It’s The Final Plague Countdown!

Animals can be a person’s best friend, but they can also be very scary and can not only kill and eat you but also can spread diseases and wipe out hundreds, if not millions, of people with the likes of plagues and rabies. Today’s update will be a quick one focusing on scary animals, pets, disease and a comic miniseries by Action Lab Comics’ horror branch, The Danger Zone, called The Final Plague. I have to say that Action Lab: Danger Zone has locked itself as a great company for horror comic readers as they not only do original series but they have also teamed up with Full Moon Entertainment to bring us high quality comics based on their films like Puppet Master and Gingerdead Man. The one thing that is really cool about Action Lab is that their Editor In Chief Shawn Gabborin is very interactive with the readers and loves comic books in general, something that I feel is lacking in other companies that are just doing series for money and not with love and the enjoyment to entertain.  I think Shawn and Action Lab are in this comic game for all the right reasons. So get into your hazmat suit as it’s time to walk among the infected animals from the twisted world of The Final Plague!

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The Black Plague spread across Europe from 1346-1353 and infected and killed up to 200 million people all thanks to fleas on rats that infected people through bites and contaminated food supplies. In 1975, the first case of Lyme Disease was diagnosed.  It is also spread from tick bites with symptoms that include fatigue, a bullseye rash and feeling like you have a bad case of the flu.  If not treated, it will cause brain issues as well as infects joints and organs. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, also known as Mad Cow Disease, not only infects cows but also humans who eat meat from an infected cow.  It causes major brain and nerve issues. Swine Influenza, aka Swine Flu, is a virus that infects pigs who can then pass onto humans.  In 2009, an outbreak happened that left around 203,000 people dead. The Bird Flu, or Avian Influenza is a sickness that kills birds and can spread to humans via infected meat and the process of preparing the infected bird for slaughter. And let’s not forget Rabies, a disease that infects animals minds and causes them to go mad with rage before death finally comes for them.  If a human is bitten by an infected animal such as a dog, cat, raccoon or opossum they as well are driven mad. These are just a drop in the hat of the viruses and diseases that we as human beings can be infected by thanks to our animal friends that we share this world with.

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If the fact that animals and their viruses and diseases can infect and kill us all doesn’t have you creeped out, let us not forgot that many animals are also man-eaters and will feast on our flesh with their razor sharp teeth and claws. Over the years bears, tigers, wolves, dogs, cats, alligators, hippos, sharks, hogs and so many others have killed and eaten humans. Let us also not forget that many animals and insects like spiders, frogs, snakes and gila monsters can poison you with their toxins and rancid bites. So in other words, nature is scary!! Growing up, my mother was scared of dogs and hogs, while I was scared of that bison at Fantasy Farm and many other people in the world have fear of animals from spiders to roaches all the way to mice some animals can also scare people to death just by being around them! Growing up I had lots of dreams about being attacked by animals with the most recent being about me in a outdoor shopping mall along with some friends looking at paperback books and music CD’s when all of a sudden the outdoor mall was under attack by grizzly bears! All the people started to run as the bears attacked, and I found myself alongside one of my friends in a metal locker as one of the bears tried so hard to break in and eat us! Almost all my dreams about attacking animals have been about grizzly bears…I wonder if in a past life I was attacked by one….who knows. But one thing is for sure, when you are out in the woods watch out for predator animals as you might just end up being lunch for one.

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While the world is filled with real life animal attacks, Hollywood wanted to also cash in on the idea of when animals attack and has graced both the big and small screen with films based on just that idea. Who can forget such classic animal run wild films as The Birds (1963), Willard (1971), Frogs (1972), The Night Of A Thousand Cats (1972), Jaws (1975), Grizzly (1976), Day Of The Animals (1977), Piranha (1978), Cujo (1983), Rats: Night Of Terror (1984) and so many more! Let’s also not forget when Hollywood decided to make the animals bigger because regular sized ones just couldn’t cut it.  So they delivered Tarantula (1955), The Giant Gila Monster (1959), The Food Of The Gods (1976), The Giant Spider Invasion (1975), Alligator (1980) and Island Claws (1980) to name a select few. To this day, Hollywood is making when animals attack style horror films, as they understand people’s primitive fears of animals that kill and can’t be reasoned with. Do yourself a favor if you’re into horror films, have some friends and family over and have a Horror Movie Marathon with all killer animal films and then go for a walk in the woods the next day and see if you can spook yourself from the sounds of nature around you.

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Over my lifetime I have had many pets who have added friendship and entertaining moments that will stick with me forever. Droopy was the first dog in my life as he was around when I was really young.  Sadly, he was stolen while the family went on vacation.  You long time readers will remember I spoke about him on my Foofur update. For a short time after Droopy, my dad rescued a little tiger striped kitten from the side of the highway/  Some a-hole put him in a bag and left him to die…he was bitten badly by fleas, and we took him home nursed him back to health and found him a forever home.  Both of these were before I was even in kindergarten and were our Kettering pets. Also in Kettering was Roxanne, a cockatoo bird that we rescued from outside.  She lived with us for many years and even moved with us to Waynesville and was such a sweet bird who loved us all. Moving to Waynesville, we found a baby opossum that was orphaned when its mother was hit by a car.  I named him Baby Chuck.  He stayed with us for a while, and we had to feed him milk via an eye dropper. Baby Chuck would find his permanent home at a nature reserve thanks to a nice older man who allowed him to live on his land and grow old. My neighbor raised mice and after begging and, I am sure, whining, my parents allowed me to have two of them, females that I called Grey and White.  They were my best friends and both of them loved just hanging out with me while I played Nintendo, read books and comics and even watched TV. Sadly, White passed away from a tumor, and Grey passed away from old age…it was a very sad day for me as I loved them both and they were part of the family for sure as my parents and brother as well enjoyed their tiny friendship. Later on I would get another mouse, this time a male that I named Ben. He was also a lovable little guy who enjoyed his life with me as my friend pet. We also had a big aquarium and many fish, but one was very special as we had him for many, many years.  He grew to be the biggest gold fish in our tiny glass pond, and we called him Gil.  He sadly passed away from old age, my Dad really loved that silly fish. My Aunt Laverne and cousin Nick gave me a hamster that I called S.P.G, named after the pet hamster from the BBC show “The Young Ones.”  While most of the time he was friendly, he did have a nasty habit of biting.  He lived a long life that was filled with many blood drawing moments. When moving back to Kettering, my parents bought me a German Shepard puppy that we named Stella.  She was a goofy dog that I had many adventures with as I was the new kid and she was my best friend as by that time both my parents worked as did my brother and that left me home alone a lot.  She was like me always, ready to run around and discover the world around. Stella was a great dog and while she was scared of almost everything, when she thought I was ever in danger she would turn into a protective beast ready for a fight.  I can remember one time some neighbors set off fireworks and she jumped in front of me and was ready to fight the bright sky lights. Stella lived a long life and sadly had to be put to sleep after old age kicked in and she had major medical issues that left her forgetting how to eat and drink…it was a very sad day. When I got older and moved away from home and in with my then girlfriend Misty Altick, I got her a kitten she named Neptune, but I called him Poops.  He was a silly cat who grew up to be a chubby very loving cat.  I used to make up stories about him being wanted by rival cats and how he was this ultimate badass. During this time, I also got an older female cat named Gracie who was on a final sale at a local pet store.  Gracie was very odd but loved me with all her little heart.  Funny enough, she hated Misty and when we first got her she spent many nights hissing at Misty as well as scratching her. Gracie and Poops had babies together later on and each of them found homes, but they lived with us for awhile and they were all very lovable little creatures who loved to sleep, climb and scream at me.  We named a few of them Poops Jr., Grizz, Midnight. Sadly when Misty and I broke up, I had to leave the cats behind and she would later on give them away to her friends.  I wonder what has happened to them many nights. About 11 years ago, while dating Jennifer Perkins, she bought me a kitten from a local pet shop that I named Leslie.  She has been my best pal for so long that I cannot imagine not having her sleeping on my chest at night or sitting next to me as I write these blogs. Leslie is truly my favorite pet I have ever owned! Also about 6 years ago, my current girlfriend Juliet and I took in a stray male cat from around our apartment that I named Streets J. Cat.  He is a Norwegian forest cat who is as goofy as goofy can be and is a well loved addition to our little home, even if Leslie hates him! So while nature can be scary, they can also be very lovable and add so much to the lives of owners who have pets. Below are pictures of Leslie and Streets, the two current goofy balls that share my life with me.

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So as you can see, nature can be scary as well as sweet and brighten up you life, and with that I think, it’s time for us to jump into a comic series that I have been very hyped to read ever since I found out about it in late 2015. As you long time readers know, I am a big fan of horror comics and love to discover and read new series and issues that catch my attention, and The Final Plague did just that after finding it on Action Lab’s website and seeing the cover for issue one with a hooded man holding a rat eating a human eyeball made me have to track down the series.  For some reason it was really hard to find the single issues as the graphic novel was all over the place. But thanks to the team up of Mavericks Cards and Comics, Lone Star Comics and Amazon I was able to get the complete single issue run! And while I am sitting here writing, this my cat Leslie wants me 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. See having pets sure can be helpful when you have a blog like this as they can remind you to place the star grading for the over 100th time.

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The Final Plague # 1  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 1 of 5

It’s 2012, and for some reason rats and other pets has become more aggressive and seem to be diseased. A lab in New Jersey has found that their lab rats have been bleeding from the eyes and are becoming very violent.  One even spit its own blood into the eyes and mouth of a lab assistant causing her and the mice to be put into quarantine. Meanwhile in New York, a drunk homeless man is attacked by a pack of crazed virus infected rats! In Iowa at the Michaels family farm, they are having issues with these rats in their cellar, and when one goes on the attack Helen, the mother of the family, has to cut off its head to get it to stop attacking their daughter Sarah.  She orders her husband Robert and son Thomas after dinner to go to the cellar and kill off the rats that are scratching at the door. Helen is sick with cancer but is still trying her best to be the backbone for her family and cooks a roast for dinner, and she finds out her husband has invited Alan, the town’s exterminator, over for dinner and help to kill off the rats in the cellar. During dinner Alan is telling the family about how the whole town is being infested with pests and that business is booming as everyone wants these aggressive animals exterminated.  After dinner Alan goes into the cellar to kill some rats when something goes wrong and he screams and comes up stairs covered with rats who are eating his flesh!

The Final Plague’s starting story is this: animals are acting really odd and have gotten some sort of virus that is making their eyes bleed as well as hungry for human flesh and are becoming aggressive and hard to kill.  This is spreading throughout the United States,  but we mainly focus on the Michaels family in Iowa as they have a cellar full of nasty rats who end up attacking the local exterminator! Plus we throw in the lab workers in New Jersey who are gearing up to understanding what this virus is. The Michaels family are good hard working country people who are taking care of their farm, and mother Helen is a strong person who, while ill with cancer, is still doing all she can to provide and help her family including cooking and even bashing rats to death that make an attempt to attack her family. The character who gets the worst attack, besides the drunken bum, is Allen who by the end of the issue is running around swarmed with rats all that are biting and ripping at his flesh. So far I am kind of digging the flow of the story as it’s clear this is just the start of something way worse that will lead to many human deaths and the animals around the globe will be the cause of it! The character I am liking the most at this point is a tie between Robert and Helen both who are hard working people who seem to enjoy farm life as well as family life. The issue is not a blood bath but does have some of the red stuff that helps add to the horror of it all. The cover is amazing and super eye catching. I wish the hooded character who appears on it was actually in it, but sadly he is not and to be honest, he is what made me want to read this series in the first place. The art inside is interesting and while not the style I normally like, I will still say it’s solid and is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown who clearly does have talent. Issue one was pretty cool and a nice build up issue for this story so let’s hope that issue two gives us some more clues to why this is happing and if Alan will survive the attack of the rats in the Michaels’s farmhouse.

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The Final Plague # 2  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 2 of 5

Alan is torn to shreds by the killer rats that now attack the family and bite Robert several times, but he and his son Thomas are able to capture many of the rats in an old toolbox that they now plan to burn in a fire! Alan is dead, and the family is in shock.  The only thing they can do is call 911 in order to remove the body of Alan and tell the local law what has happened. Meanwhile, back in the lab in New Jersey, they find that the rats are almost un-killable and that they have a strange fluid in them as well as give off a foul smell and this worries them as it could sweep across the world and infect many more animals. All around animals are attacking humans, from dogs eating an old woman and then turning on the cops, to the Michaels family cat who is returning to life after being part eaten by the rats! The Michaels Family leave the farm as the town sheriff Frank starts his investigation into the death of Alan and the rats that are crazed in the basement. Meanwhile the scientist are having issues of their own as the army have taken over the lab and have it on lockdown until the CDC can show up, and the lab assistant bitten by the rat is now a crazed cannibal who has attacked and killed a fellow worker!

The plague is spreading in this second issue.  The Michaels family leave their farm as the local law shows up to investigate the death of the towns exterminator while the government is now taking over the lab and want to declare a level 4 emergency! The Michael Family is scared, confused and strong as they do what they can in order to help the dying Alan with father Robert even being bitten several times by the infected rats. The scientists want to do what they can in order to figure out what is causing this plague, but they have a thorn in their side thanks to the army! The animals that are running wild and eating flesh this go-round are rats and dogs.  Plus it shows that a dead cat is coming back and that humans can be infected making me wonder what the fate of Robert Michaels will be as he has been bitten twice. The issue is drenched in blood and gore as people are killed as are animals complete with guts exposed showing that this Danger Zone comic is not pulling any punches. This second issue was the hardest one in the series for me to find, and I am glad I was able to find it and do this review. The cover this time around is an infected animal and is ok but not nearly as eye catching as issue one.  In fact, I am sure it was lost in the crowd of brighter and more appealing covers when it was released. Again the interior artwork is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown and once more is good but not what I normally like in my comics as it’s just a little to sloppy. Well issue two is done and the plot is ticking, so let’s see what issue three has in store for the world as the diseased animals are on the loose and want to eat and infect mankind! I also want to note that the hooded man from the cover of issue one does not show up in this one either and that’s a letdown.

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The Final Plague # 3  **
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 3 of 5

At the lab an attempt is being prepared to enter the holding cell to restrain the infected lab assistant who is now being called Patient Zero as she has bitten, chewed and consumed the poor man that was stuck in the cell with her. The Michaels family take Robert to the hospital to get his rat bite looked at and soon finds that it’s a madhouse filled with lots of victims from animal and human attacks.  When news breaks on the TV that those bitten are infected with a more violent version of rabies, Robert has to be quarantined even though he is not showing signs of the infection. Meanwhile all over the world this sickness is spreading, and two drunk hunters are killed by a deer that has been infected! At the lab it’s learned that the animals infected are in fact reanimated corpses and that in humans it speeds up death.  When Patient Zero dies, we will soon find out if she comes back from the dead.

This third issue is very talky and is used to add more light to the plague and what its cause and effects are to humans and animals alike. The lab is where we find out all the information of the plague and with the Michaels Family, we find out that not all who have been bitten turns into a crazed flesh eating maniac. The issue makes you like Robert Michaels and his family even more are they clearly stick together during the bad times and support each other during them. The lab workers and the Army are dragging their feet on really trying to figure out what this plague is and spend more time arguing and chatting than getting down to the dirty work of cracking the code of how to treat and cure it. The issue, while bloody, is nothing too special as we have one infected man shot by the police in the hospital and a deer rams a trucks windshield and impales the hunters inside with his antlers. The cover, while creepy, is not every eye catching, and the art inside done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown once again is just okay and not the style of art I like. This issue is middle of the road, and it took me two sittings just to finish it as I got bored pretty quickly with the lab portions of the issue. So far this series has been okay but not nearly as cool as I was thinking it would be when first seeing the covers.  With that, I am just going to move onto issue four as this third issue was just kind of a filler issue with some long chatting to explain the plague that could have been summed up in about two pages.

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The Final Plague # 4  **1/2
Released in 2014     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 4 of 5

In the lab they find out that humans once infected do go into a wild rage of bloodlust, but when they die they do not come back as the virus can not take over mankind’s body structure. While at the hospital Helen Michaels and the kids are watching the news as the world is falling apart and cops and news reporters are being attacked live on air by cats, rats and dogs! The cops at the hospital watch as one of their own outside is killed by a pack of infected zombie dogs that rip him to pieces, and this causes them to lockdown the hospital.  After the dogs bust in through the windows, they are forced to evacuate the hospital and have to leave the infected humans behind, but Robert is taken as he is still not showing any signs of being infected. As the cops clear out the hospital, in Chicago zoo workers Miranda and Austin are still at work protecting the animals when a man who has been bitten enters the zoo and frees the tigers and lions.  The man is eaten by the lions and this infects them.  Now Austin and Miranda are stuck as the infected lions are waiting for them outside.

The action and bloody kills are amped up in the issue as we follow the Michaels Family and the cops who are in the hospital now under attack by crazed dogs who want to kill anything they can get their jaws on. While the lab workers and army know that they must find a way to cure the animals of the world as well as the humans who will die from the bites, but lucky will not come back from the dead. We now add in zoo workers who are stuck at work as giant cats are running wild and infected await them outside. The cops at the hospital are clearly heroes as they are risking their own hides to save people from the hospital.  The down side is they are having to leave some sick patients behind as they are unable to run. The Michaels Family are as likable as ever, but they kind of take a backseat in this issue as they are reunited once the dogs attack the hospital. The lab workers and army also take a back seat and are as bland as before.  While good characters, they are also the ones who sadly have to have the boring talk in order to explain the virus. The zoo workers Miranda and Austin are likable and I hope in the 5th and final issue we get more from them. The best kill of the issue was when the cop outside the hospital is attacked and killed by the dogs that shred him like rice paper in a paper shredder! The one thing I am liking so far about the series is that all the main characters are likable and you find yourself cheering for them to get past all this madness that is happing around them.  I also must say I like the idea of animal zombies on the loose looking for human flesh to eat and infect! The cover on this issue is pretty dang cool and showcases an infected lions around human bones, and for me next to issue # 1, this is what caught my eye and made me want to read this series. The art inside once more is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown and looks just like the rest of the issue so far in the mini series. Issue four was leaps and bounds better than issue three, and I can’t wait to see what happens in issue five and how they plan on ending this creepy plague story.

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The Final Plague # 5   *1/2
Released in 2014     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 5 of 5

While the lab workers and army are talking about waiting for the CDC and what they can do to try to discover a cure, the facility falls under attack as the animals are freed by a lab doctor who has been infected that leaves rats and monkey that are crazed on the loose and slaughtering any human they can find! The army general and two scientist are the only ones to make it out alive, but they soon find that the world outside is also in bad shape and they are the only ones who have a clue of what the virus is and are the only hope to treat it. While the cops lead the doctors, nurses and Michaels family out of the hospital and get them all to their cars, but the dogs are waiting and kill many of the survivors.  The Michaels family leaves the hospital and soon return to their farm and find that their animals have been killed and infected.  The family’s bull charges wife Helen and son Thomas knocks his mom out of the way and is killed by the bulls horns, as the young man dies in the arms of his family the series comes to an end.

This fifth and final issue is a MAJOR letdown as nothing is answered and there is no real ending to the story as so many questions and characters are left high and dry. The plot of this issue is just to kill off most the army and lab workers during an ape and rat attack that leaves only three survivors, and to get the Michaels Family out of the hospital and away from the dogs and back to the farm and to have the son meet his end by the horns of a infected bull. But here are the things that this final issue left wide open and for this horror comic reader made this series fall apart: What happened to the zoo workers that were trapped by the lions outside? Why is it that Robert Michaels is not being affected by the nasty rat bite to his shoulder, and is he the cure to this outbreak? What is the virus and why is it bringing animals back from the dead? Who is the hooded figure that appears on two of the five covers but never appears in the actual comics? I mean I get it, he is one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but come on and put him in an issue at least! And this is just a small amount of issues that are left out in the cold in this final issue and again made this long time horror comic reader very upset and kind of ruined the experience of my read. At the end of the comic they also acted as if the series was going to continue in late 2014, and this never happened as we are now in 2017 and no new issues are slated to be made, making this mini series a dead end read. But I don’t want you all to think that I hated this series as it had some positives: the characters are all likable, the story in the raw is fantastic and could blossom into something really cool if given more time. The characters go through a change as well as The Michaels Family grow together and even have to face heartbreak when one of their own dies.  The cops and army do what they are suppose to do and stand their ground to protect and serve, and the scientists do what they do best, they science and talk about things that bore normal people to tears! The acts of murder and mayhem are well done and the red stuff flows like wine as animals bite and rip flesh and faces are even ripped off! The cover for issue five is pretty great with the hooded plague man holding the body of Thomas Michaels spoiling his death for sure.  The art is once more done by the chaotic style of Tony Guaraldi-Brown, and this wrapped up a comic series I was so hyped to read and even though I feel it let me down slightly I still enjoyed it and would say that fans of films like Day Of The Animals and Wild Beats will enjoy it. Below is some artwork from this series so sit back and enjoy the crazy animals and their killing ways.

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So now that The Final Plague is stagnate waiting for a series to come along and wrap it up, I think we should leave the world of animal viruses behind and step into the squared circle again as we take a look at another pro wrestling icon as we talk about the one and only Kevin Nash! I would also like to take a moment and tell all you readers and friends that if you enjoy comics, make sure to think outside the box of just getting issues from Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse and give companies like Action Lab, IDW, Eibon Press, Sparkle, Rough House, Boom and others a chance as each company is making some amazing stuff.  So again give the independent comic companies a chance as they are sure to entertaining just as much as the bigger companies. So until next time read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you back for an Oz of a good time or is that Diesel of a good time?

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NES Challenge: The Adventures of Bayou Billy

Welcome back to Rotten Ink! I am sure you’re wondering why we are here in the bayou of Louisiana in the middle of gator ally.  Well, we are here waiting on the one and only Bayou Billy! So you readers know what that means, we are at another NES Challenge.  This time around we will be playing The Adventures Of Bayou Billy on the good old RES (Retro-Bit Entertainment System) to see if I can beat it once and for all! Bayou Billy is a game for the Nintendo that almost every kid I knew owned, and not a one of them could beat it much like Dick Tracy and Goonies II that seemed almost impossible to beat and made for many hours of frustrating play. My cousin Stephen Alexander hates this game as he also has never beat it and in fact can barely get off the first level, and he is a pretty good old school NES game player with over the last few years beating such titles as The Karate Kid, Monster In My Pocket, Jaws, Karnov, Metal Fighter and Super Mario Bros, to name a few. So as you can see I have a pretty tough challenge ahead, but I am up for it as for this play through I am going to pig out on Cajun style food and drink to get me into the mindset of Billy! So let’s watch out for gators and see if we can lend a hand to Bayou Billy as he tries to save his lady from the evil grasp of Godfather Gordon!

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In 1989 Konami unleashed The Adventures of Bayou Billy onto the masses in North America, and a cult game was born. The game is a hybrid of side scrolling beat-‘em up, jeep driving and light gun shooter that follows Billy from level to level as he fights his way through a total of 9 of them. The plot of this adventure is pretty simple: you take control of Billy West, a former U.S. soldier turned vigilante who goes by the name Bayou Billy who is going up against crime boss Godfather Gordon’s smuggling operation.  For this, the crime lord kidnaps his girlfriend Annabelle Lane! This of course is a trap and leads Billy on a butt kicking New Orleans high stakes adventure to get her back and to stop Godfather Gordon’s reign of terror. The game was originally released in Japan in 1988 by Konami under the title “Mad City.”  When coming to America, the game went through some changes as they decided to make the game way harder, added in voices and laughter plus changed some background layouts & colors! The game was a pretty big hit for the NES and is one that most kids of the late 80’s had in their game collection.

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I first learned of The Adventures Of Bayou Billy thanks to TV commercials that aired on TV during Saturday Morning Cartoons as well as after school toons and can remember being pretty hyped to play the game as the hero reminded me of the movie character Crocodile Dundee. My parents decided that we did not need The Adventures Of Bayou Billy in our collection and did not buy our household a copy, but lucky for me, neighborhood kid brothers Jeremy and Aaron did and they would invite me over to play the game or try to as I can remember it being so hard that it became almost a challenge between us to try and beat it…we as young kids failed. The next run in with The Adventures Of Bayou Billy came when my cousins Dino and Norman had the game, and once more we played it and failed and I even borrowed it from them to try and beat it and could not even get to the final battle with Godfather Gordon. When I was older, I ended up buying a copy of the game from a second had store around here called Replay Media, and this time around my good pal Jason Gilmore and I tried to beat it and just like before, we failed…so as you can see, failure and Bayou Billy go hand and hand for me as a gamer. And just last year I bought a copy of the game complete in box from Amazon just for this update, cause now at 37 years old I am looking forward to trying to beat this game for the first time…but to be honest I would be surprised if by the end of the day I get to the end screen…I know I have no faith in my abilities of being an old school player. Check out below for a look at the copy of the game I will be playing as well as its box and booklet.

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The Adventures Of Bayou Billy TV commercial was one I remember as it had an actor playing Billy in the heart of the swamp wrestling with an alligator all the while he was telling us about the game play of it being three styles in one from side scroller, to driving to shooter, all the while doing a terrible and over the top bad Cajun accent. The alligator in most shots was a rubber one with one close up of a real one. This overly done and cheesy commercial worked on the youth at the time as it made this game a must have for kids as Konami built it up to be so grand that we just had to have it to impress our friends and to be cool on the playground.  Not to mention that we had to try to beat the amazing adventure that awaited us. Video game commercials like this were a great way for companies to get the attention of the youth who would see it and talk about it at school and with friends building a buzz around the game that caused many kids to bug their parents enough to get it. Nowadays I feel like YouTube and sites like IGN are the tools that spread the hype and game trailers to the target audiences. If you feel like having a good flashback or even want to see the commercial for the first time, check it out on YouTube and be ready for a laughable good 31 seconds with the one and only Bayou Billy.

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Besides the TV commercial, Konami pushed Bayou Billy by running sales on the hit game in toy store ads like Children’s Palace, Toys R Us and Kaybee Toys making it easier for kids to get the game by showing their parents the marked down sale price. They also made a handheld version to give young gamers another way to play the game besides on the NES and to get more money from what they saw as a franchise I am sure. Thinking about it now, I wonder why Konami never made a sequel to Bayou Billy as it would have been neat to have seen the character make the leap to the Super Nintendo or even the Sony Playstation. But any chance of Bayou Billy making a return with a new game on any video game systems is slim to none as Konami is a shell of a company they use to be and many of their workers have left them as they are focusing on gambling machines mostly…so sad.

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Bayou Billy also made the leap to the cartoon world as he appeared in two episodes of the 1989 cartoon series “Captain N: The Game Master” and was resident of Bayouland in the Videoland universe. In the cartoon, Billy had a pet gator named Loafer and helped main character Kevin Keene learn to survive in the swamp land as his game was one that Kevin could never beat, sounds like the story of many gamers’ lives. The episodes that Billy appeared in were called “How’s Bayou” and “Having A Ball,” and this once more showed that both Konami and Nintendo really wanted to push this game and title character to the moon by even adding him to their popular video game themed cartoon. The Billy character in the cartoon acted like the movie character Crocodile Dundee and this was a plan again, to help push the character as Mick Dundee was very popular in pop culture at the time. If you want to see these episodes, make sure to check out the Captain N: The Game Master complete series DVD boxset put out by Shout Factory, but be warned, it is out of print and carries a high price.

