Hercules: The Legendary Turkey Day Journeys In Mashed Potato Land

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

thanksgiving sexy indianTurkey Artpilgrim princess

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

Universal Action Pack logo

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

The Legendary Journeys 1The Legendary Journeys 2The Legendary Journeys 3

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

Kevin Sorbo 1Kevin Sorbo 2Kevin Sorbo 3

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

Iolaussalmoneus Atalanta

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

Hercules In The Maze Of The Minotaur 1Hercules In The Maze Of The Minotaur 2Hercules In The Maze Of The Minotaur 3

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

Toy Biz HerculesToy Biz XenaToy Boz Ares

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

N64 Hercules 1Hercules N64 CoverN64 Hercules 2

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

Hercules 1

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

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

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

Hercules 2

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

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

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

Hercules 3

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

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

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

Hercules 4

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

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

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

Hercules 5

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

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

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

Sorbo Herc Art 1Sorbo Herc Art 2Sorbo Herc Art 3

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

Hulk When Monsters Meet Logo 0

Advertisements

Jason Voorhees’s Bogus Journey To Hell

As you long time readers remember when New Line Cinema told the world that Freddy Kruger was going to die in their film “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare” and that it was the final film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, it sent shockwaves through the youth at the time who believed their marketing tool. But could they trick us all again when they did the same thing with the newly acquired Friday The 13th film series? Paramount Pictures had been making and putting out Friday The 13th films since 1980 when they released the original film.  To their surprise, it was a huge hit and sparked 7 sequels for them, but this whole time while they made money on them, it almost seemed they were embarrassed to be the company making these slasher films. The final film for them came in 1989 with “Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan,” and while it made money, its profits were less than before.  Paramount had enough of the hockey mask killer, and they sold the film rights for future sequels to New Line Cinema who made the A Nightmare on Elm Street series as well as films like Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and Man’s Best Friend. This was shocking for fans of the series as now New Line had the rights, and no one knew what was going to happen.  Would they do a remake of the series or would they continue on? We got our answer as they announced Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday, and they once more let it out that this was it.  If you like Jason Voorhees, you better come see this film and say your goodbyes because this was the “Final” one. Of course time would prove that they were full of crap as sequels like Jason X, Freddy vs. Jason and even a reboot was made by a coproduction between New Line and Paramount in 2009. In 2013, Paramount has gotten the rights back to Friday the 13th for 5 years and plan on making the 13th film in the series soon for a 2015 release date. The actor best known for playing the part of Jason Voorhees is Kane Hodder, a stuntman who has been in many great horror films over the years such as the Hatchet Series, Project: Metal Beast, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, Wishmaster and 2001 Maniacs.  He is also the actor who played Jason in the film this blog update is about.

Jason Voorhees 1Paramount logoJason Voorhees 2

For those who don’t know who Jason Voorhees is, here is a quick bio for the famed hockey mask killer. Jason Voorhees was born a mongaloid, and when he was young and at camp he drowned in the lake at Camp Crystal Lake while the councilors were making love and partying.  Over the years, his mother, Pamela Voorhees, did all she could to have the camp closed.  She murdered people and even poisoned the water to try and keep people away. Pamela’s reign of terror came to an end when a young woman named Alice chopped her head off after she had already killed all of Alice’s friends and co-workers. Alice had a vision of a boy in the lake who pulled her under, but no such boy was found. Years pass, and the boy who was really Jason Voorhees killed Alice and spent all his time getting revenge on those who entered his camp. At first Jason wore an old sack as a mask, but later he was able to get a hockey mask from one of his victims. While at first Jason was just a deformed human, it was after he died at the hands of Tommy Jarvis (a young boy whose family he attacked) that he later became an undead killing machine who could not be stopped. Jason was brought back from the dead thanks to Jarvis, who over they years brooded over the killer and believing he was not truly dead dug up his body and like Frankenstein’s Monster a bolt of lightning brought back the killer who spent many years hacking up teens and even battling one with psychic powers. The hockey face killer even caught a cruise at one point and traveled to New York and later was set up and blown to bits only to be shown that he has a demon inside him that can body jump.  Le also later went to space in the future and turned metal and even fought dream killer Freddy Kruger in a bloody battle. Jason over the years has been hacked up, blown up, set on fire, drowned, hung and shot and nothing ever seems to stop him. Actors who have played Jason over the years in 12 films include Kane Hodder, Steve Dash, Richard Brooker, C.J. Graham, Ken Kirzinger and Derek Mears to name a few. Jason Voorhees remains one of the most popular horror characters of the 1980’s, and while this bio was rushed, you should do yourself a favor and watch all the films and enjoy the blood splatter goodness. 

Alice Cooper and Jasonjason x jasonremake jason

1993 marked the first film of the Friday the 13th series done by New Line Cinema called Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday, and like before they acted as if this film was the last to be made for the Jason Voorhees character like they did before with Freddy Kruger and Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. This time around while I was hyped for the idea of a new Friday the 13th film, I was not as sold on it being the final one, all that kept going through my young mind was “Why would they buy the rights only to end it with one film?” Still the hype of final did fill my mind and made me wonder just how they would kill him off, and when Fangoria Magazine started to show pictures on the set and showed a more bloated looking Jason who looked battle tested and his mask seemed fused to his face, my hype built slightly even more. I can remember talking to my brother about how they were going to kill Jason off this time and ever so slightly the rumor of Freddy Kruger being in the film echoed in my brain. The kids at school, while some horror film fans, they were few and far but the ones that did, I can remember talking of ideas of this final film and what we thought was going to happen. I can even remember Entertainment Tonight doing a big segment of the film, adding more hype to its release. The film came out and grossed $15,935,068.00 during its run at the box office, and being younger my mom and dad would not allow me to watch the film in theaters. I can remember hearing negative reviews from older friends who saw it, and even my brother got to see it and disliked it. While I heard positive stuff about the gore, the fact that in this film Jason had a little demon that lived in his heart and would body jump kept being compared to films like The Hidden. It took it coming to VHS before I was able to see it, and after watching it I found myself liking it, while I would say next to part 5 it’s the weakest in the series, it still has a charm that I find entertaining.

The film’s gore effects are great and perfect for the 90’s slasher film, and while the Jason body jumping demon was dumb, when the hockey mask wearing Jason is on screen, it’s good stuff. The end of the film when Freddy’s glove shows up and pulls Jason’s mask into Hell was so awesome and built up the fact that you knew that the Friday The 13th film series was not over and that the two horror icons would meet each other in a film. So while it did not hold the questions and mystery of Freddy’s Dead, this film still held some great memories of talking to my brother and friends of the Final Friday. 

Jason Hell 1Jason Goes To Hell PosterJason Hell 2

Jason Goes To Hell is filled with a few other horror film relics and characters.  The most known is Freddy Kruger’s glove that pops from the ground at the end and pulls Jason’s mask down to Hell while giving his evil laugh. The second is the Book of The Dead from the famed Evil Dead series that sits in the Voorhees house, making one wonder is Jason a deadite? And last is the crate from Creepshow that houses the razor teethed monster that eats Adrienne Barbeau, that is now being stored in the Voorhees basement. Very cool little surprises for fans of horror in this flick and are worth trying to spot on your next watch.

Freddy's GloveEvil Dead BookCreepshow crate

Like all good popular horror films, Jason Goes To Hell had its share of merchandise like t-shirts, trading cards, cardboard cut out, Halloween masks, model kits, toys and magazines. Some of the best are the Mezco Jason Goes To Hell figures from their Cinema of Fear line. McFarlene Toys had a Jason Goes to Hell figure in their Movie Maniac line, and Fangoria had a magazine dedicated strictly to the film.

Movie Maniac JasonJason Goes To Hell MagazineJason Model

One other cool piece of merch that came out was the soundtrack to the film done by Harry Mantredini on both cassette tape and CD. The film’s score, while updated, still holds the classic Friday the 13th feel and even has brief moments that echo the classic score. This is a score that at some point I want to get and start playing a few tracks of it on WYSO’s Sunday night radio show Alpha Rhythms.  So listeners of that, keep your ears open.  

Jason Goes To Hell Soundtrack CD

When I moved back to Kettering I hated it.  I felt like I did not connect with the other kids, and I felt like the schools themselves were nothing but one big joke more concerned with test scores than actually teaching kids. While I had some great friends in Kettering like Josh Weinberg and Patrick Neeley, it was when I was placed in the media class that I found friends who were just like me.  They were into horror films, music and being creative. Guys like Dave Wean, Rion Neeley, Linda Webb, Dan Salter, Brandon Womeldorff and Matt Hoffman were all amazing and fun people. With these guys I also helped build a small shot on video film company called Independent B Movie. One of the first people I bonded with in that class was Matt Hoffman over a T-shirt I was wearing that lead to us talking about music and then of course horror films. Hoffman was a fan of Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, and I can remember him even printing out rumors of what the Freddy vs. Jason film would have been about. One of the coolest things Matt did was he gave me a double sided official movie theater poster of Jason Goes To Hell that I still have to this day.  So once more thank you, Hoffman, for being a great friend, and this update is for you and all the other horror fans in the world who stick together.

