to the next cartoon cause when reading the ones based on episodes the element of surprise was gone. It was neat to see Marvel take up the series after they closed Star and ran it to see if it could hang with their long running Transformers and G.I. Joe series and if given the chance I think it could have. Well next update I am going to do something a little different and thats I am going to showcase a Horror Host that I love and talk about the impact they had on me, the memories of watching and even do a little episode guide of the ones I own on DVD! I am calling the updates Horror Host Icon and the first one we will be taking a look at is the one and only Commander USA, I am sure you long time readers are not shocked by this one. Till next time stay nerdy, and stay safe this cold winter! 

commander usas groovie movies logo

 

Walking In A Greasy McDonaldland

Welcome back!  I hope you all are having a fun and safe winter so far.  I used to love the winter when I was younger because there was always a chance of a snow day away from school, and if one did happen, that was a day spent playing Nintendo, reading a comic, watching a movie and playing toy wars! Of course this would also be a day of snow ball fights, that wonderful way to throw frozen ice balls at your friends face and pass it off as a fun time.  I remember having snow ball fights in Waynesville against my brother and friends like Mike Censsna, Bill Hamm, Brad Burns and so many more kids from the neighborhood.  This would also carry over to Kettering when I was working at Kroger as a teenager, and my pal Josh Weinberg and I would spend time throwing snowballs at each other while pulling carts. But one thing about winter always made me upset, the weather men who would predict snow and lots of it and poof, the next day not a flake had fallen.  Being a kid, I would stay up later the night before in my room reading comics or watching my little black and white TV and be grumpy the next day when I would find I would have to go to school. My brother Bryan and I use to always make fun of Carl Nichols, the weather man for Channel 2 who would predict “Winter Storms” and the next morning his reporting was wrong. But here is to winter and here is to all the fun memories that go along with this season, from building snowmen to sledding, this is a fun season to be a kid. Next update I will share a little more of my winter memories and fun times.

snow woods

Fast food restaurants were running wild in the 1980′s, and most of them were all trying to get the youth of America to choose their place to eat over the others and would use all types of things from kid meal prizes to cookies to get customers’ money. The thing the worked for me to choose a place to eat was the mascots and TV commercials that would show the adventures of these characters, acting as 30 second TV shows hyping the cheap food and fun idea of that place to eat. Most places had some sort of mascot. Burger King had The Burger King Kingdom with guys like Magical Burger King and Sir Shakes A Lot, and later they had the Burger King Kids Club. Wendy’s had Wendy, the cute red head with the pigtails; Captain D’s had Captain D’s, the sailor who loved history and seafood; Dominos Pizza had the Noid, a creepy little guy in a red costume and rabbit ears and so many more.  But the one that always stood out and was super popular for kids back in my time was Ronald McDonald and the rest of McDonald Land characters who were the mascots for the mega burger chain McDonald’s. Everyone in the world would say that when it comes to fast food burger joints, McDonald’s is king, and I for one grew up loving the place. Growing up in Waynesville, there were no fast food chains in downtown.  All we really had was The Hammel House, Dagwoods, Village Family Restaurant and The Dairy Corner, and all were very good and classic style small town restaurants. The Dairy Corner was a place my Mom would take us a lot, and I can remember always ordering a cheeseburger and fries and and enjoying sitting with my family and enjoying the food.  A few times over the years I would drive to Waynesville with girlfriends or friends, and we would eat at the Dairy Corner. Sadly it’s gone now and where once a fun ice cream shop that served food was alive, now sits a shell of a building. Why did it close up you ask.  Well one of the major reasons was the coming of McDonald’s, the first major fast food place to enter the small village of Waynesville and later came Subway. But while it’s gone, Dairy Corner will never be forgotten by this comic book reader.

