The Ghost Who Walks Among Us And Can Never Die…The Phantom

In the world of comic books, crime doesn’t pay thanks to the Superheroes who protect the innocent and punish the guilty. I mean Gothom City has Batman, The City has Dick Tracy and New York has many like Spider-Man, Daredevil and Fantastic Four, to name a few. But while the big cities have their protectors, so does the jungles of Bangalla in Africa who has the one and only The Phantom! What is really cool about The Phantom is that he is much like Batman and Dick Tracy as he has no superhuman powers and is just a man who is a vigilante and dedicates his life to defending the weak and beating evil down. If you think about it as well, The Phantom, who was created in 1936, is a character who bridged the comic strip hero and the comic book superhero and is the first hero to really walk that line. So let’s kick 2017 off right and spend some time in Bangalla and see what The Phantom is all about and how DC brought him back to comic books in 1988.

the-phantom-banner

First, we must take a look at the life of the creator of The Phantom, the one and only Leon Harrison Gross aka Lee Falk, who was born on April 28, 1911 in St. Louis Missouri and had a decent childhood growing up Jewish.  Things would take a slight turn for the bad when his father passed away when Lee was still young, but his mother remarried sometime later and this gave Lee a stepfather he loved and respected and looked up to. The older he got, he began making comic strips and made up a fake bio story for himself as he claimed to be a world traveler who experienced so much out in the world which lead him to create the characters Mandrake The Magician and later The Phantom who were both picked up by King Feature Syndicate. He created The Phantom as he grew up loving the stories of Tarzan and The Jungle Book and decided to also add in pirates and thugs from around the world as it was a topic that also interested him.  Originally he wanted to call the character The Grey Ghost and wanted his costume and all to be grey but things changed when he liked the name The Phantom better and the news printer screwed up and made the costume purple, and the color stuck with readers. Weirdly enough, Falk did not have faith in his characters and thought they would only last a few weeks and was shocked that they lasted his whole lifetime, During World War II Falk worked for KMOX radio and was the chief of propaganda.  Also, the older he got the more world traveling he did in order to not have to lie about his background stories. Lee Falk was married three times and had three children with two daughters and one son. Lee Folk also loved the theater and over the years wrote 12 plays, directed 100 of them and produced over 300 others! Not to mention over his lifetime he even ran five theaters! His plays would have such Hollywood actors as Basil Rathbone, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Chico Marx and Charlton Heston acting in them! As you can see Lee Falk was a very creative man who did lots of very cool things. Lee Falk passed away from heart failure on March 13, 1999 at the age of 87 and up to his death he was still working on his comic strips…a true man who loved his characters and creations. It’s amazing to think about just how many comic strip creators worked on their strips all the way up until their deaths showing that unlike the comic book world, the creators loved their creations and got joy of bringing them to life for the readers. This update is dedicated to you, Lee Falk, a true icon of comic strip artists and a man who lived for what he loved to do.

lee-falkyet-another-the-phantom-bannerthe-phantom-close-up

The Phantom is a hero who has no super powers and uses his wits, fists and guns to right the wrongs and protect his friends and tribes around his home in Africa. His costume is the following: a black eye mask, a skull ring and a purple costume that was based on an old African idol.  The look is used to scare criminals and pirates, who are his main targets. The Phantom is a costume and legacy that is passed down from generation to generation within the Walker family who do this in order to give the appearance that The Phantom is not human and immortal to strike even more fear into the hearts of those who do evil. The Phantom is a trained fighter with his fists, and I would guess that he has the punch of a heavy weight boxer! He is also skilled with a gun and while not a full dead shot, he hits his target when it’s needed. The Phantom is very smart and has the same kind of mind for solving crimes as Batman, The Shadow and Dick Tracy as he is also quick to get out of a bad situation. The Phantom’s main weapon is fear as legends spread of him being a ghost and not able to be killed, using superstition of the unknown to his advantage of just passing on the title to the next in the family bloodline. The 21st Phantom also has a pet wolf named Devil who helps him uphold justice and has his white horse Hero to get him places faster. Say what you will, The Phantom is a kick butt hero who might not be super but sure knows how to get the job done!

the-phantom-1the-phantom-2the-phantom-3

On June 7, 1996, thanks to Paramount Pictures, a film based on The Phantom was released to theaters and was directed by Simon Wincer and had Billy Zane as The Phantom himself. Also in the cast were Catherine Zeta-Jones, Treat Williams and Kristy Swanson with the score being done by David Newman. Before it was made The Phantom had many different directors attached to it including big names like Sergio Leone, Joe Dante and Joel Schumacher who all left the project at one point or another for reasons of their own. Paramount picked the relativity unknown Simon Wincer, who had directed a few films before it like Quigley Down Under, Free Willy, Lightning Jack and Operation Dumbo Drop to name a few and they gave him a $45 million budget.  He is the one who hired Zane to play the title role as they both were fans of the character since childhood. The film’s production went smooth, and the hype was high for the film’s release as Paramount was wishing for the same kind of success as Warner Brothers had with Batman in 1989 and Touchstone had with Dick Tracy in 1990…but the box office and critics were not nice to this film as it only brought in $17,323,326.00 in the US and didn’t even get released in theaters overseas! The film came in at #93 of the year and beat out such films as The Frighteners, Trainspotting, Thinner and Mulholland Falls to name a few. While the film bombed at the theater, it developed a cult following when it was released on VHS and DVD, making the film turn in a small profit for Paramount. While I am a fan of The Phantom character, I skipped this film at the theater and waited for home video.  I found it to be a fun dumb popcorn movie that, while it didn’t 100% capture the magic of the comic strip, it at least delivered some fun action and adventure. And I must say that the outfit for The Phantom that actor Billy Zane wears was pretty well done and looked like a modern version of the classic suit and brought out elements to make it stand out on the big screen.

billy-zane-as-the-phantom-1the-phantom-movie-posterbilly-zane-as-the-phantom-2

But the 1996 film was not the first time The Phantom made the jump from comic strip to media on the big and small screen as the first was the 1943 Columbia Pictures serial simple called “The Phantom” that had a total of 15 chapters and had Tom Tyler as The Phantom. A serial sequel for The Phantom was in the works in 1955 with actor John Hart in the role of The Phantom and as production was chugging along they soon found that they no longer owned the rights to use The Phantom and quickly changed it over to calling it “The Adventures Of Captain Africa.” This was followed by the cartoon “Defenders Of The Earth” that aired on TV in 1986 and had Peter Mark Richman voicing the character for a total of 65 episodes, only lasting one season. In 1994, a cartoon called “Phantom 2040” was released as a series that lasted for 35 episodes and a total of 2 seasons with Family Ties actor Scott Valentine lending his pipes to make the character speak. And in 2009 they made a TV mini series based on the character and called it “The Phantom” that had two feature length movies to tell this new version of the character.  This time around actor Ryan Carnes landed the role of the character. So as you can see, Hollywood has had many plans for this character to be the next comic character to be on every kid’s t-shirt and have toys on every chain store shelf…while they tried, it just was not meant to be as it was clear the youth was just not biting at The Phantom to replace their Batman toys and comics. I can proudly say that as a youngster I did my part, as I owned The Phantom action figure from the Defenders Of The Earth toy line.

the-phantom-serial-dvddefenders-of-the-earth-vhs-tapephantom-2040-posterthe-phantom-mini-series-dvd

Besides the movies and cartoons getting released on VHS and DVD, some other really cool stuff based on The Phantom has been released over the years from action figures, t-shirts, posters, statues, comic books, novels, card game, video game, Halloween costumes, replica skull rings, bobble heads, lunch box and so much more! The Phantom has had his fair share of collectibles for his fans to collect and enjoy, not to mention, besides DC, other comic book companies like Pacific Comics Club, Gold Key, Whitman, King, Pioneer, Dynomite, Marvel and Moonstone among others have printed adventures of this character. Besides some of the comics and the Defenders action figure, one thing I had in my teens was a skull ring replica that a fellow classmate gave me, and I can remember wearing it around school and feeling super cool…yeah, I know –  I was young and didn’t know any better. I wonder if that ring is still someplace in my parent’s basement, also know as Independent B Movie Studios. So in closing, if you enjoy The Phantom, the world is filled with collectibles for you!

old-school-the-phantom-comicthe-phantom-halloween-costumephantom-skull-ring

Speaking of Independent B Movie, the old shot on video company that my friends and I use to make films together under that brought you such shot on video classics as The Wolf Hunter, Farmer Joe and Who Keeps Feeding Grandpa to name a small few.  For a small time we toyed with the idea of doing fan films based on some of our favorite movies and characters with lots of things being written and talked about at our annual company meetings. Characters like Superman, Lone Ranger, Leatherface, Spider-Man and Neo from The Matrix all had fan scripts written or talked about, and one of the characters I was developing a fan film for was The Phantom! The idea for my film would have had Matt Hoffman or Jason Gilmore playing The Phantom who was sent on a mission to stop Dr. Frankenstein from creating a monster for the Nazi’s who needed this super solider to turn the tide of the war.  The setting was Frankenstein’s Castle in Kettering and the woods around it would have acted as the jungle with all the typical friends taking on roles like Josh Weinberg who I wanted to play Dr. Frankenstein.  Garrison Kane would have played The Monster and Dave Wean, Patrick Neeley, Mike Ritchie and Jason Young would have made up the supporting cast. If memory serves me right, I think the title of it would have been called “The Phantom vs. Frankenstein,” real original right? The costume was going to be ordered offline and The Frankenstein’s Monster mask was something we would have gotten from Foy’s in Fairborn. But the film idea went nowhere and a script was never written as only scraps of paper with notes was all I had taken down for my idea for this flick, and sadly that are long gone by now. I could have only imagined if we were to have filmed this just how cheesy and terrible the action fights would have been, but I am sure much like all the films we made, it would have had a small cult following for being so bad it’s good. Below is a mock-up poster for this movie done by my friend Jason Young who I’m sure would have been cast in this could-have-been fan made film.  Check it out!

the-phantom-vs-frankenstein-poster-done-by-jason-young

Speaking of Jason Young – before we get into the reviews of DC Comics first run of The Phantom, I want to share something very cool with you: my good friend Jason has started a comic review blog called “The Bewildering” for independent comics issue # 1’s he finds in .25 and $1.00 boxes at stores as well as conventions! And with his reviews, he breaks down the issues’ plots really well and will update about once a month.  It’s worth checking out if you enjoy your comics on the moldy side of the comic racks. Jason Young is a super talented dude as he is the owner of “Buyer Beware Comics” that puts out his bio comic called “Veggie Dog Saturn” among other titles. He is the co-owner of “Sparkle Comics” and its horror comic branch “Blood Scream Comics” and is working on a very cool comic called “Defenders Of The Planets” based on knock off He-Man toys from the 80’s! He also is co-host on the comic podcast called “Gutter Trash” with artist Eric Shonborn, not to mention he works at Mavericks Cards And Comics, a local shop that helps hook me up with comics for this blog! So in other words you are for sure in for a high quality good read with his blog, and I recommend that you check it out and show him some love.

jason-youngs-blog-logo

So now that we have taken a look at The Phantom from comic strip to an old never made fan made film that would have been directed by me, lets get to the main attraction here at Rotten Ink and that’s the comic book reviews! When choosing The Phantom as this update I had to think long and hard about what comic company I wanted to choose as many have tackled releases for The Phantom.  Most of the time I would just gone with Marvel Comics but decided to go with DC as the covers caught my attention more and looked like it could be a fun mini series.  Plus I feel like sometimes poor DC gets the short end of the stick here as I cover Marvel way more often. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock to make this update possible and want to also say thank you again to the late great Lee Falk for creating this iconic character for all us comic readers to enjoy! And as always, I need to remind you that I grade these issues on a standard 1-4 star scale rating and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that, let’s enter the Skull Cave and see what kind of adventure we can share with The Phantom!

dc-the-phantom-1

The Phantom # 1  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 1 of 4

A young boy named Kit Walker is writing in the journal in the Skull Cave as he is the next in line to be The Phantom, the ghost who cannot die.  He is talking about his fears and reads back to the first Phantom who watched as his father was killed by pirates and he himself washed ashore in Bangalla, Africa near death.  He was taken in by its tribe and found that if the world was going to get justice, it was by him becoming justice itself and becoming the first Phantom who wanted to protect his new home and get revenge on the pirates! Now Kit Walker is an adult and the 21st Phantom who along with his step-nephew Rex, wolf Devil and white horse Hero are called upon by the tribes people as some drug smugglers have kidnapped two of the patrol men and are waiting for the big drug transaction. As The Phantom rushes off to save his friends the patrol men, one who even is under his protection for saving his life some time back, Rex starts to read the history of The Phantom journal and learns that the 13th Phantom was tricked onto a pirate ship by a evil men named Chessmen and captured! In modern times, The Phantom arrives too late as one of the patrolmen is shot dead, and as he frees the other, he soon finds himself looking down the barrel of a gun of a hired gun of one of the original Chessmen who has always been told to kill The Phantom and his supporters!