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Before we get to the NES Challenge and the Archie Comics Bayou Billy comic reviews, I would like to take a moment to take a look at the band Zebra and their first album that was self-titled as they were formed in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1975 and fit perfectly for this bayou themed update! The band members are Randy Jackson, who is the vocalist and guitarist, Guy Gelso on drums and Felix Hanemann on keyboards and bass, and this line up is still going to this day! They built their name playing clubs around Long Island, New York and covered songs by bands like Rush, Led Zeppelin and The Moody Blues, and this got the attention of Atlantic Records who signed them and released their self-titled album in 1983 making it a huge hit for the company and band. Over the years they released a few more albums via Atlantic like No Tellin’ Lies (1984), 3.V (1986) and Live (1990), but none of them did as well as their first release.  They were dropped in the early 90’s from Atlantic and took a break as a band while Randy Jackson made a side band he called Randy Jackson’s China Rain, but fans would be happy when Zebra would return in 1997 and in 2003 would release their final studio album to date Zebra IV. While not a band that is a household name, Zebra is still active and rocking clubs in New York and New Orleans showing that this band knows how to rock.

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I decided to cruise around Kettering, Ohio in my 2004 Ford Mustang and listen to Zebra’s 1983 release, and on this day the weather was chilly with slight rain and the sound of Zebra was fitting for the smooth and peaceful ride. The first thing I noticed about this album is that it has a weird mix of styles.  The best way I can describe it is if you mixed bands like Keel, Asia, Alan Parsons Project and slightly Cinderella into a blender and poured it all into a glass that had the logo of the band Fastway on it! With that said, this is my type of rock n roll as I enjoy the sounds of 80’s rock, and singer Randy Jackson has the pipes much like Ron Keel of Keel and Dave King of Fastway. Many of the tracks on the disc are solid and great tunes with the two most famous tracks off the disc being the best and those are Who’s Behind The Door? and Tell Me What You Want with the latter being my favorite as it is catchy and has great guitar rifts. Another great track is Take Your Fingers From My Hair, a ballad that is soothing and well structured, so much so that band Dream Theater even did a cover of it back in 2009. I don’t want to spend too much time on this CD, but if you enjoy good clean 80’s metal, make sure to check this disc out as it’s a good one.

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I selected the day January 24, 2017 for my showdown with Adventures Of Bayou Billy, and for this epic day of another NES Challenge, I decided I needed food and drinks that fit the New Orleans bayou theme of the game. Juliet, whose family is from Louisiana, bought me some snacks that are favorites for the bayou like Zapp’s Potato Chips, and to drink I stuck to my classic ice water. She made some chicken and sausage jambalaya as sadly I am allergic to shrimp, and it slowly cooked in the crockpot. The weather outside was grey and cloudy with slight rain with the high of only 45 degrees so it was perfect to sit inside and try and beat this classic Nintendo game! Below is a picture of the jambalaya and Zapp’s that we ate during this epic NES Challenge.

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I started my quest to beat this game at 12:00pm in the mindset that I had to beat this game as it has tormented me for years, but I must also say that doubt also was lingering as the visions of just how hard the game is kept creeping in as did the failure of my last NES Challenge of trying to beat Werewolf The Last Warrior. But I shook those thoughts off and fired up the RES, took the controller in my hands and began my quest to save Annabelle Lane from that evil crime lord Godfather Gordon! To my surprise, after only a few tries I was able to defeat the first level only dying a few times kicking at the alligators and moved onto the second level that was an easy shooter where I had to take on a helicopter while using my d-pad for the gun. The third level was the start of me having a real hard time with the stage boss who is big, mean, and ready to fling Billy around like a rag doll. After losing on stage 3 and wasting all my continues, I took a break and watched Hatchet III for the second time to keep with the New Orleans bayou feel of the day. I jumped back into my quest to save Annabelle after the movie, and I failed really hard as I was not in the groove and kept dying on stage one! I walked away for a moment, and Juliet gave it a shot and sadly she didn’t last long as she allowed Billy to be beat worst than S.D. Jones against King Kong Bundy in a WWF Wrestling match! I cleared my head of the butt whooping I had just taken, and after taking a deep breath, I turned on the RES for the last time of the day and got into the zone of trying like hell to help Bayou Billy get his girlfriend back! I started out strong once again kicking the crap out of the bad guys who are just hit sponges who take way too many hits, and after losing my cool after cheap enemy hits I came to the conclusion that this game is just way too hard for no reason and instead of busting a blood vessel to try and beat it I would rather just turn off the RES and sit back and relax and read some comics because this game was not worth the anger it induces.  All joking aside, this game was just too hard for this aging gamer to beat in one day. But with that said, I must say that the Zapp’s Spicy Cajun Crawtators potato chips and the homemade jambalaya were fantastic and made this day of defeat a heck of a lot better!

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To no surprise I was unable to beat The Adventures of Bayou Billy as I find it to be one of the hardest games in the whole Nintendo library! But I need to give a shout out to all the henchmen and crazed animals who all tried their best to keep me away from their boss. I need to show some respect to Godfather Gordon, that man who made this adventure so hard to beat not only because of his toughness but also his ability to hire the right muscle to keep me and Billy at bay! I also need to speak about Gordon’s bodyguards Rocky and Rocco who show their power by stopping you into the ground like you were just a tiny ant under their boot. In other words, all these bad guys do their jobs of making this game almost impossible to beat very well! So here is to all of them for making this old school gamer once more walk away from his RES a defeated man.

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So while beating the game was a complete bust, I still was able to enjoy some good bayou style food and a fun filled silly day of playing a classic NES game on my RES while hanging out with my girlfriend Juliet! I also want to thank Konami for making this classic game because while it has tormented me for years, it still has added entertainment to my life. But now it’s time to tackle the Archie Comics series based on this video game that thanks to the team up of Lone Star Comics, Darkstar and Bell, Book and Comic I was able to collect, read and review for this NES Challenge Update. And as Bayou Billy dusts himself off after the butt kicking we both just took, he wants 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 your giant Crocodile Dundee knife and let’s head back into the swamps and this time enjoy some comic books based on this video game adventurer Bayou Billy.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 1  **1/2
Released in 1989   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 1 of 5

Bayou Billy is on his way to testify in court when he stops some street punks from robbing an old couple on vacation from New Jersey. Once in court the words Billy says and the fact he can point out the perpetrator who started some wicked fires named Hurricane Hank, leads to the pyro to be found guilty, and along with Assistant District Attorney Annabel Lee he is able to get one of Godfather Gordon’s henchmen off the streets. That night Annabel gets an anonymous call to meet some people who have the dirt on the Gordon Crime family only to find herself the target of a hit that leaves her shot and wounded, but luckily she knows karate and is able to steal the hitmen’s boat and finds herself weak at the doorstep of Bayou Billy’s home deep in the swamp. Godfather Gordon is mad at his son Rock Gordon for botching the hit as now they know Billy is now at her side. Rocco Gordon, Godfather’s stepson, comes up with an idea to send their mercenary team F.I.S.T to kill not only Annabel and Bayou Billy but also his Delta Force friends who were heading to the home to join their friend in the approaching war. Bayou Billy is joined by trap master Broadside, Tracker a Native America tracker and fighter and lastly the eye-patch wearing Sureshot who is a master of the bow and arrow and together they protect Annabel and defeat the likes of Mr. T.N.T and Cut Throat. In the end the battle leaves Bayou Billy’s swamp home destroyed but he and his team have mopped up some of Gordon’s top henchmen and saved the town’s Assistant District Attorney who is now out to get Godfather Gordon in a jail cell.

This first issue sets the groundwork that Bayou Billy is a bounty hunter who once was a Delta Force solider who still has war buddies and is a legend around New Orleans as criminals think that he can not be killed and will not die…hey wait, just like The Phantom! The story for this issue is that Annabel Lee has become a target of the Gordon Crime Family as she has been very outspoken about their crimes.  This leaves her the target of a hit that she is lucky to escape from, getting help from the town’s hero Bayou Billy who along with his own team are ready to tackle crime and bring it down. Bayou Billy is a little cocky yet very loyal and committed to doing the right thing.  You can tell he has a crush on Annabel Lee, who doesn’t have the same feelings for him. He has no fear and tackles trouble head on laughing off threats from baddies. His Delta Force buddies Sure Shot, Tracker and Broadside are loyal friends and clearly guys Billy can depend on for the coming turf war. Godfather Gordon and his two sons Rock and Rocco are pure evil crime lords who have their hand in all types of crimes and don’t care who they kill in order to get what they need and want. Their elite team called F.I.S.T is made up of all types of criminals from the hitmen Cut Throat and Creole all the way to helicopter pilot and gunner Wild Bill.  But while they are all skilled at what they do, they are just out classed by Billy and his group. Annabel Lee is a woman who wants to use the justice system to put criminals away and does a great job at doing so; she is also pretty and can defend her self as she as a green belt in martial arts. Over all this is a fun kid friendly adventure comic that takes some liberties with the video game it’s based on.  One of the major changes is that Rock and Rocco are the sons of Godfather Gordon and not his bodyguards. But while changes like that might upset The Adventures of Bayou Billy diehard fans, I can look over it, as I found they mixed action, drama, crime and war comic well to make for a kids comic that packs a gator sized bite. The cover is great and is a more cartoonish version of the NES cover box.  The interior art done by Amanda Connor is fantastic and she helps bring Bayou Billy to life on the comic pages. I should also note that The Adventures of Bayou Billy is apart of the Archie Adventure Series line and joined its place in history along side other titles like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, The Fly, Sonic The Hedgehog and ManTech Robot Warriors for delivering quality comics aimed toward early teen readers. But with issue # 1 being a great read, I am looking forward to seeing what issue # 2 has in store for us.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 2  **1/2
Released in 1989   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 2 of 5

That firebug Hurricane Hank is having nightmares in prison about his last run-in with Bayou Billy that not only landed him in jail but also minus a hand! He wants so badly to get out of jail and get his revenge once and for all and must come up with a plan. Meanwhile Bayou Billy pays Godfather Gordon a visit, and after roughing him up, is able to get money to build a new house as his F.I.S.T agents blew up his last one so Billy finds it fair that the crime boss pays to build him a new one. Worse for our heroes is that the whole F.I.S.T group is freed, and Hurricane Hank does escape jail and sets into motion a scheme to kill Bayou Billy! Tracker however followed Hurricane Hank and alerts Billy as the Gordons alert Annabel Lee to where he is hiding as they find their one time henchman too much of a loose cannon now. Bayou Billy knows it’s a trap and shares a story with Annabel from his Delta Force years about how he was set up by a Gordon back then that left him dead for a short time and was only brought back thanks to the effort of his friends.  He shares the story of the second time he was dead and saved when a hitman sent by Godfather Gordon named Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill used a nerve gas that took his breath away.  If not for an old man living in the bayou named Papa Jambo, he would have once more been in a grave. Bayou Billy takes Annabel Lee to his friend Grease Monkey and her garage as he goes after Hurricane Hank.  A battle breaks out that leaves a warehouse burnt down, Bayou Billy bruised and sore and Hurricane Hank once more on the losing end of life.

This second bayou adventure is a fun kid friendly read that loses the charm of issue # 1 slightly as this one just was kind of middle of the road and comes off as almost a watered down version of a Dick Tracy story. The plot is: a criminal who Bayou Billy put away and cost him to lose one of his hands escapes jail more crazy than ever. and his madness to get revenge is what leads to his downfall. Hurricane Hank is a man who had slipped into madness as he is plagued with nightmares of losing his hand and every moment of his life is used plotting the death of Bayou Billy and setting the world on fire. While once a respected henchman for Godfather Gordon, his mental state has even made the crime family turn on him. Plus his ego gets the better of him as when he had Bayou Billy down for the count and could have fried him like chicken on a boat, he instead chooses to try and kill our hero with his bare hands that just leads to him being out smarted and out classed and at the bottom of the water. Godfather Gordon as well as his sons and F.I.S.T stay out of this fight and pretty much lay low after the last beating they took, but Godfather does at least call in a tip so that Hurricane Hank can be found with the hope he and Billy will just kill each other! Tracker, Broadside and Sure Shot act as distractions so Billy can get Hurricane Hank and each play their part well.  We also meet Grease Monkey, the cute redhead female mechanic and friend of the Delta Force group who works on their trucks and boats. Annabel Lee is now clearly in love with Bayou Billy and is still trying her best to put the Gordon crime family behind bars, but is faced with lots of setbacks and bribes to judges. I also enjoyed Papa Jambo who not only saved Bayou Billy from death but also taught him all his tricks of the trade in the swamps. The fights in the issue between Hurricane Hank and Bayou Billy are great and reminded me a lot of classic comic book fights you would have seen in Mighty Crusaders and other independent hero comics. The cover is just okay with the black lines being used as shadows on Bayou Billy being a little cheesy.  The interior art is also a little off and is done by a team up of Amanda Connor and Mike Esposito who both normally do great work. While this issue is just okay, I did have a good time reading it and enjoyed the idea that Konami and Archie Comics put time and thought into trying to make this comic series based on a video game work. Well let’s see what issue three has in store for us. Oh and I have to say, I want to know more about Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill ,the man who killed Bayou Billy for the second time and wore a trench coat, a hat and a gasmask!

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 3  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 3 of 5

The New Orleans Police Department is having a heck of a time trying to break down a man named Blackie Blue who is in fact really a creature that is part human and part ferret thanks to a scientist to did an experiment on him while on death row in prison! After Blackie makes short work of the cops, he rushes away and the job of finding him goes to Tracker, Sure Shot and Broadside as Bayou Billy goes out on his own to try and find Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, the man who killed him many years back. But when Billy joins his friends, he soon finds out that Blackie Blue is as strong as an ox and escapes our heroes with ease. Later Bayou Billy and Annabel Lee meet up and return to Billy’s new home paid for by Godfather Gordon’s money, and they are as well visited by Tracker, Broadside and Sure Shot and plan to talk over a cup of coffee when Blackie Blue attacks and pulls Billy underwater almost killing him if not for the help of the alligators of the swamp who attack and keep Blackie at bay! As Billy fills his lungs with air and warms up, Annabel Lee comes up with a plan to capture both Blackie Blue and Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill by pitting them against each other! Bayou Billy likes the idea and sets up the trap that works as a charm as Gaskill is knocked silly by a mighty punch and Blackie is knocked out via gas grenades and all Billy has to do is cuff them and bring them to face justice. In the end as Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill is in court he escapes thanks to a smoke grenade and a terrible lawyer who allowed him to get his hands on one.

This issue’s plot has Bayou Billy on a mission of revenge as he wants to bring down Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, a hitman who was hired to kill many years back, but to add to the madness an inmate that had been experimented on has escaped and is now more beast like and he has his sights on killing Billy! The two fights between Bayou Billy and Blackie Blue are one sided as the beast man is way stronger and has raw animal instincts to kill his targeted prey making you really feel as if our hero could be taken down! Blackie’s fight with Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill is also pretty much one sided as the beast pushes through the madman’s gas attacks in order to knock him silly and only after he complete his goal does he fall. In this issue Bayou Billy is as noble as ever but does have the nagging want for revenge that keeps him off the case of the major threat at the time as he wanted to stop his old foe who had been laying low for years. Plus I like the fact that Bayou Billy is very loyal to his friends as well as his girlfriend and that they all hang out not only in town but also in the swamp…that’s what I call friendship goals! Blackie Blue is an interesting bad guy as when human he had an accident that dyed his skin and hair blue and it’s hinted that Batman was responsible and that his partner in crime was The Joker! Blackie was on death row and because he didn’t want to die, he was chosen to be a subject in a experiment that turned him into a wereferret that has raw power and the need to kill his prey! As the beast Blackie’s appearance is this blue fur all over, sharp teeth and claws and wearing a prison jumpsuit.  For Wolf Hunter 2 fans, think Panthor. Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill on the other hand has a hideout in a shack near an old farmhouse and is still toying with making new gas grenades and is taken by surprise when he is attacked by Blackie, but is smart enough to escape in court. This issue was lots of fun and had just the right amount of action, adventure and even a dash of horror to keep this 37-year-old comic reader entertained. The cover is pretty cool and showcases the horror element with a dash of late 80’s Marvel Spider-Man cover appeal, and the art inside is solid again and done by the team of Amanda Connor and Mike Esposito again showing that they work very well with each other. We are three issues in and over all Archie Comics as part of there Adventure Series is doing a great job of making this Konami video game character a very fun comic one, well worth reading, and I can’t wait to see what the next issue brings.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 4  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 4 of 5

Bayou Billy is having a nightmare about the death of his first wife Laurie who was blown up with a car bomb that was meant for him.  The hit was placed on him by one of the Gordon family and after quitting his job as a New Orleans police officer, he became the bounty hunter he is today…that was two years ago to the day and he still wants answers to who wanted him dead. Once more he gears up and sets out to look for Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill whom he thinks might have the answers and heads to a rough bar called the Rue Morgue.  A lead brings him to loan shark enforcer Two-Head McGraw and after a brief fight, they send him to a slimy man named Snitch who spills his guts that Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill is hiding in an old chemical plant. Bayou Billy shows up and tries to get the jump on his old enemy only to find himself on the receiving end of a gas bomb that leaves him disorientated! Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill goes to Grease Monkey’s garage and knocks out the young mechanic and steals one of Billy’s monster trucks.  Once Billy awakens to try and find Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, he is attacked with his own truck! But with the aid of a can of red paint and good luck, Billy is able to trick Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill and use his own jeep as a bomb that leaves the killer gas man at the mercy of Bayou Billy who gets the name of the man who placed the bomb that killed his wife.  It’s Hurricane Hank, the man who drowned two issues back, but with this shattering news he also has delivered Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill to the cops and justice….but through out his adventure a shadow figure has been following him!

This issue works really well as we get a good background on to why Bayou Billy does what he does and why he hates the Gordon crime family so much.  Plus his reasons are legit as they tried to not only kill him but killed his wife! Bayou Billy has spent the last two years of his life hunting down criminals in the big easy all to find out who of the Gordon’s paid for the bomb to be placed that killed his wife, and sadly at the end of the issue he does not get the answer he seeks. Also packed into this issue are many of the criminals who work for the Gordon Crime Family like Snitch a skinny eye glass wearing weasel of a man who will spill his guts for the right price, Two-Head McGraw who are joined twins who act as muscle for Rock Gordon when people cant pay pack the loans he has given them, and lastly Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill who we all know is the gas mask wearing killer who tried to murder Bayou Billy a few years back. All the bad guys are pains in the butt this issue but all fall to the hands of Bayou Billy who is a man on a mission to get answers. Grease Monkey, the female mechanic and friend of Bayou Billy, also comes into play as she is attacked by Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill who knocks her out and steals one of the monster trucks she has in storage.  Lucky for her, she was not killed. This issue is packed with drama but also an equal amount of action making for one heck of a good kid friendly comic read! The cover on this issue is a little downbeat with Billy at the grave of his wife, and I am sure scared some parents away from buying the issue for their child. The interior art was done once more by the team of Amanda Connor and Mike Esposito and is great as always.  In fact, the month this issue was released, Amanda Connor was Archie’s Artist of the Month, way to go Amanda! Over all this was a great issue and worth reading for sure, now sadly we are at the last issue in the comic series based on The Adventures Of Bayou Billy.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 5  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 5 of 5

Bayou Billy robs criminal La Rue and his henchmen Mitts and Slugger of a briefcase filled with dirty money, and now he is wanted for questioning by the local law.  This shocks his friends Tracker, Sureshot and Broadside as they don’t know why Billy did it! Also at this time, fellow bounty hunter Black Gator is very upset that the media only pays attention to Bayou Billy and wants to shutdown his competition permanently! We soon find out that Godfather Gordon has hired Schwartz N. Eiger, a criminal ex-soap opera actor to play as Bayou Billy and pull off the crime so that his enemy will take the rap for the crime and be out of their hair for awhile.  Meanwhile Billy himself is having bad dreams about a black gator and is under arrest for a crime he did not commit when he wakes up, but lucky for Billy he has some tricks up his sleeve and escapes the cops only to run into Black Gator who wants to kill Bayou Billy to prove he is the best bounty hunter.  All the while Godfather Gordon is watching as it all comes to a head when Bayou Billy, Black Gator, The Cops, La Rue and Schwartz N. Eiger all meet up at an abandoned theater where Billy clears his name and comes out the winner in the fight with Black Gator.

This final issue was clearly not intended to be so as many questions are still left unanswered like how will Bayou Billy get his revenge of the Godfather Gordon family for putting a hit on him that backfired and killed his wife as well as many bad guys are still out in the world including Black Gator who clearly wants to kill Billy and ruin his reputation at being the best bounty hunter in the bayou. But with that said, I must also say this issue has a fun vibe to it as it pits our hero Bayou Billy against a Black Gator, a man who wears a ninja outfit and is as skilled as he is in fighting! Plus throw in washed up actor Schwartz N. Eiger as well as smaller crime lord La Rue and his baseball dressed bodyguards Mitts and Slugger and you have a recipe for a fun kid friendly crime caper. This issue as well is really cool as many of the faces of the past issues are around like his mentor Papa Jambo as well as Godfather Gordon and his sons making this a cool send off for the comic series. Bayou Billy is a solid character who is badass when he needs to be as well as a quick thinker when the time calls for mind over muscle.  I also like that while he kicks the crap out of people he is also shown getting his head knocked around to making him a more believable character than many comic heroes based on video games. Tracker, Sureshot, Grease Monkey and Broadside are all great sidekick characters who help add to the story as well as each have their own generic yet so good personalities. Annabel Lee is a cool character as she is not only a lawyer but also Billy’s girlfriend and not a female character that is always needing to be saved by the hero! Godfather Gordon and his sons Rock and Rocco are slimy, and you want to see them get theirs.  They also employee so many colorful and odd mercenaries & scumbags like Schwartz N. Eiger, Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, Hurricane Hank and Wild Bill to name a few! Not to mention this series had some other cool bad guy characters like Black Gator and the werewolf-like Blackie Blue both who were foes that Billy had a hard time with. I think the best fight in the whole series took place in this issue as the Billy and Black Gator’s fight was epic and was what comic book fists fights are all about. The cover for this issue is good and reminds me of something you would have seen on a Marvel Comics G.I. Joe cover. The art inside is solid once more and is done by Amanda Connor and her partner in crime for this final issue Robert Downs, and it’s great kids comic work. Over all Adventures of Bayou Billy was a very good kid comic series that showcased a Nintendo game character in a great way and gave him even more of a personality, and I am sure it drove some comic readers into buying the game, just like the game forced people to look into buying the comic. I for one wished the series had more issues as I enjoyed reading this for the first time for many of the issues and again for others. Check out the art below for a sample of what you will see if you read this comic series.

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While I might have failed at beating The Adventures of Bayou Billy on my RES, I did get a victory in getting to read the Archie Comic adventures based on the character! I am also very shocked that this game never did get a sequel as like I said, many kids I knew owned it and for the most part it’s a pretty beloved game for many old school gamers. But for our next update, we are going to be leaving the bayou and heading into the world of animals running wild with the taste for human flesh as we take a look at the Action Lab: Danger Zone series The Final Plague! So until next time friends and readers, play a video game or two, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host.  See you in about 10 days!

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From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Back in 1978, there was no more room in Hell so the dead walked the earth and attacked a group of survivors who were living in a shopping mall…in 2004, it happened again! You see, Hollywood loves to remake classic horror films, and besides Dawn Of The Dead, many other classic series have gotten this treatment like Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Amityville Horror, Prom Night, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Night Of The Living Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, The Fly, Carrie, Black Christmas, Psycho, Friday The 13th, Evil Dead, The Wolf Man and my god, so many more showing that instead of making sequels or original horror films they would rather just modernize the classics. But that’s not to say that all remakes are bad.  While many are pure garbage like Psycho and A Nightmare On Elm Street, many are good like The Hills Have Eyes and Dawn of the Dead, which is the topic of todays update, another in our From Horror Movie To Horror Comic series. So let’s get ready to shop till we drop and spend our time dodging the undead as we once more hit the mall of the living dead! Are you ready for Dawn Of The Dead 2004 Remake…The Comic!!

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In order to move on, we must first come to understand what this film is bringing to the table in the killer/monster department so let’s take a moment to break it down. The film’s main villains are zombies, and in this remake, there is thousands of them in the parking lot of the mall, all who want to eat our heroes and are growing in numbers as the living keep dying. Why the dead are back and eating the living is a hot topic during this outbreak, and many have theories that range from God being upset to a new virus, man made or even nature made. The zombies are fast moving and can run as fast as a normal human with their undead advantage being that they do not get tired and can give chase long after a living person tires out. Besides being fast, they also have in their arsenal of killing the fact they are in large packs and can overwhelm their targets.  They will use their teeth and hands to shred and rip flesh, and they can infect living humans and cause them to die painfully and later turn into a undead being for their ever growing army. Also their rotting appearance is something that scares the living and causes them to panic as well as leave themselves open for an attack. The zombies do have weaknesses as they are not very bright and are consumed with the need to feed, making it easy for humans to outsmart them. They can be “killed” again with fire and gunshots to the head.  They can also be slowed down when cut in half. But even with their weaknesses, The Zombies are a force to be reckoned with as they will not stop until the world belongs to them and the living are no more.

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So as you can see, The Zombies made the lives of the Mall survivors very miserable.  Now that you know how they kill, I think we should take a look at the film that spawned this promo comic. Once more the write up will be taken from our pals at IMDB, plus we will look at the stars and makers of the film, and afterward I will share some of my thoughts on this remake film as well as the first time I watched it. So let’s aim for the head and take a moment to break down this 2004 film.

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Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Ana goes home to her peaceful suburban residence, but she is unpleasantly surprised the morning that follows when her husband is brutally attacked by her zombified neighbor. In the chaos of her once picturesque neighborhood, Ana flees and stumbles upon a police officer named Kenneth, along with more survivors who decide that their best chances of survival would be found in the deserted Crossroads Shopping Mall. When supplies begin running low and other trapped survivors need help, the group comes to the realization that they cannot stay put forever at the Shopping Mall, and devise a plan to escape.”

