The Blair Witch Project: Chapter 1

Welcome back to Rotten Ink and to my 2nd update in our countdown to Halloween 2017. I have been looking forward to doing this update as this comic is based on a film that revamped the horror genre of the late 90’s well into the 2000’s and also sparked the craze of found footage films that is still going to this day.  Of course I am talking about The Blair Witch Project! This 1999 film took the world of horror cinema by storm and proved that independent horror could bring in big dollars at the box office and that horror really has rabid and loyal fans. During this update we will chat about the film’s production, The Blair Witch herself, my first viewing of the film, merchandise and a little of everything in-between. So pack your backpack and grab some trail mix as we are heading into the Black Hills Forest to find the old Rustin Parr house and read our comic! If you’re not too scared as Halloween is fast approaching, let’s dive into the world of The Blair Witch Project.

To start this spooky update off right we should first take a look at the film that started a craze of point of view horror films as well as brought horror back into mainstream cinemas. It also was a film that got too big for most diehard horror fans and caused a huge backlash of fans turning on it over all the hype. I should also note it was a film that gave many movie goers motion sickness as the shaky camera work was just too much for them to handle. So let’s take a look at the production of this horror film mega hit.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

“Three film students travel to Maryland to make a student film about a local urban legend… The Blair Witch. The three went into the woods on a two-day hike to find the Blair Witch, and never came back. One year later, the student’s film and video were found in the woods. The footage was compiled and made into a movie. The Blair Witch Project.”

The Blair Witch Project hit theaters on July 14, 1999 and took the world of horror by storm as it brought in $140,539,099.00 at the US Box Office on a budget of only $60,000! The film took root in 1993 when friends and Florida film students Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick wanted to make a cutting edge horror film that blurred the lines between film and reality as they enjoyed documentaries about ghosts and the paranormal. Along with some other friends, they opened Haxan Films and started to plan their film and characters and used real people from occult as inspiration like Rasputin and mystic Edward Kelley, and with the names set so came the backstory of their character Elly Kedward The Blair Witch. The film went into pre-production in late 1997 and with this also came investors and the casting of Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams.  During auditions they all had to improv to weird questions and situations. Filming started in October 1997 in the woods of Maryland and in the town of Burkittsville.  The cast was let loose with two cameras and only clues to find their next locations and what “drama” and “horror” should be taking place. During the filming, the actors were pushed long distances and at night they were deprived of sleep as well as food. The final scene of the film takes place in the old house of child killer character Rustin Parr, and the house used was the historic Griggs House that sadly was torn down due to fans stealing pieces of it after the film’s release. The last day of filming came on Halloween 1997, a perfect day to wrap filming of a horror film! After editing and test screening, the film was bought by Artisan Entertainment for only $1.1 million.

Before the film was released, the ending was a hot topic between the filmmakers and Artisan as they wanted a different ending to the film, but after some time and four more endings being shot, they all decided to stick with the original. Artisan did an amazing job of marketing this film as they passed it off as a real case and took to the new world of the internet to push this as a missing persons case with the last few moments caught on camera for moviegoers. They spread the word via websites, print ads, and even fake interviews and police reports were made. On the film’s IMDB page, the actors bios were listed as “Missing, Presumed Dead,” and this sparked movie goers to wonder if what they were seeing was real or not! The marketing for the film worked as it was a major hit at the US box office as it brought in big money and was the 10 grossing film of 1999 and beat out other Horror Films like Sleepy Hollow, The Haunting, Deep Blue Sea, Stigmata, Lake Placid, Stir Of Echoes, The Rage: Carrie 2, Bats, End Of Days and the remake of House On Haunted Hill. A little later in this update I am going to share my thoughts of seeing The Blair Witch Project in the theater as well as maybe Juliet’s that way you will get two different views and experiences of seeing it. Say what you will about the film nowadays and while its fashionable to hate on it, in 1999 it was a film that kept horror alive in the theater and proved to companies that they don’t need to spend huge budgets on them in order to turn a good profit.

The film’s main villain is The Blair Witch, Elly Kedward, who was a strange old woman who lived in the town of Blair when she immigrated from Europe in 1800’s and became the town’s creepy old lady. And after she was murdered by the townspeople, she became supernatural and with this came new powers that aid her in her quest for revenge on those who make the mistake of being in the Black Hills Forest. We will showcase her powers just from the first film because as the series goes on, she changes her ways and as we look more into the Blair Witch we will cover them. Elly has the power to change her appearance and even look like people’s friends. She can also imitate people’s voices and can make it sound close or far away. She can also make people confused as she can bend time and locations causing panic and confusion from her victims as they try to make sense of their situation. She can “mark” or “curse” a person with witchcraft and targeting them via their personal items. The Blair Witch also seems to know who and what is going on in The Black Hills Forest and also seems to be able to make the Rustin Parr murder house appear and disappear when she needs it. And to kick off her power, she also seems to control the spirits of young children that she uses as her tools to scare her victims. She also has a strange ritual that has one of her victims standing in the corner with their back to her and a victim she is going to kill, as she does have the power to posse a living person. So as you can see she has the power of witchcraft and supernatural powers, and she has no issues killing those who dare to cross her. While never seen below is pictures of what she is supposed to look like and that includes what McFarlane Toys think she looks like.

My friends and I were all hyped to go see The Blair Witch Project in the theater and all wanted to make sure we saw it on opening weekend. We knew that the film was fake and not a real found footage film of missing college kids, as we all knew that Heather Donahue was an actress in Stake N Shake Commercials, but the buzz around the film and the fact we all loved horror films drew us to it like a moth to a flame. We saw the film on July 17th at the Showcase Cinema Cross Point in Centerville after we had a Horror Movie Marathon the day before, and we were ready for what the world was saying was the scariest film of all time. The friends that went with me were Matt Hoffman, Josh Weinberg, Dave Wean, Rion Neeley and Brandon Womeldorff, and we all grabbed our snack foods and sodas and were ready to watch the film. I can remember that we all were so hyped for the film to start, and a group of teenage girls sat behind us and were also ready to be scared. I can remember being entertained by the film, drawn in by the drama and in moments my adrenaline running high as the slow build up to the final scene in the house was taking place…and shocked as the young ladies behind us were crying so loud at the end of the film as they believed that what they just saw was the death of three college kids.  The marketing worked on them. After the movie we all hung out in the parking lot and chatted about the film, and while it had flaws, we all ended up liking it for the most part.  This opinion of “like” would change for many as when the backlash hip thing to dislike the film came around some of these friends jumped on that train. The things that worked for me were the unsettling nature of three acquaintances stuck in the woods by a supernatural power, the ending that takes place in a creepy abandon house was great classic horror stuff and struck a cord with me as I at the time was really into entering old houses like it, I enjoyed looking at Heather Donahue as at the time I was into her look. One last major plus for me was that you never did get to see The Blair Witch as she is never on camera. The things that didn’t work for me in the film was mostly some of the improved dialogue as Mike at times delivered some terrible lines as well as his actions were dumb aka kicking the map into the river. The other downside for me was the repetitiveness of the dialogue as they hammered home that Heather was always doing the director thing and that Josh’s stuff was targeted. But while I did not find the film scary, I did and do find it to be entertaining. But let’s see what kind of experience and first impression Juliet had when seeing The Blair Witch Project at the theater.

“I first heard about The Blair Witch Project in Rolling Stone magazine. I have to give the producers props – their ad campaign for the movie was quite good and really took advantage of (or was aided by) the fact that the internet was still just coming to mass consciousness/everyone’s homes. They were able to craft a pretty convincing looking website to match the pretty convincing looking magazine ads that touted the film as a documentary, not fiction. Add in the fact that my friends and I, who were all in high school, were definitely not horror experts so we were unaware of other found footage films like the Last Broadcast. This is all to say that we definitely thought it was real going in. I had done some reading on the film that lead to believe that maybe it was fiction, but even those sources were questionable, making me think that maybe these were just naysayers. My friends Lisa, Christy, Angel and I went to see The Blair Witch Project shortly after it came out in the theaters, right before we left for band camp. Since Angel and I weren’t yet seventeen, we did the old trick of waiting in the bathroom while our of-age friends bought our group’s tickets. By and large, our group liked the movie upon first watch. Several of them were pretty freaked out by the jump-scares in the moment. But I think after that, and especially after it became crystal clear that The Blair Witch Project is a work of fiction, a lot of people I knew were quick to hop on the backlash train. It became pretty popular for people to rip this movie to shreds, and while, yeah, it’s not the best horror film on Earth, I wonder if some of that reaction is the result of some people being genuinely fooled into thinking it was real. But I really appreciated the experience that was create with the advertising build up as well as of the truly scary moments, especially the eerie ending (I was known to make jokes about standing in corners for months to follow). I’ve watched more found-footage films both from the late 90s and modern ones, I’ve come to understand a lot more of what worked – and what didn’t – in the Blair Witch Project.”

With The Blair Witch Project being one of the rebirth films of the horror genre at the Box Office came the mountain of merchandise, and man there was lots of it! Besides being released on home video it also got t-shirts, posters, trading cards, stickers, soundtrack CD, books, magazines, toy, buttons, patches, cups, comics, jewelry, hats,PC video games, magnets and every thing else you can think of! This was a juggernaut of popularity and fans had to have everything they could get their hands on based on it! I am not going to lie, as when I was a teen and this was released I did and still do own the movie poster, a necklace, trading cards and the movie on VHS and now on DVD. This movie really was a trendsetter and was the 90’s version of A Nightmare On Elm Street as both films sparked so much merchandise and captivated not only horror fans but movie fans.

Like all good horror films The Blair Witch Project has a good solid soundtrack that is mostly just one score piece by Antonio Cora that is called “The Cellar” that is a mix of noises that sound hollow yet also sounds so organic, it’s hard to describe besides that fact its very eerie sounding. And because this film was such a hit they decided that a soundtrack CD needed to be released in order to cash in on the films success. With the film pretty much being music less besides the one score music that ends the film they decided to act as if this soundtrack was the Mix CD of Josh and featured songs by bands like Type O Negative, Skinny Puppy, Bauhaus and Afghan Whigs to name a few. The soundtrack sold pretty well and many of my friends had it as it was sold at all the local Music Stores. I had it as well and still on Halloween play The Cellar on Alpha Rhymes on our Halloween Show and even have that track on the overhead at work!

The Blair Witch Project is considered the rebirth and start of the found footage point of view horror film, sure movies like Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and a few others came before it but none of them made as big as an impact in America and many of the masses didn’t even know about these pre-Blair Witch films. But one that came out in 1998 and is a documentary found footage film called “The Last Broadcast” is the flick that many horror fans say that The Blair Witch Project ripped off, as elements are very similar and it predates it in theaters by one year. The Last Broadcast is about a group of public access show goofs filming in the Pine Barons to see if the Jersey Devil is real that goes missing and pursumed dead as blood is found in the snow, and this attack was filmed and a fellow crew member was blamed but did he really do it. But is this true was The Blair Witch Project inspired or did it rip off The Last Broadcast as many think…the short answer is No. While the plots share a little similarities with a group heading into the woods to document and find the truth of a local legend that end up dead in the end. Both use a documentary feel and both have lots of POV moments that add to the dread and horror. Both started out as low budget independent films and both had down beat endings. While Last Broadcast was released in theaters in 1998 and The Blair Witch Project in 1999 many would think that the BWP was just a copy but in reality it was in production and filming long before The Last Broadcast even hit theaters making the rumor that it influenced Blair Witch nothing more than Horror Movie gossip. On a side note I really do want to say that I as well really do enjoy The Last Broadcast and find it to be a well-made horror film that is underrated when people think of 90’s Horror Films.

So we are here at the point in our review that we have hit the old Parr House in these dark woods in Maryland and I think we should sit back and relax and listen to the noises and screams of the Blair Witch as we read the first one shot comic based on her evil deeds. So we have chatted about the film and its legacy, and I am sure many of you are wondering why I have not talked about the two sequels The Blair Witch Project spawned and that’s cause we will have two more chapters in the coming years that will cover those films and the rest of the comics series that followed. And if you look at this crumbled wall next to me finger painted in blood it says “I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.” I also want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for having this comic in those many years ago that allowed me to get it and read it and revisit it for this review. So with that lets see if this comic by Oni Press holds up to my old memories of enjoying it.

The Blair Witch Project # 1  **1/2
Released in 1999     Cover Price $2.95     Oni Press     # 1 of 1

“Elly Kedward’s Curse!” follows young Elly as she makes her way from Europe to come to America were she lives in Blair, Maryland and stays to herself. She is good at sewing and the towns folk leave her alone for the most part. But something is plaguing Elly as she has a curse that lives deep inside her that causes pain and suffering to those around her and after the men return to town after a great war their hatred is placed on her and she is tormented and accused of being a witch that leaves her tortured and left in the woods to die…while he mortal body dies the curse takes over and she becomes something more and this leads to kids from town going missing and a group of men setting out to find them in the Black Hills Forest. “She Needs Me: Coffin Rock” a young girl is tricked into following The Blair Witch into the woods were she posseses the girl and waits many days until a group of five men coming looking for her, once they find her she is sitting on Coffin Rock and once they get close she uses witchcraft on them and ties them into a circle and mutilates and carves up the bodies! Once this evil deed is done she frees the young girl who returns home telling a story that The Blair Witch tells her to tell of a woman in white helping her. This tale ends with more towns men going into the woods to find the missing search party and now the little girl is messed up in her mind. “Left Alone: The Rustin Parr Killings” this story follows Rustin Parr and man who lived in Blair in the woods and was not friendly to the townspeople and just wanted to be left alone, but this changed when The Blair Witch starts speaking to him via his mind and makes him kidnap 7 kids in pairs of two and he had to kill one as the other stood in the corner and had to listen. The final kid was set free after the final kill and Rustin turns himself in and dies via hanging and the young man who survived was driven mad and spent the rest of his life in a asylum.

This comic is kind of like an anthology comic as three stories make up our comic that is really like a history of the legend of The Blair Witch! The first story follows Elly Kedward as she is murdered for being a witch and the fact she was plagued with a curse that is unleashed full force when she was left for dead, the second story is about the slaughter of five hunter in a search party for a lost little girl that were murdered and mutilated by the Witch and our final story is about child killer Rustin Parr and his killing spree of 6 children that was all being plotted by the Witch. Each story has their own artist and own charm and each deliver some solid and spooky moments. This does not read nor look like your normal Horror Comic as it seems more artsy and holds a real small press comic feel and this really works for this comic as the film as well had a very independent look to it. Out of the three stories I think my favorite was She Needs Me: Coffin Rock as I like the way the witch used an innocent little girl to lead five men to their deaths and twistedly she uses the body of the little girl to commit the murders! My least favorite story was Elly Kedword’s Curse as it just kind of putted along and the pay out was a no brainer. The comic has some blood and gruesome moments that mostly comes from the aftermaths of murder. The comic also does a great job of showcasing some of the films lore like the killing of Elly Kedword, the child killings of Rustin Parr and lastly the slaughter at Coffin Rock. Now the main question I am sure you want to know is if it’s scary at all and if it delivers any chills and sadly I would say that it lacks in that department as it captures the mood and lore of the film it does not capture any of the creepy scares that made it a mega hit. The cover is cool and was sure to capture the attention of fans of the film with its use of Heather and the logo and the interiors was done by three different artists with Tommy Lee Edwards, Guy Davis and BEM all leading their talents to the comic. Over all this is a pretty cool comic and will surly satisfy fans of the film and for the most part Horror Comic fans who like their scares based on films. Check out the art samples bellow to see the styles used in this B.W.P comic.

So love or hate The Blair Witch Project this independent film has left a large mark on the world of Horror Movies and even left one in the world of comics as this is not the only comic made based on the characters. The next time we cover the Blair Witch we will take a look at the second film in the series Book Of Shadows as well as review the four issue series from Oni Press called The Blair Witch: Chronicles and I think we get to that sometime in 2018. But for our next update and the next in our countdown to Halloween we will take a look at the Northstar comic based on the 1993 film The Dark! So until next time read a horror comic or three, watch a found footage horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for another spooky good time!

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The History Of The Horror Movie Marathon

Welcome back to my little space on the ‘net where I talk about comics, movies, toys and video games and share some of my great memories with you all. One of my favorite pastimes was an event I call “The Horror Movie Marathon” where I would show horror flicks starting early morning until very late into the night.  This started out at what was called Independent B Movie Studios, that was really my parents basement, and would have me and some of my closest friends like Matt Hoffman, Josh Weinberg, Jason Gilmore, Dave Wean and Brandon Womeldorff over.  We would stuff our faces with potato chips, snack cakes, popcorn, soda and pizza and watch many horror films on VHS that we would buy the morning of the event from local second hand stores. The event only lasted a few years (like from 1999-2003) at that location, and the gang would come and go. Many times it would be just me and Josh or Jason as the rest of them were at work. And as quickly as they started, this fun bonding event disappeared as we all started moving away from our parents’ houses and got full time jobs and made our own films. The VHS days of this event were a blast, and we would spend hours looking through the horror shelves at video rental stores like K&L Video, Accent Video, West Coast Video and Blockbuster Video and buying PVT (Previously Viewed Tape) classics, but mostly we would buy cheesy films from places like Second Time Around and Replay Media and get titles like Winterbeast, The Prey, Demonoid Messenger of Doom, Dracula’s Widow, Terror On Tour, Hack-O-Lantern, Judgement Night, Grim Reaper, Phantom of the Opera and many more creepy schlocky horror. Fans of VHS tapes know what I mean when I say nothing will ever take the place of watching a horror flick late at night with friends and having the grainy glow of the TV fill the darkened room, and watching the film and at the best part, be it the kill or nudity, the tape would roll from being rewound and watched too many times.  Not to mention the sound of the tape rewinding as you and your pals talked about the film and what shocking horrors awaited you in the next creature feature. Those days were the best, and I will always cherish those moments I had with these friends.  One day I would love to get together with Gilmore, Weinberg, Hoffman, Wean and Womeldorff and have a classic marathon of VHS horror!

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The Horror Movie Marathon was not a new concept to me as my brother Bryan and I would have many of these all night horror film watching session years before these events, with films on TV like USA’s Up All Night, Saturday Nightmares and TNT’s Monstervison.  We would also watch rented or owned horror films on VHS before and after the cable shows. Anyways years after the the semi-retirement of the event I found myself living with my good friend Patrick Neeley and out of a job as I was let go from my work loading and unloading furniture trucks around 2006 and had no leads of finding a new one. Around the same time I has having issues with my then girlfriend Jennifer that lead to a breakup and could only find part time work at Mavericks Cards and Comics and the kicker was Patrick was going to be moving out! But thank God my good friend Jason Young allowed me to live with him and his roommates Doogie (Chris) and Zippy (Josh), and after a few brief and failed relationships I was able to find my cool as hell girlfriend Juliet. As things were getting back on track for me in 2007, I was missing the days of the marathon and was itching to have another one, but had no place to do it when Juliet was kind enough to offer her apartment for me to host the event! This was amazing news for me, and I went out and bought tons of snack food and pop and restarted the event that had always been so near and dear to my heart. But with this new age of the Marathon VHS was out and DVD was in, and while Josh Weinberg and Matt Hoffman were returning faces from the past, the guest list now included my cousin Stephen Alexander and friends like Chris Lett, Max Ervin, Lisa Weinberg, Jason Young, Doogie, Lauren Campenell, Mike Ritchie, Nick Williams, Thomas “Maurice” Blurton and many others. Juliet’s apartment became the new spot for the Marathon and we watched many films for the first time as well as revisited classics like Dracula’s Great Love starring Paul Naschy, Bigfoot, Salvage, Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster, Ice Queen and a mountain of other monster and slasher films. The small kitchen of her apartment was filled with tons of food like chicken wings and pizza as well as snacks and pops and beers.  The events became a huge hit again with my old high school friends as well as my friends I made along the years, and this became an issue as the venue, her apartment, was not large enough to fit all my friends who were coming over to watch the films! At one point we had a full room of people watching Dracula’s Great Love at around midnight and everyone was squeezed in like sardines around the old tube TV in the studio apartment. But like before, The Horror Movie Marathon came to a end as I started a new job managing Game Swap in Kettering as well as worked still for Mavericks and other things started to get into the way of us having marathons as well as friends less and less showing up at one point I held a Marathon and the only people to show up were Stephen, Chris Lett, Doogie, Juliet and myself making for a fun time with a very tiny turn out. During this Horror Movie Marathon 2.0 I also started a little thing called the pre-show that had a select few coming over to the apartment that I was now living at with Juliet to watch a couple of horror films before the main day. The select few were Stephen and Josh, and it was a cool way for us to hype ourselves up for the next day. But due to poor turn outs, not enough space for big turn outs and just life, the marathon once more was retired and thus ended its first comeback into my life in around 2012.

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Flash forward to 2015 when my cousin Stephen had just bought a house in Dayton.  While at work, he and I started to chat and toss around the idea of having me bring back The Horror Movie Marathon at his house as it has plenty of room and he as well as other friends missed the event and wanted it to return. I also missed the event and after thinking for just a few minutes, I agreed to bring the event back and so was born the current Horror Movie Marathon 3.0 that is still going strong to this day! We choose May 24th 2015 as the date of the marathon and Juliet, Stephen and I came up with the idea that at this event would be tons of independent sodas and beers would be available for our friends to drink all day and night to help add to the festive and gathering feel. We also ordered tons of chicken wings from Frickers as well as had candy, chips and hummus for people to snack on while watching the horrors of the small screen. We also had a Pre-Show the night before, and besides Josh, we also invited our pal Garrison Kane to watch films like House Of Wolfman, Frankenstein Theory and Deadly Mantis to kick off the event right. The first event at the new location was a big hit, and many friends showed up from Todd The Fox all the way to Jeremy Hoyt and everyone inbetween was there and ready to get scared and spend time with friends. The films included Deadly Manor, Summer of Massacre, Headless, Wolf Cop and Return To Boggy Creek, to name a few. The next event we had at Stephen’s house was on September 27, 2015 and had us watching such films as 100 Tears, Crimson, Stiches, Redwood Massacre, New Years Evil and Frankenfish to name a few and like the first event we packed the house, and everyone had fun. But sadly the third event that we held on April 10th 2016 slowed down in attendance, but those who showed up all had fun watching films like Elves, Dr. Jekyll And The Werewolf, XTRO, Demon’s Rook and Madhouse! Also during this time Juliet and I would also hold our own marathons for just the two of us, complete with pre-shows and all the great snacks and terrors that go along with the full attraction ones. With a new location and new and old blood mixing to have a good time and watch some horror films, the marathon seems to have a new home at Stephen’s house. One thing that has always been a highlight of The Horror Movie Marathon from the past to the present is sitting with friends and talking about the films we have just watched and seeing why they liked or disliked the film.  One of the best recent fun discussions was when Jeremy Hoyt got worked up over the film Headless and its extreme violence toward women and the rest of us saying what do you expect from a gore film? The Horror Movie Marathon is back, and if I can help it will never fade away again.

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So I decided for this update that I am going to cover not one, but two of the latest Horror Movie Marathons I have had with the first being held on November 13th 2016 with the Pre-Show taking place on the 12th that was a all-welcome friends marathon held at Stephen’s house. For the Pre-Show we had Garrison Kane, Theresa Lopez and Jeremy Hoyt, and we watched the following films to kick us into the spirit of this after Halloween blues marathon starting with “Evil Unleashed: The Mummy” that was about a Egyptian princess who sells her her soul and in modern time comes back as a vengeful Mummy on the prowl to kill some college kids who have stumbled onto her plan of ruling the world and bringing evil down on us all. The next film was released by Wild Eye Releasing called “ The Mothman Curse” and was about two woman who are working for a movie museum who are having visions and nightmares about the Mothman who seems to slowly bringing them into madness. I was feeling pretty rough from a sore throat and cold so we didn’t have a third film of the night that would have been the old Independent B Movie film I made called “Vigilante C: The Hunt For The Man-Beast,”  We all decided that the best film of the night was Evil Unleashed and not because it was good, just because it had some laugh out loud cheesy moments as well as backyard effects and a naked Mummy! The worst movie was Mothman Curse as we all found it very boring and while it felt like an arthouse film, it was just lacking being scary or entertaining. The night was fun, and everyone seemed to be having a good time, but oddly enough Josh Weinberg no showed the event as the date was picked for him to make it before the holiday rush of his work! But once the horrors of the small screen ended, bedtime was up and I got some much needed rest to try and shake the wicked cold that had me in its grip.

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The next morning at 7:00am sharp, we began the full Official Horror Movie Marathon and started with the 1943 Universal Monster film “The Mad Ghoul” about a scientist who falls in love with one of his student’s fiance and uses a gas that turns people into zombies in order to break them up and use his student as a tool of murder as a love triangle is in play. The vampire musical “Suck” was the next film and was about a down and out band who become vampires in order to become rock stars, but soon after meeting a vampire hunter try and stop their blood sucking ways! “Xtro II: The Second Encounter” was the third film and was about scientists in a underground facility being stalked by a killer alien from another dimension. The 1991 evil demon children film “The Boneyard” was next and was about a pair of cops as well as a psychic and a reanimated young lady who committed suicide stuck in the basement of the city morgue fighting for their lives against three evil demon children and their sinister creations. The next film was a Sci-Fi Channel original called “Scarecrow” about a killer you guessed it Scarecrow killing off a group of troubled kids as the owner of the farm and their teacher fight to try and save them. A independent slasher film was up next called “Hayride” about a killer who runs wild during Halloween and attacks people during a hayride attraction and customers and workers are his targets. The 1971 creature feature “Octaman” was next and had scientist battling a full size octopus man who wanted revenge for the taking and killing of his children and of course he ends up falling for one of the females that leads to the creatures downfall. “Gnome Alone” was the next flick to entertain us about a cursed witches bloodline that is plagued by a evil Gnome who also acts as their protectors and sadly a young girl becomes next in line, but this pint size terror also has a lust for not only revenge but blood. Kane Hodder and Bill Mosley starred in our next film called “Old 37” about two brothers who grew up watching their father who was a paramedic kill those in need, and now along with his old ambulance has taken up the killing ways. With the world being scared of creepy clowns, the next film for the marathon had to be the slasher flick “Clown Town” and was about a group of friends being stalked by killer clowns in a rundown town and they must quickly fight back in order to stay alive. And what better way to follow up a film about killer clowns than to deliver one about a serial killer in a easter bunny suit who along with his crazed friend stalk and kill women and that film was called “Bunnyman Massacre”. The 1985 shot on video film “The Ripper” was the final fright of the night and was about the spirit of Jack The Ripper being stuck inside a ring that possesses a school teacher who in turns starts up the killing spree of women in modern times, and cool enough FX Master Tom Savini plays The Ripper at the films climax. The event was pretty well attended with such friends as Stephen Alexander, Theresa Lopez, Jason Young, Jeremy Hoyt, Mike Ritchie, Juliet Fromholt and Garrison Kane all making appearances throughout the day, and weirdly enough once more this day Josh Weinberg didn’t show up to watch the spooky features of the small screen.