Jason Goes To Hell Poster 2

So here we are at the point of the comic reviews, and I want to let all you readers know that the issues I am about to re-read are the same ones I bought off the news stands when they first were released. I got these comics from Mavericks Cards and Comics as well as The Bookie Parlor and have kept them all these years.  At one point in time when I sold off my comics to pay rent for me and my girlfriend’s place, I kept these as well as a handful of others so these comics hold a lot of memories. Remember I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So if you’re ready, let’s get into the Final Friday.

Jason Goes To Hell 1

Jason Goes To Hell # 1   **1/2
Released in 1993   Cover Price $2.95   Topps Comics   #1 of 3

A young woman goes to Crystal Lake and lures Jason Voorhees out of hiding and tricks him into following her into an ambush set up by a SWAT team who use a bomb and blow Jason up “killing” him once and for all. But when Jason’s body is taken to the corner’s office, something goes wrong as one of the men working on his body takes a bite out of Jason’s over sized heart and has the spirit of Jason inside him and goes on a killing rampage. Meanwhile Robert Campbell, a TV host for a tabloid show called American Case File, has put up $100,000 to bounty hunter Creighton Duke who travels to Jason’s old stomping ground and talks to waitress Diana who he thinks can help him kill Jason.  Diana’s boyfriend is the town’s sheriff, and after some heated words Duke is kicked out of the diner and arrested. Diana wants to talk to her daughter Jessica’s ex-boyfriend Steven about the family’s secret and makes him promise to come visit her at 11pm that night. Meanwhile one of the town’s cops is attacked by the coroner who has Jason’s spirit inside him and via a strange worm demon that comes from his mouth, the curse is passed onto the cop who goes to Diana’s house and attacks her while she is on the phone with the sheriff.  Steven goes in and tries to save her but during the attack Diana is killed.  Jason Cop is knocked out the window and the sheriff blames Steven for the death of his girlfriend.

The Jason Voorhees kills are kept to a minimum in this first issue as is all the cussing and naked boobs of the film.  In fact one whole scene that has a couple of collage kids getting naked and dying is missing from the issue all together. The scene should have taken place before Steven goes to Diana’s house as he is the one that picks them up hitchhiking and drops them off in the woods. Jason in this issue is seen in the traditional hockey mask very little and spends most of the issue in other bodies like the monster from “The Hidden.”  This takes away the Friday the 13th feel to the killer. Steven, who is being prepped to be the comic’s hero in this issue, does very little besides get thrown around by Jason Cop and does ram a fire poker through the killer’s body. Diana seems like a sweet woman who wanted to be happy with a husband and a perfect life.  Too bad she was the main target of Jason who wants to have his little demon thing inside her…yeah, I know how that sounds. The Sheriff and the cops seem like closed minded small town good old boys, and if they are the main protection for the town when the blood hits the fan then I feel sorry for them all. First impression of Robert Campbell is jerk, and he has that Bill O’ Reilly sleaze factor to him. Creighton Duke is badass, and I can’t wait to see him more in action.  Out of everyone shown thus far, he is the only one who stands a chance of killing the hockey mask killer. The small dinner where Diana works is also a great small town attraction as they even make Jason Voorhees burgers and are milking all they can out of the killer’s “death”. The artwork in this series is done by Cynthia Martin and has the 90’s comic charm to it.  While I am not a super fan of this style, I still enjoy it for this comic. The cover is great and has Jason’s hockey mask on blac,k and best of all it glows in the dark…classic 90’s comic gimmick stuff…oh yeah, it also came with three Topps trading cards based on the film. So with issue one down, let’s move onto issue two as we continue our comic adaptation of “Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday”.

Jason Goes To Hell 2

Jason Goes To Hell # 2   **1/2
Released in 1993   Cover Price $2.95   Topps Comics   #2 of 3

Jessica along with her baby daughter Stephanie and her new boyfriend Robert Campbell have all come to town after her mothers murder, while Steven is locked up next to Creighton Duke who is now being held because they think he stole Diana’s body that is now missing form the morgue. Duke shares some info with Steven that explains Diana and Jessica are related to Jason, and he needs one of them to make himself reborn so he can be the strong killing machine once again. Steven escapes the jail and starts his quest to get to Jessica who has allowed her friend and her mom’s co-worker Vicki to watch her daughter who takes the baby to work with her at the diner. Steven goes to the old Voorhees house and watches as Robert Campbell talking to his producer admits to stealing Diana’s body and using Jessica just to get this big news story for his show, but his dreams of having high ratings is cut short as Jason Cop enters and now inserts the worm demon in Robert! Steven rushes to Jessica and kidnaps her and runs over Robert right in front of her.  The two argue, and Jessica breaks away and leaves Steven at the side of the road who is then in turn arrested again.  As Jessica is also at the police station, Jason Robert shows up kills the cops and tries to kill Jessica as Steven comes in and tries to stop her attack.

It’s a Voorhees family reunion as it’s revealed that Jessica and her child are relatives to Jason who wants nothing more than to put his worm demon inside Jessica’s mouth…yep, again I know how it sounds. While Jessica is a major part to this comic series plot, I really don’t feel that she is fleshed out and that’s a shame because in the film you find yourself liking her more so than here in this comic adaptation. Once more Robert Campbell shows that he is a total scumbag as he steals a dead body and uses a woman just because she can get him ratings on his trash TV show.  What a turd that you find yourself happy about when he dies and the Jason worm demon takes him over. Steven turns into a macho man as he breaks free from jail and tangles once more with Jason who was in the body of Robert this time around.  It’s a shame that in the story it’s explained that he walked away from Jessica because he found out she was going to have his baby…not cool, Steven, not cool. Creighton Duke takes a backseat in this issue and is used only as a source of information to give our hero Steven all the knowledge he needs to know. Most of the cops in the issue are useless and are taken out pretty fast by Jason Robert. One character in the comic that is not in the film is Vicki’s boyfriend who gets killed getting out of the shower after Jason Cop shows up to steal the baby that is no longer there and is at the dinner safe and sound in a cardboard box…yep. This issue has more kills, more blood, more cussing and more Worm Demon Jason than issue one and keeps the pace building.  So over all, this is not a bad issue. The art this time around is done by Bobby Rubio, and in my opinion is terrible and looks more like a sketchbook than a finished comic. The cover is pretty cool and has a woman just out of the shower looking into a mirror and seeing Jason behind her…classic slasher film stuff. Well we have one issue to go, so let’s dive into it and see if Jason really does go to hell!

Jason Goes To Hell 3

Jason Goes To Hell # 3  **1/2
Released in 1993   Cover Price $2.95   Topps Comics   #3 of 3

Steven and Jessica flee the police station.  As Jason Robert makes short work of the remaining cops, they make their way to the dinner to pick up baby Stephanie only to find that the owner of the diner is not having it because Steven being wanted for the death of Diana. Things get worse as Jason Robert shows up and kills everyone in the diner including Vicki, and baby Stephanie is missing! Jessica leaves Steven behind and rushes to the Voorhees house were Creighton Duke has the baby and explains to Jessica that she must kill Jason and send him to Hell once and for all. While talking to Duke, an accident happens and Duke falls through the floor and crashes to the basement as the sheriff and another cop show up and each are suspected of having the Jason demon inside them.  After a scuffle the sheriff dies and the other Cop picks up Stephanie and is clearly the Jason Demon! Steven shows up just in time and cuts off the cop’s head, freeing the worm demon who in turn gets into the dead body of Diana and poof the Hockey Mask killer Jason Voorhees is back! Jason kills Duke by snapping his back and then goes after Steven and Jessica, but as the legend goes Jessica is able to take Jason down with a dagger to the heart and with a final blow from Steven, Jason is taken to Hell by giant demon hands and just as they think its safe he pops back up and tries to drag Steven down with him! Jessica saves Steven and as they walk off together with baby in hand.  They are about to start their new family as Jason’s Hockey mask is pulled to hell by the razor gloved hand of Freddy Kruger.

