The Road Warriors Pro Wrestlings Top Tag Team

“Ohhhhhhhhh What A Rush” it is to bring you another update to Rotten Ink and this time it’s all about Hawk and Animal The Road Warriors or is it The Legion Of Doom the world of wrestling’s most powerful and dominate tag team! Growing up I loved pro wrestling and spent many of time watching it with my Grandpa, Dad and Brother and besides WWF we watched allot of NWA/WCW and one of my favorite tag teams of all time was The Road Warriors two muscle bound face painted wrestlers who mowed down the computation and took no prisoners. I can remember having Remco action figures of The Road Warriors as well as the AWA Thumbster of Animal as also posters of them taking from Pro Wrestling Illustrated hanging on my walls. So with this update I want to give you a run down of their career as well as talk about my memories of them in wrestling, the main attraction will be the reviews for the comic series based on them called Fifth Force: Hawk & Animal made by Antarctic Press so lets get into the ring with The Road Warriors and hope they don’t knock our heads off with their finisher The Doomsday Device.

LOD Doomsday DeviceIn 1982 in Georgia Championship Wrestling Paul Ellering introduced a stable of wrestlers he called The Legion Of Doom that consisted of Jake “The Snake” Roberts, King Kong Bundy, Matt Borne, Arn Anderson, The Spoiler, The Sheik, Iron Sheik and The Road Warriors. The group was short lived and the name was taken from the old Super Friends Cartoon and later the name Legion of Doom was just given to The Road Warriors and manager Ellering who dominated the tag team division and would win the federations tag titles a total of three times. They left in 1984 to find bigger and better things. During this first run is were they got the reputation of being rough, no sellers who did what they wanted when they wanted.

Road Warrior HawkThe Road WarriorsRoad Warrior Animal

In 1984 they joined the AWA (American Wrestling Alliance) were they quickly captured the Tag Titles and went from bad guys to one of the companies top draws. They feuded with the likes of The Fabulous Ones (Stan Lane & Steve Keirn) as well as The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts) and would dominate the federation for a few years. While in the AWA they would also make appearances in Japan with All Japan Pro Wrestling as well as the NWA and for both they were major draws. The Road Warriors left AWA in 1986 with their final appearance being at the Wrestlerock event.

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From AWA to NWA took place in 1986 and upon entering the federation the won the first ever Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Tag Team Tournament by beating the team of Magnum T.A. and Ronnie Garvin. And from this moment on they were major attractions for all the companies events even fighting in a Scaffold Match against The Midnight Express and later feuding with the likes of The Four Horseman who was the biggest Heel stable around. While there they turned from Good to Bad to Good again and even was around when Ted Turner bought NWA and turned it into WCW (World Championship Wrestling) and had many great feuds with teams like Doom (Ron Simmons & Butch Reed), Skyscrapers (Sid Vicious & Dan Spivey), The Varsity Club (Steve Williams & Mike Rotunda), The Samoan Swat Team (Fatu & Samu) among many other great teams. They left in 1990 after not seeing eye to eye with Jim Herd who was running WCW at the time. And with this also marked the true end of them being know as The Road Warriors as the next places they landed had other ideas for them.

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In 1990 when they left WCW they landed in the WWF were they were known as The Legion Of Doom and quickly teamed with The Ultimate Warrior and began a feud with Demolition (Ax, Smash & Crush) that was short lived. They then won the Tag Titles from The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags) and held them until they lost to the team of Money Inc. that’s members were Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and I.R.S. in 1992 and after this lose they left the company for a short amount of time only to come back this time with Paul Ellering and a ventriloquist dummy named Roco who was the teams inspiration. This terrible gimmick lead quickly to Hawk quitting the company and this ending the Legion of Dooms first WWF run, as Animal stuck around and filled out the teams contract now teaming with a repackaged Crush. During this time Animal also injured his back severally taking him out of wrestling for awhile.

Legion of Doom HawkLegion Of Doom 0Legion of Doom Animal

Hawk in 1992 after leaving WWF and his partner Animal behind went to Japan again and started a team called The Hellraisers alongside his new partner The Power Warrior (Kensuke Sasaki) and together they became a top tag team in New Japan Pro Wrestling. They even won the tag titles from Scott Norton and Tony Halme and would later feud with the team known as The Jurassic Powers (Scott Norton & Hercules) this team up also helped launch The Power Warrior from a mid-card draw to a main event star. In 1996 after his back injury healed Animal joined his old partner and The Power Warrior in New Japan for a very short run.

The HellraisersThe Hellraisers 2Power Warrior

1996 Hawk and Animal once more went back to WCW for a very short run and took on teams like Harlem Heat and The Steiner Brothers and even got a number of title shots against Tag Team Champions Sting and Lex Luger, but never did win the belts back. The Legion Of Doom quickly left again when they claimed that Eric Bischoff who was running WCW at the time lied to them over money.

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For a year Hawk and Animal wrestled for small independent companies till in 1997 they once more reached a deal to come back to the WWF and once more proved they were the top tag team in the world when they beat the likes of The Godwins, The Headbangers and even was placed in a feud with the heel stable The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, British Bulldog and Brian Pillman) having to team up with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Goldust and Ken Shamrock. They even won the world tag titles in 1997 and shocked the world when they lost them to a new tag team later that year named The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn & Road Dogg), The Legion of Doom tried several times to get the belts back but couldn’t and in 1998 on Monday Night Raw the partners and friends brawled with each other on television and disappeared for awhile.

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Later in 1998 sporting a new look that consisted of helmets, normal hair and a new manager Sunny The Legion of Doom became L.O.D. 2000 an updated version of themselves. Sunny left the team pretty quickly and they were joined by Droz a wrestler who could puke on demand who was acting as a manager for them. Paul Ellering also returned and was now the manager for a biker tag team called the D.O.A. who was feuding with the LOD at the time. During this time they did a storyline were Hawk always seemed to be drunk or high on drugs and this was causing tension among the team as Droz was having to don the makeup and shoulder pads and help Animal. This segment ended with Hawk looking as if he jumped from the Titantron committing suicide or even that maybe Droz pushed him off leaving everyone to question was Droz the one giving Hawk the drugs. The storyline went nowhere and the team floated around for awhile and left in 1999, and began floating around the independent wrestling federations.

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In 2001 with Hawks health in question Animal resigned with WCW to become an enforcer for champion Scott Steiner who called his stable the Magnificent Seven that’s other members included Rick Steiner, Lex Luger, Jeff Jarrett and Buff Bagwell. Animals introduction to the group was a surprise as he wore a mask all the way up to his debut. The stable was short lived and later that year when the owner of WWF Vince McMahon bought WCW, Animal’s contract was not picked up.

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In 2002 Hawk and Animal signed very briefly with TNA (Total None Stop Action Wrestling) as part of a group that was fighting one time WWF writer Vince Russo who had a stable called Sports Entertainment Xtreme. Sadly The Legion Of Doom only got to wrestle one match before leaving in 2003.

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Hawk and Animal made their final WWF appearance in 2003 when they took on the tag team champions Rob Van Damn and Kane, while they loss the crowd was clearly happy to see them back. The Legion of Doom was hoping that this appearance would lead to a contract but sadly on October 19th 2003 Hawk passed away from a heart attack at the age of 46, marking a sad day for wrestling fans and the end of the original Legion of Doom. Animal however in 2005 would return to WWF with new partner Heidenreich the New Legion of Doom would last till 2006 when Heidenreich was fired. Animal would stick around as a solo wrestler for awhile and would simple be called The Road Warrior Animal and would drop the makeup as well as the shoulder pads from his gimmick. In 2006 Animal was released from his contract.

New Legion of DoomRIP HawkHeidenreich LOD

This was the last major run for Animal as he would go onto make some appearances for TNA, Independents as well as even for WWF as he and Hawk made it into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2011. His last televised match was in 2012 on WWF Smackdown as he took on Heath Slater in a match he dominated. At the age of 54 it appears Animals full time in ring career is over but damn did he and Hawk have a good run. For those of you wondering Hawks real name is Michael Hegstrand and Animals is Joe Laurinaitis.

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While both of them were bad asses, Hawk is the one who was more of a loose cannon and did some funny and great stuff outside of wrestling like the following things. Hawk and Randy Savage got into a fist fight backstage at a wrestling event rumored over a piece of pizza that would continue some years later backstage at a Kid Rock concert. It’s also said that Hawk beat up on Eddie Guerrero backstage and that Hawk was clearly just being a bully. Hawk also beat up a fellow patron at a movie theater when he found out that the guy’s brother killed a cop from his hometown. Hawk was also a bouncer at a bar and took pleasure in throwing out the drunks that got out of hand. Hawk also claimed that Vince McMahan and Shawn “HBK” Michaels were gay lovers on the Road Warriors RF Shoot Interview. During the 1998 WWF attraction called “Brawl For It All” were WWF Superstars boxed and grappled in real life Hawk faced Droz to a draw. Hawk also was battling alcohol and drug addiction during the LOD 2000 and Droz angle and the writers wrote this into the storyline. Say what you will but Road Warrior Hawk was a great wrestler and entertainer and I was so sad when I heard about his passing as the sport of pro wrestling truly lost a major talent.

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One NWA story line for some reason that has always stuck out to me was when Road Warrior Animal suffered an eye injury at the hands of The Powers of Pain (Barbarian and Warlord) during a weightlifting computation, causing Animal to miss some matches and later return wearing a Hockey Mask to protect his eye and ready to battle those who injured him. The feud ended when The Powers of Pain quit the NWA after not wanting to do a series of Scaffold Matches that they feared they could be hurt in real life doing. When Animal first came back wearing the mask my brother and I thought that it was not the real Animal and was another wrestler filling in for him, and for some reason the image of him wearing the mask has always stuck in my mind.

Hockey Mask Animal

The Legion Of Doom has been so popular over the ages, they have had a ton of merchandise based around them such as t-shirts, posters, stickers, trading cards, magazines and even fruit drinks called WWE Bodyslam. They have been in many video games like WCW for Nintendo and WWE 13 for PS3 and Xbox 360. They have had VHS and DVDs showcasing their careers made as well as books written about them. They have filmed shoot interviews for companies like RF Video and Highspots and have appeared at wrestling themed conventions. Many toys have been made based on them by companies like Remco and Hasbro allowing kids to make them tag champions of their toy wrestling leagues. Some of my favorite toys growing up were my AWA Road Warriors that were the size of He-Man and that I would use as bounty hunters to try and capture He-Man and they also would wrestle the likes of Ric Flair and Rick Martel. If you’re a fan of the LOD there is plenty of great stuff for you to collect.

WCW NES GameRemco AWA Road Warriors figuresLOD T-ShirtLOD DVD

So you just had a quick crash course all about The Legion of Doom and just how impactful they were as a tag team. I mean they were the first team that was able capture the Tag Titles in all three major federations (WWF, WCW, AWA) as well as hold the belts of many other minor and major promotions. So some time back when I found out that a comic book series was made about them I was pretty hyped to track them down, and thanks to Mavericks and Lone Star Comics, I was able to read them for the first time just for this blog update! And I must say I am pretty hyped to see what kind of action and story they come up with for this tag team. So before we enter the ring, I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So with that let’s get ready to rumble and witness Hawk and Animal do what they do best and that’s kick some butt.

Fifth Force Hawk & Animal 1

The Fifth Force: Hawk & Animal  # 1   *
Released in 1999   Cover Price $1.99   Antarctic Press   # 1 of 2

Mr. Dart is a shadow faced trench coat wearing henchman for Dr. Rancid who use their corrupt powers to frame The Legion of Doom as cheaters! When Hawk & Animal show up in Japan they meet with manager Vern who tells them they are under investigation for cheating to win the Tag Titles, and this means they are banned from wrestling and all their money is being tied up until things can be figured out. The Legion of Doom are upset and that’s when they get a visit from Mr. Dart who tells them he can make it all go away if they wrestle tonight and loose the belts; he even gives them money to help smooth over throwing the match. Hawk and Animal give it some thought and don’t see any other way out because they want to wrestle and go into the match against rivals The Kabuki Men with losing on their mind. The match is one sided as Animal takes a beating from Kabuki Men and just when all looks lost, Hawk wants to tag in and issue one comes to an end.

The Legion Of Doom are ass kicking machines who have always seemed to play by their own rules in every federation they have wrestled for so why in the world would issue one have them thinking of throwing a match all cause of some chumped up charges of cheating? Plus what the hell….so in Japan if they think you cheated to win wrestling belts, they can not only ban you from the sport all over the world, but can also tie up all your money…what federation are they working for, one ran by the Yukuza?! Hawk and Animal in the issue come off as wrestlers who have two thing on their minds and that’s wrestling and being champions, but man they also come off as mindless drones as they just go along with what a shadow faced man tells them he can do for them. Neither Dart nor Rancid come off as a big threat making this comic kind of just spin in neutral. The art is pretty cheesy and not the style I like as it has an amateur style mixed with American style Manga and is done by an unknown artist because I could not find their credit anywhere in the issue. Over all this is a very disappointing comic, and the only real appeal is the fact its about The Legion Of Doom.  So let’s not waste any more time on this simple silly comic and move onto issue # 2.

Fifth Force Hawk & Animal 2

The Fifth Force: Hawk & Animal  # 2   *
Released in 1999    Cover Price $2.50    Antarctic Press    # 2 of 2

Hawk and Animal decide during the match that they are not going to lose the belts to the Kabuki Men and pin them in the ring fair and square. After the match, Hawk and Animal get into the limo and are knocked out by gas and taken to a secret base where they are locked in a metal crate and sent to the bottom of the ocean. Mr. Dart and Dr. Rancid are also frozen and punished by Mr. Yamiyuri who in turn is blown up by the Mob for not bullying The Legion of Doom into losing the belts like they were told. In the end the news is running a story about the missing wrestling tag team champs.

Wow, this second issue is more worthless then the first.  I really hate saying that, but man, this comic series seems very pointless and it goes nowhere. The point of this issue is that The Legion of Doom will not take a fall and that this all has been set up by the mafia who for some reason really wanted the tag titles off Hawk and Animal. All the characters are the same as before, and none of them are fully fleshed out making them all just seem bland and one-dimensional and making you wonder why you should even care on what’s happing. The issue also has the same art and for some reason has a .51 price increase for the same low amount of pages. Not to mention the issue ends on a cliff hanger with The Legion Of Doom missing and at the bottom of the ocean…and the 3rd issue in the series never came out making one wonder what happened to the famed wrestling tag team. Plus I am sure that poor sales and bad reviews are why this series was dead in the water after only two issues. To sum it all up, I would say that this could be one of the worst comic series based on real life pro wrestlers ever made and even die hard Legion of Doom fans like myself will be disappointed in the comics story and quality.

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The Legion of Doom aka The Road Warriors deserved a better comic series than this and to find out that Animal had something to do with it makes it all so much worse. From what I understand the comics were going to be a way to introduce a comic series that would promote healthy living and working out, but when the first two issue bombed, the third issue that was going to lead to this plan was cancelled. This could be the biggest disappointment thus far doing this blog as I really hoped it would at least be entertaining, and all I got was a lame poorly drawn and written comic with no direction. I need something good for the next update to get this terrible comic series out of my brain so I think we will take a look at something a whole lot better as we tackle the 3-D BlackThorne Comic adventures of Bravestarr based on the classic 80’s cartoon made by Filmation! So until then, watch WWE Monday Night Raw and read a comic or two and remember the rush you got watching the LOD dominate the world of Tag Team Wrestling.

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Horror Host Icon: USA Saturday Nightmares

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  Today’s update will be about that wonderful Saturday night block of horror known as USA Saturday Nightmares! I know many of you are saying how can this be about a Horror Host when the films and TV shows were aired with no host? Well simple, while no host was shown, the iconic voice of Alan Kalter would welcome us to the night’s fears and even give an introduction to the nights film making the show feel like a horror host program. So it’s truly my honor to present to you my readers and friends Horror Host Icon: USA Saturday Nightmares.

USA Saturday Nightmares Logo

Saturdays when I was a kid were a fantastic time for TV.  Not only was the day packed with classic cartoons all morning but it also was swamped with some great horror host programs like Commander USA’s Groovie Movies, Super Scary Saturday with Grandpa Munster and USA Up All Night. But one horror themed program that my brother and I looked forward to every Saturday night was Saturday Nightmares on USA.  It was like clock work as we would beg our parents to let us watch the night’s horror film and as an extra bonus they would show such TV shows as The Hitchhiker, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Werewolf and Ray Bradbury Theater making for one spooky themed night. This is the place I first saw many great b-movie horror films like The Video Dead, Zombie Nightmare and Forever Evil and is also the place I got to see such classics as Friday The 13th and Prom Night. My brother and I would plant ourselves in front of the living room TV with a bowl of popcorn or potato chips as our parents would go watch TV in their room, and we would be sucked into the eerie terror glowing from the TV screen as most the times we would turn off the lights to add to the atmosphere and mood of the night’s feature movie. The block of programs was very simply formatted and would start at 8 pm with the intro to the show that would act as a way to show you the plot of the film as well as the two shows with a amazing voice over.  The most famous intro consisted of a haunted house with the camera going down a hallway where the pictures on the wall would morph from say Dracula to Frankenstein and the next from Freddy Kruger to Jason Voorhees. During breaks they would have a title card with the show’s logo and the voice intro-ing us in or out of a commercial break. Sometimes if the movie was running a little short on run time, they would fill in with a short horror film, the most popular being The Dummy that was also shown many times on HBO. Saturday Nightmares began in 1986 and would run till 1994 before USA would pull the plug on their horror block on Saturday nights.  This was a sad day indeed because by 1989 Commander USA was off the air and Up All Night only lasted 4 years more when it went off the air in 1998. Nowadays USA is a shell of what it used to be and now mainly focuses on Law and Order and C.S.I. reruns making for some boring and over played viewing. I will say that USA does still air WWE Raw as well as makes their own shows, but they are far from “America’s Favorite Cable Network” like they use to be.

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That’s something TV nowadays is really lacking, the horror program blocks that were so popular in the 80’s and 90’s, and when USA dropped the ball, TNT picked it up when they introduced Monstervison in 1993, but that series will be held for another Icon update. DATV in 2013 tried to make a great horror themed line up called Saturday Night Nightmares that showcased Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales of The Macabre as well as Andy Copp’s cult movie review show Neon Madness and his “mix tape” style show called Psychotic Feed. But sadly the program block was too hard for them and myself to keep up on a weekly bases with new and fresh “cult” style shows so as quickly as it started it ended. I really wish USA Network would bring back Saturday Nightmares as well as Commander USA and Up All Night; I think it would surprise them on just how many people really do miss and want these shows back on the air. Shows like Saturday Nightmares was a great place for kids to watch and learn about horror films that were not in the mainstream as well as those were.  While many would say that they can learn about these films via the internet, nothing could take the place of sitting in front of the TV with your favorite snack and watching horrors unfold before your eyes on your TV screen. In fact when I was a kid, I can remember kids talking about some of the films we all had watched on USA Saturday Nightmares and comparing what part we got chills from and what deaths shocked us.  It’s a shame that this kind of enjoyment is taken away from the youth of today.

USA Saturday Nightmares Short Film LogoSaturday Nightmares Haunted Castle

So below are some USA Saturday Nightmares I own on DVD-R, and while no host segments are present, I still will take the film descriptions from IMDB so you can see what types of horrors as I kid I got to witness. And as an added bonus I will also include the horror films from the 80’s and early 90’s that I have that were taped from USA Network. So sit back and relax and welcome to my Saturday Nightmares!

USA Saturday Nightmares curse of the cat people dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  The Curse Of The Cat People
Starring – Simone Simon & Kent Smith      Not Rated      1944

Movie: This mostly unrelated sequel to Cat People (1942) has Amy, the young daughter of Oliver and Alice Reed. Amy is a very imaginative child who has trouble differentiating fantasy from reality, and has no friends her own age as a result. She makes an imaginary friend though, her father’s dead first wife Irena. At about the same time, she befriends Julia Farren, an aging reclusive actress who is alienated from her own daughter Barbara.

USA Saturday Nightmares friday the 13th dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  Friday The 13th
Starring – Betsy Palmer & Adrienne King    Rated R      1980

Movie: One summer at Camp Crystal Lake, a group of young counselors begin to get ready to lead campers. Unfortunately for the former, someone isn’t happy about what’s going on in the camp and enjoys playing kill the counselor. As bodies fall to the ground in the camp, no one is safe.

USA Saturday Nightmares spookies dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  Spookies
Starring – Felix Ward & Dan Scott      Rated R    1986

Movie: Taking a wrong turn, travelers find themselves trapped in a mysterious house. One horror after another threatens them as the sorcerer who lives within needs sacrifices to give eternal life to his beautiful bride.

USA Saturday Nightmares tourist trap dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  Tourist Trap
Starring – Chuck Connors & Tanya Roberts    Rated PG      1979

Movie: A group of young friends stranded at a secluded roadside museum are stalked by the owner of the place, who has the power to control his collection of mannequins.

USA Saturday Nightmares werewolf dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  Werewolf
Starring – Chuck Connors & John J. York      Not Rated      1987

Movie: Young Eric has been bitten by a werewolf. However, he’s not particularly thrilled by this turn of affairs and wishes to escape his curse.

USA Saturday Nightmares shorts dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  The Dummy & Living Dolls
Starring – Carrie Vickrey & Park Dougherty      Not Rated    1982/1980

Movies: The Dummy - A woman is trapped in her apartment alone with a murderous ventriloquist dummy. Living Dolls - Melvin is a henpecked worker in a Bridal shop. To get way from the nagging women, he retreats to a storage room filled with mannequins where he vents his frustration. The only problem is, the mannequins upstairs offer something more horrifying than Melvin expected.

So while your blood is still chilled from all these nightmares, I should also take a moment to highlight some great horror films that aired on USA during the 80’s and early 90’s that I happen to own on DVD-R and VHS, cause I would never get the chance to speak about them any other time that would be as fitting as this update! The main regular none Nightmare or Groovie Movie USA Network airing of a horror film I remember has to be the George Romero zombie epic Day of The Dead.  They did a great job of promoting the premiere, and my brother and I were so hyped to watch it and were not let down after seeing it. I happened to get a copy of an 80’s USA Network airing of Day of the Dead from my pal Jason Young who taped it off TV when he was a kid.  He edited out the commercials but left the amazing intro that showed clips of Night of the Living Dead. So a big thanks goes to Jason for letting me watch the USA Network TV print of my favorite Romero Dead film again. So here are a few of those films that also scared the young viewers at the time of airing.

USA Network Day of the dead dvd

USA Movie:  Day Of The Dead
Starring – Lori Cardille & Joseph Pilato      Rated R      1985

Movie: Zombies rule the world, except for a small group of scientists and military personnel who reside in an underground bunker in Florida. The scientists are using the undead in gruesome experiments, much to the chagrin of the military. Finally the military finds that their men have been used in the scientists’ experiments, and banish the scientists to the caves that house the Living Dead. Unfortunately, the zombies from above ground have made their way into the bunker.

