Stone Protectors: Trolls Who Wanted That TMNT Money!

Can you believe that it’s already December and we are just weeks away from Christmas? This time of the year always gets me sentimental for the past and when Santa Claus coming down the chimney to bring me toys, comics, movies, music and video games was all that was on my mind and made for many sleepless nights leading up to the big day. I am sure many of you as youngsters used to toss and turn all night with your brain working overtime thinking about what wonders awaited you in your stocking as well as the presents that were just in the living room under the family Christmas Tree, but that dang pesky night time was keeping you away from your holiday wonder. Another thing that comes to mind is Christmas lights on houses.  My mom used to love to look at houses with lights on them, and my Dad would drive us around to look at them when I was a kid, mostly in our town of Waynesville and in Kettering. When I was dating Jennifer Perkins many years back, I can also remember driving around Waynesville and surrounding towns looking at lights as that was something she enjoyed. With it being so close to Christmas, I figured we would take a look at a comic series based on a toy and cartoon line that many people have forgotten about from the early 90’s – The Stone Protectors those cool Trolls with stones for power! So grab a glass of eggnog and you might as well grab a few cookies as we take a quick and fun journey into the world of Trolls!

Crazy Christmas Lights

Troll Dolls were a popular toy back in the 1960’s and 70’s.  They were created by Thomas Dam back in 1959 in Denmark.  After he made one for his daughter for Christmas, the other kids saw and wanted one, and a toy franchise was born. The naked and some time dressed up wild bright colored haired plastic dolls were popular all over Europe and America but mostly with young girls who spent time dressing them up and collecting them on shelves. The toy fad of trolls in the US was very popular from 1963-65, making them a must have toy for Christmas and birthdays. But while the Dam Trolls were high quality, a copyright screw up in the United States lead to other companies flooding the market with cheaper made products that filled toy stores and local 5 and dimes. In the late 80’s, Troll dolls started to make a comeback in America as a new batch of youngsters discovered them at garage sales and thrift stores. They came back out with the tagline “Adopt A Norfin Troll” and were official licensee products put out by E.F.S. Marking Associates. By the 90s, Trolls were being marketed to boys with such action figure lines like Stone Protectors, Hairy Heads a series of Mighty Max toys and Battle Trolls, and this sparked video games, comics, videos and a massive amounts of Trolls dressed in all type of outfits. Lots happened with the rights, from Dam getting his copyright restored in 1994 to DreamWorks releasing a musical animated movie about the Trolls this year. But I am sure you’re wondering what my connection to Trolls is.  I grew up owning them and my Grandma Salyers had many of them as did my neighbor Joanna. I can always remember laughing about their bare butts and trying my best to play with them alongside other action figure, but they never did quite fit in. In my late teen years I worked for Krogers as a bagger and I can remember that we used to sell them for a while in the floral department, but once they sold them out at a discount they were gone for good. One day my good friend Jason Gilmore and I found one in the back stock room very high up almost to the rafters and using a broom that we threw as a spear we knocked it down! Once in my hands I used a sharpie and white out and created a voodoo priest Troll doll complete with a skull face and tribal tattoos! One bagger loved it so much he bought it from Jason and I for $20.  We turned around and used the money to buy used VHS horror films and music CDs. Years later while working at Game Swap in Kettering, Max Ervin took an old Troll Doll and made it look like Kiss Guitarist Ace Frehley! Love them or hate them, Troll Dolls made an impact in the world of toys and at some point in time I would guess most of you readers at least owned one of them in your household.

Original Troll Dolls

In 1993, Ace Novelty decided that they were going to take a stab at making Trolls hip and cool for boys too and decided that they could do so by making them in scale with Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures as well as make them dress like ninjas and pro wrestlers and give them evil and nasty looking baddies to beat up on. In 1993, I was about 13 years old and all the kids I knew were very much into collecting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I only remember one kid every having a Stone Protector at school and it was just a toy line that never caught on with me and my friends. The series had a total of seven figures made with all five of the Stone Protectors being made: Chester, Angus, Clifford, Cornelius and Maxwell as well as two of the bad guys Zok and Zink, with each figures coming with weapons and accessories. They would later also do a line of figures called “Stone Protectors: Sports Heroes” and would have our heroes dressed in sports gear like basketball and baseball outfits. Over the years of going to flea markets and thrift stores, I have seen these little guys all over the place selling as low as .09 a figure! I have also seen them used at Game Swap in Kettering and in the cheap toy bin at Mavericks Cards and Comics. I must truly admit that I have zero connection to the Stone Protectors, and by 1993, the toys I was buying were the likes of Toy Biz X-Men, Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and was buy tons of comic books and was well into trying to impress girls in my own awkward monster kid kind of way. So how about you friends and readers, did you collect and play with Stone Protector action figures?

Stone Protectors toys 1Stone Protectors toys 2Stone Protectors toys 3

Like any good toy line, a cartoon was made to help and push them into the minds of the youth, and Stone Protectors tried to capture the viewers who were already watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Toxic Crusaders or even Swamp Thing but just like the toy line, it failed in its goal as only 13 episodes were made and not all of those 13 aired on TV. Each episode was 30 minutes long and was a syndicated toon that could be aired on the station who bought the package. The toon’s plot followed The Stone Protectors as they tried to protect the Mythrandir Kingdom and its princess Opal from the evil Zonk! The cartoon would also be released on VHS for home video watching, and I must say I have never watched an episode of this cartoon nor do I ever remember any of my friends talking about this show. So yeah, like the toys this cartoon was not a shining star in the time of my youth.

Stone Protectors Toon 1Stone Protectors Toon vhsStone Protectors Toon 2

SNES players were treated with a game based on Stone Protectors for their system of choice.  The Super Nintendo game came out in 1994 and is your standard beat’em up side scrolling game that has you trying to stop Zok from changing the fate of a world. The game was also planned for release for the Sega Genesis but was never released likely due to poor sales of the SNES version and the fact the Stone Protectors failed to capture the toy, comic and cartoon market. I for one have never played the Stone Protectors game and in fact never even remember seeing it on the shelf at the local video rental stores…man, it must have been hard to be the Stone Protectors game as all you wanted to do is entertain and instead all you really got to do is collect dust. Below are some screen shots of the SNES version of the game as well as its cover box.

Stone Protectors video game 1Stone Protectors video game SNESStone Protectors video game 2

Troll Dolls have always kind of been creepy, and they have the cold dead eyes just like the Hugga Bunch dolls.  When surfing the net, this picture popped up and acts as proof that these little naked, dead eyed, creepy smiling little dirt bags are up to no good! I saw this picture years back and laughed my butt off, as it was a clever way to show just how odd these little dolls really are in appearance. The look of terror in this woman’s eyes says it all as the Trolls have her tied up and for sure have wicked things on their plastic little brains. Not much is known on the fate of this woman and the Trolls in the picture are being seeked out for questioning by both the Cowboys of Moomasa and C.O.P.S, so if you have a gang of Trolls living in your house make sure that at night they are locked up as you don’t want to go missing like she did! But for real this picture is funny, and I had to add it in as I think you my readers might also get a laugh from it.

Hot Woman Slave of the Trolls

Before we move onto Harvey Comics 4 issues in the Stone Protectors series, I think I should deliver some nightmare fuel for you tonight, just by simply letting you know that out in this wonderful world we all share are some costumes that will chill your bones worse than any horror film and will forever scar your very soul as some company thought that the world needed full body Troll costumes! Imagine coming home late one night from work and your street is empty as you shut you car door you notice a shadow with hair that is wild and pulled straight up to the heavens and as you start to walk to your door you notice another and then another and as you fumble for your keys you feel something behind you only to come face to face with this costume….its dead eyes meet yours and for the first time in your life you feel total terror! Look below and feast your eyes on these terrifying costumes.

Trolls Costume 1Trolls Costume 2Trolls Costume 3

So there you have it, Troll Dolls can be fun and collectable as well as can be creepy and things of nightmares and mental torture! But we are now at the point in this Christmas Countdown update where we must take a look at the Harvey Comic series based on the Stone Protectors toy and cartoon line, and I want to thank both Game Swap in Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having these comics in stock. While you dye your hair and spike it just to get into the spirit of this update, I need to remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if your hair is ready, let’s go on an adventure with Cornelius and the rest of the Stone Protectors and see just what these guys are made of.

Stone Protectors 0

Stone Protectors  # 0  1/2
Released in 1993     Cover Price $0.00     Harvey Comics   # 0 of 3

On the planet Mythrandir an eruption causes havoc and frees the evil Zok and his henchman Zink to attack the Crystal Castle, and just in time Princess Opal is able to split the magic crystal into gemstones that come to earth and find a terrible rock band to become a powerful group of Trolls calling themselves now the Stone Protectors! While Princess Opal becomes the prisoner of Zok, the Stone Protectors get onto their tour bus called The Rolling Stone and are sucked into space where they arrive at the Crystal Kingdom and are attacked by a giant lava monster that traps them inside the bus ship and due to magic from Zok, they are frozen in place as his the monster. But the Stone Protectors are not going to be beat that easily.  They play some good old rock n roll music causing them to break free, save Princess Opal and escape. Zok is ticked off and wants the stones that are stuck in the bodies of these troll looking rock stars, as Princess Opal tells them that they are stuck with the gems and that they must be the champions of the Crystal Kingdom! In the end, The Stone Protectors are hyped that they are now not only a rock band but heroes.

This was hands down the worst comic I read this year, and I am not just saying comics I have read for Rotten Ink updates but over all, even ones I have read without writing about…in other words, this is terrible! The plot has a numbskull band being chosen by powerful gems from space to be their protectors and by choosing them, it also gives them powers and draws them into space where an evil goblin looking troll named Zok is taking over a kingdom that was once beautiful. They save the pretty princess and now are targeted and at war with Zok and his evil henchmen. The Stone Protectors are all the same, and none really have any personality besides they all talk like dumb surfer dudes and care about their hair. They fall ass backwards into saving the day and even with super powers thanks to the gems, they still come off as numbskulls. The Stone Protectors also look like Troll Dolls but dressed in over the top hip cloths, and they never reference the fact they look like trolls once the gems attach themselves. Princess Opal looks like a normal blonde who could have been lifted from She-Ra The Princess Of Power, but not nearly as cool. She also really has no personality besides the fact she cares about her kingdom and doesn’t like being called “Babe” as the annoying Stone Protectors call her almost the whole time the meet her. Zok and Zink are evil but not really shown how evil they are as all they really due is turn the castle ugly, and Zok creates a Lava Monster. One thing funny is that by the end, Zok all but flat out says that he will murder The Stone Protectors and rip the gems from their dead bodies…now that’s evil! The cover is not really good and not eye catching.  As for the interior art, it’s done by Bill Valley and looks as sloppy and amateurish as it comes! I have seen high school artists make better-looking comics. Over all this was a poor way to kick off a comic series and really is not making me looking forward to reading and writing about the rest of the issues in this short-lived comic series.

Stone Protectors 1

Stone Protectors  # 1  *
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50     Harvey Comics   # 1 of 3

The Stone Protectors are attacking a Zok stronghold in the Kingdom, and the battle is pretty one sides until Zink shows up.  The bad guys are able to kidnap Maxx and force the other Stone Protectors to retreat, leaving their bandmate and friend behind. And worse, they soon find out that a spy is filling in the bad guys on plans of attacks, and it’s Haret, the teenage daughter of a top rebel warrior named Lantar.  She is helping the good side lose in this gem war. But soon Haret learns that Zok has been lying to her, and she takes Cornelius to rescue Maxx and the friends fight for their life to escape the bad guys’ base. Once free, Haret confesses to Princess Opal, and she is forgiven and goes on the rescue mission that allows them to save her dad Lantar and all make it back safely where The Stone Protectors have a rock concert to entertain the troops.

This issue is only slightly better than issue 0, and I must say that the downside to this series so far, besides the terrible art, is the fact The Stone Protectors are just bland typical party dudes who are not likable. The plot of this issue is super simple and has a spy leaking information to Zok that leads to the capture of two key fighters for the good guys. Once the spy figures out that she is wrong, she helps the good guys rescue the prisoners and all ends well. The Stone Protectors are as annoying as ever with Cornelius being the most annoying, always talking about how good looking he is and going on and on about his hair. The Stone Protectors are such a poor man’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and have no real individuality to make them cool or likable for this comic reader. Princess Opal, who also for some reason is called Empress Opal, takes a back seat for the most part and only shows that she cares once more for her people and kingdom and is willing to fight herself to try and win it all back. Zok and Zink are around but really offer not to much in the way of action and for the most part, the bad guys of the issues are just henchmen who are easily beat. The cover is better this time around and has Cornelius jumping into action with his swords…and wait a minute, Cornelius is the leader of the Stone Protectors and Leonardo is the leader of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and they both use swords…man, the Stone Protectors are true rip off artists. The art inside once more is done by Billy Valley and is as sloppy as before and not to my liking at all. Over all this is another poorly plotted and drawn issue that is something I think I just want to wrap up, so let’s move on to the next issue.

Stone Protectors 2

Stone Protectors #  2  *1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50     Harvey Comics   # 2 of 3

The Stone Protectors are in the middle of battle once more with Zink and the evildoers, but during the fight Princess Opal is shot and is taken to safety were she is diagnosed to have a stage 5 coma, an injury that doctors say she will not recover from. Haret tells The Stone Protectors of a wise lizard man named Mystan who lives in a cave and might be able to help the Princess.  He tells them of a magic healing cloak on the dangerous planet of Turbulantia…and without a second thought The Stone Protectors head out on their quest to save the Princess. Our heroes crash land on the planet and are attacked by weird creatures that are wanting to fight just cause that’s all they know, and after the fight the Stone Protectors meet Giddy who tell them the cloak they seek is being worn by the planets evil king named Gollun who they track down beat up and take the cloak and bring not only Princess Opal back but also peace and beauty to the planet that was ruled by evil for thousands of years.

I am noticing something – this issue is slightly better than the last issue showing that the series, much like wine, was getting better with age. The plot of this issue is as simple as the issues that came before it and has Princess Opal in a coma and the Stone Protectors must take on an evil King to get his magic cloak in order to save their friend’s life. The Stone Protectors are less annoying in this issue and shockingly enough, act like heroes.  While they have cheesy things to say, it’s clear that when given a mission they focus and get it done. Princess Opal is a major part of the story even if 99% off the comic she is as stiff as a board and near death, while other heroes Lantar and his daughter Haret take backseats and only put in cameos. The series’ main bad guys Zok and Zink as well do very little in this issue besides the fact Zink is the one who shot Princess Opal and almost killed her. King Gollun is a pushover, and they take his cloak pretty easily and by doing so the evil King dies! That’s one thing I should point out: in this kids’ comic lots of henchmen and bad guys are killed most with grenades! The cover is pretty cool and reminds me of issue 7 of DC’s Crisis On Infinite Earths that has Superman holding the body of Supergirl with tears in his eyes. The art once more is done by Bill Valley, and while still very sloppy, it’s a tad better than it was in the past issues. Over all, this is another bland issue, and with this one out of the way it makes me happy that I only have one more to go!

Stone Protectors 3

Stone Protectors  # 3  *
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50     Harvey Comics   # 3 of 3

The Stone Protectors and Princess Opal are in a battle are pushing back Zok’s men, and this makes the evil ruler very upset.  He sets a new plan into action that consists of kidnapping the daughter of Yatzir, a powerful spiritual man who can bring to life monsters to fight for the safety of his people, and forces him to join his evil side to defeat the Stone Protectors once and for all. But good always beats evil, and The Stone Protectors save Yatzir’s daughter.  The wizard turns his power on the evil Zonk and once more the good guys get a victory, as Zonk suffers another defeat.

The final issue is super basic and has a paper thin plot showing that this series was in trouble as it was clear they had nothing to really add to the adventures of The Stone Protectors. The plot is simple and bland and has Zonk kidnapping a wizard’s daughter making him join his side in the war for the Crystal Kingdom, but the Stone Protectors save her and the wizard is able to turn his powers now to fight on the side of good. The Stone Protectors are just around, and by this point, as a reader I was just bored with them as in a total of four issues they never did really get personalities that made them likable or even made me care about them. Princes Opal is brave but pretty much has zero personality too, besides she hates being called babe and as I have stated before will fight for her people. Zok and Zink are evil but offer no major threat and both seem like normal henchmen, not the major evildoers they are supposed to be. Yatzir and his daughter have magic powers but like all characters in this series, they have no personality making them feel like throw away characters. It’s clear as day that this comic series was not a priority for Harvey Comics as no time or effort was made to make this cartoon and toy tie-in series good. And like most toy tie in comic series, this has no clear ending and for all we know, this battle for the Crystal Kingdom and the Gem Stones is still going on to this day. The cover for this final issue is back to being really bad and looks sloppy and half assed. The art inside is done by Bill Valley again and looks the same as it was last issue, so bad. Over all if I was a youngster reading these comic adventures of the Stone Protectors, a toy line I was buying, I would be very disappointed and this would not have brought any new fans to the toys as the comics were just really poorly done. Over all, I am really glad to be done with this comic series and check out below for an art sample of this series done by Bill Valley, and keep in mind this is the better panel I could find.

Stone Protectors art 1

After reading these comics this cold December night, I can really go for some Christmas cookies and eggnog as well as a stack of Spider-Man comics to wash the taste of these poorly told adventures of The Stone Protectors. I am also really glad that as a youngster I didn’t have a connection of the cartoon and toys as I would be very angry about the way the characters were treated by Harvey Comics for this small run series. But for those who grew up loving The Stone Protectors, I would love to know what you thought after reading these comics, did you enjoy them? But it’s almost Christmas time and for our next update I want to chat about a comic adaptation based on the classic 1980 science fiction film Flash Gordon by Whitman. So until then, stay warm, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time for a adventure in space!

Flash Gordon Movie Logo 0

Marvel At The Thanksgiving Might Of The Mighty Hercules

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that while you are reading this your home is filled with the smell of turkey, stuffing and all the other foods of this holiday. I am once more over at my parents’ house getting ready to chomp down on some turkey all the while chatting with my parents and watching football on the TV. This year has been a crazy one filled with great moments to be thankful for like the birth of Sparkle Comics and the continued success of Baron Von Porkchop as well some very rough moments like losing my cousin Norman D. 2016 has been a year filled with great moments with my girlfriend Juliet from going to Pittsburgh, to Horrorhound Weekend and everything in-between! So far Hollywood has delivered some fun films to watch in the theaters that I was able to see with friends. Video game companies have released some great games for me to play on my PS4 and even my NES with Homebrew and hacked games. Marvel, DC, Titan and IDW have put out some amazing comics for me to read from Sam Wilson Captain America to Tales From The Darkside. I am thankful for friends like Josh Weinberg, Henrique Couto, Todd The Fox, Queen V, Garrison Kane, Dusty Austin, Dan Harkless, David J. Getz, Geoff Burkman, Chris Seaver, Louis Justin, Spencer Lucas and so many more for giving me great friendship and moments that impact my life everyday. I am thankful for my friends from the Sparkle Comic family like Jason Young, Jeremy Hoyt, Jeff Potter, Wheeler Hall, Damien Brunk, Natalie Claude, Jason Gilmore, Scott Scarborough, Tom Amrhein and Joe Grunenwald who are all so talented at what they do and are making a Dayton, Ohio based comic company come to life…it truly is comics made by friends for fans. I can’t forget my Horror Host family as people like A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Halloween Jack, Fritz The Nite Owl, Dale Kay, Janet Decay, Dr. Pureblood, Baron Von Wolfstein and Riggor Mortiss who are all amazing people with amazing shows that offer such great friendships and programs that are inspiring. I am very thankful for my cousin Stephen Alexander who makes Baron Von Porkchop come alive as well as he is one of my near and dearest friends. I am thankful you all, the readers of Rotten Ink who make this blog even more fun for me to write! And of course I am thankful for my family as they are truly the people in my life that keep me sane! Man, so much to be thankful for, so before we take a look at Hercules as done by Marvel Comics let’s go grab a plate of food and stuff our bellies as we travel to the world of Greek mythology once more.  This time around we’ll see what the world’s top comic company does with the son of Zeus. I should also note that this update will be a quick one as Hercules from the Marvel Universe demands that I spend more time eating mashed potatoes and turkey, and less time writing about him!

Thanksgiving Day Feast With The Trimings

The 1960’s saw Hercules being pulled from his time of Ancient Greece by Immortus to fight Thor or was it? That version of Hercules was really just a space phantom, and the real Hercules would meet Thor in his next Marvel Comic appearance. Hercules would defeat Thor in battle when Odin punished his son for falling in love with a mortal Earth woman named Jane Foster. But the two would turn into friends and would join each other in battle with Thor even rescuing Hercules from Hades when his uncle Pluto tricked him into becoming the ruler of the land of the dead.  Hercules would also go on to have brief fights with Hulk, The Avengers, Sub-Mariner and Dragon Man to name a few. After being banned from Olympus by his father Zeus for coming to Earth without his permission, he would go on to join The Avengers and seal himself being a true iconic modern day superhero helping them on many missions. Hercules also join such teams as Heroes For Hire, Damage Control, The Defenders and The Champions.  In all of these groups, he not only lent his Godly strength but also his mind for war and battle, making him a major and important member of each of the teams he has joined. During his Marvel Universe Hercules journey has also battled Ares, High Evolutionary, Mister Hyde, Mongoose and Doctor Doom to name a few. He also took over for The Incredible Hulk during the events of Planet Hulk, and after Hulk returned for the story line World War Hulk, Hercules teamed with Amadeus Cho for a while. And during Civil War, Hercules took the side of Captain America as he calls the Superhuman Registration Act supporters “Traitors”! During the Secret Invasion storyline Hercules lead a team called God Squad whose members included Snowbird and Demogorge to fight the Skull. These adventures are just a drop in the hat of the adventures Hercules has had in the Marvel Universe. Hercules is super strong and is skilled in boxing, pankration, archery and Greco-Roman wrestling and as well has a healing factor. His first appearance was in Journey Into Mystery Annual # 1, and Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created this Marvel Comic version of the Greek hero who is still being used by Marvel this day. As a young comic reader I used to buy Thor comics off the newsstand, and when Hercules was guest starring, I can always remember looking at those as a treat. While not even in my top 20 favorite Marvel Comic characters, Hercules is still one I enjoy reading about, once more proving that the classic heroes of time never fully go away, they just get modernized for a newer generation.

Marvel Hercules 1Marvel Hercules 2Marvel Hercules 3

Marvel’s Hercules has had his share of merchandise that includes besides the comics, action figures in the Marvel Legends line and more, statues and busts done by such companies as Bowen, many board game and table-top game pieces like Heroclix and has appeared on posters as well as many video games. Hercules is just one of those characters that lends himself into being made into merchandise and also was a perfect fit for comic books. Over the years I have played HeroClix off and on with friends and have used the Hercules piece before in battles.  While a solid figure who can deal out damage, he falls a little short if the luck of the role is not on your side. So if you’re a fan of Marvel’s Hercules make sure to check out many of the items I mentioned above as they can add great options to your collection.

Marvel Hercules bustMarvel Hercules action figureMarvel Hercules heroclix

So there you have it, a quick look at the history of Hercules in the Marvel Universe as well as a peek at the cool merchandise based on him.  I don’t know about you, but I am ready to take a look at this 4 issue mini series that I should thank Mavericks for having in stock those many years back that I bought them. But before we travel to Greece and see what Herc is up to, I should also remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that I think we are ready to climb Mount Olympus and see just what mischief Hercules will get into, and if memory serves me correctly, this series is lots of fun and I am looking forward to re-reading it. So it’s Adventure Time!!!

Hercules 1 Marvel

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 1  ***
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60     Marvel     # 1 of 4

Hercules climbs to the top of Mount Olympus after years of being away and finds the day of his return is not filled with a feast but is to be spent in quiet in honor of his father Zeus. Hercules is bored and decides to horse around in his room with the wine maids and causes great noises that anger Zeus who in turn bans Hercules from Olympus and sends him into space until he learns a lesson.  With Apollo’s Chariot he enters The Andromeda Galaxy where he meets and spends the night with aliens of the Rigellians race, who record data for study.  They send a Recorder Droid with Hercules who continues his quest in space! Hercules lands at a planet that has a massive casino, and he and Recorder spend time drinking.  Hercules spends time telling stories to the waitresses to impress them, but he soon has the whole bar against him when he attacks with no cause a massive muscle alien who is actually a gentle giant! As Hercules and Recorder leave with their heads down, a spacecraft wrecks outside and Hercules saves the passengers as well as the town as he flings the fuel tank into the sky before it explodes.  Once more he becomes a hero and learns a valuable lesson of forgiveness.

Take Greek mythology and mix it with the adventures of Han Solo of Star Wars fame, and this is what you’re in for reading this fun adventure comic.  The plot is simple and very much inspired by many films based on Hercules as his reckless and self-indulgent attitude angers his father Zeus who bans him from Mount Olympus until he learns a lesson, but the twist this time around is he is not sent to Earth but instead to outer space where he quickly makes friends and has a robot sidekick named Recorder who will follow his adventures. Hercules is very cocky, and it’s clear his whole world revolves around himself and he expects everyone to roll out the red carpet when he comes around.  Most of the time, he thinks with his muscles and not his brain and thinks that fighting is the way to get respect from strangers. But he also knows what he must do when lives are in danger as he was willing to risk his own life to save those of aliens. But while Hercules is self centered, he still is a very likeble character as he is a brat but he doesn’t know he is a brat. Recorder is bland and around just to learn, but you can tell this android has a personality that will shine through by the end of this mini series. Zeus is just not having his son’s brash attitude anymore and wants to prove a point that his word is law on Olympus, and he is a character the demands and earns his respect. So far we have no major bad guys as this issue clearly is just the build up on how to get Hercules from Olympus to space. The cover is amazing and very eye catching, with the inside art being done by Bob Layton (who also wrote it) that is truly that classic 70’s and early 80’s magic! So let’s see what’s next for Hercules and see what he learns on what is his new quests.

Hercules 2 Marvel

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 2  ***
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60     Marvel     # 2 of 4

Hercules and Recorder lose a drag race in space, and this causes the pair to have to come up with money to pay off their debt.  This also leaves Apollo’s Carriage in the hands of the aliens who won, and the horses are not too pleased when the pair try to tamper with the gold carriage. Hercules goes on a rescue mission to rescue the kidnapped Layana Sweetwater, who is the daughter of a powerful galaxy politician. During the rescue Hercules beats up the space pirates and Recorder get his hand blown off, but they succeeds at the rescue, only to find out there is no reward money! Hercules and Layana fall in love, and while having a private time in their rented room, Recorder is arrested as they think he is a peeping tom robot! Hercules, after lying about why he and Layana can’t stay together forever, soon finds out that she ran away from home as her promised husband, who is a lizard man by the name of Count Igwanus who is “evil”, busts in and is not pleased to see his soon to be bride in bed with another man! Hercules takes the fight to Igwanus and his men but soon finds out that he has been played for fool as Layana lied about Igwanus, who in fact is a noble lizard man she was in love with and to marry the day she was kidnapped! After the matter is settled, and Igwanus takes Layana home.  He also pays Hercules the reward money, and he pays off his debt to the racers who are in the hospital now because of Apollo’s horses and Recorder is bailed out from jail.

The second issue of this mini series is just as charming as the first and once more follows Hercules and his adventure into space…wait, they should have called this “Hercules & Recorder’s Excellent Space Adventure”! The plot of this issue has Hercules and Recorder saving a young woman from pirates only to find that the money promised for her safe keeping was a fraud as are the lies Hercules and the rescued woman tell each other. Hercules is as cocky as ever but also noble as he wants to pay off his debts to a pair of space racers he lost to.  He’s also a liar as he beds a young blonde woman he rescues and then in order to get her from not falling in love with him lies about a lost love of his past. I will say that Hercules also seems to learn a lesson in this issue as he finds out lies have fall out and that when wrong, you must try to make things right. Recorder is not just a robot that is recording all what Hercules does but is also a hero as he steps up in the rescue effort and even loses his hand in the fight. The Horses of Apollo’s Chariot are very protective and it’s shown they will turn into fire eyed wild stallions if crossed that will put you in the hospital. Layana Sweetwater is a cute young blonde who was kidnapped and tells lies in order to try and get Hercules to let her stay with him.  By the end, she seems to not have learned a thing. Count Igwanus is just a Lizard Man in love who is confused when Hercules attacks him and his men, but he soon finds out that his soon to be bride lied to the Son of Zeus and even after all the fighting he still loves and wants to marry Layana. This issue was lots of fun and also has Hercules change his costume from his famous green and orange to a slick black and red one! Comedy, action, adventure and science fiction all come together so well in this issue, and for sure this was one hell of a fun read on this holiday! The cover is great once again, and the art inside is done by Bob Layton who also handled the story again. So far I would say Marvel is doing the Hercules character right, and I am having a blast with this one on this Thanksgiving Day! Let’s see what old Hercules and Recorder get into next, shall we?

Hercules 3 Marvel

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 3  ***
Released in 1982    Cover Price .60     Marvel     # 3 of 4

Hercules and Recorder are under attack from a fleet of spacecraft ,and after trying to reason with them, Hercules gets mad and leaps into space from his chariot and takes over the aliens ship and lands it back at their base to inform them they mean no harm and only want to travel to a planet they heard had great wine.  While Hercules is trying to explain this, he meets Commander Malin who informs him that the reason he was under attack by his men was because he was flying in a restricted area as planets from this part of space have gone missing over the years and they have been put in charge to make sure no more go missing.  As Hercules and Recorder become guests of the massive war ship, they soon find that they are all under attack.  All of the fighters for the protection of the planets are destroyed, and it’s up to Hercules to stop this invading menaces.  He soon finds himself bound to the wall, the prisoner of a race of insect like aliens who worship a god they claim they must sacrifice planets to! Poor Recorder has his legs blown off, and Hercules powers up and breaks free and saves the target planet.  He and Recorder escape just in time as the aliens commit suicide after they think they failed their god. Commander Malin is pleased with the Lion of Olympus, Hercules and has Recorder’s legs replaced.  They all think things have ended well….that is till we find out that the god they worshipped was none other that the world eater Galactus!

