From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Killdozer!

Back in the 70’s and 80’s made for TV films were very popular and were the networks’ way of trying to keep viewers staying at home instead of heading to their local cinemas. And in 1974, thanks to ABC a Horror/Science Fiction hybrid film based on an old 1940’s novel was unleashed on viewers and sparked a cult following…that film is Killdozer! This made for TV movie not only got the comic book adaptation treatment from Marvel Comics but also has been talked about in TV shows like Beavis And Butt-Head, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Tonight Show as well as in the film Planet Terror. In fact, some people think that the real life rampage of Marvin Heemeyer, who used a bulldozer to cause panic and destruction in Colorado, was inspired by this film and even the media used the name Killdozer when covering the tragically ending event. So as you can see, this film really has become a cult film and is the newest entry in my From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update. So put on your hardhat, as Killdozer is ready to strike fear into our hearts and souls!

Before we get to the film and the comic, we must first get to know and understand our “monster.” Killdozer started out as a normal giant bulldozer that was doing work on an island. It makes the mistake of trying to remove a metallic rock that fell from space, and in turn, the alien rock takes over the bulldozer and turns it into a human killing machine that runs on its own and seems to have a mind as well with one goal, to kill. Killdozer does not talk, does not listen to reason, and almost seems to like to stalk its human prey before going for the kill. Killdozer’s power came from the rock that fell from space and not much is known about its full power and whether the glowing blue life force that left the rock to enter the bulldozer was indeed a living being. Killdozer pretty much ruled the small island it was on and used much of the environment against the humans. Killdozer is massive in size, and his main tools for killing are its large blade plate with its other tools of death being its continuous track that can run over and crush as well as its ripper that can shred human flesh. Killdozer can withstand fire and explosives and even can keep moving without fuel. But while Killdozer might seem unstoppable, it does have some weaknesses like it can be tricked and out maneuvered as it is slower moving, and it as well does not like electricity. So while Killdozer can be stopped, it will take lots of will to live and strategy to do so, and while only a machine with a mind of it’s own, it still is a killing machine that humans should be afraid of.

So as you can see Killdozer! is a several ton terror that is driven by unknown powers from space and almost seems like it could be a prequel character to the Stephen King story and movie Maximum Overdrive! Now we are at the point where we will take a look at the film and its legacy as well as my first time viewing of the film. The movie’s plot will be taken from our pals at IMDB, and the rest will be written of course by me. So let’s take a look at the film that was inspired by a book that sparked a comic.

Killdozer! (1974)

“Construction workers building an airstrip on a small Pacific Island encounter an ancient non-material lifeform which has lived in the ruins of an ancient temple for millenia. The entity is of course malevolent and commandeers the earthmoving equipment to the general detriment of all concerned.”

Killdozer started out as a novel by Theodore Sturgeon and was released in 1944. Thirty years later, ABC along with Universal Television developed a made for TV movie based on the book in order to scare viewers and keep them from going to the cinema to watch a horror film. The film premiered on February 2, 1974 on ABC and was met with mixed reviews by critics and viewers. It would be many years before Killdozer! made its way to home video when Universal, through their DVD-R on demand service called The Vault, released it. Killdozer! It was released on TV the same year as these other Horror Films scared viewers on the big screen: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Christmas, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, The Bat People, The Ghost Galleon and It’s Alive, to name a few.

I watched Killdozer! for the first time on January 16, 2018 via the Universal Vault DVD-R release…and I must say that while it’s was nothing too special, it had a fun early 70’s cheesy horror film feel to it and was very entertaining. What worked for this movie was the atmosphere as it was set on a very small island that gave our contract workers a very small area to hide in from the killing machine. The film starred Clint Walker who was in other made for TV Horror movies like Scream Of The Wolf and Snowbeast. It co-starred Neville Brand, who was in a number of Horror Films that include the 1977 Tobe Hooper film Eaten Alive, and they, along with the rest of the cast, do a great job pulling off that they are scared of a killer bulldozer. Another thing that shocked me is how good the score for the film was as it added to the over all Sci-Fi and cheesy nature of the film and was done by Gil Melle, who did scores for such other films as The Sentinel, Blood Beach, Frankenstein: The True Story and Death Scream, to name a few. Over all I must say that if you enjoy movies that have machines that running wild and try to kill every living person they see, then Killdozer! is one you will want to watch. I should also note that this film is bloodless, and all the deaths do not show harm coming to the characters.

Killdozer! found itself getting the comic book treatment the same year as the film aired on TV thanks to Marvel Comics and their series called Worlds Unknown that features cool science fiction and horror stories in every issue.  They have covered the likes of The Day The Earth Stood Still and The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad, to name a select few. And for issue 6, they adapted Killdozer! and even played up the fact it was also a made for TV Movie! I want to thank Amazon for having this in stock for this review. So before we frightfully dive into this comic, I need to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s travel into the comic world and see what kind of mayhem Killdozer! has in store for us.

Worlds Unknown # 6  **
Released in 1974     Cover Price .20     Marvel Comics     # 6 of 8

A war in space that took place long before our written time caused a killer cloud that took over machines and made them act as if they had a mind of their own. And during this battle, one of these machines was blown out of space, and it fell to Earth on an island where it remained for many centuries! Tom Jaeger and six of his workers are dropped off on the island a billion years after the cloud has fallen, in order to make a landing strip for the air force in three weeks. One of the workers finds a temple and after hitting it with his bulldozer, he unleashes the cloud that takes the machine over and kills the worker driving it and turns its attention toward Tom who does his best to shut the machine down. The bulldozer does not stop there and targets and kills two more of his crew, causes Tom’s own workers to think maybe he is the one doing the killing. But once the Bulldozer goes on a rampage again, Tom and his worker Chub figure out a plan to stop it once and for all by making it enter the water and then electrocuting it! As they set their plan into motion, Al the other living crew member tries to sell out his fellow man, but if does not work as Tom’s plan kills the Killdozer.  He and Chub then watch as Al loses his mind.

Marvel Comics tried to take the novel and movie based on Killdozer and make a comic adaptation of them, and sadly, after reading it, they fell a little short. The plot is about seven construction workers on an island who become the target of a killer bulldozer that has been taken over by a cloud alien from outer space, and the humans must stay strong and together in order to stop the dozers killing rampage. The story has elements of the film as well as some of the novel and blends them together to sadly make a mediocre horror comic that does not pack any major chills and all the kills happen off panel. While it is only mediocre, it still is a fun read and it’s very cool to see Killdozer itself as a comic character. I do enjoy that in this comic Tom’s crew start to turn on him and wonder if he is the one killing them off until they finally see the Killdozer roaming around on its own. I also liked the idea of a temple being built around the cloud from an ancient civilization in order to keep it prisoner. The downside to this comic is none of the characters are that likable nor do we really get to know them at all. The pacing is fast and yet still pretty lackluster. Tom is a focused man who tries his best to warn his crew of the Killdozer! and Al is a coward who is willing to throw his fellow man under the dozer in order to save his own butt! The rest of the crew members are throwaway characters who are all manner of generic. The cover to this issue is very eye catching and showcases Killdozer about to kill. The comic interior art is done by Dick Ayers and is well done and has that classic 70’s Marvel look. Over all, this was a fun read and is a cool comic for fans of the film or novel of Killdozer but is not what I would called a must read for Horror Comic readers. Check out the art below to see Killdozer in all its Marvel Comics glory!

So while Killdozer did not set the comic world on fire, it was still very cool to see a comic based on a made for TV horror film. And while Killdozer has a very small cult following, it still made its mark in the world of Horror Films and Horror Comics, no matter how small the mark is. My next update will be about another DC Comic Superhero that I feel is very under used, and that’s Hawkman! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for our flying adventure with Hawkman.

The Undead Files: Original The Walking Dead

Welcome back to another Undead File here at Rotten Ink. For this update we are going to dive into a comic series that shares a name with one of the world’s most popular zombie horror comics turned highly rated TV Shows ever made, The Walking Dead! Yes, back in the late 1980’s, a comic series was unleashed at comic shops from Aircel Comics that was about the living battling the dead and was a true independent black and white horror comic! I am sure many of you readers are wondering if this series helped inspire the current series, and once I give these issues a read, I will be able to answer that question. So get your zombie repellent ready as it’s time for us to once more walk among the dead as we truly take a deep look at The Walking Dead.

Before we get to deep into the world of the living dead, I want to share a fun event. On January 20, 2018 another Horror Movie Marathon took place as both Juliet and I wanted a day of sitting back and relaxing while watching the horrors of the small screen since the holidays were over and winter was still with us. So I took off that Saturday, and we stocked up on snack food as well as breakfast casserole and made chicken wings for dinner. We started our marathon at 7am with “Teenage Monster,” a horror mixed with western film from 1957 that has a mother whose son is turned into a monster who kills in anger and she must protect his secret. The shot on video film “Death Nurse 2” was next up and followed Nurse Edith and Doctor Gordon once more killing their patients to collect free money from the government for their care. The sleazy America giallo film “The Rain Killer” was next and was about a killer who killed recovering drug addict women on rainy nights. This film has stared Maria Ford in a tiny role. The spooky Universal film “The Old Dark House” was our fourth film and is about travelers on a stormy night having to stay with an odd family in their mansion in order to find safety. “The Return Of The Ape Man” was next and is about a scientist who found a way to return life to people who have been frozen and makes the mistake of bringing back a caveman. This film stars the great Bela Lugosi! “Amityville: The Awakening,” the newest film in the Amityville series, was next on tap and follows a family that move into the house. Things get weird when the brother, who is brain dead, suddenly starts to get better! The 1986 cheesy horror film “Spookies” was next and is about a group of friends who make the mistake of entering the abandon home of a crazed warlock and his creepy monster friends. The next horror film to try and scare us was “Puppet Master Axis Termination,” the newest film in the Full Moon Entertainment series that follows the Puppets and their human friends trying to put a stop to the Nazi’s and their evil puppets. The slasher film “Silo Killer” was next and was about friends on a desert camping trip being stalked and killed by a masked killer. “Metalface,” a modern slasher film with a snuff film twist was next to try and scare us. The newest film in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series “Leatherface” was next and followed a teenage Leatherface and fellow inmates at a youth mental asylum escaping on a quest to get home. We next watched the 1989 slasher film “Rush Week” about a masked killer on the loose at a college that is targeting young female coeds. And the final film of our main day of the Horror Movie Marathon was the short film “Klagger” about an evil undead killer in an abandon factory stalking a worker who is their to get the building ready to sale.

This was once more a great time that I had with my gal Juliet watching Horror Movies in one of my favorite past times, The Horror Movie Marathon. We had some great snack food like chips, hummus and carrots and for meals we had Breakfast Casserole and Chicken Wings! This time around it was hard for both Juliet and I to choose our best films but was super easy to pick the worst film of the day as we both agreed that Silo Killer was the Golden Turkey of the day as it was filled with unlikable characters, terrible dialogue, lame kills, over use of a terrible yellow filter and was too long and boring. The only good highlights of the film was that the killer looked cool and it had lots of attractive naked women. As for the best films of the day, my order went like this: # 1 Old Dark House – this was hands down the best film of the day and is a great Universal film that is filled with great characters, creepy atmosphere and kept me glued to the screen every second. Plus you can’t go wrong with Boris Karloff playing a disfigured mute drunk butler! # 2 Amityville The Awakening – I picked this film as I found it to be a solid Amityville movie with a likable lead character plus is packed in lots of great jump scares, and it’s also cool to see the Haunted House on Ocean Avenue in a Horror Movie. To choose my # 3, it was very hard as I enjoyed many of the films, but I decided to go with Leatherface as it was great to see a new Texas Chainsaw movie. While the middle of the film felt like a Rob Zombie Devil’s Reject knock off, the opening and end of the film felt like a gritty Chainsaw sequel. I do want to say that Metalface and Puppet Master Axis Termination almost made the spot over Leatherface! Juliet’s top 3 films are a little different as she selected for her #1 Old Dark House, #2 Metalface and #3 Spookies! She and I both also agreed that Klagger was a fantastic short film, and we both can’t wait to see the full-length movie when it’s released. So once done for the night Juliet and I chatted about the movies and prepared for the next day’s after party films! As Juliet went to bed, I decided to stay up a little longer and watched the first Killjoy movie before counting chainsaws myself.

For the After Party, we decided to watch six more films. We started it at 10am with our first film being the newest Horror Flick from my pal Henrique Couto called “Devil’s Trail” about TV Show hosts going the Pine Barrens in New Jersey and come across witches and what could be The Jersey Devil! The second fright flick was “Bloody Drama” that as a smile face masked killer stalking a group of women who are having a pool party. “Day Of The Reaper” the 1984 Super-8 slasher film from Tim Ritter was our third movie and had The Reaper killing and eating people that got in his way. The fourth film was “Camp Blood 7: It Kills” and had the Camp Blood Clown Killer once more stalking and killing a group of friends silly enough to enter his killing grounds. “The Houses October Built 2” was up next and has the group of haunted house thrill seekers back at it again and once more run into and are stalked by The Blue Skeleton extreme group. And the final film of the night was to Todd Sheets film “Bonehill Road” that is about a mother and daughter who get stranded on a back road that is swarmed with werewolves!

This after party was lots of fun, and Juliet and I had a great time watching these films and talking about them after.  In fact we enjoyed all of them so it was hard for us to pick our Golden Turkey of the day! But we both had to choose, so I picked Day Of The Reaper as my Turkey, and this film is by no means terrible, it was just the weakest of the lot and was clearly never meant to be a blockbuster horror film. Juliet picked Bloody Drama, and she wanted to stress that it is not a terrible film either, she just felt it was the weakest one on the day’s line up. My # 1 film of the day was The Houses October Built 2 as I found it to be a great sneak peek into haunted attractions and had some great creepy moments plus I dig the character Porcelain. # 2 hands down was Bonehill Road, an amazing werewolf film that had practical effects, great transformations and likable characters…not to mention it has a great plot that also takes place that involves a creepy dude who “loves” women! And my # 3 spot goes to Camp Blood 7: It Kills as it was a solid sequel to the cheesy franchise that had cool kills and along with part 6 helped wash the taste out of my mouth of parts 4-5. Juliet’s picks went as follows #1 The Houses October Built, #2 Bonehill Road and #3 Devil’s Trail! So comes to an end another Horror Movie Marathon that makes me very much look forward to the next! I also want to thank every director, actor, producer, musician and crewmember that made these movies that I got to watch as no matter how great or terrible the movie is, you are doing your part to keep Horror Movies alive for viewers.

Oh I am sure you want to know what master of murder had the top kills from this two day Marathon While many racked up a body count, it was The Camp Blood Clown Masked Killer who took the Golden Massacre Award home with his 11 kills that he won by slashing and stabbing his victims! So here is to you Clown Masked Killer from Camp Blood 7 as your bloodletting was enjoyable and made the Horror Movie Marathon oh so much bloodier.

Back in the early 2000’s while Independent B Movie was hitting its second wind with films like Who Keeps Feeding Grandpa, Razor and Farmer Joe coming out on VHS, we had a slew of films in all stages of production. One that I was working on was to be an epic zombie film that I called “Stairway To Heaven,” and it was going to be the biggest budgeted and goriest film I ever made! The film was one that I had lots of faith in and spent lots of late nights writing the script on my old computer in Independent B Movie Studios while drinking down sodas and pacing the floor with ideas of the plot and kills pouring out of my brain and onto the screen of the glowing monitor. This zombie opus was going to be my shot on video masterpiece, and I had all the faith in it and spent my days off work scouting locations. While all this was going on, we even had students at Fairmont High School design and print us out T-Shirts for our films, and one of the films we choose was Stairway To Heaven and many of the I.B.M family would wear it to help build buzz for this film. I would spend many nights hanging out with my then best friend Andrea Seay and tell her about the ideas for the film, and she was loving it as were other friends like Josh Weinberg, Jason Gilmore and Dave Wean who I would tell about this undead flick. I also had my friend Patrick Neeley willing to score the film that would have also had an official soundtrack CD release that would have been released at the same time as the film on VHS. While I was placing the final touches on the script, I took the old VHS camcorder out to cemeteries at night and filmed around as test footage as well as for possible trailer usage. I even began casting the film with such names as Matt Hoffman, Zach Prater, Sarah Yates, Josh Weinberg, Andy Copp, Rosetta Workman and many others onboard, and my two main leads were to be played by Andrea and a young lady that worked at Blockbuster Video I knew named Leah and she was nice enough to go around and do a photo shoot in a graveyard so that I could promote the movie in one of our many email updates we sent to friends and fans. The buzz around this film was super thick and many people kept asking about its production as I continued to work on the script and raising the budget.

The film’s plot was to follow multiple people in a small town during the start of a massive zombie outbreak, one was a pregnant woman who was alone at home another was a couple who’s car broke down on the out skirts of town plus I throw in a cheerleader, a homeless vet, a preacher and random town folks and this was the cast of characters who had to survive the undead. The gore effects was going to be done by Andy Copp and myself and was going to be over the top with boobs, blood guts and gore and was very much in the same nature of the Italian Zombie films complete with gut munching and baby eating as the film’s most over the top scene had zombies ripping the fetus out of a woman and eating it as well as her as she had to watch her child die as she herself was being murdered. And just when production of this film was about to start, I was silly enough to allow others in Independent B Movie to talk me out of filming it when I wanted as they wanted to move onto Wolf Hunter 2, Long Dead Winter as well as Suicide 3 and Two Seconds Too Late and I agreed as I figured these films would be better for the group, and not shockingly, most of them during this time were filmed and never finished as the directors of those films dragged feet and lost interest in the direction of their films were going. Sadly too much time has past and this shot on video zombie epic is now in the massive pile of scripts and ideas that Independent B Movie nor Bloodline Video ever got to film, and who knows maybe if I could track down the original script maybe one day it will turn into a comic book via Blood Scream Comics. Below are some pictures that I took on a snowy winter day early this year as well as a pic of Leah as her character. Enjoy this look into a film that could have been if I would have only went with my gut and not what others wanted.

So imagine you’re outside taking a hike along a path that is near a creek, the sounds of the water is echoing and you are having a great time just soaking up nature and breathing in the fresh air. You’re a couple of miles away from your car and to avoid interruption you even left your cellphone in the trunk. But while walking you notice a strange man in a distance he is stumbling around and at first you think he might just be drunk but you soon see that his face is rotten and that he is not alive but the walking dead as you turn to run back to your car you soon are faced with a horde of zombies that have infected the woods and you have no hope of escaping! This scenario is one of many if a true Zombie Apocalypse were to break out that you could find yourself in, and the main questions that you would have to ask yourself is would you be ready for the living dead if they were to rise today? I mean many of us think we would be ready as we have watched movies and TV shows about zombies and have read novels and comics about them…but would what we read really help us to survive? Look around your house, apartment, car or place of work and think is this place safe if the zombies were to rise today? Would you be able to secure the doors and windows from the hordes of the dead? Right as you read this who is at your current location with you, would they be able to help you survive a zombie attack? Just wanted to take this part just to make you think about the possibility of a zombie attack and if you think you could survive it. No matter what we say or how we feel about it, I really don’t think any of us would truly be ready for the undead.

So the world of video games much like the world of cinema is a graveyard wasteland of zombie titles that have flooded the market. Some are fantastic and some are terrible, and I am about to play one that many say is the latter and has been the punching bag for reviewers as being one of the worst first person zombie shooters ever made…that game is called Dead Alliancem and I am about to play it for the PS4! The plot is simple to this mostly multiplayer game and has you and fellow survivors fighting each other in a wasteland of zombies that you can use as allies when using the right weapon. The game is mostly a run of the mill shooter that adds the thrill of zombies to the mix and sadly just falls a little short when it comes to being entertaining. Now the game is by no means bottom of the barrel, but it’s repetitive and very limited in area maps and even weapons and when playing the single player mode it even becomes more simple and lackluster. The game is getting trashed by gamers and has not sold well for parent company Maximum Games. While this game is below average, it still was a fun time waster to kill zombies and shoot other players.

So now that the dead are all around us and we have even took a few moments to chat about a Horror Movie Marathon, let’s see if this original Walking Dead inspired the modern Image Comic Walking Dead series. It’s crazy to think that in my youth I never did pick up an issue of this series or if I did, it must not have made that big of an impression on me as I don’t remember it. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering, Ebay, Amazon and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock for me to cover for this Undead Files update as these were pretty hard to track down. I also want to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s fright our way through the zombie horde and hope that Aircel delivers a scary and well done zombie comic that could possibly be the inspiration for thee Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead # 1  ***
Released in 1989       Cover Price $2.25       Aircel Comics     #1 of 4

In space two breed of aliens are at war with each other and when one of them crash lands on Earth while carrying a gas that reanimates the dead, all hell breaks loose as the dead start to rise from the cemeteries, morgues and funeral homes all hungry for human flesh. While some zombies are mindless roaming flesh eaters some are more than that as they also retain their memories and know how to talk and use tools and none are worse than the undead gang called The Kidz From Hell who slaughter their own kind and eat fresh alive victims. They are lead by Jak Krak who has them shooting guns and sharpening their teeth all in the hopes to capture and kill their “meat”, and after a kill and feast the gang of zombies is attacked by ex-cop Joe Barker who kills many of their members before rushing back to his home base were he is greeted by Keith but yelled at by Max and Kris who are mad he went out alone. Our issue ends with Joe telling them he will not stop until he kills Jak and The Kidz From Hell once and for all.

In this story the zombie outbreak is started by a crashed U.F.O that releases gas that makes the dead walk again. This is origin seems like a mix between “Night Of The Living Dead” that states that the outbreak could have been started by a down satellite falling from space with radiation on it and “Return Of The Living Dead” that has it starting from a gas that sweeps around and gets into our air. The plot of this issue is to clearly set up how the outbreak started and mixed in with the different styles of zombies as well as introduces us to the evil Kidz From Hell zombie gang plus their enemy Joe Barker who is our comic’s hero. Joe Barker is a man who is angry at what the world has become as the dead have out numbered the living, he is also clearly brave as he takes on the living dead all by himself! So while all we really know about Joe is that he is fearless and an ex-officer of the law I for one like him and can’t wait to see what he does next to try and kill the undead. The Kidz From Hell are street talking, gun shooting, razor sharped teethed, flesh eating evil zombies who enjoy killing and have no respect for the living or the dead! Jak Krak the gang leader is the most evil of them all and seems like he will not rest until he kills Joe and helps the dead fully take over the Earth. One odd thing about The Kidz From Hell is that while they are dead it seems as if they also still do drugs or so one of them claims after they eat a poor man alive. I also want to see who Max, Keith and Kris are as I wonder if they are also one time cops or just survivors who have created a safe place for the living, I guess only future issue will hold those answers. The comic is somewhat bloody and gore filled, but not even in the same ballpark as The Dead from Arrow Comics with the most brutal kill being a dead husband biting the face off of his widow who is mourning at his casket. The black and white art as well as the story is done by Jim Somerville and is well done with his zombies looking like a mix of classic with punk rock. The Cover is also pretty well done and eye catching as it features a zombie eating the brains out of a skull! This far this original series and the Image Walking Dead series don’t share too much besides zombies and a group of survivors living together and the name. So let’s shuffle our way to issue # 2 and see if Joe can kill even more of the undead punks.