Jason Voorhees is back by the last few pages of this comic, but sadly after throwing Steven around briefly he is taken down by the dagger of Jessica really quick and we never do get the full Jason effect! Though I will say that while better done in the film, the massacre at the diner is the brutal killing style that we all know and love coming from Jason even though he looks like a TV reporter. That is the only downside to this comic and even the film is that in our Friday the 13th media, we want Jason in all his glory not a body snatching worm demon. Steven, while very noble in wanting to save his love Jessica and his daughter, is just not a badass hero as much as he is a punching bag! In fact at the end when he is the one that hits the final blow to the dagger that sends Jason to Hell, I felt like he did not deserve it as that glory should have been given to Jessica. Speak of Jessica by this third and final issue its clear that she is more of the hero and is the only one who can kill Jason once and for all. Her character comes around and you find yourself liking her more so than in the past issue. The cops once more are just filler and human sacks of meat for Jason to get his body count higher as are the workers at the diner. Creighton Duke, while the information giver, is dogged out in the comic pretty bad as he goes down for the count really easy and Jason makes quick work of the bounty hunter. One thing that has always bothered me in both the film and the comic is when Jason Demon jumps into the final Cop’s body, why in the holy hell can he talk and sound just like the cop…now that’s some dumb bull stuff. The art is once more done by Cynthia Martin and look very 90’s, while the cover once more is well done and has Jason being pulled down to Hell by the demons. This is a pretty cool horror film comic adaptation and holds the cheese of the film really well.  The series had okay artwork and the story was a mix of the final film print, the script and the comic writers’ own take making for a good read. While it does not hold 100% true to the film it was based on, it still holds up as an average 90’s horror comic read and is worth checking out if you’re a fan of the Friday series.

I should also note that all three comics came with trading cards and truly show that it is a comic product of the 90’s where gimmicks ran wild. Oh yeah, I am sure you are wondering yes, it was cool to see Freddy’s Glove in comic form pull down the mask of Jason to Hell..and made you wish Topps would have pulled the trigger and made their own version of Freddy vs. Jason in a comic book. 

Jason Goes To Hell art 1Jason Goes To Hell art 2Jason Goes To Hell art 3

Topps Comics had a lot of guts bringing Jason Goes To Hell to comics and putting them out at your local comic shop next to Batman and X-Men.  While horror comics were being made, none of the big companies at the time were touching IP’s based on horror films so I give them a lot of respect for that. It’s a shame that Topps pulled the plug on their comic branch because I would have loved to seen what they would be working on now in 2014. While Jason Goes To Hell is not a great movie nor would I even say is it a cult classic, it is a fun cheesy film that tried to do something new with a horror icon that was running thin on ideas to keep itself fresh. While no one I knew bought into the gimmick of this being the last film in the series, it was still a fun event to think about. These past few updates have been filled with many spooky horrors from Frankenstein’s Monster to the hockey mask killer Jason, so our next one will be something a little less frightening as we take a look at Star Comics series based on the dolls The Hugga Bunch…oh wait, this might be more terrifying!! See you next update! 

Hugga Bunch Logo

I Want to Believe in The X-Files Season 1

Greetings, gentle readers of Rotten Ink, Juliet here. I’ve decided to take advantage of Matt’s longstanding invitation to do a guest post and give him a break after a busy Halloween season by exploring one of The X-Files comic series with you.

Hum the theme with me. Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo-doo...

Sing the theme with me. Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo-doo…

The X-Files premiered on September 10, 1993. Realizing that I was 10 when the show premiered 20 years ago this fall is the first thing to truly make me feel old. Although there were other shows I was a huge fan of as a child, The X-Files is the first and only show where I’ve watched ever single episode as it aired for the entire run of the show. It was without question my favorite show during its 9 year run and if pressed to pick an all-time favorite TV show, that’s my answer. There are plenty of shows I absolutely adore: The Avengers, The Rockford Files, Star Trek, Sports Night, Six Feet Under and my current TV crush, Fringe, but my affection for The X-Files simply cannot be matched. It’s everything I love in a show: some kind of detective or spy element (the more strange/covert, the better), strong female characters, the ability to be both dramatic and funny, an element of the supernatural or paranormal and, as my mom best put it, “a super complicated plot with plenty of twists and turns that you can babble on and theorize about nonstop.” But The X-Files was even more than those elements combined. As the seasons and the mythology progressed, I became so emotionally invested in the show. Both characters’ quests to believe in something whether it be aliens or religion, Scully’s battle with cancer and Mulder’s feeling of responsibility for putting her in harm’s way, the ideas of trust and truth and how both can be twisted and broken, these are the things that made it easy to become so completely invested in this show, to the point that I can still remember how devastating the end of season 4 was and how agonizing it was waiting all summer to find out whether or not it was going to be okay. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I won’t spoil it for you, though given that 5 more seasons and two feature films followed, I don’t know that you’ll be able to experience the uncertainty about that particular moment the way those of us watching in 1997 did.

Artist's rendering of my reaction to the end of Season 4.

Artist’s rendering of my reaction to the end of Season 4.

The X-Files was an important turning point in television for a lot of reasons: one of the first television shows to be released in season sets on DVD and as one of the 20th anniversary articles pointed out, one of the first shows whose fandom thrived on the internet yet one of the last shows set in present day where the internet was not yet an integral part of day to day life. More on the internet/fandom points in a bit. The X-Files DVDs are among my favorite items in my movie collection. I have the original run of giant, fat, fold out cases, and wouldn’t trade them for the world even though they take up an insane amount of shelf space . The season sets started coming out right around the time I got my first job in high school at a locally owned CD & DVD shop. I didn’t even own a DVD player when I began saving up and buying those sets with my employee discount (which still made them over 10 times as much as the sets cost nowadays).

They take up a mile of shelf space, but I love them.

They take up a mile of shelf space, but I love them.

Admittedly, even when I was younger, the thought crossed my mind that my infatuation with The X-Files would fade, and certainly the later seasons sometimes made the show hard to love. Both before and after The X-Files’ run, there were shows that began as my FAVORITEST.SHOW.EVER. That either got increasingly stupid (Lois & Clark) or increasingly repetitive (C.S.I. – more on that if Matt ever lets me write another one of these – which is really a promise and a threat). It says a lot about my attachment to show the and its characters that 20 years later, I can still not only watch it over and over on DVD, but am also still hoping that the oft-rumored third movie will one day materialize. I’d also be lying if I said my fangirl heart didn’t do a little flipflop upon seeing David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson’s latest Entertainment Weekly cover.

Seriously...look at them.

Seriously…look at them.

Ah, shipperdom.

Aren't they just the best?

Aren’t they just the best?

Wait, what? For those of you who know what I’m talking about, feel free to skip the next four paragraphs ahead or nod along as you read the testimony of your fellow nerd…as in Nerd…capital N. None of this trendy nerd business, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I say capital N Nerd because that’s seriously how I felt about fandom and shipperdom when I was younger – painfully nerdy. Of course, as a grown up, I’ve met many many people who are into fandom, hell, who taught me the term fandom, but as a younger person, it was at times isolating to be so.freaking.into. something in a way that goes beyond liking a TV show, movie, book series, etc. Remember, this is all happening right as the internet is very slowly becoming commonplace in people’s homes (yes, children, there was a time before we all had all of the internets at our fingertips 24-7). As I got older, it was amazing to meet people who shared this similar kind of obsessive love for a fictional series, whether it be the same series I loved or not, the first of these folks being my best friend Anne. When I met her in high school, Anne was super into the Buffy fandom, a love that she passed on to, and that I’ll write about at some future point. She’s also the person who introduced me to online fandom, which really opened up a whole world and connected me to people who were the exact type of obsessive, yet creative fan that I was previously so embarrassed to be.

I still have my copy of this one.

I still have my copy of this one.

The X-Files became my first formal foray into fanfiction, though, as I recently told another friend I had really been writing fanfiction from a very early age as a young Star Trek fan, though never really knew that there was name, let alone a community of people who write it. Fanfiction is another one of those weird to talk about things, especially because of the whole 50 Fifty Shades of Grey situation. And actually my discussion of fanfiction would be much better suited to a blog about C.S.I. So look forward to that at some point (again, if Matt ever lets me do this again). Now to return to the digression from which I digressed, what is shipperdom? Shippers are typically members of a fandom who are want to see or are supportive of two of the characters getting together in a romantic relationSHIP. It goes beyond just wanting to see the characters end up together though. If you’re a shipper (or at least this is how all of the shippers I know, including myself, are), you study every interaction between your pairing in a given episode. You look for the subtle, the subtext of the conversation; you analyze everything. It’s a huge emotional investment for many. If you happen to watch a show where there are two major but opposing ships (C.S.I. is a huge, personal example…again, more on that another time), it’s that much more intense. And remember, this is all for fun.

I have a never-ending supply of these.

Shipperdom is having a stockpile of pictures like this.

Again, if you’re into fandom and/or a shipper, I’m probably just hitting the tip of the iceberg. If you’re not, you just might be questioning my mental health and relationship to reality. Here’s my disclaimer in the simplest of terms possible: yes, as with anything else, there are people within the fandom community who don’t have a good handle on reality and thus form a unhealthy obsessive relationship with whatever fiction they’re a fan of. There are plenty of people, however, for whom even a seemingly obsessive relationship with fiction is relaxation, a creative exercise and is leisure-time and balances can be struck, line can be drawn between fandom, work, family, etc. So long-story short (too late): I was/am a Mulder-Scully shipper.

fa84c6adb5e9ff0111e8bfd7b18ef742

Duh.