This issue is all about planets going missing and Hercules having to step up and face odds that are against him and his robot friend.  Aliens from a planet long gone think that they must give other worlds to the one who ended theirs in order to please him for letting them live.  The one cool thing about this issue is that the good aliens are from different parts of the galaxy that must work together as a galactic Air Force in order to keep worlds safe from an unknown source of destruction.  It reminded me of the film “The Last Starfighter” as it also had aliens from all over teaming up to save worlds from danger. Hercules in this issue is brave and puts others before himself as he knows that he must stop the insect aliens from stealing planets to appease their god. In fact he goes into a brutal rage by the end and knocks the snot out of many of the bad guys and then uses a metal rod to blow up their device that sends the planets to Galactus! But what Hercules also does by saving that one planet is kill off two huge ships filled with insect aliens who kill themselves for failing and as well has pissed off the powerful Galactus, who now is on the warpath! Recorder can’t catch a break as he gets his legs blown off and must get odd shaped new ones as replacements. Commander Malin and his men are brave and noble but are also outmanned and outgunned, but they still go down with a fight. The insect aliens are cold blooded killers but do what they do in order save many planets.  They look at it this way, give one planet to save many, and when they fail to deliver this time around, they would rather die than face the wrath of Galactus. Speaking of Galactus, he only appears at the end of the issue, and man is he mad! The things I enjoyed about this issue is that it’s like they tossed elements of Greek mythology, Aerial Combat, The Last Starfighter and classic Marvel Comics into a blender and this space opera action drama is what was created. Bob Layton is on art and story again and does fantastic as he has done with the past two issues, and this time around the cover is good as the crazed madman look in Hercules’ eyes says a thousand words – all of them are cuss words and threats of bodily harm! Well let’s see what the fourth and final issue in this series has to offer on this glorious turkey day holiday update.

Hercules 4 Marvel

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 4  **1/2
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60     Marvel     # 4 of 4

Hercules and Recorder are now on the planet they just saved and a massive feast with tons of wine, beer and brew is being served in his honor.  He even receives the most powerful of all alcoholic drinks in the world as the alien’s gratitude. Galactus is mad that his followers have failed and sends his new female herald Nova, who prepares the planet to be drained of its life by her master.  But Hercules finds out about the approaching doom and he decides that this planet is under his protection and will act as its savior once more. Hercules sweeps Nova off her feet and after he beds her, he takes Apollo’s Chariot and Recorder to Galactus’ ship and attempts to stop the world eater.  He soon finds even his mighty power and strength is not match for Galactus, who after beating the Son of Zeus still is on plan to drain and eat the energy of the planet. Hercules takes a few moments to think of a plan and decides to slip the whole bottle of the most powerful alcohol into Galactus’s drink.  This of course does not work but makes the world eater laugh and decide to leave the planet alone.  As Recorder returns to the Rigellians for repairs as well as with a memory filled with stories, Hercules returns to the alien planet and goes on a date with Nova who is now taking some time off.

This final issue is lots of fun, but also seems a little rushed and is not the note I would have like to see Hercules and Recorders’ space adventure end as they separate from each other and Herc just goes on a date with Nova. The plot has Galactus wanting to eat a world, and Hercules who is being treated like a king (or is that a god?) is enjoying the huge party on the planet and sets his sights on stopping Galactus from eating away his world that’s filled with good wine and drink. I love the idea that Hercules is so ego driven that he thinks he can stand toe to toe with Galactus and even tries his best to punch out the mighty icon of Marvel who dines on worlds and has zero feelings. Hercules, while still very much a muscle bound meat head, learns in this issue once more that he can use his mind and win a fight over using his fists, and that others in the universe are as well important as just himself and his fellow Greek gods. He also once more shows that he has the charm as he beds Nova, a female who is on fire and is the herald of Galactus. Recorder is beat up and has tons of replacement parts, but you can tell he has built up a friendship with Hercules and is very bummed when the Rigellians come to reclaim him for his information and to stop the use of their credit that the pair had ran up. Nova at first comes in like a Horseman of the Apocalypse ready to spread gloom and doom, but by the end acts more like a love struck high school girl. Galactus is as wise as he is hungry and is amused by the tricks and bravery of Hercules and decides to spare the world and allow his herald time off to amuse his new Greek hero friend. As I said before, what I didn’t like is that the team up adventure and friendship of Hercules and Recorder come to an end here and while they battle one of the Marvel Universe’s most dangerous characters, it’s hardly a battle and more like a scuffle that ends with drinks afterwards. The cover for this issue is okay and has Galactus looking as if he is melting Hercules with beams from his eyes. The art and story inside is once more done by Bob Layton and is great stuff, and really makes me wish that the series lasted a little longer. So with this being Thanksgiving and all, I would like to wrap this up by saying this was a solid and great adventure starring Hercules and shows that Marvel knows how to comic book the Greek hero right. Check out some artwork below to see how epic this comic series is!

hercules prince of power art 1

So now that we have returned from space on Apollo’s Chariot and from yet another Thanksgiving adventure with Hercules, I would like to wish you all once more a safe and fun holiday season and hope that this update helped brighten your day even a little bit. I want to also note that in the future i will cover the next Marvel Hercules mini-series based on his adventures in space. Our next update starts our countdown to the big Christmas Eve update and will be about those warrior trolls known as the Stone Protectors who I am sure made at least a handful of Christmas’s brighter when youngsters got the toys, VHS tapes or comics for gifts. So until, then eat a little more turkey, read a comic or three and spend some time with your loved ones! See you next update.

Stone Protectors Logo 0

Horror Host Icon: Dr. Morbius

In Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Channel 9 fans of late night horror films tuned into Saturday Nightmare and was treated to the antics of a goofy bolding vampire named Dr. Morbius and his show not only entertained but also inspired those who were the Monster Kids of the 80’s. One thing about the world of Horror Hosting is that it’s filled with many Doctors, Barons, and werewolves and of course Vampires! Dr. Morbius fits in both the vampire and doctor categories and is also a Horror Host that I don’t think gets the respect he deserves, so for this second update to the countdown to Thanksgiving I am very proud to present Horror Host Icon Dr. Morbius! Now I need to also say that this was a very hard Icon update to do cause sadly not much information is out their about Dr. Morbius and some that is out in the world conflicts with each other so what I have done is try my best to research him not only on the web but also talked to fans who grew up watching him during his run. So sit back and enjoy this wild zany ride of the bolding vampire Dr. Morbius.

Dr. Morbius 1

Saturday Nightmare started out hostless in early 1986 and KCRG Channel 9 decided that when they launched the show they would also hold additions for a permit host and held auditions on August 26 1986 that had hopeful ghouls, ghosts and witches come out of the wood work to be considered for the host gig, this included Slime the Hosting hopeful we interviewed back on the Marvel Lifeform update. The audition tapes would air during a broadcast and by vote from fans the new host would be selected and while Slime might not have gotten the votes, Dr. Morbius did and became the shows permit host for the shows run from 1986-1988. Saturday Nightmare would show a single Horror or Sci-Fi film and would have the good Dr. hosting the film from inside his castle that he named Castle Mare, his shows opening theme was Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Bach and his castle was lit with candles. Dr. Morbius himself is a vampire from Transylvania who moved to Iowa in order to get away and retire, and finds fun ways to pass the time by hosting Horror Films and teaching the viewers not to trust anyone besides their Doctor…meaning himself. His appearance was a long black cape with red lining, a button up white shirt, black pants, a thick mustache and sometimes his face would be painted green while other times it was flesh colored. His accent was thick and sounded like your typical impersonation of Count Dracula and helped add to the idea that Dr. Morbius was truly a vampire from that part of the world. While is time on air was short his iconic memory lives on for fans who grew up watching him and new ones who have watched his clips on Youtube.

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Bruce Gantenbein aka Bruk Gant was the man behind the cape who was born in September 3, 1951 in Iowa and was always an entertainer at even in High School he played basketball and was the Captain his senior year in 1970. Bruce also was a singer and played the guitar for many bands and solo music projects of the years that include being members of Kelly And The Komb-Overs, Gambler, Last Chance and for solo work went by the names Bruk Gant and Big Bruce, music was his passion and by all accounts he was good at playing it. Besides music and being a Horror Host he also was a Stand-Up Comic and was a regular performer at Penguin’s Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids and tickled the funny bones of all that came to see him. Think about all the ways he entertained people he was a Horror Host, a Musician, a Basketball Player and a Comedian. Another interesting fact is that Bruce was an officer for Iowa City Police Department from 1978-1980 as well became a Campus Officer for University of Iowa and later a Security Officer for UI Department of Public Safety. Sadly on August 10, 2013 at the age of 61 Bruce “Dr. Morbius” Gantenbein passed away and the world lost a very talented entertainer. This update is dedicated to the memory of Bruce Gantenbein as well as his family, friends and fans who he has touched with his performances and friendship.

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In 1986 Dr. Morbius alongside The Invisible Band teamed up with KCRG Channel 9 to releases a 45” Record that featured two rap songs written and sung by Morbius that sold for $2.75 via local shops and over the air orders. The first song was called “Morbius Rap” and was about how great the late night host was at showcasing cheesy films on his show Saturday Nightmare, you know the typical kind of song you would expect from a Horror Host! And on the flip side is a song called “Hawk Rap” that is a tribute to the Iowa Hawkeyes College Football Team and is equally filled with cheesy lyrics and a goofy beat, just think of the Chicago Bears Superbowl Shuffle song. Funny enough many Horror Hosts have tried their hands at Rap Music in the 80’s like Commander USA, Elvira Mistress of the Dark and Dr. Morbius! I can imagine that all through the late 80’s and early 90’s that Hawk Rap was played at the games as well as on local radio to amp up players and fans. The 45” is a collector’s item now but for those fans wanting to hear them they are both on Youtube, so make sure to check them out in all their glory!

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On March 15, 2016 at Horrorhound Weekend Dr. Morbius was inducted into the Horror Host Hall Of Fame with the honor going to Baron Von Porkchop to induct him! As always we looked at this induction as an honor and Baron did lots of great research and delivered an amazing speech, sadly with Dr. Morbius being passed away he was not able to accept the plaque but I am sure he was looking down with a smile on his face. Before Baron’s induction speech they rolled a classic clip of Dr. Morbius and the crowd seemed to dig what they were watching, once more I would like to thank Halloween Jack and the HorrorHound Weekend for allowing Baron Von Porkchop to have the honor of inducting a classic and well loved Horror Host like Dr. Morbius! Below is some photos taken from the induction and showcases the plaque that was given in his honor.

Dr. Morbius Hall Of Fame awardBaron Von Porkchop holds the Dr. Morbius Hall of fame award

So we are now at the time of the Icon update that we take a look at the episodes I own of Dr. Morbius and break down not only the Movie (write up taken from IMDB) and the zany adventure of the host. I searched high and low for episodes of Saturday Nightmare I checked trade sites, download torrent sites, contacted fans and sadly was only able to come up with one episode for this update and for the one found I need to thank my brother Bryan for it as he was able to hook me up. So with that lets get our cheap vampire cape on and take a look at Dr. Morbius at work in this classic episode taken from it’s broadcast showing!

Saturday Nightmare Creature From The Black Lagoon DVD

Saturday Nightmare:  Creature From The Black Lagoon
Starring – Rico Brown & Julie Adams   Not Rated   1954

Host: Dr. Morbius is relaxing by fishing out his window and trying to catch whatever he can from the moat below, only to be pulled from his chair! Dr. Morbius then spends time making cheesy jokes and ushering back to the film or commercial breaks. Morbius then reads some fan mail and answers the questions his fans have for him. And closes the show with more jokes and tells us all that next weeks show will be Bride Of Frankenstein.

Movie: A scientific expedition searching for fossils along the Amazon River discovers a prehistoric Gill-Man in the legendary Black Lagoon. The explorers capture the mysterious creature, but it breaks free. The Gill-Man returns to kidnap the lovely Kay, fiancée of one in the expedition, with whom it has fallen in love.

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One thing I must point out is that Dr. Morbius and his show Saturday Nightmare loved them some Pizza Hut as almost every commercial break showcased that greasy pizza joint, or should I say Pizza Hut loved Dr. Morbius and paid for advertisement to air during it. This was a very fun episode and was a nice way to see just how Dr. Morbius hosted and now I understand why he entertained the masses of late night viewers in Iowa! While his time on air might have been short his fans still remember his late night hijinks and this was a true honor to pay him respect. But our next update will take us away from Horror Hosts and into the world of Greek Mythology as it has become a tradition for me to cover the one and only Hercules on Thanksgiving and this year we will be taking a look at the Marvel Comics Version! So make sure to visit back for that Holiday Update, so until next time Support your local Horror Host, read a comic or three and have a safe and fun lead up to our Holiday season.

Marvel Hercules Preview Logo

Who Remembers Solarman?

Welcome to another update, our first one in our countdown to Thanksgiving here on Rotten Ink, as we once more take a look at a superhero that failed to capture readers and lead to a short-lived comic series that left the character almost forgotten in modern times.  For this one we will be taking a look at Solarman, a Marvel Comic character that’s long been forgotten by most. What’s really crazy is that this character is one that Marvel really wanted to take off as you will see during this update. It’s crazy to think that Thanksgiving is weeks away, and that great food and family time is just around the corner. I am sure some of you can’t wait to smell that turkey cooking, and for all my vegetarian friends, I am sure you hyped for the tofu turkey and all the wonderful sides like corn, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Turkey 2016

When you think of holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, one thing comes to mind, the word home. For me, the old two story house in Waynesville on Royston Drive will always be home.  One day I would love to buy it and have Juliet and I live there, but another place I call home is the basement of my parents’ house that was dubbed Independent B Movie Studios as it is the place that ideas for films like Werewolf Of Ohio 1-2, The Wolf Hunter and Cocktober Blood were all brainstormed. It was the “set” for no budget films Nightmare and One Second Too Late. It was the place that the first ever Horror Movie Marathon took place, and it hosted many long nights of playing video games with my pal Jason Gilmore as we tried to beat games like Resident Evil 2, Silent Hill and Clock Tower. It was the place that my old computer sat were I would write scripts for possible films and during breaks would play cheesy DOS games like X-Men, Waxworks and Plan 9 From Outer Space from hard disks. It was a place that acted as shelter for me and my past girlfriend Misty as we were in-between apartments and acted as a place for me to stay when I needed a place to lay my head for the night. Now, in 2016, it’s completely different from what it use to be in its heyday.  Gone are the movie posters all over the walls; gone is the floor model TV along with the VCR, DVD player and many video game systems.  Gone are the old computers, and gone are the days of it being the house of ideas for no budget movies but it will forever be a special place for me and many of my friends as it was a magical place filled with lots of amazing memories and great times. Below is a modern picture of the old “studio” with the amazing orange carpet that has been down there since the start of its legacy.

Independent B Movie Studio

In 1979-1980, David Oliphant created three digest-sized comics based on a character he created called Solarman that were more educational comics than your normal superhero fare.  The character was named Davos who lived inside the Sun and came to Earth.  He became a baseball player and taught the wonders of Solar Energy. In 1989, Marvel decided to buy the character rights and use him as a new hero that would set the world ablaze with his comic that was to be written by Stan Lee. They changed the character from just being a solar alien to the a teenager getting the power from a dying alien.  In other words, Stan Lee went the route he has traveled so many times and wanted to reproduce the magic of Spider-Man, but unlike that character, this one failed to capture the readers, and issue one came and went with a whisper. But this did not stop Lee and Marvel as in 1990 they tried again with an issue # 2, and this as well came and went with little to no fanfare. A third issue was not in the cards nor has a re-launch ever seen the light of day from Marvel. So what went wrong with Solarman as Marvel pushed so hard and even had the comic legend Stan Lee write his adventures? My opinion is that in 1990 the character had a dated feel to it, and by this time kids and readers were more into Batman, Spider-Man and X-Men and a character who’s a kid with sun powers was just too silly and tame for them.

Solarman Old SchoolSolarmanSolarman ad

In the 90’s, Marvel Comics captured the Saturday Morning Cartoon world with such classics as X-Men, Spider-Man, Silver Surfer and The Incredible Hulk, but in 1991, they also tried again with Solarman by turning him into a cartoon pilot for FOX with the intent of turning it into a full cartoon series.  This also failed as FOX never ordered the series after its airing. The plot of the cartoon was that of the first issue of the comic with a little added and taken away and done in the style of The X-Men that was a huge hit for FOX’s Saturday Morning Cartoon lineup later on. I was a major Saturday Morning Cartoon viewer when I was a young, and in 1991, I was watching such toons as Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, Bobby’s World, Darkwing Duck, Doug, Ren and Stimpy, The Simpsons, Tom & Jerry Kids to name a few.  I can 100% say that I don’t remember the Solarman cartoon at all and don’t remember a single kid on the playground or at lunch talking about it! So do any of you, my readers or friends, remember this cartoon special airing? Did you watch it? Was it good? Comment below and let me know.

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So now that you are up to date on who and what Solarman is, I think we are at the point of the review where we will take a look at the comic series from Marvel based on this forgotten hero. I want to thank Dark Star in Yellow Springs for having these comics in stock in their dollar bin and must also once more like a broken record tell you readers that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready to travel to outer space and back to Earth again, let’s grab some water and a snack and visit the world of Solarman.

Solarman 1

Solarman # 1  **1/2
Released in 1989     Cover Price $1.00     Marvel Comics     # 1 of 2

Gormagga Kraal and his robot warriors are traveling in space and draining suns of their solar energy in order to feed his ultimate weapon that will help him rule the universe. Aboard the ship is an old scientist named Dr. Sha-Han and his young daughter Altarra, both of whom are shocked by the evil of Kraal who has now set his sights on the sun the Earth orbits. Sha-Han as seen enough and steals the Circle Of Power, an item that can create a powerful life that can stop the path of destruction Kraal is blazing.  When Sha-Han’s escape pod is shot down, it crashes to Earth, and while dying he meets young want-to-be comic book artist Ben Tucker who he gives the circle of power (a bracelet) to and visits him as a spirit as he dies on the beach to tell him whenever he is in danger let the sunlight hit the bracelet and that will unleash the power of Solarman! Ben Tucker is a teenager whose dad owns a gym and wants his son to train to be a jock, while all he really wants to do is draw comics for Marvel.  On his way to school, he is attacked by some robots who are looking for the bracelet who kidnap him and take him to space where Gormagga Kraal orders for his arm to be cut off so he can reclaim the bracelet.  But Ben is saved by Altarra (who dies saving him) and her tiny robot Beepie who allows sunlight into the ship, and Solarman takes over the body of Ben and blows up the massive ship forcing Gormagga Kraal to escape on a tiny escape pod vessel. Ben returns to Earth with his new friend Beepie and starts to work on his next comic called “Solarman”.

The best way to start this off is saying that this is Marvel Comics version of Green Lantern with teen drama with a main character that looks a lot like a young Peter Parker. This first issue is pretty well done, and I for one think that if they should have put it out via Star Comics and played up the fact that it’s a superhero for kids as it mixes comics and old scifi films together to create a world where aliens want to steal the energy of our sun and robots in trench coats can walk freely down the road. The plot is: an alien overlord wants to rule the galaxy and is stealing the Sun’s energy to store for his powerful super weapon.  He targets Earth’s Sun but is set back when one of his own helpers steals a powerful weapon to crash land on Earth, passing the weapon onto a nerdy kid who now gains super powers. Yep that sums it up pretty well, and I should also add in that it has a Shazam (Captain Marvel) feeling to it as well. Ben Tucker is a button up, white shirt and tie kind of kid who spends his free time drawing comic strips with the hope of being hired by Marvel.  While most geeky kids can identify with him, the downside is he comes off like a stereotype of how people think comic “nerds” act. But while he is a nerd, Ben is still a likeble kid who I am sure has a touch of us all who are creative. Solarman is powerful and wears lots of orange and yellow and has cheesy lines that would make Flash Gordon blush.  This first issue only gives me a small taste of their hero and not enough to fully judge, I would say he’s not terrible as he makes me want to check out the next issue. Oh and I should say he’s like Solar Man from the movie Superman IV: Quest For Peace as he has to get his power from the sun and without it he’s useless. Beepie is a generic tiny robot that fans of R2-D2 and BB-8 from Star Wars will surly love.  He’s a loyal little guy who wants Earth not to be destroyed so he is kind of a hero. Sha-Han and Altarra are blue skinned aliens who serve a purpose and move the story along.  Not much more can be said about them besides they are both dead. Gormagga Kraal is also a blue skinned alien who has a metal arm that can stretch and has a terrible attitude and does not value life as he doesn’t care how many have to die for him to complete his goal of galaxy ruler.  This guy would be great friends with Zardoom (Defenders Of The Planets) and Ming The Merciless (Flash Gordon), and I could picture them at a Starbucks plotting how to take over Mars. The cover is pure late 80’s cheese and has a Star Comics look to it.  The art is done by Jim Mooney with the story by Stan Lee. While Marvel really wanted Solarman to be the next big thing for them, this issue just was not a draw for readers at the time. I for one enjoyed it and think it’s a solid above average comic that’s aimed for young readers.

Solarman 2

Solarman # 2  **1/2
Released in 1990     Cover Price $1.00     Marvel Comics     # 2 of 2

Ben Tucker and his friend Jeanie are watching the news, all about holes in the ozone layer, and as Ben draws Dr. Doom, the friends chat about him and how he is the ultimate bad guy. Meanwhile Dr. Doom has shot a satellite into space and is the one who is causing the holes and wants a ransom from the world in order to stop it. Later in the day, Ben goes to his Dad’s gym to find his father being strong-armed by some goons and quickly goes out side and turns into Solarman and runs them off. When returning as Ben, he tries to tell his Dad he is Solarman but his father thinks his son just reads too many comics. Ben decides that he must keep his secret to himself as well as must stop Dr. Doom and travels to his location and tricks him into thinking he needs an interview for the school paper as they view Doom as a legend or so his story goes.  But Doom is not fooled for long as he throws Ben into a prison room. Lucky for Ben, the room has windows and sunlight and this allows him to turn into Solarman who flies into space and destroys the satellite and comes back down to tangle with Doom until the sun is about to set and leaves Doom in a foul mood! In the end as Ben returns home and bonds with his Dad with a picture he drew him, and it’s reveled that the Dr. Doom he had fought was nothing more than a hologram as the real Doom was in the basement sick with the flu.

This is the final issue of the series before Marvel gave up on trying to make readers care about Solarman and his adventures in Sun powers at least in the comic world. This issue’s plot has Ben Tucker and his hero side Solarman dealing with Dr. Doom who is trying to ruin the ozone layer as well as try and gain the respect of his father who wants a jock for a son and not an artist. The pacing is well done, and the action of Solarman is kept being used at the right times to further the plot more and not to waste panels with fights that were just put in to take up pages. Ben Tucker this time around is more skilled in his art and seems to have a crush on his friend Jeanie who always seems to be around and pushing for him to get his big break in comics in a sly kind of way. Ben himself is weak physically, but mentally he is strong and knows after a failed attempt that he must keep his hero side a secret. Solarman is as cheesy as ever as his power is high but his one liners are so bad they would make Spider-Man cringe.  Besides his power, he can also fly and breath in space with no problems. Ben’s Dad is as gym orientated as ever but shows he is no push over as he does not back down to three thugs who want his gym to pay them for street protection. It also shows that he loves his son no matter what he does or does not do. Dr. Doom is once more mad with power and wants to world to beg at his feet as he wants to be their ruler.  The fun part about this is the whole fight I as the reader was like come on, Doom could mop the floor with Solarman.  Then at the end you find out the real Doom is sick in bed with the flu…that’s right Victor Von Doom has the flu in this comic and the Doom that’s doing all the bad things is really just a hologram. The cover is pure early 90’s ham and eggs as it’s as basic as they come, and the art inside the issue is well done by Mike Zeck. Over all while Solarman is a very lame in nature superhero, but I still found the comic to be entertaining and could not see really why it only lasted two issues and became a forgotten Marvel Comic. If you find any issues in your local comics shops .25 or $1.00 box, give it a chance as you might just find yourself enjoying it. Below is some artwork from the series so give it a look as it might be what pushes you over the edge of wanting to check it out.

Solarman art 1Solarman art 2Solarman art 3

Solarman was a character who had lots of potential, and for the most part his two comic adventures were lots of fun and could have lead into more and more if fans of the 90’s would have supported it. But let’s flare away from Solarman for our next update and this time take a look at another Horror Host Icon, Iowa’s own Dr. Morbius as we continue our countdown to Thanksgiving. So I hope you enjoyed this quick update, and that you’re having a great November so far and are just enjoying life as we all live it on this great planet we share and call Earth. So until next time, read a comic or three, support your local Horror Host and as Bill & Ted would say Be Excellent To Each Other.

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The Platinum Chainsaw Massacre Of Texas!

Welcome to this haunted and spooky Halloween update here on Rotten Ink.  This year we are going back to Texas and revisiting Leatherface, or should I say visiting another Leatherface named Thomas Hewitt who took up the chainsaw back in 2003! Along this back road Texas ride, we will be making many stops before we get to the Hewitt farmhouse at a Creepypasta, 5 Questions with a Horror Host and a few other spooky and fun things. It’s hard to believe that it’s Halloween 2016 and that the ghouls and ghosts are wandering the streets looking for candy or a trick to pull. This year has proved to be very cool for fans of horror films as new entries in the Blair Witch, Ouija, Phantasm and The Purge are hitting theaters.  Video Games will be delivering some frights this year with Resident Evil 4 coming to disc on the PS4 and even a NES Homebrew game called Batman vs. The Predator attacking its way to a retro home console. Not to mention the amazing amounts of horror comics that landed in readers hands like Puppet Master, Gingerdead Man, Night Trap, Psycho Path, Lord Of Gore, We Kill The Dead, Zombie and many more! This time of the year really should spark the want to be scared, whether that is from going to a haunted house, going on a spooky real life ghost hunt, reading a horror comic, playing a survival horror video game or just watching some horror films at home, I hope you have had a fun and spooky Halloween time, and I hope this blog update at least added to your holiday. So pack some chainsaw repellent and gear up for coming face to face with Leatherface one more time!

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Let’s make our first stop on a strange sinister story of the Internet’s version of campfire tales. This year’s Creepypasta is based around a video game character that was super popular with not just me but many of the kids around the world.  That character is Sonic The Hedgehog, and the story is called “Sonic.exe.” Now I am sure many of you are wondering just how could Sonic be creepy as he is beloved by the youth of today, but once you hear this story, it will make you truly wonder if it’s real or not and if Sonic really is a hero character. Our tale starts with a Tom, a young gamer who loves playing Sonic game and one day in his mail is a CD-R with a game called Sonic.exe that was sent to him by his close friend Kyle. Along with the CD-R was a note written by Kyle in bad shaky hand writing that begged him to destroy the CD-R as he explains that something fast is after him and that the game on the disc is pure evil and must be destroyed. Kyle ends it begging his friend to not play the game. Thinking his friend had lost touch with reality, Tom, who was a Sonic fan, decided to play the game and when putting it into his PC and opening the game, he noticed something was wrong once he hit start.  The title screen turned twisted with blood instead of water and 666 appearing around a black sky and Sonic himself had turned sinister looking with red eyes in jet black sockets with bloody tears coming down his twisted face. The game once started was a mash-up of many of the sonic games and the music was not cheerful, being played backwards, and the player could only select from Tails, Knuckles and Dr. Robotnik! Thinking this was some odd hacked version of the game, Tom selected Tails and was greeted by a creepy laugh before the level started.  All seemed a little odd but turned gruesome when Tails came across many massacred small animals and the music once more became more and more dark till finally Tails runs into Sonic who looks like he did on the evil title screen and plays a game he is calling “Hide And Seek” that leaves in the end Tails crying and being killed by Sonic! Tom was disturbed but continued to play, this time playing as Knuckles and once more Sonic leaves the character crying and later dead.  This whole time Sonic is leaving messages for Tom and his character saying things like “Found you” and “So many sould to play with, so little time…would you agree?” making Tom more and more uneasy. After the death of Knuckles, the PC Game was stopped and Tom decided to take a nap and get the images out of his mind.  But he has a nightmare of the evil Sonic laugh and the cries of help from Tails and Knuckles echoed in his ears making him feel bad that he played this game and allowed two of his favorite characters to meet such a sad and sick end, and when evil Sonic confronted him he woke up and like in a trance had to play the game one last time as Robotnik! But sadly, while Robotnik might be Sonic’s worst enemy he as well meet a terrible end by the hands of this evil video game character who know was looking right at Tom from the computer screen….blood, sharp teeth and blood red glowing eyes being shown and creeping Tom out more and more as the seconds passed and finally the message “I am God” appeared and Tom knew he was played by something very evil. Tom in the end is tormented even more by Sonic who makes him see the sadness of the three characters he had lead to their deaths and even shut off his computer. Finally in the end Tom hears a whisper in his room that says “Try to keep this interesting for me, Tom” and when he looks to see who said it, on his bed is a Sonic plush doll who looks like the Evil Sonic from the game! First, I want to say that this is one Creepypasta that I for sure can say is not real as I don’t believe that a Sonic plush doll was about to torment Tom.  It just seems to much like Chucky from Child’s Play to me. But I will say I enjoy the creepy nature of the hacked Sonic game that chills the player’s blood as a character kids love is killing and tormenting not only fellow characters but also the player. While this game was a hoax, many fan made versions of this game have been made to go along with the story and to me that’s pretty cool and creepy stuff. A good Creepypasta that is sure to creep out young gamers.

