Horror Host Icon: Iris and Retina

Not all of Dayton, Ohio’s Horror Host’s are Doctors, Ghouls, Creepers or Barons. Some of them are just very cool cats who enjoy life and all the joys movies, music and companionship bring us all. The hosts I am talking about are Iris & Retina of Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go, a show like no other in the Dayton area as they blend mondo and horror together for one entreating show. Iris & Retina in my opinion are often over looked when it comes to the impact they have made in Horror Hosting in Ohio as they have always meant something to their viewers and delivered a show that was like none other in the area before or even after it. So it’s with great pleasure that I bring to you Horror Host Icon: Iris & Retina, an update that has been long over due!

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go started in 2007 and took viewers of Public Access by storm as hosts Iris & Retina were unlike the hosts that preceded them and their show took a way different approach to Horror Hosting. Each episode was very different, as they would take us from locations like their home all the way to skits in cemeteries and everything in-between, and unlike most Horror Hosts of that time, they did not have a regular set and would show all types of films not just in the Horror Genre. The show would last around seven episodes as of this update and plans for more are being talked about as Iris & Retina have more films to share with viewers, and this blogger does know for a fact that one episode has been partly shot and at some point will be finished. Mondo Smash A’Go-Go aired on DATV, MVCC as well as The Monster Channel and got released on DVD by Iris & Retina and has built a following among Dayton viewers and beyond. To this day their episodes air of DATV as part of the Horror Host Underground that airs after Baron Von Porkchop on Friday Nights. Their episodes can be found on YouTube as well so do yourself a favor and give them a watch as they are highly entertaining and are truly different from the rest of the pack of Dayton Hosts.

Iris and Retina are two lovebirds that live in a world of psychedelic Americana and enjoy sharing their knowledge and love of movies with the viewers as well as their love for music and even snack recipes and really gets into hosting. Their tagline for viewers is “From Our Living Room To Yours,” and they mean it as many episodes do take place in the couple’s living room, but they also do travel outside it and each episode seems very surreal and almost hypnotic. Both Iris & Retina, besides being talented Horrors Hosts, are also talented musicians, and they will also play a little song for the viewers on some episodes! The thing that also sets these two apart from all the other Horror Hosts from Dayton, Ohio is that neither Iris nor Retina are the co-host and each share the same amount of the hosting duties! While Hosts like Dr. Creep, A. Ghastlee Ghoul and Baron Von Porkchop have very important sidekicks and co-hosts, they are the solo star of their shows while on Mondo Smash A’Go-Go both are the main host! Plus another thing that sets them apart is that they are just normal people doing cool things and bringing you movies in a world of colors and imagination. Iris & Retina are great Horror Hosts who have made their mark in Dayton and beyond with their cool lucha laidback explosion style of hosting, and I for one would put theme in my Top 5 favorite Horror Hosts from Dayton, Ohio!

When not Hosting Horror Movies on Public Access, Iris & Retina who are played by Louie and El Bean Lerma put on their luchador masks and becomes El Muerto and Infinity, part of one of the area’s top psychedelic surf bands Team Void who rock the Dayton area and beyond! One cool thing about Team Void is that they have played at The Baron’s Ball hosted by Baron Von Porkchop and “A Ghastlee Night At Gilly’s,” both events that took place at the iconic Gilly’s Jazz in Dayton and teamed them up with fellow Ohio Horror Hosts. Team Void is a pretty popular band in the Dayton music scene, and if you ever find yourself in town when they are playing, do yourself a favor and check them out.

So for this Horror Host Icon update, I am lucky enough to have been granted a 6 question interview with the one and only Retina of Mondo Smash A’Go-Go! So sit back and see what this cool cat has to say about his life as a Horror Host in Dayton.

Me: Welcome, Retina to Rotten Ink.  My first question has to be what or who got you into hosting?

Retina: Loved horror movies in general growing up into my adulthood. My father was in the Air Force and was able to travel USA and abroad. My first horror show host was a gentleman, husband of my 2nd grade teacher, his host name was Sea Creep. To begin each show, he would climb out of the ocean onto the beach and chase his fellow co-host Marilyn. I thought that was so cool! When we came back to the United States, stationed at Dayton, Ohio Wright Patt. 1972 I became addicted to Dr. Creep! I was able to be on his final show, playing Bass for a local band called THE DATES -XXX. What a THRILL!!! I also tuned in to horror show hosts like The Cool Ghoul/Cincinnati Ghoulardi/Cleveland, Bob Shreve from Pat Prime Playhouse, and in a weird way, Uncle Al kids’ show host from Cincinnati. Dug Capt Wendy’s Go-Go Boots the most! From Indianapolis was Sammy Terry!!! All big influences on Retina’s career.

Me: So out of your first classic episodes of Mondo Smash A’Go-Go, what is your favorite one?

Retina: My favorite MSAGG is -of course the final one we did. The beginning of Season 2, “Night Of The Living Dead” with you and the Baron Von Porkchop’s help… also we had a killer band, Akillis Green, their song, “Cannibal Love” really fit the theme. Personally, I love the 2nd episode, “Wild Guitar” – we had such a blast making it in our living room. It was the first time we danced and played music as a duo, Iris and me, and also played multiple characters. And then we did “Bloody Pit Of Horror” the first season finale, that was in Mondo Vision, our version of 3D processing. Iris and Retina also cracked up the audience with their studio being haunted by an entity, calling another show, WRAPS and TABS to investigate and exorcise the spirit making for a funny scene! Also of course Iris and Retina were playing all roles again.

Me: There is a rumor of a new episode that is in the works, can you share with my readers what film you’re hosting and what you and Iris get up to in the episode?

