Hercules and The Three Stooges Save Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s once again that time of the year for family, football and good food, and as you longtime readers know, its time for my Turkey Day Hercules update.  This year we will be looking at when Hercules met the princes of slapstick comedy, The Three Stooges. But before we get silly with this update I want to get serious for a moment and say that I am thankful for my family, friends and readers all of whom make my life way more fun! Plus, I want to dedicate this update to family and friends I have sadly lost over the years as each of them have helped make me the person I am today and they are all missed. I should also state that once more this year I am over at my parents house this Thanksgiving and waiting to eat some amazing home cooked food and enjoy good conversations with my family. So here is hoping that the belly full of laughs from this update doesn’t counteract your belly filled with food as we take a trip down memory lane with The Three Stooges.

Three Stooges and Turkey

It’s crazy to think that I have been doing this blog for several years now, and I have yet to talk about The Three Stooges, comedians I grew up watching alongside my Dad and brother and whose classic movies and shorts still entertain me to this day. The Stooges started out in 1925 as Ted Healy and His Stooges that consisted of Ted, Moe, Larry and Shemp, and the group toured around entertaining the masses and even made a feature film called “Soup To Nuts”. Shemp left the group in 1932 and was replaced by Curly, and a brief time later The Stooges broke away from Ted Healy in 1934 after making several short films and became The Three Stooges! Ted Healy died in 1937 from unknown and mysterious causes. One thing that should be noted is that Moe, Curly and Shemp were all brothers and all had their own wacky style of slapstick style humor. As The Three Stooges much work came their way in the form of short and feature length movies, and the threesome became one of America’s top comedic acts with Curly becoming the fan favorite for his silly faces and childlike behavior. But while things were good for the Stooges, bad luck caught up to them in 1946 when Curly suffered a massive stroke that left him unable to work, and up to the stroke Curly’s health was on a decline. Time passed, and The Stooges retired for some time hoping that Curly would get better, but the signs of him coming back were growing slim so they asked Shemp to rejoin.  He did for some time, and even was a part of The Stooges’ first ever TV appearance on “Texaco Star Theater” in 1948. But once more some bad news was coming The Stooges’ way in 1952 as Curly passed away at the age of 48 from a cerebral hemorrhage caused by more strokes.  They also lost some of their supporting cast when Columbia, the studio they were signed to, decided to downsize its short film department and the short films of the Stooges were being done cheaper and faster. Then in 1955, Shemp passed away from a heart attack on his way home from a boxing match; he was 60 years old. I should also note that in many of The Three Stooges films, a stand in was used for Shemp in shots who would wear a wig; this term was called Shemping and is still used to this day. In 1956 The Stooges hired Joe Besser as the new member who was a character who was goofy and would also fight back against Moe who was the dominate Stooge.  During this time The Three Stooges lost steam, and Besser was considered the weakest link in the trio.  After only three years with them his time came to an end, and in 1959 it appeared The Three Stooges had come to an end or did they?! The old Three Stooges short films were now being aired on TV and aimed toward kids.  This gave Moe and Larry an idea to try and launch a quick comeback with new Stooge named Curly Joe, and the trio launched into making movies again, this time aimed at the young and young at heart in the 1960’s.  They became one of the highest paid acts in Hollywood and even got turned into an animated cartoon series in 1965 called “The New 3 Stooges” and even tried their hands at becoming a weekly TV show that would have been called “Three Stooges Scrapbook”. In 1969, they were given another chance at becoming weekly TV stars with a show that would have been called “Kook’s Tour” that would follow the Stooges as they traveled the world, but this was not to be as Larry suffered a heart attack ending his run with the trio as well as ending The Three Stooges.  Even a dark comedy film written by Moe’s grandson called “Make Love, Not War” or “Make Mine Manila” and was about Moe, Curly Joe and Emil Sitka (a regular in Stooge movies) being POWs of World War II trying to escape never could get a green light from a studio. In 1974 Larry at the age of 72 suffered a stroke that put him into a coma, and sadly a short time later he passed away. Moe tried so hard not to let The Three Stooges end even after the death of his long time comedy partner and tried to get many movies off the ground but never could.  His last idea was a movie called “Blazing Stewardesses” but before it began Moe fell ill with lung cancer and had to retire from acting and passed away in 1975. Curly Joe still performed for years with a group he called The New Three Stooges that consisted of Mousie Garner and Frank Mitchell that went on till 1979. Joe Besser passed away in 1988 at the age of 80 from heart failure; Curly Joe passed away in1993 at the age of 83 from pneumonia, and Emil Sitka who was the only Stooge replacement never to be in a movie or show as a Stooge passed away in 1998 from a stroke at the age of 83. The Three Stooges are icons in the world of comedy, and now that I gave you a brief history on who they were, next I will share some memories of watching them!

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I can remember even as a young child my dad watching old Three Stooges shorts on TV, mostly on WGN, a TV station out of Chicago that use to air them a lot on Sunday mornings. I used to laugh at the silly ways The Stooges would smack each other and all the silly faces they would make when they were worked up over whatever was annoying them at the time. While my Dad liked The Stooges, my Mom was the opposite and was not amused by their slapstick antics and was by no means a fan. I think my brother liked them like I did because I can remember watching them with him and him laughing at them as well. Besides the short films, I also really enjoyed watching the Three Stooges movies with my favorite being, of course, them meeting Hercules.  I can remember watching this film on TBS and loving every cheesy sword and sandal moment.  I can also remember watching the cartoon at my grandparents’ house with my cousin Nathan on VHS. I also always wanted 3 ¾” action figures of The Stooges that I could have had as characters in my Toy Wars.  Imagine Moe slapping Han Solo or Larry poking the eyes of Captain Power; that would have been some epic stuff. Even at the age of 36, I still find myself really enjoying The Three Stooges and can say they were a part of my childhood that was good memories watching with my Dad and brother.

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On January 26, 1962, Columbia Pictures released a comedy sword and sandal film that mixed the Greek hero Hercules with the slapstick goofballs The Three Stooges that consisted of Moe, Larry and Curly Joe at the time. The film had The Stooges helping a down and out scientist with his experiment to create a time machine, and by accident The Stooges, the scientist and his girlfriend are flung back to ancient Greece and come face to face with an evil king and his henchman Hercules. The film was filled with lots of moments of silly comedy, and the Stooges played off Hercules who was the prefect straight man who had no time for their silly antics. The film starred Quinn Redeker, Vicki Trickett, Samson Burke and Emil Sitka and was, and still is, my favorite of all the Three Stooges movies. The plot is filled with lots of fun surprises, but I figured we would save that for the comic adaptation made by Dell. I used to not only watch this film on TV but also on VHS and later on DVD.  So do yourself a favor and check it out if you’re into sword and sandal films and Three Stooges comedy.

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In 1965, Saturday Morning Cartoons as well as after school kids programs on TV were very import to stations as they tried to lock viewers for their station over the other and many production companies took advantage of this as they made syndicated programs and so was born The New 3 Stooges that combined live action segments to intro the cartoon and was distributed by Normandy Productions. Each episode ran for 30 minutes and had a total of 4 seasons and 156 episodes with 40 live segments shot making many of the cartoons use the same intro, confusing the viewer. The cartoon was a pretty big hit at the time and reruns can still be seen on TV to this day on Me-TV and Boomerang as well as can be found on many cheap dollar DVDs and VHS as well as all 156 episodes on DVD thanks to Image Madacy Entertainment. It should also be noted that many of the episodes are in the Public Domain and that for some time The Stooges were in a legal battle with Normandy over the show’s profits. So I am sure if you grew up watching classic cartoons, you have seen a few episodes of this series and have fond memories of it.

The New 3 Stooges

In 2012, someone in Hollywood decided that the world needed a new Three Stooges movie that would have three new actors step into the shoes of Moe, Larry and Curly as well as recycle plots from many of their short films. This time around Chris Diamantopoulos played Moe, Sean Hayes of Will & Grace fame played Larry and Will Sasso of MADTV played Curly. The plot had The Stooges having to go into the cruel world in order to get money to save the orphanage they grew up in after they could not afford the insurance due to all the accidents the Stooges have caused. During this adventure, they stumble on a murder for hire plot as well as go their separate ways after a fight leaves them at odds. In the end, they stop the murder, patch up their friendship and get the money needed to save the day thanks to Moe and MTV…yep, the one time music station. I saw the film in the theater with Josh Weinberg, and we both thought it was okay.  I watched it again with my Dad when I bought it for him for Christmas. The film did $54,819,301.00 at the USA box office for 20th Century Fox, but was trashed by the critics. I should also say that The Three Stooges showed up on WWE Monday Night Raw and got booed by the crowd, and they only cheered when Kane choke-slammed Curly!