Sonic exe

In strange news that took place in Ohio, on June 2016, a rodeo bull named Dumpster Diver from Clearcreek Township escaped from its pasture and roamed the land of Warren County’s woods and roadways. The bull was loose for over a week, and people lived in fear that the large animal would charge them.  On many occasions it even ran out in front of cars almost causing auto accidents during its rampage or freedom! The bull was large and hiding out in the area and sparked many sightings that kept the local cops on their toes as he could have been a major threat if he decided to charge and become aggressive. But sadly, this story does not have a happy ending as on July 8th the police shot and killed Dumpster Diver as they were unable to tranquilize him and many cars almost hit him. So I am waiting for people to start the rumor of the ghost of Dumpster Diver roaming the roads to appear online soon. But like I said not scary, just a strange thing that happened here in this wild and unknown state we all call Ohio.

Clearcreek Missing Bull

So now that we talked about a Creepypasta featuring the Sega video game character Sonic as well as a bull on the loose named Dumpster Diver, I think we should chat a little about an independent horror comic called The Killer Pumpkins that I got off of Ebay sometime back. I really enjoy picking up small press horror comics as sometimes you can find some really spooky and creative stuff and at the very least be entertained. The Killer Pumpkins is released by Middle Atlantic Comics, and I was able to pick it up for a very good price.  I saved reading it for a while as I wanted to share it here with you all on this special update, so let’s grab our carving knives and see just how killer these pumpkins really are!

The Killer Pumpkins 1

The Killer Pumpkins # 1  **
Released in 2014     Cover Price $0.00    Middle Atlantic    # 1 of 1

The Wilson family is hiding out in the woods near the pumpkin patch on Halloween night in order to steal some of them. As the workers leave, they lock the gates behind them, but the father is not worried as he has a skeleton key that he believes will unlock the gate. As the father, mother and son all grab pumpkins, the teenage daughter questions why they are stealing pumpkins and not just buying them and is quickly told to shut up by her father. With stolen pumpkins in hand, they attempt to leave but learn they can’t get out as the gate has no keyhole! As the clock strikes midnight, the pumpkins come to life and kill the family one by one with beheading the mother, crushing the son with a falling tree and stabbing the father and carving him up like a jack o lantern! They let the daughter go as she never wanted to be in the pumpkin patch, and she runs through town screaming about her parents being killed by pumpkins and everyone just thinks she’s crazy.

This is a silly short comic that was a fun read on this Halloween day as it takes place on this very holiday. The plot is simple: a family is locked in a pumpkin patch on Halloween night and are attacked at midnight by the pumpkins that come alive and want revenge on humans who carve and smash them on this spooky holiday. The Wilson family seem like they are a bunch of cheapskates who want to steal instead of buy, and the parents are teaching their kids that it’s okay to steal. The father seems like the worse of them as he is clearly the shot caller who enjoys stealing as well as bossing his family around. The daughter is the only one who has half a brain and thinks what they are doing is wrong and does not steal, and this is why she is spared when the pumpkins start their rampage of murder. The pumpkins are mean spirited and make short work of the Wilson family and commit the murders with cold vegetable hearts. The comic has lots of death.  It’s not done with over the top gore and blood but does not shy away from character deaths. The comic’s art is done by Robert Bennett, who has a very independent style to his work, which is very fitting for this style and budget level of a comic book. While not super scary or what horror comic readers would expect to read about killer pumpkins, it’s a standard average read that I am sure would be entertaining for fans of independent comics. Below is some art from this comic.  Check it out and see Bennett’s style.

The Killer Pumpkins art 1

My Birthday is in early September, and to celebrate, I decided that I would have a epic Horror Movie Marathon that would have Juliet and I having a pre-show as well as an after party in addition to the main day of frights on our TV screen! The Pre-Show was on September 5th 2016, and after a typical day at work on Labor Day and leaving early at 5pm, I came home and we started our pre-show at around 7:00pm with the film “Silent Night, Bloody Night 2: Revival” that was about a brother and sister visiting a strange small town where their brother died in a crash and has left them strange clues to uncover about the town’s sinister past.  As they search, a killer called Black Peter who is supposed to be Santa’s evil brother is killing people in the streets. The second film was a supernatural slasher film called “Holy Terror” directed by Massimiliano Cerchi that has a landlord at the mercy of a demon nun renting a house to a young couple who find themselves and their friends, who are over for a home welcoming party, the target of her rage and murderous ways. The final film of the night was from Full Moon Entertainment that was at one time a lost film called “The Evil Clergyman” about a priest who has a sinister pact with a rat with a human face that set up women to kill themselves so they can take their souls as well as their flesh. After this fun pre-show, where we ate loaded baked potatoes and a flat buffalo sauce chicken while watching these terrors of the screen, we sat and talked about each film breaking them down and we both agreed that Silent Night, Bloody Night 2 was the worst film of the night as it had many strikes against it from the poor acting, the over use of flashbacks from the original film and even having the killer be a returning character from the first film and was so misused, it was mind numbing! While the first film was a fun slasher with twists and turns, this sequel was just boring, bland and predictable. Juliet and I also agreed on the best film of the night as we both loved The Evil Clergyman as it was a well directed film by Charles Band who captured the raw mood and atmosphere of the H.P. Lovecraft story it was based on. The score by Richard Band was well done and fitting for the mood, and actors Jeffrey Combs, David Gale and Barbara Crampton turn in amazing performances. Over all this was a really fun night of watching horror flicks, and going to bed, I was hyped for what horrors the next day was going to bring.

Silent Night Bloody Night 2 Revival DVDHoly Terror DVDThe Evil Clergyman DVD

The day’s food was set as once more breakfast casserole was for brunch and a slow cooked crockpot roast was on tap for dinner. We woke up before 7am on September 5th and started our marathon off with a 1946 film “Valley Of The Zombies” that was about a crazed man who was believed to be dead that must get blood transfusions in order to stay alive. The second film of the day is “Frankenstein: Day Of The Beast” that has Frankenstein’s Monster traveling to an island to kill Elizabeth, the bride of his maker, on their wedding day and must also fight off his hired guns that are paid to protect her. The third film of the day was a 2015 shot on video soon to be classic film from David “The Rock” Nelson called “Fishman” that follows the creature on a warpath to kill those who mocked him for wanting to become a fishman and also goes toe to toe with Detective Rock. The fourth film was “Evil Bong: High 5” and has that sinister Evil Bong once more setting her sights on conquering the world by trying to have her slaves raise a million dollars for her in just 30 days, also throw in the Gingerdead Man. The fifth film was released by Massacre Home Video and is the 1986 direct to video classic “Mutilations” about a college professor and his students fighting for their lives against aliens in a small town during a field trip. Unlucky number six is “Platoon Of The Dead” about some soldiers who find three women and an abandoned house and must hide from an army of the dead and their demon leader.  The film stars Ariauna Albright, who is one of my favorite b-movie queens. Troma Entertainment release “Plutonium Baby” was the seventh film of the day and is about an evil corporation trying to hush a family who has a lawsuit against them for radiation poisoning, and they soon find out radiation causes more than death as it also spawns mutated monsters! 1976 Greek Giallo film “The Wife Killer” was the eighth film and is about a man who wants his wife dead to get her money and hires a serial rapist and killer to do the deed, but things do not go as planed as backstabbing and greed stand in the way of the perfect murder. The ninth film of this spooky day of horror was “Blood Night: The Legend Of Mary Hatchet” about a urban legend of a woman who went mad when she would have her period and would kill all who stood in her way.  Not 20 years after her death she is back and wanting to spill more blood or is she? The tenth film was shot in Middletown Ohio at Land of Illusions and starred Robert Englund. It’s about serial killers getting free from an asylum and taking over a haunted house called “Funhouse Massacre”. Number eleven was “Last Shift” about a rookie cop having to work the old now empty police station that is haunted by the spirits of a satanic cult leader and his followers. And the final film of the night was a shot on video film called “City Of The Dream Demons” that followed a punk kid and his friends who have to do battle with nightmare demons coming into our world. The main event was lots of fun and filled with lots of different styles of horror from shot on video all the way to black and white chillers, and at one point Juliet even praised me for the depth of the day’s films.

As always after the films we sat and discussed each film and what we liked and disliked about them and picked our best and worst film of the day. Juliet picked Evil Bong: High 5 as her worst film of the day as she found its silly over the top pot humor and merchandise placement for the Full Moon product Badass Dolls to be annoying…and sad to say she is right on both accounts. My worst film of the day would be City Of Dream Demons and while it is by no means a terrible shot on video film, it did seem to spin its wheels a lot with the plot.  While the cover to the DVD looks badass, the demons in the movie just have grease paint smeared on their faces and just could have been so much more than what it was even with the no budget they were working with. My best films of the day are in this order: # 1 is Last Shift – the mood and atmosphere of this film was great.  The sprits of the cult members were creepy in spots as were the ghosts of their past victims.  Add in great acting and twists, and this was a great late night watch! My # 2 was Blood Night: Curse Of Mary Hatchet as it was a cool super natural slasher film that was filled with likeable characters, hot women, cool gore effects and a killer who can not be stopped as well as a twist baddie character, not to mention this film starred Danielle Harris! My # 3 was a little harder to pick as three other films almost closed in on this spot but in the end The Wife Killer won out as I found the plot to be very enjoyable and the twists kept me drawn into the plot not to mention plenty of hot Greek women and a killer who was a perv and a total scumbag! My runners up were Funhouse Massacre, Plutonium Baby and Mutilations all who had their charms and made the day of Horror all the more enjoyable. As for Juliet’s picks: # 1 was The Wife Killer…# 2 was Funhouse Massacre and her # 3 was Valley Of The Zombies with her runner up being Last Shift. After the main Horror Movie Marathon we went to bed and prepared for the first ever After Party!

Valley Of The Zombies DVDFrankenstein Day Of The Beast DVDThe Fishman DVDEvil Bong High 5 DvdMutilations dvdPlatoon Of The Dead dvdPlutonium Baby dvdThe Wife Killer dvdBlood Night The Legend Of Mary Hatchet dvdThe Funhouse Massacre dvdThe Last Shift dvdCity Of Dream Demons dvd

We woke up around 8am on September 7th and started the first ever Horror Movie Marathon After Party at a little after 9am.  Sadly we had to cut two films from the line up as Juliet had to go to work and in the evening do her radio show on WYSO. The first film of the after party was the found footage film directed by Ohio’s own Danny Draven called “Specters” about a behind the scenes movie crew getting lost on the set that is an old abandon haunted mental asylum and being stalked by evil ghosts! The second film of the day was a no budget slasher film directed by Joel D. Wynkoop called “Slasher Weekend” about a killer on the loose in the woods that is hacking and slashing any one who dares to enter, but is there more to the killer than meets the eye? And the third and final film was another found footage film that was directed by my good pal Henrique Couto called “Alone In The Ghost House” about a ghost hunting couple picking the wrong site for their next episode as something sinister seems to be waiting for them. The after party was really a cheesy slasher film sandwiched between two found footage horror flicks and each had their own weird charm to them. But like always we had to pick our worst film as well as our best, and this one was easy for the worst as Juliet and I both picked Slasher Weekend as it was a horror comedy that was not all that funny as well as the killer seemed to be lumbering around like a 80 year old man with bad knees and jokes went on way to long and were driven into the ground.  The only plus this film had going for it was that some of the actresses were very good looking and the gore was good backyard style effects. For me the best film of this day was Alone In The Ghost House and that’s not just cause my friend directed it, and to be honest I co-produced it, but because the acting was well done with once more Erin R. Ryan stealing the show (really she is one of my favorite independent horror actresses who I am proud to say is also a friend) and the atmosphere was really creepy and the main characters all very likeable! Juliet’s top pick for the day was Specters as she felt that it packed a creepy mood and great characters! But she did want me to stay that Alone In The Ghost House was very close to taking her top pick of the day! So over all a very fun way to celebrate my birthday as well as add to the Fall and Halloween season! Do yourself a favor and get a group of your friends together and have yourself a Horror Movie Marathon soon as you will as well find yourself having a great horrific time.

Specters dvdSlasher Weekend dvdAlone In The Ghost House DVD

Well it’s time for our Halloween update standard and that’s 5 Questions with a Horror Host.  This year I choose to talk to Cleveland Ohio’s very own Janet Decay.  I first meet Janet at a Cinema Wasteland some many years back as I was working with Andy Copp at his table and later would speak to her from time to time on Facebook where her past show “The Daughter Of Ghoul” would send me copies to play on DATV as part of the Horror Host Underground Block. So with pleasure I bring you this fun and amazing part of our Halloween Update that I call “5 Questions with Janet Decay”!

HH Janet Decay 1

Matt: So tell us about your show “The Mummy And The Monkey”, and how long have you been an undead Mummy Horror Hostess?

Janet: Well I host The Show The Mummy And The Monkey with my ape-man co-host Grimm Gorri. Together we bring our brand of offbeat weirdness all while giving you a slightly nostalgic fuzzy feeling. We play old monster movies and perform comedy bits in between. Think Elvira meets Pee Wee’s Playhouse meets Big Chuck and Lil’ John.
Janet Decay, my alter ego is Cleveland’s FIRST horror hostess and the city’s “Yummy Mummy”. The character herself is a mystery. She was a silent film actress that was supposed to be in a Cleopatra picture, little did she know that the Egyptian set props were actually ancient Egyptian cursed relics and they mystically transformed her into a real life undead mummy woman. I originally made the Decay character in 2010 for a charity zombie walk. The rags and makeup she wears I designed and put together. The tiara is made by a talented artist named Kathleen Kelley-Ottobre and some of my props were made by a little help from some other friends.
Grimm Gorri used to be on public access in Rhode Island but was really Cleveland born and raised. He came back to his hometown and ran into Ms. Decay and the rest is history.

Matt: So what horror hosts of the past inspired you to become a host yourself?

Janet: Well, all of them I suppose. Of Corpse here on the North coast we had The Ghoul, Big Chuck and Lil’ John, Superhost, Son Of Ghoul, and the older folks with more wisdom remember being glued to the TV as Ghoulardi filled the boob tube in the 1960’s. So there must be something in the Lake eerie water that does this to people.

Originally I auditioned for the hostess role for a now cancelled show on Time Warner public access called “The Daughter of The Ghoul Show”. I never really agreed with the name and received a huge backlash from it, but for a little while (2013-2014) it was a lot of fun! Decay still hosted it and I’ve always kept the rights to my own character. After the show was cancelled this little ghoul branched out and started a show with a sweet simian named Grimm Gorri and we’ve been accumulating a following.

Matt: What has been your favorite movie to host thus far?

Janet: The Screaming Skull so far, but I’m sure they’ll be new ones I enjoy just as much.

Matt: Who has been the one movie star you have been most hyped to meet at your many convention appearances and what Horror Host as well?

Janet: This is very hard to answer because there’s so many I’ve been hyped up to meet. I really can’t pick one, but I can choose a recent one. In March of 2016 I finally met in person a famous Cleveland movie host from WBNX 55, The Ghoul, Ron Sweed. I used to watch him in the 90’s on Friday nights. This guy was always wacky and goofy on TV, yet in person very polite and sweet to the fans when Grimm and I were there.

Matt: Who plays the best Mummy: Boris Korloff or Christopher Lee?

Janet: Eeek! Another tough one! They are each lovable in their own way.

I want to thank Janet Decay for taking a few moments to answer these questions for me on this update.  She has always been a very sweet and amazing person, and if you readers get a chance to meet her at say Horror Hound Weekend or Cinema Wasteland, make sure to do so! Also check out her official website here: http://www.themummyandthemonkey.com/ and get your own Mummy and Monkey DVD’s, T-Shirts and other cool merchandise. She’s very talented and one of the best modern horror hosts going, and I recommend viewing her show. Once more thanks Janet for giving us this interview as well as being who you are and keeping horror hosting alive in Ohio!

HH Janet Decay 2

As always around this time of the year, my cousin Stephen Alexander and my good pal Josh Weinberg decided that we needed to go to a haunted Ohio location and see if the legends and stories were true or if it was just a tall tale told to scare kids around camp fires or the glow of their flashlights during a sleepover. It took me a few months of looking over websites, books and maps to choose the location for this year’s haunted excursion and finally I selected a haunted road called Lick Road in Cincinnati that is supposed to be haunted by a young murder victim named Amy. The story, like most legends, has multiple origins but the core is the same and has Amy as a young woman who was murdered and raped on the road by her boyfriend on prom night.  Her body was left at the street’s dead end, and it’s said her spirit wanders the area in search for help and to torment those who taunt her. It’s said if you park on the bridge and wander away from your car that by the time you come back the windows will be fogged up and a message written on the window from the inside will read “Help Me”.  Also if you stop on the bridge on the street and say that you have Amy’s baby, she will appear and chase you as she is upset that her life came to an end before she could have a child and finds you saying this is a way to insult her. Other versions of the story have Amy being killed by her evil stepfather and another is that she was killed by a serial killer who dumped her body on Lick Road….so is this legend true? Is a ghost of a female named Amy really waiting for us on Lick Road? Check out below for my pal and Sparkle Comics artist Jason Gilmore’s take on what Amy of Lick Road looks like!

amy-ghost-lick-road

On September 3, 2016 after a day of work at Game Swap, a quick meal at Applebee’s and some quick planning, Stephen and I loaded into Josh’s SUV and set out for this year’s ghost hunting adventure. The drive up their we all chatted about the legend of Amy a little and about life in general.  Finding Lick Road was super easy.  The road sits off a little from the main roads, but turning onto this haunted road things started to go south real quick as we noticed lots of houses and even a very large horse training and breeding farm….and this was just the beginning of the downfall. We drove slowly trying our best to get a spooky vide from the road and hoping to get a glimpse of Amy but all we found was no bridge and no chills. By the time we hit the dead end that lead to the park, the mood of the road was gone and we so wanted something to happen. So we got out of the SUV and snapped a few pictures, once we turned off the SUV and waited to see if the windows got fogged and Help Me to be written on the windows we walked around a little bit and nothing happened once we checked the windows, a total bust! Stephen and I were walking around as he tried to snap some more pictures when we heard a male voice from the woods mumble something at us very sternly.  We waited for a few moments and listened to see if he said something again and decided to leave. Over all while the story and legend of Amy on Lick Road is well done and a cool story to tell, the reality for us was that the road just was not spooky and besides some male voice from the park woods, nothing creeped us out and all of us would give the location thumbs down.

lick-road-street-signlick-road-dead-endsteve-and-josh-give-lick-road-thumbs-down

After we left Lick Road feeling cheated on getting a spooky good time, Stephen looked up other nearby haunts, and we choose to visit a road that was about five minutes away from Lick called Buell Road that had its own creepy legend. Buell Road is filled with lots of twists and turns, and the story goes that in the part of the road that is straight if you park you car and flash your lights three times and than sit in complete darkness a ghost boy riding a bike will appear from behind you.  If your don’t turn your lights back on before he touches your car you will die in seven days. The urban legend reminded us a lot of the film “The Ring,” and I am sure that the story sprang up after that movie, but we decided that why not got for two haunted locations for this Rotten Ink Halloween update and wash the disappointment of Lick Road out of our minds. So did the boy on the bike ghost show up? Read on and find out. Also below is Jason Gilmore’s take on the Ghost Bike Boy.

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After stopping and getting some gas we headed to Buell Road and we soon learned that the road was filled with lots of twists and turns and that if traveled at night you could easily loose control and wreck, as we approached the straight away in the road Stephen spotted some crosses at the side of the road and started to snap some pictures before thinking he seen approaching lights behind us causing Josh to drive on as we had seen a park ranger near by. As we drove the topic of the crosses filled the car as we wondered at first if they were placed their to mess with thrill seekers but when returning and seeing names and a date we realized that sadly this was also the location of an accident were people lost their lives as well as the spot of a local urban legend. While the mood was a little down at that point we moved up a little and did as the legend demanded and flashed our lights three times, turned off the car and waited for the Ghost Boy on the bike to show up…the air was still and the road was pitch black and the three of use focused on the road waiting to see this bringer of death approaching, looking over at Josh I seen he had his hand on his lights and the other on the ignition ready to speed off if the ghost appeared. We waited and waited and nothing happened and after about 5-6 minutes we decided to just call it a bust and head out. On the way out I Googled the accident that took place in that spot in 2007 and we learned a little about the two young ladies who passed away, and we all said our respects to them as it was a sad tragic event. The atmosphere of the road was pretty good as it was super dark and the woods around the road added a creepy factor that was way better than Lick Roads! After this we drove around a little longer looking for any other creepy roads or bridges from the area and found nothing of interest, and this ended our 2016 Ghost Adventure! While Lick Road was a major bust and letdown at least Buell had a creepy feel to it. Who knows what spooky adventure awaits us next year! Below are some pictures from Buell Road as well as one of the memorial crosses in honor of those young ladies.

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On October 15, 2016 Horrorama turned 20 years old and this marked about the 15 or 16th year of me helping on this iconic charity event that I have long time now been one of the programing organizers of and this year once again we were at Danberry Cinema in Huber Heights. This year alongside Juliet, Matt Joseph and Rick Martin we decided to spice up the event and give power to the people and allow them to vote on what films they wanted to watch at this iconic event. The first and last film were voted on via Facebook months ahead of the event with “Creature From The Black Lagoon” winning the opening spot and the cheesy classic “Death Spa” getting the honors of closing the night. The event was a huge hit and we dang near packed the house and brought in lots of money for the charity that helped homeless and needy pets in and around the Dayton area. After the Creature ended the first live vote was for a 80’s Monster flick and had such films as C.H.U.D., Pumpkinhead and Hobgoblins battling it out but The Blob remake won out and entertained the crowd with its gross effects and science fiction fun nature. Next up was a Hammer Horror film that had up for vote films like Twins Of Evil and Legend Of The 7 Golden Vampires but we really shocked the crowd as “PhantasmV: Ravager” was added and won hands down! After that surprise I had many people coming up to me and thanking us for showing it on the big screen! The final voting of the night before Death Spa was for an Italian Horror flick and films like Nightmare City and Torso lost out to Fulci’s masterpiece “The Gates Of Hell”! This monumental event I helped not only in the projection room but also hosted along side Rick and my pal Henrique Couto who I felt really should be up their with us. Plus in the crowd was many of my nearest and dearest friends like Josh Weinberg, Stephen Alexander, Theresa Daniels, Nick Williams, Mike Ritchie, Alia Eckhardt with the biggest surprise being my School Days main crush Tina Manning who brought her niece, very cool to see Tina as she is a wonderful person. Thanks to everyone who came to this years Horrorama as this one was for Andy Copp and Barry “Dr. Creep” Hobart as they I am 100% sure were with us all in spirit. Below is some pictures from the night from Phantasm on the big screen, the outside marque and Tina and I all taken at the event.

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I am sure many of you are wondering what Baron Von Porkchop did this Halloween season, am I right? Well sadly this year is the first year that we did not get to do a new Halloween Special as a stream of events caused it not to happen but we did put together a marathon for DATV of classic Halloween Specials of Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre as well as episodes of Moraine Playhouse Theater hosted by The Creeper! Baron Von Porkchop also hosted a four-course dinner for local Dayton restaurant Lily’s Bistro that featured such dishes as Bone Marrow, Squid Ink and even a dish called The Evil Eye! So while new episodes of Baron Von Porkchop has been short coming this past year, he still has been out and about and meeting with his fans and that’s one cool thing for this blogger to see. And Baron and I promise that we are working on new episodes and that 2017 season three will be finished and aired for you all to see. Also keep your eyes and ears open as we are working on a new “Black Friday Special” that will air on DATV for the Horror Host Underground Marathon on November 25th. Below is some pictures of Baron at Lily’s for the meal that he hosted so give them a look and enjoy!

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So now we are at the Hewitt farmhouse and it’s clear that Leatherface is home as I can hear the screaming coming from the basement and the faint noise of chainsaw is also filling the air. So before we go any further this far on this Halloween update lets take a quick look back at what we have taken a look at this far that was meant to chill your blood and send shivers down your spine as we chatted about a loose bull named Dumpster Diver, explored the Sonic.exe Creepypasta legend, reviewed a independent comic, visited some haunted Ohio roads, shared a Horror Movie Marathon I had and chatted with Horror Host Janet Decay! So it’s clear that it’s time for us to take a look at who Thomas “Leatherface” Hewitt is and what this remake of a classic is all about so while the screams from the basement echo in the night air lets take this moment to chat about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 2003.

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Driving through the backwoods of Texas, five youths pick up a traumatized hitchhiker, who shoots herself in their van. Shaken by the suicide, the group seeks help from the locals, but their situation becomes even more surreal when they knock on the door of a remote homestead. It’s quickly apparent the residents are a family of inbred psychopaths, and the unlucky youths suddenly find themselves running for their lives. In hot pursuit is a disfigured, chainsaw-wielding cannibal known as Leatherface.”

Texas Chainsaw Massacres was released on October 17, 2003 and was released by New Line Cinema with it being directed by Marcus Nispel and starring Jessica Beil, Erica Leerhsen, Johathan Tucker, R. Lee Ermey and Andrew Bryniarski as Leatherface. The film grossed $80,571,655.00 at the US Box Office on a $9.5 million dollar budget. While Foreign Box Office brought in an additional $26,500,00.00 bring the worldwide total of this film to $107,071,655.00 making it a hit for New Line Cinema. The film ranked as 37 of the year and beat out such cult films as Kill Bill Vol. 1, Bad Santa, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Underworld, Final Destination 2, Lost In Translation, 28 Days Later, Jeepers Creepers 2, Monster, Wrong Turn, Cabin Fever and Darkness Falls to name a few. This 2003 remake was met with mixed reviews as many enjoyed it while others ranted about it like it used a chainsaw on their mothers! And this was also the treatment it got from Critics and Reviewer’s as it was a clear showdown of the pro supporters for this new direction for the iconic horror series. The same split was happing as well with my friends and I, but we will get to that a little later. Love it or hate it Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 was a film that sparked the Horror Remake Boom and allowed Platinum Dunes to sink their blood sucking fangs into making many other remakes of other classic Horror films like “The Amityville Horror” in 2005, “The Hitcher” in 2007, “Friday The 13th” in 2009 and “A Nightmare On Elm Street” in 2010 and they all as well have a very split ratings with Horror fans. The film also sparked a pre-equal in 2006 with the film “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”.

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I can remember that in 2003 when it was announced that New Line Cinema was teaming up with Platinum Dunes a company created by director Michael Bay and producer Brad Fuller to make a new Texas Chainsaw Massacre film my friends and me were really hyped for it. But soon when news started coming out that it was a remake and being directed by Marcus Nispel who only directed music videos and documentaries for such artists as Janet Jackson, Spice Girls and Billy Joel I started to worry as did my friends. Then when the casting was being talked about things again started to take a turn even more toward the worried zone when the lead actress was Jessica Biel a great actress but known for the time as Mary Camden on the cheesy show “7th Heaven” and during interviews to hype the film the producers and crew clearly didn’t know the source material but were claiming they were all huge fans. On opening night Andy Copp, Josh Weinberg and my brother Bryan and his girlfriend (wife now) Bel and me and my girlfriend at the time Misty all went and seen it in the theater that Andy was helping out at. I can remember sitting in my seat with popcorn and a Mountain Dew to drink waiting for the film to start in the packed theater sitting next to Misty and Josh talking about Horror Films in general and what we were hoping from this film. The crowd was buzzing with talk and chatter of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and discussions of how this had to be better than Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation and how it will compare to the original. As the theater lights went down and the trailers played we all sat and watched Leatherface and his family The Hewitt’s do what they do deep in the heart of Texas. After the film was over and the crowd was mixed as I heard many people talk about how it was the best Horror Movie they have ever seen with others complaining about how dumb and silly the film was and seemed like a CW show mixed with horror. After the theater was cleared we all stood in the lobby and we were all split in our reactions to the movie, “the haters” were Andy and Bryan, the “it was ok” was Josh and Me, “the loved it” group was Misty and Bel. Bryan and Andy hated it as they felt it was generic and that scenes were over the top and poorly set up. The talk lasted for around 30 minutes before we all went our own ways, and when home Misty talked about why she loved it some much as she found the characters likeable and Leatherface spooky and brutal and this made for a good watching experience for her. Over the years I have went from thinking it was ok to hating it to liking it and repeat that cycle over and over, but now I can officially say that I find the film ok while not my favorite in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre it does have some great moments and Leatherface is very menacing, the part that still to this day bothers me is the over use of R. Lee Ermey as Sheriff Hoyt, his constant screaming just is over blown and super cheesy in my opinion. I know that that’s not a popular opinion as many Horror Fans credit him for why they like the film for me he is one of the reasons its just ok, if the character was used less and not as a main focus as at times the movie seems to have him as it’s top villain and Leatherface is more of a background killer. But say what you will about the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for this Horror fan it was a fun watch in the theater with friends and has been fun to re-watch on DVD and has sparked many cool comic book series based around it and it’s characters.

