Dang, Science you’re scary! Welcome to another countdown to Halloween update; this time around we are taking a look at a killer insect that will vomit on you and then eat you alive. This creature is known as The Fly! Science is all around us and was one of my favorite subjects in school right behind history. We are going to take a look at when science and horror clash and create an abomination to mankind. On July 23rd 2008, a group of friends were walking along Ditch Plains Beach in New York when they stumbled on the carcass of a deformed animal that had odd color skin, fur and a weird beak-like mouth. Many people thought that the creature was the body of a small dog, sea turtle, rodent or even a raccoon, but many believe that it was a freak of nature, something made at Plum Island, a place that is for science to contain and cure diseases that infect animals and could also infect people. This thing was called The Montauk Monster and made the rounds on all types of news sources making cryptozoology fans go crazy trying to figure out what this thing was! After this, more creatures were found washed up around New York, and the locals began talking about these Horrors of Plum Island! It was even reported that the body of a humanoid man had washed up on the beach and that it was one odd looking person with drill holes in its head and even had extra fingers. No one knows for sure if these creatures are real; only a few claim the story was true, but one thing’s for sure, cryptozoology is one fun thing to be a fan of!
For my update for Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man and Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk, I wrote about horror hosts through the ages and talked about two 50- 60’s horror hosts I would love to see footage of. One was The Great Zucchini of Supernatural Theatre, played by Bill Miller, and the second was an odd looking host named The Madman who hosted films in Des Moines, Iowa about whom very little is known. The update got some great attention, and I received lots of messages about the horror hosts I wrote about and praise for the quick history lessen on hosting. A lot of people also commented about the sad passing of Don Paris, the actor who played The Shroud of Nightmare Theatre. But I didn’t get any responses about the two hosts above, and I would like to take a few moments once more to ask my readers for help to track down any footage of these two hosts! I am going to focus on The Madman for this one as he reminds me of a humanoid that could have been found on the Island of Dr. Moreau, and that ties into our subject of science running amuck. I have spent much time on the net using message boards, Facebook and Google to try and find out any information on The Madman and have come up nearly empty handed as all that’s out there is what’s on E-Gor’s Chamber Of Horror Hosts, amounting to very basic and not useful information and one little write up in an issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland that a fan of the show wrote many, many years back. Looking at the only known picture of this host makes me wonder what his style of hosting was like, did he try to scare viewers? Did he fill his show with puns and silly jokes? What did the character’s voice sound like? What was the name of his show? How many years did he last? What was his backstory? Who played him? Did he make public appearances? What station did he air on? So many questions with no answers on this host, and it’s heartbreaking that I may never find any of these answers as The Madman seems like a host that time forgot. The picture of Madman was summited by Don Hinson, who worked for a radio station in California at the time. He had these words about his favorite host “Among the many Ghost Hosts of Terrorvision Films, such as Zacherley (natcherly), Vampira, ect., one that sticks out in my memory is The Madman of Des Moines, Iowa. I think your readers would appreciate a picture of him.” The issue of Famous Monsters this was in came out in 1960 and was issue # 6. So if you have any info, footage or press pics about The Madman, contact me. I would love to see them and share with my readers. Below is a picture of The Madman and here is hoping that footage will come to the light soon. On a side note, at work we ended up buying a bunch of horror and science fiction films with cut up front covers and some of the titles were good ones like Frankenstein’s Army, Toxic Avenger (Japanese Uncut Version) and Only Lovers Left Alive, to name a few. For some reason I decided to put them in a display box and call them “Madman’s Cheap As-Is DVDs” and used his only image on the sign I made for the box…man, I love the art of horror hosting.
It’s sad and shocking that so many of the world’s horror hosts are forgotten, and their footage and even press photos are just missing, tapped over and lost. This is something that one day I hope I can help with and make a vault and library that is dedicated to hosts from all over the world to save their episodes and allow fans to relive and discover a horror host of their choosing. But that is just a dream for now as I am sure that I would need lots of help to pull this off and make this dream a reality. It’s time now to move away from horror hosting and take a look at the original Fly movies before we can get into the film series that sparked this comic mini series.