Retina: Hmmm crazy… we started to finish our 2nd season, we have much in the can with the movie, not to give anything away, it’s a classic Gamera movie. Iris and Retina will be hosting as marionette puppets traveling into space to reach Gamera for an interview but ran into Godzilla first so we interviewed him as well! Bonus! We have plans for other titles “Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster” one of my favorites, “Not Of This Earth” Roger Corman classic, as well as “Undertaker And His Pals”

Me: When this episode is released, are there plans for more Mondo Smash A’Go-Go’s to be unleashed on the viewers?

Retina: As I mentioned Q3 there are plans to finish our 2nd season. We ended 2nd season’s premiere, S2 “Ep1, “NOTLD.” Iris and Retina to share the movies and be seen to the public in different ways: marionettes sculpted by Luis Lerma. We have lined up musical guests. Also special guests, pop over to help us out throughout the season. We’ve had a nice break from our movie playback escapades pursuing our music career; TEAM VOID is at our tenth year! MSAGoGo will come out in our eleventh year, est 2008. Looking forward to bringing more MSAGoGo Movies from our living room to yours and our versions to you, Spoiler Alert… look for Mondo Vision to evolve.

Me: So if you guys could host any film what would you pick?

Retina: For me, I would like to do a Triple Feature, “I Was A Teenage Frankenstein,” “I Was A Teenage Werewolf,” actually make that a Quadruple Feature: “Blood For Dracula,” and finish it off with “How To Make A Monster!” They were all released in 1959 the year I was born. I have watched them all on television growing up. And then I will hand this question over to Iris, she loves “Dirty Dancing”…we would have a great time traveling out to the locations for a dancing cool life experience. Then travel to England for a fun run with “Witches” because she loves all the author Roald Dahl’s strange tales. And finally run through hosting and toasting “Hold That Ghost” rocking Abbott and Costello movies with “A and C Meet The Mummy” and loves all Billy Wilder, and all Trinity with Bud Spencer Movies!! Travel around the world for her favorites… We are also fans of the Beach movies, Peter Sellers movies, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, John Waters collection, William Castle mad fun, the Raimi’s Franchise,”Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein” and “High Anxiety” and “SIN CITY”… the list goes on.

Me: And lastly do you have any advice for future Horror Hosts that might be reading this?

Retina: My advice is to watch as many movies as you can! Enjoy them, experience them, and learn from them, watch them again! True fans of horror movies make a great horror show host. Find your identity and how you want to express yourself to your audience, and be informative, as well as go all in to entertain your audience! You watching you, do what you like! Be original. Stick to sharing your excitement with telling the story to host a great show! You can be creative using what you already own on the DIY editing systems, cameras, find local locations. Remember production value is important and embrace happy accidents like trains passing thru the background of your shoot, or a reflection in your car windows to add a deeper story, etc. etc. etc.

I want thank Retina for taking a few moments of his time for this interview and really do hope the world gets more Mondo Smash episodes, and while Iris & Retina and their show Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go might not be as talked about as Shock Theater, it still has made its mark on public access viewers and much like Moraine Playhouse Theater their show is safe for viewers of all ages and has top notch hosts attached to them. I for one also think that they should some day be put into the Horror Host Hall Of Fame as they are truly great Horror Hosts!

So let’s now talk about the episodes I own on DVD, as lucky for me and you readers, I own all the episodes they have released so far and really want to thank both Iris and Retina for them as I bought and was gifted these episodes from them! I will not be giving these episodes a star rating and will be taking the film’s write ups from our pals at IMDB and I will write about the Host segments to give you a little taste on what Iris & Retina are up to in them. So sit back, relax and groove with Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go! Oh and I am going to do these episodes in order of release!

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go: Santo vs. Vamp Woman
Starring – El Santo & Lorena Velazquez      Not Rated      1962

Host: Our Hosts Iris & Retina welcome the viewers to their living room to enjoy a classic Mexican action horror movie that is a renamed El Santo film and give us some history of the night’s film as well as its Lucha star. Next break they teach the viewers how to make some very tasty nachos and guacamole for a movie snack! We next join Iris & Retina as they have Team Void play a song for the viewers with a Lucha twist. In the end Iris & Retina tell us about next week’s film and play us out with a song by Team Void.

Movie: The vampire women in Mexico have awakened from their sleep, commanded by their master, The Evil One, to find him a bride. They choose as their target the beautiful daughter of a local professor. To rescue his daughter, the professor calls El Santo (Samson in some US versions), a silver-masked wrestler for justice.

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go: Wild Guitar
Starring – Arch Hall Jr. & Nancy Czar      Not Rated      1962

Host: Once more from their living room Iris & Retina welcome us to another episode of Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go, and Retina with his guitar in hand tells us about the night’s movie as Iris dances and as well shares facts about the flick and its stars. We next join Iris & Retina who on this break decide to teach the viewers how to do the dance the twist, before taking us back to the movie. We next join Iris & Retina as they go up against two other couples in a twist contest that include a female vampire and a werewolf! But in the end Iris & Retina win the contest and show that Horror Hosts are the best at everything! After the movie our hosts tell us about the movie that is coming up on the next episode and then play us out with a song inspired by Wild Guitar.

Movie: A young Arch Hall, Jr. is given a shot at the big time by the unscrupulous owner of a small record company played by Arch Hall, Sr. (aka William Watters).

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go: Carnival Of Souls
Starring – Candance Hilligoss & Herk Harvey      Rated PG      1962

Host: Iris and Retina welcome us to the show, and they share some facts about the film as well as its cast and crew. Iris and Retina are drinking cups of coffee during the break, and Iris explains how much she enjoys being a Horror Host! Iris becomes scared when she sees a zombish version of Retina in a mirror and doesn’t want to watch the movie alone! In the end Iris is dancing with the ghostly Retina, and the pair tell the viewers what next weeks film is! As the credits roll, both Iris and Retina are ghostly and dance and wish us all a good night.