Dairy Corner

In 1940 Richard and Maurice McDonald opened up a restaurant that was a BBQ place, but in 1948 they changed into a hamburger joint and started to use drive-thru service, paving the way of “Fast Food” along side White Castle. In 1955, Ray Kroc became a partner in the company and later bought out the brothers to become the owner of McDonald’s, and he turned it into the The King of Fast Food with changes in how the company ran and franchises it supported.  But the buyout was not a smooth one as Kroc and the brothers feuded over the business, and this went on for years. Kroc won the battle, and McDonalds expanded outside the United States and has restaurants all over the world. The restaurant is known for selling hamburgers, chicken nuggets, milkshakes, fish sandwiches and McRibs and has expanded its menu to cafe-style drinks, chicken wings and gourmet salads. McDonald’s also was a pioneer in kids meals when they introduced The Happy Meal in 1979 that had food placed in a box or bag that came with a toy.  Growing up, I loved to a Happy Meal and eat the tasty food and also collect toys based on the likes of The Muppet Babies, Barensteen Bears or Charlie Brown. McDonald’s is still the top fast food joint in the world and it continues to evolve and stay on top by doing so.

Mcdonalds logo

I don’t eat McDonald’s very often, but I still do enjoy it from time to time.  The charm of the place has been lost to me once they cut back on using Ronald McDonald and phased out the rest of the McDonald Land characters. But when I do go, I have a order that is a must for me and consists of the same items I have ordered for a very long time:  two cheeseburgers (sometimes a double cheese burger), a large french fries and a medium orange Hi-C.  The fries for me are the highlight of the meal, and I would say out of all the fast food places they have the best french fries followed by Burger King. I know some people will trash the food and spew out the same gargage that Morgan Spurlock did in his documentary Super Size Me, but if you don’t eat the food every day in extra-large portions, then you’ll be all right. I say if you’re out and are looking for a cheap burger, get yourself a Big Mac and enjoy it!

Mcdonalds CheeseburgerMcdonald FriesMcdonalds Orange Hi-C

In 2013 McDonald’s unleashed on the market their own take on chicken wings when they put out Mighty Wings! My girlfriend and I love chicken wings and have tried every major wing place in our area.  For me, the four best have to be Roosters, Wing Zone, Buffalo Wild Wings (BW3s) and Fricker’s.  So when McDonald’s said they were getting into the wing game, I knew I had to try them. I was working hard on editing a Baron Von Porkchop episode and needed to take a break for lunch.  So I called up my Mom, and we decided to go to McDonald’s to get a quick bite to eat.  In the drive thru I saw the advertisement for Mighty Wings and ordered a 5 pack. I ate them before I touched my fries or took a drink from the Hi-C, and I must say they were pretty good.  They had a nice spice level, and the meat, while a little fatty, was very juicy and flavorful. The downside to them is price at almost a dollar a wing, and the meduim size of each wing makes you really wonder just how much you overpaid. But if you like wings and are looking for a snack, a 5 pack of Mighty Wings might just hit the spot.

Mcdonalds Mighty Wings

Growing up I have many memories of McDonalds and many of them have to do with the whole McDonald land characters and merchandise. I can remember going to the local McDonald’s and pestering my Mom and Dad to get me a Happy Meal so that I could get the Baby Fozzie from the Muppet Babies on his rocking horse and they did! It always felt magical to open up the Happy Meal box with all the cool artwork around it and pulling out your food and seeing what prize you got this time. It’s a shame that nowadays they have switched meals to putting them in a paper bag and put less time pushing these meals. Another thing that always stuck in my mind was The Apple Pie Tree statue that was placed inside the stores and also outside in the playground area.  The giant grinning face also made you as a kid feel welcome. I can remember climbing all over the Tree with my brother and cousin Norman.  The Tree is burned into my memories and if I ever get a house in the country like I want, a McDonald’s Tree will for sure be in the backyard. Another memory has to be the birthday parties that McDonald’s would have.  I can remember going to one for my cousin Norman and having a fun time on the playground and being around my family. I remember the cake not being all that great but thinking it was cool to see all the McDonaldland characters on it, but to be honest I dislike cake and am not a fan of it at all. So there you have it, Ronald McDonald and his magic fast food are apart of my youth, and I am okay with that.