As always the Horror Movie Marathon was packed with some great food from snack food like potato chips and M&M’s all the way to pizza rolls and subs from Submarine House. As always we all had fun watching the films with Stephen, Theresa and I being the ones that stayed and watched all twelve films! I mean of course I was there the whole time as I am the host of the event, but have to say a big thanks to those two for enjoying every film alongside me. So for the best and worst list, I am going to have Stephen as well pick his to share his insights of the days horror flicks. This was a tough one to pick my best as I enjoyed many of the films that were shown and I felt all of them offered something different to the Horror Film world. My worst film of the day was pretty easy to pick as I would have to say Bunnyman Massacre as I felt that while watching a killer in a bunny suit chasing around women with a chainsaw was cool, it was the side character Joe who was also a killer who had some of the most lamest cuss spewing lame dialogue I have ever heard that, killed the mood of this slasher. Stephen as well selected Bunnyman Massacre as his worst and said this for his reason “It started strong and ended weak”. My # 3 of the day was The Ripper as this is one I seen on VHS many moons ago when my brother and I rented it from K&L Video.  For some reason, the cheesy storyline along with the gruesome gore effects makes it a guilty pleasure film.  Plus you can’t go wrong with Tom Savini as Jack The Ripper! My # 2 pick was Suck as I found this Rock N Roll musical to be well made and super funny as it also mixed comedy into the formula.  Plus you can’t go wrong with a film that stars Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins. Hands down, my # 1 was The Boneyard as I found it super fun, super creepy and over all a great flick! I mean whereelse in the world can you see a Phyllis Diller giant monster as well as a killer poodle monster? For me the film The Mad Ghoul almost made it to the my list as the third film but The Ripper was able to edge its way into the spot or should I say slash! For Stephen his picks were as follows: For his # 3 spot went to Octaman with his reason for picking it being “Solely because of the monster and how much they used him.” His # 2 spot was The Boneyard, and he had this to say, “Because it was fun and the monsters were very cool. Plus the use of average everyday people (as the actors) was refreshing”. And his # 1 spot went to Suck and this is why, “It was funny and a surprise. It had some cool people in it and the effects were cool. I definitely had the most fun with it by far”. So with that, this After Halloween Horror Movie Marathon came to an end and was a great time with great friends, good flicks and tasty food.

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For me growing up as a Monster Kid, having these get togethers with some of my nearest and dearest friends and family members is something that is just really special as I have a love for Horror Films and this allows me to share that with them. Plus what’s neat about these films I have shown for the Horror Movie Marathon 3.0 version is 98% of the time the films that are selected are first time watches for many of us and 2% of the time is stuff that we might have seen before but was so long ago that we want to revisit them. Take the above marathon for insistence, I had only seen two of the films before with them being Evil Unleashed: The Mummy and The Ripper, both that I had seen when I was younger with the rest being first time views! But to be fair, I can’t remember if I had seen Octaman before. And with that the next marathon I want to cover for this update was one that Juliet and I had at our apartment and was filled with many horror films that I helped via Kickstarter or Indie GoGo and only one film that I had seen before and was an event I was very much looking forward to! So check out below for a few more films I can remember the old gang watching on VHS for the first wave of the Horror Movie Marathon’s life and then we shall get into the main event of this update!

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Juliet and I selected April 3, 2017 as the day for this marathon as we wanted to pick a date to make this History of The Horror Movie Marathon fresh. So like normal, I had a typical day at work and headed home so that we could start the pre-show sharply at 6:00pm, and we had sausages for dinner.  We started the first film on the night, the 2016 flick that I helped on Indie Go-Go called “Killjoy: Psycho Circus,” the 5th film in this popular Full Moon Entertainment series that has the killer demon clown Killjoy hosting his own talk show called Psycho Circus and he and his band of killer clowns must rumble with Beezlebub who wants revenge. “Silent Night, Bloody Night: Homecoming” is a semi remake to the classic 1972 holiday flick and was the next fright flick pick.  It follows the cursed Butler Mansion and the killer that is stalking its grounds killing off the residents of the small town. “Monster On Campus” was next, and this Universal Monster film followed Doctor Donald Blake who by accident turns himself into a neanderthal man when he is cut on the hand by a prehistoric fishes tooth. And the final film of the night was “Sorority Slaughter House,” a cheesy killer doll film that has a college dean killing himself over a broken affair with a student that has his soul going into the body of a clown doll called Bobo. All these films helped add to the excitement of the coming Horror Movie Marathon day with both Juliet and I picking Monster On Campus as our favorite film of the night as it was a true cheesy science fiction horror film that was complete with a cool monster and historical women fainting into the arms of our monster. We both had different picks for our Golden Turkey of the night as I picked Sorority Slaughter House as mine because it was just plane bad! The film’s killer, Bobo, was not scary and voiced by Eric Roberts, and they reused the same shots over and over of the dolls feet moving around the house.  None of the cute girls get naked, and the plot was lame when they factor in a forced lesbian storylines and terrible shirtless male actors, but that’s what you get with modern David DeCoteau films. Juliet’s Golden Turkey pick was Silent Night, Bloody Night: Homecoming as she felt like it was a rushed remake that didn’t add anything new to the story and by all accounts would have been confusing to fans who had never seen the original as it did a poor job of diving into the film’s character history. But with the pre-show done and visions of bloody murders in my head, we went to sleep to gear up for the long day of Horror Flicks that awaited us.

On April 4th the weather outside was chilly yet nice spring weather, and Juliet and I woke up around 7am and started the marathon with the 1958 vampire film “The Return Of Dracula” that has Dracula hiding from his hunters with a family as posing as one of their relatives. “Godzilla 1984” was the next film and had Godzilla returning to Japan to once more destroy everything in sight and only a flying air craft and a scientist are the worlds hope. The third creepy flick was “Insane” about a couple buying a new home that has a sinister past of murder and when a clown show up things only get weirder. Shot-on-video film “Night Of The Clown” was up next and followed a family being stalked and killed by a killer in a clown suit who seems to hate pickles. The Massacre Home Video release of “City In Panic” was up next and was a cool slasher film about a killer who targets people with HIV. The sixth film of the day was directed by Don Dohler and was called “Fiend” about a killer spirit that reanimates a body who must kill in order to not rot away and tries to blend into a neighborhood but soon gets the attention of his neighbor who tries to solve the killings. Next was “Plank Face,” a horror film about a man who is taken captive by backwoods women who turn him into a wood faced breeding and attacking machine. Slasher film “Fender Bender” was next about a killer who picks his victims by causing small auto accidents to get their information and then coming to their homes and killing them. The next film was suppose to be “Knucklebones” put out by Brain Damage Films, but the movie on the disc was the wrong film so we watched the 1931 “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi! The next chiller was “Bloody Bloody Bible Camp,” a dark horror comedy about a masked killer nun who kills teens at a camp for worship. “The Barn” was next a film about three demons who are unleashed on Halloween when a group of friends awaken them! And the final fright of the night was “Krampus Unleashed” about a family who are targeted by Krampus an Christmas Eve.

This was another amazing Horror Movie Marathon that was filled with great food like Oh My Garlic Wings and breakfast casserole and lots of great and amazing films! I must say that all the films were so different and all entertaining in their own ways! But of course, Juliet and I had to pick our Golden Turkey of the day.  Mine was Night Of The Clown, while it was entertaining it seemed more like a inside joke about pickles and like a film that was made on a bored weekend with only two people in the whole cast. While I say that it was the Golden Turkey, I must stress that I really did enjoy the film for its backyard effects and great cheesy killer. Juliet picked Insane as she felt it was just not fully developed, and the story and characters seemed to lack motivation. Now my top three films of the day were hard to pick as I really enjoyed many of them, but here they go: my # 1 was The Barn as I found it really enjoyable and a nice throwback film to the 80’s, plus the movie monsters of the film Candycorn Scarecrow, Hollowed Jack and Boogeyman are all really great and work really well. The film has great acting and an amazing score as well…a must see. The # 2 film of the day for me was Fiend as the simple and effective film had a great story and a cool villain as the calm and cocky Longfellow stole the show as he choked his victims with glowing red hands! The cheesy effects of the rotting Longfellow were really cool and reminded me of Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. My # 3 film of the day was hard to pick, but I decided that it was City In Panic as I found this low budget American Giallo feeling film to be a cool way to tackle the Aids scare of the 80’s and also had a fun plot of a radio DJ and his nightly talk show helping crack the case. Runners up for me had to be Plank Face and Return Of Dracula, both films I also really enjoyed. Juliet selected the following as her top films of the day # 1 The Barn, # 2 City In Panic and her # 3 was Plank Face! With this Marathon in the history books, I am looking forward to the next and the next as these events are truly special and a way for me and friends and loved ones to relax to the horrors of the TV screen.

The Horror Movie Marathon has had its ups and downs over the years in attendance and even with just staying around, but one thing is for sure, it has always entertained me and my friends who all love a good scare and who enjoy the spooky horrors of our TV screens thanks to home media. And while media has changed, I am hoping that The Horror Movie Marathon will stay around a very long time to entertain my friends and me with Horror films from the past and present. But for our next update, we are going to get up from the comfy couch and snack foods and head into the world of Atlas Comics as we take a look at one of their amazing superheroes Tiger Man! So until next time, read a comic or two, watch a Horror Film or three and enjoy some free time with your friends and family! See you next update as we go on the crime fighting hunt with the fearsome Tiger Man.

Spend Halloween With Universal’s Frankenstein’s Monster!

Happy Halloween! I hope you’re having a spooky and chilling good time today. I can hear all the little ghouls and goblins running around outside looking for some free candy. I can also hear all the loud parties and mayhem going on in and around 5th Street. This year for Rotten Ink’s Halloween update we are going to be taking a look at comics based on Frankenstein by Universal that include a very cool Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man one that was translated and put together to be a comic via stickers just for this update! Plus I will be reading these comics alone in an abandoned science lab that’s still filled with lots of odd machines and glass bottles. Not to mention we will also be talking about other fun scary and Halloween related things.  So with the chill in the air and the Jack-O-Lantern lit, let’s open the door to Dr. Frankenstein’s lab and see what’s on the slab!

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I’m going to start this update by taking a brief look at Manuel Oritz Partida, a luchador who goes by the ring name Halloween.  So I figured we should at least mention him on an update that goes up on the holiday he is named after! Halloween started his wrestling career in 1990 working for independents in and around Mexico, but he got his big break in 1996 when he signed with WCW and changed his name to Ciclope.  He was a mid-card wrestler for them and had some great matches against the likes of Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Dean Malenko. Once he left WCW, he returned to Mexico and worked for AAA as well as a few independents. Halloween has had many Mask vs. Hair matches and has lost many of them including losing his mask to Super Parka in 1999. After losing the mask, he began painting his face like a Jack-O-Lantern! Throughout his career he has also had many allies that include Damien 666, Super Nova, Extreme Tiger and Mari Apache. At the age of 43 in 2014 he has slowed down some, but Halloween still haunts the rings of Mexico. When I was a teenager I was lucky enough to see Halloween wrestle during a taping of WCW Saturday Night that was at Hara Arena.  If memory serves I think he took on Dean Malenko and lost!

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One creepy internet story aka Creepypasta that has been floating around for some years now is called “Squidward’s Suicide,” a truly disturbing story that should be talked about this Halloween season here at Rotten Ink. The story goes that an intern at Nickelodeon had the duty to watch an episode of Spongebob Squarepants with some fellow workers that would have kicked off the new season and when they started to watch, the title card read Squidward’s Suicide.  They thought it was a joke title card, and they all chuckled it off. As they continued to watch, it was nothing special at first and was about Squidward preparing for a clarinet concert when Spongebob’s annoying laughing echoes into his house and Squidward runs him off to keep practicing, but when things get really strange is when at the concert all the fish people in the crowd start booing Squidward with malice and even Spongebob joins in the booing! Squidward goes home and starts to cry sadly to himself as sounds of wind and white noise echoed from the speakers, and then laughing started up as Squidward’s crying became louder and louder and more heartbreaking. While all this was disturbing what the workers found in frames mixed in is what caused them some chills and distress as pictures of freashley murdered children (three in total) would flash for small frames across the screen! These pictures would come inbetween Squidward still crying at the edge of his bed with all the weird sounds going on in the back ground.  It got so bad that they called the creator of Spongebob to watch the remaining episode that ended with Squidward pulling out a shotgun and committing suicide as the image remained on his dead body and then ended. The creator was mad and demanded that they watch the episode again, and he was horrified at what he saw and called the FBI, according to the intern none of the children in the clips were ever identified and no one knew who made the cartoon as the time stamp said it was made just minutes before they watched it! I saved you many of the gory details of what the kids bodies looked like as I didn’t think that this fun blast from the past blog was the right place for it, but if you’re looking for the full well written story search the net and you’ll find it. Another Creepypasta by the name of “Red Mist” is based on Squidward killing himself and has a salesmen fish coming to his door and telling him the red mist is coming…the red mist of course being the blood from his wound…when he shoots himself…man this is some depressing stuff! The major differences between the two stories besides the salesmen and title is that in Red Mist many of the characters sport realistic eyes and also the cartoonist of the episode was said to be a serial killer who had worked for Nickelodeon and was on the run. Fan made animated versions of the episode can be found on youtube, and the story while most likely fake, it still makes me wonder did Squidward really kill himself?

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It’s 1976, and the film crew for the TV Show “The Six Million Dollar Man” had rented out the haunted house from the Nu-Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach California.  As they were moving and dressing the “set” they moved the hanging mummy man prop and by accident they broke off the mummy’s arm and to their horror a human bone was poking out! The crew, along with the police, took the mummy to a coroner who verified that the mummy was in fact a human body…the haunted house for years had a real dead body on display. It took some time but they were able to figure out who the body was and when and how he died, and the identity of the mummy was that of criminal Elmer McCurdy who was killed in 1911 in a shootout while trying to rob a train. The undertaker in 1911 decided that since no one claimed his body, he would go ahead and embalmed him and place it on display as “The Bandit Who Wouldn’t Give Up” and would have people place nickels in the corpse’s mouth that at the end of the day he would collect.  At some point a carnival owner tricked the undertaker into thinking he was Elmer’s brother and he took the body and placed it on display for years. After his worth was used up at the carnival, the corpse was sold many times to several haunted houses, wax museums and carnivals making it the traveling mummy! Elmer’s corpse even was shown in the 1933 film Narcotic directed by Dwain Esper and at one point the owner of a haunted house in South Dakota refused to buy the corpses as he felt it was a fake and nothing more then a mannequin. Elmer finally was sold to Nu-Pike Amusement Park and sometime later was discovered again to be a real corpse by a shocked crew member who broke his arm off! In 1977 Elmer McCurdy was finally laid to rest in Summit View Cemetery in the Boot Hill section in Oklahoma ending the traveling mummy’s long and strange trip around the USA. Many joke that Elmer made way more money in death then in life, and for years this story was thought to be an urban legend but was proven to be true. So the next time you go to a haunted house, take a closer look at that corpse hanging or in the coffin cause who knows you might just be looking at the real thing!

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In 1999, my friends and I use to run the roads at all times of the night.  We would drive around with the windows down while blaring music and being just rowdy late teens who were out to have a good time. Most of these nights would just lead to us going to a friend’s house where we would spend the rest of the night playing Goldeneye 007 on N64 and listening to music and all crashing at the same home very late in the night. Brandon Womeldorff drove most nights as he had a red convertible, and on this particular night it was just Brandon, David Wean, Rion Neeley and myself driving through Patterson Park or as it’s also called Hills And Dales.  It was around 11:00pm, and we had no real reason to be in the area besides driving fast on the dark roads near Frankenstein’s Tower and enjoying the cool night air. Rion was telling us that one night when he was driving alone near these two stone pillars on the opposite sides of the road and that he could have sworn that he saw what appeared to be a shadow man that was watching him on top of a wooded hill near the pillar.  Of course this made the rest of us to want to go to the spot and see if we could spot this strange man/shadow for ourselves.  As we pulled off the road near said spot Brandon killed the engine, and we all just sat and listened and waited, the sounds of the night filled our ears and then we heard something that sounded like a person running down the hill crunching fallen leaves as it moved fast towards us, Brandon turned the car back on and sped away as we could hear this thing keeping up with us…odd thing being all we could make out was a shadow. We all went back to Rion’s house where Brandon was also living, and we all sat around and talked about what we thought it was, and myself and Brandon went back that night and didn’t see anything. Whatever it was stuck with us as Brandon even wrote a song called “The Man In Black” for a short lived band we were in called X-Mortis. For many years after I would go back to that spot with many of my friends like Andrea Seay, Kevin Kinsley, Matt Hoffman, Jason Gilmore, Misty Altick and Josh Weinberg and almost everytime we would hear or see something…sometimes we would drive away only to return in minutes to find a dead animal propped in the middle of the road, most the time the necks were twisted so the head was facing backwards. This Shadow Man became a spooky icon to us, and we would even play pranks on each other out in the woods near the pillars and hill.  The best one is where Dave Wean, Linda Webb’s boyfriend and I all hid in the woods and made noises as Josh Weinberg dressed in a WWE Kane Mask and a hooded robe stood by a tree near the small road and scared the crap out of Matt Hoffman who was being driven around by Brandon who was in on the prank, but one thing I must say is as we waited in those woods, we all did hear many odd things. Josh and I many nights would go back to that place and like clockwork we would hear and slightly see the Shadow Man.  One night we really pissed it off as we got out of the car and challenged it to a fight, while from the car stereo we played the battle music from the Star Trek episode “Amock Time” and carried ball bats ready to knock it’s block off. For a short time it did not respond but once we heard it come running down the hill full blast we left before the “battle” could happen. Over the years I went less and less to hear and see The Shadow Man, and the park got lots of remodeling and the last handful of times me and Josh went there had been no sign or noise of the Shadow making us wonder what and where did it go. We never could figure out just what and why it was and what would have happened to us if it would have caught us, but one things for sure Shadow Man will forever live on as one of my favorite unknown things I have witnessed. Bellow is a drawing by me of what it looked like.

Shadow Man Drawing

On October 6th and 7th Juliet and I decided to have our own Horror Movie Marathon, an event that I used to hold all the time that would have all my friends over to watch horror flicks all day and eat junk food. On Monday the 6th we had what I would call the pre-show where we watch a few Horror films to gear up for the next day, and the films selected were the made for TV cheese-fest “Werewolf of Woodstock”, smart and artistic 80’s slasher “Curtains” and low budget succubus flick “Dreamaniac.”  We both agreed that Curtains was the best film of the pre-show.  It was about actresses meeting at a film director’s mansion in the woods on a snow filled weekend, and someone is killing them off one by one. And we both agreed that the worst turkey of the night was Dreamaniac that was about some goofball song writer who allows his girlfriend and her sister to party at a house he is watching as a succubus is killing off the guests. On the 7th we started our marathon at 8 am and kicked it off with the Universal Horror film “Black Friday” that stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi and is about a mobster’s brain being transplanted into that of a professor and the doctor who did so wants to get his hands of some of the mobsters’ hidden money. The 1957 low budget film “From Hell It Came” was next and is about a tree monster and the battle between USA doctors and the natives of an island. The original 1980 “Prom Night” was next about a killer on the loose at a High School prom. 1989’s own low budget camping slasher film “Moonstalker” was next followed by “Legend of The Werewolf” a 1975 film starring Peter Cushing that follows a young man who is cursed to become a werewolf. Evil Dead inspired film “Demon Wind” was next and follows a group of friends stuck in an old house as demons want to take their souls. 1971 Hammer Film “Hands of The Ripper” was the next shocker to be shown and was about the daughter of Jack The Ripper and that was followed by Universal Sci-Fi giant spider film “Tarantula!” that shows man should not mess with mother nature. Next was Fullmoon Entertainment’s 11th film in the series “Puppet Master X: Axis Rising” where the puppets must stop Nazi’s and evil puppets from harming America. The next film shown is a pure cheesy guilty pleasure for me, 1995’s “Project: Metalbeast” starring Kane Hodder as Metalbeast and is about a metal skinned werewolf running wild in a military lab. As we headed into the late night we ended it with two vampire films, the first being “Dawn Of Dracula,” a low budget film made by the cool cats who make the horror host show Midnite Mausoleum and follows Victoria Van Helsing played by the lovely Marlena Midnite as she looks for missing people.  Then we watched “ Dinner With A Vampire” where a group of actors are stuck in a mansion with a real life vampire! The evening was super fun, and we snacked on Peanut M&M’s, Mike-Sells Beer Can Chicken Potato Chips as well as homemade Hot Wings and had a great spooky time just hanging out and enjoying all the horrors of the movies. My top three films of the day would have to be as follows: # 1 Hands of The Ripper, a film I think was well done and added a spin of the Jack The Ripper tale, # 2 Project: Metalbeast for some reason I have been a fan of this film for a long time and use to watch it on VHS when I was younger and feel it stills holds that charm till this day! And # 3 would have to be Legend of The Werewolf a great classic style horror film that has a simple plot and holds such a Hammer Horror feel that I have always found it to be entertaining. I would also like to note that this top three was really hard to pick as I also really enjoyed Dinner With A Vampire, Prom Night and Demon Wind allot! My Golden Turkey of the night would have to go to Moonstalker, while not a bad movie it was just really slow paced with moments that really seemed to drag. Juliet’s top three were # 1 Hands of The Ripper, # 2 Dinner With A Vampire and # 3 Legend of The Werewolf, she had a hard time as well as she truly enjoyed Tarantula! that almost made her list. Her Golden Turkey was Moonstalker for the same reasons I stated. This was a fun event that I look forward to doing again soon as well as maybe one update I will give a history of the event and how the Horror Movie Marathon tradition started with me and my friends.

Werewolf of Woodstock DVDCurtains DVDDreamaniac DVDBlack Friday DVDFrom Hell It Came DVD

Prom Night DVD Moonstalker DVDLegend of the Werewolf DVDDemon Wind DVDHands of the Ripper DVD

Tarantulia! DVDPuppet Master Axis Rising DVDProject Metalbeast DVDDawn of Dracula DVDDinner With A Vampire dvd

So what would Halloween be without having another 5 Questions with a Horror Host, and this time I think we are going to talk to Dayton, Ohio’s own Baron Von Porkchop! If you remember last year we chatted with Chicago Horror Host Count Gregula of Count Gregula’s Crypt.  So I figured that this year I wanted to do a Dayton Original Host who I also consider a very dear friend and that’s the good old Baron. Baron Von Porkchop started his show Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre in late 2010 and would air on DATV with his first episode where he hosted the Vincent Price classic House On Haunted Hill.  After this he has shown no signs of slowing down as he is working on his 3rd season as well as a number of Holiday and other type of specials. I traveled to Porkchop Manor and met with Baron Von Porkchop on a chilly night, and here are my 5 Questions with Baron Von Porkchop.

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Me: So Baron tell me about your show Terrifying Tales of The Macabre, as well as about Porkchop manor?

Baron: Well my show is about… me. I’m just trying to live my life as an undead ghoul the best I know how, but it seems like everyone and everything wants to try and ruin it! My manor is a little run down, but I love the place. It has all the comforts of home with a little added creepy.

Me: I always have a good creepy time here at the Manor! So what Horror Hosts of the past have influenced you as a host yourself?

Baron: I would have to say since the day I was dug up, I have seen many different horror host icons and most of them have influenced me a little bit, but I would say The Crypt Keeper and Mike and Joel from Mystery Science Theater 3000 would be the most influential.

Me: Great choices, and Crypt Keeper is even in the Horror Host Hall of Fame. So being an undead ghoul and all, do you ever get urges to eat human flesh or brains?

Baron: NO, NO SILLY! That’s zombies, we ghouls just try to get by from day to day we don’t need anything as far as sustenance goes… well except a terrible movie from time to time.

Me: That’s a relief that no flesh eating is in your future! So you have been to quite a bit of conventions and during these travels, what celebrity were you most happy to meet? As well as what other Horror Host?

Baron: Well I did get to meet the Hellraiser himself Doug Bradly and that was kind of a dream come true. As far as horror hosts goes, I did get to meet The Crypt Keeper and that was pretty exciting. But all and all I have to say that all of the horror hosts I have met I have liked in different ways.

Me: Bradley is such an icon of Horror. Well sadly we are at the final question so with my topic for this years Halloween update being about Universal Frankenstein, what other actor besides Boris Karloff would you say is your favorite actor to play the Monster?

Baron: Wow there are so many to chose from…. let me think….. Aaron Eckhart I think from “I, Frankenstein”, I believe would be the best for sure! HAHAHAHAHA! No, no I kid, I kid. This is kind of a hard one though because so many great actors have played the creature. Like Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., Peter Boyle and so many more. Honestly I have to say that David Prowse is probably my favorite portrayal, because Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell is a great movie and a pure scare fest.

Me: Agreed, choosing who is the best actor who has played The Monster is a very tough question, but I would agree that Prowse would be high on my list as well as Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell is one of my favorite Hammer Horror films. Well thanks for spending some time with us here on Rotten Ink and thanks for doing what you do and keeping Horror Hosting alive in Dayton, Ohio. Anything you wanna say to the readers before we go?