Three Phantoms’ tales are woven together into this issue’s plot as we take a look at what sparked the 1st Phantom to take on the mantel of being the ghost of justice as well as follow the 13th on a set up mission and are in present day with the 21st who is battling relatives of enemies from the past! And while this might sound confusing, it’s really not and by all accounts is really well done and gives each of The Phantoms their own characters and own traits letting you get the feel that this is truly a mantel that is handed down from father to son over the decades. All three of the Phantoms are very strong-willed people who understand that evil in the world will prey and destroy the weak if someone does not watch out for them.  Each puts his life on the line to rescue the innocent and stomp out the evil that is running loose. Rex is a young man who while is not blood to current The Phantom, he is adopted into the legacy and feels very much connected to it all and wants to learn the history and family secrets to prepare for the day he is called upon to wear the purple costume of good. The pirates and captain are the villains of the story thus far and when they are not stealing or selling drugs, they are killing and have zero remorse for ending lives too soon.  One of them shoots a man in the head without a care all because he had the mark of The Phantom on him! And what’s really shocking is they show the aftermath of the gunshot with a body on the deck in a pool of blood; that’s pretty crazy for a comic based on a comic strip character. The only thing that kind of made this comic a hard read was that some of the lettering for the journal was written in cursive and at times it was hard to read as it felt piled up and a little sloppy. The cover is well done and has The Phantom doing what he does best and that’s beating up pirates! The art is great and is done by Joe Orlando who I think did a fantastic job of mixing the normal 80’s DC Comics style with a touch of Sunday Comics appeal. Over all I am very impressed with this first issue and really kick myself for waiting until 2017 to read this comic as younger me would have really enjoyed this back in 1988!

dc-the-phantom-2

The Phantom # 2  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 2 of 4

Rex is reading the history of The Phantom in the Skull Cave as The Phantom kicks into high gear and saves the remaining officer and takes down the captain and his men, but all he could get from the captain as who is his boss is the name Chessman because his own shipmate shoots and kills him before turning the gun on himself. The officer calls the colonel on the ship’s radio for back up and help as The Phantom slips into the jungle with anger and revenge on his mind as the name Chessman is attached to those who did his father wrong many moons back. After a few hours The Phantom contacts the colonel and finds that a man named Charles Chessman from New York is the prime suspect of being the head of the drug smugglers, so alongside Devil, The Phantom as Kit Walker boards a plane for New York to get his answers and justice…but soon finds that his American girlfriend Diana’s family are long time friends with Chessman! The Phantom heads to the office of Charles Chessman only to find himself under arrest! All the while young Rex is reading about the 13th Phantom and his struggle to break free from the pirates who sold him into slavery.

The Phantom once more shows why he is the man who cannot die when he beats up a boat full of pirates and heads to America to settle a score with a person connected with the torture of his father. While he is dealing with his want for revenge, his adopted nephew is learning the history of The Phantom. This issue feels like a great classic hero tale and adds in just enough violence, drama and modern settings to give it an appeal to readers who enjoy Batman, Superman and classic stuff like Dick Tracy and Flash Gordon. The Phantom is as heroic as he can be in this issue and saves not only the life of an officer but also a whole plane full of passengers and crew when a man tries to take it over and with one quick punch that threat comes to an end. Rex, like any young man, is wanting to learn all he can and prove that he could be very worthy of The Phantom legacy someday. The pirates and the captain are such scum that they even turn on each other when the odds are out of their favor.  The Captain has no spine and is about to squeal like a pig on who hired them before his own right hand man put a bullet to good use. Diana Palmer is a woman who clearly cares about her boyfriend The Phantom and understands his odd way of life, but her mother doesn’t like the relationship and thinks The Phantom is too creepy. Something that is working really well for this comic mini series is that like his father The Phantom is trying to get the revenge that his father was unable to dish out all those years back and this adds to not only the drama but also the action. The cover is pretty slick and holds a classic look and the interior art is done by Joe Orlando again and is fantastic.  Again, the only complaint I have is that some of the cursive lettering is hard to read in spots but that’s very minor and didn’t take away any of the enjoyment of the issue. So with issue two being as good as issue one, I cannot wait to see what issue three has in store for us the readers, and I wish I would have bought this series when I was a kid as I would have enjoyed it a lot.

dc-the-phantom-3

The Phantom # 3  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 3 of 4

The Phantom and Devil outsmart and out-maneuver the officers and as they go on a wild goose chase to track him down he slips back into the office of Chessman and beats him up and tells him he has a short time to turn himself over to the police and tell them the truth about his drug selling and stolen good ways or that he himself will be the judge, jury and executioner. After taking his leave, Diana comes to see Chessman and is upset over the fact that he beat up one of her friends who she thinks is truly a nice guy and decides to go on a dinner date with Chessman and has a terrible argument with The Phantom leaving the couple at odds and even possibly broken up. The Phantom goes out the night of the date and gets information on all of Chessman’s thugs.  Meanwhile, during dinner Chessman hires a hitman named Stryker to hunt down and kill The Phantom who is in turn now hunting down Chessman’s right hand man! All the while, we get flashbacks to the 13th Phantom who escapes his chains and goes on a hunt and kills the first of The Chessman brothers to send a message to the others that no one crosses justice and The Phantom.

This third issue ushers in the idea that The Phantom is now onto the man who has not only killed his friend and is pushing drugs but also is a relative of the evil men who pushed his father, the 13th Phantom near death’s door. And while trying to put a stop to the evil of this man he might lose his girlfriend as well as his life as now the hunter might just very well become the hunted. The Phantom is a man alone in New York as his own lady thinks he is on the wrong track, and this leaves him trying to fight this fight without her knowledge of the target, but at least he has Devil by his side and is kind enough to give Chessman a choice of turning himself in or become a body in the morgue. Diana is making a big mistake by thinking that her longtime family friend is a nice guy and not scum.  This leaves her also at the madman’s mercy as she is now at his house for dinner and he is desperate to rid the world of The Phantom.  I would not put it past him to use her as a human meat shield when the action goes down. Chessman is just so slimy and plays the role of a nice guy who really has a black selfish heart, and I can’t wait for him to get served some cold justice. Stryker is a mystery and looks like your typical mafia style hitman, and he could be a challenge for The Phantom once they meet! The story of the 13th Phantom from the past and the 21st Phantom’s paths are one in the same dealing with the same evil and crappy people The Chessman family is good story telling and writer Peter David is doing some amazing things to make The Phantom cool for comic readers of 1988 and beyond. The cover once more holds a classic look and captures the adventure style of the character and his legacy as again the art by Joe Orlando is top notch and amazing stuff. Once more this issue is as good as the other two so far and leaves the reader wanting more and wanting to see how the story ends in the next issue. So like The Phantom, let’s lurk into the shadows of your favorite place to read comics and see what happens next.

dc-the-phantom-4

The Phantom # 4  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 4 of 4

At dinner Diana overhears Chessman telling Stryker about his right hand man being busted by the cops thanks to The Phantom and that this spoiled a major drug deal for him.  Before she can get away, Chessman and Stryker take Diana hostage and want to use her as bait when they find out she knows him! The Phantom spends the next nights breaking up Chessman’s illegal operations but finally finds a message that Diana is in trouble and heads to Chessman’s house and into a trap. The Phantom sets Diana free but she is soon recaptured by Chessman who throws her into his car and hits the streets to get to his private plane.  While The Phantom and Devil make short work of Stryker, who, armed with a sniper rifle, hardly put up hardly before being knocked out. The Phantom watches as his enemy takes his true love away and borrows a police horse and tracks them down to bridge where traffic has come to a standstill and with a gun to her head Diana is forced to watch as Chessman and The Phantom have a showdown that leaves them both falling off the bridge. Chessman is in bad shape and rushed to the hospital but is suspected to live and will face charges for his drug empire.  The Phantom is thought to be dead until he shows up with Devil to Diana’s house and they patch things up and all ends well. We also see that the 13th Phantom also had an epic fight with the pirate Chessman brother that as well left them both falling off a mountain that they both died from, but this once more proved that the legacy of The Phantom would live forever.

This four issue mini series took us on an adventure that had us in the past and modern times as well as in the jungles of Africa and the slums of New York and pitted good vs. evil and justice against law breaker. The Phantom in this issue not only brings down many drug and gambling rings but also takes down a hitman as well as defeats a rich business man who is the ring leader of smugglers and has lived his life as a lie and gotten the support of many with his phony good guy persona. And most importantly, he also wins his girl’s heart back as well as keeps the legacy of The Phantom going and intact. The best part about The Phantom is that while he is super talented in hand to hand combat, he also uses his mind to really bring down those who are doing bad and wicked things. Devil is a loyal wolf and is a big help when it comes to fighting crime and is the best ally as he is threat with his razor sharp teeth! Rex learns lots about The Phantom legacy by going into the records, a place he is not meant to be, but a place it is known he would enter as all future Phantoms have interest in the past adventures. Diana Palmer is a woman who stands by her man…well that is until he beats up and points the figure at a rich family friend and then you turn on him and try and send him home until everything he said turns out to be true and he saves your life and then you fall back in love with him. Diana should have had faith in her superhero boyfriend as she clearly has a brain in her head. Stryker is all talk as he acts as if it would be easy to kill off The Phantom and when he gets his chance, he crumbles faster than a house of cards in a hurricane! The 13th Phantom in this series is a hero who is beaten, sold and near death but finds his inner power to get his revenge and to prove that his family legacy is not to be taken lightly. Charles Chessman is a man who has no morals and only cares about making money and getting his own fat out of the fire and would kill an innocent woman to get away, even after being given the chance to turn himself in he decides that he would rather not and try to kill his nemesis. He is much like the Chessman Pirate Brothers as his ego is what causes his downfall and leads him to a life in jail. The one thing that shocked me about this comic series was the fact that it shows not only blood but also a suicide and shows them both very gritty and this brings a more raw and natural feeling to it. The cover on this issue also is very well done and captures the heroic nature of The Phantom and adds the touch of mobsters and gritty city life to its appeal. The art is again done by the talented Joe Orlando and his work helped make this comic series even better of a read and added to the enjoyment of the sold story written by Peter David. Over all, if you enjoy classic hero tales that are filled with drama, action and a more realistic hero, then I suggest checking out this 4 issue mini series as I am glad that I did all these years after its newsstand run. Check out below to get a taste of the artwork from Joe Orlando and see just how good it is.

dc-the-phantom-art-1dc-the-phantom-art-2dc-the-phantom-art-3

Being a fan of The Phantom since a young age, it really is shocking that it took this long for me to read this mini series as to be honest I remember seeing it at comic shops in my teens and never pulled the trigger on buying the issues. I really think fans of such characters, as Batman, Dick Tracy, The Unknown Solider and Moon Knight should check out The Phantom if you have not already. With our next update, we are staying with DC and taking a look at one of the biggest events in comic history in my life time and one that some say brought the beginning of the end for the comic boom and I am of course talking about Doomsday: The Death Of Superman! So until next time, make sure to read a comic or three, read a novel or two and as always support your local Horror Host, and I will see you next update for Superman’s deadliest fight ever.

death-of-superman-bloody-shield-logo

Matt Goes To The Movies 2016

matt-goes-to-the-movies-2016-logo

The year of 2016 was a crazy one for me as much of my time was spent working on comic books for Sparkle Comics, the company I co-own with Jason Young as well as trying to film Baron Von Porkchop episodes among many other things like helping on films and of course working on updates for here at Rotten Ink. One thing I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted to this year was go to the movie theater so I want to apologies for the lack of depth to this list. 2016 was a pretty big year for cinema as we got many sequels to big budget movies like “Star Trek Beyond” and “Rougue One: A Star Wars Story.” We got classic books turned into big summer blockbusters like “Jungle Book” and “The Legend Of Tarzan,” not to mention lots of horror films from “The Conjuring 2” all the way to “Blair Witch,” the third film in that cult series. Hitting the cinemas this year, I filled my tummy with lots of popcorn and blue Icee’s and saw films in theaters like Regal, Cinemark, Danberry Huber Heights and Cranberry Cinema and had a blast watching the silver screen with friends like Juliet Fromholt, Jeremy Hoyt, Josh Weinberg, Stephen Alexander, Theresa Lopez, Thomas “Maurice” Smith and many more all who made the experience more fun. A weird thing about this year in movies is that while it was filled with many blockbusters, it also had many flops that expressed moviegoers lack of interest in sequels and reboots to films of the past, but this year also proved that Disney knows how to pack them into the theater with superhero films as well as family friendly adventures. Plus, it proved to Hollywood that horror films make money and bring profits on smaller budgets. So let’s find our seats here at Rotten Ink Theater and chat a little about the films of 2016!

Film Reels

Normally I would start with my “Worst” list, but since I wasn’t at the cinema as much this year, I didn’t get to see the that many films, and lucky for me, none of the ones I did get to see were what I would call a worst film. So this time around we are going to start with science fiction and fantasy, two genres that are near and dear to my heart.  So let’s sit here for a moment and chat about them, shall we?scifi-16# 5

the-5th-wave-posterHigh school student Cassie Sullivan is stuck in a world of chaos as aliens are attacking the Earth, killing off the human race.  When her younger brother is taken, she along with some other survivors go to war to try and survive and bring back the world they once knew. This fun science fiction film was based on the book of the same name written by Rick Yancey and was filled with lots of action as well as aliens and their waves of attacks that included flooding and spreading a sickness. The film, while not groundbreaking, was a fun film to see in the theater and actress Chloe Grace Moretz is fantastic in the role of Cassie.  You definitely find yourself cheering for her to kick some alien butt. The film did poorly at the US box office for Sony and brought in $34,912,982.00 on a $38 million dollar budget, but was a hit overseas making the film semi profitable. I would say the film is worth checking out on DVD if you skipped it at the theater or even maybe a rental from a local video store.