McDonalds Happy MealMcDonalds TreeMcDonalds Birthday Cake

McDonaldland pull back racers aka Fast Macs were a hit with me and my brother Bryan.  I can remember getting them and turning our kitchen in Waynesville into a drag strip as my brother and I would race them. He had gotten the Hamburgler in a slick red dragster built for speed and tricks, while I had Officer Big Mac in a bulky yet fast police car. We spent awhile racing them, and most the time they would crash into the kitchen table or get caught up on the walls.  I can remember losing a lot in the races, but I am sure that my brother bent the rules in his favor by saying things like “if I pop a wheelie, I win the race.” Later on we got Ronald McDonald in his yellow car of doom and Birdie in her pink race car. Over all these were great cheap toys that delivered a lot of fun for the Brassfield Brothers.

Fast Mac HamburglerFast Mac Officer Big Mac

Besides the Fast Macs and The Muppet Babies toys, I also remember liking the Changeables aka McRobots who were generic style Transformers that would change from food items into simple robots. I had a few of these growing up and would use them in toy war and even had them get crushed many times by Transformers and GoBots. The simpleness of these changing robots was their charm, and the fact that McDonalds jumped on the popular 80′s robot boom was a given. My favorite was the Big Mac one because my brother and cousins all use to say he was the leader of the others much like Optimus Prime and Leader One were in charge of their robot friends. The second best one was the milk shake one who in my mind was like the right hand man and the fighter of the group. The store I am the manager of has an Amazon store, and I have sold many of these McRobots to the masses! I am sure many of you readers have a smile on your face as you are now thinking back on these generic transforming robots.

McRobots

Not only were robots and fast food places big in the 80′s but so were collector glasses that restaurants, pop companies and even gas stations would sell and give out. Growing up I remember drinking Coke out of a Superman glass or strawberry milk from a Bugs Bunny one. Even as an adult as I am writing this I am drinking water from a Rocky The Squirrel glass put out by Pepsi. I know many of these glasses used lead paint so maybe that explains why I still love to read Star Comics. Some of the cool ones that were put out at this time were the 1977 McDonaldland character glasses.  You could choose from Ronald McDonald, Mayor McCheese, Officer Big Mac, Captain Crook and the others! Collector glasses are awesome and always helped add to a bland meal at home.  Sitting at the kitchen table and having to eat spinach chicken and peas was always a terrible time, but add in a Batman glass filled with Kool-Aid and the meal is still bad but a little easier to have to deal with. I have many of the McDonaldland glasses as well as many other character glasses and these are a super fun and cool way to make drinking fun. You can find these cool glasses on Ebay, Thrift Stores and Flea Markets.

Grimace GlassMayor McCheese GlassCaptain Crook Glass

Now that I have given you all a rundown on some of the cool stuff about McDonald’s we should now get to the main course of this mind meal and take a look at all the characters that made up the magical Mcdonaldland. Before we get into the main cast, let’s take a small look at three that did not make it to the land.

Speedee

Speedee

Speedee is a hamburger headed chief who was the mascot for McDonalds from 1948-1962. Speedee’s main purpose was to show how fast your food would get to you after you placed your order. Speedee sadly never caught on and was phased out and replaced by the 1st Ronald McDonald in 1962. While gone for many years now, Speedee will never be forgotten by fans and historians of the fast food burger place he promoted.

Original Ronald McDonald

Ronald McDonald # 1 

The original Ronald McDonald is nothing like the one we all know and love.  He was dubbed The Ham-Burger Happy Clown and wore a tray on his head, a magic tray belt that kept him supplied with hamburgers and a paper cup on his noise. This original Ronald was slightly creepy, and his voice was deeper and kind of menacing. He really loved to push hamburgers and tried to befriend kids to follow him back to McDonalds…wait, doen’t this kind of sound like Pennywise the Clown from the Stephen King Novel IT? Years later his look was changed and became the more iconic version of the character we all know and love. To me this first version was like the modern’s weird and crazy brother who later was locked up in the McDonaldland Asylum of Mental Health. I should note that Willard Scott played the original Ronald McDonald on TV in the D.C. area, who is known for being a weatherman on NBC, and this version started in 1962.