When I first heard that a remake of Dawn Of The Dead was coming to theaters in 2004, I was in doubt that they could make a modern version of this classic zombie film work and with a then-unknown director named Zack Snyder heading it, I decided not to watch it in the theater as I felt this was just a bad idea and told all my friends that I was not going to be seeing this one and would just wait for DVD. But when I found out the screenplay writer was James Gunn, who was responsible for writing the film “Tromeo And Juliet” for Troma, along with lots of solid actors like Ving Rhames who plays police cop Kenneth Hall, Sarah Polley as Nurse Ana Clark, Mekhi Phifer as soon to be dad Andre, Ty Burrell as Stephen, Jake Weber as good guy Michael, Kim Poirier as the sexy blonde Monica and Lindy Booth as sweet young teenager Nicole, it made me break my grand stand of horror movie remake hate and head to the theaters with friends to watch this film on the silver screen.  All of us loved it as did the rest of the movie goers as the theater was somewhat packed! The film had a nice mix of horror, action, drama and comedy, and all the actors nailed their parts.  The score by Tyler Bates was moody and fitting. The best part was that this film didn’t try to be the original and added its own touch to the survivors in a mall during a zombie outbreak.  This is what made this movie shine as each character was their own person and had their own personalities with none borrowing from the 1978’s base characters. The zombies were treated as being scary, and they even have a baby zombie showing that this film was sticking to twisted and scary, meaning no pie fights between bikers and the undead. When the film was released on DVD, I ended up buying it and still to this day alongside a small amount of other remakes will praise it and say this is how a remake is done right. The film when released was # 51 at the US box office brining in a total of $59,020,957.00 on a $26 million dollar budget. In 2004, Dawn of The Dead was joined by other horror films like “Saw”, “Seed of Chucky”, “Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed”, “Secret Window”, “Shaun of The Dead”, “Tremors 4: The Legend Begins” and “The Card Player” to name a few showing that fans had lots of great stuff to chill their bones that year. While not as good as the original, this remake packs a bite and helped spark the rebirth of the zombie doom that is still going strong till this day.

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Along with the film’ release, in 2004 the Atari 2600 Homebrew game makers decided that the world needed a game based on this remake film, a game that has you driving a vehicle and fighting off zombies and collecting gas to keep your escape dream alive. The game is just a hack of “Worm War I” and can be found as a rom on the net as well as put on a Atari cart, which is how I own the game! While fun for a short while, it does get repetitive and like all Atari 2600 games it has simple game play and cheesy graphics. So if you like old school video games, this is one you might want to check out if you enjoy your games based on Horror Films.

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The 2004 version of Dawn Of The Dead was a perfect film to make into a comic book, and around the time of this film’s release IDW put out a comic adaptation mini series based on the original 1978 film.  So I am sure you’re wondering why the newer movie only got a promo comic given away free in the DVD release, right? Well around this time MiG.Biz was working on a magazine size adaptation of this film and this promo comic was just a small part of the over all bigger release that sadly never saw the light of day as it appears they went out of business before it could make it to comic shop shelves. It’s a shame as I would have loved to cover the whole comic for this update and not just the promo, but it was just not meant to be. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering for not only having this comic in stock but also for alerting me to the fact this comic was even made. So let’s enter the mall and see how this batch of survivors deals with the zombie apocalypse, but before I do I can hear this on the overhead speakers: “I grade this issue 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.”  Now they are playing Richard Cheese covering Disturbed so I think it’s time to enter the mall!

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Dawn Of The Dead **
Released in 2004    Cover Price $0.00    Mig Biz    # 1 of 1

At St. George Hospital things are getting odd as a man with a bite on his arm from a bar fight is now at death’s door, and poor nurse Ana is already an hour late leaving work before she can go home to her husband Luis. Once home and spending date night together, Vivian, the young girl from the neighborhood shows up in their house dead, and as a zombie she bites and infects Luis who is now hungry for flesh.  Ana knowing something is wrong tries to call 911 only to find the line down and decides to jump in her car to get her man help.  But while driving she crashes and wakes up to find a police man holding a shotgun to her face.  Once he figures out she is alive, the pair run into three more survivors who warn them that the road up ahead is littered with zombies and a decision is made to make it to the nearby mall, and so ends this promo comic adventure.

This promo comic is just the adaptation of the film’s opening and is done with black and white art that cuts out much of the openings gore and blood. Yes you heard me right the comic is very light on the red stuff as the whole scene of the zombies attacking the neighborhood is gone as is the scene of zombie Luis attacking Ana who has to hide in the bathroom to escape his chopping teeth! Those two scenes are very iconic for the movie and for some reason MiG.Biz decided that they didn’t need to be added to this promo comic. The comics story is this Ana is a nurse who after a long shift at work goes home for date night with her husband who in the morning is bitten by a little zombie girl and is turned into a flesh eater himself! While getting away she has a car wreck that leads her to joining a small group of survivors that have a plan to hide out in a near by mall. They throw in some news broadcast pages and you have this very basic and not scary promo comic. Ana is a character who clearly is a hard worker as she stays after work to be helpful as well as a loving wife as she clearly loves her man. Luis seems like a man who is in love with his wife and just enjoys being who he is, but as a zombie he is filled with rage and hunger and clearly wants to eat his wife alive! Vivian is a young girl who likes to roller skate around the block and clearly is liked by the Clarks, but once turned into a zombie she don’t care about friendship as she wants bloody flesh! The Police Cop and the other survivors we don’t get to know much about but we do know they want to live and have seen some terrible stuff while trying to do so. The downside to this comic is the fact we only see two zombies, one bite attack, the characters don’t get to flushed out and we really don’t get to the meat of the story as this seems just like we get a nibble on the free bread at the table. I have a feeling or at least I would hope that the full comic would have had some amazing zombie attacks complete with blood and guts, as this teaser was pretty tame and was very weak on the red stuff. But while this comic does have flaws I would say it was enjoyable and the art done by Miguel A. Insignares is pretty great stuff and holds a 2000’s zombie comic appeal. The cover for this issue is a little lame and has a zombie in shadow on a white background, pretty bland and for some reason reminds me of Image Comics from the 90’s. Over all this review was longer than the comic and it’s a shame that the full comic was never released as I would have loved to seen the comic version of actress Kim Poirier and seen how they would have handled the rest of the movies gore moments and key scenes. Check out the artwork below to see the style of Miguel’s.

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So once again we have made it out of the mall and are safe from the dead.  While this promo comic might not have been amazing and a must read for horror comic fans, I will say I am glad I found out about it cause it made for a great From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update. For our next update, we are walking away from the world of horror and into the world of Archie Comics, and we will be taking a look at a NES Game turned comic with “The Adventures Of Bayou Billy”! So until we meet again, avoid being eaten by a zombie, watch a horror movie or two, read a horror comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host! See you in the bayou readers and friends!

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The Undead Files: Zombies From Hell

On this Undead Files, we will be taking a look at the not so mainstream version of the living dead.  You know, the stuff that people would say is scraping the bottom of the barrel, the black slime of the genre that most fans would like to throwaway and act as if it never was. After searching local comics stores, horror conventions and the web I have found a backyard zombie comic that fits the bill; all my friends who are fans of underground and independent comics have never heard of this one and neither had I until I found it listed on Ebay for $1.49 plus $1.99 shipping.  This zombie comic is called “Zombies From Hell” and was made by Robert Bennett.  So let’s travel the unsafe world of the living dead once more and take a trip with some zombies down a generic road that leads to the bargain basement of undead doom!

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This is part is not so much about a low budget zombie story but one you all might find funny. In 2015 during the Christmas season, a couple in Cincinnati, Ohio decided to mix Halloween in with their Christmas decorations and made a zombie nativity scene complete with a zombie baby Jesus! In 2014, they had done the same thing as a publicity stunt for a haunted attraction that they ran and most the locals seemed to dig it, but the city didn’t and in 2015 they tried to charge the couple $500 a day for not getting a permit to build the horror themed nativity! Think about that, they were threatened with fines for being into horror and turning Halloween decorations into Christmas ones!  This upset the wound-too-tight city officials who in turn got the law enforcement involved…what have we become!?! In 2016, neighbors of a Texas homeowner were upset over his zombie babies Halloween display, and sadly this crybaby (get the pun) behavior is spreading as many other people getting into decorating for Halloween and Christmas with a touch of horror are being targeted by sticks in the mud who want to take the fun out of everything and are way too judgmental on those who like dark entertainment. So if you are one of these people who have extreme Halloween decorations or mix zombies into your Christmas ones, I say keep being you and there is nothing wrong with being a monster kid and making the holiday more fun for those who enjoy the spirit.

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Horror films were a staple for my brother and I growing up, and we would see many of them on the USA Network.  That goes for the film I have chosen that should have been made into a comic book series, and that film is “Zombie Nightmare,” a classic undead flick that’s been shown many times on USA Saturday Nightmares and is also known being riffed by Mystery Science Theater 3000. This 1987 low budget horror film is about a young baseball player who’s dad was murdered saving the local voodoo woman from some punks when he was very young.  Once he grows up, he’s killed in a hit and run and comes back to life thanks to the voodoo woman who makes him a zombie who has revenge on his mind. The film starred rockstar John Mikl Thor and Adam West and is a truly cheesy flick filled with lots of over the top acting and kills. If I could make the comic via Blood Scream Comics, the plot would be this:  It’s modern days, and Tony Washington’s old neighborhood has gotten worse.  Crime is out of hand, and gang violence is out of control.  When his mother is murdered in a home invasion gone wrong, the voodoo of Molly Mokembe brings the long dead Tony back from the gave and with his trusty ball bat, he embarks on a one zombie war against the gang members responsible. Throw in the cops and you have a mix of action and horror.  The artist I would love to see on this one would be Damien Brunk as his style would be perfect for it. I would also live to see Eibon Press do a comic book based on this film as an adaptation.  While Zombie Nightmare might not be one of the 80’s most popular zombie films, it sure as hell has a place in my black heart and should have gotten a comic book back in the late 80’s and it’s a shame that it didn’t.

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So before we get to the extremely zero budget comic, I think I should talk about a cheesy zombie video game that I played in my youth. My brother was the first to buy a PC in our household, and he was so hyped to get onto the internet that was new at the time.  To be truthful, part of the reason we were hyped is because we could look up stuff about horror films, comic books, video games and pro wrestling, and we wanted to check out the TNT Monstervision website! But while the net was cool, we were also hyped that we could play video games not only on CD but also 3.5” diskettes, and this opened the door for us to play many games like Doom 2, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Free Ski, You Don’t Know Jack, Waxworks and a little cheesy first person gem called “Isle Of The Dead.” The plot of this game has you as a survivor of a plane crash on an island that is overrun by zombies and is ruled by a mad scientist who is the madman creating the flesh eaters. The game, besides being a first person shooter that had you use guns and a machete to hack the baddies, also had elements of a point and click adventure as you have to find items and weapons in order to survive. While I have lots of great memories about the game, it did have many flaws as it was prone to freezing during play, was repetitive and by all accounts just a really bad game, but something about it made me love it. I can remember spending hours playing it on my brother’s old computer and always wondering if they every made a sequel…they didn’t. The game was made by Rainmaker Software and published by Merit Software in 1993.  It was poorly received and came and went with out making a splash in the world of Doom and Wolfenstein dominating the first person shooter PC Gaming world, but at the Brassfield house Isle of The Dead was a popular survival horror game that to this day is one of my favorite PC games and had one amazing music score that I still hum to this day. Do yourself a favor if you love cheesy first person zombie shooters and your PC/Mac can play old DOS games, get yourself a copy and have a great time trying to survive the isle of the dead!

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Well we are at the Undead Graveyard and in this section the cardboard gravestones are starting to fall over.  From here you can see just how far away Zombies From Hell is from The Dead and Resident Evil that came before it in “The Undead Files” updates. From here the zombies wandering around look like they are just wearing K-Mart brand Halloween grease paint and rubber masks but for me that kind of cheesy stuff is backyard effect gold.  Now lets see if this no budget approach can also do well in the horror comic world. One of the zombie is mumbling from his rubber mask and the muffled words sound like he wants 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 let’s take a seat next to this bent tombstone under this rotting tree and see what horrors Zombies From Hell has in store for me.

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Zombies From Hell # 1   **
Released in 2014    Cover Price $2.99    Middle Atlantic Comixs    # 1 of 1

Sam has found a book that is the key to open the Gates of Hell.  He calls his good friend Professor Griffin along with a busty blonde female, they follow the book to the location that is said to hold the opening to Hell. Sam speaks a chant, and a door appears on an old tree.  When they pry open it, they find a hotel lobby that is the waiting area before Hell and meet Zeus, the son of Satan and the manager of the hotel that has not seen a mortal in over 500 years. They soon find they are trapped in the lobby until they die, but meanwhile in our world, a band of bank robbing females are on the run after killing a guard and find the door in the tree and also enter to find they are now trapped.  The girls panic and use guns on Zeus to no effect and even open the door that frees zombies after they were warned not to! Zombies come out of the door looking for meat and attack not only the robbing women but also Sam and his friends.  The cops have tracked down the robber’s car and open the door in the tree allowing the survivors to escape but make the mistake of opening the door again, allowing the zombies to escape and eat them all!

This is truly an underground comic as its clearly put together using a copy machine from a library or even maybe an Office Depot as well as a glue stick that is holding the first page to the cover! And while some of you readers might be discrediting this comic for its cheap production, others are now more intrigued. The story follows a man who has been looking for a book that has been missing for 500 years that holds the secrets of Hell.  He cons his friends into going on the quest with him and soon finds that his book only leads him to a boring lobby of a hotel.  Throw in some female bank robbers, a creepy hotel manager and a horde of meat eating zombies, and you have the plot of this fun silly independent horror comic. Sam is the comic’s lead, and we are never filled into why he wants to find the opening to Hell.  It’s clear that he is a jerk as he forces his friends by gunpoint to enter the door he thinks will lead them all to Hell! Griffin and his blonde female friend are just used as background characters who are trapped in the classic “Wrong Place Wrong Time” scenario. The three female robbers are bad news and are killers who don’t listen and the ones who cause the zombie outbreak, but they meet a fitting gut munching demise. Zeus is weirdly enough the voice of reason and also kind of crazy in delivering his warnings, I mean he is the son of Satan! The comic has some blood and gore but it’s nothing too gruesome, and has tiny bits of nudity as you can see slight female nipples during the zombie attack.  Speaking of zombies, they are pretty cool looking and are your classic skull face looking ones. The cover is ok but does not truly capture the nature of the comic.  I do, however, love the fact the color is done with colored pencils.  The black and white art inside is done by Robert Bennett who also wrote the story, and while both are sloppy, they have a charm for this style of underground comic book making. This is clearly not for everyone, but I for one sure did enjoy every cheesy moment of reading it!

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So as you can see, just because this comic was put together using a glue stick and some copy paper didn’t mean it was at least not entertaining, proving that comic books much like films don’t have to have huge budgets to bring on the enjoyment.  But guess what readers, we are not done with zombies just yet as our next update will be a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update and will showcase the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake and the promo comic that was released along with it.  So until next time, make sure to have a plan set in case of a zombie apocalypse, read a comic or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update readers and friends.

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From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Sleepstalker

Nothing is better than a good night’s sleep as your body and mind really does need it to recharge, and it allows your mind to drift into pleasant dreams and sinister nightmares. Being 37 years old now, I have had several dreams or is that nightmares that have been recurring ones.  One had to do with Freddy Kruger from the A Nightmare On Elm Street series chasing me up stairs and around the basement in our old house on Muriel Ave.  The second had me at school in Waynesville, and the hall monitors were the Gamorrean Guards (Pig Guards) from Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi who were very mean and would shove and punch you in the arms. Growing up, I was told of a magical being called Mr. Sandman who is responsible for your slumber, listened to the song Mr. Sandman sung by The Chordettes, boxed Mr. Sandman in the Nintendo video game series Punch Out, read about Spider-Man beating The Sandman on the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man comics and watched him get beat up by Jean-Claude Van Damme in the 1990 film Death Warrant, but I also knew him as the killer in the 1995 direct to video film Sleepstalker.  This master of the killing arts will be the topic for today’s quick and bloody “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update, so sit back and drink some warm milk or sleepy time tea as we go on a dream slasher spree with The Sandman from the film Sleepstalker and the Malibu comic based around it. So ready or not, The Sandman is on the prowl here at Rotten Ink and he has a bedtime story to tell you all….

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So before we get too far into this update, we need to take a look and understand the killer of this independent horror flick. The Sandman is a serial killer who puts families to sleep, even dropping sand over their dying faces and sings bed time nursery rhymes. His targets were families with 7 years old kids and his motives were unknown at the time of his capture, but soon thanks to The Preacher we find out The Sandman must kill his last victim, his brother! His lips are scared from being sewn shut when he was a kid by an abusive father, and his face is thin with evil intentions.  He is truly a walking nightmare with a sick reality brewing in his twisted brain. After being captured and 17 years after his crimes, The Sandman is being executed by the gas chamber but is given immortality and demonic power thanks to a voodoo priest, but he can only keep the powers if he can kill his last victim that lead to his arrest. As the demonic Sandman, he is sand based and can turn into a piles of sand and morph into his human form. His weaknesses are water, as it washes away his sand body and can hurt him, and sunlight. He is cold, calculated and thinks his killings are justified and takes pleasure in them. While abused as a child and saving his baby brother from the abuse as an adult, he now wants to kill his brother and become the force of evil he thinks he should be. The Sandman can use the sand that makes up his body to morph into places, kill his victims and when heated up can use his body as glass to shank and kill. Sinister and calculated, this serial killer is on a mission to become even more evil and seems to not have a care in the world as to how many must die for him to achieve it.

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So now you know why and how The Sandman kills, so we should now move onto the film Sleepstalker that spawned this sand based killer. We will take the film’s plot from our good friends at IMDB, and we will learn not only about its story but also who directed it, the stars of the film as well as my first time viewing it. So grip your pillow a little tighter as we are about to drift deeper into this nightmare Horror film.

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Sleepstalker  (1995)

Seventeen years after slaughtering all but one member of a family, a vicious serial killer known only as “The Sandman” awaits execution. But first, his jailers allow a minister to visit the killer to give him last rites, unaware that the minister is a voodoo priest and an ally of the condemned prisoner. The priest places a hex on the Sandman so that when he is executed, his soul migrates into a new body made of sand. To sever his ties with his former life and achieve absolute power, the sandman must find and kill a man named Griffin, the sole survivor of the last family murdered by the killer.

In 1995, a movie was released direct to video that was directed by Turi Meyer who also directed horror film “Candyman: Day Of The Dead” as well as episodes for TV shows like “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Smallville,” and the film I am talking about today is Sleepstalker. The film stars Jay Underwood as Griffin the hero, Kathryn Morris plays damsel in distress Megan, Ken Foree plays a police detective, Peter Mark Vasquez plays a street gang leader, Michael D. Roberts played the sinister Preacher and Michael Harris plays the killer The Sandman. I can remember this film playing on Cinemax when I was a kid as well as sitting on the shelves at Video Rental stores like West Coast Video, K & L Video and Blockbuster Video on VHS. The first time I watched it was on cable and can remember just how cheesy it, was and yet for some reason enjoyed it as I found the story to be a mix of Candyman, Dust Devil and Nightmare On Elm Street rolled together in one low budget package. My brother taped it on VHS off Cinemax, and on one lazy weekend evening we gave it a watch.  I can remember it being one we both said was okay but nothing too special, and it was quickly forgotten by me until it finally came to DVD thanks to Lions Gate. 1995, the year this film was released, had many other great horror films released and by all accounts this one was just lost in the shuffle as films like “Halloween 6: Curse Of Michael Myers”, “Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight”, “Castle Freak”, “Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh”, “Howling VII: New Moon Rising”, “Leprechaun 3” and “Embrace Of The Vampire.” The film was meet with poor reviews as many fans and critics thought the film had too many plot holes and that the killer’s motives were too close to those of Michael Myers of Halloween as he as well was on a quest to kill his sibling. The film was left open for a sequel as The Preacher finds the burnt up remains of The Sandman and begins his voodoo chants, but the sequel was never made as the powers to be in Hollywood seemed to not want a sequel. Another very interesting fact about this film was that also in 1995 independent filmmaker J.R. Bookwalter made a film called “The Sandman” about a dream demon who killed people in a trailer park as they slept…two horror films with The Sandman name as the killer made for fans of night terror themed horror films very happy. So say what you will about Sleepstalker, while it might have flaws it sure is a fun watch on a cold October night or for your own horror movie marathon.

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I have been a comic book reader and a horror film watcher for as long as I can remember, and besides garage sales, Big Bear and the antique stores in town, I always got my comics from Bookie Parlor and Mavericks and never in my quests for comics did I know that Malibu Comics released a comic based on Sleepstalker.  I did not learn about this comic until 2016 thanks to Lone Star Comics who had it in stock and made this update possible. That’s one thing I love about the world of comics and horror films there are so many of them out in the world have yet to be read and watched by me, and I love to discover issues like this as I am a fan of comics based on horror films. But slumber is calling and these sheep are not going to count themselves and these logs will not saw alone so The Sandman is demanding that I tell you that I grade this issue 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 if you’re ready to see if this comic that acts as a set up to the film holds any thrills or chills, I know I am ready!

Sleepstalker Sandman’s Last Rites

Sleepstalker: Sandman’s Last Rites # 1  **1/2
Released in 1995     Cover Price $2.20     Malibu Comics     # 1 of 1

Griffin sits alone in his apartment with a gun in his hand, he is scared as he knows that the supernatural killer The Sandman is on his way to kill him like he tried many years ago. He remembers back to when he was a young kid and The Sandman selected his family’s home to kill his mother and father all the while threatening him with permanent sleep and singing nursery rhymes. Griffin remembers back how a cop showed up just in time and arrested The Sandman who promised he would be back to finish what he started with Griffin, and now as an adult he knows that The Sandman is no longer a man but a demonic killer who’s body is made of sand and is heading his way. The Sandman meanwhile is using his sand abilities to kill a couple walking down the street as well as a taxi driver who drops him off at Griffin’s apartment. In the end The Sandman stands in the street in front of Griffin’s building and warns the young man he is there to kill him.

This promo comic acts as a way to hype the film to those who were thinking about renting it from their local video rental store. The plot has our hero and survivor of a murder attempt remembering back to the time of his life when he was the target of a madman, and we also follow that madman now on his way to kill the youngster he targeted 17 years before. Griffin is a man who is haunted by his past as he not only was being stalked by a killer but also seen the bodies of his parents that were murdered before his eyes, well at least his mother was. He knows that guns will not save his life this time as the once human killer is something more now. The Sandman is a killer who while human enjoyed singing, killing and covering the eyes with sand of his victims and even now as a demonic killer he still enjoys those things in undead life. His hatred and obsession with Griffin in this promo comic is unknown but as a reader you just pick up on the fact he hates him and wants him dead. This comic is only10 pages long and just acts as a way to bring the start of the film into the comic world and add its own twist to the lore the film set up. One funny change is that The Sandman instead of turning into a sand storm decides to take a cab to get to Griffin’s house…why would he take a cab? Imagine Jason Voorhees taking an uber ride to Crystal Lake or even Tall Man taking the RTA to the funeral home…just silly. The comic is bloodless but does have some kills with the best being the death of a couple that stumble across The Sandman who uses the sand to engulf them. The cover is pretty eye catching and is the films direct to video poster done with a comic layout twist, the art inside is done by Rob Davis and looks pretty good and is so fitting for the Malibu Comic style of comics. In fact Rob Davis also did work on such comics as “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “Pirates Of Dark Water” and “Scimidar” and has a true 90’s comic feel to his work. While this Horror Comic is not ground breaking and is clearly only for fans of the film, I found it a good read and was cool to see The Sandman do what he does best and that’s sing and kill this time as a comic book character. Check out the artwork below for the style of this comic. And again if you are a fan of this film or just love to read comics based on horror films check it out, if you are neither of those, I would say avoid it.

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So the alarm clock on this update is about to go off, and the world of terror of The Sandman is coming to an end and it brings us to the finish of this look at Sleepstalker and the Malibu Comic based on it. But next we are still staying in the world of horror as we will once more look at an Undead File based around a micro budget comic called Zombies From Hell! So until we meet again on the next update watch a horror film or two, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host…pleasant dreams readers and friends!!

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The Day Superman Died

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, my friends and readers.  For this update, we will be taking a look at one of comic books’ biggest storylines that captured not only the readers but also the media and people who thought that this was a milestone in culture and bought dozens of the issue hoping to send their kids to college on the resale of it. I am of course talking about the Death Of Superman, DC Comics’ top selling issue of all time as well as the best selling graphic novel of all time. My brother Bryan and I read lots of comics growing up and among issues we read often was Superman in Action Comics, DC Comic Presents and his self titled comic.  We loved the Christopher Reeve Superman movies as well as the classic George Reeves TV Show Adventures Of Superman…hell, we even grew up eating Superman Peanut Butter before it was discontinued! One of my brother’s favorite toys growing up was a Mego Superman figure that he lost on top of my Grandpa’s roof, and I had growing up the Kenner Super Powers Superman action figure that by the end of its life was so beat up and played as it was a major part of my backyard/woods action figure adventures. My favorite arcade machine at Game Swap is Superman, and over all, this superhero was a big part of my young life.  While he might not have been my all time favorite, he still was a staple of reading his new and old adventures for me. But on November 18, 1992 things changed for many comic readers as that was the day Superman died, and comics books would never be the same again.

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In 1992 when the news broke that DC Comics was killing off Superman, I was 13 years old, and the every news station was covering this event from local broadcast news like Channel 7 all the way to MTV.  Superman was once more the king of comics as my friends at school were talking about it with many of them wondering how he was going to die and if he was going to come back more powerful than ever. My brother Bryan was already buying the issues leading up to his death from stores like the Bookie Parlor and Mavericks and was even trying to buy older issues that were rumored to be the origin and reference the monster and Superman slayer known as Doomsday. The feeling among comic readers was very mixed as many people were very upset that Superman, an Americana hero, was being killed with some people even getting tears in their eyes on TV while talking about the event on the news.  Others seemed happy to see Superman die and hit the big comic rack in the sky. Most comic shop owners and other fans just kept saying this was a cash grab by DC to breathe new life into the slumping sales of the Superman titles and that they needed to try to bring readers back to the title as well as entice new readers. But one thing was for sure, the sales for the titles went up with many jumping onboard before the dying issue that was Superman # 75 and the sales and interest in Superman was on the rise making him a household name again. The week that the death issue came out I can remember by brother trying his best to talk our parents into taking him to a comic shop and they didn’t and he missed out on the first printing of the issue that came in a black plastic bag with a bloody Superman S on it and inside besides the comic was a poster, trading card, a black armband and a Daily Planet Obituary instead he had to wait and get a second printing thanks to the fine folks at Mavericks who held one back for him. The funny thing about this media hyped comic event was that it was the first time I remember that a modern comic at the time it came out EVERYONE kept saying it was going to be a huge collectors item and would be worth so much money and oddly enough it was as the $2.50 black bagged edition was going as high as $100-$300 dollars and sometimes higher at shops and comic conventions right after being released! I can remember the first time I read Superman # 75 and being into the epic fight that was unfolding page after page between Doomsday and Superman and being shocked and drawn in as the Man of Steel died in the arms of Lois Lane as the city of Metropolis watched in horror and shock and for a short time I really did believed that DC had killed off Superman for good. But like most deaths in comic books nothing lasts forever but that will be for another update. Superman # 75 was so huge that it kicked off the big crash for comic books again and brought collecting them into the mainstream again, but this also brought on the era of comics that held gimmick covers, cover price hikes and in some cases took the fun out of the comic stories as companies focused on more flashy cheesy foil cover, hologram covers and over blown mega event type stories and simply forgot to be entertaining and this truly lead to the Comic Crash of 1993 that hurt many of the independent companies who many went out of business as once more greed from the major players left readers with boxes filled with over produced issues that were in some cases not worth the paper they were printed on, and this lead to readers and buyers walking away from comics for awhile. And sadly even in 2017 comic books are not nearly as big of a powerhouse as they were in the past, but I think there is hope as both Marvel and DC have stepped up their stories and characters and independent comic companies like IDW, Dark Horse, Image, Eibon Press, Action Lab, Boom! and even Sparkle Comics are making comics cool again! But while it might have brought on the downfall of comic books for awhile the Death of Superman still is a major event in comic history and one I can say I grew up in the middle of!