In the 1950’s, horror films changed from Dracula to atomic age monsters, and in 1958, a movie was made called “The Fly” that was directed by Kurt Neumann and starred the likes of David Hedison, Patricia Owens and Vincent Price and follows a doctor who uses a teleportation device that backfires when a fly enters with him and changes him into a half human and half fly creature. He must hurry to find a way to cure himself before his mind goes the way of the fly! The film sparked a sequel in 1959 called “Return of The Fly” that follows the original doctor’s son and brother trying to pick up the experiment when once more things go wrong and the son is turned into a Fly monster. In 1965, a third film was made called “Curse of The Fly” that follows yet another son and his sons making the same mistakes that were made in the past. These films are considered a great and fun trilogy of films, and the original is well respected and sparked that dreaded word “Remake.” But as you soon will see, this time the remake is as good, if not better, than the original! I don’t want to spend too much time on these original films as they are not what this comic series is based on, but out of respect they should be talked about.
In 1986, David Cronenberg made a remake of The Fly. It was more terrifying and ramped up the special effects 100% to shock and terrify the viewing audience. The film follows Seth Brundle, a scientist who is trying to impress a sexy journalist named Veronica with his matter transportation experiment that uses pods to transport one thing to another pod. When he uses it on himself, an accident happens when a fly enters the pod with him and their genes mix, and over time Seth becomes more and more like a human fly! In the end, Seth loses control, becoming a full Fly creature, and is killed before a cure can be found. The film stars Jeff Goldblum as Seth and Geena Davis as Veronica. This film has so much more to it, but I wanted to just whet your appetite because if you have not seen it, you should do so right after reading this update! In 1986, The Fly was # 23 at the US box office and brought in a total of $40,456,565.00 for Fox and beat out such films as Three Amigos, Little Shop Of Horrors, House, Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Howard The Duck, Legend, Psycho III, Critters, Labyrinth, Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, Haunted Honeymoon and Big Trouble In Little China to name a few. While not a mega hit, The Fly remake made a impact on horror fans and showed that remakes could be great if done well.
Fox couldn’t leave well enough alone, and in 1989 decided to make a sequel to The Fly simply called The Fly II. This film follows Martin, the son of Seth Brundle and Veronica Quaite, who is orphaned after birth. He was born in a cocoon, which kills his mother who dies of shock. Anton Bartok, the man who financed the experiment that started this mess, decides that he wants to exploit Martin’s odd genes, and this leads to mayhem, backstabbing and murder! During this time Martin falls in love with Beth, and the two find a way to transfer the fly genes into Anton as Martin has become infected and is transforming like his father before him. This was his only way to become normal. This film has lots more to the plot, but I wanted to sum it up so you at least get the basics. The film stars Eric Stoltz as Martin, Daphne Zuniga as Beth and Lee Richardson as Anton Bartok. In 1989, The Fly II was # 54 at the US Box Office and brought in a total of $20,021,322.00 for Fox beating out such films as Prancer, Shocker, No Holds Barred, Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Great Balls Of Fire, Halloween 5, Cyborg, UHF, Fright Night II, Toxic Avenger Part II and The Wizard, to name a few. This sequel slipped at the boxoffice and was not as well loved by horror fans.
W.A.S.P. is a band I have followed for many years. I can remember being so annoyed when I was a teenager and was never able to just go into CD Connection (a one time local music chain) and pick up their new album without having to special order it. Or worse is when I was trying to find some of their older albums on cassette and it was as if none of the CD shops around here knew what band I was talking about. None of them could get them in stock as they were out of print. But I must say I really loved shopping at CD Connection and almost all the staff knew me and my taste in music. I miss that place, and shopping for music just is not the same as almost all the music stores in Dayton have shut down or only deal in vinyl. W.A.S.P. is a hair metal band from the 80’s who captured my attention when, as a youngster, I got their self-titled album on vinyl form Renaissance Music. The image on the front cover was of lead singer Blackie Lawless and the band sitting on a set that looked like a hell filled with torture! I popped that vinyl on the turntable and my head was blown by just how amazing the whole record was. I soon bought more of their stuff on vinyl, cassette and CD and also enjoyed them in the low budget film Dungeon Master as well as the song they did for Ghoulies II called “Scream Until You Like It.” W.A.S.P. quickly became on of my favorite bands alongside the likes of Motley Crue, Cinderella, Alice Cooper and Billy Idol. So when I heard they had a new CD coming out in 2015, I knew I had to hear it, as I have been a bad fan as of late and missed getting their last two releases…but I made up for it as I got them all now and decided to listen to them as I write this update!