Mac Tonight

Mac Tonight

McDonald’s was going to start staying open late nights via the drive-thru and needed a way to let people know.  So enter the moon headed, sunglasses wearing, piano playing Ray Charles style Mac Tonight. Mac Tonight started in 1986 and was a smooth operator and gained a following with young and old and became a main stay of McDonald’s ads. Mac Tonight was so big that his image was used for over 20 commercials, was made into Happy Meal Toys and was used to great customers along side Ronald McDonald. But the moon headed man’s fun ended in 2007 when he got a CGI make over and started to be used less and less. While his image can still be seen on signs at McDonald’s, this jazz loving moon man’s popularity has dropped. Here’s hoping at some point he will rise to the charts of mascot history and be used properly once more.

So with this let’s get into the cast of characters that made up McDonaldLand! I will try and make these brief and just give you a little background of each iconic mascot.

ronald mcdonald

Ronald McDonald

Ronald McDonald is a fun loving clown who loves to bring joy and food to his friends thanks to McDonalds. Ronald is the ring leader of all the characters in McDonaldland and has many friends all over the world and even on other planets. Ronald is also very active and likes to go out a play sports and enjoy nature making him a very energetic. Ronald is always in a good mood and makes the mood of any room rise and turns frowns upside down. He is also the face of McDonald’s and is so popular his image has been made into toys, shirts, comics, video games, and he even had a cameo in the movie “MAC AND ME” . Ronald McDonald is more recognizable to children than JFK, Abe Lincoln, Magical Burger King and many more famous people and mascots from around the world. Ronald is the man and remains one of the most iconic characters of all time. 

Grimace

Grimace

1971 was the year kids were introduced to a giant purple character named Evil Grimace with four arms who loved soda and milkshakes and would steal them! In 1972/74 two arms disappeared, and Evil was dropped from his name and the lovable dimwitted Grimace became a well loved mascot for McDonald’s. Grimace acts as the comic relief of McDonaldland and is Ronald’s best friend. Even after turning good, Grimace still loved a good milkshake and soda as does his uncle known as O’Grimacey who loved the St. Patricks Day themed Shamrock Shake. Sadly Grimace was put into mascot retirement in 2011. Grimace in his prime had his image used for toys, cartoons, video games and even cookie cutters. Grimace is one of my favorite characters of McDonald’s. 

Birdie the Early Bird

Birdie The Early Bird

In 1980 an egg fell in McDonaldland. Ronald showed it love and it hatched to be Birdie a yellow female bird who is a terrible flyer and loves breakfast food! Birdie is much like Grimace and is very clumsy and is the first official female character mascot for McDonald’s. Over the years and many different forms of media Birdie has learned karate and even try to find aliens. Birdie has been used to sell toys, video games and dolls. Biride sadly was sent to the Mascot retirement home in 2011 alongside other characters from McDonald’s. 

hamburglar

The Hamburglar

In 1971, a pint size thief entered McDonaldland, and he had one thing on his mind: to steal hamburgers!  When first seen by viewers, he was older with a big nose and was called The Lone Jogger.  In the 1980′s he was transformed into a younger guy who while bad, became friends with all the other characters. Hamburglar spoke gibberish and his catch phrase was “Robble Robble” and was the second major villain to be introduced in the commercials. During the 80′s I always remember him being one of the most popular characters with kids wanting to collect his toys that were in Happy Meals. Sadly like Birdie and Grimace, he joined them in the mascot retirement home in 2011. 

mayor mccheese

Mayor McCheese

In 1971 Mayor McCheese was the silly cheeseburger headed Mayor of McDonaldLand, who tried so hard but was a little dimwitted and relied on the help of Ronald and the rest of the gang. The Mayor spoke with a giggly voice and was mostly a background character for the company. The Mayor was voted out of power in 2008 as McDonald’s sent him to the mascot retirement home. Mayor McCheese remains a popular character and has become a pop culture icon thanks to the internet and shows like Family Guy.