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But while I was just a youngster reading comic books and seeing the hype and madness of the Death Of Superman was causing on TV and with friends and family some of my friends seen the madness first hand as they worked at comic stores and got to see just how crazy the lines to get a copy were and I would like to have them share their stories here with you my friends and readers as I am sure you as I do want to get a look into the madness that this issue caused. First up is my great pal and Co-Owner of Sparkle Comics the one and only Jason Young who was only 15 and was working for Mavericks Cards And Comics in Kettering at the time a place he still works to this day! So take it away Jason and let us know just how crazy November 18, 1992 was for you and the employees of Mavericks.

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“It was 1992 and I had been working at the comic book shop less than a year when Superman #75 hit the stands. Only fifteen years old, but I had read lots of Superman and World’s Finest comics by that point. Superman was never my favorite superhero, but I did like the guy. I mean, he’s frickin’ Superman! I remember actually thinking, “I can’t believe DC is going to get rid of Superman… that’s crazy!”

The day that book came out was insane. People lined outside of the shop waiting to get their copy which we limited to one per person because of the demand. Some people were annoyed that they could only purchase one copy as they wanted to open the black polybag it came sealed inside so they could not only read it but also enjoy all of the cool extras that came inside (poster, stamps and memorial armband)!

Luckily there was a newstand edition that went to grocery and convenient stores that people could read (even though that version didn’t come with the cool extras) if they couldn’t get a reading copy at their local comic book shop.

The whole thing was exciting and intense, with people hanging out and talking about the insanity of a world without a Superman… how could we go on? How would the Justice League handle those otherworldly threats that the Flash’s speed and Batman’s detective skills were just no match for?

On that day, comic fans the world over asked themselves and each other those tough questions. Even if you weren’t a Superman fan, you knew he was as much a part of pop culture as anyone actually alive and to think of there being no more Superman comics to come was kind of shocking. 

Some people came into the store that hadn’t read a comic book in decades, but just had to see this one!  The last Superman comic… crazy! Of course, we all know that Superman eventually came back from the dead… but on that day it was a weird mixture of shock, excitement and mourning. A new comic book day like no other before or since!”

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So as you can see Mavericks was hit with Superman hysteria and they even had to limit the customers to one copy as collectors were going crazy to get their hands on multiple copies of this icon comic book event. Next up is my friend Pete Bell who is the owner of Bell, Book And Comic one of my favorite comic stores in the Dayton market and was working at the now long gone Dayton comic shop The Dragons Layer when Superman # 75 hit the shelves. So lets hear about the madness that Pete witnessed during this universally busy new comic book day that saw the death of DC Comics top hero.

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“Back in the 90 s boom of 40k titles and 1 million print runs on comics as standard practice, Superman 75 and the entire death of big blue storyline helped define our overprinted greed and need for comic book mainstream collecting!!! 

The main comic book con circuit back 25 years ago was called JUBILEE and traveled between southern Ohio, northern Kentucky and eastern Indy. It rotated and kept all of us hungry fan boys busy overspending to get in to purchase overpriced 90 s garbage. speaking in today’s view of course, but then it was all good to us! 

When the earliest appearances of Doomsday were coming out, and the con was here In Dayton, I remember walking around looking at all the stock boxes and wall books from dealers who would cram all they could on and behind 6ft worth of space for 60 bucks a table. All of a sudden I see an almost barren table with one guy behind it trying to peddle about 20 copies of his first cameo for 25 bucks each! That’s it. Just a guy who went around to newsstands and grabbed up all he could and thought he could be a dealer for a day to make a few bucks! That is what some people turned Into during this whirlwind!  

All the stores here in town limited Supermen 75 black bagged edition to one each!  So naturally we went around and got one from all the shops we could! Most shops had long lines of people waiting and we did just that. It was surreal to see mobs of mainstream people who haven’t even been in a comic shop in years, or at all, waiting to get their hands on just one copy. Now this book had a print run of 750,000! And most of those buyers just wanted it to resell it right away for quick profit, or keep it for their kid’s college tuition! Both extremes! Just a strange bizarre time! Most books these days have a print run of about 20,000 or less, and most Don’t even get sold out right away or are sought after on high demand! Never has any book been as sought after upon release or in any high demand before or since, until the amazing Spider-Man Barack Obama book!! And no one even died in that issue!!!! 

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Sunsoft was a company who was making lots of video games based on Superman in the early 90’s and in 1994 and 1995 they made a side scrolling beat’em up gamed called “The Death And Return Of Superman” for SNES and Sega Genesis that allowed the player to relive and play through the events of the comic series from DC and added their own silly twist to make the game more enjoyable. I can remember playing the Genesis version as my brother Bryan and I rented it from K & L Video and can remember having a good time playing it, but the thing about it by the time of it’s release it was just lost as most gamers I knew passed on this title and just played “Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage” instead. While not a perfect game it was a fun game and once more showed that even in late 1994 and 1995 people and companies were still talking about the Death of Superman and the storylines that followed. If you like typical 16-Bit side scrolling beat’em up games make sure to check this one out, while they both are about the same I think the Genesis version is slightly better than the SNES version.

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This next part of our Death Of Superman update has spoilers for the 2016 film “Batman v Superman Dawn Of Justice” so if you have not seen that and don’t want to have it spoiled skip this section now! When the Christopher Reeve Superman series came to an end in 2006 with “Superman Returns” it took many years for Warner Brothers and DC to bring the cinema a new one and they did in 2013 with the Hack…I mean Zack Snyder’s film “The Man Of Steel” and this lead to last years “Batman v Superman Dawn Of Justice” and the second film for actor Henry Cavill to play Superman and along the way fight with Batman and by the end die at the hands of Doomsday…who was created by Lex Luther Jr. from the body of General Zod….yep. In the film they play up the Death Of Superman and have him die thanks to Doomsday and kryptonite and by his death in the movie universe the Justice League will now be coming together to make the world a better place…for you and for me and the entire human race. In the film his death impacts the world and he is given a heroes funeral, while his alter ego Clark Kent is buried in his hometown of Smallville and only close friends and family attend like Lois Lane and Bruce Wayne. While in the comic world his death was shocking and impactful here in this film it just seemed tacked on and a lame plot point to play into his return by the next movie. While I don’t want to spend time on this movie as I did that back in my update called “Matt Goes To The Movies 2016” I just wanted to point out that the 1992 death of the Man of Steel carried over to even modern media based on the worlds most known superhero. I should also note that DC did an animated movie called “Superman: Doomsday” in 2007 that was very loosely based on the comic books.

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So as you can see The Death Of Superman has influenced not only the comic book world but also Superman in movies and video games and sparked many of great conversations over the years for comic fans who still talk about it to this day. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics and Amazon for having these issues in stock and I also want to thank DC Comics for making this epic and iconic event that spawned many acts just like a play as we follow Superman in Death to his Rebirth! The Daily Planet wanted me to let you all know 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, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So lets enter the battlefield of Metropolis and get a ringside seat for one of comic’s most brutal battles to ever take place in a DC Comic!

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Superman: Man Of Steel # 18  **1/2
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.25    DC   # 18 of 134

Keith is a young boy who is an orphan and has Superman as a friend, but when monsters in the sewer system tell him they have his long lost mother, he goes on a mission to find her and rescue her from their grip. Lois Lane finds an anonymous tip that something wicked is happing at the Metropolis power planet, and she heads out only to find herself now the prisoner of these underground dwelling monsters who want to start a war with the surface world and start by stealing all the power from the city. Keith leaves the sewer once he finds that Lois has been kidnapped and warns Superman of the monsters plan to attack and to kill Lois causing the Man Of Steel to spring into action. Meanwhile a huge monster of a being that crashed to Earth has freed himself from the wreckage and is headed toward the city killing anything that his foolish enough to get in it’s way…this monster is Doomsday! Superman stops the monsters and finds out that Lois has been taken away to be killed and upon finding her, he soon learns that a man named Charlie who is homeless and lives in the tunnels with the monsters was the tipster and is the one who saved Lois from being really killed! Meanwhile Doomsday is now in the city and causing mayhem and death and this alerts The Justice League!

The start of the Death of Superman is a little slow and this issue’s plot has Superman very easily stopping an invasion from monsters and homeless people who live in the sewer tunnels under the city. As always we have Lois Lane be in danger and a young kid who idolizes Superman. Doomsday’s story has him breaking free from his wrecked prison ship and is on a destructive path heading for Metropolis and laughing at all the death he is causing to animals and humans alike. Superman in this issue is cool and calm and don’t even break a sweat in his battle with the monsters, and only looses his cool when he thinks that Lois is dead/about to be killed as he truly cares for her. Superman’s power is at a peak and it’s clear that his Boy Scout attitude is in full effect showing that he is ready for the approaching battle with death. Lois Lane loves her man Clark Kent aka Superman and wants him to be the hero he was born to be, but she also really wants the big stories and puts herself in harms way and once more shows why in pop culture she and Jane from Tarzan and the biggest examples of damsels in distress. Charlie and Keith are great little side characters with Charlie and his tunnel living friends reminding me of the film RAW MEAT. The Monsters in the sewers have big plans for domination but soon find they just get dominated and are no real threat to the world if Superman is around…I wish they were instead C.H.U.D.S. and not generic and goofy looking monsters. Doomsday is wearing a green jump suit, red goggles and has steel holding one of his arms behind his back is pure evil as he crushes a bird with his bare hands and latter tips over a semi truck that triggers it to explode into flames…in over words he is death walking! While the start of this part of the “Death Of Superman” storyline is a little weak it’s clear they needed to close some loose ends in order to deliver the main goods of the epic battle that is about to start. The cover of this issues is pretty cool and shows a pissed off Doomsday, but the art inside done by Jon Bogdanove is a little sloppy and I can say I am not a fan of it. Over all this first issue is a spark that is being used to start the fire and with that lets move onto the next issue in this iconic story arch in comic book history.

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Justice League Of America # 69  ***
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.25   DC    # 69 of 113

The Justice League show up to the site of the semi truck attacks and save the truck drivers from a burning death, on the team of heroes is Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, Bloodwynd, Ice, Maxima and Fire and while Superman is live on a TV talk show they are out trying to find the monster who caused this accident in Ohio. But Doomsday finds them first and brings the Blue Beetles ship down and in the panic once more causes a major auto accident, Guy Gardner with his power ring attacks Doomsday first and learns the hard way that he is more powerful than all the JLA as he smashes Guy into the ground leaving him beaten and broken and if not for Fire he would also be dead! Bloodwynd attacks next and uses the energy of the dead spirits to land a massive blow that once more Doomsday seems not to even feel and punches the hero with a massive blow that takes him out of the fight for a moment. Fire is next to feel the power of Doomsday as he hurls a rock at her head knocking her out and then turns his brutal nature onto the Blue Beetle beating him bloody! And he knocks Bloodwynd and Maxima into each other knocking them both silly. Booster Gold tries his might next and is hit so hard that he is sent flying into the air at a fast speed! Superman stops the interview when he hears the JLA are in trouble and shows up in time to catch Booster in the air who warns him that a monster is on the loose….and worse Ice is left alone with him as is a dying Blue Beetle who needs medical help!

The plot and destruction thickens as Doomsday is now on a full warpath in Ohio heading for Metropolis and even single-handed beats the crap out of the whole JLA team! Like really he still has one arm tied behind his back! The plot for this issue has the JLA coming to Ohio to help find the monster that is causing so much destruction and when they find him Doomsday unleashes hell on them and shows that he is a true monster and is made up of rage and hate. Superman in this issue spends time having to answer questions from Teens and a talk show host to try and build a bond between normal every day Joes and superheroes, but when he finds out his fellow JLA members are in trouble he comes calling as fast as he can. Guy Gardner is a hot head hotshot who thinks he is unbeatable and is reckless in his actions and for this he gets his butt kicked and his head driven into the ground! Fire and Ice try what they can to help in the battle with Ice standing on the sidelines and fire gets a rock to the head that causes her to be out of the fight game…poor girls don’t stand a chance against the killing machine. Maxima however does put up a fight and is brave in her actions but soon collides into Bloodwynd knocking them both out and showing that they truly didn’t stand a chance. Booster Gold as well who is noble in his attempt finds that his most powerful hit didn’t even phase Doomsday who instead returns the favor and lands a punch that sends him flying! Poor Blue Beetle gets the worst of the attack as he is beaten bloody and thrown to the side near death! Doomsday adds to his character not only that he is evil but also he knows how to fight and can withstand power blows from heroes with little effort! When reading this for the first time I can remember being in shock of seeing the JLA being thrown around like ragdolls and wondering why Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman and Red Tornado did not enter the fight! While this JLA might have been the B-Team or even maybe the C-Team it still was shocking and I can remember telling my Mom that the Blue Beetle had to be dead after that beating. This issue for the most part is all action and only takes us away for the battle for Superman’s interview that is going along with the battle at hand. The cover art is great and showcases what action your in store for when reading this issue and the art inside is pretty good and done by Dan Jurgens and has that 90’s DC Comic look. Over all the showdown is about to take place between Superman and Doomsday in the next issue and I for one can not wait to re-live it!

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Superman # 74  ***
Released in 1992    Cover Price $1.25   DC   # 74 of 714

Maxima awakens to find Ice the only one standing and Doomsday is now gone from the battlefield, and with some pleading she gives up the fight and takes the Blue Beetle to get medical aid. Ice now the only standing hero goes after Doomsday and finds herself being flung into a house were a young mother along with her baby daughter and teenage son are putting them into danger as Doomsday is approaching fast! Superman and Booster Gold appear and Superman takes a massive punch from Doomsday and shrugs it off, but can not the massive kick Doomsday plants into his gut sending the Man of Steel as well into the house and out the other side! Booster Gold tries to hold Doomsday off again but is over powered and has his head rammed against a tree knocking him silly. Doomsday enters the house and is about to deliver a killing blow to the still knocked out Ice but gets distracted by the family and is about to smash them when Superman comes in and saves the day allowing them to flee. Once the family is safe Superman is joined by Fire, Booster Gold, Guy Gardner and Bloodwynd who all use their maximum powers at once to try and bring Doomsday down…it does nothing but free Doomsdays other hand and burn off some of his green costume. The full on assault leaves Booster and Fire drained and powerless and poor Guy’s eyes are swollen shut from the beating he took earlier and before the weakened heroes can escape Doomsday attacks and beats Booster Gold with the attempt to kill! Doomsday makes short work of the JLA again and leaves the family stuck in a raging fire and Superman ignores the teen’s plea for help as he continues his pursuit of Doomsday! Will the teen and his family be burned alive as the JLA are all out for the count and unable to help.

Superman and the JLA go toe to toe with Doomsday and they soon find out that this monster is a pure powerhouse and that even using all their powers together can not stop him or even phase him as he just laughs off their attacks and brings his own defense to them harder and more vicious than before. The poor JLA are just dissected and over powered beyond belief and are shown that they have NEVER faced a threat like Doomsday! While in the last issue Blue Beetle was the one who suffered the worst beating in this issue Booster Gold gets that award as he has his head smashed into a tree and later has a car door slammed on it and thrown around like a piece of trash. Superman is so worked up that he was watched his friends be beaten up and that is own attempts to stop the monster has fallen short that he is walking away from a family who needs help and could be burned alive! Doomsday almost the whole issue is still beating the heroes with one arm but once his other arm is freed he turns up the brutal beatings and turned up the threat level of his destruction. Really up to this time in DC Comics the only other unstoppable villain I could thank of is Darkseid and he had been stopped before, Doomsday was fresh and new and he was down right an evil SOB and this was how we all knew Superman was going to meet his maker. The issue is filled with lots of action and drama and showcased just how well this storyline was going as issue after issue built up excitement and made your crave to read the next issue in the series. Plus adding in a young teen who is from a good yet broken family who thinks Superman is lame is sadly how many young comic readers at the time seen the Man of Steel so it was cool they added that into the story as when in trouble the Teen calls out to Superman for help and at this point it’s falling on dead ears as Superman is putting the safety of the many over that of the few. I also pick up the underline fear that Superman is having toward Doomsday as he knows that this foe is more powerful than any he has fought before! The cover on this issue is great and the art once more is done by Dan Jurgens and is pretty good stuff! Over all this action issue is a great set up to take the JLA out of action and leave Superman a hero alone in his fight against Doomsday!

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Adventures Of Superman # 497  ***
Released in 1992     Cover Price $1.25    DC    # 497 of 649

The Justice League is knocked out cold as the young teen still begs Superman to come and help his mom and baby sister who is trapped in the fire ridden house! Superman takes notice that the JLA are all out of the game and decides to drive Doomsday deep into the lake and trap him in the soft mud for a moment and makes it in time to save the family with the aid of Bloodwynd. Once the paramedics show up and take the family and the JLA to the hospital Superman once more sets his sights on Doomsday who is once more free and is once more on a path of destruction as he goes not only toe to toe with Superman but also the army and Maxima who has returned to the battle! While in Metropolis Lois Lane needs Jimmy Olsen to come cover the story with her and with the help of TV Reporter Cat Grant she is able to get her into the filming studio were Jimmy is a new kids TV show star and they gather around and watch the broadcast that Doomsday is heading their way! Lex Luther and Supergirl also see the news and start to brainstorm on how they can keep Metropolis safe if the monster makes it to the city. Superman and Maxima are doing all they can but nothing seems to phase Doomsday who seems to be getting stronger the longer the battle goes on, but when Maxima makes a mistake causing sparks from a light post to hit gasoline leaking from a gas truck an explosion leaves her and Superman hurt as Doomsday just keeps walking toward the city! The Guardian shows up and checks on the falling heroes and while he tries to help Maxima, Superman The Man Of Steel declares that he alone must stop Doomsday.

The battle is getting more and more brutal as the news report in this issue have states that 30 people have died this far and hundreds have been injured showing that Doomsday really just don’t care who or what gets in his way. This issue is just another packed with pure action and Superman and Doomsday slug it out and try to make hamburger out of each other’s faces. I do also however like the fact that the teen who once hated Superman is now grateful for his heroic actions that saved his mom and sister from the fire, this scene adds to the drama that this epic battle is causing to normal people. This issue also shows that Guy Gardner, Fire, Ice and Booster Gold are in such bad shape and beat up that they all have to go to the hospital and that Bloodwynd is hurt but takes his leave to heal on his own…leaving for the most part Superman along to face this destructive monster of power and rage. Superman shows now fear and while he lands massive and powerful hits to Doomsday who seems to not feel them he still just keeps fighting and trying to stop his one monster riot. Doomsday just keeps on moving forward toward New York and Metropolis with not a care in the world and loving the battle that he is in, showing he is a freak of nature and a force to be reckoned with. Maxima while strong and having the warrior spirit is dumb in her actions as she is the cause for her and Superman to suffer damage from the gas truck explosion. Very cool in this issue we see Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen on the orders of Perry White gearing up to cover the epic fight for the Daily Planet. Plus I can remember the first time reading this thinking about what plan Supergirl and Lex Luthor have cooking in their minds to protect the city if the menace of Doomsday makes it to them. Great cover of Superman and Doomsday fighting plus the interior artwork done by Tom Grummett is fantastic and captures the over all comic book goodness a major storyline like this should have. Over all a solid and fun issue that builds up the fact that Superman might have finally meet his match!

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Action Comics # 684   **1/2
Released in 1992     Cover Price $1.25    DC    # 684 of 904

Doomsday is causing more mayhem and killing innocent people as The Guardian is getting Maxima to the hospital and Superman is trying to save lives of people caught in the path of his new and powerful foe. Doomsday ends up in a Lex-Mart shopping store and once more Superman tries to fist fight this titan of death and as the battle goes on Lex Luthor and Supergirl decide to really sit this battle out and will join once it hits Metropolis. Superman pounds on Doomsday with everything he’s got and sadly it’s still not enough as it appears the harder Superman fights the stronger Doomsday is getting! Superman follows Doomsday and drives him away from people and the who fight around a wood habit research base and The Guardian as well shows up and tries to help but after so much damage the habit falls on top of Superman and The Guardian and Doomsday is now on the edge of entering Metropolis!

In this issue and the 5th in the Doomsday (aka Death Of Superman) storyline The Man Of Steel spends half of the issue trying to save lives of people who are the victims of this rampage and the other part punching it out with Doomsday! The Guardian showed up late to the fight, but really I don’t think he would have been much help and I am sure he would have just ended up in a hospital bed next to Blue Beetle and Booster Gold! Oh wait by the end he did try to mix it up into the fight and has a habit fall on top of him and taken out of the fight! Maxima took her own self out of the fight by triggering that explosion and given herself a concussion. Lois and Jimmy are flying around in a helicopter covering the fight and deep inside Lois is scared for her husband Clark Kent aka Superman as she is seeing that he is having a hard time putting away his enemy. Supergirl and Lex Luthor are watching and waiting to see if Doomsday will make it to the city so that they can enter the fight and try to protect their hometown. By the end of this issue Doomsday’s body count is said to be over 100 dead and he seems to not be slowing down and he is clearly enjoying trading every punch and snuffing every human life out. By this time in the story arch as a reader the odds of stopping Doomsday look very thin and on top of that you start wondering were other heroes are to help with this menace…like The Flash, Green Lantern, Captain Marvel, Dr. Fate and Wonder Woman…were are they when Ohio and New York need them!?! By this point the real reason for this issue is to show that Doomsday has taken out the JLA and has taken everything Superman has thrown at him and it seems not to have even slowed him down a bit, truly making the odds of Superman winning in a fist fight with this monster slim to none. The cover is amazing and has Superman and Doomsday locking up with destruction all around them, the interior art done by Jackson Guice is ok but a little to sloppy for my liking. Over all this is clearly an enhancement issue that helps build the evil nature of Doomsday and to build up the final battle that we all know is about to go down.

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Superman: Man Of Steel # 19  ***
Released in 1993   Cover Price $1.25    DC    # 19 of 134

Doomsday is destroying a construction site in Metropolis as Lois and Jimmy are hovering above in the Daily Planet Helicopter and Cat is in the News one both reporting the story as Superman appears once again and tries his hand at stopping the rampage with his wits and fists and drags the brute into the sky only to find himself of the receiving end of a massive kick that leaves the pair falling back down to the ground very hard. Doomsday falls so hard that he breaks a gas main and lands in the underground were he kills many of the monsters and freaks that live in the sewer before once more Superman tries to come to the rescue but in turn only helps trigger a spark that ignites the gas and causes yet another massive explosion that rocks the city. Superman is still fighting but the battle is starting to break him down as our hero is bleeding, bruised and getting tired he gets some quick help from Supergirl who sadly gets her clocked clean with a well placed punch from Doomsday as well as Superman’s pal Professor Hamilton who fires a giant laser cannon at Doomsday that only seems to piss the monster off even more! Superman weak from battle is still able to save the young boy Keith and others from the orphanage before once more returning to the battle with Doomsday who is now taking on the Metropolis police department as well as Lex Corp guards who are trying to lend a hand to Superman who once more is trading punches with the monster and claiming the fight must end one way or another!

Superman in this issue has been pushed to far when he sees all the death and madness Doomsday has caused in his city of Metropolis and no matter how badly he feels from the fight this far Superman never gives up and never backs down and best of all never stops trying to help those in danger. Call Superman a Boy Scout, a lame duck or even cheesy one thing for sure is that he is the true meaning of the word hero and in this story arch as well as in all issues of Superman comics he proves it with his actions. Lois Lane and Jimmy are clearly worried about Superman as they have been his friends for years and they have noticed that he seems to be having issues bringing this threat to a stop. The Guardian comes out of the rubble for a brief moment and tries to use his powers to read the mind of Doomsday and finds that all the monster thinks about is destruction, and once he gets that answer he seems to stay away and out of the fight. Supergirl finally cant sit it out any longer and tries to help her cousin but soon just finds that a power punch from Doomsday just leaves her knocked out and has her return to her alien appearance! Lex Luthor during this crisis takes to the TV and throws Superman under the bus by claiming that it’s clear that Doomsday is holding a grudge against The Man Of Steel and that’s why he is attacking the city, making people question if Superman does more harm than good for them. That’s the best thing about Luthor is no matter what he is always going to hate Superman and will always paint himself out as a savior. Doomsday is just one mean mother and like from the start of this story line he gets more joy and pleasure out of fighting, killing and breaking than any other Super Villain in history! This issue was a great way to build up the final fight between Superman and Doomsday as the stakes are high, all the key players are present to witness the epicness of a heroes fall and by now us readers were at the edge of out seats as we knew that in the next issue Superman was doing to die…But before we move onto that iconic issue I want to point out that the cover for this one is pretty well done and has a face off between Doomsday and Superman and the art inside is ok and done by Jon Bogdanove again. So to sum up this issue its action and drama wrapped up into one news print package with a hint of Rotten Ink smell that delivers the excitement that comics books are all about.

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Superman # 75  ***1/2
Released in 1993   Cover Price $1.25    DC   # 75 of 714

Superman and Doomsday are in the middle of the street exchanging powerful hits as the Lex Corp guards keep unloading on Doomsday and the news helicopters keep getting closer and closer to the fight, but this leaves them in danger as Doomsday slings Superman at the Daily Planet copter and causes it to crash and for Superman to once more pull Lois and Jimmy’s fat out of the fire. Once safe Lois and Jimmy beg Superman to wait for help as it’s clear that he is having issues with Doomsday but after given Lois a kiss and telling her he loves her he rushes back into battle for a final showdown with his monstrous foe. Doomsday gets the upper hand and knocks Superman into the ground causing Lois and Jimmy to rush to their friend aid, but when Doomsday sets his sights on Lois The Man Of Steel once more rises bloody and tired he pours every thing into fighting Doomsday and when each gear up for one last power punch they both fall in victory or is that defeat? As Doomsday is knocked out Superman dies in the arms of Lois Lane as the world watches on live TV in shock, sadness and horror as the worlds best hero passes away. Johnathon and Martha Kent watch as their son dies, Lois Lane watches as her husband passes on, Jimmy Olsen and the Cops witness his last breath and Ice and Bloodwynd who returned to late to try and help catch the death of their friend. Superman is dead and the world will never be the same again.