So let me take a few moments and tell you about these rock n roll CD’s! First up is the 2007 release called Dominator that was an album based around the raw feelings of tragic events of September 11th and the war in Iraq that followed and shows that Blackie Lawless was watching the events with eyes wide open and wondering why bigger countries bully smaller ones. Tracks I liked off this CD include “Heaven’s Hung In Black,” a nice ballad with some rocking moments that has some powerful lyrics and has an epic W.A.S.P. song feel. Other tracks I really enjoyed were “Teacher” and “Heaven’s Hung In Black (Reprise);” both are at the top of the list of tracks on this release. I really enjoyed this CD as I feel like Blackie Lawless had something to say and he did so the only way he knew how and that’s make a album around his message. It’s very cool album and was worth the listen and price I had to pay to get it. Next is 2009’s Babylon, a CD that for some reason went out of print pretty fast and by the time I got a copy it was $33.00! It shows if you’re a fan of a band, don’t wait to buy their CD as it could be here today and gone tomorrow when it comes to staying in print! This one was a pretty solid album and had some good tracks that showed Blackie still had some rock to share with listeners and at times it felt like classic W.A.S.P. and that is a great thing! Songs I liked included “Into The Fire,” a ballad of sorts that show cased Blackie’s writing and had a classic sound, and “Live To Die Another Day” is a really good track. It’s heavy but not over done. On this CD they also cover the Chuck Berry song “Promised Land” and do a good job even if they do poke fun at Elvis at the end. While Babylon is nothing special and is a shadow of the stuff from the 80’s, it’s still a good CD with tracks that are worth rocking out to. It’s also odd as it clearly shows the start of Blackie looking into religion as many songs are tied into Biblical events. For those who don’t know, he is now a born-again Christian, and that’s funny as this band was one of the most hated by Tipper Gore and her PMRC group who went on a witch hunt against music they felt was not acceptable. So these two were a nice way to wait for W.A.S.P.’s new CD, and once I get it, I will share my thoughts with you my friends and readers. Until then, put on your favorite rock album and turn it up to 11 and bang your head!
I am a huge fan of IDW Comics and have enjoyed many of their horror based comic series like Bigfoot, Motel Hell, Godzilla Legends and IT! Terror From Beyond Space, and I can’t tell you how hyped I was to hear about them making a mini series based on The Fly! So I am really looking forward to reading this series and seeing what they have come up with to continue the story of the Brindle curse and what gross murders will the Fly commit now that budget and special effects are not limited on the comic pages. I need to thank Mavericks Cards and Comics for pulling this series for my file, and I should also 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, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s get our safety goggles on, watch out for fly puke, and see what IDW has in store for us with this horror film inspired series.
The Fly: Outbreak # 1 **
Released in 2015 Cover Price $3.99 IDW # 1 of 5
Dr. Martin Brundle, the son of Seth Brindle who was transformed into a human fly, is trying his best to cure Anton Bartok, a man who is now a glob of flesh after he was dragged into a Telepod by Martin who, like his father, was cursed with the genes of a fly. By using Anton to cure himself, Martin left his one time employer a freak of science, but despite all his efforts thus far, he has failed to cure Anton. Martin is still with Beth, but the two are having some issues as Martin refuses to touch his lady without having safe sex. He does not want to have a child as he fears it will be cursed to have fly symptoms. At the lab Anton turns from a blob of flesh into a full fledged Fly humanoid and kills some workers. Eventually he comes face to face with Martin and acts as if he is his own son! As Martin tries to get away from The Fly, security shows up, kills The Fly and then informs everyone that they are under quarantine until further notice and that includes Martin!