USA Network_childs play 3 dvd

USA Movie:  Child’s Play 3
Starring – Brad Dourif & Justin Whalin      Rated R      1991

Movie: Chucky, the doll possessed by a serial killer, returns for revenge against Andy, the young boy that defeated him and has since become adult.

USA Network_Psycho 3 dvd

USA Movie:  Psycho III
Starring – Anthony Perkins & Jeff Fahey        Rated R      1986

Movie: Norman Bates is still running his little motel, and he has kept the dressed skeleton he calls mother. One of his guests is a young girl who has left the convent where she lived. To get some help he employs a young man. One day a nosy journalist comes to see him to ask questions about his past.

Note From Matt: I was lucky to get this 1995 USA Network Broadcast of Psycho III thanks to my friend Mike Ritchie who taped it off TV during the cool marathon they were having called “Psycho Saturday”. The film is complete with commercials that is highlighted by advertisements for WWF Monday Night Raw, Duckman and Tekwar. I found another tape at his house that had only a small part of Psycho IV taken from the same marathon but it was taped over with WCW Monday Nitro…yeah he has a lot of wrestling tapes.

USA Network Logo

While we are on the subject of USA Network, I should also take a brief moment to talk about a syndicated show they used to air called “Kung-Fu Theatre” because otherwise I never will be able to. The show would feature some really cool martial arts films, many made by The Shaw Brothers exposing viewers to the vast world of Kung-Fu films. The show aired in the early 80’s and disappeared by the mid 80’s and made room for Commander USA as well as all the other movie themed broadcast that followed. One thing I remember that USA did one summer in the early 90’s was called Kung-Fu June where they would play some really cool martial arts films one being called Chinese Super Ninjas, a film I still love to this day. I can remember thinking that this June long fun event would happen every year and was let down when it did not. But as you can see USA Network back then did not just cater to the horror fans they also were delivering action to the Martial Arts fans…those were the days. Below are some screen grabs from Kung-Fu Theatre, so check em out and enjoy.

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I happen to have two episodes of Kung-Fu Theatre from the USA Network thanks to my horror host pal Dr. Pureblood, so why not showcase them a little as well while I have the chance.

kungfu theatre ninja exterminators

Kung-Fu Theatre:  Ninja Exterminators
Starring – Lung Chan & Lung Ching      Not Rated    1980

Movie: A ruthless rapist and jewel thief and his gang are brought to justice by a cop and a young avenger.

kungfu theatre showdown at the equator

Kung-Fu Theatre:  Showdown At The Equator
Starring – Lieh Lo & Nora Miao      Rated R      1978

Movie: An undercover detective uses a restaurant targeted by harassment by a criminal gang to infiltrate the gang and arrest its members.

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USA Saturday Nightmares meant a lot to me growing up, and spending Saturday night watching a cheesy horror film as well as horror related TV shows with my family was what I called a perfect weekend night. Looking back at USA Network as a whole, back then the whole station was iconic to me as I would watch Commander USA’s Groovie Movies, USA Cartoon Express, WWF Monday Night Raw and so many other great programs that all entertained me. If you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and had cable I am sure you also watched many of these shows, and if you were into horror I am sure you watched Saturday Nightmares and know what I mean about how awesome it was to watch. I should also note that I am looking for more taped off TV Saturday Nightmares movies and if you have some please contact me as I would love to watch them! So as this Horror Host Icon update comes to an end, I think our next update will be based around the world of pro wrestling’s most dominate tag teams and the mini comic series based around them and of course I am talking about The Legion of Doom! So until then make sure to support your local horror host and watch a horror film or two, cause you never know maybe you’ll have your own nightmare.

Legion Of Doom Logo

Spider-Man Cares About Your Teeth

Do you like candy? How about soda or bubble gum? What about cakes and pies? Well we all have a sweet tooth from time to time and besides your dentist, you know who else cares about your teeth and dental healthcare? Is it the president of the United States…nope. While he cares some, the man I am talking about really cares a lot. Could it be Timmy The Tooth…well, no. While he does care about our teeth, he is not who we are talking about at this time. The man I am thinking of is a hero of the super variety, and it’s not Colgate Junior or Sparkle Man.  I’m talking about the one and only Amazing Spider-Man! You see, when he’s not beating up the likes of Rhino and Venom, he is fighting the good fight against cavities and gum disease alongside AIM toothpaste, and this quick update to Rotten Ink is about Spidey’s fight for healthy teeth and will serve as a reminder to brush your teeth three times a day.

Colgate JuniorTimmy The ToothSparkle

When I was young, I believed in the Tooth Fairy just like most young kids did.  When I would loose a tooth, I would leave it on the kitchen counter and in the morning there would be a dollar left in its place. I was always confused about why I had to leave it on the counter and not under my pillow like the story goes, but when I would see that dollar that question would be thrown out the window as I would just think about what toy or comic I could buy for my cash prize. I always pictured the tooth fairy as a beautiful blonde woman with a smile that would light up a room.  She loved her job and collected all the teeth and kept them in jars. But my belief in the Tooth Fairy was very short lived as my Mom spilled the beans that there was no such thing and thats she and my dad were the ones leaving the money.  It’s a good thing too because I could remember at night counting how many more baby teeth I had left and adding the dollar amounts to each. My parents always made sure that my brother and I brushed our teeth and even got us kid friendly mouth wash, and at school in Waynesville, they use to make us swish fluoride like once every two weeks and man that stuff the school gave us was so gross.  The taste still haunts my taste buds to this day. One cartoon that sticks out in my mind that I saw when I was younger was Ren & Stimpy on Nickelodeon called “Ren’s Toothache” where Ren’s teeth all rot and fall out and he even gets a visit from the Tooth Fairy who is a creepy old man dressed in a tutu who leaves him lint instead of money. This episode is so gross and so oddly great, it has always stuck out in my mind. I also want to point out that the Tooth Fairy has been turned into a monster in a few horror films but the most popular was the 2003 film Darkness Falls about an evil spirit of a woman who was wrongfully accused of kidnapping some missing children and is burned alive.  Now in modern times her ghost is killing kids and families if they see her as she comes for the lost teeth under pillows. The film was a minor success but did spark a Dark Horse Comic prequel as well as an action figure made by McFarlane Toys. So that’s just a few of the things that I think of when teeth and dental care pops into my mind.

Blonde Tooth FairyR&S ToothfairyDFalls Toothfairy

In Waynesville I can remember also watching many great educational shows during class like Reading Rainbow, Mr. Wizard and Slim Goodbody, who will be the topic of this section of the update. Slim Goodbody was created and played by John Burstein and was the Superhero of Health who wore a tight body suit that showed muscle and organs and would teach kids good eating and grooming habits to try and stay healthy. Burstein created the character in 1975 and made appearances at hospitals as well as had small segments on TV shows like Captain Kangaroo, Good Morning America and The Today Show.  With these segments Slim Goodbody became a popular character in children education. By 1980, PBS gave Slim Goodbody his own series that for years would be the network’s second highest rated show, and with this also came making books about health. To this day Slim Goodbody is still teaching his message and even was featured in a 2013 Super Bowl ad for Radio Shack that showcased many 80’s icons including Hulk Hogan and Jason Voorhees. I always enjoyed watching Slim at school and learned a lot of things about the human body from Slim, oh yes I also learned things about teeth from him! So here is to you, Mr. Slim Goodbody, for being a good role model to kids. Oh yeah one other thing, with Slim’s popularity it’s shocking that no one made a comic series based on his healthy adventures…another missed series that Star Comics could have made.

Slim Goodbody 1Slim Goodbody 2Slim Goodbody 3

One thing before we get into the Marvel/Aim Toothpaste comics that I would like to talk about is the 80’s and 90’s weird toothpaste flavors for kids, the most notable being bubble gum that was green and was a tie-in to the cartoon series The Real Ghostbusters and used Slimer as its mascot! The Slimer toothpaste had a real sugary taste to it and looked a little strange sitting on your toothbrush. My parents never did get it for us as they almost always bought us just Crest, but my cousins Wayne and John did have the toothpaste and while at their house, we got to try it. One thing is for sure, back in the 80’s and early 90’s companies sure did try very hard to encourage kids to brush their teeth and floss and used all types of gimmicks to try and make it cool; from mascots to cartoon tie-ins, companies wanted to kill those pesky mouth germs. So did any of you readers out there ever brush your teeth with Slimer toothpaste?

Slimer Toothpaste 1Slimer Toothpaste 2Slimer Toothpaste 3

One other thing I loved as a kid were the character tooth brushes by companies like Oral-B.  Picking a tooth brush always was fun as you flipped past Star Wars characters, Bugs Bunny and even WWF Wrestlers. Ones I can remember having as a kid were The Ultimate Warrior, Bugs Bunny and Darth Vader and while they were very generic in style, these character brushes made brushing more fun.

Star Wars ToothbrushWWF Toothbrush

So are you ready to brush your teeth with Spider-Man and Aim Toothpaste? Cause Spidey really wants you to have a good check up next time your at the dentist! So I should thank Mavericks and Bell Book And Comic for having these issues in stock, and I should also remind my readers I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So let’s take a hit off the “laughing gas” and give a great big smile cause Spider-Man is going to kick some bad teeth care in the butt.

Amazing Spider-Man Aim Toothpaste 1

The Amazing Spider-Man: Aim Toothpaste  # 1  ***
Released in 1980    Cover Price .40    Marvel Comics      #1 of 2

Peter Parker has to babysit and take J. Jonah Jameson’s nephew Randy to the dentist as part of his job at the Daily Bugle.  While there he meets dentist Raymond Sadetsky who had created a Dental Laser that will change the face of tooth care forever! But during Randy’s check up, The Green Goblin kidnaps the dentist and even beats Spider-Man who tries to rescue the dentist. The next day when Peter and Randy are at the zoo, they pass by a police car and hear that Green Goblin is now attacking the Robert Bite’s jewel shop, and after ditching Randy once more Peter becomes Spider-Man and rushes to the rescue, only to once more fail.  This time Green Goblin escapes with tons of rubies and before he leaves, lets out a clue about bridgework. The next day Peter Parker takes Randy to the dental exhibit to snap some pictures for the Bugle, and all the while the Goblin’s “clue” picks away at Peter who drops off Randy at Aunt May’s and heads to a steel mill underneath a bridge and finds Green Goblin stealing some piping.  Once more Spidey tries to stop him and fails; this time web head even finds himself at death’s door as he is buried under tons of steel! While Spider-Man tries to save himself, it’s very clear Green Goblin is using Sadetsky to build him something that will make him rich and even be used to kill superheroes…but what is it? Spider-Man gets free of his death trap and thanks to his Spidey tracker finds the Green Goblin’s secret hideout right as he receives a powerful laser ray and during the fight Sadetsky gets hurt and Spider-Man must get him to the hospital and Goblin gets away. In the end Green Goblin goes to the Dental Exhibit with his laser to steal all the gold and silver used for fillings but is stopped thanks to Spider-Man who knocks him into a giant pair of teeth that holds the Goblin down. Peter Parker sells some pictures of the Goblin and Spidey fight as Randy goes back to the dentist to fill the cavities he has, and Raymond Sadetsky is a-ok.

The adventure Spider-Man has just to try and make brushing your teeth hip and cool as well as going to the dentist is one heck of a fun ride that comes off not too preachy and holds a classic Silver Age Marvel charm. First things first, I have to say is J. Jonah Jameson is a terrible uncle as he passes of his young nephew on Peter Parker and makes him take him all over New York.  Now think about that how well does Jameson really trust Parker as a responsible adult…not at all! Randy is a very well behaved kid who wants to be a photographer so being around Parker is a good learning tool for the young man, even though his Uncle wants him to be a reporter. Peter Parker does a great job babysitting and does an even better job ditching the kid when he needs to change into his alter ego. Spider-Man for some reason feels out classed in this issue as Green Goblin makes a fool out of him many times during the several battles they have, but when push comes to shove Spidey saved the day and even managed to save a dentist. Green Goblin is filled with giving clues in the issue and really reminded me of the DC Batman super villain The Riddler, but man he sure does pack a punch and gives Spider-Man a run for his money. While the comic is sponsored by AIM Toothpaste, besides one tiny ad in the back and the logo on the cover, they do not push themselves into shameless plugs and ram that everyone should use their toothpaste down the readers throats. The over all feel of the comic is that of a classic Marvel Spider-Man issue, and I must say this reader enjoyed every cheesy panel of it. The comic would have cost .40 but if you bought AIM, if was free with the purchase. Alex Saviuk, who was an a-lister artist that worked on the normal Amazing Spider-Man series and is truly a master of the Silver Age, does the art. Check out below for a sample of the art from this issue.

Spider-Man Aim Art 1

So with that let’s get onto issue 2 and see what other tooth filled adventure Spider-Man can have and what super villain will stand in the way of good dental care this time!

Amazing Spider-Man Aim Toothpaste 2

The Amazing Spider-Man: Aim Toothpaste # 2   **1/2
Released in 1982    Cover Price .60    Marvel Comics      #2 of 2

Peter Parker has been sent to Cape Canaveral to take pictures of a space shuttle/ weather satellite launch for the Daily Bugle, but while in the pressroom, he notices Doctor Octopus who seems to be in pain and rushes out of the room and drives away.  Peter as Spider-Man now follows him and finds that Doc Ock is going to the dentist Dr. Allen who gives the super villain a filling in a tooth giving him a problem and also notices a metal object wedged in one of his teeth and this sets Doc Ock into a rage! Once Dr. Allen helps Doc Ock, he then goes to help Peter Parker who followed his arch enemy and loses his trail when the dentist gives him a check up, but while there he learns that Doc Ock has a small transmitter in his mouth and he is planning on high jacking the launch! Peter rushes out and turns back into Spider-Man and makes short work of Octopus’s thugs and then Ock himself.  One power punch even knocks the transmitter from his tooth! In the end Doc Ock gets more dental care in prison, and Peter Parker sells his pictures of the launch and the fight.

This second AIM Toothpaste comic is pretty good but does not hold the charm of the first give away issue and is way more preachy about tooth care. Spider-Man, while fighting one of his biggest arch enemies, really doesn’t have much to do as his fight with Ock only lasts a few punches as does his fight with the henchmen. Peter Parker is more of the issue’s focus and that’s just so he can visit the dentist and give a run down on how he takes care of his teeth and that he learned good dental habits from his Aunt May. J. Jonah Jameson has a cameo that amounts to nothing more than giving Parker his assignment and in the end telling him that he should visit a dentist regular for healthy teeth. Doctor Octopus is up to his old tricks, but his tooth pain is causing him some major issues and even distracts him from his main prize of high jacking, but man does he go down like a chump in his fight with Spider-Man! The plot is very simple, and most of the issue takes place it seems in the Dentist Office where they push facts about brushing and not eating a lot of sugar snacks with Dr. Allen. Over all there is not much here in this issue, and while it was a fun read, it’s also very forgettable and is clearly sponsored by a toothpaste company. The art is done by ummmm..I don’t know as there are no credits besides of course Stan Lee presents.  We can’t forget that credit now, could we? But take a look below for an example of the art.

Spider-Man Aim Art 2

That’s one thing I loved about classic Marvel, they would do free give away comics for all types of products and charities, and they were always fun cheesy adventures. Spider-Man I think was always a perfect fit for these types of comics because he was well loved by kids, and you could put him in all types of adventures with mascots like Cap’n Crunch or the Quick Bunny.  He could even tackle things like fire safety all the way to back to school, and he would not lose any credit at being a superhero in the youth’s eyes. So when it comes to dental work and to make sure kids brushed their teeth with AIM Toothpaste, Spider-Man was the perfect spokesman!

Spidey Says Brush with Aim

So I am sure you’re wondering what our next update will be about. I mean what could top an update about Spidey hocking a toothpaste product? Well, we will be taking another look at an icon of Horror Hosting as we take a look at USA Saturday Nightmares! So make sure to come back for that one.  Until then make sure to brush your teeth, read a comic and support your local Horror Host, and oh yeah Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

USA Saturday Nightmares Logo copy

The Adventures Of Robo-Raccoon

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  In this update, as promised, I am going to take you back to my past when I was about 10 or 11 years old and was making my own comic books to share with family and friends, and I decided to focus on one of my own creations called Robo-Raccoon, a space adventure animal who packed robotic armor as well as some powerful guns. I used to sit for hours with a number 2 pencil as well as some retractable pencils and colored pencils and drew these comics. I hit my stride doing comics based on the Nickelodeon show Ren & Stimpy that were holiday themed; they were just single panels on a page of paper that had the two characters saying a few lines to each other. While those were my first full comic books, I drew a lot when I was younger, and while I never found myself to be a good artist, I always had fun creating whatever I wanted.  As far back as I can remember I use to draw Frankenstein’s Monster, Captain America, Devils, Demons, Werewolves, Vampires, Dr. Creep, Jason Voorhees, Minatours and many other things that interested my young mind. When I was in Waynesville my art teachers always encouraged me to draw what I was into, and the older I got, I continued to do so.  Even when the terrible art teachers of the Kettering school district tried to label me a devil worshiper and would question why I drew monsters all the time, I still created what I wanted and what I liked no matter how hard they pushed me to not be so weird.

Leatherface by MeMonster From Hell by MeBattletoads by Me The biggest influence on why I made my own comics was my brother Bryan who was making his own comic series to entertain us neighborhood kids called “Weird Tales Of Waynesville” that was humored filled spooky stories about people from out neighborhood and fellow classmates. I can’t tell you how many times I read his comics and laughed at the kooky stories. Sadly he only made one of them before he moved away from doing them and started to make a “sitcom” style live show using Battle Beasts as the neighborhood kids.  Who could forget Matt The Rat or Brad The Warthog? The second influence was a friend of mine named Jeremy Patton who was making stick figure comics called “Todd & Jeremy” about himself and our friend Todd Osborne that had them being like Beavis and Butthead going around causing mischief and fires. The comics were cheesy yet fun, and I even drew a few to give to Jeremy who I don’t think liked it very well that I was making comics based on characters he created. The stick figures had a J in the circle face for Jeremy and a T on the one that was Todd. Last but not least was Marvel Comics who made series like Captain America, Incredible Hulk, Werewolf By Night and many others I grew up reading and enjoying. So I want to thank all three of them for making me want to be comic maker with big dreams even though I had very little talent when it came to drawing. Below is the cover for my brother’s old comic, the middle one sadly is one of my comics based on Todd and Jeremy, as I don’t have any of his originals as well as a Captain America cover to an issue I read all the time.

Weird Tales Of Waynesville # 1Todd and Jeremy by MeCaptain America 185 My first character I made that was a Matt original was Benny The Squirrel, a small little guy who lived in a forest town and would get into adventures along side his buddies Fred The Mole and stick figure man Chuck. I did several comics based on him as well as a few “books”. You see, when I was making these comics and even before, I loved to write short stories about anything and everything.  The most popular topics I would write about were horror short stories, movies, music and video games. But Benny The Squirrel, while not the topic of this home grown update, remains near and dear to my heart, and while many of his original comic adventures of Benny are long gone, maybe some day he will get his own update. The last time Benny was about to make his big return to the comic world was when Jason Young asked me to make a short comic story for his Buyer Beware Anthology 2 and my original idea was a little dark and would have had Benny being down on his luck and in the end taking his own life via a shotgun…I am glad I decided to go with a new character called Mr. Emo based on the Mr. Men franchise trying to get a blue drink from the dollar store. At the time it would have been a rebellious thing to do, killing off a character from my childhood, but I really don’t think I was ready to really let him go and still don’t think I am ready. Below are some pictures of Benny, Chuck and Fred that I drew when I was about 10 for a Halloween horror story book I was writing.

Benny The SquirrelScan 44Fred The Mole

So who really is Robo-Raccoon, and what is he all about I am sure your all asking yourself before we get into this short homegrown comic series created by a very young me. Well here is what I remember of his past: Robo-Raccoon was a character who traveled around space doing the right things and was almost like a bounty hunter who would take on jobs to bring in the galaxy’s worst criminals. A mad scientist on Earth is who created him and made a hybrid between a man and a raccoon and added robotic armor to his creation. While on his journey in space, his allies included a Native American wolf named Wolfen and a Kung-Fu rabbit named Ninja Bunny. Robo-Raccoon was my most popular character among my peers, and I can remember some fellow classmates commenting on how cool he was.  I also remember my mom reading all the issues that came out that was a total of 4. The silly thing about the comic series was that each “issue” was only about 2-4 pages long, and sadly I never did finish the story arc. Death Maker was the super villain created to be the thorn in Robo’s side; he was a cyborg zombie who could not be killed and was the master of hand to hand combat. I created all types of bad guys for Robo-Raccoon to fight in space and even Earth, but most of them never got a time to shine in my comic world. I must also state that I am not going to give these issues a 1-4 star rating because they are the mad ramblings of a young monster kid with a big imagination. I must also say that I am not 100% sure of the year I made these comics but I did some guessing and think I was able to pinpoint it. Plus I love all the spelling errors and even the misspelling of my own characters.  Oh, the joys of being young and always in a hurry to get things done. Below are pictures of Robo-Raccoon, Ninja Bunny and Death Maker.  Enjoy them up close in all their glory.

Robo-RaccoonNinja BunnyDeath Maker So let’s not wait any longer.  Let’s climb into the spaceship and go on a bounty hunt with the one and only Robo-Raccoon! Robo Raccoon 1

Robo-Raccoon  # 1
Released in 1990   Cover Price .75   Cosmic Comics   # 1 of 4

Robo-Raccoon enters a bar on a mission to find Ninja Bunny and get his help, but while at the bar, bartender Bulk informs them that the owner Jabba The Hut does not allow animals in, and is about to have Boba Fett kick them out when Death Maker, a powerful zombie cyborg, steps in and says they are his guests.  They all go to Jabba to plead their case, who in turn kicks them all out of his bar! Death Maker is mad and punches out Bulk as Robo-Raccoon shoots Death Maker in the chest as he knows it’s been a set up all along as Death Marker stands back up and is joined by Bulk, Pumpkin Head and Shadow, and they have Ninja Bunny as a hostage.