The Walking Dead # 2   **1/2
Released in 1989      Cover Price $2.25      Aircel Comics     #2 of 4

Peter is the President of the United States, and he gives a state of the Union address that the American people need to stay strong during this terrible zombie crisis and hints to even using nuclear bombs as the last resort. But while the President is safe behind think concrete walls guarded by armed solider is poor wife is very sick and near death’s door. Meanwhile back at the base of Joe Barker and his friends they breakdown the possibility of the government dropping nuclear bombs in order to kill zombies, when they are attacked by The Kidz From Hell who attack hard and blood thirsty, in other words they want to end the feud now! Joe and friend fight back they best the can but are out gunned and must flee the base or lose their lives, the issue being for them is the wheelchair bound Max gets trapped and they must leave him behind in order for Joe, Kris and Keith to escape the gun firing undead. As they leave and save their own skins it’s Joe who says they are going back for Max and will bring him home alive or dead, as he doesn’t want the zombies to have him either way.

The second issue in this series loses some steam as many pages are taken up with one art panel per said page showing that they were just killing pages to reach their count. The plot has the President trying to build up the spirit of the American people during the zombie outbreak as Joe Barker and his survival group is under attack by the undead Kidz From Hell who want revenge from the attack on them from issue 1. Joe Barker in the issue is still tough as nails but also is smart and knows when to run when the odds are not in his favor. I think one of the cool things about Joe is also the fact he has the no man left behind attitude and wants to go back for their friend who was left at the base during the attack. Max, Kris, Keith and the rest of the survivors as well do what they can and try with all their might to defend their base but figure out that real fast they are no match for the gun shooting zombies. I feel for Max as that poor guy is left to fend for himself once he and his wheelchair get caught in some rubble. The Kidz From Hell and their leader Jak Krak are cold-blooded killers and slaughter any living person that comes in their way. President Peter is a wild card as he has the power to blow up the world and might do so if he loses his sick wife to the zombie curse. While this is a good issue it really is just an action issue with some small plot thrown in to move the story along, and while that’s not a bad thing it still makes the issue not as good as the first that offered a nice build up. The cover is ok but reminds me more of a cheesy late 80’s action comic than a horror comic and the art is once more done by Jim Somerville and is fitting for this undead romp comic. Over all his is a solid middle of the road comic that should be checked out if you enjoyed the first issue.

The Walking Dead # 3   **
Released in 1989      Cover Price $2.25      Aircel Comics     #3 of 4

Joe, Keith and Kris go back to their old base with the hopes of saving Max but all they find instead is a note from Jak Krak warning them if they want to see Max again they will meet The Kidz From Hell at the playground! When they get there, they find Max dead crucified with his feet cut off and his eyeballs missing, as Joe breaks down from the loss of his friend a zombie attacks Keith with a knife and kills him as Kris fights back it takes Joe a moment to snap to and they pair enter a building that’s clearly a trap being set. While inside Kris as well is stabbed and Joe is knocked back and as he is about to get up and fight the issue ends.

This third issue seems as if they ran out of ideas as again lots of splash pages and even a back up story to boot fill out this issue padding it out so they can squeeze out one more issue and get zombie fans to spend another $2.25. The brief story is this Joe and crew go to get Max who has been taken to another location, once there it’s a trap and Keith and I would guess Kris are killed easy and Joe now stands alone to face the zombie gang. Oh and throw in a quick small part about the President’s wife now being a zombie. Yeah, it’s that deep of a plot in this issue. Joe shows he has a soft side as he is clearly shaken after the death of his friend Max, but it’s also clear by the end of the issue he is going to stomp some zombie butt. Keith and Kris are just in the issue to be lined up and slaughtered, but only after the shoot some slow moving zombies with machine guns. Jak Krak and The Kidz From Hell are as flesh hungry as ever as they eat the eyes of Max and taunt his friends afterwards. The slow Zombies make an appearance but are just being mowed down at the start of the issue by our heroes. President Peter is pretty much wasted and offers nothing besides the fact his wife is now dead and a zombie that he keeps in a cell. The cover looks great and eye catching for zombie fans, but the art inside done by Jim Somerville is hit and miss as at the start it looks as sloppy as the plot of this issue but as it goes on it looks a lot better. Over all this is the weakest issue in the series this far and while it does have blood, guts and gore it seems so rushed it has no real impact and this while entertaining was a major letdown and I hope the final issue is not this sloppy and brings its A Game to end the series right.

The Walking Dead # 4    *1/2
Released in 1989      Cover Price $2.25      Aircel Comics     #4 of 4

Joe is bleeding pretty bad as Jak Krak and what’s left of the Kidz From Hell come circling around, Jak offers Joe a choice to join them as a zombie gang member or to become their dinner! Joe would rather be dinner and just when Jak is about to shoot him Kris with what little life she has left fires her gun and blows Jak’s hand off and then she kills some more Gang Members before herself being blown away. With only Joe and Jak left the pair square off and Joe is armed with an ax and Jak has a switchblade knife! Joe goes crazy with the ax and chops Jak up into pieces and after killing his enemy decides that he himself must die and kills himself with a gunshot to the head.

Splash Page special is what this issue is and that makes me really mad is every page is a single panel with many pages also being one single image filling two pages….this could have been wrapped up with the third issue if they would have dropped the backup story, oh speaking of backup story, this issue has one as well! This issue’s plot is just the showdown between hero Joe Barker and zombie gang leader Jak Krak and what leads to Joe winning and killing himself. This final issue offers a true ending to the series as for some reason they take the route of Joe just ending his own life instead of fighting the fight to take back the world and to be honest he takes down Jak Krak pretty easy and makes me wonder why didn’t the survivors just attack The Kidz From Hell from the start as the whole gang is pretty much wiped out by three people! The Zombie Gang started out as a major threat and for all accounts scary but by the end they seemed like punching bags lined up to be knocked down. Joe Barker was a interesting character to start off but by this issue he becomes nothing more than a man waiting for death who had lead all his friends to the slaughter only to avenge them and then kill himself, the whole suicide thing just didn’t feel right for this character. Kris, Keith and Max in this series once more started off as good side characters but in the end just turned into one sided humans set up to be killed with no personalities shining through. Remember President Peter well writer Jim Somerville didn’t as his storyline goes nowhere and he is not seen at all in this issue and the fact he wants to nuke the world if the zombie outbreak is not under control never comes back up nor does the fact his wife is now a zombie, the character could have had just that character but bad writing and the lack of a follow through story makes him yet another tossed to the side character. The slow Zombies are just around when they need the body count to rise as they only come into play after the first issue to be shot by the two feuding sides. The final issue has lots of blood gunshots and also has some gore when Joe kills Jak with an ax but by this point I was so disappointed with this comic series it took the fun out of what should have been an epic battle and moment. The thing about this zombie series is that it started out really good and the story was drawing me in and wanting me to read more and more but by the end of the second issue on the series took a nose dive as it was clear Jim Somerville had no real idea on where the story was going and just knew he had to fill four issues worth of something. The fact that side stories go nowhere, the art gets more and more sloppy, he does cheap splash pages to pad out the issues makes me not to not track down his other work! The only major plus I can say about this issue is the cover is pretty cool and reminds me of a serial killer comic. For those who think Tony Moore and Robert Kirkman might have been inspired by this comic series when they made their Walking Dead series, I am sure the only thing they took away from this series is what not to do in a zombie comic series! Started out with a big bang but ended on a whisper this could have been the biggest letdown in comics I have read this year. Below is some artwork from this four issue mini series, while I would not say that fans of Independent Horror Comics shouldn’t check this out I would say don’t get your hopes up for an epic zombie bloodbath with a good story.

But wait, there is more Walking Dead from Aircel and Jim Somerville as in 1990 they released “Walking Dead Zombie Special” and I am hoping that this one can redeemed the series by ending with a solid and good issue…here is hoping that they pull it off.

The Walking Dead: Zombie Special # 1   **
Released in 1990     Cover Price $2.25     Aircel Comics     #1 of 1

Scav is a young boy in a town alone who acts as the law as he imagines himself as a western sheriff and the zombies in his mind are the outlaws! Billy and his motorcycle gang enter the small town looking for a place to stay for the night, this was a bad decision as Scav thinks that Billy is Billy The Kid! One by one the bikers are shot and killed by Scav until only Billy is left and with his trusty gun Scav takes out the biker and the young man goes back to living in his fantasy world of read comics and pretending this zombie infested world is the old west. The second story follows the fall into madness from a Preacher who by the end rises the dead from the church cemetery.

Well I want to say that this Zombie Special issue has some zombies but not a lot and none of them are seen eating people and only once is it implied. The fist story is the best of the two as the second story is clearly just a backup story to pad out the page count. What works in the first is the fact its from the point of view of a young kid who has lost all his loved ones and his sanity in the zombie crisis and has turned his terrible situation into a fantasy world that mirrors the western comic books he reads. Scav is a cool character who is handy with a gun and machete and has lost touch so much that he can not tell the difference between human and zombie. Biker Billy and his gang seem like nomads who just stopped in the wrong place at the wrong time and are out gunned and outsmarted by the towns “Law”. The second story is well drawn at the last two pages but is pretty much a waste. Jim Somerville once more did the art and it’s pretty good, his story telling in this special issue is average and the cover is cool and very miss leading as nothing like that is in the comic. Not amazing but good is the best way to describe this final issue in the original Walking Dead series. Here is some artwork from this issue.

So as you can see this series is not all that great, while it is entertaining and really does capture a great late 80’s independent horror comic mood it’s clear as day that they creators just ran out of ideas and needed to fill four issues and a special. The bottom line did the Image Walking Dead take anything from this comic series besides it’s name…well maybe a tiny amount, but Robert Kirkman and his guys have done a way better job with making the name into a quality horror comic book series. And now that all the living dead have returned to their graves I think it’s time to wrap up with update. But while I closed this Undead File or next update will be a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update and I will be talking about Killdozer! So until next time make sure to read a horror comic or three, visit a graveyard or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Be ready to come face to blade with Killdozer as this one will be a fun update for sure!

 

Alien Invasion: Alien Nation

Imagine if tomorrow we found out that there is life on other planets.  Now imagine them coming to Earth and working everyday jobs alongside us; how would your mind handle this? Would you fear them because they were different and not born on Earth? Would you embrace them as fellow living beings? What kind of languages, religions and cultures would they share with us? I for one would be very interested to learn about and from them and would embrace them as fellow living beings….that is unless they are like the aliens from Mars Attacks or Independence Day.  Then I would say we as the world would need to come together and drive them from our planet! Today’s update is an Alien Invasion update that brings aliens to Earth who want to become productive members of our very own society and want to be treated with respect.  These aliens are The Tenctonese aka the Newcomers and are from the film Alien Nation that spawned a TV show, comic books and novels, and we will be digging into the DC Comic adaptation of the film as well as explore the world of the film that was released by 20th Century Fox in 1988! So sit back look to the skies and think about alien friendship, as I am proud to bring you Alien Invasion: Alien Nation.

So let’s start this invasion off right and take a look at the film that this comic is based on, as without this film Alien Nation would not be a cult classic film that many Sci-Fi fans enjoy and love still to this day. The movies write up will be taken from our good friends at IMDB, and after that, I will write a little about my first time seeing Alien Nation as well a few more memories of its legacy.

Alien Nation (1988)

“A few years from now, Earth will have the first contact with an alien civilisation. These aliens, known as Newcomers, slowly begin to be integrated into human society after years of quarantine but are victims of a new type of discrimination. When the first Newcomer police officer, San Francisco is assigned his new partner, he is given Matthew Sykes, a mildly racist veteran, the animosity between them soon gives way to respect as they investigate the Newcomer underworld, and especially Newcomer leader William Harcourt.”

I can remember the ads on TV and in the newspaper for the release of Alien Nation. It really piqued my interest as growing up in the 80’s, just like Horror and Fantasy films, for me Science Fiction was a big genre as films like Star Trek, Star Wars, Aliens, Enemy Mine, Blade Runner, Back To The Future, Planet Of The Apes and Last Starfighter were all popular with fans and my generation as a whole. But sadly, I was not able to go to the theater and see Alien Nation as my parents did not want to go to see it, plus it was rated R so could not see it on my own as I was only around 9 years old when it was out. It would be some years later when I first got to see it thanks to a VHS rental from a local video store on a weekend. I can remember the whole family watching it and all of us enjoying it as it felt like it was a film that had a deeper meaning behind it and yet felt like a true modern style science fiction film. After the first time watching it, we saw it a few other times as it would later go on to be shown on paid cable stations we had, and at some point I ended up buying it on VHS. The film had an amazing cast that included James Caan, Terence Stamp and Mandy Patinkin, all of whom were fantastic in their roles with Stamp and Patinkin being unrecognizable in their roles as aliens. After seeing the film I can also remember watching the TV Show Alien Nation that started in 1989, and I remember finding some of the comics from Adventure Comics years down the line at The Bookie Parlor and can remember going crazy when I got to read the cross over mini series they did with Planet Of The Apes called Ape Nation in 1991. But by the mid 90’s sadly Alien Nation had lost its footing in the world of pop culture as the TV Show was cancelled after only 22 episodes and the comic series from Adventure Comics ended in 1992. But while Alien Nation never got a movie sequel or even a more modern comic series, it still remains a classic 80’s Science Fiction film that I think everyone should check out.

The Tenctonese are from the planet of Tencton and are human like in appearance besides their heads, which have no hair on them and are slightly bigger with reddish spots on them that also run down their spines. They are stronger than a normal man as well as smarter as they were born and bred in order to be slaves. They eat food raw and that includes meat and veggies and in order to get drunk, they gulp down soured milk! They can be poisoned and die by such things as chocolate, tobacco and fluoride with salt almost being like acid to them as it can burn their skin. Their nerves and organs are different than ours as is the way they make love and things that can harm humans seem to have no effect on them including many types of poisons. They also look at sex as something special and not taboo and find adult movies childish. So what I am trying to say is that while they can be killed, they are definitely smarty and stronger than us and if they were real and here on Earth we would be smart to work with them and not against them as they could very much be our downfall!

So we have talked about the film as well as the Tenctonese, and I think it’s time to take a look at the DC Comic adaptation of the film and get this invasion going! I also just want to say that one other reason I think I have always enjoyed Alien Nation is the fact besides being a good science fiction film it also is a good buddy cop film! But if you look in the sky, a message has just been written in the stars and it says, “I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story”! So let’s get to it and see if the comic holds up as good as the movie.

Alien Nation # 1  ***
Released in 1988       Cover Price $2.50       DC Comics       # 1 of 1

It’s been three years since the Newcomers came down from space on their ship and became part of the populace in America.  This anniversary is all over the news and is causing people to remember where they were when the aliens landed. While on duty, cops Matthew Sykes and Bill Tuggle are involved in a shootout with some robber newcomers who leave Bill dead and Sykes very bitter toward Newcomers. He decides to team up with promoted Newcomer officer Sam “George” Francisco as he thinks he might be able to help him find who killed his partner as a rash of fake robbery murders have been taken place targeting the aliens. Sykes and Francisco follow the leads and find out one of the gunmen from the robbery worked at a gas plant and that’s the connection between the cop killing and the Newcomer killings. The pair of cops go around and uncover clues and even along the way start to build a friendship as they both see that their job and family is what matters in both of their lives. And soon George opens up to Sykes and lets him in on a Newcomer secret that there is a powerful drug that was made that all Newcomers took when they arrived and some got addicted to it.  The drug has side effects, and he thinks that this drug is the reason for all the killings. They finally are able to figure out that Newcomer William Harcourt is the man behind the killings as well as the man behind making the drugs, and when George and Sykes go to arrest him, he overdoses on the drug and turns into a raging hulking alien monster who stalks Sykes down trying to kill him.  This fight leads them to the ocean, and Sykes is only able to beat Harcourt when he pushes the supped up alien into the salt water that acts as acid and burns him up. George is able to pull Sykes out of the water and into a helicopter and they solve the case, destroy all the drug, take down the super powered alien bad guy and still make it to Sykes daughter’s wedding.

This DC Comic adaptation of the film Alien Nation is a great read and holds the magic of the film and even quickens the pace slightly and delivers a great buddy cop science fiction comic. The film’s plot has a cop whose partner is killed by an alien and his next partner is from the same alien race that murdered his last.  He must learn to put aside his hatred in order to solve the case and become a more tolerate person. This comic does a fantastic job of blending all the elements that made the film special together to make for a quick pace comic. Matthew Sykes is a cop who is good at his job but fails in life at being a good person as he has a rough and hateful attitude, but as he goes long on one of his most important cases he learns to try and be a better person and not hate those who are different from him. Officer Sam “George” Francisco is a Newcomer and the first of his race to be on the force and climb the ranks, he is a good cop who is by the book and he as well learns by the end of this case to lighten up and finds friendship and understands its value in life. Our main bad guy is William Harcourt who is as well a Newcomer and is a rich alien who is very slimy and is involved with drug making, selling and the murders of his fellow race! And once he is discovered to be a scumbag he overdoses on his own drug and causes himself to become a hulking mutant alien and does his best to murder our two main characters! This comic is filled with action, drama and even a little dark humor and this helped add to the enjoyment of the read, and proves that many comic adaptations of films can be well done. The cover to this comic is well done and is eye catching for fans of the film, and the interior artwork is pretty good and is done by Jerry Bingham. Over all this is an entertaining and good comic based on a cult classic film and is worth a read for those who enjoy Aliens and Buddy Cop stories. Check out some artwork below and see what this comic has in store for you.

Alien Nation is a great science fiction film about an alien invasion that allows them to live among us and not try and take us over like say Independence Day or hunt us for sport like Predator that I have covered here at Rotten Ink in the past. But I think it’s time to leave this Alien Invasion behind and crank open another Undead File for our next update as we will take a look at the Original Walking Dead series! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch an Alien film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time for a zombie gut munching of a good time!

 

Horror Host Icon: Ghost Host

The thing about Horror Hosts is that, as far as I know, every state in America has had one and each have meant something to their fans and viewers.  For many, they feel like long lost friends who are guiding them through scary movies, and for others, they seem like the crazy uncle who does the zany stuff to get a laugh around the table during dinner. For Baltimore, Maryland and later Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one host that seemed to capture the attention of the viewers was a ghoul named Ghost Host who would stand in the shadows and host his show “Ghost Host Theatre” all the while calmly and creepily telling you about the night’s movie. Ghost Host was shadowed with mystery as his deep echoing voice would ring out and his face was covered by the darkness with only his sinister eyes peering into the viewer’s very soul! I first discovered an episode of Ghost Host many years back when cruising around a Horror Host trade site, and while I had always heard of him, it was via this trade site that I finally was able to view one of his shows as he hosted the Universal Frankenstein! And after watching this episode, I was hooked and I can see why Ghost Host has a loyal fan base. So I am very proud to bring you this update of Horror Host Icon: Ghost Host! Let’s travel to his mansion and discuss this creepy Horror Host.

Ghost Host is a spirit in his dark mansion surrounded by woods with a rainstorm always raging outside during his show’s opening. Ghost Host wears a nice suit, has a beard and unkempt dirty hair, haunting dead eyes that stare into your soul, and a booming spooky voice that echoes. He also hides in the shadows and seems to enjoy telling the viewers about the night’s movie, and he does so with class. Besides being a spirit, Ghost Host also seems to like to do experiments in the Mansion’s dungeon as well as take strolls in the cemetery that is on the grounds of his property. Ghost Host seemed to take joy in having the viewers as his guests and took pride in introducing the evening’s movies as he would treat them with respect.  He also enjoyed sharing info on the actors and makers of the film or films he was hosting. Ghost Host was not your typical Horror Host as he was not one to incorporate comedy skits or deliver cheesy jokes.  Instead he went the more direct, semi scary route to help add to the chills of the viewers making Ghost Host live up to his name! His quote that he would say in order to close his show was this “Here’s Blood In Your Eye” as he would take a drink of some unknown weird liquid he made.  Ghost Host scared viewers on his show “Ghost Host Theatre” from 1971-1985 and ran in many markets from Maryland to Pennsylvania and became a must watch for many of Monster Kids.

George Lewis was the man behind Ghost Host and was a TV Personality for WBFF out of Baltimore. He started his time as a TV host in 1957 as the host of a kids show called “Steamboat Bill and Mr. Cartoon” that ran until 1970 on WSAZ-TV out of West Virginia. George started his major TV career in 1971 on WBFF Channel 45 in Baltimore, Maryland when he played Captain Chesapeake, a kids show host who was super popular and ran all the way until 1990.  1971 also started his run as Ghost Host a late night horror host for WBFF, and he also delivered news for the station! During his time as Ghost Host, his show was also picked up in Pittsburgh, and the character gained more followers and acted as a gateway for youngsters to wait for Chiller or other shows that introduced them to the classic monsters. In 1990, after Captain Chesapeake went off the air, George retired from on-air roles and spent his remaining days enjoying life and spending time with family and friends. Sadly, George Lewis passed away on December 18, 2000, and while he is gone, the mark he made on kids of the 70s-80’s is still felt and his memory will always live on. I want to also note that George Lewis produced another Horror Host called Gaylord, who was a returning host from the 50’s who got a new show in Maryland in the 70’s! While Ghost Host was a very popular host, it is clear that his time as Captain Chesapeake is what most watchers from Baltimore remember him best for.

I first heard of Ghost Host around the late 90’s thanks to old horror magazines and an old black and white image they printed of him. Some years would pass and thanks to Horror Host show traders, I was able to get my hands on a few episodes and found myself hooked as the atmosphere of the show was top notch! The thing that did throw me off was the fact that the shots used for the show were used episode after episode and only the voice over would change as Ghost Host was really in the video just reciting Hamlet! I heard they went the route of reusing footage to save money on tapes and also that one night The Ghost Host was a little drunk on live air and it made for a crazy and enjoyable watch for viewers.  But keep in mind, him being drunk on air is a Horror Host Urban Legend, and it has never been proven as fact. While looking up information about Ghost Host, the one thing I found interesting is that while he was very popular in Maryland, he was not as favored in Pennsylvania (but still liked) as many of the viewers would only tune into him before their favorite shows,like SNL or before Chiller Theater, would hit the late night airwaves. The thing about Ghost Host and his show is that it very much had a cheap look and feel to it making it a true Horror Host show on a budget, but while he might not have had a huge production budget, he did have a great spooky over all feel and look to the show and I really dig the creepy music that was played during his segments as well like his intro song and credits very much. Did you know that in 2016 Ghost Host was inducted into the official Horror Host Hall Of Fame and finally took his place alongside the immortals of the hosting genre? What he lacked in budget, he made up for in atmosphere and character and that’s why Ghost Host is one of the all time greats to this Horror Host fan.

Most of the time, Horror Hosts feel like your friends who wait for you to join them at their home or base and watch a scary movie all the while they get into some sort of silly adventure with hosts like Commander USA, Dr. Creep, The Creeper and Grandpa Munster all had this quality about them. Ghost Host however does not have the friend feel and has more of a crazy old man who lives in the big run down house at the end of the street that never mows his lawn and the parents of the neighborhood dislike and the kids all share stories of how he has the bodies of missing kids in his basement…in other words, he seems sinister, crazy and spooky, and while a ghost, he sure does love to do experiments and stroll in his graveyard. This is just something I felt I should point out about him as I enjoy his show very much and like this aspect of him as it’s very different from most hosts of his time. Oh and I also love that his mansion is a painting and that the graveyard is clearly a set with cardboard tombstones with names of famous monsters misspelled on them, classic Horror Host stuff!

So we are at the point of looking at the Ghost Host Theater episodes I own, and most, if not all, of them are from his Double Feature show taped off TV from Maryland, and these are all the ones I have been able to collect over the years and want to thank all the Horror Host Trade Lists for having these available for me to watch and now review here on my Horror Host Icon update to honor Ghost Host. I do not give these episodes a star rating and the host segments are written by me with the films coming from our pals at IMDB. So sit back and take a trip to the Ghost Host mansion and see what horrors he has in store for us!