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Lets now take a brief look at the Leatherface of the Platinum Dunes set of films. Thomas Brown Hewitt was born on August 25, 1939 to Slone a worker at the Blair Meat Company in Texas on her shift and when born his mother died and Thomas had a skin disease and her boss tossed him into the dumpster still alive! Thomas is found in the dumpster by Luda May Hewitt and taken home and were she raises him as her own. Growing up his facial skin disease got worst and his attitude turned violent as he is mute and has retardation and worked for the Blair Meat Slaughter House until it’s closing. Thomas to cover his face would wear a cow leather mask and would listen to what ever his adapted family would tell him to do and that included killing, cooking and eating people as the town was dying and food was hard to come by so they turned cannibal. Thomas also has a tendency to harm and mutilate himself and is easily persuaded to do bad things by his Uncle Charlie aka Sheriff Hoyt. Thomas during his killing and grilling human ways discovers that he can make masks out of human faces and cover of his disfigured face getting the nickname Leatherface. In 1973 while killing a group of young adults Thomas chases a woman into the long closed Blair Meat slaughterhouse and has the table turned on him when she uses a meat cleaver to remove his arm! Thomas was last seen sometime later when he kills a Cop and his cameraman who where sent to investigate the Hewitt farmhouse. While missing and not captured Thomas “Leatherface” Hewitt is still one the loose and eating and stealing peoples faces. Below is the three faces of Leatherface from the 2003 film to show you how his appearance changed throughout the film.

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre is not just a series based on the lead killer Leatherface but also the fellow demented family members who make up his twisted household! The original film had Grandpa, The Hitchhiker and The Cook! The second film had ChopTop, The Cook and Grandpa! The third had Tex, Tink, Little Girl, Alfredo, Grandpa and Anne! Even the fourth film had solid family members like W.E, Vilmer, Grandpa and Darla helping Leatherface on his task of killing. The first three films that last name of the family was Sawyers with the fourth film Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation changing the last time to Slaughter and with the Platinum Dunes series their last name is Hewitt and the newer films its back to Sawyer…so as you can see this series is as jacked up as the characters that make it up but the main thing is the family was always around no matter what they name each was a crazy as the others. The 2003 family is lead by Charlie Hewitt Jr. who after killing the towns only police officer starts going by Sheriff Hoyt and is the master mind of the family killing and eating people so they will not go hungry, in the past he was a solider in war and what he seen during the war has twisted him into a terrible human being who enjoys torturing and messing with the minds of his victims. Luda May Hewitt is an older woman who is the adoptive mother of Leatherface and runs the gas station of the dying town. Monty Hewitt use to drive the towns tow truck but after an accident his legs are removed and now he is wheelchair bound. Jedidiah Hewitt is a weird bucktoothed kid who is treated like a dog by the family, while a Hewitt he seems to hate all the killing. The Tea Lady and her daughter Henrietta Hewitt live in a trailer and live a normal life of watching TV and drinking tea….and oh yeah they steal babies! All sick and all twisted in their own way and each help add to the crazy blood soaked world of Thomas “Leatherface” Hewitt.

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Andrew Bryniarski in 2003 dawned the human skin mask and picked up the chainsaw to portray Leatherface for the remake film as well as it’s follow up film, making him the only actor to play the role twice up to this point. Andrew started his career in the spotlight as a body builder and started his acting when visiting a friend in Los Angeles a talent agent spotted him and got him a role as Butterfinger in the 1991 film “Hudson Hawk”. That same year he landed a role in “Necessary Roughness” and before that in 1990 he had a tiny role in the film “Dragonfight”. Many great roles followed in such films as “Batman Returns”, “Cyborg 3” and “The Program”. In 1994 he played the live action version of video game character Zangief in “Street Fighter” and would go on to be in other films like “Scooby-Doo”, “Pearl Harbor”, “Rollerball” and “Any Given Sunday” until landing the role of Leatherface in 2003’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake. Many other horror film roles followed including the 2004 film “The Curse Of El Charro”, “Seven Mummies” from 2005 and the 2006 pre-equel film “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” and his last major horror role he played Count Dracula in the 2008 film “Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Guest”. Over the years and during my many convention bookings and ones I attend I have meet and seen Andrew many time over the years and oddly enough many fans love his big over the top nature and on the other hand I have heard very negative things about him from fans who found him to be a jerk! I have never had an issue with him and any time I have seen him he has always treated me with respect and in a friendly manner. But Andrew has had his share of controversy as in 2012 he ran into some issues as he was arrested for hording dogs, or so the charges against him tried to say. But in 2015 when actor and original Leatherface actor Gunnar Hansen passed away Andrew took to twitter to mock fans who were upset over Hansen’s passing as the two actors did not have any love for each other and had taken shots at each other before and this caused a feud between fans as some showed support for Gunnar and others took up for Andrew and his lack of sadness for the horror icons death. For me Andrew’s commits of “Boo Hoo” and telling a fan of Gunnar’s this in response to him defending the deceased actor this “Zero F*cks Given, s*ck his dead n*ts” shows that he has no common sense, but to be fair we all have said dumb things in our lives. Was Andrew Bryniarski the best Leatherface…for me no that will always belong to Gunnar Hansen as he was the original and set the bar that all actors had to follow who wore the skin mask and wielding a chainsaw, but Andrew was a new generation’s Leatherface and did his job well and helped make his films what they are. While now mostly doing B-Movies Andrew is still somewhat active in the acting game.

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So we are still outside at the Hewitt farmhouse and I can hear the chainsaw starting up again in the basement so my guess is we are now at the comic review part of our big Halloween update that brought us back here to Texas to re-visit Leatherface or at least some one called Leatherface! I want to thank Mavericks Cards and Comics, Bell Book and Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these comics in stock and making this update possible. So while Lionsgate is playing games with the release of their upcoming Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel, me on my blog Rotten Ink decided that we should have a TCM and Avatar Comics kind of Halloween! If you listen coming from the Hewitt living room window you can here good old Sheriff Hoyt telling Uncle Monty this “Matt grades these on a f#&$!ing star scale of 1 to 4 and is looking for how damn well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story.” And I hate to say it he is right on how I grade these comics. So stay low and don’t make a sound as we once more take a peek into the sick and twisted life of Leatherface.

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TCM: Special # 1  **1/2
Released in 2005     Cover Price $3.99       Avatar Comics     # 1 of 1

It’s 1972 in Fuller, Texas, and a group of convicts have escaped prison and are driving toward Mexico to avoid being re-captured and along for the ride are two female friends, one of whom helped with the escape. Hardy Miller is a convicted drug dealer, Ellery Watts a convicted rapist and Rufus Kimoni, a member of the Black Panthers, make up the criminals while Darlene is Hardy’s girl and Charity is a sweet young woman caught in a bad car filled with nuts! They stop at the small store run by Luda Mae Hewitt and before the criminals come in to rob her, she is able to call her home for help.  When they find she has no money, they go to leave and soon find that their car is now destroyed in a matter of minutes! Miller and Darlene go one way and leave Charity using the restroom and Ellery missing. Rufus goes back in to question Luda Mae but is chopped to death with meat cleavers by Luda Mae and Tea Lady! Meanwhile Ellery tries to rape Charity and is killed by Leatherface who chops him up with his trusty chainsaw. Charity runs to a small trailer home and meets Henrietta Hewitt who tries to calm the girl as she knows that the young woman is pregnant. Darlene and Miller make the mistake of entering the Hewitt house hoping to find a car to steal and are both knocked out by the wheelchair bound Monty Hewitt who swings a mean brick. Leatherface and Henrietta force Charity to the farmhouse as Sheriff Hoyt forces Miller to snort kitchen cleaner, and they give Darlene to Leatherface who kills her in the basement.  Lastly, after the terror makes Charity lose the baby, she becomes the final victim to taste the saw blade of Leatherface.

The crazy Hewitt family is at it again, this time setting their twisted sights on a carload of criminals who escaped from prison and are dumb enough to stop in Fuller, Texas! The plot is really that simple and has the Hewitt’s killing off a carload of terrible people who are killers in their own way with only one of them being a good person in a terrible situation. Hardy Miller and Darlene are bad people who get a joy of selling drugs and robbing people to get what they need and want.  While not the worst of the group, they get it pretty brutally with Miller getting the worst torture of it all as he has to snort dangerous chemicals that eat away his sinuses and then is chopped up like a hog! Rufus Kimoni is a killer who was part of the Black Panthers and seems to be very trigger happy to end someone’s life as he even wanted to kill Luda Mae when they attempted to rob her as she didn’t have enough money for them. Ellery Watts is a sleazy creep who gets what’s coming to him for trying to rape Charity, but to be fair I wish he got it worse as he took pleasure in his victim’s fear and screams and is a true scumbag.  Charity is the only likable character and is pregnant and just wants to get to Mexico and hitches a ride with her friend Darlene and her criminal friends.  She is truly the one you find yourself cheering for to make it out of this massacre alive. But as we all know, none of these characters make it out alive and are all turned into meals for the Hewitt family. Leatherface is a pure slasher killer in this issue and stalks and kills whoever is not a part of his family.  The rest of the Hewitt family are also very blood thirsty, and each one shows they take joy in killing as even the overweight Tea Lady uses a meat cleaver to murder a man. While the plot is simple and for most accounts very cheesy, the gore and blood level is turned up and it’s pretty brutal with the issue’s best death being the murder of a unknown female at the start of the issue that is cut in half by Leatherface in the family’s basement! Like all Avatar comics, there are like a million covers, and the one I have is called The Bloodbath Cover and is pretty dang eye catching.  I am sure it drew in many horror comic readers in 2005. The art is done by Jacen Burrows and is pretty great stuff with the film’s story being written by Brian Pulido who is known for being the creator of Lady Death and the owner of Chaos Comics. Over all a nice single issue story that is sure to please fans of the TCM series as well as gore hounds who enjoy bloody and brutal comics.

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TCM: Fearbook # 1  **
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.99       Avatar Comics     # 1 of 1

A car is zooming down a road in Texas with Charlie behind the wheel and his passengers Sahara, Lucy and Jeb are having a good time.  Jeb is having the best time as he is dropping acid! They all stop at the little gas station, and Lucy and Jeb go inside to get snacks but soon are harassed by Luda May and Sheriff Hoyt who also punches out Charlie and arrests him after he finds the young man disrespectful in tone once he enters the store looking for his friends. Sheriff Hoyt takes Charlie to the old farm house where he and Monty talk down to their prisoner.  Meanwhile Sahara follows Hoyt to the farm, and this is a big mistake as it just leads them to be trapped in the house and for Leatherface to have his fun! Leatherface guts Charlie with his trusty chainsaw, cuts off Jeb’s legs and causes Sahara to go into a panic and fall from the top of the steps and break her neck! Leatherface takes Lucy to the basement and wears the face of Charlie and nails the face of Sahara to Lucy, and the issue ends with him dancing is the basement with the corpse of Lucy.

This Fearbook is nothing special and to be honest is a very middle of the road read, as the story is just a watered down version of the Specials with way less character development and less gore. The story is a group that makes the mistake of stopping at the gas station run by Luda May and gets lured into a trap at the Hewitt farm house that leaves them almost all dead by the blades of Leatherface’s chainsaw. Charlie and Sahara are mouthy unlikable people who are disrespectful and have attitudes toward law enforcement and anyone with authority. Jeb is a hippie drug addict who spends most of his time in the comic tripping and talking about his hands…yeah, your typical druggie in a horror comic/film. Lucy is the most likable as she doesn’t like the drug use and tries her best to smooth over the drama and tension between the Hewitt’s and her friends. Luda May and Monty are barely in the comic, and as always, Sheriff Hoyt takes the main focus and cusses and belittles our characters until his nephew Leatherface can dispatch them. Leatherface makes quick work of these victims and seems to want to relax and “cosplay” as members of this group and dance the night away. The comic does have blood, guts and gore with the best kill being Leatherface using a hammer and nails to attach her friends face to Lucy’s…sick and twisted and a good kill. The cover I have for this issue is okay and features Leatherface in front of the house with the moon in the background.  The inside art is done by Daniel Hdr and is good with a story by Antony Johnston that is generic. Over all this is just a so-so issue that feels as if Avatar was just quickly cashing in on the popularity of Texas Chainsaw Massacre…let’s see what The Grind has in store for us as I hope it’s better than this issue!

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TCM: The Grind # 1  **1/2
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.99       Avatar Comics     # 1 of 3

The Milsap’s are driving a bus full of choir girls, and Julie Ann is the outcast, the dark haired girl whom the other girls make fun of and spread rumors of, even her own adopted sister Sadie joins in. When the bus gets a flat tire Mr. Milsap goes for help and makes the mistake of entering the Blair Meat slaughterhouse and is killed by the chainsaw of Leatherface. Night comes as the girls and Miss Milsap and her young daughter Ellie wait for Mr. Milsap’s return with help that never comes.  This causes Mrs. Milsap to go walk for help, and she as well meets a bloody end at the slaughterhouse thanks to Leatherface. At the bus, Sheriff Hoyt appears and plants drugs on the bus and takes all five choir girls and Ellie to the slaughterhouse and locks the older girls in a walk in freezer and then gives Ellie to Henrietta Hewitt who runs off with her. Poor choir girl Louise is set free by Hoyt, and he gives her to Leatherface who of course chases the young woman around the slaughterhouse and finally meets her end by his chainsaw! Sheriff Hoyt opens the freezer door and lets them know that Leatherface needs another playmate…

A choir team on their way to a concert has a flat tire that leaves them broken down and in the hands of the Hewitt family who have targeted them for death and food. The plot is that simple but somehow is pretty fitting for this kind of comic based on a series of movies that have very similar plots. The Milsap family seems to be good-hearted people who enjoy singing and spending time with each other as well as with their students who make up the choir group that has almost won many competitions. Sadly Mr. and Mrs. Milsap are killed off before we can get too attached to their characters as well as really know them. Ellie Milsap is a little girl who loves her parents and enjoys hanging out with the older choir singers.  Once she is taken away by Henrietta Hewitt, we are not sure what her fate is yet. The Choir Girls, while snooty and always picking of Julie Ann, still stick together when the odds are against them and danger is clearly present. Julie Ann oddly enough keeps writing to her foster dad that is making her adopted sister mad as something bad must have happened. Henrietta Hewitt is as creepy as ever and wants to collect young kids, and Sheriff Hoyt as always sets up the victims and treats them terribly with insults and abuse. Leatherface in this issue just wants to kill and kill and by the end of the issue has a body count of three already! The gore and blood is toned down and not nearly as brutal as the Special and Fearbook.  Pretty disappointing as the gore could have added to the brutal nature of the characters and story. The cover I have is called the Wrap Around and is just okat and nothing too special.  The art inside is done by Daniel Hdr and looks pretty dang good, and the story was written by Brian Pulido who thus far is making the plot pretty entertaining. The Grind so far has a pretty good start, and this first issue left me wanting to see what is going to happen next! So let’s see what brutal deaths and body count issue two has in store for us.

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TCM: The Grind # 2  **1/2
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.99       Avatar Comics     # 2 of 3

As Sheriff Hoyt tries to bully one of the girls to leave the freezer and get chopped up by Leatherface, it’s a hidden pencil by Julie Ann that frees the girls as she stabs Hoyt in the hand and they all escape and split up into groups of two in order to try and survive. Julie Ann and Rosa go one way as Sadie and Marsha go another while Sheriff Hoyt and Leatherface split up to catch them. Julie Ann and Rosa make it out of the slaughterhouse and end up seeing Ellie in the grip of Henrietta but have to run away before they can save her as Leatherface is on their tail.  When Rosa gets her leg stuck in a bear trap, she becomes another victim to Leatherface’s chainsaw, and her body is taken to the Hewitt house and her face is cut off. Meanwhile Sadie and Marsha are not as lucky and are caught in the slaughterhouse by Hoyt who takes them to the farmhouse leaving only Julie Ann safe and their only hope to live through this cannibalistic crisis. Sheriff Hoyt is going to kill the girls, but upon getting into an argument with Leatherface who is wearing the face of Rosa now Luda May, calls them both inside to yell at them.  This allows Julie Ann to save Sadie and Marsha, and the girls hide in the barn to come up with a plan to escape but are soon found by a very pissed off Leatherface!

The girls must keep their wits and do what they can to survive as the Hewitt’s are now in killing mode and want to teach these choirgirls a lesson in southern respect. Plus this time around we get a little more background on Julie Ann who had been arrested before being one of the choirgirls, and we find out that Sadie’s dad was a molester and that Julie Ann put a stop to his ways and that’s why she went to jail, protecting her adopted sister! Julie Ann is a character you find yourself liking as she is to the point and understands that they must fight to stay alive as well as knows when to run, as she sadly had to do when Rosa was caught in the trap and killed. Sadie, Rosa and Marsha do not have the killer instinct and that’s why they are in constant danger of being killed. Sheriff Hoyt is as sleazy and power hungry as ever and loves to talk down and torment these young ladies as you can tell it makes him feel in charge. When he takes a pencil to the hand that causes so much pain his fake teeth fall out, I found myself cheering even more for Julie Ann to make it out of this alive. Luda May and Henrietta are around but play more of background characters, but it does show that Luda May is the true family member with power as both Hoyt and Leatherface listen to her. Leatherface is still blood-thirsty and wants nothing more than to chop up these young ladies and maybe even wear their faces! I do like that in this issue Thomas does wear the face of a young woman, and this angers us Uncle Hoyt who doesn’t want his nephew to look girly. The blood in this issue is toned down even more and only one kill takes place as Rosa is chainsawed and face cut off but none of this is shown on panel and if it is, only shadows are seen. Wonder why the blood and gore is so lacking in this mini series? The cover is cool and has Leatherface coming after Julie Ann, and the team of Daniel and Pulido made it come to life. Over all another good issue with only one more issue to go with four more girls left to be killed! So let’s see if any of them get out alive or if they all will fall to the chainsaw.

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TCM: The Grind # 3  **1/2
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.99       Avatar Comics     # 3 of 3

The three girls manage to get away from Leatherface and hide, that is until the fear gets a grip on Marsha and she makes a run for it and pays the price with her life as Leatherface chops her up. Julie Ann and Sadie make a run for it as well but are captured. Tea Lady and Henrietta use garden tools to knock them out. When they awaken, they find that they are tied up in the farmhouse, and Sheriff Hoyt has read the letter Julie Ann was sending to her adoptive father.  Sadie is being hit on and tortured by Uncle Monty who who ends up killing her leaving only Julie Ann left who is forced to eat dinner with the Hewitt family! During dinner Julie Ann is given away to Monty who ties her to a bed and tries to assault her but she is able to break free steal a chainsaw, rescue Ellie and run away from a very mad Leatherface.  While Ellie keeps running Julie Ann is able to get a ride into the next town where she is blamed for the murders of her fellow choirgirls and the Milsaps thanks to her letter that was to be sent to her father that tells of her murderous thoughts! In the end Luda May and Sheriff Hoyt are happy that the Hewitt family is not exposed and some one else is to blame for the murders.

This final issue’s plot has our remaining girls being captured, some killed and one promised to be the bride of the wheelchair bound Uncle Monty, and when escaping and saving a young child’s life she in turn is blamed for the murders of her friends and sister! The story is good, and Brian Pulido does a decent job of making the girls likable and the Hewitt’s unlikable making this tale work. Julie Ann once more shows that she has what it takes to survive and does all she can to help her sister and fellow choir members to make it out alive, but only succeeds with saving the youngest Ellie. The fact that her homicidal thoughts are used against her and in turn makes her out to be the killer to the police is the nice twist this story needed…but I must say I would have loved to seen a follow up that had her escape jail and try and get her revenge on the Hewitt family. Sadie, who loves her adopted sister, is the last of the choirgirls to get murdered, and sadly she gets it slow and sleazy as Monty jokes her with a string all the while licking her face and sticking his gross tongue in her mouth. Marsha is just brain dead as she makes a run for it screaming and causing her own death as it alerts Leatherface to her whereabouts. Hoyt, Monty, Luna May, Tea Lady and Henrietta are all sick and demented and while they murder people, they have a strange family pride and traditions that include praying at dinner! Luna May and Sheriff Hoyt are the masterminds of setting up the framing of Julie Ann and shows that while their minds are dark they have a sinister way of thinking that protects their kin. Leatherface is what he always is, a simple minded killing machine who uses his chainsaw to chop and dice his victims who sadly stumbled in his family’s way. The gore is stepped back up in this issue and has two deaths with the bloodies being the chainsaw death of Marsha, but the best kill is Sadie by the hands of Monty as it’s just creepy and sleazy and feels so wrong. Daniel Hdr does the art again and looks great.  His Leatherface 2003 is not as good as Jacen Burrows who did it for the special, but still holds a gritty feel to it. The cover on this issue is called “Terror” and has the girls scared of Leatherface who is coming in for the kill. These comics based on the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre have the same appeal with me as the movie where they are nothing special but are okay when just looking to kill some time. Below is some artwork from this series so you can see the look and feel of this comic version of Leatherface.

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So while Thomas Hewitt in my opinion might not be as iconic nor creepy as Leatherface Sawyer, he made for one heck of a good comic book character for Avatar and even WildStorm some time later. Thanks for spending a small part of your Halloween with me here at Rotten Ink as it’s always a fun time to write these updates and share spooky comics with you as well as a hand full of other amazing terror tales from my ghost hunting adventures to Creepypastas and everything in between! But while the chainsaw noise is fading off into a distance, the ghosts and goblins are still roaming the streets so I think it’s time for me to find a safe house and eat left over candy from last year and tell you that our next update is about a failed superhero for Marvel called Solarman! So stay safe on this Halloween Night, and I will see you back here for the next update. So read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two, play a Survival Horror Game and as always support your local Horror Host! Happy Halloween!!!

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Gingerdead Man: A Cookie Madman

It’s almost Halloween, and this dark spooky night is filled with cold winds that chill the bones and bring the smells of the seasons with it.  Smells like rotting pumpkins, damp leaves and bonfires are smells we have all come to expect, but on this night the smell of gingerbread is in the air and it’s bringing a cheesy cookie killer with it under this Full Moon.  He will bring plenty of tricks but no treats…and I am sure by now you know we are talking about The Gingerdead Man, the character from a film series made by Full Moon Entertainment.  We will be looking at the Action Lab Danger Zone comic mini series based on this pint size terror. This update will also lead us to reveal what our Halloween update will be, and who knows, maybe I will throw in a little more treats to make this a fun and spooky update! So I hope you like cheese and gingerbread because this update is sure to give you a sugar rush as well as maybe even scare you a little, well maybe not, but I am sure you’ll at least have a good time with this quick 6th 2016 Halloween Countdown update.

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Before we go any further in this update, we first must get into the mind of our killer and understand who he is and why he is a killer cookie man. Millard Findlemeyer is a crazed killer who, while robbing a dinner in Texas, shoots and kills members of a family. Upon capture, this mad dog is sentenced to death, and thanks to the testimony of one of the survivors, he dies by the electric chair. After his death, Millard is cremated, and his ashes are sent to his mother who is a witch and in turn pours her dead sons ashes into gingerbread mix and places a curse on it and sends it to the bakery where the witness works.  Once baked, her son becomes a killer gingerbread man! As the Gingerdead Man, he is even more sadistic, craves revenge and also has a foul mouth and a very dirty mind as he loves the ladies and to be honest, the longer he stays as the cookie, the more perverted he becomes. You can’t keep him down, because if any part of him gets baked again, he will return from the grave and start killing again. During his journeys into murder, he has slaughtered people at a bakery, an independent movie studio and even at a roller disco in the year 1976. When captured, he is kept under lock & key and bound like Hannibal Lector as his urges to kill and rape are too amped up. While a bad guy, he also has semi helped people and did battle with the Evil Bong, another of Full Moon’s cheesy characters. So while not as cool as the Puppets from Puppet Master, and not even in the same league as say Chucky from Child’s Play, The Gingerdead Man still has baked his way into Horror Film history and remains a favorite character for fans of Full Moon and B-Movie Horror.

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Growing up I was hooked on watching and collecting Full Moon movies; my room was filled with many of their films on VHS, and I would watch the Subspecies and Puppet Master films all the time. I was such a fan, I joined the Full Moon Fan Club and wrote them letters many times, and what was so cool is they would write back and sometimes even send cool things like signed trading cards or other promo type items. I stayed a loyal fan even when their budgets were cut and their deal with Paramount Pictures went sour, renting them from the local video stores and buying them when I had the chance. I even stayed with them when they had a name change and started calling themselves Wizard again.  hell, to this day I support them, and this leads us to the breakdown of the Gingerdead Man film series that has three official sequels in addition to our lead little cookie killer showing up in other films like Evil Bong. So let’s pre-heat the oven and pop in a CD from Richard Band or The Midnight Syndicate to add to this October day mood and learn a very little about The Gingerdead Man movies.

The Gingerdead Man DVD

The Gingerdead Man (2005)

“An evil yet adorable Gingerbread man comes to life with the soul of a convicted killer – this real life cookie monster wreaks havoc on the girl who sent the killer to the electric chair.”

This horror comedy was directed by Charles Band and was released direct to DVD on November 8, 2005 of course by Full Moon Entertainment. Ohio’s own Danny Draven edited the film with Roger Ballenger doing the soundtrack. Gary Busey plays Millard Findlemeyer and also lends his voice to the Gingerdead Man puppet. Other actors in the film include Robin Sydney, Alexia Aleman and Ryan Locke. I first saw this film on a DVD that I bought from Blockbuster Video and can remember enjoying it for all its over the top nature and Gary Busey’s hammy performance.

The Gingerdead Man 2 DVD

The Gingerdead Man 2  (2008)

“The horrifying yet delicious and chewy Gingerdead Man causes murder and mayhem on the set of a horrible low budget movie set. It will take the determination of the studio’s young new owner to save both his company and well as the lives of his young new friends. Including a terminally ill young boy whose final wish it was to meet the studios stars – The Tiny Terrors.”

Like all cheesy horror film characters, you can’t keep em down and out if money is to be made.  So with the cult success of The Gingerdead Man, three years later Full Moon Entertainment was back at it again with Passion Of The Crust. In the director seat this time was Silvia St. Croix with actor John Vulich doing the voice of The Gingerdead Man for the not returning Gary Busey. The film also stars K-Von Moezzi, Kelsey Sanders and Michelle Bauer. The film also has cameos from horror stars like Adam Green, Greg Nicotero and David DeCoteau. This sequel turns up the cheesy humor, and I saw it on a DVD that I was given as a Christmas gift.  The film was released on July 4, 2008…so yeah, that year you could celebrate your independence with this cheesy low budget sequel about a killer cookie man.

The Gingerdead Man 3 DVD

The Gingerdead Man 3 (2011)

The Gingerdead Man travels back in time to 1976 and carries out an epic disco killing spree.”

Full Moon returned to the cookie jar for a third time with this sequel that has the killer cookie man going back in time like he was in “Back To The Future”, but this time the director was William Butler who also did the voice of The Gingerdead Man! Other actors in this film include Jackie Beat, Selene Luna and Junie Hoang. It’s release date direct to DVD was on September 13, 2011, and once more I got this movie as a Christmas gift! It’s overly silly and to date marks the last in the Gingerdead man solo movie series, but I am sure Full Moon will fire up the oven again soon and start up na IndieGoGo page to have a fourth movie fan backed and baked.

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The Gingerdead Man did not disappear after his third film in 2011 as in 2013 Full Moon decided to combine him in a monster fight movie when they made “Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong” and had the two cheesiest of their movie villains battle it out. The film was directed by Charles Band and had Bob Ramos doing the voice of the killer cookie. Like most Full Moon films, Gingerdead Man has also had his share of merchandise besides the DVD’s of the films like comics, statues, fake cereal box, poster prints and even a Halloween mask! Plus in 2014 as part of her “13 Nights Of Elvira” shows for Halloween, the one and only Elvira Mistress Of The Dark hosted The Gingerdead Man. So as you can see, this cookie doesn’t seem to be crumbling anytime soon in the eyes of fans…man, I have put so many lame cookie jokes into this review so far; what’s next talking about a slam dunk into milk?

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Gary Busey is an actor that is very underrated when it comes to his work in horror and science fiction films, not to mention his work in action flicks! William Gary Busey was born on June 29 1944 in Goose Creek, Texas and during school was a football player, but his true calling in life was to entertain. His first big break came when he played drums for The Rubber Band and appeared on recordings of singer Leon Russell, but his first acting gig came in the 1968 film called “Wild In The Streets” and would continue his acting for many great films like “The Magnificent Seven Ride!”, “The Buddy Holly Story”, “D.C. Cab”, “Black Sheep” and “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas” to name a few. But for me his roles in the following films are what made him a favorite actor of mine in my youth.  Let’s start off with the 1985 horror film “Silver Bullet” that was based off a Stephen King short story and had Busey play the fun loving, yet screwed up uncle named Red. In 1990, he would play the arrogant DEA agent Peter Keyes who is on the track of The Predator while using a cover up of trying to stop a drug ring in the film “The Predator 2,” and of course his work as Millard Findlemeyer in the 2005 horror comedy film “The Gingerdead Man”. But those are just a drop in the hat of films he was in that made an impact on my film watching life as he also was in such classic films of my youth as “Lethal Weapon” in 1987, the 1991 action drama “Point Break”, the amazing 1992 Steven Seagal film “Under Siege” and so many others like “Surviving The Game”, “Lost Highway” and “Soldier” and not to mention he also returned to horror in 2012 with an appearance in “Piranha 3DD”! In Busey’s personal life, he has battled drugs and alcohol abuse, battled cancer and in 1988 had a very bad motorcycle accident that left him with brain damage and lucky to be alive. Busey is a man who speaks his mind and has lots of weird quirks and is now the butt of many jokes and memes, but for me he will always be an underrated actor and played many roles of characters that stick in my brain as great performances.