Movie: Mary Henry is enjoying the day by riding around in a car with two friends. When challenged to a drag, the women accept, but are forced off of a bridge. It appears that all are drowned, until Mary, quite some time later, amazingly emerges from the river. After recovering, Mary accepts a job in a new town as a church organist, only to be dogged by a mysterious phantom figure that seems to reside in an old run-down pavilion. It is here that Mary must confront the personal demons of her spiritual insouciance.

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go: White Zombie
Starring – Bela Lugosi & Madge Bellamy       Not Rated        1932

Host: Iris & Retina have been invited to Haiti to attend a friend’s wedding and talk about the night’s film as well as its crew and cast including Bela Lugosi. We next join Iris & Retina who are at a small table having a cocktail when Iris falls into a trance over a rose Retina was going to give to the bride! During one break, they show the short film “Betty Boop Meets Dracula” for the intermission of the episode. Iris & Retina bring you a 3-D Three Stooges Short film after the film to help add to the episodes fun time! In the end our hosts Iris & Retina share what the next film will be.

Movie: Young couple Madeleine and Neil are coaxed by acquaintance Monsieur Beaumont to get married on his Haitian plantation. Beaumont’s motives are purely selfish as he makes every attempt to convince the beautiful young girl to run away with him. For help Beaumont turns to the devious Legendre, a man who runs his mill by mind controlling people he has turned into zombies. After Beaumont uses Legendre’s zombie potion on Madeleine, he is dissatisfied with her emotionless being and wants her to be changed back. Legendre has no intention of doing this and he drugs Beaumont as well to add to his zombie collection. Meanwhile, grieving ‘widower’ Neil is convinced by a local priest that Madeleine may still be alive and he seeks her out.

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go: A Bucket Of Blood
Starring – Dick Miller & Barboura Morris       Not Rated       1959

Host: Iris & Retina are at a coffee shop and are doing an open mic, and Iris is hyping up their show via spoken words, and once done they talk about the film as well as its cast and crew all the while cleaning the tables of the coffee shop…the film is also being shown in Mondo-Vision! Through out the episode the people around Iris & Retina act like beatniks as our hosts serve drinks to them as a snitch named The Fink keeps calling into his “boss”. The snitch figures out that Iris & Retina are frauds and their show is really just a drawing on a TV Screen that is static! In the end they coffee shop still celebrates Iris & Retina and they show a trailer from the next film to be shown!

Movie: Walter Paisley, nerdy busboy at a Bohemian café, is jealous of the talent (and popularity) of its various artistic regulars. But after accidentally killing his landlady’s cat and covering the body in plaster to hide the evidence, he is acclaimed as a brilliant sculptor – but his newfound friends want to see more of his work. Lacking any artistic talent whatsoever, Walter has to resort to similar methods to produce new work, and soon people start mysteriously disappearing.

Note From Matt: This is the first episode that Iris & Retina brought in background actors to fill roles of people at the coffee shop. Plus is the first film shown in Mondovision that required special glasses to watch.

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go: Bloody Pit Of Horror
Starring – Mickey Hargitay & Rita Klein       Unrated       1965

Host: Iris & Retina are in their living room once more and give us viewers a little history on the night’s film as well as its crew and cast. They also call friends of theirs from a ghost hunting show called “Wraps & Tabs” and try and get them to come over. The night’s film is also shown in Mondovision! Once back they welcome Wraps & Tabs to their home, and these guys are going to try and help them find a weird shadow and voice that seems to be coming from a spirit! Iris & Retina give the ghost hunters and viewers a tour of their house and show some of the spots they think are haunted. The next segments have Wraps and Tabs investigating the house as odd things happen around them. They soon make contact with the spirit that was really just the show’s executive producer who was yelling at them to get the episode done and turned in so that it could air! In the end Iris & Retina show back up and end the show with a trailer for their next film “Manster” that was never made.

Movie: Writer Rick and his publisher Daniel Parks finally find the ideal location in Italy to shoot some photographs for Rick’s Horror photo-novel when they come across an ideal spot. The seemingly deserted castle looks perfect from the outside, so Rick and Daniel, accompanied by his secretary Edith, their photographer Dermott, and his five young models decide to break in. They soon find the castle is actually occupied by former actor, Travis Anderson, who initially is annoyed with these visitors until he recognizes Edith, his ex-fiancée amongst them. He decides to give them permission to use his castle, but warns them that the dungeons are off limits. Will they heed his warning?

Note From Matt: This is the second film in the series to have a film shown in Mondovision that required the special glasses.

Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go: Night Of The Living Dead
Starring – Duane Jones & Judith O’Dea       Not Rated        1968

Host: As always Iris & Retina welcome us to the show and introduce the night’s film and talk about it as well as the cast and crew as well as tell us about guests Team Void and Akillis Green! While in the cemetery, Iris & Retina are attacked by a pair of zombies who chase them into a near by house. Later in the cemetery a News Reporter and his Camera Man are reporting on the zombie outbreak as Team Void show up and are interviewed by him as this Lucha Rock Band are master zombie killers. They also update the viewers to locations in the area that are safe. As Team Void gun down zombies, we go back to the classic movie. Once back to the house Iris & Retina run into band Akillis Green, and they perform the song Cannibal Love, but the zombies get in and bite band member Dave who they lock in the basement as the rest go out and protect the house from the zombie horde, but in the end all of the band dies in a zombie attack. In the end Team Void is still killing zombies in the cemetery as the News reports on the safety! Iris & Retina also return and thank the special guests and so ends the final episode of Mondo Smash A’Go-Go…for now!