Baron: I will see you soon on the Terrifying Tales of the Macabre, until then have a spooky time piggies, HAHAHAHAHA!!

Baron with Shane Douglas and So Cal Val

Airing the day this goes up, October 31st 2014 Baron Von Porkchop will be hosting the Bela Lugosi classic White Zombie for his fourth Halloween Special! I don’t wanna spoil to much but Baron alongside his pal Melvin (Butler to Stephen Von Frankenstein) come face to face with a zombie who has an ax to grind. The special will air on DATV in Dayton on Channel 5 via Time Warner Cable and should be a very fun and spooky episode. I must also say that I am VERY proud of Baron Von Porkchop and Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre, and I am very thankful that I am able to do the show along side a very talented host, cast and crew. If you’re looking for a little more on Baron check out his website at www.terrifyingtalesofthemacabre.com or look him up on Facebook. Man, Horror Hosts are so much fun, and I will continue to have 5 Questions with one every Halloween update so that’s something you readers can always look forward to.

Baron Von Porkchop Dayton HostFulci ZombieBaron Halloween 2014 DVD

October 24th 2014 marked the 18th year of Horrorama, and I was happy to once more be a part of the event that showed four great films “Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell”, “Rawhead Rex”, “Hell of The Living Dead” and “Bride Of Re-Animator” and once more was held at the great local theater the Englewood Cinema. Juliet and I, on our way to the theater early to check the prints of the films as well as eat at the chinese restaurant across the street that has become a tradition, also came across a truck with a propped up coffin with a life size mummy in it on Highway 70…this was a great way to kick off a very long night of film watching and mayhem. The event was hosted by A. Ghastlee Ghoul, the legendary horror host of Dayton, and he helped keep the night moving and filled with laughs.  Rick Martin this year co-hosted and with him being the remaining original event creator, it’s always nice to hear him keep the spirit of the event alive and honor what he started with Andy Copp and Dr. Creep. This year thanks to theater owner Mike, I was able to be the projectionist and wow, that was a lot of fun.  I think one of the coolest things for me that night was being able to peer out the projection window standing next the very old 35mm projector and watch my favorite Hammer Horror film, Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, a very cool moment for me. Plus at the event were many of my family and friends as besides Juliet, my brother Bryan along with his wife Bel and daughter Abby were there as well as my cousin Stephen. Lots of my friends as well like Josh Weinberg, Mike Ritchie, Garrison Kane, Todd The Fox, Victoria Harper, Nick Williams and Mandie Brown were watching the flicks and having fun. Another great event done and I must say a big thank you for everyone who came and supported this event as well as everyone who helped. Below is a pic of the mummy truck, the event’s poster, and a picture taken from the projection room of the Monster From Hell.

Mummy TruckHorrorama 2014 PosterMonster From Hell on the Big Screen

So let’s see so far we have covered wrestler Halloween, Creepypasta about a cartoon suicide, the traveling corpse of outlaw Elmer McCurdy, The Shadow Man of Hills and Dales Park that used to chase me and friends, a Horror Movie Marathon that Juliet and I had as well as Dayton Ohio Horror Host Baron Von Porkchop.  So now I think it’s time we talk a little about Universal’s longest classic monster series Frankenstein. In 1931, after the success of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi Universal was quickly looking for another classic horror novel to turn into a film.  That novel was Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, and the first choice to play the Monster was Bela Lugosi! The story goes that Lugosi didn’t want the role because he thought it was no real acting as the Monster only grunted and was not too keen in the fact his face would be covered in makeup so the part ended up going to Boris Korloff, a character actor that the director James Whale liked. The film had a budget of $262,007.00 and made the studio $12,000,000.00 opening many studios eyes that horror films can make money. Universal made a sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, in 1935 and it was followed by Son of Frankenstein in 1939, and for these three films Karloff played The Monster but for the remaining films in the series many other actors stepped into the role including Lon Chaney Jr., Glenn Strange and even Bela Lugosi in such films as Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943), House Of Frankenstein (1944), House Of Dracula (1945) and Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) making The Frankenstein Monster the first franchise horror character to have so many sequels. Growing up I loved watching the old Frankenstein films from Universal and in fact the first ever VHS I ever owned was Frankenstein! So with this I am really ready to tell you about the Lab I will be reading these comics at so that I can head that way and read some comic adaptations of the classic Universal films!

Karloff Frankenstein Monster1931 Frankenstein PosterLugosi Frankenstein Monster

The place I will be reading these comics is an old science labs that was used for plant experiments and is located in Yellow Springs.  I promised I would not tell the exact location but let’s just say it’s near downtown. The Labs are still filled with all types of odd machines as well as old racks and trays that use to hold the planets. The sight was also used for animal testing and has cages frozen in time as well! I chose this location due to the nature of the Frankenstein story being so heavily science based and what better way to read these comics then an old lab with poor lighting and not a soul around as well as glass pipes that running over head that use to hold acid used in experiments. Below are some pics of the location just so you can get a feel of what the atmosphere for me will be like.

Science Lab 1Science Lab 2Science Lab 3

The night I choose to read these comics was a very dark one with clouds in the sky, it had a nice chill in the air and the labs upstairs were a little cold. So let’s find a nice spot among the dust and old equipment and read these adaptations under the flickering lights, Remember that I rate the issues on the 1-4 scale and base it on art, story, how close it stays to the source material and over all entertainment value. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having Dark Horses Frankenstein in stock and Juliet and Eric for helping with the other two. So the thunderstorm is coming in, so let’s prepare for the Monster to come alive!

Universal Frankenstein # 1

Frankenstein # 1 ****
Released in 1993   Cover Price $3.95   Dark Horse   #1 of 1

Henry Frankenstein and his assistant Fritz are stealing dead bodies and stitching them together.  Fritz even breaks into a lab and steals an abnormal brain after dropping that of a normal man, and this is all for Henry who wants to create a new life with his own hands in a dusty old tower. During a terrible thunderstorm Henry wants to use the lightning to jolt his creation to life but is interrupted by his fiance Elizabeth, his best friend Victor and his old medical teacher Dr. Waldman who all witness the experiment that works! Victor and Elizabeth return home and try to keep Baron Frankenstein from visiting his son as Waldman begs his former student to kill his Monster before it’s too late. The Monster at first seems to listen and understand commands but when Fritz comes in with a torch the Monster goes crazy, and they must knock it out and put it in the cellar, where Fritz continues to bully it with a whip and a torch.  Finally the Monster snaps and kills Fritz by hanging him. Henry and Waldman knock out the Monster and with the help of Victor, they hide it from his father and Elizabeth. Henry goes home with his father as Waldman is going to dissect and kill the Monster who wakes up and instead kills Waldman! On Henry and Elizabeth’s wedding day, the Monster breaks free of the tower and kills a little girl on accident and even attacks Elizabeth! The townspeople and Henry form a posse and hunt the Monster down.  Henry comes face to face with his Monster who knocks his creator out and takes him to a windmill and throws him off it hurting him badly, as the towns people rush Henry home for medical care they also set the windmill on fire and the Monster is believed to be burnt alive. In the end Henry is getting better at Frankenstein Manor and Elizabeth is at his side while the Monster’s region of terror has came to an end….for now!

This is a great adaptation that captures the mood and story of the classic Universal film and was a great way to start the reviews off! The plot follows a scientist who wants to play God and creates a monster who has a bad brain that does bad things but don’t really understand that it’s doing so.  In the end creator and creation must come face to face with only one making it out alive! Henry Frankenstein is not a bad man, and while he does get wrapped up in his experiment and does create a monster, he had good intentions. It’s clear that Henry loves his girlfriend Elizabeth as well as hid friends and father but that he really wants to be known in the world of science. Dr. Waldman is a wise scientist who sees the dangers in playing God and wants to try and help his student by talking sense into him. Fritz is just a troublemaker and a screw up who seems to take joy in tormenting the Monster.  His worse blunder is stealing the wrong brain and not even telling his boss of the mishap. Victor is a loyal friend who don’t understand why his best friend is acting this way but stands by him when the chips are down and it’s clear Henry needs help. Elizabeth is a loving fiance who understands her man and tries her best to allow him to balance his work and social life with her.  She is the kind of woman who is always by the side of her loved one. Baron Frankenstein is a ass who is more stuck on himself then anything else.  The way he speaks down to others makes him not a very nice person and a character that this reader kind of hated. The Monster is pretty one dimensional in this comic and it’s clear to see that Boris Karloff in the movie is who gave the Monster a personality and made him sympathetic.  In the comic you just don’t pick up on any of its emotions, and The Monster really just comes off as a lumbering brute But that’s the only minor flaw to this amazing comic that I really enjoyed. The art by Den Beauvais (who also adapted the story) is fantastic and it really makes the comic pop as The Monster looks just like Karloff in the movie and in fact most the characters look like the actors who played them in the Universal film. If you’re a fan of the movie or a Universal Monster collector this comic is made for you.  Pick it up you won’t regret it. Check out some of Den’s amazing artwork below.

FRANKENSTEIN DH 1FRANKENSTEIN ART 2FRANKENSTEIN ART 3

So the second film in the series is “Bride Of Frankenstein” and sadly no official film adaptation has been made…yet. I am proud to say that talented artist and friend of mine Jeff Potter will be doing a exclusive Bride of Frankenstein just for me to review here on Rotten Ink! So look for that sometime in 2015. But our next comic in the Universal Frankenstein series is a photo comic made by National Periodical that was part of a comic that had several adaptations of movies.  This comic I will be reading in this cold science lab is a custom one that takes just the Son of Frankenstein part and made it into a issue of its own! So let’s get into it shall we?

Son Of Frankenstein # 1

Son Of Frankenstein  # 1  **1/2
Released in 1939   Cover Price .10   National Periodical   #1 of 1

Wolf Frankenstein, the son of Henry returns to his family’s castle after being away from it for over 20 years and finds that his wife and young son Peter are only warmly greeted by the hired help as the villagers look at them with hate over his father’s Monster. Inspector Crogh visits the castle and tells Wolf that he and his family are not welcome and that he thinks the Monster is alive and killing.  This sparks Wolf’s interest in his father’s old lab where Wolf meets a twisted shepherd named Ygor who shows him that the Monster is indeed alive but very weak. Wolf becomes obsessed with trying to make the Monster better as he believes that this will clear his family’s name, but when more deaths happen, Crogh goes to arrest Wolf as he himself finds that Ygor is using the Monster to kill a jury that convicted him some years back.  This leads to Wolf shooting and killing Ygor. The Monster ends up finding the body of his friend Ygor and this sets him into a rage and he kidnaps Peter.  Crogh tries to help save Peter but is tossed to the side by The Monster! The Monster becomes scared by the villagers who now have become an angry mob, and Wolf kicks him into a lava pit saving his son and causing him to leave the castle for good.

First I have to say I love the movie and that’s why it breaks my heart to read this half butted attempted at a photo comic that tries to cram a 99 minute movie into 8 pages, but then again at least in 1939, they tried to give readers the chills with this comic. The comic changes the plot of the movie in many ways and even how it ends is different.  While some changes, like the fact Inspector Crogh is a very angry and unfriendly man, are interesting other changes like The Monster being frozen with fear by just the sounds of a mob is silly. Wolf Frankenstein is a likeable hero who in this comic really just wanted to return home and clear his family’s name. Young Peter Frankenstein is less annoying in the comic but is just used as bait for the end of the story. Ygor is just kind of around, and while he orders The Monster around he really isn’t given much to do. The Monster also spends most the issue with nothing to do and spends much time just standing to on the slab. I wish the Monster would have had a little more to do and would not be defeated like he was a coward. Plus how brutal is it that Wolf kicks The Monster into lava and watches him burn to death! The art in the comic is mostly photo comic style but does have slight art work added to the photos, and the dialogue is hard to read as the person who did lettering has pretty sloppy hand writing at times. To be honest, this is a nice throwback comic but doesn’t really offer much besides slight old school horror chills. So I think it’s time to move on and will just sum it up as okay but pretty disappointing.

Son Of Frankenstein art 1Son Of Frankenstein art 2Son Of Frankenstein art 3

So next in the film world would be “Ghost of Frankenstein” and once more a comic adaptation was never made so I went to my friend Eric Shonborn, and he will be making Rotten Ink one to review along side Jeff Potters Bride of Frankenstein! So let’s move onto the next comic in the series “Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man,” one of my favorite in the Universal Frankenstein series.  The movie is gracing my t-shirt as I sit and write this in the lab. This comic is a custom comic that was put together and translated by Juliet from an old Spanish sticker book based on the movie! So let’s jump into this one as the lab area is given off some odd nosies that sound like keys jiggling!

Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman # 1

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man  # 1  ***
Released in 1946   Cover Price .10   Bloodline Comics   #1 of 1

Two grave robbers go into the crypt of Larry Talbot on a full moon night allowing him to turn into The Wolf Man and escape his tomb and once more set out for blood! Larry wakes up in a hospital in the care of Dr. Mannering and is being watched by cops who don’t believe that he is Larry Talbot as all records say he is dead. That night Larry transforms into The Wolf Man again and kills a cop.  In the morning when the medical staff look at him as if he is crazy, Larry escapes and finds his friend the old gypsy woman Maleva, and they set out to find the diary of Doctor Frankenstein as they think it will hold the answers of finding a cure for Larry’s curse. As they travel, they stop at an inn and are run off by the locals all who hate the name Frankenstein.  After leaving night falls on them and Larry becomes The Wolf Man once more and kills a woman and is hunted down by locals and falls into a hole knocking itself out. Larry awakens in the frozen cave and finds the body of The Monster in ice and frees it, and the pair become unlikely friends. Larry even tries to convince Elsa Frankenstein to help him find her grandfather’s diary, and she wants nothing to do with it. But when The Monster and Larry make a big scary scene at the town’s festival after being confronted by Dr. Mannering, the pair escape to the ruins of the old castle. Elsa, Maleva and Mannering come to the castle and all together they work along side Larry and The Monster and find the diary and set up to cure him of his curse and even drain all the energy from The Monster. This does not go as planned as Mannering makes a mistake that leaves The Monster in a rage and Larry turning into The Wolf Man.  The monsters fight in the old castle ruins as the villagers blow up the near by dame, drowning the two monsters and ending the terror.

When two monsters collide, I the reader won in this fun cheesy comic adaptation that’s packed with so much cheese that it was busting at the seams. The story follows the film for the most part and follows Larry who wants to find a cure for his werewolf curse and gets the help of the remaining Frankenstein as well as befriends The Monster, but when he changes into a beast his urge to kill comes through and he fights his monster friend until they both go swim with the fishes. Larry Talbot is a man who you as the reader feel bad for, but you also find yourself very happy when he turns into The Wolf Man and stalks around and kills whatever he can find. The Monster for the most part just lumbers around and shows he has zero tolerance for people. Dr. Mannering, Maleva the Gypsy and Elsa Frankenstein are good supporting characters who add to the story in their own way but none are really flushed out. The comic has zero blood and gore and is truly a classic horror thriller comic that relies on the fact that monsters are scary, and I love that about this comic. The artwork is done by an unknown artist but I really dig the almost cartoon style, with the Wolf Man looking pretty good and The Monster looking like a skinny kid dressed up for Halloween. While the comic follows the film pretty well, it as well suffers from the fact they tried to rush the plot and rushed way too much character development. With all that said I must say I really enjoyed this comic and wish that some day Dark Horse will get into gear and make Official Universal Monster Movie adaptation comics! Check out the artwork below.

Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman art 1Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman art 2 Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman art 3

So with the lab being the perfect place to read these comics and with all the spooky sounds and the chill in the air, I think it’s time for me to leave this area…never to return again…well that’s until maybe next time I read Universal Frankenstein comics for Rotten Ink. I really enjoy horror comics and love the Halloween season, and this update has just really made me look forward to doing next year’s countdown to the spookiest holiday. So once more I want to thank Eric and Juliet for their help on this update, and I want to also remind all you Horror Host fans that Baron Von Porkchop’s Halloween Special airs tonight on DATV (Time Warner Channel 5) or can be watched via stream at www.datv.org! So I am sure your all wondering what’s the next update, and I must confess that it’s a Debbie Downer as we take a look at the death of the Spider-Man villain The Tarantula! So until next time, read a horror comic or three, support your local Horror Host and watch the skies for its Halloween and the ghosts and goblins are on the loose…you have been warned….Happy Halloween!

2852b

The Incredible Werewolf

Fall’s in the air, and the Halloween season is quickly approaching.  That means we are all entitled to a good scare so let me take a look at an old creepy house me and my friends use to go exploring inside and we also filmed many no budget horror films around; it’s one we all dubbed “Murder House”! This house sat in Beavercreek off Indian Ripple Road and was just down the street from a cemetery.  The yard was always overgrown with weeds, and all around it was trees and unkept bushes. Every window on the ground floor was boarded up as the second floor windows were all clear but busted. In what was once the driveway to the house, an old dresser sat tipped over and was on top of a body of a deer that was just a skeleton. On the left side of the house was a cage used for dogs and around it bones and skulls of cats and dogs were thrown about. The right side had a covered porch that was covered with vines and rotten leaves, and also around this part in the yard were old metal toy trucks that were rusting from years of neglect and weather. The backyard had an old cellar that had caved in and was blocked by all types of debris and a little further back pens used for sheep as well as a little stream could be seen. The backdoor to the house was busted open and this would allow you access to the inside, that we would all enter when wanting to get a good scare. For years I was obsessed with this house and would drive past it with friends on late night ghost hunts or just cruising around blaring music.  Keep in mind I was in my early 20’s and loved making my own shot on video horror flicks so this house was my go to spooky place to freak out dates and get a shiver up my spine as well. When around the house at night I would always get a weird vibe that someone was watching me. The first time I ever entered the house was with my pal Josh Weinberg.  Armed with flashlights and pocket knives, we creeped into the backdoor that lead us to the kitchen.  The first thing we noticed was that a freezer had been tipped over and was laying on its side but the rest of the kitchen, while dirty, was not vandalized. The odd part was that dishes still sat in the sink and the cabinets were filled with dishes and caned goods.  The grossest part was the fact the refrigerator still had lots of food in it that had turned into a molded mass of goo! A door off the kitchen lead to the garage that was packed with normal stuff like a lawnmower, but it was also packed with lots and lots of trash bags filled with junk and clothes. Another door in the kitchen lead to the basement..that at first we did not go down due to time and I am sure as well nerves. Off the kitchen was a small dining room area and this is were the house got its name among us friends because on the carpeted floor was a giant blood stain, a stain so big that whatever lost the blood clearly passed away..

Blooooodddd

Josh and I looked at the blood stain for awhile and chatted about what we thought had happened in that spot.  We went a little further into the house, and the next room was a very large living room that still had the furniture around.  While it was clear that someone had tipped it all over, it was still intact. I should also say that the house was pitch black and not even the flashlights seemed to help all that much as the darkness always seemed to be all around you. Off the living room was some stairs that lead to the second floor, but we didn’t go up them as we wanted to go tell the others about the blood stain. Later that night Josh and I returned to Murder House with Matt Hoffman, Dave Wean and Brandon Womeldorff to show them the stain and just how odd the house was.  It was at this time we noticed that 1994 was the date on the calendar and all the left behind bills we could find. At that time we never did go into the basement nor go upstairs, but we did get a scare from a raccoon who came out of nowhere hissing and acting like a wild nut. A few months later Brandon and I went back to the house and found that the carpet in the room with the blood stain had been removed exposing the hardwood floor. Who would remove carpet with a giant blood stain on it from an abandoned house? Years would pass and Murder House became the set for my films like “Cocktober Blood” and the unfinished “Frankenstein Meets The Werewolf,” and I would also still take girls to it to give em a scare as well as people I didn’t like to freak em out and tell them that I saw people watching us from the windows upstairs and laugh as they would freak out. One night many years later when I was in my very late 20’s, I went back inside Murder House with my friends Max Ervin, Chris “Doogie” Mollohan and Lauryn Campanell and finally went into the basement and upstairs! The basement was very plain and while the washer and dryer and some tools was around and the atmosphere was spooky, it was nothing to special. The upstairs however was pretty creepy as all three bedrooms still had the beds and furniture intact.  One bedroom was also filled with toys I can remember Max and I finding a Muppet Babies See and Say as well as the video game cart of Indiana Jones for Atari 2600. That was a fun night with great friends one that I will always remember sharing with Max and Chris who sadly have both passed away. Murder House was torn down shortly after that night and now all that stands in its place is an empty lot that is for sale.  After trying to find information on the house and its history, we never could figure out just what happened there.

Murder House Lot

The year was 1987, and the Fox Network was trying to become a major player for prime time television viewership.  One of the shows they made was called Werewolf that followed a young man named Eric Cord, played by John J. York, who was bitten by a werewolf and must try and find a way to kill the lead werewolf who started his bloodline in order to rid himself of the curse. The “lead” werewolf was a one eyed ship boat captain named Janos Skorzeny, who was played by TV acting veteran Chuck Connors. To add more stress to Eric’s quest, he was also being hunted by a bounty hunter named Alamo Joe Rogan played by Lance LeGault. The series premiere was a 2 hour event, and Fox put a lot of hype into it’s airing.  I can remember the buzz going around it, and my parents even planned on watching it.  That seemed like a big deal to me at the time as my mom never really liked horror themed things, so the fact she was going to watch the premiere peaked our interest. My brother and I wanted to watch it so bad but due to what time it aired and our mom thinking that the show was going to be too bloody for our young eyes to see, we didn’t get to watch it when it first aired.  We did however get to watch it on tape as they recorded it on beta. When we finally were able to watch it, I can remember loving every cheesy and scary moment of it.  The werewolf costume was perfect and pretty great stuff for the time. After watching the episode my brother and I became fans, and our parents worked it in on the family TV viewing lineup.  We tried to not miss an episode although we did miss many. One of the reasons I loved the show so much was the fact it reminded me of the 1978 Incredible Hulk show with the fact Eric, much like David Banner, had to travel from town to town and when their monster side came out, the beast always did the right thing, but it became unsafe for their human side to stay around. Werewolf was canceled in 1988, and only lasted 1 long season that had 29 episodes and sadly the series never had a full fledged ending leaving us loyal viewers hanging. The series had solid ratings but the rumor going round was that the budget for episodes was too high and this was the reason for the cancelation.

Werewolf 1Werewolf 2Werewolf Logo

A short time after Fox pulled Werewolf from their lineup, USA Network stepped in and started airing the reruns and even showed the two hour premiere episode on Saturday Nightmares! My brother and I watched the episodes on USA and was able to catch the ones we missed on Fox. I can remember sitting in our living room on Royston Drive in Waynesville Ohio watching Werewolf and cheering for Eric to turn into a werewolf and find a way to end his curse. I can also remember seeing in Cracked Magazine parodies of the show and always for some reason nerding out.  In fact, in some of my lame home made comics I had the Eric Cord werewolf as a character! At some point in the coming year here at Rotten Ink, I will cover a comic series I made called Robo-Raccoon that followed a Raccoon man and his friends who were trying to collect bounties in space. Wow, I was way off track with Robo-Raccoon, but really just wanted to write this little part to say thanks to both Fox and USA for airing a show that made my childhood even cooler!

FOX Network Logo 1Werewolf TV adUSA Saturday Nightmares for Werewolf

Chuck Connors was a very popular actor in our household as my parents loved shows like The Rifleman and Branded and us the kids had Werewolf and the film Tourist Trap. Chuck Connors was born Kevin Joeseph Connors in 1921.  Growing up, Chuck was a great athlete in high school and after spending two years in South Orange College in New Jersey, he decided to join the Army during World War II and become a Tank Combat Instructor. During this time as well he played for the NBA team Rochester Royals and helped lead them to the 1946 championship! Also in 1946 he was discharged from the military and joined the basketball team the Boston Celtics, but left the team to join the MLB team the Brooklyn Dodgers whom he had been a fan of since youth. But before he left the Celtics, he became the first player to break the backboard! Sadly the Dodgers had him mostly play for the minor teams before letting him play only one game with them in 1949. By 1951 he started to play for the Chicago Cubs as a first baseman for a total of 66 games. Connors floated around the sports world for awhile even getting drafted by NFL team the Chicago Bears, but he never once suited up and left sports altogether to become an actor in Hollywood. Connors, early in his acting career, was in such films as Pat and Mike, South Sea Woman, Trouble Along The Way and Old Yeller. Connors even began taking small roles on TV shows like Adventures of Superman and Dear Phoebe, but in 1958 he landed the role of Lucas McCain on the ABC western show The Rifleman! The show was a huge success and lasted 5 seasons for a total of 168 episodes. After The Rifleman went off the air in 1963, Connors found work again in TV and movies landing roles in such projects as Arrest And Trial, Branded, Flipper (film) and even had a part of a slave owner in the 1977 mini series Roots which he won a Emmy for. In 1979 Connors played Mr. Slausen in Tourist Trap, a horror film that also starred Tanya Roberts that was about a rundown tourist attraction were a group of friends come face to face with a crazed killer. In 1987 he took the role of the one eyed werewolf in the horror series Werewolf. His last major role came in the 1991made for TV movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck Of The Draw were he plays once more Lucas McCain. Connors over the years had been married three times and had four children and had smoked since 1940 and for many years he smoked three packs a day. Sadly in 1992 at the age of 71 Chuck Connors passed away from pneumonia and was battling lung cancer. Chuck Connors was able to do many great things during his lifetime and is a true icon of western TV programs and even is in the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Mueseum’s Hall of Fame. So this update is dedicated to you Chuck Connors for entertaining the Brassfield family for generations.

Chuck Connors 1Chuck Connors 2Tourist Trap Poster

Werewolf the Complete Series has never found it’s way to VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray here in the United States by a main stream company but can be found on the Grey Market. Some years back I can remember that Shout Factory was going to put out the series and this made many fans happy cause they could toss away the old DVD-R’s and get a legit with better picture quality and extras! But as the release date drew near, the boxset was pushed back not once but twice and then it quietly was canceled, and fans of the show once more were left out in the cold with no official release. The story I heard of why this series has never made it out on home media is that some of the music that was used in the series is costing any company wanting to put it out too much in royalties. The big rumor on the band that’s caused much of the drama of this series not coming out is Mike + The Mechanics whose song Silent Running is used during a key part for the first episode, and they want way too much money for the rights to the song for home video. But again I must stress that all this is just rumors I have heard, but whatever the reason this series has not made it to DVD needs to be figured out so us fans can re-live the hunt for the werewolf curse cure.