You can imagine, I’m sure, my excitement when in the third theatrical trailer for the first film, Fight in the Future, it looks like we’re finally going to get the kiss we’ve all been waiting for. To be fair, that was only one of many things that had me completely hyped to see Fight the Future, and it’s one of those films I have a very distinct memory of seeing in the theater. I went with my dad (also a big fan of the show) to see it at the Beaver Valley Cinema (yes, the same theater Matt recently talked about in his rundown of now defunct independent movie houses). We had to see it at Beaver Valley because right when the film opened, there was some kind of issue with 20th Century Fox and Showcase Cinemas (at the time, the main first-run theater chain in the Dayton area), and I think the Showcases got the film a week or two late or it closed early. I can’t remember precisely how it all went down, I just remember that we felt lucky that Beaver Valley had the film because it was the only theater in the area showing it for a while. It was a packed house, and (SPOILER ALERT) coming back to the kiss, I will never forget the loud groan from the audience when Scully gets stung by the bee.

So that happened.

So that happened.

A side note about Fight the Future: its soundtrack remains one of my favorites to listen to front to back. The show soundtrack, Songs in the Key of X is also great, but the Fight the Future soundtrack is the perfect combination of dark, moody late 90s songs and some really unexpected covers (Filter’s rendition of “One,” anyone?). I just might be listening to it as I’m writing this…maybe…. Another side note: I was researching who wrote the Fight the Future paperback adaptation on Amazon, and a beekeeping book was the first item in the related searches. Ha!

The bees' big scene costarring Mulder and Scully.

The bees’ big scene costarring Mulder and Scully.

When Matt and I saw the second film, I Want to Believe, it was a nearly opposite experience. Although the film was available most everywhere, we were two of maybe five people in the entire theater, and I really ought to apologize to those 3 other people and to Matt because I may have been, uhm, a bit vocal about (more SPOILER ALERTS ahead) the lack of aliens, any mention of the 9 seasons of mythology, any acknowledgement of the fact that Mulder knows the date of colonization or comments about a certain infant. I have really mixed feelings about I Want to Believe. On one hand, it’s a miracle that it got made so long after the end of the show. The new content was a pleasant surprise and felt like a good extended episode that was not mythology related but served the characters well. On the other hand, for a fan who stuck with the show for 9 years of twists and turns in the mythology, sometimes brilliant and other times horrendous, it felt like such a betrayal to loyal fans to not even have a passing mention of what had come before. I understand the bind the writers were in; one of the flaws cited about Fight the Future was that it wasn’t very accessible for folks who didn’t know the show. Luckily when it came out, The X-Files was one of the most popular shows on TV. However, when I Want to Believe came out in 2008, The X-Files hadn’t been on TV for 6 years, and many loyal fans hadn’t even made it through the last 2 sans-Mulder seasons of the show or had only watched the admittedly lackluster series finale. So yes, including a lot of mythology in the main plot of I Want to Believe would have made an uphill battle of a film that much more difficult, but I feel like the message to diehard fans was, “well guys, at least you got another movie…”

And at least we got this.

And at least we got this.

There have been, of course, on-going rumors about a third X-Files film especially this year with the 20th anniversary giving the show renewed media coverage. Chris Carter, David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson have all been quoted as saying that they’d be interested in doing a third, but there’s been no movement from Fox yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if happens though. Despite years of rumors about a second film, I had just about given up hope when I Want To Believe materialized. Until then, we’ll have to settle with the season 10 comic series that’s currently being put out by IDW, which I’ll probably touch on in a future guest post once the series is a bit farther along.

Come on guys, that third movie can start filming any day now.

Come on guys, that third movie can start filming any day now.

But comics are why we’re here so let’s get onto it, shall we? Today I’m going to look at the Topps X-Files Season One tie-in comics as well as the comics for Fight the Future. During the show’s original run, Topps had a 41-issue main series of comics based on the X-Files with stories that different from what was on television. In the middle of this run, in 1996, they began to publish a special series of episode adaptations from season 1. The idea was actual to do comic adaptations of the whole show, but that fell through before the season 2 books were ever completed. We start with the Pilot, naturally.

PilotThe X-Files Season 1: Pilot   **1/2
 Released in 1997  Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   0 of 8

The following is inspired by actual eyewitness accounts. In Oregon, a young woman is found dead in the woods, and the authorities begin wondering if “it” is happening again. Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, a young FBI agent named Dana Scully receives her new assignment working with Fox “Spooky” Mulder on an unusual case docket known as the X-Files. These cases deal with the unexplained, the paranormal, and they’re Mulder’s passion in life. Scully’s job, per her superiors, is to use her scientific knowledge to debunk these cases, the first of which is figuring out who killed Karen Swenson, the young woman in Oregon. Mulder thinks this is a classic example of alien abduction, while Scully maintains there must be some logical explanation for what’s been happening to Karen and her fellow schoolmates from the notorious class of ’89. The truth is, of course, out there, but will our daring duo be able to figure it out before more kids are abducted?

Ah, the pilot episode. It will always have a special place in my heart. Although not the best story of the series, it’s certainly a strong start – better than many first pilots, and some first seasons of the average TV show. The comic version is an extremely faithful adaptation, to the point that X-Files creator Chris Carter is given the writer credit for the comic, while Topps’ Roy Thomas is merely credited for script adaptation. More on that later. John Van Fleet did both the cover and the interior art, while his style works for the cover, I’m not wild about the interiors. I get what he was going for with the shadowy, painted look, but it tends to look sloppy in more panels than not and doesn’t serve the story well. In 1997, your options for re-experiencing the pilot episode were to track it down on VHS, read the YA paperback adaptation or read this comic. But today, the DVDs are so readily available that if the comic doesn’t have anything to add, it’s hard to make a case for it over the actual episode. Let’s see how Deep Throat fares next.

 DeepThroat

The X-Files Season One: Deep Throat  *** 1/2
Released in 1997   Cover price $4.95   Topps Comics   1 of 8

There’s something strange going on with test pilots at Ellens Air Force Base, and Mulder takes it upon himself (and Scully) to investigate. But before they can get rolling, Mulder meets a mysterious man who advises him to drop the case, citing “a certain interest” in Mulder’s work. But that doesn’t stop Mulder’s quest for the truth, which puts he and Scully into harm’s way as well as the path of young UFO nuts, faux journalists, military wives and, perhaps, the spaceships they seek.

I always forget how much I really love this episode. It’s certainly not extraordinary like “Bad Blood,” “Jose Chung’s From Out Space,” and many of my other favorites, but it’s a strong episode. While the Pilot establishes the paranormal aspect of the show, and teases the conspiracy, Deep Throat ushers in the mythology that, for better or worse, would sustain the show for nine years. I think I especially connected with this one because of the idea of the Air Force pilots flying either UFOs or planes built with UFO technology because I grew up not far from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base where it’s rumored UFOs and or aliens were brought after the Rosewell crash. Hangar 18, anyone? Comic-wise, Roy Thomas gets a title change from Script Adaptation to Writer, and while the comic still doesn’t deviate from the television episode, that fact doesn’t seem so completely obvious this time around. What may have helped with that was the addition of Claude St. Aubin on pencils and Rick Magyar on ink. The art was so much better in this issue and served the story well. Mulder and Scully, for the most part, looked like Mulder and Scully, and the UFO scenes that were super dramatic onscreen looked really nice on the page. John van Fleet is back on the cover with a nice painting of our heroes.

Squeeze

The X-Files Season 1: Squeeze   ***
Released in 1997   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   2 of 8

People are getting their livers ripped out, and Scully’s former classmate is on the case. He asks her opinion on the case, and she and Mulder end up joining the investigation. The other FBI agents think their suspect, a name named Tooms, is a serial killer. Mulder posits he’s a 100+ year old genetic mutant who comes out of hibernation in his creepy newspaper nest to feed on livers every so often. Who’s right about the killer? Read and see.

This is one of those X-Files episodes that even people who didn’t watch the X-Files seems to know: that one with the guy that eats the livers. Actually they’re referring to two episodes because Eugene Victor Tooms is so delightfully creepy that he makes a comeback later in the season. Squeeze was the first Monster of the Week episode (the ones that were not connected to the mythology/conspiracy story), and we’ve once again got Roy Thomas writing the comic. Val Mayrick is on pencils this time around, and the art is good, but we’re back to a more painted coloring style. While it works on some pages, I still prefer the artwork from Deep Throat. John Van Fleet did two covers this time: one of Tooms and one of Mulder and Scully. Overall, it was really hard to capture the super creepy vibe of this episode on the page, especially those last few minutes that were so effective on screen.

Conduit

The X-Files Season 1: Conduit   **1/2
Released in 1997   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   3 of 8

A girl vanishes in a flash of light and her little brother claims to have the key to her disappearance. While the validity of the X-Files division is debated, Mulder finds him drawn to this case from reasons beyond the surface paranormal occurrences that are very similar to an important event from his childhood.