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So I am sure you are wondering who played Hercules in The Three Stooges Meet Hercules…it was Samson Burke.  Now I am sure some of you are now asking who is Samson Burke, well I am here to tell you a little about him. Samson was born on April 8, 1929 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and got a degree in physical education as well as wrestled and swam for Canada in the 1948 Summer Olympic Games. In the 1950’s, he became a bodybuilder even winning Mr. Canada, Mr. Montreal and Mr. Muscle Beach, and his pure power also lead him into becoming a pro wrestler where he went under the name Sammy Berg and wrestled such legends as Lou Thesz, Nick Bockwinkel and Johnny Valentine. Samson also got bitten by the acting bug and started to appear in sword and sandal films like “The Revenge Of Ursus”, “Toto vs. Maciest” and “The Three Stooges Meet Hercules”. When the sword and sandal genre faded, he continued to act in such films as “The Triumph of Robin Hood” and “Sartana The Gravedigger”. In the 1980’s, he moved to Hawaii and retired from acting in the late 80’s, and as of 2009 he ran his own fitness business. Samson, who is 86, still makes appearances at conventions and is a beloved icon of Three Stooges lore and remains one of the only actors to play Hercules not as a hero but as a jerk!

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So before we take a look at the Dell Comic adaptation, I will pause for a moment to let you get another plate of food…go on, I can wait…. you good? Okay, let’s continue then, shall we? I want to thank an Ebay seller for having this issue in stock even though they had it listed as in great shape but it came complete with water damage and mold and a very strong rotten ink smell.  So yeah, great shape it is not! Before we get to the review I want to thank you for spending a part of your Thanksgiving with me.  I should also note that I grade this issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s get on that time machine with Moe, Larry and Curly Joe, and let’s not forget our turkey leg and see just why Hercules is being a henchman jerk to a evil ruler. I am going to guess he is upset because someone ate the last corn on the cob, but that’s just a rumor.

The Three Stooges Meet Hercules 1

The Three Stooges Meet Hercules # 1  **1/2
Released in 1962    Cover Price .15     Dell Comics     #208 of ??

Moe, Larry and Curly Joe are working at a drugstore that is being rocked by the next-door neighbor inventor Schuyler Davis whose experiment to make a time machine is going a little crazy. While The Stooges like him, the owner of the drugstore, Ralph Dimsal, hates him and wants him to fail in his attempt to time travel and even tampers with his plans. Schuyler is in love with Diane Quigley, and she gives him only two more days to get his time machine done before she walks away from their relationship because he is spending all his time on it and not her. All the while Curly Joe has made some pills that calm things down, and they use it on Schuyler’s machine.  After the Stooges try and help, it causes them as well as Schuyler and Diane to travel back in time to 900 B.C.! They land in the middle of a battle and meet Odius and his right hand man Hercules and help them take the crown of Ithaca from Ulysses when his men flee that battle. Odius takes a liking to Diane and has a feast for his new friends, but when Schuyler figures out they helped an evil man get into power he has The Stooges set Ulysses free after he had been captured. Ulysses escapes, and The Stooges and Schuyler are punished to work the rest of their lives on a slave ship, but after some time they are able to taste freedom when Schuyler gains muscle mass and a King thinks that he is Hercules and asks them to kill a two headed Cyclops that has been eating the kingdom’s live stock! With the help of the pills, Schuyler beats the Cyclops, the Cretan Bull and a Hydra and builds the name of Hercules. Meanwhile the real Hercules is not pleased with the fake and gets his chance to challenge Schuyler to an arena fight when The Stooges and he come to the castle to stop the wedding of Odius and Diane. In the arena Schuyler manhandles Hercules and makes him promise to turn good and help Ulysses reclaim the throne.  He along with The Stooges save Diane and head to the time machine and return home, only in the end for Schuyler to punch out Dimsal!

This is one of those adaptations that does a great job of capturing the silly story and the goofy characters that made the film such a classic in the first place. The plot of the comic is a great mix of many genres like comedy, sword and sandal and science fiction, and they make them all blend so well together. The plot has three dim whit drugstore workers as well as a scientist and his girlfriend being flung back in time to ancient Greece, and by doing so they change history and must make things right before they return to modern times.  To make things worse, Hercules is not the hero icon we all believed but is an ego driven creep who works for the side of the evil King. The Stooges are screw ups, but their heart is always in the right place.  If not for Curly Joe’s pills, they all would be in serious trouble many times. Moe is the hotheaded and smarter of the group, Larry in this just seems like a bit player who is around to get smacked and deliver jokes and Curly Joe is the dumb one who might not be as dumb as everyone thinks. Diane is just a sweet beautiful young woman who acts as the love interest to both the film’s hero and villain. Schuyler is the main hero who turns from nerdy wimp to strong nerd and even matches strength with Hercules and brings down the evil king. Hercules is a smug ego driven super strong man who reminds you of the bully jock in high school, and funny enough he is beaten down and made to look a fool by a man who he viewed as weaker. Hercules in this comic’s good guy legend was really built by Schuyler, who forces him to stop being a jerk and be the hero he can be. King Odius is a cruel man who doesn’t get much time in the comic to show his true evil ways but is given enough for the reader not to like him. As always with most Dell Comics I could not find the artist’s name, but I must say it’s very cartoonish in nature and while good, at some times it appears like a talented 10 year old did it, but I still found myself enjoying it. Over all this is a cool comic adaptation, and while not as good as the Steve Reeves Hercules comics by Dell, it still was a perfect read for this Thanksgiving update. Check out some samples of the artwork below and see the cheesy cartoon nature of this fun issue.

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It’s weird that The Three Stooges didn’t meet more Greek and mythology icons. I mean who wouldn’t want to see “The Three Stooges Meet Samson” or “Maciste and The Three Stooges Save A Roman Holiday” or better yet “Three Stooges and a Strong Man”…so many missed opportunities. Well our next update will be in December, so I am thinking that we will do something fun and toy-related so let’s take a look at Starriors, a robot toy line that was created by Marvel Comics and Tomy Toys that had a four issue mini series. So until then I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and remember to read a comic or three and support your local horror host.

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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.

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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.

Tomb Of Ligeia 1

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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Turkey Day Hercules Style!!

Hello again!  Looking back on when I was young, I used to love watching old sword and sandal films.  They had a charm, much like the giant monster films of Japan, with the bad dubbing and pan scan presentations on afternoon cable and cheap VHS releases. For you readers that don’t know what sword and sandal films are, I will give you a quick crash course: sword and sandal films, also known as Peplum films, were mostly made in Italy and were based on Biblical, historical and Greek mythological figures.  They were mostly popular from 1958 to 1965 and spawned many series based on the likes of Samson, Macuste, Ursus and of course Hercules. This time also launched the cult careers of Steve Reeves, Brad Harris, Ed Fury, Reg Park, Alan Steel to name a few. Films like Hercules in The Haunted World, The Witch’s Curse, Samson and the Sea Beast, Hercules Against The Moon Men and many more thrilled fans and were hits at the theaters. The genre was huge business for Italian cinema but lost steam and gave way to Spaghetti Westerns in 1965. Sword And Sandal films mostly dealt with muscle bound heros fighting the odds and helping people who were down and out against cheaply made monsters and armies of untrained soldiers. These films were cheaply made and were standard stuff for double feature movie theater experiences and later on midday cable filler and horror hosting comedy material. I remember watching many of these films on VHS that I would buy for cheap at dollar stores, Replay Media or mark down bins at Hearts.  I also watched many on cable, mostly TBS. But the ones that got my attention the most were based on Hercules, and my favorites were the two in which Steve Reeves played the Greek hero.  So you can imagine how happy I was in 2013 when I found out that DELL Comics did comic adaptations of those films! And now on Rotten Ink I can talk about the amazing adventures of Steve Reeves as Hercules and other Hercules thoughts.

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Steve L. Reeves was born on January 21st 1926 in Montana, moved to California and was into bodybuilding from a young age.  He had a herculean body by the age of 17, and after high school he enlisted in the army and served during World War II. After the service, Steve became a pro body builder winning such titles as Mr. Universe and AAU Mr. America and became an actor in American films like musical Athena and Ed Woood Jr.’s Jail Bait. But his big break in acting came in 1957 when he went to Italy and played the role of Hercules and its sequel Hercules Unchained.  He only played Hercules in those two films but went onto star in many other sword and sandal films like The White Warrior, Morgan The Pirate, The Trojan Horse and The Avenger. During this time he became the biggest star and highest paid actors in Europe and even turned down the starring role of The Man With No Name in A Fistful Of Dollars that later went to Clint Eastwood. Reeves did end up doing a Western when in 1967 he stared in A Long Ride From Hell. As quick as Reeves became a star, he also quickly lost it and went back to promoting body building and bred horses later in his life.  Sadly in 2000 Reeves died of complications of lymphoma at the age of 74. To me Reeves is an action star that rates up there with the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Segal and Dolph Lundgren, and if was still alive, he could have been an amazing addition to The Expendables film series. Steve Reeves is an icon in the world of bodybuilding and Italian cinema, and I grew up watching his films and loving every over the top second.