Werewolf DVD-R setWerewolf DVD=rShout Factory Werewolf DVD set

So the full moon is in the night sky, and I can hear the children of the night howling with delight as we are about to take a look at the six issue comic series done by Blackthorne Comics based on this short lived horror TV series. So make sure you have your silver bullets ready and always keep in mind that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material. So let’s go on a wild ride of full moon fever and roam in a pack with Eric Cord. Also thanks to Bell Book And Comic, Ebay and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock

werewolf 3d

Werewolf 3-D  #1  ***
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne    #1 of 1

A couple is attacked and killed in the parking lot of the local disco by some kind of werewolf. The next morning Eric and his girlfriend Kelly are by the pool when her father comes out and is shocked and fearful of the attacks going on in their hometown.  You see Eric has been raised by them and his relationship with Kelly is a secret as they both don’t know how her dad would take the news as he looks at Eric as a son, and Eric’s best friend Ted is also Kelly’s brother. When Ted comes back into town he has Eric come over and tells him that he is the one killing all the people around town and that he is in fact a Werewolf! Ted begs Eric to kill him but after some time it’s too late as Ted becomes a werewolf and bites Eric who is forced to shoot and kill his friend, as the neighbors come rushing over they see Eric holding the dead body of Ted and he is blamed for murder. Out on bail Eric is picked up by Kelly who tells him that she knows her brother was a werewolf because he sent her a cassette tape message telling her the whole story the morning of his death.  So together Kelly and Eric deal with his full moon change that leaves him a crazed beast and together they find that a ship captain named Janos Skorzeny is the start of the curse, and when Eric meets him things go south real quick! That evening Skorzeny kidnaps Kelly as Eric is picked up by bounty hunter Alamo Joe Rogan on a full moon night for skipping out on bail.  When Eric turns into the beast, he escapes and saves Kelly from Skorzeny as a werewolf battle rages on in a burning cabin in the woods. In the end the sun comes up and the werewolves stop fighting.  Eric, while human, tells Kelly he must kill Skorzeny and set himself free, as Alamo Joe understands now he is no longer hunting just a man but now a monster.

This 3-D issue is a lot of fun and is really just an adaptation of the first episode of the series. The artwork and story are really well done but once more I found that the 3-D effect didn’t work all that great, much like it didn’t with The Noid comic and when wearing the glasses I could almost feel a headache creeping in. Eric Cord is our hero, a normal guy who just so happens to have really bad luck as he kills his best friend and at the same time is infected with a curse that turns him into a werewolf, and to make it all worse his girlfriend knows of his condition and he has a bounty hunter after him…so let’s just say our hero needs a lot of support from the reader. Plus I think the best thing about Eric is that he seems like an average guy, no different from you or me. Kelly is Eric’s girlfriend and is a huge help to him once he decides that he must track down the werewolf who started the bloodline that affects him.  While she is confused, she is a great help and a likable character. Alamo Joe Rogan is a great character who has been a bounty hunter for 21 years and has never lost one of his targets, and when he comes face to face with Eric as a werewolf he doesn’t blink an eye and just goes out and gets blessed silver bullets…now he’s what I would call a badass. The lead bad werewolf Janos Skorzeny is an evil man who takes joy in killing when the moon is full, and he is hard for the cops to find because being a sailor takes him from place to place.  He doesn’t get to flex his evil muscle much in this issue, but I am sure he will be a thorn in Eric’s side a lot during this comic series. The werewolf fight at the end of the issue was thing comic books are made of as the two beasts duked it out all the while the cabin around them is on fire and a lovely woman is caught between them….amazing! The artwork is really well done by Donnie Jupiter who captures the feel of the TV Show and the mood of a late 80’s horror comic, and the story from Frank Lupo and adapted by Lance Hampton is also top notch. Over all if you like the TV show or like werewolves then check out this cool little 3-D gimmick comic. So let’s travel deeper into the woods of this full moon and see what more mayhem we can read about.

Werewolf 1

Werewolf  # 1  ***
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.00    Blackthorne    #1 of 5

Eric Cord is hanging out at the dock where Skorzeny’s boat is and with a stolen gun and some silver bullets he plans on killing the old ship captain and lifting his curse. While waiting around the docks, Eric also finds out that Alamo Joe is on his tail and is also packing a gun with silver bullets but he is aiming for him and not Skorzeny.  To make it all worse, Alamo Joe has places a bounty on Eric’s head and now some of the shady dock workers want the money. Skorzeny gets mad at another ship captain and turns into a werewolf and kills him very brutally as Eric as well turns into a werewolf and has to kill some dock workers who were attacking him to collect the reward on his head. In the end Werewolf Eric comes face to face with Alamo Joe, who fires a silver bullet into his ear, causing the beast to leap into the water and disappear into the night sky. In the morning Skorzeny shows up and is upset about the bullet holes in his ship, as Alamo Joe finds out that brutal murders have been happening around the dock for months now and he also finds Eric’s journal that tells the story of Skorzeny being the werewolf king! As for Eric, he wakes back up as a human on shore and knows that he must try and kill his tormentor again and again until he succeeds.

What a great first issue, and while it is just based on a script from an episode of the TV Show, it still translates to comics really well. The downbeat mood of the issue is well described by the setting of the dirty and scummy docks where not only Skorzeny roams but also some real dirt bags.  Placing yourself into Eric’s shoes as he searches the area for his target helps add to the over all chill of the issue. Eric Cord in the issue is more of a man on a mission and with Kelly safe at home and his mind on the cure, he comes off way manlier and way more ready for action. As the Werewolf, Eric is a killing machine and if the 3-D issue taught me anything, it’s that as the werewolf he can even stand toe to toe with Skorzeny who is older and tougher than him. Skorzeny is a cruel evil man and when the werewolf he don’t care who he kills and how brutal it may be, in fact in this issue when he kills the fellow sea captain, he doesn’t just claw and bite him, he also impales him on a metal rod! Alamo Joe in this issue don’t get into the action too much as he only gets one good shot off from his gun and that only clips Werewolf Eric’s ear.  He mostly is around to be a pain in Eric’s side as he puts pressure on the dock workers to turn him in. The issue, while in black and white, does have the use of blood during the werewolf attacks and while I would not say it’s a bloodbath it is nice to see in this TV Adaptation comic series. The issue’s artwork is once more top notch late 80’s independent horror comic work and is done by a great artist whom I could not find his or her’s name in the credits. The issue’s cover is pretty cool and has all the main characters shown so it does its job. I used to have this issue when I was younger as well, and it held up really well as I liked it back then as well as today. So let’s see what happens in issue two and see if Eric can fulfill his destiny.

Werewolf 2

Werewolf  # 2  **
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.00    Blackthorne    #2 of 5

Davey is a 10 year old boy who loves monsters who lives with his mom and her abusive boyfriend Bobby. Late one night Davey hears a gunshot as well as a howl, and he gets hyped that a real life monster must be out and near his house.  He sneaks out and finds a werewolf who has a bullet wound and takes him to his tree house to hide. The next morning Davey is caught entering the house by his mother and he tells her about his monster friend, she thinks he just telling stories and allows him to eat his breakfast in his tree house as Bobby bullies the Mom and always trashes and picks on Davey leaves for work but not before meeting a man who comes to the house looking for a wounded man he has shot and who he tells them is a murderer. Davey finds that the werewolf is now a man who needs help to remove the bullet from his shoulder and the young boy helps him.  Later in the day Bobby returns home and starts beating on Davey and his Mother, and the wounded man comes to their aid and turns into a werewolf and kills Bobby and escapes into the night as Davey warns it of the law coming to kill it.

This issue is a major disappointment as I am sure that this issue has zero to do with Eric Cord or any other character from the TV show and was just a generic werewolf story they had sitting around the Blackthorne office and decided to slap the Werewolf logo on it and pass it off as one. Not once is the man shot referred to as Eric Cord, and in fact he is nameless as is the hunter who is hot on his trail, plus not once is Skorzeny brought up. While this issue’s story is not bad, it would have been a better fit for a comic series like Howl, Creepy or even Vault of Horror as I feel the story line would have been better suited for that style of horror comics. The plot is really simple, and it’s about a boy with a big imagination who meets a real life werewolf who is injured and the youngster takes care of him and in return he kills the evil and mean boyfriend of his mother who has beaten them and made their lives miserable. The artwork in this issue is really weak, and The Werewolf looks terrible and NOTHING like the werewolf from the show and past issues and was done by Abel Laxamana. Don’t want to spend to much time on this issue and hope that # 3 gets better and goes back on track on what the series should be about and that’s Eric Cord and his hunt for his cure.

Werewolf 3

Werewolf  # 3  *
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.00    Blackthorne    #3 of 5

A couple is attacked and killed in the parking lot of the local disco by some kind of werewolf. The next morning Eric and his girlfriend Kelly are by the pool when her father comes out and is shocked and fearful of the attacks going on in their hometown.  You see Eric has been raised by them and his relationship with Kelly is a secret as they both don’t know how her dad would take the news as he looks at Eric as a son, and Eric’s best friend Ted is also Kelly’s brother. When Ted comes back into town he has Eric come over and tells him that he is the one killing all the people around town and that he is in fact a werewolf! Ted begs Eric to kill him but after some time it’s too late as Ted becomes a werewolf and bites Eric who is forced to shoot and kill his friend.  As the neighbors come rushing over they see Eric holding the dead body of Ted and he is blamed for murder.

Yep, as you can see issue # 3 is just part of the 3-D special done in none 3-D and this is one CHEAP move by BlackThorne who did not even state this anywhere on the cover as they try and pass it off as a third in a series.  What makes this more annoying is all this stuff told in this one is supposed to take place before # 1. As you all know I enjoyed the 3-D issue and liked the artwork and the story, but for this cheap move I have to give this issue, aka cheap reprint, a 1 star.

Werewolf 4

Werewolf  # 4  *
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.00    Blackthorne    #4 of 5

Out on bail Eric is picked up by Kelly who tells him that she knows her brother was a werewolf because he sent her a cassette tape message telling her the whole story the morning of his death.  So together Kelly and Eric deal with his full moon change that leaves him a crazed beast and together they find that a ship captain named Janos Skorzeny is the start of the curse, and when Eric meets him things go south real quick! That evening Skorzeny kidnaps Kelly as Eric is picked up by bounty hunter Alamo Joe Rogan on a full moon night for skipping out on bail.  When Eric turns into the beast he escapes and saves Kelly from Skorzeny as a werewolf battle rages on in a burning cabin in the woods. In the end the sun comes up and the werewolves stop fighting, and Eric, while human, tells Kelly he must kill Skorzeny and set himself free, as Alamo Joe understands now he is no longer hunting just a man but now a monster.

The second part of the reprint of the 3-D issue and once more a major let down that they would take such a cheap route on a series that thus far only had two good issue in its pretty short run. It’s no wonder why this series was on the chopping block and sales must have been really bad after three issue coming out being this bad and poorly thought out. This is very disheartening that Blackthorne treated this series with this little of respect and delivered these two issues to fans of the show and comic series. Let’s not harp on these two issue reprints and move on to the 5th and final issue in the series. But I do want to state again, I loved the story of this issue and #3, I just hate the fact they are just reprints of the 3-D issue that came out the same years as these.

Werewolf 5

Werewolf  # 5  ***
Released in 1989    Cover Price $2.00    Blackthorne    #5 of 5

Some young lovers are camping at a lake in the woods, and they are attacked and killed by a werewolf. The next morning Eric wakes up in the woods and meets Deidra, a good witch who invites him back to her home for some fresh cloths and a good meal. While home Tracy, a young woman, shows up and gets a love potion from Deidra and rushes off to give it to the boy she is crushing on. Deidra talks to Eric and tells him that she knows what he is and can 100% say that he was not the werewolf who killed the campers and that she can try and help him control the curse. Eric don’t believe in witchcraft but feels a bond to Deidra so he agrees to the help, just as Tracy comes running to them with he would be boyfriend chasing her in a rage and hyped up on PCP and dies from the overdose. The father of the boy blames Deidra even after the police tell him his son died from the PCP and he along with some fellow towns people set fire to Deidra’s house killing her and forcing Eric to turn into the werewolf and teach them some manners. In the end Eric once more must move on to find a way to end his curse and still a little heartbroken over the loss of his could-be lover Deidra.

What a breath of fresh air that this series ended on a good note and had another solid and well-done issue for its final! This time around Eric Cord finds himself befriending a white witch who tries to cure him but gets targeted by local hillbillies who ruin his chance at a cure of his curse. Eric in this issue comes off as a man worried about the deeds his werewolf side commits and also in an odd turn a disbeliever of the unknown.  I mean you would think he would consider the fact that witches are real given the fact he’s a werewolf! Deidra is an okay character and is a good witch and for some reason while reading this I kept flashbacking to the Dark Horse Comic Pumpkinhead mini series that had the good witch Mariah who also meet an early death due to backwoods thinking rednecks. While the series ended on a good issue the series still very much was lacking with two issues being a reprint and one issue feeling as if it shouldn’t even be in the series due to the poor werewolf drawing. Below is some of the artwork used in this series so give them a look and enjoy. 

werewolf art 1werewolf art 2werewolf 3

So the moon is going away and the sun is coming up, and our werewolf hunt has come to an end, well for now.  I must say over all I enjoyed the comic series based on one of my childhood favorite shows.  The major letdowns that really bogged the series down have to be the reprints for issues 3 and 4. If you’re a fan of the show or of werewolves, this is one series you might want to check out, and while it was no bloodbath, the series did have some cool kills and the black and white art will remind you of classic horror magazines like Creepy and Eerie. But our next update will move away from Eric Cord the Werewolf and will focus on Pinhead the Cenobite as I take a look at Epic Comics’ movie adaptation of Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.  So until then read, a horror comic or two, watch a horror themed TV show and support you local horror host and beware of the full moon!

Hellraiser III Logo

The Wonderful Wizard of Wally

Hey, all and welcome back! This time around we are going to take a look at one of Star Comics’ most popular home grown characters, Wally The Wizard. I first heard about Wally The Wizard via a free give away/very cheap subscription on the back of a box of cereal and sent away and got issue # 1 of Wally, Top Dog and Planet Terry for free/dirt cheap. While I didn’t know the character, I found myself liking his over all good nature. While Wally did pretty well for Star, it was lost in the sea of licensed based comics like Ewoks, Strawberry Shortcake, He-Man and many others making him not one most kids would talk about nor trade on the playground. While his impact not very huge, his books lasted for 12 issues longer than many of the licensed based titles, showing his sales had to be good enough to keep him afloat.

Speaking of afloat, here in and around Dayton we had many small movie theaters that aren’t owned by Showcase, The Rave or Regal, and sadly many of them over the past 15 years have slowly gone away.  I guess the small theaters can’t compete with the IMax and stadium seating. While we still have The Englewood Theater in Englewood, Little Art Theater in Yellow Springs and Neon Movies in Dayton, we have lost the likes of Chakeres The Kettering Theater, Flicker Palace in Huber Heights and most sad of all Page Manor in Fairborn. Let’s first talk about The Flicker Palace in Huber Heights, a small theater in the middle of strip mall that hosted many late night horror films and even was the first home of Horrorama (a charity event I’ve been helping with for the last 14 years or so).  Sadly I never got to step foot in Flicker but only heard the stories from friends like Andy Copp, Dr. Creep and Rick Martin about how cool the place was. I have gone and visited the run down shell that was Flicker over the years and when looking inside the windows you see that it has been gutted and I mean gutted.  From the floor up, it’s just one big empty room with gravel floor, It’s a shame that the owners of the strip mall decided doing this to the theater was a good idea and even more of a shame that no one bought this theater after closing and kept it going. Below is a picture of the theater and a picture of Andy Copp and Dr. Creep in the theater.
FlickerAndy and Dr Creep

Next up is the Kettering Theater, an amazing place to see movies when I was younger.  Sure, the seats were rock hard and you would leave with a backache, and sure, the popcorn tasted like it had been under a heat lamp for 3 months but it was still Kettering’s own little theater house before the jumbo movie house in the outside mall, the Greene, moved in. I remember going and seeing movies like Broken Arrow and Austen Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me at the theater and this is even where my brother meet Dr. Creep and sparked our love for the Dayton horror host before I even was in school. The theater’s exterior was an amazing classic style theater, and the inside was very old and should have been updated but the dirt inside also added to the charm of the theater. After the theater went under, the building sat empty for many years until in early 2013 a church bought it to transform into a new meeting place for their congregation.  So sadly, the epic Kettering Theater and its amazing building will now no longer be used for a movie going experience. Below is a pic of the theater, and the pic of my brother Bryan with Dr. Creep.

Kettering TheaterBryan and Dr Creep

Page Manor was the coolest small theater in the area and had not only two screens but also a very small video arcade and hosted lots of fun stuff from Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight to independent horror films that included one of my old shorts called Hellraiser Warehouse. One of my best memories was seeing Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation when it was finally released for its very small theatrical run and Page Manor was the only theater to pick it up. I was working at Kroger at the time and was a teen who loved horror films.  I became friends with Jason Shivadecker, a guy who was a few years older and who as well loved horror films and also made his own shot on video films. When we heard that Page was showing the new Texas Chainsaw, we were hyped and made sure to get tickets early and plan for this epic night of horror! We got to the theater early as did many fans who were waiting to see Leatherface do what he does best, and that’s when some odd early 20’s something kid was pacing around looking for someone to talk to him.  He targeted us and started to ramble on and on about how he had seen the movie every screening thus far at the Page and how he loved it and how it was the best in the series.  After a few minutes we were able to get away from this super fan and get a seat. We got our seats that were great, and the film started and what we saw was something that would stick with me, not because of the gore and scares but because the film was so silly and dumb that I had a blast watching it. After the film we drove around laughing at the film and then went to a party. Also at that theater I have been to Horrorama’s, late night horror shows put on by Andy Copp and so much more. This was my favorite theater in the area, and when it went under for the second time, a rumor was going around that it was coming back, but sadly this did not come to be and after a fire in the strip mall, it was the owners who decided to demolish the theater. Below is a pic of the great Page Manor as well as a screen grab of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Next Generation.

Page ManorLeatherface Jacks

One last one just because it was a fun place to see movies was Beavercreek Cinema that later became The Bargain Box Office.  It had multiple screens, terrible popcorn and hard seats but it was a fun time. I went to this theater when I was younger and saw films like Ghostbusters 2 and The Goonies their during their first run and saw second run films when it reopened and became the Bargain Box Office. One fun story I have about this place was when it re-opened my girl at the time, Jennifer, liked Kevin Smith movies while I on the other hand don’t like his work.  But being a trooper, I took her to see Clerks 2 and while being tortured with his unfunny dialogue, a miracle happened as a bat began flying all around the screen and in front of the projector and to me this was a sign from Count Dracula or Batman that I should be at home watching them on DVD. The Beavercreek Cinema is closed now and sits rotting in Lofino’s Shopping Center hoping one day to come back and spread the love of films.

Bargain Box Office

Those are just a drop in the hat of cool theaters that closed.  I mean I know I am not the only one who misses the movie theater that was inside the Dayton Mall. But with that let’s get away from movies on the big screen and take a look at a movie on the small screen as we talk about another Independent B Movie flick, this time directed by Matt Hoffman – none other than The Wolf Hunter or The Werewolf Hunter as it reads in the credits. After Werewolf of Ohio 2, we were on cloud nine, and this was our peak.  Many inside the group including myself really liked the idea of The Wolf Hunter character having his own spinoff movie and none spoke louder than Matt Hoffman who played the character for me. With Hoffman really wanting to play the character again, I went down into the cool basement that was Independent B Movie studios and wrote out a draft that took place before the character’s death and showed that he had his own major foe with a werewolf king called Malice. The script I wrote was about a cat and mouse game played between the two that left many dead and a final showdown that was to take place in some deep dark woods.  The film was to have a higher budget than any of the past films and was set to be the bloodiest one ever made. This, however, was not the case as Hoffman liked the script and went in to rework it, and took out lots of the blood and even the cat and mouse game and added more screen time for just the Wolf Hunter character who now was in 97% of the film, unlike the 75% that the original script had. All of Malice’s kills were cut, and he was pushed more into the background as an almost afterthought until the very end. The end battle was also changed and taken out of the woods and onto an old bridge that in my opinion worked even better than the woods! While at first I was a little annoyed that my script had gone through such a wild and extreme re-write, seeing how proud Hoffman was of this project made that go away fast, and I was happy for my friend who found a character he could truly bond with. Hoffman and I, with his script in hand, set out to cast it and we first hired Brandon Womeldorff as lead camera man and I took up being the second unit camera man. My good friend Patrick Neeley played Malice.  Josh Weinberg played Oliver another werewolf. Jason Gilmore played both werewolf Red-Eye and The Holy Bullet Man, and Amy Hoffman played Amber, the love interest of the Wolf Hunter and lastly we cast Geoff Burkman as Amber’s Father. The film’s plot followed The Wolf Hunter, a loner who takes a job rescuing a young woman named Amber from a werewolf named Oliver who when human loved her.  After her rescue, The Wolf Hunter finds that he himself is in love but makes the mistake of leaving her behind and she is killed by Malice, king of all Ohio werewolves. The rest of the film The Wolf Hunter tracks down and battles Malice to the “death” at an old covered bridge. Filming went fast, and the production had very little set backs and even less in-house fighting. One funny moment on the set had Jason Gilmore, who as Red-Eye fell into the waters of Caesar’s Creek, running around naked behind Matt Hoffman as he gave an on set interview and was clueless to the fact a naked man was moving around behind him. After the film wrapped, Brandon Womeldorff, Hoffman and myself headed to Fairmont and we edited it in two days.

Wolf Hunter VHS

After the film was done, a meeting was called for a screening of Hoffman’s first ever directed film, and the house was packed with almost everyone who was a part of Independent B Movie. Hoffman gave a brief introduction to his film, and then play was hit on the VCR and the film known as The Wolf Hunter started playing on the TV. After the meeting, the film was meet with mix reviews as most just picked it apart because Hoffman made it.  I for one think the film is super fun and cheesy and hits the spot when it comes to a late night flick watching. The film was then made on VHS and sold at conventions and did pretty well  Years later it would also get a DVD release that also sold well. The film also got a t-shirt based on one of the hunting scenes! The film has been reviewed on a number of websites and has mostly been meet with poor reviews because of its production value, but many of them point out the fun and silly over all nature of the film and see the camp value of watching it. Poor reviews aside, the film has built up a very small cult status and is still to this day talked about amongst the old group of movie making friends that made up Independent B Movie.

The Wolf HunterShowdownWolf Hunter 1

Wolf Hunter was filled with lots of “scary” werewolves that were said to haunt Ohio and here real quick, I would like to give you a quick rundown of each werewolf and how they came about. First, let’s take a look at Malice, who was played by Patrick Neeley.  The mask was bought at K-Mart during Halloween time by Hoffman who liked the look of the grey furred open mouthed mask. The character Malice was based on a short film script that was given to me many years before when I worked at Kroger as a bagger by a fellow bagger called Bark At The Moon. In the Bark script, Malice was a sorcerer who lived in the woods and was cursed by magic to become a blood thirsty werewolf. In The Wolf Hunter, we changed it so that Malice is and always has been a werewolf and alongside The Wolf Man (Werewolf of Ohio) has spread the curse all over Ohio. Malice is super strong and also super smart and is protective of his area that contains a covered bridge that acts as his home base.

Malice

The second werewolf is Oliver who was played by Josh Weinberg.  The mask was bought at Wal-Mart around Halloween time and was picked because I thought it looked like Oliver Reed’s werewolf in Hammer horror film Curse of the Werewolf. Oliver was purely based on that Hammer film, and his look in the film was as well, wearing a ripped up button up shirt and black pants.  From day one, Josh was the choice to play the part. When human, Oliver was a rich young man who was dating Amber, the daughter of a media store owner, and he was was attacked on his way home after a date and became a werewolf. Even as a werewolf, he held a love for Amber and kidnapped her and rushed into the woods of Oakwood, where he was attacked by The Wolf Hunter and Amber taken away from him. Oliver has brown fur and is strong but not a pure top powered werewolf.  He also is smart and seems to learn from his past mistakes. His home base is the woods around Oakwood, and he is very protective of his area.

Oliver

The last werewolf of the film is Red-Eye, who was played by Jason Gilmore who was going by the name Max Price, and the mask was bought at Wal-Mart and was very cheap and at first almost didn’t make it into the movie. Red-Eye was written into the film to open it up and be a target for The Wolf Hunter to show his hunting power. Red-Eye wore an old green button up shirt and tan pants and was rocking slick backed black hair and his face has brown. Red-Eye is a weak werewolf who is considered a bottom feeder who only feeds on the leftovers of more powerful werewolves. Red-Eye is weak and is very nervous around humans, and he has no home base area and spends his time roaming.

Red EyeThe Wolf Hunter has a legacy that pleases diehard fans and tickles the funny bones of those who see it as a cheesy action horror film. And while the film is no master piece and by most accounts is no budget trash, I for one am proud I had something to do with it and am even more happy to see my friend Matt Hoffman be so proud of a film he has his heart and soul in.

WH vs MaliceWolf Hunter DVDWH vs Malice Bridge

The new WWE Game has been titled “WWE 2K14” and is now being made by 2K Games after THQ sadly went out of business early in the year. This year, the theme went away from the Attitude Era and is now focused on “30 Years of Wrestlemania” where players get to play through some of the biggest matches in the event’s history like Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant at Wrestlemania III and Hogan taking on Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI.  But as with last year some top names have been snubbed from being in the game and here is my top 5 list of wrestlers that 2K and WWE should be ashamed of themselves for not including them in the game.  I will also point out key matches that they were involved in.