Well that’s the plot of the first issue…are you drawn into the action and story…yeah didn’t think so! So as you can see, the comic throws us into the middle of a mission for Robo-Raccoon that we the readers have no clue about, but we know it’s important and that Ninja Bunny is needed to complete said mission. Bulk is a generic version of The Incredible Hulk, who was inspired by an old Mad Magazine version of The Hulk, who in fact I think name was Bulk. This issue also had cameos from many Star Wars characters like Jabba The Hut, Boba Fett and even Bib Fortuna showing that Star Wars really did have a grip on my imagination! As I said, Death Maker was created to be the arch-villain of Robo and is clearly a major threat that is un-killable and super strong. Pumpkin Head is a cursed Halloween Jack-O Lantern with a thick vine body, and Shadow is simple a masked Phantom. The issue is left on a cliffhanger and makes the reader wonder how Robo-Racoon is going to get past all the bad guys who are aiming for him.  Let alone, will Ninja Bunny make it out alive?! Below is artwork from my old comic that showcases when all the bad guys show up at the end of the story…enjoy. Robo Art 1 Alright let’s move onto issue # 2 so you can all see what happens next. Robo Raccoon 2

Robo-Raccoon  # 2
Released in 1990   Cover Price .00   Cosmic Comics   # 2 of 4

We come back and find Robo-Raccoon and Ninja Bunny in a jail cell as Bulk is their jailer.  He is knocked out by a ball and chain flung by Wolfen, who takes the pair to Jabba The Hut to buy the services of 5 other bounty hunters for $300.00 that are Conan The Barbarian, Boba Fett, Black Spy, Cybrg and an orange M&M.  They all split into groups to track down and kill Death Maker.  The issue ends with Conan, Boba Fett and Black Spy blasting off in a spaceship.

This second issue is a set up to showcase a second group of heroes that will be joining the hunt, and man, how cool is it that when I was a kid, in my mind it made perfect sense that Conan The Barbarian would be in space teaming up with the Black Spy from Mad Magazine’s Spy vs. Spy and Star Wars Boba Fett, not to mention an orange talking M&M and a bionic eyed lion named Cybrg. Plus it’s funny how Jabba The Hut was a jerk to Robo-Raccoon in the first issue for being an animal, but by the second is fine with Wolfen, a wolf Native American man who buys a total of 5 bounty hunters with only $300.00….man, bounty hunters in space are cheap! Not much happens action-wise in this issue unless you count Bulk getting hit in the back of the head with a ball and chain. Check out the art below for the super awesome bounty hunter line up. Robo Art 2 Let’s move onto the third issue in my Robo-Raccoon comic series and see just what action happens next! Robo Raccoon 3

Robo-Raccoon  # 3
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.25   Cosmic Comics   # 3 of 4

Conan with Black Spy and Boba Fett have landed on Mars and meet Herman, a tiny one eyed alien, as well as his friend a Xenomorph who attacks Conan after a massive feast! After the attack, Herman apologizes for his friend’s attack and asks if Conan could help them rid their planet of King Ghidorah, the three headed monster, for some gold. After the battle, bloody and bruised but richer, Conan shows up to the tent of his fellow bounty hunters and informs them they will be leaving the next day as Death Maker is not on Mars.

So Conan is clearly the leader of the second group on the hunt, and his men seem loyal to his word. On the planet Mars not only does King Ghidorah of Godzilla movie fame live but so does a Xenomorph from the Alien movies! Herman was a character I was drawing before I made this comic, and he is a small green guy with one big eye and tentacles as feet. While Conan is attacked by the Xenomorph and does battle with Ghidorah, his poor teammates Black Spy and Boba Fett don’t get to see any action. Below are some pics from this issue to show you what my Xenomorph, Ghidorah and Herman look like.

Alien (me)Herman The Alien3 Headed Monster Well we are now on the final issue in this classic cosmic comic series done by me when I was a kid.  So far I must say that this comic story is all over the place and that to me it is fun looking back because it just shows you all the stuff I loved at the time being thrown together to make a storyline that I am sure only made sense in my own mind! But with that let’s get to the final issue! Robo Raccoon 4

Robo-Raccoon  # 4
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.75   Cosmic Comics   # 4 of 4

Robo-Raccoon, along with Wolfen, Cybrg, Ninja Bunny and the Orange M&M, are on the Moon when they mistakenly fall into a crater! When Robo-Raccoon and M&M wake up, they meet a Swamp Creature who takes them to a temple where they find their friends suspended in the air via ropes. Swamp Man informs them that Death Maker is not on the moon and will help them get their friends down and is now going to join their quest.

This final issue has Robo on the moon with his friends, and the only thing that happens is they meet a swamp man who is a generic version of Marvel’s Man-Thing and they fall into a crater. It’s a pretty lame way to end a series but that’s just the way it went down in the world of Cosmic Comics! Below is some artwork that I did for this issue. Robo art 4 Looking back now being 35 years old at comics I made when I was 11 is really a fun time, and I can remember how proud I was of these comics when I was young.  Now I am almost embarrassed by all the spelling errors and cheesy silly artwork but still love the characters and idea of them. As I reread them and scanned them, I remembered sitting in front of the fireplace with my pencils and clip board drawing till my “comic” was done. I am sure you’re wondering why only 4 issues of Robo-Raccoon were made by Cosmic Comics.  Well it’s simple; when I was making these comics I was also making comics based on Conan The Barbarian, Bat-Bat from Mighty Mouse fame as well as an original character called Miss Freedom and sadly Robo-Raccoon just got lost in the shuffle of my young mind, and never was to be completed once I moved onto other ways to entertain my imagination, comic making was not in the cards. Comic book making is one of the things that let me move onto doing such cool things creatively as writing more stories and even film reviews, making my own shot on video movies and even making my own radio shows complete with dramas about me and my cousins being paranormal investigators. Who knows, maybe some time in the coming years I will share some of my other original old school comic work, but only time will tell for sure. Well we have come to the end of the hunt and tonight after you read this, I want you to look to the night sky and just know that Robo-Raccoon is up there rounding up aliens and outlaw scum and making our world a safer place. Our next update is going to be a look at Spider-Man, who wants all of us to have clean and healthy teeth and suggests we use AIM Toothpaste in two Marvel Comic giveaways.  So until then, take some time and be creative in your own way and enjoy this wonderful world we all share. spiderman aim toothpaste

The Tender Flesh Of Amber Newman

Imagine you’re invited to a nice hunting getaway by a bunch of rich people who you just have meet.  They treat you super nice and feed you a huge feast the night before the big hunt and give you a nice comfy bed to sleep in. When you wake up the next morning you find yourself the prey as you are the rich snob’s human target! This has been the plot of many Hollywood movies like “Hard Target” with Jean Claude Van Damme and “Surviving The Game” with Ice-T, and it also is the plot of the Jess Franco cheap shot flick Tender Flesh that will be the subject of today’s update! So for this quick update we should learn some survival tactics in order to survive yet another Draculina Photo Comic!

Tender Flesh 0

In 1997, Jess Franco made the film Tender Flesh and this film sparked his shot on video “boom” of releases that were coming out via Sub Rosa and Alternative Cinema on VHS and DVD. The film was written and directed by Jess Franco who also did some of the soundtrack and executive produced. It starred Lina Romay, Amber Newman, Monique Parent and Aldo Sambrell with Newman being the lead. The film’s plot that I don’t want to get too much into on this part of the update and would rather save it for the comic part is about a stripper who is sold by her boyfriend into a game of hunting humans on a remote island. I can remember seeing the film on VHS to rent at places like West Coast Video and K&L Video and never wanting to see it all that much even though it did have Amber Newman in it. Years after it came out, I watched the film on DVD with my pal Jason Gilmore during one of our all night watching movies and playing video games marathons and like most of Franco’s work at this time, we both disliked it, but yet still had fun watching just how cheesy and sleazy it was. The film not only was released on VHS and DVD as a single feature but also as a double feature paired with another Franco flick “Lust For Frankenstein” giving the viewer two low budget sleazy films for the price of one. So if you’re itching to see this film after you read the comic adaptation review you can find it out in the world, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tender Flesh 01Tender Flesh PosterTender Flesh 02

Tender Flesh stars the queen of softcore porn Monique Parent who was a popular B actress at the time of this film’s release. Her first major role was in the 1991 erotic Cinemax classic “Night Visions,” and from there her career took off as she took roles in such sleazy films as “Sex And The Single Alien”, “Body of Influence”, “Night Eyes 3”, “Sexual Outlaws”, “Stripshow”, “The Key To Sex” and “Black Scorpion”. The role I remember her for is Cassandra in “Mirror, Mirror III: The Voyeur”, while a weak entry in the horror series I still remember her performance. One other really cool thing about Monique is she also was an actress in the full motion video game “Phantasmagoria 2: A Puzzle Of Flesh” as she played Jocilyn Rowan. Monique Parent never broke into hardcore adult films even though her fans wanted her to, and she is still working to this day at the age of 49 as she is to star in the horror film “Axeman 2: OverKill” due out sometime this year. While never one of my favorite sleaze queens, I still respect her work in the b-movie world.

Monique Parent 1Monique Parent 2Monique Parent 3

Another actress that stars in this action erotic thriller is Analia Ivars who was a Spanish actress who did some work before she became one of Franco’s go-to gals when it came to taking her cloths off in his 90’s shot on video stinkers. Her first role with him was Tender Flesh in 1997, and she would go on to show her goods and acting chops in such Franco films as “Mari-Cookie And The Killer Tarantula”, “Lust For Frankenstein”, “Vampire Blues”, “Dr. Wong’s Virtual Hell” and “Helter Skelter” in 2000. After her time with Franco and his One Shot Production Company, she went on to be in a few others films with her latest being “Cenizas Bajo El Mar” that translates to Ashes Under The Sea. A good-looking b-actress who was willing to show it all plus some to help with Francos movie magic is the best way to end this look at Analia.

Analia Ivars 1Analia Ivars 2Analia Ivars 3

Before I torture myself with reading another Franco inspired photo comic from Draculina, I would like to take a look at another film I would love to see turned into a comic series and that’s the 1956 black and white horror film called “The Werewolf” that was directed by Fred S. Sears and stars Steven Ritch as Duncan Marsh, a man lost in a small town (Mountaincrest) during the cold winter with no memory as to who he is thanks to a car wreck, but things are worse for him as he turns into a werewolf and kills a local bully! Now in the snow covered hills in the woods, he hides as the locals come looking for him as does his searching wife and son, but also the two scientists that are the ones who made him into this monster by experimenting on him with wolf’s blood. Will Duncan be saved and returned to his family? Will the Sheriff and his nurse girlfriend be able to find a cure? Or will the scientists kill him before he can tell their secret? The film took a cool twist with the werewolf legend and it’s no longer supernatural, a scientific experiment gone terribly wrong.  This more science driven approach would also be used in the 1957 film, The Vampire. I first saw the film on TNT and taped it on a VHS tape and would watch the film from time to time; it even played on TNT’s Monstervision when it was un-hosted. I really liked the film and the atmosphere of the small mountain town. If this was to be made into a comic book, I would like to see it start from the beginning and act as a prequel to the film, show the evil things the scientist did to Duncan and show how he escaped and his journey to Mountaincrest and all the transformations he had along the way. Duncan as a werewolf could be almost like an antihero much like Eric Cord of Werewolf fame and could in some odd way stop the bad guys while saving the good ones. For instance a young man takes his girlfriend to the drive-in and had very bad intentions after the night’s film, you see he is not who she thinks he is because he ain’t just the local jock he is also a real lady killer! And Duncan stops at the Drive In for a late night hotdog and his Werewolf side ends up saving the young lady from being strangled. Or they could go the opposite and just make Duncan’s werewolf side a killing machine, and show the human sides torment of finding out what his other dark side has done. The comic just needs to end with the car wreck that leaves him with no memory. I would have loved to have seen Dell make this comic, and if I would have it done, I would say Justin Wasson or Jeff Potter would be my picks for sure. Who knows, like the other films I would love comics of made, maybe someday I can get this in a custom comic just for Rotten Ink.

The Werewolf 1The Werewolf 1956  POSTERThe Werewolf 2

Well we have arrived at the point on this update where I will be reviewing the comic, and so far we have covered Spanish actress Analia Ivars, softcore queen Monique Parent as well as even a comic I would like to see made based on the ’56 film The Werewolf, so I think I have done well for this quick update! Before we join the hunt, I should tell you rule # 1, that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I want to also thank Ebay for having this in stock and thank Amber Newman for at least giving me something pretty to look at. So to let you readers also know what Sleazy Queen plays what character I will give you a rundown: Newman plays Paula, Romay plays Gorgona, Parent plays Irina and Ivars plays Furia. So get your hunting knife ready and make sure to wear your camos, cause we are on the hunt for some Tender Flesh!

Tender Flesh 1Tender Flesh # 1  * 1/2
Released in 1997     Cover Price $4.95     Draculina     # 1 of 4

Paula is a young American girl who is trying to get a job at a top Spanish strip club and is hired by Mrs. Gorgona Radeck for the job. That night while dancing Paula catches the eye of rich woman Baroness Irina and her husband Kallman who want to pay for a private show that is set up between Radeck and Paul’s boyfriend Carlos that will take place on a paradise island. You see they want Paula to be a sex slave for a weekend and to help on a hunt. Once there they meet a mute woman named Furia who is Gorgona’s servent and does all types of “favors” for the guests, and after a short time the rich folk send Carlos packing and drug Paula and whip her with riding sticks.  The next morning she awakens to find a video message from Gorgona telling her that she has two hours to get to the other side of the island to a speedboat filled with $50,000 dollars! Furia attacks Paula and puts her in a plastic bag and drives her to the middle of the woods and drops her off as Gorgona, Irina and Kallman armed with bows & arrows, knives and a pistol gear up for a human hunt! Paula escapes the plastic bag but is shot with an arrow leaving her wounded.  As Irina comes in for the kill Paula sets her up and slits her throat. Meanwhile Carlos is on his way back to the island after he regrets leaving Paula there knowing that she was to be killed for a game, but he’s too late as Kallman shoots Paula dead with his pistol. Carlos tries to make his way to the money but he himself is killed by Furia! In the end Gorgona, her husband who’s a cook, and Kallman are upset that Paula was shot because the meat is wasted but instead they eat Irina.  You see, they hunt young beautiful woman to eat their tender flesh.

I would have to say that this is one of the better Draculina Photo Comics, but that still doesn’t make it good. The plot is all about hunting a human down like they are a deer so that the hunters can eat what they kill, and it’s also the rich vs. the poor as the villains of this comic clearly think they are above the law. Our hero is Paula a brain dead stripper who takes an offer to be a sex slave for money, but when push comes to shove she tries her best to survive attacks that sadly do leave her dead. Carlos is Paula’s boyfriend and “pimp” and is a total scumbag and I for one was glad when he died.  He was a greedy tool who seemed not to mind seeing his girlfriend dead when he remembered that there was money on a boat. Gorgona, Irina and Kallman are all rich cannibals who are also perverts and weirdly enough only one of them dies, showing that if you’re a millionaire cannibal nothing bad will happen to you. I do love the fact that when Irina dies, she is cooked like a roaste pig and eaten by her husband and friends. The downside of this comic is the fact none of the characters are 100% likable because we get no backstory to any of them to make us care. The photos picked are well selected, and the cover is at least eye catching, but there’s nothing too special here and over all it holds very close to the film by being very forgettable.

Scan 39Tender Flesh Art 2Tender Flesh Art 3

One thing I can say for sure is that I only have one adaptation photo comic left of a Franco cheesy erotic film, and this fact makes me very happy! But our next update comic might be worse then this one because I am digging deep into my past and showcasing one of my early creative works as we take a look at Robo-Raccoon, a comic book series I made when I was a very young lad…so if you can withstand a space adventure with a Raccoon hybrid filled with aliens, monsters, misspelled words and bounty hunters, then you make sure to come back next update! So until then watch a horror film or two, read a comic and support your local Horror Host.

Robo Raccoon Logo

Matt Goes To The Movies 2014

Matt Goes To The Movies 2014 Logo

2014 was a pretty good year for movies, and while I didn’t get to visit the theater just about every week like last year, I still was able to catch many great films at my favorite theaters. It’s odd that after all these years I still feel the excitement of watching a film in the theater with some popcorn and an Icee. But before we get into my lists, I should say that my favorite theater is Cinemark at the Greene in Beavercreek, but man since they bought the theater from The Rave that place has had some issue and cutbacks that have really taken away from the place. The first thing you will notice is that on many days they are understaffed and many of the faces from last year are no longer working there, although my friend Chris still does so that’s a plus. Plus they did away with the flavor powder to put on your popcorn….so no more cheese popcorn for this movie goer. Others issues I have had is that during John Wick they left the lights on.  When my pal Jeremy Hoyt went and told them they turned off all the lights besides the center one that sadly we were sitting under…I felt like I was being interrogated by Dick Tracy! During November Man almost all the speakers besides the front two didn’t work, and worse, they had the front two cranked and it sounded like crap. During some movies, due to them going all digital with no projectionist when the film would start it would have no sound or no picture. Plus one of the most annoying things is the fact that they cram so many Coka-Cola and Microsoft ads at the start of every movie that it feels like your watching network TV! But to be fair for every bad experience, I have had way more good and that’s why it’s still my favorite theater. So let’s take a seat here at the Rotten Ink Theater lobby and let’s talk films of 2014!

Rotten Ink Cinema Lobby 2014Let’s get those bad films out of the way first, the ones that I left the theater wondering why film or even digital pixels were wasted on making them! So let’s take out this stinky trash before it smells up the joint! This year since I didn’t go and see one or two films a week, I was lucky enough to miss many stinkers but here are at least two that left a fowl smell in the theater.

WORST copy

# 2

300 Rise of an Empire

A direct follow up to 300 takes place at the same time and after the events of the first film, and instead of land battles, it’s mostly all about water warfare. Themistocles and his brave warriors go to war at sea with Xerxes and his evil sister Artemisia all for the glory of Greece. The film has some fun over the top boat battles and even a few sword to sword fights, but many times the action is pure cheese and some of the green screen effects look as if it was a made for the Sy-Fy Channel film. The scene that has Themistocles riding a horse from boat to boat and throwing fire is down right silly and mind numbingly bad. Highlights include a naked Eva Green who plays Artemisia. Over all, it’s a very poor follow up to the original and was a bland sword and sandal film. The film grossed $106,580,051.00 at the US Box Office for Warner Brothers.

# 1

Million Ways To Die In The West

This film just plan sucked! I saw it with my pal Jeremy Hoyt with a theater semi-full of people, and hardly no one laughed and many groans were heard at the poor attempts at humor. The film follows sheep farmer Albert Stark, who is a weak man with no backbone and no shooting skills, that is until he meets Anna, the wife of a gunslinger outlaw who has set his sights on killing Albert who has fallen in love with his wife! It’s up to Anna to help Albert get a backbone and survive not only a fight with her husband but that also with his ex-girlfriend’s mustachioed boyfriend. The film was written, directed and starred Seth McFarlane, who is a one trick pony with his gross and pop culture humor. So in other words, if you think fart jokes are top of the line comedy than Seth wrote this one for you. The film’s only real highlights are cameos from celebrities playing famous characters they have played in past Western films like Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown from Back To The Future Part III! At the US box office, this film brought in $43,139,300 for Universal. I hope they don’t make a sequel to this film…as the thought makes my brain hurt.

Those were the only bad films I saw in theater, but I should also note that I saw two really bad ones that went direct to video like Wolf Creek 2 and Dario Argento’s Dracula 3-D. But let’s not inhale any more of this stinky trash!

Wolf Creek 2Trash CanArgentos Dracula 3D

Up second, we are going to take a look at action.  While last year we called it 80’s action, this year we are going to add more into it besides films starring aging action stars; plus I am going to add action thrillers into this category. So get your Rambo headband ready because I am about to tell you my top 6 action packed films of 2014!

80s action copy

# 6

sabotage

Arnold Schwarzenegger geared up in this action thriller film that was pretty solid even though it had many plot holes. Breacher is the leader of an elite DEA team.  His wife was murdered by drug lords in Mexico, and he has his team steal money from their busts. When $10 million goes missing from one of their heists, the DEA turns up the heat and disbands the team. But when members of the team are starting to be murdered off, the team must figure out who is killing them and what happened to the money they stole that went missing. The film takes many twists and turns; it also has a solid line up of supporting actors like Joe Manganiello, Terrence Howard and Mireille Enos and some great gun play that all help add to the over all action film feel. The film sadly did very poorly at the box office grossing only $10,508,518.00 in the US for Open House Films, but both Juliet and I enjoyed it.

# 5

The Equalizer

Who doesn’t like seeing Denzel Washington kicking ass and taking names? This action drama follows Robert McCall, a retired black ops agent who is now working at a home improvement store after his wife’s passing. He comes out of retirement and takes on the Russian Mafia when his young friend Alina is beaten badly by her pimp who happens to be a Mafia member.  The bodies pile up as Robert takes the war to the streets and to crime that he witnesses. It’s a fun action flick based on the old 80’s TV show on CBS, that has Robert killing scum bags with all types of weapons from guns to hammers. Denzel is fantastic as is Chloe Grace Moretz who plays Alina.  In fact I think Chloe is an actress to keep an eye on because if Hollywood gives her the roles, she will pull them off. If you want to see scum bags get what they deserve at the hands of a man who knows no fear, then check this one out! The film did pretty well at the US box office and grossed $99,306,000.00 for Sony. I saw this film with pal David J. Getz, who was way too hard on it and took the stand of Denzel being to old to be an action star, and to that I say he’s wrong!

# 4

november man

The November Man is an action thriller that stars former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan who plays Peter Devereaux, a retired CIA agent who must go head to head with his former protege David Mason when a large plot involving a Russian general and a young female witness to crimes he has committed’s life is in danger. Throw in a hit woman who has been hired to kill her and you have a race to find out the truth and who is the real bad guy! One thing I like about the film is the good guy Devereaux is not a real nice guy as he lies and even hurts innocent people to make things go his way, but with that said he has his reasons and over all he truly is a “good” guy. Pierce Brosnan is fantastic in the role of Devereaux, and that’s what makes this over all average film a heck of a lot better. Sadly this is the movie that when Jeremy and I saw it at the theater, only the front speakers were working and to “fix” it when Jeremy told them, they turned up the front ones louder…doh! The film grossed $25,018,119.00 for Relativity via the US box office.

# 3

John WickThis was the surprise action hit of the year for me as I can safely say that I really enjoyed every bullet riddled moment! Keanu Reeves plays John Wick, a one time enforcer for a crime family who has retired to spend time with his wife who passes away from an illness. After her death, she leaves John a puppy and together they morn the loss. But when the son of the crime lord makes the mistake of stealing John’s car and killing his dog, they awaken “The Boogeyman” who will not stop till the son is dead. What follows next is nonstop action that felt like a video game come to life as bullets and fights break out in clubs and hotels, all ending in deaths! Plus it was funny to see WWF Superstar Kevin Nash in a small role, not to mention the supporting cast was also fantastic with names like William Dafoe, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki and John Leguizamo all doing great performances for an over the top action film like this. The film did pretty well for Lionsgate at the US box office, grossing in $40,649,000.00 and bringing them in a profit. This is a movie I will buy on DVD when it’s released to show to Juliet and my parents.