Big Mac

Officer Big Mac

Law and Order was brought to McDonladland in 1970 as Officer Big Mac was on the case to bust the likes of The Hamnurglar and Captain Crook! Officer Big Mac was a by the book character who was the main source of law in the land, also making him one of the good guys. Big Mac was phased out in the 1980′s and made a small appearance in 2008 before being sent to that sad place known as mascot retirement. While remembered, Officer Big Mac did not gain cult status like his fellow hamburger headed friend Mayor McCheese. 

Captain Crook

Captain Crook

Starting in 1970, the people of McDonaldland’s Filet-O-Fish were in big trouble as a pirate named Captain Crook took to the waterways and began stealing this sandwich, making him the first official bad guy of the land. Captain Crook was close friends to The Hamburglar and would translate his mumbles. Crook also spent a lot of time trying not to be captured by Officer Big Mac who always had his eyes on the beady eyed pirate.In the 1980′s  Captain Crook started to be phased out, and in 1999 he was sent to that retirement home for mascots. 

the professor

The Professor 

1971 was the year that a grey haired old man known simply as The Professor also made his mark in McDonaldland and was the inventor for the magical land. At first he was just a minor character, and later he became a major one that was given even a lightbulb hat. But like many other of his friends he was set to the retirement home for good in 2001 but not before being in a few cartoons and a video game. 

Happy Meal GangHamburger PatchMcNuggetsMcDonald's Characters

Happy Meal Gang/Hamburger Patch/McNugget Buddies/Fry Guys

The Happy Meal Gang was a group of talking food items such as a hamburger, fries and a cold drink who were all friends of Ronald and brought joy to customers. They were introduced in 1984 and were later joined in 1989 by the McNugget Buddies who later would replace the Happy Meal Gang altogether. In 1973 The Hamburger Patch was the main talking food and were hamburgers that grew on plants and were picked to be eaten by Ronald and customers.  They were phased out in the mid 80′s. The Fry Guys were odd colored short shaggy creatures who like to steal and eat french fries who were introduced in 1972.  They were so popular that they were used all the way till 2008. So many fun and odd talking food characters!

Cosmc

CosMc

In 1980-1985 Ronald McDonald and his gang of friends also befriended an alien from space who had many arms and wore a giant round space suit! He was a kind character who always wanted to trade McDonald’s food and wanted to share the great taste of the food with his people. CosMc was not a mainstay character and was used only a handful of times.  He did however make it into a video game and animated series based on the characters of the restaurant. I should also note he spoke like a surfer dude.

So there was a very quick rundown of some of the amazing McDonaldland characters.  I tried to make them all brief for if we broke them down too much, we would be here for another few pages of who epic and amazing they are! So now you know a little about them and your mind is recharged with memories of these characters making it time for the comic reviews that were free give aways and were called McDonaldLand Comics! I just want you all to remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true it stays to the source martial, and I would like to think Mile High Comics and Amazon for having these comics in stock.

McDonaldland Comics 101

McDonaldland Comics  # 101  **1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price FREE   McDonald Corp. Comics   #101 of 102

It’s America’s 200th birthday, and Mayor McCheese has gotten an invitation to be a guest at the country’s huge birthday party! The Mayor invites Ronald, Officer Big Mac, The Professor and Grimace to go along with him on a magical train, and they decide to leave Captain Crook and Hamburglar back in McDonaldland to watch after things. Crook and Hamburglar sneak aboard the train, and they all take a tour of the amazing sites of America. But along the way the Captain Crook falls from the flying train and could be lost as they arrive at the party! The second small story in the issue is about The Hamburglar who is giving up stealing hamburgers, but now is stealing things that begin with the letter H!