Ghost Host Theatre: The Cat Creeps
Starring – Noah Beery Jr. & Lois Collier      Not Rated        1946

Host: Ghost Host is standing looking out the window of the mansion looking out at the rain and ushers us into the first part of the night’s film. The Ghost Host is now walking around his graveyard and tells viewers what will be coming soon to his show as well as that his second film of the night is “Captive Wild Women” and goes back to the first film. And we are treated to lots of Ghost Host name logo bumpers before we join him once more in the graveyard, and as he is telling us about the second film, this DVD cuts off and we miss his bumper and the second film!

Movie: A black cat is suspected of being possessed by the spirit of an elderly murdered woman.

Note from Matt: It appears this was part of a double feature showing, so not a full episode and the commercials have been cut out.

Ghost Host Theatre: Frankenstein
Starring – Boris Karloff & Colin Clive      Not Rated        1931

Host: Ghost Host is standing looking out the window of the mansion looking out at the rain and then walks over to his desk and starts to mix potions and tells us the first film of the night is Frankenstein and then slowly takes us into the first part of the movie. We next join Ghost Host in the graveyard, where two bodies are laying and have clearly been murdered, and he tells us that the second film of the day will be “Ghost Of Frankenstein.” He steals a ring off the dead female body and ushers us back to the film as he sits with the dead. We get lots more Ghost Host logo bumpers and no end segment or second film.

Movie: Henry Frankenstein is a doctor who is trying to discover a way to make the dead walk. He succeeds and creates a monster that has to deal with living again.

Note from Matt: This was part of a double feature showing, so not a full episode with all segments.

Ghost Host Theatre: The Mummy’s Curse
Starring – Lon Chaney Jr. & Peter Coe      Not Rated        1944

Host: This episode starts with a jump cut from the opening credits and has Ghost Host wandering around the graveyard.  He tells us a little about who stars in the film we are about to see, The Mummy’s Ghost! The next time we see Ghost Host, he is closing the show, mixing a drink and giving us his closing line “Here’s Blood In Your Eye”.

Movie: An irrigation project in the rural bayous of Louisiana unearths living mummy Kharis, who was buried in quicksand twenty-five years earlier.

Note from Matt: This was part of a double feature showing, so not a full episode with all segments and to boot it’s the second film shown of said double feature. This also seems like a very poorly edited episode from the person pausing for commercials as most logo bumpers are missing as are most of The Ghost Host skits.

Ghost Host Theatre: Night Key
Starring – Boris Karloff & Warren Hull      Not Rated        1937

Host: Ghost Host is standing looking out the window of the mansion looking out at the rain and then walks over to his desk and starts to mix potions and tells us the film of the night is Night Key and then takes us into the first part of the movie. We next see Ghost Host walking around his graveyard, and he chats about 30’s horror films that they will be showing soon on his show and then takes us back to the night’s film. We next join Ghost Host in his lab once more working on an experiment, and he tells us what’s in store for us next week!

Movie: The inventor of a new top-of-the-line burglar alarm system is kidnapped by a gang in order to get him to help them commit robberies.

Note from Matt: Sadly this episode is missing the end segment as well as end credits.

Ghost Host Theatre:  Werewolf Of London
Starring – Henry Hull & Warner Oland      Not Rated        1935

Host: Ghost Host is standing looking out the window of the mansion looking out at the rain and then walks over to his desk and starts to mix potions and tells us the film of the night is Werewolf Of London and then slowly takes us into the first part of the movie as he continues to work on his experiment. We next see Ghost Host walking around his graveyard and hypes some upcoming films he will be hosting in the coming weeks like The Mummy and Night Monster and has a sinister chuckle about the viewer being scared over the night’s movie. The Ghost Host ends the show by inviting us back next week and delivers the line “Here’s Blood In Your Eye” as he takes a drink and the rainstorm still rages on outside.

Movie: While on a botanical expedition in Tibet Dr. Wilfred Glendon is attacked in the dark by a strange animal. Returning to London, he finds himself turning nightly into a werewolf and terrorizing the city, with the only hope for curing his affliction a rare Asian flower.

Ghost Host Theatre: Invisible Ray/Mad Doctor Of Market Street
Starring – Boris Karloff & Lionel Atwill     Not Rated       1936/1942

Host: Ghost Host is standing looking out the window of the mansion looking out at the rain and then walks over to his desk and starts to mix potions and tells us the first film of the night is Invisible Ray and then quickly takes us into the first part of the movie as he continues to work on his experiment. We next see Ghost Host walking around his graveyard and hypes the second film of the night and just chills standing next to a tombstone while we go back to the movie. We return to Ghost Host and he is still in his graveyard, and we just hear his voice at first and then he appears and takes us to the second film. Once more in the graveyard Ghost Host tells us about upcoming film he will be showing very soon on his show and then quickly we get a Ghost Host logo bumper. The end segment seems to be missing.

Movies: The Invisible Ray – Visionary scientist Janos Rukh convinces a group of scientists and supporters to mount an expedition to the African continent to locate and study an ancient meteorite of great significance. He exposes himself to the highly toxic radiation of the meteorite, and while an antidote devised by Dr. Benet saves him from death by radiation poisoning, his naked touch causes instant death to others. Back in London, the benefits of the meteorite’s controlled radiation offer Dr. Benet an opportunity to restore eyesight to the blind. The antidote’s toxicity excites Prof. Rukh into paranoid rages as he seeks revenge against the members of his expedition, who he accuses of stealing his discovery for their own glory. The Mad Doctor Of Market Street – A mad scientist is forced to leave San Francisco when his experiments become known. He lands on a tropical island, takes control and terrorizes the local populace. The survivor of a shipwreck washes ashore on the island, sees what is happening and determines to free the natives from his rule.

Note from Matt: Sad to say this episode has lots of digital breakup as the person I got it from put it on a very cheap DVD-R, and this made it very hard to see the ending of the film and episodes closing segment that appears to have been cut off.

Ghost Host Theatre: Doctor RX/The Spider Woman Strikes Back
Starring – Lionel Atwill & Gale Sondergaard     Not Rated       1932/1946

Host: Ghost Host is standing looking out the window of the mansion looking out at the rain and then walks over to his desk and tells us the film of the night is Doctor RX and then super quickly we go to the first part of the film. We next see Ghost Host walking around his graveyard and hypes the films coming soon to his show and just stands around before we go back to the film. We come back to Ghost Host who is in his mansion and ends the show with his famous like “Here’s Blood In Your Eye”!

Movies: Doctor RX – A monster lurks as New York newspaperman Lee Taylor investigates one of the “Moon Killer” murders, in which the victims are strangled, cannibalized and surgically incised under the light of the full moon. The trail leads to the cliffside mansion of Dr. Xavier, where the doctor and his colleagues conduct a strange experiment. The Spider Woman Strikes Back – Jean takes the job of caretaker/companion (before the word took on a completely alternate-life style meaning) to blind woman Zenobia. Also hanging around the house, in this horror/western, is Mario, a deaf-mute servant who evidently wasn’t much help to Zenobia when it came to identifying the source of a noise Zenobia couldn’t see. Jean is a little slow in realizing that Zenobia is slowly killing her by taking her blood. Nothing personal. Zenobia needs her blood to feed some plants. She uses the blossoms of the plants to make poison to kill cattle in order to drive away the local ranchers so she can buy all the land…cheap.

Note from Matt: The second film on this disc is clearly a crappy put together fan reproduction or just a goof from the station as the breaks for Spider Woman Strikes back are those of Doctor RX!

While Ghost Host’s footage from episode to episode only changed slightly and the voice over sometimes was hard to understand from the echo and music playing over it, to this day I find him to be a great Horror Host whose look and style was all his own and his spooky echoing voice is captivating and draws you into every word he is speaking. Also while his show has been off the air for decades, I like to think his old mansion is still out there crumbling as the constant rainstorm batters it and that The Ghost Host is still inside working on his experiments and taking breaks from it by strolling around the rundown graveyard and still watching black and white horror movies for enjoyment. I am as always interested in getting more episodes of Ghost Host so if you, my friends and readers, have some feel free to send me a message and we trade or something. I also would love to hear from you guys about what Horror Hosts you would like to see me cover here at Rotten Ink and give the old Horror Host Icon treatment to.  I always love learning about new hosts and enjoy seeing what joy they brought to their viewers. So to wrap up this update I want to say a big THANK YOU to Ghost Host who was an amazing Host with such a simple low budget show. Our next update will take us away from the world of Horror Hosting and into the world of aliens as I will be delivering another “Alien Invasion” update that will cover the DC Comic adaptation of the movie Alien Nation! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you back here for the next update.

 

January The 13th: The Muppets Take Manhattan

In 1989, hockey masked killer Jason Voorhees, aboard a cruise ship filled with high school seniors, slashed his way into Manhattan, New York and took that city by brutal storm. But just five years before, in 1984, a band of goofy stage performs took it by laughter and cheer.  This band was lead by a noble green man named Kermit The Frog and his friends are The Muppets, and yes, they as well took Manhattan! This film and its STAR Comic mini series adaptation are the topic of this second update of 2018…wow, we are in 2018 and this is amazing as 2017 seemed to fly by. But let’s not focus on that; let’s focus on the third Muppet movie that starred Kermit and the gang getting into a fun and wacky adventure. Like many kids my age, growing up I loved The Muppets and saw this movie a tons of time as it played on HBO when I was a kid. I even taped it off TV on Beta when I was younger. My gal Juliet also loves The Muppets, and I almost had her do this update but decided that I also had some things to say about this movie! So let’s travel to New York with our pal Kermit and see why he and his pals decided to take Manhattan.

The Muppet Show was created by Jim Henson and was a variety show that aired on ABC from 1976-1981.  My brother Bryan and I used to watch it in reruns as even our Dad was entertained by these colorful puppets who had great personalities and added humor by interacting with their celebrity guests. Kermit The Frog was the head of this rag tag group of performers that had the likes of Fozzie Bear a terrible stand up comic, Miss Piggy a diva actress and singer, Gonzo a weird big nosed guy who would do stunts and Rowlf The Dog who played the piano and sang, to name a few. Amazing guest stars like Alice Cooper, Vincent Price and Mark Hamill added to the enjoyment of this program that would go on to spawn movies, comic books, video games, novels, cartoons and toys, and this is why Disney ended up buying Jim Henson Productions and continues to make Muppet stuff for fans to enjoy. Now I could really get into the history of The Muppets and their creation and such, but I would rather save that for another update that possibly Juliet will handle.  So our main focus for this update is the third movie adventure they had. But to sum it up, growing up I was a big fan of The Muppets and watched the show in reruns, loved the cartoon Muppet Babies and enjoyed the heck out of the movies over the years….so in other words, The Muppets Rule!

Growing up I was lucky that my Mom would buy me lots of toys from stores like Hearts, Hills and Gold Circle and would find also lots of great toys at garage sales.  Besides The Muppet Babies figures that were in Happy Meals from McDonalds, I had the cool Fisher Price figures called “The Muppet Show Players” that they released in 1978 with a total of seven figures in the set that included Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal, Rowlf and Scooter. The figures stood about 3-4” tall and had limited movement and came with a stick that allowed you to clumsily move The Muppet around and make your own plays and shows with them. Now keep in mind that these toys were made a year before I was even born and as a kid, I got some of them from Odd Lots, who had them in stock in the 80’s!! I am not sure if maybe if Fisher Price rereleased them or if a large stock of them was found, but my brother and I had many of them growing up. As I said, our parents got us many from Odd Lots and we also found a few at garage sales. I know I owned Rowlf, Fozzie, Animal and Scooter and remember my brother owning Kermit, Animal and Gonzo, and we both really did enjoy them and kept onto them for many years before we ended up giving them to our cousins when our mom “pushed” us to give many of our toys away to them. But I can remember playing with these toys and having them on the side of the Jedi in the toy wars I used to have when I was a youngster growing up in Waynesville. So did any of you readers grow up having these Muppet Fisher Price toys?

To me, the Muppets are as iconic as Looney Tunes and Disney Cartoon characters and seem to have always been a part of my life from watching them on TV all the way to reading comic book adventures about them and everything in-between! I mean heck, one of the first vinyl records I ever owned was the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie. My favorite Muppet of the main cast of characters was Fozzie The Bear as I found him to be a lovable goofy unfunny comedian who was funny because he was not funny! The other that comes close to Fozzie in my book is Gonzo as I love the fact he is so weird, had a creative mind and his close friends are rats and chickens! But my favorite minor character always has been Sweetums, a large ogre monster who towers over Muppets and humans alike and looks like a mean son of a gun but is a semi nice guy unless he is pushed or you mess with his friends. Sweetums first appeared in the TV Special “The Frog Prince” in 1971 and was a bad guy and son of an evil witch Taminella and would later make appearances on The Muppet Show becoming more of a cast member in season two. He would also go on to be in many of The Muppet movies as well as video games, comics, books and toys throughout the run of the show and beyond. I think I have always liked Sweetums lots because I have been a Monster Kid for as long as I can remember, and he looks like a giant monster that could have been the main baddy in any G rated horror film of the 70’s. Many actors have played the character, but the one who made this giant Muppet suit monster his own was Richard Hunt who played him from 1975 to 1991 and the original suit actor was Jerry Nelson who only played him once in 1971 for his first appearance. So while Fozzie and Gonzo are amazing characters who are my main cast favorites, good old Ogre Sweetums has a special place in my heart as well. Take a look at the pics below to see why this aging Monster Kid dug him.

Growing up I always thought that the monster used as a mascot for Noble Roman’s Pizza in the 80’s was The Muppet Sweetums, and once older, thanks to YouTube, I was able to finally see that he was not indeed pushing cheep greasy pizza to hungry people in the 80’s but instead the pizza place made their own walk around Muppet who very much looked like a knock off of Sweetums complete with his under bite bulldog like jaw! But let’s be honest, I really do like the fact Noble Roman’s Pizza has a mascot, and while he is not as memorable to many fast food junkies as say Ronald McDonald, The Noid or Colonel Sanders that we have covered here on Rotten Ink, he still made his mark for those kids in the 80’s who remember him…plus it appears as if they still somewhat use him but have changed him quit a bit as he no longer has brown fur like Sweetums and now has blue and purple fur much like the My Pet Monster doll! In my youth I can only remember eating Noble Roman’s Pizza less than a handful of times and can remember eating there with my cousins Dino and Norman. I have never been a big pizza eater and can remember not really enjoying my slices of the pie from them. Just wanted to throw this in as I am not sure when in the future I would be talking about Sweetums or the knock off Noble Roman’s Pizza mascot…check out the pics below to see why younger me thought they were one and the same.

So I think we are at the point of this update where we will be taking a look at the movie that spawned this comic adaptation and was a film that my brother Bryan and I watched many times and even owned on VHS for years until I, like a fool, sold all my VHS off to a second hand store that underpaid for them all. But here is what we will do for this quick look at the film, I will take the write up from our pals at IMDB and then will talk a little about watching it for the first time aka what I can remember and then talk about how well it did at the box office and such. I hope you’re ready to talk about some Muppets cause we are about to dive in their world!

The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

“The Muppets graduate from college and decide to take their senior revue on the road. They hit the streets of Manhattan trying to sell their show to producers, finally finding one young and idealistic enough to take their show. After several mishaps and much confusion, things begin to come together for them.”

If memory serves me right, I first saw this film on HBO when I was a youngster and my Mom use to hype up all the big kids movies that came to that paid station (that we would have on and off during my youth) to me and my brother who always were so eager to watch movies as we both loved cinema even at a very young age. There was always something very magical about watching a Muppet Movie as they always seemed like events much like many of the film series from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s did.  When a new Superman, Star Wars, Star Trek, Jurassic Park or Batman film was released, it was a major deal to many of my friends as well as the film going public and for the longest time The Muppet films felt that way! While The Muppets Take Manhattan is a great family film and was one I liked, it never was my favorite Muppet film growing up as I always loved The Great Muppet Caper as that one was just over the top silly and was one I had seen more often on TV and home video. The film was released to theaters on July 13, 1984 and was a hit for Tristar as it brought in $25,534,703.00 at the US box office on a budget of $8 million and came in at # 39 for the year beating out such films as A Nightmare On Elm Street, Sixteen Candles, The Neverending Story, Children Of The Corn, Supergirl, This Is Spianl Tap and Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai to name a few. So as you can see, in the 80’s The Muppets had box office draw and were favorites of kids and the young at heart. One thing I do want to also say is that as I kid I always thought it was amazing that the cast of Sesame Street was in this film as they are guests at a very special wedding that we will talk about in the comic review…I wonder if they will make an appearance in the comic or if they will be cut out due to rights issues?

Now that we have talked about Muppets Take Manhattan as well as about my favorite underrated b-cast Muppet, I think it’s time we dive into the adaptation comic mini series released by Star Comics! It’s been a while since I did an update about a Star Comic, and it feels good doing one based on The Muppets as they are a fun one to talk about! Also this is not the last time I will have an update here at Rotten Ink about them as sometime this year or next my gal Juliet will do a bigger update on The Muppets in general. So before we get started, I need to remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank Bell Book And Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and making this update possible. So let’s take a trip to New York with Kermit and the rest of The Muppets and see just how they take Manhattan with laughter.

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 1  ***
Released in 1984     Cover Price .60     Star Comics   # 1 of 3

Kermit The Frog as well as his fellow Muppets have just put on a musical show the day the graduated collage and the show is such a hit the crowd and his friends push Kermit to go to New York and try and get it on Broadway! Kermit and friends pack up their stuff and head to New York with fame and stars in their eyes and the first day they go and meet Martin Price who claims to love the show and wants it to go straight to Broadway…but only if Kermit and his friends all pay him $300 a piece! The Muppets know this is wrong and before they can say no the police bust in and try to arrest Price for fraud over the years and this criminal tries to take Gonzo hostage but the blue weirdo is saved by Animal and price is brought to justice. Kermit and pals don’t loose their faith in the show even after day after day and meeting after meeting they get told NO! With no money in their pockets they stop at a diner for some soup and meet the owner, his daughter Jenny and rat waiter Rizzo who all befriend the struggling stage actors and as Kermit gets the soup, Scooter talks the rest of the gang that they should split up and make their own way to impress Kermit and themselves! As his friends all leave New York one at a time Kermit goes to the Empire State Building and looks at the city and gets motivation to get his friends back and his show on Broadway.

This first issue in the adaptation is really well done and captures the mood, music and characters of the film very well. The plot of this first issue has Kermit graduating collage and putting on a great musical show that leaves him being pushed to bring the show to Broadway by the audience and his fellow friends. And once in New York he finds that getting the show on Broadway was way harder than expected and he and his friends sleep in rented lockers and in the end his friends split off from him to get jobs and leave Kermit all alone in the Big Apple. Kermit The Frog is a very creative Muppet who believes in his projects and his friends and is chasing his dreams to be around his friends and entertain the world with his production shows. Kermit is just a great frog who has a heart of gold and makes friends wherever he goes. Scooter is a Muppet who pushes Kermit to do this show and is the goof who tells the other Muppets they should all split up and get normal jobs…what a goon…stand by your friend man if you believe in his art. The rest of The Muppets are around and all have faith in Kermit and don’t want to split away from him but it’s the idea of Scooter that forces them to all walk away, so it’s sad to say but I think Scooter is this issues bad guy next to the con man Martin Price! Jenny and the diner workers are all good people who you know will be playing a bigger part in issue # 2! Very solid issue and a great way to start off this mini series, and I must say the cover is amazing and very eye catching for fans of The Muppets and the interior art it top notch kids comic stuff done by Dean Yeagle and is the style that made me fall in love with Star Comics all those years back in my youth. I can’t wait to see how issue 2 brings the story to life.

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 2  ***
Released in 1984      Cover Price .60      Star Comics     # 2 of 3

Kermit is motivated to get his show on Broadway and his friends back in New York and heads to Pete’s Diner and gets a part tome job working in the kitchen as does Rizzo’s fellow rat friends! While Kermit is trying to get his show picked up a weird person in shadow keeps following him! Kermit has Jenny help him by designing cloths that he thinks will make agents pay him more attention and sadly this seems to not help get his show off the ground. The shadow figure following him is Miss Piggy who gets upset when she see’s Jenny hug Kermit and worse when se returns to her job she is fired after getting an extreme make over from her co-worker! Kermit does not give up and this time takes Rizzo and the other rats to a high-end restaurant in order to build up his show but once more he his tossed out and the show is not picked up. After being defeated again Kermit is down in the dumps and runs back into Miss Piggy who has beat up a would be purse snatcher and he gets her a job at Pete’s as a waitress. Good news comes via a letter when Kermit is called to meet a producer who turns out to be the young son of the producer who wants his first project to be Kermit’s musical! Super hyped Kermit calls Jenny at the restaurant and tells her that the show is going to happen and that she can do costumes and to let Piggy know that they are Broadway bound. As Kermit leaves the building to get back to Pete’s he is hit by a car and looses his memory!

Kermit in this issue pushes forward on trying his best to get his show to play in New York as well as get his friends to come back so they can all work together and make something special. Kermit also tries to change who he is in order to get the attention of producers and dresses like a goof and even acts and says things like one. Also Pete’s Diner turns out to be great place for Kermit to work as it puts a little cash in his pocket, is a home base for him as well as he has met lots of new friends. Jenny, Pete and Rizzo as well as the fellow rats are all great people who clearly believe in Kermit and his musical, as they are all willing to help him in his time of need and depression. Miss Piggy while she has walked away from Kermit she still loves him and has stayed in New York in order to keep an eye on him and once they meet back up she ends up working with him at the diner. The young producer is a good kid who clearly has seen the talent and special nature of the Kermit musical and chooses it as his first project even though his father does not share his love for Kermit’s play. This issue is great and builds up more of the will that Kermit has to make his own way and to impress his friends and also delivers us drama in the way of Kermit getting hit by a car and forgetting who he is making the musical’s future in jeopardy. The only down side of this issue is that besides Kermit, Miss Piggy and Rizzo none of the other Muppets make an appearance besides a brief cameo of The Muppet Babies in a two panel flashback and this is a bummer for fans of the other characters. This issue has a good cover and once more fantastic art by Dean Yeagle and is another top notch kids comic adapting a great kids movie. So lets see what issue three the final issue in this mini series has in store for us!

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .60     Star Comics   # 3 of 3

Kermit is taken to the hospital after being hit by a car and is a blank slate not even knowing his own name. Meanwhile Miss Piggy, Jenny, Rizzo and Pete are awaiting his return and when hours pass and the producer of the show stops by to say the show starts in 2 weeks they must try and find their missing friend! As they hit the streets looking for him Pete writes telegrams of the good news and The Muppets all come back to town and meet at the diner and all are told of Kermit missing and all hit the streets looking for him and all come up empty handed. Kermit is now going by Phil and is working at an ad firm and just by luck on opening night he and his co-workers stop at Pete’s for lunch and his friends are happy to see him, but he don’t remember them so they kidnap him and take him to the theater to try and jog his mind. After hours of trying they are not able to and the show starts and just before they are to go on without him Kermit laughs at the fact Miss Piggy loves him and she slaps him so hard he hits his head on the wall and snaps back to normal and rushes to get onstage on time for the start of his opening night of his big musical. The show is a hit as the crowd loves it, Kermit has his friends all around him as they do the show and he and Miss Piggy are married live on stage as part of the show and this is how The Muppet Took Manhattan!