# 4

ghostbusters-2016-poster

While a third Ghostbusters sequel with the original cast was just not in the cards, we did get a reboot to the series that featured a whole new female cast gearing up with their protonpacks and tackling a whole new group of ghosts as well as some returning favorites like Slimer! This go around we follow Dr. Erin Gilbert who lost her tenure at Columbia University after a video shows up online of her on a paranormal research.  Along with friends Dr. Abby Yates, Dr. Jillian Holtzmann and Patty Tolan, Erin opens The Ghostbusters, a business that is set to rid the city of ghosts thanks to equipment they make in house. But when the city of New York comes under attack by a powerful evil spirit, they are the only hope….but are they ready to be the heroes? The film was directed by Paul Feig and starred Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth and even has cameos from many of the actors from the original films. I found the film to be lots of fun, and the characters were well portrayed with Holtzmann being the silliest and funniest! The film had some funny moments, and I find the fact that many fanboys got butt hurt over the film being made with all females comedians as The Ghostbusters was just silly and showed that many of these types of “fans” ruin things for others as sadly the film did poorly for Sony at the US Boxoffice bringing in $128,350,574.00 on a $144 million dollar budget.  By the look of it, a sequel is not in the works. I would say if you skipped this at the theater make sure to give it a chance and watch it on DVD or Blu-Ray and make up your own mind about it.

# 3

jungle-book-2016-poster

Disney has done another great job of turning one of their classic animated features into a live action film, and they made one heck of a great film with The Jungle Book! The film is about young human boy Mowgli who is raised by wolves in India, but when he becomes the target of the evil tiger Shere Khan, they are forced to send him away to rejoin the human race. Along his journey he is protected by black panther Bagheera and bear Baloo from not only Khan, but also giant python Kaa and King Louie, who is the king of the monkeys. But in the end Mowgli must face his fears of Shere Khan to save his animal friends and family from his terror as well as a fire that spreading across the jungle. The film was a great family adventure film and when sitting in the theater I felt like a kid again as Baloo sang “Bear Necessities.”  Everyone did a great job voicing the animals; I mean you cant go wrong with the talents of Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley and Christopher Walken. Director Jon Favreau did a fantastic job of making this film come alive and helps bring out the personality of the animals more by treating them as if they were real actors on set. The film did great for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in $364,001,123.00 on a $175 million budget making it a hit for sure! This was worth a watch and even a buy on home media if you enjoy the story of The Jungle Book as this is only slightly under the animated feature as being the best adaptation of the book.

# 2

star-trek-beyond-poster

Captain Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise are in major trouble when they travel into an uncharted nebula on a set up mission that leaves them at the mercy of Krall and his men who want to kill as many federation members as possible and have chaos throughout the galaxy. Can Kirk and his crew along, with their new alley Jaylah, escape the nebula and save lives in time before Krall and his fleet attacks? Watch this science fiction adventure film and find out. This was such a fun film to watch in the theater in Imax 3-D, and the addition of over the top action made it not your standard Strek Trek fare yet still kept the charm of what makes Star Trek Star Trek! This was the third in the reboot series, and after a very lackluster teaser trailer, the internet started the bashing and hating on the film before it was released.  This caused the film to perform poorly at the US Box Office for Paramount only bringing in $ 158,848,340.00 on a $185 million dollar budget. While this is not the best Star Trek film in the long running film series, I would say it’s a solid sequel that offers enough sci-fi tech talk and action to make it a fun summer popcorn movie.  Make sure to check it out on DVD as it’s well worth the watch.

# 1

star-wars-rogue-one-poster

Jyn Erso is the daughter of Galen, the man who lead the construction of the Empire’s newest and most deadly weapon, the Death Star! She was left behind at a young age to be raised by Rebel extremist fighter Saw Gerrera as her father was forced into labor by Orson Kernnic, the director of the Empire’s weapons research. Now older and on her own, Jyn must track down her father who has the secrets to destroy the Death Star from the inside.  She is joined by a rag tag group made up of Rebel soldiers and supporters who go on a suicide mission in order to get the plans into the hands of the Rebels. Add in tension between Kernnic and Grand Moff Tarkin, who both want credit for the Death Star, and in a annoyed Darth Vader as well as cameos from classic Star Wars characters, and you have one well made and entertaining science fiction film! The film’s main characters have amazing chemistry with each other and the friendships that are formed make sense and just add even more layers to their personalities. My favorite character was Jyn Erso as she proved that this new crop of Star Wars films are in the right hands as they clearly care about character development and story. Seeing Darth Vader back in full badass action was something to behold in IMAX 3-D as it made me feel like a kid again, seeing Return Of The Jedi in the theater. Plus the digital Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin made my Monster Kid heart grow three sizes, and I would say that I would love to see Hammer do this and make a new Frankenstein Movie. This film is still in theaters and as of January 1st has brought in a total of $393,554,705.00 for Disney on a $200 million dollar budget and is showing no signs of slowing down. If you have not seen this film yet, do yourself a favor and do so as its well worth the 2 hours of your time.

So as you can see, Hollywood delivered some great sci-fi and fantasy films all that were fantastic watches at my local cinema, not to mention we got a new Star Wars and Star Trek film last year. But another genre of films that rocked the box office this year is my second favorite kind of films, right behind horror, and thats super hero flicks! So grab a refill on your large popcorn, and let’s talk heroes from the comic books who have made the leap to the big screen in 2016.

super-hero-16

# 7

batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice-poster

The moviegoing public seemed to not be able to get enough of Batman on the big screen, and after the last Superman movie, someone at Warner Brothers and DC Comics decided that the world needed a vs. film that pitted their top two superheroes against each other.  So Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice was created and unleashed on the masses. The film has Bruce Wayne being very angry over the fight between Superman and General Zob that left some of his employees dead and others injured, and now, as Batman, he sets his sights on stopping Superman once and for all as he feels the government has not done their job well of keeping this superhuman alien in check. Throw in Wonder Woman, Lex Luther Jr. and Doomsday, and you have this epic battle film that will test the strength and mental fortitude of our heroes. The film was a little too long and for the most part, much of the hate that Batman had for Superman was weak.  In fact half way through, you wonder just why he has projected all the hate he has in his heart toward the Man of Steel and with that, the film kind of falls apart. Other flaws for this comic book fan and movie lover were: the birth of Doomsday was just dumb and pointless and Lex Luther Jr. was a turd and acted more like he was the son of The Joker.  While it sounds like I didn’t like it, I really did enjoy it as it was a fun popcorn flick that showcased that superhero films are just enjoyable on the big screen no matter how flawed they are. The film was directed by Zack Snyder and starred Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck and Amy Adams and did pretty dang well for WB at the US Box Office bringing a total of $330,360,194.00 on a $250 million dollar budget. It’s worth watching on home media or even on cable as it at least will be sure to please during the fight scenes.

# 6

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-out-of-the-shadows-poster

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back at it again as they target The Shredder and the footclan who are again attacking New York with the idea of taking over the world.  This time with the help of scientist Baxter Stockman, the foot create two mutants of their own, the warthog Bebop and rhino Rocksteady, to finally put up a fight against the turtles.  But they also have help in their battle with Casey Jones, a vigilante cop who has had enough of crime ruining his streets. Things get worst when Shredder gets help from Krang, an alien from Dimension X! This sequel is hard hitting and is packed with not only action but also lots of comedic moments that bring out the Turtles’ personalities that made them the popular characters that kids of yesterday and today know and love. This was a fun theater watch and seeing the Turtles battle Bebop and Rocksteady was something I, as a long time turtle fan, have wanted to see in a live action movie. The flaws of the movie for me was that actor Stephen Amell, who played Casey Jones was terrible and super weak in his portrayal that had him hardly wearing the character’s trademark hockey mask. Another lackluster thing was that Shredder played by Brain Lee also did not wear the character’s trademark helmet…when will Hollywood learn that people wanna see the character appear like they should and not just the actor’s face….we get what actor is playing the part! The film was directed by Dave Green and also stars Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Tyler Perry and Sheamus and sadly did very poorly for Paramount at the US Box Office only bringing in a small $82,051,601.00 on a $135 million dollar budget. While the film was judged pretty harshly by movie goers, I for one enjoyed it for the most part and found it a good summer popcorn flick based on characters I grew up loving.

# 5

doctor-strange-poster

Dr. Stephen Strange is a genius surgeon who is cocky and ego driven, but after a major wreck, the nerves in his hands are shot and his career as a surgeon is over.  He tries all types of ways to get better that finally leaves him going to Kathmandu to seek out The Ancient One who teaches him that magic and other dimensions are the path to truly heal. But Dr. Strange gets more than he bargained for as he is forced to use his newly learned magic to fight a rogue group of dark magic students lead by Kaecilius who wants to bring the Dark Dimension ruler Dormammu into our world and bring life as we know it to an end. When the odds are against him, how can Doctor Strange out magic Dormammu in order to save us all? This was a superhero film that I was not fully looking forward to as I have never been a big fan of the comic series and for the most part find the character very boring, but this film stepped it up and made him very interesting for me. The film was directed by Scott Derrickson and actor Benedict Cumberbatch was a great choice to play Doctor Strange as he brings the character to life. This superhero popcorn film also stars Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams and Chiwetel Ejiofor all of whom are fantastic in their roles of various characters from the Marvel Universe. The film has done pretty solid for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in a total this far of $230,323,048.00 on a $165 million dollar budget. It was well worth watching in the theater, and I will for sure buy it on DVD when released.

# 4

suicide-squad-poster

The government is in big trouble when it comes to world affairs, and after Superman is no longer around, they create a task force of criminals who they will send on mission that could lead to death. The team is made up of Deadshot, El Diablo, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, Enchantress, Katana, Slipnot and Harley Quinn and is lead by Colonel Rick Flag who informs them that if they break the rules and try to escape, they will be killed on the spot via a tiny bomb in their brains. When the Enchantress turns rogue and, along with her brother, wants to bring the world to an end, it’s up to The Suicide Squad to stop them and prove that not every bad guy is un-savable. To make things worse, The Joker has entered the combat zone as he wants his girlfriend Harley Quinn back by his side and not doing the work of government. The film also has cameos from DC Heroes like The Flash and Batman and was a really fun watch at the theater while munching on popcorn and drinking a blue icee, as I found it to be a fun ride filled with fun characters and enough action to please most fans. But for some reason like most modern DC Movies, this flick was meet with lots of internet hate even before it was released as fanboys decided they hated the casting of Jared Leto as The Joker and just over all wanted to hate on it.  I know lots of friends who joined the hate who never even saw the film but wanted to tell others not to watch it. The film as a great cast with Will Smith playing Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harely both stealing the show and making the characters their own while still holding onto elements from the comics they come from. The film did good for Warner Brothers, despite all the internet trash talking, at the US Box Office bringing in $325,100,054.00 on a budget of $175 million. This is another movie I was glad I watched in theaters and going in with low expectations and no pre-judging in my mind found it to be a great watch and one I will own on DVD very soon.

# 3

x-men-apocalypse-poster

The Apocalypse is the world’s first mutant and is godlike in nature.  In 1983, he is awakened and does not like what he sees of modern times and goes on a quest to get disciples that will act as his horsemen of the apocalypse.  He gets Magneto, Storm, Angel and Psylocke to join his cause of allowing mutants to rule and for him to lead them to a new world. Charles Xavier and his X-Men that include Beast, Havok and Quicksilver along with new members Nightcrawler, Jean Grey and Cyclops must come together and trust Mystique and try to stop the destruction of the world as we know it and stop the next age of Apocalypse. This was a really fun and action packed film in the X-Men series and was a great watch in the theater. The film brought most of the returning cast from X-Men: First Class and continued the awkward relationship between Charles and Mystique. Apocalypse, played by Oscar Isaac was a great narcissistic villain who would manipulate his followers with ego boosting words, but clearly he does not care if they live or die as long as he is once more in power. I also like how they showed Apocalypse past in Egypt and that’s what starts the movie off. One down side is the film focuses way too much on Mystique played by Jennifer Lawrence, and she does not rock her blue scaled skin most of the film.  It was clear she didn’t want to wear all that make up and body suit, and Fox wanted to showcase they had Lawrence still on board. This film also stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Evan Peters, Sophie Turner and Olivia Munn, oh and it also has a cool cameo from Hugh Jackman as Wolverine! The film did poorly for Fox at the US Box Office bringing in $155,442,489.00 on a budget of $178 million. While this film was met with mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, I for one found it to be a great super hero film and in fact bought it on DVD when it was released.  I suggest if you like the X-Men films and have not seen this one yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.

# 2

deadpool-poster

Wade Wilson was a member of a special force team who has fallen in love with a woman named Venessa and all is well until Wade gets cancer and is dying.  When they cannot cure it, he decides to seek alternative help that leaves him being turned into a burnt up looking freak who cannot die! This sets Wade off who becomes the costumed anti-hero Deadpool who lurks in the shadows afraid to let Vanessa know he is alive all the while tracking down Ajax, the man who he thinks can cure him of his disfigurement. But things get bad when Ajax and his team of enhanced mutants kidnap Vanessa, and Deadpool, along with X-Men members Colossus and Warhead, must get her back! This film is rated R and is packed to the brim with crude humor and brutal kills all done with tongue in cheek one liners and grace. Ryan Reynolds returns to the role of Deadpool, with his first appearance as the character being in the 2009 film “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and owns it with his wise cracking delivery. Also starring in this over the top super hero action film is Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, Stan Lee and Ed Skrein, all who do great things in the roles they were cast, no matter how big or small. The film did fantastic for Fox bringing in a total of $363,070,709.00 in the US on a budget of only $58 million! This is a Marvel super hero movie that is not for kids as it really is packed with blood, cussing and very crude humor but it made for one fun and enjoyable watch for this old comic book reader. I must also say that I have never been a super fan of Deadpool as even reading comics back in the day I never paid him that much attention, but I think it’s really cool that this film as well as good solid comics being made by Marvel has made him into one of the industry’s top selling heroes. Own it on DVD now, and it’s worth watching for sure!