# 2

Expendables 3

My favorite action star of all time, Sylvester Stallone, returns as Barney Ross for The Expendables 3.  The film has Barney disbanding his old crew when he finds out that Conrad Stonebanks, an old teammate turned enemy, is still alive when Hale Caesar is injured by him in a raid. Barney turns to his pal Bonaparte to get a younger crew that consist of such actors as Kellan Lutz, Rhonda Rousey, Victor Ortiz and Glen Powell, and when they go after Conrad and fail and become his prisoners, it’s up to Barney and his old crew to save them and stop Conrad once and for all. This film has a paper thin plot but is heavy on the action! It was nice to see Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li and Arnold Schwarzenegger all return for a third time. Plus the addition of other classic action stars like Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes and Antonio Banderas (who steals the movie) was a nice way to spice up the cast. The new crew sadly are all forgettable besides Rhonda Rousey, who is a great looking tough UFC chick who can rock a red dress and bash a head in and look fantastic doing it. Not as great as the other two films in the series, but still a solid action flick that sadly did poorly at the US box office for Lionsgate only bringing in $39,322,544.00, but thank God the overseas viewers loved it where it brought in $166,850,000.00! Here is to hoping Sly will give this franchise a break and focus on a new Rambo film…or a sequel to Cobra.

# 1

Walk Among The Tombstones

A Walk Among The Tombstones is a film that mixes many genres together and does so really well; it takes elements from Action, Horror, Thriller and Drama and sprinkles in elements like Noir, Detective and Serial Killer. The film follows former cop now unlicensed private detective Matthew Scudder, who takes a case that involves kidnapping, ransom and murder, and once he’s involved he becomes a player in this sick and twisted game set up by a group of killers. Along the way he meets a young boy on the streets who becomes his somewhat partner and helps him stop the killings and expose the identities of the killers. I really dug this film and enjoyed the fact that it was a Noir Action film that kept me on the edge of my seat.  Plus the film’s killers are true scum of the earth! I saw this film with a pretty packed house and with my friend Jeremy, and you could hear many people talking at the end about how much they liked it. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, and the story has some surprises that are best left for you to discover when you watch it. The film did pretty bad at the US box office bringing in a total of $26,307,600.00 for Universal on a budget of $28 Million, and that’s a shame cause this film was pretty badass!

Liam beating Sly on my top action films, I would have NEVER seen that coming! So we whooped some ass with action now let’s get our nerd minds a good workout as we take a look at my top four Sci-Fi and Fantasy films! So charge up your Lightsaber and set you phasers to stun, we are talking Science Fiction now.

SciFi

# 4

transformers age of extinction

I hate to say it, but I really enjoyed Transformers: Age Of Extinction in the theater while eating popcorn, drinking a blue Icee with my gal Juliet.  That says a lot for me because I was by no means a fan of the other three films in this series directed by Michael Bay. This one’s plot is simple; the people of Earth have turned on the Autobots and have ruled it open season on killing them and taking the bodies away to be studied to see if we could create ones that would become weapons of war. When the Yeager family find and help Optimus Prime, they become the target of the CIA, and worse, Megatron is back in the form of Galvatron! Can Optimus and the remaining Autobots stop them from ruining the world..well of course they can! The film is packed with stupid robot one liners, wall to wall over the top action and the worst cameos for the Dinobots ever, who only have a few minutes on screen and are a waste of film as they really add nothing to the story. The film scored big for Paramount at the US box office bringing in $245,439,076.00 and when adding in foreign gross, it did over a billion dollars! So if you don’t mind checking your brain in at the door and want to see Mark Wahlberg team up with Optimus Prime, then this Sci-Fi Action film is for you.

# 3

Robocop

I generally dislike remakes of classic films, and when I heard Sony was remaking Robocop, my eyes rolled and I thought here we go again another heartless retelling all for the sake of a quick buck. But after seeing Robocop the week it came out, I must admit I was wrong and I think the people who made this film really tried to capture the feel of the original and update it all at the same time. This time around Alex Murphy is a cop on a mission, and when going after a crime boss he is blown up via a car bomb. OmniCorp, who create robots to fight wars, wants to make a super cop and use Murphy as the test subject and create Robocop! And once he gets revenge on those who originally set him up, he also soon finds that Raymond Sellars, the CEO of OmniCorp, is not a very nice man and wants Robocop shutdown for good when he finds he can’t control his mind and looks at him as nothing more than a computer. Can Robocop stop the evil corporation? Will his wife and son accept him? Will Raymond succeed in pulling the plug? All these questions are answered in this fun PG-13 action romp. Joel Kinnaman plays Robocop/Alex and does a pretty good job, but he is no Peter Weller. The supporting cast is also fantastic with such names as Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson and Jackie Earle Haley. The film did weak in the USA box office grossing $58,607,007.00 making the film a miss for Sony. It’s a shame; I would have liked to have seen a part two.

# 2

maleficent

Maleficent was fantastic ,and when seeing it in IMAX 3D, I felt like a kid again watching a Disney take on a fairy tale unfold before my eyes. My favorite animated Disney film has always been Sleeping Beauty so when I heard they were doing a live action film based around the villain Maleficent my interest was peeked. The film follows Maleficent, who is a fairy, and when a human boy misleads her and cuts off her wings to gain power in the nearby kingdom, she turns mean and waits for her revenge on the day the boy is now King and is going to have his first child.  Maleficent places a curse on the child to sleep forever until true loves kiss awakens her on her 16th birthday. But the film takes a twist as we see that Maleficent ends up befriending the young Princess and wants to try and undue the curse but can she do it? And worse the King has sent his whole army to kill her. This family fun flick was amazing and added so much more depth to the Maleficent character.  Plus Angelina Jolie does a top notch job as the “evil” fairy Maleficent. The special effects are top of the line with the fairy moors being breathtaking, as is the dragon that appears to help her in her fight against the army. The film did really well for Disney at the US box office, grossing in $241,381,217.00 and proving that the classic characters never go out of style. If you have not seen this film, you should check it out.

# 1

dawn of planet of the apes

The Planet of the Apes films have always been some of my favorite Sci-Fi films to watch, and these new films being made by Fox are just as great as the originals! This second film in the rebooted series follows Caesar, the leader of the ape population trying to work alongside the remaining humans who have survived a mass sickness that killed off most of the population.  This team up pisses off primate Koba who was abused by man many years back, and he sets a plan in motion where he makes an attempt at Caesar’s life sparking a war with the humans and apes. But can an injured Caesar stop the war or is it too late? The film’s special effects are top notch and throughout the whole movie, you forget that the apes are CGI! Plus with actors like Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Kirk Acevedo playing the humans, you know you’re getting sold acting. My favorite ape in the film has to be Koba; he is so bad yet somehow I think he really thought he was doing good by starting the war and killing any man or ape that got in his way! This was one of the films I was most looking forward to this year, and it was by no means a letdown as I loved every minute of it! The film was a hit for Fox and grossed $208,532,326.00 here in the United States showing that people still love seeing a world run by primates!

I saw a few other films that fit this genre this year that were entertaining but just couldn’t make the cut for this list: “Lucy” starring Scarlett Johansson, a film about a drug that allows a woman to use 100% of her brain after she is used as a mule to smuggle it to the USA when it’s surgically placed into her body.  When the bag leaks she becomes less and less human. “Pompeii” is about the town that was covered in lava and ash via an erupting volcano and follows a gladiator who has fallen in love with a young woman of power, and it turns into a tragic love story starring the likes of Kit Harington, Kiefer Sutherland and Emily Browning. “Legend of Hercules” is about a clean cut son of Zeus who is more of a gladiator than the hero we all know and love. All are entertaining movies in their own right but none were strong enough to make the list.

LucyPompeiilegend of hercules

So let’s trade our phasers in for capes as we now take a look at my top 7 Superhero films of 2014, and man I must say that films based on comics are dominating the box office and shows that comics are more powerful money makers then any company could have ever imagined.

SUPER HERO copy# 7

sin city a dame to kill for

This follow up to Sin City was laced with all the same techniques that wowed audiences upon it’s release in 2005 and even brought back many of the actors from the first film. Sadly it tanked at the box office and put the nail in the coffin for this series. The film follows many stories from Marv, who can’t remember why he killed a bunch of rich brats, to Dwight McCarthy falling for a woman who is using him and many others to get what she wants. There is also a story line of a lucky gambler named Johnny who tests his luck against corrupt Senator Roark and stripper Nancy who wants to kill Roark for crimes he committed in the first film. All the stories come together in the end and all ends well for some, while others end up dead.  The film was a lot of fun and not nearly as bad as many critics would have you think, but as I said it bombed and only did $13,757,804.00 at the box office for Dimension Films. The film also has an all star cast like Josh Brolin, Micky Rourke, Bruce Willis, Eva Green, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Powers Boothe, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Lloyd and Jessica Alba to name a few.

# 6

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I was very lukewarm on the idea of a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie that was a reboot to the series done by those masters of butchering of childhood memories, Platinum Dunes. But I must say the film was way better than I could ever expect it to be, and while it is flawed with a cheesy script and a Shredder who looks more like he should be in Transformers, the Turtles’ banter is well done even if they look like steroid goofy faced mutants. The film follows the Turtles who are going up against the foot clan who are tormenting New York and even have a plan in motion that will poison and kill many thanks to a gas they will be pumping into the air.  Alongside April O’Neil, the Turtles clash with the foot and their leader The Shredder, and of course along the way we learn about Master Splinter as well as a connection they all have to April. Again the film is flawed, but I enjoyed checking my brain at the door and watching a comic book/cartoon inspired film that tried to keep some of the basics of source material and also tried to add more of an update to it for modern fans. For me I would put it on par with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and say while bad, it was fun to watch. The film did pretty solid numbers at the US box office for Paramount bringing in $191,204,754.00!

# 5

Hercules

I am pretty sure many people who went to seen Hercules had no idea that it was based on a comic book from Radical Comics and to be honest, much like my cousin Steve Alexander said, this is truly one of the year’s most underrated films. The film stars WWF Superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Hercules, a mercenary who alongside his friends are creating the legend of Hercules, the son of Zeus. But when he finds out that he was hired to help the wrong side in a conflict, he and his friends stand against the odds and leave everyone wondering if he truly is the son of a God. The film is filled with great Sword and Sandal action as well as likable characters; this is one film I would have loved to seen sequels made about. The Rock as well does a fantastic job as Hercules and pulls off the role of being maybe a con man yet maybe not, making the character tough when needed and light hearted when the mood is right. The film sadly did not do as well as it should have and grossed only $72,688,614.00 for Paramount at the US box office. With the film being out on DVD and Blu-Ray, do yourself a favor and check it out.

# 4

Amazing Spider-Man 2

I feel like Amazing Spider-Man 2 was judged way too hard by critics and fans who seemed to want to try and nitpick it to death.  I for one really enjoyed it and found it better than the overblown Spider-Man 2 made by Sam Raimi that I think was praised way too much by fans and critics. This time around Spider-Man is locking horns with three super villains who are all gunning to take Spidey down for the count! You have the Rhino, a man in mechanical suit who feels as if he has been wronged by Spider-Man; you have Electro, a man who was a one time Spider-Man fan who after an accident finds that he has the power of electricity; and Green Goblin, who is really his long time friend Harry Osborne who is slipping into madness! And worse as Peter Parker is having issues coming to terms with the death of his girlfriend’s father to whom he made a promise that has him staying away from her. Action, Drama and Spider-Man one liners help make this one a good Super Hero film! Andrew Garfield is fantastic as Spider-Man, and Emma Stone makes one hell of a Gwen Stacy. The strangest casting had to be Paul Giamatti as The Rhino…his performance is down right silly! The film did pretty well for Sony at the US box office grossing in $202,853,933.00 even though they try and act as if it wasn’t a hit for them. I for one am looking forward to Amazing Spider-Man 3 as well as the spin off Sinister Six movie.

# 3

guardians of the galaxy

Guardians Of The Galaxy is the Marvel Comic team that showed the world that you don’t have to be a triple A team to have a hit movie! The film is about Starlord, a goofball outlaw who teams up with other misfits of space like the living tree Groot, talking raccoon Rocket, psycho brute Drax The Destroyer and green skinned female assassin Gamora to protect a infinity stone from getting into the hands of Ronan The Accuser, who is an evil Kree alien who is back stabbing the powerful Thanos in order to collect the jewel and become all powerful. The movie has lots of sci-fi action, drama and comedy and has some of the most likeable characters of any movie this year! Plus I really liked Ronan as a bad guy, and he is a prime example of a cold blooded super villain who will kill whomever gets in his way. When Juliet and I went to see this movie in the theater, it was a pretty packed house and it was clear that everyone in that theater that day had a blast watching it.  The overly positive remarks of people leaving their seats when it was over was a clear sign that Disney and Marvel Studios did something very right. The film did fantastic for Disney at the US box office grossing in an impressive $332,309,276.00 making this a huge hit. If you have not seen this film yet, do yourself a favor and check it out!

# 2

captain america winter

Captain America is one of my favorite Super Hereos of all time and has been ever since I was a kid.  This second film from Disney and Marvel Studios was a fun kick butt action film laced with enough drama to make the film feel very important in the over all movie universe they are creating. This time around Captain America, Black Widow and Nick Fury have became a target by a group controlled by a very high official in America, and they even bring Cap’s old World War II buddy Bucky Barns back from the “dead” and call him Winter Solider, a well trained killing machine. Can Captain America stop this evil group and talk sense into his one time friend? Watch and find out! While the original film was set during World War II, this second film takes place in modern times right after the events of The Avengers and trades in Red Skull for The Winter Solider and does a nice job of making the odds looking against Cap at every twist and turn. I must say Christ Evans makes the perfect Captain America/Steve Rogers and who would have thought that was possible? The film did great for Disney grossing in a massive $259,766,572.00 at the US box office. If your a fan of the star spangled Avenger like myself, make sure to give this film a watch.

# 1

X-Men Days Of The Future Past

The X-Men films, as well as the spin offs like “First Class” and “Wolverine,” are fun comic book action films that make for some amazing popcorn munching theater watches, and “X-Men: Days Of The Future Past” was just that and more as I found it to be my favorite Comic Book film of 2014! I know what those of you who know me are saying, the X-Men beat Captain America? But let me tell you, while Cap was amazing, X-Men was a fun thrill ride filled with some great faces from the franchise’s past. The film follows the future where mutants are being hunted and killed by Sentinels made by Bolivar Trask, and their only hope is to send Wolverine to the past to unite the mutants and stop an event that triggered the mutants’ death sentence. The whole mess is started by the younger Mystique, so can Professor X and Magneto put aside their differences and stop the terrible events to happen in the future…watch and find out. The film is based on one of Marvel Comics’ top story lines for the X-Men and FOX did a fantastic job of making it come alive on the big screen. The film stars all the classic characters from the series rich history with many actors returning such as Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Halle Berry (Storm), Shawn Ashmore (Ice Man), Daniel Cudmore (Colossus) and Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde) all returning from the first three films as well as actors who played the younger characters in First Class like James McAvoy (Professor X), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) and Nicholas Hoult as Beast. Not to mention the addition of new characters like Bishop, Quicksilver, Blink, Sunspot and Warpath. I don’t want to ruin the end but let’s just say it feels like a High School Reunion, and all the faces you see are ones that make you smile and feel good about the journey you made to get there. The film did pretty well for Fox at the USA Box Office grossing in $233,921,534.00 and even more overseas! While I like the First Class actors, I am hoping that the next film based on The Age of Apocalypse story will feature more of the originals.

So now that we are retiring the cape, let me talk a little about some cool things Game Swap Kettering did this year for me.  They allowed us to have private screenings of Baron Von Porkchop specials. The first one was near Halloween, and we set up a projector, screen and big speaker as well as a buffet of wings, pizza, chips and cookies. Friends in attendance included Juliet, Stephen Alexander, Maurice, Joe G, Garrison, Todd The Fox and V and we all watched Baron host White Zombie as he tried to enjoy a peaceful Halloween that’s interrupted by an ax murdering zombie named Fulci! They also got a sneak peak at an episode for season three that has Baron hosting the film Face Of The Screaming Werewolf. Then around Thanksgiving we did it again, and they got a sneak peek at the new Baron Von Porkchop Black Friday special where he hosted the Independent B Movie film Razor as well as the First Black Friday special whose film was Farmer Joe. Those specials has his feud with a Chicken Man he made that has become a thorn in the Baron’s side. But a big thank you goes to Game Swap in Kettering for allowing us to do these fun screenings. Whenever I get a bigger place to live with a basement I would love to start a Horror Host Fan Club that has meetings once every two months and we project and watch host shows…who knows maybe 2015 will be that year! Below is a cellphone pic from the Halloween episode screening.

Baron Von Porkchop Screening

So while doing a rundown of the films of 2014, I figured I would take a brief moment to give you my top three best Survival Horror Games of 2014 as well as the worst, because those of you who know me understand that I love to play a good solid Survival Horror game! Now I need to state that of the “modern” game systems, I have a PS3 and will soon get a PS4 so all games on the list are ones I got for PS3. I also want to say that the games I buy are on physical disc, and I do not download games so while many horror themed games did come out as digital only games, I have not played them and won’t unless a disc is released.  I like to own what I pay for. So let’s start off with what I found to be the worst of the horror games that came out in 2014 that I have played. And I won’t ramble much I promise…okay, maybe a little rambling.

Worst Horror Video Games

# 1

Escape Dead Island PS3

Escape Dead Island is one of those games that just reeks of a quick cash in with boring fighting mechanics as well as a storyline that is a little weak. This game follows Cliff, a party boy who wants to get his dad’s respect so he goes to the island of a zombie outbreak along with his friends Linda and Devan and finds out that the stories are true and zombies are running wild on the island! Along the way he also meets Xian, a woman who is looking for her friend Rob who went missing while getting intel on the corporation responsible for the outbreak. While the other two games in the series “Dead Island” and “Dead Island Riptide” are first person shooters, this game changed to a third person game.  In the two games that came before you could customize your weapons multiple ways, and in this game your weapons are very limited and barely upgradeable. Plus I can’t help but notice the style of animation is clearly trying to rip off Tell Tale Games’s style with the more cartoonish look. Over all this is not a bottom of the barrel game, but it’s close.

So now that I spoke about the “worst” Horror Game this year that I would more label at “weakest,” let’s move onto what I considered the three best games that helped make 2014 a pretty good year for horror themed games!

Best Horror Video Games Logo

# 3

Alien Isolation PS3

After the complete mess that was “Aliens: Colonial Marians,” Sega redeemed themselves with this fun moody game that allows the player to take control of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen who travels to a space station that has been sending out distress signals.  Once she gets there, things go wrong as she is separated from her small crew and finds that Xenomorphs are on the prowl and hungry for a human host! The game stacks the odds against you, and the player must use their wits in order to survive this terror in space. The downside to the game is that I felt it took forever for the story to really kick in and that slowed the scares from coming in. The game is a first person shooter and plays much like Call of Duty and so many other shooters like this. I must also say that some of the cut scene graphics are really ugly on PS3, and it’s clear that the development team spent more time on the newer generation consoles versions. A major plus for this game comes via DLC that allows you to play as Ellen and has many of the original characters from the first film like Dallas and Ash back, and they are voiced by the actors who played them in the film! While not a perfect game, it was a fun game that helped make 2014 in gaming a little spookier!

# 2

The Walking Dead Season Two PS3

The Walking Dead Season Two is a great follow up to Season One and helps add more to the story it created. This is a point and click adventure game made by one of the best independent game companies, Tell Tale Games, who have made some of my top favorite games of the past 4 years and this game adds another hit to the list. This time around we follow Clementine (who was a major character in the first game), a young girl who is trying to survive this zombie outbreak.  Along the way she meets people and she loses people all of whom are running from Carver, a man that use to lead them in a group.  All comes to a head when she meets Carver herself, a jerk of a man who runs a camp that is held up in a home improvement center and who takes Clem and her friends hostage and makes them work for the group’s needs putting them in danger. Your choices impact the story so when playing make sure to choose wisely. One cool aspect of this game is some returning faces from the first game as well as references to choices you made. The downside is the new characters seem to have less development then those from the original and the settings are a little less impactful as in the first game I truly felt like I could be zombie food at any moment. But with that said, this is a great game and one hell of a fun play.  So if you liked the first or just want to play a fun story driven point and click adventure horror game, then this one is for you.

# 1

The Evil Within PS3Take video games Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Clock Tower and mix them with Horror films like As Above So Below, and you have the new Survival Horror Game by Shinji Mikami, the mastermind behind the original Resident Evil series as well as Dino Crisis! This game is about Sebastian Castellanos, a detective who along with his partners Juli and Joseph, go to a distress call at the Beacon Mental Hospital.  When they get there, everything is in chaos and the world as they know it has changed and infected people and monsters are wandering the world above as well as below. Can Sebastion get to the bottom of what’s going on as well as unearth the truth of why and who is responsible! The game is packed with great atmosphere and at all times I feel as if the odds are against me as ammo comes in only ones and twos and most the time it’s better to run than to fight. So if you’re not too scared, get this game and beware of Safehead!

It was very hard to pick between Evil Within and The Walking Dead Season Two for the # 1 spot as both are solid and super fun games, but in the end I had to go with Evil Within as I felt that it truly captured what a Survival Horror Game is all about and at all times I felt as if the odds of survival were against me. One game that came out that while I bought I have not played yet is Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2, so who knows where it would have placed.

Castlevania Lords Of Shadow 2 PS3

So we talked a little about screenings of Horror Host Baron Von Porkchop as well as Survival Horror Video Games, now let’s get to the bloody meat of this update and take a look at the Horror Films of Hollywood!

horror copy

# 11

Tusk

Tusk was so close to being on my worst films of the year list as once more Kevin Smith smoked a bunch of pot and unleashed another over the top film onto the small masses who still watch his films. But then I read some interviews with Smith and he explained that he wanted to make this film because he wanted to and not for a studio or for quick cash.  I began to see that the film is labor of love much like the film The Wolf Hunter is to Matt Hoffman. It’s about a podcast host who travels to Canada for an interview with a kid who is a Youtube sensation after cutting off his own leg with a samurai sword.  When he gets there, he finds the kid has committed suicide, and he then travels to an old mansion to talk to an old man who has a story to tell or so the letter left in a mens room says. The rest of this film has the old man turning the podcaster into a human walrus as his co-host and his girlfriend try to find and save him.  Oh yeah and throw in a dimwitted investigator, and you have the film. When the podcaster is turned into full Walrus, I laughed out loud in the theater and thought to myself what and why am I watching this! I should also note that Juliet and I were the only people at the theater watching this film at the time. It stars Justin Long, Johnny Depp, Haley Joel Osment and Michael Parks and all do fantastic with the silly parts they are given. Again when you see Long, who plays the podcaster, as a walrus you can’t help but to laugh as he swims and grunts around. The film did poorly for A24 and only grossed $1,826,705.00 and didn’t even get a foreign release. If you are to watch this cheesy thriller/comedy horror film check your brain at the door and be prepared for long goofy dialogue and unlikable characters.