Movie: Barbra and Johnny visit their father’s grave in a remote cemetery when they are suddenly set upon by zombies. Barbra manages to get away and takes refuge in what seems to be an abandoned farm house. She is soon joined by Ben who stopped at the house in need of gas. Beset by the walking dead all around them Ben does his best to secure the doors and windows. The news reports are grim however with creatures returning to life everywhere. Barbra and Ben are surprised when they realize there are 5 people hiding out in the basement: Harry, Helen and Karen Cooper; and a young couple, Tom and Judy. Dissensions sets in almost immediately with Harry Cooper wanting to be in charge. As their situation deteriorates, their chances of surviving the night lessen minute by minute.

Note From Matt: In this episode Baron Von Porkchop plays the News Reporter as well as one of the zombies, Count Van Lambchop plays one of the zombies and I play the News Camera Man!

Iris & Retina take their place in the history books of Horror Hosts from Dayton, Ohio, and they truly are the most unique Hosts as they have a style that is unlike all the others. I for one am a fan and very much looking forward to new episodes, as Dayton needs more active Horror Hosts! I also want to thank Retina for the interview as well as alerting me to Sea Creep, a Host that I now must find footage and learn all about, and who knows maybe one day if I can uncover footage he may get a Horror Host Icon update! Also if you want to check out Mondo Smash A’Go Go, episodes can be found on their official YouTube page, so make sure to check them out if you enjoy Hosting and good classic Public Domain films. For our next update we will be leaving the world of Horror Hosting behind and will be taking a look at the world of Horror Fan Films, those amazing films made by fans that keep characters alive and bring new scares to viewers. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time for a new update that I hope will become yearly!

Hercules: The Turkey Day Wars

Happy Thanksgiving readers and friends, and welcome back to another Rotten Ink Turkey Day update all about the one and only mighty hero of Greece, the slayer of the Nemean Lion, the pride of Olympus and the hero who has been a main stay in culture and media as he has muscled his way into books, movies, TV, comics and video games. Of course I am talking about Hercules! Writing about Herc on this holiday as truly become something I look forward to doing; this sword and sandal hero was always one of my favorites growing up as his labors and adventures always captivated me. So while your turkey or ham is cooking and those potatoes are waiting to be mashed, let’s take another turkey day adventure with the one and only Hercules and this time the company who has brought us this adventure is Radical. So sit back, hit mute on the football game and get ready to spend some quality time with Herc and me here at Rotten Ink!

As I am sure you readers know what I am about to say and it may come as no shock, but I am going to say it anyway: I am a fan of the legend of Hercules from the myth all the way to cinema and have always enjoyed the fact you could take this hero and place him in any situation and watch as he saves the day. I mean think about classic style films “Hercules Against The Moon Men” and “Hercules Against The Mongols” that took our hero out of his normal settings and had him battle people and things not from his era.  Somehow, they just worked. But one of the biggest adventures Hercules has ever had was from the myth and would be his 12 Labors. Ever since I was a kid, one of my favorites of his 12 Labors was when he took on the Nemean Lion, a true battle of man and beast. The Nemean Lion was a massive beast that had super sharp claws and his skin could not be pierced by weapons. He tormented the people of Nemea and was rumored to been created by Typhon and Echidna. King Eurystheus was in charge of giving Hercules his labors, and his first one was to kill Nemean Lion who was a super lion and who was said to be unkillable, Hercules started his journey by buying arrows and talking to locals about the location of the beast, and once he found its cave, he blocked one entrance and forced the lion to fight him in closed combat where he was able to nab the lion into a headlock and choke the life out of it. Once dead, Herc used the animal’s own claw to skin it and carried the dead animal back to the kingdom where he both amazed and scared the King who banned him that moment on from entering the Kingdom after his labors. Hercules would go on to wear the hide of the Nemean Lion as part of his armor. I am not sure why I like the first labor as much as I do….I am sure it has to do with the fact I have always liked lions and Hercules and having them fighting each other in a death match is pretty epic. I want to also say that The Nemean Lion, while dead in the mythology world, just might live again in the pages of Sparkle Comics, but you will have to wait and see how and what comic it comes back in. And I want to say this is just the start of Hercules’ Labors as we will be taking a bigger look at his labors on another update in the future.

In 2014 Radical Comics was able to have a movie made based on their Thracian Wars comic series thanks to Paramount Pictures who released it worldwide to the joy of modern sword and sandal fans. The film was directed by Brett Ratner and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Hercules along with such actors as Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell and Reece Ritchie and was a great action film with lots of Hercules moments of power…well sort of. The film is about Hercules and his friends creating a legend about himself that allows them to get paid in order to do amazing things like defeat the undefeatable and wage one man wars, all the while the story goes out about it being Hercules, when in fact it was he and his crew. But they soon find themselves being tested when one kingdom doesn’t buy into the stories, and Herc and his crew must fight for their lives. I really do like the twist in this film as it makes you wonder if Hercules really the son of Zeus or is it all made up in order to build his legacy, then at moments he is as great as he says he is…so I think it is really up to the viewer to decide. I saw the movie in the theater when released, and it was fantastic even making the # 5 spot on my “Matt Goes To The Movies 2014” update for Superhero Movies and was one I recommended to friends who ended up seeing it and enjoying it. Oddly enough, in 2014 another Hercules movie was in cinemas called “Legend Of Hercules.” While entertaining, it was not in the same league as this one. The film did poorly at the US box office only bringing in $72,688,614.00 on a budget of $100 million and was 46 over all at the cinema. But it did however bring in more than many other cult films released that year like “Purge: Anarchy”, “Robocop”, “Dracula Untold”, “Muppets Most Wanted”, “John Wick” and “Birdman” to name a few. So if you like Hercules films or just like fun action films starring The Rock, make sure to check this movie out!