The finial issue in this adaptation is just as good as the first two issues and shows just why Star Comics when around was the best kids comic company going, better than Archie and Harvey and all others of that time. The plot of this issue has Kermit with memory loss wondering around New York as Phil as his friends and musical are in need of him. And when all looks lost Kermit remembers who he is and pulls off a massive hit musical and even marries his long time girlfriend Piggy live during the show! I love that Kermit takes on the name Phil and works along side other frogs and creates cheesy ads and slogans for products like soap! I also love as Phil is he kind of rude and laughs in Piggy’s face when she talks of her and Kermit’s plans for marriage…yeah he laughs in her face and gets slapped for his terrible manners! But I love that when he remembers who he is Kermit kicks into creative gear and gets stuff done! Miss Piggy in this issue loves her green skinned man and worries about him missing and does what she can to try and find him, and while she tricks him into marriage she is not nearly as diva acting as she normally is. The rest of The Muppets (Gonzo, Fozzie, Scooter, ect.) are all background players and do what they do well and that’s add fun moments to this comic and story. Jenny, Pete and Rizzo show that they are great friends as they as well get worried about Kermit and do what they can to help find him and make his show a hit. I also love that they did add the Sesame Street characters to the wedding and that through out the issue you get cameos from those cranky old critics Statler And Waldorf who as well add their own brand of humor. The cover of this issue has Miss Piggy and Kermit getting married and is eye catching for fans of The Muppets and once more Dean Yeagle and is great stuff. This three issue mini series is a must read for fans of The Muppets and the film its based on as it is a pure fun all age comic series that is entertaining and just plan fun! I would say that my favorite Character in this mini series is Kermit as how can you not like a guy trying to chase his creative dream and wants to share it with his friends. While my favorite backup character would be Rizzo as who don’t like a rat who waits tables and gets all his other rat friends jobs. So to sum it up make if you dig Kermit and his friends make sure to give this a read. Check out some art from this comic series done by Dean Yeagle below and see just how fun it is.

The Muppets are icons of TV and kid friendly shows, and while they have lost some steam nowadays, they still have a special place in my heart as seeing them they make me think of my youth and all the good times I had with my family watching them on TV and movies. And as I have said, this will not be the last time you will see The Muppets here at Rotten Ink.  Juliet confirmed with me that she will indeed be doing an update about them in the future! For our next update, we will be walking away from New York and The Muppets and head to the world of Horror Hosting and a rundown mansion that is the home of the one and only Ghost Host.  This Maryland Horror Host will be the next Icon we chat about. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update ghost and ghoulies!

Matt Goes To The Movies 2017

Welcome once more readers and friends to my look at the movies that hit cinemas last year as I count them down for your reading pleasure. 2017 was a pretty solid year with many films that I was very much looking forward to watching, some films that I didn’t know much about but found myself really liking, and even ones that lived up to the hype I created in my mind. This year I was lucky to watch many of these films in multiple theaters as I saw many at Cinemark at The Greene as well as Cinemark Dayton South, and I also went to Regal Cinema in Beavercreek and Cranberry Cinema in PA.  For the most part, they were all great experiences with Regal being the worst as every time I see a horror movie there something goes wrong from kids running up and down the stairs to grown men yelling at people for asking them to stop talking during the movie…in other words, the Regal is my least favorite place to watch movies. I also was lucky to see many of these films with friends and family as this year I watched many of them with the likes of Juliet, my brother Bryan and his family, Josh Weinberg, Stephen Alexander, Theresa Daniels, Jeremy Hoyt, Garrison Kane and Eric Shonborn to name a few. I also ate lots of popcorn and drank lots of bottle water and ICEE’s! So I can see on the marquee that they are seating here at The Rotten Ink Theater so let’s find our seats and chat about what Hollywood brought us in 2017.

Once more this year I was super lucky and did not see any majorly terrible movies so once more this year the “Worst” film countdown will not be present, and we will move onto our first countdown, Action Films!!! So get ready to run from the explosions and hear some one liners as this is one genre of films that is lots of fun on the big silver screen.

# 3

Xander Cage walked away from being a member of the secret extreme team XxX many years ago, but is tracked down and brought back into action when terrorists steal a black box that brings satellites down from space to crash into selected locations killing many. And worse the terrorist have killed Augustus Gibbons, the main brain behind the XxX team with one of these attacks! Now Xander, with a team of fellow XxX members, goes on a quest to stop these attacks and get revenge for their fallen friend and boss. But things are not what they seem, and this film takes lots of twists and turns as they find out a former XxX member might be the brain behind the attacks and things start to get really extreme as it’s a war to get the black box and stop this once and for all. This was a fun and silly action film, and it was nice to see Vin Diesel return as Xander Cage as he hams his way through the cheesy dialogue and over the top action moments. The film had a budget of $85 million and did not do to great for Paramount at the US Box Office as it only brought in $44,898,413.00 and made its money overseas. While not a groundbreaking action film, this was a fun check your brain at the door popcorn flick.

# 2

Restaurant owner Quan Ngoc Minh watches as his daughter and several other innocent people die in a terrorist attack in London. He is hurt and his spirit broken after his only child is gone. Quan sets out for answers as he wants revenge on the group who did this terrible act as he was once in the special forces and has the means and tools to get his revenge served dead cold. He sets his sights on government worker who once had ties to the group who has taken credit for the attack and won’t stop till he gets the answers he seeks. This is a fantastic action/drama film that stars Jackie Chan in a very dark and brooding film, but this lovable action star pulls it off so well as does co-star Pierce Bronson, who plays the government official. The film is well acted, the score is fantastic, and it’s an overall outstanding film that has some great action from the aging Jackie Chan who, while a little slower, still don’t seem to be missing a beat when it comes to delivering action and fights. The film was a hit for STX Entertainment overseas and did okat at the US Box Office as it brought in $34,216,587.00 on the budget of $35 million making the US dollars just the icing on the cake as it brought in $101,300,000.00 estimated from foreign markets. This is a film that’s worth checking out on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital if you get the chance.

# 1

Hitman John Wick, also known as The Boogey Man, is forced back into the world of assassination when he must do a favor for a fellow hitman who he owes before he can 100% retire.  When he at first refuses, his fellow hitman blows up his house and forces him back to accept and hires him to kill his sister who is going to be the head of the family business now that their father is dead. After John conducts the hit, he soon finds out his “friend” and fellow hitman has now placed a price on his head and hitmen from around the world are coming around to cash in! With very little friends and very little safe places, John must kill his one time friend and hope the hit goes away…but this action film has lots of twists and turns and leaves the door wide open for a part 3! This is a great sequel to the first film and adds more badass nature to the character of John Wick.  Once more I must say I am not a Keanu Reeves fan but he is perfect as this character, and I could not see any other action star pulling this off. The film did well for Lionsgate at the US Box Office bringing in $92,029,184.00 on a budget of $40 million. If you enjoyed the first film, this second film will also deliver the goods!

It was a solid year for Action fans, and really for me, hands down the best was John Wick 2 as that is a series I hope they continue for a while now. But let’s move away from action and into the world of Fantasy and Sci-Fi. It was also a great year for fans of those two genres.

# 8

Weird animals have been found in an underwater lake, and the oil company who found them are keeping it quite as the lake stands between them and lots of oil they need to make lots of money! Tripp is a high school student who works on cars and also works at the town junkyard, and when one of the creatures decides to hide and turns a broken down monster truck into a true monster truck, Tripp is the one who befriends the creature whose parents have been taken away by the bad guys! Tripp and his new creature become close friends and each help each other in a quest to save the day from the evil oil company and the scientist who works for them. This is a silly kids science fiction fantasy film that was a fun watch on a boring Wednesday at the theater and is nothing special but also not a total waste. This film tanked at the US Box Office for Paramount as it only brought in $33,370,166.00 on a budget of $125 million! Not much to say about this film besides it’s a goofy kids film that stars Lucas Till, Rob Lowe, Danny Glover and Thomas Lennon and worth a watch if you’re bored.

# 7

The war between humans and robots is raging on, and when Optimus Prime is taken over and turned evil, the humans and what’s left of the Autobots must team up to save the world from becoming the new Cybertron as the evil robots of space are trying to take over our world. But you can never keep a good robot down as Prime returns to the good side and joins the fight to save the world wide. Throw in Merlin The Magician, medieval robots, and an over acting hammy Anthony Hopkins, and you have this 5th film in a movie franchise based on a 80’s toy line that is clearly running out of steam and is chugging along on fumes. Now with that said, I really did have a blast watching this over blown action film on the big screen as it was clearly made to be a summer popcorn family flick. The film over all did well for Paramount worldwide and just at the US Box Office, it brought in $130,168,683.00 on a budget of $217 million. At this point with the Transformers movies I must say that if the series ended here with this sequel, it would be a good thing, but if they decide to try a milk another film or two out of Optimus Prime and his friends, I am sure I will travel to the cinema to watch. Worth a watching via a rental for fans of the past film or for those who wanna see a chubby old Anthony Hopkins get blown up….yeah, I laughed out loud at the theater watching that scene.

# 6

The Earth is being protected from terrible storms and natural disasters by a massive satellite base called Dutch Boy that was created by Jake Lawson who later gets banned and fired from the station for not playing ball with the government. Some time passes, and Jake’s brother Max is now in charge and has to try and bring his brother back after someone has hacked the system and is causing massive storms and climate changes to parts of the world. Once together, the brothers and only a few selected friends must figure out why this protection machine has been turned into a weapon of mass destruction and who’s behind it. The was a pretty cool disaster film that was well acted with most of the drama and scenes taking place in outer space.  It also does a good job of keeping you always guessing as to who is behind this highjack and why they want to cause death and chaos. The film stars Gerard Butler as Jake Lawson, who is our film’s unlikely hero, and he does a great job no matter where the plot and twists of this film takes him. The film was supposed to have been a big blockbuster film for Warner Brothers but did not do that well at the US box office only bringing in a total of $33,424,531.00 on a budget of $120 million making it a bomb for them. But if you like films like Armageddon, Earthquake, 2012 and Twister, this film is one you will want to check out worth watch on DVD, Blu-Ray or Digital.

# 5

The Great Wall follows a group of mercenaries from Europe who travel to China in order to steal the secrets of gun powder and soon find themselves prisoners at the Great Wall of China after much of their party has been killed by an unknown monster! And things get worse as they must fight for their lives alongside their captors against a horde of monsters as it’s clear that the Great Wall was created to protect the people of China from the hordes of monsters that want to enter and eat all of mankind! With lives on the line and gun powder to be stolen, they stick around for awhile with a sinister plan in motion. But soon with a change of heart and many lives on the line as the monsters get past the wall, it’s a fight for survival as the monsters want flesh, and our heroes want to be just that, heroes. This film was lots of fun and is a fantasy adventure film that blends well the beauty of Chinese Fantasy and European Goth Fantasy and mixes in American style Knight films and all together it creates a Fantasy, Action, Science Fiction, Martial Arts film with a dash of Horror. The film stars Matt Damon, Jing Tain and Willem Dafoe and is a great watch for fans who enjoy monster hordes and folklore of China. The film sadly did terrible for Universal here at the US Box Office as it only brought in $45,157,105.00 on a massive budget of $150 million! Thanks to the foreign box office, this film ended up not being totally in the red. For those who have not seen it, The Great Wall is a great watch and should have done better at the box office here in America, worth picking it up on DVD or Blu-Ray.

# 4

Luke Skywalker the Jedi Master has been found by Rey, and she has a message for him that the rebels need his help in their fight against the First Order who have risen in the place of the Empire. As Luke fights with his inner self, not wanting to get involved in another galactic battle, Princess Leia and the rebels are being stalked by Snoke and his First Order army as their ship is running out of fuel and could be blown to bits! It’s up to Poe, Finn and Rose to try and save the day and get their friends to safety and out of the grip of Snoke’s battleships blasting power. Rey thinks she can help turn Kylo Ren good and leaves Luke, who she deems a coward for not helping. In the end Luke makes his return, and the Rebels, who seemed to be on their last leg, get new hope as Rey is learning her force powers, and on the other side Kylo Ren has taken over the First Order. This new episode in the Star Wars saga is kind of a mess as the film seems to spin its wheels with plots that seem pointless and characters who change for no reason….and not to mention many of the deaths of classic characters seem really cheesy and not well thought out. But while this is a flawed movie and the worst of the Disney made Star Wars films, it was by no means a terrible movie and did have some great moments with the new and classic characters. I enjoyed the inner drama and madness of Kylo Ren, the growth of hot shot Poe Dameron as well as new Jedi Rey! It was great seeing classic characters like Chewbacca, Leia, C3PO, R2-D2, Admiral Ackbar and of course Luke. This film has fans very split as many love it, while others hated it to the extreme…myself, I found it okay and enjoyed seeing it on the big screen in 3-D. Did the film’s script stink bad in spots…yes, but in the end it’s just a weak sequel in a franchise that’s going to be around for a long, long time. The film did amazing for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in $548,962,602 on a budget of $200 million. Don’t listen to what the critics and internet keyboard reviewers have to say, check it out for yourself and see what side you’re on.

# 3

Captain Jack Sparrow is at it again as he and his crew lead a botched robbery of a safe that ends up leaving Jack in jail and about to be hanged for his crimes. Henry Turner is the son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan, and he wants to find the location of an item he thinks will save his father from the curse of Davey Jones as well as will lift all the curses of the sea and to do so he saves Jack Sparrow as well as Carina Smyth, a young female astronomer who has been accused of being a witch. Together they hit the sea for adventure but soon find they are not alone as an evil ghost named Captain Armndo Salazar is out for revenge and is forcing the likes of Captain Barbossa to help him capture Captain Jack so that he can kill him like Jack killed him many years back and caused he and his old crew to been cursed for many decades. And of course our hero Jack Sparrow is only out for one thing, to save his own butt and try and get drunk and rich while doing it! This fifth Pirates film was lots of fun and was a great watch on the big screen! Johnny Depp is fantastic as the goofy Captain Jack Sparrow who is a hero of sorts who you find yourself cheering for even though he is a terrible and selfish person. The film’s villain Captain Salazar is cold blooded and murders anyone who gets in his way of revenge and only has one mission, to kill Jack Sparrow, and is also a very self centered person who worries about his legacy and name. This film also delivers cameos from long time fan favorite characters Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann and offers the possibility of a sequel that could have them once more joining Jack on an adventure on the high sea. The film over all did well for Disney with it bringing in $172,558,876.00 on a budget of $230 million with it doing well worldwide doing a total of $794,861,794.00! I really enjoyed this film and am a fan of the series, and I can’t wait to see the next film in the series as this is one of Disney’s franchises that I look forward to seeing in the theaters. Check it out if you’re a fan of the series, and I even have bought the film on DVD so I can watch it again.

# 2

K is a Blade Runner who has been hired to kill older rogue models of androids who have all gone into hiding. But after one of his hits, he uncovers a mystery that intrigues him enough that he breaks the rules and stumbles onto a secret that will reshape the world and change lives forever. I don’t want to spoil too much of the plot of this film as I think fans of the original as well as fans of classic feeling science fiction films should really check this one out. The film was well cast as Ryan Gosling is fantastic as K, and the supporting cast of Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Sylvia Hoeks, Ana De Armas and Harrison Ford are all fantastic. I enjoyed this film so much that after watching it in the theater, both Juliet and I sat in our seats for a few moments and just talked about how much we both enjoyed it. The film sadly did not do well for Warner Brothers at the US Box Office as it only brought in $91,524,557.00 on a budget of $150 million. I am not sure why the moviegoing public decided not to get off the couch and see this film, but it’s a shame as this one was a perfect watch in the theater. Great acting, great story and amazing score, I will for sure buy this one on DVD when released.

# 1

Caesar and his fellow apes are at war with the humans who are sending soldiers into sneak attack battles. The humans are being lead by The Colonel who, during a raid, kills Caesar’s wife and teenage son, and this sparks the lead ape on a quest for revenge. As Caesar and his closest friends set out to kill The Colonel, they come across a young mute human girl as well as another talking ape named Bad Ape. And this quest for revenge comes to a head when Caesar and many of the apes are taken prisoner, and they must get strong in order to escape and become stronger as the world’s new race. This film is a great Science Fiction film that is filled with lots of action, drama and even some funny moments.  No joke, this film is the only film in the theater that I felt myself tearing up at the end. The plot of this film even has many surprises and some sad shocking moments and is one that really must be seen, and if you have not seen it yet, go get it on DVD, Blu-Ray or even rent if from you local Video Rental Store. The film did good worldwide, and at the US Box Office alone it made $146,880.162.00 for Fox on a budget of $150 million. This film is my # 1 Sci-Fi/Fantasy film, and I think it is also one of my favorite films of 2017!

Hollywood really did deliver some amazing films this year and like always, they flooded the market with films based on comic book characters.  So my next list is a ranking of them! At this point I will wait for you to go get a refill of popcorn or soda….go on….for those who are waiting with me for them to get back, I also want to say that “Murder On The Orient Express” was a fantastic film and a must see but sadly did not fit an any of these categories. Well they are back with their refills, so let’s look at theses Superheroes!

# 6

Steppenwolf from Apokolips, along with his army of Parademons, are on Earth and want to bring the end of the world. What stands in his way is Batman and his newly formed together team of heroes like Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman that are calling themselves The Justice League. But when our heroes find out that the odds are against them and Steppenwolf is closer to bringing the Earth down, they make a choice to try and bring Superman back from the dead.  After doing so, is the Man of Steel the same hero the world lost or will he return and be something evil? In the end The Justice League, under the pressure of the world’s end, must fight to try to stop Steppenwolf once and for all. This was a great popcorn movie that was flawed in spots with the story and editing at times seeming like they were disjointed, but even with those flaws, I really found it to be fun and some moments even had me laughing out loud as The Flash steals the show in many scenes. The film did not do that great for Warner Brothers at the US Box Office as it only brought in $225,627,455.00 on a massive budget of $300 million! But thanks to worldwide box office dollars, the film was not a total bomb. While not a perfect superhero film, I would say it’s a very enjoyable one that was unfairly prejudged by the internet critics who judged before they even seen it.

# 5

Star-Lord and the rest of his Guardians are on a hired mission when Rocket Raccoon steals from their employer, and they now have a price on their heads that has been taken by Yondu and his pirate crew. Meanwhile Star-Lord and his friends crash land on a planet and meet Ego, who is a god-like being who happens to also be Star-Lord’s long lost father! As the Guardians Of The Galaxy stay with Ego on his planet, they meet Mantis and soon find that they, along with Yondu and his outlaws, must team up to stop Ego who is in fact a very evil being who wants to rule the galaxy and even steals the life energy from fellow living beings to gain power. This is a fun space adventure and was filled with action and lots of laughs with Dave Bautista as Drax stealing the show. While this film was very good, I did find it a little weaker than the first film, and it seemed a little too long. But with that said, this was a great popcorn movie in the theater and was worth buying on DVD like I did when released. The film did fantastic for Disney at the US Box Office as it brought in $389,813,101.00 on a budget of $200 million. Not the best Marvel Superhero movie this year, but a really good one that showcases why Marvel Comics rules the Box Office for the most part.

# 4

Thor returns to Asgard after defeating Surtur and thinking by doing so he prevented Ragnarok! Back home he finds that Loki has taken the look of Odin and has been running things after he left their father on Earth in a retirement home.  When traveling to Earth to get their father, they are meet by Doctor Strange who takes the brothers to the location of their father who is dying and tells them that their older sister Hela is on her way to Asgard and with her comes death! The brothers soon find that their sister is powerful, and she defeats them with ease and this causes them to become lost in space and stranded on a war planets where Thor is forced to be a gladiator and compete against The Hulk, who crashed there after leaving Earth behind. But Thor wants to save his home from the true Ragnarok, and along with Loki, The Hulk and female warrior Valkyrie, they escape the War planet ruled by Grandmaster and travel to Asgard for a final battle with Hela. This was one heck of a fun Superhero film that brought laughs, action and drama together perfectly and plus it had The Hulk in it, who happens to be one of my all time favorite superheroes! The film is well acted and had a great score and was a perfect way to set up Thor for the next Avengers movie. Disney did well with this film at the US Box Office as it brought in $311,621,239.00 on a budget of $180 million! Fans of Thor and Marvel Comic movies should check this one out if they have not.

# 3

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker aka Spider-Man is swinging around New York stopping small crimes and waiting for the call from Iron Man when he is needed for Avengers business. But he soon learns that the call is not coming anytime soon and that he must not only deal with his High School life but also try and stop a new villain called The Vulture who is selling high powered weapons to criminals. But not listening to Iron Man and finding out who the man behind the helmet of The Vulture is leaves Spidey in a bad situation that forces him to truly be the hero he is meant to be. This was a perfect Spider-Man film and showcases why the world of comic book readers and movie goers love Spidey! Tom Holland was perfectly casted as Peter Parker and makes the perfect Spider-Man, and I hope he sticks with the part for many movies to come. Michael Keaton was wonderfully sinister as The Vulture and plus seeing Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man again was really cool. The film did really well for Sony at the US Box Office as it did $334,201,140.00 on a budget of $175 million. Make sure if you enjoy Spider-Man as a character to check this film Spider-Man Homecoming out as it really is the best film that has been made featuring Spidey.

# 2

The X-Men are gone, and Wolverine and Professor X are on the run as they are wanted by the government and are being hunted by a group lead by Donald Pierce. Logan himself is very sick, and Professor X has a brain disease. While trying to escape, they come across and save a young girl named Laura (X-23) who is in fact also a mutant with the same powers as Logan! After fighting and always staying ahead of the bad guys, things come to a head when Professor X is murdered. Laura and fellow young mutants are being hunted down, and Logan must force himself to be the hero he once was and uses all he has in order to save the young Mutants. This is unlike any X-Men and Superhero movie I have ever seen.  While it is packed with action, it is also very heavy on drama and tries to very much tug at your heart strings as this is the final film from Hugh Jackman to play Wolverine as well as Patrick Stewart as Professor X. While sick, Logan still has what it takes to brutally kill his enemies and save those he cares about. The film did great for Fox at the US Box Office and brought in a massive $226,277,068.00 on a budget of $97 million and shows that the movie going public still love Wolverine as a character. If you want to see a Superhero film that is more than that, make sure to give this one a watch.

# 1

Amazon Princess Diana Prince left the safety of her island of Themyscira in order to help American pilot Steve Trevor and his fellow soldiers during World War I as she has discovered that Ares The God Of War has a sinister plan in order to cause world destruction. And as Wonder Woman lives among men, she discovers that she is a symbol of hope and will not stop until she puts an end to Ares and helps turn the tides of the war. Gal Gadot is fantastic as Wonder Woman, and I can’t think of any other actress who could have played the part better! Hands down this was the best over all entertaining Superhero film of the year as when watching, it felt very special. This film did fantastic for Warner Brothers at the US Box Office bringing in a whopping $412,563,408.00 on a budget of $149 million. This truly is a fantastic Superhero film and makes me have faith that DC could make a comeback in the world of cinema and capture the same magic that the Christopher Reeve Superman films did and even the Tim Burton Batman films did years later. Own it on DVD, and I can’t recommend it enough.

So the superheroes took the cinema by storm and once more showed that Marvel Comics and DC Comics heroes have lots to offer from the pages of comics to the big screen for fans. But now we are at the point of this review that I always look the most forward to, the countdown of Horror Movies that made it to theaters in 2017 that I was able to catch! This year in Horror was filled with lots of sequels as well as a good mix of arty style films and just plan cheesy ones, and as always, I enjoyed them all and am looking forward to what 2018 has in store for us! So take a drink of your soda and prepare for the Horrors Of The Cinema 2017!