# 10

the pyramid

Hollywood horror films are lacking mummies, and when The Pyramid was announced I was hyped believing that we got a mummy film in 2014…I was sadly wrong. I first need to say that I was hyped to see this film and was ready for a creepy Egyptian found footage film taking place in an old pyramid where the viewer was not sure what was stalking our characters.  So when this film was a disappointment, I think it’s because of my own hype I made for it. The hype I made for it was the fact it was the last theatrical horror film of the year and again the setting and the possibility of it being about a Mummy. The film is about a father and daughter team as well as her boyfriend being followed by a documentary crew who are in Egypt during stressful times who find a pyramid that could be the oldest one ever found.  When they are told to leave due to the outbreak of civil uprising, they send in a robot real quick to get a sneak peek and when the bot looses contact, they go in to retrieve it and soon find the pyramid was a place to keep something in and not things out! One by one, they fall victim to the hunter who is a jackal headed god who has been placed there because it went mad after the death of its father. Can any of them survive and can they also dodge the evil cats that are roaming around…yeah the film has evil cats. The characters all seem brain dead with the cameraman and father being the worst two.  The CGI for the cats and jackal god are downright eye rolling, and the film was just kind of boring.  I was not the only one who felt this as Juliet and several others in the theater also expressed these feelings. The film was pulled from wide release to limited, and we had to see it at the Regal Cinema in Beavercreek.  Doing this made the film only gross a small $ 2,638,300.00 for FOX at the US box office. No Mummy but a heck of a lot of CGI Cats is what I got in The Pyramid.

# 9

Ouija

Ouija is a film based on the Hasbro board game and produced by those masters of crap Platinum Dunes.  It’s your typical paint by number ghost story. When a young woman commits suicide, her friends don’t believe it and soon find that she was messing with a Ouija Board on her own and had unleashed something terrible, but they only learn this after they themselves use the board to try and speak to her. Now the evil is after them, can they find the answers on how to stop the spirit or will they all become victims? No major gore, some cool spirit effects, some good creepy shots, pretty actresses, released at Halloween time and a fun film to torment my friend Jeremy with as he had to be dragged to this film kicking and screaming! The film did $50,856,010.00 for Universal and is clearly a teen PG-13 horror film that was nothing special and not fully terrible.

# 8

The Quiet Ones

The Quiet Ones is a Hammer Horror Film that follows a camera man who takes the job of documenting a college professor who, along with his helpers, are trying to cure a sick and possessed young woman named Jane whom they have locked in a room and wont allow her to sleep for any long period of time as well as keep her human interaction to a minimum. But when her treatments become more and more cruel, the camera man must come to a decision on whether to help Jane escape who he has fallen for or stay true to his assignment as the Professor thinks she can be cured. So is she possessed or being abused…watch and find out. The film is a little slow and while well acted for the most part, many decisions characters make are annoying and add to frustration as a viewer. Olivia Cooke plays Jane, the sick girl, and she is fantastic and probably the best actor in the film. I saw the film with Stephen, Garrison, Todd and Josh, and all of us felt the same way about it and that’s it was okay but way too slow and a little too long as a good 15 minutes could easily be cut out of the 1 Hour 38 minute run time. The film at the US box office brought in $8,509.867.00 for Lionsgate.  All I can say was much like Ouija, it was just okay.

# 7

deliver us from evil

A group of soldiers from Iraq have come back and are acting very aggressive and all have strange behavior. New York cop Ralph Sarchie is called in to investigate the crimes and soon learns the truth that demons are real and want to teach him a lesson for butting into their plans. Along with a Castilian priest, he must find faith and save the souls of the infected as well as save his wife who has been kidnapped by the possessed. It also shows that Sarchie is gifted and can spot evil. The film is said to be based on a real case and the real life of Sarchie. The film stars Eric Bana as Sarchie as well as the likes of Olivua Munn, Sean Harris and Edgar Ramirez with music by Christopher Young. The film was nothing special and for the most part is a run of the mill possession film with no surprises and a few gross moments. I watched the film with Jeremy and watching him go crazy with the overly religious tone of the movie made me laugh. The film didn’t do so hot at the box office only grossing in $30,577,122.00 for Sony on a 30 million dollar budget in the US. Not much more to say about this one, besides if you’ve seen one modern possession movie, ya pretty much have seen em all.  It’s not bad and has some good creepy moments – worth a watch to fans of this horror film topic boom.

# 6

Godzilla

I have been a fan of Godzilla since I was a kid and can remember watching the films all the time on TBS on Super Scary Saturday hosted by Grandpa Munster. But when Godzilla is made by Americans, it tends to not be so good; I mean just look at the over blown 1998 film that Hollywood spewed out to the fans that seemed like it was made more to sell toys and Taco Bell Cups than to entertain the movie goers. So when Warner Brothers said they were releasing a Godzilla film, I was stand offish even though in the back of my mind I was scream YES, a new Godzilla film on the big screen,  The more time passed and after seeing the trailer I became very hyped to watch it! The film has an accident that happens at a power planet in Japan that’s caused by a giant monster who is looking for its mate and when it wakes up it causes havoc and destruction.  As this is going on a US Solider is trying to get home to his family, and Godzilla has come from the sea and is on a path to clash with the other two monsters. You see Godzilla is acting as Earth’s protector! The human parts are what they always are in my opinion in giant monster films, and that’s filler. The major flaw I had with the film is more time is spent on the boring solider trying to get home and less on Godzilla who is why we all went to see this film in the theater. I must also say the shaky camera and pull away shots of the early monster fights was annoying and didn’t add suspense for me as much as it added frustration. Even with those small flaws I really enjoyed the film for the most part and am looking forward to part two as well as the announced Japanese Godzilla film in the works. The film did great for WB at the US box office bringing in a whooping $200,676,069.00, making it a hit for them this year.

# 5

i frankenstein

Frankenstein’s Monster was back on the silver screen this year with an Action Horror film called I, Frankenstein that followed The Monster who was a pawn in a war between Heaven and Hell who need him to find the secrets of life created by man and not God. The good side is gargoyles who at first want to protect or kill The Monster, and the Demons who are working for evil and they want him to study and make soulless husks so demons straight from hell can take over the bodies of the newly made soulless bodies. But what none of them counted on is that The Monster is a fighter, and he will be pawn to no man or creature! The film has a real Underworld feel to it, and the action is fun and over the top, plus for the most part is well acted. I think this film is pretty underrated and was judged way too much just by the trailer, the fact it’s PG-13 and that Aaron Eckhart plays The Monster. The film did terrible at the US box office and only grossed $19,075,290.00 for Lionsgate on a $65 Million Dollar budget, and it’s a shame as it’s not at all that bad of a film.

# 4

As Above So Below

As Above So Below is a “found footage” style film that follows Scarlett, an alchemy scholar who wants to find the famed philosopher’s stone that is said to be able to heal the sick and dying among other amazing things. She follows clues and finds that the entrance to achieving her goal is inside the catacombs below Paris, and along with her camera man and friend they hire some local urban explorers and find that this quest is more then they bargained for as they face sins of their past and find the gateway to Hell. This film was packed with some solid acting and atmosphere that was downright spooky and well done unlike The Pyramid that had a very similar type of feel. All the characters are likable and while they do make some dumb decisions, I still found myself hoping they all make it out okay. The film is by no means a bloodbath but what it lacks in the red stuff, it makes up for with heart and mood. I saw this film with Juliet, Todd The Fox and V, and we all left the theater thinking the film worked and was okay. Universal released this film and at the US box office it grossed in $21,321,100.00 on a $5 million budget. If you are a fan of the found footage horror genre then make sure to check this one out, oh yeah liked this one so much even bought the DVD when it was released.

# 3

The Purge Anarchy

The first Purge film was my # 9 horror film of 2013 out of thirteen and while I enjoyed it, I found it lost among many other solid horror pictures. The sequel The Purge: Anarchy in my opinion is a way better film and that’s why it’s locked itself as the 3rd best Horror film I saw in theaters in 2014! The film follows a man named Leo who is going out to purge a man who killed his son in a drinking and driving accident, but he gets side tracked from his task when he saves a mother and daughter as well as a young couple all of whom are being targeted by what seems like a government elite team hired to reduce the population not to mention a rag tag bunch of mask and makeup wearing youngsters who have set their eyes on them as well. Leo does his best to keep them all alive as well as get to his goal. The film is filled with surprises as well as a positive message in the end and that’s why I think I enjoyed it so much.  It was not your typical modern downbeat horror flick. The film is also well acted with actors like Frank Grillo, Cameron Ejogo and Zach Gilford. The film did great for Universal at the box office here in America grossing in $71,962,800.00 and making it that a part 3 is in the works. More action and suspense then the original and a solid good sequel, check it out if you liked the first one. I saw it with Juliet who also really liked it!

# 2

anabelle

The Conjuring was my # 1 Horror film of 2013, and this off shoot titled Annabelle is my # 2 for 2014 showing you that the makers of this film series are doing something right. It’s the 1960’s and satanic cults are all the rage, and a young couple is attacked in their home by cult members that leave the would be attackers dead.  When the female attacker dies in the baby’s room holding the Annabelle doll the odd events start happening. It gets so bad that something seems to be trying to hurt the woman and her unborn baby, even at one point setting the house on fire! After the baby is born, they move and find that whatever it is followed as the doll the cult woman held when dying is possessed by a demon who wants to take a soul real bad! Can they get rid of the demon before it’s too late? The Annabelle doll is the same one used to open The Conjuring and is over all creepy looking.  That’s one thing I really liked about the film, the longer it went on, the more sinister looking the doll became. And while the doll is never seen moving on its own, the dead eyed stare of its porcelain face is what terrified the audience. The demon who is the real baddie of the film is not seen too much, but when he is, it’s effective. This is supposed to be based on a true story and is a nice appetizer for the next Conjuring film that should be out in 2016. The film did well for New Line Cinema at the US box office bringing in $84,273,813.00 making it a hit for them. For some reason the film also seemed to get a lot of hate from Horror fans, but most of the ones I knew who trashed it, I question their taste anyway as they go to see Seth Rogen movies! I saw the film with Juliet, who loved it.

# 1

Dracula Untold

Universal is trying to breath new life into their classic Monsters, and the first on the list was Dracula.  This film, Dracula Untold, is about how Prince Vlad became a vampire! I was really hyped for this film that was set to release in October…yeah finally Hollywood gets that Horror Films and Halloween go hand and hand. The film follows Prince Vlad whose people are being bullied by the Turks and the sultan who want all the male kids to be given to them to become soldiers in the large Turkish army. So Vlad makes a deal with a Vampire that lives in a cave to gain powers to stop the Turks.  By doing so, he is putting his own soul at risk, but he gains the powers to single handedly kick the butt of his enemies. But when things go wrong Vlad goes full vampire, and once he does that, there is no going back. This film is filled with horror and a heck of a lot of action and is really well done. Luke Evans plays Dracula and does so with grace and it’s the first time that I can remember that you find yourself cheering for Dracula as he is not the bad guy and only takes the curse to save his son as well as the sons of all his people. I saw this with Juliet and Jeremy Hoyt, and both of them really enjoyed it as well did all the others in the IMAX Theater as praises were being said as people left. This film ends as well with a lead up to a sequel or to link to another Universal Monster film, and this makes this Monster Kid happy. The film did okay for Universal at the US box office bringing in $55,991,880.00 and did more overseas. If you like your horror mixed with action and enjoy classic monsters, then check this one out, because I really enjoyed it locking it in as my # 1 Horror Film of 2014.

2014 in Horror Films was filled with lots of ghost/possession films, and I have a feeling this trend will continue for awhile as they seem to be films that can be cheaply made and return a big profit. While sitting in the theater this year the two films that I noticed seem to have the audience in it’s grip were Annabelle, that had a few people gasp and jump when the evil things would happen on the silver screen, and As Above So Below where the audience had an eerie hush as the characters went deeper into the catacombs. Ouija had the worse response as people laughed at many of the scares and many of the younger people in the audience seemed to be having a fun time teasing the young ladies with them. 2014 was an okay year for Horror in the theaters, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store to send shivers up my spine. Well the next update is something terrifying as we take a look at another Draculina Photo Comic based on a film of Jess Franco called Tender Flesh! So until then, support your local theaters, read a comic or two and always support your local Horror Host and see you next update.

Tender_flesh_(1998) logo

DC At The Movies: Batman (The Christmas Eve Special)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas Eve.  While this has been a year filled with lots of ups and downs for me, I have also had a great time loving life and am happy for all my friends and family in my life who have helped make me the person that I am today! While last year we covered Thundercats, this year we are going to cover something a little different as we will be looking at the movie series Batman that started with the Tim Burton directed film in 1989.  When that movie came to theaters on June 23rd the following Christmas every male kid I knew wanted Batman stuff for presents, and boy was their a lot to choose from! On this update we are going to cover the DC Comic Movie Adaptations of the Batman films so let’s sit back with some eggnog and wait for Santa to come down the chimney and talk DC At The Movies: Batman!

Batman 1989 Symbol

When I was a kid, the most popular superhero films were the Superman films starring Christopher Reeves as Superman/Clark Kent.  The only other DC heroes I could think of that had their own movies were Swamp Thing in 1982 and Batman had a film based off the 60’s TV show in 1966.  They did also have some great TV shows like previously mentioned Batman as well as Shazam, Wonder Woman, Legend of Isis and of course Adventures of Superman. Marvel at the time was mostly just focusing on TV with shows and made for TV Movies based on Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Captain America and Doctor Strange and did have the bomb Howard The Duck in 1986 a cheesy film directed by George Lucas, but I must say as a kid I really liked the film Howard the Duck.  I guess very loosely you could say that the Conan films as well as Red Sonja were a sliver connected to Marvel who made comics based on those characters at the time. But when 1989 came around, and Tim Burton, director of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, made Batman, the youth at the time exploded and Batmania was born! You couldn’t turn on the TV without hearing something about this film, and most kids at school had Batman t-shirts, folders, backpacks and toys. If your grew up when the 1989 film and its sequels came out, then you know what I am talking about when I say Batman ruled the world for those months leading up to the releases and the months that followed. So before we get too much into the insane popularity and merchandise of Batman I should give you a crash course on the films, and of course I will be getting the help of IMDB for these write ups as I would be far too long winded to tell you the readers the plots. So let’s set the bat signal off and see what these films were all about! Oh I will also put on here who played Batman as well as who played the main villain in each of these films.

Batman (Keaton)Batman 1989 PosterThe Joker (Jack)

BATMAN (1989)

Gotham City: dark, dangerous, ‘protected’ only by a mostly corrupt police department. Despite the best efforts of D.A. Harvey Dent and police commissioner Jim Gordon, the city becomes increasingly unsafe…until a Dark Knight arises. We all know criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot…so his disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. He becomes a bat. Enter Vicky Vale, a prize-winning photo journalist who wants to uncover the secret of the mysterious “bat-man”. And enter Jack Napier, one-time enforcer for Boss Grissom, horribly disfigured after a firefight in a chemical factory…who, devoid of the last vestiges of sanity, seizes control of Gotham’s underworld as the psychotic, unpredictable Clown Prince of Crime…the Joker. Gotham’s only hope, it seems, lies in this dark, brooding vigilante. And just how does billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne fit into all of this?

Batman – Michael Keaton

Joker – Jack Nicholson

Bob The Goon – Tracey Walter

Batman (Keaton 2)Batman Returns PosterThe Penguin (Danny)Catwoman (Michelle)

Batman Returns (1992)

Having defeated the Joker, Batman now faces the Penguin – a warped and deformed individual who is intent on being accepted into Gotham society. Crooked businessman Max Schreck is coerced into helping him become Mayor of Gotham and they both attempt to expose Batman in a different light. Earlier however, Selina Kyle, Max’s secretary, is thrown from the top of a building and is transformed into Catwoman – a mysterious figure who has the same personality disorder as Batman. Batman must attempt to clear his name, all the time deciding just what must be done with the Catwoman.

Batman – Michael Keaton

Penguin – Danny DeVito

Catwoman – Michelle Pfeiffer

Batman and Robin (Val & Chris)Batman Forever PosterThe Riddler (Jim)Two Face (Jones)

Batman Forever (1995)

The Dark Knight of Gotham City confronts a dastardly duo: Two-Face and the Riddler. Formerly District Attorney Harvey Dent, Two-Face incorrectly believes Batman caused the courtroom accident which left him disfigured on one side; he has unleashed a reign of terror on the good people of Gotham. Edward Nygma, computer-genius and former employee of millionaire Bruce Wayne, is out to get the philanthropist; as The Riddler he perfects a device for draining information from all the brains in Gotham, including Bruce Wayne’s knowledge of his other identity. Batman/Wayne is/are the love focus of Dr. Chase Meridan. Former circus acrobat Dick Grayson, his family killed by Two-Face, becomes Wayne’s ward and Batman’s new partner Robin the Boy Wonder.

Batman – Val Kilmer

Robin – Chris O’ Donnell

The Riddler – Jim Carrey

Two Face – Tommy Lee Jones

Batman Robin Batgirl (movie cast)Batman & Robin PosterFreeze Ivy Bane (movie cast)

Batman & Robin (1997)

Batman and Robin are back working side-by-side to stop the villains of Gotham City, but is there tension appearing between them, especially when one villainess who calls herself Poison Ivy can make anyone fall in love with her…literally. Along with Poison Ivy, the icy Mr. Freeze is freezing anything which gets in his way from achieving his goal.

Batman – George Clooney

Robin – Chris O’ Donnell

Batgirl – Alicia Silverstone

Mr. Freeze – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Poison Ivy – Uma Thurman

Bane – Jeep Swenson

The first two films were directed by Tim Burton and have a brooding dark feel to them while the latter two were directed by Joel Schumacher and take a more neon and goofy approach. Say what you will about any of them, you cannot deny the impact they had on the youth at the time as well as the box office. If you look at 1989, Batman was the # 1 film of the year bringing in $251,188,924.00 beating out the likes of Lethal Weapon 2, Back To The Future Part II, Ghostbusters II, The Little Mermaid, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Born on the Fourth of July, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Karate Kid Part III, 007: License To Kill, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Halloween 5, All Dogs Go To Heaven, No Holds Barred, Cyborg, Kickboxer, Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, The Burbs, Major League, Tango & Cash as well as Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade! So as you can see it had very stiff competition and ended up beating them all. Batman Returns took the # 3 spot in 1992 beating out Wayne’s World, Lethal Weapon 3, Hellraiser III, A Few Good Men and Alien 3 to name a few! While in 1995, Batman Forever took # 2 and beat out such films as Pocahontas, 007: Goldeneye, Seven, Braveheart, Halloween 6: The Curse Of Michael Myers and Billy Madison. Batman & Robin took # 12 in 1997 and beat Scream 2, Austin Powers, Cop Land, Jackie Brown, Wishmaster, An American Werewolf in Paris, Lost Highway, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation and Alien Resurrection. But one thing I want to point out, is does anyone else notice that in every Batman movie in this series Bruce Wayne has a new love interest and almost always shows them that he is Batman! I think if I was Bruce Wayne, and while all the ladies are very lovely, I would try to stay with Chase Meridian played by Nicole Kidman as she is smart and very good looking! But no mater how you slice it, Wayne knows how to pick the ladies!

Kim BasingerBatmans RŸckkehrNicole Kidmanelle macpherson

The first batch of action figures based on the Batman movie was made by Toy Biz and showcased not only Batman but also The Joker and Bob The Goon. While many kids like myself rushed to get these figures to have our own Batman Movie style adventures, the figures themselves looked terrible and nothing like the actors from the film. I can remember many kids bringing these figures to the playground, and while we were happy to have them, we still all knew that the figures just looked cheap and were shells of what they should be. I had Batman and The Joker and skipped Bob The Goon, The Joker’s action was a squirting flower that acted like a squirt gun while Batman’s was his belt could be used as a hook. While Toy Biz tried, they really did fail, and the license was quickly taken away and given to Kenner.

Toy Biz Batman ToyToy Biz The Joker ToyToy Biz Bob The Goon Toy

When toy company Kenner got the license to make Batman movie toys, they went for the kill and made figures that looked like the actors as well as accessories like the Batmobile, The Batcopter and the Batcave. They also stayed with the film series and made figures for Batman Returns, Forever and Robin! Each series focused on many different versions of Batman and did all the core bad guys from the movie. On some of the molds they reused ones from their old Super Powers line as The Penguin is the same figure just his suit is painted a different color. When Kenner put these out I had to get my hands on one of the Batman’s as well as Catwoman, and they quickly replaced the Toy Biz ones when it came to Toy Wars. One thing that always cracked me up is the Poison Ivy figure done for the Batman & Robin line looks nothing like Uma Thurman who would not give them permission to use her likeness and looks like a man in drag instead! Don’t believe me, just take a look below, as well as take a look at some more of the Kenner Batman figures!

Kenner Batman ToysKenner ivy & Freeze

Back in 1989 Taco Bell released collector cups featuring Batman, and these were something that I felt I had to have when I was a kid and begged my parents to take me to Taco Bell to get one! When I did get one I can remember drinking everything from Mountain Dew to Chocolate Milk out of it, and it lasted away! After so many washings, the image on the cup began to disappear and sadly the Batman cup was retired and sold in a garage sale. I also remember them doing the cups for Batman & Robin, and I also collected those and got the whole set. McDonald’s did cups for Batman Returns, but I never did get any of those.

Taco Bell Batman Cups

McDonald’s had some Happy Meal toys as well as other merchandise for Batman Returns when the film was released, and many kids I knew had the cars that came in the meal. I can remember having Batman but none of the others. My cousins Dino and Norman had them all and so did Nathan. During this time, they also had pen necklaces that had Batman, Catwoman, Batmobile and The Penguin as topper caps on a very cheap pen. McDonald’s took some heat for putting out these toys in their kids meals by parent groups who thought the film was too violent and should not be geared towards the youth.  Parents groups sure can be silly sometimes.

McDonalds Batman Returns Happy Meal BagMcdonalds Batman Returns ToysBatman Returns Neck Pens

Trading cards have been made for all the films, but none were as popular as those based on the 1989 film put out by Topps. I used to get packs of the cards at United Dairy Farmers as well as at Big Bear and would trade my extra cards and stickers to my neighbor Carmen Fields who was making a whole set. The cards were well done, and they did two sets based just on the first film! I used to love buying old wax packs of cards and chewing on the stale gum as I flipped through to see what cards I had gotten. Oh the good old days!  But while the cards were cool, the whole set doesn’t sell for much as on Ebay.  They go for about $14.00 for both 1 and 2.

Topps Batman CardsTopps Batman Cards 2Batman Returns Cards

Batman t-shirts was also all the rage when I was younger, and while I didn’t have any for the first film I did have some for Batman Returns and as of the last few years I do have a Mr. Freeze one from Batman & Robin thanks to my brother Bryan who found it at a thrift store. I can remember that when I got my Batman Returns shirt for school I felt really cool with my all over print shirt Batman design and wore that shirt for many years after, mostly for gym or to sleep in. Sadly the shirt got holes in it and went to the big washing machine in the sky. But I am sure many of you reading this remember just how important it was for you to have the right cool shirts or shoes to fit in, I however was always just me and would wear movie and band shirts way past there popularity like my old blue Alice Cooper shirt or even Flattop from Dick Tracy. But while my old Batman shirts are gone or way too small at this point, I still have great memories of wearing them and being me.