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Le Fatiche Di Ercole aka Hercules (in the USA) is a 1958 Italian film directed by Pietro Francisci and starring Steve Reeves as Hercules and Sylva Koscina as Princess Iole. The film is very loosely based on The Labors of Hercules and The Quest For The Golden Fleece of Greek folklore, but much like most film adaptions of such things, many elements are added to spice it up. The film’s plot has Hercules trying to help Jason, who is the rightful king of Iolcus, complete quests to win his throne back, as Hercules also falls in love with the lovely Princess Iole. When the new king’s men steal the Fleece and rob Jason of his kingdom, it’s up to Hercules to get it back. The film was a major box office hit and made a star of Steve Reeves and sparked the huge boom of Sword and Sandal films.

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In 1959 Hercules got a sequel called Ercole E La Regina Di Lidia aka Hercules Unchained, and this one was also directed by Pietro Francisci and also starred Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina in their respected roles. This time around Hercules is trying to help with two feuding brothers and becomes a slave of a queen.  He must remember who he is and save the kingdom of Thebes before it’s too late. The film marked the last time Steve Reeves would play Hercules, and while it was a hit, it failed to become as big as the original. The film did however get the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment and has become a kind of cult classic of Sword and Sandal Cinema. This film as well as the original are slated to be shown at some point on an episode of Terrifying Tales of the Macabre.

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We talked Steve Reeves, now let’s talk about the very lovely Sylva Koscina! She was born on August 22nd 1933 in Zagreb. During World War II, she moved to Italy with her sister who married an Italian man.  Sylva, with her stunning looks, became an actress and had a long a great career starring in such films as He and She, Lisa and The Devil, The Iron Mask, Hornets Nest and of course the Hercules films. She also was very smart and studied physics, was a super model and even posed topless for Playboy in Italy. Sadly at the age of 61 in 1994, she passed away from breast cancer. In America Sylva is not only known for her roles in the Hercules films, but mostly to horror fans for her role in the 1974 Mario Bava film Lisa and the Devil, also known as House of Exorcism in which she played Sophia Lehar. One thing is for sure, Sylva was one great looking woman and not a bad actress at all.

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Kids of the 1960’s were also treated to a low budget animated show called “The Mighty Hercules” that started airing in 1963 as 5 minute short cartoons, but most stations would string together many episodes to make it into a 30 minute program. The cartoon would follow Hercules and his centaur friend Newton, his girlfriend Helena, his winged horse Pegasus and a few others as they save Greece from the likes of Murtis, the wizard Daedalus and the sea witch Wilhemine. The series took many liberties with the Greek mythology even having Hercules get his power from a ring that when he puts it on, lighting from Zeus would hit it and give him power.  In this cartoon he had many friends and was more of a jolly kind of hero. The cartoon had a total of 128 episodes and is fondly looked at by people who grew up watching it on TV. I first saw this show many years ago when my girlfriend at the time’s dad had a VHS copy of some TV shows he watched as a kid and on the tape was not only Mighty Hercules but also Diver Dan and Clutch Cargo. And I must say all those shows were great! Mighty Hercules has a few episodes out on DVD but true fans are waiting for the complete series to come out. I should also throw in that the cartoon has one amazing theme that you should hear.  So if you get a chance look up this show’s theme on YouTube.

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One other old school thing I remember that had the Hercules name was the 80’s WWF wrestler Hercules Hernandez whose real name was Raymond Fernandez. Hercules began his wrestler career in 1981, wrestling in Florida and Texas mostly, and in 1982 toured around after joining the NWA. He also did a short run in WWC in Puerto Rico. In 1985 he was signed onto WWF and was quickly managed by Classy Freddie Blassie and later Bobby The Brain Heenan and was a heel (bad guy) who feuded with the likes of Billy Jack Haynes, Ultimate Warrior and Ricky Steamboat. Hercules would wear a long metal chain around his neck and use the full nelson to beat his opponents. In 1988 Hercules was sold to “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase as a slave by Bobby Heenan, turning Hercules into a good guy (face) who feuded with DiBiase, Haku and Earthquake. While a good guy Hercules’s career took a stall as he lost traction and quickly became a stepping stone for newer wrestlers coming in. In 1990 he turned heel again and teamed with Paul Roma and managed by Slick, they called themselves Power & Glory and went for tag team gold and went up against such teams as The Hart Foundation, The Rockers and The Road Warriors. In 1991 Roma left, and Hercules was once again on his own and losing match after match and this lead to him leaving the company in 1992. Fernandez then went to WCW and wrestled under a mask as Super Invader and quickly grew tired of this gimmick and quit.  He later spent his time wrestling for indpendents, New Japan and AWF. He retired in 1999 from wrestling and sadly died of heart disease in 2004 at the age of 48. Hercules is one of those 80’s wrestlers that I remember for two things: one, he looked kind of like Steve Reeves and the second was because when I was a kid I use to cut up old wrestling magazines and would have the paper wrestlers fight each other in a shoe box lid by shaking them back and fourth.  For some reason my brother Bryan used to harass me about Hercules and even would make up rules to help the paper version win. He even had this stupid song parady of John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance that would go Give Herc a Chance. While he never was a amazing wrestler, Hercules will always be in my memory as one of the top wrestlers I remember watching in the 80’s.

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Terrifying Tales of the Macabre has a son of the Greek Hero with The Son of Hercules.  The powerhouse of a man is close friends to the Porkchops. In the first episode he is in, he gets the help of Baron, Baroness and Bean to go inside a haunted college and get a golden apple from a witch. In another episode, he is a dinner guest at a party to celebrate the life of horror host icon Dr. Creep. And yet again he makes an appearance at a chili cook off contest as a guest in the crowd. He also had his own one off show called Son of Hercules Power Hours where he hosted the film Samson and gave viewers work out tips, arm wrestled a space alien, wrestled a luchador and delivers goofy jokes. The Son of Hercules is part of the show’s family now and is always a welcome edition to any episode.

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With all this talk of Italian Cinema, I need to talk about my love for Italian women! I am a fan of many types of girls from Goth to Latina, but near the top of my list of my “type” are women from Italy. I mean look at girls like Asia Argento, Rosalba Neri, Nathalie Rapti Gomez and many more lovely Italian actresses. I mean even cooking show host Rachel Ray is part Italian, and we know most people find her hot. But before I ramble on, just take a quick look at these attractive ladies, and then we will go onto the comic review.

Asia ArgentoRosalba NeriValentina GioiaHotItalianEvaRachael Ray

Not much came out in the way of merchandise for the Steve Reeves Hercules films, besides the two Dell movie adaptation comics.  We had VHS and Beta releases and later DVD. We had vinyl releases of the soundtracks for both films, and at some point some company made a model/statue of it. While the film is in cult status, it just never had the merchandise push that other fantasy films got. I for one would have loved to have had a 3 3/4″ inch figure of Hercules based on Steve Reeves that would have been in scale with my Star Wars, G.I. Joes, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Dukes of Hazard figures! Hercules could have helped tip the tide in my all out toy wars, and he would have been a massive foe for the likes of Imperial Godzilla! I am surprised that Mego or even Remco didn’t make such toys, and for the most part that is a missed opportunity to cash in on the fame of the character.

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So I am ready now to tackle DELL’s comic adaptations of the Steve Reeves Hercules films, and I just want you all to remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true it stays to the source martial.  So with that, let’s get onto the reviews. Before I do, I should let you know that these comics are from a series that DELL did called FOUR COLOR that covered movies, TV shows, cartoons and so much more. I should also thank Ebay for having both issues up as buy it nows via our pals at Lone Star Comics.

Hercules # 1

Hercules  ***
Released in 1959   Cover Price .10   DELL Comics   #1006 of 1354

Hercules is on his way to the city of Jolco to help the acting King Pelias who has taken the throne after his brother was murdered.  Both his son Jason and the Golden Fleece are missing as is the leader of the soldiers, Chiron, who is being blamed for the murder and kidnapping. On his way Hercules meets and falls in love with Princess Iole whose father is the one who called for his help. Unbeknownst to Hercules, he is really there not to find the king’s killer but to make Iole’s brother Iphitus more of a man. Hercules goes after the Nemean Lion and during his hunt for the beast, Iphitus is killed, and now in order to please the King Hercules must kill the Cretan Bull and has lost the love of his darling Iole! Hercules curses the gods and in doing so loses his god-like power and even without, it he kills the bull.

