Welcome to the fourth spooky update to our countdown to Halloween 2017 and another in our From Horror Movie To Horror Comic series. Today’s update is about the PG-13 kid friendly horror anthology film, The Willies! Back in the 80’s and early 90’s many scary movies and TV shows were marketed towards kids as horror was super popular with the youth, and The Willies was one such movie. It’s amazing to sit back and think that The Willies got a promo comic made in order to try and draw more kids into seeing it via home video rental. So let’s start up a camp fire and all sit around it and share some tales of what I am calling “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Willies”! I once more would like to say to any independent horror filmmaker or distribution company that making comics based on your films is a great idea as it is a tool to offer fans a little something more as well can bring in viewers who read comics and might not have even known about the film it was based on.
Our villains of this film are many but we have two major ones that are showcased in this film that we will focus on. The first we will look at is The Bully Killing Monster who is a tall slender demonoid like creature who feasts on the flesh and bone of mean spirited people who treat others bad. He is very sly in his way of killing as he hides and strikes when he needs to and also strikes fear into his victims. He also can wear a fake suit of human skin in order to find his targeted prey and takes the appearance of an old man school janitor who is super polite and fun loving. We get the impression that he has killed bullies for years and will continue to do so for decades to come. His manner of killing is his sharp teeth as well as his claw like hands. He can also freeze his prey with fear as he drags them into the celling to hide his killing deed. While he is a demon like monster, he can be hurt with books and soap to the face. While he is not super powerful, this monster does know how to get the job done when it comes to killing off bullies and getting away with it. Our second monsters of this film are the Mutated Giant Flies who were created by a mad farmer named Spivey who makes chemical enhanced soil. When they grow, they want revenge on a twisted young man who enjoyed capturing them and torturing them. The Mutated Flies when full grown via the soil walk on two legs and are the side of an adult human! They have a mean spirit to them and are violent towards the teen who was mean to them. They are semi strong and they kill in a pact as there are three of them and they do eat human flesh! The Mutated Flies don’t kill, they torture as they ripped off the arms of the teen in order to teach him a lesson and to feast on his removed arms. The Mutated Flies are just giant flies so they can be killed with bug spray or even squashed. While the mutated flies are not super scary nor even racking up a body count, they can cause damage to their prey. So as you can see this film has two different style of monsters and each bring something of their own to the world of horror characters.
So now that we understand the film’s top two monsters we should take some time and talk about the over all film. I will be taking the film’s write up from our pals at IMDB and I will also talk briefly about the film’s production as well as about my first time watching it with my thoughts on it. So let’s dive in and see if you will get The Willies from reading about The Willies!
The Willies (1990)
“Two brothers camping with their cousin try to frighten each other by telling stories. There are two main narrations: one involves strange happenings at an elementary school; the other, a teenage boy with a peculiar interest.”
The Willies was released in 1990 and is a Horror/Comedy film that was marketed towards teens and adults who enjoy horror anthology films. The film was written and directed by Brian Peck, who is known for his role as punker Scuz in Return Of the Living Dead, and is the only film that he ever directed. The film was lower budget and was released by Paramount Pictures on home video and joined such films Tremors, Nightbreed, Child’s Play 2, Cat In The Brain, Predator 2 and Psycho IV to name a few. The film starred lots of actors who were well known to the horror genre fans like Clu Gulagar, Sean Astin, Dana Ashbrook, Kirk Cameron, Kathleen Freeman, James Karen and Tracey Gold to name a few. The film is a mix bag of positive and negative reviews and while not a household name, The Willies does have a cult following and many fans of the film always get happy to talk about Michael Bower who played Donkeylips in the Nickelodeon show Salute Your Shorts playing a cruel bug collector in one of the shorts. The film was distributed by Force Majeure Productions and not much more can be said about the release and making of this film.
The first time I saw The Willies was via a VHS rental from Blockbuster Video when I was a teen. As always my older brother Bryan was the one who rented it, and we watched it one late weekend night while eating chips and drinking pop and immersing myself into the world of The Willies. I have always been a fan of horror anthology films and from the first watch, I can say that I really did enjoy The Willies as I found it very fun and reminded me of the show Are You Afraid Of The Dark that I was watching every week. Later on I would go on to own the film on VHS and now on DVD, and while it’s not one I re-watch super often I still enjoy watching it and can say I recommend it for horror fans who have not seen it before. My favorite story in this film is “Bad Apples” that’s about a monster in a school bathroom who gets revenge on bullies! The monster effects remind me of monsters used in the TV show Tales From The Darkside and the payout of what and who the monster is reminds me of an episode of Goosebumps! I think the main reason I really dig this movie is the fact that I love the idea of sitting around the dark woods sharing spooky stores as it reminds me of my youth and telling scary stories to friends in school or making up monsters and such with my cousins! I also enjoy the fact that the film also has smaller little spooky stories that are based on Urban Legends that we have all heard before. Plus I love the use of practical effects for everything as I think the monsters as well as the gore effects are pretty solid for this low budget of a film.
