Ashes To Ashes Burial By Rats

Well this was suppose to be Ghosts of Dracula, but I misplaced the final issue so you get…RATS….. Thousands…. Millions Of Them! All Red Blood! All these will I give you if you only read Rotten Ink! That might not be the exact quote Renfield gave in the 1931 film version of Dracula for Universal Pictures, but it was close. Growing up I liked rodents, and even had two as pets that I got from my neighbor when they were tiny babies when her pet mouse had a litter. They both were little females; one was grey with a white side strip and underbelly who was called Grey Man while the other was just solid white with red eyes and her name was White Man…yeah for some reason my brother and I decided that little female baby mice looked like little people so they got nicknamed men. They were my buddies, and I used to hang out with them all the time as they were well behaved and when letting them run free in my room they never wanted or even tried to escape. Both of them had things they liked to do with me. White Man loved to fall asleep in my lap or on my shoulder while I read comics, books or magazines while Grey Man was all about me playing NES games and would spend time watching the lights on the screen. Both of them were so gentle, and I never once was bitten by either nor was anyone else I let pick them up.  They were perfect pets and well loved by me and my family. They would even take sunflower seeds from your hand and would be so gentle. Sadly as those of you long time readers remember, White Man passed away from a tumor while I was away at camp and Grey Man passed away a short time later. They both lived a long life, and I loved them both equally and miss them as they truly were perfect. I know you’re probably thinking it’s silly that I cared this much for mice, but to me they were just like the cats and dogs I owned, a part of my family. Some time passed before I got another mouse, and when I did I got him from Jack’s Aquarium and Pets.  He was a black and white male named Ben, and yes, he was named after the film that I had seen a number of times on TBS and was even hosted by Grandpa Munster on Super Scary Saturday. Ben was a good little guy.  While moody, he still never bit me and for the most part was chill.  Ben, however, was always trying to escape his cage and would even climb his water bottle and try and push the lid off the cage…he never got away, but man he tried. Ben was very different from Grey and White as he would not sit still for long and only time he would was when he would be on my bed and get warm and fall asleep. After Ben passed away, my next tiny rodent pet was a Hamster called SPG named after the Hamster from the BBC show The Young Ones, and man he was mean and liked to bite even when he was happy! Below are some pictures I took of White Man and Ben, and while a Grey Man one was taken, it was so blurry that it would not scan well.  Sorry, I know these two are bad as well, but I took them when I was a kid.

White ManBen Mouse

In 1995, New Concorde Pictures released a film to cable TV and video called “Bram Stoker’s Burial Of The Rats.”  The film was produced by Roger Corman, the master of the B-movie, and was directed by Dan Golden.  It was based on a story by you guessed it Bram Stoker and adapted to screen by a total of 4 writers. The film follows a young Bram Stoker as he is taken prisoner by a rouge group of female bandits called The Rat Women who are ruled by a flute playing queen and seven white mice whose tails are tied called The King. The twisted tale is to show how and why Bram went on to become of the world’s most famous horror story writers. The film stars Kevin Alber, Adrienne Barbeau, Maria Ford, Olga Kabo and in smaller roles actresses Nikki Fritz and Linnea Quigley who each played Rat Women. Now I can remember this on VHS sitting on the shelf of K&L Video and the poster hanging on the wall of the video store for awhile and always trying to get my brother to rent it because it had Maria Ford in it who I really liked at the time but I will get into that more later.  My brother always shot it down and said that it looked boring and would then go for films like Deadtime Stories or Don’t Go Into The Woods. So it would be years after it’s release before I would see it, and I found the film entertaining and goofy and must say Maria Ford looks fantastic as a warrior woman. The film performed badly with critics and fans, and as of 2014 it has a 4.1 out of 10 stars on IMDB. But I don’t want to get too much into the plot of the film here, as the comics we will be covering from Cosmic are the adaptation of the film. But before we move on we will take a look at some of the lovely actresses that are in this film.