This comic is a pretty good adaption of the film and helps speed up the pace by cutting out some of the long drawn out talkie scenes. Hercules comes off as a proud and powerful hero who also has a heart of gold and who falls in love and hates the curse of being a demigod. The best battles in the comic have Hercules fighting the Nemean Lion and the Creatan Bull.  The only down side is the fights are also heavily trimmed down and while cool, lack the full powerful adventure feel. Princess Iole is a wave of emotion in the comic as she falls in love, finds heartache with her brother’s death and even anger at Hercules for allowing her brother to die.  She’s a good character and a great love interest, the only downside is she feels like a second thought for most of the issue. Jason and Ulysses, while young, are great additions to the comic cast. The bad guys King Pelias and Eurysteus while mean and self serving buttholes, are never fully a threat for Hercules. The artwork in the issue is well done, and Hercules looks like Steve Reeves for the most part.  Fans of Charlton Comics version of Hercules will enjoy this comics art. The cover is great and is one of the better “Four Color” issues cover. Over all fans of the film, the myth and the greek hero will love this issue, and it makes me hyped to see what the comic based on the sequel will bring. Oh I should also say the issue I have is a prime example of the term “rotten ink,” and the issue smelled of classic comic ink rotting.

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Now let’s take a look at the comic version of the sequel and see how it holds up in ink.

Hercules Unchained # 1

Hercules Unchained  **1/2
Released in 1959   Cover Price .10   DELL Comics   #1121 of 1354

Hercules has returned from sea and is going back home to Thebes alongside Ulysses and his lovely bride Jole (Iole).  On the ride, they meet Antaeus, the son of the Earth, and Hercules shows off his strength and defeats the brute. After a storm hits, Hercules and company hide in a cave and meet the one time King of Thebes who tells Hercules that his sons are feuding over the throne and that they are suppose to rotate year to year. War is about to destroy his homeland so Hercules makes a deal with the acting King Eteocles to prove peace as his brother Polynices and his army are ready for the attack. Hercules sets sail with Ulysses as Jole stays at the castle.  The plan is to get the Kingdom right again, but things go wrong as Hercules drinks water that makes him forget, and they both become the slaves of Queen Omphale, where Ulysses becomes a servant boy and acts as if he is mute and Hercules becomes the Queen’s lover! Now Eteocles thinks Hercules and his brother are just playing mind games and holds Jole as a prisoner! All the while as weeks pass, Ulysses tries to snap Hercules out of his trance and figures out that it’s the water he is drinking that holds the power.  He also discovers that Omphale has a cave full of ex-lovers that have been turned to stone! Hercules’ friends come looking for him and he snaps to and leaves the island behind only to find that the brothers are gearing up for war.  During a duel both brothers are killed and it’s up to Hercules to save his wife from man eating tigers as well as keep peace in the kingdom!

The first thing that caught my eye in this issue is that Hercules, while looking like Steve Reeves in the face, has the body of a normal man and seems out of place as they speak of how strong he is.  To me the artist seemed not to understand that Herc needs to be a muscle powerhouse. The issue follows the film pretty closely, and the only major changes I noticed is Princess Iole’s name changed to Jole.  The musical numbers are cut out as is the suicide death of Queen Omphale, and I am sure the suicide was cut because it was not kid -friendly as DELL prided itself on being. The story moves along pretty well and has a nice blend of fantasy drama and over the top action. One thing that more lacking in this issue than the first is the lack of beasts.  While he fights Antaeus and some tigers, there is no major fight to get your blood and excitement level pumping. Hercules comes off fun loving but also a little bit of an ego driven a-hole, and this is one thing I think is done right. A lot of the issue is wasted with Ulysses trying to help get Hercules to remember who he is while he is prisoner and slave to Queen Omphale, and while fun, this is a little over done in the comic and the film alike. This adaptation is well done but just seems to be slightly lacking.  Where the first one was super fun with well done art, this one is okay and has all right art. The cover is well done tho and to sum this one up, its okay and was worth the read for sure. 

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So it’s Thanksgiving Day, and I hope this fun little review of Dells Hercules Comic Adaptations of the Steve Reeves films made your holiday a little more fun. While many people think the films are golden turkeys, I for one enjoy them and had a lot of fun reading and reviewing these comics. So here is to hoping you had a great feast on this day with turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and stuffing, and enjoyed the company of your family and friends while chatting over dinner or watching football/TV shows or a movie! So in closing: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and we will see you in December for some fun a joyful updates beginning with Marvel’s one issue run based on the build a robot toy line Robotix.  Until then, be safe and read a comic and enjoy your holiday.

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Start Halloween with the Universal Monsters!

The late night has a chill, and the leaves are blowing in the air as we approach my favorite month with my favorite holiday that’s filled with ghost, goblins, witches and ghouls.  Of course I am talking about October and Halloween! Growing up, Halloween, also known as beggars night, was always one of the highlights of the year.  Dressing up in whatever costume you or your parents wanted and going around town and getting free candy from neighbors and hearing spooky stories shared amongst friends always seemed like a perfect night. In Waynesville, Halloween always seemed more special as I was younger and enjoyed seeing friends from school walking around town dressed up, getting the free candy and walking around with my brother and his friends. When we moved back to Kettering, I was much older and spent most Halloweens watching horror films on tape or TV or driving around backwoods with Matt Hoffman or Josh Weinberg. One funny story about driving around had Matt Hoffman and I driving late around Bellbrook on Halloween night.  I was dressed up as Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th), and he was dressed as The Wolf Hunter (a character he played in the movies we made).  We got lost and drove up what we thought was a small road that turned out to be someone’s driveway, and when we got to the house, a group of people were sitting on the porch and one had a shotgun in hand! Hoffman and I saw this, and I rolled down the window in the mask and all and said we were looking for the killer party, and then we quickly backed up and they just stared at us.  In my mind I was hoping they thought that we were real ghouls looking for a secret party. Before we get into the comic reviews on DELL Comics take on Universal Monsters Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Wolf Man, Mummy and Creature From the Black Lagoon, I am going to share things that I look forward/think about every Halloween season!

The first thing is the Halloween decorations from cheap plastic skeletons to the traditional Jack O Lantern.  They make the season of fall seem so much more magical. Growing up my mom use to let me decorate the living room for Halloween.  It was quickly filled with ceramic painted ghosts and vampires, cardboard skeletons and frankenstein monsters in the windows and Addams Family flashlights of Lurch and Fester on the mantel. I like to drive around and look at Halloween displays people have in their yards and windows like some people do with Christmas decorations. I have seen some really cool stuff in Kettering, Waynesville and Fairborn.

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Another thing that kicks off the fall/Halloween season for me is the Sauerkraut Festival that my hometown Waynesville has put on for 44 years that’s always held of the second full week of October. The event is filled with great food, outdoor vendors that sell homemade crafts and almost all the amazing shops and restaurants are open for business. Over the years I notice the crowds at the event get bigger and bigger and lots of kids come and have fun. One of my best memories is buying ceramic halloween decorations that me and my mom later painted in her craft room that was also taken over as the NES Game Room, and also buying really cool homemade buttons of Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson and Billy Idol. If you have not ever been to this event and are a fan of homemade crafts and food and like the feel and fun of a small town, I would highly recommend you check out this fun festival.

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Of course one of the best parts of Halloween is finding the right costume and dressing up as your favorite hero, fiend or celebrity. Over the years I can remember dressing up as Rell the Cyclops from Krull, Skeletor from Masters of the Universe, Dracula, a Clown, The Wolf Man, Bigfoot, Jason Voorhees, Billy Idol and Alice Cooper. The Rell costume was one that scarred me.  Longtime readers will know the story.  I dressed as The Wolf Man from my own film Werewolf of Ohio for a Halloween party held at my friends’, brother and sister Chris and Rosetta Workman’s old house in Troy. The lamest costume I can remember is being a clown.  My mom was too scared to put the black makeup close to my eyes so she left them bare. I looked like a meth addict clown who just couldn’t get his stuff together for that one last show of the night. One of my favorites was Dracula it was pretty cool putting in the fake teeth and wearing the cape with white grease paint on. But I also loved dressing as Bigfoot for my cousin Steve and his then girlfriend Emily’s Halloween Home Warming Party.  It was great spending a spooky night with friends like Max Ervin, Nate Stevens, Josh Weinberg and all the rest of the gang. Halloween lets anyone feel like a star as they can dress up and act like what ever they want to be.  If you want to be a zombie, then be it.  If you wanna be Lady GaGa, then dress like her! Below are a few pics of me from the ages dressed as all types of ghouls and fools.