# 1

captain-america-cival-war-poster

Captain America and Iron Man clash in this third film in the series about everyones favorite red, white and blue Avenger. What starts the war is that Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow and Falcon are on a mission to stop Crossbones and his band of mercenaries that leaves humanitarian workers of Wakanda dead, and the government now wants The Avengers and other superheroes to register with them and only work when the government tells them to. Worse, when the King of Wakanda is killed and everyone blames The Winter Solider, Captain America along with his team Ant Man, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Falcon turn on the registration act and try to protect Winter Solider who claims he is innocent. This sparks the new King of Wakanda, The Black Panther, to join Iron Man, Vision, Black Widow, War Machine and Spider-Man to all do to war and little does anyone know this is all a big set up game by the sinister Baron Zemo who wants to ruin The Avengers and all the good they stand for. This film has so many more layers than what I am sharing here as it would take awhile to explain it all, and you should have or need to see it to understand why it’s my top super hero film of 2016. Chris Evans is truly Captain America come to life, and I could not imagine these films going on without him, so here is hoping he sticks around for awhile. What is great about this film, besides the solid script and amazing actors that bring their parts to life, is the fact you get some many heroes for the price of one and this includes Spider-Man as Sony and Marvel have come to an agreement that allows the hero to now take part in the Marvel Universe films and let alone one that has them all in a fight much like the WWE Survivor Series! The film did outstanding for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $408,084,349.00 on the massive budget of $250 million. I don’t want to go on too much about this film as I think it speaks better for itself, and all I can say is Spider-Man and Black Panther are great new additions to this amazing film universe that Disney and Marvel are delivering to all us movie goers.

So as you can see, 2016 had some really great super hero films that delivered action and adventure and entertained the movie going masses. Another genre that delivered this year was horror, and while the theater was packed with more ghost and possession movies that seem to be the life blood of horror for the last few years, it also had some slashers and iconic characters returning to the silver screen that included The Tall Man of Phantasm and Godzilla! Blumhouse once more proved that there is money in horror films as many films they produced hit and scared the crowds.  They have quickly become a production team that I look forward to seeing what they release next. So let’s dim these theater lights a little more and let’s take a look at the top horror films that I saw in the theater in 2016!

horror-16-logo

# 17

the-disappointments-room-poster

Dana is a woman who is haunted by the accidental death of her baby daughter, and alongside her husband David and son Lucas she moves out of the city and into a giant old house in the country that was once owned by the town’s top judge. But after finding a closed off room in the attic that was not on the house’s blueprints, she soon starts to see ghosts of the judge and his dog and finds that the room held a family secret that left a young girl murdered.  Now she must solve the mystery or lose her own mind doing so. This film is yet another ghost/possession film and suffers from a paper thin story mostly dealing with Dana’s mental breakdown and is by all accounts very boring in its delivery to try to scare us in the theater. When seeing this film, only one other guy was in the theater and he seemed to be bored as he kept checking his phone and even after it was done looked over at me and talked about just how lame the film was and how the characters did things that lead to nowhere.  Sad to say, the phone checker was right, the film’s characters just seemed like shells of people doing silly things that had no real outcome. The actors in this boring horror film include Kate Beckinsale, Mel Raido, Gerald McRaney and Lucas Till and while they are all great actors in other films, what they are given to do here is very weak, and this was one that I would suggest that most skip unless you have a free rental or is on cable TV. The film did poorly for Rogue Pictures only bringing in the small amount of $2,423,468.00 at the US box office on a $15 million dollar budget. Over all, while I love seeing horror films in the theater, this one almost put me to sleep even after drinking a large blue Icee, this is hands down the worst horror film I saw in theaters this year!

# 16

the-darkness-poster

Peter Taylor and his wife Bronny are having issues in their marriage, and their children also have their issues as daughter Stephanie has a eating disorder and son Michael is autistic.  The last happy moment of their life together was a family vacation they took with friends at the Grand Canyon where, unknown to them all, Michael removes and takes home stones that were placed to keep Native American demon spirits trapped.  Now with the stones moved and at the Taylor’s home, they must find out the clues to why mystery animals are appearing, why Michael is talking to the walls that he calls The Sky People and acting up. In the end they must call a healer to try and clear the house of the spirits ,but is it enough and can the love of a family be enough to send the demons back? While the film was not terrible it, was nothing new and seemed like just a watered down version of Amityville Horror and or even Poltergeist, and yep, marks yet another possession/ghost film to be released this year that seems to still be the flavor of the decade for horror film makers. The film stars Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell, Paul Reiser and Llza Rosario and was directed by Greg McLean who is known for directing the Wolf Creek series. The film turned a profit for High Top Releasing at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $10,753,574.00 on a $4 Million Dollar budget. Not recommended for those looking for horror films that showcase the bad guys more than a total of maybe a minute the whole film or ones who don’t like slow burn horror

# 15

dont-breathe-poster

Rocky is a young woman with a daughter who lives in Detroit with her rude and crude mother and in order to get money, she robs houses with her boyfriend Money and friend Alex who’s father works for a home security company. Rocky needs one last big score in order to move away with her daughter, and they select the house of a blind vet named Norman Nordstrom who was awarded money after his daughter was killed in a drunk driver auto accident. But once inside, they find out that this blind man is not helpless and has his own dirty secrets to hide away! Norman along with his dog hunt down the burglars and make them pay for entering his home and finding out his dark twisted secret that is worth killing for. Don’t Breathe is a horror thriller that has elements of being a slasher film as Norman is brutal in his ways of killing and seems to feel what he is doing is right! While I did enjoy this film and had a good time watching it in the theater with Juliet, the film had some flaws that were pretty outstanding to me.  The fact NONE of the characters are likable people.  From Rocky all the way to Norman, they are all bad people who do bad things! The fact that by the end Norman who is a normal man seems to not be able to be killed like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees as he seems to be superhuman and shrug off killing blows is dumb. Another thing that annoyed me is the fact that Rocky and Alex, during their time of trying to escape the house of this madman, never have the idea of using a weapon until toward the end of the film. The film does have some amazing actors who do fantastic in their roles as Stephen Lang is great as the blind Norman and Jane Levy is amazing as Rocky and the supporting cast as well hold their own. At the US box Office this film brought in a total of $89,059,699.00 for Sony on a budget of only $9.9 million making it a hit for the studio. Over all this Sam Raimi produced film was not terrible but also was nothing special and some of the flaws made it very annoying to this horror fan. I would say worth the watch on DVD and Blu-Ray. Also I should note that this film was one I was super hyped for after seeing the trailer and was a tad bit of a letdown.

# 14

31-poster

Rob Zombie strikes again with a foul language horror film packed with lots of blood and some weird yet fascinating characters with his film 31. The film follows a group of carnival workers who have been kidnapped and forced to play a game of life and death on Halloween Night by some rich people who have employed killers like chainsaw brothers Sick-Head & Psycho-Head as well as other killers Schizo-Head, Sex-Head, Death-Head and the all time kill champion Doom-Head to hunt them down and kill them as they beat on their survival. The film is packed with some brutal kills and for the most part the carnival workers are likable people who you want to see make it out alive and survive the killers attacks as well as you root for them to deliver justice to the psychos! The downside to the film, like most Rob Zombie films, is the dialogue is terrible in spots and so over the top its laughable as he tries to use almost every cuss word he can think of! The other flaw the film has was that in spots he uses shaky camera techniques in order to mask some of the film’s lower budget special effects. But while it has flaws it also had things I really liked about it as I found the killers odd and memorable, I loved the fact that the carnival workers fight back and are not just helpless victims, his use of classic rock songs also was pretty well done and the acting was good for what terrible lines they were given. The film has an all star cast with names like Malcolm McDowell, Meg Foster, Lew Temple, Ginger Lynn, Sheri Moon Zombie and a stunning E.G. Daily from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure as Sex-Head. Richard Brake who plays Doom-Head does great and the character is not only sadistic but also gross and just a foul human being. The film at the US box office brought in a total of $779,820.00 for Saban Films, and I must say while Rob Zombie films are not perfect, they at least have heart and are entertaining in some way or another. Oh yeah and I have to say I hated the ending – those who have seen this film will know what I am talking about.

# 13

the-forest-2016-poster

The Forest is a supernatural horror film based on the Aokigahara Forest that follows Sara who travels to Japan and journeys into the forest to find her missing identical twin sister Jess whom people believe went into the forest to commit suicide.  She is joined by Michi a park ranger and Aiden, a reporter. But she soon finds out that the forest has plans of its own and that the dead don’t rest in these haunted woods. So does she find Jess? Is she alive or dead? Why do people say not to stay in the woods at night? Watch this film to find those answers! The film is packed with jump scares, some creepy ghosts and a great atmosphere, but also has a cheesy hole filled plot as well as some paint by number horror clichés that make it an average supernatural horror romp. Natalie Dormer best known from the HBO show Game Of Thrones plays the twins Sara and Jess and looks fantastic, and the music done by Bear McCreary is well done and makes scenes pop. The film brought in a total of $26,594,261.00 for Gramercy Pictures at the US Box Office on a $10 million dollar budget. Not amazing and not bad, The Forest is one you might want to rent or check out on DVD.

# 12

the-other-side-of-the-door-poster

The Other Side Of The Door was a horror film that was orignaly supposed to be a wide release that then turned into a limited release, and I was lucky enough to catch it at Regal Cinema. The film is about Maria who is living the perfect life in India along with her husband Michael, son Oliver, young daughter Lucy and maid Myrtu, but that perfect life comes to an end when an accident leaves Oliver dead and Maria heartbroken and not able to get over the accident and the loss of her son. Six years after the accident, Maria gets her chance to tell her deceased son goodbye thanks to Myrtu who tells her of a ritual and place that will allow her to speak to him from the other side of a door.  The only catch is you can’t open the door…and of course Maria does and by doing so free’s something sinister. The film is another ghost/possession film and had a few good chills and had a great setting being in India, not your typical American or England backdrop. The film’s cast was good with Sarah Wayne Callies and Jeremy Sisto heading the pack and each doing well in their roles. The film did not perform great for Fox at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $3,000,342.00 due to them making it a limited release. Not groundbreaking but very entertaining and was worth the theater watch for me as well as Josh Weinberg who tagged along.

# 11

the-witch-poster

The Witch was a Horror Film that had lots of buzz around it on the internet and among fans before it even hit theaters.  Stephen King even said The Witch scared the hell out of him, but could it live up to that for movie goers? The film is about William and his family leaving the safety of a plantation in New England and making a farm in the middle of nowhere surrounded by woods and something sinister that steals and kills their youngest child. Quickly the family starts falling apart as oldest daughter Thomasin is blamed for the wrong doings by her mother, while all along The Witch of the woods and the mysterious goat named Black Phillip are the chaos makers at hand. The film is well acted with stand out performances from Ralph Ineson who played William and Anya Taylor-Joy who played Thomasin, and the atmosphere is great and has a feeling of dread all around the farm as we witness the breakdown of a God-fearing family. But the Witch character herself who takes two forms, one being old and the other glamor porn star, is just not really scary and is not really used throughout the hour and a half shocker. Much of the film, the characters spend time praying or chatting about God and religion, and I hate to say this, at some points I became very bored at drawn out moments. While this was not a bad movie, it was not as scary, spooky nor bone chilling as I hoped for. The only part that got me was when The Witch killed the young baby and mashed its body up and covered herself with its blood, and keep in mind this description is more graphic than what you see on the screen. It was also great to hear how split the group of friends and family I went with were on this film, and I had to laugh when one young lady at the end of the film let out a loud “This Movie Sucked” announcement. The film did okay for A24 at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $25,138,705.00 on a budget of $3.5 million, showing that lower budget horror films can make studios extra cash. While I didn’t hate this film, in no way am I a super fan of this film…I might check it out again once on DVD.

# 10

phantasm-v-poster-00

The final Phantasm film and the fifth film in the series was released this year, and it was bitter sweet to see it in the big screen thanks to Horrorama as it was the end of the franchise and sadly just an okay entry in the series. The film follows Ice Cream Man Reggie as he is trying to track down his missing friend Mike and along the way fight off The Tall Man and his evil spheres and henchmen. But this is the world of Phantasm, so nothing and no one are what they seem, and Reggie must try and use his wits to figure out the real world from the other dimension. Reggie is joined by fellow Tall Man hunters and together they must team up against his horde of followers and crack the code and stop the coming end of times. The film was produced by Don Coscarelli the series creator and was directed by David Hartman and stars Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm and A. Michael Baldwin and sadly had its premiere on Video On Demand but lucky for me it was a film that had it’s Dayton area first movie theater showing at Horrorama allowing me to watch the film from the projection window. While I enjoyed the film, I also saw that it had lots of flaws and for the most part is just a showcase of Reggie with very little Tall Man surrounded by low budget digital effects. The film has been meet with mixed reviews and really does mark the end of the series as Angus “Tall Man” Scrimm sadly passed away in early 2016. Fans of the series should for sure check it out on DVD or streaming rental.

# 9

ouija-origin-evil-poster

Alice Zander and her two young daughters Lina and Doris are living in a Los Angeles suburban house in 1967 and charge people for giving them spiritual readings. But when Alice buys a Ouija Board as a new prop to use, she soon finds out that Doris has a real gift and can communicate with the dead including her dead father…or can she as soon it’s clear something evil has came through and is using the young girl as a vessel and its up to Lina and her mother to save their loved one from a terrible possessed fate. This sequel was leaps and bounds better than its predecessor and is filled with some creepy moments and is well acted with Elizabeth Reaser who played Alice Zander stealing the show, not to mention this film brings to life the events of the first film as it acts as a prequel. The film did pretty well for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $34,992,970.00 on a $9 million budget showing that movie goers still want to see possession and ghost films. Worth watching for sure and like I said, way better than the first film.