For being such an important episode, this is one I often forget about. Or maybe it’s that I take it for granted. After so many years of being a fan, it’s just ingrained in me that Mulder’s sister got abducted that I tend to forget when we actually learned that for the first time (hint: it was in this episode). This is also the first time “I Want To Believe” takes on a greater meaning beyond the UFO poster on the wall of the basement office. Roy Thomas is once again our writer. Upon further investigation, I found out that he wrote the comics based on the episode scripts and then would watch the episode to confirm that everything matched up correctly. So that explains the near perfect adaptation of the story/lack of additional scenes. On the art end of things we’ve got our fourth artist in four issues with Sean Scoffield on pencils. He’s a little sketchier than the others, but still okay. I do like John Van Fleet’s cover for this one.

Ice

The X-Files Season 1: Ice  **
Released in 1998   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   4 out of 8

Mulder and Scully are sent to a remote Arctic research station to investigate what’s making the team members freak out and kill each other. A prehistoric worm is the culprit, but things get complicated when our agents are stuck at the station with the remaining scientists and no one knows who precisely is infected.

With issue 5 of the comic, we’re now going out of air order for the episodes. I do like this episode. It’s another Monster of the Week (though when you consider Fight the Future, it might almost fit into the mythology), and it’s got a guest appearance from Felicity Huffman, though if you were to rely on the art for the comic, you wouldn’t know it was her. John Van Fleet’s back on the cover and interiors. So things are bit, uhm, painty in the image department. Roy Thomas is once again writing so the story is tight like the episode its based on.

Space

The X-Files Season 1: Space   ****
Released in 1998  Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   5 of 8

Mulder and Scully are sent to investigate a potential saboteur of a space shuttle mission. The mission’s supervisor is experiencing flashbacks from a 1977 Mars mission during which it appeared that a face was sculpted onto the planet’s surface. But soon others on the mission are seeing the ghostly face. Is it a message from another world or simply a man at the end of his rope?

e359f8ed7520d7c0d5475d2bd2494d4d

Alright guys, I’m going to level with you. This comic really surprised me. The episode as it aired was extremely lackluster. In fact, it’s regarded as one of the weakest in the first season and is reported to be Chris Carter’s least favorite. What was boring on screen actually almost works better in the comic format. What was way too slow on the screen seems to be better told on the page. Roy Thomas once again writes and Alexander Savink delivers some really nice artwork, which I think also lends to the good storytelling. John Van Fleet’s cover is one of my favorites of the Season One series, in part because it’s simple and striking. I really expected that getting through this one would be a total chore. I was happy that wasn’t at all the case.

Fire

The X-Files Season One: Fire   ***
Released in 1998   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   6 of 8

An arsonist is targeting British ex-pat aristocrats and is able to make them seemingly spontaneously combust. Mulder and Scully are lured into the case by Mulder former flame (see what I did there?), Phoebe Green. The arsonist poses a caretaker at the vacation home of his next target while Mulder and Scully race to identify the criminal. Oh, and did I mention that Mulder is afraid of fire?

The overwhelming theme of this is one that you hate Phoebe Green, which I think is the point. She’s a rival for Mulder’s affections and therefore she must go. Granted, she’s significantly less annoying in the comic than she was onscreen. Speaking of being less annoying, for once John Van Fleet’s artwork serves the story well. The super painty style makes the fire look really menacing and all-encompassing. The cover, also done by Van Fleet is really nice – one of the standouts of the series along with Space.

BeyondTheSea

The X-Files Season One: Beyond the Sea  ***1/2
Released in 1998   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   7 of 8

A young couple is kidnapped and Luther Boggs, a serial killer on death row, claims to have had psychic visions that can help the police. While in the midst of this investigation, Scully is dealing with the death of her father and some visions of her own. Boggs tries to convince her that he can channel her dead father, while Mulder is injured trying to track down the kidnapper.

This is one of those great character episodes that added a lot of depth and background to Scully. The comic does a good job of interpreting it, and the artwork pairs really nicely with the story. Scott Scoffield is on pencils this time around. The coloring is done to look painted, almost in Alex Ross’ style (maybe capitalizing on the success of Kingdom Come?), which serves the story really well. I was wondering how they’d capture Boggs’ creepy vibe in the art, and this seems to have done the trick. John Van Fleet’s on cover duty again; this one is okay, but not the one of the better of the series.

Shadows

The X-Files Season One: Shadows  **
Released in 1998   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   8 of 8

Mulder and Scully are brought into a strange case involving two men found dead with their throats crushed from the inside. The men are found to have ties with a terrorist organization and are linked to a women named Lauren who seems to have some force protecting her.

This was one of those rather forgettable episodes, and the comic is much of the same. If I could trade this one in for a comic adaptation of Eve, consider it done. John Van Fleet’s on cover and interior artwork, but this time his interiors are really different. They’re way sketchier than his other work, lots of pencil hatching instead of blobby painty coloring. I know that they had planned to do all of season 1 and into season 2, but this was such a lackluster way to end this run.

Speaking of plans for continuing the episode tie-ins, I find it interesting that the comics did not go in order of the air dates and that they completely skipped some of the episodes. Part of me is not bothered that they skipped Jersey Devil and Ghost in the Machine, though I’d be curious to see if the latter could’ve been better served by a comic like Space. It’s totally disappointing, however that they skipped Fallen Angel and Eve, the former such a important building block in the early days of the series mythology. Speaking of mythology, how about a bonus review in the form of the comic adaptation for Fight the Future.

 23_311182_0_TheXFilesToppsComics

The X-Files: Fight the Future  **
Released in 1998   Cover Prize $5.95   Topps Comics   1 of 1

It all begins with cavemen (doesn’t it always?), but soon we are in modern times in Northern Texas, the very land where the cavemen walked hundreds of years ago where children now play and fall down holes that may be the ancient home of a certain living black oily substance. With the X-Files closed down at the end of season 5, Mulder and Scully are investigating a bomb threat at a federal building in Texas. The building explodes, and our heroes quickly realize that all is not what it seems. What follows is a twisted tale into the heart of the conspiracy filled with bees, cornfields, black oil, more bees at really inopportune times, and a giant UFO in the middle of the arctic.

If it’s not already obvious, I love Fight the Future. I’ve seen the movie more times than I can count, have read the paperback adaptation more times than any sane person should, and yet, somehow I missed out on the comic adaptation until now. So I was really excited to see what the comic treatment would be for such a complex story. How could they cram that much story into a 56 page comic? Well, I’ll tell you how: by formatting the darn thing like an intermediate reader for kids with paragraphs of text and a few pictures on each page. LAME. Seriously, what a disappointment. The page count is just enough to cram all of text in, but not really enough to give the story a thorough treatment. Give me the paperback any day. John Rozum did the story adaptation and our old pal John Van Fleet did the artwork, which is sometimes pretty nice and others really just too dark and indistinguishable. The stuff in the arctic in particular is really hard to parse out what’s happening if you don’t know the movie extremely well. If you’re not a super fan, I don’t recommend wasting your time with this one.

I wasn't kidding about the cornfields

They did WHAT to the comic adaptation of the movie?! (Also, she wasn’t kidding about the cornfields)

Thus concludes my brief journey into the comic world of The X-Files. Provided I haven’t scared away all of Matt’s readers, I may return at some point to cover the original Topps run of X-Files comics (that don’t have episode tie-ins) and explore other titles that I enjoy. In the meantime, I return you to his capable hands when next time he’ll be telling you all about the comics based on Steve Reeves’ Hercules movies. And remember: the truth is out there!

Hercules logo

Battle of The Horror Legends! Brought To You By Topps

When I was a kid I used to love to buy packs of trading cards, and while sometimes they would be sports, I would mostly target the cards based on movies or TV shows.  9 out of 10 times the cards I would buy would be from Topps who always gave you a stick of gum and a sticker in packs based on films like The Goonies. As I got older I got away from collecting cards and turned my nerdy collecting ways toward things like movies, video games and comics. But sometime in 2012 things switched, and I found myself buying and collecting base card sets and started to buy sets based on Superman, Incredible Hulk and even WWF Wrestling and as quick as it started it faded again as a hobby. But what makes cards so cool? Is it the great image on the fronts with the cheesy lines or is it the back that gives some history of what the card you’re holding means or even a puzzle piece?  Whatever it is, I hope that the hobby doesn’t fade away and when I have kids they can enjoy the simple pleasure of opening a new pack of cards. So with that let’s look at Topps as a company.  It was founded in 1938 and was a spin off from the old company American Leaf Tobacco.  After World War I left the parent company broke, the sons of the owner Abram, Ira, Philip and Joseph Abram took over the company and changed its name to Topps and began making bubble gum, and one of the most popular items they made being Bazooka Bubblegum that featured a character named Bazooka Joe in a mini comic strip that was included with the stick of gum. The brothers then had an idea; to help gum sales they would include trading cards of Hopalong Cassidy, a famous TV western character and this blew up into making cards for all types of things over the years.  From baseball players to rock bands like the Beatles to movies like Rocky and TV Shows like Star Trek to cartoons like Masters of the Universe, Topps owned the trading card market! Topps also tried their hand at other products like candy, posters and even comics (we will get into that a little later), but even when times got rough Topps still was able to hold strong and is still considered the top of the food chain when it comes to sports cards. I for one have many fond memories of opening up wax packs of cards and being happy to see the sticker I got as a munched on the gum. So here is to Topps for making great memories to so many kids from so many decades in time.