# 20

It Comes At Night is about Paul and Sarah, along with their teenage son Travis, who are all hiding out in their farm house as the world around them is being filled with a sickness that is very contagious.  After taking in another family, they must decide between life and death when the sickness comes close to home. This is a very artsy horror film that burns at a very slow pace and plays on the viewer’s fears of sickness, loneliness and family first morals and even a little fear of the unknown as something in the woods around the house could be causing this rash sickness and death. But while the concept and atmosphere of this film is good, the rest of it I found to be a bore as it was not as “Deep” nor “Brilliant” as many viewers want you to think. In fact when this film came out, I had to chuckle when seeing friends who enjoyed it trying to say that those who didn’t like it “Just Didn’t Get It” when sad to say there is just not much to get in this bore fest! The film had a budget of $2.4 million and at the US Box Office brought in $13,985,117.00 for A24 Films making it a hit for them. While some love it and others hate it, I found myself almost putting it in my Worst film list as I wanted so much to like it but just couldn’t.

# 19

The Creeper is back and on another killing spree in this third film in the Jeepers Creepers series that takes place after the first film and before the second film. The Creeper is on the loose and is stock piling bodies when the local Sheriff as well as fellow law enforcement officers have taken The Creeper’s truck and soon learn his 23 days of killing is still going strong as he gets his truck back and continues his killing spree. The Creeper then sets his sights on a young woman whose uncle had a run-in with him 23 years ago and was able to take the killer’s severed hand.  This has marked her as a victim of his rampage. Now her crazy grandma and the cops set out to stop The Creeper and save the young girls life as well as others that are yet to have been gotten. This third film in the Jeepers Creepers series by all accounts feels cheap and almost feels half assed by all involved. While the story is okay and it’s nice to see The Creeper back in bloody action, the acting by almost the whole cast is bad with Meg Foster who plays the crazed Grandma being really over the top and bad in spots. The film’s blood and gore as well is lacking, and over all this film was just average. Jeepers Creepers 3 had a limited theatrical run and brought in a total of $2,335,162.00 at the US Box Office for Screen Media. Over all fans of the series should check it out; other horror fans might want to skip it.

# 18

Alice is back in a world that is overrun by zombies and controlled by the Umbrella Corporation, and she gets the shock of her life when she is contacted by the Red Queen who wants to help her bring down her creators and spread the airborne cure that will kill off zombies world wide once released. So Alice, along with some fellow survivors including Claire Redfield, enter the Hive (Umbrella’s main hub) and must find the cure in time before all human life is gone. Can Alice stop the zombie t-virus plague? Can she find out who she really is? And will she be able to trust the Red Queen? All these questions are answered in what is supposed to be the final film in the series. I must say that this film was lots of fun but also was total nonsense as the fights scenes are a quick edited mess and scene by scene, it played out as very paint by numbers. The film did poorly at the US Box Office for Sony as it only did $26,830,068.00 on a budget of $40 million, but worldwide it made lots more showing that this tired series still has drawing power at the theater. Worth watching for fans of the Resident Evil film series and those who enjoy cheesy polished zombie films.

# 17

A college teacher buys an old VCR from a flea market and stuck inside it is the cursed tape of Samara Morgan.  As he tries to repair the VCR, he ends up watching the tape and being cursed himself.  In order not to die in 7 days, he tricks his students into watching the tape that he has now turned into a internet video! Julia is a student who gets stuck in the curse as she watches the video after looking for her boyfriend who as well has become the target of Samara and her tape thanks to this professor. Now it’s up to Julia to find a way to stop Samara once and for all and truly find her body and give it a proper burial, but will this free the world of Samara or is this what she wants to unleash more of her evil in the world? This third film in the Ring series was an average sequel that added nothing new to the legend of Samara and is packed with normal paranormal scares. The acting in the film is okay as are the kills, and while not overly scary, I will say that it shows that Samara is one evil spirit who enjoys causing the deaths of any human stupid enough to watch his tape. The film did not do all that great for Paramount at the Box Office in the USA as it only brought in $27,793,018.00 on a budget or $25 million. This film also was the reason that Paramount cancelled the 13th film in the Friday The 13th series as they were mad at Horror fans for not supporting this sequel to their Rings series. While Rings might not be an amazing film, it still was enjoyable in the theater.

# 16

Colonists have landed on a planet that is perfect for them to harvest the embryos their ship is carrying and create a new colony, but they soon find that they are not alone on this planet as it’s over run by Xenomorphs who are killing them off one by one. They also run into android David who is creating the aliens as he wants to play God and thinks what he is creating is the top of the food chain. After what’s left of the survivors escape, they soon find that they have an unwanted visitor as an alien is loose on the ship, and this could be the end of life as they all know it. This sequel in the Alien series is not very good and is hands down the weakest in the series as director and creator Ridley Scott thinks that fans of the series really just want to see actor Michael Fassbender acting with himself and make the focus only be his character David who was a carry over from the film Prometheus. He also seems to forget that fans of the alien series like to see the Aliens and have scary moments not over played cliché science fiction moments. Also fans of his film Prometheus seem to get the shaft as he downplays all the characters from that series besides David! Over all this film was very mediocre and offers some great moments filled in between moments of Fassbender! The film bombed for Fox at the US Box office as it had a budget of $97 million and only brought in $74,262,031.00! This film is for diehard Alien fans only and worth getting on DVD if you’re a completist like myself.

# 15

In 1997, weird lights were seen in the sky of Phoenix, Arizona and a group of friends went out to the desert in order to find the UFO and sadly they are not seen again. Years later, one of the friend’s younger sister along with her boyfriend trying to find what happened to her brother and his friends and uncovers that things are being covered up by our government and that a tape of the events had been found. This found footage film was really well done, and I found myself drawn in to the story that is really based on unknown lights seen in the skies of Phoenix in 1997. The film has some great moments that showcase that some missing people might just have gone missing because of aliens. The film had a limited release and did pretty well for Cinelou Films at the US Box Office bringing in $3,600,146.00 on a budget of $2.8 million. If you enjoy found footage horror films and films about aliens and UFOs, this is a film you might want to check out.

# 14

Laura is the most popular girls at college, has lots of friends, and is very active on social media.  She makes the mistake of accepting a friend request from weird loner goth girl Marina Mills, who has no friends and animates weird creepy videos. While Laura was just being nice, Marina thinks their friendship is real and starts to become obsessed with the popular girl, and this makes Laura get annoyed and unfriend her after a scene is made in the school cafeteria. This makes Marina super sad and leads to her killing herself live on social media and also shows that this weird girl has weird powers as she puts a curse on Laura that causes her close friends to die and her popularity to disappear. Now Laura and her boyfriend must try and find the place that Marina killed herself to retrieve her body and find the mirror she used for the curse. But can they stop this curse or is Marina’s power to strong for them?! This was a great little horror shocker that for the most part had likable characters and made you feel bad for both Laura and Marina as both girls just wanted friendships, but they both had different ways to show it. Liesl Ahlers who plays Marina was fantastic, and I hope she stars in more horror films in the future. This film also had some great spooky moments, but sadly when seeing this film, I was the only person in the theater so I could not judge how the scares effected the audience. The film brought in $3,759,078.00 for Entertainment Studios at the US Box Office on a budget of $9.9 million. This film is worth watching if you enjoy supernatural horror films, and I for one pre-ordered it on DVD.

# 13

17 year old Clare Shannon is a young girl who is unpopular at school but has a group of tight friends, is embarrassed by her father who is a hoarder dumpster diver and is deeply affected by the suicide of her mother. But her life changes when her father finds a Chinese music box in the trash and gives it to her as a gift and out of sadness she makes a wish around it and finds that her wishes come true with it.  But each wish comes with a price that ends up affecting those close to her. But Clare is addicted to her wish fulfilling music box, and she can’t stop even though she is causing harm to her family and friends. Can Clare break the hold the music box has on her or will it be too late to save her soul and those whose it has already claimed? This was a really good PG-13 horror film that showcases a new twist on the Monkey Paw legend and is well acted and has some really cool twisted deaths and a very mean spirited ending. The film at the good old Box Office in the USA brought in $14,301,505.00 for Board Green Pictures on a budget of $12 million making it a semi hit for them. This film was a limited release and was worth seeing in the theater as I really did enjoy it over all. While some parts are a little cheesy and predictable, it still was a good popcorn scary picture. Worth watching on DVD, Blu-Ray or rental, and I for one bought it on DVD.

# 12

Sisters Lisa and Kate are on vacation in Mexico, and this get away is hard on Lisa as it was supposed to be her and her boyfriend but they broke up. To do something fun the sisters meet some guys at a bar that tell them about a boat that will take them out to the ocean and allow them to enter a cage and see sharks up close and personal! But when the sisters get into the cage and start to have fun, the boat’s crane fails, the cable snaps, and the sisters sink to the bottom of the ocean with no help in sight as the boat is not equipped for this kind of trouble, and they must leave in order to get help. The sisters are stuck in a cage in the dark water with oxygen tanks that are running low and one large hungry shark that is stalking them. Can the sisters survive while they wait for help or will they meet their deaths in the cold dark water? The film is super dark in nature and is filled with dread almost from the start as the gloomy nature of the water makes for some creepy moments as does a shark who wants nothing more than to take a bite out of human flesh. This film stars Mandy Moore and Claire Holt as the sisters.  They are super likable, and you find yourself cheering for them to be rescued and feel nervous for them when all looks lost. The film had a budget of $5.5 million and at the US Box Office brought in $44,307,191.00 making it a hit for Entertainment Studios. While this might not be the next JAWS, it still is a solid killer shark movie that will make you think twice before going into the water.  This film is worth the watch and is one you might want to own if you like Jaws or Open Water.

# 11

The fifth film in the Underworld series was lots of Horror Action fun and had Selene being targeted by vampire council member Semira and werewolf pack leader Marius, both of whom want the location of her daughter whose blood could bring power to the one who drinks it. She however does not even know where her daughter is and along with her vampire friend David must fight to protect their vampire brethren from the werewolf hordes all the while exposing the corruption within the vampire hierarchy and bringing a new breed of vampires into power who can lead them into the final war with the werewolves. This film was not only filled with over the top action that included guns and swords, but also had a good amount of blood and gore including a werewolf who is cut in half from head to butt! Selene is as likable as ever as a vampire antihero who just wants to be left alone, but when pushed will kick your butt! Selene is played once more by the lovely Kate Beckinsale who brings a touch of class to this cheesy Action Horror hybrid film series. Evil werewolf leader Marius is played by Tobias Pulver and is one sinister and mean spirited werewolf hiding behind the guise of being a peace bringer. The film also stars Theo James, Lara Pulver and Daisy Head and did poorly for Sony at the US Box Office bringing in only $30,353,973.00 on a budget of $35 million. The film is left open for another sequel, and I for one hope that it does come to light as this was lots of silly bloody fun and was the first Horror Film of 2017 to hit theaters and was a great way to kick off the year.

# 10

Sergeant Nick Morton and his friend Corporal Chris Veil are fighting in the war in Iraq and are stealing art to sell on the black market when they accidentally find an ancient tomb that houses the body of the Princess Ahmanet who many decades before sold her soul to Set in order to gain unworldly powers. But they now are busted by the Army and have to show their findings to archaeologist Jennifer Halsey whom Nick had a one night stand with in order to steal locations to ancient art. But things get worse when they take the body of Ahmanet out of the tomb and they unleash a curse that leaves many of them dead. Ahmanet marks Nick who she has selected him to be the human vessel for the returning god Set. While Ahmanet claims victims who she turns into her zombie slaves, Nick and Jennifer must find a way to stop her path of destruction that includes teaming with Dr. Henry Jekyll and his team of monster collectors. In the end Nick must decided if his life is worth that of the many and if he can bring down Ahmanet and her undead army. This Universal Monster film was the start of the now already dead Dark Universe of films that was supposed to bring back the classic monsters to cinemas, and after this film, that idea quickly fell apart. The film is a mix of Adventure and Horror and confused many movie goers as they for some reason downplayed the fact it was a Horror film. The other major issue this film had with movie goers is the casting and highjacking of the production of Tom Cruise who turned the whole movie into one about himself and even downplayed the threat of The Mummy. The pluses to this film are the fact it was a new Universal Monster Movie that brought a classic monster back to movie screens, the fact that actress Sofia Boutella is fantastic as The Mummy Ahmanet and let’s not forget the zombies! While the story is a mess and is very much flawed, I am not ashamed to say that I enjoyed this film and wish Universal would continue the Dark Universe! The film did poorly for Universal at the US Box Office only doing $80,101,125.00 on a massive budget of $125 million sadly showing that the budget for this Mummy film was way too high. While not perfect, this was a fun popcorn film that entertained me and is worth at least checking out with low expectations.

# 9

College students Eliot, Sasha and John move into a old house off campus and after having a friend over who conducts a séance, she finds something evil is in the house and things start to get weird when they notice coins appearing and weird nosies. And when Eliot finds a note in a drawer that says the words “Don’t Think It, Don’t Say It, Bye Bye Man” they unleash The Bye Bye Man who inflicts them with madness and hallucinations and causes murder and death, and one by one the friends start to die and must find a way to stop The Bye Bye Man once and for all. This was a cheesy and 90’s feeling horror film that brings a creepy new supernatural killer to the movie screens and showcases that not all horror films in the theaters need to be ghost movies! The film is PG-13 and stills packs some cool kills, and the killer Bye Bye Man looks great and is played by Doug Jones. The film did pretty good for STX Entertainment at the US Box Office and brought in $22,395,806.00 on a small budget of $7.4 million and hopefully this becomes a franchise as the world could use another supernatural slasher. Check this film out if you like cheesy horror films and like killers with monster dogs!

# 8

Lockhart is a man who is hired to go to a wellness center located in the Swiss Alps in order to bring back a CEO of a major company who went to this spa and never returned. At the spa he finds that the man is happy and don’t want to return to work. As Lockhart is leaving, he also sees a young woman named Hannah and becomes intrigued by her. As he is being driven back to the train station, he and the driver get into a major wreck that leaves Lockhart with a broken leg and forced to stay at the spa and forced to drink lots of water. Soon Lockhart gets to meet Hannah in person and starts to realize that this wellness spa is not what it seems as people act weird, the workers do some cruel things and a sinister feeling is all around. Lockhart along with Hannah must figure out what is the dark secret of the spa and why is it that people check in and never check out. This is a delightfully weird horror film that is filled with great atmosphere and in the end takes an almost House Of Wax type shock to spook the viewer. The film has a great score, is well acted and again have to praise the atmosphere as it has a real gothic horror feel. The film stars Dane DeHaan, Mia Goth and Jason Isaacs and all do fantastic jobs in their roles. While the film does have some gross moments, it’s not a bloodbath and plays on the fear of being taken and forced to stay in a place beyond your control. The film sadly tanked for Fox at the US Box Office only doing $8,106,986.00 on a budget of $40 million, and it’s a shame as it really is a good classic feeling horror film. Check it out via rental or give it a buy on Blu-Ray or DVD.

# 7

Bodies are being found with the mark of Jigsaw Killer John Kramer on them and weirdly enough, small tapes are also found that have Jigsaw talking to the victims, and this has cops and doctors puzzled as Kramer has been dead for a very long time. They try to figure out how this is possible and when digging up Kramer’s grave they find him not inside.  A game is being played that is killing off people who have bad secrets from their past. But like all good SAW movies, not all is what it seems and lots of twists and turns leave the viewer with some answers as well as new questions. This film is the eighth film in the SAW series, and while it does not offer anything new to this long running series, it was very cool to see a new sequel this past Halloween season in the theater and see Tobin Bell return as Jigsaw. The film has some twists that work really well but also had some really bad over actors making up major characters with actor Matt Passmore as Logan Nelson being the worst offender. Like all good SAW movies, this film has some gruesome deaths and doesn’t skimp on the blood. The film did okay for Lionsgate at the American Box Office taking in $ 38,052,832.00 on the small budget of $10 million. But while it made money, Lionsgate looked at it as a bomb, and I doubt if we get a another sequel anytime soon. While this is not a groundbreaking Horror film, it sure was a fun one to watch in the theater, and I have always been a sucker for sequels.  So if you like the SAW films, give this one a watch.

# 6

Married couple Samuel and Esther lose their daughter Annabelle after she is struck by a car after church.  Samuel, who is a doll maker, quits working on his dolls, and it’s not until years later that he and his wife decide to open their massive home to house six orphaned young girls as well as Sister Charlotte.  Things look good until until young Janice is tormented by a demon who is in fact hidden in a doll after tricking the parents into thinking it was the spirit of their daughter. The demon possesses Janice, and it’s up to her friend Linda and Sister Charlotte to save the young woman’s soul. This was a pretty cool creepy little film that is the second in the Annabelle film series as well as the second spin off from The Conjuring series that showcases the demon and his doll he hides in. The film is not a blood bath and relies on atmosphere and the fear of the unknown to get the scares from the audience. The film did great for New Line Cinema at the US Box Office and brought in $102,092,201.00 on the small budget of $15 million and shows that ghost and possession movies are here to stay for a while longer and The Conjuring and its spinoffs will be leading the pack. Worth watching and owning for sure!

# 5

Casey Cooke and her friends Claire and Marcia are kidnapped by a man named Kevin Wendell Crumb who suffers from an identity disorder and decides that he is going to keep the women as his prisoners. Things get really bad when Casey figures out that as Kevin’s identity changes, so does his personality and even appearance. But she soon learns that she needs to fear and fight for her life when The Beast personality takes over Kevin. This is a very cool horror thriller that has lots of shocking and creepy moments, and The Beast is a true monster among men. The film does not use blood and gore to deliver scares and does deliver with class and atmosphere. M. Night Shyamalan directed the film, and James McAvoy stars as James.  This shows that Shyamalan is back delivering high quality horror films. The film did great for Universal at the Box Office here in the US as it did $138,141,585.00 on a budget of $9 million showing the modest budget horror films bring in money for production companies. It’s worth a watch and has a nice ending that ties into another film and leads to a future sequel that I will for sure be in line to see.

# 4

Chris Washington is a young black man who is meeting his white girlfriends family for the first time and is nervous about it. When he gets there, he notices that everything seems great and this puts his nerves at ease, that is until he notices that this perfect little town is not so perfect and all the rich people seem to have a weird vibe to them and something just is not right with the other black residents who all seem to be in a trance. And for poor Chris things get worse when he finds out her parents are as well not as nice as they seem and he uncovers the town and families dirty little secret. This is a great Horror Thriller that blends in the tension of race and does so really well. The film is well acted, well written and has a great score and showcases that horror films can have a message and can be entertaining doing so. The film was written and directed by Jordan Peele, who has a bright future in the world of Horror. The film did fantastic for Universal at the Box Office in America bringing in a massive $175,484,140.00 on a budget of only $4.5 million. I should also note that this was produced by Blumhouse, who is truly the new top of the line when it comes to modest budget horror films. This is a great watch and is one that I bought on DVD when released after seeing in the theater.

# 3

College student Theresa Gelbman wakes up in the bed of Carter Davis after a night of heavy drinking.  She rushes out and is rude to everyone she comes across and at night when heading to a party, she is murdered by a killer in a baby face mask. And after being killed, she wakes up again in Carter’s bed and repeats the day over and over and over and must figure out who her murder is! This film is like Groundhog Day if it was a horror film and is a true modern day slasher film as the killer wears a big mask that would fit perfectly in a 80’s horror film.  The film does have some blood and some cool kills. What really works for this film is that Theresa grows as a character as she starts off as a terrible person and by the end she learns that being a snotty brat will get her nowhere. My favorite side character from this movie is Danielle, who is so bratty and snobby that she made me laugh almost every time she was on the screen.  She is played by actress Rachel Matthews, who I hope to see in more horror films soon. This film as well is produced by Blumhouse and like almost all their movies, this one did great at the US Box Office bringing in $55,683,845.00 for Universal on a budget of $4.8 million. If you like slasher films and or the film Groundhog Day then give this fun slasher film a watch. Also this was a fun one to watch in theaters as the audience seemed to be having lots of fun with it.

# 2

In 1988 during a rain storm, young 7 year old Georgie goes missing and is pulled into the sewer by Pennywise The Dancing Clown unbeknownst to everyone in the town that the young boy’s fate was to be eaten by this demonic clown. Bill is Georgie’s older brother, and he feels bad for his missing brother and becomes obsessed with finding out where his brother is and even brings his misfit friends on his quest to find the truth. But the kids soon find out about Pennywise, who in turn uses the kids own fears in order to keep them away and all the while is still collecting and killing the kids of the town. Bill and his friends won’t be scared away and travel to the underground and track down this killer clown who lives on fear, and they must have a showdown with him in order to save their lives and others. This is a great adaptation of the classic Stephen King horror novel and takes a different route than the original made for TV movie mini series and adds more scares and a new era to the mix. The film has some great creepy moments, and Bill Skarsgard is amazing as Pennywise and makes this character his own. Viewers who have a fear of clowns will be terrified of Pennywise as he is one sinister grease painted killer monster. The film did amazing for New Line Cinema at the US Box Office as it only had a budget of $35 million and brought in an amazing $327,481,748.00 making it a Box Office hit. While watching this in the theater, the moviegoers around were all jumping in their seats and to me that’s a great sign of a good Horror Movie.

# 1

The year is 1973, and the government has hired tracker James Conrad to lead a military and scientist group to explore a newly found island that is called Skull Island! When they find it, they are meet by a massive monster gorilla called King Kong who brings down their helicopters and splits the group up who soon find that Skull Island is filled with all types of giant animals and monster that include the Skullcrawlers who kill and eat whatever they can catch. While on the island, they also meet stranded World War II veteran Hank Marlow who tells them the way of the land and takes them into the village of the island’s tribe. They soon find out that King Kong is the ruler of the land and has a good heart and only fights when he has to, and as James and crew try to leave the island they must get help and help King Kong as he battles the granddaddy of all Skullcrawlers who wants to kill Kong once and for all and rule Skull Island itself! In the end with Kong’s help, they all escape the Island and they help Kong in his final fight with his mortal enemy. This was an amazing Adventure Horror Monster film, and I really did feel like a kid again sitting in the theater and watching King Kong in this film. The film is stacked with great actors like Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman and John C. Reilly all who make their characters come alive and not to mention the score by Henry Jackman is top notch. King Kong in the film looks fantastic and watching him smash Skullcrawlers and helicopters is pure popcorn movie stuff. This film did well at the US Box Office for Warner Brothers as it did $168,052,812.00 on a massive budget of $185 million with most of the film’s profits being brought in from overseas. While this film is not pure horror, it is a monster movie and is hands down my favorite Horror flick of 2017 that I saw in the theaters! Worth a buy on DVD or Blu-Ray for fans of King Kong and giant monster movies.

So as you can see, 2017 was filled with lots of great movies from all types of genres, and it really makes me look forward to seeing what Hollywood and the theater going experience has in store for me in 2018! But the clean up crew is here at the Rotten Ink Theater, and they are wanting us to leave so they can do their job, so let’s not be rude and let them work. Before we leave, I need to let you know that my next update will be about the film “Muppets Take Manhatten”! That’s right, we are going to talk Muppets! So until then make sure to see a movie or three at your local theater and support independent filmmakers any chance you can. See you next time around as Kermit The Frog hits the Big Apple!

 

A Very Merry NES Challenge Christmas Eve: Dragon’s Lair

Merry Christmas Eve to all you readers and friends, and this year has been a weird and wild ride for me as lots of great things have happened, from moving into a new home to making amazing comics with my friends at Sparkle Comics and even getting to travel to Evans City Cemetery twice this year! But sadly this year has also been a rough one for fans of horror as we lost many of our icons like George A. Romero, Tobe Hooper, Martin Landau, Michael Parks, Bill Paxton, Umberto Lenzi and Lon Madnight and each loss was very sad. Not to mention the world of entertainment lost many other names like Tom Petty, Bernie Wrightson, Adam West, Jerry Lewis, Chuck Berry, Ivan Koloff, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, George Steele and Basil Gogos to name a few. So make sure this holiday season to cherish your family, friends, co-workers and celebrities and anyone who offers something to your life. So let’s get back to the joy of the holiday and our topic at hand: Dragon’s Lair in the world of video games, cartoons and comics, and yes, I will even have an NES Challenge and try my best to try and beat the game! So grab your armor and helmet as we are about to go on a winter wonderland adventure with Dirk The Daring!