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The main point of Halloween is to go trick or treating, and every kid, with his pillow case, plastic pumpkin or plastic bag, hopes for the good stuff like Snickers, Kit Kats and Milky Ways and dreads candy corn, pennies and taffy. Some of my favorite treats to get were Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  They were and still are my favorite candy to treat my sweet tooth to. I like the old wax type wrapper better then the more lame plastic type. Another favorite was Monster Candy sugar sticks put into boxes that showed Universal Monsters on them. We use to buy these to give out for Halloween by my request and before Halloween I would sneak and eat a few.  I am sure my Mom and Dad knew but didn’t care. One other fun one I use to love was Wax Lips.  Terrible candy, but a fun trick! I remember getting a pair one year that I would wear around and then in a few hours I decided to chew on them and made them into a wax ball….such a lame treat but really fun and lame entertainment. I wonder if I dressed as Bigfoot this year and went door to door here in Dayton, if people would give me candy….hmmm makes me wonder!

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Halloween TV Specials were also something I looked forward to and some of my favorites include The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror” every year.  They are fun horror themed stories that have The Simpson family in situations that are not in the normal season story arcs. Roseanne had some of the best Halloween episodes on TV.  The Conners understood the spirt of Halloween, and the episodes were done so well and had that blue collar appeal to them that made them over the top yet realistic. As the series went on, they slowly lost some of the charm but Roseanne had some of the best episodes for this holiday. Two specials that used to air when I was younger every Halloween and that I still love to this day are “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” and ” Garfield’s Halloween Adventure.” Both were fun animated family entertainment.  Charlie Brown is the better of the two, and who can forget Chuck’s many holed ghost sheet and the fact he got a rock for a treat, classic stuff. Garfield had that wonderful ghost story meets John Carpenter’s The Fog feel to it, and the creepy old man that tells them the story is great stuff for young ones to get their bones chilled by. Halloween Specials are a fun way for TV Shows to cut loose and have fun and CBS, FOX, ABC and the rest need to look back at the golden age of specials on TV and bring this generation some spooky stuff for their Halloween nights.

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Speaking of TV, another thing that Halloween Season always makes me think about is Shock Theatre and The New Shock Theater both hosted by the late great Dr. Creep! Late night TV watching in October was always a treat when Dr. Creep and crew would host a terrible b-movie shocker, and the Creeper would be on the screen hamming it up in skits and later interviews with the horror stars of the past and present. Halloween time in Dayton and the surrounding area always belonged to Dr. Creep who will always be the icon of fright to anyone who grew up watching his show. During the holiday time Creep would make many public appearances, one of which was the charity horror film event called Horrorama where films would be shown from 35mm prints and Creep, along side Andy Copp and Rick Martin and later myself, would hold contests and entertain the crowd in between films.  Fall will never be the same without the Creeper who sadly passed away in early 2011, and while he might be gone, he will never be forgotten and his local TV work will forever have a legacy that will entertain generations to come thanks to DVD and VHS.

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This time of year also brings the Halloween Specials of Terrifying Tales of the Macabre to local Dayton airwaves.  These hour long specials are some of my favorite episodes I shoot in a season and are for Dayton’s Scare-A-Thon, a long block of Horror film programing that airs on both DATV and MVCC. Baron Von Porkchop, the host of the show, always seems to get himself into trouble during this time of the year and for the first one The Baron meets the killer The Sadness from the film of the same name at Wright State University during another one of his killing rampages.  The second one had Baron hosting “Werewolf of Ohio” and going trick or treating with his weird hunchback friend Melvin.  They make the mistake of getting the wrath of The Headless Horseman after them! These episodes are so much fun to make and rank always as the top sellers for us at the end of each year. I hope that the fans have as much fun with them as The Baron and I have making them. I am also so glad to have dug up The Baron from his grave and share his silly adventures with the fans, and I hope that The Baron adds to people’s Halloween experience as Dr. Creep did for mine. I should also mention another great Halloween event is Boo-Fest, a Halloween party put on by a friend of the show named Len, that he has Baron Von Porkchop as the guest judge of the costume contest, a fun time with really good people.

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When I was young, McDonald’s was the cool place to eat for kids, and Happy Meals and the toys inside were things we all collected and traded on the playground. Some years around Halloween time they would also have pumpkin and ghost buckets for sale and when released they were everywhere in kids hands during trick or treat. But another thing I always remember is when the Chicken McNuggets in a commercial dressed as classic monsters.  I mean who can forget the Vampire McNugget or The Mummy McNugget? The commercial had them doing all kinds of silly stuff that all was to make their own dipping sauce.  Later in the short commercial Ronald McDonald just gave them dipping sauce. I don’t know why, but this commercial has always stuck with me and I thought it was even cooler when they gave away McNugget toys in the Happy Meals that had them dressed as the monsters. Fun stuff, and man now I am hungry for McNuggets!

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Kids and the young at heart always wish that Halloween Town from Tim Burtons “A Nightmare Before Christmas” was real.  Well here in Ohio, we have something very close with Foy’s Halloween Shop and all of it’s other shops (adult and kids costume stores, a haunted house supply shop, etc) in Fairborn! Foy’s is run by Mike Foy and is a one stop shopping for all your halloween needs they have masks, costumes, candy, decorations, make up, gag gifts and so much more. In October the store really comes alive with a DJ outside that plays music.  When Dr. Creep was with us, he signed autographs and DVDs out front. They have a Batman on top of one of the buildings and lots of animatronics of people puking! The street is filled with people just hanging around and having a good time.  Every year I try and make at least one trip to Foy’s in October because the over all energy of that area is great Halloween fun. If you ever find yourself in Ohio in October, do yourself a favor and check out Foy’s.

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Speaking of costumes the older I got, the more I took notice of the sexy halloween costumes that are just wowing. Halloween is one time a year when many hot ladies dress up as French Maids, Sexy Cats, Nurses and Playboy Bunnies and it’s like cosplay for the masses. Don’t want to spend to much time of this one, but I just want to say that women in sexy costumes is another reason I love Halloween! Thoough I will say that my girlfriend Juliet made a good observation that it’s harder for girls to find costumes that don’t have the word sexy associated with them.  Guys can be a scary Freddy Kruger while woman have to be Sexy Freddy Kruger.

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Halloween time also makes me think of my friend Max Ervin, a guy I knew for over 10 years and a guy that I worked with at two jobs. Max was like me, a big kid at heart and loved to look at Halloween stores and decorate the stores we worked at. His family also used go all out and decorate their house, and this I think always made the holiday special for Max. He also loved dressing up and every year jumped at the chance to come to work in costume. Max and I also loved to go to abandoned houses and root around hoping to find some cool stuff and maybe even get a slight chill. He also worked on many horror films with me and was a fan of cheesy horror like myself. Sadly, the world lost Max this year and I will forever miss his friendship.  He truly was a fun spirit who knew how to make the world around him laugh. Rest In Peace my friend, this Halloween blog is for you. Below are some pics of Max in Halloween costumes and one of him and I at Steve’s Halloween Party.

max and memax as indianmax outlaw

What is Halloween without The Universal Monsters? The answer to the question is a little less fun for me! Growing up I loved the classic black and white horror films.  Every Halloween I use to watch the 1932 Frankenstein on VHS, and as I acquired more of the Universal Monsters VHS releases, they joined in the October must watch list. Besides the fact they are great films, the characters themselves are traditional scary monsters that kids and adult dress up as and all seem to mimic when thinking of that said monster. I can remember a few years back sitting in my darkened room with the TV glow as the only light as a thunderstorm poured down outside as I watched Frankenstein on DVD.  The sensation of watching the classic film on a night like that in mid October made me think of how terrifying this film was for movie goers in the 1930’s.  They must have been in total shock as The Monster, played by Boris Karloff, first appeared on screen with his bolted neck and flat scarred up head. The Universal Monster films are also a fun way to watch “scary” movies with your kids and help add to their Halloween experience.  So this Halloween do me a favor and watch a Universal Monster Classic and enjoy the horror pictures of the past.