Batman Returns T Shirt 1Batman Returns T Shirt 2Joker T-Shirt

Do you remember when companies like Post and Quaker Oats made cereals based on all types of cartoons and movies like The Addams Family and Gremlins? Well of course Batman cereal had to be made and company Ralston was the one to deliver it to the masses. Every morning when I was a kid my Mom made sure we ate some breakfast, and while some times it would be eggs & toast or oatmeal, it was mostly cereal and Batman was one that we tried and kind of liked. I can remember the main reason I choose it from the shelves of Big Bear is because it came with a free bank shrink-wrapped to the box. While the original Batman cereal was pretty good, the Batman Returns one made as well by Ralston was not so much! I can also remember eating Batman cereal watching Saturday Morning Cartoons.  Man I really do hate that in October 2014 Saturday Morning Cartoons ended on all major stations, ending an era.

batman cerealBatman Returns cereal

What would a movie be without a video game tie in back in the 80’s and 90’s and of course Batman had a number of game come out based on the blockbuster flicks. First Batman: The Video Game for NES came out in 1990 by SunSoft, and this game was super popular with the Brassfield cousins as we would all try and beat it while at our Grandparents house or even at each others. This game was followed up by Batman: Return Of The Joker, a follow up to a movie game that has no ties to any Batman movies by SunSoft for the NES and Sega Genesis in 1991 and 1992. When Batman Returns was released, a video game was made for many home consoles like NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Sega CD and even Sega Master System. Batman Forever, a very cheesy beat em up game, came out for Sega Genesis and SNES while Batman Forever The Arcade Game was made for Arcades, Playstation and Sega Saturn. Batman & Robin also got the video game treatment as a game was released for Playstation, and I can remember getting this game from Blockbuster Video and trying my hardest to beat it…I never did and I blame it on the poor controls. While they all have a charm in their own way Batman: The Video Game for NES remains the best video game based on this series.

Batman NesBatman Returns GenesisBatman Forever GenesisBatman & Robin PSX

When Batman and Batman Returns came out in theaters I did not get to see them as we had to wait for the VHS tapes for hit the library and local video rental store.  My Dad was not a fan of the 1989 film when he watched it and didn’t want to spend money on the second one. But I can remember me and my brother trying to get them to take us but it didn’t work. Well for my 15th birthday, my parents and brother took me to the Belmont Drive-In to watch Batman Forever and I can remember the night we went it was kind of rainy out but while I was not a fan of the movie it was fun watching the flick in the old family car with everyone. I can remember that they also made snack food for us to munch on. Sadly the old Drive-In went out of business thanks the those wonderful land hogs at Reynolds and Reynolds who bought them out and let the land sit empty for years till they built another soulless building in its spot. I saw Batman & Robin in the theater inside The Dayton Mall with my Brother and younger cousin Nick when our aunt asked us to babysit him and offered to pay for our tickets and snack food, how could you go wrong. After the movie we played on the arcade machines that were in front of the theater. In closing, I miss the Belmont Drive-In and wish it was still around today.

Belmont Drive In

Well my fellow Bat-Fans, we are at the point of looking at the comic adaptations and I for one can’t wait to relive many of them. You see in my youth I had read the comics based on Batman and Batman Returns and want to see if they hold up! And want to thank you for spending this Christmas Eve here at Rotten Ink. So before we Biff and Pow our way into action, I should remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. I want to also thank Mavericks and Lone Star Comics for having these in stock.  So put another log on the fire and get your self another glass of Eggnog we are going to be having a good Bat Time.

Batman 1989 1

Batman  # 1  ***
Released in 1989   Cover Price $2.50   DC Comics   #1 of 1

A family is robbed and left in an ally.  As the crooks make off with the loot, they get a visit from Batman who teaches them that he is the night! Crime Lord Carl Grissom is being targeted by Gotham Police Department but up to this point they have nothing on him as he has a rat in the department who fills him in and helps cover things up. Reporter Alexander Knox along with photographer Vicki Vale are on the case of who and what Batman is, as crime on the streets is lowering as criminals are in fear. Billionaire Bruce Wayne is in fact Batman, but no one besides his butler Alfred knows his secret. Grissom’s girlfriend Alicia is cheating on him with his right hand man Jack Napier who he sets up at a chemical plant that leads to Batman knocking him into a vat of chemicals, and his face is turned white and his hair green and Jack becomes The Joker! Bruce Wayne however finds himself falling in love with Vicki Vale.  As they go on a date The Joker shoots and kills Grissom and now is in charge of his operation. Vicki is following Bruce Wayne and while out The Joker attacks and his men fire guns into crowd.  When the attack is over, they interview Vicki on TV and The Joker likes what he sees. Weird deaths are happening all over Gotham as people are dying of laughter and it’s shown that The Joker is using chemicals in every day products to spread his death. The citizens found out thanks to Batman who saves Vicki Vale from a Joker attacks at a restaurant and gives her the secret.  The next day Bruce Wayne on his date with Vicki is about to tell her that he is Batman when The Joker once more attacks and with this attack Bruce Wayne figures out that Jack Napier (now The Joker) is the thug who shoot and killed his parents! The Joker throws a parade in downtown Gotham and not only giving out free “money” but also poisoning people via balloons. Batman spoils his fun as The Joker takes Vicki prisoner on top of a bell tower.  Batman comes to her aid, and the fight leaves The Joker falling to his death as Batman becomes the savior of Vicki and Gotham.

This is 100% a comic movie adaptation done right, as the look and vibe of the comic captures the magic of the film. The story of this comic is Batman is new to Gotham, and the cops nor the civilians know what to think of him as he takes down crooks with his vigilante justice, and during one of his crime stopping nights he takes a crazy crook and by accident turns him into an even more crazy crook, The Joker, who is tormenting the city! Throw in the fact that Batman is Bruce Wayne, a rich respected man who is torn between doing what he thinks is right and love as he falls for a beautiful photographer who has also captured the eye of the crazed Joker! Batman comes off as a focused hero to the helpless who takes his crime fighting very serious, while Bruce Wayne is an odd rich man who is complex and is torn between fighting and love. Vicki Vale is a likable female lead who has just the right amount of damsel in distress to make you as the reader want to see her get saved. The Joker is crazy and seems like his whole goal in the issue is to cause chaos and to murder the helpless, very great bad guy character and changed just enough from the normal comic series that was also going at the time of this comic adaptation’s release. The Joker’s death is impactful as he falls from high above and dies still with a laugh as a laugh box in his pocket goes off after the impact. The cover is very eye catching, and fans of the movie would for sure nab this one up.  The art inside done by Jerry Ordway is fantastic, and all the characters look like the actors that played them in the movie. I can remember that I read this comic when it first came out as our friend Mike Cessna had it, and I loved it back then, but then again I did have Batman fever! In closing if you like the 1989 film and like comics then check this one out as it was made for you.

Batman 89 Art 1Batman 89 Art 2Batman 89 Art 3

So The Joker is dead, and Batman is now a full savior of the city.  So what baddies awaits him in this second comic movie adaption?  Let’s read on and find out!

Batman Returns 1

Batman Returns  # 1  ***
Released in 1992   Cover Price $3.95   DC Comics   #1 of 1

It’s in the past as a family drops a baby in a basket off the side of the bridge, and as the basket floats down the river and into the sewer, a family of penguins are there to rescue it. Max Shreck is a very powerful businessman in Gotham and is a man with a vision of a more powerful city.  He has the Mayor in his back pocket and he even runs his poor assistant Selina Kyle day and night. While giving a speech about Christmas, Max and company are attacked by a band of scary circus performers know as The Red Triangle Gang.  As Batman comes to save the day, Max himself comes face to face with a strange deformed man called The Penguin who lives in the sewer and knows all Max’s dirty little secrets.  So the two team up to allow Penguin to come above ground and be loved by the people of Gotham. Max has an idea to have a power planet that does not give off energy but takes energy to store, and when Selina gets too close in looking into the plant, she is shoved out a window by Max and is saved by cats who she now has a bond with.  This also makes her an anti hero as she dons a leather cat suit and calls herself Catwoman. Bruce Wayne and Max have a meeting over the power planet but don’t see eye to eye, as Selina shows back up to work to Max’s surprise as he thought she was dead. This bad meeting makes Max turn to Penguin who he now wants to make Mayor, and they hatch a plan of mayhem as they set the Red Triangle Gang free on the city.  As Batman takes out the trash he comes to find that Penguin is not a good role model as Max wants them all to believe and also meets Catwoman who is targeting business owned by Max. Catwoman and Penguin team up to frame Batman and to get the people of Gotham to turn against him by killing The Ice Princess and making it appear as if he did it.  While he is trying to save her ,they will turn the Batmobile into an out of control death machine! With the Ice Princess dead and Batman able to get back control of his car after a nasty joy ride, he is able to use messages he tapped of Penguin to have the people of Gotham turn on him and as he goes back to the sewers he tells his gang the plan of stealing all the first born children of the city and how he wants them all to die in a watery grave! Also by this point Catwoman and Penguin have turned on each other and to make things worse Bruce Wayne has to go to a costume party put on by Max, and that’s when Selina and Bruce find out each others secret identities. Penguin crashes the party and kidnaps Max who he has now turned on, as Bruce turns into Batman and stops the kids from being killed.  With one plan stopped, Penguin now sends his animal penguin brothers above ground complete with bombs and rockets strapped to them to cause death and destruction! Batman stops this attack as well and knocks Penguin out a window and he falls into the sewer bellow. Meanwhile Catwoman kills Max and herself as Batman is powerless to stop her and looses his love.  As Penguin once more appears and is at death’s door complaining of the heat and dies in the sewer water as his animal friends take his body away. Bruce Wayne won’t forget Selina Kyle as Catwoman’s shadow is seen in a ally.

Good comic adaptation follow up to the original but slightly looses the magic of the film, as many plot moments seemed a little rushed. Bruce Wayne/Batman in this comic are almost one and the same as he allows emotions to interfere with his personal life as well as his crime fighting mission. I also am puzzled as too how quickly Vicki Vale is thrown to the side and in a matter of seconds, he is head over heels in love with Selina Kyle who he briefly meets as Bruce during a meeting at Max’s and once for seconds as Batman during the first Red Triangle Gang attack. Bruce is really like a love struck teenager who is longing to be loved and chooses the most complicated women to fall for. Max Shreck is your typical rich big business man who acts as if he cares about the people, when really he cares about his own personal gain. Max is a total scumbag who kills and manipulates whoever he can to become more powerful in Gotham. Penguin is also a very violent and conniving man who kills and takes advantage of whoever can get him ahead in his plan to take over the city. The fact that he runs a gang of circus rejects and has a plan to kill children shows you just how gross of a person he is. Penguin’s death is a little to close too The Jokers with it coming via a fall, but it still works as he makes one last attempt to kill Batman grabs the wrong umbrella, and then falls just short of making it into the cold water before he dies. Penguin is nothing like the comic version and is not classy in any way and is more of a freak, but he still does use umbrellas of all types to fight with. Catwoman/Selina Kyle is an interesting character as she is not good nor bad and while she loves Bruce Wayne, she dislikes Batman and does take the life of his boss Max in the end. This really is a cool adaptation and is a nice follow up to the first with an equally cool cover, but I will say the artwork by Steve Erwin, while good, does lack the charm of making the characters look like the actors of them film, while some do, many don’t. I can remember buying this comic as a kid from The Bookie Parlor and thinking how cool I was cause I had it.  Also while reading this comic, I listened to the score for the film done by Danny Elfman. If you like the film and liked the original film adaptation, this is a good one to have in your collection!

Batman Returns Art 1Batman Returns Art 2Batman Returns Art 3

Penguin is dead and Catwoman is missing, who will be the next to step up and get beat down by Batman? Well let’s see in this next issue based on my least favorite Batman film of all time or should I say forever?

Batman Forever 1

Batman Forever  # 1  ***
Released in 1995   Cover Price $3.95   DC Comics   #1 of 1

Two Face has escape Arkham Asylum and is robbing a bank and has a live hostage, as Batman approaches Commissioner Gordon.  Batman also meets Chase Meridian, a doctor in abnormal psychology.  He goes in to save the day, but while he does save the guard Two Face gets away. Edward Nygma works for Bruce Wayne and is a little crazy.  When Bruce shoots down his idea of a TV that broadcast into your brain he decides to kill the manager and seek revenge on Bruce whom he leaves a riddle for. Bruce takes the riddle to Chase, and after they crack it, they go to a charity circus event and when The Flying Graysons are on, Two Face enters complete with a bomb.  As son Dick Grayson gets the bomb to safety, his parents are murdered by Two Face and Bruce can do nothing to save them. Dick stays at Wayne Manor as once more Two Face tries to kill Batman and fails.  While at his hideout he gets a visit from Nygma who is know calling himself The Riddler, and they two form a team to kill Batman that involves Nygma’s TV Mind Box! Dick sneaks and follows Alfred to the Bat Cave and takes the Batmobile for a drive and saves a woman from some street punks and gets a taste and wants to join Batman as a team who of course rejects the idea. At a party for Nygma’s new invention that is making his company out do Wayne Enterprises two to one, Two Face crashes and Batman this time around is hurt in the fight but is saved by Dick who is wearing his circus outfit and a tiny mask. Alfred tries to push a bruised up Bruce that he should train Dick and allow him to help in crime fighting.  As Bruce thinks it over he becomes Batman and meets Chase at her house as it’s clear she has feelings for Batman as well as Bruce Wayne, but she in the end chooses Wayne! The Riddler finds out thanks to his TV machine that Wayne is Batman, and the evil pair decide to make a statement. Bruce invites her over to tell her he is Batman, and Two Face and The Riddler come in and shoot Wayne, kidnap Chase and blow up the Batcave. After the attack, Batman along with his new sidekick Robin (Dick Grayson) head to Nygma’s factory and battle it out with the baddies. The end fight leaves The Riddler’s brain boiled by his own machine, and Two Face falls to his death into spiked rocks and ocean water. With The Riddler crazy and in Arkham Asylum, Chase knows now she loves the man behind that bat.

I must say I liked this comic adaptation better then the film it’s based on! Gone is the terrible over acting of Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face; missing is Jim Carey’s version of The Riddler just being silly and Ace Ventura like.  Instead we get a fun kid friendly Batman adventures that is laced with some fun silly moments. The story has Bruce Wayne and his alter ego Batman once more falling for a woman who is torn between the two, not knowing till later that they are the same person.  Along the way Batman makes enemies with a crazy inventor and a baddy from his past comes out to play. He also adopts a circus performer who turns into his sidekick in fighting crime. Batman/Bruce Wayne in this issue is on the verge of walking away from crime fighting to settle down with a woman he once more just meet, but by some point comes to learn that both sides of his life are important, and they can come together. Dick Grayson/Robin for the most part takes a back seat and is used just right, not forcing him down your throat and allowing him to become important to the film’s end plot. Chase Meridian is smart and pretty but besides being a love interest does nothing to special to make her on the level of Vicki Vale or Selina Kyle. The Riddler/ Edward Nygma is crazy and wants to really show Bruce Wayne up and is obsessed with power.  His defeat coming by his own invention is well done, as is the fact his head becomes misshapen with the overload. Two Face loves to kill and is a good comic book villain in this comic. The lame thing is once more Two Face, much like The Joker and Penguin before him dies via a fall! The cover on this one is okay and not as eye catching as the other two.  The art done by Michel Dutkiewicz is really great and helps add to the over all appeal of the comic. To sum it up, a solid good adaptation that is better then the movie it’s based on!

Batman Forever Art 1Batman Forever Art 2Batman Forever Art 3

Two Face dead via a fall onto some pointy rocks and The Riddler looks like the Elephent Man and is in the loony bin.  So who’s next on Batman’s list to rid Gotham of?  Let’s read the last to find out!

Batman & Robin 1

Batman & Robin  # 1  **1/2
Released in 1997   Cover Price $3.95   DC Comics   #1 of 1

Batman and Robin try to stop Mr. Freeze from stealing a giant diamond but fall short when Robin is turned into an icicle and Batman must save him from freezing to death as Mr. Freeze escapes. Meanwhile in South America, Dr. Pamela Isley is working on a chemical that will make plants stronger as her partner Dr. Jason Woodrue uses it to make super soldiers and creates Bane, a muscle bound brute who does what he’s told.  When Isley finds out, he attacks her and knocks her into chemicals that turns her into Poison Ivy who kills Woodrue with a kiss, and she and Bane heads to Gothan City. Meanwhile Mr. Freeze is only doing all these bad things so that he can get money for research to cure his sick wife.  While Alfred’s niece Barbra comes to visit and stays at Wayne Manor. Batman uses diamonds from his private collection to lure Mr. Freeze out of hiding but it also draws out Poison Ivy who turns Batman and Robin against each other to get her attention. But the trap works, and they are able to capture Mr. Freeze and send him to Arkham Asylum, but the heat between Batman and Robin grows deeper. Ivy and Bane break Freeze out, and Batman and Robin find them at Freeze’s old hideout and while they fight off Bane they also come face to face with Ivy again who uses her charm to make Robin and Batman fight which leaves Robin knocked out.  She also unplugs Mr. Freeze’s wife and blames it on Batman making him want to kill his enemy. During this time we also find out Alfred is sick with the same disease that was killing Freeze’s wife leaving Bruce, Barbra and Dick helpless to save their friend and loved one. Barbra finds out the secret and becomes Batgirl and teams with Batman and Robin to fight off Ivy, Bane and Mr. Freeze who plans to make the whole world freeze in another ice age. Batgirl takes out Ivy with Robin beating Bane and Batman knocks around Mr. Freeze and tells him that Ivy pulled the plug on his wife but he saved her just in time and talks sense into him and gets him to help cure Alfred’s diseases. In the end, Alfred is okay and Batman & Robin have a new partner in Batgirl as Ivy gets a new cellmate Mr. Freeze!

The first thing that I have to say about this adaptation is that I hate the fact it starts off showing a movie set setting up the first shot…this takes you 100% out of the comic and makes you say who cares it’s all just a movie.  Dumb move by DC for allowing this to be the opening panel of this comic. But take that terrible mistake out of the picture, and this is a fun average adaptation that showcases the silly nature of the film it’s based on. The plot is Alfred is sick and his loved ones want to save him, Batman has an issue trusting that Robin can handle himself, Ivy wants to save Mother Earth and Mr. Freeze wants to save his wife….this comic is all about saving. Batman is a little controlling in this one and seems to almost have a chip on his shoulder, but as Bruce Wayne he is more caring and worried about his sick friend Alfred. Robin is a ball of rage as he feels Batman just won’t let him be the hero he is. Batgirl is a waste in this comic and besides the very end when Barbra becomes Batgirl, she is given very little to do. Alfred is caring and sick so you find yourself hoping and knowing he will get better. Poison Ivy is an extreme environmentalist who puts nature over human lives, and for all accounts is like a pretty ex-girlfriend who is borderline psychotic. Bane is a mindless brute who says nothing at all through at the whole comic.  He is as far from his comic counter part and is nothing more than a glorified henchman. Mr. Freeze retains all his cheesy one liners that all tie in to cold, and is a bad guy that you feel sorry for as he is doing everything bad to try and save his wife, but man when he’s doing bad he goes for broke! Much like the movie that I don’t think is as terrible as people say it is, this is pretty average and cuts out many of the really silly things from the movie like the Bat Credit Card. The cover is average as well and for some reason more reminds me of the kid’s novel version that you would find at a book fair. The art is done by Rodolfo Damaggio and is pretty well done.  In some panels it seems rushed but is not terrible looking even then. Over all if you like the film check it out, otherwise I would avoid this one.

Batman & Robin Art 1

That was a good time for me, and we have read some pretty good comic adaptations that did the films they were based on justice. The art of making movie adaptations seems to be lost as now it’s not so much a comic of the movie as they are mini series that act as lead up to the films. Say what you will about them now, but The Batman films was a series that got the young and young at heart hyped to go to the movies and I for one grew up being a Batman kid thanks to not only the 60’s TV show but also the 89 Burton film.  So with this I should tell you the next update will be my top films of 2014 and I look forward to bringing you that. Well I hope you all have a great Christmas and Santa brings you all what ever you asked for.  Until then spend time with your loved ones, read a comic or two and have a safe holiday.

2014

The Haunted Holiday Tomb Of Ligeia

Brrrr…it’s getting cold outside so why not throw another body on the fire and spend some time drinking hot chocolate with Dell Comics, Edgar Allen Poe and Vincent Price as we take a look at Tomb Of Ligeia. The holiday times are always so stressful and filled with the pressure of buying loved ones gifts, and if you work retail then you know as well as I do that work can be total hell no matter how much you like your job. So for me around this time, I love to sit back turn down the heat a little and crack a window open to let in the perfect amount of chill, then make myself a mug of hot chocolate and pop in a DVD of a horror host or horror film and relax on the couch and let the stress float away as I watch the horrors of what Hollywood have to offer or the zany humor of the host. One other thing that always is stressful around this time is driving on snow and ice covered roads.  I have a blue Chevy Cavalier that I nicknamed The Blue Demon who is too light and slides all over the place, making the drive to and from work not only interesting but also dangerous! The first and only car wreck I ever had was on a snow covered night as I crashed a coworker’s car into a pole by being young and dumb and driving too fast on a slick parking lot.  I am just glad that no one got hurt including myself. So to de-stress this update I figured why not also write about a horror film that was adapted to a comic by Dell, and then I figured why not one of the of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allen Poe films starring the horror legend Vincent Price! So with that combination I choose Tomb Of Ligeia, a very underrated film in Corman’s Poe Series. So let’s warm up and get less stressed and have some spooky good times with Mr. Price.

