From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Howling

It’s close to Halloween now, and for this countdown update we are going to once more take a look at a werewolf film that sparked a comic book series. To me along with The Wolf Man (1943) and An American Werewolf In London (1981) it ranks as one of the best werewolf films of all time, and of course I am talking about The Howling. Werewolves have always been my favorite classic monsters of myth and cinema as something about turning into an uncontrollable beast when the moon is full is just kind of cool and sparks a young Monster Kid’s mind like mine into being creative and have helped lead to the creation of Scars, The Carrier, Emo and Werewolf Of Ohio, all film characters that I have played in cheesy shot on video films. So as the full moon rises in the sky and what we hope is the wind howls all around us, it’s going to be an amazing time as I am happy to bring you From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Howling! So grab some silver bullets (and I am not talking about the cheap beer) and stay on the path as it’s time to visit The Colony and hope the werewolves stay away.

Before we prowl to deep into the woods around The Colony, we should take a moment and learn about the werewolves that run wild in The Howling. While there are tons of werewolves that are roaming around in this film, we will be taking a look at the Quist siblings who are some of the most blood thirsty of the pack. Eddie Quist is a very violent man who is branded a serial killer, though in reality he is much worse as he is a werewolf! Eddie is very mean spirited and likes to toy with his victims before he murders them in brutal fashion. Eddie also likes to talk very dirty to his female victims before turning into the raging beast to rip them to shreds. Eddie’s sister Marsha Quist is very cunning and uses her sex appeal and stunning exotic looks to draw her prey into a death sentence as brother T.C. Quist is a great tracker and hunter and uses these skills as a man as well as a werewolf. The siblings are the troublemakers of The Colony as they are sick of killing and eating cows and crave the hunt and taste of humans.

As werewolves, they have many tools to get the job done. Let’s start first with their appearance as they are beast-like and strike terror in those who see them. They also have sharp teeth and claws that can slice, rip, tear and mutilate human flesh and can do so fast or even slowly. They are also very fast moving and are excellent hunters and stalkers, and poor humans stand no chance against them. They also have a bone-chilling howl that can freeze people with fear and as well leave them open for an attack. They can also call upon many other werewolves, as they are pack killers as well as solo killers and this makes them very dangerous. As humans and werewolves, they also can shrug off attacks with normal weapons like bullets and none-silver knives. But as you can see, they do have weaknesses as silver bullets and knives can kill them as well as fire. The Quist clan, as well as the rest of the werewolves, are a violent pack of wolves and killers and show that while they can be killed, they are super skilled killing machines.

As you can see, Eddie Quist and the werewolves that make up The Colony are skilled killers, who are true beasts of no mercy. Now let’s take a look at the film they are from, The Howling. As always, I will be taking the film’s write up from our friends at IMDB and after I will write about the film’s production as well as my love for the film.

The Howling (1981)

“In a red light district, newswoman Karen White is bugged by the police, investigating serial killer Eddie Quist, who has been molesting her through phone calls. After police officers find them in a peep-show cabin and shoot Eddie, Karen becomes emotionally disturbed and loses her memory. Hoping to conquer her inner demons, she heads for the Colony, a secluded retreat where the creepy residents are rather too eager to make her feel at home. There also seems to be a bizarre connection between Eddie Quist and this supposedly safe haven. And when, after nights of being tormented by unearthly cries, Karen ventures into the forest and makes a terrifying discovery.”

In 1977 writer Gary Brandner wrote a werewolf novel called The Howling. Embassy Pictures wanted to make a film based on the book and originally hired director Jack Conrad, but after they clashed with him, they let him go. Joe Dante stepped in and brought in writer John Sayles to write the script that only took small elements from the novel it was based on. The script’s tone was horror but also added a dash of satire to make the film feel like Piranha (1978), a film Dante and Sayles worked on together. The film went onto casting, and names like Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan and Christopher Stone were brought in as the main cast with names like Belinda Balaski, Elisabeth Brooks and Robert Picardo rounding out the supporting cast. But what many people enjoy are the cameos from classic genre actors like John Carradine, Roger Corman, Forrest J. Ackerman, Dick Miller, Slim Pickens and Kevin McCarthy, who helped add a level of specialness to the film.

The film’s special effects went to Rob Bottin, who took over for Rick Baker who left the production to help John Landis on his film An American Werewolf In London, and Bottin did an amazing job with his transformation of Eddie Quist that rivaled the work Baker was doing on London. The production was your normal Hollywood shoot with deadlines and stress, and when done the film, it was scored by Pino Donaggio who delivered a great sounding score that helped bring the eeriness of the movie theme to life.

The film hit theaters on March 13, 1981 and was a hit for Embassy Pictures at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $17,985,893.00 on a budget of $1.5 million and ranked # 41 at the American Box Office that year. The year it was released, it came out with such other Horror Films as “An American Werewolf In London”, “The Evil Dead”, “Halloween II”, “Friday The 13th Part 2”, “My Bloody Valentine” and “House By The Cemetery,” to name a few. The film was well received by horror fans and was met with mix reviews from critics, many of whom kept comparing it to the novel. Even in 2020, the film has a major cult following.

I saw The Howling after I saw An American Werewolf In London, and it was because of my Dad that I was able to watch the film when it aired on a paid cable station like HBO or Cinemax. And after seeing the film, I was hooked and loved every second of it as I found the werewolf design to be badass, the effects were top notch and it was well cast as even as a kid, I marked out for John Carradine in any film. I also loved that the Grandma from Texas Chainsaw Massacre was in the bookstore! And whenever I hear someone say exotic beauty, Marsha Quist (Elisabeth Brooks) comes to mind, as they play that up for her big time in the film.

After seeing this film my brother and I tracked down the paperback novels of The Howling 1-3 written by Gary Brandner, and after reading the books I became more and more obsessed with this film and all the sequels that followed. I would go on to buy the movie on VHS and later on DVD and have also seen the film on the big screen over the years thanks to Horrorama events.

Back in the 2000’s, indie comic company Dead Dog Comics announced that they were doing a comic mini series based on The Howling movies, and I was super hyped as they were one of my favorite comic companies and they were doing comics based on one of my favorite werewolf films…but while the comic mini series was released, the Howling connection was dropped as rights issues kept it from happening…so if you want to check the comic series that was supposed to be The Howling, find the four issues of “Curse Of The Blood Clan” released in 2005. Over the years, I have bought The Howling soundtrack CD, t-shirts and hoodies, Scream Factory’s statue and even an old prism sticker. Say what you will about The Howling, but it’s one of the best werewolf films of the 80’s and is a true rival to An American Werewolf In London in story and effects.

Like all classic movies that spawn a massive cult following and a franchise, a lot of great merchandise was released around The Howling. Besides the film on all types of home media from Beta to Blu-Ray as well as the Space Goat Comic series, it has also had its fair share of shirts, posters, statues, soundtrack releases, a paperback novel with movie poster cover, stickers, fan art, Halloween masks, it’s been featured in many magazines and has had fan made toys! So if you are a fan of The Howling, there is lots of very cool stuff out in the world for you to collect.

The Howling really is a fantastic classic creature feature that helped bring werewolves back to the main stream, and it’s also great that in 2017 they got a chance to bring werewolves back to the world of comic books. I also want to talk about the elephant in the room when you talk about Space Goat, the company who made this comic series and who also did series based on Evil Dead 2. Their comics were great and came out on time and readers enjoyed them as they delivered some great horror comics based on great classic movies…but things got really bad for them when they decided to get into the world of board games and used Kickstarter to get the money to make them. Shon C. Bury was the founder of Space Goat Productions, and he had some big ideas for his company’s board games as he wanted to do one of Evil Dead 2 and The Terminator. Both had very cool game pawns, and both looked great and had gamers very much looking forward to getting them and having epic game nights with friends. The crowd funding goal was blown away on both games and over a million dollars was raised. New perks were added to the campaign, and the buzz for these projects hit a fever pitch! And they even promised that The Howling was going to get the board game treatment…but before they could get that game on Kickstarter, the lies and missed dates from the other two board games started to show through, and it was clear after months and years that Space Goat aka Shon had made promises of these board games that they could not deliver and in fact never did!

So over a million dollars of fans’ money went MIA. Later Shon reached out to backers to try and get more money from them to “make” the board games and help Space Goat stay alive. Also at this time former employees started to speak out about Shon, who they painted out to be a toxic person who treated everyone terribly at the Space Goat office, Shon responded by apologizing and seeking help for his anger issues.

But as time passed and the funds ran dry, Space Goat and Shon disappeared from the world of comic books and board games, and no full board gamers were delivered or made and only some backers got any perks sent to them. Then as quickly as they came, Space Goat Productions was closed and went to the great long box in the sky. It’s a shame that all this drama and board game stuff clouded up their comic branch as I feel that they were shaping up to be a good solid indie company that was delivering original and license issues to readers’ hands.

I am not sure what Shon is up to these days, and I know that for many the wound of not getting what they were owed via the crowd funding board games or even a refund is still raw. But again all drama aside, Evil Dead 2 backers ended up getting a break from another board game company called Jasco who honored their old pledges to right the wrong, and sadly because of this drama, and, for a lack of a better term, scam, the world lost a very promising comic company. And I fear that if Space Goat or Shon every tried to return to the world of comic books, they would be met with lots of anger and bad press for the sins of the past.

Before we move onto the update, I also want to take a moment to say that at time I think about what other cool horror movie themed comics they had in the works before they went under. They had Evil Dead 2 and The Howling with a Terminator series on the horizon…but what else was in the works we didn’t know about? Who knows, maybe one day I can track down Shon and ask him about what comics were to come.

So as you can see, the werewolves that make up The Howling universe are deadly and the film that started it all is a true iconic film of the 80’s! But now it’s time for us to take a look at the four issue mini series released by Space Goat in 2017! I want to remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for pulling these issues for my file when they were first released. So with that, let’s travel to The Colony and see what these bloodthirsty werewolves have in store for us comic readers.

The Howling # 1 ***
Released in 2017   Cover Price $3.99     Space Goat   # 1 of 4

Chris Halloran’s life has changed for the worse after he shot his best friend Karen White live on the news as she turned into a werewolf…and even worse, all of his fellow station workers who witnessed the event have had a hard time dealing with it as many have killed themselves over the events. Meanwhile in Santa Cruz, Vera comes home and finds Marsha Quist in her study. She wants to know information about to whom she sold a relic called the Hand Of Akkara. Vera is scared and pulls a gun and shoots Marsha who shrugs off the bullet wound and tells her the name “Joe Valentine” as the buyer. As Marsha starts to transform into a werewolf, Vera runs for her life and finds shelter in a carnival funhouse…but the werewolf Marsha finds her and knocks the woman’s head off! Marsha then howls at the moon as the first issue comes to an end.

The first issue of The Howling is a good solid horror comic that takes place after the events of the movie and has Chris dealing with the after effects of the killing of Karen on live TV and also has werewolf Marsha Quist looking for a relic as well as being still upset about how The Colony tried to change the werewolves and their want to hunt and kill humans. Marsha Quist is still using her looks and sex appeal to get what she wants and has no issues now turning into a werewolf and dealing out death in her quest to feed her hunger and to find a relic that we the reader are just learning about. Chris Halloran is the hero from the movie who thought he killed all the werewolves of The Colony only to find that many are still alive as the body count was low. He is also dealing with the mental strain of having to kill his friend on TV as well as looked at for murder. The story is intriguing right now, and I cannot wait to see what happens next with both Chris and Marsha and you know that more werewolves are on their way. This issue has some great use of blood and gore, and when the character Vera gets her head knocked off, it’s well done and showcases some gruesome great artwork. The cover is very eye catching and reminds me of the Scream Factory DVD. The interior art done by Jason Johnson is great stuff, and I would like to see more Horror Comics done by him! This is a great issue, and I cannot wait to see what issue two has in store.

The Howling # 2  ***
Released in 2017   Cover Price $3.99     Space Goat   # 2 of 4

Marsha Quist shows up at the house of an employee of Joe Valentine and asks were she can find Joe. When he doesn’t answer she rips his penis off and learns that Joe is always at a night club on Friday nights! Meanwhile Chris has started to notice that all the witnesses to Karen’s transformation are dying, and worse, the footage of the event is now missing from the station and his old boss seems to be covering something sinister up as if someone or some group is covering it all up and forever silencing all that saw it. Chris does some digging and finds out details about the murder of Vera and her husband, gets a shotgun from the black market, visits Walter at his book store and buys more books on werewolves and orders more silver bullets.  While leaving the book store, he meets a strange woman who leaves him a note and says she can help him expose the truth! Meanwhile Marsha Quist finds Joe at the club and tricks him into going back to his office with her with the promise of sex and once in the office she uses a sword from his wall to stab his leg and demands the Hand Of Akkara. As Joe opens his safe, a ton of guards come to his aid and they pay for it with their lives as Marsha turns into a werewolf and slaughters them all. Once Joe opens the safe, she also kills him and at the end off the issue she is holding the Hand Of Akkara and she is very pleased by this.

This second issue of The Howling from Space Goat is yet another great read and does a good job of moving the plot along as well as delivering some great werewolf kills! The plot for this issue has Chris uncovering what he thinks is a cover up of the werewolf clan and the killing of Karen. Chris really is digging deeper and deeper into this as he wants to avenge the death of his friend as well as his girlfriend Terry who was killed by a werewolf in the film. I also love that we see bookstore owner Walter back again as he now believes in werewolves and is going to hook Chris up with more silver bullets to protect himself from them if they come calling. It’s also very fishy that the tapes are missing from the TV station and that Chris’s old boss seems to be denying that Karen turned into a werewolf on air! Marsha Quist again turns up her hotness and uses her amazing looks to bait and kill her victims and boy does she have many in this issue. Each one is pretty bloody in nature showing this series is not pulling any gore punches. I also like that Marsha can change from human to werewolf at will and in the end by using her charm and death dealing skills is able to get the Hand Of Akkara that clearly is going to be a relic that will cause an uprising of werewolves. The killing of the office guards is a fun horrific time and her ripping the penis off of a victim is brutal and shows that Marsha is a killing machine. The cover is pretty great and for some reason the way Marsha looks reminds me of the face of the werewolf from the film “Cross Of The 7 Jewels” and its both awesome and also makes me laugh. The interior art by Jason Johnson is really good and once more this guy should be hired to make more comic based on Horror Movies! Another solid issue, and I cannot wait to read issue three now!

The Howling # 3  ***
Released in 2017   Cover Price $3.99     Space Goat   # 3 of 4

An all-woman adult film is being filmed when Marsha Quist shows up and kills both actresses and alerts the cameraman that she is in need of his camera skills very soon. Meanwhile Chris calls his old boss about a big scoop, and soon a man with a gun is sent his way, but this hit will not go off as planned as Chris was waiting for the hitman as was Ruth, the woman he met at the book store. They take the would be killer hostage and plan on getting information from him as they turn him over to a rag tag group of freedom underground hosts. Ruth used to work for the F.B.I. and as she leaves to meet up with her old partner who has proof of werewolves, she tells him she will leave a note with Walter at the bookstore. Time passes and Chris heads to the store and finds the note was left but it was one alerting him that someone has Ruth hostage. Luckily for Chris his silver bullets are in and might help him on his rescue mission. Chris is sent to the Porn Shop where Karen first met Eddie Quist and in a peep booth sees a video that has Marsha with Ruth and she tells him to meet her at the Colony! Chris knows it’s a trap but heads there anyway and with him he brings the Government group that is sending the hitman with the promise they can have the werewolves and brings the Freedom Group to clash with the government group…giving them a better chance of leaving alive. Once Chris frees Ruth, they find a tape that says play me, while outside Marsha Quist calls all the living werewolves to her side and uses the Hand Of Akkara to bring back the dead werewolves as a showdown to the death is on the horizon as the Marsha wants to bring back the rule of the wolf.

This third issue turns up the flame and allows the plot to thicken as Chris and his new partner in finding the truth, Ruth, stop a murder attempt as well as return to the scene of The Colony in order to have a final showdown with Marsha and her army of werewolves. In this issue, Chris is a hero who knows that his life is in danger but will do what he can to expose the truth to the world as well as save the lives of those he can. I also like that while he is our hero, he is also very much a normal guy who has fears of the unknown just like the rest of us. Ruth is a former F.B.I. agent who left her job after her department was shut down and all their data proving werewolves real was taken away. Her partner stayed on and is feeding her information making her a big help to Chris and his cause. Walter the bookstore owner comes through again as he not only delivers a case full of silver bullets, but also acts as the middle man between Chris and Ruth who have to talk in secret at times. The Government Agents and the weird Freedom Fighters are both gun carrying men of America who think their side is right in the cause…what cause you ask, well whatever one they are told is right! Marsha Quist with her Hand Of Akkara relic shows that she really does have the power as she can use it to not only bring the werewolves together but can also bring the dead ones back to life! One very cool part of this issue is that we get two key locations from the movie as we get the Eros Adult Store that starts the film as well as the Doctor’s Cabin at the Colony that was the location of the death of Eddie and Terry, nice touch having them both in this comic. The issue is bloody and filled with some great kills as Marsha has no time to deal with the adult film actresses and massacres them with a fast a brutal manner. The cover on this issue is pretty weak, and the werewolf version of Marsha looks weak and very odd, not an eye-catching cover at all. Jason Johnson’s interior art is well done, and I should also note that the characters that are returning from the film do not look like the actors who played them so for those hoping to see Walter look like Dick Miller…you will be disappointed, but again I have to stress Jason’s artwork is fantastic. Well we only have one issue left in this series and thus far Space Goat has done a great job continuing the story of The Howling, so let’s see what the final issue has in store for us.

The Howling # 4 ***
Released in 2017   Cover Price $3.99     Space Goat   # 4 of 4

Chris and Ruth hit play on the tape, and Marsha informs Chris that Ruth is not who he thinks. She is Donna who is a werewolf who’s loved one was shot and killed by Chris on that frightful night! As Donna transforms, Chris is forced to shoot her with a silver bullet, killing the woman he thought was his only ally. Meanwhile outside Marsha uses the Hand Of Akkara to bring back the dead werewolves that have all lost their human side making them total beast and for all accounts zombies, and they rush the Government Group and the Freedom Fighters and they all soon learn that silver bullets do not work on the undead werewolves unless you shoot them in the head. In the end, the werewolves kill the agents and the fighters with brutal fury and Chris stands alone against Marsha Quist who is joined by the zombie wolf versions of her brothers Eddie and T.C. with other werewolves starting to gather around. Marsha rubs it in that he has failed, and Chris is upset that he knows death is near and that he did not get revenge for Terry and Karen… and with that the werewolves attack and kill Chris. Moments later Marsha is holding the head of Chris and tells the werewolves that their time to rule is at hand once more.

The Howling comic mini series ends with a loud howl at the moon as the werewolves come together both alive and dead ones and they have a new queen with Marsha Quist who wants them all to rise up against humans and rule the world once more. The plot of this issue has Chris thinking he will be a hero and save the life of a newly made friend in his quest to expose the world that werewolves are real only to find out she is one and then must face off with Marsha Quist, the sister of two of the werewolves he killed off in the film. Throughout the series Chris Halloran is a man who is haunted by the past of having to kill his close friend on TV as well of the loss of the love of his life all because of werewolves. He tries his best to uncover why people in Government and his former employer the news station is covering everything up, only to be tricked himself and lead to his death that is very brutal by the hands and fangs of the beasts he wanted to warn the world of. Chris is a hero that the world needed and never got to know that he was around and trying to save them from a doom that is now on its way. Donna aka Ruth is a female werewolf who tricks our hero into thinking she is a former F.B.I. agent who is also trying to expose the world to the facts of that the beasts are real, but really her husband who was also a werewolf was killed by Chris in the film and she wants revenge as well. The Government Agents and the Freedom Fighters are two well armed groups that are at war with each other and both have interest in the werewolves, and while they are ready to protect themselves and have the right tools of the trade to stop the werewolves, they are not ready for the zombie werewolves that make short work of these would be heroes. Marsha Quist is savage and is so filled with revenge that she comes up with a plan that works and also makes it that she is the new Queen of the Werewolves! The comic is as bloody as the others as humans are bit, shot and torn apart and delivers some really good gory moments. The cover for this issue is pretty dang eye catching and shows Marsha and her werewolf brothers looking super deadly, and the interior art done by Jason Johnson is great stuff and he was the right choice to do this comic series. I am very surprised as I find that Space Goat did a great job on bringing The Howling to the world of comic books and delivered a good quick paced story that adds onto the lore of the film. Check out the art below to see the style of Jason Johnson.

The Howling is one of the best werewolf films of the 80s and our next update will showcase one of the best zombie films from the 70s as for the Halloween update we will be taking a look at the Fulci film Zombie 2 and the Eibon Press mini series based on it! I hope these horror themed updates up to this point have help make your 2020 Halloween season a little better as it’s clear that the virus crisis really has put a damper on the year and has stopped many the normal events and activities that take place during this time of the year. I hope The Howling update has you howling at the moon, and until next time, 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 we Alert The Crew…The Boat Can Leave Now!