# 8

blair-witch-poster

James Donahue, the brother of missing person Heather Donahue, along with some friends go to the woods near Burkittsville when a tape is found in a tree that appears to show Heather alive and running through a house in the woods. Once there, they hook up with some local YouTube ghost hunters and soon find out that they are not alone as The Blair Witch is back and looking for more young adults to kill. Does James find his missing sister? Does the house in the woods really exist? And can James and his friends get out of the woods alive? All this is answered in this third film in the series that was original being advertised as The Woods. The film was one I was super hyped to see as I was a fan of the 1999 original film The Blair Witch Project and it had been over 16 years between sequels.  While I enjoyed the film, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of scares and some times unmotivated actions of the friends who make some really terrible decisions. One very cool thing is that in some shots you get a quick glimpse of what the Witch looks like, and I have a theory that she just might be an alien or even a interdenominational being! The film did good for Lionsgate at the US Box Office even though its was below what they expected as it brought in $20,777,061.00 on a $5 million budget! While not an amazing sequel, it’s way better than part two and was a fun watch in the theater, check it out on DVD.

# 7

lights-out-poster

What was originally a short film made for the internet, Lights Out made its way to being a feature length that hit theaters this year. Rebecca is a young woman who is into drawing dark pictures who moved away from home when her mother had a series of mental breakdowns. After her stepfather is killed and her Mother begins acting crazy again, she takes her young brother Martin in who is not sleeping after being tormented by a shadow woman! Rebecca along with her boyfriend Bret and Martin are forced to stay at their mother’s house when the government forces Martin to be with his mother. The group soon learns that the shadow lady is indeed real and her name is Diana, and she was an odd child who was “friends” with their mother after they meet in a mental asylum and after being killed in a treatment gone wrong she lives on as a sinister shadow that lives on thanks to the weakness of their mothers mental state! Now Diana is mad and wants to live on and will kill whom ever tries to get in her way.  Now it’s up to Rebecca to save her family and rid the world of the sinister demonic Diana. This film is a jump scare fest filled with some creepy effects and a really cool monster as Diana could easily become a new horror icon that could spark sequels for years to come. The film was rated PG-13 and while not a bloodbath, it does have some gruesome moments that I am sure will scare the wits out of many viewers. Another cool fact is that this was released by Warner Brothers under New Line Cinema, and it made me miss when New Line was its own company and would embrace the world of horror films. The film did great for WB at the US Box Office delivering $67,268,835.00 on a small $4.9 million budget showing that horror films are very profitable and also sparked talks of a sequel! While not groundbreaking and pretty much another ghost/possession film, it was a fun watch in the theater and is one I now own on DVD and would suggest fans of these types of films to watch.

# 6

incarnate-poster

Dr. Seth Ember is a man who lost his family in a terrible car accident that was caused by a demon named Maggie.  This accident also left him in a wheelchair and put his faith and will to live for anything besides revenge to the test. You see Ember spends his time in a trance near death’s door that allows him to enter the subconscious of possessed people and exorcize the demon from within by giving the person’s own will a choice to expel the demon from their own bodies. But when Maggie shows back up inside a young 11 year old boy, he must come face to face with his family’s killer and will put his very own life and soul on the line as a warzone has been set that will leave everyone around to never be the same again. This film, while a possession film, is done differently from most as it downplays the religious elements and up plays the scientific and psychic way to defeat a demon, and our hero is wheelchair bound and not a saint of a person at all as he is only doing this for his own quest for revenge making him not your typical hero. The film stars Aaron Eckhart as Seth Ember and co-stars Carice Van Houten, Catalina Sandino Moreno and even has WWE wrestler Mark Henry in a cameo role. The film was a team up of WWE Studios and Blumhouse Productions and was a solid entertaining PG-13 horror film that was super enjoyable in the theater even if Juliet and I were the only people their to see it. The film has some blood and violence with some chilling moments and sadly did very poorly for High Top Releasing at the Box Office in the US only bringing in $4,777,253.00 on a budget of $5 million and for some reason had very poor word of mouth among horror fans. While this film was not perfect, I did find it pretty original for a genre of horror that is getting very stale, worth watching on cable or renting from your local video store and for me, I am sure I will pick it up on DVD when released.

# 5

shin-godzilla-poster

Japan is under attack by a giant lizard monster who keeps evolving and is being called Godzilla. The prime minister of Japan and his cabinet must find a way to keep the giant monster at bay or even better yet kill it and even get the help of America but all military attempts fail as Godzilla has his own tricks that include fire breath and fire blasts from his tail. Finally after many human deaths, lots of destruction and many failed attempts Godzilla is stopped thanks to a team effort that leaves him frozen from the inside out and like a statue, but not all is as it seems as Godzilla’s tail may have its own living race of creatures ready to come alive. This film is very slow moving and mixes elements of horror, science fiction and drama to deliver a very new and unique re-telling of the origin of Godzilla as many options are hinted at yet never confirmed, and some how this odd combination works really well! Godzilla looks like he has never looked before, and this new generation of films looks like it might be one that evolves with each new installment. This is a real hard movie to explain as it has lots of political moments and is less about Godzilla and more about the state of Japan. The film had a very limited theatrical release here in America, and I was lucky enough to catch it at the Regal Cinema in Beavercreek along with my friends Jeremy Hoyt, Erin R. Ryan and Sean Leo. Shin Godzilla brought in $1,918,403.00 in the US for FUNimation on a budget of $15 million and this was just icing on the cake as the film made way more in Japan. Worth watching and one I will own when on DVD, but I must also say this film is not for everyone and would probably bore many younger Godzilla fans.

# 4

10-cloverfield-lane-poster

Michelle leaves her fiance after an argument and during her drive out of town, she gets into a terrible accident when a truck smashes into her and wakes up in chains in a fall out bunker owned by a man named Howard. Michelle thinks she’s being kept captive but soon learns from her host Howard that an attack has taken place that has left the outside air poisonous, and his story is backed up by Emmett another man taking shelter in the bunker. But after Howard’s odd and some time anger filled moods as well as witnessing a woman die from the air outside, the mystery of who did this attack as well as Howard really is unfolds. The film has so many twists and turns and delivers suspense with a horror vibe so well that I found myself glued to the movie screen watching it, and that’s saying something as the film this loose sequel spawned off of Cloverfield, which was not very good in my opinion. The acting is top notch with John Goodman as Howard stealing the show as well as other actors Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. delivering solid performances. The film is packed with some suspenseful and sinister moments, and I don’t want to spoil anything on what is really outside as I think it’s something you need to just see for yourself. The film did good for Paramount at the US Box Office bringing in $72,082,998.00 on a budget of $15 million causing talks of a sequel. Worth watch and was leaps and bounds better than the original and does away with the shaky came found footage style and delivers a solid spooky and well done movie.

# 3

the-boy-2016-poster

The Boy was one of those films that when my cousin Stephen and I saw the trailer at work when it was released into the world wide web, we knew we had to see it the weekend it came out, as growing up Stephen was scared of creepy dolls, and it’s our thing when we talk horror films. The film follows Greta, a young American woman who is getting away from her abusive boyfriend and takes a nanny job in England for the Heelshire family.  When the parents go on a holiday she is to watch after their son Brahms. But things are very odd as Brahms is nothing more than a doll who the Heelshire’s treat as a living child, and worse she learns from grocery delivery man Malcolm that Brahms died in a fire after an “accident” happened to a young girl near the house. Brahms has rules that must be followed, and Greta soon finds out that things are not as they seem as The Doll seems to have ideas of its own or does it? This is the kind of film that takes twists and turns and keeps a spooky gothic/haunting pace and then turns it up a notch with a surprise ending that some fans might see coming, but others might not…so I will not spoil it for you here. The film stars Lauren Cohan as Greta who is best known for playing Maggie Greene on the hits TV Show The Walking Dead, and she does a great job and is truly a stunning actress. During the film my girlfriend Juliet leaned over in pure joy and said the film reminded her of a cult classic “Tourist Trap,” and the rest of our viewing party seemed to get a kick out of this weird little horror gem. The film did pretty good for STX Entertainment at the US Box Office Bringing in a total of $35,819,556.00, if you like horror films set in a spooky old castle home and like creepy dolls check this one out on DVD or Blu-Ray.

# 2

the-purge-election-year-poster

Leo Barnes is now working as a security chief for Senator Charlie Roan, a woman who had her family killed on a purge night many years back and wants to get rid of the day that she finds barbaric and wrong. But when she ruffles the feathers of the New Founding Fathers, they lift the band on not being able to kill a government official and hire a group of mercenaries to take her life! Leo, along with cornerstore workers and a group of protesters, must keep her safe throughout the night so she can make it to election day and rid America of this terrible yearly event. This is the third film in this amazing series and blends horror really well with action, drama and most surprisingly, a message, as all the films thus far have been not just about brutal killings but more about how society is going and how the 1% truly do call the shots. Leo and Senator Charlie are both very likable characters that you find yourself cheering for as are the workers of the small corner store who show that community and friends need to watch out for each other during the good and bad times. Another aspect of this film I liked is how America has turned the Purge into a tourist attraction where rich people from all over the world come to kill the weak and poor. The film stars Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell and Berry Gabriel and did really well for Universal at the US Box Office as if brought them in $79,042,440.00 on a small budget of $10 million and once more this was produced by Blumhouse proving these guys know horror! Own it on DVD and if you have not seen it and have enjoyed the other two films in the series, make sure you check this one out as it was a easy pick for my # 2! I want to also note that I saw this film at the Cranberry Cinema with Juliet during a Monsterbash vacation.

# 1

the-conjuring-2-poster

In 1976, Lorraine and Ed Warren were looking into the haunting at the house in Amityville and during this investigation Lorraine gets a vision of her husband’s death as well sees a evil demonic Nun who haunts her dreams as well as her family’s even after leaving the home. Now in 1977, single mother Peggy and her children are living in a home in England when an evil spirit comes out to play and possesses young Janet who can speak with the voice of a 77 year old man as well as other creepy stuff happens around the house. The church asks Ed and Lorraine to look into the case, and they soon find that there is more evil at play than just the ghost of the house’s former owner as the Nun is there and wants to make Lorraine’s vision of her husband’s death a reality! Can Ed and Lorraine save the family from the torment of the evil spirits and can they prove the vision wrong? Watch this creepy ghost film to find out! This sequel is as good as the original, and Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson who play Lorraine and Ed Warren are fantastic and truly are what make these films work so well as you find yourself bonding with them. The films villain is Valak a demon who takes the appearance of the Demon Nun and who is just pure evil and is sure to scare many viewers with her sinister looks. Director James Wan knows how to take the true case files of the Warrens and along with his writers created a spooky film that does not suffer from being only PG-13 as it uses mood and jump scares to fill the audience with fright and when seeing this in the theater I can tell you I heard many of my fellow movie goers gasp and shriek with terror and to me that shows this flick did what it was suppose to do. The film was put out by Warner Brothers via New Line Cinema and did great at the Box Office here in the US as on a budget of $40 million it brought in $102,470,008.00 proving as I have said many times in this update that horror is profitable. I own this film on DVD and watched it again, and it still holds up and won easily my # 1 spot for best theater-viewed horror film of 2016! So if you like your horror films filled with demon nuns, jump scares, cool and creepy soundtrack and likable characters this one is for you!

So there it is. my best of 2016 in films I got to see in the theater, and I must say while I didn’t get to go as much as I wanted, the times I did get to go I had a blast! And I will make this promise that next year I will make sure to make more time to get my butt to the theater so that my Best of 2017 will be epic! Plus with rumors next year of new Friday The 13th, Saw, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Amityville films, the horror competition will be high and dare I say cutthroat! But the Rotten Ink Theater clean up crew is here to sweep out all the popcorn so we should wrap this up.  I hope you enjoyed this update as much as I did writing it and our next update we are headed to Africa to spend some time with The Phantom! So until then, go see a movie or four and support your local movie theater!

the-phantom-preview-logo

Spend Christmas Eve With The Gremlins!

Merry Christmas Eve, and welcome back to Rotten Ink, my cozy little slice here on the web. This day is always filled with big smiles and heartwarming moments, another thing it brings is Christmas movies and TV specials! How many of you remember watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or even “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” on your local station? Or even watching classic holiday films like “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas”, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, “Ernest Saves Christmas”, “Prancer” or the ever so classic “A Christmas Story” on a cold December night? But for monster kids like myself, this time of the year also brings horror Christmas films that warm the heart as well as chill the blood. I mean who can not want to watch films this time of year like “Silent Night Deadly Night 1-5”, “Santa Claws”, “Silent Night Bloody Night”, “Jack Frost”, “Christmas Evil”, “Elves” or even the film that’s todays update and of course I am talking “Gremlins”! I mean every kid I knew growing up loved this film and everyone I knew talked about it with affection and wonderment, as it was a film we could all bound over. So I want to think you for spending a small part of your Christmas Eve with me and am very proud to bring you this update based on the beloved classic film Gremlins, so join me on this zany update that I hope will fill your mind and soul with a little joy. And I need to remind you of the rules of Gremlins for our own sanity and safety! 1.) No Bright Light, the light will hurt them and could kill them. 2.) Don’t Get Him Wet, as that makes them multiply! 3.) Never Feed Them After Midnight, as this will cause them to spawn from cute little Mogwai to a cacoon that hatches and now you have a sinister Gremlin on your hands! So with those rules in mind lets move onto this Joyess update.

Christmas Gifts red

So as always we should start our look at Gremlins with taking a look at the 1984 movie, I can remember watching this movie around Christmas every year when I was a youngster on Beta Tape and later VHS and it really did become a staple of my Holiday viewing. Even when I got older and worked for Blockbuster Video for the Holidays my Store Manager use to let us play G and PG films that fit the season and I always selected Gremlins, and not much has changed on that front as now at Game Swap if Gremlins is in stock it goes in to entertain shoppers and employees alike! So as always the films write up is coming from IMDB to keep me from being long winded and I’ll also break down its Box Office numbers here in America.