So now that we have chatted a little about Hercules in myth as well as in modern cinema, I think it’s time we get to the comic review of the five issue mini series from Radical, because I am sure you are ready for some tasty thanksgiving dinner like I am! So let’s get into this one. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for pulling these comics for me when released. Yep, this is a comic mini series that I made sure to get when released as I worked for Mavericks at the time and had to check out a new Hercules book. I want to also remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and you are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready to join Hercules as he goes to war, we should get to the comic reviews.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 1  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $1.00     Radical Comics     # 1 of 5

Iolaus and Meneus are traveling to a poor and sloppy kingdom on Amphiaraus’ promise of gold and victory as the young King has hired Hercules and his crew to bring Thrace back together by winning a war. But these barbarians of the Kingdom all take turns making fun of Hercules as well as his mother to try and get under the skin of Meneus and Iolaus before Herc arrives. But once Hercules and the rest of his crew show up, their words and mood changes as they see they truly are warriors and can back up their words and Hercules is a man with a loyal & brutal band of friends. But when Hercules is pushed too far by the words of one of the barbarian warriors, he is forced to kill him and orders his friends to kill every man and woman in the throne room and they do just that! Hercules, who was hired to bring Thrace together and train these barbarians to fight, became their Grim Reaper, as he delivered nothing but brutal death. After the slaughter Hercules and his men soon find out that the king and his guards were not the true King and his men as outside is the true King Coyts and his men looking well armed, trained and angry.

This first issue started out a little slow and was worrisome onwhether it would deliver a fun Hercules adventure, and by the end it turned into a bloodbath slaughter that would make Conan The Barbarian happy! The comic’s plot is this: Hercules and his crew are hired mercenaries who arrive at a terrible kingdom with a jerk King and a room full of drunken slobs that end up pushing the son of Zeus’ buttons that leads to them all getting slaughtered only for Hercules to find out he has been set up as the real King is outside with his massive army! Hercules is very cocky in this issue and partly lazy and is willing to start a war over being insulted. He also very much depends on his crew in order to win battles as well as scout the way of the land before he even arrives. I also like that he is wearing the hide of the Nemean Lion. His crew are loyal to Hercules and are amazing warriors who are brutal and all have their own weirdness from one having visions to another who is a cannibal. The fake King and his drunken goons are rude and crude and all find themselves very dead and have no skills when it comes to battle! While we barely see King Coyts in this issue, you can tell he is going to be one proud and strong fighter. The one thing that I liked in this comic is the fact that while Hercules is our main hero, he is also very arrogant and showcases that he is not fully a good guy. I also really like the fact that this comic is very bloody and had kills that would fit in most Horror Comics! The cover is very cool and very eye catching for fans of Sword and Sandal and Greek Mythology style comics. The interior artwork is done by Admira Wijaya and is pretty great and very fitting for this style of comic. So I will say the first issue is a great set up for this mini series and was a great way to try and bring Hercules back to the world of comic books. So with that let’s see how Herc and his crew deals with the army that is waiting for them at the end of this issue.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 2  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 2 of 5

Hercules and his crew stand their ground as King Coyts and his army order them all to stand down and follow him into the hall where Herc and them slaughtered all those people only to find that King Coyts set them up to test how brutal they were as fighters. Hercules and his crew have now gotten the jobs to train the soldiers for war and Coyts’ daughter seems to have taken a liking to Hercules, but our heroes also seem to be very on edge on this job they have taken as things just seem very odd. Plus the army’s general Sitaces seems to also to be keeping an eye of Hercules. After months of training, the army is ready for war and they decide that night to kill a young boy to appease their God, and this act sickens Hercules and his crew. Sitaces makes his army and Hercules attack small villages and slaughter all the people they come across, and finally right before the big battle, Sitaces must return to King Coyts and tell him of their victories and as he leaves, it’s clear Hercules and his people have been set up as they are attacked by a sky full of arrows!

In this issue Hercules and his band of warriors are paid lots of money, wine and good times in order to train an army of soldiers who are just brawlers, but along the way they soon find that this army are scum and they kill to bully and their general seems to have another mission and that’s to ride the world of them! Hercules in this issue is a great teacher of war and seems to be pleased with spending time with the King’s daughter as well as have the thrill of battle, but while enjoying it all, he also seems to be on edge and aware. We also get to know female warrior Atalanta who is a lesbian and has a love hate friendship with fellow member Meleager a warrior who was a ladies man and has fallen head over heels in love with her. Sitaces is a very bloodthirsty warrior in King Coyts’ army and rocks a wicked scarred face and seems to not value any human life. And as far as King Coyts, he is a man drive by ego who will do what ever it takes to be the ruler. I really like the ending of this one as hundreds of arrows are falling from the sky and could kill not only Hercules and his crew but also any of the army who have been left behind with them. This also makes you wonder if Sitaces set them up or if it the scouts did! The cover is great and eye catching for fans of Hercules and Sword and Sandal and the interior art by Admira Wijaya is great and fitting. Over all a great second issue and one that helps build up this adventure for Hercules. So with that let’s see how Hercules escapes this deathtrap.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 3  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 3 of 5