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I have spoke many times over the years about comic companies that made quality horror comics that closed way too soon.  Names like Dead Dog Comics, Fangoria Comics, NOW, Innovation, Xmachina, Northstar, Blackthrone, Arrow and Eternity all come to mind and make me wonder what could have been. But for fans of horror comics like me, the past few years have given me hope that the rise of the horror comic is coming back as companies like IDW have made comics based on the likes of Motel Hell, The Fly and Godzilla.  Boom has done comics based on Hellraiser and King Kong, and even DC Comics have done several Swamp Thing series.  Let’s not forget the smaller independent companies who are truly do outstanding work in bringing horror back like The Bloodshed’s comic series We Kill The Dead.  Eibon Press is doing comics based on Lucio Fulci films like Zombie and Gates Of Hell among other original material.  Rough House Publishing has brought back classic series like The Dead and Gore Shriek, and even my very own co-owned company Sparkle Comics via our Horror Comic branch called Blood Scream Comics has many great horror theme comics in the works including The Wolf Hunter and Shocking Macabre Theater! But here and now I want to talk about a company who for me is truly bringing horror comics back and that’s Action Lab Comics who have released comics of this genre like The Final Plague, Southern Dog, Snowed In and Zombie Tramp, plus the best of them all, the Full Moon Presents Comics! So sit back and let’s learn a little about Action Lab Comics and their Danger Zone branch that offers mature rated horror comics.

Action Lab Logo

Action Lab Comics was started in 2010 by the combined forces of Shawn Pryor, Dave Dwonch and Shawn Gabborin, all of whom have independent self publishing backgrounds. The company’s first release was the graphic novel “Back In The Day” with the next release being “Fracture,” a comic that was crowd funded via Kickstarter. Many books followed including “Snowed In”, “Priceless” and the digital only title “Globworld” and best of all during this time the company was growing in the market and winning awards for their covers, stories and art.  Many others amazing titles would follow over the years like “Bigfoot Sword Of The Earthman”, “Monsters Are Like Us” and “Jetta: Tales Of The Toshigawa” to name a few. And to keep the more scary, bloody and horror titles away from the more mainstream titles, they decided to open a branch called The Danger Zone, and this was to become the part of this company I would grow to love and look forward to picking up titles from. Many amazing titles have been released via the Danger Zone branch thus far like “The Final Plague”, “Ghost Town”, “Grave Digger”, “Southern Dog”, “Night Of The 80’s Undead” and “Bolts” among many others. But when they announced the Full Moon Presents line of comics with Puppet Master being the first of the releases, I knew this was my kind of comic company! During this team up with Full Moon so far we have gotten comic mini series based on “Trancers”, “Gingerdead Man” and “Oblivion” with more titles to be announced and coming soon. I have talked to one of the company’s founders and acting Editor In Chief, Shawn Gabborin, and must say he is a class act guy who took time to chat with this comic fan and is also the man who’s writing the Puppet Master comic series and is a Full Moon Entertainment fan himself.  If you love horror comics, Full Moon or just good comic reads, check out the titles put out by Action Lab and their Danger Zone branch.

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So I think we should pre-heat the oven to bake up a batch of Gingerbread Halloween Cookies, and while we wait for that, I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for getting me these issue via my pull file and would as always like to remind you good readers that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. Plus I should also say that I am pretty dang hyped for the coming year to see what Danger Zone and other comic companies have in store for us.  I also can’t wait to see what’s in Sparkle Comic’s future releases as we have some cool ideas and deals in the works.  But the buzzer just went off letting me know it’s killer cookie man time, so let’s get to it shall we?

The Gingerdead Man 1 comic

The Gingerdead Man # 1  **1/2
Released in 2016   Cover Price $3.99   Action Lab     # 1 of 3

Betty’s Bakery has been closed down for sometime now, and Synithia and her street gang have chosen it to be a hideout and a place to make cookies and treats with a new powerful green powder drug called Confection that cannot be used without dulling it down.  As Synithia and some of the gang go to get ingredients to make the cookies, she leaves two of her goons behind to clean the machines. Meanwhile next door is the Cup Of Joe Coffee Shop where Kayla works; she tries to reach Billy, a young boy always in a hurry as well as deals with a crazy old man named Mister Gill who is ranting about the gang breaking in next door, as he thinks they are going to bring prostitutes! The left alone goons decide to use some old gingerbread mix they find and mix it with Confection, but this turns out to be a big mistake as baking it brings back The Gingerdead Man who goes on a brutal rampage, killing them with such things as an electric mixer.  The crazy old man enters the closed bakery looking for paid sex, but finds death at the end of a knife as The Gingerdead Man butchers him. In the end Kayla, Billy and a customer next door hear the screams as Gingerdead Man cuts off the old man’s finger and attaches it to himself like a penis!

Action Lab has captured the over the top horror comedy nature of Gingerdead Man very well in this first silly issue. The comic’s plot is very basic and yet a perfect way to set up this mini series story.  It has a street gang accidentally bringing back The Gingerdead Man who is blood thirsty and horny and slaughters members of the gang as well as a perverted old timer, all the while the innocent people next door at the coffee shop hear the screams and carnage and wonder what is going down. Synithia is the leader of the gang and has a bad attitude and wants to get her new drug on the streets so they can make money.  She also is very much a bully and seems to enjoy bossing her braindead members around. Mister Gill is clearly a crazy old man who is quick to judge and condemn those who don’t understand or are of the criminal world, but is also the type who will want the thing he judges, in this case it’s the sex trade. But poor old Gill is punished for wanting to pay for sex and is destroyed by a knife. So far Kayla seems like a responsible young lady who is working a job and trying her best in the world she lives in.  As for Billy, all we really know about him is that he likes firecrackers, is her younger brother and is kind of a trouble maker. The customer is a mystery and makes me wonder if he will just be another victim or will he be a hero. The Gingerdead Man is as sinister as ever as; from the moment he comes back to life, he is ready to slaughter and kill any human he can catch! His means of murder have all been items found in a bakery, and he does so with bloody glee. That’s one thing for sure, this comic loves the blood and gore with such brutal deaths as a head explosion, stabbing and a mixer to the back of the head with so much force the beaters popped out of the victim’s mouth! The humor in the comic is crude with the major laugh out loud moment being the finger penis as it’s so ridicules and silly, oh yeah and it’s also packed with baking puns. The cover is pretty eye catching and showcases our movie maniac with his mixer with a sinister grin on his face, with the interior art being done by Sergio Rios that looks fantastic and captures the mood of the film series this comic is based on. The story, as I have said, is very silly yet very entertaining and is done by Brockton McKinney who also does the rest of this series. This first issue is solid and good and is making me look forward to see just how this comic mini-series will play out.  So let’s put another comic cookie batch in the update oven and see what issue two has in store for us this October night.

The Gingerdead Man 2 comic

The Gingerdead Man # 2  **1/2
Released in 2016   Cover Price $3.99   Action Lab     # 2 of 3

Kayla has called the police over the scream she heard next door, and the cops just think she heard screams from a horror film that Billy is watching in the other room but still decide to check it out. In the bakery, The Gingerdead Man has made a cookie dough woman and is getting his joys with her when the cops find him and his murderous rage once more comes out.  He kills one cop with molten hot melted chocolate chips! The other cop is able to fire his gun and knock off The Gingerdead Man’s arm, but with a glee in his eyes, he forces the severed cookie arm down the throat of the other cop who, while choking, becomes crazed as he is now high on Confection! The Gingerdead Man uses a pizza cutter for his arm and orders the mindless slave cop to make more cookies as these will be his helpers and his army! Meanwhile Kayla and Billy are next door and arguing over the days events.  As Synithia and the rest of the gang show up, they fight with the cracked out cop, and the commotion brings Kayla from next door to close up and peek next door just in time to see The Gingerdead and his tiny cookie army and cookie dragon appear ready to fight the gang.

This second issue adds more bloodshed and a little more light to the story of the war that is about to explode inside Betty’s Bakery! This time around the plot has cops investigating the noises from the bakery that leaves one dead and one a slave to the sinister Gingerdead Man.  Add in the gang returning for their drugs and poor Kayla, and you have a set up for a final battle that will take place in the next issue that is also the final issue in the mini series. Once more Kayla is shown to be hard working and wants to do what’s best for her bratty brother Billy, who is foul mouthed and just a little jerk. Kayla also clearly wants to do the right thing as the noises next door not only freak her out but also could be something very bad. The cops are kind of walking blindly into a slaughter as they don’t think the noises Kayla heard were anything but from a horror film that was playing in the other room, but they should have been on better alert as one is killed and one becomes high on Confection and becomes a mindless goon for The Gingerdead Man. The customer from the last issues is not a player at all as he is gone in this issue and another random guy appears instead and offers nothing more than a background character. Synithia and the rest of the gang are very mad as they find their fellow members dead among other people as well as a cop high on their drug stash! The Gingerdead Man is as cruel and perverted as ever and not only kills but also makes love to a cookie woman…yeah, he is a little psycho pervert! I wonder how his cookie army and cookie dragon will slaughter the enemy in the next issue? The death in this issue has a cops face melting off by scolding chocolate; while cheesy, it’s is a great bloody death. This issue is filled with blood, gore, boobs (via the horror film Billy is watching) and lots of stupid puns and once more is just what fans of this film series would want in their comic book. The cover for this issue is okay, and the art inside by Sergio Rios is once more well done and fun to look at. Over all, another well done issue that still is holding the cheesy comedy horror charm that is needed for a series like this. Well the timer on the oven is almost ready to buzz that this series is over.  So let’s take one last peek and see what treats await us in issue three.

The Gingerdead Man 3 comic

The Gingerdead Man # 3  **1/2
Released in 2016   Cover Price $3.99   Action Lab     # 3 of 3

The Gingerdead Man along with his mini cookie men are attacking Synithia and her men and are doing really well putting a hurting on the gang members! The gang members figure out that the cookie men can just be crushed and killed and that’s what happens until the little guys decide to go on suicide missions and force themselves down the throats of their enemies! The Gingerdead Man himself gets into the action and cuts off half of a gang member’s face and orders the mini cookie men to cut off the face of the other gang member fully and killing him. Synithia, armed with cookie cutters throws some to her half faced friend and they go on a slaughter of cookie men and even take down The Gingerdead Man’s pet dragon he named Fux with them. Meanwhile Kayla is back at the coffee shop gearing up to fight by arming herself with kitchen tools and keeping Billy safe in another room. While outside in front of the bakery, the war is still going on and Gingerdead Man has killed the half face gang member and has his mini cookie men combine to make a big cookie man and try and kill Synithia, but thanks to Kayla and Billy who made a cake filled with lit fireworks, they are able to kill the giant cookie man and Kayla in turn knocks The Gingerdead Man into a super hot cup off coffee and the killer gingerbread man’s rampage is ended as he melts. In the end as the cops talk to the survivors, a stray dog gets into the coffee shop and drinks the coffee with the remains of the Gingerdead Man and goes off into the woods and poops him out!

The third and final issue in this mini series is still as goofy as the others and turns up the blood, gore and oh yes the puns! The plot is more action than story, and the final battle between Gingerdead Man and his cookie army and Synithia and her gang as well as Kayla and Billy will leave only one of these teams walking out alive. Kayla, who witnesses the sinister Cookie Army’s rise, does what any respectable citizen would do and that’s make sure her younger brother is safe and then gear up with wooden spoons and egg beaters and get ready to kick some cookie butt. I really like Kayla as I found her very easy to bond with and seemed like your every day normal young lady working for a small coffee shop who is capable of defending herself if need be. Billy is still a brat but his love for fireworks does save the day as his cake laced with the boom sticks is what brings down the giant cookie man and saves Synithia’s life! Speaking of Synithia, she as well is one tough cookie and fights for her life as well as the lives of her remaining gang only armed with cookie cutters and does some major damage as she is the one who even takes down Fux The Magic Dragon. The remaining gang members try to stay alive but lose their skin on their faces and one loses his head…as in it’s cut off. The Mini Cookie Army, The Giant Cookie Man and Fux all fight with anger and the joy of killing and all lose their doughy lives in this war. The Gingerdead Man is calling the shots of this fight and not only gives the orders to kill but also commits murder himself! While he is corny and filled with one-liners, he still is very brutal and enjoys snuffing out human life, but it’s funny that he ends up dying in a hot cup of coffee and is later pooped out by a dog…so silly. But that’s what makes this comic mini series work, is the fact it realizes how silly the source material is and just goes fully in on being over the top and down right stupid humor and gross gore. The most brutal kill of the issue I would have to say is the one gang member who first gets half his face cut off by the pizza cutter that The Gingerdead Man is using for a hand, and then a short time later he has his head cut off by the killer cookie man. The cover is good and eye catching as it shows Gingerdead Man riding his pet dragon Fux, and the art done by Rios is as before very well done and really does capture the silly nature of this character. While not the best comic series based on a Full Moon movie I have ever read, it is however one of the most goofy ones I have read and was perfect to review and chat about this Halloween season.  I would say if you like the movies or just looking for a crude horror comedy comic, this would be one you’ll want to check out. Check out some of the great artwork by Sergio Rios to see how good it is. Oh and I also want to share that this mini series subtitle is “Baking Bad,” a play on the TV Show “Breaking Bad”…oh the terrible puns and play on words from this series are eye rolling but entertaining.

The Gingerdead Man Art 1The Gingerdead Man Art 2The Gingerdead Man Art 3

So I hope The Gingerdead Man helped make your October a little better or is that spookier as I feel he truly is a character that’s so cheesy and he is a perfect fit for not only movies but also comic books. I want to also say that doing the countdown to Halloween updates is so much fun as I get to really dive into the world of horror comics and pick the things I think best fit my mood and the goings on of that year as in films released or custom comics being made. So for this Halloween update we will be traveling back to Texas and taking a look at the Avatar comics based on the 2009 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So once more the saw will be law here at Rotten Ink and as always we will have other topics and surprises in store for you, my friends and readers. So until then have one good scare, read a horror comic or three, watch a horror movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time as Leatherface wants to see you all face to face again!

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Marvel At The Dead Of Night

Welcome back to Rotten Ink!  Can you believe that we are just a short time away from Halloween? Something about this time of year just fills me with creative plans, and so far, I have planned many great new episodes of Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre as well as many great ideas for future comics to be released by Sparkle Comics and it’s sister company Blood Scream Comics. For this 5th update in our Countdown to Halloween, we will be going old school with Marvel Comics as we take a look at a comic series they released in the 70’s that reprinted classic horror and science fiction stories that were originally banned after the Comic Code witch hunt.  I will also talk about a Horror Movie Marathon that my gal Juliet and I had; plus the most scary thing we will talk about is the Comic Code itself! So open the windows and let a chill in as we travel to the Dead of Night!

Comic Book Graveyard Pic 0

On June 27th – 28th Juliet and I decided to have a Horror Movie Marathon, and for the pre-show we decided to eat a little dinner and watch two horror motion pictures to set up the mood for the next day.  We selected “Silent Night Bloody Night” to start with, a creepy Christmas themed horror film that plays on the whodunit. We then watched a 2015 slasher film called “Kill Game” about a white masked killer stalking and killing some young adults who used to pull pranks, and as always one went wrong and someone was killed. Both films were solid and a great way to start off our marathon, and both Juliet and I selected Silent Night Bloody Night as the best film of the night as it was a nice blend of horror and thriller and was shot well with scenes looking like they were lifted from German Expressionist films of the 1920’s. Plus the film starred John Carradine, who is mute in his role and rings a bell or writes on paper to communicate with others, strange and amazing. After reading a Marvel Tales issue and watching The Rifleman on ME-TV, I headed to bed to start a day of horror and scares.

silent night bloody night dvdKill Game dvd

On the 28th we woke up at 7am to start the marathon and loaded up on Ruffle Regular Potato Chips, Peanut M&M’s, for brunch we had breakfast casserole and for dinner home made chicken wings with the “Oh My Garlic” sauce. The fist movie of the day was a Universal Monster classic called “Man Made Monster” that starred Lon Chaney Jr. as a man who becomes a living breathing electric chair after an experiment goes wrong. The 2nd undead feature starred Bela Lugosi and was called “Voodoo Man” and was about a doctors rituals to try and bring his dead wife back to life that leaves many women missing and turned into mindless slaves. The third film was “The Body Beneath” a weird almost retelling of the Dracula story vampire film directed by Andy Milligan.  The world’s first basher film “Methodic” was the fourth film about a super natural serial killer who wants to kill his sisters. The found footage film “Hangman” was about a killer who watches and stalks families in their own home while living in their attics and watching them from hidden cameras.  The sixth film of the day was the Fullmoon Entertainment film “Ooga Booga” about a little doll that gets the spirit of a wrongfully killed man who wants revenge inside it. “Hellbilly” a short film about a killer who wears a skin mask and kills any person he runs into was the seventh film of the marathon.  I should also note it was directed by Massimiliano Cerchi. Vampire flick “Dracula’s Widow” was the eighth film and was about Dracula’s Bride being on a rampage when she finds out her husband has been killed and wants to return home and uses a Wax Musem owner as her slave to achieve her goals. Shot On Video film “Spine” was the ninth film and was about a twisted killer who targeted nurses as his victims. “666: The Demon Child” was the tenth film and followed a group of scientists being killed by a small demon baby who could bring on the end of the world. The 1980 splatter classic “Nightmare” scared up the eleventh spot and was about a killer with mental issues on the loose looking for some kills…or is he? The twelfth film was “The Redeemer” a film about a class reunion that has a murder loose who has the power of God on his side and an extra thumb! Unlucky number thirteen went to the heavy metal horror film “Shock’Em Dead” starring Traci Lords that follows a rock star who sold his soul to the devil in order to be the best in the world, but his wish has bad side effects as he has to kill in order to live! The time with Juliet was lots of fun and many of the movies were fantastic, but the weakest film, aka the Golden Turkey of the day, is one we both picked for the same reasons, Ooga Booga.  It was not funny and down right dumb and was too much about pot…just not good…besides the puppet for Ooga looked good. My top three films of the day are as follows: # 1 has to be The Reedemer, a great slasher film filled with a creepy killer who changes costumes for every kill and the run down school makes for a creepy background.  In fact on a fun note, the late great Andy Copp and myself talked about remaking or doing a sequel for the film many years back. # 2 goes to Nightmare, a great bloodbath slasher film with a killer who has some extreme mental issues and will not go down without a fight. # 3 was a hard one to pick but I settled on Dracula’s Widow as I am a sucker for the classic monsters, and I think the taking a bride of Dracula and placing her in more modern times made for a great horror film that took some great film tricks of German Expressionist films. I should also note that VooDoo Man almost made my # 3 spot as it’s a great Bela Lugosi film. Juliet’s top three go like this: # 1 Nightmare, # 2 The Reedemer and # 3 Hangman! Very close order for our top two, but her third surprised me but she really enjoyed the grim feeling of Hangman. The Horror Movie Marathons are always a great way to unwind and watch some horror films for the first time or even again after many years. But now it’s time for the spookiest part of our update the Comic Code…..a cold shiver just went down my spine.

Man Made Monster dvdVoodoo Man dvdThe Body Beneath dvdMethodic dvdHangman dvd
Ooga Booga dvdHellBilly dvdDraculas Widow DVDspine dvd666 demon child dvdnightmare dvdThe Redeemer dvdshock em dead dvd

Back in the 50’s comics based on horror, crime and thrillers were a popular cheap entertainment for kids as well as adults who enjoyed a good read. But all this was about to change thanks to Charles F. Murphy, a juvenile delinquent specialist plus author, and psychiatrist Fredric Wertham and his book Seduction of the Innocent that took a fight to the comic industry that went all the way to the Senate and put book companies like EC, Marvel and DC in the hot seat of making comics that were corrupting the youth in their judgmental eyes. You see, they claimed that comic books about subjects of horror, crime and thrillers were giving kids bad ideas that crime was cool and that murder was okay.  This of course was the raving of two sticks in the mud who wanted to ruin the joy of comics for kids. And worse, these two loons made it so parents as well as the government listened to their theories of comics causing crime.  So began the comic companies being put on trial as well as parents holding public burnings of comics all in the name of saving our children. Murphy and Wertham pitched a code that had to be met in order for comics to be made that they called The Comic Authority Code.  Each comic had to meet the rules that had been set that included such wonderfully stupid things like bad guys always had to lose, no werewolves, zombies or vampires, horror & terror could not be used in a comic series title, as well as many sexual acts like seduction, rape and sadism were forbidden, police could not be killed by bad guys.  This was just the tip of the iceberg of the rules they set! If a comic company did not follow these rules, retails shops would stop carrying issues from that company so they all had to put the Comic Authority Code Stamp on the cover to prove they met the code. Marvel, DC, Charlton, Archie and many others fell in line and followed the rules.  Marvel even canceled many of its horror titles to fit the newly placed guidelines. The company was the most affected by this code was EC Comics who were making titles like Vault Of Horror, Tales From The Crypt and Crime SuspenStories; they tried to fight it but lost the battle and even closed up shop due to the lack of support from retailers and fans. The Comic Authority Code ruled the comic world for decades with their strict rules and at one point even attacked writer Marv Wolfman’s last name as it was against their rules. DC Comics had to fight the case and add full credits to their titles. The odd part about this code is that they had no real power over the companies and could not enforce any kind of fine or punishment.  But all retailers would not stock a comic that did not support the code so they won out anyway.  Oddly enough Gold Key and Dell never did embrace the code and were still well stocked. By the 70’s, the Code was outdated and needed to update, and it did as monsters were allowed to be back in comics as were drugs because at the time they could use the comics to teach kids that drug addiction was bad. The Code stuck around for many years but by the 2000’s most companies stopped placing the stamp on covers.  Archie was the last hold out but also discontinued using it in 2011. The Comic Authority Code was a terrible modern day witch hunt that riled up parents, government officials, religious groups and retailers all over the theories of two out of touch old men who just wanted to say that only their voice mattered. But while The Comic Authority Code did lots of bad for the world of comics in my opinion as it kept horror titles at bay, it also helped build the independent comic industry, who grew from their strangle hold to give comic readers an alternative to check out that didn’t play by their strict rules. One things for sure, love it or hate it The Comic Authority Code is a large piece of comic book history, and its appearance shaped the comics that filled newsstands for years that followed its birth. To close this part, just imagine if this code was still around to this day and they never updated it.  I would guess that Marvel and DC both would be out of business and comics would not be as iconic as they are today.

Comic Code 0

The Comic Authority Code – now that’s scary to think how loons can wield so much power! I think it’s time to get to our comic reviews, and I want to thank New Dimension Comics in Cranberry Pa, Ebay, Mavericks, Bell Book and Comic and The Peddlers Mall for having these issues in stock for this bone chilling haunted filled update.  Each of those fine places made it possible for me to find these spooky issues and share them with you like ghost stories around a campfire. So turn off all the lights, pull the covers over your shoulders and bask in the light of your computer screen as it’s time for your dose of spooky Marvel tales of terror on this dead of night.  While the moon is full and the jack o lanterns are lit, I should remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I think we should now take a long look into The Dead Of Night and hope the monsters of these rotten ink pages don’t look back at us!

Dead of Night 1

Dead Of Night # 1   ***1/2
Released in 1973     Cover Price .20     Marvel Comics     # 1 of 11

“The Ghost Still Walks” a frat house prank went wrong years ago and left a pledge named Bub Lame dead after he had a heart attack in an abandoned house after seeing a fake zombie. Now a new batch of pledges are at the house, and they all know the Lane Curse that says his spirit will get into a body of someone in the house and will get revenge on the pledge master. Those who laugh at the curse soon find it’s real as one of them is the rotting corpse of Lane who wants his revenge. “House Of Fear!” Home investigator Charles Boyd and female reporter Jean are looking into a haunted house that’s up for sale.  Charles wants to prove it’s all fake so the house can be put up for sale, but while in the house they come across a ghost who attacks Charles, who now sees the house differently as he joins the six feet under club. “My Brother…The Ghoul” Hugo Luther is a man who digs up graves at the local cemetery and steals from the dead.  When he is seen by the night watchman, his identical brother is blamed for the crime and sentenced to death, but in the end the twins share more than just looks. “ I Want You To Meet My Brother Henry…He Dwells In A Dungeon” Jean is a new wife who married her husband George to get a piece of his new wealth that he was left from his uncle when he passed, but in the house she also meets Henry, his brother who is simple and deformed.  She hates Henry as she feels he is getting in the way of her master plan of driving her husband nuts and having him locked away in an asylum. Jean goes to the basement where Henry lives with a gun and fires a single shot into his room and hits a shadow. Upon returning to her room she soon finds out she killed the wrong brother.

This first issue is amazing, and if the rest of the series follows the lead of this one than this is shaping up to be a fantastic Marvel Horror Comic Series. To me it looks like all four stories in this issue are originals made just for this first issue and all of them pack an amazing creepy vide and capture the horror themes that were popular at the time. To choose the best story from this issue was very hard as they all reminded me of tales that would be seen on Tales From The Darkside or read in the pages of Tales From The Crypt or Vault Of Horror, but if I had to pick one I would say The Ghost Still Walks the opening story as I love his the story is told by a pledge who is scared yet laughs at the story of a curse, but he finds that in fact the curse is true and he is selected to be the messenger of the spirits revenge. This issue has no real weak stories as each tale of terror has it’s own charm and sinister appeal to it. The issue is packed with such ghouls and ghosts like a dead pledge ghost, a grave robbing ghoul, a deformed killer and a haunted house and each add a fright to their respective stories. The cover is great and very eye catching and this cover for this very issue is what made me select this series as this Halloween update! The art inside is also fantastic and this made for a fantastic read on this chilly fall night! I am looking forward to reading the next issues in this series and see if they hold up as well as this one that sets the bar very high and packs just enough cheesy horror to make for a solid spooky read. Over all I recommend this to any fan of classic horror comics.

Dead Of Night 2

Dead Of Night # 2  **1/2
Released in 1974   Cover Price .20     Marvel Comics     # 2 of 11

“He Walks With A Ghost” Barney Grill is a crook who gets his money mugging people on the mean streets, but his luck changes when we is visited by a lawyer who tells him a rich uncle has died and left him a mansion and lots of money in Hungry! Barney rushes to his new home and decides that the old family cemetery needs to be bug up and cleared away so he can add a pool and soon learns that they dead don’t like to be disturbed when they use his own tools against him. “The House That Fear Built” John and Mary live in a small house in the middle of the country when a new house is built over the next two nights, and even weirder strange lights are coming out the window so they decide to go visit and see who their neighbors are and soon find that they are aliens who are conducting an experiment to find out the weakness of mankind in order to take over our planet! It’s up to John and Mary to stop the next couple from coming over and in the house or we are all doomed! “The Nightmare” has a psychiatrist and his female patient during a visit telling him about her nightmare of living in a nice house with a loving husband and kids, you soon find out that she is an ugly witch and her psychiatrist is a skull face warlock and that to them nightmares or that of living a normal life. “The Girl Who Didn’t Exist!” Walford is a student of American Collage and he along with his fellow class mates under the teaching of Professor Haywood have found a statue of Claudia Caligara and for some reason Walford feels that she is calling to him, and over night he goes to visit the statue again and finds a tunnel to the past were he meets the real Claudia and fights an evil general to win he had in marriage! In the end Walford of 1973 is no more but now next to Claudia’s statue is one of him! Our final twisted tale is “The Frightened Man!” Franz Hyle is a dictator of a small country and he has run off the peoples only hope a man named Professor Rolfe, but things are not all sunshine for Hyle as he is visited by a green haired man who tells him that enemies are among his most trusted people. After this green haired man opens up Hyle’s mind he hears and see’s his own people plotting to take him out of power and he in turns has them all arrested. In the end Hyle is all alone and soon finds out that his green haired friend is his worst enemy and must face his real enemies the people he rules over.

This second issue is packed full of some really cool old school style horror stories as well as some that feel like filler. I think my favorite story was He Walks With A Ghost the opening tale as I love the idea of a no good scummy worm of a man getting lots of money and land only to disrespect the dead and have them come back and teach him a lesson in manners. Plus this one really reminded me of a classic style ghost story that would have been found in an issue of Tales From The Crypt or Vault Of Horror. The story that was good and my second favorite was The Nightmare while it was the shortest of all the tales it had a Twilight Zone feel and I love the idea of normal everyday like being scary to monsters! My least favorite one had to be The Frightened Man! as it really was not scary nor really that shocking as to who was the man with green hair, in fact this as well as The Girl Who Didn’t Exist should not have been in a Marvel Horror Comic and should have found a place in a Science Fiction series as no monsters, aliens or ghosts were in these stories and they felt like filler. So for those wondering this issue’s monsters and mayhem that appear are Zombies, Aliens, Witch, Warlock and Time Travel. The artwork in all the stories are top notch and fitting for this style of comic, and the cover while miss leading on so many levels (the main picture has zero to do with any of the stories and it claims to have four tales of terror when there are five) still has a great 70’s Marvel Horror Comic charm to it. Over all this was a fun issue and a nice follow up to the first so lets see what the next issue has in store for us.

