On this Undead Files, we will be taking a look at the not so mainstream version of the living dead. You know, the stuff that people would say is scraping the bottom of the barrel, the black slime of the genre that most fans would like to throwaway and act as if it never was. After searching local comics stores, horror conventions and the web I have found a backyard zombie comic that fits the bill; all my friends who are fans of underground and independent comics have never heard of this one and neither had I until I found it listed on Ebay for $1.49 plus $1.99 shipping. This zombie comic is called “Zombies From Hell” and was made by Robert Bennett. So let’s travel the unsafe world of the living dead once more and take a trip with some zombies down a generic road that leads to the bargain basement of undead doom!
This is part is not so much about a low budget zombie story but one you all might find funny. In 2015 during the Christmas season, a couple in Cincinnati, Ohio decided to mix Halloween in with their Christmas decorations and made a zombie nativity scene complete with a zombie baby Jesus! In 2014, they had done the same thing as a publicity stunt for a haunted attraction that they ran and most the locals seemed to dig it, but the city didn’t and in 2015 they tried to charge the couple $500 a day for not getting a permit to build the horror themed nativity! Think about that, they were threatened with fines for being into horror and turning Halloween decorations into Christmas ones! This upset the wound-too-tight city officials who in turn got the law enforcement involved…what have we become!?! In 2016, neighbors of a Texas homeowner were upset over his zombie babies Halloween display, and sadly this crybaby (get the pun) behavior is spreading as many other people getting into decorating for Halloween and Christmas with a touch of horror are being targeted by sticks in the mud who want to take the fun out of everything and are way too judgmental on those who like dark entertainment. So if you are one of these people who have extreme Halloween decorations or mix zombies into your Christmas ones, I say keep being you and there is nothing wrong with being a monster kid and making the holiday more fun for those who enjoy the spirit.
Horror films were a staple for my brother and I growing up, and we would see many of them on the USA Network. That goes for the film I have chosen that should have been made into a comic book series, and that film is “Zombie Nightmare,” a classic undead flick that’s been shown many times on USA Saturday Nightmares and is also known being riffed by Mystery Science Theater 3000. This 1987 low budget horror film is about a young baseball player who’s dad was murdered saving the local voodoo woman from some punks when he was very young. Once he grows up, he’s killed in a hit and run and comes back to life thanks to the voodoo woman who makes him a zombie who has revenge on his mind. The film starred rockstar John Mikl Thor and Adam West and is a truly cheesy flick filled with lots of over the top acting and kills. If I could make the comic via Blood Scream Comics, the plot would be this: It’s modern days, and Tony Washington’s old neighborhood has gotten worse. Crime is out of hand, and gang violence is out of control. When his mother is murdered in a home invasion gone wrong, the voodoo of Molly Mokembe brings the long dead Tony back from the gave and with his trusty ball bat, he embarks on a one zombie war against the gang members responsible. Throw in the cops and you have a mix of action and horror. The artist I would love to see on this one would be Damien Brunk as his style would be perfect for it. I would also live to see Eibon Press do a comic book based on this film as an adaptation. While Zombie Nightmare might not be one of the 80’s most popular zombie films, it sure as hell has a place in my black heart and should have gotten a comic book back in the late 80’s and it’s a shame that it didn’t.
So before we get to the extremely zero budget comic, I think I should talk about a cheesy zombie video game that I played in my youth. My brother was the first to buy a PC in our household, and he was so hyped to get onto the internet that was new at the time. To be truthful, part of the reason we were hyped is because we could look up stuff about horror films, comic books, video games and pro wrestling, and we wanted to check out the TNT Monstervision website! But while the net was cool, we were also hyped that we could play video games not only on CD but also 3.5” diskettes, and this opened the door for us to play many games like Doom 2, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Free Ski, You Don’t Know Jack, Waxworks and a little cheesy first person gem called “Isle Of The Dead.” The plot of this game has you as a survivor of a plane crash on an island that is overrun by zombies and is ruled by a mad scientist who is the madman creating the flesh eaters. The game, besides being a first person shooter that had you use guns and a machete to hack the baddies, also had elements of a point and click adventure as you have to find items and weapons in order to survive. While I have lots of great memories about the game, it did have many flaws as it was prone to freezing during play, was repetitive and by all accounts just a really bad game, but something about it made me love it. I can remember spending hours playing it on my brother’s old computer and always wondering if they every made a sequel…they didn’t. The game was made by Rainmaker Software and published by Merit Software in 1993. It was poorly received and came and went with out making a splash in the world of Doom and Wolfenstein dominating the first person shooter PC Gaming world, but at the Brassfield house Isle of The Dead was a popular survival horror game that to this day is one of my favorite PC games and had one amazing music score that I still hum to this day. Do yourself a favor if you love cheesy first person zombie shooters and your PC/Mac can play old DOS games, get yourself a copy and have a great time trying to survive the isle of the dead!