Gremlins Movie Still 1Gremlins PosterGremlins Movie Still 2

Gremlins (1984)

Miniature green monsters tear through the small town of Kingston Falls. Hijinks ensue as a mild-mannered bank teller releases these hideous loonies after gaining a new pet and violating two of three simple rules: No water (violated), no food after midnight (violated), and no bright light. Hilarious mayhem and destruction in a town straight out of Norman Rockwell. So, when your washing machine blows up or your TV goes on the fritz, before you call the repair man, turn on all the lights and look under all the beds. ‘Cause you never can tell, there just might be a gremlin in your house.”

Gremlins is one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time as it mixes the magic and wonder of the Holiday season and tosses in a dash of Horror. I can as I have said remember watching this film on VHS/Beta when I was a kid and almost wearing out the tapes, as I could not get enough of Gizmo and his war with Stripe and the evil Gremlins. The film was directed by Joe Dante who directed such films as The Howling, Piranha, Explorers and Innerspace to name a few. The stars of the movie are Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Dick Miller, Hoyt Axton, Judge Reinhold and Corey Feldman to name a few as well and had Howie Mandel doing the voice of Gizmo and Megatron himself Frank Welker lending his pipes to Stripe as well as other Gremlins. The film was Scored by Jerry Goldsmith and distributed by Warner Brothers and executive produced by Steven Spielberg with it being released on June 8, 1984 with an $11 million dollar budget. The year it was released Gremlins made $148,168,459.00 at the US Box Office and was # 4 for the year beating out such other classic films like The Karate Kid, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Purple Rain, The Terminator, Friday The 13th IV: Final Chapter, Conan The Destroyer, The Last Starfighter, Dune, A Nightmare On Elm Street and so many more classic and cult films! In fact 1984 was one epic year for movies as it was filled with many classics as well as cult classics! The film is packed with so many moments that have stuck in my mind over the years from the baby Mogwai’s eaten cold fried chicken after midnight to them playing a miniature Donkey Kong arcade machine, clips of classic Horror movies and TV shows playing on the televisions, Robbie The Robot (Forbidden Planet) walks by in a scene and the stacks of Comic books in Billy’s room all stuff that is fun, silly and great moments of the film.

Gremlins Movie Still 3

The films main star is a cute little guy called Gizmo who is a species known as a Mogwai. Unlike others in his species he is kind and gentile and refuses to be evil like his brothers and sisters who want to morph and become Gremlins. Gizmo is named that after Billy and his father talk about how he likes and can figure out how to use the gadgets the father makes. Gizmo was originally owned by Mr. Wing and later belonged to Billy and then back to Mr. Wing until the old mans death and then he returned to live with Billy and Kate in New York. Almost every fan of this movie growing up I can remember them owning a Gizmo doll and almost every woman I have ever meet who loves this film series LOVES Gizmo. Super smart, super cute and much like Rambo when pushed he will fight back…in other words Gizmo rules!

Gizmo 1Gizmo from Gremlins.Gizmo 3

So we talked the hero of the film so we might as well chat a little about the leader of the bad guys the sinister and evil Stripe! Stripe was born from Gizmo after water is spilled on him and from his birth on he had a sinister streak and also seemed to be a leader to the other Mogwai. Stripe is named this as he has a white Mohawk that looks like a stripe on the top of his head. Stripe also hates Gizmo as he not only as a Mogwai but also a Gremlin will do what ever he can to hurt or kill him. Once a Gremlin the more murderous side of Stripe comes out as he uses guns, saws and arrows to try and kill anyone who gets in his way namely Billy. Super smart and having a real mean streak makes Stripe a very mean foe, but by the end he meets his end and we will get into that a little later in this update. While gone some say he was reborn in the second movie as Mohawk who spends the movie trying to kill Gizmo and Billy and even turns himself into a Spider Gremlin. Love him or hate him Stripe was one of the 80’s coolest bad guys of kid movie cinema.

Stripe 1Stripe 2Stripe 3

The original Gremlins had many stand out creatures from the ski mask wearing robber Gremlin to Stripe the white Mohawk leader of the pack of mischief makers, but for me one of my all time favorites has to be the popcorn bag eared Gremlin who was watching Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs at the local movie theater! Something about this strange Gremlin who decided that wearing popcorn bags on his ears was the right choice always made me laugh as a kid and has always stuck with me even as a adult. I think someone should make a Gremlins comic book series and have issues that follow some of the Gremlins during the first break out and do one on old popcorn bag ears! I think IDW would be the perfect home for comics based on Gremlins and while at it they should also do a series about The Goonies another film my generation and beyond holds near and dear. While he only had seconds of screen time Popcorn Bag Eared Gremlin will always be one of my favorites in this film just behind Stripe.

Popcorn Bag Gremlin

One thing I should touch up on is the fact many youngsters of the 80’s had a huge crush on Phoebe Cates who played Kate Beringer in Gremlins 1 & 2 as well as had roles in other classics like “Drop Dead Fed”, “Date With An Angel” and of course “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” where she has the famous pool scene were she pops her top! And I was one of those youngsters who thought actresses like Phoebe Cates, Mia Sara, Helen Slater and Kerri Green were the be all of beauty. Phoebe is pretty much retired from acting with her last role being in the 2001 film “The Anniversary Party” and she is married to actor Kevin Kline who is known for his roles in classics like “A Fish Called Wanda”, “Dave” and “Wild Wild West” to name a very select few. Phoebe Cates at the time of this update is 53 years old and as lovely as ever, thanks Mrs. Cates for making the 80’s and early 90’s awesome with your beauty and your acting skill and film choices. Check out below for some pictures showing the beauty of Phoebe Cates.

phoebe cates 1phoebe cates 2phoebe cates 3

While this update is based on the adaptation of the original Gremlins movie, I feel that it’s my duty to cover the second film as well! So once again the film’s plot is taken from IMDB and for me was another fun must-watch as it now added horror hosting, Christopher Lee and over the top silly comedy to the mix.

Gremlins 2 movie still 1Gremlins 2 The New Batch PosterGremlins 2 movie still 2

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

An army of malevolent little monsters take over a high-tech corporate skyscraper when a cute and intelligent exotic pet is exposed to water. The “Mogwai’s” owner joins forces with the Trump-like head of the corporation to regain control.”

You cant keep good Gremlins down and in 1990 a sequel called “Gremlins 2: The New Batch” was released in theaters to add another crazy and silly adventure for Gizmo, Billy and Kate to get through. Many things made this movie stick out to me and I might as well share them real quick with you on this Holiday update. I loved the New Gremlins who were cross breed with other things to create such gremlins as Electric Gremlin, Brain Gremlin, Vegetable Gremlin and Bat Gremlin to name a very few. It’s great to see Christopher Lee as Doctor Catheter in the film as well as having Dick Miller return as his character Murray Futterman from the first film. I also really like the fact that they have a Horror Host character named Grandpa Fred who is a vampire that’s hosts terrible movies. You have to think that parts of this movie is spoofing Ted Turner and Al Lewis aka Grampa from Super Scary Saturday. Also a Pro Wrestler has a cameo in the film but we will get to that a little later. The film didn’t do to well for Warner Brothers at the US Box Office bringing in $41,482,207.00 on a budget of $50 million, but made up for it on Home Video. The film ranked # 31 for the year of 1990 and beat such classic and cult films as Rocky V, Darkman, Predator 2, Child’s Play 2, The Exorcist III, Ernest Goes To Jail, Quigley Down Under, Tremors, Duck Tales: The Movie, Death Warrant and Tales From The Darkside: The Movie to name a select few. While not a Box Office hit every kid I knew growing up loved this silly, goofy film! Oh and the picture below is the Phantom Of The Opera Gremlin…yeah he was one of my favorites! I should also note that the sequel was directed by Joe Dante again and starred returning cast Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates and Dick Miller and has actors like Christopher Lee, Robert Prosky and John Glover added to the lineup.

Phantom Gremlin

When I was a youngster as all you long time readers and friends know I was and still am a huge Pro Wrestling fan and I can remember going crazy when Hulk Hogan showed up in a cameo in Gremlins 2! During the movie The Gremlins stop the film being mischief making little monsters and the theater usher goes into the theater and asks Hulk Hogan if he can help to get the film back on track and after cutting a great promo about soda and popcorn the Gremlins in fear start the movie up again! Hulk Hogan was such a big icon amongst kids I can remember kids on the playground after seeing Gremlins 2 talking about his scene in the movie among the excitement of all the different Gremlin styles. As always The Hulkster added to the enjoyment of the youth with his over the top cameo in Gremlins 2.

Hulk Hogan in Gremlins 2

Like all good kids movies of the 80’s Gremlins sparked a rush of merchandise based around its characters! Such amazing things like toys, novels, kids books, posters, Halloween costumes, trading cards, Shrinky Dinks, Colorforms, shirts, breakfast cereal, candy, Plush Dolls and a slew of other cheap products and junk foods. Growing up I can remember eating Gremlins cereal in the morning as well as had many of the trading cards and ate the candy that we would get from UDF as it came in a plastic head of Stripe or Gizmo and they seemed like something I had to have in my youth. I also owned the Novel adaptations of both Gremlins 1 and 2 as well as many of the kids books based on it. As an adult I own theatrical posters for both Gremlins and Gremlins 2 that are hanging on the wall inside of Game Swap in Kettering and as well have the Colorforms I got from the store Twin Evil. So much merchandise was released for this film showing you that Warner Brothers knew they had something special with this film. So growing up what kind of Gremlin stuff do you guys own?

Gremlins Shrinky DinksGremlins Kids BookGremlins Trading CardsDon Post Gremlins Halloween Costume

Some of the best merchandise has to be the action figures and dolls that was made when the film was released and are still being made even to this day. Growing up I had many PVC figures from Gizmo to Stripe that latter who I also owned a bendable of. I can also remember my Uncle had one of the larger Stripe action figures and my brother and me were so obsessed with it. With in the last few years I started to collect some of the NECA figures based on Gremlins and Gremlins 2 as they are very well made figures and look great on a shelf. Last year Funko as part of the ReAction figure series of retro style 3 ¾” action figures released ones based on Gremlins that showcased not only Gizmo and the Gremlins but also Billy! Growing up I wish they had these Star Wars size Gremlins figures as they would have been a welcome addition to the Toy Wars, imagine Stripe and his fellow Gremlins trying to murder the Ewoks at the Ewok Village playset! So if you’re a toy collector many great actions figures have and are being made based on this iconic holiday classic movie and it’s sequel!

Stripe Toy In BoxNECA Gremlins FiguresReAction Gremlins Figures

Jerry Goldsmith is a legend of making score music and has done so for many iconic films like “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, “Alien”, “First Blood”, “Psycho II”, “Congo”, “Mulan” and so many more and of course on this list was both Gremlins and Gremlins 2! The films main theme called “The Gremlin Rag” is such an iconic piece of music and a tune that I find myself humming pretty often, and to be honest I have also caught my girlfriend Juliet as well humming it! The soundtracks are something we play on Alpha Rhythms from time to time as well as on Game Swap’s Radio that plays overhead. While I would say that the original Gremlins soundtrack is a must own for fans of score music, I would say Gremlins 2 while very good and solid is more for diehard fans of the film. But if your love score music like me make sure to give these a listen as they will help add to your Holiday Mood if you’re a Monster Kid.

Gremlins SoundtrackJerry GoldsmithGremlins 2 Soundtrack

Gizmo would also make a leap into the world of Video Games and started out in 1984 when two games based on the movie for Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 was released to gamers, and while the game was nothing special it seemed like a must have for my friends who had Atari’s growing up. The Nintendo not to be left out in 1990 thanks to SunSoft released a video game based on Gremlins 2, this was a game I can remember renting from the video store and latter ending up just buying it used. But while those two are the video games that stand out to me many other more modern games have been made as well based on this film series for such systems as Wii and Game Boy Advance. I should also note that Commodore 64 as well had games based on Gremlins come out it can be said for PC as well. I would love to see a company like Telltale Games make a modern game based on Gremlins for the PS4, but sadly I don’t see this happening.

Gremlins Atari 2600 BoxGremlins 2 NES BoxGremlins Wii Box

So with it being Christmas Eve and all I think it’s time to take a quick break and plug in the old RES (Retro-Bit Retro Entertainment System) to play a Pacnsacdave game based on the original Gremlins! Yes this is a homebrew NES Games based around the 1984 film and has you take control of Gizmo as you make your way through a building that’s been over run with Gremlins all looking to kill you! I got this game on a NES Cart as well in a great clamshell style package with cover art and must say I was very happy with the presentation of this product and must say that Pacnsacdave does fantastic work with his reproduction products. Christmas time always makes me think of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) as way back in my youth my parents got me and my brother one as a shared gift on this holiday, and I can remember the pure hype we had when playing our very own system and trying as a family to beat Super Mario Brothers and all having a blast playing Duck Hunt. So many great old school memories of the NES with friends, family and co-workers and here tonight I want to share another NES memory and that’s me playing and maybe trying to beat Gremlins!

Gremlins for the NES

I decided to play this game on May 31, 2016 as I had the day off from work and it was right after Memorial Day spent with Juliet and her Parents. I was focused and ready to try my best to see just how far I could get in this game as well as see just how fun and challenging it was. When the game first came in my Cousin Stephen Alexander and myself played it and found that it was super hard, but we were not fully trying like I am today so let me tell you about my time playing this game. As Gizmo I started my mission on top of building and was only armed with baseballs that had to throw at some dogs we want to throw me off the building! Once inside one of the buildings you must dodge not only Gremlins but also security cameras that hurt you when you’re spotted. The game is very challenging and I spent lots of time trying to get into the building as the two crates that I was suppose to stack and climb did not want to cooperate with me on this day. And Once inside I did pretty well dodging the cameras and Gremlins and played for about an hour or so when something really annoying happened…the controller just stopped working! I tried unplugging it and putting it back in but sadly nothing helped and this cut my game playing a little short, but damn what I was able to play was lots of fun and well worth the buy and I really do look forward to playing all the way through soon! So if you like classic 8-Bit games and enjoy Gremlins make sure to check out Pacnsacdaves Etsy shop and get your self a copy of this fun and challenging game.