The hero of the world of Dragon’s Lair is the one and only Dirk The Daring, a high ranking knight for the kingdom who is selected to save the Princess Daphne from all the evil that keeps trying to kidnap her and do her harm. Dirk is well respected by the Kingdom as he is very loyal and brave and later even becomes the husband of Daphne, making him an heir to the throne! Dirk was trained at a young age to be a brave knight as he was in the Squire Scouts and even earned top badges during this time. When ready for battle Dirk gears up with his iconic armor that includes his orange over shirt and uses his sword as well as his fists, feet and head in order to fight off his enemies. I should also note that Dirk The Daring was only chosen to save the Princess after all the other knights in the Kingdom failed and were killed on this quest! So to sum up Dirk The Daring it would be this, he is a brave, loyal and smart knight who is willing to risk his life to save the Princess from a dragon and wizard and for this selfless action even finds himself the heir to the crown! Dirk The Daring is a very simple character who embodies the classic knight of old lore and is one iconic and yet sometime forgotten classic video game character.

In 1983, arcades were all the rage as machines were all over the place from pizza parlors to grocery stores.  These machines gobbled up many of players’ quarters as games like Pac-Man Jr., Donkey Kong 3 and Mario Bros. had eager gamers waiting in long lines to get a chance to try to get the top score on the machine! And during this early day of arcade machine domination, cartoonist Don Bluth and writer Rick Dyer created an interactive animated laserdisc game that as well took the arcade world by storm and even sparked sequels and many homeports of the game! The arcade game was such a hit that it, along side Pong and Pac-Man, are the only three arcade machines stored at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.! The game has been ported and remade for many home systems like Sega CD, Xbox, Playstation 2, CD-I, Nintendo DS and so many others including cell phones! In 1990, the game was released by Imagesoft, who made the game more of a side scrolling adventure game and took away the animated character of Dirk The Daring and made him into a 8-Bit hero of the home console generation as the game followed the same plot of the arcade game and turned up the difficulty to deliver a true challenging game. But with this change and the difficulty level came frustration as Dirk can be killed with one hit and almost everything can kill him including closed doors. This made gamers and critics go crazy, and the game was not well received and is considered as one of the worst games for the NES. So now that we have a brief history of this game and we learned about its over all poor reception from gamers, I can’t wait to spend a day trying to beat it on the NES!

Really quick I also need to briefly talk about the episode of The Angry Video Game Nerd where he took on Dragon’s Lair for the Nintendo Entertainment System! Back in 2007 for episode 37, The Nerd took a funny and frustrating look at Dragon’s Lair and went crazy trying his best to beat the game for the NES and found out that the game is brutal and unforgiving and nothing at all like the arcade game it was based on. Try after try he ended up losing his character’s lives and losing his cool in the process! This is a very funny episode that has the nerd drinking to try and deal with the brutal nature of the game and ends with him bumping into a close door and dying just like the character of Dirk in the video game. If you like crude and funny humor videos on YouTube, give this one a watch as it’s a good one.

In 1984, a cartoon of Dragon’s Lair was released by Rudy-Spears Productions for ABC and was part of the sadly long gone Saturday Morning Cartoons. The toon followed Dirk The Daring as he once more did his best to save and protect the lovely Princess Daphne from evil such as Singe The Dragon and Phantom Knight and at the end of each episode we are left with a cliffhanger leaving the viewer wondering how Dirk is to escape his approaching doom. The cartoon was short lived and only lasted 13 episodes and would later be replayed in reruns on USA Cartoon Express and Boomerang where it found a new audience. Voice actor Bob Sarlatte voiced Dirk The Daring while Ellen Gerstell lent her pipes to Princess Daphne. While this cartoon was not super popular and never made a huge impact in the world of toons, it was released on DVD thanks to Warner Brothers and now fans can relive it or even discover it for the first time. I remember barely it and know that I have seen episodes on USA Network but sadly don’t remember much about it besides I liked it.

Before I get into the NES Challenge part of this update, I want to also talk very briefly about some of the cool merchandise that has been made based on Dragon’s Lair that included coloring books, picture books, DVDs, comics, video games, stickers, plastic toys, trading cards, lunchbox and even very cool action figures! So what I am trying to say is that if you’re a fan, you can get yourself some cool items or heck maybe even ask Santa for some next Christmas! I think the action figures are pretty dang cool and are something that I feel I must track down.

So I decided to take my NES Challenge of Dragon’s Lair on November 8, 2017 as Juliet had to work all day and I was itching to try and tackle this legendary hard game! So starting at 9pm I hooked up the old RES (Retro-Bit Entertainment System) and grabbed my NES Controller and was ready for the show down of a lifetime! I poured a large glass of water, grabbed my iced coffee and opened a small bag of chips and cleared my head of other projects I was working on and knew that I had to take control of Dirk The Daring, as he needed to save Princess Daphne…so here is what happened in my showdown: upon starting the game up I noticed that the good old RES is starting to have some issues and that the controller has having major issues as it acted like it was not plugged in, and after working on it, I finally got it to work and my first impression was wow this game sucks as the controls seem delayed and this causes you to be open to the attack of the sea monster that is the first baddy you encounter! Plus while bats only drain your energy such things as rocks, doors, fire and most other bad guys can kill you in one hit! After playing for a few moments and lots of frustration, I was able to get into the castle and then that’s when the major frustration kicked in as the slow sloppy controls, one hit kills and random pop up enemies all kept causing Dirk to die and me to start the quest all over! No matter how much I tried, I was stuck in that damn dungeon and was driven to anger on just how terrible this game I was playing really was! After several hours of playing I really built up a strong dislike for the game and quickly forfeited to its suckiness, and I am not ashamed to say I did not beat Dragon’s Lair for the NES as its terrible controls made it a waste of time in trying to play as it seemed like it was fighting you not to advance. Below are some pics of me playing this game….man it was so bad!

So that NES Challenge was a waste as I found myself really disliking the game play and the delay really annoyed me to the point I just needed to walk away. But we are now at the point of the update where we will be taking a look at the comics based on Dragon’s Lair, and we will start with the Cross Gen series and work our way into the Arcana release. So as we sit here waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney, the snow man in the front yard would like for me to remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story! So grab some hot chocolate or even some eggnog and let’s take an epic Christmas Eve journey with Dirk The Daring! I also want to thank Lone Star Comics, Ebay and Amazon for having these comics in stock so that I could do this update.

Dragon’s Lair # 1  ***
Released in 2003     Cover Price $2.95     Cross Gen     # 1 of 3

The evil dragon Singe has his sights on revenge when it comes to Dirk The Daring, and this revenge has also sparked pure hatred and bloodlust of wanting to see our hero dead for all of the dragons he has killed in the past! Princess Daphne has been asked to run the Kingdom while the King is away, and as she and Dirk are on their way there, they are attacked by Singe and his smaller sidekicks.  Soon Dirk and Daphne find out that this dragon is super powerful as he defeats Dirk and takes Princess Daphne prisoner. After waking up from his defeat, Dirk The Daring heads to the Kingdom and finds a group of heroes that want to help on his quest to get the Princess back that are Leraene, the female Captain of the Royal Guard, and Drake, a young wizard’s apprentice who uses what little knowledge he has to look into the flame and sees lots of enemies and the dark castle that Singe is hiding the Princess in. Dirk tells his friends they must stay and guard the kingdom, and he finds that Daphne is being held in a magical bubble that in two days will warp her mind and cause her to be Singe’s slave and that the only way to kill Singe is by using a magical sword called the DragonFang that is as well in the castle. Dirk has the info he needs and gears up and heads out to save the day as our first issue ends.

The is a very fun and slow burn fantasy adventure comic that does its best to bring the video game characters and universe to the comic book world, and in my opinion they do a pretty good job of doing so. The plot is simple, that the granddaddy of all dragons Singe is mad at Dirk The Daring for killing many of his kind and wants revenge and sets out his plan that includes kidnapping the princess and taking her to a place that will be filled with lots of dangers all with the hopes of ending the life of Dirk! Our hero is Dirk The Daring, a noble and strong knight who does not back down in the face of danger and will do whatever he can to protect The Princess who he respects and loves. Dirk also kind of has an ego but not to the point that he is narcissistic or cruel to characters around him he just is very confident and don’t have time for those who drag their feet around him. Daphne, while a princess, is also very much a skilled fighter, and while she was kidnapped during this issue, she at least tried her best to fight back even biting the dragon, so clearly she is not your typical weak princess kind of character. Singe is a massive dragon who is not only powerful and filled with fire breathing rage but also is super smart and has hatched a plan to get revenge. I really cant wait to see what Singe has in store for our heroes. Drake is a goofball but his limited magical knowledge could come in handy, and Leraene is skilled and a great warrior to be at Dirk’s side in this rescue quest. I also am looking forward to seeing what they will offer in the upcoming issues. While the action of this comic is at the start and the rest is building up the story, I found this first issue to be a solid read and showed that CrossGen understood the folklore and character history of Dragon’s Lair. The cover is eye catching, and I am sure not only brought in fans of the video game but also adventure comic fans. The comic’s interior art was done by Fabio Laguna, and is top notch classic animated looking art showing they hired all the right people to make this comic book work! Over all I am looking forward to reading issue two, and can’pt wait to see what Dirk The Daring and his friends are planning on this rescue mission.

Dragon’s Lair # 2  ***
Released in 2003     Cover Price $2.95     Cross Gen      # 2 of 3

Dirk The Daring enters a creepy swamp, and after finding a Hydra Snake, he finds himself in quicksand and must hope that his trusty horse saves him in time. Meanwhile Singe thanks that Dirk died from their first battle and Princess Daphne soon finds out that the Dragon has many human brides that were once princess as well and that soon she will loose her free will and become one of his brides as well! As Dirk is saved by his lucky horse who is named Bertram ,and they find themselves at a dark castle that belongs to the Lizard King who is helping Singe and wants to do his best to kill our hero! As Bertram leads the alligator henchmen away from the castle Dirk and Lizard King have a fight that leads the evil Lizard King falling out of a window and into the mouths of his hungry alligators who eat him alive, as Dirk The Daring and Bertram head toward the dark castle of Singe.

In this second issue, Dirk The Daring fights the Lizard King (no, not Jim Morrison of the band The Doors!) as well as all the creepy crawlers of the swampland and gets one step closer to rescuing his true love. Dirk The Daring is focused on his quest at hand, and once more proves he is not scared to risk his own life in order to save his Princess. I also really like that Dirk on his quest is really leaning on his trusty horse Bertram for backup and boy does this horse help pull his fat out of the fire a couple of times. Dirk is a great hero in comics just like he is in video games, and in this issue he acts like a true knight! Singe is once more shows that he is cold blooded as he enjoys the fact that he has enslaved many of Princesses and that he killed Dirk The Daring or so he thinks. The Lizard King is a loud mouth little reptile man who tries his best to end the quest of Dirk but is out classed when it comes to battle and finds himself dinner for his very own pet gators! I really like the dingy swamp atmosphere in this issue as it adds a feeling of dread to the quest and is filled with snakes, spiders and killer lizards showing that many sinister things are going to stand in the way of Dirk’s rescue mission. While the first issue was part action and part story drama, this second issue goes for mostly action and only a small part drama making for a quick and fun read. The cover is pretty cool and once more eye catching for fans of the game and adventure comics. The interior art is once more done by the talented Fabio Laguna and is great stuff. This second issue is just as entertaining as the first, and I can’t wait to see what the third and final issue has in store for Dirk The Daring and us the readers.

Dragon’s Lair # 3  **1/2
Released in 2003     Cover Price $2.95     Cross Gen     # 3 of 3

Princess Daphne finds herself stuck in the bubble, and none of the other Princess will help her escape as the mind washing of free will is creeping even closer, and Singe himself has the only key to open the bubble around his neck! Meanwhile Dirk The Daring and Bertram have entered a graveyard and soon find that they are being surrounded by zombies and skeletons that want both man and horse dead as they are craving death and souls! Dirk and his trusty horse fight the horde of the undead and even trick a massive skeleton into destroying himself! After they escape the graveyard they make their way even closer to the castle of Singe.

This issue is lots of fun but also slips a little as I found it to be a little lackluster on the adventure part, and Dirk fighting the undead seemed like it was just him running through them and them exploding into piles of bones…and I never felt he was in danger in this issue like I did in the past two. But while this issue is not as solid as the past two, I still want to stress that it is a very good issue even with this slight flaw. The issue’s thin plot has Dirk The Daring charging through a graveyard filled with the reanimated dead while Princess Daphne tries to figure out how to escape the magical ball she is trapped in as it’s trying to drain her of her own will and mind. Dirk and Bertram in this issue are once more working as a team and do well for themselves in this battle, and Dirk’s sword cuts down their enemies, as does the mighty back kick of Bertram.  They make a great comic duo and are top notch heroes for sure. Princess Daphne, even while captured, proves that she herself is also a warrior as she is not giving up and tries all she can to escape the odds that are clearly against her. It’s a shame that CrossGen lost the rights of Dragon’s Lair comics, and this was the final issue in their series as it leaves the story unfinished and Daphne still in that dang bubble! Singe is a sinister and sleazy dragon as he eats people, bosses princesses and makes them dress sexy and seems to get joy in causing death and destruction. The Undead, while they swarm in masses, they just were outmatched by Dirk, and they mostly just fell apart after one hit making them no major threat. I think what works for me about this series this far is the fact they did a fantastic job of blending the Dragon’s Lair video game and the cartoon together to make a fun and entertaining comic series that brings all the elements that made Dragon’s Lair special together. The cover on this third issue is okay and in my opinion is a little generic, but still also somewhat eye catching and the interior art is once more done by Fabio Laguna and is top notch stuff as he captures the mood and spirit of the characters. I think the downside to this comic series is that CrossGen dropped the ball when they did not finish the story arch as three issues are missing to make this series complete. But lucky for readers, in 2006 independent comic company Arcana decided to finish this series and allow readers to see how the adventure quest ended. I feel its my duty to track those down to give you all a true look at Dragon’s Lair so let’s see what is next of Dirk thanks to Arcana! And not to confuse any of your readers I will number them as if they are part of the CrossGen set, but keep in mind while it will say its issue 4 for Arcana it’s only issue # 2!

Dragon’s Lair # 4  **1/2
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.95       Arcana     # 2 of 4

Dirk The Daring and Bertram find themselves at a flowing river of lava and must split up in order to get across. Dirk dashes across on boulders and finds that he is not alone as Mud Men appear and attack! Dirk decides instead of fighting them and wasting what little time he has left to save the Princess, he dives below into a river that ends up leading him to the castle of Singe. Meanwhile inside the castle Princess Daphne tries to trick Singe and his slave women into believing that she is indeed wanting to be a part of his harem but soon finds the dragon king is smart and knows she is playing games in order to escape. Dirk meanwhile has entered the castle and finds all types of ghouls and baddies waiting for him that includes small purple ones that are multiplying! Dirk outsmarts them but soon finds himself behind a door that leads to a fire pit and attacking purple enemies behind it!

Dirk furthers his quest as he makes it past the Mud Men, out runs tiny purple knife swinging goblins and makes it to the castle of Singe! While this is a great adventure and continues the quest, I did once more feel that none of the baddies he faces are any threats to stopping him! Dirk The Daring as always is super brave and shows that he is also smart as when time or the odds are against him, he knows just they way to get away safe. Bertram is barely in this issue as he breaks away from Dirk in the lava river and disappears.  I hope they don’t write him out of the series and that he comes back in the next issue. Drake and Leraene also make a small cameo as they can see what the Princess is doing and mostly chat about her sexy outfit…weird. Princess Daphne however is still not giving up the fight and wants to murder Singe with her own bare hands if she can escape the bubble! Singe is getting cocky as he thinks Dirk is dead and that the Princess will soon be mind wiped and his slave forever. The Mud Men and Purple Goblin guys are cool but are easily tricked and are left in the dust for the most part. I do like the idea of Mud People and for some reason it made me think of the Muck Men in the 1980’s horror film Spookies. The cover for this issue is pretty fantastic, and the interior art is once more done by Fabio Laguna and is topnotch stuff. So over all it was great to see the next issue in this series after Cross Gen dropped the ball withnot finishing it. So let’s see what the next issue has in store.

Dragon’s Lair # 5  ***
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.95       Arcana      # 3 of 4

Dirk The Daring is stuck on a small ledge above a fire pit with the creepy little purple goblins behind him and climbs his way out and dodges a horde of bats before entering a chamber where a beautiful dark haired woman is asking Dirk for his help. The woman is brainwashing Dirk that she is the true one she needs to help and while seducing him, he notices that she is not a hottie but a green skinned witch! Meanwhile Princess Daphne’s will is starting to break as she is down and almost given up as Singe tries to tell her he is not the bad guy that Dirk is as he has killed many of his dragon children and he is doing this for revenge…and that he is evil! Dirk meanwhile fights off the trance, and the witch calls in the Black Knight, an armored killing machine, who throws Dirk around and just as he is about to choke our hero to death the Black Knight gets his arms cut off by a gasping Dirk who then also kicks his armless foe out of a window. The Witch is now very mad and tries to use a spell to turn Dirk into a statue, but our hero is too smart for her and her spell bounces off a mirror and freezes her. As Dirk leaves her room he falls through a trap door!

This fifth issue is really good, and my only major complaint is that for some reason Dirk The Daring spews one-liners like Ash from the Evil Dead movie series, and it’s just not fitting for Dirk. The plot of this one is very simple Dirk is now in the castle where his true love is being held captive while she is being tormented by the evil dragon. Dirk in this issue gets seduced, wises up and hacks up a knight who is trying to kill him…so as you can see Dirk is a man on a mission and will not back down from his quest at hand. Singe is an evil dragon that really does get joy is torturing his captive prisoner and who clearly likes being powerful and in charge. I also like how Singe at first makes it that you feel bad for him as he talks about the reason he is doing this is cause Dirk killed so many of his children and he felt he needed to get revenge for them, and then says plus he is just evil and enjoys all the bad he does. Poor Princess Daphne is starting to loose her strong will as it appears she is stuck with no hope of being rescued before the next full moon and her mind is turned to mush and she becomes another bride of Singe. The Witch is sinister and uses the appearance of a very hot woman to lure Dirk in and when he finds out she is not what she appears she wants him dead and is indeed a threat! The Black Knight as well is very much a threat as he only has one thing on his dark mind and that’s to kill Dirk and even when his arms are chopped off and is kicked out of a castle window he still is silent and its clear he would still fight Dirk until his very last breath! The plus for this issue for sure is the fact The Witch and Black Knight appear as if they could in fact kill Dirk and both at least put up a major fight. The cover is super cool and I am sure caught many eyes of comic readers and the interior once more is done by the talented Fabio Laguna and man its really sad that we only have one more issue to go in this series so lets see how this quest ends.

Dragon’s Lair # 6  ***
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.95       Arcana      # 4 of 4

Dirk The Daring falls hard to the ground after stepping onto a trapdoor and shakes off the effects and finds himself at the gold treasure room of Singe who is fast asleep.  As he makes his way to Princess Daphne, it’s clear the bubble is starting to make her dumber and when all the other slave women freak out over seeing a real man, a screaming match breaks out and this awakens Singe who is ready for battle. Dirk tries all he can to defeat the dragon from his trusty sword, an ax and even a spear and nothing seems to slow Singe down, but this is all a plan as Dirk tricks Singe into melting the stone that traps the DragonFang sword, and he uses this blade to slay Singe and is just in time to get the key from around the dragon’s neck and free Princess Daphne from the bubble, and by shattering the bubble, this also frees the minds of all the other slave women and once more Dirk The Daring is the hero!

This final issue is fast paced and has a good and fantasy final battle between Dirk and Singe that leads to an ending fitting even for the game, as almost the whole issue is the final battle and it ends with a sword to the heart of the dragon. Dirk The Daring shows why he is considered the top knight of the kingdom as he uses both skill and smarts to slay the dragon and free the Princess. That’s one thing about Dirk throughout these six issues he stays as noble and heroic making him a true hero and icon of video games and comic books. While he can also be goofy and stumble around, it was the one-liners in issue five that was the only thing I didn’t like about the comic version of this character. Princess Daphne in this issue is becoming dumb and her will is almost broken, but once save she is the kick butt woman she needs to be and becomes a great character that can also defend herself. Princess Daphne is a great character and while her captive outfit might border on porn star look, she still is a very strong female character who does not play the victim even when she is in trouble. Bertram is a loyal horse who in his own right is a hero as he saves Dirk’s life many times in this comic and is also very brave, the down side is when Arcana took over doing the comic series this horse takes a back seat and only appears at the start of issue 4 (2) and does not show back up to the very end of issue 6 (4) making him a minor player when he should have been major. Leraene and Drake are very much background hero characters and in fact add nothing really cool to the story and could have been cut out and it would have not mattered to the story. Singe is a great bad guy as he is not only a massive dragon but he is also sleazy and dangerous who enjoys all aspects of being evil! I also like the fact he is ready to fight and kill any hero who dares cross his mean spirited path. The other baddies in this comic series are just speed bumps in Dirks quest with The Black Knight being my second favorite villain in this series being Singe. I must say I do think that the creative team behind these comics really did a great job of capturing the fun and epic feel of the Don Bluth’s video game. The cover for this final issue is pretty great and show cases Dirk with Singes image in his sword. The Interior art is once more done by Fabio Laguna and is good stuff as even some of his rushed looking panels are still amazing! I also like how in this issue a panel has golden statues of Orko from Masters Of The Universe as well as one of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker! I also really like the fact that this comic series when dropped by the original publisher was able to be finished three years later thanks to a Publisher who picked up the slack and allowed fans to get the full story. If you’re a fan of the video game and or the cartoon this comic series is for you! Below is some artwork form this fun adventure series.

So as you can see, while the NES game based on Dragon’s Lair is a stinker, the comic series was not. Growing up I never had a full connection to these characters but always did at least find them cool, and I really wished I had read these comics when released in 2003/2006 as I think I would have even enjoyed them back then. But I just finished my last glass of eggnog, and I think I can hear reindeer hooves on the roof so I think we should get some slumber so Santa can do his work. Our next update will be my Best Of Cinema of 2017, and man ,I am looking forward to you readers checking it out. So have a wonderful Christmas, and I will see you all next year!

Do You Hear What I Hear Through The Grapevine

Happy Holidays Rotten Inkers! Tis the season for chestnuts roasting on an open fire and visions of raisins dancing in your head. That’s right, raisins..from California. Yes, I, Juliet will be your guide as we explore the 1980s sensations, The California Raisins and their journey from commercial mascots to masters of media and merchandise. I’m sure you’re wondering, other than figgy pudding, what’s the connection between raisins and the holidays? One of the best-loved appearances of the California Raisins just happens to be in William Vinton’s Claymation Christmas Special, which we’ll talk about more in depth in just a bit. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the special and of the California Raisins Show, the Saturday morning cartoon based on America’s favorite dried grapes, and I continue to have a formidable collection of California Raisins figures. So come along with me as we travel to Raisinville and learn all about the California Raisins, including the Blackthorne 3-D comics based on them.