Well we are at the Undead Graveyard and in this section the cardboard gravestones are starting to fall over. From here you can see just how far away Zombies From Hell is from The Dead and Resident Evil that came before it in “The Undead Files” updates. From here the zombies wandering around look like they are just wearing K-Mart brand Halloween grease paint and rubber masks but for me that kind of cheesy stuff is backyard effect gold. Now lets see if this no budget approach can also do well in the horror comic world. One of the zombie is mumbling from his rubber mask and the muffled words sound like he wants me to remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s take a seat next to this bent tombstone under this rotting tree and see what horrors Zombies From Hell has in store for me.
Zombies From Hell # 1 **
Released in 2014 Cover Price $2.99 Middle Atlantic Comixs # 1 of 1
Sam has found a book that is the key to open the Gates of Hell. He calls his good friend Professor Griffin along with a busty blonde female, they follow the book to the location that is said to hold the opening to Hell. Sam speaks a chant, and a door appears on an old tree. When they pry open it, they find a hotel lobby that is the waiting area before Hell and meet Zeus, the son of Satan and the manager of the hotel that has not seen a mortal in over 500 years. They soon find they are trapped in the lobby until they die, but meanwhile in our world, a band of bank robbing females are on the run after killing a guard and find the door in the tree and also enter to find they are now trapped. The girls panic and use guns on Zeus to no effect and even open the door that frees zombies after they were warned not to! Zombies come out of the door looking for meat and attack not only the robbing women but also Sam and his friends. The cops have tracked down the robber’s car and open the door in the tree allowing the survivors to escape but make the mistake of opening the door again, allowing the zombies to escape and eat them all!
This is truly an underground comic as its clearly put together using a copy machine from a library or even maybe an Office Depot as well as a glue stick that is holding the first page to the cover! And while some of you readers might be discrediting this comic for its cheap production, others are now more intrigued. The story follows a man who has been looking for a book that has been missing for 500 years that holds the secrets of Hell. He cons his friends into going on the quest with him and soon finds that his book only leads him to a boring lobby of a hotel. Throw in some female bank robbers, a creepy hotel manager and a horde of meat eating zombies, and you have the plot of this fun silly independent horror comic. Sam is the comic’s lead, and we are never filled into why he wants to find the opening to Hell. It’s clear that he is a jerk as he forces his friends by gunpoint to enter the door he thinks will lead them all to Hell! Griffin and his blonde female friend are just used as background characters who are trapped in the classic “Wrong Place Wrong Time” scenario. The three female robbers are bad news and are killers who don’t listen and the ones who cause the zombie outbreak, but they meet a fitting gut munching demise. Zeus is weirdly enough the voice of reason and also kind of crazy in delivering his warnings, I mean he is the son of Satan! The comic has some blood and gore but it’s nothing too gruesome, and has tiny bits of nudity as you can see slight female nipples during the zombie attack. Speaking of zombies, they are pretty cool looking and are your classic skull face looking ones. The cover is ok but does not truly capture the nature of the comic. I do, however, love the fact the color is done with colored pencils. The black and white art inside is done by Robert Bennett who also wrote the story, and while both are sloppy, they have a charm for this style of underground comic book making. This is clearly not for everyone, but I for one sure did enjoy every cheesy moment of reading it!
So as you can see, just because this comic was put together using a glue stick and some copy paper didn’t mean it was at least not entertaining, proving that comic books much like films don’t have to have huge budgets to bring on the enjoyment. But guess what readers, we are not done with zombies just yet as our next update will be a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update and will showcase the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake and the promo comic that was released along with it. So until next time, make sure to have a plan set in case of a zombie apocalypse, read a comic or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update readers and friends.