Frankensteins Monster Karloffclassic universal logoDracula Bela

Horror films are my favorite kind of films.  Up to 89% of my movie collection is made up of horror movies, and like most people during the fall and October, I watch a lot of them. When thinking of horror films during this time of the year, the series that always pops into my head is “Halloween” with its white masked killer Michael Myers who stalks and kills teens and adult alike on Halloween night. This series happens to be my favorite of the mainstream franchises and is a series one should watch the week of the holiday. Modern horror fans might also think about the “Saw” or “Paranormal Activity” series.  Both that had sequels that came out every October.  While I like the Saw films, the Paranormal Activity series has run its course after the second film. At least one day in October I set some time back and watch mass amounts of them, and this year I watched Hatchet III, Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead (2013), Halloween 5: Revenge of Michael Myers, Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, Cabin In The Woods, Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan, Corpse Eaters, Stephen King’s IT, Demons, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III,  Texas Chainsaw 3D, The Mummy’s Hand, My Bloody Valentine (1981), Venom, Dawn of the Mummy, C.H.U.D., Frankenstein Stalks,  Miss Werewolf, The Wolf Man (1941), Curse of the Werewolf, I, Madman, The Wolf Hunter, Maniac Cop, Dracula (1931), An American Werewolf in Paris, Curse of Frankenstein, Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell and so many more! So this holiday season try and watch a film series like Friday The 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Howling, Re-Animator, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Phantasm, Psycho, Tombs of The Blind Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre or whatever you choose and have a fun fright filled night, cause Halloween is not complete without the horror films!

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One film that takes place around Halloween and is one of my favorite cheesy 80’s horror films is a little film called “Trick or Treat” directed by Charles Martin Smith and starring Marc Price as Eddie “Ragman” Weinbauer, Tony Fields as Sammi Curr, Lisa Orgolini as Leslie Graham with cameos from Gene Simmons of Kiss and Ozzy Osbourne. The film is about rockstar Sammi Curr who dies in a hotel fire coming back via a vinyl record.  When his # 1 fan Eddie plays the record backwards he gets messages from Curr on how to get even with the bullies of the school. When Eddie turns against the orders of Curr when people start getting hurt, Curr comes back to life to finish the killing spree he wanted. The film is pure 80’s hair metal horror that has the killer Sammi Curr traveling through electricity and using his guitar to kill teens with bolts of lightning. I first saw the film when I was 10 years old while my brother Bryan and I were being babysat by our older cousin Chris Jones who before this fed us Taco Bell and bought me a Hulk comic off the comic rack at a local convenience store. He and his friend put it on, and I watched it and thought wow this movie is great.  As I started collecting Horror films on VHS, I went out of my way to find a copy of it for sale at all the local video stores and second hand stores. A fun fact: my cat Leslie is named after the love interest of Eddie in this film. If you like 80’s rock, a killer who dances, plays guitar and sings, then this is a film for you. Be warned the film is not a bloodbath slasher film but more of a supernatural film. Also last year’s Horrorama and the last one we were able to show 35mm film prints for, Andy Copp was able to get a print for us to show so that I could see the film the way it was suppose to be seen. The film was also planned to be a franchise with many sequels like A Nightmare on Elm Street, but the it did poorly at the boxoffice and the plans for the series were scrapped. So in the words of Sammi Curr aka Fastway (the band who did the soundtrack) “Knock, Knock. Knockin For A Sweet Surprise..It’s a Trick Or Treat”!

sammi currTrick or Treat PosterSami Curr Lives

When I was younger I use to really want to get a group of my friends together in the woods next to a camp fire and tell scary stories like in the Nickelodeon show “Are You Afraid Of The Dark” but this sadly never came about. But what I did spend a lot of time doing was reading ghost stories from old cheap paperbacks that I would by from the school book fairs. My favorite one to read was “Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark” by Alvin Schwartz that had creepy drawings by Stephen Gammell and all that book’s sequels. That series of books had short stories about murders, ghosts, ghouls and pranks gone wrong and each story was well written and had a creepy illustration to accompany it. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is a book that has a cult following to this day and I know many of people my age and younger that still love reading these creepy stories from time to time. Two other popular series of books that were big when I was younger were both written by R.L. Stine, the geared for kids”Goosebumps” and the geared for teens “Fear Street.” Growing up I read many of these books and for some reason read Goosebumps: The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb a lot. Also around this time teen thriller novels based on Michael Myers (Halloween), Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th) and Freddy Kruger (Nightmare on Elm Street) hit the market, and while they were very cheesy they still were fun.  I remember reading the Friday the 13th ones after I checked them out from the library. One of my favorite books to read were the “Crestwood Monster Series” that were facts, plots and later the novel adaptations of classic horror and sci-fi films.  The series would cover Dracula, Godzilla, The Mummy, King Kong and so many more monsters. I own some of these books that I bought when I was younger from a library sale in Waynesville. More great reads that I learned about in my teens were the “Haunted Ohio” series written by Chris Woodyard.  They are real life tellings of hauntings in the state of Ohio and covers all the famous stories that are said to spook us Ohioans. If you’re a ghost hunter and sprit chaser like myself, these books are worth a read. And of course there are all the classic novels one thinks about around this time like Bram Stokers “Dracula”, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, H.G. Wells “Invisible Man” & “War of The Worlds” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” to name a few. Or you could even read novelizations of horror films that flooded the market in the late 70’s and through out the 90’s. Novels are fun ways to work the mind and give yourself a fright this halloween season!

scary stories to tell in the dark bookGoosebumps The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb bookhalloween old myers place bookmonster series mad scientist bookHaunted Ohio booklegend of sleepy hollow book

This time also makes me think of video games and all the horror themed ones that have come out in my generation of being a gamer. I play a lot of video games and have played so many survival horror games that I could write a full blog on just that so I will be brief and only talk about a few. I remember playing “Haunted House” for Atari 2600 at Brad Burns’ house, a neighbor from across the street in Waynesville.  The game is simple and has a pair of eyes looking around a dark maze trying to finds pieces of an urn while dodging bats and spiders. The game was pretty lame but I remember always asking to play it because it was a horror themed game. I also remember Brad making fun of the game. Another game I played a lot was for PC and was on diskettes that he bought from a thrift store called “Isle Of The Dead” when he first bought his own PC. The game had you play a surviver of a plane crash that landed on an island run by a mad scientist and overrun by zombies.  This was a first person shooter that was one on the imitations of Doom. The game was super cheesy and would crash a lot but I remember so hard trying to beat it and not coming close. Another PC game I played a lot was “Waxworks,” a horror game that would send you to different time periods to retrieve stolen goods and kill evil beings. I used to play this game a lot and had fun doing so.  It was pure first person meets point and click game and had a great soundtrack. Lastly I will talk about “The Walking Dead: The Video Game” made by TellTale Games, a point and click adventure that follows Lee who was on his way to prison for murder and escapes when the zombie outbreak happens and comes across a little girl named Clementine who he in turns protects through out this amazing plotted game. This was one of my favorite horror games for the PS3 era of survival horror. But this is just a drop in the hat to all the wonderful horror games out there like the series Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Clock Tower, Dead Space, Castlevania, F.E.A.R., Doom and so many more. Horror video games much like the movies, shows and novels go hand and hand with the season, and are worth playing for a bone chilling good time.

Haunted house atariisle of the dead pcWaxWorks pcWalking Dead the video game ps3

One thing I look forward to every Halloween that takes place on the internet is “Monster Madness,” a show done by James Rolfe aka The Angry Video Game Nerd where he talks about horror films and gives mini reviews and facts about the movie he is covering. James knows his stuff, and it’s cool to see that he not only loves video games but also horror films, and he also has a soft spot for the Universal Monster films and holds them in a high respect so he goes up on the cool points in my book. I highly recommend his sequel-a-thon where he covers Universal’s Frankenstein, Hammer’s Dracula, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween series.  It’s a super fun watch and filled with some great opinions and facts. Also his Godzilla series retrospective is an amazing watch and brought back many great memories of the past sitting and watching them on TBS and VHS. Another good watch is his Top Ten Lost Horror Film Countdown.  While not part of Monster Madness, it is still one hell of a good watch, as are his Nerd Halloween specials that cover horror themed games. James Rolfe and his shows are now apart of my holiday tradition and are worth checking out.