As legend has it, in 1986, the California Raisin Advisory Board was trying to come up with an idea for a commercial when one of the writers, Seth Werner, said, “We have tried everything but dancing raisins singing ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine'” and thus the Raisins were born. Well, they were born through the claymation work of William Vinton and his Vinton Studios. The four main Raisins commercials were: Lunchbox, which featured the Raisins dancing out of a construction worker’s lunchbox on a high rise. The Late Show featured the Raisins dancing past other, less healthy snacks on a side table while a late night talk show played. Raisin Ray featured the Raisins alongside a claymation Ray Charles, and Michael Raisin featured them with, yes, a claymation Michael Jackson.

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In 1987, the Raisins appeared in something very near and dear to my heart growing up, William Vinton’s Claymation Christmas special. It hosted by Rex and Herb, two dinosaurs resembling Siskel and Ebert, who actually give some great historic context for the well known holiday carols featured in the program. The songs were done as super elaborate (and time-consuming to create) claymation-style skits, some of which were created in such a way to appear fluid, almost paint-like instead of looking like stop-motion. The songs featured were: We Three Kings, which starts fairly traditionally but get groovy thanks to singing camels, a comedic Carol of the Bells, O Christmas Tree which takes us into ornaments, Angels We Have Heard On High, which features two walruses ice skating in what feels like a subtle nod to the Fantastia Hippo Ballerinas. Joy To the World is a stunning collage of constant motion that celebrates African American culture. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer is performed by the California Raisins, putting a little magic into the air after a Christmas eve gig (ala, as the Raisins often were, the Temptations). The hosts get their own story about wassailing, which is mistaken for waffling, waddling, wallowing, etc. This one, upon rewatch, puzzled me a bit. Are the actual wassailers at the end elves or leprechauns? When I was young I thought they were elves, but have they been leprechauns, or perhaps drunken locals the whole time? Weigh in, dear readers. The half hour Claymation Christmas Special debuted on CBS alongside the Garfield Christmas Special and the pair often ran together during the holiday season. I had one night’s CBS holiday lineup (that included Micky’s Christmas Carol, the Claymation-Garfield pairing and A Charlie Brown Christmas) taped on TV on VHS that was yearly, mandatory holiday viewing even after many of these were dropped from regular rotation.

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In 1988, the Raisins became fully fleshed out characters in their CBS special Meet the Raisins. This rockumentary mockumentary (think Spinal Tap, but with vegetables and suitable for small children) was produced by Vinton Studios and won an Emmy nomination. It actually wasn’t until this point that the Raisins got their names: A.C., Red, Stretch, and Beebop. The special also featured supporting characters such as Rudy Bagaman, the Raisins’ manager, who would go on to be one of the leading characters in the 1989 California Raisins cartoon, The California Raisins Show. That cartoon had a 13 episode run between September and December – kind of a shocker as my younger self seemed convinced that it lasted much longer. Instead of claymation, this show featured traditional cel animation from Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, but William Vinton served as creative director and executive producer so it definitely kept with his vision of the Raisins’ story. Many of the fruit and vegetable characters that were introduced in Meet the Raisins were prominent supporting characters in the cartoon, and many characters that were created for the cartoon (including my absolute favorite Lick Broccoli) then made appearances in the 1990 claymation special The Raisins: Sold Out!: The California Raisins II, which, furthering the Spinal Tap metaphor, saw had the Raisins attempting to mount a comeback with a new manager. This would be the last TV show/special for the Raisins, and they wouldn’t have much of a TV presence for many years to follow.

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During their short run, the California Raisins got a lot of merchandise created in their wrinkly image, and many of it has ended up in the Smithsonian permanent collection. Perhaps the most ubiquitous were the Raisins figurines that came out in assorted series from Hardee’s between 1987 and 1991, and were also stellar garage sale finds. I’ve been able to piece together a sizable collection of little guys, some of which I’ve had since the late 80s. In addition to the figure, there were Raisins t-shirts, Halloween costumes, lunch boxes, posters, coloring books, music albums, and a Capcom video game that was created but never officially released – though luckily it has made its way into the world via the homebrew game market. You can also check out a good representation of the California Raisins commercials, Meet the Raisins, The Raisins: Sold Out, and the entire run of the California Raisins Show on a two-DVD set called appropriately enough, The California Raisins Collection.

In 1987, as part of their series of 3D comics based on licensed properties, Blackthorne began a five issue run of comics based on the California Raisins, and these books are the subject of today’s comic reviews.  I heard it through the grapevine that here on Rotten Ink, we grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.  So let’s take the boat to Raisinville and get to know our new favorite band, the California Raisins!

The California Raisins 3-D # 1   *** 1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 1 of 5

Under the cover of night, the Raisinville Chamber Orchestra is kidnapped and loaded onto a boat by masked bandits. The next morning, two young Raisins happen upon a flyer looking for musicians to play the mayoral election. As they head into town, they pick up another Raisin as a hitchiker and find their fourth and fifth potential bandmates playing a whistle on the street. As suspicious advertisements for Snax pop up around town, the new bandmates visit the music store to pick up some instruments, but find that the beloved owner has mysteriously retired, all the instruments are gone, and the store is now home to a surly French Fry Man selling Snax. The Raisins move on to the Chamber Orchestra’s headquarters where they and other raisins queue up for auditions, but something’s fishy as raisins are going in, but no one is coming out. The Raisins catch site of a group of Sugar Cubes up to no good and rush to city hall to warn the mayor. The mayor, however, is nonplussed. He’s worried that his opponent in the election, Big Burger, is trying to run him out of town, but he stops mid-thought upon chomping down on some Snax. This is when the Raisins realize that there’s something amiss; the Snax are turning their fellow raisins into zombies and the only cure is music. So they commandeer Big Burger’s campaign vehicle, which is equipped with a loudspeaker and do their thing. Mayor Van Raisin is re-elected and Big Burger and his Snax are run out of town.

This was such a fun read! It threw me at first because the Raisins (the main ones that is) don’t use their names at all in this book, but that’s because this came out before they had names. That said, all of the hallmarks of the developing California Raisins world were present: the power of music, junk food more often than not being portrayed as the villains of the story, and the delightful little details like the picture on the wall of a bottle of wine labeled Uncle Vino. The artwork was really well done by an unnamed artist, especially considering that the majority of the characters were raisins and you could still distinguish who was who. I liked the 3D effect, though quite honestly, I would enjoy this comic entirely on its own merit so it wasn’t necessarily a selling point for me (in fact, I had a harder time reading it, not because the 3D was poorly done, but just because my eyes have trouble focusing with old school red and blue 3D glasses). This five issue run is off to a strong start, so let’s see how the rest go.

The California Raisins 3-D # 2  ***
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 2 of 5

In a prologue, Big Burger looks at Raisinville from afar and vows that the town will be his as his junk food henchmen bring a display of the Raisins, Big Burger’s new sworn enemies. But never fear, our villain has a plan….we cut to the Raisins receiving an invitation to receive their complementary mansion earned by virtue of being the official Raisinville band. The Raisins are, of course, excited to reap the benefits of their newfound and begin exploring the mansion and discovering its various perks and quirks including some trap doors. Three Raisins are captured by the ever bickering Cookie and Candy, and the other two narrowly escape multiple traps looking for their friends. The fourth Raisin gets captured, but the last is able to discover the evil plot against them and devises a plan. Using the house’s recording gear and sound system, he minimicks Big Burger’s radio and lures Cookie and Candy away so he can free his bandmates. Together, they roll Cookie, Candy and some Sugar Cubes into a carpet and dump them into the water. When they float back to Big Burger, acknowledges that the Raisins may be more formidable foes than he anticipated, but the next round is his.

This is another solid comic that capture everything charming about the California Raisins. Interestingly, the Raisins’ mansion in this one does remind me of their house in the California Raisins Show (the cartoon), and an episode where Lick Broccoli’s manager bugs the Raisins’ home to steal the Sweet Currants’ new song. But this remains firmly in the pre-Meet the Raisins realm of issue #1: no names for the Raisins. It does, however, establish Big Burger as our main villain and brings back his henchman for more hijinks. I like the continuity, but I do hope that we get to see food characters in the next issue for the sheer fact that I like to check out the different character designs. The art is once again solid, and it’s easy to figure out who’s who among the Raisins. Onward to Issue 3!

The California Raisins 3-D # 3  **1/2
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 3 of 5

This issue feature two stories. In the first, Waisin Wipeout, the Raisins are lounging at their mansion when they get a call to come down to the beach to film a surfing music video. It’s there that they’re introduced to famous fim director Steven Spielbug, his frog assistant, surfing expert Gnarly Cobb and beach babe Cher Pear, who turns out to be a Valley Pear. While the Raisins surf for the camera, Big Burger and his henchmen (decked out, of course, in pirate hats!) lurk below the water in their submarine base. They use their device to create a tidal wave, knocking the Raisins off their boards and ruining the shot. But Raisins don’t let a little water defeat them. They get back on their boards and surf so well they create a whirlpool that knocks out Big Burger’s submarine…and looks super cool in the music video.

Story number two is X Marks the Spot. While out on a picnic, the Raisins find a map, which they assume will lead them to the treasure of Blueberry the Pirate. Of course x marks the spot right under where they were picniccing so the Raisins start digging, and find nothing. They then realize that they were digging in the wrong spot, and after several repeated instances of this, begin fighting amongst themselves. This results in tears until one Raisins realizes that the seemingly shifting x on the map was shifting because it was actually a spider.

While I didn’t hate this issue by any means, this is definitely the weakest of the first three issues. First of all, why two stories? Especially when the second story, for me, was pretty weak. The first story was good, but messed with a few of the things that I love about the Raisins in general and that the first two issues honored: why are the filmmakers bugs and not food characters? Also while I get that Cher Pear is supposed to the typical valley girl/beach bimbo, it took me entirely too long to realize that she was a pear because she was drawn entirely too human. These are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things as the art is still great, but for me, the fun comes from the food characters. It’s a formula that works so why mess with it? Speaking of messing with things, it looks like the next issue is going to deviate again by being an adaptation of Meet the Raisins. So let’s take a deep breath and dive in.

The California Raisins 3-D # 4  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 4 of 5

The Raisins (there are four of them now) are excited because their show is getting ready to come on. We go into the TV documentary where our host tells the humble origin stories of A.C., BeeBop, and Red (names!) as they formed their first band with bass singer Zoot, who introduced them to his eventual replacement, Stretch. From there we see the Raisins’ slow rise to fame with the help of their young manager Rudy Bagaman. From impressing Ed McMelon and being literal smash sensations to rebuilding their shattered careers by working with quirky director Frederico Rasperini and playing a series of concerts in the arctic. Their eventual, triumphant return comes when Rudy Bagaman nearly crashes a plane, providing an amazing introduction to the band. The documentary concludes there, and the Raisins are pleased with what they saw.

Admittedly, I’m a little torn about this one. I would have preferred an original story as opposed to a straight adaptation of Meet the Raisins, but this was extremely well done and captured the charm of the TV special so I can’t be too mad. As I’m sure you noticed above, the Raisins now have their names, and they’ve gone from being a band of five to a quartet with a completely different back story. I wonder if these Raisins are the next generation of California Raisins, or is there some sad fifth Raisin out there in the word waiting to write his tell-all book about how his band abandoned him. The artwork in this one is the same as the rest of the comics so far: really great! Needing to be able to distinguish the Raisins from each other isn’t as big a deal though, because along with their names come new, more distinct character designs. The cover features our newly revamped Raisins rocking out on the stage. I wonder if the next issue will be an original story or another adaptation (though the next special wasn’t for a few years). Might as well take a look and see….

The California Raisins 3-D # 5  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 5 of 5

Back to multiple stories so: In the Music Mash, the Raisins (there are still four of them, but they’re not the same four from the last issue) are in the studio preparing for a gig and arguing over a new song. They decide to visit their friend Gigo who’s created a new machine that can create hit songs on the spot. Everything is going well, and they bring the device to a gig with them, but when a workman leaves his toolbox too close, the machine malfunctions creating chaos onstage. In the end, the Raisins realize it’s best to go back to basics and sing one of their classics.

In California Battle of the Bands, the Dough Buys and Richter are headed to the semifinals, and the Raisins (all FIVE of them) are late to their recording session. When they arrive, an oddly cartoony Rudy introduces them to three Lady Raisins who are their new backup singers. Back at the battle of the bands, Cookie, and Candy French Fry are sabotaging the competition for their boss, Big Burger. They plan an earthquake device and play a few more pranks on the Raisins when they show up to play. When the Raisins discover the mischief, they interrupt Ratchet’s set to warn them about the earthquake device, and the two bands work together to defeat the bad guys. They celebrate their victory with a concert all together.

I have SO MANY questions. Are there multiple bands performing as the California Raisins? This kind of follows my theory from last issue, and we do learn that there’s a whole Raisinville from which these bands could have been formed. This is all to say that these Raisins are different, unnamed Raisins than the ones we saw last issue. And then there’s the numbers issue. Was Fifth Raisin on vacation for the last story and a half? Also, what is Gigo? He’s not a discernible fruit or vegetable? Is he an alien? That said, there are so many things right about this, like Shrapnel, one of the battle bands that are clearly an homage to Guns N Roses. It was also amazing to see Shirelle, Dixie and Crystal, aka the Sweet Currants, in this issue even though they, like the Raisins this time around, weren’t called by name. I’m also glad we got one more chance to see Big Burger try to thwart the Raisins and thus conquer Raisinville. The art was great, but the latter story was a little more cartoony than anything else we’ve seen in this series. All told, this was an extremely fun and solid comic series that served these classic characters well.

So there you have it, the life and times of the California Raisins with a sprinkle of holiday cheer.  I hope it’s merry, warm and bright for you and yours, and that you’ll join Matt back here on the blog for his big holiday update.  He’ll be taking us from the land of singing fruits and vegetables into animated knights and dragons when he covers the comic adaptation of Dragon’s Lair. In the meantime, make sure you’re well stocked on hot chocolate, support local and indie businesses as you’re able this holiday season, and read a comic or three.

Old Age Green Fighting Gerbils!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink!  It’s crazy to think that we are in the month of December and that means we are once more approaching Christmas, that wonderful holiday filled with good food, great friends, cool presents and of course time with family and loved ones. I always have liked this time of the year as the cool air, the chance of snow and the fast pace of the holiday is always a magical time. I want you readers to think back to your youths.  Remember back to the holiday season and looking at Sunday paper ads from stores like Sears, Gold Circle and Hearts or even wandering the toy aisle of your favorite store like Toys R Us, Hills or Woolworth’s and seeing all the cool toys, board games and video games that you wanted to put on your list for Santa. Then remember back to the must have toys of the time of your childhood; was it Masters Of The Universe? The Nintendo Entertainment System? Tickle Me Elmo? Cabbage Patch Kids? Atari 2600? Hulk Hogan T-Shirt? or something else that every kid including yourself had to have…I can remember back to many of those times when every kid had to get Thundercats or the NES cart of Adventures Of Bayou Billy but one that lasted many Christmases I can truly remember was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures by Playmates! And even the Archie Comics series called “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Adventures” was super popular with my peers and classmates as everyone seemed to have Turtle Mania! With all popular things come the knock offs, and this update we will be taking another look at a comic series that tried to cash in on the popularity of the Ninja Turtles and that’s the Planet X comic series called The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils! So sit back, relax and have a fun time with me here at Rotten Ink as we scrap the bottom of the Knock Off Turtle Barrel and pull out the slimy sludge that is these Green Gerbils for this quick and quirky update! Oh and look at this knock off Popeye The Sailor below!

So many companies tried to cash in on the huge popularity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and in fact I have covered many of them here on Rotten Ink like The Toxic Crusaders, Biker Mice From Mars and The Stone Protectors, all of whom tried to capture the money and fame of the Turtles. Those are just a small few that attempted it and never reached it. But while the above mentioned cartoons/toys/comics at least had a fan base that allowed you to pick up their merchandise at major retail stores, there were some knock off toys that only flooded low end discount stores and flea markets. I mean how could the youth not want their very own Amicable Herculean figure that was nothing more than a normal person that came with a turtle costume and some versions of the figure that was just a turtle head on a normal ninja body…real classy and detailed figures these were not. Or who could forget New Style Ninja Tortoise, poorly made chubby Ninja Turtles who came complete with stickers on their stomachs that read “Tortoise.” These cheapies had no mark of quality. What about the amazing Heroes Of The World Fighter figures that had the turtles pint sized and wearing hoods with huge goofy grins on their faces whose molds were taken from the old Dungeon And Dragons toys. Or even one of my all time favorites Ninja Hero Rider that had frogs with eye patches riding horses with lily pads for shells…yes, it’s as cheesy as it sounds. And these are just a drop in the hat as I could go on and on with TMNT knock offs like Turtle Warrior all the way to Terror Toad and many more Mexican and Chinese made figures that flooded the market with poorly made toys that ruined many kids holidays and birthdays! But while many of these toys are super cheap and bad, they still hold a charm for many who did have them growing up and many hold some value now when looking to buy them online or from a vintage toy store. Check out some of these toys below, and man, Ninja Hero Rider needs to be made into a comic book and a homebrew NES Video Game…just saying.

But while toy aisles were flooded with cheap TMNT knock offs so were the comic stores with cheap imitation comics that all wanted to capture the success of the original Mirage TMNT black and white comic series that truly started the rabid fan base of the Turtles. Many independent comic companies blatantly tried to make their own series of comics based on some sort of animal that knew a fighting style and was some sort of age while other companies went the route of parodying it and making very silly comedy comics with the same formula. But one thing is for sure, this mass push of independent comics all following the same formula also really hurt the independent comics industry at the time as it flooded the shelves with poorly made and written comics that just burnt too many readers, and the companies just imploded on themselves as readers would have rather picked up an issue of Superman or Spider-Man for a cheaper price than read an animal fighter parody rip off comic that was made for a quick cash grab. Some of the worst offenders of this was 1986’s Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters from Eclipse Comics, as well as from 1986 from Planet X Comics and the topic of our update Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils! We also had that same year Mildly Microwaved Pre-Pubescent Kung-Fu Gophers from Just Imagine, Cold Blooded Chameleon Commandos & Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung-Fu Kangaroos both from Blackthorne! Now I need to stress that I am not saying all these comics were bad as I enjoyed many of them when I was a youngster, and I am sure we will cover many of them here on my blog in the future. I just wanted to stress that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ruled the landscape of comics and toys for many years in the 80’s and early 90’s!

So as you can see, this update we are having a little fun at the expense of generic brand TMNT items as I figured this would also be a great way to combat the stress of this time of the year. Plus I have been itching to re-read the first issue of the Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils as I used to have this comic back in the day as I bought it at Mavericks Cards And Comics for like $1.00 and can remember reading it in my room in Waynesville. And now in 2017, I found the whole set of this series at Dark Star in Yellow Springs and knew I had to cover it this year. I want to also stress that the Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils started out in a comic series called “Prime Slime Tales,” and the creator of the Gerbils claims he is not a copy of the TMNT and that he got permission from the creator of the Turtles to make his own silly and off the way book based on the idea the made popular at the time…I think the laughable part of this all is he almost comes off acting as his rip off is more legit because of this blessing…call it what you want, but sorry Tony Basilicato, it is what it is and you were trying to cash in on the fame of the Turtles and made a knock off universe. So with this, let me remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So sit back and relax and let’s take a trip down memory lane with a comic series that is now in .25 bins far and wide!

Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils # 1  **1/2
Released in 1986     Cover Price $1.50     Planet X     # 1 of 3

At the Grubby Acres Rest Home, some very old gerbils are living the remainder of their lives arguing about the good old days of TV as well as just being grumpy toward each other. Our old and crabby heroes are Zeke, Duffer, Geezer and Codger, and they get a visit from the lovely Dr. Christina Proper who has a letter from their creator Dr. Milton Meltdown about an experiment he made called The Esoteric Rap that is a fake god and is now roaming loose in the world and to make things worse Samurai Sam, a simple minded brute with a massive sword is wondering the land and killing hot dog venders! The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils gear up to help stop The Esoteric Rap, and this is their first mission in over 30 years! As they make their way to Dr. Meltdown, the good Doctor is visited by his evil creation The Esoteric Rap who sets a trap for our heroes that will make them come face to face with Samurai Sam in a showdown to the death!

Okay, this comic is super silly and while it is making fun of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it really does have its own style and comedy that makes its own world seem important. The plot of issue one is: a batch of government created gerbils who are crime fighters are brought out of retirement in order to try and stop a created monster with a God complex, but with the time off our heroes are old and out of touch with the modern world of crime around them. Our heroes The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils are a team of four very old and grumpy gerbils who are Duffer, Geezer, Codger and Zeke all who have their own weird quirks as Duffer thinks he is still a crime-fighting machine, and Zeke spends every moment sleeping! So while we don’t get to know them all that well, I would say the The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils are just old goofs who know how to defend themselves and our short tempered and out of touch. Dr. Meltdown and Dr. Proper are government workers who do weird experiments that create life and while they do so with good attentions it appears that not all they do goes well! The Esoteric Rap is a floating monster who is childlike in nature yet also very ego driven as it views itself as a god. So far we as the reader don’t know what he is capable of, but I am sure it will be reveled in the upcoming issues. Samurai Sam is a massive chubby man who carries a huge sword who for some reason hates Hot Dog vendors and has bad flashbacks that makes him snap and attack them! Is Sam just a confused person or a killer this issue does not give us the answer but I would say he walks the line of both and I almost see him in the end teaming with The Gerbils to defeat The Esoteric Rap! While this is by all means a very silly comic that does not take its self serious it does have lots of heart and the characters and story is things that 80’s independent comics was made of. The cover is fun and eye catching and is trying so hard to get the attention of the TMNT readers of the time, and I for one would say it would have worked on me. The interior art is done by Tony Basilicato and is silly good stuff and is fitting for this kind of a comic and story. So to sum it up, this comic was just as fun as I remember it being from my youth and makes me look forward to reading issue two for the first time and seeing how this adventure of these Geriatric Gerbils plays out!

Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils # 2   **
Released in 1986     Cover Price $1.50     Planet X     # 2 of 3

The Esoteric Rap has in fact used mind control on Dr. Meltdown in order to lead The Geriatric Gerbils to a trap fight with Samurai Sam who is ready to slice and smash our heroes and with some dumb luck of spitting false teeth in the eye of the raging Samurai, our heroes are able to escape for a short time in order to try and come up with a game plan. But they made one mistake as they left the sleeping Zeke behind who is now been snatched and about to be crushed to death by massive hands of Sam! As Samurai Sam is about to crush Zeke, the sleeping Gerbil awakens and blasts the massive Samurai away with a fart! As the other Gerbils rush to their friend who saved the day, the evil The Esoteric Rap uses his power and turns Geezer back into a normal gerbil and is about to eat him when Zeke aims and fires one more fart at the fake god as his pals hold a match causing a gassy fireball to hit The Esoteric Rap….but we will have to wait till the next issue to see if it worked!

The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils are out matched when coming face to face with Samurai Sam and once more its shows these old heroes just don’t have what it takes to be the crime fighters they once were. And to beat their massive opponent they use a fart that levels him…yep, this comic, as you can see, does not take itself seriously at all and the ultimate weapon our heroes have is massive farts! The main thing that happens in this comic besides the fact passed gas defeats both of the issues enemies is that Geezer is turned into a normal baby gerbil, and this could be the end of The Geriatric Gerbils as we readers know them! Samurai Sam while a brute and super aggressive seems to be more than a match for The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils as a whole, but was not ready for Zeke and his butt vapor powers. The Esoteric Rap is a egotistical super powerful false God creature who can control life and death it’s self and while he has all the power in the world he as well is no match for poop gas escaping from the backside of Zeke! The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils are heroes but they not super powerful and by luck is the only way they seem to be winning these fights! Zeke is clearly the MVP of the team as this sleeping goof is the one who has won the fights for them thanks to his gas. While this issue loses a little of the charm of the first, it still is a silly good read that entertained me on the night of reading. The cover for this one is pretty lame and just shows an arm with the Earth on a string and is not eye catching at all.  The interior art was done by Tony Basilicato again and seems a little rushed this time around. So over all this one is kind of one big fart joke and is fun, goofy and silly and worth a read for fans of TMNT knock off comics.