This iconic issue is told with full-page panels that follows the Man of Steel on his hardest battle that leaves the city of Metropolis in ruins and with out their protector. The issue has Superman saving his wife Lois Lane and friend Jimmy Olsen one last time before going into one of his most brutal fights ever that leaves him dead and his foe an unstoppable monster knocked out cold. Superman uses all his power and knows that he could very possibly die in this fight but he don’t care about his own risks and puts the city and it’s people’s safety as his top priority. He as well is able to tell Lois that he loves her and give her one last kiss before a short time latter he dies in her arms. Poor Lois Lane who is getting the story of her career also sadly gets to record the death of her husband and covers the death of the idol of millions. Jimmy Olsen as well is heart broken as Superman has been is longest and dearest friends. Not to mention that Metropolis has yet to discover that there favorite newsman and paper reporter Clark Kent is as well dead, for they do not know that he is Superman. Poor Ice and Bloodwynd the last two JLA members to bounce back from the beating the took issues back arrive to late and they feel as if they failed The Man Of Steel and the world by not making it back in time, as I am sure Supergirl does as well as she was defeated with ease the last issue and could not offer her cousin any help in the battle. Lex Luthor that slime ball I am sure is happy with the outcome of the fight and that his old foe Superman has a date with a pine box six feet underground. Doomsday proved that he was and still is one of the worlds worst super villains as he through out his rampage has causes tons of property damage, killed animals and humans alike and most important to the world killed Superman all the while laughing in his destruction. But his laughing stops when Superman with a well places axe handle punch knocks the big goons lights out. This issues impact was huge and while it may not have been the industries top selling comic it was the one that gained the most mainstream media and caused comic book collecting fever to reach an all time fever pitch as everyone wanted to read how Superman died. I mean comic shops had caskets and lines out the door to get a copy of this milestone issue. This final issue in the “Doomsday” aka Death Of Superman story arch is well told and had me as a reader feeling like this really could be the end of a heroes iconic adventures. The cover for this news stand edition is great and has the torn Superman cape on a spike flapping in the wind…sent chills down my young spine when I first seen it. The interior art is done by the team of Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding and its fantastic and to be honest one of the only times that I can remember that Superman was every that bloody in a comic! While like stated before many readers want to say that this issue is what brought on the comic crash that happened in the 90’s I for one can say that for me it only helped lock the fact that anything can happen in comics and that as long as the story is good and the art well done I will give it a read. Below is one of the most iconic images from this story arch and showcases the heartbreak and the sadness of the Super Hero icon fallen in battle to save the day.

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For me, The Death Of Superman lived up to the hype when I was a young comic reader, and at the age of 37 reading it again for this blog it still very much held up as I enjoyed the build up to the final battle and how DC and the writers built up the savage and brutal nature of Doomsday making him truly one of the best super villains of the early 1990’s. While The Death Of Superman might not have lasted as DC Comics used the press and hype to try and make Superman a cash cow for them again and rushed so many Superman comic mini series, toys and other merchandise to the market taking the impact away from what could have been even bigger of a storyline. At some point here at Rotten Ink, we will take a look at the second part of the Death Of Superman series called “Funeral For A Friend” as well as the other parts in the Life and Rebirth of this comic book icon. But for our next update we are leaving the super heroes behind and going to take a look at a horror movie slasher that made the leap to comic books thanks to Malibu.  I am talking The Sandman from the film Sleepstalker! So until next time, read a comic or two, think about your favorite fictional heroes who have fallen in battle and as always support your local Horror Host, and I will see you back here for the next update.

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The Ghost Who Walks Among Us And Can Never Die…The Phantom

In the world of comic books, crime doesn’t pay thanks to the Superheroes who protect the innocent and punish the guilty. I mean Gothom City has Batman, The City has Dick Tracy and New York has many like Spider-Man, Daredevil and Fantastic Four, to name a few. But while the big cities have their protectors, so does the jungles of Bangalla in Africa who has the one and only The Phantom! What is really cool about The Phantom is that he is much like Batman and Dick Tracy as he has no superhuman powers and is just a man who is a vigilante and dedicates his life to defending the weak and beating evil down. If you think about it as well, The Phantom, who was created in 1936, is a character who bridged the comic strip hero and the comic book superhero and is the first hero to really walk that line. So let’s kick 2017 off right and spend some time in Bangalla and see what The Phantom is all about and how DC brought him back to comic books in 1988.

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First, we must take a look at the life of the creator of The Phantom, the one and only Leon Harrison Gross aka Lee Falk, who was born on April 28, 1911 in St. Louis Missouri and had a decent childhood growing up Jewish.  Things would take a slight turn for the bad when his father passed away when Lee was still young, but his mother remarried sometime later and this gave Lee a stepfather he loved and respected and looked up to. The older he got, he began making comic strips and made up a fake bio story for himself as he claimed to be a world traveler who experienced so much out in the world which lead him to create the characters Mandrake The Magician and later The Phantom who were both picked up by King Feature Syndicate. He created The Phantom as he grew up loving the stories of Tarzan and The Jungle Book and decided to also add in pirates and thugs from around the world as it was a topic that also interested him.  Originally he wanted to call the character The Grey Ghost and wanted his costume and all to be grey but things changed when he liked the name The Phantom better and the news printer screwed up and made the costume purple, and the color stuck with readers. Weirdly enough, Falk did not have faith in his characters and thought they would only last a few weeks and was shocked that they lasted his whole lifetime, During World War II Falk worked for KMOX radio and was the chief of propaganda.  Also, the older he got the more world traveling he did in order to not have to lie about his background stories. Lee Falk was married three times and had three children with two daughters and one son. Lee Folk also loved the theater and over the years wrote 12 plays, directed 100 of them and produced over 300 others! Not to mention over his lifetime he even ran five theaters! His plays would have such Hollywood actors as Basil Rathbone, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Chico Marx and Charlton Heston acting in them! As you can see Lee Falk was a very creative man who did lots of very cool things. Lee Falk passed away from heart failure on March 13, 1999 at the age of 87 and up to his death he was still working on his comic strips…a true man who loved his characters and creations. It’s amazing to think about just how many comic strip creators worked on their strips all the way up until their deaths showing that unlike the comic book world, the creators loved their creations and got joy of bringing them to life for the readers. This update is dedicated to you, Lee Falk, a true icon of comic strip artists and a man who lived for what he loved to do.

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The Phantom is a hero who has no super powers and uses his wits, fists and guns to right the wrongs and protect his friends and tribes around his home in Africa. His costume is the following: a black eye mask, a skull ring and a purple costume that was based on an old African idol.  The look is used to scare criminals and pirates, who are his main targets. The Phantom is a costume and legacy that is passed down from generation to generation within the Walker family who do this in order to give the appearance that The Phantom is not human and immortal to strike even more fear into the hearts of those who do evil. The Phantom is a trained fighter with his fists, and I would guess that he has the punch of a heavy weight boxer! He is also skilled with a gun and while not a full dead shot, he hits his target when it’s needed. The Phantom is very smart and has the same kind of mind for solving crimes as Batman, The Shadow and Dick Tracy as he is also quick to get out of a bad situation. The Phantom’s main weapon is fear as legends spread of him being a ghost and not able to be killed, using superstition of the unknown to his advantage of just passing on the title to the next in the family bloodline. The 21st Phantom also has a pet wolf named Devil who helps him uphold justice and has his white horse Hero to get him places faster. Say what you will, The Phantom is a kick butt hero who might not be super but sure knows how to get the job done!

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On June 7, 1996, thanks to Paramount Pictures, a film based on The Phantom was released to theaters and was directed by Simon Wincer and had Billy Zane as The Phantom himself. Also in the cast were Catherine Zeta-Jones, Treat Williams and Kristy Swanson with the score being done by David Newman. Before it was made The Phantom had many different directors attached to it including big names like Sergio Leone, Joe Dante and Joel Schumacher who all left the project at one point or another for reasons of their own. Paramount picked the relativity unknown Simon Wincer, who had directed a few films before it like Quigley Down Under, Free Willy, Lightning Jack and Operation Dumbo Drop to name a few and they gave him a $45 million budget.  He is the one who hired Zane to play the title role as they both were fans of the character since childhood. The film’s production went smooth, and the hype was high for the film’s release as Paramount was wishing for the same kind of success as Warner Brothers had with Batman in 1989 and Touchstone had with Dick Tracy in 1990…but the box office and critics were not nice to this film as it only brought in $17,323,326.00 in the US and didn’t even get released in theaters overseas! The film came in at #93 of the year and beat out such films as The Frighteners, Trainspotting, Thinner and Mulholland Falls to name a few. While the film bombed at the theater, it developed a cult following when it was released on VHS and DVD, making the film turn in a small profit for Paramount. While I am a fan of The Phantom character, I skipped this film at the theater and waited for home video.  I found it to be a fun dumb popcorn movie that, while it didn’t 100% capture the magic of the comic strip, it at least delivered some fun action and adventure. And I must say that the outfit for The Phantom that actor Billy Zane wears was pretty well done and looked like a modern version of the classic suit and brought out elements to make it stand out on the big screen.

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But the 1996 film was not the first time The Phantom made the jump from comic strip to media on the big and small screen as the first was the 1943 Columbia Pictures serial simple called “The Phantom” that had a total of 15 chapters and had Tom Tyler as The Phantom. A serial sequel for The Phantom was in the works in 1955 with actor John Hart in the role of The Phantom and as production was chugging along they soon found that they no longer owned the rights to use The Phantom and quickly changed it over to calling it “The Adventures Of Captain Africa.” This was followed by the cartoon “Defenders Of The Earth” that aired on TV in 1986 and had Peter Mark Richman voicing the character for a total of 65 episodes, only lasting one season. In 1994, a cartoon called “Phantom 2040” was released as a series that lasted for 35 episodes and a total of 2 seasons with Family Ties actor Scott Valentine lending his pipes to make the character speak. And in 2009 they made a TV mini series based on the character and called it “The Phantom” that had two feature length movies to tell this new version of the character.  This time around actor Ryan Carnes landed the role of the character. So as you can see, Hollywood has had many plans for this character to be the next comic character to be on every kid’s t-shirt and have toys on every chain store shelf…while they tried, it just was not meant to be as it was clear the youth was just not biting at The Phantom to replace their Batman toys and comics. I can proudly say that as a youngster I did my part, as I owned The Phantom action figure from the Defenders Of The Earth toy line.

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Besides the movies and cartoons getting released on VHS and DVD, some other really cool stuff based on The Phantom has been released over the years from action figures, t-shirts, posters, statues, comic books, novels, card game, video game, Halloween costumes, replica skull rings, bobble heads, lunch box and so much more! The Phantom has had his fair share of collectibles for his fans to collect and enjoy, not to mention, besides DC, other comic book companies like Pacific Comics Club, Gold Key, Whitman, King, Pioneer, Dynomite, Marvel and Moonstone among others have printed adventures of this character. Besides some of the comics and the Defenders action figure, one thing I had in my teens was a skull ring replica that a fellow classmate gave me, and I can remember wearing it around school and feeling super cool…yeah, I know –  I was young and didn’t know any better. I wonder if that ring is still someplace in my parent’s basement, also know as Independent B Movie Studios. So in closing, if you enjoy The Phantom, the world is filled with collectibles for you!

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Speaking of Independent B Movie, the old shot on video company that my friends and I use to make films together under that brought you such shot on video classics as The Wolf Hunter, Farmer Joe and Who Keeps Feeding Grandpa to name a small few.  For a small time we toyed with the idea of doing fan films based on some of our favorite movies and characters with lots of things being written and talked about at our annual company meetings. Characters like Superman, Lone Ranger, Leatherface, Spider-Man and Neo from The Matrix all had fan scripts written or talked about, and one of the characters I was developing a fan film for was The Phantom! The idea for my film would have had Matt Hoffman or Jason Gilmore playing The Phantom who was sent on a mission to stop Dr. Frankenstein from creating a monster for the Nazi’s who needed this super solider to turn the tide of the war.  The setting was Frankenstein’s Castle in Kettering and the woods around it would have acted as the jungle with all the typical friends taking on roles like Josh Weinberg who I wanted to play Dr. Frankenstein.  Garrison Kane would have played The Monster and Dave Wean, Patrick Neeley, Mike Ritchie and Jason Young would have made up the supporting cast. If memory serves me right, I think the title of it would have been called “The Phantom vs. Frankenstein,” real original right? The costume was going to be ordered offline and The Frankenstein’s Monster mask was something we would have gotten from Foy’s in Fairborn. But the film idea went nowhere and a script was never written as only scraps of paper with notes was all I had taken down for my idea for this flick, and sadly that are long gone by now. I could have only imagined if we were to have filmed this just how cheesy and terrible the action fights would have been, but I am sure much like all the films we made, it would have had a small cult following for being so bad it’s good. Below is a mock-up poster for this movie done by my friend Jason Young who I’m sure would have been cast in this could-have-been fan made film.  Check it out!

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Speaking of Jason Young – before we get into the reviews of DC Comics first run of The Phantom, I want to share something very cool with you: my good friend Jason has started a comic review blog called “The Bewildering” for independent comics issue # 1’s he finds in .25 and $1.00 boxes at stores as well as conventions! And with his reviews, he breaks down the issues’ plots really well and will update about once a month.  It’s worth checking out if you enjoy your comics on the moldy side of the comic racks. Jason Young is a super talented dude as he is the owner of “Buyer Beware Comics” that puts out his bio comic called “Veggie Dog Saturn” among other titles. He is the co-owner of “Sparkle Comics” and its horror comic branch “Blood Scream Comics” and is working on a very cool comic called “Defenders Of The Planets” based on knock off He-Man toys from the 80’s! He also is co-host on the comic podcast called “Gutter Trash” with artist Eric Shonborn, not to mention he works at Mavericks Cards And Comics, a local shop that helps hook me up with comics for this blog! So in other words you are for sure in for a high quality good read with his blog, and I recommend that you check it out and show him some love.

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So now that we have taken a look at The Phantom from comic strip to an old never made fan made film that would have been directed by me, lets get to the main attraction here at Rotten Ink and that’s the comic book reviews! When choosing The Phantom as this update I had to think long and hard about what comic company I wanted to choose as many have tackled releases for The Phantom.  Most of the time I would just gone with Marvel Comics but decided to go with DC as the covers caught my attention more and looked like it could be a fun mini series.  Plus I feel like sometimes poor DC gets the short end of the stick here as I cover Marvel way more often. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock to make this update possible and want to also say thank you again to the late great Lee Falk for creating this iconic character for all us comic readers to enjoy! And as always, I need to remind you that I grade these issues on a standard 1-4 star scale rating and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that, let’s enter the Skull Cave and see what kind of adventure we can share with The Phantom!

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The Phantom # 1  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 1 of 4

A young boy named Kit Walker is writing in the journal in the Skull Cave as he is the next in line to be The Phantom, the ghost who cannot die.  He is talking about his fears and reads back to the first Phantom who watched as his father was killed by pirates and he himself washed ashore in Bangalla, Africa near death.  He was taken in by its tribe and found that if the world was going to get justice, it was by him becoming justice itself and becoming the first Phantom who wanted to protect his new home and get revenge on the pirates! Now Kit Walker is an adult and the 21st Phantom who along with his step-nephew Rex, wolf Devil and white horse Hero are called upon by the tribes people as some drug smugglers have kidnapped two of the patrol men and are waiting for the big drug transaction. As The Phantom rushes off to save his friends the patrol men, one who even is under his protection for saving his life some time back, Rex starts to read the history of The Phantom journal and learns that the 13th Phantom was tricked onto a pirate ship by a evil men named Chessmen and captured! In modern times, The Phantom arrives too late as one of the patrolmen is shot dead, and as he frees the other, he soon finds himself looking down the barrel of a gun of a hired gun of one of the original Chessmen who has always been told to kill The Phantom and his supporters!

Three Phantoms’ tales are woven together into this issue’s plot as we take a look at what sparked the 1st Phantom to take on the mantel of being the ghost of justice as well as follow the 13th on a set up mission and are in present day with the 21st who is battling relatives of enemies from the past! And while this might sound confusing, it’s really not and by all accounts is really well done and gives each of The Phantoms their own characters and own traits letting you get the feel that this is truly a mantel that is handed down from father to son over the decades. All three of the Phantoms are very strong-willed people who understand that evil in the world will prey and destroy the weak if someone does not watch out for them.  Each puts his life on the line to rescue the innocent and stomp out the evil that is running loose. Rex is a young man who while is not blood to current The Phantom, he is adopted into the legacy and feels very much connected to it all and wants to learn the history and family secrets to prepare for the day he is called upon to wear the purple costume of good. The pirates and captain are the villains of the story thus far and when they are not stealing or selling drugs, they are killing and have zero remorse for ending lives too soon.  One of them shoots a man in the head without a care all because he had the mark of The Phantom on him! And what’s really shocking is they show the aftermath of the gunshot with a body on the deck in a pool of blood; that’s pretty crazy for a comic based on a comic strip character. The only thing that kind of made this comic a hard read was that some of the lettering for the journal was written in cursive and at times it was hard to read as it felt piled up and a little sloppy. The cover is well done and has The Phantom doing what he does best and that’s beating up pirates! The art is great and is done by Joe Orlando who I think did a fantastic job of mixing the normal 80’s DC Comics style with a touch of Sunday Comics appeal. Over all I am very impressed with this first issue and really kick myself for waiting until 2017 to read this comic as younger me would have really enjoyed this back in 1988!

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The Phantom # 2  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 2 of 4

Rex is reading the history of The Phantom in the Skull Cave as The Phantom kicks into high gear and saves the remaining officer and takes down the captain and his men, but all he could get from the captain as who is his boss is the name Chessman because his own shipmate shoots and kills him before turning the gun on himself. The officer calls the colonel on the ship’s radio for back up and help as The Phantom slips into the jungle with anger and revenge on his mind as the name Chessman is attached to those who did his father wrong many moons back. After a few hours The Phantom contacts the colonel and finds that a man named Charles Chessman from New York is the prime suspect of being the head of the drug smugglers, so alongside Devil, The Phantom as Kit Walker boards a plane for New York to get his answers and justice…but soon finds that his American girlfriend Diana’s family are long time friends with Chessman! The Phantom heads to the office of Charles Chessman only to find himself under arrest! All the while young Rex is reading about the 13th Phantom and his struggle to break free from the pirates who sold him into slavery.

The Phantom once more shows why he is the man who cannot die when he beats up a boat full of pirates and heads to America to settle a score with a person connected with the torture of his father. While he is dealing with his want for revenge, his adopted nephew is learning the history of The Phantom. This issue feels like a great classic hero tale and adds in just enough violence, drama and modern settings to give it an appeal to readers who enjoy Batman, Superman and classic stuff like Dick Tracy and Flash Gordon. The Phantom is as heroic as he can be in this issue and saves not only the life of an officer but also a whole plane full of passengers and crew when a man tries to take it over and with one quick punch that threat comes to an end. Rex, like any young man, is wanting to learn all he can and prove that he could be very worthy of The Phantom legacy someday. The pirates and the captain are such scum that they even turn on each other when the odds are out of their favor.  The Captain has no spine and is about to squeal like a pig on who hired them before his own right hand man put a bullet to good use. Diana Palmer is a woman who clearly cares about her boyfriend The Phantom and understands his odd way of life, but her mother doesn’t like the relationship and thinks The Phantom is too creepy. Something that is working really well for this comic mini series is that like his father The Phantom is trying to get the revenge that his father was unable to dish out all those years back and this adds to not only the drama but also the action. The cover is pretty slick and holds a classic look and the interior art is done by Joe Orlando again and is fantastic.  Again, the only complaint I have is that some of the cursive lettering is hard to read in spots but that’s very minor and didn’t take away any of the enjoyment of the issue. So with issue two being as good as issue one, I cannot wait to see what issue three has in store for us the readers, and I wish I would have bought this series when I was a kid as I would have enjoyed it a lot.

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The Phantom # 3  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 3 of 4

The Phantom and Devil outsmart and out-maneuver the officers and as they go on a wild goose chase to track him down he slips back into the office of Chessman and beats him up and tells him he has a short time to turn himself over to the police and tell them the truth about his drug selling and stolen good ways or that he himself will be the judge, jury and executioner. After taking his leave, Diana comes to see Chessman and is upset over the fact that he beat up one of her friends who she thinks is truly a nice guy and decides to go on a dinner date with Chessman and has a terrible argument with The Phantom leaving the couple at odds and even possibly broken up. The Phantom goes out the night of the date and gets information on all of Chessman’s thugs.  Meanwhile, during dinner Chessman hires a hitman named Stryker to hunt down and kill The Phantom who is in turn now hunting down Chessman’s right hand man! All the while, we get flashbacks to the 13th Phantom who escapes his chains and goes on a hunt and kills the first of The Chessman brothers to send a message to the others that no one crosses justice and The Phantom.

This third issue ushers in the idea that The Phantom is now onto the man who has not only killed his friend and is pushing drugs but also is a relative of the evil men who pushed his father, the 13th Phantom near death’s door. And while trying to put a stop to the evil of this man he might lose his girlfriend as well as his life as now the hunter might just very well become the hunted. The Phantom is a man alone in New York as his own lady thinks he is on the wrong track, and this leaves him trying to fight this fight without her knowledge of the target, but at least he has Devil by his side and is kind enough to give Chessman a choice of turning himself in or become a body in the morgue. Diana is making a big mistake by thinking that her longtime family friend is a nice guy and not scum.  This leaves her also at the madman’s mercy as she is now at his house for dinner and he is desperate to rid the world of The Phantom.  I would not put it past him to use her as a human meat shield when the action goes down. Chessman is just so slimy and plays the role of a nice guy who really has a black selfish heart, and I can’t wait for him to get served some cold justice. Stryker is a mystery and looks like your typical mafia style hitman, and he could be a challenge for The Phantom once they meet! The story of the 13th Phantom from the past and the 21st Phantom’s paths are one in the same dealing with the same evil and crappy people The Chessman family is good story telling and writer Peter David is doing some amazing things to make The Phantom cool for comic readers of 1988 and beyond. The cover once more holds a classic look and captures the adventure style of the character and his legacy as again the art by Joe Orlando is top notch and amazing stuff. Once more this issue is as good as the other two so far and leaves the reader wanting more and wanting to see how the story ends in the next issue. So like The Phantom, let’s lurk into the shadows of your favorite place to read comics and see what happens next.

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The Phantom # 4  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 4 of 4

At dinner Diana overhears Chessman telling Stryker about his right hand man being busted by the cops thanks to The Phantom and that this spoiled a major drug deal for him.  Before she can get away, Chessman and Stryker take Diana hostage and want to use her as bait when they find out she knows him! The Phantom spends the next nights breaking up Chessman’s illegal operations but finally finds a message that Diana is in trouble and heads to Chessman’s house and into a trap. The Phantom sets Diana free but she is soon recaptured by Chessman who throws her into his car and hits the streets to get to his private plane.  While The Phantom and Devil make short work of Stryker, who, armed with a sniper rifle, hardly put up hardly before being knocked out. The Phantom watches as his enemy takes his true love away and borrows a police horse and tracks them down to bridge where traffic has come to a standstill and with a gun to her head Diana is forced to watch as Chessman and The Phantom have a showdown that leaves them both falling off the bridge. Chessman is in bad shape and rushed to the hospital but is suspected to live and will face charges for his drug empire.  The Phantom is thought to be dead until he shows up with Devil to Diana’s house and they patch things up and all ends well. We also see that the 13th Phantom also had an epic fight with the pirate Chessman brother that as well left them both falling off a mountain that they both died from, but this once more proved that the legacy of The Phantom would live forever.

This four issue mini series took us on an adventure that had us in the past and modern times as well as in the jungles of Africa and the slums of New York and pitted good vs. evil and justice against law breaker. The Phantom in this issue not only brings down many drug and gambling rings but also takes down a hitman as well as defeats a rich business man who is the ring leader of smugglers and has lived his life as a lie and gotten the support of many with his phony good guy persona. And most importantly, he also wins his girl’s heart back as well as keeps the legacy of The Phantom going and intact. The best part about The Phantom is that while he is super talented in hand to hand combat, he also uses his mind to really bring down those who are doing bad and wicked things. Devil is a loyal wolf and is a big help when it comes to fighting crime and is the best ally as he is threat with his razor sharp teeth! Rex learns lots about The Phantom legacy by going into the records, a place he is not meant to be, but a place it is known he would enter as all future Phantoms have interest in the past adventures. Diana Palmer is a woman who stands by her man…well that is until he beats up and points the figure at a rich family friend and then you turn on him and try and send him home until everything he said turns out to be true and he saves your life and then you fall back in love with him. Diana should have had faith in her superhero boyfriend as she clearly has a brain in her head. Stryker is all talk as he acts as if it would be easy to kill off The Phantom and when he gets his chance, he crumbles faster than a house of cards in a hurricane! The 13th Phantom in this series is a hero who is beaten, sold and near death but finds his inner power to get his revenge and to prove that his family legacy is not to be taken lightly. Charles Chessman is a man who has no morals and only cares about making money and getting his own fat out of the fire and would kill an innocent woman to get away, even after being given the chance to turn himself in he decides that he would rather not and try to kill his nemesis. He is much like the Chessman Pirate Brothers as his ego is what causes his downfall and leads him to a life in jail. The one thing that shocked me about this comic series was the fact that it shows not only blood but also a suicide and shows them both very gritty and this brings a more raw and natural feeling to it. The cover on this issue also is very well done and captures the heroic nature of The Phantom and adds the touch of mobsters and gritty city life to its appeal. The art is again done by the talented Joe Orlando and his work helped make this comic series even better of a read and added to the enjoyment of the sold story written by Peter David. Over all, if you enjoy classic hero tales that are filled with drama, action and a more realistic hero, then I suggest checking out this 4 issue mini series as I am glad that I did all these years after its newsstand run. Check out below to get a taste of the artwork from Joe Orlando and see just how good it is.

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Being a fan of The Phantom since a young age, it really is shocking that it took this long for me to read this mini series as to be honest I remember seeing it at comic shops in my teens and never pulled the trigger on buying the issues. I really think fans of such characters, as Batman, Dick Tracy, The Unknown Solider and Moon Knight should check out The Phantom if you have not already. With our next update, we are staying with DC and taking a look at one of the biggest events in comic history in my life time and one that some say brought the beginning of the end for the comic boom and I am of course talking about Doomsday: The Death Of Superman! So until next time, make sure to read a comic or three, read a novel or two and as always support your local Horror Host, and I will see you next update for Superman’s deadliest fight ever.