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Horrorama is a charity event that happens every Halloween and was started in 1997 by horror host Dr. Creep, filmmaker Andy Copp and Rick Martin and is going strong to this day. I joined the group over 6 years ago and have been helping out ever since, bringing great films to the screen all for charity and for the audience to have a good spooky time. The event has trivia, contests and even one year a Miss Horrorama Pageant that had a young lady named Jesi Witt win for being a female Beetlejuice and let me say the ghost with the most never looked that good. The event is a mainstay here in the Dayton area and I hope it’s something many people look forward to every year.  I will say that the event this year will be a little sadder for me as Andy Copp my friend, film mentor and all around great guy passed away early this year.  I always looked forward to planning this event with him and hearing his ideas and opinions on what films we should show. Andy was the one guy who really pushed me into making films and much like my old media teacher, I think he saw the potential in me. Andy is truly missed, and this year’s Horrorama is for him!

rick martin dr creep andy copp old schoolhorrorama 2011rick martin me andy copp

Dayton’s Scare-A-Thon is a public access marathon of horror films and shows that Terrifying Tales of the Macabre does Halloween Specials for. The event was the brain child of Henrique Couto, a filmmaker who is like a little brother to me, who decided Halloween around here needs a little more. The event aired on both DATV, MVCC and via DVD at Game Swap and also marked the return on Dr. Freak, who at one time was the world’s youngest horror host, as he did a new “Cult Theater” just for this marathon! The event also played many Pop Cinema horror titles and one year had live segments with callers! Overall this block of TV programming is some good stuff and is perfect for the background at any Halloween party. Oh yeah I should also say that during the live segments two years back, I dressed up as Scars, a werewolf I played in the Independent B Movie film “Bark At The Moon: Scars.”  So that was a nice fun tribute to that film. Scare-A-Thon is taking a break this year, but here’s top hopping it makes a return for Halloween 2014.

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I know I’m not alone in knowing that October also brings the breakfast monster cereal back onto shelves as General Mills puts out Count Chockula, Frankenberry and Boo Berry for a limited time, but man it sure does make Halloween even sweeter. The best out of the three is Chockula, and my least favorite is Boo Berry, but mixing Boo Berry with the other flavors is really good and worth trying if you haven’t. Growing up I remember the animated commercials and wishing they would be full cartoons that would have aired on Saturday mornings and sparked toys and comics that I for sure would have bought. I remember growing up when they sold the cereal year round and eating many of boxes for breakfast and snacks over those years. Previously Fruit Brute and the Fruity Yummy Mummy didn’t get re-released because they were shorter lived on store shelves than the rest of the monsters, but this year they’re making an appearance next to the big 3. I have crayons of all the monsters besides Fruit Brute (who was not made) and they are some amazing sculpted prizes that were given away with proof of purchase. The Breakfast Monsters just help add to my Halloween excitement and are something I look forward to every year.

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Those are just a few of the things I remember and look forward to every Halloween time, but now it’s time to get to the comics that are Dell’s take on the classic monsters of Universal films. A total of five comics were made and were released from 1962-63 are were a part of the “Movie Classics” line that was popular for them. It’s a shame that none of these one-shots sparked a full run comic series because I would have loved to have collected a run of comics that told me what The Wolf Man was doing after the films had stopped. The only one of these issues I had ever read was The Wolf Man and that’s been some 8 years ago.  The rest I am going into blind so I am very much looking forward to reading what ideas this comic company had for these classic characters of the silver screen. I just want you all to remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true it stays to the source martial.  So with that, let’s get onto these spooky reviews! Oh yeah and these will have spoilers to the issues so you have been warned. Thanks to Bell Book and Comic, Mavericks Cards and Comics, Ebay and my pal David J. Getz for hooking me up with these comics and making this Halloween update of Rotten Ink possible.

The Mummy 1

The Mummy # 1   * 1/2
Released in 1962   Cover Price .12   DELL Comics   #211 of ?

A unknown tomb is found in Egypt, and when it’s opened The Mummy of Ahmed is set loose.  The Mummy goes out for revenge on the ancestors of those who buried him alive after he was convicted of being a follower of Seth, the God of evil and was left to suffer for generations in a tomb that was hidden away. Ahmed uses his eyes to hypnotize a few men and has them do his bidding, eventually killing themselves in horrific ways. But when Egyptian beauty Kipa gets a scroll that is a death note, her American boyfriend Bart figures out that she is next to be killed and along with the police they are able to capture The Mummy Ahmed.  The Mummy escapes but is killed as he falls from pyramid steps and shatters at the bottom. But Bart and the police chief wonder if The Mummy really gone as his laughter fills the night air.

This is one of the weirdest and dumbest Mummy stories I have ever read! The Mummy Ahmed can talk and uses his eyes to hypnotize people into doing what he wants and worst of all he can run and move fast plus shoots lasers from his eyes.  One of the goofiest things about this Mummy is that when trying to run away he is tackled by the American Bart and then handcuffed and put into the back of a police car….how weird and lame is that? Just think about that image of The Mummy in handcuffs in the back of a cop car.  It’s mind numbing. Plus The Mummy dies after falling down stairs, what a lame way to go.  The heroes of this comic are Bart and the police chief, and both are pretty much a waste and only add a very generic good guy character to this rushed story.  Kipa is also a waste and adds nothing to this story besides being the would-be victim . One funny moment has Kipa showing that she wore special contact lenses to protect her from the stare of Ahmed, and this so reminds me of something you would have seen in a classic Dick Tracy comic strip with BB Eyes or an episode of the 60’s live action Batman TV show. This comic is a pure disappointment and is a bad start for Dell’s Universal Monster comic tie-ins. This comic has nothing to do with the Universal films based on The Mummy and really comes off as a cheesed version of a horror story comic that was written by a 10 year old who likes sci-fi films and thinks lasers are cool. The cover is very well done and by looking so cool helps lead you to the disappointment that is this issue.  The interior artwork is pretty good and The Mummy looks like Kris, played by Lon Chaney Jr. in several of The Mummy sequels. Over all this is a bad start for the Dell series and makes me hope that Dracula will be better.  So with that let’s move onto that issue and the second in this series.

Dracula 1

Dracula # 1   **1/2
Released in 1962   Cover Price .12   DELL Comics   #212 of ?

Basil Shawcross is driving late during a rain storm to get to the home of his close friend Janos Tesla, an expert on myths and folklore. Basil is there to ask about vampires and dismisses everything his friend is telling him as medical issues and nothing more. Janos questions why his friend came on a night like this only to argue about the information he is asking for.  Basil breaks down and tells Janos his son died in Transylvania and how be believes he has been wrongly pronounced dead, especially after his son met a girl in the graveyard named Irina.  Basil wants his friend to travel and get answers with him. The pair travel to Transylvania and only get news that his son’s body is missing and more talk of vampires. Basil still doesn’t want to hear this and late that night he gets a visit from his son, who, along with Irina, takes him to Castle Dracula where Count Dracula tries to bully him into bringing them fresh blood.  Unbeknownst to all, Janos has followed and uses wolfsbane and garlic powder to frighten off the vampires, but its too late for his friend Basil who dies during the commotion. In the end Janos tells the townspeople that he will kill Dracula and the vampires and avenge his friend.

This title is a slow moving classic comic style thriller that has one weak payoff in the Dracula department and in the “final” battle. Most of the issue features Janos Tesla and Basil Shawcross in a den late at night during a rain storm speaking in front of a fire about vampire folklore and about Bruce Shawcross’ odd death in Transylvania. While this aspect is interesting and helps build the scares, the payout is not worth the wait as Dracula only appears in three pages of the comic and when around really adds nothing but a few lines, one a rehash of him talking about not drinking wine. The idea that Dracula really just wants blood delivered to him so that he doesn’t have to go out and kill is something that should have been more of the focus of this comic and maybe had Basil being torn about doing it in hopes this would help his son in some way.  But then again that would have taken away from the den talking. The end makes you think that this comic would have sparked a series based on Janos and his quest to end Dracula but instead it lead to a comic series about a super hero named Dracula who uses bat blood….yeah. This comic has very little to do with the film it was based on, and that’s a shame because I would have loved this to be all about Count Dracula. The cover is great and eye catching and captures the Bela Lugosi Dracula look and mood.  The art inside is okay and looks like most Dell comics from the 60’s, and Dracula inside only slightly looks like Lugosi. While this is not a bad horror comic, it just is a weak comic based on Universal’s Dracula, and would have gotten at least another 1/2 star if it would have not claimed to be connected to the film. Let’s see how the Creature does and if Dell can deliver a solid comic based on these classic cinema monsters.

The Creature 1

The Creature # 1   ***
Released in 1963   Cover Price .12   DELL Comics   # 302 of ?

Scott Warden is a paleontologist who has been sent a hand of some sort of creature that once lived in the deep waters of the Amazon.  When the scientist who sent it goes missing near the site the hand was found, Scott tries to go along on a trip with a rich man named Dudley Gaustad.  At first he wants nothing to do the Scott until his diver Mitch Love and his olympic swim star sister Monica Love convince him it’s a good idea to have him aboard and that he can also help dive and find the treasure that Gaustad is looking for. Upon arriving in the Amazon, they meet the ship captain and against the crew’s wishes Gaustad hires former Nazis as crew members who are clearly helping to gain something in return. When they get to their spot, the weather is super hot and Monica goes for a swim and captures the attention of The Creature who watches her every move.  When Scott and Mitch go for a dive they are not sure but think they might have seen something in the waters. That night The Creature attacks and kills some of the crew and this is when the remaining two Nazi’s make their move and hold the group captive, wanting to use them to find the gold that they think is hidden in the waters below. The next morning Mitch, Scott and Dudley are forced to dive and into the water.  Dudley is attacked by The Creature and then becomes lunch for piranha.  As Scott and Mitch flee, The Creature comes aboard the ship, killing the nazis and flinging them into the piranha feeding frenzy and chasing Monica in the water as she swims to get away. Scott and Mitch see this and come to her aid and kill the Creature with spear guns and take his body back to the USA to be studied as the boat is going away the waters below is shown to house many more Creatures.