Hercules and his crew are like lambs to the slaughter as the enemy is all around them and they are stuck in a valley, but like all heroes Hercules pushes back and drives his enemies lead by Lord Rhesus back and now have them on the ropes. Hercules himself, while wanting to end the battle, is also very mad at one of his crew Tydeus, who is bloodthirsty and not listening to orders causing them to be at odds. Hercules and his crew now have Rhesus and his guards backed against a cliff, and it’s clear they are not going to just give up and push the fight until only Rhesus is left standing and instead of dying at the hands of Hercules flings himself off the cliff! As Hercules and his crew sit for a while, an arrow comes from nowhere and kills Meneus and this sets Hercules into a rage who rips the attacker apart with his bare hands. Once they bury their friend, they head back to King Coyts with a story of victory and also slightly accuse Sitaces for the set up, but it’s quickly smoothed over as Hercules goes off with the King’s daughter and a big feast is planned. Later that night after the feast Hercules sneaks up and hears King Coyts praying to his Gods in order to get the power to his newly trained army to attack Greece and Mount Olympus!

Man, this was one pickle that I was sure would leave Hercules injured, but instead sees him win against all odds and end a war with one brutal battle. This issue’s plot has Hercules and his crew being set up, and they must fight for their lives in order to escape the valley. Once they do so, they lose one of their own members to a sneak attack and return to employer only to learn he is a scumbag who wants to over throw Greece and kill Zeus on Mount Olympus! Hercules in this issues shows why he is a true iconic fighter as he does not stress over the attack and leads his group to a victory. He also shows he is pure power as he rips a man apart in a bloody gory rage! His crew are all great fighters and sadly their youngest member Meneus is killed with an arrow to the head and Tydeus is out of control and is a warrior who just enjoys killing and eating his victims! King Coyts and Sitaces are pure scum who both crave power and terror as they just used Hercules and his crew to train an army for them that they will in turn be used to attack them and their homelands! What I really like about this comic series is that while Hercules is our “hero,” he really is no hero and is just a demi-god doing bad things for others in order to get gold! I also like that his crew, while all warriors, do seem to care about each other, well all but Tydeus who cares about no one but himself even if the others watch out for him. The cover for this issue is great and the red brings out the wicked look of Hercules who clearly is in a rage for war. The interior art once more is done by Admira Wijaya and is good stuff. Over all this is another great issue in this mini series and makes me look forward to reading the final two issues.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 4  ***
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 4 of 5

Hercules is talked out of attacking the King in the temple, and this is a bad thing as he finds the tracks of Hercules in the snow and places he and all his crew under arrest until he can figure out a way to kill them all. Hercules tries to use his charm on the King’s daughter but soon finds that she has been using him all along and spying for her father and for him escaping and plotting against the King, Hercules is taken and tortured by Sitaces who is taking joy in his evil deed! Sitaces admits that he has been with the King’s daughter and he was not the one who set them up, all the while he is whipping and burning Hercules’s flesh. But Hercules has had enough and with his power he breaks free and smashes and kills two guards as well as breaks the back of Sitaces and brings the dungeons walls down on top of him! Hercules then rushes to his crew, and they make their escape in a bloody fight that leaves King Coyts in a rage and wants all of them dead! Hercules and his friends regroup around a campfire and decide that they will not run to Greece, and they will bring the fight to Coyts as they want to bring him down.

Wow! This fourth issue is great and showcases just how badass Hercules is as he bashes, smashes and slaughters any and all who get in his way. In fact I would say that this is the best issue this far in the series and is action packed and had a real feeling of dread and danger as the issue’s plot has the King and his army holding and bullying Hercules and his friends until they have had enough and push back! I also like the fact that the King’s daughter was just a pawn in her dad’s game as she in real life hates Hercules and Greece and was only using him to get information. Hercules in the issue really has been pushed as not only does the King plan on attacking his homeland of Greece but he also has been used and now abused and this means war in his eyes. His crew are also being treated like scum and are forced to stay inside a building and are not being feed and bullied into not having weapons and are all marked for death. King Coyts is a ruler who has used and abused his way into being even more powerful and is wanting to bring down Greece and Zeus as he has zero respect for those Gods. His daughter as well is scum as she uses sex in order to try and manipulate her target. And Sitaces the army leader is sadistic and gets what he deserves as he is broken and crushed leaving him a none factor now in the coming blood battle. This issue is filled with lots of action and lots of blood and feels like a true Sword And Sandal film from the 60’s with added modern style gore. Plus I really like the cliffhanger of Hercules and friends gearing up for a battle that they are the underdogs in, but they show no fear in the face of death. The cover is great and Admira Wijaya’s interior art is as always solid. Over all this issue is a great one to build up to the final in the mini series and is making me really looking forward to see how this adventure comes to an end.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 5  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 5 of 5

Hercules and his crew sneak back in the kingdom and start their slaughter and take out many of the guards by setting a fire in their quarters while they sleep. Once inside the castle, Hercules and his friends kill even more guards and even ram a spear into the King’s Daughter! King Coyts sees that his days are numbered and runs to make his escape as Hercules and friends follow him into a chamber of mazes and traps. But after dodging traps and almost capturing the evil King, Hercules and his crew find themselves trapped in the chamber as Coyts escapes….into the waiting ax of Tydeus who beheads the King and will dine on his brain after he frees his friends. Once free Hercules and pals find the gold room and steal all they can carry and as they leave the castle, they are greeted by Rhesus who they thought was dead and now has a new army and allows Hercules and them to leave with their lives, but not the gold! In the end Hercules and some of his friends sail away on a new adventure as Tydeus and others go their own way ending The Thracian War.