1991Topps baseballtopps donkey kong cardstopps masters of the universe cardstopps star trek cardsTOPPS TMNT 2 CARDStopps goonies cardsTopps WWF cardstopps supergirl cards

Topps had taken over the trading card market, and in 1992 they made an announcement that they would now be getting into the comic book one with the opening of Topps Comics. The following year in 1993 the first comics were to come out that were based on ideas and drawings from then retired comic master Jack Kirby who came up with such heros as Bombast, Captain Glory and NightGlider for a made up universe that was called The Kirbyverse.  Sales were just okay, and the series failed to make that big of a splash they were hoping for. Topps also went for blood against Marvel and DC by buying up licenses to make comics based on such shows as The X-Files, Xena Warrior Princess, ExoSquad and Duckman. They also went for classic characters like Lone Ranger and Zorro and gobbled up films like Jurassic Park, Jason Goes To Hell and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But only a few comics seemed to have the sales they needed, and quickly as they started Topps closed the comic branch in 1998. But before they left the game, they did give us horror comic fans some amazing and fun stuff such as Jason vs. Leatherface, a twisted Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre crossover, Dracula vs. Zorro pitting the masked hero against the vampire king, Dracula Vlad The Impaler a fiction look at the man who spawned the vampire legend and the series we are going to review this go around The Frankenstein Dracula War a comic that has the world’s most famous monsters clashing. And all this is a drop in the hat of some of the cool comics this company put out. I can remember my brother and I going to comic shops and buying Topps Comics off the newsstands. Some day I hope Topps once again gets the urge to come back to the comic world and unleashes the same wild and fun ride they did back in 93.

Xfiles 1satan six 1Topps Comics LogoLady Rawhide 1Jurassic Park 0

Dracula has met the Frankenstein Monster in many films such as Universals House of Dracula and even Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, not to mention in the USA the Paul Naschy film Los Monstruos del Terror was changed to be Dracula vs. Frankenstein (also known as Assignment Terror). One of the most infamous ones was directed by Al Adamson who was the master of drive-in movie shlock called Dracula vs. Frankenstein and in this film he also had aging horror icons Lon Chaney Jr. who was deathly ill and J. Carrol Naish who was also not in good health. The film was released in 1971 and was about a mad doctors want to bring The Monster back from the dead and makes a deal with Dracula that if he brings the Monster back he will get a serum that will make him immortal. The deal goes south and ends with a fight in the woods that leaves The Monster ripped apart and Dracula running for his life as the sun is coming up. This film is a turkey but such a fun watch.  Troma Entertainment, the same folks who gave us Toxic Avenger and Mother’s Day, also put out this film on VHS and DVD. The acting is terrible and watching Chaney and Neish act in this film as ill as they were is heartbreaking. Zandor Vorkov plays the Bearded and echo voiced Count Dracula as John Bloom played the bloated faced Frankenstein Monster. This film was made for horror hosting, and if you have some spare time and want to watch a cheesy film you might wanna give this one a shot.

jafrdrdracula vs frankenstein posterdracfrank000

The Topps Comic “The Frankenstein Dracula War” was a series I was hooked on from the start, and I remember buying the first issue from a small comic shop in Centerville, Ohio and becoming obsessed with trying to get every issue the day it came out.  This included going to a number of shops and trying to ask any worker when the next issue was coming out. And like clockwork my Mom, Dad and Brother would take me to the local comic shops to find these issues. I even remember writing a letter to Topps Comics hoping to see my letter in the next issue, but sadly they never published it. I mean this comic series had it all for me two classic monsters from the past fighting and lots of over the top gore. One year I sold my comics to a store I was working for called Replay Media and only kept a few comics from my collection, and you guessed it The Frankenstein Dracula War was one of the sets I kept. This series meant so much to me in my youth, and I used to tell fellow comic kids about this fun series so let’s see if it still holds that charm to this day.  But before we do, let’s take a quick look at both monster characters. First up will be the vampire prince Count Dracula.

dracula art

Count Dracula was the creation of novelist Bram Stoker who based his vampire around real life Romanian leader Vlad Tepes aka Vlad The Impaler who used to impale his victims on wood stakes and dip his bread into their blood among other cruel acts. Dracula in the novel was very odd looking and not an attractive man at all, it wasn’t until Bela Lugosi played him in the 1931 Universal film that Dracula became the suave good looking blood sucker that has stuck with the character ever since.  Other actors who played the part of Dracula on the silver screen include Christopher Lee, Gary Oldman, George Hamilton, John Carradine, Jack Palance, Udo Kier, Frank Langella and Leslie Nielsen to name a few. Dracula’s powers include being able to change into other things like a wolf, bat and mist.  He is super strong and is skilled in fighting due to his past.  He is also very smart and can hypnotize people into doing is bidding . His weaknesses are sun light, if one beam of light hits him he burns, garlic, holy water and crosses act as a repellent and make it so he keeps away from you.  He can be killed by being beheaded or a wooden stake driven into his heart. Over all Dracula is one vampire you don’t want to mess with.

Son of Frankenstein art

Frankenstein’s Monster was created by Marry Shelley one stormy night as she and some friends exchanged scary stories.  The Monster in the novel is very grotesque and is nick named Adam and has a mean streak that is different from how movies and shows depict him as being misunderstood, and yes in the book we also get a hint of that. In 1931 actor Boris Karloff played The Monster in the Universal classic film Frankenstein, and alongside make up genies Jack Pierce they created the look and actions of The Monster that is the standard look and thought of the character to this day. The Monster in the film was very misunderstood and while having a mean streak he also had a sad side, just wanting to find compassion and love. Other actors to play The Monster include Lon Chaney Jr. Glenn Strange, Robert De Niro, Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Charles Ogle, Peter Boyle and many more. The Monster’s powers are his brute strength and his near inability to die! His weakness is his fear of fire and his slow reflexes and almost sinister child-like brain. The Monster is a force to be reckoned with!  

d vs f vhs

But all the powers and weaknesses are dependent on who is writing about those character.  So while on paper Dracula looks like he has the edge, it could not be the case in this comic series. Before we movie onto The Frankenstein Dracula War, I would like to take a moment and share some info on the second film I ever shot.  It was a sequel to the first film I shot, and this film was called “Werewolf of Ohio 2: 10 Years Before.” After finishing Werewolf of Ohio in 2001 and also working on the short films One Second Too Late directed by by Josh Weinberg and helping and being deleted from Nightmare, a film my brother Bryan directed, it came time for me to grab my VHS camera again and head back into the woods to tell another tale of The Wolfman from Ohio.  I always had an idea to do a sequel that would pick up after the events of Josh’s suicide from the first film and follow a new hero who was being tormented by the werewolf rampage after his girlfriend was murdered by the beast. I was going to cast my friend Jason Gilmore as the lead and his then girlfriend Andrea Seay as the character’s girlfriend, but the plans changed as schedules and fighting among the real life couple canceled that idea. I then returned to the idea of mixing The Wolfman into the Suicide film series we made and decided it was not a good idea. The next idea was to have a werewolf hunter come to Ohio and try and track and kill the beast and this idea was heavily inspired by the 1987 TV Show called Werewolf.  The hunter was going to be my pal Dave Wean or Matt Hoffman but this idea was killed when my brother Bryan and our pal and fellow filmmaker Andy Copp pushed for the return of Josh Weinberg as Josh.  So began the idea of a prequel that combined several of the above mentioned ideas into one “epic” no budget shot on video movie. So I spent time and thought out an idea that would have Josh going out and hunting with a trained werewolf hunter along side a film school student who is brought along to film the hunt. I then added in Josh’s dead sister Kanny to the mix who was a ghost and spoke to Josh via his mind. I spent weeks in Independent B Movie Studio writing the script on an outdated PC, trying to tie in all these ideas and deaths together, and finally after a few rewrites I had the script I wanted. So with the script written, I went and cast the roles.  Besides Josh returning, so did Brandon Womeldorff who played The Camera Man once more.  I also returned as not only the Director of the film but also as The Wolfman and as the special effects guy. New to the cast was The Wolf Hunter played by Matt Hoffman, and this character would later go on to spawn his own series of films.  The beautiful Sarah Yates played Kanny who was a young lady I worked with at Blockbuster Video.  Patrick Neeley played The Modern Gypsy as well as did the title song again and many more friends joined the cast to be killed off by the killer werewolf that included Jason Gilmore, Garrison Kane, Chris Weinberg, Rosetta Workman and Jeff Ricks to name a few. So now it was all in place, the camera batteries were charged and now it was time for me to make a movie once more! We shot the film during the summer, and man was it a hot one.  I can remember the sweat just pouring out of the Wolfman mask as I acted out the scenes.  Needless to say I drank a lot of water and Mountain Dew during the filming of this movie just to stay hydrated.The filming was quick paced, and we filmed numerous scenes in a day.  I can remember we had to drive all over as the story took us to many homes and many woods in the area, and my cast were troopers barely complaining of the heat and the long filming days. This was also the first film that I did actual special effects that were taught to me by Andy Copp himself, but I will touch up on that a little later. Matt Hoffman stole the show with his performance as The Wolf Hunter who in the script was pretty much a throw away character, but he was so happy to get a role that didn’t make a wimp out of him that he went in a 110% with his performance. Josh Weinberg cheesed up his performance to deliver some laughs and did a good job for the most part. Josh was also the only major cast member to not read the script and came unprepared to most of the shoots causing for many missed filmed scenes. When the film was done Brandon, Hoffman, Weinberg and myself went back to Fairmont Highschool where our old teacher K.B.let us edit the film in two days, making it that my second film was done and ready for the masses to watch and enjoy.