Gremlins for the NES in a RESGremlins NES Screen ShotGremlins for the NES Case

It’s time for the review part of this update and with the chill in the air I think we should all take a moment and grab a mug of hot chocolate or even eggnog and while at it a few Christmas cookies, as I feel it’s the right time to do so! But remember if your reading this after Midnight do not give any cookies to your pet Mogwai! I want to thank Amazon for having this comic in stock and Gizmo is telling me 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, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I want to also share with you that when I was a kid I had this Golden Book comic adaptation of Gremlins and at some point over time it was gotten ride of and I thought I imagined that a comic of Gremlins was made when I was 36 and later this year after digging around the internet I found that it was not just in my mind and my memories of art from it was real! So I am really looking forward to re-reading this again and sharing it with you my Friends and Readers this on this special Holiday update. So I hope you have your drink of choice in hand and have Gremlin insurance as its time to unleash Stripe and his band of mean spirited Gremlins!

Gremlins 1 Golden Book

Gremlins # 1  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price $2.95   Golden Book   # 1 of 1

Rand Peltzer is a inventor who is one business trying to sell his new invention called the Bathroom Buddy when he stumbles onto a shop while looking for a gift for his son, the shop is filled with strange items and is run by an old Asian man and his grandson that owns a little creature called a Mogwai that Rand tries to buy but is shot down by the old man. After leaving the grandson tracks down Rand and sells him the Mogwai and tells him the three rules of the creature. The rules are simple no sun light, no water and do not feed it after midnight. Meanwhile in Kingston Falls Billy Peltzer’s car will not start so he and his trusty dog Barney have to walk to work and while doing so saves a cat from being hit by a car that belongs to the town’s snotty old lady named Mrs. Deagle who after Billy leaves she discovers her snowman destroyed and she comes to his work and lets him have it in front of everyone. Billy after work visits Kate a co-worker from the bank he works at, who is also working for a small bar and returns home just in time as his father Rand is coming back and gets his gift the Mogwai he names Gizmo. While visiting to drop of a Christmas Tree Billy’s young friend Pete by accident spills water on Gizmo that causes him to spawn more Mogwai’s who are more mean spirited than Gizmo who they pick on as well as Barney! The next day Rand takes Barney to the Grandparents house and Billy takes a Mogwai to Mr. Hanson who is going to study the creature. But things quickly get worse when the Mogwai’s all eat after midnight and turn into eggs that hatch and unleash mean little creatures known as Gremlins! One with a Mohawk named Stripe kills Mr. Henson and Billy’s Mom is even attacked and must fight for her life against a house full of the Gremlins. After Billy saves his mom he and Gizmo go on a hunt to try and kill all the remaining Gremlins but by accident in the local YMCA thanks to Gizmo armed with a flashlight Stripe falls into the pool and spawns a heck of a lot more Gremlins! Now the town is under attack and this leaves many of the citizens of Kingston Falls dead including Billy’s boss at the bank, his neighbors the Futtermans and Mrs. Deagle! Billy saves Kate who is being swarmed by Gremlins at the bar and along with Gizmo they set up and kill all the Gremlins at the local movie theater by blowing it up! But what they thought was the end of this crisis soon turns into a war as Stripe is still alive and hiding out at the department store and while Kate and Gizmo hide in the main office Billy goes in armed with a baseball bat to defeat Stripe who is using buzz saw blades and bow & arrows to take down Billy, but thanks to his dad Rand and dog Barney his life is spared just in time. In the end as Kate turns on all the store lights Stripe heads to the home and garden area and jumps into the water fountain to spawn more of his kind, but thanks to Gizmo he takes down the tarps covering the window and allows sunlight in and this kills Stripe. That night at the Peltzer house Billy, his parents, Kate, Barney and Gizmo are all together, as the old shop keeper shows up and takes Gizmo back and walks away into the night with his Mogwai, as Billy misses his friend but knows he had to leave.

This adaptation is very kid friendly and tones down the violence and adds bigger panels with large text to allow an easier read for youngsters. The story is intact for the most part but is a little rushed but the plot is still young Billy gets a new pet called a Mogwai and by not following the rules it spawns and his clones turn into evil Gremlins that torment the small town and Billy must man up and along with his true love and his pet Mogwai must stop the invasion. Billy Peltzer is a good young man who is trying his best in the small town he lives in, he loves a girl whom he as crushed on for years, he works a bank job that he don’t fit in at and has his bosses always run him down the road for minor things like the fact he wears clip on ties! But Billy really is a good guy and when the town starts to go to hell he is the one who stands up and takes the fight to the Gremlins and rids the town of their evil ways. Rand and Lynn Peltzer are good parents who love their son and are trying to just get by, while Rand means well with is invention they just don’t work and they are not paying the bills as their home is about to be foreclosed on. But like their son when things go bad they fight back against the Gremlins and try to do their part in ridding the town of them. Kate Beringer is a sweet, attractive and big hearted young lady who does what’s right and clearly is the girl next door who every guy crushes on. Gizmo is also a very nice Mogwai who is well behaved and knows the rules himself of his species and quickly turns from a pet to a member of the Peltzer family, plus in the end to win the final fight he puts his own life on the line to save Billy’s and the towns. The Gremlins are mean spirited and get joy in hurting and killing and in a short time causes so mush problems in the small town that it’s like a bomb was dropped. Stripe is the leader of the Gremlins and is the most evil one of them as he really enjoys killing and wants nothing more than to be cruel and destroy all that’s around him. Side characters like the Futtermans, Mrs. Deagle and Pete all serve their purposes and add some great background characters and in some cases victims. Some major changes from the film to comic is these things No depressing story from Kate about her father dying, the deaths of characters are toned down and less impactful and many of the funny Gremlin characters are missing and besides Stripe they all look the same. The cover for this comic is ok but not really that eye catching as its just a movie still of Kate, Billy and Gizmo placed below a cream colored box that has the Gremlins logo as well as the Golden Book one and the price. The art in side is pretty well done with none of the characters looking like the actors from the film, but the Gremlins and Mogwai look really good. The art is done by Adrian Gonzales who is know for his work on comics like Arak Son Of Thunder and World’s Finest Comics for DC. The best part about reading this comic is the fact that while doing so many of the art panels came back to my memory from when I owned this as a kid and a real sense of nostalgia swept over me. Over all this is not amazing as it does feel rushed and watered down, but it is good and well worth reading for fans of the film and I would say that I am glad to have it in my collection. Check out some art work from this comic below to see the style of Gonzales.

Gremlins Golden Book Art 1Gremlins Golden Book Art 2Gremlins Golden Book Art 3

Ok now that the comic review is over and you know the twists and turns of the story if your new to the world of Gremlins I can talk about a scene from the movie that was super brutal and reminded me of Dracula’s death by the sun in the Hammer Horror film “Horror Of Dracula” and of course I am talking the death of Stripe in the water fountain via the sun! I mean when first watching that movie as a youngster my jaw dropped when Gizmo opens the blinds in the home and garden area and the suns rays hit the body of Stripe causing him to jerk around and melt into a puddle of slime and ooze! At one point Stripe turns into a skeleton and even his bones bubble and melt away, I am sure if you seen this movie as a kid you remember just how brutal this death scene is in a kids film! While Stripe was the most evil of all the Gremlins he in fact meets his end the worst of anyone or thing in the film. But I don’t want to give you to much nightmare fuel this Christmas Eve so all I will say is the death of Stripe I am sure has scarred many of you readers and below is some pictures from his gross death!

Gremlins Death of Stripe 1gremlins22Gremlins Death of Stripe 2

Wow this was lots of fun talking about Gremlins as it really is one of many of my favorite films of the 80’s and is something that for sure has it’s place here at Rotten Ink thanks to Golden Books who made this fun adaptation in 1984. So with Santa coming soon and the Christmas Tree lights glowing I want to say I hope you all have a great Christmas that is spent with loved ones, great food and gifts as that is what mine will be like as I plan on spending the day with my parents and girlfriend Juliet. Our next update will be my top films of 2016, something that we do every year…and wow it’s almost 2017 a year that is packed with many great films including a new Halloween film! So until then have a safe and fun Holiday season, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host, see you next year.

Films of 2016 Preview Logo

Flash Gordon Savior Of The Comic Universe!

ROTTEN….INNNKKK….Savior of the Blog-verse! Yeah, I know that was super lame and not very clever, but this winter seemed like a good time to do a terrible parody of a classic Queen song as it fits today’s update as we take a look at the 1980 film Flash Gordon and the Whitman Comic adaptation.  It’s pretty great adventure stuff to get the blood pumping this cold winter night! Can you believe we are this close to Christmas and our huge Christmas Eve update? This time of the year is always wonderful, looking back at things from your youth and fun times with family and friends, and that’s why I choose Flash Gordon as the film and character this time around.  It’s something that always brings back good memories of when I was a kid. When we were young, my parents had a Beta player and this is how I first saw Flash Gordon as my Dad rented it from the video store for me and my brother.  From start to finish I can remember we both were glued to it.  Later, when it would showed on cable like HBO or Showtime, we taped it and would dust it off from time to time. I can also remember using our G.I. Joes and Star Wars figures to play Flash Gordon as figures based on this movie were never made in my youth. I miss those days of going to the video rental store with my parents and picking out a couple of films for us all to watch on a family movie night.  I have one funny story about a Troma movie that was rented for the kids that I will share in an update in the future. So get your space suit on and bundle up as space is even colder than this winter night, and we’ll go on an adventure with the one and only Flash Gordon.  Oh yeah, make sure to also bring a blanket, some hot chocolate mix or even some hot tea as the chill in the air will make them a must.

1980 Flash Gordon 1

In 1980 an epic science fiction film was released by Universal and was slated to be the next mega hit in the genre like Star Wars before it.  Best of all, the film was based on a character who already had a built in audience as he had comic strips, comic books, radio dramas, novels, movie serials and toys based around him so by this point Flash Gordon was a household name.  So why didn’t it overthrow Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back as the # 1 film of 1980? Flash Gordon ended up at # 23 bringing in $27,107,960.00 on a budget of $20 million, beating out such cult films as The Elephant Man, Raging Bull, The Fog, Mad Max, Prom Night, Motel Hell and The Gong Show Movie. I think some of the issue started with the production of the film as the rights owner for Gordon in films was famed producer Dino De Laurentiis who, in the 70s, turned down George Lucas who wanted to make a Flash Gordon film.  This sparked Lucas to make Star Wars.  Meanwhile De Laurentiis wanted to make his version of Flash Gordon cheesy and humorous, and this angered Sergio Leone, who was slated to direct, as he wanted it to be more faithful to the comic strip. But after many setbacks, a director was found in Mike Hodges, and casting started with Sam J. Jones playing Flash Gordon, Melody Anderson as Dale Arden, Chaim Topol as Dr. Zarkov and Max von Sydow as Ming The Merciless, all of whom were wise choices for their roles.  But once more, late in production drama reared its ugly head again and fights between De Laurentiis and Jones left the actor leaving prior to post production forcing lots of his dialogue to be dubbed by a voice actor.  This drama also lead to a sequel never being made. But in 2015 rumors began going around that a reboot sequel might be in the works and that Sam J. Jones might be returning in the role of Flash! So what do you readers think, should they make a Flash Gordon 2 with Sam J. Jones returning in the title role or do you think a remake is the wiser choice?

1980 Flash Gordon 21980 Flash Gordon poster1980 Flash Gordon 3

The soundtrack to Flash Gordon is fantastic with the score being done by Howard Blake and the rest being done by the amazing band Queen! While the score is mostly forgotten, the song “Flash Gordon” by Queen is the first thing that pops into the people’s minds when hearing the characters name…you know at least a handful of times you yourself have done it while reading this update. That’s one thing the film always had going for it, the soundtrack was a popular album for people of the 80’s to have in their collection of vinyl and cassettes. Queen always did make amazing rock n roll music, and their work for Flash Gordon showed that they could also make the music of the movies and will always rank up as one of the most catchy theme songs for any science fiction characters. And for those wondering, I do play the score music from Blake on WYSO from time to time.

1980 Flash Gordon Queen SoundtrackQueen (Band)1980 Flash Gordon Score soundtrack

As I have stated, growing up me and my brother were fans of the film, and I would have loved if some company like Kenner or Remco would have made 3 ¾” figures based on this film as it would have been epic while playing Star Wars if Flash Gordon showed up and Princess Leia fell in love with this hero jock and he and Han Solo had to fight it out to win her heart. But in 2015, thanks to collectible website “Entertainment Earth” and toy company “BifBang Pow!” a series of figures was made. They released four figures this size that include Flash Gordon, Ming, Aura, Vultan and Barin, and each come with weapons and bendable knees and elbows. When I was just a youngster, the only things that I can remember that were released was a video game, the comic adaptation, the novel based on the film and the soundtrack. So for those youngsters reading this, and those young at heart, if you buy these Flash Gordon 3 ¾” action figures make sure to have them mix with your Star Wars toys as well as your Funco ReAction figures and have one hell of an epic Toy War!