Hercules and his friends have gotten revenge after being set up and have stopped an attack on Greece but as always walked away empty handed when it comes to being paid for training an army to fight. So everything they did in this war really only caused death to people and only made them look like heels in the eyes of the people who witnessed their slaughter and training of a tyrant’s army. Hercules in this issue really just wants to end the life of King Coyts and his daughter and wants to stop the planned attack on Greece and while he does get to stop the act of war and gets to kill the daughter of his enemy, he is sadly not the one who gets to kill King Coyts. That honor went to Tydeus who is crazy and is a berserker when it comes to attacking and is really the most scummy of all of Herc’s teammates and by all accounts is just a cold blooded murderer. King Coyts is not only scum but also a coward who runs when it comes to battle and the odds are not in his favor. His daughter, on the other hand is a fighter and does not die without putting up a fight. The issue while bloody and filled with action seems to be more of a fast paced issue and the action seems to go by way too fast. But with that said, I will say that I do think Radical Comics really does know how to make a good comic mini series based on Hercules and writer Steve Moore shows he really does understand the world of Sword And Sandal. Plus the art by Admire Wijaya is very fitting and is perfect for this style of comic books. The cover for this issue I have is also very eye catching and reminds me of Frank Frazetta. Over all this is a great mini series and was an enjoyable read and fun review this Thanksgiving update, and I would recommend if you like Hercules to check this series out. Below is some artwork from this series so you can see the style of Wijaya.

Thanks once again for spending a part of your Thanksgiving holiday with me here at Rotten Ink as I am sure you’re much like me and are very much looking forward to diving into a tasty dinner and a chatting with family and loved ones. So next year, meet here again and we will once more talk about Hercules and cover another comic adventure of his! But to wrap this up as mashed potatoes are calling my name, make sure to spend some time with your loved ones as the Christmas season is just around the corner. Oh and I must also share with you that my next update will be a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update, and we will be traveling to Skull Island to once more visit Kong! So until next time, read a comic or three, eat a second plate of food and as always support your local Horror Host. See you all back for another tour of Skull Island on our next update.

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: I Sell The Dead

Not all Horror Movies have to be scary; many are laced with humor, and Horror Comedies have been very popular with viewers many of years now.  One of these Horror Comedies is called I Sell The Dead and was released in 2008. While I Sell The Dead never reached the popularity of other Horror Comedies like Shaun Of The Dead or Zombieland, it has built a cult following and even spawned an Image Comic book one shot that we will review here on this From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update! So grab a shovel and pick a cemetery, it’s time to become a ghoul and dig up the graves of the undead for some quick cash as we dive into the world of I Sell The Dead.

Before we get into the movie, lets take a look at the monsters that make up I Sell The Dead as it’s filled with many different types. We will start with the weakest of the batch, the Alien Corpse that is freezing cold to the touch and even freezes the land it’s buried under. The thing about the dead Alien is once he is unearthed, he will be beamed up by a U.F.O and taken back to space. The threat of the Alien Corpse is not high as it will cause cold chills and once beamed up to the mother ship it will blind you for a moment and deliver a wicked headache to humans around. We next have the female vampire. This bloodsucker is killing machines who want to suck the blood of the living. She is super fast and strong. The harm she can do to humans is drain them of their blood and kill them. Her weaknesses are crosses, garlic and a stake to the heart! We also have zombies; these flesh eaters are primed to kill the living around them and will do so with their teeth and their hands with which they try to rip and tear flesh. Also their bite can turn humans into one of them, the walking dead. The zombies are not shown to have any weakness in this film so I’m not sure if head trauma would work to stop them. While this film is filled with many ghouls and monsters, none of them are major killing machines but each have their own threats to mankind to make them all a thorn in our collective side. The major baddy hands down would be the female vampire as she is quick, strong and deadly. Below are some pictures of some of the zombies and the female vampire from the film.

So as you can see, this small town in Ireland used to be crawling with all types of monsters who were undead and thirsty to kill the living. I should also note that while the monsters are indeed just that, the true evil is the rival gang of grave robbers called The House Of Murphy…but we will get into them during the comic review. We are now at the point where we need to chat a little about the film. As always we will take our film write up from our pals at IMDB and following that I will talk about the production of the film as well as my first time viewing and thoughts. So let’s not delay and take a quick look at I Sell The Dead, the movie.

I Sell The Dead (2008)

“18th century justice catches up with a pair of grave robbers. With only a few hours to go before his date with the guillotine, Arthur Blake tells his life story to Father Francis Duffy. Before long, Arthur spills the beans on how he got started in the grim corpse peddling business with seasoned ghoul Willie Grimes.”

I Sell The Dead was an independent horror comedy film that was written and directed by Glenn McQuaid.  It was based on a short film he made in 2005 called “The Resurrection Apprentice” and was a film production that was filled with love and allowed McQuaid to work with friends and crew members and actors he had worked with before. The film cast iconic horror actor Angus Scrimm as well Ron Perlman, Dominic Monaghan, Larry Fessenden and Heather Bullock. The film was filmed with no major set backs and when done, IFC picked up the film for distribution in the USA in 2009 and released in on DVD and Blu-Ray. The film was met with pretty good reviews from critics and fans and built itself a very good cult following.

I first saw I Sell The Dead in 2018 as I found out about it via Ebay when looking for comic books that were based on Horror Films and found the Image Comic based on the film listed. I ordered the comic and the movie from Amazon and both got to me around the same time.  Before I read the comic I wanted to watch the movie and chose a very cold late night in January to do so, and as the rain storm outside raged on I turned off all the lights and started to watch the film to see if it chilled my blood or tickled my funny bone….and I have to say that while it was not all that scary, it did have some goofy moments that made me chuckle. The acting was well done and seeing Angus “Tall Man” Scrimm in the role of an evil doctor was very cool as he was a very underrated actor. The film was not that bloody, but they use blood well when it does come into play as the effects are really solid for an independent film. My favorite side character in the film was Valentine Kelly, a white mask wearing female who was set on fire by an ex-lover who now works for The House Of Murphy as a grave robber and enforcer, but sadly I think she is down played really bad in the film. Over all I really enjoyed the film and even watched all the extras on the disc before going to bed that night. I would say if you like Horror Comedies, you should check this film out.