Dead Of Night 3

Dead Of Night # 3  **1/2
Released in 1974   Cover Price .20     Marvel Comics     # 3 of 11

“The Hidden Graveyard” three hunters are following a dying elephant so that they can find the graveyard these beasts go to die in, they don’t care about finding it for study or science they just want the ivory! They were all warned by the natives of a meat eating beast named Kubba that makes home in the graveyard and kills what every trespasses on this land, but they think it all to be stories of myth. When finding the graveyard they soon find the myth is true and each must come face to face with the hairy meat-eating beast if they want the ivory. “Waitin’ For Satan” Mathews is a down on his luck bum who hangs out at the docks when he makes a deal with Satan to become rich and win the woman of his dreams, the pack also comes with a way for Mathews to escape being dragged to Hell that is if Satan comes to soon for him the agreement is broken, and after years of building up money and marrying his dream woman Mathews tricks Satan and gets out of the deal or so he thinks, by living a life the way he does a ticket to Hell just might be in his future. “While The City Slumbers!” an old man during a card game with his son and his friends tells a story of when he was twenty about a clan of pale skinned people named Mole Men who lived underground and wanted to over take the city for revenge for how their ancestors were treated many decades back. But on the Day they are about to attack an Earthquake happens forcing them to flee back underground and their cave was blocked sealing them in forever. No one believes the old man but in the end he has the proof a stone they gave him for safe passage during the would have been raid. The final story is “Only A Rose!” Helen is a jealous wife and when her husband Chester keeps leaving home late at night and she can’t get him to answer why she decides to follow him and watches as he delivers flowers to young women, she in a rage decides to get revenge and sends poisoned candy to the women killing them. After many nights of this and many deaths of young women she soon finds her husband was only working as a delivery guy and was not cheating as he was using the money to buy her stuff for her birthday! Worse he brings her flowers, candy and a watch and after eating the candy she finds out that the candy was returned and was the last box of poisoned ones she sent out…so in the end she dies the way she made others.

This third issue is really good and better than the second as I felt all four stories were top notch and had a good horror story appeal to them. I love the flow and vibe of this issue as it’s very down beat and only one story has a happy ending as that’s the mole men not taking over the town, but on the other hand people think the old mans crazy and the town is hot by an earthquake and massive fires so I guess it is pretty gloomy. My favorite from this issue has to be Only A Rose as I love how one woman’s insecurities leads to the death of many younger and prettier girls cause she could not trust her husband who in fact was a really good guy working as a delivery man to make extra money to but her something nice for her birthday. In the end she gets her date with death by her own hands and feels the same pain her victims did and has that classic EC Comic style ending! One that I enjoyed was Waitin’ For Satan as I loved the idea of a con man trying to pull one over on Satan who tells him while I cant take you to hell now the way you lived your life already gave you a one way ticket and I’ll be seeing you soon! Great stuff and proves you should never make a deal with the devil. My least favorite is really hard to pick cause I really enjoyed them all but if I had to say one being the weakest one I would pick While The City Slumbers while it had the feel of dread the Mole Men really never did anything to terrible and run away from the fire only to be sealed into their cave forever, while a good story not to scary. The cover is once more great but miss leading as slime people are not in the comic nor does anything come from the sewers. The art is great again and is what horror comics at this time and before were made of. For those keeping score the monsters and themes of this issue are Big ape like beast, underground pale skin men, the devil and a female killer who uses poison. So this is another great issue in this series and well worth the honors of being on a Halloween update, so lets move onto issue four and see what full moon fury we can get into.

Dead Of Night 4

Dead Of Night # 4  ***
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 4 of 11

“Werewolf Beware” Hugo is a man with a curse that turns him into a werewolf every full moon and worse he has fallen in love Erika a lovely towns girl. Things are going great till the next moon when Hugo must leave Erika behind after an argument and she follows as he tries to fight the urge to change, in the end love and a wooden stake to the gut ends the curse once and for all. “The Death Of Me!” Joe is a man who notices that when he looks into a mirror for a brief second he catches the face of a man who looks like him but his face is always twisted with hate! The man tricks the man in the mirror and captures it talking to the mirror version of his wife about killing Joe and his wife Betty off so that they can live, Joe goes around the house smashing the mirrors and is taken to an asylum were he soon finds out mirrors are not the only things that give off reelections. “We Meet At Midnight!” Hugo is a disfigured man who has grown up to a world that treats him poorly for the way he looks and now he hates everyone and everything besides books and finding the secrets of Egypt via the Sphinx. Hugo travels to Egypt and soon learns that the true secrets of the Egyptians is preservation of dead bodies via making them Mummies! The final terrifying tale is “ Worse Than Death!” George is a slumlord that only cares about money that he keeps in his home as he loves to just look at it whose apartments are fire hazards and one day a fire breaks out and kills hundreds, in the end a husband of one of the victims takes all of Georges money and flings it out the window driving the greedy man insane.

This fourth issue is really good and three out of the four stories are fantastic and they type I would hope for in a Horror Comic series done by Marvel. Each story is different and are about monsters, greed and supernatural beings and all I am sure sent shivers down the spines of readers of the early 1970’s. My favorite story in this issue is The Death of Me as I truly loved the idea of your refection being a being from another dimension who wants you dead so that it can live fully, makes you want to look a little closer at your mirrors next time you walk past them or use them to do your hair and brush your teeth. Werewolf Beware was almost the winner, as I do love a good tale about a lycanthrope that’s ending reminded me of a Paul Naschy werewolf film, not to mention Don Heck did the artwork. The weakest story has to be Worse Than Death as I feel that it was a good story it really was not scary and had zero elements of horror. The issues baddies include a werewolf, greed, the Sphinx and mirror spirits, it’s a great mix and gives the pick your chill/scare factor to this issue. The cover on this issue has to be my second favorite in the series as the werewolf looks fantastic and ties into the opening story. Over all this is a sold issue and one that proves this series has some bite to it and proves that classic reprint comics can be done if they are done right. Lets see how the next issue of Dead Of Night holds up on this Halloween update!

Dead Of Night 5

Dead Of Night # 5  **
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 5 of 11

“Deep Down” a man is walking when strange men began popping up from the ground and asking him for help and if he can help them they will make him rich! When the man goes down the tunnels with them he finds a giant gold nugget and they tell him they cant remove the nugget cause it blocks the entrance to a cave that houses a lizard dragon monster they call Dragila who will become loose and kill them all. You see all the men down in this hole are not ghouls or zombies but they are all men who are greedy and want a way to get the nugget away safe, the man spends some time thinking about how to get away safe with the gold but he comes to terms that it’s not worth it and walks away as does the 50 other men who wasted their lives waiting for this gold. “The Worst Thirst” Pete and Joe are brothers who live on a farm and their well has ran dry thanks to new neighbors who dug their well to deep stealing all the water. They now have to buy water from a trucker who brings it in from the city and this makes them very mad! So they decide that at night they will use pipes to steal the water back and in the process even kill a man to get their water back, and when they do they are so happy as the water flows high and they drink and bathe in the water. In the end the truck diver shows up and they tell him they don’t need the water but the neighbors will and the driver informs them that the well water has been poisoned and anyone who drank from it will die in two hours! “The 13th Floor” Mr. Creel owns a building and when he gets visited by ghouls wanting to rent out the 13th floor of his building he is confused as he don’t have a 13th floor but rents it to them anyway. After a the lease is up and wondering were the ghouls go he gets to see the 13th floor but his happiness to make more money turns to terror as he learns that floor only exists for ghouls. The last story is “One Must Die!” Doctor Zorg runs a zoo were he experiments on animals and how they will kill their mate in order to survive, his wife Millie is in love with Jim a helper of her husband and they have a plan to kill him via a bomb under his bed. But Zorg catches the two and dugs them and grafts their body together and in order to escape the approaching hungry wild animals they must figure out a way to get suppurated even if that means killing the other!

This issue is pretty weak and does not offer the chills and terrors of the past ones delivered. In fact I think almost all the stories in this issue are very weak and have a filler vibe to them. The best by a landslide story is The Worst Thirst as I like the feel of a backwoods brothers killing to get water something we all need and when they think they have won the really just killed themselves by drinking deadly poisoned water. The one that was ok and this is even a stretch to pick is One Must Die as I love the idea of two love birds turning on each other like wild animals to survive, and nice touch that the only way they can come apart after being fused together is a sharp giant ax. The worst is hands down Deep Down a clearly horror comedy type idea that’s pay out is that they wasted their lives over gold that they can never get, yeah not scary nor chilling just lame. The cover is based on Deep Down and shows ghouls coming from the ground and what we get is something very lame, the art once more inside is fantastic and is just like all the others very well done. This issue had a pretty good rotten ink smell and this helped add to the dead in the water feel of the issue. Over all so far this is the weakest issue in the series and I cant wait to see if the next issue pulls this series out of the grave this one placed it in. Oh yeah the monsters in this issue are greedy miners, poisoned water, a lizard dragon thing, ghouls and hungry animals.

Dead Of Night 6

Dead Of Night # 6  **1/2
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 6 of 11

“Jack The Ripper” is about a graveyard that is haunted by the spirit of Jack The Ripper that kills anyone who dares to look for his gravestone, an American who thinks its all a hoax travels to England to find the grave to prove it all fake finds out that Jack The Ripper’s ghost still has a knife to sharpen on human bone! “Down In The Cellar” old man Judson is a taxidermist who loves birds and when a hunter keeps bringing him in ones he shot the old man begs him to stop and to hunt big game, Judson begs him to check out his collection of stuffed big game that he has in his cellar and the man just laughs it off and brings in more birds for him to stuff! Finally the Hunter realizes he has gone to far by killing a bag of peacocks and takes the old man up on seeing his collection of big game that turns out to be stuffed bird hunters! “The Snowman” two mountain climbers in the Himalayas find the footprints of the Abominable Snowman and the go of to track the beast, but the would be fame has them turn on each other and they soon find out that man and his greed is the only true monster of the mountain. The last story is called “Sarah” and is about Sarah a woman who collects old artifacts and decides that if the old farmer wont sell her his sword of Benedict Arnold than she will steal it, and when she thinks she has been caught her only choice is to turn herself in!

This issue is packed with three good stories and one that’s more like a telling of a joke with a silly ending, but with that said I can say this is another good issue and almost a three star rated one at that! One funny thing before I go to far into this review that I have to point out is that according to Stan Lee who wrote the opening story Jack The Ripper was found, killed and buried and his real name was Jack The Ripper…classic comic book stuff and this made my night seeing this. The best story in this issue is Down in The Cellar another story that reminded me of Tales From The Crypt and had an ending I seen a mile away but still loved the pay off of a crazed old man who hunts bird hunters! The Jack The Ripper is a good story and shows that even after death the killer stalks and murders those who cross his path in the way of being a knife-wielding ghost! The weakest story is Sarah as its more of a joke story of a woman who thinks she’s been caught stealing by an art dealer and turns herself into the cops only to find out the man she thought had caught her cant speak English and was just a lost traveler. The Snowman is a fun story that only shows the footprints of the legendary monster and the two feuding men turn out to be the real monsters as one goes so crazy he wonders around the snow barefooted after killing his one time friend. The issues evildoers are The Ghost of Jack The Ripper, A Human Hunting Old Man and Human Greed, and the art inside is great as is the cover even if Jack The Ripper is shown on the streets and in the story he never leaves the graveyard. Well lets move onto issue # 7 and see if the quality of this horror series maintains the level of perfect reading of the Halloween season!

Dead of Night 7

Dead Of Night # 7  **1/2
Released in 1974    Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 7 of 11

“Corpse In The Streets” Arnold is a doctor who reanimates a corpse of a killer in order to turn him into a zombie that will kill for him as he is trying to raise money for a high end coat for his wife, the zombie kills his patients and Arnold robs the bodies and even sells off their cloths to make extra cash. In the end the zombie turns on his master when he falls in love himself with the doctors wife! “The 13th Floor” Hugh and his wife Mary are both sick and Hugh is working day and night to save money so they can move away to a place that rains less and the air is dry. In the office he gets on the elevator and gets off on the 13th floor and is puzzled as the building only has 12 floors and soon finds out the that floor is death and talks his way back to life only to have to live without his wife who dies that night, and they were trying to take him early so he could be with her! “Man Lost” Al is a jealous man of his brother Greg who has invented a time machine and when he drugs his brother over dinner and tries to go back and fourth in time to win at the horse races, but he should of listened as he becomes a man that time forgot and is just a shell of himself that no one can see nor hear! The last story is “Deluge!” Jason is a man who thinks the world works due to magnetism and is mocked and fired from his job, he later builds a machine that controls magnetism and this puts the world is chaos as he controls the very world and dies trying to stop what he started as the machine will not turn off!

This issue has some good stories and it has some real stinkers causing it to be a pretty standard issue that don’t pack any major frights but does have some good ghost story/campfire tales appeal. The best story in this issue is a tie between Corpse In The Streets and The 13th Floor as both were fantastic tales and each had their own charm. I like the zombie slave who falls in love with his masters wife in the first story and enjoyed the man who loved his wife so much that Death himself tries to rig time for him to pass the same time she does! The worst story hands down was the final story Deluge as it was boring and really cheesy and had no place in a comic about Horror, the only thing this story has going to it was that Steve Ditko did the art. The comics ghouls and horrors are a killer zombie, a world changing machine, a time machine and an elevator that leads to the Grim Reaper. The cover and art in this issue are both very well done and I really like the Grim Reaper on the cover who reminds me of the old Monster in My Pocket figure of that character. Over all this issue has two great stories, one that is pretty good and one that is just plan terrible! Worth a read and still is perfect for this late night Halloween update!

Dead Of Night 8

Dead Of Night # 8  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 8 of 11

“Alone In The Dark” Donald is a 10 year old boy who is left alone with his Uncle Claude who spends his time reading the youngster horrible fairy tales filled with death, you see Claude hates his brother and wife and wants to kill Donald and then them on this night! And at the stroke of midnight knife in hand Claude is about to make the kill but who is really the killer and who is the victim in this twisted tale of family issues. “The Eavesdropper!” Tony is at a bar when he over hears a plan between a man and a woman to kill her husband that night and collect the insurance money. Tony decides to follow them instead on calling the police so he can blackmail them and get a piece of the money, but he soon finds out that the attended victim might just be to close to home for his liking. “The Old Witch” George is a simple man who’s wife Helen has a heart of gold and feeds local stray pets as well as homeless people and gives them a place to stay in their home. Matilda is a old woman that she has brought home and George has a bad feeling about her and the first night catches her performing black magic in their guest room! George gets a wooden stake and while the old woman sleeps he drives it through her heart and buries the old woman out back, but to his shock his wife and neighbors call the police and he soon finds he killed his true love as a witch’s tricks are very sly. “The Slave!” Joe killed a man during a bar fight and fled before the cops could catch him, while on the run he falls ill and a poor villager takes him in and nurses him back to health were he finds that the small towns cemetery is filled with gold and jewels, and when the villagers suspect him of stealing he dresses as a slave for a man who has died and soon finds the not just riches are buried with the dead!

This is another good issue that is packed with four solid stories that are sure to chill the blood of old school horror comic fans. The issue has many horror characters showcased like an old witch, a killer and even a child werewolf showing this one was a true grab bag of monsters. The best tale in this issue is The Slave as I really liked the idea of a sleazy man who is so greedy he would steal from the dead of the people who helped him when he was near death, gets what he deserves when he is trapped in a tomb were he rots away slowly dying from starvation. The worse twisted tale is really hard to pick as none of them in this issue are bad at all! So I guess I will say the most predictable one is The Old Witch as the twist of the souls of the women changing place and the husband killing the wrong woman is something I seen a mile away. Over all this is a solid spine tingling issue that shows that old reprints can pack a punch for a new generation of ghoul kids.

Dead Of Night 9

Dead Of Night # 9  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 9 of 11

“The Empty Bus” it’s a dark and stormy night and when a bus stops to pick up Nick he is the only passenger on the bus or so he thinks, an old man appears out of thin air and sits with Nick who pulls a gun and the old man tells him a story of a night just like this about a man with a gun and murder in his eyes who dies when he tries to kill a man who use to run crimes with him, Nick does not listen and he in fact turns the story into reality. “Sazzik, The Sorcerer” Boris Grumm is a TV Producer who’s shows are so twisted that the station drops them with the help of multiple complaints, so to get even he comes up with another show based on a cruel black magic sorcerer named Sazzik! In then end Boris comes face to face with the spirit of Sazzik and he isn’t happy. “They Melt At Night!” Jeremy Miller is a scientist that people mock so to get revenge he makes a formula that melts peoples cars, his idea is to sell them the cure to make the cars no longer melt and make a ton of money, but soon finds that greed is not the answer to life and in turn has a change of heart. The final tale is “The Sudden Storm” hurricane Tessie is in full effect and the rain and winds are causing so much damage, a group of guys try and save an old couple who own a petting zoo but they refuse to leave, as the water raises we soon find out that the zoo is an arch and the owners are Noah and his wife!

This ninth issue in this series of mostly reprinted horror and thriller stores is well done but it’s clear they were running out of ideas for true horror inspired stories. The best story in the issue is the opening one The Empty Bus as it truly has a Twilight Zone feel to it and I love the message of a spirit trying to warn a troubled man not to try and kill cause it will back fire and he himself will be the one dead. My least favorite and really has no spooky nor horror elements to it at all is the last story The Sudden Storm as the pay out is a tie in to the Bible. The cover of the issue is fantastic and I love how the Grim Reaper is playing chicken with a bus, but sadly a bus is in one of the stories but this version of The Grim Reaper is not. The art inside is well done and just like all the others holds a classic horror comic look as they were originally done when horror comics sold well for companies. The monster run down in this issue is this an Old Man who could maybe be The Grim Reaper, a Hurricane, a formula the melts cars and an evil The Sorcerer. Over all an average issue with nothing that makes it to scary nor a stand out in the series.

Dead Of Nigh 10

Dead Of Night # 10  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 10 of 11

“I Dream Of Doom” a man is tormented by a monster in his dream and goes to a doctor for help as he fears if he sleeps the monster will get him! The doctor tricks him and gives him a sleeping pill and when he sleeps he meets the monster again who is not what he seems nor is the man…dreams are a key to the universe and this opens those doors wide. “I Wore The Mask Of Drothor!” is about a mask maker named Markas who is running out of ideas for masks and his sales are slipping, that is till he decides to make a mask based on a black magic cultist named Drothor who was so ugly that if anyone captured his image a curse was placed on them, the mask is so good he decides to wear it and rob a mansion but soon finds out the curse is real as his looks will now forever be that of Drothor. The last story is “I Was Face To Face With The Forbidden Robot!” Ralph is a man who wants to get fame and fortune in order to give his wife a better life and decides to reanimate a robot and set it free to capture it as robots are banned in society as they are viewed as threats to mankind. Ralph tracks the robot and has a terrible battle with it in abandon castle that leaves the robot at deaths door but before it dies it saves the life of Ralph as the castle catches on fire. In the end Ralph tells the truth about the robot being a hero and the world allows robots back into society.

This issue is pretty good and is filled with horror and science fiction and is pure marvel horror comic goodness. And the monsters in the issue are a dream machine giant purple monster, a black magic curse and I guess a robot. My favorite story is I Wore The Mask Of Drothor a great mean spirited tale about a mask maker who laughs off a curse and in Twilight Zone fashion has the curse strike and make him as ugly as the mask he made. The good one is I Dream Of Doom as I like the idea of a man being scared to sleep as it reminds me of A Nightmare On Elm Street and I like that the idea of him being wrong about the monster who is not there to hurt him but take him back to his dimension were he is a king! The weakest story as I will not say it’s bad is I Was Face To Face With The Forbidden Robot as I feel that once more while it’s a good story it feels more like one that should have been apart of EC Comics series Weird Science and it has a happy ending as Ralph gets the respect of his wife, changes the laws against robots and even will get the robot who saved him as a reword. Good story just kind of out of place and by no means a horror story. The cover is great and as always miss leading as the monster attacking a roller coaster is not in the comic and makes that scene that does happen in the opening story in a small dream sequence look way more bad ass than it is. The art as always is great and to sum it up this is a good issue. Well sadly we only have one issue left and this Halloween update will be coming to an end so I hope your not to scared as we take a look at issue 11.

Dead Of Night 11

Dead Of Night # 11  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 11 of 11

“The Sinister Scarecrow” Two goat masked members of a cult called Cult Of Kalumai break into an auction house to steal a painting of a sinister Scarecrow but they soon learn that The Scarecrow from the painting can come alive and kills them. We cut to the auction and The Scarecrow painting is up for sale and it’s a bidding war between Jess Duncan who is there with his girlfriend Harmony and his brother Dave who is a writer for a magazine against a creepy sleazy rich man named Gregor Rovik. Jess wins the painting and this puts Gregor into a rage who claims that painting will be his one way or another. Jess gets the painting home and as he talks with Dave and Harmony talk about it the Cult Of Kalumai bust in and knock out Jess and Dave and kidnap Harmony as a sacrifice to their dark master who’s image in under that of the Scarecrow in the painting! The leader of the cult is Gregor and just as he is about to kill Harmony The Scarecrow goes to life and kills all his cult members and chases him out into the yard were he had the near by trees come alive and crush him to death! In the end Jess comes to the side of Harmony and they relize that the painting is powerful and the key to fighting pure evil is in the hands of The Scarecrow.

This is the first issue of Dead of Night that does away with the multiple stories and focuses on one story that was made just for this series. The plot is about a cult who needs a painting and a human sacrifice to bring back their evil dark master, but they are blocked by a protector who is a Scarecrow that is painted over their masters portrait. The Scarecrow is a laughing killing machine who gets joy in killing the cult members and by all accounts is kind of an anti-hero. His powers are that he can control crows as well as trees and have them attack his enemies and evil-doers. The Cult Of Kalumai are terrible people who as well kill and steal and don’t feel bad for what they do, their only goal is to bring their Dark Master back to our world. Jess Duncan is a man who loves odd art and seems to want to figure out the mystery of the Scarecrow painting and has wanted to own that painting most of his life. Dave Duncan his brother is more interested in helping his brother so that he can write a story for his magazine about it’s history. Harmony is a loving girlfriend who also can take care of herself and wants nothing more than to help her man on his quest for answers. The comic is pretty violent, and while blood is not shown, many people die brutally from gunshots to necks being broken showing that Marvel Horror titles wanted to push the comic code as far as they could. While I like The Scarecrow, I like the issues with the multiple stories better, and it was clear as glass that Dead Of Night was going to become a full fledged Scarecrow series with this issue as they tried so hard to make the character iconic like their other horror characters. But sadly, this issue was to be the final as The Scarecrow was brought in as a new original story to try and help the poor sales Dead Of Night that was not a major hit with reprints only. The cover is well done and captures what the story is about, and the art inside, done by Rico Rival, is fantastic and makes The Scarecrow spooky and the Cultist sinister looking. It’s sad to think that Dead Of Night only lasted 11 issues and that even if it had continued, many of the issues that followed would just been about the adventures of The Scarecrow, if not all of them. Over all Dead of Night is a fun series that brought terror and horror to Marvel readers in the 70’s and earned its place alongside other horror titles like Werewolf By Night, Tombs of Dracula, Man-Thing and Monster of Frankenstein. While none of them reached the creepy nature of the first issue, the rest of the series had more hits than misses making for a top notch update for our Halloween showcase. Below is some artwork for the series that features the Kubba monster from issue 3, the werewolf from issue 4, and last is The Scarecrow from issue 11.

Dead of Night Art 1Dead Of Night Art 2Dead Of Night Art 3

Dead Of Night is a fantastic little series from Marvel, and I was happy that I was able to get them all and share with you on this Halloween countdown update! For the longest time I collected Marvel Horror titles like Tomb of Dracula, Supernatural Thrillers, Werewolf By Night to name a few and looked past the chills that a comic series like Dead of Night had to offer, but when I first found some issues in Cranberry, PA and read them I was hooked and knew I had to get the series and see what horrors it offered. I hope you are having a fun October filled with tricks, treats, parties and loved ones, and I hope your costumes will – and have – made people shriek with fright.  So until we meet again, make sure to read a comic or three, watch a horror film or two, support your local Horror Host and have a chilling good night! Oh yeah, you’re wondering what our next countdown update is about – well let me tell you, it’s from the bakery of horror as we take a look at The Gingerdead Man!

The Gingerdead Man Logo

Rawhead Rex: The Sinister Pagan God Of Womanizing!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, my ghouls and ghosts.  It’s hard to believe that October is here as it feels like just yesterday I was in Pittsburgh at Monster Bash with Juliet, and to top it off, we are at our 4th update in the countdown to Halloween.  For this one, I decided to leave the horrors of the sea and the supernatural and instead look into a monster god of Ireland that was created by the master of the twisted macabre himself, Clive Barker –  your horror fans know I am talking about Rawhead Rex. This quick update will be a good way to chill your blood as we take a look at the book the character came from as well as the movie and comic book that followed. So make sure to hide your girlfriend or wife as the mighty and sinister Rawhead Rex is on the prowl here at Rotten Ink, and he has been gone for way too long and his want for female companionship is out of bloody control.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Rawhead Rex 0

Who or what is Rawhead Rex? Before we dive into this update, I feel that it’s my duty to give you a quick crash course on him. Rawhead Rex is an ancient demigod demon who is the living evil embodiment of the male sex drive as well as macho-ness, and the need to kill and make it with women. He spent his time tormenting villagers eating kids and foundling and impregnating women. But when the town finally had enough of his rampage, they defeated him by burying him alive where he would sit for centuries. That is until a farmer set him free and reignited his rampage of murdering, including corrupting a worker at the nearby church in order to help him kill. Rawhead is so cruel, he sets a policeman on fire and even eats a child in front of his father all the while being so gleeful about his nasty deeds. The father and townspeople come together, and, with the help of an idol that represents pregnant women, are able to defeat Rawhead Rex, who is killed when the idol is used to bash his brains in. The movie version is very similar to the above origin that’s from the book besides the fact that a mother has to use the idol to send Rawhead back into the ground where he is buried alive once more. In the book, Rawhead is a 9 foot tall skinny penis headed monster with a mouthful of razor sharp teeth, shaggy black hair and tiny evil eyes, while the movie version is more of a muscle bound giant ogre looking creature with glowing red eyes and messy hair. His weakness is women who are pregnant or on their period as well as that idol. Rawhead is very cruel and doesn’t care who he kills or corrupts and is just a foul demon who enjoys the extreme sins of life and gets his sick jollies of using and abusing women. Below are pictures of the two looks of Rawhead Rex from today’s comic as well as two from the movie based on the short story that started it all.

Rawhead Rex From Eclipse ComicRawhead Rex In Cheesy ActionRawhead Rex From The Movie

Clive Barker is one of the world’s best horror writers and should be looked at with the same respect that people have for the likes of Stephen King. In the mid 1980’s Barker released a series of books that were titled The Books Of Blood Volumes that compiled many creepy dark horror themed stories.  Many of these stories would go on to be made into full films like “Candyman”, “Lord Of Illusions” and “Midnight Meat Train” to name a few, and many would also get comic adaptations thanks to Eclipse Comics. The book series lasted for six volumes that ran from 1984-1985 with each story being written of course by Clive Barker.  This is the series that put him on the map of must-read horror authors as they were highly praised by readers and critics alike. I can remember that my brother bought several of the Books Of Blood from Half Price Books and the Mary L Cooke Library sale in Waynesville when we were growing up, and I can remember the covers that had Halloween masks with eerie lights behind them and always wanting to read them but comic books and movie adaptation novels always seemed to win out when I wanted to read something. The older I got, the more I read – and not just comics but novels and short stories – and can remember reading Books Of Blood Volume 1 and enjoying the creepy horror and fantasy mixed short stories. This book lead to me reading more of Barker’s novels, and he quickly became my favorite horror author even over Stephen King! If you enjoy good spooky short stories, I recommend that you give the Books Of Blood a read, as I am sure you will truly enjoy them on a cold October night.

The Books Of Blood Volume 3

Rawhead Rex was made into a movie in 1986, directed by George Pavlou and starred the likes of David Dukes, Kelly Piper and Donal McCann with a script by Clive Barker himself. Empire Pictures was the distributer with Colin Towns doing the film’s score, and it was released in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The film was released to select theaters in 1987 and was pretty much panned by critics and fans as they found it boring and the title monster Rawhead not to be scary and too fake looking. But many diehard horror fans of the 80’s found the film enjoyable and grim as the film tackles many topics from the loss of a child to religion and tying it all together is the brutal killing machine Rawhead Rex. The film is really just a monster flick with gore and taboo subject matter thrown together into 89 minutes that show that with good is always evil and with religion comes history of violence. I first saw this movie with my brother Bryan when we rented it from K&L Video, and we both watched in amazement at how weird and cheesy the film was.  A short time later I watched it again via buying a VHS copy of the film and watched it with my pal Jason Gilmore and can remember having a grand old time as we both laughed at the rubber bouncy headed monster and some of the best and oddest dialogue of all time like a worker for the church busting our leads camera and then telling him to get the F out of the church as it has nothing for him. As time would pass and the more times I watched it the more I found myself really loving it.  In fact, I own the film on a overpriced DVD, the movie poster and even showed it on year at Horrorama. If you like monster run amuck movies that mix in old religions and a monster who pees on people to baptize them…check out Rawhead Rex as I am sure you’ll enjoy it.