So now that we have taken a look at The Willies in film as well as two of the main monsters of the film, we should now dive into the comic book that was made to help promote the movie. I am not sure what to expect from this comic as it’s unclear whether it’s an adaptation or new stories told by the brothers and their cousin. So this element of surprise is making this read even better for me! So I first want to thank a vendor at the Monsterbash Convention for having this in stock and thanks to them I learned that this comic even existed. So with that, let’s sit around a camp fire and kick off October right and give this comic a good read and see if we can spook ourselves silly.
The Willies # 1 ***
Released in 1991 Cover Price $1.95 Force Majeure # 1 of 1
A group of youths are sitting in a tent telling each other spooky stories that include the woman who ate a fried rat at a fast food restaurant, the old man who died of a heart attack after going into a carnival’s haunted house as well as the old woman who put her dog in the microwave to dry it off! Finally one of the boys gets into his story that is about a young boy named Danny Hollister who is being picked on at school and is helped out by the school’s janitor named Mr. Jenkins who tells the youngster he will take care of the bullies! Danny leads his bullies as well as his mean spirited teacher to the bathroom where they meet their end at the hands of a monster who is in fact the janitor! Next another of the youths tells a story of Gordy, a mean fat kid who steals from a local farmer as well as likes to rip the wings off flies he captures. Well one day the Farmer gets fed up with Gordy and gives him some special chemical enhanced soil for his flies that in fact turns the fly’s human size and they get their revenge by ripping the arms of the terrible youth! After the stories the youth begin to argue that none of the stories were real when one of their fathers show up to reveal that he in fact is the monster who killed the bullies!
I must say that this is a promo comic adaptation done right as it stays faithful to the film and yet cuts just enough to make it a fast paced read that captures the fun spooky nature of the flick. The film’s plot is very simple and is much like any horror anthology comic or film as we have stories being shared that all end with Twilight Zone style twists that by the end all turn out to be true. The Three Kids are your typical group of friends spending time hanging out in the woods and sharing stories they think will shock and scare the others. While we get to know them as friends we do not get to know their personalities all that well besides one of them has lead the other two to their deaths at the hands of his monster father. It makes you wonder, did the two kids who meet their end by the comic’s conclusion pick on the third kid and that’s why he wanted his dad to kill them? The main monster of this comic series has to be the Bully Killing Monster as he massacres at least six people in the course of this comic! While at first it seems like he is nothing more than an avenger for the weak by the end it makes you wonder if he just likes to kill! The Mutated Flies are also kind of the bad guys as they do rip the arms off of a kid, but if you really want to break them down, Farmer Spivey the one who made the soil mixed with chemicals is the real baddie as he made that batch that mutated the flies with the idea that they would kill Gordy! The comic has a few good creepy moments as it captures a real EC Comic appeal with twisted tales that have morbid outcomes, the only difference is that this comic is pretty much bloodless and that’s a shame as even the film had a little of the red stuff. The comics cover is really amazing and would capture the eye of fans of the film as well as Horror Comic readers. The interior art is done by Brain Murray and is fantastic stuff as he captures the mood and even the look of the actors and characters from the film and is really great stuff. So over all, fans of this film should find this comic and give it a read as it’s amazing and will surly please, but I must warn that this comic is hard to find so if you do find a copy make sure to buy it! Check out some of the art below to see Murray’s art style.
The Willies might not be a household name when it comes to the world of Horror Films but it does have a solid and loyal cult fan base that I feel will grow more and more over the years. I also think that its great that this film did get the comic treatment as it is one that I think lends itself to being one. So with our next update we will be staying in the world of From Horror Movie To Horror Comic and will be taking a look at Jason X the tenth film in the Friday The 13th film series and the comic from Avatar Press based on Uber Jason from the film. So until next time, tell a ghost story or three, read a horror comic or two and as always support your local Horror Host. I hope this update didn’t give you The Willies too badly as our month of Horror updates has just started see you in space for the next one!