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Matt Goes To The Movies 2016

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The year of 2016 was a crazy one for me as much of my time was spent working on comic books for Sparkle Comics, the company I co-own with Jason Young as well as trying to film Baron Von Porkchop episodes among many other things like helping on films and of course working on updates for here at Rotten Ink. One thing I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted to this year was go to the movie theater so I want to apologies for the lack of depth to this list. 2016 was a pretty big year for cinema as we got many sequels to big budget movies like “Star Trek Beyond” and “Rougue One: A Star Wars Story.” We got classic books turned into big summer blockbusters like “Jungle Book” and “The Legend Of Tarzan,” not to mention lots of horror films from “The Conjuring 2” all the way to “Blair Witch,” the third film in that cult series. Hitting the cinemas this year, I filled my tummy with lots of popcorn and blue Icee’s and saw films in theaters like Regal, Cinemark, Danberry Huber Heights and Cranberry Cinema and had a blast watching the silver screen with friends like Juliet Fromholt, Jeremy Hoyt, Josh Weinberg, Stephen Alexander, Theresa Lopez, Thomas “Maurice” Smith and many more all who made the experience more fun. A weird thing about this year in movies is that while it was filled with many blockbusters, it also had many flops that expressed moviegoers lack of interest in sequels and reboots to films of the past, but this year also proved that Disney knows how to pack them into the theater with superhero films as well as family friendly adventures. Plus, it proved to Hollywood that horror films make money and bring profits on smaller budgets. So let’s find our seats here at Rotten Ink Theater and chat a little about the films of 2016!

Film Reels

Normally I would start with my “Worst” list, but since I wasn’t at the cinema as much this year, I didn’t get to see the that many films, and lucky for me, none of the ones I did get to see were what I would call a worst film. So this time around we are going to start with science fiction and fantasy, two genres that are near and dear to my heart.  So let’s sit here for a moment and chat about them, shall we?scifi-16# 5

the-5th-wave-posterHigh school student Cassie Sullivan is stuck in a world of chaos as aliens are attacking the Earth, killing off the human race.  When her younger brother is taken, she along with some other survivors go to war to try and survive and bring back the world they once knew. This fun science fiction film was based on the book of the same name written by Rick Yancey and was filled with lots of action as well as aliens and their waves of attacks that included flooding and spreading a sickness. The film, while not groundbreaking, was a fun film to see in the theater and actress Chloe Grace Moretz is fantastic in the role of Cassie.  You definitely find yourself cheering for her to kick some alien butt. The film did poorly at the US box office for Sony and brought in $34,912,982.00 on a $38 million dollar budget, but was a hit overseas making the film semi profitable. I would say the film is worth checking out on DVD if you skipped it at the theater or even maybe a rental from a local video store.

# 4

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While a third Ghostbusters sequel with the original cast was just not in the cards, we did get a reboot to the series that featured a whole new female cast gearing up with their protonpacks and tackling a whole new group of ghosts as well as some returning favorites like Slimer! This go around we follow Dr. Erin Gilbert who lost her tenure at Columbia University after a video shows up online of her on a paranormal research.  Along with friends Dr. Abby Yates, Dr. Jillian Holtzmann and Patty Tolan, Erin opens The Ghostbusters, a business that is set to rid the city of ghosts thanks to equipment they make in house. But when the city of New York comes under attack by a powerful evil spirit, they are the only hope….but are they ready to be the heroes? The film was directed by Paul Feig and starred Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth and even has cameos from many of the actors from the original films. I found the film to be lots of fun, and the characters were well portrayed with Holtzmann being the silliest and funniest! The film had some funny moments, and I find the fact that many fanboys got butt hurt over the film being made with all females comedians as The Ghostbusters was just silly and showed that many of these types of “fans” ruin things for others as sadly the film did poorly for Sony at the US Boxoffice bringing in $128,350,574.00 on a $144 million dollar budget.  By the look of it, a sequel is not in the works. I would say if you skipped this at the theater make sure to give it a chance and watch it on DVD or Blu-Ray and make up your own mind about it.

# 3

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Disney has done another great job of turning one of their classic animated features into a live action film, and they made one heck of a great film with The Jungle Book! The film is about young human boy Mowgli who is raised by wolves in India, but when he becomes the target of the evil tiger Shere Khan, they are forced to send him away to rejoin the human race. Along his journey he is protected by black panther Bagheera and bear Baloo from not only Khan, but also giant python Kaa and King Louie, who is the king of the monkeys. But in the end Mowgli must face his fears of Shere Khan to save his animal friends and family from his terror as well as a fire that spreading across the jungle. The film was a great family adventure film and when sitting in the theater I felt like a kid again as Baloo sang “Bear Necessities.”  Everyone did a great job voicing the animals; I mean you cant go wrong with the talents of Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley and Christopher Walken. Director Jon Favreau did a fantastic job of making this film come alive and helps bring out the personality of the animals more by treating them as if they were real actors on set. The film did great for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in $364,001,123.00 on a $175 million budget making it a hit for sure! This was worth a watch and even a buy on home media if you enjoy the story of The Jungle Book as this is only slightly under the animated feature as being the best adaptation of the book.

# 2

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Captain Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise are in major trouble when they travel into an uncharted nebula on a set up mission that leaves them at the mercy of Krall and his men who want to kill as many federation members as possible and have chaos throughout the galaxy. Can Kirk and his crew along, with their new alley Jaylah, escape the nebula and save lives in time before Krall and his fleet attacks? Watch this science fiction adventure film and find out. This was such a fun film to watch in the theater in Imax 3-D, and the addition of over the top action made it not your standard Strek Trek fare yet still kept the charm of what makes Star Trek Star Trek! This was the third in the reboot series, and after a very lackluster teaser trailer, the internet started the bashing and hating on the film before it was released.  This caused the film to perform poorly at the US Box Office for Paramount only bringing in $ 158,848,340.00 on a $185 million dollar budget. While this is not the best Star Trek film in the long running film series, I would say it’s a solid sequel that offers enough sci-fi tech talk and action to make it a fun summer popcorn movie.  Make sure to check it out on DVD as it’s well worth the watch.

# 1

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Jyn Erso is the daughter of Galen, the man who lead the construction of the Empire’s newest and most deadly weapon, the Death Star! She was left behind at a young age to be raised by Rebel extremist fighter Saw Gerrera as her father was forced into labor by Orson Kernnic, the director of the Empire’s weapons research. Now older and on her own, Jyn must track down her father who has the secrets to destroy the Death Star from the inside.  She is joined by a rag tag group made up of Rebel soldiers and supporters who go on a suicide mission in order to get the plans into the hands of the Rebels. Add in tension between Kernnic and Grand Moff Tarkin, who both want credit for the Death Star, and in a annoyed Darth Vader as well as cameos from classic Star Wars characters, and you have one well made and entertaining science fiction film! The film’s main characters have amazing chemistry with each other and the friendships that are formed make sense and just add even more layers to their personalities. My favorite character was Jyn Erso as she proved that this new crop of Star Wars films are in the right hands as they clearly care about character development and story. Seeing Darth Vader back in full badass action was something to behold in IMAX 3-D as it made me feel like a kid again, seeing Return Of The Jedi in the theater. Plus the digital Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin made my Monster Kid heart grow three sizes, and I would say that I would love to see Hammer do this and make a new Frankenstein Movie. This film is still in theaters and as of January 1st has brought in a total of $393,554,705.00 for Disney on a $200 million dollar budget and is showing no signs of slowing down. If you have not seen this film yet, do yourself a favor and do so as its well worth the 2 hours of your time.

So as you can see, Hollywood delivered some great sci-fi and fantasy films all that were fantastic watches at my local cinema, not to mention we got a new Star Wars and Star Trek film last year. But another genre of films that rocked the box office this year is my second favorite kind of films, right behind horror, and thats super hero flicks! So grab a refill on your large popcorn, and let’s talk heroes from the comic books who have made the leap to the big screen in 2016.

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# 7

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The moviegoing public seemed to not be able to get enough of Batman on the big screen, and after the last Superman movie, someone at Warner Brothers and DC Comics decided that the world needed a vs. film that pitted their top two superheroes against each other.  So Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice was created and unleashed on the masses. The film has Bruce Wayne being very angry over the fight between Superman and General Zob that left some of his employees dead and others injured, and now, as Batman, he sets his sights on stopping Superman once and for all as he feels the government has not done their job well of keeping this superhuman alien in check. Throw in Wonder Woman, Lex Luther Jr. and Doomsday, and you have this epic battle film that will test the strength and mental fortitude of our heroes. The film was a little too long and for the most part, much of the hate that Batman had for Superman was weak.  In fact half way through, you wonder just why he has projected all the hate he has in his heart toward the Man of Steel and with that, the film kind of falls apart. Other flaws for this comic book fan and movie lover were: the birth of Doomsday was just dumb and pointless and Lex Luther Jr. was a turd and acted more like he was the son of The Joker.  While it sounds like I didn’t like it, I really did enjoy it as it was a fun popcorn flick that showcased that superhero films are just enjoyable on the big screen no matter how flawed they are. The film was directed by Zack Snyder and starred Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck and Amy Adams and did pretty dang well for WB at the US Box Office bringing a total of $330,360,194.00 on a $250 million dollar budget. It’s worth watching on home media or even on cable as it at least will be sure to please during the fight scenes.

# 6

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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back at it again as they target The Shredder and the footclan who are again attacking New York with the idea of taking over the world.  This time with the help of scientist Baxter Stockman, the foot create two mutants of their own, the warthog Bebop and rhino Rocksteady, to finally put up a fight against the turtles.  But they also have help in their battle with Casey Jones, a vigilante cop who has had enough of crime ruining his streets. Things get worst when Shredder gets help from Krang, an alien from Dimension X! This sequel is hard hitting and is packed with not only action but also lots of comedic moments that bring out the Turtles’ personalities that made them the popular characters that kids of yesterday and today know and love. This was a fun theater watch and seeing the Turtles battle Bebop and Rocksteady was something I, as a long time turtle fan, have wanted to see in a live action movie. The flaws of the movie for me was that actor Stephen Amell, who played Casey Jones was terrible and super weak in his portrayal that had him hardly wearing the character’s trademark hockey mask. Another lackluster thing was that Shredder played by Brain Lee also did not wear the character’s trademark helmet…when will Hollywood learn that people wanna see the character appear like they should and not just the actor’s face….we get what actor is playing the part! The film was directed by Dave Green and also stars Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Tyler Perry and Sheamus and sadly did very poorly for Paramount at the US Box Office only bringing in a small $82,051,601.00 on a $135 million dollar budget. While the film was judged pretty harshly by movie goers, I for one enjoyed it for the most part and found it a good summer popcorn flick based on characters I grew up loving.

# 5

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Dr. Stephen Strange is a genius surgeon who is cocky and ego driven, but after a major wreck, the nerves in his hands are shot and his career as a surgeon is over.  He tries all types of ways to get better that finally leaves him going to Kathmandu to seek out The Ancient One who teaches him that magic and other dimensions are the path to truly heal. But Dr. Strange gets more than he bargained for as he is forced to use his newly learned magic to fight a rogue group of dark magic students lead by Kaecilius who wants to bring the Dark Dimension ruler Dormammu into our world and bring life as we know it to an end. When the odds are against him, how can Doctor Strange out magic Dormammu in order to save us all? This was a superhero film that I was not fully looking forward to as I have never been a big fan of the comic series and for the most part find the character very boring, but this film stepped it up and made him very interesting for me. The film was directed by Scott Derrickson and actor Benedict Cumberbatch was a great choice to play Doctor Strange as he brings the character to life. This superhero popcorn film also stars Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams and Chiwetel Ejiofor all of whom are fantastic in their roles of various characters from the Marvel Universe. The film has done pretty solid for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in a total this far of $230,323,048.00 on a $165 million dollar budget. It was well worth watching in the theater, and I will for sure buy it on DVD when released.

# 4

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The government is in big trouble when it comes to world affairs, and after Superman is no longer around, they create a task force of criminals who they will send on mission that could lead to death. The team is made up of Deadshot, El Diablo, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, Enchantress, Katana, Slipnot and Harley Quinn and is lead by Colonel Rick Flag who informs them that if they break the rules and try to escape, they will be killed on the spot via a tiny bomb in their brains. When the Enchantress turns rogue and, along with her brother, wants to bring the world to an end, it’s up to The Suicide Squad to stop them and prove that not every bad guy is un-savable. To make things worse, The Joker has entered the combat zone as he wants his girlfriend Harley Quinn back by his side and not doing the work of government. The film also has cameos from DC Heroes like The Flash and Batman and was a really fun watch at the theater while munching on popcorn and drinking a blue icee, as I found it to be a fun ride filled with fun characters and enough action to please most fans. But for some reason like most modern DC Movies, this flick was meet with lots of internet hate even before it was released as fanboys decided they hated the casting of Jared Leto as The Joker and just over all wanted to hate on it.  I know lots of friends who joined the hate who never even saw the film but wanted to tell others not to watch it. The film as a great cast with Will Smith playing Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harely both stealing the show and making the characters their own while still holding onto elements from the comics they come from. The film did good for Warner Brothers, despite all the internet trash talking, at the US Box Office bringing in $325,100,054.00 on a budget of $175 million. This is another movie I was glad I watched in theaters and going in with low expectations and no pre-judging in my mind found it to be a great watch and one I will own on DVD very soon.

# 3

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The Apocalypse is the world’s first mutant and is godlike in nature.  In 1983, he is awakened and does not like what he sees of modern times and goes on a quest to get disciples that will act as his horsemen of the apocalypse.  He gets Magneto, Storm, Angel and Psylocke to join his cause of allowing mutants to rule and for him to lead them to a new world. Charles Xavier and his X-Men that include Beast, Havok and Quicksilver along with new members Nightcrawler, Jean Grey and Cyclops must come together and trust Mystique and try to stop the destruction of the world as we know it and stop the next age of Apocalypse. This was a really fun and action packed film in the X-Men series and was a great watch in the theater. The film brought most of the returning cast from X-Men: First Class and continued the awkward relationship between Charles and Mystique. Apocalypse, played by Oscar Isaac was a great narcissistic villain who would manipulate his followers with ego boosting words, but clearly he does not care if they live or die as long as he is once more in power. I also like how they showed Apocalypse past in Egypt and that’s what starts the movie off. One down side is the film focuses way too much on Mystique played by Jennifer Lawrence, and she does not rock her blue scaled skin most of the film.  It was clear she didn’t want to wear all that make up and body suit, and Fox wanted to showcase they had Lawrence still on board. This film also stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Evan Peters, Sophie Turner and Olivia Munn, oh and it also has a cool cameo from Hugh Jackman as Wolverine! The film did poorly for Fox at the US Box Office bringing in $155,442,489.00 on a budget of $178 million. While this film was met with mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, I for one found it to be a great super hero film and in fact bought it on DVD when it was released.  I suggest if you like the X-Men films and have not seen this one yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.

# 2

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Wade Wilson was a member of a special force team who has fallen in love with a woman named Venessa and all is well until Wade gets cancer and is dying.  When they cannot cure it, he decides to seek alternative help that leaves him being turned into a burnt up looking freak who cannot die! This sets Wade off who becomes the costumed anti-hero Deadpool who lurks in the shadows afraid to let Vanessa know he is alive all the while tracking down Ajax, the man who he thinks can cure him of his disfigurement. But things get bad when Ajax and his team of enhanced mutants kidnap Vanessa, and Deadpool, along with X-Men members Colossus and Warhead, must get her back! This film is rated R and is packed to the brim with crude humor and brutal kills all done with tongue in cheek one liners and grace. Ryan Reynolds returns to the role of Deadpool, with his first appearance as the character being in the 2009 film “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and owns it with his wise cracking delivery. Also starring in this over the top super hero action film is Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, Stan Lee and Ed Skrein, all who do great things in the roles they were cast, no matter how big or small. The film did fantastic for Fox bringing in a total of $363,070,709.00 in the US on a budget of only $58 million! This is a Marvel super hero movie that is not for kids as it really is packed with blood, cussing and very crude humor but it made for one fun and enjoyable watch for this old comic book reader. I must also say that I have never been a super fan of Deadpool as even reading comics back in the day I never paid him that much attention, but I think it’s really cool that this film as well as good solid comics being made by Marvel has made him into one of the industry’s top selling heroes. Own it on DVD now, and it’s worth watching for sure!

# 1

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Captain America and Iron Man clash in this third film in the series about everyones favorite red, white and blue Avenger. What starts the war is that Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow and Falcon are on a mission to stop Crossbones and his band of mercenaries that leaves humanitarian workers of Wakanda dead, and the government now wants The Avengers and other superheroes to register with them and only work when the government tells them to. Worse, when the King of Wakanda is killed and everyone blames The Winter Solider, Captain America along with his team Ant Man, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Falcon turn on the registration act and try to protect Winter Solider who claims he is innocent. This sparks the new King of Wakanda, The Black Panther, to join Iron Man, Vision, Black Widow, War Machine and Spider-Man to all do to war and little does anyone know this is all a big set up game by the sinister Baron Zemo who wants to ruin The Avengers and all the good they stand for. This film has so many more layers than what I am sharing here as it would take awhile to explain it all, and you should have or need to see it to understand why it’s my top super hero film of 2016. Chris Evans is truly Captain America come to life, and I could not imagine these films going on without him, so here is hoping he sticks around for awhile. What is great about this film, besides the solid script and amazing actors that bring their parts to life, is the fact you get some many heroes for the price of one and this includes Spider-Man as Sony and Marvel have come to an agreement that allows the hero to now take part in the Marvel Universe films and let alone one that has them all in a fight much like the WWE Survivor Series! The film did outstanding for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $408,084,349.00 on the massive budget of $250 million. I don’t want to go on too much about this film as I think it speaks better for itself, and all I can say is Spider-Man and Black Panther are great new additions to this amazing film universe that Disney and Marvel are delivering to all us movie goers.

So as you can see, 2016 had some really great super hero films that delivered action and adventure and entertained the movie going masses. Another genre that delivered this year was horror, and while the theater was packed with more ghost and possession movies that seem to be the life blood of horror for the last few years, it also had some slashers and iconic characters returning to the silver screen that included The Tall Man of Phantasm and Godzilla! Blumhouse once more proved that there is money in horror films as many films they produced hit and scared the crowds.  They have quickly become a production team that I look forward to seeing what they release next. So let’s dim these theater lights a little more and let’s take a look at the top horror films that I saw in the theater in 2016!

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# 17

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Dana is a woman who is haunted by the accidental death of her baby daughter, and alongside her husband David and son Lucas she moves out of the city and into a giant old house in the country that was once owned by the town’s top judge. But after finding a closed off room in the attic that was not on the house’s blueprints, she soon starts to see ghosts of the judge and his dog and finds that the room held a family secret that left a young girl murdered.  Now she must solve the mystery or lose her own mind doing so. This film is yet another ghost/possession film and suffers from a paper thin story mostly dealing with Dana’s mental breakdown and is by all accounts very boring in its delivery to try to scare us in the theater. When seeing this film, only one other guy was in the theater and he seemed to be bored as he kept checking his phone and even after it was done looked over at me and talked about just how lame the film was and how the characters did things that lead to nowhere.  Sad to say, the phone checker was right, the film’s characters just seemed like shells of people doing silly things that had no real outcome. The actors in this boring horror film include Kate Beckinsale, Mel Raido, Gerald McRaney and Lucas Till and while they are all great actors in other films, what they are given to do here is very weak, and this was one that I would suggest that most skip unless you have a free rental or is on cable TV. The film did poorly for Rogue Pictures only bringing in the small amount of $2,423,468.00 at the US box office on a $15 million dollar budget. Over all, while I love seeing horror films in the theater, this one almost put me to sleep even after drinking a large blue Icee, this is hands down the worst horror film I saw in theaters this year!

# 16

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Peter Taylor and his wife Bronny are having issues in their marriage, and their children also have their issues as daughter Stephanie has a eating disorder and son Michael is autistic.  The last happy moment of their life together was a family vacation they took with friends at the Grand Canyon where, unknown to them all, Michael removes and takes home stones that were placed to keep Native American demon spirits trapped.  Now with the stones moved and at the Taylor’s home, they must find out the clues to why mystery animals are appearing, why Michael is talking to the walls that he calls The Sky People and acting up. In the end they must call a healer to try and clear the house of the spirits ,but is it enough and can the love of a family be enough to send the demons back? While the film was not terrible it, was nothing new and seemed like just a watered down version of Amityville Horror and or even Poltergeist, and yep, marks yet another possession/ghost film to be released this year that seems to still be the flavor of the decade for horror film makers. The film stars Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell, Paul Reiser and Llza Rosario and was directed by Greg McLean who is known for directing the Wolf Creek series. The film turned a profit for High Top Releasing at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $10,753,574.00 on a $4 Million Dollar budget. Not recommended for those looking for horror films that showcase the bad guys more than a total of maybe a minute the whole film or ones who don’t like slow burn horror

# 15

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Rocky is a young woman with a daughter who lives in Detroit with her rude and crude mother and in order to get money, she robs houses with her boyfriend Money and friend Alex who’s father works for a home security company. Rocky needs one last big score in order to move away with her daughter, and they select the house of a blind vet named Norman Nordstrom who was awarded money after his daughter was killed in a drunk driver auto accident. But once inside, they find out that this blind man is not helpless and has his own dirty secrets to hide away! Norman along with his dog hunt down the burglars and make them pay for entering his home and finding out his dark twisted secret that is worth killing for. Don’t Breathe is a horror thriller that has elements of being a slasher film as Norman is brutal in his ways of killing and seems to feel what he is doing is right! While I did enjoy this film and had a good time watching it in the theater with Juliet, the film had some flaws that were pretty outstanding to me.  The fact NONE of the characters are likable people.  From Rocky all the way to Norman, they are all bad people who do bad things! The fact that by the end Norman who is a normal man seems to not be able to be killed like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees as he seems to be superhuman and shrug off killing blows is dumb. Another thing that annoyed me is the fact that Rocky and Alex, during their time of trying to escape the house of this madman, never have the idea of using a weapon until toward the end of the film. The film does have some amazing actors who do fantastic in their roles as Stephen Lang is great as the blind Norman and Jane Levy is amazing as Rocky and the supporting cast as well hold their own. At the US box Office this film brought in a total of $89,059,699.00 for Sony on a budget of only $9.9 million making it a hit for the studio. Over all this Sam Raimi produced film was not terrible but also was nothing special and some of the flaws made it very annoying to this horror fan. I would say worth the watch on DVD and Blu-Ray. Also I should note that this film was one I was super hyped for after seeing the trailer and was a tad bit of a letdown.

# 14

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Rob Zombie strikes again with a foul language horror film packed with lots of blood and some weird yet fascinating characters with his film 31. The film follows a group of carnival workers who have been kidnapped and forced to play a game of life and death on Halloween Night by some rich people who have employed killers like chainsaw brothers Sick-Head & Psycho-Head as well as other killers Schizo-Head, Sex-Head, Death-Head and the all time kill champion Doom-Head to hunt them down and kill them as they beat on their survival. The film is packed with some brutal kills and for the most part the carnival workers are likable people who you want to see make it out alive and survive the killers attacks as well as you root for them to deliver justice to the psychos! The downside to the film, like most Rob Zombie films, is the dialogue is terrible in spots and so over the top its laughable as he tries to use almost every cuss word he can think of! The other flaw the film has was that in spots he uses shaky camera techniques in order to mask some of the film’s lower budget special effects. But while it has flaws it also had things I really liked about it as I found the killers odd and memorable, I loved the fact that the carnival workers fight back and are not just helpless victims, his use of classic rock songs also was pretty well done and the acting was good for what terrible lines they were given. The film has an all star cast with names like Malcolm McDowell, Meg Foster, Lew Temple, Ginger Lynn, Sheri Moon Zombie and a stunning E.G. Daily from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure as Sex-Head. Richard Brake who plays Doom-Head does great and the character is not only sadistic but also gross and just a foul human being. The film at the US box office brought in a total of $779,820.00 for Saban Films, and I must say while Rob Zombie films are not perfect, they at least have heart and are entertaining in some way or another. Oh yeah and I have to say I hated the ending – those who have seen this film will know what I am talking about.

# 13

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The Forest is a supernatural horror film based on the Aokigahara Forest that follows Sara who travels to Japan and journeys into the forest to find her missing identical twin sister Jess whom people believe went into the forest to commit suicide.  She is joined by Michi a park ranger and Aiden, a reporter. But she soon finds out that the forest has plans of its own and that the dead don’t rest in these haunted woods. So does she find Jess? Is she alive or dead? Why do people say not to stay in the woods at night? Watch this film to find those answers! The film is packed with jump scares, some creepy ghosts and a great atmosphere, but also has a cheesy hole filled plot as well as some paint by number horror clichés that make it an average supernatural horror romp. Natalie Dormer best known from the HBO show Game Of Thrones plays the twins Sara and Jess and looks fantastic, and the music done by Bear McCreary is well done and makes scenes pop. The film brought in a total of $26,594,261.00 for Gramercy Pictures at the US Box Office on a $10 million dollar budget. Not amazing and not bad, The Forest is one you might want to rent or check out on DVD.

# 12

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The Other Side Of The Door was a horror film that was orignaly supposed to be a wide release that then turned into a limited release, and I was lucky enough to catch it at Regal Cinema. The film is about Maria who is living the perfect life in India along with her husband Michael, son Oliver, young daughter Lucy and maid Myrtu, but that perfect life comes to an end when an accident leaves Oliver dead and Maria heartbroken and not able to get over the accident and the loss of her son. Six years after the accident, Maria gets her chance to tell her deceased son goodbye thanks to Myrtu who tells her of a ritual and place that will allow her to speak to him from the other side of a door.  The only catch is you can’t open the door…and of course Maria does and by doing so free’s something sinister. The film is another ghost/possession film and had a few good chills and had a great setting being in India, not your typical American or England backdrop. The film’s cast was good with Sarah Wayne Callies and Jeremy Sisto heading the pack and each doing well in their roles. The film did not perform great for Fox at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $3,000,342.00 due to them making it a limited release. Not groundbreaking but very entertaining and was worth the theater watch for me as well as Josh Weinberg who tagged along.

# 11

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The Witch was a Horror Film that had lots of buzz around it on the internet and among fans before it even hit theaters.  Stephen King even said The Witch scared the hell out of him, but could it live up to that for movie goers? The film is about William and his family leaving the safety of a plantation in New England and making a farm in the middle of nowhere surrounded by woods and something sinister that steals and kills their youngest child. Quickly the family starts falling apart as oldest daughter Thomasin is blamed for the wrong doings by her mother, while all along The Witch of the woods and the mysterious goat named Black Phillip are the chaos makers at hand. The film is well acted with stand out performances from Ralph Ineson who played William and Anya Taylor-Joy who played Thomasin, and the atmosphere is great and has a feeling of dread all around the farm as we witness the breakdown of a God-fearing family. But the Witch character herself who takes two forms, one being old and the other glamor porn star, is just not really scary and is not really used throughout the hour and a half shocker. Much of the film, the characters spend time praying or chatting about God and religion, and I hate to say this, at some points I became very bored at drawn out moments. While this was not a bad movie, it was not as scary, spooky nor bone chilling as I hoped for. The only part that got me was when The Witch killed the young baby and mashed its body up and covered herself with its blood, and keep in mind this description is more graphic than what you see on the screen. It was also great to hear how split the group of friends and family I went with were on this film, and I had to laugh when one young lady at the end of the film let out a loud “This Movie Sucked” announcement. The film did okay for A24 at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $25,138,705.00 on a budget of $3.5 million, showing that lower budget horror films can make studios extra cash. While I didn’t hate this film, in no way am I a super fan of this film…I might check it out again once on DVD.