This issue starts off very slow and the build up is for the most part boring, but once they get to the Amazon and meet the one time Nazi’s and The Creature shows up this comic starts to become really fun. Scott is your typical smart hero, who while a nerd is still a strong heroic guy who wants to get to the bottom of what The Creature is and when it comes time he deals with him and delivers quick painful death. Mitch Love is just the background friend who adds the extra muscle and filler to make it all connect to Scott as Mitch was once in the navy with him. Monica Love is the beauty for the hero and the monster to both fall in love with and the comic also adds two other sleazy characters to fall for her, making Monica the most powerful character in the comic as she has all the love of the major and minor players. Dudley Gaustad is a rich asshole who is not a total creep but gets the worst death in the whole comic.  It’s pretty messed up how he goes from punching bag to fish food in mere panels. The Nazis are scum as always and are the true bad guys of the comic while The Creature does what he does best:  kill and try to make it with human women. The idea behind the story is pretty good and as I stated while it takes time to really get going, it does have that old horror film charm to it.  I was not too keen on the fact that a whole race of Creatures are living in the waters.  I like the idea of only one being left in the world. Adding the Nazis was a nice touch as well and really gives the reader some characters to hate because let’s be honest, no one reading this comic can truly hate the Creature. The cover is okay and only somewhat looks like The Creature (Gillman).  As for the art inside, I really liked it because it had the EC comic feel and The Creature looked like he should. This comic is a closer to the Universal films based on the character and is a big improvement over The Mummy! Next up is The Frankenstein’s Monster so let’s see what Dell does with him.

Frankenstein 1

Frankenstein # 1   ***
Released in 1963   Cover Price .12   DELL Comics   # 305 of ?

Dr. Frankenstein and his assistant Fritz are creating life in the lab, but things go wrong when Fritz steals a criminal brain and The Monster awakens after being struck by lightning. The Monster stumbles around the room and is angered by Fritz who uses a torch to keep him at bay.  The Monster decides to leave the castle and roam the countryside where he accidentally leads two young teens to their deaths.  The townspeople are furious and burn down Frankenstein’s Castle as The Monster, Fritz and the Dr. hide in a secret bunker.  As days pass, Dr. Frankenstein gets an idea to leave Europe and head to New York to show a group of scientist that he has created life.  Frankenstein uses hypnosis on The Monster to listen to his commands and along with Fritz, the three are smuggled to America, but along the way the Dr. becomes power mad and uses The Monster to kill people that are getting in his way to become the top scientist he thinks he should be. In New York, Dr. Frankenstein speaks to the science community, but Fritz once more screws up and sets The Monster free.  It goes on a rampage and heads back towards the boat that brought him there and makes the mistake of getting on one with explosives and starting a fire! Frankenstein and Fritz try to save The Monster but it’s too late.  As they dive into the waters The Monster is left to burn on the boat.

This is a fun re-imagining of the classic 1932 Universal Frankenstein film and is truly what these comics should have been like! While I would love to have them directly follow the films, I am fine with them taking the characters from the film and proposing a what if world around them. The Monster is very much the confused brute he should be at first and while people die, he does this by accident and feels terrible for what he has done. You really feel for him when Dr. Frankenstein barks orders at him to kill and he must do so against his will. Plus his death is very much in the same vein as how he dies in the film.  Instead of a windmill in Europe, it’s now a boat in New York. Fritz in this comic is a pure dumbass and is the cause of most of the troubles in the issue, from stealing the wrong brain to waking The Monster at the wrong time he is a true moron! And with him being such a pain, it makes you wonder why Dr. Frankenstein would bring him all the way to New York knowing all his mistakes in the past haved caused so much issues. Dr. Frankenstein is a power hungry man that only cares about fame and proving his critics wrong.  The fact he would order his Monster to kill changes him so much from the film that you find yourself disliking him in the comic. He almost feels like the character is only a pinch of Universal Dr. Frankenstein and a whole lot of Hammer Horror Dr. Frankenstein who was way more mean spirited. The plot is well thought out and brings the horror to America and closer to home for the younger readers of 1963.  I am sure this added to the shock and wonder. I for one really enjoyed this issue and would have loved to see this go onto a full series.  This marks the best so far of the Dell Movie Classics Universal Monsters run. So let’s see how the final issue in the series holds up as we take a look at The Wolf Man!

The Wolf Man 1

The Wolf Man # 1   *1/2
Released in 1963   Cover Price .12   DELL Comics   # 308 of ?

Milo Zak has just graduated collage and is now a doctor who wants to return to his hometown, a small village that still cures its sick with an old witch and a gypsy and bases everything off superstition. When returning home he is reunited with his girlfriend Lyana and his aunt & uncle and quickly opens a doctor’s office that does no business.  This makes him want to set out to prove that his medicine is better than any of the old remedies. But his goal to prove superstition and supernatural takes a turn for the worse when he meets Vorcla, a man who can control wolves and uses his power to take money from the villagers.  Milo decides to prove him as a fake and embarrasses him in front of the whole town! The town starts to believe in Milo as the witch and gypsy warn him that his future looks bad.  It indeed turns bad as Vorcla, who has been banned from the town, comes back and kills his aunt and uncle and many of the townspeople and then bites Milo making him a werewolf. Lyana calls for one of Milo’s school buddies who comes to town and kills Vorcla with a silver cane and frees Milo of his curse.

This comic has absolutely nothing to do with the Universal film and should not have The Wolf Man named attached to it.  This comic does not have a single mention of Larry Talbot. Vorcla is the bad guy, and he is only somewhat a werewolf as he walks around even during the day looking like a crazed beast with style in his suit, cape and hat. His only real power is he can control wolves and he can pass on his curse of being whatever he is. Milo Zak, who is the main focus of the comic, is a man who has embraced modern medicine and turned his back on the old ways of his home town, and by doing so he messes with the wrong person and some of his family and friends pay the price as he is also cursed with werewolf meets vampire like powers. Tha’ts the one dumb thing about this comic, the “Werewolf” Vorcla always looks like a hairy freak who walks around and talks like a normal man and controls the minds of wolves.  When he’s passing on the curse, he bites Milo on the neck like a vampire and neither casts a reflection in the mirror….yeah, who ever wrote this mess got the legends of vampires and werewolves mixed up. This is the most disappointing of the Dell Universal Monster Comics for me as The Wolf Man has always been my favorite, and he deserved way better than this mess that only uses his name to try and draw in readers. The art is okay and once more has that classic 60’s horror comic look.  The “werewolf” Vorcla looks more like Jack The Ripper meets Mr. Hyde, and the cover is pretty generic showing the outline of Wolf Man with a snow background.  Much like the name, the cover is misleading as this comic doesn’t have a flake of snow in it. This comic didn’t live up to what it could have been and gets only one and a half star because it’s so far away from the source material that it’s an insult to fans of the film. And that marks the end of the Dell run!

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I want to say that these comics are NOT terrible, and while The Mummy and The Wolf Man got low stars it’s because they went way too far away from the source material. This series is very dated and the twists that they took with characters for the most part don’t work! I went in looking at these as re-imaginings of the films, and while I can respect the attempt at reinventing the monsters’ images and stories, I am not sure why some of them lost the very essence of what the monster was. Dracula is the closest one to what he should be followed closely by both Frankenstein’s Monster and The Creature, while The Wolf Man is the farthest away from the source followed by The Mummy. The best drawn of these comic would have to be The Creature followed really closely by Frankenstein.  Both have a great style, and Frankenstein has some amazing panels that use odd colors very well to enhance the chilling factor. Once more The Wolf Man comes in with the worst as his comic is very bland and run of the mill cheap horror comic style, though I will say I do like how they tried to use shadows in many of the panels. Over all I did have a lot of fun reading these comics and did enjoy the fact that Dell tried to update and deliver Universal Monsters to comic readers of the early 60’s and wish more comic companies today would take chances in what they put out besides 7 different books with Wolverine or Batman in them. Our next update will continue the Halloween spirit, and we will take a look at a small company called Northstar as they did a four issue loose comic adaptation of the film “Leatherface: A Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.”  So until then, stay scared!

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