So now that we have taken a look at the film as well as the monsters that dwell in the universe of I Sell The Dead, we are at the point where we will be taking a look at the comic book based on it put out by Image Comics and see if it holds up the charm and fun spooky nature of the film. I want to thank an Amazon seller for having this comic in stock for this review and would like to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So we are in the graveyard and it’s time for us to read this comic based on a Horror Comedy.

I Sell The Dead  # 1  **1/2
Released in 2009      Cover Price $4.99      Image Comics      # 1 of 1

Our tale starts with the beheading of grave robber Willie Grimes.  His friend and helper of selling the dead Arthur Blake is in his cell being visited by Father Francis Duffy who is there to get the young man’s life story of crime. Over some wine Arthur shares his story that starts with him at a young age helping Willie get bodies from the cemeteries all for the super wicked Dr. Quint who pays the pair poorly  for the bodies and also is always threatening them with the law and death! One night Arthur and Willie find the body of a young woman with a stake in her heart, and after removing it, they find out she is a vampire.  After she attacks, they stake her again with some luck and deliver her to Quint who removes the stake and meets his fate…and this frees our grave robbers from his evil grip. Once free, they start stealing bodies for all types of clients and making more money than before. When stealing the body of an Alien, they have a run in with a UFO that steals the body.  They also start hearing rumors of crates that have zombies in them that the owners of the crates have lost some during a ship crash that have washed up on an island and they are paying to get them back! And while the money is good, the pair get a little scared when they hear that The House Of Murphy has been hired to get the boxes back.  The house of Murphy is lead by the father Samuel Murphy and his gang includes his son Cornelius, burnt faced Valentine Murphy and brute Bulger.  But they decide to take the job before them thanks to Fanny, a call girl who is their friend and wants a cut of the money. Once at the island Fanny sneaks up on Bulger and cuts his head off and as they start to remove the crates, a zombie escapes and bits Willie in the arm before they can force it into a cage. As they celebrate and before they can get another zombie crate, a knife is thrown and kills Fanny as Cornelius and Valentine are there, and they are pissed! But things go south as the zombies escape and kill Cornelius and Valentine as Willie and Author escape the island and are later arrested. As the story comes to an end, Father Francis Duffy shows that he is really Samuel Murphy and he is there to kill Author for leaving his gang on the island to die, but before Samuel can kill Author, the decapitated Willie, now a zombie, comes in and saves the day and the pair escape the jail cell. In the end Cornelius now as a zombie is coming from the water and wants revenge.

This adaptation does a great job of capturing the horror comedy aspects of the film and delivering it onto the pages of this comic. The main plot of this comic follows two goofy grave robbers who over their adventures have run into all types of strange creatures from aliens to zombies.  Upon being caught, they are to be executed for their crimes and besides the law they are also wanted dead by a rival gang of body snatchers who some of their actions have left members of that faction dead. Our main hero is Author Blake, a young man who from a young age has had to steal bodies in order to survive and always avoid danger and the law. While he has done bad things he really is not a bad person and has never killed in order to get money or to survive, but he also is not one to go out of his way to help others in need unless you’re in his inner friend circle. Willie Grimes is a gruff life long criminal who as well is not 100% a good guy nor bad guy and is driven by greed. But with him, he is willing to kill and even when a zombie he still remains his own goofy gruff selfish person. The comic is filled with lots of ghouls like a female Vampire who is hungry for blood and is pure evil.  We also have aliens who just want the body of their dead friend back and of course zombies who want to eat some flesh. But our main baddies in this comic are the House Of Murphy who are cold blooded killers who hate those who stand in their way and will do whatever it takes to get their job done. Samuel Murphy is the leader of this group and calls the shots, but when his son and “daughter” are killed, he finds a way to try and get revenge by acting as a Father! Cornelius Murphy is a mean man who is a master of knives and does like to kill! Valentine Murphy is a woman who was burned in a fire and must wear a mask to hide her disfigured face; she as well is a cold blooded killer. Lastly we have the super strong brute Bulger who is the muscle of the group. While they don’t get to really shine in this comic as being badass bad guys, the way the other characters fear them show that they are terrible people. Also Dr. Quint is a terrible person who clearly does not value life or death and uses people and bodies for his own causes. The comic follows the film pretty well, but does add its own touches in order to keep it feeling a little fresh and make it feel slightly like something new. The cover is okay and looks like a cheap independent zombie comic and does a poor job of letting you know it’s based on a film. Brahm Revel does the interior art and while it’s good and has it’s own style, it at times does not fit the mood of the comic. Over all this is a pretty good Horror Comic based on a Horror Movie and fans of the film will really enjoy it as well fans of fun natured zombie comics. Check out the artwork below to see the style used in this comic.

I Sell The Dead is one of those Horror Movies that many people do not know about and has slipped under the radar of many horror comedy fans and even I feel slipped past many readers of Horror Comics based on films as I only even found out about it this year. So while this comic and movie are not ground breaking, I do think that it should have a cult following and people should give them both a chance. For our next update we are leaving the world of the dead behind and will be taking a look at a Horror Host as we do an Icon update on Tennessee-based short lived host, Benedictine The Mad Monk! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for some quality time with a mad monk!