Santa Claushot chocolateSlumber Party Massacre DVD

Edgar Allen Poe was born in 1809 in Boston Massachusetts to two actors, but in 1810 when he was only one years old his father up and left his family and sadly a year later in 1811 his mother passed away leaving he and his older sibling orphans. Edgar was taken in by a family but never truly adapted were he spent his youth with a male father figure who was tight with money when it came to paying for Edgar’s collage education at the University Of Virginia. So he chose to drop out and inlist in the Army in 1827 and at this time also began writing such poems as Tamerlane. But after awhile he switched from poems to becoming a a literary critic and was known for his unique criticism on others works. In 1835 Edgar married his 13 year old cousin Virginia and 10 years later he wrote his most famous poem The Raven making him a success but sadly two years after it was published his wife passed away from tuberculosis. Over the years Edgar kept writing and wanted to release his own journal called The Penn but never was able to get it off the ground. On October 3rd 1849 Edgar Allen Poe was found wondering the streets of Baltimore in another persons cloths delirious and needing medical help, a stranger named Joseph W. Walker found him and took him to Washington Medical College for assistance, Edgar died a few days later on the 7th of Congestion Of The Brain tho many other causes of death have been talked about everything from Suicide to rabies and no one is for sure as over the years both his medical records and death certificate have gone missing. Edgar the who time never made sense in his ramblings as he was at deaths door and it’s said his last words was a name he shouted “ Reynolds” while others reported it was “Lord Help My Poor Soul”, very interesting words from a dying man. Many people think that Edgar also was a victim of Cooping a vicious 19th century act were citizens were forced to vote for a candidate over and over and by a gang of thugs on the politicians payroll who would force the person to drink and do drugs and go to the voting booth and vote for the same person over and over, they would even force the victim to wear disguises. In some cases after they got the votes they needed they would beat the victim and sometimes kill them, and this is what many believe happened to Edgar Allen Poe. After his death a fellow author named Rufus Wilmot Griswold wrote an obituary that was very mean spirited and showed through with true jealousy and a hatred for a man who’s work has lived on way past his death. Poe’s work is very iconic and is embraced not only by the Goth Culture but as well as many creative people from Roger Corman to The Simpsons creator Matt Groening. Here is to you Edgar Allan Poe and may your soul find rest and may your work forever entertain all those who read it.

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Vincent Leonard Price Jr. was born on May 27th 1911 in St. Louis Missouri and was the youngest of four children, his father was the President of the National Candy Company and his Grandfather Vincent Clarence Price was the inventor of “Dr. Price’s Baking Powder” and set the family up to have a big fortune. Vincent went to Yale and got a degree in History in 1933 that lead to him going to London to try and get his Masters in fine art but while there is were he fell in love with acting and theater. Vincent began acting in plays that lead to even work on “Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre”, but his break into films came in 1938 in the film “Service De Luxe” and he took other character actor roles, he also starred along side Boris Korloff in the 1939 Horror flick “Tower Of London” and in 1940 he starred in “The Invisible Man Returns” but made a splash in the film “Laura” in 1944. Many great roles followed in the Horror genre like “Shock (1946) “, “Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)”, “House of Wax (1953)”, “The Fly (1958)”, “House On Haunted Hill (1958)”, “The Tingler (1959)”. “Return Of The Fly (1959)”, “The Bat (1959)” and then went on to be in many films based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe like “House of Usher (1960)”, Pit And The Pendulum (1961)”, “Tales Of Terror (1962)”, “The Raven (1963) and “The Masque Of The Red Death (1964)”. But this did not stop him from being in other films as well as other horror flicks like “Diary Of A Madman”, “Twice Told Tales”, “The Haunted Palace”, “The Comedy Of Terrors” and “Last Man On Earth”. In 1964 he played the lead role in the Poe based film “Tomb Of Ligeia” that is the topic of this December update, and through out the late 60’s he starred in other great horror films like “The House Of 1,000 Dolls”, “Witchfinder General” and Poe inspired flick “The Oblong Box”. But in the 70’s Vincent really turned up the chills with such films as “Scream And Scream Again”, “Cry Of The Banshee”, “The Abominable Dr. Phibes”, “Dr. Phibes Rises Again”, “Theatre Of Blood” and “Madhouse”. By the 80’s he was still getting many great Horror films to star in like “The Monster Club”, “House Of The Long Shadows”, “Michael Jackson’s Thriller”, “Bloodbath At The House Of Death”, “Terror In The Aisles”, “From A Whisper To A Scream”, “Dead Heat” and Tim Burton’s odd family flick “Edward Scissorhands”. But during his time Vincent also did some great TV work like playing Egghead on the 60’s Batman and roles in The Muppet Show, The Brady Bunch and The Bionic Woman to name a few. I remember him also doing the voice of Professor Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective and also for his work on the album and movie Welcome To My Nightmare by Alice Cooper. Sadly the world lost Vincent Price in 1993 of lung cancer at the age of 83, many odd things have been written and spoke about Vincent Price and some things are for sure he loved art and his impact on the world of movie is major, so here is to you Vincent Price! This is just a brief look at Vincent Prices’s life and career if your looking for more make sure to read up on him, you’ll be glad you did.

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So Tomb Of Ligeia is the film adaptation that we will be taking a look at for this update done by Dell Comics and I would like to take the write up from what imdb has for it and then share my thoughts on the film. “Some years after having buried his beloved wife Ligea, Verden Fell meets and eventually marries the lovely Lady Rowena. Fell is something of a recluse, living in a small part of a now ruined Abbey with his manservant Kenrick as the only other occupant. He remains infatuated with his late wife and is convinced that she will return to him. While all goes well when first married, he returns to his odd behavior when they return to the Abbey from their honeymoon. The memories of Ligea continue to haunt him as well as her promise that she would never die.” So one late night in October I decided to watch this film pretty much for the first time, while I am pretty sure I seen it when I was a kid I truly only remembered bits and pieces so this watch was like seeing it for the first time all over again! The pacing is very much like your standard ghost horror film of the 60’s and the film is more shock horror then blood splattering. Vincent Price is great in the role of Verden Fell and while its not his best performance its a very solid one. If you haven’t seen the film and like the work of Price and films based on Poe stories then check it out.

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Tomb Of Ligeia has been released on many home viewing formats including VHS via HBO and on a double feature DVD from MGM, with the DVD its paired with “An Evening With Edgar Allen Poe” that also stars Vincent Price. Its on Laserdisc via Orion as well can be watched via instant streaming. So if your looking to watch the film there are many ways to do so.

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So many comic companies have made comics based on Vincent Price and his films, companies like Dell and Bluewater have done several but much like Night of The Demon and Curse Of The Cannibal Confederate there is another film that I feel that would and still could make a fun comic book and that film is called The Video Dead! The film is about a TV set that holds the spirits of zombie like monsters who come out of the TV and kill those they come in contact with, brother and sister Jeff and Zoe Blair are fixing up a house their parents bought and are delivered the cursed TV, and of course this is bad news for them as the Video Dead escape and target the neighborhood and even kidnaps Jeff’s new girlfriend! Their only help is a man named Joshua Daniels who has spent his life trying to find and kill the Video Dead. The film is a dark Horror Comedy were The Dead laugh their butts off as they murder people and they can be tricked into thinking they are dead again with simple arrows and other ways of killing a normal man. I first seen the film years back on the USA Network on their popular weekend show Saturday Night Nightmares, and was drawn in to the totally cheese story and the fun 80’s looking zombies. After seeing the film I was a fan and even had a nightmare about the wedding dressed chainsaw caring female zombie in the film, who was chasing me around the Waynesville house I lived in! The films woods scene also reminded me of the woods by our house that we played in, and my brother Bryan and I use to play the “What If” game and acted as if we wondered what if The Video Dead were waiting for us. The comic series could follow Mr. Joshua Daniels as he tracks down the cursed TV from town to town and has to kill and deal with all The Video Dead that have been left behind, but he also has to find out who is the person sending out the TV to people like a curse. So the comic could act as a prequel to the film and capture lots of the 80’s culture and attitude. This is one that IDW could have done during their MGM Midnight Movies Comic Line as MGM owns the film, if I could make the comic for this blog I would love to have Rachael Lare or Eric Shonborn on board for it cause both would do a fantastic job on bringing the zombies alive on paper. So here is hoping that one day The Video Dead will come alive in a comic book some way or another.

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Well lets place an extra log on the fire and top off the hot chocolate and dive into Dell Comics adaptation of this Edgar Allen Poe inspired film. Before we get to far though I want to remind everyone once again I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, its art and story. I also want to think Mavericks for having this comic in stock when I bought it some years back. So with the winter nip in the air lets take a look at this spooky comic for this Holiday season.

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Tomb Of Ligeia  # 1  ***
Released in 1965   Cover Price .12   Dell Comics   #508 of ?

Verden Fell has to bury his wife Ligeia who he thinks is not truly dead, but in some sort of state of mind because she willed herself not to die therefore she is not dead. The townspeople want nothing to do with the funeral that even has a black cat leaping out of the fresh grave! While on a fox hunt Rowena Trevanion, her father Lord Trevanion and Christopher Gough are on horseback in the woods.  An accident leaves Rowena being thrown from her horse after she broke from the group and landing on the grave of Ligeia where she twists her ankle and meets Verden who she falls in love with, and later marries. But things are not well for Rowena as the black cat tries to hurt and kill her at every turn, and Verden himself is acting odd at night leaving her always alone. Christopher later finds out that his friend Rowena can’t be married to Verden as legally his wife is still alive due to the fact there is no death certificate! In the end Rowena finds a hidden staircase that leads to a room where Verden hangs out with the dead body of Ligeia, as Christopher digs up the grave of Ligeia and finds a wax dummy in the coffin! As Christopher gets to the room he finds that Rowena has “died” from blood loss as she cut her wrist on a broken mirror and when she comes to Verden strangles her.  As Christopher gets her body out of the house Verden comes face to face with the Black Cat as the room catches fire and both man and beast are burned alive. Oddly enough when the cat and Verden die, Rowena comes back to life.

First thing I need to point out is this comic had a great Rotten Ink smell and this helped add to the classic comic book reading experience. The comic adaptation of the film is pretty good but also could be a little confusing for younger readers as the plot is squeezed into pages and plots are not fleshed out like they should be. The story is this man loves his wife even after death.  She was a witch and placed a trance on him thinking that she would return from the grave, he falls in love with another woman later in life who looks like her and a war in his mind consumes him. Verden Fell is an interesting character who wears giant sun glasses during the day and is very secretive in nature.  We also learn that he can hypnotize people as well as sculpt with wax. While he does some bad things, he is clearly not a bad guy just a man who was in love and under a witches spell. The Spirit of Ligeia who also seems to poses the Black Cat is very mean and tries to murder several times in the issue, she truly is an evil witch. Rowena Trevanion is a lovely young woman who is drawn to the tormented Verden and wants to make him happy, but sadly is just a pawn in the game Ligeia is playing. Legal man Christopher Gough who is Rowena’s bestfriend is a man of action when he thinks his friend is in trouble and when things just don’t seem right with Verden; he truly is a classic horror comic/movie hero. Lord Trevanion is just a background player and the only other major player in this story is Verden’s servant Kenrick who in the end has all the answers of the spell on his master. The issue is bloodless and offers more spooky mood chills then monster thrills holding true to the movie it’s based on. I could not find who did the art but they did do a fantastic job and it has that Dell Comic charm. If you like the movie, like spooky old horror comics then I would say check out this adaptation comic for sure.

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So Tomb of Ligeia is a good horror comic that is packed with charm and a great rotten ink smell! But next update will be our Christmas Eve update, and last year we took a look at The Thundercats.  This year we will be looking at the Tim Burton Batman movie series and the DC Comic adaptations that followed, so you can say Rotten Ink will be having Batmania! So make sure to come back for that one but until then have a safe winter and make sure to read a comic or three, see you next update.

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The Incredible Hulk vs. The Great, Great, Great, Grandson Of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

Welcome back readers! Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving and that you’re not to burnt out on turkey as Christmas is just around the corner. My Thanksgiving was nice as always, spent with my family. This month of December we will be leading up to my big Christmas Eve update that will be as fun as last year’s look at Thundercats. So I am sure you are wondering what I have planned, but you’ll have to wait until next update for that teaser. This update we will be taking a look at a one shot comic that was based on an episode of the 1982 NBC Incredible Hulk cartoon put out by Marvel Comics the same year.

No Turkey

In 1966, a 30 minute cartoon series called “The Marvel Super Heroes” went on the air in the US via syndication.  It was made by Grantray-Lawrence Animation and Marvel Comics Group and features not only The Incredible Hulk but also episodes based around Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Prince Namor. But we are not going to talk about the other superheroes of the show and just focus of the Hulk ones that were based on the comic books and used artwork done by Jack Kirby and others as the animation.  They would crudely animate them and use over the top voice overs.  Each episode would be chopped into three chapters to tell the whole story of the chosen story arch. The Incredible Hulk had a total of 13 solo episodes and along with the others lasted till late 1966 for a total of 65 episodes among them. I can remember catching these shows years and years later in the 80’s on TV and also on VHS and always thinking how cheesy they were.  While I enjoyed the Hulk episodes, I found the Captain America ones to be the best. Some episodes can be found on VHS, and on DVD for Region 2 players but as of 2014 no DVD nor Blu-Ray are planned for the US market.

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In 1988, Marvel Productions made a cartoon series for NBC called “The Incredible Hulk” that was played during their Saturday Morning Cartoon lineup. The animation style was chosen because it was very close to the artwork that was being used in the comics at the time, but much like most cartoons of the 80’s many shots were reused saving money for the company. The episodes would follow Bruce Banner who would find himself in bad situations that only is alter ego, The Hulk, could get him out of. In this series he would meet and fight with such super villains as Doctor Octopus, Puppet Master, Spymaster, Hydra and Quasimodo, and would also team up with the likes of Rick Jones, She-Hulk and Betty Ross. The series also introduced a new set of friends with a Hispanic father and daughter named Rio and Rita who joined The Hulk on his adventures. The series only lasted one season and a total of 13 episodes, but even with such a short run thanks to reruns and VHS when I was a kid I was able to watch this series and will forever say it’s my favorite Hulk animated series to date. The cartoon had a few episodes make it to VHS and once more as the complete series was released on Region 2 DVD. No US release on DVD and Blu-Ray are planned.

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In the 1990’s FOX Network was one of the top stations when it came to cartoons, and I am not just talking about the Saturday Morning line up.  They showed many great cartoons from Batman The Animated Series all the way to X-Men; they had the lock on superhero cartoons for years. In 1996 UPN started to show another cartoon based on Hulk called yet again “The Incredible Hulk” that was made in the hopes to capture the same popularity as FOX’s major Marvel cartoon hits like 1992’s X-Men and 1994’s Spider-Man, and while many others cartoon series tried like 1994’s Fantastic Four and Iron Man and even later 1998’s Silver Surfer, they all failed to capture the magic and Hulk was as well a miss when it came to kids watching. This series followed The Hulk who was less dimwitted than the cartoons that came before and would add more smashing and fighting as baddies like Abomination, Wendigo, Leader and so many more became the punching bags for the old green menace. The cartoon’s main attraction was that it had the voice acting of Lou Ferrigno doing the Hulk, giving it a tie into the live action show and that it had many cameos from other superheroes like Iron Man, Thor and Fantastic Four. I watched the cartoon from time to time but was way older at this point and was more into girls, rock and roll and horror films than watching toons on TV. The series lasted two seasons for a total of 21 episodes that have not come out complete on DVD in the US, though at one point this series and many of the others that came before it could be watched on Netflix for a short time. Over all seen a few episodes even as of late and must say it’s a pretty good series but not nearly as fun as the 1982 one. Oh yeah and for season two, the show had a name change to “The Incredible Hulk And She-Hulk” after UPN felt that the first season was way too dark and that by adding She-Hulk they might can get a female audience to watch.

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So that was a look at the cartoons based on The Hulk from my generation, but a 2013 series called “Hulk And The Agents Of S.M.A.S.H.” airs on Disney X-D and follows The Hulk who leads other Gamma monsters into battle is being made for kids of this generation. I have not seen the show but will probably watch it once it hits DVD. But now let’s talk about the 1982 episode of The Incredible Hulk called “When Monsters Meet” where Bruce Banner and Betty Ross travel to Paris and become the target of an ancestor to The Hunchback Of Notre Dame who wants a key that Betty is wearing around her neck as he knows it will unlock a vast amount of treasure just waiting for his taking. Of course when this Hunckback appears so does Banner’s anger, and The Hulk is set to stop the creep once and for all. What a cool idea for a cartoon, and I am sure it had both Super Hero and Monster Kids happy as the two titans of brute power slugged it out for their amusement on Saturday Morning Cartoons. This episode as well as the rest in the series was narrated by Stan Lee who helped try to build the mood as well as fill in the blanks of what and who the characters are, making you as the viewer feel as if you now knew everything about the likes of Quasimodo. The episode is the fourth episode in the series when it aired and helped set the bar for the episodes to come. I first watched this episode on VHS via the Marvel Comics Video Library Volume 5 that I bought from a local video store when I was in my mid teen years, and I can remember thinking just how fun and silly the cartoon was and how The Hulk looked like he should in animated cartoon world. If you’re looking to watch this episode you can via VHS, DVD and even on Youtube, check it out if you like 80’s cartoons and enjoy all things Hulk.

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Before we move onto the comic adaptation of the episode we just spoke about I want to talk about another horror film I would love to see get made into a comic mini series and it as well was made in 1982! The film is called “Curse Of The Cannibal Confederates,” and it could be one of the cheesiest horror films I have ever seen, but damn would it be a fun film to turn into a comic. The film was directed by Tony Malanowski and follows six friends, one being a blind girl, as they go camping and hiking, but while finding an old church and graveyard in the woods they bother some items left behind and one takes a journal written by a Confederate general who was tortured alongside his men and are the ones buried in the graves. Taking the journal off the Church land makes the General and his men rise from the grave as zombies to eat the living and get back what’s theirs. The movie is released by Troma and is ranked as one of the worst films in their vast library or so Lloyd Kauffman says in his book “All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger”, but this didn’t stop the film from coming out on VHS and DVD from Troma as well as part of Brentwoods/BCI sets on DVD called Toxie’s Triple Terror Volume 1. If a comic series was to be made, it could follow a new set of campers who go out into the woods and stay the night at the old church after hearing the legends of the Confederate Zombie Soldiers.  They bring cameras along with them to make a documentary and at night they all get a little drunk and get destructive and burn an old confederate flag taunting the spirits of the soldiers, and this act brings the dead back to life once again! The comic is then about them trying to get out of the woods alive, and as a side story two cops, who are the sons of the cop characters from the movie who are killed and eaten, are also around trying to see if the legends are true and if their fathers really died as legend tells. This could be a fun mini series and could make up for the lame movie kills with over the top zombie art kills and a spine tingling story. I would like to see Troma make the comic themselves and if not them than IDW.  If I could get one of my comic book friends to make it I would say that Bruce O’ Hughes, Eric Shonborn or Justin Wasson would be the best for the job as each have their own styles and all that could fit the mood of the story and characters. Maybe someday once I get the Night of The Demon Comic done. I will try and get this one done. Oh yeah and the film has an alternate title “The Curse Of The Screaming Dead”. So until then for god’s sake please don’t read any journals found near cemeteries.

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So we took a look at cartoon versions of the Hulk, the episode from 82 that this comic is based, a comic series I would love to have made based on a Troma movie as well as a little about my Thanksgiving.  So now I think its time that we take a look at this one shot Marvel Comic starring one of my all time favorite superheroes, The Incredible Hulk, and guest starring one of Horrors most iconic characters The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  So I have to remind everyone that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I was lucky to get this comic for free thanks to Joe G and Mavericks Cards and Comics who gave this away for Free Comic Book Day some years back. Joe use to work for Mavericks and was helping out on Free Comic Book day and when the normal stock of free comics were given away Joe brought some of his own in to continue the fun…and I was lucky enough to get this issue, so a big thanks goes out to Joe and Mavericks for going above and behind that Free Comic Day. So let’s travel to Paris and watch two monsters clash in the streets for our amusement.

Hulk Vs Quasimodo 1The Incredible Hulk vs. Quasimodo # 1   **1/2
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics   #1 of 1

Bruce Banner and Betty Ross are on a trip to Paris and visit the famed cathedral of Notre Dame, as high above them Quasimodo and his large bat humanoid friend Salvatore watch and target a key necklace that Betty is wearing.  You see her necklace key alongside The France Prime Minister Of Finance’s opens a hidden vault filled with money and gold. While Quasimodo hatches a plan to kidnap Betty and get the key, Bruce and Betty meet up with Professor Jaques Royale who gives Bruce an untested cure, that Bruce shrugs off as a cure for a cold so Betty doesn’t get hip to the fact he is also The Hulk. As Bruce tries to get them a taxi, Quasimodo pops from the sewer and grabs Betty, taking her back down with him.  As Bruce gives chase Quasimodo puts Betty in a hidden room deep in the sewer and comes out to face Bruce who quickly turns into The Hulk, and the two monsters exchange punches. As the fight between the monsters rages on the formula cure falls from the Hulks pocket and Betty climbs the side of her prison wall and escapes only to be followed by Salvatore who finds out the location of the hidden loot and tells Quasimodo who has shaken the Hulk off his trail by making him fall into water and almost drowning! Betty meets up with The France Prime Minister Of Finance, and they enter a metro car filled with gold and head to the secret hidden spot.  Meanwhile The Hulk has turned back into Bruce and finds the cure at the same time Quasimodo finds him. Quasimodo says he will trade information on where Betty is and will not go after her and the gold if Banner gives him the cure. Bruce gives him the cure, and when it doesn’t work fast enough Quasimodo goes on a rampage to steal the gold as Bruce turns into the Hulk and makes quick work on the attacking Salvatore, and goes to stop Quasimodo who turns into a normal man thanks to the cure.  The Hulk stops the train car that was out of control. In the end all ends well for everyone besides Bruce Banner who still is cursed with The Hulk.

This comic follows the cartoon it was based on for the most part; the one major change is that I felt the fights between the two in the toon were way more epic than they are in the comic. The plot is simple: Bruce and Betty go to France each with their own “secret” mission. Betty is to help transport gold to a hidden vault with a key that was entrusted to her by her father Thunderbolt Ross, and Bruce is there to give some science lectures but mostly around to get an untested cure. The Great, Great, Great Grandson to The Hunchback of Notre Dame Quasimodo wants what both of them have and more so wants to be cured and not an ugly monster any more. This clearly is not in the main story arc of the ongoing comic series as many changes are around from Betty not knowing Bruce is the Hulk and the fact that Quasimodo for the most part fought the Hulk fist to fist and was able to hold is own for the most part. The Hulk is the slow-witted Green Skin Goliath that we all know and love who just wants to protect Betty and smash things. Bruce Banner is the same old same old smart guy, but is a lot less of a sad bastard. Betty for some reason is like a secret agent in this issue and holds literally the key to all of France’s money.  While she does play the helpless victim for a short time, she clearly can take care of herself as she escapes Quasimodo’s prison cell on her own. Quasimodo is a jerk for the most part and while he knows he’s ugly and a monster he thinks by stealing gold and money that he can buy himself happiness. In fact even though it looked as if Bruce was going to give him the cure formula Quasimodo bullied his way into snatching it from his hands. Salvatore the giant bat is pretty much a generic henchman who can bully the weak humans but is no match for The Hulk. The comic, while not the completely the same as the cartoon, holds true enough to the source material to make it an enjoyable read. Oh yeah and at the end of the issue, they try and make sure to remind you to watch Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends and Incredible Hulk on NBC Saturdays! The comic’s artwork is well done and is by the two talented artists Sal Buscema and Steve Mitchell, and the cover is fantastic and reminds me of an old Monster Magazine like Creepy meets a classic 70’s Hulk Comic cover. Great Read, Great Cartoon Adaptation and once more thanks Joe G and Mavericks for having this comic out for Free Comic Book Day.