Sadly, I am not really impressed with this first issue of the comic as I feel that the story is bland and tied so much into The Fly 2 that you would have to know those characters inside and out to keep up with the who’s who and why’s that. That said, the plot of issue one follows Dr. Martin Brundle who is trying to help Anton Bartok be cured of the transformation that he is responsible for. When Anton turns full fly and runs amuck in the research building, anyone who has made contact with it must be quarantined and that’s where it ends. Dr. Martin Brundle, who is the comic’s main focus, is a man who is plagued with a curse of his father’s past and is fearful of having children as he don’t want them born with traits of a fly. Anton Bartok starts the issue off as a blob of gooey flesh and is later turned into a fly that kills a few people and after his death makes it so all have to be tested for contamination. Beth Logan is Martin’s girlfriend who wants a child and to have affection shown to her, but she also shows understanding to Martin’s odd behavior. The comic has some bloodshed in it as The Bartok Fly pukes on a face of a fellow worker and eats him! But the over all gore in the comic is pretty tame and not nearly as gross as the films it’s based on. That’s a little of a letdown as I was sure IDW would have delivered the red stuff like they did with Motel Hell. The art in this comic is done by Menton3, and while his humans look like the actors who played them in The Fly II, his fly creature and backgrounds are not very appealing to this comic reader and took me out of the feel of dread that I should have been having while reading. I am really hoping that the second issue gets better and The Fly becomes the terrible puke spewing menace that I was hoping for.
The Fly: Outbreak # 2 **
Released in 2015 Cover Price $3.99 IDW # 2 of 5
Martin Brundle is in quarantine and is chatting with his wife Beth via a work computer. As they are talking, he hangs up on her quickly as he is visited by Major Vurvin and Dr. Mayweather, who are checking in on his progress to find a cure or to even see if he has been infected. He chases them off and says he needs zero interruptions if he is to find a cure. Martin can hear all the people around him blaming him for being stuck with no outside contact to the world, and his only friend is his female lab assistant Noelani who believes that he can find a cure and asks him about the sickness, how it spreads and the symptoms that include being sexually ramped up and anger that is out of control and can be passed via having sex! In this quarantine zone, people are doing just that and some of his co-workers are clearly infected and are being beaten, tazzed and taken away by hazmat suited guards. In the end Martin is talking to Beth who wants to put on a one woman show for him when Noelani enters and tries to rape her boss as she is clearly infected. Martin uses all his wit and knocks her out and tells his wife that he can no longer chat with her as he must now buckle down and find the cure.
Did the second issue get any better? Sadly, no. I feel that the second issue was slightly boring with very little going on besides Martin telling how the fly infection spreads and the effects it has on a person. And he spends a lot of time chatting via webcam with his wife, Beth. The thin plot of this issue has Martin in quarantine working on a cure if any of them are infected. His one time co-workers are super pissed off at him, and his assistant tries to rape him when her feelings and emotions are ramped up because she’s infected. After beating her down, he tells his wife they can’t chat anymore because he needs to get cracking on the cure. The only action that happens in this issue is when a security guard who’s infected goes nuts and tries to smash Martin with a row of cafeteria tables, and for this violent outburst he is shocked with a tazer. This issue is bloodless and has really no thrills, chills or spills and for the most part, a pretty boring fill-in style issue. No blood and or Fly attacks are to be seen. In this issue, Martin seems like a blank emotionless slate who is cold and uncaring towards all the people his own mistake has infected and made it so they cannot speak to their own families as he sneaks and does so. In other words, he’s kind of a jerk. Beth still loves her cold husband and for some reason is so sexually ramped up, even wanting to video chat while she puts on a show for him, that it makes you wonder if she is infected with the fly genes. In fact, why are they turning her into a woman whose main thought is sex? Noelani is a good character who is loyal to her boss, even if he is the one who started the whole mess at the lab, but sadly in this issue they had to also turn her into a sex crazed infected freak who loves Martin. I just don’t get it; almost every female in this series is drooling over Martin! While I am sure that this issue was just a fill-in issue to build up the story, it just lacks anything interesting to make me really excited to see how it all plays out and drags a series that already I was lukewarm about even further down the must read list. Menton3 is once more doing the art, and once more his style is bland and lackluster with some of the humans looking good and his background weak and blank feeling. I can say that I am really not a fan of his art! So to sum it up, this issue is such a throwaway and forgettable so let’s waste no more time on it and move on to issue three.