SOV Flashbacks Classics – SNIX Series

Welcome back to Rotten Ink! For this update in our countdown to Halloween 2020, I decided to do something a little different and not cover a comic series or even a horror host. Instead, I’ll be covering a shot-on-video horror movie series from the 90’s that was made by James Rolfe, who is better known as The Angry Video Game Nerd!

This series was something James made with friends that ended up growing into something that is very slowly gaining its own cult following and could also be sparking a new generation of indie filmmakers into wanting to make their own films.

James Rolfe started out much like myself as he was a fan of classic old monster movies and enjoyed very much being creative and would do projects with friends or even solo to get it done. When I was a kid, I made my own comic books like Benny The Squirrel, Robo-Raccoon and Miss Freedom, to name a few. At the same time, armed with my tape recorder, I would do my own radio music and dramas as well as comedy skits, mostly about paranormal themes. But one of my biggest outlets for my creative mind was writing short stories, as I would spend so much of my time putting pen to paper and creating characters and the worlds they lived in.

And when I discovered movie making back in 1998, I was hooked on the creative outlet as the films “Teen Suicide” and a short time later “Suicide 2” and “Twisted Batman” were projects my family, friends and I created together and would lead to me making “Werewolf Of Ohio” and “Werewolf Of Ohio 2: 10 Years Before” that would spawn “The Wolf Hunter”, “One Second Too Late”, “Nightmare” and so on over the years! When thinking about Halloween time, I think of backyard shot horror movies that I grew up watching on TV and VHS, like “Trail Of The Werewolf” and “Frankenstein Stalks,” and that’s why I think it’s the perfect time of the year for me to cover the Snix film series and take the Snix Pack Challenge!

For each film, I will write about the plot, my thoughts on the film and will in the end give it a report card grade on the classic A-F scale. Now keep in mind, it would not be fair to grade SOV films like you would a big budget Hollywood Movie or even a bigger budget indie feature, that’s why ,much like I do for fan films, I will be grading these on their own scale — a scale of true to life backyard cinema, the true shot on video warriors of the camcorder days. I chose to start my SOV film reviews and topics with the SNIX films because to me it’s clear that James Rolfe had and has a love for making these movies like filmmakers Chris Seaver, Henrique Couto, Matt Hoffman and Dustin Austen, all of whom in my opinion are the godfathers of backyard films for my generation. So if you are ready, let’s see what this James Rolfe horror comedy short series has in store for us this Halloween season.

SNIX
Starring – James Rolfe & Philip Smith     Directed by James Rolfe
1993     Not Rated     12min     Cinemassacre       DVD-R     Letterbox

Movie: SNIX was killed 3,000 years ago. The evil ghosts he controls are held behind a door, and a young girl sets the spirits free by accident! Two friends Jim and Philip are in the house, and the evil ghosts are targeting Philip as they want him to put on the mask of SNIX so he can live again. The ghosts torment him all around the house to put the mask on…and he does! SNIX has now taken over Philip, and armed with a sword, he starts to stalk Jim all around the house! Jim is able to get the sword and comes up with a plan to take off the mask and try to save Philip, but he must take on the Ghosts who want to protect SNIX. After beating a ghost, he gets a delivery of a special box that takes away all the ghosts by using fear on them. Jim then comes face to mask with SNIX, and he uses the box once more that frees a creepy old man who brings down SNIX. The mask is burned to keep try and stop him once and for all. In the end, Jim cannot help himself and looks in the box himself and passes out from fright.

Thoughts: The first film in the SNIX series is a little rough to get through as it was clearly made by James when he was around 12 years old, and he cast himself and his friend in the lead roles and neither at the time were skilled actors. But to be fair, that cheesy acting is part of the charm of shot-on-video backyard films. The plot is simple: a young girl unleashes ghosts in a house by opening a closet door. The ghosts use their haunting powers along with the mask of SNIX to get one of the two young boys in the house to wear it, and when he does, he becomes SNIX and it’s up to the other to stop the evil again. SNIX spends most of the film as just the mask and demanding to be put on. Once he becomes whole again, he is defeated by the creepy old man (that is really just art pages from a kid’s book done with voice over) pretty quickly and his cursed masked is burnt up. SNIX is not a major threat nor are his ghost minions that are running wild through the house. Jim is our hero and armed with a sword and a magical box that just so happened to be delivered as he runs around his house kicking supernatural butt! Some of the fun parts of this film are when you can clearly see parents in the background and they are just going about their normal day as James and his friends are running around with a plastic sword and a mask made from construction paper. The film is bloodless, as to be expected from a film made by a 12 year old with a zero dollar budget, and of course the plot is not great but shows lots of creativity from James as the essential elements of a spooky story are there. Like everyone’s early films, it just sometimes gets jumbled. This is a good start for the series as it’s clear that it will only go up from here. One other thing about this first film is that it goes from Letterbox to Full Frame from scene to scene!

Grade: C-

SNIX: The Return
Starring – James Rolfe & Brian Genk     Directed by James Rolfe
1996     Not Rated     21min     Cinemassacre       DVD-R     Full Frame

Movie: Three years later, Jim is at his house telling his friend about the mask of SNIX and how Philip put the mask on and was brought down by the old man’s box of fear. SNIX’s mask has returned and is now trying to get Jim to put it on as he wants to be reborn again! Jim tries his best to get his friend to see the mask, but every time the friend looks, it disappears. When Jim is finally able to pick it up, he makes the mistake of putting it on and goes after his friend who tries to fight for his life….but the mask jumps to the friend as he wants his revenge on Jim for defeating him three years ago and chases him around the neighborhood. Jim uses a small stick to beat down SNIX and escapes, but once inside his locked basement the ghosts show back up as does the creepy old man who informs him that he cannot defeat SNIX alone and that they are related and together they can bring down SNIX with the Box of Fear and luck. He once more captures the ghosts and uses the sword on the mask and removes it from his friend, throwing the mask out the window. Then they bury it for good measure, this time hoping SNIX will stay dead.

Thoughts: The second film in the SNIX series plays up the comedy and has the mask playing mind games against Jim before taking over his new friend and trying to kill Jim. This time around, Jim is a little older and a tad wiser, and armed with his Box Of Fear, he once more captures the ghosts and uses the sword to bring down the evil of SNIX. Jim is a hero much like Ash from the Evil Dead series as he doesn’t want to be the hero of the day and thus far seems to fall backwards into defeating the evil mask and his ghost minions. Jim also seems at to be bad luck for anyone that he is friends with as two times now his friends get possessed by SNIX and they are lost to evil. They also add a new plot twist as The Old Man with the Box of Fear is related to Jim and in fact is the one who claims to have brought the evil SNIX down those thousands of years ago. SNIX in this one is just the mask for large parts of the movie demanding to be put on and then jumps from Jim to his friend with the goal being to kill Jim! In the host body, SNIX wanders around and tries his best to frighten and scare Jim at every turn. The ghosts are around, but as fast as they show up, they disappear as that weird old man and his box return to help. This sequel does have some blood in it as Jim is cut by his friend with a knife to the arm, showing that the budget must have been a tiny bit higher than zero. It’s also clear that this film is half spoof and half remake of the original film, and from what James has said, he even used the original paper mask for this one. SNIX: The Return is a fun silly watch and even though the picture quality on the DVD-R I have is not great, it was still fun to see how James was growing as a filmmaker and how the legend of SNIX was growing. And keep in mind James made this film when he was only 15 years old, so I have to give him props for pulling it off as it’s hard to make a solid horror comedy.

Grade: C-

SNIX: Again
Starring – James Rolfe & Brian Genk     Directed by James Rolfe
1997     Not Rated     22min     Cinemassacre       DVD-R     Full Frame

Movie: In 1693, SNIX was a powerful warlock who stole souls and was defeated by a master swordsman who left his body on an island to rot. But SNIX went after the swordsman and caused him to commit suicide in order to save his own soul. That swordsman was Xins, the Old Man with the box of fear, and he is also a spirit that is always in a fight with the evil of SNIX. Jim now understands the true nature of SNIX and the goodness of Xins, and now three months after he buried the mask, he and his friend go back and dig up the SNIX mask and take it back to Jim’s home. Once more the mask tries to force its way onto Jim’s head but fails as Jim places it into his fireplace and before he sets it ablaze, a creep headless body appears and saves it, knocking Jim out in the process. Jim calls his friend over and when he arrives, he is chased around the house by SNIX who is holding a plunger as a weapon. The young man fights for his life against the possessed Jim who was forced to wear the SNIX mask. In the end, the young man leads SNIX into the woods and is able to help Jim get the mask off, and this time around they flush the mask down the toilet….ending his rampage for now.

Thoughts: The third film in the shot-on-video cult classic series brings the true history of SNIX to light and highlights that three thousand years ago he was indeed a true force of evil and something to be truly feared and then goes into the fact that SNIX is back again only three months after we last saw him! This time around Jim understands the true evil nature of SNIX and is coming to grips that the Creepy Old Man named Xins, the keeper of the Box Of Fear, is one of his past relatives, but he still makes a dumb move when he digs up the mask with the idea to burn it again, only to find himself possessed by it and on a rampage to get his friend! The friend is the true hero of this story as he out smarts the possessed Jim and is able to get the mask off him, and together they flush the sucker. SNIX is now shown to also have a headless body wandering around who for some reason has a sock for a hand. It makes you wonder what will happen when, in a future sequel, the two will come back together. This sequel is clearly scripted, as James has stated. and this helps give the film a little structure and takes away some of the more odd moments the other films had. The downside to this sequel is that Jim’s motivation does not make sense at times, and while I can forgive it, I still have to point it out, as this is something that so many shot-on-video film heroes do…mine included. The film is bloodless and once more plays up some humor, much of which has a Scooby-Doo feel to it. This film has a cool animated opening, and I really do like that they dive deep into SNIX’s back story as up to this point it was kind of lost in the shuffle of the series as he had no real backstory. When this one was made, James was 16 years old showing that being creative really was in his blood. While not an amazing SOV film, it is a quick fun entertaining one that adds a little more legacy to SNIX and his cult character status.

Grade: C+

The Rotten Corpse Of SNIX
Starring – James Rolfe & Brian Genk     Directed by James Rolfe
1998     Not Rated     21min     Cinemassacre       DVD-R     Full Frame

Movie: Three days after being flushed down the toilet, SNIXS returns. His headless corpse is still wandering around preparing for something big and that’s to bring the mask back. Now SNIX is whole and looking for revenge! Jim is once again on the run as SNIX goes after his friend with murder on his mind. Jim goes to the Temple of Xins and chats with Xins and learns that the Box Of Fear has been stolen and that Jim is the chosen one to kill SNIX and is given a special sword to do so. All the while, SNIX chases Jim’s friend all around town and before he can kill him, Jim shows up with his new sword and has an epic sword fight with SNIX that leaves the warlock decapitated and his rotten body thrown from a window. Jim takes the mask, and this time places it on train tracks where its run over!

Thoughts: The fourth film is the SNIX series is lots of fun and has the evil warlock monster SNIX becoming whole and targeting Jim and his pal who have defeated him movie after movie! In this film Jim finally gets that he is in fact the only person that can bring SNIX dow, and he now has no fear of the evil warlock and uses his gifted sword to bring the monster down. That’s the one thing about the Jim character at this point, he really has grown from being a scared kid to a sword-swinging hero who is more annoyed that the evil mask keeps returning. His friend in this movie also gets a name, Brian, and this time around he is a major target of SNIX who seems to get enjoyment chasing him all around town with the goal being to catch him and choke the life out of him! Xins himself makes an appearance in the film and is no longer just pictures from a book, but is a costume that glows, and he sadly loses his Box Of Fear (that is used to bring the mask back from the toilet) and passes down his very own sword to Jim that was used to kill SNIX some three thousand years ago. I like the outfit for Xins way more than the pictures as the character now comes off more ghostly. Our ever-returning villain SNIX becomes whole in this film and is filled with mischief and rage as he once more targets Jim and Brian. This time around he even uses a sword with the goal to chop up Jim. But as always, he is defeated, and this time around his mask is run over by a train that shreds it into pieces. I like SNIX’s look in this film as he has a real video game island bad guy look to him. The film has a little blood that is used in the sword fight between Jim and SNIX, and James Rolfe said that at the time this was the longest film for him to make as it took 10 months due to actor schedules. The Rotten Corpse Of SNIX is a great cheesy shot-on-video film that really does capture the fun nature of backyard filmmaking and is one that I think fans of this micro genre of horror should check out. It’s the best in the series this far. I should note that James was 17 when he made this entry in the long running series.

Grade: B+

The Possessed Mask Of SNIX
Starring – James Rolfe      Directed by James Rolfe
1998     Not Rated     13min     Cinemassacre       DVD-R     Full Frame 

Movie: Only three hours after destroying the SNIX mask again, Jim returns home to find the mask of SNIX in his fridge wanting to be put on! He tapes the fridge shut, but the mask once more follows him around the house asking to be put on as Jim is quickly losing his cool and is getting mad as he wants to be done with this evil curse once and for all. The SNIX Mask tricks his way on to his head for a moment, but a quick fall from a chair knocks it loose and Jim this time throws it outside and looks at the mask via the basement window, that is until the mask returns inside again only to be washed in the washing machine. Xins appears and tells Jim that he needs to really stop SNIX once and for all and that the Box Of Fear is still in Jim’s bathroom. He warns him the scariest thing in the world is still in the box. Jim then comes face to mask with the mask of SNIX, and this time after a quick chase and lots of beating the heck out of the mask, Jim thinks he ends the terror burning him up in the fireplace. But as the mask burns, SNIX warns him that he does not need the mask; all he really needs is something to possess!

Thoughts: We are five movies into the SNIX series, and this time around it’s just a showdown between Jim and the mask of SNIX who really wants to be put on and restart his reign of stealing souls. But it’s clear by this fifth film that Jim has really had enough of SNIX and wants to figure out how to stop its curse once and for all, and does what he can to ignore the mask while thinking about what he can do to kill it or at least get it to leave him alone. The ghost of Xins is hanging out in Jim’s basement. He also seems like he wants the curse of SNIX to end and tells Jim that he is the key to stop him. I like how they say all the ghosts are taken care of as they got flushed down the toilet to get the mask back and then Xins captured them all again. One odd thing is they call The Box Of Fear the Box Of Horror in this sequel. The Mask of SNIX also comes off like he just wants to be such a pain in the ass to Jim and is taking pleasure annoying him throughout his life. I also think that when he is set on fire, he knows that this will not end him, and in fact I think this allows his evil spirit to travel beyond just the mask…just a vibe I was getting. The pacing of this film is super fast and is clearly just a sequel that is used to help build up to the final film in the series. This one has zero blood and showcases what James at age 17 could pull off just by himself with some assistance from his family. While not as good as the previous film in the series, this one is a good chapter to build up the world of SNIX and shows that he is angry and wants his revenge on Xins’ bloodline and the world.

Grade: B-

The Banishing Of Evil Spirit Of SNIX
Starring – James Rolfe & Brian Genk          Directed by James Rolfe
1998     Not Rated     14min     Cinemassacre       DVD-R     Widescreen

Movie: Only three minutes after being set on fire, SNIX is back again and Jim makes a quick phone call to Brian to get over to his house. He calls his pal Joe as well to come over to help bring down SNIX…you see Jim is calling in all his pals to help in this fight! But sadly as his friends rush to get to him, the evil spirit of SNIX starts to possess Jim who now becomes the one and only SNIX! Joe is being targeted as SNIX’s next victim as Brian runs home swearing to never visit Jim again.. With the voice of Xins guiding him, Joe gets the Box of Fear and uses it against the evil warlock to knock him away and then beats the possessed Jim with a gold club till he is out cold. As Joe sits on the couch tired from the battle, the spirit of SNIX enters the TV and threatens the world that he cannot be stopped! While SNIX is in the TV, the spirit of Xins appears and uses all his energy to take him and SNIX to the spirit world, ending the evil Warlock’s reign of terror. Jim wakes up, and he and Joe look into the Box Of Fear and find it to be empty as whatever terrible thing that was inside was flushed down the toilet by the body of SNIX when he used the ghosts inside the box to get the mask. In the end Jim walks down the road knowing that he and his friends stopped the evil right there in New Jersey and that the rest of the world will never know about the horrors that could have been unleashed on them all.

Thoughts: The sixth and final film in the SNIX series is a clear love letter to the character that James created when he was only 12 years old and was a way to tie all the movies together as well as finally bring it all to an end. This time around SNIX enters the body of Jim and turns him into SNIX himself. He wants to kill Joe who is a friend of Jim’s and sadly was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But as always, the power of good brings down evil as Xins’ ghost comes to the aid of the young men and rids the world of SNIX once and for all. In this movie Jim knows that SNIX will return in three minutes and does what he thinks is right and that’s bring in his friends to help, and then for most of the movie he himself becomes the snarling evil SNIX! That’s right, think Ash from Evil Dead II when he is possessed and that’s what happens to Jim until he is beaten down with a golf club and has his soul saved by Xins. Throughout this series Jim has faced the evil of SNIX six times and has been a hero and a victim as well has grown into the savior the world didn’t even know it needed. Philip, Brian and Joe are the friends who sadly get caught up in all this madness just because they are friends with Jim and each has changed in some ways with Philip getting the worst of it as once he is possessed, he disappears never to be seen again! Brian has battled, been chased and almost killed by SNIX, and by the end of the series it’s made clear that I think he is done hanging out with Jim ever again. And Joe is just a poor young man who got sucked into the madness after he saw Jim throw the body of SNIX out the window in the fourth movie, and he has to become a hero himself. The ghost of Xins is the story’s real main hero as over three thousand years ago he took SNIX for the first time, and in this final film he is the one that takes him away again. I have to stress I like the glow in the dark/black light costume better then the art from the book version of Xins. SNIX goes from just a haunted mask to possessing people to even finding his old rotten body and wanting to come back to rule the land so badly. The only thing in his way is kids that ruin his plans, resurrection after resurrection! And while he is a soul eating, master of ghosts, he still is a very playful and goofy villain who talks like a cartoon bad guy and even does weird little dances. When he takes his mask off, I love the fact he looks like a stranger version of B-Actor Tor Johnson, fun stuff. While the final film in the SNIX series is not prefect, it still was a great fitting ending to a film series that meant something to James and his friends when they made it.

Grade: B

The SNIX film series is a great look at the beginning days of James Rolfe and his Cinemassacre Productions and is a great tool for inspiring filmmakers to watch as each film shows how James grew as a filmmaker, from his camera angels to his scripts. And now he is one of the best YouTube celebrities going. It’s also a great time capsule of the golden days of home camcorders as well as New Jersey from the eyes of young kids during the 90’s. Plus each of these movies have vintage intros to them done by James that give you a little more insight to each film and the motivation of its creation. I love hearing how he used two VCR’s to edit the films as that was the same way my brother edited his first film, Twisted Batman. Plus hearing that he also used in-camera cuts to edit parts of the film reminds me of some of my early days making backyard films. As of this update, it’s been about 22 years since the final SNIX movie was made, and while I am sure James and his crew will never make another, I for one would love to see him make one last film in the series and use all the knowledge and resources he has now to make one last epic SNIX flick…I mean come on, James could play Jim again and imagine roles for Mike Matei, Justin Silverman, Kieran and Tony from Hack The Movies as they all run away from the evil SNIX…just saying, you know you all would watch it. Honestly, it would also be lots of fun to do a SNIX comic book mini series at Blood Scream Comics as the character should live on and entertain the masses again. Over all while the SNIX films are not prefect, I will say that they are entertaining and show that all creative minds started somewhere.

I hope you enjoyed this update about this shot-on-video movie series as I had lots of fun working on it. I have been thinking about covering more movies here on Rotten Ink, and I am looking at covering films from the following genres: martial arts, sword and sandal, fantasy, westerns, indie horror, Mexican horror as well as, of course, more shot-on-video. And don’t forget, I will still be also looking at fan-made horror films. Plus, I will also be taking a look at talk shows that I grew up watching when I was a kid as seen on my Talk Back update that was about Morton Downey Jr. talking about slasher films that will be joining the ranks of Made For TV Movies and Specials! And I will always have a place for horror hosts as they are some of my most favorite updates to write for my blog. And do not get worried as comic book reviews are still my bread and butter, and they are and will always be the main focus of Rotten Ink as they are what sparked the blog and have kept me writing this long!

So as you can see, lots of great write-ups are coming your way in the next few years, and I truly hope you enjoy reading these updates as much as I enjoy writing them. For our next update, we are walking away from the world of SOV Films and will be heading to The Colony, a nice resort in the middle of the woods and tonight it’s supposed to be a full moon….so you know that the werewolves will be Howling! That’s right, we will be taking a look at the 1981 film The Howling and the Space Goat comic mini series based around it. So until next time, read an indie comic or three, watch a shot-on-video flick or two and as always, support your local Horror Host. See you next update for some quality time with Marsha Quist.