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Nothing says the holiday season to me more than The Hulk…am I right or am I right? Here is to hoping that some day Disney will get in gear and release all these Hulk cartoons as well as all the rest of the classic Marvel cartoons on DVD/Blu-Ray. Thus far they have released the 1967 Spider-Mans, The 1992 X-Men series as well as the 1994 Iron Man and Fantastic Four, but nothing more for a few years now. Fans have begged for them to release the 1994 Spider-Man series, and while they have put select episodes on DVD and VHS no full seasons are in the works. Well over all I find this one shot issue a very cool tie into a very underrated Saturday morning cartoon tht should have truly lead to a comic series based on his animated adventures, and if Star Comics was around at this time it would have been a perfect fit to go alongside Wally The Wizard and Thundercats. Our next update will bring us a little closer to Christmas, and while doing some deep thinking on what to do and I decided that we will take a look at a Dell Comic based on a Roger Corman film that was adapted from the writing of Edgar Allen Poe that stars horror actor icon Vincent Price and that’s Tomb Of Ligeia! So until next time have a safe Holiday Season, buy your Christmas presents from local stores and make sure to stay nerdy and read a comic or two.

The Tomb Of Ligeia Logo

Hercules: The Legendary Turkey Day Journeys In Mashed Potato Land

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s another great holiday filled with turkey and all the fixings so I figured we ought to once more take a look at that Greek hero Hercules! As you long time readers remember last Thanksgiving we took a look at the Steve Reeves inspired Hercules comic made by Dell.  Well this year we are covering the Topps’ Kevin Sorbo TV version of the muscled hero. This Thanksgiving I am at my parents’ house spending time with family, eating way to much food and loving life so let’s not wait any longer to dive into this review because I am pretty sure I am close to being in a food coma! Oh yeah enjoy the Indian and Pilgrim below because thats what Thanksgiving’s all about right? Or is it football…I forget.

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In 1994 MCA/ Universal Television created a two hour block of programing called “Action Pack” that would consist of TV Shows or a Made for TV Movie all done by Renaissance Pictures, which was founded by Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert who brought us The Evil Dead films. This block of TV lasted until 2001 and gave us such shows as “Xena: Warrior Princess”, “Cleopatra 2525”, “Jack Of All Trades”, “Vanishing Son” and “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” not to mention the Hercules films that came before it was turned into an ongoing series and even one’s based on TekWar and Midnight Run. I can remember when the Hercules films first started to air; I was hooked and would watch them all the time, I even taped a few on the old VCR that was near its last legs of life. The big issue around here was that lots of times the Action Pack did not have a set time when it started and many times sports games and other programs would be on or push its airing to later in the day. This was changed after a while, and I can remember always waking up like clockwork to watch Xena: Warrior Princess, and my Dad turning to it and poking fun at it, as my Mom would make us breakfast. In this modern day and age of TV where crappy reality shows and infomercials rule the airwaves things like Action Pack and horror hosts are truly missed… and oh yeah MTV needs to just end already when they choose to air things like Jersey Shore, Teen Wolf and Teen Mom over playing music videos what they were founded on.  They are dead to me.

Universal Action Pack logo

On January 16th 1995, after a year of just being made for TV movies (5 in total) Hercules: The Legendary Journeys became a full fledged TV show that would last a total of 6 seasons with 111 episodes. The series would follow Hercules played by Kevin Sorbo as he traveled around wronging rights and challenging the Gods who were doing cruel things to humans. Many times he would be joined on his adventures by his best friend Iolaus (Michael Hurst) or even goofy con man Salmoneus played by Robert Trebor and together they would face warlords, thieves, monsters and Gods and all done in a cheesy over the top way. The show, while having some serious moments, was mostly a tongue in cheek show filled with silly humor and outrageous fighting. I loved this show when I was younger and tried to never miss an episode when I could find it on.  I loved old sword and sandal films and always enjoyed the stories and quests of Hercules so watching a TV show done by the people who made The Evil Dead films was a super win for me. One great thing about the show was when they had monsters on and the great cheesy special effects they used, while some times they would just CGI the monsters other times it was guys in rubber suits or makeup. During the show they also introduced a character named Xena who was a female warrior who was cold blooded and a killer.  Well she became so popular that they turned her good and gave her a show called “Xena: Warrior Princess!” Hercules was the top rated syndicated show for many years until Xena took the top spot, but Hercules was the original and spawned lots of merchandise from books to t-shirts and everything inbetween. It also spawned many clone shows like Conan The Adventurer, The Adventures of Sinbad, The New Adventures of Robin Hood, Tarzan: Epic Adventures and Beastmaster showing just how impactful this series was for the time. By the end of the series, Hercules lost steam and Xena was clearly the rising TV star so the show ended marking the end of Hercules being a TV superstar, and also marked the end for many of these silly adventure shows. The show did go on to be released on VHS and DVD so for those looking to rewatch or discover the show the home media market has you covered.

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Kevin David Sorbo was born in 1958 in Mound, Minnesota and grew up in a normal household.  While in college and afterward, he began modeling in print ads and TV to help pay his tuition, and this helped kick start his acting career that started in 1986. Kevin took small roles in TV Shows like Santa Barbara, Murder She Wrote and The Commish until landing the role of Hercules in the 1994 made for TV film Hercules and The Amazon Women.  He would go on to play Hercules in four other made for TV films, a full fledged TV series as well as voiced an animated version in “Hercules & Xena: The Battle For Mount Olympus”. In 1997 he also played the lead character in the comic book movie “Kull The Conqueror” that was slated to be the third Conan movie, but was changed to Sorbo as Kull when Arnold Schwarzenegger turned the role down. Hercules The Legendary Journeys ended in 1999, and his next big show was the 2000 sci-fi adventure series “Andromeda” were he played Captain Dylan Hunt.  The show ended in 2005. After this role Sorbo took small roles in many TV shows like “The O.C.”, “Psych” and “Two And A Half Men”and did a string of direct to video films like “Never Cry Werewolf” and two Walking Tall films. Sorbo also has done some voice work for video games like “God Of War III” where he voiced Hercules and Crusher in “Skylanders: Giants” as well as a few more. Sorbo is still active in acting and has taken many roles now in Christian based films as well as other independent productions.  He can also be seen at many comic and sci-fi conventions as a guest. I always liked Kevin Sorbo as an actor and really think he made a great Hercules, and at some point in time I would love to work with him on an episode of Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre where he and the Baron host the Steve Reeves Hercules movie. So here is hoping that Sam Raimi and company get an itch and make a new Hercules film for TV and have Sorbo back where he belongs.

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Before we get too much into our look at Topps Comics 5 issue run based on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys we should also take a brief moment to take a look at a few of Hercules most popular sidekicks that not only joined him on this super popular show but as well as in this comic series. Iolaus is Herc’s best friend and his traveling buddy who goes on most of his adventures with him.  He is a skilled fighter and well trained with a sword. Iolaus is played by Michael Hurst and is the most popular and best liked of all his sidekicks and was in 79 episodes. Salmoneus is a older man who is balding with a beard who is a pure con man and will uses his friendship with Hercules to get money.  While he is a screw up, his heart is always in the right place and he values his friendship with Hercules. Salmoneus is played by Robert Trebor and appeared in 23 episodes and went on to be a regular on Xena Warrior Princess. Atalanta is a powerful female with strength and power who is a loyal friend to Hercules whom she also has a crush on.  She alongs side Hercules even created the first Olympics. She was played by female body builder Corinna Everson who made muscle bound women attractive to teenage boys.  She appeared in 3 episodes. So now you know a little more about his sidekicks, and if you watched the show then you I am sure all ready knew all this.

Iolaussalmoneus Atalanta

On of my favorite Greek Mythology monsters has always been The Minotaur, and in 1994 one of the made for TV Hercules films came out called “Hercules In The Maze Of The Minotaur.” The film followed Hercules who was retired but is drawn back into adventure when a small village is being terrorized by a evil Minotaur. I really enjoyed the film and can remember watching it many times when it aired and even taped it on VHS. The Minotaur in the movie had a great classic look and was fun to look at as the head was 4 times the size of the actor’s body. The Minotaur was played by Anthony Ray Parker who was known for roles like Dozer in The Matrix and Deputy in The Frightners and many other small roles in movies and TV. It’s a fun silly adventure movie that’s a fun watch on a boring night.  So if you’re bored this Thanksgiving night and are looking for something to watch with your family, give this one a thought.

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Toy company Toy Biz, who was making toys based on Marvel Superheroes, decided to make figures based on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys starting in 1995 that consisted on 5” basic figures, taller monster figures and even 10” figures. The toy line lasted for a total of 3 waves that included six different versions of Hercules, 2 Xena’s and other characters like Iolaus, Ares, She-Demon, Centaur, Minotaur, Mesomorph, Mole-Man, Salmoneus and Atalanta. The larger monster figures in the series included the likes of Hydra, Ceberus, Graegus and many others. I was a little older when these figures came out, but I still collected many of them from the first wave as I got Hercules, Xena, Iolaus and Minotaur and put them on a shelf in my room.  In fact I still have them to this day. Some years later at a thrift store I found the Hydra for .49 and had to buy it because why the heck not? The figures, while cheesy looking, held the appeal of the show and I for one am glad they were made. At some point when I am able to get a bigger place to live I am sure the old Hercules toys will make an appearance in my film editing room.

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Titus Software made a video game based on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys in 2000 for the N64 that was about Hercules trying to save his father Zeus from his step brother Ares who has taken the King of the Gods hostage and by doing so had shaken the mortal world and Mount Olympus to the core.  It’s up to Hercules to save him and set everything right. The game was your typical beat em up on the N64 and was a fun solid action game. When the game first came out while I had an N64, Sony’s Playstation was more of my system so I never did play it on release as the rumor was that a port of it was coming to Playstation. I waited and waited and even a very cool Xena game came out and I bought it and beat it to hold me over, but Hercules never did make it to the Playstation and that truly did suck for fans like me. A few years ago when I was working on some video game reviews for Bloodline Video, I chose to play and review Hercules for the N64 and while the game was flawed it still was a very cool game that I gave 2 1/2 stars to.  Sadly though the gaming magazines were not as nice to the game, and it mostly got poor to middle of the road reviews. But if you have a N64 and liked the show, I would say check it out.

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So I hope you have your walking shoes on, and that your belly is not filled with too much turkey and mashed potatoes because its time for us to go on a journey with Hercules and see what adventures we can get in to! So before we start I should remind you that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. I also want to thank Mavericks, Bell Book and Lone Star for having these issues in stock for me to be able to review for this Thanksgiving update. So let’s begin because Hercules grows tired of waiting for us.

Hercules 1

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 1  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #1 of 5

Salmoneus, friend of Hercules, is in a small village telling all who will listen and donate some coin about the famed 12 Labors of his friend.  After his story he meets Pronoea, a woman who pays him to help her find Hercules as she really needs his help. While traveling to find him, the pair comes across a band thief Centaurs who want to steal all their money but they are saved by Hercules who chases them off and finds that Pronoea’s husband has been kidnapped and he is more than happy to help her get him back. After Salmoneus heads back to the village Hercules and Pronoea begin their rescue quest that leads them to her husband who is the Titan Prometheus who has been shrunk down to normal size.  His voice taken and is tortured by a giant gold metal bird who rips at his guts everyday! Hercules is shocked to learn his own father Zeus is the one who is holding the Titan prisoner and after killing the golden bird Herc sets him free and finds out that Zeus, while the one who bound Prometheus, is not the one who made him mute and before they can escape they are attacked by Olympus fighters Bia and Cratos who knock out Hercules and re-chain Prometheus!

Topps Comics really captured the adventure and silly nature of the TV show perfectly with this first issue and proved that when they bought an IP, they treated it right. Hercules in the issue is very noble and clearly wants to do the right thing to help his fellow man. While Hercules is strong, it’s clear he is out matched when he must fight both Olympian fighters whose punches are as strong as a charging Rhino. Salmoneus is as sleazy as ever and, while a friend of Hercules, seems to always try to find a way to make a quick coin from the friendship. Pronoea and Prometheus are victims of the Gods who are using them as pawns in some sort of game to get at each other as well as Hercules. Bia and Cratos are mountains of “men” who have no mouths and are only around to destroy those they are sent after.  The Golden Metal Bird, while tough, is more of just a torture device. I find that the comic has some pretty gruesome moments as Prometheus has his stomach ripped open and you can clearly see his insides.  What makes this a nice touch is that this punishment is also told in real Greek mythology. The art done by Jeff Butler is fantastic, and all the characters look like the actors who play them on the show, and the story by Roy Thomas is also fantastic as this story arc is called “The Trial Of Hercules Part 1.” The cover as well is eye catching, and I can remember buying this issue new off the stands at Mavericks and thinking how cool the cover looked. Well this issue ends with Hercules being taken prisoner and taken away so let’s see just how much trouble our hero is really in shall we?

Hercules 2

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 2  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #2 of 5

Hercules finds that he is being taken by Bia and Cratos to Zeus who is putting Hercules on trail for freeing Prometheus from a punishment he placed on the Titan. The three Furies are acting as the jury, Zeus himself is the judge and Ares The God Of War is building the case against his half brother. Meanwhile Salmoneus and female powerhouse Atalanta figure out Hercules is in trouble and head to aid him. While Salmoneus shows up to the trail and acts as Hercules’s lawyer, Atalanta frees Prometheus who comes to Hercules’s defense and tells the truth that Ares is the one who made him mute to protect a secret that would have had all the Gods at war with each other! Zeus goes back to Mount Olympus as Ares and Hercules fight that ends with The Furies finding Hercules not guilty and Ares guilty and they take the God of War away to be punished. In the end Prometheus and Pronoea grow back to titanic size as Hercules with friends Salmoneus and Atalanta walk away possibly to have another adventure.

This second issue and the last part of the “Hercules on Trail” storyline is a well done issue and once more captures the magic of the show making for a good read. Hercules seems like he is in deep trouble as he has crossed the path of his father Zeus who is not happy about it at all! Ares wants nothing more than to kill or watch Hercules get murdered making him one evil villain! Prometheus and Pronoea come in at the last moment for the save as they are able to tell he secret that the Titan knows; they truly are the lifesavers of Hercules. Salmoneus is as greedy and spineless as ever and it takes some pushing for him to even attempt to come to his friend’s aid. Zeus is stern and fair and flexes his muscles to show everyone why he is the King of the Gods. Bia and Cratos are pushed to the background of this issue and just become the whipping boys of Hercules’s rage. Atalanta, while cool to see in this comic, doesn’t offer much to the plot, and it’s a shame cause she is a real butt kicker in the show.  In fact one odd thing this comic does is showcase the fact other characters like to look at her boobs and butt! The Furies are ugly females who live for nothing more than to dish out justice, and they seem to enjoy the fact they get to attack Ares who made the mistake of trashing their odd appearances. This issue for being about a trail is pretty action packed and has many good fighting with the best being the Hercules and Ares brawl, and like the first issue this does have some blood as Atalanta is stabbed in the arm protecting Salmoneus from robbers. The art is top notch again done by Jeff Butler, and the story is still done by Roy Thomas showing that they make a great comic making pair. The next issue teases that Xena The Warrior Princess will be appearing and while the fan boy in me is pretty hyped for it, another side kind of just sighs and wishes they would just keep Xena in her own Topps Comic that was gearing up to being made. To sum it up these first two issue are fantastic and are perfect fun cheesy reads for fans of the show like myself.

Hercules 3

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 3  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #3 of 5

Xena, along with her friend Gabrielle, travel to her home village to find it burnt to the ground and her mother is being held captive by a scar faced general named Aesor who claims that he works for Hercules and that her mother will die if she does not join their army! Xena doesn’t believe these claims until she sees Hercules on the hill watching the carnage below.  This makes her mad, and she and Gabrielle beat up all the soldiers with only Aesor escaping. Xena’s mother takes her to see the body of an old man from the village that was killed during the raid, and Xena swears revenge and heads to Hercules’ village. Iolaus is throwing a birthday party for Alcmene as Xena shows up in a rage and starts attacking, right before things get to bad Hercules along with Salmoneus and Atalanta show up and Xena takes her rage out on her true target Hercules! The two do battle all the while Hercules tries to calm the situation down and proclaim his innocence, and only after Salmoneus talks sense into Xena (whom he is also friend with) does the pair decide to leave their friends behind and team up to find the answers. As the pair travel the run into an old woman who claims she saw Aesor going one way and turns out she in fact is a he and is the shape shifter who claimed to be Hercules known as Periclymenus.

This third issue is more about Xena then Hercules, and while it makes sense to build up this adventure, it’s still a little of a letdown as the title hero seems to be taking a back seat to a hero they clearly were getting ready to push in her own comic series. The story in this issue is pretty classic stuff as Xena thinks Hercules has wronged her village, but in reality the pair of heroes is being set up by a shape shifting bad guy who has his own plans of domination. Hercules once more is a hero and doesn’t want to fight Xena who is going crazy but more wants to talk it out.  Once more Herc is a class act. Xena is a tough woman who, while is a loose cannon, wants so badly to wrong rights and is doing so cause of her rocky past. Iolaus and the rest of the sidekicks, while great seeing them, all seem to just be glorified cameos. The fact Xena thinks that Hercules has sent men to murder and burn down her home village shows just how much she really doesn’t know her friend and proves that she is easily tricked into a rage filled rampages. Periclymenus in his true look is a creepy looking demon type and will indeed be a tough foe for our heroes to beat.  Plus he is able to change his looks and also has an army of back stabbing bad guys. This issue as well is a team up of artist Jeff Butler and writer Roy Thomas and once more proves they are a great team who seem to know the IP and really care about making a quality story. The cover I have is a little silly; it’s a huge live action still of Xena making it clear that Topps was already moving past Hercules and gearing up to focus on their new prized IP. Well let’s move onto the fourth issue and see how our heroes will be able to stop Periclymenus.

Hercules 4

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 4  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #4 of 5

Periclymenus’s army is attacking another village and have orders to kill everyone.  As the attack happens Hercules and Xena come to the rescue and find out that Periclymenus used them as a diversion so that he could attack Hercules’s home village and kidnap his mother! As Hercules and Xena rush to help, Atalanta, Iolaus, Salmoneus and Gabrielle hold off the attacking army but Periclymenus disguised as the fake Hercules is able to kidnap Alcmene and tells her he needs her help to find a man that will be able to give him the strength of Hercules to go along with the look! When Hercules and Xena arrive, the group informs them of the kidnapping and they all break into groups to find her.  Hercules and Iolaus are a team and end up finding Periclymenus who has found who he was looking for that was his brother who made an elixir that turns things super strong and changing into a Chimaera (a giant flying monster with the head of a goat, upper body of a lion and lower body of a dragon) and sets his site on killing Hercules!

This fourth issue is action packed, and every main character from the show has a good role to play! The whole plot of this issue is a kidnaping and rescue that leads to the baddie getting more power just in time for a final showdown that will be coming up in the final issue. Hercules saves people’s lives and for doing so he puts his own mother at risk.  This major risk helps bring out the human side of him and helps us as the reader feel as if things really could go badly for him. Xena in this issue takes a backseat and plays the role of sidekick as well as Atalanta, Salmoneus and Gabrielle; while they all fight they are not the main focus. Iolaus is a true friend of Hercules and fights along his friends side even when the odds are against them. As for Periclymenus, we learn a little something about him.  So besides being a shape shifter he also has a brother who makes powerful elixirs that can give him more power and up his shifting abilities. Plus the fact that he is now a giant Chimaera looking to rip Hercules apart adds so much to the danger Herc is truly in. Butler and Thomas make a great pair again and deliver another solid and fun issue, and I am really hyped to read the 5th and final issue so let’s not wait any longer.

Hercules 5

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 5  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #5 of 5

Xena and Gabrielle find Aesor who is being chased by a club wielding giant, and they make a deal with him that they will save him if he takes them to where Periclymenus is holding Hercules’s mother. Meanwhile Hercules and Iolaus find a way to hurt the Chimaera version of the shape shifter who disappears. Hercules finds his mother who must bandage her head due to fallen rocks as Periclymenus’ brother tells them all about their troubled past as well as that when he changes now that his striped black birthmarks will appear on what or whom ever he looks like. Xena and crew coming running up with a giant following and to everyone’s horror they watch has he smashes Aesor into paste! But together Hercules and Xena stop and reluctantly have to kill the giant, just as Periclymenus shows himself again as he was the bandage around Alcmene’s head.  He battles both Xena and Hercules and even knocks his own brother off a cliff.  In the end Xena tricks him into falling to his death or so they all think as he really just took the place of his brother and plans to fight another day as our heroes think the battle is over.

Periclymenus is cold blooded as he knocks his brother off a cliff to his death and then uses his own brothers appearance to have Hercules and Xena save his evil life! He was a great bad guy and when gaining his new powers really was a tough foe for our heroes to fight. Hercules uses all his power, will and wits to try and out muscle the shape shifter and does so to save not only himself from death’s grip but also his mother and friends who are also all in grave danger. Xena uses her skill and mind and is the one who gets the battle to end when she tricks the shape shifter into reaching for a small bottle of the elixir causing him to fall off the same cliff he shoved his brother off. Alcmene as well as both Gabrielle and Iolaus all play small but important parts to this issue’s wrap up story and each show a warrior’s spirit. The issue as well has some blood as the Giant splats Aesor with his club that becomes blood soaked, and then the Giant gets stabbed in the face by Xena’s sword and then falls on top of a stone spike and all done with the red stuff showing. Butler and Thomas once more make a great team and it’s really cool that they were the team for all 5 issues, and each one was well done and solid showing the talent each had and the love of the source material they shared. In fact I would say that this could be one of the best comic series based on a 90’s TV show made at this time and once more brings out my respect for Topps Comics, a company that truly is missed by this comic reader. If you’re a fan of Hercules The Legendary Journeys or just fun cheesy adventure comics based on Greek myths, then I would say that this comic series is worth your time for a read, and I will say they held up after all these years and I liked them back then and find myself liking them now.

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So I hope you had a legendary journey with Hercules and me on this Thanksgiving in 2014, and I must say that this Topps series was really well done and makes me miss them as a comic company even more! Plus it makes me miss the good old days of TV way before reality shows ruled the airwaves when shows like Hercules and Xena were highly watched and loved by viewers. Oh well, like everything in life stuff changes and we ca’nt stop the future. Our next update will be a comic based on a episode of the 1982 Incredible Hulk Cartoon where Hulk fights an ancestor of The Hunchback of Notre Dame! Well I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends and that your bellies are not too filled so that you saved room for dessert.  So until next time, enjoy life and make sure to have your own legendary journey!

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