Geriatric Gerbils # 3  **
Released in 1987     Cover Price $1.50     Planet X     # 3 of 3

The Esoteric Rap has been defeated by the flaming fart of Zeke, but the explosion has also left him as well as Duffer and Codger knocked out with only baby Geezer awake! As his friends are knocked out baby Geezer remembers back to when they were all babies and they had to be dropped off at a daycare by Dr. Meltdown that was for gifted mutated youngsters and they meet Dr. Bombastic The Mad Bomber who wants to use all the gifted babies he is watching to join is crime wave. Well this alerts the Geriatric Gerbils to his evil plans, and they try and stop him as he sets a giant robot free on the city and Zeke takes out Dr. Bombastic with a lethal fart and along with the other gifted babies, they enter the city to try and stop the robot who makes the mistake of eating Zeke who once more lets out a fart that destroys the robot. We cut back to present day and baby Geezer is happy in his memories as his friends still are knocked out.

I am sure you noticed this third and final issue had a name change as it was cut down to just Geriatric Gerbils and that it ends with our heroes being knocked out and Geezer still being a baby and all the major baddies have been beat by farts. I think the silly nature of this series was lots of fun but also the over use of all the bad guys being defeated by farts is what lead to this being the final issue in the series. The story of this issue has the Geriatric Gerbils being babies and teaming up with babies of The X-Men in order to beat a crazy mad doctor who is hell-bent on ruling the world. The Geriatric Gerbils even as youngsters are goofy, cranky heroes who are not as skilled as they think but have enough luck and gas on their side to win. The X-Men babies are background players and in order to not be sued they are not said by name and for the most part don’t do anything in the final battle. The Evil Robot tries what he can to cause chaos and destruction but in the end is not match for one baby gerbil’s bad gas. Dr. Bombastic is a conman who runs a mutant baby daycare in order to try and get an army of baby troopers who is outsmarted and defeated when he crosses the path of our hero Gerbils. This sort lived comic series was a fun read, and I would say that this should have ran at least two more issues and then gone to the big comic rack in the sky as while fun it could easily also ran its course with its simple stories and same crude gimmick of farts and grumpy old gerbils. The bad guys never really got to shine as they always seemed to be dangerous until the fight started and each are defeated by the same means…and yes, it’s getting very lame having to keep talking about gerbil farts! The art is once more done by Tony Basilicato and is on par with the other two issues and the cover is pretty cool and shows baby Geezer stumbling around trying to do jujitsu. Over all this TMNT knock off comic series was lots of fun even if it was a one trick pony that’s stories were rice paper thin and the series never got a real true ending and was just one dig fart joke that the creator claimed was not a TMNT rip-off. So if your enjoy silly comics about talking animals that know martial arts this short lived series is for you! Check out the artwork below to see the glory that is the Geriatric Gerbils.

The weather outside is chilly and Christmas is getting closer and I want to say that I hope you don’t get a pile of gifts under your tree that is filled with knock-off toys, games, watches, cloths and comics running your holiday…well unless your odd like me and enjoy the weirdness of these generic knock-off items! And I hope you enjoyed our look at The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils and their three-issue run they had back in the late 80’s and while they might not have been ground breaking like the TMNT they ripped off, they did make their mark on the world of comics and added crude juvenile humor to their approach of showcasing talking animals who are heroes and know how to fight. But with the Gerbils behind us and my work getting busy, I think it’s time to once more bring in Juliet to be a guest blogger for me and have her share some Holiday cheer with you all! So for our next update Juliet will be covering The California Raisins and will share some Christmas memories and her connection to her topic of choice. So until next time stay warm, read a comic or three, watch a Christmas Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Until next time readers and friends make sure to spend some time with your loved ones and take a few moments to remember this time of year from your youth.

Hercules Once More Wants You To Marvel At Him This Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s hard to believe that we are once again at our big Turkey Day update and that means we will also be going back to Ancient Greece or in the case space as we are going to once more check in on Hercules from the Marvel Universe and the second mini series of him having adventures in space after being kicked off Mount Olympus for partying too much by his father Zeus! We also will be chatting a little about the character again and some of my memories of the Marvel version of Hercules, and we will also have a very special announcement about an upcoming Sparkle Comic that I will be writing and editing! But if you’re like me, I can smell the ham cooking and am looking forward to eating some mashed potatoes and rolls so let’s get this update started! Well I should say also that I am thankful for my family and friends all who have made my life so much better! I am thankful for Sparkle Comics and Blood Scream Comics as it’s a great outlet to be creative with friends and entertain readers! I am thankful for my cats Leslie and Streets J who add joy to my day-to-day life! I am thankful for my job as it’s a fun place to work and my co-workers are all outstanding people! I am thankful to Baron Von Porkchop as doing a Horror Host show is a dream come true! I also want to thank all my friends who use to make shot on video films with me back in the day of Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video as those films were so much fun to make! Oh I also want to say a very big THANK YOU for spending apart of your holiday with me here on Rotten Ink. So let’s catch back up with our good pal Hercules!

Growing up, I read lots of Marvel Comics from all decades as my brother and I would collect whatever issues we could get our hands on. And I can remember reading issues with Hercules in them mostly in the pages of The Avengers, Thor and Marvel Premire and while I enjoyed his antics in the pages of those comics I was never a diehard Marvel Hercules fan and that’s shocking as I loved the legend of Hercules but I think he just got lost in the shuffle as Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man and Thor got most of my comic reading attention when it came to Marvel. In the Marvel Universe Hercules is an egomaniac that is a party animal and rushes into battle as he fears nothing and thinks his power and strength cant be topped. He is also a womanizer who even at times looks down on the female heroes and not in a mean way but more he is just so out of touch. Oh and he drinks a lot and is drunk at times causing issues. But while he does have flaws and its more because he is a fish out or water a hero out of his own time he does have lots of positives as he is very loyal to his friends and would sacrifice his own life to be the hero of the day. Plus in the Marvel Universe Hercules is strong and powerful but is not on the level of Thor or Hulk and has lost many battles even once being put into a coma by The Masters Of Evil. I also remember a story arch that had Hercules being fearful of battle and trying to hide his fear from other heroes, this took place in Thor Comics and that helped add another layer to the character for a short time. I also remember the multiple time that Hercules took on The Incredible Hulk and while good fights old Herc was always outclassed. The character as of recent time has been more of a background player even though he took over Hulks book for a while during the aftermath of the World War Hulk arch that had the name change to “The Incredible Hercules” and ran from 2008-2010 before being cancelled and going back to The Hulk. He also played a good part in Marvel Zombies as well as the long running event that was called Secret Empire and was apart of the underground team to bring down Hydra. So while Hercules in the Marvel Universe has never made his way to the films nor has he ever really been a major player he has to be respected as he has did his best to add to the Universe and brought a classic Greek hero to the world of Marvel Comics. What I would like to see Marvel do with Hercules in 2018 would be that he is on the outs with his fellow Gods and in order to get the respect and honor back he is given new labors that test his wits and might and even turns him into almost a anti-hero as he is forced to fight even fellow heroes as well as take a side in wars fought among men. Just an idea and a way to make Hercules be front and center as Thor and others are not sure his motives and he himself having to act under the will of his angry father who wants his son to be more vengeful. But I am sure Hercules will always be what he is in Marvel and that’s a solid background and team member of a massive team.

So now is the time for the major announcement about a future Sparkle Comics comic that is in the works and will be released sometimes in 2019 that will have me doing the stories and have the super talented Jeff Potter doing the art,  For those who don’t know, Mr. Potter has done the art for the Sparkle releases of Adventure Man # 1 based on the 80’s knock off generic toy of the same name as well as the comic based on the old shot on video film from Independent B Movie Farmer Joe # 0.  Both are top notch amazing comic books if this Editor In Chief says so himself! So I am sure you are now really wanting to know what this title will be, and I am going to share this with you my blog readers first before it hits the Sparkle website or social media that we will being doing a ongoing comic series based on the Greek Hero Hercules that will be inspired by the classic Sword And Sandal films from the 50s and 60s.  The first issue will have Herc taking on the Cannibal Cavemen! This is a project that I am very pleased to be doing as growing up I loved watching those classic films that starred Steve Reeves, Reg Park and Alan Steel as I found them to be lots of fun filled with action, adventures, drama and even dashes of science fiction.  The world of comics is lacking this type of comic starting Hercules. and I am proud that Sparkle will be able to bring this series to comics shops in Ohio as well as via online. So I hope that this has made many of you readers happy, and I hope many of you will check this comic series out once it”s released in 2019 and that it takes you back to the days of watching Hercules films on Saturday Mornings and reading his adventures in the pages of Charlton Comics. Check out the raw image of the cover for our first issue and again very much looking forward to creating this comics stories and quests.

So there it was, Sparkle Comics is doing a Hercules comic series that will be starting in 2019 that will for sure please fans of this classic Greek Demigod hero. So we are now at the time of the update when I have to start the comic review, and it’s kind of sad to think that this will be the last time we will be visiting Marvel Comics’ version of Hercules on Thanksgiving as he only had two classic mini series and with this one we have covered them both. To be honest, I am not really sure why I think of Hercules and Sword And Sandal films on this day but ever since I was a kid, strangely, I have….I wonder if when I was a kid maybe my dad had something like the Steve Reeve Hercules films or Three Stooges Meet Hercules on the TV on Thanksgiving….or if it’s because most of the Hercules films are considered Golden Turkeys? Whatever the reason, I will do my best to always cover a Hercules comic series on Turkey day and or at least some sort of Greek Hero book. So before we travel back to space and catch up with our pal Hercules, I do want to remind you all that I grade these comics on a scale of 1 to 4 and you are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story! So with that, let’s see what our old pal Hercules is up to on his second space mini series adventure!

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 1   **1/2
Released in 1984     Cover Price $0.60    Marvel     # 1 of 4

Hercules has taken sides in a battle in space over a planet that is used for mining and two sides are fighting over the riches that are present one side is rebels the other is the government and Herc and Recorder are on the side of the government and after bringing down the leader of the rebels who turned out to be a Skrull this battle also leads to the death of one of Hercules closest friends in space as he has been hanging out with for over 40 years and this is a sign for Hercules to move on deeper into space to find a new adventure. Once arriving to the new planet Hercules and Recorder meet Officer Tyne Pryntess who is an officer and who allows our hero to stay on the planet but she must interview Recorder to get information. While checking into his hotel room Hercules spots a beautiful woman who ignores his charms and this makes him want to have her even more! Meanwhile on Mount Olympus Ares The God Of War is mad and braiding his fellow Gods about growing old and fat and even condemns Zeus for allowing humans to have free will, this angers Zeus who turns Ares into ash and storms off. Hercules soon finds his dream girl who’s named Sasha who is a model and as she is on stage he corners her only to find out she is a he and is a Skrull who is in hiding as he was to be killed on his home planet! While Hercules forgives the Skrull but the crowd does not and Herc is forced to flee with the Skrull and Recorder as he does not want to hurt anyone. So after escaping they escape the planet with the help of Tyne Pryntess. We cut to the throne room of Zeus on Mount Olympus and the father of all gods tells his brother Pluto that all the Greek gods must die!

This 2nd series starts off with a bang as our plot takes Hercules and his robot friend Recorder deeper into space as Hercules losses a friend to a war that was caused by a Skrull, meets a woman he wants to get with that’s a Skrull and ends up befriending the shape shifting alien and is able to escape the planet. But while the plot of Hercules adventure is space is fun the real interesting story that is brewing is the fact Zeus is aware he is loosing his footing with mankind and is now on a warpath of killing his own godly children and starts by killing Ares as he speaks the truth of the God’s loosing their followers on Earth. Hercules in this issue is still very brave and is on the side of what’s right as he opens the issue helping the Government stop a group of Rebels who are hellbent on killing. He also shows very much he values friendship and that he has a big heart as the death of his friend truly bothers him. But as always while he is a hero he also spends most the issue trying to swoon women and push them into kissing or falling in love with him!! Recorder is around and once more filled with facts and advice and is still a great character but I will say he seems to be not as fun loving as he was in the first series. Skyppi is a Skrull who is a fugitive on his home planet and hides himself as a super model in order to earn money to survive, so far he seems like an older Skrull who fears death on his home planet will be cool to see if he joins Hercules and Recorder for this whole mini series. Officer Tyne Pryntess seems like a really good person and she can tell when people are lying as well and calm even the most wild of beasts, makes you wonder if she will come into play more in this series. Over all this first issue is a great way to kick off the 2nd space adventure for the Prince Of Power and I really cant wait to see how the Zeus storyline plays out as his path of killing rage is very interesting. So as I am smelling the ham cooking lets move onto the second issue and see what its has in store for us before dinner. Oh and I want to say that I really dig the cover of this issue as it showcases our three traveling heroes.

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 2  ***
Released in 1984      Cover Price $0.60    Marvel      # 2 of 4

Hercules along with Recorder and Skyppi are trying to escape the planet in the chariot and are being chased by the police who are willing to shoot them down! Hercules jumps from the chariot and stops the police from chasing them but while doing this the chariot crashes and leaves Recorder hurt and in need of repair and they rush to get him repaired. Meanwhile a crazed Skrull hater named Red Wolf is on a rampage and is killing Skrulls on a space station including a politician! Red Wolf is shot down and turns into a normal human named Rojohn Smythe and is taken to jail. Meanwhile Hercules and Skyppi get Recorder to a repair shop only for themselves to be under attack by the stations police force when they get a call that Herc is now a wanted man! As Hercules gets arrested Skyppi turns into a bug and escapes as Recorder is still left in the repair shop. Back on Mount Olympus things are going bad as Zeus is on a killing spree and is taking the lives of his fellow Gods with only Apollo able to escape as he rockets himself into space. Hercules wakes up in jail from a nightmare and due to Zeus actions he has also aged, and worse he is sharing the cell with Rojohn who explains that he cannot control Red Wolf as it’s a spirit that lives inside him that hates Skrulls! As they chat Skyppi shows up to break them out and this triggers Red Wolf who goes into kill mode and attacks the old Skrull! Hercules stands up for his friend and fights Red Wolf around the jail and this leads them to the airlock and when it opens Hercules saves the life of Red Wolf who in turn respects Herc and runs distraction to the guards so Hercules, Skyppi and Recorder can get to the chariot and head to Mount Olympus to see what is going on with his father as the nightmare he had shook the Prince Of Power to his core.

Wow this second issue is really good and if you dig Hercules in the Marvel Universe this is one that is worth a read! The plot of this issue has Herc and his pals escaping one planet that leaves Recorder damaged and in need of repair all because Hercules was careless and only wanted to fight and not get his friends to safety, and when getting them off the planet finally they end up at a space station that has a Skrull hating possessed killer who has his eye on Skyppi! Hercules in this issue learns a lesson that his careless love for battle does have downsides as it leads to a friend being hurt, he also learns that using a combination of fighting and brains is the best way to win a fight! One thing as well that happens to the ever cocky Hercules in this issue is that he is growing older as his father Zeus kills more of his fellow Gods and this worries the Prince Of Power as he don’t know what’s going on at Mount Olympus but knows something is wrong for sure! Recorder and Skyppi are great sidekick characters and while they are under the protection of the Lion of Olympus they also are looking out for him as they try their best to be his voice of reason. Red Wolf is a spirit who for some reason 100% hates Skrulls and wants to kill as many of them as he can! While Red Wolf is a bad spirit he does knows respect when his life is saved and in turn does what he can to help Hercules escape the space station. I really liked the look of Red Wolf as it was a weird mix of Native American, Sabertooth and demon! Zeus has lost his mind and is really on a killing spree on Mount Olympus and is truly the main villain of this comic series! The only God this far to escape is Apollo who has fled for his life and by the looks might be on his way to find Hercules to try and get help. What I like the most about this series this far is the fact Hercules is traveling around causing a mess were ever he is going and while he is having a space adventure his home on Mount Olympus is crumbling! Cool cover and great interior art work by Bob Layton and another fun issue in this mini series….man I can smell that ham cooking even stronger so lets move on to issue three!

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 3   **1/2
Released in 1984      Cover Price $0.60    Marvel      # 3 of 4

We start on a moon planet and a group of tomb raiders are being slaughtered by someone who is setting traps by using jewels and leaves the only survivor Shreck left to enter and retrieve the pure power that awaits him inside! Meanwhile Hercules along with his friends are traveling back to Mount Olympus when he gets a call from Mentor that he needs to rush to Titan as something bad has taken place. As Hercules arrives he soon finds out that Apollo is there and as well has aged and is near death, before the God of Light dies he tells Herc that all that awaits him back on Olympus is death. Mentor takes Hercules to the side and takes him to the great space computer ISSAC to see what is going on at Mount Olympus and soon finds that all of his fellow Gods are dead besides Zeus! Meanwhile Shreck finds what he is looking for and that’s the tomb of the late Captain Marvel and he steals the dead heroes power bands and heads to Titan and attacks just as Hercules is set to leave for his home. While Hercules, Skyppi and Mentor all try and hold off the now powerful Shreck who is doing his evil deeds all in the name of Thanos, Recorder and ISSAC are trying to find a weakness in the power that was once the mighty Captain Marvels. As Shreck knocks out our heroes in a brutal battle and starts his destruction of Titan, Recorder gets the information he needs to give to the awakening Hercules and the prince of power sets the plan in motion and tricks Shreck into a power core that overloads him and ends his path of terror once and for all. As Mentor and says farewell to Hercules, the might Zeus sits on his throne on Mount Olympus and awaits the arrival of his last son.

This was an entertaining issue that adds one last side quest to Hercules before he can make his way home to find out the answers he is seeking. This one has Hercules and his pals defending Titan from a power crazed madman who is a follower of Thanos and who has robbed the grave of Captain Marvel to do so! Hercules in this issue is still very much fun loving and looking for fighting action but he also really seems to be worried about his home and all his fellow Gods that live there. Plus as always he sticks his own neck out in order to save his friends and the innocent people who could be injured unjustly. Recorder is super helpful in this issue as he is quick minded and along with the worlds Super Space Computer come up with a plan to stop the threat in its destructive tracks. Skyppi as well tries what he can to help by shape shifting and trying to keep Shreck at bay, while he is a downbeat old Skrull he still shows he very much is a loyal friend to Hercules. Mentor, his son StarFox and computer ISSAC all live on Titan and try to warn Herc on what’s awaiting him on Mount Olympus and also offered shelter to the dying Apollo. Shreck is a soulless scumbag who follows the words and evil teachings of Thanos and robs a grave of a beloved superhero in order to still his power bracelets to bring death to all those who ever wronged his idol. Shreck is a true scumbag and a terrible person and even sent in his own friends to get what he needed and knew that they would keep dying…Shreck is a terrible person so once he is brought down you find yourself very happy. The sad part of this issue is seeing Apollo very old and dying with Hercules by his side telling him that their home is no more and that Zeus as turned against them all. I think the best thing about this issue for me was the last page that had Zeus sitting on his throne holding a bloody axe and awaiting the arrival of his last son alive. Cover of this issue is so-so and the interior art by Bob Layton is good and I should also say that he also did the story for this mini series. So with that this issue is good and a nice set up for the final issue and with that lets move onto the fourth and final issue.

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 4  ***
Released in 1984    Cover Price $0.60    Marvel      # 4 of 4

Hercules arrives at Mount Olympus and finds it in ruins and all his fellow Gods dead and gone. His father with anger and hate in his eyes sits waiting for him to enter and challenges him to a fight that will leave one of them dead! Hercules refuses to fight his father and this angers Zeus who also creates a marble Horse Monster to go after and run off Recorder and Skyppi and attacks his son! Zeus beats Hercules up and damages his arm and blinds him in one eye, he also alerts his son that his fate is with a pearl that he had placed in a vat of fire and just as the father of all Gods is about to kill his son, Hercules smashes the walls around them and buries Zeus under the rubble. Meanwhile Recorder and Skyppi trick the Marble Horse and push it down a hole and return to find Hercules weak and possibly dying from his wounds, as they try and get him to Apollo’s Chariot the Mighty Zeus breaks free and is hungry for blood! As Recorder takes Hercules away Skyppi stays behind and takes the form of Herc to try and trick Zeus but it does not as Zeus grabs Skyppi by the neck and “snaps” it just as Hercules comes back for him and this trigger the Prince Of Power to fight his father and he gives the king of Gods a butt whopping! Just as Hercules is about to smash his father with an axe he drops it and Zeus informs him that he has passed the test and that he would like for Hercules to be the new role model of mankind as he and the Gods time has long been over, and that he never really killed the other gods they are all just in another dimension were they will all live and Hercules as well can decide if he wants to stay or join his fellow Gods in this new dimension by getting the pearl from the fire. As Zeus leaves Hercules is filled with joy knowing his father has only testing him and not truly mad and decides to stay and go on more adventures with Recorder and Skyppi!

Hercules The Prince Of Power fighting The Father of The Gods Zeus in a bloody battle is the plot of this issue, and man, was this a fun one to read! The fact that Zeus is like a crazy axe wielding maniac filled with rage and a cocky attitude makes him a very evil foe for Hercules, but after almost beating his son to death and forcing his own son to almost beat him to death we all learn that this was just a test to see if Herc has learned a lesson and if he would like to join the Gods in a new dimension or if he would like to stay on Earth and do good for humankind. In this issue Hercules shows that he is not only loyal to his family but also his friends, and when pushed, he will do the right thing even if it’s fighting his own father to the death. He also shows that he can be hurt badly as his father blinds him in one eye and almost removes one of his arms from a powerful blow with his axe. I also really like that Hercules decides to stay on Earth and by doing so his wounds are healed and his aging goes away. Skyppi and Recorder show that they work well as a team as they outsmart and defeat a massive foe made of stone and even risk their own lives in order to try and help save Hercules. Zeus starts the issue out being a monster who it’s clear could kill Hercules and his friends with ease, but by the ends shows that he is a loving father and an ancient god that knows his time has passed. This second mini series continues the adventure of Hercules in space and ends with him back at Mount Olympus and delivers a very fun and entertaining read that is sure to please fans of this character as well as fans of the old Sword And Sandal films. The cover of this issue is pretty great and shows a evil looking Zeus standing over a defeated Hercules and is eye catching, and once more, the story and interior art done by Bob Layton is fantastic and is great classic 80’s Marvel stuff and makes this even more enjoyable. So as you can see, this was a solid 4 issue read that delivers adventure and drama and throws in just enough Greek mythology to make it fun for fans of comics and history! Check out the art below to see a sample of Layton’s style, and to sum it up, this was a great read for Thanksgiving 2017.

So ends Rotten Ink’s journey with Marvel’s version of Hercules. It was a fun ride filled with space and gods, and I would like to think that Hercules, Recorder and Skyppi are flying around on Apollo’s Chariot this very night chatting about battle and eating turkey! Speaking of eating, dinner is ready, and I am hungry and looking forward to spending sometime with my family on this holiday. So I am going to wrap this update up and hope that you and your family and friends have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Out next update will be about The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils, a weird 90’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rip off that was unleashed on the readers. So until next time, eat a turkey leg or two, watch a football game or three and make sure to watch a Horror Host on this Holiday evening! Once more Happy Thanksgiving to all of you friends, family and readers.