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Night Of The Scarecrow (1995)

For this Halloween Countdown, update we will be taking a look at the 1995 direct to video horror movie Night Of The Scarecrow! Back in the 90’s video rental stores were still king of movie viewing with streaming services not even around yet, and it was an event to go to the video store and look at the shelves to find the right movie or movies to provide entertainment for the weekend. This was a major part of my late teen years, and during this time I was able to watch many great direct-to-video horror movies and Night Of The Scarecrow was one of them! So let’s take a look at this From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update all about that film and its promo comic.

Before we dive too deeply into Night Of The Scarecrow, we should first talk about its killer, the sinister Warlock who has many ways to dispose of human lives! The Warlock Scarecrow is very sinister in appearance and also uses his creepy voice to startle and scare those he has targeted to be his victims making it very easy for him to attack. He also has supernatural powers that allow him to control some farming machines and parts of nature and can do so to help capture and kill anyone stupid enough to get in his way. He can also use illusions to lure people into his traps as well as morph from place to place making him very cunning and deadly. When those dark magic tricks fail, he also uses brute force to kill his enemies by bare hands or sharp weapons, as his main goal is to kill and cause terror on the path for revenge. He can also implant seeds into females and cause them to explode open with killer vines coming out of the wounds dealing out pain and death. He also draws powers from his old Warlock book that has all his spells. And let’s not forget, he can shoot straw needles from his hands that act like mini arrows dealing pain and possible death to those unfortunate enough to have them fired upon them. Normal weapons like guns, fire and knives have zero effect of The Scarecrow, and his only weakness is damaging his bones from his human corpse. So in other words, if you destroy the bones, you destroy the Warlock Scarecrow. With only one weakness and with supernatural powers and a rage-filled attitude for death and revenge, The Warlock Scarecrow is one killer that is hard to kill and is cruel in his ways of dealing death.

 

So with that you can see that The Scarecrow is very deadly and evil and is one supernatural killer you should not mess with. So now that we broke him down, let’s take a look at the film that spawned him. I would like to remind you that I will be taking the film’s plot from our pals at IMDB and then I will write about the film’s production and release as well as my first time seeing the movie.

Night Of The Scarecrow (1995)

“A group of drunk teenagers accidently set free the spirit of a warlock, which possesses a scarecrow. The scarecrow goes on a bloody rampage killing the descendents of the men who had killed the warlock a century before. A newcomer and the daughter of the mayor try to stop it before it is too late and the warlock can reincarnate.”

Night Of The Scarecrow was directed by Jeff Burr, who is known to horror fans for directing such films as Stepfather II, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, Puppet Master 4-5 and Mil Mascaras Vs. The Aztec Mummy, to name a few. The film’s cast was made up of such names as Elizabeth Barondes, John Mese and Howard Swain as The Scarecrow. The film was released on home video by Republic Pictures on August 8, 1995 and was a very typical standard direct-to-video release and got some press from the likes of Fangoria Magazine. When released in 1995, this film had stiff competition to get Horror fans’ attention alongside films like Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight, Halloween: Curse Of Michael Myers, Castle Freak, Tales From The Hood, Leprechaun 3, Project Metalbeast, Vampire In Brooklyn, Mind Ripper, Sleepstalker, Burial Of The Rats, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah and Jack-O, to name a few. Over the years, Night of the Scarecrow has built up a cult following and finally was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in 2013.

When Night Of The Scarecrow was released on VHS, I can remember going to the video rental store K&L Video with my brother Bryan and renting it during one of our weekends of binge watching horror flicks. The owner Kenny also had a poster for the on the wall, and it was awesome looking. It was one of my picks as the cover drew me in and I have always been a sucker for a good creature slasher film. And with the sodas and chips that we bought from Dot’s Market in hand, we popped the movie into the VCR, and I enjoyed the hell out of the film! I liked the look of the Scarecrow, and much of the film’s gore effects were well done making it a very solid direct to video horror shocker. I spent some time trying to get a copy of the film on VHS for my collection and finally got it thanks to a local second hand media store, and later I would get it on DVD when it was finally released. For some reason I have always been into horror movies that have killer Scarecrows in them, and I think that it started for me with the made-for-TV movie “Dark Night Of The Scarecrow” that was released in 1981 as something about that movie always captured my attention and imagination. Also back in my youth, my Grandma Brassfield use to make a stuffed Scarecrow for Halloween to place on her swing on the front porch that she called “Mokernose” and this also became the thing of ghost stories between my brother and cousins and I as we would tell each other “What If it came alive” tales. The directing style of Jeff Burr is also really well done, and he always can make smaller budget films appear bigger by hiding limitations and highlighting the aspects that work. Howard Swain is pretty dang good as the Scarecrow, and it was great seeing the likes of Martine Beswick, Duane Whitaker and Robert Harvey in roles. Over all, if you like 90’s direct-to-video horror films, killer scarecrows, slasher flicks and evil curses, then this is a film you should check out this Halloween season.

So as you can see, this killer Scarecrow is one evil spirit who enjoys taking lives and stealing souls! I really do think this film is underrated as it’s a great film from director Jeff Burr and one that you should check out if you like films about murderous scarecrows. And now it’s time to take a look at this promo comic made about this film. I want to thank an Ebay seller for having it in stock and making this update possible. And before we get to this spooky comic review, I want to remind you readers that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you are ready, lets head to the town of Clayton and see if we can spot and survive this night of the Scarecrow.

Night Of The Scarecrow # 1 **1/2
Released in 1995     Cover Price $0.00   Republic Pictures   # 1 of 1

Clayton is a small farming town, and in this town is lifer Jed Faney whose father had told him something very bad before dying that has caused him to be drinking very heavily at the bar. Jed blows off his friend Todd and grabs a six-pack of beer and heads to the old cornfield and wants to drink with The Scarecrow who comes live and tells Jed that he has his father’s soul and now wants his! Jed runs away and drives off in his trunk as The Scarecrow follows threatening to steal his soul, and this causes Jed to wreck his truck and be killed during the wreck. As the town’s sheriff rushes to the scene of the wreck, The Scarecrow enters town and kills Todd and his drunk friends as this town has a curse that won’t end until the entire town is dead.

This promo comic does a pretty good job of getting your attention and building interest in the film as it gives you just enough to wonder why and how this killer Scarecrow has it out for the people of this small town. The plot is very simple with man who is told a secret by his father on his deathbed and decides to face the “legend” face only to become just another victim in the curse. The “hero” (if you can call him that) of this comic is Jed Faney who we first meet getting drunk in a bar and blowing off pulling pranks on high school students with his friend, only to drink and drive in his massive truck to a cornfield where he comes face to face with evil and wrecks his truck at a high speed and dies…that’s our hero. Now I get that Jed is told by his father that the whole town is on a one way path to dance with death and meet the Grim Reaper, it’s just that he really does nothing to try and warn people or even stop the killer Scarecrow…his plan of action is to drink heavily and drive drunk. The Scarecrow is pure evil and wants to collect the souls of those he kills and does not care who must die that cross his path as he just wants death and pain. The issue has some blood and deaths and does bring a slasher film style of horror to the reader, and for that the makers of this comic really did capture the mood and style of the film. The cover is great and is the poster that was used to promote the film at the video rental stores. The interior artwork is done by Leonard Kirk and is great stuff and has a real indie 90’s horror comic appeal. Over all if you like this film, direct-to-video horror movies in general or just love horror comics based on films, make sure to check this one out. Take a look at the artwork below to see Kirk’s style.

Night Of The Scarecrow from 1995 is a really entertaining film and also had a good comic book based around it. I want to thank my pal Nathan Steinke for alerting me to this comic book, as he and his brother Justin are like me and love to read and discover new horror comics as they are true comic book readers and fans. And now I am going to sound like a broken record as I take a moment to say this to filmmakers who are making horror films…why in the world are you guys not making comic books based on your films to help promote your fright flick? Really this is something that needs to come back full force from our past. Heck, movies like Giant Spider Invasion, The Willies, Sleepstalker, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Babysitter Massacre, Human vs. Zombies and so many more have comics, why not your film…think about it. Well the air is turning bone chilling as Halloween is coming up, so I think we will be next taking a look at a shot-on-video film series called SNIX that was created by James Rolfe! So until next time, read a horror comic or three, watch a horror movie or two and as always, support your local horror host! See you next time for the SNIX pack challenge.

The Undead Files: Isle Of The Dead

So as crazy as this sounds, I decided to cover the promo comic for the PC Game “Isle Of The Dead” and bump “Batman Nosferatu” to another update in the future. When I was growing up, my parents got a computer, and while from time to time we could use it, playing games on it was few and far and mostly I would play SkiFree, Free Cell or Minesweeper, all super classic games for PC Gaming. And then some time later, my brother bought himself a computer that he planned on using for college class projects as he was about to graduate high school and had plans of becoming a schoolteacher. Along with the computer that was rocking Windows 95 and had both a CD Rom and diskette drive, he bought a printer and a hand scanner and this opened the door for us to play a ton of PC Games. What was very cool was that my brother allowed me as well to get on the computer to play games or even get online via AOL. My brother’s PC opened the world of classic PC Horror Games for me and that is why we will be taking a look at one of those games and a promo comic that came with the game for this countdown to Halloween 2020 update! So if you are ready, let’s visit the world of Isle Of The Dead and see if we can survive the hordes of the undead! Oh and I do want to warn you that some of the gifs used on this update do have some disturbing imagery, so keep that in mind as you read on.

Isle Of The Dead was developed by Rainmaker Software and released by Merit Software in 1993 for PC and was a first person adventure survival horror game. Rainmaker Software was a very short-lived game developer who besides Isle Of The Dead only had one other game under their belt, the 1995 game “Nerves Of Steel” that was a war game that played much like Isle. The creators behind this game were A. Sean Glaspell along with Myk Friedman, Bryan Kelsch and Bruce J. Mack, and they wanted to bring a story driven hack slash game to gamers that was very much inspired by comic books. The game had music done by Scott Loehr and was shown off at the 1993 Consumer Electronics Show, and even at one point a port was made and ready to go for release on the Atari Jaguar home console, but was cancelled before being unleashed. The game was massacred by reviewers as it was getting mostly low scores with Dragon Magazine giving it a 0 out of 5 stars and PC Joker giving it a 38%. To this day YouTube gamers are still giving the game poor reviews. Most of the complaints about the game were the sloppy game play, the repetitive music, the goofy gore and the lack of real direction of where you are and what you are doing. But while for many, the game is in their Top 100 Worst Classic PC Games, it has also found cult classic status as many enjoy the cheesy nature of the game, and I am proud to say that I am one of those who grew up playing it and loving it! The game was not only released on diskette but also on CD. I think that the game was harshly panned by many reviewers is because it followed in the shadow of other first person games like Wolfenstein 3D and even Doom was released in late 1993…and because of this Isle Of The Dead was just lost in shuffle. While Isle Of The Dead never got a sequel or an official remake, I will say that a game series that I feel that could be connected to it is “Dead Island” that first started in 2011 for home consoles like PS3 and Xbox 360. While it’s not really connected, at least the undead island video game adventures lived on with it.

My Brother Bryan and I would look for PC games at a local used media shop (that we both ended up working for later) called “Replay Media,” and I can remember him buying games like “Doom II”, “You Don’t Know Jack”, “Plan Nine From Outer Space” and even one that was trivia and movie reviews that was made by Blockbuster Video. I on the other had remember having games based on “X-Men”, “Tom and Jerry” and an amazing one called “WaxWorks.” We would also hit thrift stores and that’s were my brother found Isle Of The Dead and with it being a horror game, we knew we had to buy it. The edition he had was the four diskettes version and came in a very cool big box and had the comic book in it as well. I can remember that when my brother first played it, he was not that impressed with the first person horror shooter, and when it was my turn to play, I can remember I was confused on what the heck I was doing and where I was suppose to go…and even with these frustrations…we both kept playing the game over time and each time we would get a little further and figure out the puzzles and traps. Of course once technology changed and we upgraded to bigger and better PC’s, the day and age of DOS Diskette games faded away into the background, but for some reason Isle Of The Dead always stuck with me from the simple game play, to the story of an island filled with zombie and even the music that plays throughout the game have always been something I looked back on fondly. I look back at my days sitting in my brother’s room near a window trying my best to figure out and beat Isle Of The Dead very fondly, and I have no shame in saying…I never beat the game as it would crash so many times and when not crashing I just found myself wandering around. Over all, I wish I could play Isle Of The Dead again…and just maybe I can one day on my Mac laptop!

Now let’s talk about the baddies that make up the Isle Of The Dead!! The main brains behind the horrors you face is a Mad Scientist who is evil and who seems to enjoy having the island filled with the undead and chasing off anyone foolish enough to step foot on it. He also is holding a woman hostage and is super dastardly. The island is filled with tons of flesh eating zombies that range from the mutated, female, fatty with guts out, cub scout kid zombie and of course muscle bound surfer dude zombie! Also around are massive killer bats that stalk around the caves. So as you can see, the Isle Of The Dead is filled with so many terrors that all want you dead!

I almost forgot to talk about the game’s hero, Jake Dunbar, the lone survivor of a bad plane crash that leaves all his fellow passengers dead! Jake is a man who just wants off the island and wants to survive the onslaught of the undead that appear and want him dead. Jake is a hero as well as when he finds out that the Mad Scientist has a woman held captive, and he knows he must rescue her before he escapes the island. Jake is armed with two kinds of shotguns as well as a machete in order to fight off the zombie horde and also must pick up items along the way to help in his journey. Jake Dunbar is a cool character, and while he does not have a huge back story, you get to know him and bond with him along the journey. One crazy thing about this game though, is if you quit the game this makes Jake kill himself…yeah super depressing way to end this hero’s life in this game.

So as you can see, Isle Of The Dead is a PC game that is not super popular, but over the decades has built up a cult following…I mean it’s such a indie game that when I was a teenager and many of my friends were PC Gamers, none of them had ever heard of this title, let alone played it! I also am very happy that I was able to track down a copy of the comic book to make this Countdown To Halloween 2020 and Undead File update possible. Plus I want to thank the Ebay seller for having this in stock and also letting me reread this after all these years. I want to remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you are ready, let’s head out into the isle and see what these zombies have in store for us.

Isle Of The Dead # 1  **1/2
Released in 1993   Cover Price $0.00     Rainmaker   # 1 of 1

Two brave pilots lose control of the plane and crash land on Nuwapu, and it leaves everyone dead onboard, well besides Jake Dunbar who was tossed out during the crash. Jake uses all the strength he has and passes out on the beach. After a while he wakes up and looks around the wreckage and finds a shotgun as well as a med kit and looks for whatever else he can find. While looking around Jake is attacked by a zombie and uses the shotgun to blow its head off, and then all scared and nervous he knows that he must find the villagers of the island and see if they can help him get off it! As Jake heads into the jungle, it’s clear that he is being watched and stocked by zombies! The comic ends with the question of if Jake will get off the island and if he will find out who the madman is who is creating the zombies.

This comic book does a great job of setting up the moments before the game takes place and even gives you a few hints of what to look for in the plane like the shotgun and med kit! The comic follows Jake Dunbar, a man who was a passenger on a plane that crashes on an island that is filled with zombies, traps and mysteries…and ends with the question of whether he will survive the island or be eaten alive! Jake is a hero that does not want to be a hero and is fighting his way through the jungle in order to survive and with the temptation of a pretty woman in distress (as seen in the game) he arms himself and becomes the hero he needs to be! The zombies are hungry for human flesh and are running on instinct to eat and consume. The comic has one massive gory moment that has a zombies head being blown off by a shotgun and it reminds me of so many of the indie zombie comics of the 90’s like The Dead, The Walking Dead and Dead World. The cover for this promo comic is great and very eye catching, but I will also say very lazy, as it’s just the box cover used for the game. The interior art is great and done by a uncredited artist and really does have a indie comic look to it and the art could be at home with companies like Aircel and Arrow. Over all this is a good short promo comic that does a good job of showcasing the PC Game it was made to promote. If you like Isle Of The Dead or indie zombie horror comics, track this one down and give it a read. Oh and I have to say, when reading this comic again after all these years, much of it came back to me. Check out the artwork below from the unknown artist and see what I mean that this art style would have been right at home at Aircel Comics in the 90’s.

Isle Of The Dead for me is up there with Doom and Wolfenstein as some of the most iconic first generation of first-person shooters released for the PC! And as I have said before, survival horror and just horror video games are things that I think about around Halloween time as I think everyone reading this update should at least play one horror video game this October. This year on the PS4 I have been playing “Zombie Army 4”, “World War Z”, “Predator: Hunting Ground” and “Blair Witch” all games that are super fun and have added to this year that has started off so badly with the virus crisis. For our next update, we are escaping the Isle and will be heading to the country to take a look at a killer warlock scarecrow that is from the 1995 direct to video movie “Night Of The Scarecrow”! So until next time, read a horror comic or three, play a horror video game or two and as always, support your local Horror Host. See you next update for a bloody good time down on the farm.

The One And Only Irwin Troll

Trolls are creatures that come from Norse Mythology and live in caves and or under rocks that are not friendly, stay to themselves and avoid interacting with humans. Trolls in modern folklore and media have taken on the personality traits of eating humans, being dim witted pranksters henchmen to evil beings, giants and keeper of bridges. In other words, Trolls are not nice creatures and are mythic monsters that have been around for centuries and that’s why our second update for our countdown to Halloween 2020 is about a troll that lives in the woods and roams around nature avoiding humans…and the troll we are talking a look at is one who is not mean and loves life and everything in it as this update is about Irwin Troll from the comic strip Broom-Hilda. So while this one is by no means scary nor a Horror Comic, it is one that needs to be done, so sit back relax and enjoy this quick and fun update.

Russell Myers was born in 1938 in Pittsburg, Kansas but was raised in Oklahoma and had a pretty normal childhood. Russell had a talent for drawing and tried to come up with comic strips to be picked up for syndication in newspapers and could not get his big break. In 1960 he started working for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, Missouri where he drew greeting cards, and all the while he never gave up his dream of being a comic strip artist. In 1964 Russell married Marina, and they have two children that are son Stewart and daughter Rosie. While talking to writer Elliott Caplin, the brother of Lil’Abner artist and creator Al Capp, Myers got an idea for a strip called Broom-Hilda. The pair worked on the idea, and in 1970 they got the stripped and picked up for paper syndication! The first Broom-Hilda strip was printed on April 19, 1970 in the Chicago Tribune Syndicate. In 1975 Russell received the National Cartoonists Society’s Best Humor Strip Award. And while the strip is not at popular as it once was, it still does live on in some papers as well as on weekly comic strips on its official website. I myself want to thank Russell Myers for delivering comic strips and characters I grew up reading in paperback books that I would find at second hand bookstores and garage sales.

Irwin Troll is a purple skinned short troll that is covered in hair who lives in the world of Broom-Hilda. He is not very smart, is fun loving, respects nature and has a great sense of humor making him a lovable character. Irwin cares so much for animals and even has a pet rock that he cares for, has a horde of butterflies that act as his bodyguards not to mention he also watches over his jerky nephew Nerwin who is a handful. His best friends are the witch Broom-Hilda as well as talking and walking bird man named Gaylord Buzzard. One aspect about Irwin Troll that makes him so likable is the fact that he is always happy and seems to see the best in all life. Growing up reading the paperback books of Broom-Hilda, the one character I always liked was Irwin Troll so I am very much looking forward to reading this book again as it really has been decades since I have read a Broom-Hilda comic strip or book. Also did you know that Irwin Trill and his friends also appeared in some animated cartoons? Check out below to see what Irwin Troll looks like and get the vibe of this fun loving guy.

Like all classic comic strip characters, Broom-Hilda and her cohorts have also gotten their fair share of merchandise that includes not only paperback books but also stuffed dolls, Halloween costumes, drinking glasses, patches and even got a cartoon series! While Irwin was in the books, cartoon and had a plush doll, he sadly did not get a patch or a Halloween costume. Growing up I had lots of the paperback books and would have loved to have one of the drinking glasses and the stuffed dolls of Irwin.

So as you can see, Irwin Troll is not a spooky character and is more of a cute fun one. I do think he makes for a very silly Halloween countdown update topic! As I have said before, I have not read a Broom-Hilda strip or paperback in decades and remember liking them back in my youth so it will be interesting to see if they humor and characters hold up for me still in 2020. Plus will Irwin Troll still be my favorite character of the series? I want to say I only chose one of the paperbacks to cover as only one of the book series was all about Irwin Troll. I also want to thank the vendor at the Heart Of Ohio Antique Mall for having this book in stock for only $2.00! I want to remind you that I grade this comic on a 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 are ready to travel to the woods on a troll hunt, let’s see what fun times Irwin has in store for us.

Irwin Troll # 1  ***
Released in 1976     Cover Price .95     Tempo Books   # 5 of ?