Oh I guess I should tell you the plot: Josh wakes up to find that his whole family has been killed by a werewolf (Wolfman) and hires a film student only known as Camera Man and a world famous werewolf hunter The Wolf Hunter to hunt down and kill the beast that has ruined his life. Along the quest Josh gets help from a modern day gypsy and the voice of his dead younger sister Kanny. But all the while The Wolfman is killing around town and has a helping hand as well as a man in a skull mask seems to be watching out for this blood thirsty creature. In the end the two sides must have a showdown in the woods that will leave everyone scared.   

Werewolf of Ohio 2 VHS

The film when done, it first was screened at Patrick Neeley’s house in front of every member of the Independent B Movie family, and to my surprise they all liked it! While the film had flaws and some odd music moments that in spots made the audio hard to hear, the film got the group’s seal of approval. The next screening was at sister and brother Rosetta and Chris Workman’s house and it screened in front of not only them but Andy Copp, Rick Martin, my brother Bryan and Dave Wean and once more they seemed to have fun watching the cheese shot on video werewolf film. Josh Weinberg began working on the VHS cover and came up with a design that featured the three hero of the film with a photoshopped version of Kanny placed in the middle on a red back ground with the title wrote out in white letters.  At the time we thought it looked cool, but looking back it was a terrible looking cover! We traveled around conventions selling this title on VHS and to our surprise it sold really well even to this day the VHS copy of Werewolf of Ohio 2 is the best selling title Independent B Movie ever released! This title also got us some fans, and even Chris Seaver of Low Budget Pictures enjoyed the no budget full moon romp. After the film’s release we even heard rumors of this film showing at parties and people loving the high camp of the film.  I can remember one day being at a United Dairy Farmers with my girlfriend Misty at the time and being recognized by a worker as the guy who made Werewolf of Ohio. You can imagine my shock and pride at that moment as he told me how much fun he and his friends have watching the film. Thats one thing I have always been glad about is that the people that watched this film got the fact it was meant to be a fun cheesy z-grade horror film that was laced with dumb humor. One question I do get about the film is who the hell was Skullman and why the hell is he in it, and I will answer that question soon! Most of the Werewolf of Ohio legacy is based around this film and it gained even more of a fan base than the original, and while both are very small it still has a fan base none the less. Oh and another fun thing that I was always teased about was that many people thought that the Josh character was in love and had a incestuous relationship with his sister Kanny, when in fact it was more of my writing that made this seem that way because I was the one with the crush on Sarah who played the part. 

Wolfman 2Werewolf Ohio 2 main castSkullmanKanny

One of the major complaints we had about the first Werewolf of Ohio was the lack of blood.  While originally I was aiming for the 1941 Universal Monster classic The Wolf Man, in the sequel people wanted The Howling. Now at this point I knew very little about special effects and when blood was used in films before this, it was ketchup or hot sauce poured on one of my friends heads.  This all changed after this film as Andy Copp director of such films as Mutilation Man, Black Sun and Atrocity Circle had already taken me under his wing and was teaching me so much more about filmmaking.  He also took the time to teach me about special effects and gave me his blood recipe and his secrets of how to make chunks of flesh on victims. Andy Copp was my film mentor and a great friend who spent time trying his best to teach me the do’s and don’ts of film making, and as we got older I think he also respected my opinions on film making. Sadly Andy passed away in Jan 2013, and I lost a dear friend and a person that believed in me and all the things I do.  He truly was a great man. I will talk more about this loss of a Independent icon of cinema and how he guided me into the filmmaker I am today at another time. But in the film, with the secrets Andy taught me, I was able to pull off multiple neck bites and even some gut ripping.  While the effect look 100% backyard they were still effective and helped add to the over all feel of the film. Below are some behind the scenes pics of the effects that were done on friends and cast members Chris Weinberg, Jason Gilmore, Jeff Ricks, Patrick Neeley and Matt Hoffman.

Chris WeinbergJason GilmoreJeff RicksPatrick NeeleyMatt Hoffman

After feeling good and the “success” of Werewolf of Ohio 2, we moved onto other film projects as I toyed around with the idea of a third film in the series, and serious thought about it when “fans” started asking for it. The idea I had for the third in the series would have The Wolfman running around even worse in the state of Ohio killing and chasing people from their homes as The Skullman is shown to be a warlock who feeds off the panic and death the werewolf creates. But in town now would be Chasity, the true love of The Wolfman, who was shown via a painting in part two, who is a witch who also had ideas of chaos for her one time hairy lover. Meanwhile The Camera Man finds out that Josh was not dead after the attempted suicide of the first film and together they once more get the help of a new werewolf hunter named Bjorn and set out to finally end the evil of the werewolf of Ohio. Josh Weinberg was set to come back as Josh, Brandon Womeldorff was set to play The Camera Man once more and even Matt Hoffman would have played The Wolf Hunter as a ghost. New to the cast would have been Andrea Seay who would have played Chasity, Dave Wean was to play Bjorn and Patrick Neeley going as Bela Chaney would have put the skull mask on and played Skullman. The film was set to be the final film and we even spoke to Chris Seaver about in the end having Teen Ape and Bonejack in cameos coming to join the hunt to kill The Wolfman, not to mention the films gore effects were to be stepped up a notch as was the look of The Wolfman who would have also had transformed hands and wore a trench coat. The film had a half written script as we took pre-production stills and even filmed a teaser trailer with The Wolfman attacking a young couple in a park, as well as shots of other character acting out scenes. But sadly the film fell apart as we shifted away from rubber mask werewolf films and aimed for more slasher style flicks that were selling well for no budget directors at the time. The film would be on and off again for years but never would see the light of home TV screens as the film was officially cancelled in 2007. Below are some pics from the production that show The Wolfman’s new look, Josh Weinberg’s return as Josh, Hoffman as The Wolf Hunter’s Ghost and Patrick as Skullman as well as Andrea Seay as Chasity.

Wolfman 3Josh 3Wolf Hunter 3Skullman 3Chasity

In 2012 Warlock Home Video run by Chris Seaver and The Warlock asked us if they could re-release Werewolf of Ohio on VHS and for the first time on DVD for their classic shot on video line of films, and we jumped at the chance to get this film out into the world once more. And instead of the series being two films we cut them into one film and even added shots from the unfinished part three given viewers the full Werewolf of Ohio viewing experience. We even went out and shot new footage for the DVD’s main menu, and man it felt odd and weird putting on the old Wolfman costume and attacking my lovely friend Jaimie in the same woods we shot both the films at. Not to mention Josh and I took new pics of ourselves as the characters we played way back for the first time in 1999. Oddly enough it sparked my want to make a new Werewolf of Ohio film for Warlock, and if any of you readers would like to see me return as The Wolfman and torment Ohio, let me know and maybe we can work out a deal with Warlock and make a new film possible. From what I hear the sales of the rerelease have been pretty good, and Game Swap in Kettering sold out of its stock. Oh yeah and my friend Eric Shonborn did the cover for the Warlock VHS and DVD release and did an amazing job!