The first story is a silly adventure that is a way for Ronald McDonald to teach the readers American history.  So while you as a youngster read this, you were also learning! It’s odd how in this issue the bad guys of the land, Hamburglar and Captain Crook, are supposed to be the ones left behind to watch over things.  Now don’t they like to steal and cause panic…so why would they want to leave them behind? Plus Officer Big Mac seems to be a one trick pony in the issue and repeats about the railroad being too bumpy and about arresting people.  Ronald is clearly the ringleader of the group as his word is law, and at one point he is being questioned by a cop and escapes without showing his ID so he won’t be late for the party! The story is short and ends with a cliffhanger as they get to the party but Captain Crook has fallen from the train that is flying now, so did he die? The next issue I hope will explain this. The second back up story of Hamburglar stealing things that start with an H is just a cheesy joke as the rest of the comic is filled with puzzles and such. The artwork is great and has that classic 70′s kid comic look and each character looks like they should. The cover is also pretty cool, and I am sure in 1976 kids picked up this free issue like crazy! So over all this is a fun and average free restaurant comic that was worth a read. I am going to say that the best character in this first issue would have to be Ronald McDonald himself followed by Captain Crook.  So with this let’s move onto issue 2!

McDonaldland Comics 102

McDonaldland Comics  # 102  **1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price FREE   McDonald Corp. Comics   #102 of 102

The McDonaldland gang is gearing up for a silly version of the Olympics that include pogo stick jumps, and hamburger dashes! The gang that includes Ronald, Captain Crook, Hamburglar and Grimace are going up against The Fry Guys! But late the night before the event, a short man named Sneak-Snoop Snoggly of the Sneak-Snoop race who live in the hills comes to town and causes mischief and pranks on all the group! The pranks leave Mayor McCheese falling down a hole, Grimace squashing a giant tomato and Ronald’s pogo stick spring being so tight that he bounces up way to high and smacks into a bird! In the end they confront Snoggly who in turns falls of a high dive board and wins a medal that puts a smile on his face and all is well again in McDonaldland. The second mini story of this issue is about The Professor taking the gang around again on the flying train to see historic sites from around the USA and uses a machine that lets them see the past in the spots they are visiting.

The McDonaldland Olympic Games are filled with silly things that kids would have fun doing, pogo sticks and bouncing, sounds like Field Day events to me! This time around a trickster is causing issues in the fast food land and almost leads to Ronald’s and a bird’s death as they collide in the air and both are stunned. It’s clear that Captain Crook must have lived after his fall in issue one as he is in the Olympic Games, though they should have some how worked in how it all worked out. This main story as well only really highlights Ronald as the rest of them all take back seats, and this is to be expected as Ronald is the main mascot for the company. The second story seems a little lacking and is just more history lesson left over from the first issue.  While very informative, I wish they would have not repeated the American History lesson. The rest of the comic issue is filled with puzzles and such and I am sure had kids of the time entertained. Over all the first story is pretty fun though I wish had a little more to it.  The second story is just okay, making this issue another average issue but well worth the read, and the price it coast when it was released…FREE. 

One has to wonder why McDonaldland Comics only lasted two issues when Big Boy and Captain D’s both had comic series going at the time and years after even. One has to wonder if the cost of making the free comic just didn’t outweigh the payout of making kids have a collectors item based around their mascots. I for one would have loved to have gotten comics for free based on these characters in the 80′s and would have looked forward to getting an issue anytime we ate there. The comic series really focused on Ronald and that makes sense with the surprise two characters that seemed to get a lot of panel time being The Professor and Captain Crook. Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese and Officer Big Mac all had solid roles to play in the two issues, and Grimace was almost a second thought and offered very little to the story lines, and that’s a shame cause he would have been a perfect character for a kids comic. The art, as I stated before, is great and would have been right at home if Star Comics was going in 1976.  The covers were both very well done and eye catching and better than any other free restaurant comic cover. I wish that McDonald’s would bring back all these classic characters for this modern generation who are lacking the fun wonders of mascots.  I also wish they would bring back free comic books based on these characters, and I also wish they would stop being the target of parent groups and TV “chefs” who want to make a name for themselves by attacking the worlds largest burgar chain. Well the chill in the air is telling me it’s time to go, but before we do I must tell you readers that next update will be on Christmas Eve and will be all about Thundercats! So make sure to come back and give it a read! Till then, have a great holiday season, read a comic or two and eat a Big Mac.Thundercats Logo