This book is tons of one-page stories featuring the one and only Irwin Troll having silly and fun adventures! So while I cannot cover each one I will select 10 of my favorite strips in no real order. The first one has Irwin getting ready to take a shower and when he turns it on one massive water drop falls comes out and is hard as a rock and crushes him, and he explains he needs to get some water softener. Second has Irwin Troll and Broom-Hilda using an Ouija Board in the woods calling on a spirit and when one answers it turns into a joke about Lawrence Welk. The third is has Broom-Hilda being upset that she is not losing weight, when Irwin Troll walks by and says that she can not lose weight because even fat doesn’t want to die! The silly fourth strip I enjoyed was Irwin at a movie theater with Broom-Hilda and Gaylord Buzzard, when Irwin asks Gaylord if he is against noise pollution and when he says yes Irwin hands him a soaking wet bag of popcorn and informs him that is why he watered down his snack! The fifth strip I liked has Irwin sitting hear flowers talking to them and saying he will be there all night if need be and shows us readers that he is staying up with a sick flower seed, this one really does capture the amazing and caring nature of Irwin Troll. The sixth strip has Irwin talking with Broom-Hilda about how his father lost everything in the crash of 1929, and when Broom-Hilda asks him how did his father deal with it Irwin claims that he acted like an adult as he could build up his comic book collection again! The seventh one I enjoyed has a armed robber with panty hose on his head pulling a gun to rob Irwin Troll who walks past him unafraid and claims why should he be scared of a man who wears his socks on the wrong end, as clearly he would not know how to use a gun. The eighth strip for me has Irwin Troll standing in front of a sign that is for his zoo that will cost you .50 to see, and when Broom-Hilda pays the admittance she finds out the zoo is really just Irwin in a cage. What I selected for ninth strip has Irwin talking to Broom-Hilda about how there is a food price hike and that the government saying growing your own food is a great idea, but he is worried as his pork, beef and chicken has not grown in his planted garden. And for the tenth and final strip I picked has Irwin looking in the mirror placing oil in his hair and running a comb through it, we next see Irwin with hair like Johnny Cash who claims that this is the only way to listen to country music records as his player plays.

Revisiting the world of Broom-Hilda was lots of fun and reliving stuff like this is why I do these updates at Rotten Ink, and after revisiting as well I can say that Irwin Troll still is hands down my favorite character from this comic strip. This paperback book has each page filled with its own gag and each and everyone of them in this book features Irwin Troll in all his hairy glory, and as well does a great job of showing Broom-Hilda and Gaylord Buzzard. In the book Broom-Hilda is nice to Irwin about 40% of the time and its clear that while she is annoyed with him she still values his friendship. And that’s the thing about Broom-Hilda she is pretty mean at times and almost seems like she gets joy in hurting people that cross her on bad days. Gaylord Buzzard is wise and seems to be close to both Broom-Hilda and Irwin Troll, and I would say its clear I think he is Broom-Hilda’s best friend. Irwin’s pet rock, bodyguard butterflies and even other nature items are all his friends and help watch out for him, besides the sun who burns him when the troll wants to be his friend. Irwin Troll in this book does the right thing at all times and while he does make some silly decisions, his heart is always in the right place. The humor in the book is very silly, and while very dated, I do think people in their 40’s and older will enjoy it and get some of the very dated jokes. I do think that most of the humor would fall flat for younger kids of today. The cover for this book is great and had Irwin Troll standing in flowers while the back cover has a flower goosing his butt! The art by Russell Myers is fantastic classic Sunday Comic classic style art and is really fun and cartoony. So if you grew up enjoying Broom-Hilda comic strip or just enjoy the Sunday Funnies, give this paperback book and all the others in the series a read, as they are a true blast. Check out the art below to see the style of Russell Myers and behold its comic strip glory.

So as you can see, Irwin Troll and the world of Broom-Hilda are a kid friendly read for people of all ages and delivers fun characters and cheesy humor. For our next update we are leaving the safe forest world of Irwin Troll and will be heading to a world that combines both DC Comics and Silent Horror Movies as our topic is Batman Nosferatu! So until next time, read a comic strip or three, watch a Troll Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. Hope you are ready for Count Orlok vs. The Dark Knight!

Talk Back: The Morton Downey Jr. Show – Slasher Films

In the 1980’s talk shows, both daytime and nighttime, were all the rage as names like Phil Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael, Geraldo Rivera, Arsenio Hall, David Letterman, Johnny Carson and Oprah Winfrey all hosted must-watch shows TV for viewers. Each covered topics that the masses cared about like celebrities, racism, devil worship, gay rights, wrestling, scandals, horror movies, heavy metal music, teens dressing weird, serial killers and everything in-between. While thinking of what kind of subjects I wanted to cover for my Made For TV updates, I knew that late night and day time talk show episodes had to be talked about as they were shows I grew up watching and have good memories of some of the over the top topics! When selecting the first talk show host and episode to showcase, many came to mind and Geraldo Rivera was always in the lead as his show was always my favorite and some of his episodes are ones that are blog worthy for sure! But I made the choice to cover an episode of The Morton Downey Jr. Show as I really think he was the true start of trash TV when it comes to talk shows and was Jerry Springer long before over the top antics and overly sleazy TV was cool. So for my first every “Talk Back” update here at Rotten Ink, I have decided to cover a Morton Downey Jr. Show that I feel captures the true nature of the show as well is a topic I am interested in back then and still am now and that’s Slasher Films! That’s right the topic, I will be covering is about the 80’s boom of Horror Films that not only flooded theaters but also the video store shelves. So this will not only be my first Talk Back update but will also be my first update in my countdown to Halloween! So let’s sit back and Zip It with this first update in my Talk Back theme.

Sean Morton Downey was born on December 9, 1932 in Los Angeles, California to parents Morton Downey who was a popular singer in the 1920’s-1930’s, who was given the nickname The Irish Nightingale, and mother Barbara Bennett who was an actress known for her roles in films like Black Jack from 1927 and Syncopation from 1929. Downey was raised rich and lived a good life even attending college at New York University. In the 1950’s he started work in radio, first as an announcer and program director and then became a disc jokey where he started perfecting his snarky attitude and take no prisoners rants. Around this time as well Downey tried his hand at becoming a singer songwriter and recorded such songs as Green Eyed Girl that charted on Billboard reaching # 95! While he was not a popular singer, he was a solid one that showed he did get some of his father’s talent.

Downey was a loose cannon, and by the mid 80’s he had been fired by and avoided by radio stations. Also in 1980 Downey made a bid for the President as a Democrat; he was not selected but he did stay active in politics for a short time hosting Pro Life rallies. In 1987, Downey decided to try his hand at TV and started a show called the “Morton Downey Jr. Show” that started on local New York/New Jersey station WWOR-TV and by 1988, the show went into syndication and became a very controversial late night talk show, and made the phrase “Zip It” popular in the vernacular of viewers.

His rise came fast and hard, as viewers seemed to not be able to get enough of his in your face style of talk show hosting and this lead to him getting appearances on TV Shows and even Movies…and even more crazy is the fact that his own peers in the world of Talk Shows seemed to be puzzled to why people enjoyed his show. On his show, Downey covered all types of taboo topics of the time, and he played two sides against each other and would be rude to everyone by playing devil’s advocate during most shows. But because of his type of hosting, many stations got worried about airing the show and sponsors as well were reluctant to advertise during it…and this was the beginning of the end for it! In 1989, Morton Downey Jr. also recorded another album this time based around his show, during that same year Downey was “attacked” in the bathroom at the San Francisco International Airport by neo-nazi’s who held him down tried to shave his head and painted a swastika on his face….this was looked at as a fake incident that Downey fabricated in order to help his falling ratings.

On September 15, 1989 the show came to an end and as fast as he rose to power, he just as fast crashed and burned. After the show was gone and his star fading, he filed for bankruptcy in 1990, but still took small roles in films like Revenge Of The Nerds III, Body Chemistry II and Meet Wally Sparks to name a few. Things got worse for Downey as in 1996 he was diagnosed with lung cancer from years of chain smoking, and this made the pro smoker change his stance on cigarettes and he spent years trying his best to warn others of its dangers. But sadly on March 12, 2001 Morton Downey Jr. passed away from pneumonia and lung cancer. While in modern times Morton Downey Jr. and his show are almost forgotten, his legacy of “take no crap” hosting style lives on with shows like Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos. Plus for those readers who want to know more about Morton Downey Jr., there have been books written by him as well as a documentary movie made about his life, so check those out as well.

Growing up I can remember the craziness that was The Morton Downey Jr. Show as my parents disliked him lots. I can remember my Mom always saying that he was a jerk to his guests and that she didn’t understand why people watched his show…this of course made me and my brother more curious about it and even made us watch a few episodes from time to time. I can also remember him being parodied in MAD and Cracked Magazine. But for me the main reason I knew who Morton Downey Jr. was came from WWF WrestleMania V that took place in 1989 when the loud mouth Downey Jr. came face to face with Rowdy Roddy Piper on the set of Piper’s Pit! In this segment while Piper tried to interview Downey kept smarting off and blowing cigarette smoke into the face of the wrestler, and finally Piper asks for a cigarette of his own and when Downey is lighting it up, Piper gets a fire extinguisher and blasts Downey several times in the face with it! As Downey flops around on the mat, Piper seems to be enjoying himself. This was 100% classic old school WWF wrestling and showcased that Roddy Piper was the man when it came to putting celebrities in their places when they entered the squared circle. I also growing up enjoyed Morton Downey Jr. as Tony Pope a loud mouth journalist in the 1990 Sci-Fi/Horror Movie Predator 2, and this role was perfect for him!

One thing about Morton Downey Jr. is the fact he loved drama and pushing boundaries as well as pushing the buttons of guests and viewers. And many of these style episodes will be the ones we will cover here on my “Talk Back” update and the one I choose to start with is the episode were Morton Downey Jr. talks about Slasher Films and their impact on viewers. So I am not going to give this Talk Show a star rating nor a grade, but instead I am going to just break down the episode from commercial break to commercial break and discuss the topic and mood of the guests and audience on hand. I want to thank my brother Bryan for getting me this copy of the show for this update, and now I must Zip It so we can get to this classic episode of the Morton Downey Jr. Show.

Morton Downey Jr. Show: Slasher Films
With: Michael Berryman & Rick Sullivan       Topic: Movie Violence     1989

Morton Downey Jr. starts the episode off wearing a Freddy Kruger glove and mask and tells the viewers about how Horror Movies are super popular, and then asks the question if they know what kind of films their kids are renting from the local video store…he then says Slasher Horror Movies are the night’s topic and we are treated to his overly cheesy theme song as well as the amazing graphics of him that go along with it. The crowd already seems hot and ready for some arguments and extreme debates.

Morton starts off with his big white teethed grin and pulls out his pack of cigarettes and warns parents that in this episode they will be showing clips from slasher films, and warns that some of the weaker stomached viewers may puke! He then introduces us to his first two guests, John Anastasio, a film critic, and Rick Sullivan, who works for Gore Gazette and claims slasher films are “Cotton Candy For The Mind.” After asking Rick a question, Morton quickly cuts him off to show a clip of “Last House On The Left” by Wes Craven, and then asks Rick what he finds so sweet about the clip that showed a young woman being stabbed. Rick takes up for the film and says that most viewers go to see the state of the art effects, and to watch the villains get theirs in the end when John adds his two cents in claiming that all the viewers really go to these movies for is the blood and gore that rots the viewers’ minds and hearts, and the crowd goes crazy cheering him on.

Morton then asks the question that while kids cannot see these films in theaters, they can however rent them from Video Rental Stores, and both Rick and John agree that the same rules should be held at both to not allow kids to view these films without a parent’s permission, But then John turns it around to that no one should watch these films all the while Morton is making jokes about his ex-girlfriend and then asks Rick about Good beating Evil in these films. Rick says that everyone knows in the last reel good will win and that kids love these films because people like John tell them not to, and compares it to Rock N Roll Music.

Morton then brings out an issue of Rick’s magazine with a graphic image on the front and John spins it around to his other issue with Slasher films being the sex and degrading nature of women in the films. Morton stands up for the magazine and Horror when he claims there is nothing sexual about the image on the cover! Morton then asks if films like Cannibal Holocaust should be used to teach people about good and evil, and John says no movies like the Star Wars Trilogy and Universal Monster Movies Dracula and Frankenstein should be uses as it shows good beating evil without blood and extreme violence, Morton says to him in Frankenstein good did not prevail over evil as you are set as the viewer to feel bad for The Monster. And with that Morton brings in our first commercial break.

I must say that in this first segment I am shocked about how Morton does a great job of being down the middle for the most part, but does seem to be more on the side of the Slasher films as he points out more of what he dislikes about what John is saying as he comes off really bad as a snotty film critic who thinks his opinion is what matters. Meanwhile Rick Sullivan is pretty well spoken and is clearly a true fan of Horror Movies as he is ready to debate to stand up for the genre he loves. The crowd is also mixed, but so far seems to be more on the side of John thinking these films are trash cinema, with only a small amount cheering for the Slasher flicks…in fact, the crowd while cheering at times are pretty tame for now with only a few outburst of laughing at the guests. So far I would say the mood is pretty tame and Morton is doing a great job of keeping the topic fast paced and entertaining.

When back from the commercial the crowd is yelling and cheering as Morton next welcomes actor Michael Berryman to the show who is the star of films like The Hills Have Eyes, and they show a clip from the film. Also on stage is Feminist Paige Mellish who is against pornography and claims that Slasher Films have studies done about them that prove men want to attack women more after watching them. The crowd does not like her statements.

Michael comes back and says that if people find the sick actions of what happens in horror movies sexual then they are unbalanced people, and he does not make films that promote that kind of thoughts. The Crowd loves what Michael says and he gets a loud cheer and a few laughs at his jokes about dates jumping into your arms during Horror Movies in the theater. Paige then comes back and claims that all the violence in these films is sexualized and says a quote from serial killer Ted Bundy and the link of sex and violence before he was “killed” when Morton says he was not killed, he was executed and goes on to call Bundy a liar and slime!

Paige is un-phased and sticks by the statement that Horror Movies and violence toward women go hand and hand, Rick is asked if Slasher Films and his Magazine are pornographic and he says they are not, when John points out the Gore Gazette code that links some sex to the films…Rick claims it’s taken out of context. Because of this Rick and John start to go back and fourth over the topic, and Michael chimes in that even TV Shows have rotten moments and Morton once more cuts a joke acting like the actor was going to say his show, as Rick and John still go back and fourth with John saying his magazine is garbage!

Morton comes into the argument and says the magazine is sold to 17 and up, and they are adults and no one needs to be their censors, when Paige chimes in that its adult males that attack women when Morton brings up a case of a woman who was attacked an put into a coma by teenagers in New York. Paige agrees but goes back to saying men who watch horror attack women, and Morton cuts her off and takes us to our next commercial break.

Once more I will have to say Morton does a pretty good job of walking the line between the two sides, but it is clear he sides slightly more with the Slasher fans as he hates the fact John is talking censorship and Paige is on a role that all horror is porno! Plus I love how Morton gets worked up over Ted Bundy and runs the psycho’s name through he mud and back again. Michael Berryman comes of well spoken and funny, as Paige Mellish seems really hung up on the “facts” that horror and adult films and crime go hand and hand, and that’s crazy talk. I think Paige really chose the wrong talk show to get her message out as the crowd does not like what she is saying nor does the host. Watching Rick and John go back and fourth is lots of fun, and I almost wish it would have gone on longer as John clearly was getting annoyed as he sunk so low to trash another guests magazine. The crowd is having a blast with this topic as they seem to be laughing, cheering and booing all the while with grins on their faces, so far a solid episode for Morton as he is handling the topic at hand really well.

Morton comes back and welcomes guest Doug Harpool, a representative from Missouri who wants to pass a law that makes it illegal to rent rated R movies to minors and talks about how he heard about a 12 year old and his friends renting Slasher movies from the video store and his parents being so upset about it.

His next new guest is Tony Timpone of Fangoria Magazine who says to him the government should not be stepping in and saying what kids can and can’t watch as the video store should regulate themselves and not be forced by the government. Morton says that Video Stores will not do that as he compares it to the lewd acts that happen at adult video stores and says the regulation needs to happen with the people who make the movies, and Tony disagrees and says it should be up to the person if they want to watch the movie or not, and that parents should be the ones who step in with their own kids and decide if they should be watching the movie or not. Morton mocks him for this statement and acts like parents cannot be everywhere to look into everything that their kids like or want to do, and before Tony can respond, the crowd cheers for Morton’s snarky response.

Paige quickly jumps in with a law that was being drawn up that is about if victims of a terrible crime can prove that a film is what caused the crime, the company who put out the film can be sued. Morton laughs that off and says the it would never pass the Supreme Court, and many of the guest get riled up over this as both sides clash. Doug Harpool takes up for his bill and says the government has had to step in on many issues when it comes to what kids can read and watch and that times are hard as many families have both parents working, leaving kids alone to make decisions. As Paige talks more about adult males hurting women, Tony screams about kids liking Horror Movies! John chimes in after Morton asks him about if he caught his child watching “I Spit On Your Grave” about how he would react, and Michael Berryman chimes right in with you need to talk with your kid and about it!

John then admits he has never even watched a full Slasher film from start to finish, and Rick lets him have it.  Paige once more starts in on adult men watching these films and attacking women and her study facts, and Morton once more just goes past her claims. Doug Harpool talks about the laws on what type of films would be off the books for kids from the Horror genre and says his bill would not block kids from seeing Slasher films – they could with a parent renting it for them.

John does not like what he hears and starts to go after Morton for saying that parents cannot always see what their kids are watching, as Morton once more says how can they when many worth 10-12 hours a day and that both parents have to work now because of mistakes of the government. John says it’s a matter of money or being there to make sure your kids grow up right. Paige starts on adult males and Ted Bundy talk again when Rick screams “Oh come off it with The Ted Bundy…are you in love with him or something?” And Morton takes us to the next commercial break.

This part of the show is a little more heated as I think Rick and Tony are very much sick of the Slasher film bashing. John clearly has zero clue on what he is protesting and Doug Harpool and Michael Berryman chime in when needed as Paige just babbles about Ted Bundy and crimes done by adult males. At this point of the show it’s also more clear that Morton is stirring the pot and getting both sides worked up against each other and playing up to his audience. And it’s clear both sides of the argument are just ignoring the words of Paige who almost seems like a broken record at this point. The crowd was loving all the back and fourth, and this segment showcases the true nature of Talk Shows being trash TV, and it’s amazing.

Morton welcomes us back, and he has a new guest filmmaker Dave Juskow, who made the indie Cannibal Slasher Musical film “Splatter Girls.” They show a clip, but not before Morton takes a few shots at the film and its production. After the clip the crowd boos, as they clearly did not like what they saw and some shout that it was stupid as Paige enters the talk and brings up more violence against women as Dave looks annoyed.

Morton asks an audience member what she would do if her kid brought Splatter Girls home, and she responds she would throw it away and Morton once more pokes fun at the film. Tony tries to take up for the film saying its no more violent then a cartoon, as Paige again talks about adult male violence against women and Dave gets worked up and pushes Paige off the microphone. Morton asks why he has an upside down baby for an earring, as Dave and Paige go back and fourth about Horror films and if it pushes toward real life acts of violence against women. Morton once more corrects her and says teens also do bad crimes and Michael Berryman says that people who do these acts should be thrown in jail.

Morton asks would Splatter Girls fit in the bill that Doug Harpool wants to pass about video rentals and he says yes. Tony quickly tries to win the crowd back with a statement about what would you rather have your kids doing smoking crack or watching Horror Movies. The crowd as started to turn on some of the Pro Horror Guests as Dave has come off as a loud mouth wise guy punk. As he starts saying kids should be able to watch these movies with no restrictions, the crowd boos him loudly and Morton asks if kids should be able to watch snuff films or even a fake snuff film? Dave says they should not watch a real one but a fake one is okay. Morton then takes us to a commercial break.

Wow, while Michael Berryman, Tony Timpone and Rick Sullivan have done a good job defending Horror Movies and their fans, indie filmmaker Dave Juskow undid all their hard work by coming off as a cartoon parody of a punk rocker indie horror movie maker with his dumb responses and goofball faces. It feels that Dave’s whole function on being in this episode was so the producers could show a stereotype of what mainstream media and critics thought all horror fans was like. Morton again is clearly just stirring the pot and getting the guests and the crowd to feel more emotions from his questions and the answers given. Poor Paige really is this episode’s punching bag as she has a one-track mind and the crowd and the guests are sick of hearing it. A good segment this was even, if Dave made Splatter fans look like goofs.

With this part of the show, Morton opens up the microphones to his audience and lets them talk about their thoughts on the topic of Slasher Films being a bad influence on those who watch them and kids.