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Adrienne Barbeau started her career in entertainment in the 1960’s.  After being a Go-Go dancer, she landed some roles in theater in such musicals as Fiddler On The Roof, Grease, The Best Little Whore House In Texas and even a nudie musical called Stag Movie. She left the theater in the 70’s to become a TV star and took roles in such shows as Maude, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, All In The Family and even participated in The Battle Of The Network Stars. Along the way she married horror film director John Carpenter as well as posed for a high selling cheesecake poster that helped spark her rise as a sex symbol and was a topic for drive in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs who helped the actress gain more attention. In 1980 she starred in her first horror picture when she played the lead role in the film The Fog.  She went on to star in many other horror/sci-fi films over the years that include Escape From New York, Creepshow, Swamp Thing, Two Evil Eyes, Unholy and Burial Of The Rats. At this time she also took some roles in comedies that went on to become cult classics like Back To School, Father Hood, The Cannonball Run, Cannibal Women In The Avocado Jungle Of Death and Scooby-Doo On Zombie Island. Barbeau at the time of acting in films still do roles on TV with one of her biggest being the voice of Catwoman on Batman The Animated Series in the 1990’s, and speaking of her voice talent she also lent her pipes to a few video games like God of War III, Halo 4 and Batman: Arkham Asylum. As of 2014, Barneau is 69 years old and shows no signs of slowing down as she is still taking work in movies, TV and video games. Barbeau in acting is known for always playing the tough woman who has the take no crap attitude as well as for her large natural breasts. In the film Burial Of Rats, she plays Queen Rat.

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Olga Kabo is a Russian actress and theater performer who at a young age mastered the English language as well as dance and acting as she got her first major role by the age of 15. As she grew up she got more and more roles and became a very popular actress of Russian cinema and was the star in such films as Lysistrara Comedy, Burial Of The Rats and The Ice Runner becoming a sex symbol with these roles. Nowadays, at the age of 46 she spends most of her time acting on stage and still being a popular draw to fans who come to see her perform. In Burial Of The Rats, she plays Rat Woman Anna.

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In the 1990’s, one woman’s name stood out to me when it came to being in low budget horror and sleaze films and that name also marked another big celebrity crush for me. I first laid eyes on Maria Ford in the 1990 slasher film sequel “Slumber Party Massacre III” where she had darker hair and played the part of Maria. I quickly became a fan of the beauty and began buying her films from local video rental stores with the second film I saw of hers being  “Stripteaser” with many more to follow like “Showgirl Murders”, “Rain Killer”, “Deathstalker IV: Match of the Titans” and “The Unnamable II” to name a few. Something about the skinny blond haired Maria Ford drew me in and I was taken back on just how sexy girl next door she looked. I even got my friend Jason Gilmore to become a fan of hers and by watching her films he also found an actress that he became a fan of named Nikki Fritz. Around this time I would say one my favorite actress in these style of no budget films would be Maria Ford as well as J.J. North and Ariauna Albright, Charlie Spradling, Denice Duff and my top was Tina Krause. I spent so much time and money buying films that had her name on the cover box.  While many were terrible, it was okay because I got to see Maria do her thing and act well even with poor scripts she was given. As I grew older Maria Ford’s roles became fewer and fewer, and the last major one I could remember coming out was one that was released to VHS when I worked at Blockbuster called “Perfect Fit” and that was a dark comedy. Maria Ford also went on to be in a bunch of Cinemax Soft-Core Adult titles and had small roles in many Hollywood films as the cute girl like in “Beethoven’s Fifth” and “The Addams Family Reunion”. She was also on TV with roles on 7th Heaven and The Drew Carey Show showing that Ford had a lot of talent. While over the years her appearance has changed, I still find myself a fan and would love to work with her sometime in my life.  Could you imagine her being in a Baron Von Porkchop episode…that would be epic! In Burial Of The Rats, she plays the lovely Rat Woman Madeleine. Oh and look at these pics below, and see why the young Matt Brassfield fell in love with Maria Ford! Also I want to say that she is not just an actress but she is also a model and dancer.