WWE2K14 Hulk Hogan20909Hotspot-SingStar-80:Layout 1wwe2k14 ultimate warrior

I would also like to point out that while many wrestlers have been snubbed they did include a lot of great names: from the past like Andre The Giant, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Ultimate Warrior, Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy to name a few.  So good job on those inclusions…but with that let’s get into my snub list. Now for my list I looked at all the past Wrestlemania’s and even watched a few on DVD to get the full dose of matches these grapplers I picked had.  These are all legends of the sport that I truly think were snubbed! So let’s get onto my picks on who should be in WWE 2K14.

rowdy roddy piper

Rowdy Roddy Piper

Rowdy Roddy Piper is a legend in the wrestling world who began his pro career in 1973 when he became a member of the roster for the AWA as what is known as a jobber (a wrestler who is thrown to the top stars to lose).  Piper then went on to wrestle in some of the industry’s top promotions like NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) and GCW (Georgia Championship Wrestling), and in these two places Piper made a name for himself as a solid worker and a master of mic skills. But while in GCW, Piper was blackballed from the territory for showing up late to a match and would work for Puerto Rico and Jim Crocket Promotions. In 1984, Piper made his way to WWF and started out as a manager to wrestlers Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff and David “Dr. D” Shultz and later became a full fledged member of the roster.  Piper was a bad guy (heel), and his first two major feuds were with Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and Bruno Sammartino! But in 1985, his most important rivialy took place as Piper was picking on pop singer Cyndi Lauper and wrestling manager Captain Lou Albano sparking WWF Champions to come to their aid and sparking a fight that would take place on MTV at an event called “The War To Settle The Score.”  This match then lead to the first main event at the first Wrestlemania! The match had Hulk Hogan and actor Mr. T taking on Piper and Paul Orndorff, and history was made. Piper would come and go in the WWF/WWE for many years after this and would have many great matches with the likes of Bret “Hitman” Hart, Bad News Brown, Goldust and Adrian Adonis. From almost from the moment he stepped into the company, Piper was also given his own talk show called “Piper’s Pit” where many iconic moments took place from bashing Jimmy Snuka in the head with a coconut to beating up a jobber wrestler with one arm behind his back! Fans have loved and hated Piper over the years, and he is one of the most iconic wrestlers WWF has even had.  So to me, it makes no sense why he is not in the game and since he had many Wrestlemania moments that outshine Goldberg’s terrible match with Brock Lesner. Here is to hoping 2K and WWE wake up and make him DLC. Piper also is in the WWE HALL OF FAME as of 2005!

Key WM Matches: Piper & Paul Orndorff vs. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (Wrestlemania) and Piper vs. Bret Hart (Wrestlemania 8)

Paul Orndorff

Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff

Before Lex Luger, Ravishing Rick Rude and Dolf Ziggler, Orndorff was the original show off, the man who thought his body was better than everyone else’s but without the glam and with more of a kick ass attitude. Before his pro wrestling career Orndorff was a star on the college football fields and even was picked up to play for the NFL! Orndorff began wrestling in 1976 for many small promotions and even a few major ones like NWA, SCW (Southeast Championship Wrestling) and GCW before going to WWF in 1983 where he had Roddy Piper as his manager and fought guys like Tito Santana and Jimmy Snuka. Orndorff took the side of Piper in his feud with Hogan and had feuded with Hogan up until the main event at the first Wrestlemania. Orndorff would turn good and bad throughout the years and even had a match with Don Muraco at Wrestlemania II. He would have huge matches with Hogan after this event that even lead to steel cage matches and more. In 1988 Orndorff took time away to heal some injuries and would go on to wrestle for WCW (World Championship Wrestling), UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation) and Smokey Mountain. He would end his career with WCW after injuries and worked as a trainer and backstage for the company. In 2005 Mr. Wonderful was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame. Mr. Wonderful was a hard worker and a great competitor and should be in this game for helping launch Wrestlemania. Without him and Piper, the first event would not be the iconic event we fans view it as.

Key WM Matches: Roddy Piper & Orndorff vs. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (Wrestlemania) and Orndorff vs. Don Muraco (Wrestlemania II)

Sid Vicious

Psycho Sid

Sid is a man of many names in the wrestling world from Lord Humongous to Sid Justice to Sid Vicious, but most fans know him as Psycho Sid from his time at the top of the WWF! Sid started his career out in 1987 in such promotions as Memphis, New Japan and World Class, but by 1989 WCW had gotten the powerhouse to join their federation.  The master of the power bomb was in full swing as he became a member of the tag team the Skyscrapers and would later become a member of the legendary Four Horseman with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Barry Windham. Sid left WCW after a true lack of world title push and left for WWF in 1991 where he became a top runner for the world title and had feuds with The Undertaker and Jake Roberts.  After thinking he had been overlooked for a title shot, he targeted Hulk Hogan who he thought was the man standing in his way. After a fight at Wrestlemania, Sid left the company. In 1993 he returned for a short time to WCW and then went to a few other smaller promotions before coming back to the WWF in 1995 to become Shawn Michael’s bodyguard and once more become a top runner for the world title fighting guys like Diesel, Bret Hart and The Undertaker, having many top profile matches and being one of the company’s top stars. Sid would leave again in 1997 and would finish his top company career out in WCW. Sid was a massive man, and I would love to have him feud in WWE 2K14 with the likes of The Big Show, Andre The Giant and Big John Studd! In 2012 Sid even showed back up on WWE TV with two appearances on Monday Night Raw! Here is to hoping that he is future Legends DLC in the game because I for one would love to powerbomb Daniel Bryan into a table!

Key WM Matches: Sid vs. Hulk Hogan (Wrestlemania 8) and Sid vs. The Undertaker (Wrestlemania 13)  

jake roberts the snake.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts

Once more Jake finds himself not in a WWE game that clearly he should be in! Roberts began his wrestling career in 1974 and was a roster member for such federations as Mid-South Wrestling, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, GCW and NWA, but it was in 1986 when Jake was called up to the WWF and became the Snake! Jake, like Piper, was given his own talk show called “The Snake Pit” and his first major feuds were with Ricky Steamboat and The Honkey Tonk Man. He would change from a heel to a face many times in his WWF run and would wrestle guys like Andre The Giant, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Ravishing Rick Rude, Earthquake, Rick “The Model” Martel and Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase.  Jake would leave in 1992 and would work for WCW, AAA and Independents before coming back to WWF in 1996 where he was a veteran and was used as a man who had battled demons in his past and was there to talk the word of God to those who would listen. Sadly, Jake was a real life junkie and had burned many bridges and failed many drug tests and this was his first full second chance of becoming a top superstar. During this late 90’s run, Jake also helped spark the “Austin 3:16” catch phrase after a match with Steve Austin at King of The Ring! Jake “The Snake” Roberts has never held a WWF/WWE title and has yet to make it to the Hall of Fame, but he remains one of the company’s top legends that still has fans to this day. Jake should be in this game and here is hoping he will be DLC.

Key WM Matches: Roberts vs. Honkey Tonk Man (Wrestlemania III), Roberts vs. Andre The Giant (Wrestlemania 5), Roberts vs. The Undertaker (Wrestlemania 8)

Note From Matt – Well, I got one right as Jake Roberts will be on the game’s final DLC Pack.

Lex Luger

Lex Luger

While The Total Packahe Lex Luger didn’t make the splash in WWF that Vince and the company were hoping for, he still was a main-eventer who should be in WWE 2K14! Lex Luger began wrestling in 1985 for NWA Florida, and a year later he was working for NWA that later became WCW where he became a main-eventer who would go on to be a member of the Four Horseman and would feud with the likes of Ric Flair, Ron Simmons, Sting and Barry Windham. While there, Luger capture the World Title and become one of the company’s top heels. Luger, however, left them in 1992 and went to work for WWF and its bodybuilding league the WBF.  His first gimmick in the WWF had him playing The Narcissist Lex Luger, a heel who was so egotistical that he would pose and look at himself in mirrors, his major matches being with Mr. Perfect Curt Henning. Luger turned face and became an all American hero type after he slammed Yokozuna on July 4th. Luger would become a top contender for the world title and would feud with such grapplers as Bret Hart, Tatanka, Crush and Ludvig Borga and would later form a tag team with The British Bulldog to be called Allied Powers. Then Luger would shock the world as he showed up on the first episode of WCW Nitro while also being on a taped WWF match the same night. Luger had switched companies and was the first major shot fired at WWF. Luger would wrestle for WCW until 2001 when the company shut down. Luger would then make a few appearances on TNA (Total Nonstop Action) before retiring from the sport due to a spinal stroke. Luger was a power house in whatever federation he was in and should be a member of the 2K14 roster! John Cena would so be put in the torture rack!

Key WM Matches: Luger vs. Yokozuna (Wrestlemania 10)

So there are my top 5 wrestlers that I truly think got snubbed for WWE 2K14 30 Years of Wrestlemania. All the grapplers above were hard working and guys that impacted the event. I am not sure why they were left out but I hope that somehow some way 2K sees this list and gives each of these guys a second look at maybe being DLC. With this let’s get into our main event with Wally The Wizard!

wwe 2k14. logo

Star Comics officially started in 1984 with a three issue movie adaptation of Muppets Take Manhattan, and in 1985 Marvel Comics fully opened up Star as branch that dealt with strictly kids comics.  When Star opened, it had a few cartoon/toy/TV based comics like Muppet Babies, Thundercats, Fraggle Rock, and Care Bears but they also had some original characters like Top Dog, Royal Roy, Planet Terry, Spider-Ham and Wally The Wizard. While most kids flocked to the more well known characters, Wally was one of the originals that I can remember being on the comic rack at United Dairy Farmers next to Spider-Man, Superman and Transformers, and as I said before, I remember getting issue one as a free giveaway and enjoying it. While I do remember reading a few other Wally issues in my youth, I don’t have as much of an attachment to the character like I have for Spider-Ham, another Star original. Wally The Wizard is a kid who has been picked by the great wizard Marlin, the brother of Merlin, to be his apprentice.  While he is good, Wally still has a lot to learn and is in love the the princess of the kingdom. He has two best friends Conrad and Jay who he gets into adventures with, but he also has a demon guardian who is a nice guy named Gorg who watches out for him. The character is pretty simple and would have made a fun film idea if done by Steven Speilberg! The idea of a kids comic character having a demon as a friend was pretty shocking at the time of the whole Satanic Panic that was gripping America so I give the writers props for having the balls to do that. Wally The Wizard is a good mix of kid friendly adventures, fluffy magic and an element of 80’s film fantasy.

Wally The Wizard AdWally StarGorg as Spiderman

With a look back at long gone but not forgotten Dayton Movie Theaters, the rundown of Wally, WWE 2K14 snubs and the epic making of Independent B Movie The Wolf Hunter, I think it’s time now for us to dive into the world of Star Comics and take a look at one of their top home grown characters: Wally The Wizard.  I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 Star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material. So let’s dive into the world of a kid wizard that was way before Harry Potter and take our journey with Wally. And thanks to Lone Star Comics and Bell, Book and Comic for having these issues in stock!

Wally 1

Wally The Wizard # 1  ***
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #1 of 12

“A Plague of Locust” Wally is an apprentice to Marlin, brother of the famous wizard Merlin, and they are in the business of magic.  His best friends are Conrad (squire to the lead knight) and Jay (a chubby fryer), and after an accident Wally frees a demon named Gorg who pledges friendship for life. Wally makes medicine for the King and rushes to deliver it and along the way meets a dragon and helps save its child from a well. Wally makes it to the king and sees his crush, Princess Penelope, but not so faraway, the King’s evil half sister and her minions have made a giant robot Locust and set it free to bring down her brother’s kingdom. The Locust does major damage but is stopped by Wally who calls upon the Dragon he helped earlier who takes the Locust to the sun, and Gorg helps bring Wally safely back to the ground.

This is a great first issue and is a sure way to get people hooked on Wally’s and his friends’ adventures. In this issue, Wally comes off as a normal youth who questions his role with his master wizard and has a crush on a princess who clearly likes someone else.  He also seems to make friends easily as Gorg the Demon and a Dragon both come to his aid in the end. Princess Penelope is a snooty rich girl who turns her nose up to Wally and in some panels treats him as a low life. I hope she gets more likable in later issues, because as of right now I am not a fan. Jay and Conrad don’t have much to do in this issue and are your normal throw away friends who are around to add humor and friendship to the main character. Gorg is pretty badass and is an evil looking demon who talks of the future, but is an all around good creature who values friendship. One thing cool Gorg does in the issue is turns into Spider-Man and tells the kids of the past that the kids of the future love this look.  The artwork in the issue is pretty good and simple and reminds me of the funny papers in the Sunday paper. For being an original, the story is cheesy kids’ stuff that works, and the cover is very appealing with the pink demon Gorg being a nice addition to draw readers in. I only read this issue when I was younger and liked it then and still like it now.  So I really can’t wait to see what the rest of the series is like.  So with no more wait, let’s jump into issue 2!

Wally 2

Wally The Wizard # 2   **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #2 of 12

“The Magic-A-Thon!” When Marlin was a young wizard apprentice, he won a tournament called the Magic-A-Thon.  Now Wally his young apprentice wants to fallow in his footsteps and trains super hard to do so. Sleepless Knight is a pig of a man who stuffs his face and thinks of a blind date he is to have, but when his fortune cookie tells him the date will be a bust thanks to a wizard’s apprentice, he goes to rid himself of this pest who just so happens to be Wally! At the town square, Sleepless waits for Wally and attacks chopping his spell notes in half and causing him to fall inside a huge hole. After escaping, Wally makes it to the event spelless and manages to win just by using his brain. Sleepless makes one last attempt to kill Wally at the event and fails making himself look silly and running his chances with his date. In the end Wally is cheered, and his teacher Marlin is very proud of his young student.

This second issue while not as good as the first was still a fun read that kept Wally’s charm up and built more on his friendship with Marlin. In issue two, Wally is more into his magic and even makes a few spells that he learned but then also uses his brain to win the Magic-A-Thon. His appearance also changes and so do his attitude, making Wally seem as if he had grown as a character. The bad guy, Sleepless Knight, is a full fledged knucklehead, and it’s amazing that he wants to kill a kid over a fortune in a cookie. A funny flub in this issue is the fact Jay and Conrad seem to have changed who’s who as the names are given to the wrong character! Characters from issue one also make cameo appearances in this issue like Princess Penelope and the King. The art in this one is way more cartoon like, and this makes the events a little more fun.  The story is goofy and very kid appealing, and while the cover is pretty good, it could have been better. This is a good average issue # 2 and would have had me back in my youth. Let’s see if issue # 3 is any good.

Wally 3

Wally The Wizard # 3  ***
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #3 of 12

“Folkquest” Wally is down due to the fact he has not gotten any letters from his parents for weeks.  They are servants and seem to have forgotten about him. Wally gets the day off helping Marlin and goes to Vikk, a young Viking boy who lives in the kingdom after falling overboard his father’s ship.  The two feel sad together that is until they hear the news that a Viking ship had anchored and raided a near by castle and kidnapped the servants! Wally and Vikk start of a quest to find the ship and see their parents, but the journey is long and dangerous as they must fight off the evil step sister and giant lake monsters. In the end, only one can make it to the ship, and it’s Vikk who finds that it’s not his dad’s ship and trades his necklace (a gift from his dad) of Thor’s hammer to the captain for Wally’s parents’ freedom. In the end Wally’s parents adopt Vikk into their family leaving everyone happy.

This 3rd issues is a good fun kids comic that is filled with goofy adventure and some cheesy lines that would make any reader smile. It’s shown that Wally is far away from his parents to be Marlin’s apprentice and that he and his family are very close, adding yet more layers to Wally and making him less of a generic kid comic hero. He also gets a new friend in this issue named Vikk who is a young lost Viking boy who lives in the kingdom and is waiting for his dad. Vikk is a nice addition to the Wally family and makes me wonder if he will make more appearances in the series. Adventure and a quest also makes up the issue’s plot and is a fun way to get Wally out of the kingdom and into harm’s way as he is captured, eaten and must use his wits to rescue his parents. The art in this one is well done and much like issue 2, adds more detail to the character.  The story is well done as is the cover making this a good issue worth reading for fans of the first. Let’s check out issue # 4 now!

Wally 4

Wally The Wizard # 4   **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #4 of 12

“The Wand in the Stone” Marlin tells Wally of a story of a wand that has all the power in the world that is stuck in a stone.  The story goes that a master wizard will come along and remove it and become the strongest in the world! Wally’s mind filled with wonder of the story as he and Marling go into the woods to look at the stars and moon, but Marlin has forgotten his glasses and sends Wally back who gets lost and meets a Troll to takes him to the wand in the stone.  As other wizards watch on, Wally removes the wand and becomes the target of all the wizards around who want the power. After doing battle with a few, he decides to put the wand back and is transported back to Marlin’s side with a tale of excitement. The second story in this issue, “The Barbarians Are Coming,” is about a small man named Bul-Bul who looks like a barbarian and gets all the knights in the kingdom worked up as they think an invasion is in the works, but it takes Wally to befriend him and help him get home safe.

Issue 4 is just average and for some reason has two stories instead of one.  This is a change I do not like! Story one: “The Wand in the Stone” is a take on the sword in the stone and fits perfectly in the story this far of Wally and his life/adventures and has he and Marlin charting stars and the moon together. Then Wally performs a feat that shows one day he will be the most powerful wizard. Throw in Conrad for a cameo, and add a small Troll who lives in a small house in the woods, and you have a good adventure. And it shows more adults wanting to kill the young Wally…man, this kid has equal bad luck to go with the good. Story two is “The Barbarians Are Coming,” and while short, it’s a clear throw away and seems very much off from the storyline we have going this far.  While Gorg is back for a brief moment, it mostly follows Wally as he helps a lost short strange old man.  While goofy and light hearted, I just found it to be weak and the pages it takes up should have been used to expand on the Wand in the Stone story. The art in this issue is done by Ben Brown, and while the first stories art is okay, the second seems like a rushed mess and is not appealing to the eye. The cover, however, is pretty cool and has a nice fantasy look to it. With being 4 issues in, I can say so far that Wally The Wizard is a good kid’s comic and makes me really hyped to read issue 5! So with this let’s move on to more magical adventures of Wally.

Wally 5

Wally The Wizard # 5  **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #5 of 12

Wally gets Marlin upset when he trips over a broom and ruins six months worth of work.  Marlin lectures Wally he tells him to always pay attention to things around him. As Wally leaves the lab, he misses as Princess Penelope is being kidnapped and taken to the dark castle of Vastar and his wizard Erasmo who has placed a forcefield around the castle and is keeping the knights from being able to save the Princess. Marlin and Wally figure out that they might be able enter the castle from a hole above it that lets out the smoke from the fires going in the fireplaces. Wally gets the help of his demon friend Gorg who flies him into the hole and into the castle where he is able to free the Princess and spoil the evil one’s attempt for ransom money. The second story is another short one called “Dragon Fire” where Wally outsmarts a dragon as the kingdom’s under its attack!

Once more this takes the approach of having two stories instead of one, and again the second story seems like a waste of pages. Wally and Marlin seem to be at odds at the start of the first story, and this is odd and comes off not as cheery as their friendship has in the past issues. Wally once more uses his skills and mind to figure out how to save the day and once more tries to impress Penelope who comes off as a full fledged brat and is not likable at all in this issue. I do like how Wally clogs the hole and how Gorg once more is his demon self and is a loyal friend to Wally, though I must say I HATE the way Ben Brown draws him.  I feel he rush draws him and makes the character have zero detail. Vastar is a fat evil man who is controlled with greed and power.  His wizard Erasmo looks like a very generic 80’s evil character complete with black goatee! The second story has a dragon who is talked down from attacking by Wally and has the knights once more powerless to stop the challenge that is in front of them and makes you wonder how they stay a free kingdom and not taken over. The art is okay, and while some of Brown’s pages look good, others seem rushed and a mess. I don’t understand why he takes his time on some of it and clearly rushes the next.  His deadlines must have been a nightmare. The cover on this one is also just okay and nothing special. So let’s move on to issue 6 shall we?

Wally 6

Wally The Wizard # 6   ***
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #6 of 12

“Terror Mountain” A volcano is about to explode as The King and his people look to Marlin and his science for help, but he has nothing and only tells them all to flee the area and let it explode! The king doesn’t like what he hears and nor do his subjects, and they start to question why the pay him.  But worse for Marlin, his brother, the great magician Merlin, is coming, and while the world thinks he’s the best, his brother knows he’s a con man and is nothing more than a showman. When Merlin shows up with his apprentice Alfred, they wow the kingdom and take two full bags of gold and say they will stop the volcano and head for the border with the money and no intention of stopping the doom of Terror Mountain. As Wally and Marlin watch, the mountain explodes and traps Merlin and Alfred in its smokey death grip.  This causes Marlin and Wally to come to their rescue, and after doing so, Wally pulls a trick of his own as he replaces the gold Merlin conned away from the king with rocks, and together he and Marlin return to the Kingdom to give the King his gold back.

This issue is 100% a blast and has Wally being a hero and showing that he was the right choice for Marlin’s apprentice. I also like that is fleshes out Marlin and shows a little of his back story in a flashback of he and his brother growing up. Also Star took a huge chance and took a character that every one loved like Merlin the Magician and has him be a complete fraud that’s nothing more than cheap tricks that fool everyone into thinking he is powerful when really he is just a thief. Doing this was a bold move because it changes the image of a character who fans of King Author really love. I also like how the true meaning of this story is science vs. magic, and they want to prove magic is fake and science is real.  Odd move for a comic that is based around a kid wizard. Alfred, who is Merlin’s apprentice, is a good hearted kid but it’s clear he is learning at a young age to fool people and to con them of their money.  I am hoping that both Merlin and Alfred show back up in this series. This issue is back to one solid story, and this is a good thing as I would say that this issue next to issue # 1 is the best issue in the series thus far! The art is good and is down by Brown again, and time was taken.  The cover is pretty good and eye catching with its use of purple. After this issue I can’t wait to see what the next issue has to offer. Also this marks the half way point and makes me wonder if this series will stay solid or start to fall apart.  Only the future issues will tell!

Wally 7

Wally The Wizard # 7  **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #7 of 12

Wally is trying to make a magic elixir and makes a mistake and makes a mess, causing Marlin once more to be mad at him and tells him to go do something helpful. So Wally along with Conrad takes on the task of hanging flyers of the kingdom’s jousting competition where the winner gets the honor of being the best.  The odds on favorite is Sir Flauntaroy who is the King’s top knight. While in a small village, Wally meets Lucretia The Witch who has a strong dislike for Flauntaroy and gives an amulet to Wally to give to him for good luck, but it’s really a cursed item that causes fear! Wally rushes back to the Kingdom to get the amulet to Flauntaroy as Lucretia sends her nephew Heinous to enter the competition and to kill Flauntaroy who shot her down for a date years before. Wally gets the help of Gorg and makes it to the event as Flauntaroy is about to take on Heinous, and the evil plan backfires as Heinous is the one scared and Flauntaroy wins the event. The second story in this issue is called “Wrong Number” and has Wally and Marlin using a crystal ball to call another wizard friend to help cure a headache.  Things get crazy when Wally uses an old pan to do the same and wires get crossed and this effects Flauntaroy, The King and Penelope who all get caught up in the crazy mayhem. All the while, two crooks try and steal gold and get caught thanks to the mayhem.

Issue seven is back to two stories, and once more both are just okay with each being about the same and neither of them being the true stand out.  If I had to pick one, I would say the first story was better and because it introduces two new bad guys with Lucretia The Witch and Heinous. This issue is not really special, and while entertaining, neither story really adds anything to the world of Wally. In both stories Wally is still the fun loving wizard in training and is as likable as ever. Conrad gets his time to shine again and shows up as a background character in both stories and is shown to have a slight ego, but yet is a good friend to Wally. Marlin walks the line again of being a grumpy old man who is short tempered with Wally and yet still very loyal to his young friend. Princess Penelope is shown once more to be a terrible brat who is unlikable in every way. Lucretia The Witch is an odd faced old crazy lady who thinks that she is hot when she is not! Heinous is a big goof with a mean streak and a small brain, nothing special just a dumb brute. The artwork by Brown is good in both stories, and the cover is pretty eye catching.  I must say though, that doing the two stories in one comic always seems to cheapen both stories overall.  I’m not a fan of the two. So let’s move onto issue eight and see if it can get this average issue out of my mind. 

Wally 8

Wally The Wizard # 8   **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #8 of 12

Wally meets a gnome and saves him on accident and as a thank you he is given a magic rope that when a magic word is spoken makes whatever it’s touching disappear. Wally accidentally says the word as Sir Flauntaroy is touching it, and this makes the kingdom’s top knight disappear! Wally and Conrad rush to the mountain where he met the gnome to see if he has a word to make things appear.  While on this quest, they run into a race of ogre type creatures called the Gooniks who are very mean and are the rivals of the gnomes who save the two from being Goonik food by lowering a bridge across a ravine that separates the two enemy races.  But this is bad as The Gooniks start to build a bridge of their own to get across and end the feud once and for all! Wally gets the magic word, and Sir Flauntaroy appears and joins in on the plan to stop them from making it over! At the end Wally figures it out and tricks The Gooniks who fall into the ravine and make homes in the caves below and away from the gnomes.

This issue is pure Wally, and while side characters like Marlin, Conrad, Sir Flauntaroy and even Princess Penelope have appearances, this is a pure Wally adventure, and it’s okay. The issue is one adventure and not two, and this is the style I like. I did find this issue and the story to be filled with some fun kid friendly adventures. I am going to guess that the magic rope will never come back in any future story and nor will the Gnomes or Gooniks, and this is a shame.  A follow up story at some point to tell what has happened with both sides after the feud is over would be nice to see or even hear about. The artwork done by Brown is once more his A game and not rushed, and the cover is eye catching and makes the issue look scary and adventurous. Over all this is an okay issue and doesn’t offer up much to talk about so let’s move on to issue # 9 in the Star Wally The Wizard series. 