Paige gets into with a guy in the audience about males being the attackers in crimes against females as he points out most crimes against other males are done by males. As a female member of the audience goes off on Dave about him saying that kids should be able to watch any of these types of films. She said when she was twelve she was able to get into an R rated movie at the cinema and she thinks that it was wrong. Tony asks how it affected her and the crowd is getting worked up as all sides are trying to make points and counter points against each other with Morton playing devil’s advocate in the middle. One audience member who is against Slasher films starts to talk about Child’s Play and says that the killer is a little kid with a knife named “Charlie” once more proving that the haters of Horror have never really watched these films and just want to jump on the hater train, and they compare kids with guns to them renting Horror films. The sides are split as Morton goes to our final commercial break.

With the audience now joining the debate the tensions are growing as both sides are super passionate about why they hate or love Slasher films and as always Morton plays both sides as he takes up for them and also trashes them. Both sides make good points and both sides as well make some eye rolling points, with the young woman who was allowed to go into a theater to see an R rated film being very well spoken and a true New Yorker…I think they should have given her a talk show. A very quick portion of this Hot Topic of the 80’s themed show and helped both sides get their message out to home viewers.

Morton ends the show  asking why the side for Slasher films are for it, but before an audience lady answers, she takes a shot at Paige for saying these films are what causes attacks on women, with a gentleman from the none-fans speaking against them as he brings up that kids emulate and look up to what they see on the TV and that kids should not be watching Horror Movies, the Slasher fans saying parents need to teach their kids and make the judgment call on what their kids watch. The sides go back and fourth on kids watching Horror Films, and Morton once more clashes with Dave Juskow who still thinks kids should be able to watch all types of Horror Movies.

In the end Morton takes a shot at Tony Timpone for not wanting ratings on direct to video films and calls him “Uncle Barney” and implies that he would do things with kids before running off and ending the show as the crowd and guests clap and cheer and Tony looks annoyed.

This last segment is pure audience member arguing with audience member with the guests chiming in and Morton lurking around. For me the whole show the Horror Fans make more sense and are correct in that parents should be parents and that not all who enjoy and love these films are weirdos looking to commit crimes against young ladies. I do think Morton Downey Jr. does a great job of handling this topic and while he does take a few shots at the guests who are pro Horror, it’s clear he is more on their side even if its only by a little. The one thing that Morton did that was a cheap shot is the joke he makes about one time Fangoria Magazine worker Tony Timpone as it was uncalled for and then he runs off with the microphone not allowing him to respond as he had to stand their with an annoyed smile on his face as the show ends.

Over all a great episode and one that’s topic is something I am very interested in. Also I really want to say that I am not sure if Dave Juskow was a director and producer of Horror Movies as youcan not find anything about his film Splatter Girls and its very strange they let his clip go on for longer then the others, you almost get a feeling that he and the film could be fake or he maybe he was just a shot on video filmmaker who never made it.

I grew up on watching Horror Movies as the classic Universal Monsters, Godzilla and King Kong were films that I could not get enough of, and thanks to many Horror Hosts like Commander USA and Grampa Munster and shows like USA Up All Night and Saturday Nightmares, I was introduced to so many other types of Horror and Cult Cinema. And with rental stores, the doors to these films opened even wider and helped grow my love for the genre and introduced me to so many Slasher films. And while I have seen films like A Nightmare On Elm Steet, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday The 13th and Trick Or Treat at a young age none edited, I have never had a notion to go out and do a terrible crime. I mean sure, I have had my fair share of fist fights and arguments, but I have never grabbed a rubber mask and a knife and stalk people in the night. And that’s because from a very young age I was taught by my parents that you can not do the things you see in movies or on wrestling to other people as that would hurt someone and was not right…you see, I have fantastic parents who took time with me to shape my creative mind and also really put me on a path to understand the difference between fantasy and reality, right from wrong and respect. I take the stand that if your kid was like me growing up and a monster kid who is into horror movies, let them watch them and teach them they are fantasy and that it’s not ok to mimic what they see in any film, TV or Sports Entertainment! Just my quick two cents on this topic as I for one loved Horror Movies as a kid and still love them to this day.

I hope you enjoyed this first “Talk Back” update as I had a blast writing it, and to be honest I as well hope you enjoyed this format for it as I think this is how these updates will end up looking on future update for Talk Back as well! Plus I feel that Slasher Films on Morton Downey Jr. Show was also a great way to kick off my countdown to Halloween 2020! And I should say with these Talk Back update, we will be covering some very fun stuff like Films, Music, Celebrities and Oddballs but we will also cover topics that are very serious like Murder, Racism, Religion and Politics, so please keep that in mind when our next one goes up in 2021. But for our next update we are walking away from Talk Shows and Slasher films and are heading to the forest that a witch roams around in…but she is not the topic the troll that wonders those woods named Irwin is! That’s right, we will be taking a look at Broom-Hilda’s Own Irwin Troll and the paperback comic made around him. So until next time read a comic or three, watch a Talk Show or two and as always support your local Horror Host. I cannot wait to chat about Irwin Troll, as he is a true icon of classic comic strips.

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: M (1931)

Greetings, everyone!  Juliet here once more taking the blog reigns from Matt temporarily.  Today I’m going to take you From Horror Film to Horror Comic with a look at a film that made a huge impact on me, both on its own and because of its influence on the larger world of filmmaking that came after it.  I’m talking about Fritz Lang’s M, a serial killer story that helped set the stage for so many of the movies we know and love and celebrate as classics today.  So let’s get to it with a look at the killer Hans Beckert.

When we first meet Hans Beckert, he appears as a shadow on the poster warning villagers of the child murderer in their midst.  Although his first line is seemingly innocent enough, telling Elsie he likes her ball and asking her name, it’s chilling — especially for those of us who grew up in the era of Stranger Danger.  Although we never see it in the film (one of the many awesome things about M is that the murders are up to the audience’s imagination), it’s implied that he stabs or butchers his victims, likely very brutally.  Among his advantages are Beckert’s ability to blend into society seemingly undetected until it’s too late, but being a mere man he’s subject to the same harm any man can fall victim to.  Beckert’s mental state is another weakness; it drives him to kill despite his realization that it’s wrong, which pushes him to near madness and helplessness.

Now that we’ve met the titular “M” from M, it’s time to look at the film itself.  The description will be taken from IMDB, and then I’ll follow with some production history and my own history with the film.

“In Berlin in the early 1930’s, children are being lured to their death by a psychopathic killer. In the space of a year, 8 children have been murdered. The police have redoubled their efforts to find the guilty man but have yet to find him and citizens are beginning to dispense their own justice on otherwise innocent people. The heads of the city’s criminal element are paying a high price due to the increased police presence and decide to find the psychopath on their own. They approach the beggars union to have their members blanket the city with spies. They’re successful in finding the killer and put him on trial in their own special court but the police make progress and have their own views on how justice should be administered.”

Dubbed the Master of Darkness by the British Film Institute, Austrian-born filmmaker Fritz Lang began writing some ideas for films when he was recovering from injuries and shell shock he sustained while serving in the Austrian army in WWI.  Once he was discharged from the army in 1918, Lang worked briefly as a writer before being hired as a director for Germany’s UFA.  The Expressionist movement was at its zenith, and Lang would quickly claim his place among its makers with his particular talent for combining the visual techniques of the movement with popular genre storytelling.  

In 1930, Lang announced that he was making a film called Mörder unter uns (Murderer Among Us), which was to be about a child murderer, but when he went to begin shooting, he was denied access to a shooting stage because the head of the studio, a Nazi himself, assumed based on the title alone that the film was meant to depict Nazis in a bad light.  However, when he found out what the film was actually about, Lang was given access to the stage. M would go through several other names before its simple title was adopted.  The film was shot in six weeks and featured real criminals as extras in many of the mob scenes.  

As with all of his films from this era, Lang co-wrote M with his then-wife Thea von Harbou.  As of part of his research for the film, Lang spent time in a German mental institution talking to serial killers including Peter Kürten, known as the Vampire of Düsseldorf, who many people thought was a direct inspiration for Peter Lorre’s character, Hans Beckert, though Lang denied that.

Prior to his casting in M, Lorre was a comedic actor, but it’s said that Lang had him in mind for the role of the killer in M while the film was still being scripted.  It began Lorre’s first starring role, though it also began a trend of the actor being type-casted as a villain that would follow him to Hollywood. 

M was also, and perhaps most notably, Fritz Lang’s first sound film.  Unlike other, sometimes disastrous first forays into sound, M’s soundtrack is complex featuring narration, off camera sound, and narrative silence to build suspense.  It’s much more in line with what modern audiences are accustomed to the the majority of the “talkies” of the era.  The sound element most people instantly remember from M, however, is the whistling.  Using the tune “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” Lang used an opera technique called leitmotif where a melody is associated with one character throughout the entire story. Fun fact: Peter Lorre couldn’t whistle so the whistling you hear in the film is Fritz Lang himself. 

Although M isn’t technically the first film to portray a serial killer (both The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Hitchcock’s The Lodger had already done so prior to M’s release in 1931), it’s considered by many to be the first official serial killer film in a lineage that includes Shadow of a Doubt, Psycho, and especially the boom of films in the late 80s and early 90s that includes Silence of the Lambs, Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer, and Manhunter.  It gets this distinction because of its exploration of the complicated psychology of serial killers (without straying too far into the sympathetic) AND the conditions of a society where serial killers can thrive, if only temporarily. M, along with Lang’s other German films, is also considered to be one of the films which helped pave the way for film noir, both in terms of storytelling and theme elements and in terms of visual style.  

I first saw M when I was in film school in the early 2000s.  Although I left that program and pursued another major after two years, one of the things for which I’m most grateful from that time was discovering the German Expressionist movement.  Although I was aware of a some of the films from the movement (Nosferatu being the most obvious choice) and I was already a fan of silent cinema, getting to really know the work that paved the way for some of my favorite historic and modern genres (horror, science fiction, and film noir) was amazing, Lang quickly emerged as my favorite director and the subject of several of my papers.  Although Metropolis remains my favorite of his films, M is just stunning.  It’s a long film (nearly two hours), but it’s filled with incredible angles and lightning that make you want to watch multiple times — for the story and for how the visuals help tell the story.  You really can see the technical throughline from M to some of Hitchcock’s more seminal work to film noir to the serial killer films of the 80s and 90s. It had actually been a while since I watched M all the way through, but upon rewatching it to prepare to write this blog, I found myself once more enchanted and excited by this film…and wanting to do a full Lang rewatch.

Before I dive into Fritz Lang’s entire film catalog, however, it’s time to dive into the 90s comic miniseries based on M. Thanks to Bell Book and Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these issues.  As usual, we grade these comics on a scale of 1 to 4 and look for how well the comics stay to the source material, their entertainment value and their art and story. So whistle an eerie tune, and let’s see how a tale of murder translate from the silver screen to the page.

M # 1  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $5.95   Arcane/Eclipse   #1 of 4

In a German town, children play and sing a playful yet cautionary song about a murderer who will chop you up if you’re not careful.  In a tenement, neighbors go about their days work.  One wishes the children wouldn’t sing “the murderer’s song,” while another says that as long as the children are singing, their parents know they’re safe.  While her mother sets the table for dinner, young Elsie plays outside with her ball and encounters a shadowy figure who compliments her on the pretty toy. Soon the town receives news of a new murder, and the police receive a letter from the murderer saying that he could be anyone among them.  The townspeople take this idea to heart as anyone perceived as behaving suspiciously is indicted by the mob.  Meanwhile the police are working through their official investigation, trying to figure out patterns among the clues to narrow the search and figure out who might fit the psychological profile of the killer.  The assumption, of course, is that the killer must be part of the town’s seedy underbelly. The denizens of said underbelly, however, are equally frustrated – the murderer on the loose is making it difficult for their usual criminal activity to go on undetected, and it’s scaring their children.  The crime lords discuss this while they await Schranker, who, upon his arrival, tells his colleagues that they have business to discuss. 

The first thing that struck me about this comic book adaptation of M is how of its era it is with art and layout styles feeling right at home with other dark/horror titles of the late 80s and early 90s, which would pave the way for companies like Vertigo a few years later. That said, I wish that the start of this book had richer coloring/shading.  Although beautiful, some of it felt too soft for a film that’s noted for its high key, pre-noir style lighting and use of shadows.  By and large this was a good, albeit abridged adaptation of the film’s opening in terms of the story itself, but as with the shading, it fell a little flat for me when it came to capturing the chilling intensity of Hans Beckert’s encounter with Elsie.  Perhaps it does go back to the shading, but the lack of real, substantive shadows for Beckert in those panels made that moment less effective. All told, however, the first issue of the adaptation makes me want to continue reading the series. The sparing use of color is something I’ll discuss in regards to one of the next issues as I want to see how it plays out further into the story.  Before we get to it, I want to note that this issue came with (or comes with if you’re lucky enough to get an intact copy) an tear out record featuring an original score composition to accompany the comic on the A side and “Hall of the Mountain King” on the B-side.

M # 2: Crackdown  ***
Released in 1990   Cover Price $4.95   Arcane/Eclipse   #2 of 4

Schranker calls the meeting of the crimelords to order saying that someone outside their union is making it impossible for their work of organized crime to continue.  As the criminal leaders of the community, they must do something about this interference. Meanwhile the police discuss how to enlist the public’s help in identifying a killer amongst them without inciting a mob.  Schranker and the crimelords make better progress with their plan, enlisting the beggars’ union to help keep watch on suspicious activities and individuals.  As they station a man on every street corner, the police go door to door investigating a list of individuals who’ve been released from mental hospitals in the last five years.  An officer arrives at the building of Hans Beckert, and after chatting with a neighbor, he searches Beckert’s Room for clues. Meanwhile Beckert himself is wandering the streets whistling, lost in his own torment. He focuses on a girl, presumably his next victim, but abandons that course of action when her friends arrive.  Instead, he stops in a small eatery for a coffee and brandy, but leaves just as quickly as visions of dead girls are everywhere he turns.  Beckert’s whistling tips off a blind beggar who had been vending balloons the day Elsie was killed, and a chain of actions is set into play resulting in a chalk M being placed on Beckert’s jacket to alert the criminal mob to give chase.  But Beckert’s would-be victim notices the chalk, and when she offers to clean it off, Beckert realizes he’s being watched.

One of the things that M the film does really well is that it uses crosscutting to juxtapose the crime lords and the police planning and beginning their respective investigations.  This issue of the comic portrays that really well with the tinting to clearly indicate each group being a nice visual touch. Like the first issue, however, there are also moments that fail to capture the magic of the film.  This time around it was the whistling scenes where Beckert is grappling with and being tormented by his need to kill. I get it – it’s hard to translate something that’s so sound-dependent into a strictly visual medium.  The other thing of note is Beckert doesn’t quite look like Peter Lorre; my guess is that was necessary/intentional because of likeness issues.  It’s not a huge problem as writer/artist Jon J Muth captures the feeling of the scene with the chalk M well, it’s just a bit of a disappointment as so much of what makes that and many other scenes in the film is Peter Lorre’s facial expressions and acting. I did really like the way the final scene of the issue was drawn.  The chase on top of the train is so iconic, both for its role in this film and for all of the imagery it begat in thrillers to come to, and I thought it translated well to the page.  

M # 3: The Hunting  ** 1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $4.95   Arcane/Eclipse   #3 of 4

Having lost Beckert during their chase in the train yard, the crime lords and their men are on the lookout and receive a tip that their suspect is hiding in the railroad’s office building.  Meanwhile the police have returned to Beckert’s apartment for a stakeout, having discovered several clues in their previous visit linking him to the killer’s letter.  Schranker and his men perform an elaborate scheme to gain entry to the railroad office building after it is closed and neutralize the building’s guards without triggering any of the automatic alarms that will alert the police.  They want Beckert for themselves and will go to great lengths to extract him from the building.  As the police read a letter meant for Beckert that casts doubt on him as the suspect, Schranker’s men seemingly have Beckert trapped, but one of the building’s night watchmen manages to trigger the alarm.  Schranker and his men only have mere minutes to flee the building with their prisoner.

Have I mentioned that M also has elements of a classic heist film?  Well it does, though the target of the heist is a murderer not jewels or riches.  This issue of the comic book focuses, by and large, on the “heist” section of the film, and while the pacing is pretty good, this is the first issue of this series where I wonder if someone who’s either never seen or isn’t super familiar with the film would understand everything going on at the beginning with Schranker’s men getting into and searching/breaking into various parts of the building.  The end of the issue, however, is super solid and the back and forth between the action and Beckert’s reactions as his pursuers get closer is really great. The action is coming to a head so let’s get to the conclusion of the film and comic. 

M # 4: The Trial  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $5.95   Arcane/Eclipse   #4 of 4

Franz is in police custody, one of the criminals left behind in the confusion at the railroad building.  The police are willing to let him go free as long as he provides them with information about who the criminals were looking for and where they’ve taken him.  The answer is that Beckert has been taken to an abandoned distillery building, which Schranker and his men are using as a kangaroo court.  As the trial gets underway, a near mad Beckert launches into an impassioned speech about how he didn’t ask for and can’t control his murderous urges but that all of the people trying him are criminals by choice.  The criminal acting as Beckert’s lawyer argues for mercy, but the mob is thirsty for justice and blood.  Before they can be satisfied, however, the police arrive and Beckert once more stands trial, this time in a legitimate courtroom, as the mothers of the murdered girls look on and lament not keeping a closer eye on their children.

In this conclusion to M, we see some larger deviation from the film in Beckert’s hallucinations of his victims.  Although this doesn’t appear in the film, it’s a nice addition given how much adaptation had to be done to Beckert’s monologue.  As for the monologue, I think it worked, but this was definitely the place where it was most noticeable that they weren’t using Peter Lorre’s likeness for Beckert.  Not only were his incredible facial expressions missing throughout, but in this issue Beckert looked almost like a young Johnny Depp, really placing us in the era in which the comic was made, not necessarily the film.  Overall, this series was a really solid adaptation of the classic film.  Did certain things get cut?  Of course.  Having just recently written a film adaptation for Sparkle Comics, I have a renewed appreciation for the choices that have to be made when translating a film to comic.  So I don’t begrudge Jon J Muth his choices.  I also don’t begrudge him the graphite artwork, which I didn’t love in the first issue but got used to by the end of the series.  It’s not the style I would choose for this story, but it was really lovely. See below for some examples.

 Although M the comic doesn’t quite do M the film justice, it’s still an interesting read and worth checking out for fans of the films, especially those who are also fans of late 80s/early 90s comics.  Speaking of the 80s and serial killers, for our next update, Matt will be exploring 80s talk show The Morton Downey Jr. Show with a special focus on the slashers episode.  So until then, read a comic or 3, revisit your favorite classic films, and stay safe.

Horror Host Icon: Captain Jolly Roger

The world of Horror Hosting, as you readers know, is made up of all types from broadcast giants to online superstars and sometimes even direct to home media warriors…and our subject for this update is one of the latter as this host went direct to DVD and as far as I know only lasted one episode and made a very tiny splash. The host I am talking about is Captain Jolly Roger and his show was Hell’s Drive-In, a quirky silly show. This update will be super fast paced as Captain Jolly Roger has a very short history of being a Horror Host, and while he was a blink and he was gone kind of Host, he still had his fans who enjoyed his antics. So while he might not be a full Icon, I feel he should at least get his time in the Horror Host spotlight so get ready as I bring you Horror Host Icon: Captain Jolly Roger, sit back relax and let’s go to the Drive-In with The Captain.

Captain Jolly Roger is pirate who wears eyeglasses, has long black hair, rocks a skull & crossbones bandanna and wears a pirate coat. He has a very dry delivery of his jokes and is slightly egotistical as he feels his viewers owe him respect for sailing and finding these movies he hosts. When not in his dungeon room hosting cheesy movies Captain Jolly Roger is sailing around the world to find more films to host. Jolly Roger also has a catchphrase that has him make his hand into a hook and he says “Arrr” like a true pirate. It’s also very clear that Jolly Roger enjoys Hosting movies and loves his show. Speaking of the show, Hell’s Drive-In started in 2006 and had one episode that went direct to DVD making the show also end in 2006. I like how Jolly Roger throughout his episode would try to con his viewers with a business scam as well as would try and get them to buy the products by his sponsors. While Jolly Roger was a Captain, he seems to only have one crew member that was a female voice who announced things for him a small amount of time. So while Captain Jolly Roger might have been a very short lived host, those that saw his episode enjoyed his Hell’s Drive-In presentation.

The man behind the Pirate Captain was J.D. Fugate, who was the director of independent horror movie “Brokeback Zombie” that was produced by his wife. In fact J.D. has worked on many different indie Horror Movies over the years and was a main stay at Cinema Wasteland Convention. Sadly I cannot find much more about J.D. Fugate, but I do believe he is based out of Indiana when he made Hell’s Drive In.