Rawhead Rex 1.0Rawhead Rex Poster 00Rawhead Rex 2.0

Collecting horror films on VHS was always a fun time, and I can’t count how many times friends like Jason Gilmore and even my brother Bryan would hit video rental and used stores looking for tapes of films we really wanted to see or just own and watch again. I was a collecting machine and had so many VHS horror films that my room was packed with them.  I would collect your mainstream horror like Friday The 13th and Halloween, all the way to weird shot on video films like Death Row Diner and Blood Hook. And some of my old hard to get crown jewels in my collection were Evil Dead, that was out of print and for some reason really hard to find used in the Dayton area, the 80’s rock n roll slasher flick Rocktober Blood and Rawhead Rex, another one that was super hard to find but when I did it made my day. I can’t count how many times me and Jason Gilmore watched it and laughed and had a good time at the expense of the rubber suit that was crossed eyed in shots and head bounced as he ran. To this day I regret selling off my VHS horror collection to use the money to by the then new format DVD as many of the titles I got ride of never made it to disc, and I miss the amazing cover art of the VHS that some how made even the worst movies seem like gold. And the same place I got my copy of Rawhead Rex from called Second Time Around was the place that ended up getting my collection way back when and looking back at it, man, they really did short change me on what they paid out for them! But here is to all of you who were wise and kept your VHS tapes, and here is to all you new collectors as VHS is a great and grainy way to watch the horror flicks and no streaming or disc will match it.

rex-2Rawhead Rex VHS Coverrawheadrex

Rawhead Rex might not be a household name like other horror movie icons of the 80’s, but this doesn’t mean he didn’t get his fair share of merchandise to keep fans happy. Rawhead Rex has made appearances in many horror magazines as well as graced the cover of a few.  Of course he has his story in Clive Barker’s Book Of Blood Volume 3; he has had his own comic book issue as well as guessed starred in the Epic Comics Nightbreed series.  He has a movie poster, t-shirts as well as statues and even a mini figure as of late made as part of the Video Nasteez limited figure collection. So if you like this pagan god and his womanizing killing ways, you can find some cool collectables for your collection.

Rawhead Rex on a TshirtRawhead Rex SatueRawhead Rex Mini FigureRawhead Rex on the cover of Fangoria

As you can see, Rawhead Rex for some reason has always been around in my life.  To me he is up in the same class as other 80’s monster icons like Pumpkinhead and The Predator.  So while the moon is rising in the sky and I think that Rawhead Rex is awake and out of his unmarked tomb, I can hear him growling and screaming at the top of his lungs to have me remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. He is also reminding me to thank an Ebay seller who had this comic in stock for me to review for this update. So before Rawhead Rex wrecks my apt and knocks over all my comics, I think we should just dive right into the comic book review and see how well this pagan monster transfers from a short story to a comic!

Rawhead Rex Comic 1

Rawhead Rex # 1  ***
Released in 1994    Cover Price $9.99    Eclipse Comics    # 1 of 1

Zeal is a small village in England that is being filled with city tourist looking for a slice of the good old country life.  The locals like the money, but they don’t like the drama the tourists bring. A farmer working in his field comes across a stone in the ground and spends time digging it up and notices a foul smell coming from the ground around it.  After working for some time, the stone starts to move by itself, and a giant creature known as Rawhead Rex emerges and kills the farmer, stuffs him in the hole and starts its way into the country side as a bad storm blows in. The villagers are taking shelter to get out of the rain, and so is Rawhead, who picks a barn and slaughters and eats the pony that was inside! Ron and Maggie Milton are in Zeal looking at the house they bought some time back that’s still not ready for them to move into yet, and they plan on staying in town for a couple more days for an upcoming festival. Meanwhile Rawhead Rex decides that he is going to kill the family that the barn belongs to and makes short work of the father, has the mother fall down a flight of stairs and eats the child alive! At the church, Reverend Coot and worker Declan both have felt something odd at the day’s service as if they had sensations of extreme joy and lust.  This puzzles them, yet also brings about stories of the village’s past before God ruled the world, a time when Rawhead Rex walked and ruled. The police have left the scene of the farmer’s death, and while driving, Rawhead Rex attacks killing them and even ripping off one’s penis before the patrol car explodes. Reverend Coot is up late thinking when he catches a shadow outside in the graveyard and goes for a look only to find Declan kneeling before Rawhead Rex who is now urinating on the one time holy man who is 100% under his control now. Coot runs as Rawhead gives chase, and in-between the attack, Coot is able to phone the police for help.  But with the help of Declan the Reverend meets a brutal attack as Rawhead breaks his bones and guts him.  The police are too late to stop the attack but after shooting at Rawhead, he retreats into the woods and hides. Ron decides that Maggie and the kids should leave Zeal until the killer on the loose is caught as stories of the brutal murders begin to spread. The next day, while driving his family, his son is killed and eaten by Rawhead before his eyes. After reporting the murder to the police, Ron goes and visits the dying Reverend Coot who tells him with his dying breath that he thinks an item inside the alter at the church is the key to stop Rawhead Rex. Ron rushes to the church and finds a naked and crazy Declan who tries to kill him, but the fight turns as fires outside in the village set by Rawhead Rex distracts Declan.  Ron beats him down and finds a stone in the shape of a woman in the alter and rushes to town to battle Rawhead who has accidentally been burnt by the fires he set.  Declan tries to help his new god but falls prey to Rawhead who rips him apart to show his strength. But with the help of the villagers who attack Rawhead, the death of the monster comes brutal as Ron bashes his head in with the woman stone leaving the monster dead in the street.

This was a very cool comic based on the short story by Clive Barker, but I should also note that it’s very slow-paced and is filled with lots of dialogue mixed in-between brutal kills and the conflicts between city life and country life. The simple plot is of an ancient monster freed from its tomb in a small village in England and runs amuck and is stopped by a grieving father and townspeople once and for all when they stand together against it. The complex story part of this comic is that Rawhead Rex is truly the raw nature of man who wants to kill and eat and is self-absorbed and is gluten for sins.  Add in a Father who is questioning his faith and finds that this demon demi-god is the answer as well as a family who must deal with the brutal death of a son and you’re just skimming the top of this wild story. Rawhead Rex is one mean spirited killing machine as he uses his hands, teeth and size to torment and kill and the only emotions he shows is joy when killing, disgust when around a woman who is having the time of the month or a baby in the oven and fear when he knows that the stone has been found. The fear for Rawhead was so bad for the stone that the demon demi-god poops himself with fear!! But with that said Rawhead Rex is very evil and not a demon monster that anyone would want to tackle if real. Declan is a madman who turns on God in order to worship and due the bidding of Rawhead who ends up not being his savior but his angel of death, very interesting character as his madness comes on fast and his loyalty knows no bounds. Reverend Coot is a man who tries to use the power of God to stop the evil of Rawhead but sadly just becomes another body for the meat wagon, but his dying words are what leads to the plan to defeat the demon. The poor Milton family are just in the wrong part of England and the hungry of eating kids leaves the son dead and the father in such a rage the revenge is the only thing on his mind, and this rage leads to the death of Rawhead once and for all. The fact that Ron bashes the brains out of Rawhead shows you just how mad he is!! The comic is filled with curse words, some slight nudity and lots of gore with my favorite death being the death of the Milton son who has his head bitten off, dragged away and later picked apart and ate by Rawhead who is relaxing in the hills acting like he was eaten a bowl of potato chips! Rawhead really is one sick son of a devil as he really does eat children in this comic! The cover is cool and showcases the razor sharp teeth of Rawhead Rex but also really does feel dated and has the 90’s independent horror comic look to it, the art inside is done by Les Edwards and has a nice painting meets pen look and this captures the dark and sinister story really well. I should also note that this comic has a back of story taken from the Books of Blood called “Twilight At The Towers” and it’s a good read as well and a perfect backup story. Over all I really enjoyed this comic adaptation of Rawhead Rex and while some parts dragged the over all feeling of dread made it a good comic to read on this October night. If you’re a fan of the short story or even the movie give this comic a read as I am sure you’ll be pleased with the brutal nature and creepy monster. Check out the art below to see the style of Edwards as well as see the glory of what Rawhead looks like in this twisted comic tale.

Rawhead Rex Art 1

Rawhead Rex has been defeated again and sent to his grave thanks to a very determined father armed with a statue of a pregnant woman, and with that womanizing monster out of the way, we can continue our countdown to Halloween. While the Halloween update won’t be a custom made comic from a artist friend, it will be something fitting for this year. But before we even announce what that topic will be, I should share what our next one will be about – the classic Marvel comic reprints called Dead Of Night! So I hope you come back to visit for the 5th update in our countdown. Before we go I want to once again say I truly do enjoy the legend of Rawhead Rex, and this update was a fun one to write, even if the comic much like the DVD and VHS was hard to find and cost a good penny to get. So if you’re a farmer, whatever you do, don’t free Rawhead Rex as your town won’t be ready for his path of rage and gross behavior. Until next time, watch a horror film or two, read a horror comic or three and support your local Horror Host and have a great October!

Dead Of Night Logo Marvel

The Universal Dracula: Blood Drive Countdown To Halloween

I Bid You Welcome! The moon is full, and we are at our third update in our countdown to Halloween.  A thick mist is covering the ground as we all wait for the carriage of Count Dracula to take us to his castle. This is an update that I have been looking forward to since I started Rotten Ink over three years ago.  As all you long time readers know, I grew up a Monster Kid and loved everything Universal Monsters. Not only did I have such things as a Christmas themed Frankenstein Monster t-shirt and VHS tapes of many of my favorite monsters, I also spent much of my time drawing pictures of Dracula and all of his Universal pals in art class and at home. This update I get to cover one of the true icons of Universal Monsters, the one who brought the studio back from approaching closed doors after having too many films that did not perform at the box office, a character that also brought Universal into the monster movie business again and proved that horror was a hit with moviegoers. I am of course talking about the 1931 masterpiece Dracula.  For this update we will be taking a look at not just the film and it’s Spanish counterpart, but also Universal Dracula in merchandise, culture, my connection to the film and the main attraction will be the Dark Horse Comics adaptation of this classic flick.  So let’s wait here at Borgo Pass for our ride to Castle Dracula and chat about Universal Dracula in film, comics, toys and more. And to be safe, if you believe the rumors about Count Dracula, you might want to wear those cloves of garlic around your neck!

Dracula 1931 Poster 0

Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was a hit when it was released in 1897, and in 1922 filmmaker F.W. Murnau made his silent masterpiece “Nosferatu” based around the book.  He did not, however, get permission to do so and he was sued and all prints of his film ordered to be destroyed. Lucky for us some prints of the film did survive but that’s for another update based on the comic adaptation of the film and the series that followed. During that time a young film producer named Carl Laemmle Jr. bought the film rights and wanted to make a silent monster movie that would follow in the footsteps of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom Of The Opera (1925) and wanted to use the script from the stage play, that was a huge hit on Broadway, and even Nosferatu for inspiration to bring his version to the silver screen that would not be a silent film but now a talkie. While casting Laemmie passed on stage actor Bela Lugosi who was the talk of the town for his performance of Dracula on the stage and talked to actors like John Wray, Ian Keith and Paul Muni, while the films Director Tod Browning wanted to cast Lon Chaney Sr., but sadly Chaney passed away from cancer before the film’s production started. Lugosi lobbied hard and tried all he could to get the role he felt he was born to play not only on stage but also on the big screen and finally won over Universal and the executives when he took the small pay of $500.00 a week for seven weeks of work. The production of the film was slightly disorganized as director Tod Browning was not fully behind the film and at times would even leave the set and have his cinematographer Karl Freund take over shooting and directing scenes.  You see, at the time of this film Universal had gotten away from making horror films as they thought it was beneath them as a company, but after some shake up from inside the company, horror films were back on the slate but not taken too seriously as the company had major financial issues.  In my opinion, that is why Browning didn’t take this film as seriously as he should have because he looked at it as a low budget throw away film. The film had its premiere at the Roxy Theatre in New York on February 12, 1931, and as part of its marketing Universal reported that people fainted while watching the film.  This helped the big buzz for Dracula when it opened wide two days later. Dracula was a gamble for the studio but proved to be a risk worth taking as it was a major hit and bringing in the highest profit for them in 1931 as it did better than any of their other films released that year. The film received mixed reviews with most being positive and some negatives with complaints that it wasn’t too scary and comparing it to the stage version.  But most all agreed that Bela Lugosi was fantastic as Count Dracula. I don’t want to get into the film’s plot as I feel that the Dark Horse Comic adaptation we will be reviewing will take care of that.  Instead I would like to talk briefly about the first time I saw Dracula.  The Christmas after the one that we first got our VCR, my brother Bryan bought me Dracula as a gift.  I was pretty excited to see it, as the year before, my parents got me Frankenstein and my love for Universal Monsters was at an all time high! Like before, after the Brassfield side of the family came and went from our house in Waynesville, we sat down as a family and watched it, and I was hooked and loved every second of it. Bela Lugosi, who I had drawn pictures of for years as Dracula, crept his way into my brain and became the true Count Dracula in my eyes. Dwight Frye, who played Renfield, a sad one-time sane man who becomes Dracula’s bug eating slave, is fantastic.  Edward Van Sloan plays a cool and wise Van Helsing, while Helen Chandler was stunning and well cast as Mina Seward, the woman who captures Dracula’s eye. So before we move on, I want to give a big thanks to my brother Bryan for getting me that VHS tape all those years back and allowing me to see the film that inspired monster kids for generations.

Dracula 1931 Still 1Dracula 1931 VHSDracula 1931 Still 2

In 1931, at the same time as the Browning production of Dracula, Universal was filming a Spanish language version, rolling at night after the American production wrapped for the evening, that was directed by George Melford and starred Carlos Villarias as Count Dracula.  The cast and crew had the lucky advantage of watching the dailies from the American production before they would film and would try to one up them with better lighting, angles and acting as they wanted to be the better of the two productions. While the two films are very similar and both filmed using the same script, the Spanish Dracula changed things up and tried to make scenes more creepy for the time and was able to push the “sex appeal” up a notch by allowing their actress, Lupita Tovar, to wear more risque clothing as she played Eva who took the place of Mina in this version. This version of this film was also a hit with moviegoers of the 30’s and chilled the bones of those who watched it. But over time, the film became lost and a print of the movie would not be found until the 1970’s when it was restored so that a new generation of horror fans could enjoy it. Many critics and fans think that the Spanish version is better than the American version, and while it’s fantastic, I still find the Lugosi version of Dracula to be the better of the two.

Spanish Dracula 1931 Still 1Spanish Dracula 1931 VHSSpanish Dracula 1931 Still 2

After the runaway success of both Dracula and Frankenstein, Universal decided to make sequels to those films and poof! franchises were made. Dracula’s Daughter was the first sequel and came out in 1936.  It follows Countess Marya Zaleska, who is Count Dracula’s Daughter, who wants to be cured of her vampire ways..or does she? The next sequel, in 1943, had Lon Chaney Jr. as Count Alucard and was called Son Of Dracula. Count Dracula would go on to make appearances in both House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula for Universal that would combine all their classic monsters into the films.  In these two films, the part of Dracula was played by John Carradine. Bela Lugosi would play the role of Count Dracula again for Universal in 1948 in the horror comedy film Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.  This sadly would make the second and last time Lugosi would play the role in the movies. In 1979, Universal made a “remake” of Dracula that starred Frank Langella as Dracula and was a nice update to the film series. I would love to get more into films like Dracula’s Daughter and Son Of Dracula, but at some point in time I want to have some one of a kind comics made based on those films so I will hold off talking too much about them.  I really enjoyed each of the films I mentioned above and have spent countless hours watching them over the years and have owned them on VHS and DVD.

Draculas Daughter VHSSon Of Dracula VHSDracula Remake VHS

Bela Lugosi, who’s real name was Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko, was born on October 20, 1882 in Lugos, a small town in the Kingdom of Hungary (now Lugo, Romania) and was the youngest of four children. By the age of 12, he dropped out of school and got into acting and by 1903 had roles in many local plays, not only having small roles but also major ones which him to getting great roles in Shakespeare plays. In 1911, he moved to Budapest and had a long a great run in many theater performances.  Lugosi would claim he was the leading actor of Hungary’s Royal National Theatre, but many factors go against his claim. From 1914 to 1919, Lugosi was an infantryman in the Austro-Hungarian Army and during World War I he was ranked Captain of the ski patrol and was wounded during combat and awarded medals for his service for his country. During this time, Bela also was taking on many roles in Hungarian films like The Colonel and The Caravan Of Death. During the 1919 revolution of Hungary, he was forced to flee his homeland when the actors union went crazy causing many actors to find work elsewhere.  This lead Bela to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1920 and also lead to him using the last name Lugosi in honor of his birthplace Lugos. Bela Lugosi moved to New York and by 1931 became naturalized as an American citizen. While in New York, he and other immigrant actors formed a stock company and entertained fellow immigrants with small production plays, with his first English Broadway play being the 1922 production of The Red Poppy and soon after The Devil In The Cheese, a comedy fantasy play as well as many other theater productions. His first American movie role came in 1923 for the film The Silent Command and this lead to many more roles in silent films cast mostly as the villain. His big break in Hollywood came after he wowed audiences with his portrayal of Count Dracula in the play Dracula that lead to him getting the role in the 1931 Universal Monster classic Dracula! This sparked him to be asked to play Frankenstein’s Monster in the Universal film Frankenstein but Bela turned it down as he felt that the part was not acting and just grunts and thus beneath his talents…or so rumor goes. Many more amazing horror film roles followed as Bela starred in White Zombie, Murders In The Rue Morgue, The Raven, Son Of Frankenstein, The Black Cat, Ghost Of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man and Black Friday to name a few. His role as Ygor in Son of Frankenstein is looked at as one of his finest roles by many horror fans. But Bela would not stay on top of the horror world forever as his addiction to opiates and his box office appeal was slipping.  This lead to him taking roles in many B-movies like such titles as Mother Riley Meets The Vampire, The Ape Man, Return Of The Vampire, Voodoo Man, Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla and The Black Sleep. During his decline, he started taking roles in a young filmmaker named Ed Wood Jr’s film like Glen or Glenda and Bride Of The Monster.  His final film appearance was in Plan 9 From Outer Space as old stock footage Wood shot was added into the film. Bela was able to get off the drugs before his death in 1956 at the age of 73 from a heart attack, and he was buried wearing one of his Dracula capes. Bela Lugosi remains one of my favorite horror actors of all time and his work lives on to frighten and entertain a new generation of Monster Kids.

Bela Lugosi 0Bela Lugosi as Dracula

Carlos Villarias was born on July 7, 1892 in Cordoba, Spain and was acting in his first movie in 1917 with the Spanish film “El Pobre Valbuena” and would star in many more Spanish productions throughout the 1930’s.  In 1931, he landed the role he was best known for, the Spanish version of Dracula for Universal. He continued to make movies for many years that followed and had roles in films like “The Mystery Of The Ghastly Face”, “Nostradamus”, “Tropic Holiday” and “The House Of The Fox” to name a few. His final film was in 1953 in a film called “Decameron Nights”. Carlos passed away in 1976 at the age of 83. While he might not be as well known as Bela Lugosi to horror fans, his acting and portrayal of Count Dracula for the Spanish market is amazing, and I am sure he chilled the bones of all those who watched him in the role back in 1931. I just wanted to touch on Carlos Villarias’s life as he is just as important to the Universal Dracula history as Bela Lugosi, Tod Browning and everyone else on the crew that made this movie come alive.

24482625_120291616966villarias

Don Post is considered the godfather of Halloween by many and made some of the worlds first latex masks.  He also attached himself to makings masks based on some of Hollywood’s top ghouls and monsters from The Wolf Man to The Hunchback Of Notre Dame and of course he made several based on Dracula; the most important ones were based on the likeness of Bela Lugosi’s portrayal for Universal. Growing up, I can remember old ads in and on the back cover for Famous Monsters Magazine that acted as an order form to buy this classic mask. I always wondered why Dracula’s skin is green and also marveled about just how awesome the ad made the mask seem, and ideas of wanting the mask to run around my neighborhood would spring into my brain. Years later I would get to see the mask in person at the Magic Hat, a store on Brown Street, and while a great looking mask, it did not live up to the epicness of the ad. Check out the ad picture below and try not to be tranced by its latex greatness!

Don Post Dracula Halloween Mask

In 1963, Hasbro unleashed a board game to masses called “Dracula Mystery Game.”  It would allow 2-4 players to kill time and chill their bones with the horror of Dracula. The plot of the game has you and the other players rolling dice trying to avoid Dracula who wants you dead! I own this game, but sadly when I bought it from my friend David J. Getz it was missing the Dracula pawn piece, making it so that we in the Dayton Board Game Society never played it during a meeting. The game is pretty pricey and on Ebay, depending on condition, can go form any were from $20.00 – $300.00! So if you like cheesy board games, try and track this one down and give it a play for a spooky good time.

Dracula Mystery Game BoardDracula Mystery Board GameDracula Mystery Game pawn

Back in the 1960’s, kids loved to put together and paint models.  For Monster Kids, the ones everyone wanted were the 1962 Aurora Monsters, and one of the most popular ones in that line had to be Count Dracula.  The Dracula model had a Bela Lugosi looking Dracula standing in a stone and grass field next to a dead tree that houses bats. When I was a very young kid and living in Waynesville, I had one of the Dracula model kits but only the Dracula piece that was unpainted as my Mom got it for me from a garage sale. I can remember setting it up on a shelf next to Wizard of Oz dolls I had and always wishing it was an action figure and not a model. Nowadays I have seen the original model kit at many antique malls for around $30.00 – $50.00, depending on how complete it is as well as how poorly it was painted and on Ebay I have seen them go for around $10.00 to $250.00, once more depending on condition and paint job. I wish I sill had my old Aurora Dracula Model Kit, but sadly he is gone in time.

Aurora Dracula boxAurora Dracula model

In 1964, Palmer Plastics released 3” PVC mini figures based on monsters from horror movies as well as science fiction ones. And of course one of the figures released was based on the Universal Dracula. The figure was crudely designed and would come in many colors and would be sold in a three pack or even singly, all for a super cheap price. I sadly never had a Palmer Dracula, but they can be found time to time on Ebay and go for around $20.00 to $60.00 on average.

Palmer Dracula Figure

Remco was a classic toy company who, in 1980, made a deal with Universal to make action figures of their monsters, and of course Dracula was in the line. They made two styles; the first was 9” doll that had cloth clothes with movable limbs.  The Dracula one was very cool but looked nothing like Bela Lugosi. I can remember seeing this figure at flea markets and antique stores, but even loose it always carried a high price tag that my mom would not spend in order to get it for us. To this day, I do not own one but do however own Frankenstein’s Monster thanks to my friend David J. Getz. In 1981, they then released the 3 3/4” action figure versions of the Universal Monsters, and Dracula of course graced this line with his blood drinking presence. These figures were the size of Star Wars and were ones in our youth we so badly wanted but never could find them at garage sales nor flea markets. The Dracula figure’s face glowed in the dark, and he came complete with a vinyl cape.  The downside of these figures was the fact the paint chipped off very easily, and poor Dracula’s nose always had a bare spot as did his fingers. While I never did own one of these figures in my youth, a few years back for my birthday my friend Jason Young gave me almost the full run of the figures as well as the Lab playset! And yep, the Dracula had paint missing on his nose and fingers. The 9” Remco Dracula on Ebay in good shape goes for $35.00 to about $65.00, and the 3 3/4” version goes for about $8.00 – $36.00 dollars loose and in good shape. Both of these figures in package sell for over $100.00 and for collectors like myself are well worth the high price tag.

Remco Dracula DollRemco Dracula figure

Imperial Toys didn’t want to feel left out of the Universal Dracula toy releases, so in 1986, for their Universal Monster toy series, they made a Dracula that was made of hard plastic with moveable arms and head.  For some reason his face and hands are a very bright white, and he has bright red lips and cheesy rings on his fingers. The figure was sold two ways; one was loose with a tag attached to his neck and the second was in a package that showcased his castle in the background that was covered in spider webs and dust. I can remember seeing the Imperial Dracula figure at Kay-Bee Toys and wanting it to go alongside my Imperial Frankenstein’s Monster and Wolf Man that my Mom and Dad got for for Christmas that year. Sadly in my youth I never did get Dracula nor The Mummy but with in the last 3 years I was able to get them both.  Thanks to Ebay, I was able to snag Dracula with The Mummy coming from Monsterbash Convention. If you’re looking for Dracula on Ebay, this Imperial figure in good shape goes for around $4.00 all the way up to $25.00, and I must say the likeness of Bela Lugosi on this one is pretty far off, but what did you expect from a cheap toy company that made low cost figures.

Imperial Dracula

But these were not the only figures based on Dracula that have been made over the years, they were just the most popular ones. Some other amazing ones include Ben Cooper’s Dracula Jiggler and the other knock off companies that made versions. Just Toys made a very cool Dracula Bend-Em for their Universal Monster collection, and this is one figure I did own and once more got it for Christmas one year alongside The Wolf Man. Imperial also made Universal Monster Pogs that featured Dracula, not only on the milk caps but also on his very own Slammer, and yep I had this in my youth. Those are just a drop in the hat of all the cool toys made based around the Universal Dracula character. So needless to say, if you’re a toy collector and you also love Universal’s version of Dracula, you can find many great collectibles for your collection!

Dracula JigglerDracula Bendie ToyDracula Pog SlammerBig Head Dracula Figure

When I was a kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of the most popular cartoon as well as toyline, and in 1993 when Playmates, the makers of the toys, decided to combine the Turtles with Universal Monsters, an amazing thing happened for Monster Kids like myself. Ninja Turtle Donatello was the one combined with Count Dracula, and the figure came with not only a cape but also weapons like a wooden stake.  Growing up I never had the Don as Dracula figure, but I did have a few of the others and over the years have seen this figure at many places for sale like Mavericks Cards And Comics, Game Swap Kettering and Feathers. On Ebay, the figure in package sells for about $25.00 – $40.00 dollars and loose and incomplete for about $2.00 – $4.00. So if you want this figure for your TMNT collection, it’s not too expensive.

TMNT DON AS DRACULA

World Candies produced a sugar candy stick in a small box that featured a monster of Universal Studios fame, and as far as I can tell, these began in the 1970’s and were simply called Monster Candy. I remember them in the late 80’s and early 90’s because around Halloween time at Odd Lots or Big Lots, they would sell these candies by the bag full for like $1.00 or two and I would get them to give out and pig out on. The candy back then was a flat stick, and two would be in a box and on the candy would be monster faces.  Now they are more like candy sticks aka candy cigarettes. These candies were a big part of my childhood, and while they were kind of gross, I still love the idea of them to this day. Check out the super cool box for Dracula.

Monster Candy Dracula Box

In Waynesville, I lived very close to the Library and would walk there with my brother Bryan, mother, father, and we would rent VHS movies, books and comics. One of the book series I would check out the most and even make copies of the pictures on a copy machine was the Crestwood House Monster Books. I used to love sitting and reading about each monster and all the classic films that featured them.  The books would also fill you in on old legends about that monster and even talk a little about the source material they were based on whether it be a urban legend or a novel. They put out a second series that were more like kid novels based on the movies like Dracula’s Daughter. The Library used to also have a huge sale where they would sell you a bag of books for so many dollars, and I was lucky enough to snatch up many of these titles when they decided they didn’t need them anymore and still have them to this day. I find myself from time to time still dusting them off and enjoying these fun books of my youth. Some of them were based around Dracula and many of those books are a fun read for fans and the young at heart. On Ebay, you can get a used copy of the Crestwood Monster Dracula book for $10.00 – $20.00 depending on condition and if it’s a hard or soft cover.

Crestwood Dracula BookCrestwood Daughter Of Dracula

Puzzles have been a staple for kids of all ages, and to this day, puzzles are put together by kids and adults alike.  It comes as no surprise that Universal licensed out Dracula’s image to companies to make ones based around this icon of fright. The puzzles have some great artwork and are clearly geared towards younger kids with them being mere 100-200 pieces. Not much to say about these, but I figured they should at least get some respect here on Rotten Ink.

Universal Dracula PuzzleDracula Puzzle

Back in the 90’s, Doritos Chips gave away Universal Monster stickers in the bags you would find at your local grocery store, and I found myself begging my mom to buy this snack food so that I would be able to collect the whole set of these stickers. So every time we would go to Ellis, a small store in Downtown Waynesville I would get a bag of this chips.  Now I should tell you, I HATE Doritos – always have and always will – and this shows you my love for Universal Monsters as I suffered through eating those nasty chips. I can remember how happy I was when I got the Dracula sticker for the first time, and I proudly put it away for safe keeping.  When I got an extra, I put it inside the VHS tape giving my tape a little something extra. No matter how hard I tried and how many bags of powdered death, I ate I never did get a full set of these stickers making all my efforts even that more sad. I still have the stickers to this day, and they are stored away at Independent B Movie studio waiting for the day that I will proudly display them in my home. But check out below and see how cool the Dracula one is.

Doritos Dracula Sticker

I grew up in the age of breakfast cereal, and some of the best out there were the General Mills Monster Cereals with Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frankenberry and the wonders of how the world works when they put the cereal mascots alongside Universal Monsters! Let’s first breakdown Count Chocula as a character and his cereal. Count Chocula is vampire who is brown and wears brown clothes.  He is a friendly vampire to kids but hates Frankenberry and Boo Berry and thinks his cereal is the best. His feelings can be hurt when people run away from him, and he is scaredy cat. It’s clear as day that he is inspired by Lugosi’s version of Dracula because the mascot sounds like a poor man’s Bela. The cereal has a chocolate flavor to it and is my favorite out the the monster cereals.  It is one that I could eat every morning! But sometime in the late 80’s early 90’s, they put Lugosi as Dracula on the box with Count Chocula making a cool box for us kids to look at in the morning. Many items have been made in the image of Count Chocula including stuffed dolls, pencil tops, toys and shirts.

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Dracula has also made it to handheld video games like the ones made by Micro Games of America in 1994 and even ones made by Tiger have graced the hands of gamers. He has also been in pinball games at your local arcade and has been in a few PC games, and even had a full fledge game called simply Dracula for the Game Boy Color that was an official Universal Monsters product.  Not to mention, the mountains of other games that the character Dracula has appeared in making him one of the top classic monster bad guys used the most in video games.