The Fly: Outbreak # 3 *1/2
Released in 2015 Cover Price $3.99 IDW # 3 of 5
Martin is hard at work to try and find a cure for all his co-workers that he infected, and with the help of some medication, he is able to bring his assistant Noelani back to semi-normal. Days pass and increasingly the infected start to mutate and become more fly-like. The army is mad at Martin, and they view him as a mad scientist and a failure at life in general as his cure does not work and his research to find one is filled with impossible solutions and dead end trails. The army and fellow scientist, who wear hazmat suits, all begin to turn on Martin as they feel he has not come up with a cure itself nor a logical way to cure the people who are infected. By the end Noelani as well as all the others who are infected turn into full fledged fly monsters and attack the army, and Beth comes to the aid of Martin as she has been watching the building waiting to chat with her husband. The Fly Monsters are loose and heading away from the building as Martin and Beth look on scared and powerless.
Just when I thought this series could not get any worse, this third and boring issue proves me wrong! This issue’s plot follows Martin as he fails at finding a cure for people he has infected, all the while talking to himself like a mad man, coming up with boneheaded ideas and feeling sorry for himself. Martin is just not a likable character, and by this point in the series, I want to see bad things happen to him, but somehow he comes out injury free as many others die and transform…while he cries…I really dislike this character. Noelani, who comes back to normal for a short time, sadly by the end of the issue turns into a fly, and here is hoping she will target Martin and eat his face off by the last issue. For some reason by the end of this issue Beth has broken into the quarantine area with a giant gun and is there to rescue her husband. Why is she Rambo all of a sudden? The army looks at Martin as a screw up and points out that he and his father have killed many innocent people by doing experiments that were not safely tested. And that sums up Martin, a spoiled brat who wants to play scientist. This issue also has no bloodshed and by all accounts is pretty boring and only acts as mostly filer until the Flys break free at the very end. There’s not much more to say besides this issue is the worst so far, and besides Menton3’s artwork once more being bland, this issue’s write up is over. Let’s move onto issue 4 and hope this series picks up!
The Fly: Outbreak # 4 **1/2
Released in 2015 Cover Price $3.99 IDW # 4 of 5
Beth and Martin are trying to escape the island as human flies and the army are at war, killing each other. Beth even has to take a human fly life to prevent it from stealing their only escape a boat. Martin tells Beth that he cannot leave and has to stay behind to see if he can find a cure and stop all the killings. She of course is not going to leave and is willing to help if she can. As the couple discuss what they are going to do, Noelani as a fly dressed as a solider appears and begs Martin to let her go or cure her and threatens both he and Beth with torture and murder. Finally Martin gives in and decides the only answer is for he and Noelani to use the pods so his human genes can transfer into her and cure her of this curse. Beth tries to rush the now human Noelani out of the room as Martin now emerges as The Fly!
Finally by the fourth issue, the series has a pretty good one that has 0% Horror, 1% action and the other 99% is drama, but weirdly, it works. The story of this issue has Beth and Martin coming to terms with how weird their relationship is and even if they don’t spend a bunch of time together, it works for them as they truly do love each other. It then switches to Martin giving away his humanity to save his assistant Noelani’s life as he turns her human and he once more becomes the thing he fears worst, The Fly. The more I look at Martin and his Fly alter ego, I am starting to see a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde connection as the human side’s main fear is the monster it turns into. While Martin is still whiney, in this issue he does take a stand and puts others’ wellbeing before himself and that to me is a big step for the character as I felt he has been a selfish a-hole this far in this series. Beth, who is a loving woman, for some reason turns into Chuck Norris and is ready to kill human flies! Noelani, who turns into a fly, wants to become human again and points out just how lame and selfish Martin is. This speech as well as a gun is what forces Martin to use himself to save her from a fly fate. While this issue is better than the others so far, it’s still by no means a great issue but does show that this series has the potential of being a good horror comic and could end on a high note with an amazing blow out in the final issue. The art is once more done by Menton3 and looks the same as always with his style being pretty to look at but not working for the nature of this series as his flies even look more alien-like and not housefly-like. Over all this is an okay issue, and I must say I am really happy we are at the final issue of this disappointing series.