I am sure you’re asking, “How did you discover Captain Jolly Roger, Matt?” Well let me tell you – back in 2007, I was 28 and was always at Cinema Wasteland in Strongsville, Ohio selling Independent B Movie films at Andy Copp’s table and helping Dr. Creep film interviews for his show that sadly many never made it to air. And while at the convention on one of my breaks, I went shopping and stopped by the Hell’s Orphans Production table and found a DVD copy of the show thrown in their cheap bin, and seeing it I knew I had to watch it! One thing I have always loved is finding new Horror Hosts that I have never seen before and ones that flew under the radar of the mass viewing fans, and Captain Jolly Roger and his Hell’s Drive-In fit that bill. I laughed my butt off at the good old Captain’s dry and awkward delivery and over all really enjoyed the episode, and to me it’s a shame the show only lasted one episode as I would have liked to see what Jolly Roger had in store for us in further ones and what films he would have selected to bring to viewers. Plus I think that with more episodes Jolly Roger would have found his pacing as well as the true nature of himself. The Hell’s Drive-In DVD in 2020 is going to be super hard to find, but if you ever do find a copy on DVD or on a trade list, give it a watch. It’s far from amazing…but it’s still a part of Horror Host history.

So while writing this update I searched the seven seas as well as every abandoned drive-in theater I came across, and I found Captain Jolly Roger at one in parts unknown and lucky for us, he is willing to answer a quick 4 Questions! So sit back and relax, and let’s chat with the Captain!

Me: Welcome to Rotten Ink, Captain Jolly Roger. The first question for you is what Horror Host, if any, inspired you to become a Horror Host?

CJR: Arrrr when I was just a wee little boy there was no time for TV. I spend my days looking for gold. Only thing was I was landlocked in Indiana. How could a young lad like myself learn to be a pirate? It was the drive-in theaters that showed me what I really wanted to do. But by the time I grew to a man all the drive-in theaters were gone. Arrrrrr

Me: Very cool so it was the old drive-in theaters of Indiana that inspired you. Well my next question is how did Hell’s Drive-In come about?

CJR: Arrrr Hells’s Drive-In came about when I saw there was no pirates for a host at all. Arrr make me seasick. I had to do something or my name wasn’t captain Jolly Roger. So I busted open my chest of gold which was about $85 and went out and bought me a camera and set up to start filming Hell’s Drive-In.

Me: In 2006, the world did need a pirate Horror Host! So my next question for you Captain, is if you could pick any movie to host, what would it be?

CJR: Arrr more questions. When do I get me gold and ship is my question. Aye, but to host Ed Wood’s plan 9 From Outer Space would be a true dream come true. That Ed Wood knew a thing or two about making movies. Arrr He sleeps in Davy Jones locker now.

Me: Ed Wood is fantastic as is his cheesy classic film Plan 9! But my final question is what advice do you have for any future Horror Hosts reading this?

CJR: Arrr So you want to be a horror host also. Arrr No one could be a horror host like Captain Jolly Roger. You do better stay in below deck. Aye but if you did venture into it you need to look at what everybody else was doing and not do it. You need to do something completely different. Come up with a plan and set sail to it. There will be plenty that will say you can’t do it. You may have to start it alone but others will come when they see what you have created. Arrr that be the best I can do for your land lovers.

Me: Thanks for your time Captain Jolly Roger!

Arrr! Let’s now get to the part of this Horror Host Icon review where I will take a look at the first and only episode of Hell’s Drive-In. I want to remind you all that I will not be giving this episode a star rating and will be taking the film’s write up from our friends at IMDB, and I will write about what happens in the host segments. So if you are ready, let’s get to spending some movie time with Captain Jolly Roger.

Hell’s Drive In: Brain That Wouldn’t Die
Starring – Jason Evers & Virginia Leith       Not Rated       1962

Host: Captain Jolly Roger starts the show off telling a Michael Moore joke and then welcomes the viewers to his drive-in. We next see the Captain planning out his next sea adventure to find another movie to show for a future episode and then he answers his mail from fans. He later talks about his sponsor M.P. Water, a very nasty product but he does his best to promote them. Next we join Jolly Roger as he tries to get you to go to his hospital and shows how he works on patients by removing things from their stomach that include all his guts! In the final segment, Captain Jolly Roger does a little dance about making it through the movie and once more brags on himself.

Movie: Dr. Bill Cortner has been performing experimental surgery on human guinea pigs without authorization and against the advice of his father, also a surgeon. When Bill’s fiancée Jan Compton is decapitated in an automobile accident, he manages to keep her brain alive. He now needs to find a new body for his bride-to-be and settles on Doris Powell, a glamor model with a facial disfigurement. Jan meanwhile doesn’t want to continue her body-less existence and calls upon the creature hidden in the basement, one of Bill Cortner’s unsuccessful experiments, to break loose.

Hell’s Drive-In is not a classic show nor is Captain Jolly Roger an amazing Horror Host, but one thing I can truly say is that they both had heart and you can tell everyone involved had a blast making it. I also have to say that I really like the fact that Jolly Roger was on quests to sail around the world including past Skull Island to find not only buried treasure but also cheesy movies that he could share with his viewers. For our next update, we will leave Captain Jolly Roger behind and will be passing Rotten Ink over to Juliet who will be writing about M! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support you local Horror Host. See you next update for a Fritz Lang good time!

Fright Flicks Fan Films: Volume 2

Last year I had a blast covering some amazing Fan Made Horror Movies that are being released by some very talented directors and creators showing that the world of Horror is in good shape in the future as these guys try really hard to bring amazing stories and twists to classic horror icons of cinema. So when planning this year’s updates I knew I had to return to the world of Horror Fan Films as it also seemed you readers enjoyed the first update as well. For this update I searched high and low for a new batch of Fan Horror Films and tried to stay away from covering a ton of Friday The 13th or Halloween ones as they are popping up faster then weeds in the spring, but don’t worry some are being covered as I knew I had to cover at least a small amount as I am fans of both franchises. I also chose a few shorter Fan Films, ones as short as three minutes, as I feel that they as well should get their time to shine and to also alert you readers to them. Oh and keep in mind this update will have spoilers for the films, so you have been warned.

I got many of these short films from friends, family and even conventions, and many I have been looking forward to watching for the first time, while others are a re-watches for me. Just like before, I will write about the fan film’s plot, my thoughts on the film and will give it classic report card grade, meaning the highest a film could get is an A+ and the lowest is an F. I judge these films on a Fan Film level and not on what I would a Hollywood or even higher budget Indie Film. So if you are ready, let’s sit back and talk Horror Fan Films!

Belial
Starring – Matthew Stallings & Jesse Lasky       Directed by Eric Yoder
Released in 2020       Runtime: 24min     Not Rated

Plot: Duane Bradley carries his deformed and violent brother Belial around in a basket, and while on the subway train the basket is stolen and Belial brutally mangles the thief’s hand once the basket is open! Duane and Belial end up at a very sleazy hostel, and while inside they clearly see that everyone staying has issues from drugs to being thieves. When Duane’s money is stolen Belial goes on a killing rampage to get it back and one by one the people of the hostel die by a trail of carnage! In the end, the brothers escape into the night looking for another place to stay and find the peace they are looking for.

Thoughts: Once more Eric Yoder, who did the fan films “Night Of The Maniac” and “Who Goes There?” (that I covered last Fright Fan Film Update), delivers a fun and entertaining fan film this time based on the cult classic film Basket Case. This is an especially cool one to see as the world of Fan Films has not been flooded with new tales of Belial and his brother Duane. The film holds the gritty nature of the original film and even has elements of humor that made up the sequels and blends them together for this short that truly does feel like it belongs in the world of Basket Case. The acting is really great with Matthew Stallings as Duane stealing the show. He has the nice guy appeal mixed with the hint of sadness and madness. The effects done by Eric Yoder are great as blood splatters and body parts get mangled, and his effects and puppet for Belial are amazing and very much look like the one used in the original film! After watching the short fan film Belial, I would love to see Basket Case creator Frank Henenlotter allow Eric Yoder and his crew to make Basket Case 4 as the world needs a new sequel and Eric is the one to do it if Frank is not going to. So if you love Basket Case and the character Belial, make sure to give this one a watch as it’s up on YouTube, and you can also find it on an episode of Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre.

Grade: A-

Don’t Fall Asleep
Starring – Diandra Lazor & Chad Hewitt       Directed by Paige Troxell
Released in 2016       Runtime: 44min     Not Rated

Plot: Nancy Thompson is being locked up in an asylum after the events of the dream killer Freddy Kruger killing her friends and family, and her father thought this was what is best for her…but she is filled with anger as she feels her father is doing nothing to stop Freddy’s rampage on the teens in their sleep. Months pass, and Nancy is stuck in the asylum and even starts taking hypnocil in order to stop dreaming. She has group therapy with fellow teens having issues and they even talk about the killer Freddy Kruger as one of the young ladies’ brothers was killed by him before she was born. And then the nightmares return, and so does Freddy Kruger who starts to attack Nancy and some of the fellow teens who are now talking and working among themselves. But strangely enough, the hypnocil is not working to stop their dreams. And when the doctor takes the drug and all the teens fall asleep during a group session, the doctor and all the teens soon find out that Freddy Kruger is very much real and has murder on his mind! Now stuck in the dream world Nancy, the doctor and the teens must fight for their lives! In the end Nancy gets away from Freddy, and dates Joel a fellow asylum inmate. She becomes adjusted and studies ways to help kids as well as about dreams and the powers of the human mind. In the end Nancy takes a job at Westin Hills to help teens who are having bad dreams, but her happiness also has some sadness as her boyfriend Joel is murdered by Freddy in front of her eyes.

Thoughts: The film does a great job of showing the mental breakdown of Nancy Thompson as no one around her thinks that Freddy Kruger is real and that she has issues dealing with her mother’s death, and her father is lying to the staff about what he has seen and has returned to drinking. It also brings her mental state back up as she grows older and studies dreams and leads us into her becoming a psychiatrist that heads to Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital aka the events of A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. The film is a little slower paced then many of the fan films I have seen based on Freddy, but it also works as I do find that the build to the fall and then rise of Nancy is well done and showcases that Nancy really is the badass we all know she is, and that even in death she still is the main force of bringing Freddy down. Actress Diandra Lazor plays Nancy and for the most part does a great job, though at times I think she turns up the anger level a little too high and makes her come off slightly cartoonish…but not bad as I think she is a solid actress over all. They even add the white strip in her hair adding that nice touch of Nancy from the film series. William Adams plays Freddy Krueger and while he is not in the short fan film much, when he is, he does a pretty good job of running around laughing and slashing. The film also does a good job of feeling like it fits into the events that take place between the first and third film in the series and follows what Nancy was doing during this time, and that’s pretty cool. The film has some blood, but not a lot, and the effects are pretty good but standard none-splatter type with many of the wounds not being shown at all. Freddy’s makeup looks pretty good and showcases that the people who made this film are skilled and that they love Freddy Kruger and his movie universe. Over all this is a good slower paced watch that delivers some scares and adds to the legend of Freddy and his battle with Nancy. Make sure to check out the film on YouTube.

Grade: B

Halloween: Fan Film
Starring – Bonnie Alvord & Lois K. Allen       Directed by Christopher S. Allen
Released in 2018     Runtime: 1hr 22min     Not Rated

Plot: In Haddonfield, Il Halloween is a bad time of the year and for Laurie Strode (Myers) and her son Stevie and even his love interest Trish, it’s even worse as they are being targeted by the sinister masked slasher killer Michael Myers as he has once more decided to return to his hometown and make some people dead! Sheriff Bracket meanwhile is trying to warn people about the murders of the Myers family and they want Michael to turn himself in to the police. While Stevie tries to win the heart of Trish, they with friends torment a crazy neighbor, his mother Monica spends sometime with her girlfriends and friends for a sleepover that is filled with booze, snacks and fun times. While Judith Myers shows up at Laurie’s house and spills the beans that they are both related to Michael Myers and this sparks the group to go to a bar and party down! Meanwhile Private Investigator Sam Loomis is on his way to town as he wants to speak to Sheriff Bracket about the murder rampage of Michael Myers all those years back. Meanwhile Michael Myers is killing people of the town one by one. The Sheriff and Loomis head to the old Myers house to look for Michael and tour around talking about the murders and come up with a plan to wait for Michael to return home so they can finally bring him down. In the end Michael enters the house of Laurie and starts to murder all her friends with his trusty knife and wants his sisters dead, finally in the end Judith Myers kills her sister Laurie as she is as well evil like Michael who had his head bashed in with a baseball bat.

Thoughts: This is a fan film where the creators hearts are in the right place and they try really hard to deliver an amazing fan film based around a Horror series that they love. Sadly they fall a little flat in the effort as the plot is weak and the film is packed with long drawn out filler scenes that are covered up by music cues and popular songs that play way too long. Plus in many scenes you can hear the director say action and give actors orders. The acting and gore effects are totally backyard style and some are downright laughable, not to mention how bad some of it is miscast as Michael Myers as a teen is an over weight teenager and could be one of the worst fan film Michael Myers in history with and without the iconic mask on. The twist of Judith being just as crazy as her brother is pretty silly, but it does also add its own flavor and touch to the series and the fact Michael’s mask does not fit the actor right and looks like a mask you buy from the local mall during Halloween also adds to the layers of cheese. While they do over use music montages to pad out the runtime, I will say I am a fan of them using the likes of Alice Cooper, Motley Crue and Poison songs. The film, as I have said, does have some blood, but its pure armature and backyard stuff with one scene it looks like taco sauce mixed with ketchup. The film also has nudity from actress Bonnie Alvord, who plays Laurie, and to be honest she is the best thing about this fan film as she does her best with what she is given with this script. The creators also tried to make this Halloween Fan Film different from all others as it’s clear that this is not set in the film universe as characters, attitudes and motivations are all changed up, and for that I will give them credit. Over all this is just a below average Halloween inspired fan film that, while not the greatest, is worth watching if you enjoy cheesy backyard horror flicks.

Grade: C –

Halloween: Night He Came Back
Starring – Leah Kellar & Bruce Dale       Directed by Dave McRae
Released in 2016     Runtime: 45min     Not Rated

Plot: It’s 2018 and in Haddonfield, Illinois it’s the 40th Anniversary of the babysitter and hospital murders of serial killer Michael Myers. B-Movie actress Lauren is trying out for a horror movie called The Red Room in Hollywood and she feels she botched her audition. Once back home in Haddonfield on Halloween she starts to be stalked and watched by Michael Myers as she walks around town, and worse she makes plans with her brother Bob to watch horror movies and carve a pumpkin for Halloween but he is killed by Michael before he can show up, and Michael is not stopping as he slaughters a few more people around the neighborhood before finally making his way to Lauren herself chasing her around a massive old house with the intent to murder her. You see Lauren is connected to him in some way and she is his target this Halloween night. If not for Tommy Doyle she would have been dead, but he is able to save her and Michael once more escapes into the night, ready to kill again.

Thoughts: This gets some great brownie points as they clearly filmed at many of the locations of the 1978 classic that inspired this fan film! The film takes place years after the events of Halloween II and wipes away all the other films in the series to follow a what would have happened 40 years after those tragic events that left so many dead. The story follows struggling actress Lauren as she tries out for a film role only to return home to be stalked by Michael Myers. They throw in her brother Bob as well as the town’s police force and you have this Halloween inspired Fan Film Fright Flick. The character of Lauren in likable as she loves her small town roots but also dreams of living in the big city of L.A. and becoming a well-known and working actress. She is played by actress Leah Kellar, who should be working more in mainstream indie Horror Movies by companies like Blumhouse or at the least Full Moon Entertainment as she is not a bad actress and has a beautiful look to her, making her perfect for roles in Horror. The film has a good amount of kills, but takes the route of the original film and keeps the gore to zero but delivers classic style kills, with cut always. Michael Myers in the film is played by Dave McRae, who was a man of many hats for this film as he also directed it, co-wrote the script, co-produced it, edited it and played other parts like the Sheriff and voice acting small parts. He does an alright job as The Shape, but could have stepped up his creepy factor and actions a little more. It’s clear that McRae is a massive fan of Halloween, and this film is a love letter to the first two films in the series as well as John Carpenter. The film also leaves itself wide open for a sequel and leaves some questions unanswered and motivations unclear, and I am okay with that as long as the film does get a sequel. Over all if you love Halloween and Fan Films make sure to give this one a watch as it’s a pretty great watch. This film can be found on YouTube!

Grade: A-

Hellraiser: Warehouse 1 & 2
Starring – Stephen Alexander & Josh Weinberg      Directed by Matt Brassfield
Released in 2007     Runtime: 25min     Not Rated

Plot: Hellraiser Warehouse 1 has a man named James who works for a second hand furniture store that hates his job as the people who shop there are strung out and weird, well after chasing one masked weirdo out he is cursed. And when locking up for the night the weirdo in the mask is back in the store and shoves James into a room where he must meet his fate with the famed Pinhead. Hellraiser Warehouse 2 follows Ronnie who is very much a bad person who is rude to everyone he meets has taken over the job at the furniture store, and when he crosses paths with the mask weirdo he as well finds himself paying the price as Pinhead and Chatter pay him a visit.

Thoughts: This short fan film series is about a used furniture warehouse that acts as the gateway to the world of Pinhead and the Cenobites who target the workers who are lazy, rude, crude, homophobic and just over all scumbags! The first low paid slacker is James, a man who spends his time at work bored with the customers, drinking beer and watching porn on the TVs and once he gets the attention of Pinhead he becomes a missing person. The next worker is James’ replacement named Ronnie, who is a total scumbag and is rude to customers and his a homophobic tool, and he as well gets the attention of Pinhead who as well makes him a missing person. Pinhead in these films is a messenger of delivering punishment and is joined in the second film by Chatter. The Creeper is a masked weird man who seems to be the link between the warehouse and the world of the cenobites, he is the true figure that chooses who shall face judgment. The films have no blood nor guts but do have deaths. Stephen Alexander played Pinhead and did a great job as he also played the character at a local haunted house attraction. Over all these films were a blast to make, and while a third film was talked about it never happened…but who knows maybe someday soon it will happen. The first film can be seen in an edited cut on an episode of Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre Halloween Special.

Grade: NA

Island Of The Blind Dead
Starring – Merlyn Roberts & Emma Dark         Directed by Emma Dark
Released in 2015       Runtime: 3 min     Not Rated

Plot: A young woman is on the beach all alone and starts to roll around in the sand and water, but the Blind Dead have returned and are looking for victims that include a young girl, a town drunk, a garage worker and a woman taking a shower.

Thoughts: This fan film for The Blind Dead plays like a trailer for a “Lost” fifth film in the series so it plays more like clips from a movie put together than an actual fan film with a plot from start to finish. What I gather from this trailer, this fifth film would have followed a woman on vacation who made the mistake of going where the Blind Dead have once more raised for the dead to cause death. The Templar Knight aka The Blind Dead looks great and like the films it’s based on. Emma Dark plays Jeannie, the young lady on the beach and shower, and it’s crazy that she has not been casted in indie Horror Films as she has a look that fans would love. Island Of The Blind Dead is silent and no dialogue is spoken as all clips are played over a score piece that is fitting, plus I should point out that there is no blood in this short fan film either. It’s very clear that this fan film trailer has lots of heart and love behind it as the creators Emma Dark and Merlyn Roberts (who also plays the Blind Dead) are true fans of the series. While I wish this would have been more than just a very short trailer and would have been an actual fan film, I am a sucker for all things Blind Dead and enjoyed this for what it is. Not much else to say besides this is filmed and scripted really well and Emma and Merlyn should make a full Blind Dead fan film for all of us to enjoy. Check out this Fan Film Trailer on YouTube!

Grade: B

Michael vs. Jason: Evil Emerges
Starring – Joshua Pedder & John Pedder         Directed by Luke Pedder
Released in 2019       Runtime: 29 min     Not Rated

Plot: Jason Voorhees rises from the dead once more as his mother’s voice echoes in his brain to kill for her. Meanwhile a group of military forces are watching over Michael Myers with a plan to kill him off the books and to end his reign of terror, and escort him into the woods to carry out the plan. The plan backfires as Michael slaughters the force and chases the commander into the woods and watches as Jason Voorhees kills his attended target…big mistake as the masked killers face off in the woods with only murder on their minds. At first Jason gets the upper hand and brutalizes Michael, but once back up Michael’s evil rage sets in and then Jason is on the receiving end of a beating. In the end, a gun caring property owner and his sons show up, and Michel and Jason team up to slaughter them before once more squaring off with each other with Jason removing one of Michael’s hands and appears to get the win…or does he?

Thoughts: I think one of the top Horror Clashes that people have always wanted to see Hollywood do was a Michael Myers vs. Jason Voorhees fight as both are unstoppable, quit masked killers with no remorse. And while rights and lack of Hollywood interest has never allowed this epic slasher battle to happen, but the world of Fan Films have been flooded with this showdown each having their own take and choice of who would win this showdown. Well in this one creator and Horror fan Luke Pedder takes a stab at the epic fight and delivers a bloody showdown that gives respect to both franchises and makes both Jason and Michael look unstoppable and on equal ground. The film is pretty fast paced and the pesky humans are killed off fast and brutal as to not take away from the fight that all the viewers want to see. The costumes of Michael and Jason are very solid as are the actors who play them, plus the gore effects are well done and come off as ones seen in Indie Horror Films. The film also ends on a “To Be Continued” screen marking that this film will have a sequel. Over all a really good Fan Film that does a great job of bringing you a solid Jason and Michel fight with blood splatter and dead humans to spice it up.