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From pet rodents to the beauty of Maria Ford, I think we are ready to tackle this comic series don’t you? Now I am sure your wondering why I did not talk about Bram Stoker and his writings, and the simple answer to that is I am going to really cover his career when I take a look at Topps Comics 4 issue run based on the Francis Ford Coppola film “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” and to be honest I am really looking forward to that. Before I do I want to 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. I also want to think Lone Star Comics for having all three of these issues in stock.  So with no more wait let’s go see what it’s like to be Buried Like A Rat!

Burial Of The Rats 1

Burial Of The Rats # 1   **1/2
Released in 1995    Cover Price $2.50    Cosmic Comics    #1 of 3

In 1854, a woman slits the throat of her abusive husband and flees into the sewers where she finds a nest of young rats and is happy to become their Queen. Years pass and it’s now 1864 as Bram Stoker and his father are traveling by coach when their driver is killed by rats, and they are attacked by hooded figures.  During the attack Bram kills one of the assailants and is knocked out and taken to a castle where he is to be judged by The Queen and as for the father he is left knocked out in the middle of the woods. While captured Bram finds that his two capturers are beautiful woman.  Anna has dark hair and a mean spirit, and Madeleine, who is blonde, seems to have a touch of compassion in her. Bram is sentenced to death by a pendulum that he is tied to and after each woman takes turns hitting a switch with a hammer he is lowered deeper and deeper into a pit that holds blood thirsty rats! Anna has the honor of the first hit and Madeleine is to deliver the last which she does half heartedly sparing Bram’s life! Bram is thrown back into his prison cell, and it’s clear that both the Rat Queen and Anna want him dead but Madeleine seems to want to spare his life knowing that he only killed one of their “sisters” trying to protect his father. It’s clear that a bond is happening between Bram and Madeleine as she brings him his book and even bathes him with a wet cloth, but Anna and The Queen have other plans as they want Bram to come along on a raid with the hope of him trying to escape so that they can kill him! As Bram is being prepared for the raid, his father who is tired and beat up makes his way to help…

The first thing I want to say about this comic is the mood is just right and has a real sleazy Roger Corman feel to it. This issue follows a young Bram Stoker way before he wrote Dracula or any of his other horror stories as he becomes a prisoner to The Rat Queen, a crazy woman who plays a flute that controls the city’s rats as well rules over a group of warrior women. Bram Stoker, who is the main focus of this series, is by no means a man’s man in this issue and in fact is shocked when he shoots one of the hooded attackers and after doing so is quickly beat down. Even if he is no Lone Ranger or Tarzan, I find myself cheering for him to survive this bad situation. Madeleine, who was once a prostitute who was forced into being one when her family was murdered, is still a pure and loving woman who is clearly hiding behind a warrior’s attitude. Anna however has nothing but hate in her heart, as she was once a slave who was beaten with whips by a high-ranking village official  While she is a bad girl, I really like the character who you know is also clearly in love with Madeleine. The Rat Queen is a crazy old bat who gets joy in killing men and bossing rats around.  She is clearly one of those characters that you hope meets a very horrible end. The Rat King is pretty kick butt as its seven white rats whose tails are all locked together.  They all wear crowns and love flute music. I must say that so far this adaptation is starting off right because this first issue is very entertaining and is making me looking forward to the second issue. The art of the comic is great and has most the characters looking like the actors that played them in the film and is done by Francisco Solano Lopez who should have been hired to do many more horror movie themed comics! The cover is just a blown up image taken from the films VHS cover box and the poster used to promote the film. So let’s get back to the story and see if Bram tries to flee on the raid or it he will stay and try to be with the lovely Madeleine.