Wally 9

Wally The Wizard # 9  ***
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #9 of 12

It’s a dark and rainy night, and Princess Penelope is deathly sick.  The King and Marlin are trying everything they can to make her better and even have banned commoners from entering the castle or going near her. Wally is upset and feels that he is going to lose the love of his life forever as by the hour, she gets more ill. Wally gets the help of Gorg and travels to the past to find out that the Princess ate a poisoned mushroom which gave her the Fungus Hermungus sickness.  Then they travel to the future and find how to cure the sickness and steal a pill to make her well. When they return, it looks grim for the Princess until Wally and Gorg sneak in and give her the pill.  When The King and subjects enter the room Princess Penelope is better, and they credit Marlin for her recovery! At the end Princess Penelope knows Wally and Gorg were her true saviors and rewards them with a blown kiss at a parade.

This is a classic fun and silly kid comic story and is done really well and super entertaining! The plot has Wally and Gorg travel time to find a cure to save the Princess and for some reason this reminded me of “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “Mr. Peabody.”  The part that puts Wally in modern New York is just a really cool concept and brought the character closer to kids of 1985. In this issue Wally is not only a hero, but also shows a softer more emotional side as he cries thinking about loosing his love. Gorg is as cool as always and is the true reason the Princess gets cured as his time traveling skills and his Gargoyle friend are the keys to getting the pill. Princess Penelope is way more likable in this issue.  Through most of it she is sick, but it’s the end where she shows love and respect for Wally and Gorg that makes her come off more charming. Marlin is not in this issue that much, and when he is he comes off as a worried wizard who wants to help a dying girl. The art in this issue is just okay with Wally and the other humans looking a little off.  This art does have Gorg looking better than his past few issue appearances. The art this time is done by Bob Bolling.  With an eye catching cover and a solid one story, this issue is great and makes me look forward to the next.

Wally 10

Wally The Wizard # 10   **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #10 of 12

Wally is having nightmares about Princess Penelope being kidnapped by Vastar and his wizard Erasmo as well as the kingdom being under attack by a giant Goblin Grape! Wally tries to warn Marlin about his nightmares that could be visions of the future and is blown off. Wally is shown some gnats who when used can eat off the clothes of those who have a salt sprinkled on them. So Wally, Jay (remember his Chubby friend) and Alaina the Princess’ young maid all travel to Vastar’s castle and find that in fact they do have a giant grape that will eat everything in its path! Wally and Jay shake the salt on Vastar and Erasmo but are caught and taken to the castle’s cell before they can release the gnats. Alaina leaves to warn the kingdom of the gobbling grape doom that is headed their way, as Gorg and a magic spell rescue Wally and Jay who release the gnats in time.  They eat the clothes off the would be conquerers several times in fact, and even getting the salt on the grape that is eaten away. This make makes the baddies flee, and the kingdom safe once again.

This issue is pretty good, but I’m not so sure as I feel it was lacking something that would have made it better. I will say the story felt more like a back up story than a full issue one like it was. Wally once more saves the kingdom and gets no credit for doing so. Wally has turned into quite the hero over these past ten issues and is a great character for kids of the time to look up to. While in the comic, Jay is not used that much and is given very little to do besides play the role of bit player as goes for Marlin in this issue. Alaina gets to shine and shows that she is a loyal, loving friend to Wally.  She has the world’s largest crush on him that has built up in every appearance she has made so far in the series. I must say Alaina is a likable character and up to this point is barely used, and that’s a shame.  She is more perfect for Wally than the Princess is and here is to hoping he sees that by the next two issues. Vastar and Erasmo return as the issue’s baddies and once more are outsmarted by a kid, making them perfect bad guys for this style of kids fantasy comic. Howard Post did the art in this issue, and it really reminded me of Archie Comics and that’s a cool thing.  The cover on this issue is just so-so and could have been better.  Overall this issue is okay but nothing special.   

Wally 11

Wally The Wizard # 11   ***
Released in 1986   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #11 of 12

The King is having a feast at the castle that has all the royalty from all around gathering to partake in the eating of great food. Sir Evilus and his mother are not happy that they were not invited to the feast and have a plan to attack and take over the Kingdom.  But in the mother’s crystal ball she sees that it is Wally who stands in their way of winning this soon to be war, but her son pays it no attention and prepares for the attack. In the morning Evilus attacks and is getting the upper hand until his men kidnap Wally and by mistake a vanishing spell by Mother only makes half his body disappear.  The young wizard’s apprentice is nothing more than a floating head scares off the army when they think he is a ghost! In the end the spell wears off, and Wally once more saves the Kingdom, but the credit goes to Marlin who poured water on the army below.

This is another light hearted fun and wacky adventure for Wally to be in and marks yet another time he saves the Kingdom and gets zero credit for doing so. Wally is good natured though and never seems to be bothered that he gets no credit and just seems to enjoy the life he was given. Marlin once more is back to full grump mode and is so pushy that magic is fake and science is real, he even skips the feast in order to work on an experiment. Conrad, Jay, Alaina, Princess Penelope and Sir Flauntaroy all make cameos but are given nothing special, besides once more Penelope is a snobby brat. New baddy Sir Evilus is pretty cool as he looks like what you would think of for an evil knight complete with black goatee and evil witch of a mother.  While a cool bad guy, he does not come off as a threat to the Kingdom, but his army does. The plot is fun and gets to add a slight horror element to this kids’ comic as Wally acts as a ghost and superstition comes into play about bad omens and haunted castles. Ben Brown is back on art, and the issue looks nice and is some of his better work in the series thus far.  The cover on the other hand is kind of blah and not as eye catching as it should be. Well we are at the tail end of Star Comics’ Wally The Wizard and have only one issue to go.  So here is hoping that it goes out with a bang and not a whisper.

Wally 12

Wally The Wizard # 12   **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #12 of 12

Wally and Jay are messing around with magic, and a mistake leaves Jay turned into a human frog! Marlin witnesses this and is angered by Wally’s mistake and tells them only a kiss from a Princess can save him from a life of being all green.  They try Princess Penelope and her kiss fails.  They then travel along with Conrad to another kingdom and that princess’ kiss fails too. Jay is upset and flings himself into a swamp and is almost killed by a whirlpool! They rush him back to the kingdom, and a true heartfelt kiss from Princess Penelope brings him back into human form. The second story is called ” The Magic Bulls Eye.” Crazy Ethelred is a wizard who will do magic for cheaper then any other wizard in the land, and when the King falls for his tricks, it’s up to Wally and Conrad to show him it’s all fake and the trickster wannabe wizard instead gets a job in the kingdom as the Court Jester.

Story one is pretty good and is a take off the Frog and the Princess.  Wally once more makes a mistake, and this time his poor chubby friend Jay pays the price. Wally is very much upset over his mistake and travels all over to make it right. Jay as a frog is a crybaby who even at one point appears he is going to commit suicide as he runs into the swamp that’s filled with all types of hazardous creatures. Princess Penelope once more is a brat and only when it looks like Jay will die, is her kiss heartfelt.  She is not a likable character, and one does wish that Wally would wake up and see that Alaina is better for him. The second story is good and is a nice add on to the issue, but also it’s nothing special and is not worth really looking into. The art in this final issue is done by Howie Post with Ben Brown doing the second story, making it cool to see that Brown at least got to do artwork for the final issue in the series. Brown’s artwork is better than Post’s, and thats not a dig at Post as his art is well down and captures the feel of 70’s kid comics. The cover however is kind of bland, and I wish it would have had something a little better. Over all this issue is okay and not the best way to end the legacy of Wally on.

Star Comics made a good solid character in Wally The Wizard, who in his 12 issue run went on many adventures, saved the Kingdom many times, made friends with creatures like demons and gnomes, fell in love, became an apprentice to a wizard, went to the future and so much more. Kids in the 80’s didn’t have many kid comic characters that they could claim as their own and in the decade of sword and sorcery Wally fit in like a glove to become a likable character they could latch onto. While again I didn’t hear kids speak of Wally, his 12 issue run proves that kids were buying, and the fact that I at 34 still remembered him shows that he made an impact for those of us who read him. I must say that this series based on a Star original is really a fun read and a very good series and makes me looking forward to rereading and reviewing Planet Terry, Spider-Ham, Royal Roy, Meet Misty and Top Dog! This also made me really miss Star and wish they would have lasted longer.  Think of the possible IP’s and new characters that could have been! At some point in 2014, I will do one more “Should Have Been in the Star Comics World” and will get a few more friends as well to tell you what they would have loved to seen. But with this I am off to read more comics and maybe play some WWE 2K14 on PS3.  So see you all next update that will showcase a guest reviewer as my girlfriend, Juliet Fromholt will take you down here memory lane as she takes a look at Topps Comics’ Season 1 of The X-Files! So be there if you want to believe….. 

The X-Files logo

Battle of The Horror Legends! Brought To You By Topps

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

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

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

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

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

jafrdrdracula vs frankenstein posterdracfrank000

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

dracula art

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

Son of Frankenstein art

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

d vs f vhs

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

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

Werewolf of Ohio 2 VHS

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

Wolfman 2Werewolf Ohio 2 main castSkullmanKanny

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

Chris WeinbergJason GilmoreJeff RicksPatrick NeeleyMatt Hoffman

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

Wolfman 3Josh 3Wolf Hunter 3Skullman 3Chasity

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

WolfManWerewolf Of Ohio DVD Cover Josh

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

frankenstein dracula war 1

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

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

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

Frankenstein Dracula War 2

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

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

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

frankenstein Dracula War 3

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

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

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

The Monster heart broken

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

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

 Winner: Frankenstein’s Monster

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

brute logo

The Old Time Defenders Of The Planet Earth

When the world thinks of super hero teams, many come to mind like The Avengers, Justice League of America, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Teen Titans, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and of course at the top of that list are the Defenders of the Earth, right? Okay, I know most of you have never heard of them or if you have, I am sure you have forgotten about them until now. So let me tell you who the Defenders of the Earth are, and I can guarantee that you will know most the names mentioned. King Features Syndicate made comic strips, and some of their most popular ones were Flash Gordon, The Phantom and Mandrake The Magician.  In 1986 they decided that it would be a great time for them to put these characters together in a cartoon that would spin off into toys, video games and comics. Flash Gordon of course is the star football player who got lost in space and became a hero when he went up against the evil Ming The Merciless.  He was so popular that the character had toys, film serials and films made about him.  He was created in 1934. The Phantom was created in 1936 and is a costumed crime fighter in Africa.  His costume is a purple skintight body suit that covers most of his skin besides his face, he also wears a small mask that covers his eyes making them seem solid white. His costume set a standard in super hero history. Mandrake The Magician was created in 1934 and is a crime fighting magician who used his tricks to bust gangsters and other forms of low life. Throw in Mandrake’s assistant Lothar and all or their kids, and you have The Defenders of the Earth! And guess what, Star Comics did a four issue run about this “amazing” team and in this blog entry we will be taking a look at them.

flashgordonthe-phantommandrake

The 1986 cartoon was an action adventure series that ran for 1 season but had 65 episodes. The cartoon’s plot was that Ming The Merciless had used up his home planet of Mongo and has set his sight on Earth in the year 2015 with the help of ice robot Garax and his ice robot men. Flash Gordon’s wife Dale Arden has been kidnapped and killed leaving Gordon mad with his teenage son Rick Gordon goes to Earth to protect it from harm and along the way they team with The Phantom and his daughter Jebba Walker, Mandrake and his adopted son Kshin, Mandrake’s strong and loyal assistant Lothar and his son L.J and all come together to forum The Defenders of the Earth.  The group’s headquarters also has a super computer that has the sprit of Flash’s dead wife inside called Dynak-X that helps them on the way. The cartoon was on when I was a youth, and while I watched it I never found it to be as exciting as other cartoons based on super heroes. The Phantom was the only one in the series that I was a fan of, and I am sure most of that came from his kick ass ways.  Plus it’s funny how they changed the character to give him super powers when he chanted, this changed who and what the Phantom really is from a normal guy trying to do good in an area that’s plagued with crime. While I was a fan of Flash Gordon thanks mostly to the live action 1979 film that had the rocking music by Queen, he was just not a drawing power to get me to tune in every episode. As for Mandrake, I had no clue to who he was, and while a classic character, he just didn’t make a fan out of me.  Plus adding a bunch of teenagers and kids is a sure way to lose me in any series. And to spice things up, Ming was not the only bad guy in the series but most of the others did not have the evil nature like him making them feel like filler, only there to fill up time and episodes. Again, the cartoon was not bad, it just did not, in my opinion, have that special something that made me want to catch every episode and draw me into buying the other products of the show. BCI and now Mill Creek has released the series on DVD so if you were a fan of the show, the characters or want to check it out, it is out there.

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The show’s toy line was put out by Galoob in 1986, and the figures had a dial on their backs that when twisted made them perform fighting action and came with a weapon. The line consisted of Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake The Magician, Lothar, Ming The Merciless and Garax. Not only could fans get the figures but also vehicles were made such as Defenders’ Claw Copter, Phantom’s Skull Copter, Flash Sword Ship, Garax Sword Ship and Ming’s Serpent Monster Mongor. The figures were not bad, and while I only had two I found them to be fun and for the most part well made toys.  My only issue with them is that the joints seemed to become very loose on one of the ones I owned. The first figure I ever got was The Phantom, and I got him at Odd Lots brand new for $3.00.  A year later I got Flash Gordon at a garage sale for under a dollar. One summer when we were moving from Waynesville to Kettering, we stayed at my aunt’s house while she and her family went to Greece and we waited for our house to be cleared to move in.  Behind their house was some small woods, and one day I went back there to check them out and found a lot of broken toys behind there.  I was older at the time like 16 or 17 and laughed as I found many broken Power Rangers that were missing arms and legs, and found a few that seemed to have been set on fire and this brought back memories of The 4th of July.  But one thing caught my eye as I saw a broken Flash Gordon who was missing his legs and arms and was faded from the sun.  I took the torso and later made it into a wheel chair bound Captain Pike (Star Trek) style figure for the fun of it.  Yeah, I had a sick sense of humor.

Flash Gordon toyphantom toyming toy

Like all cartoons of this time, more merchandise came out besides the action figures that included lunch boxes, VHS tapes. kids books and of course a game for Commodore 64. When all this came out in 1986, I could not think of one kid I knew who owned anything Defenders of the Earth, or if they did no one talked about it or brought it around the school yard. I think one of the things that worked against this cartoon and its products was the fact the heroes were too dated for many kids to get behind. 

Defenders bookdefenders c64defenders vhs

So now that you know who and what Defenders of the Earth is all about, are you ready to look at Star Comics 4 issue run? Oh and guess who helped write issue one, the one and only Stan Lee! While Lee has done a lot for the comic industry, I also feel that he takes credit for a lot of things he didn’t or had really very little to do with, but with that said ya still got to respect the guy for all he has done.  So here is to you, Stan The Man Lee! Oh and after our look at Defenders I thought a cool little bonus review was due for all you great readers out there! I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 Star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material.

Defenders of the earth 1

Defenders of the Earth # 1  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #1 of 4

 Flash Gordon crashes on Earth at the home of Mandrake The Magician, his adopted asian son Kshin and strong as an ox assistant Lothar and his son L.J.  Gordon is knocked out from the crash, and Mandrake uses his magical power to hide Flash from a race of ice robots lead by Garax who have been sent by the evil Ming The Merciless. When Flash comes to, he tells Mandrake that Ming has kidnapped his wife and son and is coming to Earth to take it over and that they must stop him! Flash, Mandrake and Lothar go to the jungles of Africa and meet The Phantom and his daughter Jebba Walker and they join the group to save Flash’s family and to stop Ming. The kids are left on Earth as the heroes head to Mongo. Dale Arden and son Rick Gordon are captive.  Rick escapes with the help of a strange creature named Zuffy, but her son’s escape leads to Ming torturing and killing Dale.  When the heroes get there they save Rick, and Flash learns of his wife’s death.  Before they can capture Ming, he and his son Kro-Tan escape and land on Earth and make a base in the Arctic. Zuffy finds a crystal and gives it to Flash that holds his wife’s spirit. With Ming loose and on Earth and to avenge the death of Dale our heroes Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake The Magician and Lothar decide to stay as a team called The Defenders of the Earth!

I must say this is a great first issue and did a great job of keeping old heroes exciting for the younger reading crowd.  I am sure that this was mostly thanks to Stan Lee who wrote this issue, and while I hate to say it, Lee does have a way to make characters interesting to kids. The plot is the set up of how the team Defenders of the Earth came together and was a way to add some major drama with the death of Dale Arden.  I am sure that for long time Gordon fans it was shocking to see a beloved character killed off in a kids comic/cartoon. Mandrake The Magician is the only one that in the comic still comes off dated, and they try so hard to get him over in this issue, even with being dated I found myself liking him. The Phantom is clearly the star of the comic and it’s so obvious that Star Comics knew that he would be the one kids would flock to. The big change for The Phantom is the fact they gave him supernatural powers that he gets from the jungle.  I am sure they did this in order to spice him up and make him appealing to kids who like heros with power like Spider-Man and Captain America. Lothar seems like a waste and really isn’t given anything to do in this issue besides be a body and an extra hero for the new team. The kids of the heroes are a waste and are very much not needed and seem to be thrown in just to make it so young readers can identify with them.  If they have more time in the following issue it could be what takes me out of the series. Like any good 80’s cartoon/comic there is a little sidekick, that while annoying always seems to be there and fall ass backwards into saving the day, and in this series it’s Zuffy, a strange tiny purple alien with a mop top hair style who can’t speak but sure as hell get his message across via movements. This issue also does a good job of making Ming the Merciless come off as a complete and total evil S.O.B and does so as he murders Dale and then comes to Earth to kill us all! Good work on keeping this close to the cartoon and good work with the art that is clearly done by some of Marvel’s top artists.  The cover is super eye catching. Can’t wait to see how issue 2 is! 

Defenders of the earth 2

Defenders of the Earth # 2  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #2 of 4

The Defenders of the Earth need a base, and Mandrake’s mansion just wont do.  So Flash calls in an alien race called the Cryl lead by Morbius to help build a headquarters, and the crystal with Dale’s soul in it has been put into a super computer made by Rick called Dynak-X. Ming The Merciless has picked up on the area of the base and sends out Garax and his men to ambush the Cryl and kill all of the Defenders of the Earth. Flash goes up to meet his friends and takes his place in the battle as the ambush happens.  Mandrake uses his magic to make an illusion to save his friends as Kshin and Zuffy find an opening in the side of a volcano near the mansion. After outsmarting Garax and his men, The Defenders of the Earth and the Cryl turn the volcano into their new base, and use the lava to power it. Ming is very upset and sends Garax and his men to bomb the Mansion and everything around it, and as they do so, the blasts trap the Defenders inside.  With the help of Dynak-X and a well placed bomb by The Phantom, it appears as if they all die and Ming basks in his winning glory. But this of course just gives them more time to come up with a plan to bring down Ming once and for all.

This second issue is average and seems to be way more talkie than issue one.  It doesn’t keep the total action pace up, giving moments that drag. The issue’s plot is just that The Defenders need a base and while trying to build it they come under attack. The Phantom in this issue is pushed more to the back, and Flash Gordon seems to be more of the focus.  Once more Mandrake is used a lot and does the same tricks as he did in issue 1. Lothar again is wasted and just is filler, but this issue also has the teens and kids as more of a major part of the plot.  While most are okay, Kshin is an annoying little turd who I can tell is going to be a character I will hate. One thing they did in this issue is play up on the hurt and sorrow that Flash and Rick are feeling about losing Dale.  This aspect adds some deep drama that is pretty shocking for a kids comic. This issue also builds up that Kro-Tan is plotting to over throw his father and be the new ruler of Mongo and every other planet they conquer.  I hope this subplot goes somewhere and is played out. The comic’s action is spaceship battles and not nearly as cool as hand to hand. The art and cover is great again and both very much eye catching.  The plot is as stated before very average. Let’s see if issue 3 is any better. 

Defenders of the earth 3

Defenders of the Earth # 3  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #3 of 4

Everyone is trying to make the volcano hideout feel like home, and Jebba along with The Phantom have made their own little African jungle in one of the caves. But in Africa the Bandar tribe is under attack from Kurt Walker (The Phantom’s brother) and two of his goons.  Kurt is trashing The Phantom and claims he should be their ruler, and when they refuse him and his men storm off. Kurt makes the mistake of telling the goons where the tribe hide their jewels and gold and is attacked and thrown from a bridge by those who now want to rob the tribe.  The water carries him to a cave where he finds a strange suit and hood, and after putting them on he becomes a weather controlling wizard/demon named N’Dama! N’Dama returns to the tribe and freezes his two goon friends to death ushering in a huge snow storm with a threat to the tribe to take him as his ruler or die.  The Phantom and Jebba rush to their jungle home, and The Phantom must come face to face with his brother who is now more demon than brother.  In the end The Phantom watches as his brother is consumed in fire caused by his own new power, and Ming has created Frost Men who he is ready to unleash on Earth.

This is back to being a good solid issue and goes back to the meat and potato of an action comic.  This issue’s main focus is The Phantom and his daughter Jebba returning home to take on a family member who is corrupted with extreme power. The action of the comic is when The Phantom goes toe to toe with N’Dama, and while not a slugfest like a Spider-Man vs. Kraven The Hunter fight it still makes for the most exciting part of the issue. This also makes for most the drama as it’s brother vs. brother and family issues come out. Another plot that seems to be starting up is the tension between Rick Gordon and Jebba Walker who both seem to be crushing on each other but neither making a move. It also surprises me that Rick, Jebba nor L.J. get on my nerves given my track record when it comes to unnecessary teens and kids being in media for no reason. I still do however dislike Kshin and thank God he gets very little panel time in this issue. It’s clear that with this issue Star Comics knew that doing a full issue around the most popular member of the team, The Phantom, would drive up sales with kids.  I am not sure how well this plan worked but it did make this now 32 year old reader happy. Another nice thing to see is that Ming nor Garax are the main bad guys, and this gives a breath of fresh air to the series and makes it so the two main villains aren’t played out. This one also has it all: a good plot, great art and an eye catching cover, and this one is what action kids comics should be like! Let’s see how the 4th and final issue holds up.

Defenders of the earth 4

Defenders of the Earth # 4 **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #4 of 4

Mandrake thinks it’s time that he starts to teach Kshin the art of being a master magician and takes him to a special room in the now destroyed Mansion. Mandrake tells his young son of how he gained the magic that involved the death of his parents via an avalanche and being rescued by a group of magical monks. But in another dimension Dr. Dark, an evil magician, is deep in thought of revenge upon the one who trapped him there :Mandrake.  Ming picks up on the evil power he has and frees him to Earth,  Ming tells his new ally that Mandrake and all The Defenders of Earth are dead, and Dr. Dark busts his bubble with the fact they are not! Dr. Dark goes to the mansion and has a magic fight against Mandrake, as Rick and Jebba see some of Ming’s Frost Men at a rock concert, and it’s shown Jebba can read minds. Mandrake is whooping up on Dr. Dark until the evil one uses Kshin as bait and leads to Mandrake’s life ending when nearby candles burn out.  Dr. Dark leaves to get his army to team with Ming’s to battle the Earth as Kshin uses all he has learned to save his dad. In the end The Defenders of Earth know that War is coming against both Ming’s Frost Men and Dr. Darks evil servants.

Star Comics has done it again, much like Inhumanoids this series ends in the middle of a storyline, making you wonder what was to happen during this major war.  This makes me very annoyed with Marvel for pulling the plug on series from Star that should have played through. This issue’s main focus is Mandrake and his son Kshin as he teaches his son magic.  Father and son must team to undo what their main nemesis Dr. Dark has set in motion. The magic battle reminded me a lot of Dr. Strange and for the most part I am okay with that. Again it was nice to see a new bad guy (Dr. Dark) who unlike N’Dama is teaming with Ming to rule the Earth.  Plus Dark’s Phantom of the Opera face is pretty sweet. Flash Gordon and The Phantom take the backseat in this issue as Mandrake takes the wheel and Lothar has a little more panel time then normal. I also like the way this issue builds up that Ming will turn on Dr. Dark to gain his raw power. Over all this issue was an average romp that was a fun read but a terrible way to end a series.  Worse, it leaves you hanging for an issue 5 that never came.

The Defenders of the Earth Star Comic series was a good fun adventure comic that despite flaws and some annoying characters still held entertainment value. As a youth I more then likely would have judged this comic a little harder for the lack of major action and way too much dialogue, but now I can see that the comic was trying to build up a story and flesh out the characters. I find this 4 issue run to be thus far some of Stars better written stuff, but the lack of respect that Marvel gave us the readers by just ending the series is very fitting for a company who tries to over charge for issues nowadays. Plus it’s nice to see that while it follows the source martial, this series also created its own, with the only major change coming from Ming’s daughter being MIA. If you like any of the characters on the team, loved the cartoon or love Star Comics then I would say check this series out.

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As an add-on bonus, I am going to be looking at a comic that was a free give away on FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2010, and cost me a dollar at The Gem City Comic Con based on Michigan horror host Wolfman Mac and his Chiller Drive-In! Chiller Drive-In (formerly Nightmare Sinema) hit TV airwaves in 2007 on public access and became such a hit that by 2009 it had been shown on RTV, a national station. Wolfman Mac is a werewolf from the 1930’s who while being chased by angry villagers stumbled onto an abandoned drive-in theater, and being a lover of bad cheesy flicks, he decided that it would be a good idea to re-open the drive-in once more. Wolfman Mac is an all around good guy (or is that creature?) who seems to worry about the viewers and tries to stop others from bad ideas.  He is a great classic style host who seems to be very much kid friendly. He is joined by Boney Bob, a 1920’s actor who died in order to avoid taxes.  In the 30’s he spent time back in Hollywood as a skeleton extra on the set of horror films, but when work dried up he was downgraded to school room skeleton at a local college.  He left the job and hid out at that same drive-in that Wolfman Mac stumbled on. Boney and Mac are business partners and now spend time rebuilding and running the drive-in. Boney, while a good skeleton, is a con man and will do anything to get money. The show also has many other characters that pop in that include Son of Froggy, Trog a robot, Professor M. Balmer, Undead 50’s Sex Kitten Rebulla, Scarlett LeFever Wolfman Mac’s dead girlfriend and many more great silly off the wall characters. Fans of horror hosts of the 70’s and 80’s will really dig the style and show of Wolfman Mac. 