Grade: B+

The Mummy Princess
Starring – Yenna Black & Thomas Cruz         Directed by Sasha
Released in 2018       Runtime: 11 min     Rated XXX

Plot: Princess Ahmanet has been captured and chained up and she is not happy about it at all as she tries her best to break free, a guard enters and the pair have sex and in the end Princess Ahmanet lets out a scary scream and her mouth distorts and the sands around her come alive.

Thoughts: Well this is 100% an adult film and with that said, it’s really hard to break down as it’s a short film and almost all of it just consists of hardcore sex. The actress Yenna Black looks great as Princess Ahmanet and really captures her look from the film. Not much else to say about this one as while it is a parody Horror fan film it’s really hard to talk about an adult film on a blog about comic books. So the grade I will give it is low and not because of its production value or anything but because it’s lacking in story and let’s leave it at that. This short has zero blood, no kills and lots of nudity. Plus just think about the fact a Porn Parody of the 2017 film The Mummy was made…go on and let that soak in. Also keep in mind this “Fan Film” almost was left off as it really is plotless, but in the end I decided the heck with it some of you readers might get a kick out of it.

Grade: D

My Final Destination
Starring – Sven Kittel & Rico Kittel     Directed by Marco Rudolph
Released in 2012     Runtime: 42min     Not Rated

Plot: A group of friends have cheated death, and now the reaper has come to take what’s his and that’s their souls! One by one death is coming for them as one friend has an accident that leaves his face smashed in by a bowling ball. Another who plays in a band gets impaled on his own drum kit! Another has her car explode and cut her in half! Another friend meets his end when weights crush his skull in. One friend, while in a dark apartment, steps on a mouse and falls down stairs and impales himself. Finally the two remaining friends go to a man who can see the future for help, and he is on help. While leaving one friend gets his head knocked off by a falling sign! The last friend runs back to the fortuneteller and begs for help, and he is told that this will happen to him forever until he himself is dead. The friend and the Teller go to one of the victim’s house looking for clues and they get a clue to get out of the building that is starting to crumble and during the escape the Teller is killed and the friend runs for his life down the stairs and escapes. He wakes up the next morning and the major event that he saved everyone’s life from happens and all of them now die they way they were supposed to.

Thoughts: This German fan film based around the popular Final Destination series is packed with lots of deaths and a little loose on plot as it really is just about the deaths of all these friends who escaped death’s cold grip! The only plot you do get from this short film is that the friends don’t want to die and while bummed that their friends are dying of weird accidents, seem to just shrug it off and go about their days and lives, that is until only two are left alive and then they make a half ass attempt to get help from a teller who just talks in weird riddles about his life being saved. The film has lots of bloody deaths and are done well with computer effects, and the film while very much flawed you can tell is being done by fans of the series as they might not have put time in the plot they did however put thought into the weird ways for the group of friends to die. The version I watched was dubbed but there is also an original German version as well out in the world. While the deaths and the digital deaths were cool and well done, the plot was paper thin and I would say that if you are a die hard fan of the film that sparked this fan film you should check it out, or if you would like to see effects that could be done with After Effects give it a watch. This film can be found on YouTube if you want to check this out.

Grade: C-

Phantasm: Extinction
Starring – Joshua Rabdell & Phil Sawyer     Directed by Joshua Randell
Released in 2017    Runtime: 40min     Not Rated

Plot: In 1979 The Tall Man and his horde have started their invasion of Earth and the war with them is being fought. Mike and Reggie are the world’s only hope but they during the chaos have been separated and the world around this is dead and filled with dangers and Mike starts his quest to find his friend and ends up in the Tall Man dimension and fights off his evil dwarf minions with a trusty custom shotgun, once back in our dimension he meets a man who as well has had his run in with The Tall Man and his creatures, and they pair fix a car meanwhile Reggie stuck in the world of the Tall Man fights for his life as well. Mike and his new friend check out a small town and this is a big mistake as Mike and his friend go to face Tall Man and Mike blows up the gateway and he thinks he stopped Tall Man, but he also had to kill his own friend by doing so. In the end Mike once more comes face to face with the killer Dwarves and knows that the nightmare never ends.

Thoughts: Ok, I have to start by saying it’s clear that Joshua Randell is a huge fan of the Phantasm series and understands the films lore and characters, but on the other hand the acting is super cheesy, the effects are cheap and they use scenes from the films for most of the creature effects and appearances of Tall Man, the sound is bad and pacing at times crawls as characters go into long winded stories and recaps of events from the films. The effect of the Tall Man’s world is well done even if it’s not the barren wasteland we have seen in the film series, not to even mention that at times the Killer Dwarves are guys in cheap Halloween robes or even toys super imposed in the footage. Joshua Randell is not only the films director but also plays Mike and bless his heart as he tried really hard to make his mark on Phantasm history with his fan film idea, its just really way to wordy and clearly he did not have much money for the budget as for the most part the film is bloodless. One part that had me laugh out loud is when a clearly none tall person filled in as The Tall Man and is wearing a cheesy white wig and is also holding a plastic ball…so bad its good. Over all I give Joshua and his friends lots of credit for attempting to make a Fan Film of Phantasm as it really is a complex series that would be hard to do with zero budget, and while I was not a super fan of this fan flick I would like to see Joshua and his friends return and make another one as its clear they love what they made and enjoyed the series they made this love letter to.

Grade: D+

Phantom Of The Opera
Starring – Elisa Hansen & Katherine Becker     Directed by Elisa Hansen
Released in 2002     Runtime: 20min     Not Rated

Plot: In the Paris Opera House, young singer Christine returns to her dressing room to find gifts and a voice that sings with her, and when the voice is shown to be The Phantom of the Opera he promises her that with his help she could have the best voice in all of Paris! And thinking that her dead father has sent The Phantom she takes him up on his offer. Three months pass and Christine has a suitor named Raoul and The Phantom is not pleased as his heart belongs to the young singer as well and he makes a date with her at the Graveyard to play her music. At the graveyard The Phantom plays for Christine and Raoul begs her not to go with him, but she does into the belly of the Opera House. And while the Phantom plays the piano Christine removes The Phantom’s mask and set him into a rage and he forces her to wear a rings and claim they are married. Once back in her dressing room she sends for Raoul and she rushes him to the roof and tells him of The Phantom of the Opera, and he makes her a promise to save her and he as well gives her a ring and wants her hand in marriage, but they make a mistake as The Phantom sees this and is not happy. That night The Phantom takes her back down into the belly of the Opera House and Raoul goes down to get her, in the end Christine is saved and ends up with Raoul as The Phantom of the Opera is left heartbroken as he knows that she will never truly be his.

Thoughts: This is a fun little silent horror fan film that is inspired by all the different film versions of The Phantom Of The Opera as well as the novel with the main inspiration coming from the 1925 classic starring Lon Chaney Sr., and the cool thing also being this was pulled off by 4 young ladies who clearly loved all things Phantom Of The Opera and put time and thought into pulling this off with such a limited cast and crew. The story condenses down the classic story as it removes all the opera singing moments as well as the plot of the Opera owners and just sticks to the Christine, Raoul and Phantom plot that is the true highlight of the story anyways. The Phantom was played by Elisa Hansen and she does a great job of silent film acting and bringing out the sadness and anger of the character, she also plays the character Meg and she also co-directed and co-wrote this short film. That’s the one thing that does make this film work so well is that the actresses understood how to act in a silent film as they show the over emotions that sell the point of the plot. The film has no deaths or blood and being based on a classic movie monster that is ok, and the only real downside to the DVD copy I have is that it’s very low grade and pixels pretty bad in spots. Over all if you are a Phantom Of The Opera fan, love classic Silent Horror Hosts or just want to see a fan film made by a limited amount of friends and pulling it off…check this one out as it can be found on YouTube.

Grade: B

Psycho V
Starring – Justin Linville & Uriel Ramos     Directed by Justin Linville
Released in 2013     Runtime: 62min     Not Rated

Plot: Norman Bates has set fire to his old family home that looks over the Bates Motel and now years past and Norman Bates has died and had a son named Will that was been living with close friends of Norman who are raising him as their own. Will is now hearing the voice of Norma Bates and he is starting to also question his own sanity as his friends dig deeper into the Bates family killing legacy. Will under the direction of his Grandmother dresses in the infamous dress and wig and starts to kill off friends and classmates of his that are getting too close to the truth of what he is becoming. After many of the teens of town become missing the Police get involved as they are trying to find a link between them all. One by one Will kills his friends and classmates all in for a plan he has made with his Grandmother, he even kills his best friend and with all the deaths the cops figure it all out and leave a trap for him using some of his classmates. In the end after killing so many people Will is taken out by one of his would be victims who stabs him to death.

Thoughts: This Psycho V fan film was clearly made by teenagers and has weirdly placed cuts, poor edits and the quality is a little rough…but while flawed they clearly had heart and wanted to make a fan film based on the legacy of Norman Bates and his Mother. The acting is very backyard style and remind me of all the early stuff we filmed at Independent B Movie. The story is pretty good and has Norman Bates having a son who discovers he is a Bates after finding his fathers old keep box that is filled with a diary as well as the wig and knife and now driven insane is keeping up Norma’s body count alive. The voice for Norma Bates is terrible and she sounds nothing like Mother from the real film series and has an odd accent that’s distracting. Justin Linville plays Will and he does a good job of playing that mix of weird and nice and is one of the better actors of the movie. This film is bad and yet I think that is way it has charm as they did put effort in the story, tried really hard in acting and did their best backyard effects. Over all there is not much to really say about this one besides it’s a pretty silly backyard made fan film based on one of the worlds most iconic slasher films that the filmmakers tried really hard on and seemed like they had a blast filming it. The DVD copy I have of the film is pretty grainy and has some weird picture clichés from time to time. While not the best of Psycho Fan Films it is one that holds charm if you like movies like Werewolf Of Ohio, Dr. Freak Vamp Killa and Friday The 13th Halloween Night. This film can be watched on YouTube.

Grade: C+

Psycho V: Beginning Of The End
Starring – Horror455 & Patrick Ferguson     Directed by Horror455
Released in 2012    Runtime: 1hr 46min     Not Rated

Plot: Johnny is a Texas reporter who is being sent to Arizona to interview Nathan Bates the son of Norman Bates who had just passed away. When arriving Johnny finds that Nathan is very nice but a little odd and does his best to avoid the interview with distractions like playing video games and changing rooms in order to talk in, and when the interview starts Nathan starts talking about his fathers dark secrets and yet its clear he is very proud of his fathers life and thinks that his father was not crazy. The interview takes place over days and Nathan is very lonely and clearly is missing his father who was also his best friend in ways. Jonathan ends up becoming friends with Nathan and even quits his reporting job when his boss becomes a major jerk about what he thinks Nathan is and that’s a psycho. Over the friendship it becomes clear that Nathan is unstable as he claims he has talked with his Grandma Bates and that she was a sweet woman and even treats Johnny to a meal that has human remains in it, and it appears that Nathan has killed his own father Norman! In the end Nathan dresses like his dead Grandmother and attacks Johnny and tries to kill him, buts stops the attack and falls down stairs and is taken to the hospital for his major injury. In the end we find that Nathan killed Andrew Loomis the newspaper owner and that’s who was made into dinner as he was killed after he attacked Nathan in his own home that triggered his dark side, Johnny heals up and becomes a major book writer and remains close friends with Nathan after all this craziness is over.

Thoughts: The filmmaker that made this fan film was clearly a fan of the Psycho film series and his his best in shots to capture the eerie nature of the original with the use of shadows and angles. The plot is well thought out and I like the idea of Norman Bates having a son who is clearly as unstable as he was and trying just like his father to come off normal in a world around him he finds to be strange and unfriendly. But while the plot is fun and makes for a good fan film idea the major downside is that at times it drags causing it to be a little boring in spots as the run time is a very long 1hr and 46mi, and I should also state the film is filled with filler like Thunderstorm scenes and even clips from the movie American Psycho a part that has Nathan eating and reacting to it, and this part goes on way to long as do many of the moments of them showing how lonely Nathan is in his massive house. The films climax does show some blood and a kill that is done well as the film is shot in black and white and only one actor plays all the parts! Nathan Bates is a great character as he clearly is just like his father and is mentally unstable and thinks that Norma Bates is still alive and bullies him into doing bad things. The acting from Horror455 is great and he pulls off all parts really well and the fact that he was a one-man crew is pretty dang cool. I really enjoyed the film for the most part and enjoyed the twist and turn plot, and I would have given it higher if only it trimmed the fat of the drawn out parts. One odd thing is all the humor at the start of the film that goes away in spots, I want to also say that I enjoyed the end of Nathan becoming Mother as if felt like a classic style slasher film. Over all a nice little Psycho “sequel” done with a very tiny micro budget that was done by a man who clearly loved the source material.

Grade: B-

A Puppet Master Halloween
Starring – Nick Hill         Directed by Patrick Delaney
Released in 2019   Runtime: 20min     Not Rated

Plot: In the suburbs of Bodega Bay on Halloween Night a guy named Seth is preparing for the night complete with watching Night Of The Living Dead with a beer in hand, and also looking for a missing cat named Sparky. As the night goes on a weird orange and black package is delivered while out side the killer puppet Pinhead watches, as he is the one who placed the package there and knocked. As Seth opens it he finds that it’s a crate and inside the crate is Jester and he puts the creepy doll back and then goes to make himself some microwave popcorn, and while distracted Jester gets up and opens the garage door and lets in his fellow puppets that include Blade, Pinhead and Tunneler! As the night goes along Jester and his fellow puppets start to torment and scare Seth with him trying to run for his life to get away from them, and finally has to fight back armed with a baseball bat he strikes back at the puppets…but to no luck as by the end of Halloween night they knock out Seth and their mission is clear as they are looking for their missing friend Six-Shooter and files to were he is at as well as a crate that holds the elixir that gives them health. Later that night Seth is now injured and awake as his front door opens and Torch appears and sets him and the house on fire!

Thoughts: Growing up I have always been a huge fan of Full Moon flicks and when I heard that a fan film based on their Puppet Master series was in the works I was pretty dang happy to hear this as it was about time some one did a fan film based on this killer puppets! And when watching this film I was not disappointed as Patrick Delaney is clearly a fan of the series added lots of the folklore from the movies but also seemed to be building his own world around it as well. The plot has a guy named Seth all alone on Halloween Night who becomes the target of the killer puppets as they are looking for something in the house and he is just in their way. The Puppets we are treated to in this fan flick are Blade, Jester, Tunneler, Pinhead, Torch and a photo cameo from Six-Shooter the later who is missing and his friends want to get him back. As far as Seth goes I think he is just a guy in the wrong house at the wrong time and he ends up paying for it all with his life. I also loved that this film ties in Chucky from the Child’s Play films as well as well as the Spheres from the Phantasm series as they are all apart of something called the Omega Project. The film is pretty bloodless but does have violent acts and the Puppets are mean spirited like they are in Puppet Master and Puppet Master II. And while I wish they would have explained a little more on who Seth was and what the Omega Project is I did find myself really having a blast with this film and hope they make a second part this coming Halloween season (2020). If you enjoy Full Moon Movies, love Puppet Master and get a kick out of killer dolls this is a fan film with heart and is worth the watch. Do yourself a favor and check this one out on YouTube.

Grade: A-

The Purge 2024
Starring – Lec Zorn & Gabrielle Bousum     Directed by Ashton Gleckman
Released in 2017   Runtime: 14min     Not Rated

Plot: The year is 2024, and it’s Purge Night and two friends have broken down and are being hunted by a mask wearing Preacher and his carload of mask wearing psychos who want them dead and have the weapons to do so! With one friend being killed when the pair take shelter in an abandon home the remaining man must hide, run and try his best to outsmart these coldblooded killers and take them out before they get him and he does get some of them, but in the end the Purge ends and the man surrounded by killers holds one hostage and as they drop their weapons he kills them all breaking the rules of the Purge.

Thoughts: The Purge series is one of those film series that I think very much lends it’s self to the world of fan films as I also think it would make for a great comic book series as well as a video game…but now I am off topic. This short fan film does a fantastic job of capturing what it must be like to be hunted during The Purge as the two men are out numbered and in some cases out gunned. The two men seem like they are scared for their lives but are willing to fight back if they can save their hides, and don’t mind taking lives if they have to. Our final survivor turns out to be just as cold and evil as those who are hunting him as he takes their lives even after the event is over. The Masked hunters are pretty bang cool as you have The Preacher, Nun, Pig, Bunny, Bride and Zombie all running around with knives, guns and chainsaw to end some lives with. The film is pretty bloody and is fast paced for the short runtime. Over all I say if you like The Purge movies this little short fan film is worth checking out as you can tell Ashton Gleckman is a fan of the source material. If you enjoy the Purge series and want to check this one out look it out on YouTube.

Grade: A-

Scream: Generations
Starring – Lindsay McEwan & Lee Bloomfield     Directed by Jared Vollmann
Released in 2012     Runtime: 1hr 30min     Not Rated

Plot: Someone is taking their love for the Scream movie series to the extreme as Howell High School kids are being butchered and the killer is mimicking Ghostface is his appearance and style. Natalie is apart of a film class and she and her friends after a pair of school mates are murdered they decide to have a party that weekend to spend time together and be safe. In one-night Ghostface targets and kills the teens Film Teacher as well as April killed and her boyfriend injured and this sparks fear in Natalie and her friends stick together, but do have some inner fighting on who has done this and their pal Jason is blamed. The group of friends end up getting together to stay safe and spend time together after the tragic events that have rocked their lives, and spend the night watching Horror Movies in the backyard…but this is a big mistake as Ghostface appears to crash the party and rise his body count! In the end Natalie must come face to face with the slasher behind the mask and fight for her life.

Thoughts: This fan film takes the Scream formula and adds a new touch to it by acting as if the film series has sparked a psychopath into a killing spree that has them acting like Ghostface! The film does a good job of building the group of friends and Natalie and Gwen’s friendship being the standout as actresses Lindsay McEwan and Claire Tsiporukha do a good job in the roles. Creator and Director Jared Vollmann does a great job of capturing the mood and kills of the Scream movies and does his best to add in red herrings and keeping you guessing to who or whom is behind the slayings, Jared also plays the part of Ian in the film and its crystal clear he loves the Scream series and had passion behind making this fan film as the script and acting is solid. The one downside to Scream: Generations for me was the fact who put the mask on and slaughtered was pretty easy to predict, and while not everyone who watches this fan film will be able to predict those who know the series will spot who or whom the killer(s) are pretty easy. The motivation behind the slayings is cheesy and yet also pretty well thought out, and not making it just a solid fan film set in the Scream universe makes more of the film work. The film does have blood and the effects for the kills are pretty well done and while limited they do not stay on them long enough to spot the flaws. And I must also point out that actress Lindsay McEwan who plays Natalie should be in more Indie Horror movies! Over all Scream: Generations is a fun fan flick that delivers all the scares and entertainment that the series that sparked it always brought to the big screen. You can watch this film on YouTube, and oddly enough it films well in the world of Scream so if you ever have a marathon of Scream you should add this to the list.

Grade: B+

She Burns In Hell
Starring – Brittany Blanton & Josh Miller     Directed by Ryan Stacy
Released in 2018     Runtime: 10min     Not Rated

Plot: Carrie White set her high school on fire and killed many of the students after a prank of dropping pigs blood on her head sets off her paranormal abilities. They then talk to some people who watched as Carrie walked from the school and the witnessed her power first hand. We also witness what went on in Carries mind as she was dying in her front yard after destroying her house and fighting with her crazy mother. In the end when an eyewitness is asked where Carrie White is in the after life she says “She Burns In Hell”.

Thoughts: Carrie White is one of those Horror icons I think gets over looked when it comes to fan films as most tend to do films about slasher characters like Jason, Michael, Freddy and Leatherface so it was cool to see someone decide to do this and of course is had to be those talented people of Concept Media based here in Ohio. I like that the plot circled around those who seen her after her rampage in the school as she walked home covered in pigs blood as her classmates burned alive in the high school. Brittany Blanton was well casted as Carrie White and while she has very little speaking in the role she says all she needs to with her eyes as she strolls down the street and later dies in her yard. The acting is well done from the rest of the cast and really makes you think what you would do if you witnessed her special powers first hand, and how could you explain it to those who never witnessed it. This fan film also in its short time does a great job of highlighting the events of the film via dialogue played over scenes and in flashbacks. She Burns In Hell does a great job of adding to the cinematic world of Carrie and adds a new layer to the story done by Stephen King. If you are a Carrie fan make sure to check this fan film out as it’s a quick spooky watch that you will enjoy, my only real complaint is that I wish it was a little longer and we got more witnesses talking about her path home and the aftermath of her crimes. Watch this one on YouTube!