1980 Flash Gordon toy 11980 Flash Gordon toy 21980 Flash Gordon toy 3

While we might not have gotten action figures, 20th Century Fox Games did release a video game based on the film for the Atari 2600 for all the fans to enjoy in 1983, but like most movie tie-in games, this one really had nothing to do with the movie and was in fact originally not even a Flash Gordon game as it was really just a redone port of a game called “Spider City” that was a popular PC Game in the early 80’s. But in this version you play as Flash Gordon who has entered Spider City to rescue missing spacemen and to destroy all the hatching spider pods. You of course are flying a ship, and by beating levels, the game will give you an extra life.  The graphics are what you would expect from an Atari 2600 game. The first time I learned about this game was in 2009 when Game Swap Kettering was stocking the store, and one of the Atari games in the box was Flash Gordon and of course I had to buy it and play it.  While very cheesy, it still was fun play and something that fans of classic gaming should try. Check out below for a screen shot of the game as well as the cover box front and back, and all you old school gamers who grew up playing this understand just how fun this and so many other Atari games can be.

1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 Cover1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 screen1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 back cover

So we have taken a look at Flash Gordon the Movie, the soundtrack, the video game and the toys, and now I think it’s time that we all climb aboard the Whitman Comic Rocket and travel to Movie Adaptation Land and see just how well this one holds up to the film. I want to thank Jason Young and his Mom for selling me these issues in a long box buy and must remind all you readers and astronauts 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. So with that, let’s prepare for lift off! I should also note that the adaptation was placed many issues into the long running Flash Gordon comic series put out by Gold Key and Whitman so that’s why the numbering is high on these issues. So it’s take off time, get ready to have a fun adventure with Flash Gordon and friends.

1980 Flash Gordon comic 1

Flash Gordon # 31  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 31 of 37

Flash Gordon is a football player for the New York Jets and is on a plane with Dale Arden when their plane goes down and lands near a greenhouse where by gunpoint they are forced onto a spaceship and into orbit by Dr. Zarkov who believes that they all must stop an alien attack that he thinks is forcing Earth’s moon to crash into the planet killing everyone.  He wants to find and stop the mastermind behind it. In space, the three pass out and are swept into a black hole and end up landing in the Mongo Kingdom run by Ming The Merciless along with his daughter Princess Aura and his golden metal masked adviser General Klytus.  This is bad news as Ming wants Dale as his slave, Aura wants Flash as her slave, and Klytus wants all three Earthlings dead! Flash does not stand for this and fights with the guards, but all this does is give him a one-way ticket to a public execution that very night! Flash is given a shot and then gassed and is believed to be dead, but in reality Princess Aura changed the shot that let her new man live and uses her boyfriend’s (Prince Barin of the Treemen) planet as a hiding place for Flash. Meanwhile Ming has taken Dale as his own and has ordered Zarkov’s mind to be taken over and turned into a slave! But thanks to Aura’s crown, Flash is able to contact Dale and tell her he is alive.  This causes her to escape Ming’s bedroom and start her escape and saving of Zarkov.

This comic adaptation does a good job of compacting the film into comic pages and moves the pace along really well! So far the story is the set up and has Flash, Dale and Zarkov traveling to space and crash landing on Mongo, the planet of galaxy warlord Ming, and finding out they are just pawns in his twisted game to destroy Earth. The comic has action, adventure, drama and romance as all these things were tangled together in ink and paper. Flash Gordon starts out as a hero jock who wins the attention of a young woman he is next to on a plane, but quickly turns into a hero as he is a prideful man who would clearly die to protect his new friends. Flash also has a charm as both Dale and Aura fall in love with him just by seeing him.  I wonder if it’s because he is a pro football player who has money or if it’s his chiseled good looks? We also learn he is good at fist fighting as he handles many guards at once and seems to know how to defend himself. Dale Arden seems like a normal young woman who, when survival is on the line, will fight back and not just roll over and die. It’s also clear that Dale fell in love with Flash Gordon at first sight and that she will not be Ming’s love slave without putting up a fight. Dr. Zarkov is a crazed old man who’s outlandish behavior got him banned from NASA and his way of getting help on his rocket ship is to pull a gun on people who just survived a plane crash. It’s odd as both Flash and Dale seem to forgive him pretty fast and even look to him as a friend.  Even more crazy is they would not be in the danger they are in if not for his crazy gun pulling ways. To be fair though, Dr. Zarkov did do all this to save Earth from doom that would be coming from the sky. Ming The Merciless is cold blooded, and life and death do not matter, as in his mind all that does is his rule over all. I think Ming is a great villain as he tries to murder outsiders on sight, forces women to be his love slaves and rules his Kingdom with such an iron fist that other planets are scared to feel his wrath. Princess Aura is a mystery at this point as she is a man-eater who clearly uses men to get what she wants but also seems to not enjoy her father’s wicked ways. General Klytus is clearly a man who loves to place judgment and punishment on anyone he feels is a threat to Ming and his rule. We don’t get much background on Prince Barin besides he loves Aura, and he is the leader of the Treemen. The winged leader Vultan of the Hawkmen is also around but is not given anything to make a judgment of his character. The cover is your typical cheesy photo collage mixed with art design that Whitman and Goldkey Comic used on most their adaptations, but the inside art is fantastic and done by Flash Gordon comic series artist Al Williamson who is an underrated artist who captures science fiction elements really well. This is a great start as on this cold day; I really enjoyed this first issue in the adaptation and I am really looking forward to seeing what issue 2 has contained.

1980 Flash Gordon comic 2

Flash Gordon # 32  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 32 of 37

While escaping, Dale Arden runs into Dr. Zarkov who claims that his mind could not be beaten into being blanked, and the pair board a ship and try to leave only to be captured by the Hawkpeople lead by Vultan.  They are about to deliver them back to Ming when Dale begs him to join forces with Flash Gordon, who still lives, and the Treemen to overthrow Ming who is they all hate. Meanwhile Klytus has heard that Gordon is alive and warns Ming who has his daughter who has returned home arrested and tortured in order to find were she has left Flash. Flash himself is being tormented and set up to be murdered by Prince Barin, who is jealous that Aura has fallen for the Earthman. During the fight, the Hawkmen attack and take both Flash Gordon and Prince Barin prisoner as Vultan is not going for an alliance against Ming and is delivering them all to the evil ruler. Prince Barin as a royal can challenge a duel before sentenced and picks Flash Gordon, and the two fight on a circle that has spikes. Flash wins and saves Barin from falling off the circle as Klytus arrives on the ship and demands all the prisoners come with him and this sets Flash off and he slams Klytus onto the circle of spikes killing him! Vultan and the Hawkmen fly away as they fear the wrath of Ming who now has shown up and has Dale, Barin and Zarkov taken to his castle, and after Flash refuses an offer from Ming to join his side our hero is left on the ship that is now blowing up.

Flash Gordon steps up his game and not only passes the Treemen’s log test that has a poisons beast inside it, but he also beats Barin in a duel to the death as well as murders Klytus by slamming him down on spikes! Flash didn’t even blink as he slammed a living person onto spikes, killing him in a terrible painful way. But to be fair, the man who he killed was Klytus, the evil right hand man of Ming who looks like he took fashion tips from Dr. Doom and had sent a number of people to their deaths. This second issue covers Flash fighting the odds and yet still some how turning the negatives into positives and starting an uprising against the rule of Ming. It’s great as Ming even mentions that his subjects are starting to talk about this man named Flash Gordon who has beaten all the odds. Ming The Merciless in this issue tries his best to corrupt Flash, and when he can’t, he wants him dead, not to mention he also is ok with the torture of his daughter as he is pissed she disobeyed his wish of having Flash killed. Ming is also claiming Dale as his future wife and adds forced love to his evil deeds. Prince Barin is a jerk who comes around once he finds that Flash is a good man.  Vultan comes off as a coward and a lackey for Ming as Dale and Zarkov take a backseat and are just prisoners who are the driving force for Flash Gordon to fight and do the right thing to save them and the Earth. The cover is another photo collage/art mix and is cheesy good as the art inside is Al Williamson again who is doing a great job at capturing the looks of the actors as well as his backgrounds are really well done. This second issue is as good as the first.  Coming up is the final in this adaptation, and I for one am enjoying every page.

1980 Flash Gordon comic 3

Flash Gordon # 33  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 33 of 37

Flash Gordon escapes the blown up ship on a tiny glider and is able to contact Vultan and the Hawkpeople who now are on the side of good and set up one of Ming’s warships that they take over. Meanwhile Ming has set his wedding to Dale for that night and is forcing his daughter Aura to be the Maid of Honor and is going to kill Zarkov and Barin live for entertainment! Aura sneaks away and frees Barin and Zarkov from the prison, and the two flee into some tunnels. Flash, Vultan and the Hawkmen bring the fight to Ming’s kingdom.  As Dale is being forced to marry Ming, the Earth is also on a path to doom as in only six minutes the moon will crash into the planet causing earthquakes and tidal waves. Flash crashes the ship into Ming’s castle and impales the evil ruler with the tip on the ship.  Ming however does not die and Flash rushes him with a sword in hand as Ming turns his own power ring on himself ending is reign of terror. In the end Aura and Barin take over ruling Mongo, Vultan takes the job of royal guard commander and Dale, Zarkov and Flash stay on Mongo as they do not have a ride home.

The doomsday clock was almost at 12 for Earth, but thanks to the heroic act of Flash Gordon and his allies, we are all safe for the time being. The plot of this issue is this simple: Ming is having a shotgun wedding, Flash has brought people together to fight the power and in the end, good clashes with evil and as always, good wins. Flash Gordon once more proves how loyal and brave he is, as he takes his own life in his hands and crashes a ship into a castle that had a force field around it and was only saved by Barin who blasted the controls with a pistol. But what Flash did to save the Earth as well as Dale shows you that he is a real hero who puts the needs of others before his own. Dale and Dr. Zarkov do what they can to help with Zarkov trying to help turn off the force field and Dale bides them time to attack. Glad to see Vultan and the Hawkmen turn from cowards to right doers as they join the forces to bring Ming’s evil rule to an end. Prince Barin wins the most as he gets not only Ming’s hot daughter Aura, but he also gets to rule the planet! Ming does not put up much of a fight as after he has the ships front needle impale him, he then would rather zap himself with his own ring than to fight Flash Gordon. I always wished Ming would have been a more badass villain like Darth Vader in Star Wars in this film and comic as an epic fight between Flash and him could have been a major movie moment of the 80’s. I think what really make this comic adaptation work is that it feels like a grand space adventure that you’re on with an iconic character that is allowing you to tag along on. The comic does a pretty good job of working the movie into comic pages but like most adaptations, some of it feels very rushed with elements missing. One par that is removed is the silly comedy moments of the film and in its place are more serious action moments. The cover is like the others, and Al Williamson’s art is classic and captures the feel of not only the movie but Flash Gordon altogether. If you’re a fan of this movie or even just enjoy a good Flash Gordon story, I would say check out these issues as well as the rest in this comic series as they are a fun read and can hold you over till Gordon’s next big screen film hits your local cinema. Below is a piece of art from Williamson that I think showcases everything that this comic has to offer, so take a look at it and enjoy.

Flash Gordon 1980 Comic Art 1

So yeah, Flash Gordon,, the film from 1980 as well as the comic adaptation of it are great ways to be entertained, and those of you who didn’t like the humor of the movie should check out this comic adaptation as it’s all the action elements. I really do miss the old movie adaptations from companies like Marvel, DC, Whitman and Dell as they always seemed like having something a little extra on the movie or even TV Shows they were based on. But it’s now time to reveal what our Christmas Eve update will be about.  We will be leaving the Mongo Kingdom and instead enter Kingston Falls as we take a look at “Gremlins” and the Golden Book comic adaptation based around this iconic movie that was one of my all time favorites in youth! So until then, be safe this winter, spend some time with your loved ones, read a comic or three and make sure to return on Christmas Eve to spend some time with Gizmo and all his friends.  See you all then!

Gremlins_logo

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.

Dr. Morbius 2Dr. Morbius 3Dr. Morbius 4

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.

Dr. Morbius 5Dr. Morbius 6Dr. Morbius 7

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!

Dr. Morbius 8Morbius Rap vinylDr. Morbius 9

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.

Dr. Morbius 10

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.

Animated Solorman 1Animated SolormanAnimated Solorman 2

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.

hqdefault

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!

TCM 2003 0

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.

buell-zombie-boy-on-bike-by-jason-gilmore

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.

buell-road-signbuell-road-cross-memorialbuell-road-the-straight-shot

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.

horrorama-2016-phantasm-v-on-the-big-screenhorrorama-2016-marquehorrorama-2016-tina-and-i

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!

bvp-at-lilys-halloween-1bvp-at-lilys-halloween-2bvp-at-lilys-halloween-3

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.

leatherface2003remaketexas_chainsaw_massacrethe-texas-chainsaw-massacre-2003-andrew-bryniarski1

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”.

the_texas_chainsaw_massacre_2003_film_slice_of_revenge

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.

thomas_hewitt_2chainsaw11leatherfaceentertainmentweekly

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.

leatherface_unmaskedtcmre-lookstcmre-looks-1

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.

tcm_2003_sheriff_hoytold_monty_1MCDTECH EC0972006_the_texas_chainsaw_massacre_the_beginning_021

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.

1024x1024street_fighter_movie_zangiefandrew-bryniarski-net-worth

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.

tcm-special-1

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.

tcm-fearbook-1

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!

tcm-the-grind-1

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.

tcm-the-grind-2

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.

tcm-the-grind-3

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.

scan-20scan-19scan-18

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!!!

solarman-marvel-logo

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.

Ginderdead Man still 1

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.

Ginderdead Man still 2Ginderdead Man still 3Ginderdead Man still 4

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.

Ginderdead Man still 5

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?

Ginderdead Man vs Evil Bong DVDGinderdead Man still 613 Days Of Elvira Gingerdead Man ad

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.

Gary Busey 1Gary Busey 2Gary Busey 3

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.

ACTION_LAB_DANGERZONE_adjust4

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!

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Remake Preview Logo