The Fly: Outbreak # 5 **
Released in 2015 Cover Price $3.99 IDW # 5 of 5
The Fly Martin emerges and is very pissed off at Noelani for threatening Beth earlier and lets her know it, as he is about to kill her. He snaps back to reality and goes outside and kills human and Fly spawn alike and returns with a plan to transform Beth into the Queen to his lord of the Flies. Beth tricks and locks Martin Fly in a pod and tries to sacrifice herself to save him life and turns into a Fly Goddess. She is in turn shot in the head and killed by Noelani who enters the pod with Martin, who is back to being a man and tells her she is going to do great things. Flash forward a few years, Noelani is a head scientist now and it’s shown she in secret is keeping Martin Fly alive and well.
The first thing that came to mind when I finished this issue was “I waited five issues for this ending?!” It seemed like a rushed mess with a ho hum closing that was not a shocker nor entertaining. What should have been an epic Fly moment turns into something bland and boring. The issue’s plot can be summed up like this: Martin as the fly goes and kills, comes back is tricked. His girl Beth uses herself to try and cure him and dies. He turns human kind of, and Noelani becomes a big deal in the world of science in the end. It was such a major letdown because when I heard about this series, I was so hyped as I love comic connected to horror films and also love the work IDW has done with similar titles like Motel Hell, IT! Terror From Beyond Space and Godzilla. While those were good and had a charm to them, this one sadly didn’t and was a very slow and boring series. Martin Brundle for the most part is not a likable character as his self-centered and ego driven attitude makes him come off as a jerk and for the most part his needs and wants outweigh the good of others till the end. As The Fly, he seems to at least have a more level head. Even when he is killing man and fellow flies, he seems more in touch with the situation. Throughout the series, Beth goes from loving horny spouse to a Rambo gun-caring tough girl, all the way to a Fly Goddess, and with all these changes I think she is one of my favorite characters as she grows and does everything for love. Noelani is pretty cool and does her best to try and stay positive even when her boss is the jackass who infected her and co-workers by being careless. In the end Noelani is also the only one who gets a happy ending as she goes on to be a successful scientist. Anton Bartok starts off as a glob of flesh and grows into a fly and is the start of the sickness as his blood and vomit is what infects everyone. It’s funny that in the films he was a terrible person and even in this comic series he’s just as bad, even as a mutated freak he still causes issues. The artwork for the whole series was done by Menton3, and while it would be pretty to look at if it was just a single piece of art, as a comic it’s bland and not fitting for a series based on a sci-fi film that’s special effects were a major draw. I mean The Fly in the film is scary and well detailed…in the comic, not so much, as it looks as generic and bland as possible. To sum up this series, I would have to say that I was really disappointed in it from story to art and while it was bad, I still enjoyed reading it and hoping that it would get better or at least have some wicked Fly kills…that’s another thing it lacked is blood and gore. While it had some, it was far and few. Check out this art from the series that shows what The Flies look like, and see if you agree that it looks more like an alien than the sci-fi icon the comic’s based on.
While The Fly: Outbreak might not have been my cup of tea, it’s still very cool to see IDW take a chance with a mini series like this, and I hope they do more classic horror and science fiction comic crossovers in the future as films like It Follows and The Town That Dreaded Sundown are just waiting to have mini series based around them. Our next update gets us a step closer to October and even closer to our big Halloween update that should be a custom comic made by my friend Eric Shonborn just for Rotten Ink! But before we get into all that, our next update will trade in the giant Martin Fly for an unknown real life serial killer known as The Axeman of New Orleans. So make sure to come back for that one. Until then, read a comic or three, watch a classic sci-fi film or two, and as always, support your local horror host.