Burial Of The Rats 2

Burial Of The Rats # 2   **1/2
Released in 1995    Cover Price $2.50    Cosmic Comics    #2 of 3

Bam traveled along with the Rat Women as they entered the village and killed all the priests inside the church stealing all the gold and letting the rats eat the flesh off their victims. Bram leaves a blood smeared note in an open book for his father and heads back to the castle with the Rat Women. Madeleine steals a pen and paper and brings it to Bram in his cell and he starts to write about his time with them and talks of the raid he just witnessed. The next day as Bram is reading his writings to Madeleine, Anna over hears it and reports it to the Rat Queen who sneaks up on this happening.  To Anna’s shock, the Queen likes what she is hearing/reading and allows Bram to continue his book in hopes that when it comes out it will make all men fear them! When Bram and Madeleine are alone they confess their love for one another and make love, but that night Bram also has a nightmare that has everyone on the castle turning into Rat People! At dinner Madeleine brings Bram to the feast and he talks The Queen into another raid to save a 12-year-old girl who was busted for stealing and as punishment was sent to work at the whore house.  Anna is against the raid as she feels it’s to soon after the attack on the church by they go ahead and do it anyway. Bram enters the whore house and looks for the young girl and when he finds her a fat slob of a man is in with her, he deals with the man as Anna and Madeleine make their way into the room via the window and all together they save the young girl and the rats have a feats on the fat mans flesh. The raid does not go off without it’s downsides as the madam of the house runs to the police and a witness sees the women and hears them call Bram’s name! As they flee back to their home Madeleine is captured, and Bram is believed to be the ruler of the Rat Women by the police!

Oh the horror of watching rats eat the flesh off of dying men…no, really it’s a pretty cool scene for this second issue in the adaptation. This issue’s main focuses are the fact Bram’s writings have saved him, and he is in love with one of the Rat Women.  They do another raid too soon but it’s all for a good reason to save a young woman and Bram proves that he will do the write thing and is a huge help in the raid and lastly that Bram’s father has not given up on finding his son alive. Bram in this issue while still not a tough guy like Wonder Man or STEEL he is very smart and uses what little power he is gaining from respect from The Rat Queen to his own advantages. I love the fact that he could have easily tried to escape during the second raid but knew that saving the young girl was the more important thing to do. Madeleine is truly a warrior with a heart and while loyal to her fellow Rat Women love is also on her mind. The Rat Queen while crazy also seems to know right from wrong and in a weird way by this issue you as the reader start to wonder who the real bad guys are, given the fact everyone they have murdered has been a terrible person! Anna is filled with not only hate this issue but also jealousy as its clear she wants the affections of Madeleine and despises the fact Bram is getting it and not her. The issue is filled with more rats eating the skin off men’s bones as well as has Anna blowing the neck off a priest who has been molesting women in the church, all gruesome stuff that the horror comic fan in me was very happy to see. The art once more is done by Lopez and is fantastic, but his time around the cover is a little weak and kind of generic or better yet I should say is good for a pin up but not a main cover. Well at this point we have one more issue to go, and then we will be at the end of Bram Stoker’s adventures with the Rat Women.  I don’t know about you, but I really can’t wait to see how this one ends.  So let’s not waste time and dive right in and hope we don’t get eaten alive by the rats.

Burial Of The Rats 3

Burial Of The Rats # 3   **1/2
Released in 1995    Cover Price $2.50    Cosmic Comics    #3 of 3