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I have never gotten to meet Wolfman Mac in person but have spoken to him via Facebook, and he seems like a werewolf who loves his craft. While at Horrorhound Weekend in March 2011, Baron Von Porkchop and I were able to meet Trog and The Son of Froggy from Chiller Drive-In and that was a fun time to be had by all! And we then ran into Son of Froggy again at Cinema Wasteland in October 2011 during “A. Ghastlee Night at the Movies”. That’s one thing I will say about all my horror host friends is that they are more like family.  They understand and get The Baron and I, who are both goofy horror freaks. Baron has it rougher then me being a ghoul from the early 1800’s who I dug up in late December 2010.  He is way out of touch with most normal folks. But here are a few pictures I took of Baron along side cast members of Chiller Drive-In. 

Baron and Son of FroggyBaron and Christmas Robot

So now that you know a little about Wolfman Mac & Boney Bob, let’s take a look at this comic book version of the show. Remember I am going to grade this comic on a standard one to four star rating.  I am going to be grading the story, the art, how true it was to the source martial it was based on and its entertainment value. So let’s see if this chills my blood!

Chiller Theater 1

Wolfman Mac’s Chiller Drive-In # 0  ***
Released in 2010   Cover Price Free   Chiller Drive-In Comics   #0

 Zombies Gone NAG” All the zombies that work for Wolfman Mac and Boney Bob at the Chiller Drive-In have gone on strike and have formed a Union called N.A.G. (The National Association of Ghouls) and have demands before they get back to work that include Brain Breaks and an extra half an hour for lunch.  They use a Gravedigger to work on the deal that Wolfman Mac agrees to and rolls into the issue’s main story called “Return From The Grave.”  At a funeral a vampire pops out of his coffin and attacks all who are attending and is about to feed but before he can T. Stone McAllister, Monster Hunter, comes and saves the day. Back at the Chiller Drive-In all the Zombies are on break and Wolfman Mac is down because no work is getting done. And so ends Issue 0 for now!

 This is a nice free little comic that was a nice way to promote the show and the artist involved, and I would have loved to have had this comic to give out when I worked FREE COMIC DAY at Mavericks. The downside is that this is a very quick read and the main story seems very rushed and not as big of a build up as one would have wanted. The Chiller Drive-In parts are fun and really cartoonish and is clearly geared towards young readers as it even has an anti-smoking spot. The only two characters used in this issue is Mac and Boney Bob, and this gives it a nice feel, like part of the show’s universe. The art in both The Wolfman Mac and Return From The Grave is well done, and sticking close to the source material this is a nice fun very quick read that is worth a check out for fans of Wolfman Mac and Horror Hosts. This issue also teases a full issue # 1 in the summer of 2010, and it seems that this has not happened.  That’s a bummer; I feel that this could have been a fun read for those of us that enjoy this type of book.

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While we are on the subject of werewolves, this would be a perfect time for me to talk about the first no budget film I ever directed called Werewolf of Ohio.  After high school I worked as a bagger for Kroger in the now shut down Van Buren Shopping Center and made lots of great friends like Sarah Boian, Jason Shivadecker and Jason Gilmore, not to mention I worked with already friends of mine Josh Weinberg and Garrison Kane.  At my work is where the legend of The Wolf Man of Ohio began! While working at Kroger at Halloween time we got in a shipment of Universal Monsters Halloween masks, and I was drooling looking at them, in particular The Wolf Man one due to the fact that it is one of my favorite movies of all time. I went around all day talking about how I could make a movie based around that mask, and even spouted some nonsense about putting The Wolf Man in a “Suicide 3” movie if we made it.  After hours of hearing me talk about the film ideas I had for that mask, the cashiers and baggers did something super cool when they bought me the mask and told me to make some movie magic.  And that’s what I set out to do with Josh Weinberg who had left Kroger at this point and was working for Click Camera who loaned him a VHS Camcorder! 

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In late 1999 Josh and I, armed with our on loan camera from Click and our werewolf Halloween mask, set out in his beat up stick shift truck and hit the roads thinking of what my new Wolf Man film could be about, and while driving the story just popped into my head! Josh would play a young man who is on a quest to hunt down The Wolf Man (played by me), a werewolf who terrorizes Waynesville, Ohio and killed his parents and younger sister some years back.  Now he, alongside a camera man (originally cast as Kevin Kinsley but turned out to be played by Brandon Womeldorff), sets out to get evidence that the beast is real and to document its death at the hands of Josh.  We loved the idea and went out to film this twisted sad tale.  We drove around during and after a huge rain storm and filmed moments after the rain stopped around Bellbrook and Kettering (State Farm Park again).  It was just the two of us.  I would act as the Camera Man and Josh would talk about his anger, sadness and need for revenge.  When The Wolf Man was on screen, Josh would run camera. The Wolf Man wore a hood and robe and walked around in daylight and night, making this beast a bigger danger then most werewolf legends. We even drove to Waynesville to film the town’s sign just to add that “real” feel of this “found footage” film. We filmed the climax at State Farm Park and filmed at night as Josh spots The Wolf Man who in turn chases him and the camera cuts off ending the film, or so we thought. After looking at the film we found some scenes just didn’t fit like a talk show interview with Josh that just came off to goofy. Some just were shot bad like the ending were Josh didn’t get The Wolf Man chasing him in one frame making the film’s total runtime about six minutes. I was really disappointed in the film and knew we had to film more to save the film from being a total waste, but the film did fall onto the back burner for almost two full years. By the time I got back to the film I had worked on a few more films and was ready to “save” this film from the trash pile, so I sat down and watched the footage and wrote out a script to finish the film out, Josh was back on board, and Kevin Kinsley was going to step into the role of The Camera Man making it easier for The Wolf Man to interact with them.  In 2001 we started the process of wrapping up the film. Things were going smoothly, and then Kevin was fired for over sleeping on the first day of shooting and Brandon Womeldorff stepped into the part and proved to be a better choice as he also offered ideas and angles. The second part of the film has Josh waking up after the attack covered with blood (yep more ketchup) and buying himself a gun and once more rants and tries to kill The Wolf Man who now wears a red flannel. After the last day of filming, it was rushed into editing at Fairmont High School and Brandon had it cut and ready in one sitting! It then was packaged and ready to be sold at our first horror convention called Fright Vision. While the film sold like hotcakes on VHS and has even gotten a cult following, I have always loved the film for being my own first film but also always find flaws in it after every viewing. I also found that The Wolf Man is my favorite character I have ever played, and one day hope to step into the mask for a new film. The film was followed by a sequel and has made it to DVD in a way but that’s for another update.

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Here are some fun facts about Werewolf Of Ohio:  Local filmmaker Andy Copp once wrote about Werewolf of Ohio in the local paper as low budget films/makers you should keep an eye on. Chris Seaver of Low Budget Pictures (LBP) put The Wolf Man in his film “Mulva 2: Kill Teen Ape”. The original title of the film was Wolf Man of Ohio.  Werewolf of Ohio is the second best selling VHS release in Independent B Movie history.  At a number of conventions horror host icon Dr. Creep of Shock Theatre and New Shock Theater helped push the product to buyers,  Centerfold frontman Patrick Neeley did the end theme to the film, and its title was “An American Werewolf in Dayton. The film’s original release had random girls running and a number of other girls in the deleted scenes they were added as filler from stock footage found at Fairmont High School. My brother Bryan once said Ohio should use Werewolf Of Ohio as a travel video, due to all the scenery shots and drive scenes. I hope you enjoyed this look at my “classic” film! Below is the master tape with the original title.

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Well, we have Defended the Earth for 4 issues along side Flash Gordon and friend,s and we took a quick pit stop at the Chiller Drive-In to visit Wolfman Mac and took a look back at some fun young moments of my life and told a tale of the Werewolf of Ohio.  So what is next, you ask.  Next update we will take a look at an epic action star who had a cartoon and toy line and lead a group of Karate fighters.  This 4 issue series from Star Comics is CHUCK NORRIS AND THE KARATE COMMANDOS! So I will see you then.

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CrystarMeth: The Saga Unfolds

Welcome back friends and readers.  Today’s update is going to be my look at the 11 issue Marvel run of The Saga of Crystar, but first I will tell you a little about how I got to know what Crystar was. One of the stores that used to be a great place to get toys and halloween costumes when I was a kid was Woolworths, an odd five and dime store that carried off the wall merchandise for very cheap prices. The store in the Dayton market was located in Kettering in a strip mall called Van Buren Shopping Center along side grocery store Krogers, video arcade Krazy Kats, Noble Romans Pizza, The Post Office, Fashion Bug, Ron’s Pizza and a handful of more shops. From a very early age (kindergarden age) the one thing I could remember was going to Woolworths with my mom and brother, for I am sure I mentioned it before I lived in Kettering up until first grade when we moved to Waynesville.  These trips to the store would always lead to me getting a toy, candy or a pack of trading cards. The store, as I remember it, was very poorly lit with stained titles not only on the ceiling but also the floor, and the merchandise always seemed to be a mess on the shelves. The candy isle was filled not only with name brand sweets but some pretty generic ones too. While the store was a dirty mess and the merchandise cheap, this was still a very cool place to get your hands on some great none-mainstream toys.  The toy department at this store always seemed to be filled with Remco toys based on AWA Wresting and generic Masters of the Universe knockoffs as well as Spider-Man parachute figures, but this is also where I would first see Crystar and his made-of-glass warriors. But before I get into that, I need to address Halloween Costumes at Woolworths.  I should also state that sadly Woolworths closed down, Krogers moved out of the shopping center and many businesses closed down for good like Krazy Kats and Ron’s Pizza. What was once a mighty shopping center became a mostly empty eyesore that some years ago got torn down and homes were built in its spot.  While one half of the center is still around, the once powerful Van Buren and its many stores are now just memories.

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Halloween has always been my favorite holidays, and Fall is my favorite season.  Back in my very younger days, Ben Cooper Inc. was the company that made almost every costume that you and your friends wore for Halloween.  Ben Cooper originals were made up of a cheap plastic face mask and a vinyl body suit that was based around horror characters like Dracula, Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s Monster or cartoon/comic characters like Yogi Bear, He-Man, Casper, Batman and Incredible Hulk.  Sometimes you would also be able to get movie characters like Alien, Darthvader or Jaws. Ben Cooper Inc. were the juggernauts of Halloween costumes ruling the market from the 1950’s all the way to the 1980’s, but all things must come to an end as in 1988 they filed for bankruptcy for the first time as many of the companies like DC & Marvel took their characters elsewhere. Ben Cooper Inc. bounced back in 1989 but sadly lost the battle to other companies when in 1992 they closed the doors for good. Ben Cooper masks are now very collectible and many people my age and older have good and some bad memories about wearing these costumes.  One thing’s for sure Halloween and trick or treat lost a major player when the company went belly up. Woolworths always had many of the Ben Cooper costumes for very cheap and would have the boxed ones as well as ones that hung on the shelves, always making it a fun time looking through all of them and choosing what character you were going to be.

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For Halloween one year my mom bought my brother and I costumes based on the film Krull.  My brother got to be the lava demon The Beast, while I got to be the cyclops Rell, and man we both thought we were cool in these cheap costumes. For Kindergarden I went to Beavertown Elementary, and we had a thing called a Halloween Parade where we all would walk through the higher grades and show off our costumes to kids who were older. Well there I was walking from classroom to classroom in my Rell outfit when all of a sudden some smart ass kid says “Hey Cyclops only have one eye, why do you have three?” and then he and his closest classmate had a chuckle.  I felt terrible and being so young I just couldn’t think of a comeback and I spent the rest of the parade without the mask on.  That one student had ruined it for me. Looking back on it now, it was silly for me to be that heartbroken over one dipshit kid’s remarks but for some reason it bothered me, enough so that I remember it to this day. Damn you, Ben Cooper Inc,. for adding three eyes to the mask!

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Remco was a toy company that was founded in the 1940’s and became a major player in the 50’s with such toys as Big Max, Coney Island Penny Machine and Movieland Drive-In Theater play set. By the 1960’s, they were making toys based on Batman, The Beatles, The Munsters , Star Trek and Lost in Space. The 70’s brought toys of The Monkees, Partridge Family, Spider-Man, Micky Mouse and Ronald McDonald, not to mention a makeup kit based around rock band Kiss. But the 80’s is when they really boomed with action figures based around The Universal Monsters like Creature From the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, The Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster and The Wolf Man all in scale with Kenner’s Star Wars toys, not to mention they also got a lab playset. They also made action figures based around Conan The Barbarian, AWA Wrestlers like Ric Flair and the Road Warriors, DC’s Comic characters Warlord and Sgt. Rock, Archie Comic superheros The Mighty Crusaders and even The Karate Kid got a toy line that covered parts 1 and 2 and of course Marvel Comics own Crystar. In my youth I had some Remco toys as I had many of the AWA Wrestlers, some of the Karate Kid figures and a small amount of the Mighty Crusaders. The 90’s were less kind to Remco as action figures based on the cartoon Swat Kats was one of the only semi major hits for them. Many people don’t know that Remco was broke in 1971 and became a sub company for Azrak Hamway International in 1974 who later sold Remco to Jakks Pacific in 1997. While Remco for the most part is a company of the past, its legacy of cheap made toys still lives on for collectors, and yes I collect them.

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On the piled up toy shelf of Woolworths, Kettering many moons ago I first laid my eyes on the Crystar toy line and was taken aback by these fantasy figures. I owned lots of 3 3/4″ Star Wars, G.I. Joes and a few Battle Star Galactica and Indiana Jones figures and thought they would make great additions to the intergalactic battle my figures were fighting in my bedroom, in between playing with He-Man and LJN WWF Wrestlers. But for some odd reason, I went and found some other generic figure and it was my brother Bryan who ended up getting one when he picked up the evil wizard Zardeth, a character with a black hood on and only one eye. My brother kept the figure for a short amount of time and then passed it down to me.  By this time he had no weapons and his cloak was gone. Not knowing much about the character, he just became a henchman of The Emperor and just another knucklehead for Luke Skywalker to kick around. Besides the Marvel Comic series, the toy line had no other way to reach us kids making these toys almost a mystery. Most action figures around that time had solid source material like a cartoon, movie, TV show to push the toy or at least an A-List comic book.  So it was a strange move for Marvel to go the route of a comic series a year after the toys hit and pick a cheap company like Remco to make the figures of what they were hoping would be a major player in the kids media market. Growing up I only knew of one other group of kids having Crystar figures and that was the Vietnamese neighbors we had next door, who by the way had one bitching cool toy collection. Years later I would get a Moltar figure (the lava king) and he also just acted as a punching bag for Luke. So while I knew Crystar as a toy line, I didn’t pick up it was a comic series until years later. Now with many years passed I do own some Crystar figures and have grown to love them as well as Remco as a company.  So going into this comic series is a first time read for me and I am really looking forward to learning the characters’ history.

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In 1982, a line of fantasy action figures hit the market by toy company Remco with very little fanfare and with no real push, making the seven figure, six mini playsets and two dragon toy line to be lost in the shuffle of action figure toys filling shelves at the time. A year later Marvel Comics released issue one of The Saga of Crystar that was to act as the back story to the action figures. Now the way this is sounding, one would think that the comic was based on the toy line when in fact it was the opposite; you see Marvel Comics created Crystar to license out to a toy company and use the toys to sell the comics! Marvel had a master plan to get a bigger slice of the toy market with a new creation.  Sure, they had toys made of Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk and Captain America, but they wanted more.  So a new world was created with Crystallium and its new fantasy hero Crystar who lead the good named The Order and with all good guys.  They needed a bad guy, so why not his own brother who is called Moltar, the leader of Choas.  And then they thought well horses are over done in fantasy worlds, so let’s let them ride dragons and instead of our heros and villains looking normal let’s let The Order be living crystal and The Choas living lava! They then came up with a back story and shopped the idea around to toy makers and found Remco who wanted to take on the license even without any source to push it.  So the toys came out and again, as I have stated, very few kids had any that I knew.  A year later the comic was released and I knew no one who read it.  Even though the line of toys and comics almost seem that they were failures, I for one have grown to really like the figures and you shall see what I think of the comics below.  I will also say Marvel and Remco really did push this series with amazing ads and things to draw attention.

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I have been a huge fan of the band Danzig since I can remember.  I even remember getting a Danzig cassette tape in my Easter basket one year! So it was a pretty cool when I found out that the skull both Danzig and Samhain (both bands fronted by Glenn Danzig) use as a logo is from the cover of issue # 8 of The Saga of Crystar! I found that to be an interesting fact so it goes to show you that Danzig must have been reading Crystar.  So check out the skull from the comic and then the one used in the logos below.

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Now I am going to break off from Crystar for a moment and talk about video games again, I have been a series gamer sense the NES days and have been a wrestling fan for a little longer. I grew up watching pro wresting with my dad, Brother and grandfather and have also bought every WWE and at the time WCW game that came out. One series I always buy the day it comes out is WWE series up until this year from THQ. The WWE games of the past 8 or so years have had a great habit of adding legends to the game from Hulk Hogan to Iron Sheik making long time wrestling viewers like myself happy.  I would much rather play the superstars of the past then those of the present. To compare say John Cena of this day and age to Bret “Hitman” Hart of the past is laughable as Hart would work circles around Cena. So in late 2012, THQ gave us WWE 13 which treats gamers to a huge roster of today’s superstars and divas as well as superstars and divas of the Attitude Era that ran roughly 1997-2002.  While many say the true start was in 1998, the attitude started before that. Many great icons of this time period were added like Bret Hart, British Bulldog, X-Pac, New Age Outlaws, The Road Warriors, Vader, Gangrel and more, but some superstars seemed to be snubbed for no good reason.  Many names have made wish lists across the net like Steve Blackman, The Headbangers, Chyna, Raven, Lance Storm and The Oddities to name a few.  There are many who have not made it into the game because they work for rival company TNA such as Jeff Hardy, Al Snow, The Dudley Boys and Rob Van Damn. And yet still some did not make the cut because at the time they were in WCW or WWE just has something against them. May I remind you that THQ only could only suggest what wrestlers made the game; WWE has the final say on who’s in and who’s out.  But here is a list of four wrestlers I think were snubbed and have a place in WWE 13!

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The Patriot (Del Wilkes) was an independent masked wrestler who made a name for himself in the GWF (Global Wrestling Federation) from 1991 until 1992 becoming a crowd favorite and even winning the federation’s world title. After leaving the company, he went to All Japan Pro Wrestling and became a draw even winning the tag titles with partner The Eagle, and returning there off and on throughout his short career. WCW was his next stop as in 1994, he and Marcus “Buff” Bagwell formed the team Stars and Stripes, and they would be multiple time Tag Team Champions.  The Patriot left the company in 1995 and went back to All Japan for a couple of years. In 1997 WWF/WWE brought The Patriot in to feud with Bret “The Hitman” Hart and his new Hart Foundation (British Bulldog, Brian Pillman, Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart) who would slam America and speak of how great Canada is.  The Patriot was the man who bled red, white and blue and took offense to this slander and took the fight to Hart. The feud would have both men fight on Monday Night Raw and PPV’s in single and tag matches. But sadly The Patriot got a serious injury that not only ended his time in the WWE but also his career as a pro wrestler. The Patriot was being geared to be a top babyface in the company and even had action figures made while he was there.

The reason I think he should make it into WWE 13 is because while his time was short with the company his feud with the Harts was a great one.  It struck raw emotions with both American and Canadian fans given the battle’s meaning. Plus he was a solid worker who would at least have the over all game rating of 86, giving this already amazing roster one more competitor for the World Title or at least the Intercontinental. Not to mention that his song in 1997, “Medal,” would later be used as Kurt Angle’s, making the song available to use for anyone’s created Angle character. I should also note that way back when, my Aunt Teresa let some pro-wrestlers use her garage as a training area complete with a ring & weights and from time to time The Patriot was one that would work out, how cool is that! While I know he is not a super popular wrestler, I would be happy to hear that this star spangled hero that is in the same vein as Hulk Hogan and Hacksaw Jim Duggan would have at least been DLC for the game.

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Every guy who watched WWE/WWF wanted to have “Sunny Days,” and I was one of them! Tammy Lynn Sytch, better known, as Sunny was a valet and sometimes wrestler who began her career in 1992 at Smokey Mountain Wrestling as a snooty character named Tammy Fytch managing her real life boyfriend Chris Candido and Brian Lee to winning the tag titles. She and Candido left in 1995 to work for the WWF/WWE.  At first she was used as a backstage interviewer but quickly enough she became Sunny as Candido became Skip, and together they were the Bodydonnas.  Later on they would be joined by Zip, and Sunny would manage them to tag team gold.  She later would dump them and manage teams like The Godwinns and The Smoking Gunns. She would also manage Ron Simmons for a short time who was going under the name Faarooq. Sunny would then host WWE shows like Shotgun Saturday Night and would also manage The Road Warriors who were going under the name LOD 2OOO. Sunny was let go in 1998 after backstage heat between herself and top diva Sable, not to mention she had no showed events and had an addiction to pain pills. Tammy would no longer be Sunny and would join federations like ECW, XPW and even had a very small run for WCW. While Sunny has made some appearances in the WWE and has become a Hall of Famer, she has not worked for the company full time since 98. Sunny was the top Diva for many years and was the first Diva who broke the mold of what a woman wrestler should look like and paved the way for many of the company’s top female talent. Sunny was so popular she had her own home video, was magazine cover girl many times and had a number of action figures. For the longest time, Sunny was my favorite Diva and for the most part still is in my top two.  Sunny brought the sex appeal and attitude that kick started the company into success. Sunny should have been added in the game, if not as a wrestler, at least as a manager.  Oh I should note, I also use to have Sunny posters in my room and still have my ECW Tammy shirt.  Like most teens, I used to think that Sunny was the most beautiful queen of wrestling and while lots of fans have turned their back on her because of her “issues” I stand by how I felt then and say Sunny should have been in WWE 13!

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Dr. Death Steve Williams has wrestled in many federations that include WCW, NWA, ECW, All Japan and Mid South to name a few. Williams has held world titles and tag titles and was considered one of the toughest men to step into a wrestling ring, even becoming one of the first American Wrestlers to be considered a true main eventer in Japan.  In 1998 WWF/WWE hired Dr. Death right when they were having an event called “Brawl For It All” in which wrestlers competed on TV in fights that were much like the Tough Man Contests that had popped up all over the US and became popular. Williams was the odds on favorite, and the WWE was banking on him winning and pushing him as the company’s top heal.  Rumor even has it that he was suppose to beat Stone Cold Steve Austin for the World Title. Williams entered the contest and made short work of his first round opponent (Jean-Pierre LaFitte), but his second round opponent Bart Gunn was another story as Gunn took down Williams tearing his hamstring and then knocking him out. Williams missed several months of action, and his push went up in smoke.  When Williams returned, he was put with broadcaster Jim Ross who acted as his manager and spent his time being a badass bully. But the knock out left the WWE with a bad taste, and they let Dr. Death go in 1999.  Williams would later still make appearances for the WWE but never would be a contender. Dr. Death should have made it to WWE 13 because he was a legit badass who would have fit in perfect with the likes of Brock Lesner and Ryback as a muscle bound brute who would have represented the Attitude Era very well. While Dr. Death didn’t live up to what Vince and the WWE wanted for the time, he still helped make the WWE what it was by showing that truly anything can happen in the ring.  Dr. Death would have made a great addition to the game’s runners for the World Title and would have had the over all game rating of 88. Williams battled cancer for years but sadly lost his battle to throat cancer in 2009. Oh yeah and you better believe if Dr. Death was in the game, he would be Oklahoma Stampeding Ryback’s lame ass!

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Last on the list is not only a legend of the 80’s but also a guy who was a part of the whole Austin 3:16 creation.  That man is Jake “The Snake” Roberts! Now I don’t want to spend much time on Jake’s past, but I would like to focus on his second run in the WWE that started in 1996 and had him returning at the Royal Rumble as a good guy and spreading the word of God. Roberts, who was in real life a born again Christian, would use this for his in-ring character and even spiced up his snake using an albino serpent that he named Revelations and laced his interviews with bible passages and warnings of the evils of drugs and alcohol. In 1997 Roberts would go on to enter the King of The Ring tournament and would beat his first round opponent Triple H and then do the same in the second round when he beat JBL.  In the third round, he faced Vader and won by DQ but took serious injury to his ribs. The final match had him face off with Stone Cold Steve Austin who made short work of the veteran, and during his crowning Austin spoke the words “Austin 3:16 Said I Just Whooped Your Ass,” making fun of Robert’s who was bible thumping. Roberts then would go on to feud with Jerry “The King” Lawler who used Jake’s past against him. In late 1997, WWE wanted Jake to wind down and end his career pushing The Snake out who still wanted to wrestle. While many would count Jake out and say he has no place in WWE 13’s Attitude Era roster, I would be so bold to say he help create it when he lost to Austin, kickstarting one of the biggest phrases in wrestling history! Jake “The Snake” Roberts would have been a perfect addition to the roster and would have added a fun moment in Austin’s Attitude storyline as you had to beat him for The King Of The Ring crown. Jake’s over all game rating would be 83 due to the fact he was on the tail end of his major pro wrestling career. Jake was the cinderella story when he returned and while it was a short return, he still had a huge impact on the Attitude of the WWE.

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So those are four Superstars that I feel were truly left out of WWE 13 and really deserved to be on the roster or at least DLC. But while I am on the topic of wrestling and Sunny, I should note that after WWE and wrestling days, Tammy Lynn Sytch joined up with another former wrestling valet Missy Hyatt who had opened a website called Wrestling Vixxxens and posed nude for the site causing the net to be abuzz about her move to bare all. I will not lie, when the news broke I surfed the net looking for the pics and was not disappointed when I found them! Part of me wonders if her decision to do this site hurt her chances of coming back to the WWE at the time.  I mean I think Vince missed the boat on really using Sunny/Tammy to her full potential. I know she had issues with drugs and what not but so did most of his locker room…Shawn Michaels anyone? It almost seemed like Vince made up his mind that Sable was going to be his top diva and for the most part that was a terrible idea as she turned out to be a pain in his ass as well as a moneymaker. I would love to see Sunny return to this day as a interviewer or manager and I for one will always be a Tammy fan.  