WolfManWerewolf Of Ohio DVD Cover Josh

So now its time to take a look at a fight that is not a battle but a war as two of the world’s biggest icons of horror clash in an all out blood feud. I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material. So with that let’s get ready to rummmmmmmbbbbbbbllllleeeeeeee!

frankenstein dracula war 1

The Frankenstein Dracula War # 1  ***
Released in 1995   Cover Price $2.50   Topps Comics   #1 of 3

Count Dracula wants the lovely Mirka’s hand in marriage, but her fathers is disgusted with everything Dracula and his family stand for and is even more shocked when he refuses to let his daughter marry him and the Count turns into a bat and flies away into the night. This leaves the father no choice but to try and kill Dracula the next morning to break the spell he has on his daughter. Meanwhile in a small village in the Transylvanian Alps, a group of French soldiers, led by the cruel Monsieur Massacre, are killing villagers and taking what they want until dark haired beauty Irena rushes home and gets The Frankenstein Monster whom she lives with to come with her and stop the massacre in the village. Upon arriving, The Monster makes a fool out of Monsieur Massacre and manhandles the blood thirsty soldier in front of his men.  The Monster is stopped from a fire ball thrown by an alchemist solider named Count Saint-Germain who is looking for the heart of Count Dracula so that he may continue to live forever as his last batch of live forever juice is running out, and he forces The Monsters hand to help by holding Irena hostage. While at Castle Dracula, the Count has changed Mirka into a vampire and together they kill her father and his men who have came to end the curse. It ends with The Monster going to the castle and being welcomed by Count Dracula himself.

This issue is clearly a quick way to make it so that Frankenstein’s Monster is forced to go after and kill Count Dracula and what better way then to use a woman as the bait to get what you need done. The Monster is a 8 foot tall, stitched together yellow skinned, long stringy haired skinny man made monster who is as strong as an ox who seems to not really care for mankind besides Irena who has taken him in after telling him he dark secret that she poisoned and killer her father and brother. Irena herself is not given much but her backstory of a woman scorn by her family who raped her is sure to become more of an interesting character. Count Dracula, in this series, is a grey haired suave man who is equally as cruel as he is charming, and seems to take much from Vlad The Impaler who he is based on as he uses wooden stakes to impale his new bride’s father and his friends. His new bride Mirka is not fleshed out.  At this point all we know is that she is a vampire now and was in the trance of Dracula. The only other major character in this issue would be Count Saint-Germain, a man you can tell is as sinister as Dracula and only cares about his own wants, to continue to live forever.  He is one character you want to see get his in the end. Over all this issue’s story is a great way to rush in the back stories of The Monster and Dracula and add in some flare with lovers for each.  Plus they add fights for both Dracula and The Monster showing you what both can do in hand to hand combat.  In this issue I would give the upper hand to Dracula as he seems more violent and sadistic in his fighting nature. The story is great, the art is good and the cover is done by the great Mike Mignola of Hellboy fame so this is a solid issue to start the war with.  Let’s see how issue two holds up for me.

Frankenstein Dracula War 2

The Frankenstein Dracula War # 2   ***
Released in 1995   Cover Price $2.50   Topps Comics   #2 of 3

The Monster and Dracula square off.  The vampire underestimates the power of The Monster who is trying to cut out his cold heart with a silver dagger, but while getting the upper hand The Monster makes the mistake of chasing Dracula who traps him in a cage like a rat. Dracula in mist form takes the appearance of The Monster and tricks Count Saint-Germain, Monsieur Massacre and the rest of his men into coming into the castle to get the “heart” of Dracula.  The vampire makes short work of the men, but he is then over powered by the magic of Saint-Germain who when about to cut out the heart of the vampire is attacked by The Monster who escaped the cage and realized he had more in common with Dracula than this evil man and together they kill Saint-Germain and Massacre and save Irena. Count Dracula and The Monster begin an odd friendship that turns sour when Mirka hits on The Monster and is turned down.  She in turns tricks Dracula into feeding on Irena and turning her into a vampire that The Monster must kill to set her soul free and now the true war is on!

This issue starts off with a fight the has The Monster clearly winning as Dracula seems to have finally meet his match, but he ends up getting the victory by using his brain and out smarting the man made monster. Once they have a friendship in place, The Monster seems more loyal to his love for Irena and his new friend Dracula when he turns away Mirka’s advancements. Dracula on the other hand is cocky as ever as he chooses to feed over this friendship and loyalty to The Monster. Irena gets a fitting death as she is killed by the thing that loves her and it listens to her pleas to be killed rather then becoming a blood sucker. Mirka is a bitch who set this all up cause she didn’t want to be told no – hey wait I have a few ex-girlfriends like that. Plus Count Saint-Germain gets his in this issue, and it’s rewarding watching him get his by the hands of both monsters. The way this issue ends with The Monster screaming Dracula’s name in anger letting you know that in the final issue the gloves are off and that these two titans of terror or going to throw down until one of them is dead. Issue two holds up really well, and I will say the storyline is still solid and the art is as good as last issues as is the cover, still done by Mike Mignola, making this issue still as good as I remember it being the day it came out.  So with that let’s get into issue 3 the final battle in this war.

frankenstein Dracula War 3

The Frankenstein Dracula War # 3  ***
Released in 1995   Cover Price $2.50   Topps Comics   #3 of 3

The Monster beheads and buries the body of Irena and heads to Castle Dracula where he calls upon and fights female vampire Mirka.  He proceeds to mutilate and kill her and takes her head as his first act of war of the Vampire King. As Dracula returns home from feeding, he is greeted by The Monster who throws the head of his lover at him, and the two go to war! The fight has Dracula taking many different forms from mist to a bat like creature to his human appearance and has the two fighting as the castle around them falls apart and catches fire. After a battle that leaves both of them bleeding and worn down the war ends as both know that they cannot truly kill one another. Dracula goes on living in a crypt with three new brides, and The Monster heads to Greece with the hopes of someday making himself a mate.

Issue three is all about the battle and from almost start to finish is the two monster fighting it out, and man when they fight, they go hard. Dracula once more seems to have the upper hand in abilities but also always underestimated the power and will of The Monster who has one fighting speed and that’s go. In the war neither monster wins, and both have losses as The Monster loses his love and Dracula loses his bride and castle. This final issue was a perfect way to end the war and had enough action and drama to keep you hyped as you turned the page.  Plus it was left open for a second war that sadly never came. The story was well written, and the art throughout the comic series was well done and eye catching, and after all these years in 2013 I still find this three issue mini series to be as good as it was when it was released in 1995. Topps Comics is one of the fallen comic companies that I would have loved to see stick around to this day and see what new and cool issues they would be putting out.  Other companies I would like to have seen make it include Fangoria Comics, Chaos Comics, Atlas and of course Star. Fans of both classic monsters will find this series a fun read and should enjoy the over the top gore and epic battles. Over all this series is A+ in my book!

The Monster heart broken

So with that I am going to do the fantasy warfare of the two iconic characters, and I will say how I see the fight going and who would win. So to me when I think of both Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster I think of the 1931 Universal films that had Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Boris Korloff as The Monster.  So that’s who this battle will be between, and the setting will be the outskirts of a small village in Romania. So let’s go back in time and see a classic battle between the worlds top monsters.

Frankensteins MonsterVSDracula

The Frankenstein’s Monster is shuffling through the woods trying to avoid mankind and to find a place to rest his worn down body.  The sun is going down as The Monster finds a run down gate that leads to a massive castle. He walks forward as the rain starts to come in as the sun goes down, and the moon is now shinning as he walks up the staircase a wolf howl can be heard from a distance in the woods he is leaving behind. As the monster pushes the wooden front door open and then slowly closes it, he is met with a pale figure dressed in a black suit and a cape who moves fast for the attack knocking The Monster through the door shattering it into splinters as both fall into the rain soaked ground. The Monster knocks Dracula off him as the vampire King starts to question why the brute has come to his castle.  The Monster just growls and walks toward his now new enemy as Dracula jumps quick on The Monster again and sinks his fangs into the neck of the stitched together man made monster and gets a mouth full of stale rotted tasting blood.  The vampire pulls back in disgust as The Monster shoves him away and Dracula hits the stone steps hard. The Monster comes lurking toward Dracula who shakes off the impact quick and gets to his feet as he does so The Monster’s huge hand wraps around the vampires neck and starts his death grip.  Dracula grabs The Monster’s hand and uses all his power to remove The Monster’s hand from his throat as well as from his body as Dracula tosses the hand aside, The Monster reacts to the pain of his torn off hand and swings his hurt arm madly knocking Dracula into one of the splinters from the busted front door.  The wooden spike drives deep into Dracula who slowly turns into bones as The Monster in pain stumbles into the woods in the pouring rain. As The Monster is out of sight one of Dracula’s Brides appear and remove the wooden splinter.

 Winner: Frankenstein’s Monster

As you can see in my opinion it would be a very close brawl, and in the end while The Monster looks to have won, Dracula is not fully beaten and would live again to fight and suck the blood of his victims. I love both of these classic monsters and both of 1931 films based on them are some of my favorite films to watch. While Topps Comics run was way too short as a company, they gave me some great comics to read in my teen years, and with that I am going to take a look at next a book from another company I loved finding back issues of as a teen and that’s Atlas Comics, and the series I will be looking at is The Brute! Hope you had a good time reading about Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, Topps and Werewolf of Ohio 2 because I had a blast writing it. So until, then read a comic or two for me!

brute logo