Grade: A-

TCM: New Blood
Starring – Dave R. Watkins & Ron McLellen     Directed by Ron McLellen
Released in 2010     Runtime: 25min     Not Rated

Plot: Lindsay and her brother Justin make the mistake of picking up a hitchhiker while lost in Texas as they are looking for their grandfathers house and also are running out of gas. The Hitchhiker offers them gas from his home and also says his brother can help give him directions, and sadly they accept. Justin follows the Hitchhiker to get the gas and meets Leatherface’s hammer, and then Lindsay is knocked out and when she wakes up she is tied down at the families dinner table and tormented by family members like Drayton, The Hitchhiker, Momma, Leatherface and a host of other Sawyer family members. Lindsay is happy to see that here brother Justin is still alive and is also forced to sit at the dinner table and watch the madness of the family unfold before them, before they are served chili for dinner, but also during dinner Justin is beaten to death with hammers in front of his sisters eyes. Lindsay is able to escape when The Hitchhiker unties her and he gets in a pushing fight with his brother Leatherface as the brothers chase her down and she meets her end at the blade of Leatherfaces’s chainsaw, in the end Leatherface does the chainsaw dance as the sun is coming up.

Thoughts: This fan film set after the events of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and places siblings in the wrong place, as they become the next victims and meals for the crazed Sawyer Family. Justin and Lindsey are brother and sister and besides the fact they are looking for their grandfathers house in Texas we do not know much more about them, well besides they are lost and need gas. The Sawyer Family has all the original members around like Leatherface, The Cook and Hitchhiker but the other members like Momma, The Sheriff and so on just kind of seem out of place and take up screen time on a already short film that could have been given to the victims to flush out more of a backstory for them. The Hitchhiker who they also call Virgil and is played by Dave R. Watkins does his best to channel both Edwin Neal (The Hitchhiker) and Bill Moseley (Chop Top), with director Ron McLellen playing Leatherface and adding in both a spooky touch but also a little childlike humor. The film has two kills and they don’t shy away from using blood and the effects are good with the best is Justin getting bashed with the hammer is well done and cut together effective. I also feel that actress Morgan Mullis who plays Lindsay is solid as she screams her head off and has a true scream queen appeal to her. Over all this frightful fan film is a pretty fun watch and would have been better if they would have cut down the amount of Sawyer family members, maybe added a few more kills and would have not drawn out the cliché dinner table scene that is over done in all things connected to Texas Chainsaw. But with that said well done to the filmmakers and is worth a watch. Like many of the others on this update you can view this one on YouTube.

Grade: C+

Tiffany
Starring – Samuel Moya & Frances Nunez        Directed by Julian Romero
Released in 2018       Runtime: 20min     Not Rated

Plot: Samuel is a young man whose brother and friend where murdered by the killer dolls Chucky and Tiffany and now he must put this all behind him and deal with the mental breakdown of the crimes as well as the nightmares of Tiffany coming to get him. He also himself seen the killers dolls and just the thought of them and speaking to them freaks him out, and things get worse when a package arrives at his front door step one late night and inside the box is Tiffany and Chucky and she sets her sights and knife on ending Samuels life by putting the soul of Chucky into his body, but the young man fights back…but in the end while he defeats Tiffany by tricking Chucky into stabbing her, he then takes an axe and cuts off the head of Chucky…and it ends with Samuel keeping and torturing the still alive head of Chucky and finding that Tiffany’s body is missing.

Thoughts: This fan film takes place a few years after the events of Bride Of Chucky and tells the tale of a young man who is messed up mentally over the murders of his brother and friend at the hands of the killer doll duo, who end up showing up to his home to try and take over his body and end his life. This is a pretty fun little short fan film that uses sound bites from Jennifer Tilly for Tiffany and Brad Dourif for Chucky, and our two man killers are just consumer bought dolls from stores like Spencer’s Gifts in the malls across America, and they are used really well to pull off the killer doll moments. The films main star is Samuel Moya who plays the character of Samuel and he does an ok job of being the victim turned attacker, though him beating down both Tiffany and Chucky with ease is a little silly and he takes no real damage in the fights with them. The film is bloodless and the only “deaths” in the film is Chucky who’s head is cut off and then has his head stabbed and drilled. The music is interesting and while movie score moments are present so are covers of old songs done by female vocalist. While this is a very simple plotted fan film is clear that director, writer and producer Julian Romero was a fan of Bride Of Chucky and wanted to add his own touch to the story to show what happened after the film some time later. If you like Child’s Play movies and are looking for something short and fun give this one a watch, while it’s not the greatest it’s still a good effort from some young filmmakers. Watch it now on YouTube.

Grade: C+

A Wet Dream On Elm Street
Starring – Rachael Deacon           Directed by Andrew Shearer
Released in 2011       Runtime: 5min     Not Rated

Plot: A beautiful young woman is getting ready for bed at the same time Freddy Kruger is getting his glove ready to kill. At night a Freddy doll falls from her ceiling and starts to seduce the woman who in turn turns on her charm and the woman and the doll have kinky sex…and then she wakes up wearing Freddy’s sweater and it makes you wonder was it only a dream?

Thoughts: This extremely short “A Nightmare On Elm Street” fan parody film is mostly kinky with a dash of Horror thrown in. Rachael Deacon plays the young woman who has the dream and she has a real Lina Romay appeal to her, plus I have meet Rachel many times and she is a creative and great person. The short was also directed by the super talented Andrew Shearer who I feel is one of Americas most over looked master of indie cult films, as he has been making movies for decades and don’t get the respect and love he should from the masses…but then again I feel Shearer don’t mind as he makes movies to entertain not for the fame. The film is mostly silent with a score playing in the back ground with the only line being the woman saying “Whatever You Do, Don’t Fall Asleep” as she is having fun with the evil Freddy as a doll. The film does not have full nudity but does show backside and gets close, so this one is really not for the youngsters. Over all this is a super short and fun film that lets Deacon shine as a cult actress and shows the filming talent of Shearer…Oh and I have to say the lighting is great in my opinion with a blue hue through out the dream. This short film has zero blood, no kills and partial nudity.

Grade: B-

Within The Woods
Starring – Maria Saldeno & Ashley Sanchez       Directed by Brandon Medina
Released in 2014     Runtime: 1hr 13min     Not Rated

Plot: A pair of cops head to the cabin in the woods and find a young woman who warns them that they all need to leave now as the deadites start to appear and torment the group and in the end take them out. The make of the group wakes up in the woods and is chased back into the cabin were he finds the Necronomicon and fights off being possessed himself as the deadites all around him want his soul. Meanwhile a group of friends as well are going to make the mistake of their lives as they are heading to a get away in the woods themselves to help a friend out who is battling pill addiction and depression, when one of the friends reads from the Necronomicon they start to as well become the target of the evil dead! One by one the friends become possessed and turn on each other, with the survivors being confused by what is really going on. In the end can any of the friends or unknown male survivor live through the attack of the Evil Dead?

Thoughts: The heart and spirit is present in this Evil Dead fan film as they capture the darkness, the mean and trickster spirits of the deadites and even the use of the woods and fog. They do a good job with masking the fact its clear they had a very low budget to work with and the effects are pretty well done and have a shot on video backyard charm, but one thing they could not mask is that some of the acting is really bad and its clear Brandon hired his friends for the parts with some of them almost appearing as if they are reading the lines off screen. The film also starts off with the scares and by the middle slows down to a snail pace with the friends in the cabin talking about issues and drama. The original The Evil Dead film was a great spooky film that had demons and dread throughout and while it had drama it brought some major scares, and sadly this fan film Within The Woods here did not do that for me, and don’t get me wrong they tried really hard to pull it off, it just fell a little flat for me as I do feel way to much time is spent on the friends who are at odds with each other and the addiction issue it’s self. Even by the time the friends start to turn into deadites I found myself already kind of checked out from the film. I will say the film does have blood and the possessions of the characters while nothing more than contacts and drooling blood does work for the most part. Over all I think that doing an Evil Dead fan film is hard to pull off and I do give Brandon Medina credit for trying to pull it off, not the best nor worst fan film I have ever seen and I would say if you love all things Evil Dead check it out as the heart is here even if I was not a super fan.

Grade: C

What I really love about covering Fan Made Horror Films based on popular Hollywood Movies is that it brings me back to my days as a Shot On Video creator and director and has sparked my interest in maybe returning to do so and do one last fan film that will be based on a classic Hammer Horror film and character…so who knows maybe I will do so and if I do you can bet your last dollar that I will be covering here on Rotten Ink with a making of update! And keep in mind I will only be able to make this Fan Film if I have the time inbetween working on new episodes of Baron Von Porkchop and The Creeper, work at Rockstar Pro Wrestling and Englewood Cinema, wrapping some Wolf Hunter projects, the comic work for Sparkle and Blood Scream Comics as well as all the updates here on Rotten Ink…so as you can see I have lots of stuff going on. For our next update we will be leaving the world of Fan Films behind and will be back into the world of Horror Hosting as we take a look at the extremely short lived host Captain Jolly Rogers of Hell’s Drive-In out of Indiana. So until next time read a indie comic or three, watch a Fan Film or two and as always support you local Horror Host! See you next update for a buried treasure of Horror Hosting.

Blah Blah True Blood Comics Blah

Greetings, Inkers! Juliet here, with a look at a show and one of its comics that combines several of my favorite things. Zombies have dominated horror-centric pop culture for the past decade, and while fans’ appetites were already primed for the arrival of the Walking Dead television show in 2010, the years prior to that were devoted to another undead creature: the vampire. The bloodsuckers had already enjoyed quite the pop culture run in the mid to late 1990s with the film versions of Interview With a Vampire and Queen of the Damned and TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, among fan favorites. But after Buffy ended in 2003 and spin-off show Angel in 2004, it seemed that the vampire’s time in the film and television limelight was done.  But several series of books were already waiting for readers and waiting to be adapted by Hollywood, and 2008 and 2009 brought viewers the first film in the Twilight saga, the Vampire Diaries TV show, and the focus of today’s update, True Blood.  So warm up a bottle of your favorite blood type, and get ready to travel to Bon Temps, Louisiana as we talk about the TV show and its prequel comic.

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In 2001, author Charlaine Harris began her Southern Vampire Mysteries series (also called The Sookie Stackhouse Novels) with the book Dead Until Dark.  The series, which would go on to have 12 novels total, was narrated by Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps who has telepathic abilities and falls in love with a vampire.  The series was set around the same time each book was published, but in this near-reality world, a synthetic blood beverage called Tru Blood made it possible for vampires to become part of mainstream society.  As the books progressed, werewolves, shapeshifters, faeries, and even a maenad also emerged, among other supernatural creatures.  

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The series had been optioned for television twice before 2005, when producer Alan Ball, fresh off Six Feet Under (another of my favorite HBO shows), was embarking on a new deal with HBO to develop new content. Having read the series thus far, the Southern Vampire Mysteries was his first project under the deal, and production on the television show True Blood began.  

Like the novels, True Blood takes place by and large, in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana and begins by focusing on telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse, played Anna Paquin, who falls in love with vampire Bill Compton in a world where vampires are “out of the coffin,” and many other supernatural beings emerge.  That’s the simplest possible description I can give for the kickoff of a show that gets very complicated very quickly and stretches for seven (HBO-length) seasons.  As in the books, we meet werewolves, shapeshifters, faeries, a vampire hating mega-church-esque cult, witches, and yes, a maenad. The show is, however, a loose adaptation of the books with some big changes at the start and, like many books turned shows, True Blood’s plot definitely veers completely away from the plot of the book series at a certain point. 

In contrast to its teenage contemporary Twilight, True Blood is overtly sexy and puts sexuality in all of its forms at the forefront.  (Funny enough though, just as Twilight had Team Edward and Team Jacob, True Blood had Team Bill, Team Eric, and eventually Team Alcide.) Some people have chosen to interpret the vampires’ struggle for equality throughout the show as an allegory for the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights, though Alan Ball, who is gay himself, disputes that interpretation as being reductive.

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When True Blood premiered in 2008, a service like HBO Go was merely a dream for fans like myself who had been hooked by the premium network’s still relatively new slate of dramas that came to prominence with The Sopranos and the aforementioned Six Feet Under. So that meant that viewers either had to have both cable and HBO to watch a show or wait for each season to come out on DVD. And so it was on DVD that I first saw True Blood.  Admittedly, I was a little uncertain about whether I was even interested; as a lifelong Anne Rice fan, I wasn’t sure anyone could do a Louisiana vampire story to my satisfaction other than her.  It took a combination of Matt buying me the first season on DVD as a gift, and the endorsement of several of my fellow Six Feet Under devotee friends for me to take the plunge.  And of course, it was love at first bite.

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I was initially drawn in by the fictional world of Bon Temps, along with the idea of vampires and the world adjusting to each other.  But what kept me coming back season after season was in Shreveport: Eric Northman, Pamela Swynford De Beaufort, and their vampire bar Fangtasia.  I was honestly more invested in them than the main Sookie Stackhouse story, especially after the reveal about Sookie’s origin, which remains for me one of the weakest plot points in the show, and to that end, I should clarify that I was not at all interested in (translation = pretty adamantly against) Eric and Sookie’s romantic storyline.  While at first I loved the slightly kitschy atmosphere of Fangtasia and Pam and Eric’s delightfully snarky banter, it was their unique relationship as century long companions that kept me watching until the very end. 

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Eric and Pam are also the reason I chose not to read the Southern Vampire Mystery books.  After watching the few seasons of True Blood, I strongly considered reading the books, but in doing a little research and finding out that their characters and storylines, among others I enjoyed, were very different than those portrayed on the show, I decided, to stick with the TV versions.  I typically don’t have this luxury as I usually end up watching shows based on books I already love and sometimes being disappointed at the translation.  Funny enough, as I was working on this update, AMC announced that they had acquired the TV rights to both the Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Mayfair Witches properties.  So I’ll end up having the book to TV experience with a different set of vampires at some point.  

But back to Eric and Pam, or more specifically, back to Pam.  I mentioned before that there became different camps of viewers, and while I suppose I could be Team Eric, I am most definitely Team Pam.  When I start watching a show I really enjoy, there’s usually one character that from their first appearance I can instantly claim as my favorite, and Pamela Swynford De Beaufort is most definitely that character on True Blood.  It’s not a huge surprise as I have a “type” when it comes to favorite characters: sassy, in charge, but still complex and exploring their place in the world.  For me, Pam was also often a sounding board for the viewer (okay, maybe just this viewer), dryly commenting on some of the more ridiculous aspects of the story. And she’s got some of the most memorable lines (and outfits) from the show.  

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Before we move on, I should note that while Eric and Pam are my favorite characters/progeny-maker pair/otp/imaginary vampire best friends, in contrast Matt is firmly on Team Bill Compton and Jessica Hamby.  I actually really like Jessica too, but the Bill vs. Eric debate raged on hilariously in our house through the entire run of the show.  

Another memorable thing about True Blood was the show’s use of music.  In addition to the sexy, swampy theme song “Bad Things” performed by Jace Everett, the show is beautifully scored by Nathan Barr.  Also, notably, each episode is named for a song that describes something about the story and appears as part of it, usually as punctuation right as the end credits roll.  These are often classic and new classic songs from the likes of Dr. John, Neko Case and the Talking Heads. Some of these, along with notable other songs from within the episodes appear on 4 soundtrack albums that are still available on CD.

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During the height of its popularity, True Blood was known for a ton of merch and some really great marketing, and sometimes those two would go hand in hand.  Shortly after the show began, HBO began marketing bottles of actual, drinkable Tru Blood.  Okay, so it was blood orange soda, but the look and feel of the packaging was authentic to the show making it great for watch parties and collectors.  On the more traditional marketing front, the billboard and print ads for the show were always super distinctive and clever, opting for an attention grabbing image or phrase with the show’s signature red, black and white color scheme.  In the online/tv realm, there were several runs of “minisodes” used to bridge gaps between seasons.  The first was called A Drop of Blood and took place between seasons 2 and 3.  These 3 to 5 minute videos helped give viewers a look at smaller moments between the seasons.  In Eric and Pam’s, which was the first one released, we see them audition new dancers for Fangtastia and land on Yvetta, who we’d meet in season 3.  There was also an ongoing series of short videos that began in 2010 after season 3 and lasted until 2014 featuring Jessica.  These were vlog style videos in which our favorite redhead learned more about life as a vampire with Pam, Tara, Bill, and Ginger among her guests.

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Along with the soundtrack albums, the soda and of course DVDs of the seasons, fans of True Blood could take their pick from a slew of official and unofficial merchandise including more shirt designs than I can count, drinking and shots glasses, coffee mugs, a cookbook (which I own), a makeup line from Tarte cosmetics (which I wish I owned), and a line of Funko Pops.  Fun fact: I held off buying Pop figures for quite a long time until they made Eric and Pam, and then the floodgates opened up and I now have entirely too many. 

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True Blood also inspired several comic series. In both 2010 and 2012 IDW published comic series simply called True Blood, which were six and 14 issues respectively.  In 2011, there were two miniseries, also from IDW, True Blood: French Quarter and True Blood: Tainted Love, all of which spun off the TV show and used familiar characters.  But before all of that, there was True Blood: The Great Revelation.  This Top Cow comic was released in 2008 at ComicCon as a part of the pre-promotion for the show.  It’s a prequel to the show, and it’s the comic we’re going to look at here on Rotten Ink.

As a reminder, we comics on a scale of 1 to 4 and are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So get a refill on your Tru Blood (or maybe some New Blood), and get ready to do some bad things.

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True Blood: The Great Revelation # 1 ***
Released in 2008     Cover Price: Free    Top Cow     # 1 of 1

A centuries old vampire named Lamar is flying through the night sky on an airplane.  As his journey begins, he reflects on how strange it is for vampires to be out in the open and how Tru Blood is making that happen.  Lamar arrives in the Shinjuku District of Tokyo, recalling his first visit to Japan ages ago as he makes his way to his hotel. There he tells us more about the emergence of Tru Blood that led to the Great Revelation: when a group of Japanese vampires found out that human scientists were close to developing synthetic blood, they bought up the patents, invested in the company, and began to spread the word to vampires around the world.  Even now, however, Lamar isn’t sure that humanity is ready for vampires, and he recalls that his friend Samson was eager for integration between vampires and humans and paid for it with a stake through his heart.  Lamar finally arrives at the headquarters for the Yakonomo Corporation where he’s eager to show them a secret of his own.

The first thing I should tell you about this comic is that the story ends on a cliffhanger that was continued digitally as pre-promotion for the show.  Comic Con attendees in 2008 got the first read, and eventually these pages and the rest of the story were released weekly on HBO’s website to gear up for the show’s premiere.  Unfortunately, after lots of searching and several Wayback Machine fails, I was unable to find the rest of the pages beyond what’s in the physical comic, which is disappointing, but is also worth noting because some of the questions I have about the story may have been answered in those extra pages.  That said, I thought this was a really nice introduction to the larger mythos of True Blood.  I thought it was really smart to create a character that exists outside of the world of the show and to make the setting someplace other than Bon Temps because it didn’t fall into the clumsy trap of some prequel promo comics where the comic and show aren’t being written in sync so the characters feel off.  Lamar is a compelling character and the little glimpses of his backstory we got made me want to spend more time with him, and I definitely want to know more about the weapon he revealed in the last panel.  The backstory about the Great Revelation and origin of Tru Blood also felt really well in line with the show, albeit with a few elements missing – the vampire Kings and Queens are mentioned but the authority isn’t mentioned by name, likewise we only see vampires at the Yakonomo Corporation with no sign of Mr. Gus (or perhaps his father).  It is interesting that we get the name Yakonomo this early in the show’s history, however, as it’s only referred to as “a Japanese Corporation” onscreen until season six. 

The story is primarily told in “voiceover” style, which works nicely for this shorter story, especially since the whole point is to give a lot of background in only a few pages.  Jason Badower’s art is great, and the colors by Blond were particularly great because they captured the mood of the show and all of the early marketing materials ahead of the premiere.  Speaking of, there are several bonus pages that include a two-page interview with Alan Ball and several “ads” that tie into entities in the show and had accompanying web buildouts (some of which you can find on the Wayback Machine – yay!) like the American Vampire League and the Fellowship of the Sun. All told, this is a really great addition to the True Blood story, and fans of the show should have this in their collection.

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It’s almost dawn, when, unless you’re Billith, all vampires need to find a place to hide from the sun.  And it’s about time that I hand Rotten Ink back to Matt.  For his next update, he’ll be revisiting the world of horror fan films with another batch of movies to tell you about.  In the meantime, read a comic or two, support your local comic shop and bank blood, and avoid any and all vampire emergencies.