# 10

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The final Phantasm film and the fifth film in the series was released this year, and it was bitter sweet to see it in the big screen thanks to Horrorama as it was the end of the franchise and sadly just an okay entry in the series. The film follows Ice Cream Man Reggie as he is trying to track down his missing friend Mike and along the way fight off The Tall Man and his evil spheres and henchmen. But this is the world of Phantasm, so nothing and no one are what they seem, and Reggie must try and use his wits to figure out the real world from the other dimension. Reggie is joined by fellow Tall Man hunters and together they must team up against his horde of followers and crack the code and stop the coming end of times. The film was produced by Don Coscarelli the series creator and was directed by David Hartman and stars Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm and A. Michael Baldwin and sadly had its premiere on Video On Demand but lucky for me it was a film that had it’s Dayton area first movie theater showing at Horrorama allowing me to watch the film from the projection window. While I enjoyed the film, I also saw that it had lots of flaws and for the most part is just a showcase of Reggie with very little Tall Man surrounded by low budget digital effects. The film has been meet with mixed reviews and really does mark the end of the series as Angus “Tall Man” Scrimm sadly passed away in early 2016. Fans of the series should for sure check it out on DVD or streaming rental.

# 9

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Alice Zander and her two young daughters Lina and Doris are living in a Los Angeles suburban house in 1967 and charge people for giving them spiritual readings. But when Alice buys a Ouija Board as a new prop to use, she soon finds out that Doris has a real gift and can communicate with the dead including her dead father…or can she as soon it’s clear something evil has came through and is using the young girl as a vessel and its up to Lina and her mother to save their loved one from a terrible possessed fate. This sequel was leaps and bounds better than its predecessor and is filled with some creepy moments and is well acted with Elizabeth Reaser who played Alice Zander stealing the show, not to mention this film brings to life the events of the first film as it acts as a prequel. The film did pretty well for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $34,992,970.00 on a $9 million budget showing that movie goers still want to see possession and ghost films. Worth watching for sure and like I said, way better than the first film.

# 8

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James Donahue, the brother of missing person Heather Donahue, along with some friends go to the woods near Burkittsville when a tape is found in a tree that appears to show Heather alive and running through a house in the woods. Once there, they hook up with some local YouTube ghost hunters and soon find out that they are not alone as The Blair Witch is back and looking for more young adults to kill. Does James find his missing sister? Does the house in the woods really exist? And can James and his friends get out of the woods alive? All this is answered in this third film in the series that was original being advertised as The Woods. The film was one I was super hyped to see as I was a fan of the 1999 original film The Blair Witch Project and it had been over 16 years between sequels.  While I enjoyed the film, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of scares and some times unmotivated actions of the friends who make some really terrible decisions. One very cool thing is that in some shots you get a quick glimpse of what the Witch looks like, and I have a theory that she just might be an alien or even a interdenominational being! The film did good for Lionsgate at the US Box Office even though its was below what they expected as it brought in $20,777,061.00 on a $5 million budget! While not an amazing sequel, it’s way better than part two and was a fun watch in the theater, check it out on DVD.

# 7

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What was originally a short film made for the internet, Lights Out made its way to being a feature length that hit theaters this year. Rebecca is a young woman who is into drawing dark pictures who moved away from home when her mother had a series of mental breakdowns. After her stepfather is killed and her Mother begins acting crazy again, she takes her young brother Martin in who is not sleeping after being tormented by a shadow woman! Rebecca along with her boyfriend Bret and Martin are forced to stay at their mother’s house when the government forces Martin to be with his mother. The group soon learns that the shadow lady is indeed real and her name is Diana, and she was an odd child who was “friends” with their mother after they meet in a mental asylum and after being killed in a treatment gone wrong she lives on as a sinister shadow that lives on thanks to the weakness of their mothers mental state! Now Diana is mad and wants to live on and will kill whom ever tries to get in her way.  Now it’s up to Rebecca to save her family and rid the world of the sinister demonic Diana. This film is a jump scare fest filled with some creepy effects and a really cool monster as Diana could easily become a new horror icon that could spark sequels for years to come. The film was rated PG-13 and while not a bloodbath, it does have some gruesome moments that I am sure will scare the wits out of many viewers. Another cool fact is that this was released by Warner Brothers under New Line Cinema, and it made me miss when New Line was its own company and would embrace the world of horror films. The film did great for WB at the US Box Office delivering $67,268,835.00 on a small $4.9 million budget showing that horror films are very profitable and also sparked talks of a sequel! While not groundbreaking and pretty much another ghost/possession film, it was a fun watch in the theater and is one I now own on DVD and would suggest fans of these types of films to watch.

# 6

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Dr. Seth Ember is a man who lost his family in a terrible car accident that was caused by a demon named Maggie.  This accident also left him in a wheelchair and put his faith and will to live for anything besides revenge to the test. You see Ember spends his time in a trance near death’s door that allows him to enter the subconscious of possessed people and exorcize the demon from within by giving the person’s own will a choice to expel the demon from their own bodies. But when Maggie shows back up inside a young 11 year old boy, he must come face to face with his family’s killer and will put his very own life and soul on the line as a warzone has been set that will leave everyone around to never be the same again. This film, while a possession film, is done differently from most as it downplays the religious elements and up plays the scientific and psychic way to defeat a demon, and our hero is wheelchair bound and not a saint of a person at all as he is only doing this for his own quest for revenge making him not your typical hero. The film stars Aaron Eckhart as Seth Ember and co-stars Carice Van Houten, Catalina Sandino Moreno and even has WWE wrestler Mark Henry in a cameo role. The film was a team up of WWE Studios and Blumhouse Productions and was a solid entertaining PG-13 horror film that was super enjoyable in the theater even if Juliet and I were the only people their to see it. The film has some blood and violence with some chilling moments and sadly did very poorly for High Top Releasing at the Box Office in the US only bringing in $4,777,253.00 on a budget of $5 million and for some reason had very poor word of mouth among horror fans. While this film was not perfect, I did find it pretty original for a genre of horror that is getting very stale, worth watching on cable or renting from your local video store and for me, I am sure I will pick it up on DVD when released.

# 5

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Japan is under attack by a giant lizard monster who keeps evolving and is being called Godzilla. The prime minister of Japan and his cabinet must find a way to keep the giant monster at bay or even better yet kill it and even get the help of America but all military attempts fail as Godzilla has his own tricks that include fire breath and fire blasts from his tail. Finally after many human deaths, lots of destruction and many failed attempts Godzilla is stopped thanks to a team effort that leaves him frozen from the inside out and like a statue, but not all is as it seems as Godzilla’s tail may have its own living race of creatures ready to come alive. This film is very slow moving and mixes elements of horror, science fiction and drama to deliver a very new and unique re-telling of the origin of Godzilla as many options are hinted at yet never confirmed, and some how this odd combination works really well! Godzilla looks like he has never looked before, and this new generation of films looks like it might be one that evolves with each new installment. This is a real hard movie to explain as it has lots of political moments and is less about Godzilla and more about the state of Japan. The film had a very limited theatrical release here in America, and I was lucky enough to catch it at the Regal Cinema in Beavercreek along with my friends Jeremy Hoyt, Erin R. Ryan and Sean Leo. Shin Godzilla brought in $1,918,403.00 in the US for FUNimation on a budget of $15 million and this was just icing on the cake as the film made way more in Japan. Worth watching and one I will own when on DVD, but I must also say this film is not for everyone and would probably bore many younger Godzilla fans.

# 4

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Michelle leaves her fiance after an argument and during her drive out of town, she gets into a terrible accident when a truck smashes into her and wakes up in chains in a fall out bunker owned by a man named Howard. Michelle thinks she’s being kept captive but soon learns from her host Howard that an attack has taken place that has left the outside air poisonous, and his story is backed up by Emmett another man taking shelter in the bunker. But after Howard’s odd and some time anger filled moods as well as witnessing a woman die from the air outside, the mystery of who did this attack as well as Howard really is unfolds. The film has so many twists and turns and delivers suspense with a horror vibe so well that I found myself glued to the movie screen watching it, and that’s saying something as the film this loose sequel spawned off of Cloverfield, which was not very good in my opinion. The acting is top notch with John Goodman as Howard stealing the show as well as other actors Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. delivering solid performances. The film is packed with some suspenseful and sinister moments, and I don’t want to spoil anything on what is really outside as I think it’s something you need to just see for yourself. The film did good for Paramount at the US Box Office bringing in $72,082,998.00 on a budget of $15 million causing talks of a sequel. Worth watch and was leaps and bounds better than the original and does away with the shaky came found footage style and delivers a solid spooky and well done movie.

# 3

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The Boy was one of those films that when my cousin Stephen and I saw the trailer at work when it was released into the world wide web, we knew we had to see it the weekend it came out, as growing up Stephen was scared of creepy dolls, and it’s our thing when we talk horror films. The film follows Greta, a young American woman who is getting away from her abusive boyfriend and takes a nanny job in England for the Heelshire family.  When the parents go on a holiday she is to watch after their son Brahms. But things are very odd as Brahms is nothing more than a doll who the Heelshire’s treat as a living child, and worse she learns from grocery delivery man Malcolm that Brahms died in a fire after an “accident” happened to a young girl near the house. Brahms has rules that must be followed, and Greta soon finds out that things are not as they seem as The Doll seems to have ideas of its own or does it? This is the kind of film that takes twists and turns and keeps a spooky gothic/haunting pace and then turns it up a notch with a surprise ending that some fans might see coming, but others might not…so I will not spoil it for you here. The film stars Lauren Cohan as Greta who is best known for playing Maggie Greene on the hits TV Show The Walking Dead, and she does a great job and is truly a stunning actress. During the film my girlfriend Juliet leaned over in pure joy and said the film reminded her of a cult classic “Tourist Trap,” and the rest of our viewing party seemed to get a kick out of this weird little horror gem. The film did pretty good for STX Entertainment at the US Box Office Bringing in a total of $35,819,556.00, if you like horror films set in a spooky old castle home and like creepy dolls check this one out on DVD or Blu-Ray.

# 2

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Leo Barnes is now working as a security chief for Senator Charlie Roan, a woman who had her family killed on a purge night many years back and wants to get rid of the day that she finds barbaric and wrong. But when she ruffles the feathers of the New Founding Fathers, they lift the band on not being able to kill a government official and hire a group of mercenaries to take her life! Leo, along with cornerstore workers and a group of protesters, must keep her safe throughout the night so she can make it to election day and rid America of this terrible yearly event. This is the third film in this amazing series and blends horror really well with action, drama and most surprisingly, a message, as all the films thus far have been not just about brutal killings but more about how society is going and how the 1% truly do call the shots. Leo and Senator Charlie are both very likable characters that you find yourself cheering for as are the workers of the small corner store who show that community and friends need to watch out for each other during the good and bad times. Another aspect of this film I liked is how America has turned the Purge into a tourist attraction where rich people from all over the world come to kill the weak and poor. The film stars Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell and Berry Gabriel and did really well for Universal at the US Box Office as if brought them in $79,042,440.00 on a small budget of $10 million and once more this was produced by Blumhouse proving these guys know horror! Own it on DVD and if you have not seen it and have enjoyed the other two films in the series, make sure you check this one out as it was a easy pick for my # 2! I want to also note that I saw this film at the Cranberry Cinema with Juliet during a Monsterbash vacation.

# 1

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In 1976, Lorraine and Ed Warren were looking into the haunting at the house in Amityville and during this investigation Lorraine gets a vision of her husband’s death as well sees a evil demonic Nun who haunts her dreams as well as her family’s even after leaving the home. Now in 1977, single mother Peggy and her children are living in a home in England when an evil spirit comes out to play and possesses young Janet who can speak with the voice of a 77 year old man as well as other creepy stuff happens around the house. The church asks Ed and Lorraine to look into the case, and they soon find that there is more evil at play than just the ghost of the house’s former owner as the Nun is there and wants to make Lorraine’s vision of her husband’s death a reality! Can Ed and Lorraine save the family from the torment of the evil spirits and can they prove the vision wrong? Watch this creepy ghost film to find out! This sequel is as good as the original, and Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson who play Lorraine and Ed Warren are fantastic and truly are what make these films work so well as you find yourself bonding with them. The films villain is Valak a demon who takes the appearance of the Demon Nun and who is just pure evil and is sure to scare many viewers with her sinister looks. Director James Wan knows how to take the true case files of the Warrens and along with his writers created a spooky film that does not suffer from being only PG-13 as it uses mood and jump scares to fill the audience with fright and when seeing this in the theater I can tell you I heard many of my fellow movie goers gasp and shriek with terror and to me that shows this flick did what it was suppose to do. The film was put out by Warner Brothers via New Line Cinema and did great at the Box Office here in the US as on a budget of $40 million it brought in $102,470,008.00 proving as I have said many times in this update that horror is profitable. I own this film on DVD and watched it again, and it still holds up and won easily my # 1 spot for best theater-viewed horror film of 2016! So if you like your horror films filled with demon nuns, jump scares, cool and creepy soundtrack and likable characters this one is for you!

So there it is. my best of 2016 in films I got to see in the theater, and I must say while I didn’t get to go as much as I wanted, the times I did get to go I had a blast! And I will make this promise that next year I will make sure to make more time to get my butt to the theater so that my Best of 2017 will be epic! Plus with rumors next year of new Friday The 13th, Saw, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Amityville films, the horror competition will be high and dare I say cutthroat! But the Rotten Ink Theater clean up crew is here to sweep out all the popcorn so we should wrap this up.  I hope you enjoyed this update as much as I did writing it and our next update we are headed to Africa to spend some time with The Phantom! So until then, go see a movie or four and support your local movie theater!

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Spend Christmas Eve With The Gremlins!

Merry Christmas Eve, and welcome back to Rotten Ink, my cozy little slice here on the web. This day is always filled with big smiles and heartwarming moments, another thing it brings is Christmas movies and TV specials! How many of you remember watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or even “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” on your local station? Or even watching classic holiday films like “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas”, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, “Ernest Saves Christmas”, “Prancer” or the ever so classic “A Christmas Story” on a cold December night? But for monster kids like myself, this time of the year also brings horror Christmas films that warm the heart as well as chill the blood. I mean who can not want to watch films this time of year like “Silent Night Deadly Night 1-5”, “Santa Claws”, “Silent Night Bloody Night”, “Jack Frost”, “Christmas Evil”, “Elves” or even the film that’s todays update and of course I am talking “Gremlins”! I mean every kid I knew growing up loved this film and everyone I knew talked about it with affection and wonderment, as it was a film we could all bound over. So I want to think you for spending a small part of your Christmas Eve with me and am very proud to bring you this update based on the beloved classic film Gremlins, so join me on this zany update that I hope will fill your mind and soul with a little joy. And I need to remind you of the rules of Gremlins for our own sanity and safety! 1.) No Bright Light, the light will hurt them and could kill them. 2.) Don’t Get Him Wet, as that makes them multiply! 3.) Never Feed Them After Midnight, as this will cause them to spawn from cute little Mogwai to a cacoon that hatches and now you have a sinister Gremlin on your hands! So with those rules in mind lets move onto this Joyess update.

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So as always we should start our look at Gremlins with taking a look at the 1984 movie, I can remember watching this movie around Christmas every year when I was a youngster on Beta Tape and later VHS and it really did become a staple of my Holiday viewing. Even when I got older and worked for Blockbuster Video for the Holidays my Store Manager use to let us play G and PG films that fit the season and I always selected Gremlins, and not much has changed on that front as now at Game Swap if Gremlins is in stock it goes in to entertain shoppers and employees alike! So as always the films write up is coming from IMDB to keep me from being long winded and I’ll also break down its Box Office numbers here in America.

Gremlins Movie Still 1Gremlins PosterGremlins Movie Still 2

Gremlins (1984)

Miniature green monsters tear through the small town of Kingston Falls. Hijinks ensue as a mild-mannered bank teller releases these hideous loonies after gaining a new pet and violating two of three simple rules: No water (violated), no food after midnight (violated), and no bright light. Hilarious mayhem and destruction in a town straight out of Norman Rockwell. So, when your washing machine blows up or your TV goes on the fritz, before you call the repair man, turn on all the lights and look under all the beds. ‘Cause you never can tell, there just might be a gremlin in your house.”

Gremlins is one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time as it mixes the magic and wonder of the Holiday season and tosses in a dash of Horror. I can as I have said remember watching this film on VHS/Beta when I was a kid and almost wearing out the tapes, as I could not get enough of Gizmo and his war with Stripe and the evil Gremlins. The film was directed by Joe Dante who directed such films as The Howling, Piranha, Explorers and Innerspace to name a few. The stars of the movie are Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Dick Miller, Hoyt Axton, Judge Reinhold and Corey Feldman to name a few as well and had Howie Mandel doing the voice of Gizmo and Megatron himself Frank Welker lending his pipes to Stripe as well as other Gremlins. The film was Scored by Jerry Goldsmith and distributed by Warner Brothers and executive produced by Steven Spielberg with it being released on June 8, 1984 with an $11 million dollar budget. The year it was released Gremlins made $148,168,459.00 at the US Box Office and was # 4 for the year beating out such other classic films like The Karate Kid, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Purple Rain, The Terminator, Friday The 13th IV: Final Chapter, Conan The Destroyer, The Last Starfighter, Dune, A Nightmare On Elm Street and so many more classic and cult films! In fact 1984 was one epic year for movies as it was filled with many classics as well as cult classics! The film is packed with so many moments that have stuck in my mind over the years from the baby Mogwai’s eaten cold fried chicken after midnight to them playing a miniature Donkey Kong arcade machine, clips of classic Horror movies and TV shows playing on the televisions, Robbie The Robot (Forbidden Planet) walks by in a scene and the stacks of Comic books in Billy’s room all stuff that is fun, silly and great moments of the film.

Gremlins Movie Still 3

The films main star is a cute little guy called Gizmo who is a species known as a Mogwai. Unlike others in his species he is kind and gentile and refuses to be evil like his brothers and sisters who want to morph and become Gremlins. Gizmo is named that after Billy and his father talk about how he likes and can figure out how to use the gadgets the father makes. Gizmo was originally owned by Mr. Wing and later belonged to Billy and then back to Mr. Wing until the old mans death and then he returned to live with Billy and Kate in New York. Almost every fan of this movie growing up I can remember them owning a Gizmo doll and almost every woman I have ever meet who loves this film series LOVES Gizmo. Super smart, super cute and much like Rambo when pushed he will fight back…in other words Gizmo rules!

Gizmo 1Gizmo from Gremlins.Gizmo 3

So we talked the hero of the film so we might as well chat a little about the leader of the bad guys the sinister and evil Stripe! Stripe was born from Gizmo after water is spilled on him and from his birth on he had a sinister streak and also seemed to be a leader to the other Mogwai. Stripe is named this as he has a white Mohawk that looks like a stripe on the top of his head. Stripe also hates Gizmo as he not only as a Mogwai but also a Gremlin will do what ever he can to hurt or kill him. Once a Gremlin the more murderous side of Stripe comes out as he uses guns, saws and arrows to try and kill anyone who gets in his way namely Billy. Super smart and having a real mean streak makes Stripe a very mean foe, but by the end he meets his end and we will get into that a little later in this update. While gone some say he was reborn in the second movie as Mohawk who spends the movie trying to kill Gizmo and Billy and even turns himself into a Spider Gremlin. Love him or hate him Stripe was one of the 80’s coolest bad guys of kid movie cinema.

Stripe 1Stripe 2Stripe 3

The original Gremlins had many stand out creatures from the ski mask wearing robber Gremlin to Stripe the white Mohawk leader of the pack of mischief makers, but for me one of my all time favorites has to be the popcorn bag eared Gremlin who was watching Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs at the local movie theater! Something about this strange Gremlin who decided that wearing popcorn bags on his ears was the right choice always made me laugh as a kid and has always stuck with me even as a adult. I think someone should make a Gremlins comic book series and have issues that follow some of the Gremlins during the first break out and do one on old popcorn bag ears! I think IDW would be the perfect home for comics based on Gremlins and while at it they should also do a series about The Goonies another film my generation and beyond holds near and dear. While he only had seconds of screen time Popcorn Bag Eared Gremlin will always be one of my favorites in this film just behind Stripe.

Popcorn Bag Gremlin

One thing I should touch up on is the fact many youngsters of the 80’s had a huge crush on Phoebe Cates who played Kate Beringer in Gremlins 1 & 2 as well as had roles in other classics like “Drop Dead Fed”, “Date With An Angel” and of course “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” where she has the famous pool scene were she pops her top! And I was one of those youngsters who thought actresses like Phoebe Cates, Mia Sara, Helen Slater and Kerri Green were the be all of beauty. Phoebe is pretty much retired from acting with her last role being in the 2001 film “The Anniversary Party” and she is married to actor Kevin Kline who is known for his roles in classics like “A Fish Called Wanda”, “Dave” and “Wild Wild West” to name a very select few. Phoebe Cates at the time of this update is 53 years old and as lovely as ever, thanks Mrs. Cates for making the 80’s and early 90’s awesome with your beauty and your acting skill and film choices. Check out below for some pictures showing the beauty of Phoebe Cates.

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While this update is based on the adaptation of the original Gremlins movie, I feel that it’s my duty to cover the second film as well! So once again the film’s plot is taken from IMDB and for me was another fun must-watch as it now added horror hosting, Christopher Lee and over the top silly comedy to the mix.

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Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

An army of malevolent little monsters take over a high-tech corporate skyscraper when a cute and intelligent exotic pet is exposed to water. The “Mogwai’s” owner joins forces with the Trump-like head of the corporation to regain control.”

You cant keep good Gremlins down and in 1990 a sequel called “Gremlins 2: The New Batch” was released in theaters to add another crazy and silly adventure for Gizmo, Billy and Kate to get through. Many things made this movie stick out to me and I might as well share them real quick with you on this Holiday update. I loved the New Gremlins who were cross breed with other things to create such gremlins as Electric Gremlin, Brain Gremlin, Vegetable Gremlin and Bat Gremlin to name a very few. It’s great to see Christopher Lee as Doctor Catheter in the film as well as having Dick Miller return as his character Murray Futterman from the first film. I also really like the fact that they have a Horror Host character named Grandpa Fred who is a vampire that’s hosts terrible movies. You have to think that parts of this movie is spoofing Ted Turner and Al Lewis aka Grampa from Super Scary Saturday. Also a Pro Wrestler has a cameo in the film but we will get to that a little later. The film didn’t do to well for Warner Brothers at the US Box Office bringing in $41,482,207.00 on a budget of $50 million, but made up for it on Home Video. The film ranked # 31 for the year of 1990 and beat such classic and cult films as Rocky V, Darkman, Predator 2, Child’s Play 2, The Exorcist III, Ernest Goes To Jail, Quigley Down Under, Tremors, Duck Tales: The Movie, Death Warrant and Tales From The Darkside: The Movie to name a select few. While not a Box Office hit every kid I knew growing up loved this silly, goofy film! Oh and the picture below is the Phantom Of The Opera Gremlin…yeah he was one of my favorites! I should also note that the sequel was directed by Joe Dante again and starred returning cast Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates and Dick Miller and has actors like Christopher Lee, Robert Prosky and John Glover added to the lineup.

Phantom Gremlin

When I was a youngster as all you long time readers and friends know I was and still am a huge Pro Wrestling fan and I can remember going crazy when Hulk Hogan showed up in a cameo in Gremlins 2! During the movie The Gremlins stop the film being mischief making little monsters and the theater usher goes into the theater and asks Hulk Hogan if he can help to get the film back on track and after cutting a great promo about soda and popcorn the Gremlins in fear start the movie up again! Hulk Hogan was such a big icon amongst kids I can remember kids on the playground after seeing Gremlins 2 talking about his scene in the movie among the excitement of all the different Gremlin styles. As always The Hulkster added to the enjoyment of the youth with his over the top cameo in Gremlins 2.

Hulk Hogan in Gremlins 2

Like all good kids movies of the 80’s Gremlins sparked a rush of merchandise based around its characters! Such amazing things like toys, novels, kids books, posters, Halloween costumes, trading cards, Shrinky Dinks, Colorforms, shirts, breakfast cereal, candy, Plush Dolls and a slew of other cheap products and junk foods. Growing up I can remember eating Gremlins cereal in the morning as well as had many of the trading cards and ate the candy that we would get from UDF as it came in a plastic head of Stripe or Gizmo and they seemed like something I had to have in my youth. I also owned the Novel adaptations of both Gremlins 1 and 2 as well as many of the kids books based on it. As an adult I own theatrical posters for both Gremlins and Gremlins 2 that are hanging on the wall inside of Game Swap in Kettering and as well have the Colorforms I got from the store Twin Evil. So much merchandise was released for this film showing you that Warner Brothers knew they had something special with this film. So growing up what kind of Gremlin stuff do you guys own?

Gremlins Shrinky DinksGremlins Kids BookGremlins Trading CardsDon Post Gremlins Halloween Costume

Some of the best merchandise has to be the action figures and dolls that was made when the film was released and are still being made even to this day. Growing up I had many PVC figures from Gizmo to Stripe that latter who I also owned a bendable of. I can also remember my Uncle had one of the larger Stripe action figures and my brother and me were so obsessed with it. With in the last few years I started to collect some of the NECA figures based on Gremlins and Gremlins 2 as they are very well made figures and look great on a shelf. Last year Funko as part of the ReAction figure series of retro style 3 ¾” action figures released ones based on Gremlins that showcased not only Gizmo and the Gremlins but also Billy! Growing up I wish they had these Star Wars size Gremlins figures as they would have been a welcome addition to the Toy Wars, imagine Stripe and his fellow Gremlins trying to murder the Ewoks at the Ewok Village playset! So if you’re a toy collector many great actions figures have and are being made based on this iconic holiday classic movie and it’s sequel!

Stripe Toy In BoxNECA Gremlins FiguresReAction Gremlins Figures

Jerry Goldsmith is a legend of making score music and has done so for many iconic films like “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, “Alien”, “First Blood”, “Psycho II”, “Congo”, “Mulan” and so many more and of course on this list was both Gremlins and Gremlins 2! The films main theme called “The Gremlin Rag” is such an iconic piece of music and a tune that I find myself humming pretty often, and to be honest I have also caught my girlfriend Juliet as well humming it! The soundtracks are something we play on Alpha Rhythms from time to time as well as on Game Swap’s Radio that plays overhead. While I would say that the original Gremlins soundtrack is a must own for fans of score music, I would say Gremlins 2 while very good and solid is more for diehard fans of the film. But if your love score music like me make sure to give these a listen as they will help add to your Holiday Mood if you’re a Monster Kid.