The Rat Queen and the Rat Women return to the castle and are happy about the night’s raid, but word comes quick that Madeleine has been captured and that one of the other Rat Women is dead! Bram is upset by this news and so is Anna, and the two argue in front of The Rat Queen.  To prove his loyalty to the Rat Women he must pass two tests to be one of them: the first test is to drink the blood of Anna and the second one will be decided by Anna after they rescue Madeleine.  They all rush off to do so and clash with prison guards and army soldiers alike, but the rats and The Rat Women are successful.  This rescue also has some downsides as Bram saves Anna from her old “master” by killing him before he killed her and thus robbing her of her revenge, and second Anna, unbeknownst to anyone else, knocks out and kidnaps Bram’s father! Back to the castle Madeleine is weak but still gets up to watch Bram’s final test set before him by Anna, to stab and kill his own father! When he refuses Anna pulls out a gun and is about to shoot them both, just as she pulls the trigger Madeleine jumps in front of her man and takes the bullet! Anna is tore up that she just shot the woman she loves so she commits suicide and as this happens the army has shown up and attacks the castle killing many of the Rat Women and even Rat Queen dies when she kills the Captain and breaks her flute causing the Rat King and his fellow rats to attack and kill her. In the end Bram, his father and the body of Madeleine escape the castle that is burning and Bram knows now more than ever he must become a writer.

It’s a love triangle that is built on blood, teeth and romance and sadly we all know that for one person it’s not going to end well…and that person is Bram as the rage of Anna leads to Madeleine’s death and then the raven haired beauty commits suicide.  He is robbed of his love and even revenge. This issue brings the whole story to an end and focuses on the rescue and untimely death of Madeleine and shows what events cause a young Bram Stoker to write his classic horror stories like Dracula. Bram in the issue also shows that when pushed he will fight back and kill if he has to, his love for Madeleine was strong so strong that he was willing to throw away his old life to become a full member of The Rat Women. Madeleine in the issue is pretty much at death’s door from the start as she starts off the issue a prisoner where she is being tortured for answers and when rescued she is weak and then gets shot! Poor woman, all she wanted was true love with her soul mate. Anna is a sad case as she really does love Madeleine, and it’s clear to me as a reader that they had something going on before Bram showed up and stole her away. Plus I feel bad for her because she so wanted revenge on the man who beat her when she was a slave but Bram as well took that away from her. Mr. Stoker, Bram’s father, is kind of just a pawn in the story and while he plays a part in how the story unfolds, he just kind of was a background player in terms of how much impact he had on me. Rat Queen turned out to be all right, and all she really wanted in life was to be free of man’s world where women were treated lower than the rats she commanded.  It’s a fitting end for her as she is eaten alive by her King and all the other rats she once commanded. By the end of this issue, it seems as if the men of the evil world around them win as the castle is on fire, the Queen is dead as are many of the other Rat Women making one truly wonder if the right side won. The art by Lopez captures the feeling of the low budget film so well you almost wish the series would have continued with more adventures of young Bram Stoker and what’s left of the Rat Women.  The cover on the last issue as well is pretty good and reminds me of some of the covers used by Eternity for their comic based on The Puppet Master films. Over all this series held true to the film and was entertaining enough that it kept my interest during every issue. If you’re a fan of Bram Stoker, horror comics, the film itself and even comics like Red Sonja and Kull The Conquer then I would say you should check this comic series out. Below are some samples of the artwork used in the comic.

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The three issue comic adaptation of the low budget Roger Corman film is packed with blood and gore, a pretty interesting story and characters that are entertaining and capture your interest and for that Cosmic Comics gets a big thumbs up from this comic reader for being able to turn a so-so film into a enjoyable comics. The one thing that is off is while the characters of Madeleine and Anna look like actresses Maria Ford and Olga Kabo, the Rat Queen looks nothing like Adrienne Barbeau as in the comic she looks like a 99-year-old hag! Cosmic also did a few more series based on Roger Corman films like Little Shop of Horrors, Death Race, Caged Heat and Rock N Roll High School and at some point on here I will be sure to cover them.  I would also like to dedicate this update to Roger Corman for being the man when it comes to making and producing B-Movies and to Maria Ford for being a very underrated actress. So next update I am thinking we will take some time away from comics and do another Horror Host Icon, and this time around I think I am going to take a look at the world’s youngest Horror Host Dr. Freak! So make sure to come back for that one as I am sure you’ll learn a thing or two about this zany horror host! So until then read a comic or two and enjoy a B-Movie!

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