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In 1997, fast food joint Burger King decided to have Universal Monster toys in their kids meal, and Count Dracula was one of the cheesiest and least wanted figure as for some reason his skin was flesh colored and it looked nothing like the classic Lugosi played vampire. Standing about 4 inches tall, the figure had a removable cape, a coffin and a glow in the dark sticker. The figure was perfect size to fit in with those kids of that day who played with G.I. Joe and Star Wars toys, and the best part was, they got it free for eating a cheeseburger and fries.  A pat on the back to Burger King for also bringing Dracula to a new generation of kids with these kids meal prizes even if the figure was lame in appearance.

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Not to be outdone, another fast food hamburger joint also gave away figures based on the Universal Monsters, and unlike Burger King, they also included The Bride and did it twice! The first batch came in 1999 and had Dracula who looked just like the Burger King version in skin tone but had a weird grabbing feature as his action. Then in 2002, they put out a quick change magic trick Dracula that would have him turn from human into a bat via his coffin.  These figures are really cheap looking and kind of cheesy, but still worth owning for those who love all things Dracula. I don’t know much about these because there is no Jack in The Box in my area.

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The Universal Dracula Series has also been a big part of horror hosting as the films were a part of The Shock Theater and Son of Shock movie packages that allowed local TV stations to air the films with a host. Many of the old shows are lost like hosts such as Vampira, Sammy Terry, Dr. Creep and Melvin hosting these classic films but a few have survived, and some hosts have hosted them as late as early this year, 2016. But here are a few of the hosts I have that brought you some films from the Universal Dracula including Morgus The Magnificent and Baron Von Wolfstein.

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But this is called Rotten Ink and is a blog mostly about comic books, so we should talk about comics that are based around Dracula that are licensed by Universal. Off the top of my head, I can only think of two; one being released by Dell in 1963 as part of their Movie Classics line called “Dracula”, with it later being paired with The Mummy by Dell. The other is the Dark Horse comic “Universal Monsters Dracula” that was released in 1993 and is the subject of this epic update. The Dell comic is a new story about Dracula, while Dark Horses is just based on the script and is a movie adaptation. Both of these are comics we will get to at some point here on Rotten Ink as well as Marvel’s Tomb Of Dracula series.  I am looking forward to bringing you those.

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One of my favorite internet shows has to be The Angry Video Game Nerd.  What is not to like about a funny character playing old video games from my youth and making fun of the flaws that have tortured many kids that played them. The Nerd is played and created by James Rolfe who also grew up as a Monster Kid watching the classic Universal Films, Horror Hosts like Joe Bob Briggs, making his own films and loving all things spooky. Every Halloween, he has a Nerd Special where he reviews a horror themed game, and in 2008, The Nerd covered Dracula themed games and he was in fact a vampire in the episode himself wearing a cape and all. But of course, the games he plays are terrible, including the NES unreleased game Drac’s Night Out, and uses the suns rays to commit suicide so he didn’t have to play any more terrible Dracula games. Every HalloweenJames Rolfe also has a show called Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness where he talks about Horror films, and one year for this show he did sequels and covered the whole Universal Dracula series. Fun shows and worth checking out at http://cinemassacre.com.

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On Sunday, October 25, 2015 at 12:50pm at the Cinemark theater at The Greene Juliet, her mom and myself went to see the 1931 Universal Dracula on the big screen just in time for Halloween! We were all pretty hyped as the event was supposed to have a cool new intro from a film historian and was to be followed up by the Spanish version of Dracula.  With some candy and drinks in hand, we were ready for some classic horror film frights. There was a decent amount of people in the theater including mothers with their children who were talking about how scary the movie was when they where little.  This put a huge smile on my face as this classic Universal film was being passed down to a younger generation of Monster Kids.  Joining us were senior citizens who came to relive watching Lugosi in all his caped glory. But what was going to be an epic afternoon of Universal Horror once more turned into the ultimate blunder of Cinemark as they cut the new intro by the film historian, started the Lugosi Dracula film after the opening credits and to boot never showed the Spanish version! I was pretty annoyed by this as Cinemark at the Greene is my go-to theater, and they fouled up showing a classic monster movie event.  But with all blunders aside, it was great to see Dracula on the big screen along with Juliet and her Mom, who also loves a good classic Horror fright flick! So while fun, I still want to say shame on you Cinemark, for charging full price for an event you didn’t show fully.

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So we have arrivied at Castle Dracula, and I can see our host making his way down the long stone stairs so while we wait for him to bid us, welcome I should thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for having this Dark Horse adaptation in stock. I also hear the children of the night telling me to remind you all 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, and its art and story. Plus I want to say that I am really happy to present this update to all you readers and friends this close to the Halloween season, and hope I did this classic, iconic and impactful film justice with this update. Our host is here and inviting us in for a glass of wine, so let’s head on in and take a look at this blood sucking comic!

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Dracula # 1  ***
Released in 1993    Cover Price $4.95    Dark Horse    # 1 of 1

Renfield arrives at Castle Dracula in Transylvania to meet Count Dracula, a client who is buying the Carfax Abbey in England, but during his first night there, Renfield is bitten by Dracula who is a vampire. The next day Renfield is now the slave of Dracula, and they are aboard a ship bound for England when Dracula comes from his coffin and kills the crew during a massive storm. Renfield is the only one found alive on the ship when it docks, and he is found to be mad and taken away to an asylum as Dracula walks the streets sucking the blood of a young lady selling flowers he stumbles upon. Dracula goes to the symphony and meets the Dr. Seward who runs the asylum near the Carfax Abbey, his daughter Mina, her fiance John Harker as well as her best friend Lucy. Later that night Dracula targets Lucy to become his first bride and bites her on the neck as she sleeps, and by doing so kills her and turns her into a vampire. Dr. Seward goes to his friend Dr. Van Helsing for answers to Lucy’s death, and he in turns knows that Renfield must be the helper to the vampire that is stalking England, but he is not sure who it is. Meanwhile Dracula has now selected Mina as his next bride and also wants to use her to help bring down her father and Van Helsing only slightly turning her to a vampire and more as a slave that will do his bidding. The next day while Mina explains a bad dream she had to her father, John and Van Helsing, they spot two bite marks on her neck and as Count Dracula enters and thanks to a mirror, Van Helsing figures out that Dracula is the vampire they seek. Dracula returns later that night and allows Mina to drink his blood forming a bond between the two and later takes her to his safe place at Carfax Abbey. John and Van Helsing follow Renfield who has escaped the asylum to the Carfax Abbey, and Dracula rips the heart out of his one time slave and rushes to his coffin.  The sun is coming up after he spots John and Van Helsing have entered his home! Van Helsing drives a stake through Dracula’s heart, and Mina snaps out of her trance and returns home with her lover leaving this nightmare behind.

I first want to state that I enjoyed this comic book adaptation of the classic 1931 Universal Monster film Dracula from Dark Horse, but I also want to say that writer Dan Vado took some liberties with the story by doing such things as cutting Dracula’s Brides out of the opening, having Dracula cut his own arm for Mina to drink from, shows the stake going into the heart of Dracula, Renfield has his heart ripped out of his body by Dracula, Lucy just disappears once she becomes a vampire as well as adds blood to the hand of the flower girl that’s bitten by Dracula after he exits the ship. The story is this Dracula comes to England from his home in Transylvania and tries to turn two friends into his vampire brides but is soon on the radar of a highly intelligent doctor who is aware of the vampire legend and travels to the dark side of the world to free the soul of his friends daughter who is in danger by the curse of Dracula’s bite. So lets break down our cast of characters starting with Mina Seward who is the eye candy for Dracula who is your typical naive young female character who is under the spell of evil and does nothing to help herself to escape. But with that said Mina is a great character as she fits the part of the damsel in distress that is needed in all great fairy tales. John Harker is a man who loves his fiance and will do what ever it takes to keep her safe, while he talks a good game he is not the man who steps up and saves Mina from her fate. Van Helsing is the real hero of this tale as he is the one who knows the vampire legends, understands what can stop them, figures out who the vampire is and is the one who ends up driving the stake into the heart of Dracula ending his terror. Dr. Seward is just like John while he wants to keep his daughter safe he just has no clue how to do so. Renfield is a man who is driven insane and has enter battles with what his dark side tells him to do and what he knows is right. The poor fool who does what ever he can for Dracula is rewarded with having his heart ripped from his body as it was clear the vampire had no real care for his insane slave. Count Dracula is suave, violent and very cold as he don’t care about life and only wants his needs meet as he did not care who’s lives he ruined in his quest for new brides. Dracula in this comic is so much more evil in the film as he seems to get joy from killing and has no remorse for when he does kill. Lucy as well as the asylum workers and maids are all just secondary characters and fit their roles well. The odd thing about this adaptation is that it takes a classic black and white horror film that is known for it’s lack of blood and gore and decides to add in both! While I am sure some readers disliked these changes I looked at them as the artists and writers trying to add their own spin on this classic story. The art is done by John D. Smith and is a very cool paint style that captures the look of Lugosi very well as Dracula, but oddly enough NONE of the other characters look like the actors who played them in the 1931 film with them even going so far to give Van Helsing a beard. But while Dracula might be the only one who looks like he should I found myself really liking the art as well as the cover that is really amazing and showcases just how talented Smith is at capturing the creepy feel of Bela. Over all this was a great read and an amazing read to lead us into the month of October! If your a fan of classic Universal Monsters and love comic books I would say for sure check it out! Check out some of the art below from this comic and see just how cool it looks, I must say sorry for the poor quality of the pictures as I had to use my iPhone in order to get them and not a scanner.

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So we have made it out of Castle Dracula alive and with all our blood intact, and we should count ourselves lucky as this far we have not only survived Count Dracula with out countdown to Halloween but also this far Jaws and The Tallman! This update was lots of fun to write and really helped me get into the Halloween spirit as Universal Monster movies always kick of the spooky mood and feeling that goes along with the months of October and September for me. I hope I did this 1931 film and its legacy justice with this update as it’s in honor of Bela Lugosi, who is a true horror actor icon. But I am sure you’re wondering what’s next for out countdown to Halloween.  We are leaving Castle Dracula and heading to Ireland to come face to face with the one and only Rawhead Rex! So until next time, read a comic or three, see a horror movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host…See you next update my ghoulish friends and readers.

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From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Phantasm

You Write A Good Blog, Boy…But Now You Die! Those words are something I would like to think The Tall Man would scream at me if he was here at my apartment while I write this update.  The Phantasm film series is a horror franchise that breaks the mold of what one thinks of when comparing it to other horror films that came before.  The film was not made up of vampires, zombies, a slasher killer, ghosts or even animals running wild; oh no, this film was something more with a killer who was beyond the realms of normal horror bad guys as The Tall Man is so much more than your normal villain of cinema. When choosing Horror Comics for this year’s countdown to Halloween many titles were considered, but one I knew for sure had to be in this year’s roundup was this Xmachina comic based on Phantasm as the movie series as well as this comic deserved to be talked about here on Rotten Ink. This marks not only our second update in our countdown to Halloween but also the first in our “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” updates that join our returning update themes like “Horror Host Icon”, “Alien Invasion”, “Undead Files”, “NES Challenge” and “Marvel At The Movies” among others. What I am trying to showcase in these updates are horror movie themed comics that lasted for 1-4 issues (some cases could be more issues) and can be from any comic company from Marvel all the way to Blackthrone and can be an adaptation or its own story or a prequel based on the characters of the film it’s named after. This also can apply to promo comics that used to be given away at video rental stores and now come inside DVDs and Blu-Rays, plus still sometimes at the movie theaters! Many great horror movie themed comics have been released and sadly many have been forgotten, so I feel it’s my duty here on Rotten Ink to dig them up from the comic long box graveyard and give them life once more and share them with you, my friends and readers, who might have interest in tracking them down to read or collect. So with that, let’s move into the graveyard and dodge those evil metal flying spheres and get one step closer to the world of The Tall Man!

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The Phantasm movie series is the brain child of director and writer Don Coscarelli who grew up a fan of horror and wanted to make his own in the booming market. Inspired by the book “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury as well as from elements from films like “Suspiria” and “Invaders From Mars,” he made a film that became a hit at the box office as well sparked a cult-like following that is still going strong to this day. So before we dive too deep into this update, I want to talk about the films. The write ups will once more come from our friends at IMDB with some info and my brief thoughts and memories of the films…so let’s dodge the spheres and leap over some tombstones and get to talking about the films that are near and dear to many horror fans’ hearts.

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Phantasm (1979)

Mike, a young teenage boy who has just lost his parents, is afraid to lose his brother. This fear causes him to follow his brother to a funeral, where Mike witnesses the Tall Man lift a coffin on his own. Mike decides to investigate and discovers a horrible world where the Tall Man, along with his flying spheres, shrink them to half their normal size and reanimate them as slaves. It is then up to Mike, his brother, and Reggie the ice cream man to stop the Tall man.”

Phantasm was one of those films that when I first viewed it as a youngster, I was lost by the twist and turns of the plot, but nonetheless was so drawn in by the atmosphere. Looking back, I think I first saw this film on the USA Network or some other cable station as I can remember watching it with my brother late on a weekend night while living in Waynesville. As I grew older and into my teens when I started to collect more and more horror films on VHS, the Phantasm series was on my must-own list, and part one always remained a chilling and bizzarre classic in my eyes. The film was directed by Don Coscarelli, who also was the brain behind the idea of characters, and the cast was made up of such talents as Michael Baldwin as Mike, Bill Thornbury as Jody, Reggie Bannister as ice cream man Reggie and Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man. At the US Box Office it brought in a total of $11.988,469.00 on a $300,000.00 budget. The year it was released, it was joined by such other Horror Films as “The Amityville Horror”, “The Driller Killer”, “Tourist Trap”, “Zombie 2”, “Screams Of A Winter Night”, “Cannibal Holocaust” and “The Dark” to name a few. This first one is a true cult classic in my book and is one that you should watch this Halloween season if you have not seen it, and hell even if you have seen it, watch it again!

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Phantasm II (1988)

Mike is released from psychiatry, when he agrees with the doctors that the terrible happenings in his past were just in his imagination. But once he’s free, he contacts Redge and they team up to hunt down and eliminate the “Tall Man”, who plunders the graveyards and abducts the sleeping with help of his terrible gnomes. A beautiful strange girl starts to appear in Mike’s dreams. He assumes she’s in danger and needs their help – will they find her before the Tall Man can do her any harm?”

I can remember when Phantasm II was coming out to theaters as Fangoria Magazine was pushing it, and the TV spots playing on the local stations always captured my attention. My first time seeing the film was when it hit home video and my cousins Dino and Norman rented it and had me and my brother over to watch it. I can remember when the sphere killed one of the Tall Man’s funeral workers, Norman and I cheered and were in wonder as the effects looked fantastic.  This sequel was also directed by Don Coscarelli with actors James LeGros as Mike, Reggie Bannister as Reggie, Paula Irvine as Liz and Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man. The film did okay for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in $7,282,851.00 on a $3 million dollar budget. The film came in at 103 for the year and beat such cult films as Waxwork, Hot To Trot, Mac And Me, The Unholy, Braddock: Missing In Action III, Elvira Mistress Of The Dark, Monkey Shines, Night Of The Demons, Pumpkinhead, Maniac Cop, Hero And The Terror and Critters 2: The Main Course to name a few. The sequel packs a wicked punch and adds to the mystery of The Tall Man and his wicked dead spreading ways, a great watch for your Halloween season for sure.

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Phantasm III: Lord Of The Dead (1994)

The Tall Man, that imposing menace from Morningside Mortuary, is back and once again haunting the thoughts of the now-adult Mike and his friend, ex-Ice Cream vendor Reggie. The two continue their hunt for the mysterious figure and in his path of destruction encounter a variety of dangerous situations, friends and enemies. They also must contend with the resurrected dead plus a growing number of the infamous and deadly silver spheres which aid the Tall Man as he sets his sights on indoctrinating Mike and finishing the fight begun so many years ago”

Phantasm III was the first of the series not to make it to theaters, and the rumor going around about why it went direct to video was because Universal and Don Coscarelli were at war with each other and they did this as a way to flex their muscle, but by doing this they created one of the top selling direct to video films of all time. I first saw the film when my brother Bryan and I rented it from K&L Video, and both of us liked it but were also confused by some of it.  But that’s the real charm of the Phantasm films, they reveal answers but also make it so there are more questions that need answers from film to film. This one also adds female characters named Rocky and Tanesha who are also on a quest to take down the sinister Tall Man…part three in this series is great and was one that was worth renting and now owning on DVD.

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Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998)

Taking off immediately where the last one ended, in this episode Mike travels across dimensions and time fleeing from the Tall Man, at the same time he tries to find the origins of his enemy, and what really happened the night that his brother died. Meanwhile, Reggie (accompanied by a beauty he picked up on the road) battles the spheres and the undead in a quest to find Mike before the Tall Man can complete his transformation.”

The fourth film in the series was another one that my brother Bryan and I rented from Blockbuster Video.  While good, I did find it to be the weakest in the series, but even with that said, it’s still an amazing and strange film. I don’t have much to say about this film besides I bought it on VHS and later DVD. It was great seeing The Tall Man back in 1998, and it was released by MGM this time around and not Universal. Also a fun fact is that the film was originally written under the title “Phantasm 1999 A.D.” and would have been set in a post-apocalyptic world and would have co-starred Bruce Campbell, but that script could not find funding so it disappeared into developmental hell. This film also had the lowest budget out of all the sequels that were made up to that point. Over all it’s a solid sequel that adds to the legend and mysteries that is The Tall Man.

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Phantasm V: Ravager (2016)

The final installment of the long-running Phantasm series.”

Not much is known about this fifth film in Phantasm series besides it was filmed in secret from 2012-2013.  Oddly enough the film has been scheduled for release this year and has yet to see the light of the movie theater or even the home viewing market, but just recently the release date of October 7th, 2016 was announced. This fifth film is also supposed to be the end of the series and is also the only film not to be directed by Don Coscarelli as David Hartman steps into the director’s chair. I am hoping that the Neon Movies in Dayton will get this film to screen when released, but I won’t hold my breath. I am very much looking forward to this film as the world needs another nightmare of celluloid featuring The Tall Man. So you friends and readers, are you looking forward to this fifth and final Phantasm film?

Tall Man in The Crypt

I am sure some of your readers would like to know who is Tall Man and what is he about. In the 19th century a mortician named Jebediah Morningside had become obsessed with finding out the connections between the worlds of the dead and the living.  He researched and built a machine that would allow him to travel through time and space via a portal that when stepping into it, lead him to an unknown destination and when returning he was no longer Jenediah; he was different…he was now The Tall Man. With these changes he became immortal, super strong, can shape shift, is telekinetic and able to control not only people but also objects with his mind.  When having a body part cut off, the severed limb not only grows back but the amputated limb can transform into insect-like creatures.  His helpers are many as he not only has humans to help in his goal to make the world a graveyard, but also small dwarves, gas mask wearing guards and spheres to name a few. His only known major weakness is cold as it’s believed that the dimension he came from is very hot and this makes is body not able to deal with freezing temperatures. Another fact is that with the change his blood is no longer red but yellow, and while he can be hurt, he has never been killed as shown for 4 films thus far (could his death be in the fifth film?). What makes The Tall Man a fascinating character is the fact that his motives are unknown for the most part besides he wants the land of the living to be the land of the dead. While he can talk, he is a bad guy of few words and mostly uses his face and eyebrow movement to show his feelings. The Tall Man is said to be 6 feet 4 inches tall, have grey hair and is always wearing a black suit. Actor Angus Scrimm has played The Tall Man for five films and his portrayal will forever lock The Tall Man as a true iconic character in the world of horror films. And one has to wonder if the Creepypasta Slenderman is slightly based on The Tall Man…think about it.

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Let’s talks a little about actor Angus Scrimm, shall we? Born on August 19, 1926 in Kansas City, Kansas, Scrimm started his media journey when he wrote and edited for such magazines as TV Guide and Los Angeles Herald Examiner and would also write the liner notes for LPs and CDs for bands like The Beatles and Frank Sinatra and even won a Grammy for his work on liner notes. Hits first acting role was in 1973 in the film “Sweet Kill” with another role that year being in “Sceam Bloody Murder” and after another small role in 1976 for a film called “Jim The World’s Greatest.”  His career changing role would come three years later in 1979 when he landed the role of The Tall Man in the film Phantasm.  This launched his career in acting in horror and cult films, landing roles in “Wiches’ Brew”, “Subspecies”, “Wishmaster” and “John Dies At The End,” to name a few. Angus would travel around the world acting and appearing at conventions and was always a man who made time for his fans. But sadly on January 9th 2016 at the age of 89, Angus Scrimm passed away peacefully surrounded by his family and friends.  This marked another major blow for fans of horror as the year before we lost Wes Craven and Christopher Lee. While gone, his work will live one, and I just wanted to take a moment and honor the man who truly made The Tall Man come alive and scare all those who witnessed his cinema and home video madness. This update is for you, Mr. Scrimm.

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The Tall Man has lots of creepy helpers that are trying to usher in a world of death.  Let’s take a few moments to take a look at them. The most popular of his helpers are the Spheres, also known as Sentinels.  They are flying weapons of death that are packing drills, knives, lasers and saws inside of them and are pure killing machines. The Dwarves, also called Lurkers, are pint size terrors who are crushed down dead bodies that have their brains removed and act as his main forces in his quest. The Hearse is another of his allies, a roaming self controlled four wheeled death machine, and lastly we have the Gravers, who are gas mask wearing slaves who act as guards. All these minions help make The Tall Man a true menace that the world fears and has to combat in order to save their towns from becoming wastelands of death.

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Phantasm has had its share of merchandise and only VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray and other home media releases. Over the years Phantasm and its character The Tall Man have appeared on t-shirts, posters, a comic book, action figures, posters, books, wall clock, hats and many more official and unoffical products. Over the years my most favorite Phantasm item I own is my NECA action figure that not only showcases The Tall Man but also a Lurker.  I also really like my Xmachina Comic as well as an item I will be talking about very shortly. So if you’re a fan of Phantasm and are also a collector of cool things, you can find some very kick butt stuff that showcases characters and the logos for this cult classic horror film.

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In 2009, a Phantasm homebrew video game was made for the Atari 2600 by Scott Dayton.  During its limited release, it was placed on a cart, and I was lucky enough to get a copy of it to play. It’s an adventure game and has you looking around doors in the mausoleum trying to find your shotgun and fighting off the dwarves and dodging The Tall Man who says/screams “Boy” at you. The best part of the game is the midi version of the film’s theme…amazing! While not ground breaking, the game is very much a fun play and makes you flashback to the days when a joystick and one button were all you needed to play a game. While out of print and pretty hard to find, from time to time it will show up on Ebay, and for a high price, you too can get yourself a copy of the horror video game.

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The score music for the 1979 classic Phantasm was done by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave and could be some of the most memorable horror film music to come out of the 70’s next to Goblin’s Dawn Of The Dead work. The opening theme has a creepy organ sound that blends the sound of the 70’s and yet also mixes in the eerie feel of the 60’s horror score music. The soundtrack has been released on vinyl and CD, and both are pretty much out of print and fetch a very high price in the used market. I was lucky to find a special edition CD release for Phantasm that puts the scores for the first and second film on one CD-R and play the main title during the Halloween show of Alpha Rythms on WYSO. If you’re a music score fan and have extra cash, you should check out this soundtrack as it’s worth buying and listening to.

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Back in 2011 as part of the podcast Gutter Trash’s Halloween special, I was asked to be a guest to review Phantams alongside hosts Jason Young and Eric Shonborn, and wow was it a fun time! We ate take out Chinese food and watched the film over at Eric’s house and after the film recorded the podcast in the Gutter Trash studio….and I was the only one trying to defend it! It was a great time, and if you want to take a trip to the past and listen to some movie and comic geeks chat about Phantasm and other topics, make sure to give it a listen here.

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So we are now in the heart of this Horror Comic Mortuary where good scary comics go to die, and it’s my job to bring them back to life and share them with you my readers – I should warn you that I have had to dodge so many Lurkers who have tried to stop me! I want to thank an Ebay seller for having this issue in stock. I also want to also tell you that this Phantasm comic series was planned to be a four issue mini series, but after Xmachina closed up the comic shop, only one issue was released. But I would like to make a prediction that may could come true; Eibon Press, the new amazing Horror Comic Company who is releasing the missing issues from the Xmachina Gates Of Hell comic series, could take the chance and release the remaining issues..again, just a guess that I could be WAY OFF on. As I am writing this, I can hear a Lurker mumbling this, “Remind them that you grade on a star scale of 1 to 4 and are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.” And that Lurker said it best..let’s move onto the Phantasm comic that is the perfect way to countdown to Halloween with as well as kick off my new themed updates “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” so dodge the spheres and try to outrun The Tall Man and see what this comic has to offer as this is my first time reading it.

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Phantasm # 1 ***
Released in 2002    Cover Price $4.95    Xmachina Comics    # 1 of 4

Mike is stuck in a world of his memories of his past run-ins with The Tall Man and his strange world and followers. He remembers back to when he was convinced it was all a dream and that his brother Jody died in a car crash and was not taken away by The Tall Man.  He also remembers when The Tall Man took him into his world and he witnessed the bizarre and weird place in between dimensions that he walked between.  He remembers going along with his best friend Reggie and meeting a female survivor named Rocky and how they had to fight to stay alive, and he remembers how The Tall Man removes his brain to show him not all is what it seems…and then he wakes up attached to machines, greeted by a hippie looking doctor named John Andrew Quezada who is dream specialist.  The year is 2047, and he has been studding Mike who he claims has been in a coma since 1979, a year after his brother Jody and friend Reggie were both killed in a car wreck.  He also claims that the world went crazy some years back and that many people went into dream comas and that The Tall Man is something that lives in dreams and only one other person has ever lived this long in a coma. Mike is still young as a serum was used to keep him youthful, and now Quezada wants him to help find a cure for the dream coma that is sweeping the world. The woman who survived is Rocky, and Dr. Quezada puts them both through dream tests that pits them against The Tall Man and his army of minions, but also what ever weapon they dream up to fight him with can be made as the clinic has a weapon manufacturing room! In one of his dream tests Mike has his own mind taking the appearance of Reggie telling him that this is all a trick of The Tall Man to get him and Rocky out of the way so he can spread death around the world and that they must fight back and end The Tall Man’s path of destruction. When he awakens, he questions Quezada who in turns answers questions but soon turns into The Tall Man and along with spheres and his minions attack Mike and Rocky, only for them to run away and smack dab into a twisted grotesque version of The Tall Man…and our story ends.

Just like the movie series this is based on this comic took so many twist and turns and was so odd that it fit perfectly into the world of Phantasm! The plot mixes the elements from the four films and tries to twist Mike’s memories into nightmares and say that he has been in a coma for decades – and that The Tall Man is nothing more than a nightmare man who has infected the sleep world of many people on earth causing ones who dream of him to go into comas…this of course is all a trap as Mike and Rocky, a returning character from the film Phantasm III, soon find out that this clinic to help them is just another sick game being played by their most hated enemy The Tall Man. The things that work the most about this issue are that while you are reading it and being drawn deeper and deeper into the possibility that these nightmares of Mike are what’s causing these major and evil problems, you know in the back of your mind that it has to be the work of The Tall Man as his sinister mind games are on par with the Marvel Comic villain The Red Skull as they both get joy in watching their targets squirm as their twisted plans unfold. Mike is a great character as by the point we join him in this comic issue, he has already been through so much and he seems to be fed up with all the strange and sinister antics he has had to deal with in his young life.  Plus he knows that he is the key that can stop this approaching end of the world, and he is ready to take up the fight! Rocky is also a fighter, and she tries her best to have no fear even when the odds are stacked against her.  The best way to describe her to modern horror comic fans is that she is much like Michonne from The Walking Dead. While we see Reggie and Jody in flashbacks mostly, they are missed in the story, but I have a feeling that later on they would have played a major part in the story. Doctor John Andrew Quezada is one of those characters that from the moment you see him you’re not sure if he can be trusted and after getting to know him a little better you lighten up only to again quickly question his motives…is he good or bad or a pawn of The Tall Man…I can’t say for sure, but by the end of this issue, he sure does seem evil! The Tall Man always seems to be around in this issue whether its in flashback, on TV screens or in person, and he just wants to screw things up and mess with the minds of those who can stop his rampage. Tall Man is always also surrounded by his minions and his spheres making him a major threat. The cover has a dark mood look and for some reason The Tall Man looks like he is part Terminator with his glowing red eye.  The interior art is done by Michael Broom and is creepy and fitting for this style of story based on these characters. The story is well crafted and put together by Stephen Romano, who you could truly tell was a fan of the series.  I wish that Xmachina Comics stayed around longer so that this series could have been finished up and we horror comic readers could have seen how the story played out. Here is to hoping that sometime in the future companies like Eibon Press or Rough House Publishing will pick up the series and put out the remaining three issues in the planned miniseries. Over all, this is a great read and something that fans of the film series should track down as well as horror comic readers. Below is artwork from the comic that shows the badass nature of what this comic has in store, so enjoy!

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So I hope you’re not too scared as we have just started with our countdown to Halloween 2016, and I think taking a look at Jaws 2 and Phantasm was the right way to kick off this season. Phantasm is one of those cult classic films that has a loyal fanbase that just cannot be beat, and I for one will always stand by the fact that I am a fan, or as they say Phan, of this film! Our next update is a comic based on another film that I am a super fan of, the 1932 classic film Dracula.  We will be taking a look at the Dark Horse Comic adaptation of that Universal Monster Classic as well as Lugosi’s Dracula and the impact it has had on society.  So make sure to join me back here for that as you will not want to miss it.  Until next time, avoid The Tall Man, watch a horror movie or two, read a horror comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host. Also watch out for flying spheres as they can be a real pain in the neck!

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