Gremlins SoundtrackJerry GoldsmithGremlins 2 Soundtrack

Gizmo would also make a leap into the world of Video Games and started out in 1984 when two games based on the movie for Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 was released to gamers, and while the game was nothing special it seemed like a must have for my friends who had Atari’s growing up. The Nintendo not to be left out in 1990 thanks to SunSoft released a video game based on Gremlins 2, this was a game I can remember renting from the video store and latter ending up just buying it used. But while those two are the video games that stand out to me many other more modern games have been made as well based on this film series for such systems as Wii and Game Boy Advance. I should also note that Commodore 64 as well had games based on Gremlins come out it can be said for PC as well. I would love to see a company like Telltale Games make a modern game based on Gremlins for the PS4, but sadly I don’t see this happening.

Gremlins Atari 2600 BoxGremlins 2 NES BoxGremlins Wii Box

So with it being Christmas Eve and all I think it’s time to take a quick break and plug in the old RES (Retro-Bit Retro Entertainment System) to play a Pacnsacdave game based on the original Gremlins! Yes this is a homebrew NES Games based around the 1984 film and has you take control of Gizmo as you make your way through a building that’s been over run with Gremlins all looking to kill you! I got this game on a NES Cart as well in a great clamshell style package with cover art and must say I was very happy with the presentation of this product and must say that Pacnsacdave does fantastic work with his reproduction products. Christmas time always makes me think of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) as way back in my youth my parents got me and my brother one as a shared gift on this holiday, and I can remember the pure hype we had when playing our very own system and trying as a family to beat Super Mario Brothers and all having a blast playing Duck Hunt. So many great old school memories of the NES with friends, family and co-workers and here tonight I want to share another NES memory and that’s me playing and maybe trying to beat Gremlins!

Gremlins for the NES

I decided to play this game on May 31, 2016 as I had the day off from work and it was right after Memorial Day spent with Juliet and her Parents. I was focused and ready to try my best to see just how far I could get in this game as well as see just how fun and challenging it was. When the game first came in my Cousin Stephen Alexander and myself played it and found that it was super hard, but we were not fully trying like I am today so let me tell you about my time playing this game. As Gizmo I started my mission on top of building and was only armed with baseballs that had to throw at some dogs we want to throw me off the building! Once inside one of the buildings you must dodge not only Gremlins but also security cameras that hurt you when you’re spotted. The game is very challenging and I spent lots of time trying to get into the building as the two crates that I was suppose to stack and climb did not want to cooperate with me on this day. And Once inside I did pretty well dodging the cameras and Gremlins and played for about an hour or so when something really annoying happened…the controller just stopped working! I tried unplugging it and putting it back in but sadly nothing helped and this cut my game playing a little short, but damn what I was able to play was lots of fun and well worth the buy and I really do look forward to playing all the way through soon! So if you like classic 8-Bit games and enjoy Gremlins make sure to check out Pacnsacdaves Etsy shop and get your self a copy of this fun and challenging game.

Gremlins for the NES in a RESGremlins NES Screen ShotGremlins for the NES Case

It’s time for the review part of this update and with the chill in the air I think we should all take a moment and grab a mug of hot chocolate or even eggnog and while at it a few Christmas cookies, as I feel it’s the right time to do so! But remember if your reading this after Midnight do not give any cookies to your pet Mogwai! I want to thank Amazon for having this comic in stock and Gizmo is telling me to remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I want to also share with you that when I was a kid I had this Golden Book comic adaptation of Gremlins and at some point over time it was gotten ride of and I thought I imagined that a comic of Gremlins was made when I was 36 and later this year after digging around the internet I found that it was not just in my mind and my memories of art from it was real! So I am really looking forward to re-reading this again and sharing it with you my Friends and Readers this on this special Holiday update. So I hope you have your drink of choice in hand and have Gremlin insurance as its time to unleash Stripe and his band of mean spirited Gremlins!

Gremlins 1 Golden Book

Gremlins # 1  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price $2.95   Golden Book   # 1 of 1

Rand Peltzer is a inventor who is one business trying to sell his new invention called the Bathroom Buddy when he stumbles onto a shop while looking for a gift for his son, the shop is filled with strange items and is run by an old Asian man and his grandson that owns a little creature called a Mogwai that Rand tries to buy but is shot down by the old man. After leaving the grandson tracks down Rand and sells him the Mogwai and tells him the three rules of the creature. The rules are simple no sun light, no water and do not feed it after midnight. Meanwhile in Kingston Falls Billy Peltzer’s car will not start so he and his trusty dog Barney have to walk to work and while doing so saves a cat from being hit by a car that belongs to the town’s snotty old lady named Mrs. Deagle who after Billy leaves she discovers her snowman destroyed and she comes to his work and lets him have it in front of everyone. Billy after work visits Kate a co-worker from the bank he works at, who is also working for a small bar and returns home just in time as his father Rand is coming back and gets his gift the Mogwai he names Gizmo. While visiting to drop of a Christmas Tree Billy’s young friend Pete by accident spills water on Gizmo that causes him to spawn more Mogwai’s who are more mean spirited than Gizmo who they pick on as well as Barney! The next day Rand takes Barney to the Grandparents house and Billy takes a Mogwai to Mr. Hanson who is going to study the creature. But things quickly get worse when the Mogwai’s all eat after midnight and turn into eggs that hatch and unleash mean little creatures known as Gremlins! One with a Mohawk named Stripe kills Mr. Henson and Billy’s Mom is even attacked and must fight for her life against a house full of the Gremlins. After Billy saves his mom he and Gizmo go on a hunt to try and kill all the remaining Gremlins but by accident in the local YMCA thanks to Gizmo armed with a flashlight Stripe falls into the pool and spawns a heck of a lot more Gremlins! Now the town is under attack and this leaves many of the citizens of Kingston Falls dead including Billy’s boss at the bank, his neighbors the Futtermans and Mrs. Deagle! Billy saves Kate who is being swarmed by Gremlins at the bar and along with Gizmo they set up and kill all the Gremlins at the local movie theater by blowing it up! But what they thought was the end of this crisis soon turns into a war as Stripe is still alive and hiding out at the department store and while Kate and Gizmo hide in the main office Billy goes in armed with a baseball bat to defeat Stripe who is using buzz saw blades and bow & arrows to take down Billy, but thanks to his dad Rand and dog Barney his life is spared just in time. In the end as Kate turns on all the store lights Stripe heads to the home and garden area and jumps into the water fountain to spawn more of his kind, but thanks to Gizmo he takes down the tarps covering the window and allows sunlight in and this kills Stripe. That night at the Peltzer house Billy, his parents, Kate, Barney and Gizmo are all together, as the old shop keeper shows up and takes Gizmo back and walks away into the night with his Mogwai, as Billy misses his friend but knows he had to leave.

This adaptation is very kid friendly and tones down the violence and adds bigger panels with large text to allow an easier read for youngsters. The story is intact for the most part but is a little rushed but the plot is still young Billy gets a new pet called a Mogwai and by not following the rules it spawns and his clones turn into evil Gremlins that torment the small town and Billy must man up and along with his true love and his pet Mogwai must stop the invasion. Billy Peltzer is a good young man who is trying his best in the small town he lives in, he loves a girl whom he as crushed on for years, he works a bank job that he don’t fit in at and has his bosses always run him down the road for minor things like the fact he wears clip on ties! But Billy really is a good guy and when the town starts to go to hell he is the one who stands up and takes the fight to the Gremlins and rids the town of their evil ways. Rand and Lynn Peltzer are good parents who love their son and are trying to just get by, while Rand means well with is invention they just don’t work and they are not paying the bills as their home is about to be foreclosed on. But like their son when things go bad they fight back against the Gremlins and try to do their part in ridding the town of them. Kate Beringer is a sweet, attractive and big hearted young lady who does what’s right and clearly is the girl next door who every guy crushes on. Gizmo is also a very nice Mogwai who is well behaved and knows the rules himself of his species and quickly turns from a pet to a member of the Peltzer family, plus in the end to win the final fight he puts his own life on the line to save Billy’s and the towns. The Gremlins are mean spirited and get joy in hurting and killing and in a short time causes so mush problems in the small town that it’s like a bomb was dropped. Stripe is the leader of the Gremlins and is the most evil one of them as he really enjoys killing and wants nothing more than to be cruel and destroy all that’s around him. Side characters like the Futtermans, Mrs. Deagle and Pete all serve their purposes and add some great background characters and in some cases victims. Some major changes from the film to comic is these things No depressing story from Kate about her father dying, the deaths of characters are toned down and less impactful and many of the funny Gremlin characters are missing and besides Stripe they all look the same. The cover for this comic is ok but not really that eye catching as its just a movie still of Kate, Billy and Gizmo placed below a cream colored box that has the Gremlins logo as well as the Golden Book one and the price. The art in side is pretty well done with none of the characters looking like the actors from the film, but the Gremlins and Mogwai look really good. The art is done by Adrian Gonzales who is know for his work on comics like Arak Son Of Thunder and World’s Finest Comics for DC. The best part about reading this comic is the fact that while doing so many of the art panels came back to my memory from when I owned this as a kid and a real sense of nostalgia swept over me. Over all this is not amazing as it does feel rushed and watered down, but it is good and well worth reading for fans of the film and I would say that I am glad to have it in my collection. Check out some art work from this comic below to see the style of Gonzales.

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Ok now that the comic review is over and you know the twists and turns of the story if your new to the world of Gremlins I can talk about a scene from the movie that was super brutal and reminded me of Dracula’s death by the sun in the Hammer Horror film “Horror Of Dracula” and of course I am talking the death of Stripe in the water fountain via the sun! I mean when first watching that movie as a youngster my jaw dropped when Gizmo opens the blinds in the home and garden area and the suns rays hit the body of Stripe causing him to jerk around and melt into a puddle of slime and ooze! At one point Stripe turns into a skeleton and even his bones bubble and melt away, I am sure if you seen this movie as a kid you remember just how brutal this death scene is in a kids film! While Stripe was the most evil of all the Gremlins he in fact meets his end the worst of anyone or thing in the film. But I don’t want to give you to much nightmare fuel this Christmas Eve so all I will say is the death of Stripe I am sure has scarred many of you readers and below is some pictures from his gross death!

Gremlins Death of Stripe 1gremlins22Gremlins Death of Stripe 2

Wow this was lots of fun talking about Gremlins as it really is one of many of my favorite films of the 80’s and is something that for sure has it’s place here at Rotten Ink thanks to Golden Books who made this fun adaptation in 1984. So with Santa coming soon and the Christmas Tree lights glowing I want to say I hope you all have a great Christmas that is spent with loved ones, great food and gifts as that is what mine will be like as I plan on spending the day with my parents and girlfriend Juliet. Our next update will be my top films of 2016, something that we do every year…and wow it’s almost 2017 a year that is packed with many great films including a new Halloween film! So until then have a safe and fun Holiday season, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host, see you next year.

Films of 2016 Preview Logo

Flash Gordon Savior Of The Comic Universe!

ROTTEN….INNNKKK….Savior of the Blog-verse! Yeah, I know that was super lame and not very clever, but this winter seemed like a good time to do a terrible parody of a classic Queen song as it fits today’s update as we take a look at the 1980 film Flash Gordon and the Whitman Comic adaptation.  It’s pretty great adventure stuff to get the blood pumping this cold winter night! Can you believe we are this close to Christmas and our huge Christmas Eve update? This time of the year is always wonderful, looking back at things from your youth and fun times with family and friends, and that’s why I choose Flash Gordon as the film and character this time around.  It’s something that always brings back good memories of when I was a kid. When we were young, my parents had a Beta player and this is how I first saw Flash Gordon as my Dad rented it from the video store for me and my brother.  From start to finish I can remember we both were glued to it.  Later, when it would showed on cable like HBO or Showtime, we taped it and would dust it off from time to time. I can also remember using our G.I. Joes and Star Wars figures to play Flash Gordon as figures based on this movie were never made in my youth. I miss those days of going to the video rental store with my parents and picking out a couple of films for us all to watch on a family movie night.  I have one funny story about a Troma movie that was rented for the kids that I will share in an update in the future. So get your space suit on and bundle up as space is even colder than this winter night, and we’ll go on an adventure with the one and only Flash Gordon.  Oh yeah, make sure to also bring a blanket, some hot chocolate mix or even some hot tea as the chill in the air will make them a must.

1980 Flash Gordon 1

In 1980 an epic science fiction film was released by Universal and was slated to be the next mega hit in the genre like Star Wars before it.  Best of all, the film was based on a character who already had a built in audience as he had comic strips, comic books, radio dramas, novels, movie serials and toys based around him so by this point Flash Gordon was a household name.  So why didn’t it overthrow Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back as the # 1 film of 1980? Flash Gordon ended up at # 23 bringing in $27,107,960.00 on a budget of $20 million, beating out such cult films as The Elephant Man, Raging Bull, The Fog, Mad Max, Prom Night, Motel Hell and The Gong Show Movie. I think some of the issue started with the production of the film as the rights owner for Gordon in films was famed producer Dino De Laurentiis who, in the 70s, turned down George Lucas who wanted to make a Flash Gordon film.  This sparked Lucas to make Star Wars.  Meanwhile De Laurentiis wanted to make his version of Flash Gordon cheesy and humorous, and this angered Sergio Leone, who was slated to direct, as he wanted it to be more faithful to the comic strip. But after many setbacks, a director was found in Mike Hodges, and casting started with Sam J. Jones playing Flash Gordon, Melody Anderson as Dale Arden, Chaim Topol as Dr. Zarkov and Max von Sydow as Ming The Merciless, all of whom were wise choices for their roles.  But once more, late in production drama reared its ugly head again and fights between De Laurentiis and Jones left the actor leaving prior to post production forcing lots of his dialogue to be dubbed by a voice actor.  This drama also lead to a sequel never being made. But in 2015 rumors began going around that a reboot sequel might be in the works and that Sam J. Jones might be returning in the role of Flash! So what do you readers think, should they make a Flash Gordon 2 with Sam J. Jones returning in the title role or do you think a remake is the wiser choice?

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The soundtrack to Flash Gordon is fantastic with the score being done by Howard Blake and the rest being done by the amazing band Queen! While the score is mostly forgotten, the song “Flash Gordon” by Queen is the first thing that pops into the people’s minds when hearing the characters name…you know at least a handful of times you yourself have done it while reading this update. That’s one thing the film always had going for it, the soundtrack was a popular album for people of the 80’s to have in their collection of vinyl and cassettes. Queen always did make amazing rock n roll music, and their work for Flash Gordon showed that they could also make the music of the movies and will always rank up as one of the most catchy theme songs for any science fiction characters. And for those wondering, I do play the score music from Blake on WYSO from time to time.

1980 Flash Gordon Queen SoundtrackQueen (Band)1980 Flash Gordon Score soundtrack

As I have stated, growing up me and my brother were fans of the film, and I would have loved if some company like Kenner or Remco would have made 3 ¾” figures based on this film as it would have been epic while playing Star Wars if Flash Gordon showed up and Princess Leia fell in love with this hero jock and he and Han Solo had to fight it out to win her heart. But in 2015, thanks to collectible website “Entertainment Earth” and toy company “BifBang Pow!” a series of figures was made. They released four figures this size that include Flash Gordon, Ming, Aura, Vultan and Barin, and each come with weapons and bendable knees and elbows. When I was just a youngster, the only things that I can remember that were released was a video game, the comic adaptation, the novel based on the film and the soundtrack. So for those youngsters reading this, and those young at heart, if you buy these Flash Gordon 3 ¾” action figures make sure to have them mix with your Star Wars toys as well as your Funco ReAction figures and have one hell of an epic Toy War!

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While we might not have gotten action figures, 20th Century Fox Games did release a video game based on the film for the Atari 2600 for all the fans to enjoy in 1983, but like most movie tie-in games, this one really had nothing to do with the movie and was in fact originally not even a Flash Gordon game as it was really just a redone port of a game called “Spider City” that was a popular PC Game in the early 80’s. But in this version you play as Flash Gordon who has entered Spider City to rescue missing spacemen and to destroy all the hatching spider pods. You of course are flying a ship, and by beating levels, the game will give you an extra life.  The graphics are what you would expect from an Atari 2600 game. The first time I learned about this game was in 2009 when Game Swap Kettering was stocking the store, and one of the Atari games in the box was Flash Gordon and of course I had to buy it and play it.  While very cheesy, it still was fun play and something that fans of classic gaming should try. Check out below for a screen shot of the game as well as the cover box front and back, and all you old school gamers who grew up playing this understand just how fun this and so many other Atari games can be.

1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 Cover1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 screen1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 back cover

So we have taken a look at Flash Gordon the Movie, the soundtrack, the video game and the toys, and now I think it’s time that we all climb aboard the Whitman Comic Rocket and travel to Movie Adaptation Land and see just how well this one holds up to the film. I want to thank Jason Young and his Mom for selling me these issues in a long box buy and must remind all you readers and astronauts 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 with that, let’s prepare for lift off! I should also note that the adaptation was placed many issues into the long running Flash Gordon comic series put out by Gold Key and Whitman so that’s why the numbering is high on these issues. So it’s take off time, get ready to have a fun adventure with Flash Gordon and friends.

1980 Flash Gordon comic 1

Flash Gordon # 31  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 31 of 37

Flash Gordon is a football player for the New York Jets and is on a plane with Dale Arden when their plane goes down and lands near a greenhouse where by gunpoint they are forced onto a spaceship and into orbit by Dr. Zarkov who believes that they all must stop an alien attack that he thinks is forcing Earth’s moon to crash into the planet killing everyone.  He wants to find and stop the mastermind behind it. In space, the three pass out and are swept into a black hole and end up landing in the Mongo Kingdom run by Ming The Merciless along with his daughter Princess Aura and his golden metal masked adviser General Klytus.  This is bad news as Ming wants Dale as his slave, Aura wants Flash as her slave, and Klytus wants all three Earthlings dead! Flash does not stand for this and fights with the guards, but all this does is give him a one-way ticket to a public execution that very night! Flash is given a shot and then gassed and is believed to be dead, but in reality Princess Aura changed the shot that let her new man live and uses her boyfriend’s (Prince Barin of the Treemen) planet as a hiding place for Flash. Meanwhile Ming has taken Dale as his own and has ordered Zarkov’s mind to be taken over and turned into a slave! But thanks to Aura’s crown, Flash is able to contact Dale and tell her he is alive.  This causes her to escape Ming’s bedroom and start her escape and saving of Zarkov.

This comic adaptation does a good job of compacting the film into comic pages and moves the pace along really well! So far the story is the set up and has Flash, Dale and Zarkov traveling to space and crash landing on Mongo, the planet of galaxy warlord Ming, and finding out they are just pawns in his twisted game to destroy Earth. The comic has action, adventure, drama and romance as all these things were tangled together in ink and paper. Flash Gordon starts out as a hero jock who wins the attention of a young woman he is next to on a plane, but quickly turns into a hero as he is a prideful man who would clearly die to protect his new friends. Flash also has a charm as both Dale and Aura fall in love with him just by seeing him.  I wonder if it’s because he is a pro football player who has money or if it’s his chiseled good looks? We also learn he is good at fist fighting as he handles many guards at once and seems to know how to defend himself. Dale Arden seems like a normal young woman who, when survival is on the line, will fight back and not just roll over and die. It’s also clear that Dale fell in love with Flash Gordon at first sight and that she will not be Ming’s love slave without putting up a fight. Dr. Zarkov is a crazed old man who’s outlandish behavior got him banned from NASA and his way of getting help on his rocket ship is to pull a gun on people who just survived a plane crash. It’s odd as both Flash and Dale seem to forgive him pretty fast and even look to him as a friend.  Even more crazy is they would not be in the danger they are in if not for his crazy gun pulling ways. To be fair though, Dr. Zarkov did do all this to save Earth from doom that would be coming from the sky. Ming The Merciless is cold blooded, and life and death do not matter, as in his mind all that does is his rule over all. I think Ming is a great villain as he tries to murder outsiders on sight, forces women to be his love slaves and rules his Kingdom with such an iron fist that other planets are scared to feel his wrath. Princess Aura is a mystery at this point as she is a man-eater who clearly uses men to get what she wants but also seems to not enjoy her father’s wicked ways. General Klytus is clearly a man who loves to place judgment and punishment on anyone he feels is a threat to Ming and his rule. We don’t get much background on Prince Barin besides he loves Aura, and he is the leader of the Treemen. The winged leader Vultan of the Hawkmen is also around but is not given anything to make a judgment of his character. The cover is your typical cheesy photo collage mixed with art design that Whitman and Goldkey Comic used on most their adaptations, but the inside art is fantastic and done by Flash Gordon comic series artist Al Williamson who is an underrated artist who captures science fiction elements really well. This is a great start as on this cold day; I really enjoyed this first issue in the adaptation and I am really looking forward to seeing what issue 2 has contained.

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Flash Gordon # 32  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 32 of 37

While escaping, Dale Arden runs into Dr. Zarkov who claims that his mind could not be beaten into being blanked, and the pair board a ship and try to leave only to be captured by the Hawkpeople lead by Vultan.  They are about to deliver them back to Ming when Dale begs him to join forces with Flash Gordon, who still lives, and the Treemen to overthrow Ming who is they all hate. Meanwhile Klytus has heard that Gordon is alive and warns Ming who has his daughter who has returned home arrested and tortured in order to find were she has left Flash. Flash himself is being tormented and set up to be murdered by Prince Barin, who is jealous that Aura has fallen for the Earthman. During the fight, the Hawkmen attack and take both Flash Gordon and Prince Barin prisoner as Vultan is not going for an alliance against Ming and is delivering them all to the evil ruler. Prince Barin as a royal can challenge a duel before sentenced and picks Flash Gordon, and the two fight on a circle that has spikes. Flash wins and saves Barin from falling off the circle as Klytus arrives on the ship and demands all the prisoners come with him and this sets Flash off and he slams Klytus onto the circle of spikes killing him! Vultan and the Hawkmen fly away as they fear the wrath of Ming who now has shown up and has Dale, Barin and Zarkov taken to his castle, and after Flash refuses an offer from Ming to join his side our hero is left on the ship that is now blowing up.

Flash Gordon steps up his game and not only passes the Treemen’s log test that has a poisons beast inside it, but he also beats Barin in a duel to the death as well as murders Klytus by slamming him down on spikes! Flash didn’t even blink as he slammed a living person onto spikes, killing him in a terrible painful way. But to be fair, the man who he killed was Klytus, the evil right hand man of Ming who looks like he took fashion tips from Dr. Doom and had sent a number of people to their deaths. This second issue covers Flash fighting the odds and yet still some how turning the negatives into positives and starting an uprising against the rule of Ming. It’s great as Ming even mentions that his subjects are starting to talk about this man named Flash Gordon who has beaten all the odds. Ming The Merciless in this issue tries his best to corrupt Flash, and when he can’t, he wants him dead, not to mention he also is ok with the torture of his daughter as he is pissed she disobeyed his wish of having Flash killed. Ming is also claiming Dale as his future wife and adds forced love to his evil deeds. Prince Barin is a jerk who comes around once he finds that Flash is a good man.  Vultan comes off as a coward and a lackey for Ming as Dale and Zarkov take a backseat and are just prisoners who are the driving force for Flash Gordon to fight and do the right thing to save them and the Earth. The cover is another photo collage/art mix and is cheesy good as the art inside is Al Williamson again who is doing a great job at capturing the looks of the actors as well as his backgrounds are really well done. This second issue is as good as the first.  Coming up is the final in this adaptation, and I for one am enjoying every page.

1980 Flash Gordon comic 3

Flash Gordon # 33  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 33 of 37

Flash Gordon escapes the blown up ship on a tiny glider and is able to contact Vultan and the Hawkpeople who now are on the side of good and set up one of Ming’s warships that they take over. Meanwhile Ming has set his wedding to Dale for that night and is forcing his daughter Aura to be the Maid of Honor and is going to kill Zarkov and Barin live for entertainment! Aura sneaks away and frees Barin and Zarkov from the prison, and the two flee into some tunnels. Flash, Vultan and the Hawkmen bring the fight to Ming’s kingdom.  As Dale is being forced to marry Ming, the Earth is also on a path to doom as in only six minutes the moon will crash into the planet causing earthquakes and tidal waves. Flash crashes the ship into Ming’s castle and impales the evil ruler with the tip on the ship.  Ming however does not die and Flash rushes him with a sword in hand as Ming turns his own power ring on himself ending is reign of terror. In the end Aura and Barin take over ruling Mongo, Vultan takes the job of royal guard commander and Dale, Zarkov and Flash stay on Mongo as they do not have a ride home.

The doomsday clock was almost at 12 for Earth, but thanks to the heroic act of Flash Gordon and his allies, we are all safe for the time being. The plot of this issue is this simple: Ming is having a shotgun wedding, Flash has brought people together to fight the power and in the end, good clashes with evil and as always, good wins. Flash Gordon once more proves how loyal and brave he is, as he takes his own life in his hands and crashes a ship into a castle that had a force field around it and was only saved by Barin who blasted the controls with a pistol. But what Flash did to save the Earth as well as Dale shows you that he is a real hero who puts the needs of others before his own. Dale and Dr. Zarkov do what they can to help with Zarkov trying to help turn off the force field and Dale bides them time to attack. Glad to see Vultan and the Hawkmen turn from cowards to right doers as they join the forces to bring Ming’s evil rule to an end. Prince Barin wins the most as he gets not only Ming’s hot daughter Aura, but he also gets to rule the planet! Ming does not put up much of a fight as after he has the ships front needle impale him, he then would rather zap himself with his own ring than to fight Flash Gordon. I always wished Ming would have been a more badass villain like Darth Vader in Star Wars in this film and comic as an epic fight between Flash and him could have been a major movie moment of the 80’s. I think what really make this comic adaptation work is that it feels like a grand space adventure that you’re on with an iconic character that is allowing you to tag along on. The comic does a pretty good job of working the movie into comic pages but like most adaptations, some of it feels very rushed with elements missing. One par that is removed is the silly comedy moments of the film and in its place are more serious action moments. The cover is like the others, and Al Williamson’s art is classic and captures the feel of not only the movie but Flash Gordon altogether. If you’re a fan of this movie or even just enjoy a good Flash Gordon story, I would say check out these issues as well as the rest in this comic series as they are a fun read and can hold you over till Gordon’s next big screen film hits your local cinema. Below is a piece of art from Williamson that I think showcases everything that this comic has to offer, so take a look at it and enjoy.

Flash Gordon 1980 Comic Art 1

So yeah, Flash Gordon,, the film from 1980 as well as the comic adaptation of it are great ways to be entertained, and those of you who didn’t like the humor of the movie should check out this comic adaptation as it’s all the action elements. I really do miss the old movie adaptations from companies like Marvel, DC, Whitman and Dell as they always seemed like having something a little extra on the movie or even TV Shows they were based on. But it’s now time to reveal what our Christmas Eve update will be about.  We will be leaving the Mongo Kingdom and instead enter Kingston Falls as we take a look at “Gremlins” and the Golden Book comic adaptation based around this iconic movie that was one of my all time favorites in youth! So until then, be safe this winter, spend some time with your loved ones, read a comic or three and make sure to return on Christmas Eve to spend some time with Gizmo and all his friends.  See you all then!

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