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One other thing:  as of late I have been finding old copies of Mad and Cracked Magazines at stores like Game Swap and Half Priced Books, and this has also reminded me of my youth. When I was growing up not only were comics, ghost stories and movie-based novels the only things that kept me reading instead of just playing NES or watching a film on VHS but so were Mad and Cracked Magazines that we would buy from Big Bear or find at Garage Sales. Back then I found myself getting a chuckle from these magazines as they spoofed popular movies, shows and culture all in a silly over the top way. But after reading through them once more, I found myself not only feeling nostalgic but also really looking deep into which magazine I really liked more then and now.  When I was younger, I would say that for sure I was more of a Cracked fan and owned and “collected” those issues more so then Mad, while my brother I would take a guess liked Mad a little more for I remember him having piles of the magazine and lots of the paperbacks. Take a look at these old pics below of a young me holding his prized Cracked magazines as well as me with an old Mad Spy Vs. Spy paperback in super cool Spider-Man PJ’s.

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Mad Magazine began in 1952, founded by editor Harvey Kurtzman and publisher William Gains, and was at first a comic book put out by EC comics the same company that released comics like Tales From The Crypt and the Vault of Horror and switched to Magazine format with issue #24. It was a parody comedy magazine that would poke fun at films, shows and culture and would change hands many times finally being owned by DC Comics (Time Warner). The magazine is still going as of 2012 and has spawned many other products such as a board game, a Saturday Night Live-style sketch comedy show called Mad TV that aired on Fox, a cartoon, toys, masks, shirts and paperback books to name a few. Mad’s spokesman is the silent, missing front tooth, one eye lower then the other, big eared, red headed goof named Alfred E. Newman. Newman is the poster boy for Mad and has sparked the phrase “What, Me Worry?” and truly has become a true American pop culture mascot icon. Most people my age could tell you who Newman is and many would say that Mad was better then Cracked. Mad also offered such great features as Spy vs. Spy, Captain Klutz and the work of Don Martin. 

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Cracked Magazine began in 1958 as the brain child of Sol Brodsky, an artist for hire who later became Vice President for Marvel Comics, and was a inspired by the popular Mad Magazine. Cracked followed the same formula as Mad and spoofed movies, TV and pop culture with an even more silly approach. Cracked had a sense of humor about itself and even had used the tag line that it was there for people to buy after Mad had sold out at the newsstand. Cracked would be sold for awhile but slowly lost its hold in the market in late 90’s and was on life support during the 2000’s before it was canceled for good in 2007. But you can’t stop Cracked now as it’s been reborn as a silly news site that has been becoming more and more popular. Cracked’s poster boy was its janitor Sylvester P. Smythe a blonde haired, wide faced nerd who was a man of few words. While Smythe was not as popular or iconic as Newman, he still has his place in the hearts of those who grew up reading his magazine. Cracked didn’t have much in the way of merchandise besides a stuffed doll and some paperbacks. Some of Cracked’s other highlights included Shut Ups, The Uggly Family, Talking Blob, Sagebrush and busty sexy female reporter Nanny Dickering. 

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So I am sure you’re wondering after all these years what Magazine am I enjoying at this time in early 2013.  While it’s been hard to pick and each have their charms I still find that Cracked is the one I am enjoying more! Cracked has such a simple silly charm that is still putting a smile on my face making me chuckle. Cracked also was the company that used to release Monster Party and Monsters Attack scary, goofy and spooky stories that pleased the Monster Kid in me. So there you go, a quick look at Mad and Cracked Magazines.

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One other thing I would like to talk about (and I will from time to time as this blog moves forward) is the no budget movies I have made over the years.  So I figured I would start with the short film that started it all, “Teen Suicide” and it’s sequel “Suicide 2.” In 1997, I was a senior at Kettering Fairmont High School, and I hated the school with a passion.  While I had friends, I found that many of the staff were not as nice to strange kids who were into horror films and metal music, making my time at the school a bad experience filled with suspensions and detentions. At the start of the school year, the main principal (who was a cool guy) decided that he was going to put me into the media class to see how well I would do at making movies, TV shows and working as a school DJ on the radio station.  The first time he brought me himself as well accompanied by two security guards making the class wonder if Michael Myers had just been put in a room with them as they sat me away from everyone.  Then they took the teacher KB into the hallway. But with time this was probably the best thing Kettering schools ever did for me as I met some of my nearest and dearest friends in this class. Guys like Dave Wean, Matt Hoffman, Rion Neeley and Brandon Womeldorff all made me feel welcome and showed that they had just as many weird interests as I did. The media class also made it so that the rest of my schedule changed and this put me in a sociology class with Hoffman and Brandon. For one of the the class’ big projects we were to make a video about a subject we picked. Hoffman, Brandon and Myself were joined by Scott Harmon and a kid named Chris as the group and at first we picked serial killers (with my push) but decided to instead make a film based on teenage suicide.  So we all sat around class and the library and began to brain storm what was to become our first film.  This is what not only started Fairmont Productions but more importantly my love of making films! Before this I drew comic books and loved to write stories, but I never thought that I could make my own films.  Boy was I wrong. And the film began production in 1998.

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As we hammered out the ideas and plot of the film, we all were assigned roles as cast and crew. Matt Hoffman was cast as Matt, a teenage boy who is picked on every day of his life by bullies at the school.  The film would follow the last week of his life before he decided suicide was his only way out.  Hoffman was also a co-director. Brandon Womeldorff played The Car Thief and also directed, did some camerawork and edited the film.  The Car Thief was a trench coat wearing bully who got his jollies by car jacking Matt and stealing things like CD’s from him. Scott Harmon played the Kung-Fu Bully, a master of the fighting arts who loved to beat on Matt every chance he could get, and Harmon’s fight scenes with Hoffman in this movie could still be some of the worst ever filmed in Fairmont Media history.  Chris (none of us ever got his last name) just played a Bully in the school hallways who would knock the books out of Matt’s hands and try to stuff his face in the bathroom sink. Chris didn’t do much on this production and in fact was suspended during filming and even for the screening in class. I played a bully who would later be called The Silent Predator, who hung around wooded areas and tried to drown Matt in a stream, and I also did camera work, co-directed and picked most of the film’s soundtrack that was filled with bands like W.A.S.P. , Motley Crue and Pantera. The filming of the flick took place mostly at Fairmont High School but we also filmed at Hoffman’s parents’ house, my parents’ house, behind Woodlane Plaza and State Farm Park. During filming we kept talking about how the film’s end needed to make an impact.  We then decided to make the film silent, all but the moment where Matt would read his suicide note out loud to the audience. Filming took about a week with Brandon and I trading off who ran the camera, a giant Super VHS camcorder that weighed about 20 pounds, and each of us worked out our scenes with Hoffman. Looking back on the production of the film, we sure did torture Hoffman with lots of fake beat ups, being shoved around, making him jump on the back of a moving car, ketchup splattered on his head and the final stunt that still makes Hoffman feel like he was a major Hollywood stuntman (we will get to that shortly), and I must say while at the time he bitched a lot, and I mean a lot, he still was a trooper and went along with the “script”. I remember for my scene we chose to shoot behind Woodlane Plaza in Kettering (the same strip mall location that has Mavericks Cards and Comics and Christopher’s Restaurant as residents) right after a big rain storm making the small stream that runs behind the building deeper and faster.  The scene called for Matt to be walking along the stream as The Silent Predator appears from nowhere and shoves him into the water. On set that day was just Hoffman, myself and Brandon, who was running camera, and we went over the scene a few times and at first Hoffman agreed to be shoved into the water, but after watching the fast moving water rush by he changed his mind and the scene was changed to him almost going in but barely being able to hold on. So we all got into place as I wore a flannel around my waist and a Whitesnake band t-shirt I waited for my big scene.  Boom, my cue hit and a huge smile hit my face as I shuffled into frame and shoved Matt a few times toward the stream, and boom, he hit his cue and that was a wrap. But looking back at the scene, we should have shot it again so I didn’t have that goofy ass smile on my face that looked like David Lee Roth at a strip club! We later talked Hoffman into shooting a scene where it looked like he fell into the water, but it didn’t look right because he had different clothes on and the water speed and level were all wrong.  This deleted scenes has long been lost. But all this was leading up to our big pay off, the end of the film where Matt was to kill himself, and this act was one epic scene.  The final scene’s first part took place at my parents’ house in the kitchen as Matt would write his suicide note and speak the only lines used in the whole film.  Hoffman seemed very moody that day and was very argumentative towards Brandon and I and almost seemed like he was in the zone and on par with what the character Matt was doing. Hoffman sat at the table with a notepad and a pen and began to spout off this suicide note that seemed to mirror some issues he was having in his own personal life.  While I laughed then, I should have really taken the time to chat with my friend after this scene to make sure he was doing okay.  From there we went to a near by K-Mart and bought some ketchup to use as the fake blood and headed to State Farm Park to film the final scene atop a big hill that slopes, covered in rocks, small trees, trash and muck.  That’s when Hoffman who was holding his pellet gun told us he had an idea.  So we hurried and filmed his walk across a bridge to get to the hill and then made our way to the site and as we reached the top that’s when he told us “I am going to fall backwards down the hill when I shoot myself!” Brandon and I laughed and mocked him for his “shocking” stunt.  You see Hoffman at times would say and do outlandish things for attention, and we thought that’s what this stunt was just him running his mouth and not really intending to do what he said, but boy were we wrong.  As we set up the scene and filmed him looking at the gun and then putting it into his mouth, pulling the trigger and falling out of frame, we thought this was a wrap after we did a pick up shot of him on the ground with the “blood” on his head.  Then Hoffman sat up and said, “you ready to film me falling down the hill?”  Brandon and I looked at each other and gave a fuck yeah and went down the hill to film this epic scene. As we set up the shot and got the right angle Hoffman sat at the edge of the hill with his back towards us.  We could tell he was second guessing his stunt and seemed like he was now thinking of a way to get out of it. After some coaching and name calling, Hoffman pulled off the stunt and fell backwards down the hill, loosing control of his fall for a moment but catching himself before he got to hurt, making all my group of friends dubbing that hill Suicide Hill. We squeezed the “blood” onto his head and got the last shot of the film.

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For days Brandon edited the film on the AVID system, putting time and care into each scene, I sat with him many times as he worked, other days our pal Rion did. When it was done, Brandon asked Hoffman and myself to watch it in one of the editing rooms, and we all were taken aback by how good the film was.  Looking at it now, I am still proud of the film even with all its flaws and honor it as the first film I ever worked on. Then the day of the class showing happened, and our teacher made us come up and tell the other students what our film was about.  Scott Harmon and I took that job and rushed a quick introduction, and the lights went out.  The film started and had Matt walking down a school hallway in slow motion as the Bush song “In A Lonely Place” played, and we thought we had them. As the film ended and the credits rolled to Motley Crue’s” You’re All I Need,” Brandon and Hoffman stood in front of the class to answer questions about the film or what we learned about teen suicide.  Our classmates seemed stunned by what they had seen, and the only question we got was, “was that Pantera that played when he shot himself?”.  And then it happened; Hoffman said he had a confession to the class, and as everyone got quite he then proclaimed that he had tried to kill himself in the past and ran from the room, as the teacher and students looked on stunned.  Brandon was in the front of the classroom like a deer caught in headlights! While Teen Suicide was not a hit with our peers, a year later in 1999 Brandon wanted to make a sequel that was bigger, longer and filled with dialogue! The film’s plot had Matt (once more played by Hoffman) waking up after his suicide attempt and learning that he could not die and had been given a second chance to get revenge on the bullies who tormented him. Brandon returned as The Car Thief.  Scott Harman came back as Kung-Fu Bully and had yet another stinker of a fight with Hoffman, this time in the school’s radio station.  I returned as The Silent Predator who in this one seemed more demonic and acted almost as the ring leader, and we added Dave Wean as a Crazy Bully, Rion Neeley as the Roof Top Bully, Dan Salter as the Skateboard Bully and Linda Webb as Matt’s girlfriend who is cheating on him with the Car Thief. The film was filled with one Matt beat down after another, until he finally got his revenge on all those who tormented him and having his end battle with me in the woods of Hill’s and Dales Park as a red light shinned on us. Matt at the end of this one blows himself up with a self made bomb. While this film was a favorite to play at the group’s parties, to me just lacked the charm of the original and for the most part was more of a generic action film then a film with a message. When we left high school and continued making movies, we dropped Fairmont Productions and became Independent B Movie (a gathering of many production companies) and began selling our films on VHS at horror conventions like Cinema Wasteland in Strongsville and Fright Vision.  Teen Suicide and Suicide 2 sold pretty well. Years later Suicide 1-2 would hit DVD and match the sales of the VHS. Independent B Movie was riding high, not only the founders (Brandon, Hoffman, Myself) were making movies but so were Josh Weinberg, Dave Wean, Jason Gilmore, Patrick Neeley and my brother Bryan, making this tiny no budget film company seem like something special. We did start a Suicide 3 many, many years back but production slowed when turmoil in the group of film makers started to slow things down, but that’s another story.

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Now for a little horror host spotlight:  In March of 2007, the late night viewers of Kenosha, WI got their blood chilled by a show called Nightmare Cinema hosted by a Werewolf named Uncle Wolfman, who every full moon is locked in an abandoned TV station in the middle of nowhere on Bray Road by his vampire friend Vampiro. To kill time Wolfman shows a bad b-movie, a classic cartoon and TV show episode and waits out his curse in the station that is clearly haunted. Uncle Wolfman is your classic Lon Chaney Jr. style werewolf who speaks with a twisted snarl and raspy voice, drawing you in with every word. His style is very classic and each episode has it’s own mark and facts. Fans of horror host shows from the 60’s and 70’s should check his show out! I first heard of the Uncle Wolfman via the website Horror Host Graveyard and after seeing an episode or two I quickly became a fan. As of 2013 the show is still going strong.

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I took the chance on a full moon night and called the old station’s #, got a ring and an answer from Uncle Wolfman himself, and he was nice enough to answer some questions for you my readers. So with this let’s get onto “5 Questions For The Wolfman”!

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Me – So how is it being stuck in a haunted abandoned TV station every full moon?

Wolfman – Being stuck has to do with my temptation to feed.  So, Vampiro and I have an agreement; Vampiro guards me during the full moon by locking me up. In return, I guard Vampiro’s tomb during the day.  However, Vampiro occasionally forgets to feed me, so I order a pizza, and get the delivery driver as an appetizer.

 Me – What is your favorite film you have shown on your show?

Wolfman – I don’t know if I have a favorite movie from those we can show. I suppose that, being a Mantan Noreland fan, I like King of the Zombies, schlocky as it is. My true loves are the classic TV. We recently had an old episode of “Suspense,” featuring a rare television appearance by Bela Lugosi in an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s, “The Cask of Amontilado, and there was an episode of “Tales of Tomorrow,” called “Ahead of His Time,” which starred Boris Karloff. But I suppose my favorite was a cartoon episode from “The Milton the Monster show–the only one I know of in the public domain– called, “Zelda the Zombie.”

 Me – Who are the hosts that inspired you to become a horror host?

Wolfman – I only ever really watched Dr. Kadaverino (Jack LaBlond) on WITI chanel 6, Milwuakee, who was the only one on when I was very young. Later came the Original Svengoolie, Jerry Bishop, and later Son of Svengoolie, Rich Koz, both starting out on WFLD channel 32, Chicago (Son of Sven’s now just Svengoolie, on WCIU, Chicago and METV nationwide).

 Me – Growing up did you read comic books? If so, who is your favorite superhero?

Wolfman – I read many comics as a kid, from Archie to Sad Sack; I really liked the EC magazines, with Tales from the Crypt, The Witching Hour, all of those. I also like the Hulk, Thor and Conan the Barbarian–of which I still have all the comics, mags, graphic novels and the original stories by Robert E. Howard, which I reread from time to time.

 Me – If you could run with a werewolf pack from a horror film or TV show who would you run with?

Wolfman – Serious attempts at TV show werewolves suck. I wouldn’t run with any of those wannabes. Besides, if Uncle Wolfman really wanted to run with a pack, he wouldn’t suffer being locked-up three days a month.

 Me – Thanks Uncle Wolfman for taking your time and answering these questions.

But enough of wrestling, Tammy Lynn Sytch, Danzig,THQ, Remco, Cracked, Mad, Ben Cooper, Teen Suicide and Woolworths, let’s get down to Marvel Comics “The Saga of Crystar” 11 issue run! Remember: I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, its art and story. This review is thanks to a team up of Mavericks Cards and Comics, Bell, Book & Comic, 2nd and Charles, Half Priced Books and Amazon. And remember these reviews will have spoilers.

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 The Saga Of Crystar # 1  *** 1/2

Released in 1983   Cover Price $2.00    Marvel Comics #1 of 11

Prince Crystar and his brother Moltar rule the kingdom of Crystallium together after their father, the king, was killed in a battle that pits their side (The Order) against the evil of the Chaos. While both share the power, it’s clear that the kingdom respects Crystar more, causing the brothers to have a little rivalry. Lavour is Crystar’s girlfriend and her servant girl Ambara has a crush on the prince as well, but his best friend Warbow has a crush on the servant girl.  The Kingdom’s wizard Ogeode comes to the Princes and warns them that evil is coming and that this time he will be powerless to stop it.  When Zardeth, an evil wizard, enters the castle the seeds are planted, and the brothers have a fight leaving Crystar dead.  His brother Moltar takes over and steals Lavour! But things are not all good as Moltar and his new followers embrace The Choas and become living lava men, and Crystar is brought back to life and his followers are turned into living Crystal.  This leads to a war between the brothers that leaves Moltar’s ego bruised and Stalax with a life threating crack in his crystal body. Crystar hooks up with Ambara as Warbow is heart broken and even looses an eye to Zardeth who shoots him with an arrow! 

This is a great way to kick off a comic book series that is attached to a toy line and really serves as the back story of the characters. Crystar comes off as a likeable and nobel hero who has pride in his family, kingdom and friends and has almost a mix of Prince Valiant and King Arthur feel to him. You get the vibe from this first issue that Crystar will fight to the death to defend his kingdom. His men that include Warbow, Koth, Kalibar and Stalax are all given time tolet their personalities shine. Ambara, who is the love of Crystar, is shown to be a sweetheart who would do anything for her Prince. Feldspar, Uncle to both Crystar and Moltar, is an interesting character as he choices no side and takes both sides curses on himself (top half crystal bottom half lava) to show he respects both nephews.  I hope he is fleshed out more in the series’ in coming issues. Moltar is a man filled with jealousy and is easily fooled by the evil ways of Zardeth and then manipulated by the bitch Lavour. This is a solid comic that really flushes out all the characters and makes me look forward to reading issue 2. The art work is okay, but I wish it was a little better.  It’s odd that the ad art for the Remco toys looks better. The cover is amazing and very eye catching for the time and would surely draw in fans of Conan, Kull and Masters of the Universe. 

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The Saga Of Crystar # 2  ***

Released in 1983   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics #2 of 11

Crystar is not pleased when he finds that his uncle Feldspar has removed him from the throne and is now acting as King to the kingdom until he and his brother work out their feud.  Meanwhile Moltar and Lavour are being fired up by Zardeth who wants them to get revenge on Crystar and take the kingdom by force and sends a team of lava men to kill him who in turn fail. Stalax is dying, and Crystar and friends must travel to get Ika, the daughter of Ogeode, who in turn becomes living crystal herself to learn of the secrets of the process.  When Crystar thinks the young woman is in pain, he goes in after her and both disappear.

This second issue is more about Crystar wanting to do the right thing and the brooding ways of Moltar who still thinks he is getting the shaft by not ruling the kingdom. Ika is an interesting character who gives her self to the mirror that transforms flesh to crystal showing that she is loyal to saving human life. Ogeode is kind of a dick in this issue as he forces his daughter to do this heroic act all so he can learn the secrets of the crystal without having to forever be changed. While the Crystar storyline is pretty good, I felt Moltar was not used well in this issue and almost seemed to much like a snot nosed kid who lost his video games for a month. Over all this is a good follow up issue that has better art work and a pretty cool cover.  So far I like where this series is going.

crystar 3 The Saga Of Crystar # 3  ***

Released in 1983    Cover Price .60    Marvel Comics #3 of 11

Crystar and Ika find themselves in modern New York in the home of Doctor Strange and his butler Wong and are confused by this new world filled with so many things they have never seen. Meanwhile back in Crystallium, Ogeode alongside Koth and Kalibar travel in the portal to find the missing prince and also end up in Doctor Strange’s study. While Doctor Strange and the goofball Ogeode try to find a way to send the warriors back home, Moltar sends Lava Men through a portal.  They also end up in Strange’s house and after a quick fight, they find their way home to Warbow, Ambara and the recovering Stalax.

This was a cool way to tie into the rest of the Marvel Universe.  Crystar and his crystal warriors once more come off a nobel fighters, as Warbow’s secret crush is still in the air as he looks at Ambara. Moltar once more acts as a general and sends flunkies to attack his brother. Ogeode is as brain dead and scattered as ever as Ika shows she is down to help The Order. I am not a huge Doctor Strange fan and only found myself liking the character when he appeared in other comics like Spider-Man or Man-Thing and in the very terrible yet fun 1978 made for TV movie.  So I actually find him a perfect fit for the myth and legend that this series is building for Crystar. Here’s hoping that Crystar and Moltar will meet again in a battle in the next issue to see which brother is better. The art work is good again and has the same style as the last issue, but this time I’m not a super fan of the cover. With that let’s jump into issue # 4.

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The Saga Of Crystar # 4  **1/2

Released in 1983   Cover Price .60    Marvel Comics #4 of 11

A father is telling his children a bedtime story about Crystar and Moltar and how they each became the warriors they are now.  He also goes a little into the back stories of Crystar’s friends like Warbow and Koth and shows that Moltar has called a meeting with Crystar and his Uncle Feldspar to speak of the unfair way he has been treated.  Moltar doesn’t understand why Crystar and his men get to stay in the kingdom but he and his followers have been pushed out, and if they are to smooth things over they must be even. Feldspar thinks about this matter and decides it’s only fair that Crystar and his men must also leave the Kingdom and are asked to leave by dawn.  Mad about this decision, they still agree to leave. In the end the father is Kalibar telling his own children this story on the night he must leave the Kingdom

This issue is good and solid, and I do like what they did for the twist ending.  Crystar is a little more bullheaded this time around and challenges his uncle’s word over the peace offering his evil lava brother is pitching. In this one, Moltar is just what I love to see in my comic bad guys: a smart brain and the ego of a mastermind. Plus we get a little more of the Warbow loves his best friends girl storyline as well as a little more background on Koth and Stalax. The art is good; the cover is bland.  While this is not the best issue in the series thus far, it still was a good read. 

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The Saga Of Crystar # 5  ** 1/2

Released in 1984   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics #5 of 11

 Crystar is in the Marvel office as the comics editor and writing staff try to figure out a good story for issue 5.  When he is finally taken into his world he is set to meet with Moltar and his uncle. Everyone leaves besides Ika and Stalax who try to use a spell to send the lava people far away from the Kingdom but instead bring the Chaos’ base to the Kingdom. Moltar and Crystar can’t agree on much except that Zardeth and Warbow need to stop fighting and that the base needs to be moved back to its right place. Zardeth teams with Ogeode, and together they use magic to set things right.

This issue starts out dumb, and the whole editor’s office thing is mind numbing.  But once we get back into the comic story line, it picks up. Crystar plays a big part in this story as does his girl’s love for him. Ika steps up in the issue and seems to be filled with rage over The Order being kicked out of the kingdom and wants to use her magic to rid them of The Chaos. Moltar comes off as a badass leader who has his wizard in check and a plan to take over the kingdom. As I said it starts off bad, but becomes pretty good by the midway mark. The art is good, and the cover is good making this issue an average read.

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The Saga Of Crystar # 6  ***

Released in 1984    Cover Price .60    Marvel Comics #6 of 11

Nightcrawler of the mutant team the X-Men visits his girlfriend who is a part-time practicing witch, who felt a disturbance earlier and used her crystal ball to open a portal.  When Nightcrawler uses his teleaport ability in the apartment, he is sent to Crystallium where he is spotted by Stalax who thinks that he is a demon sent by the Chaos. Nightcrawler flees the scene and stumbles into the base of Moltar who as well thinks he has been sent to join him in his battle against his brother. Crystar and his men go looking for this demon, and Ika sneaks into Moltar’s base and hears them speaking of this “demon’s” arrival.  She is caught by Zardeth and Moltar who are going to kill her until Nightcrawler steps in and stops them.  Crystar and crew arrive to save her and befriend the mutant. In the end Ika sends him back to Earth where his girlfriend awaits.

Yet another fun adventure that adds a popular main stream Marvel character to the storyline. Nightcrawler fits in pretty well, but unlike the Doctor Strange appearance, this one seems to be more focused on the guest hero than on the book’s main hero, Crystar, who seems to have not much to do in this issue besides search for Ika and briefly chat with his Uncle. Moltar also doesn’t do much besides welcome his new “friend” and capture Ika. Though Lavour is given a little more in this issue, she comes of as a flirt as she tries to get info from Nightcrawler all the while hitting on him. Over all this is a fun crossover issue that really adds nothing to the main story arc but makes for a fun read.  The art is good, and the cover is so-so.  So let’s see if issue 7 explores the mian story more.

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The Saga Of Crystar # 7  **1/2

Released in 1984   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics #7 of 11

The Kingdom is under attack by Malachon and his hill men, and they plan on killing as many people as possible including Kalibar’s wife and kids.  Crystar and his men are told of this attack by Ogeode who sees it in a vision, and they come to the aid of the Kingdom, chasing off the hill men and helping the wounded. All the while Moltar, Lavour and Zardeth watch and plot a way to use Feldspar’s anger to their advantage as he scolds Crystar for coming into the Kingdom. Ogeode & Ika take Crystar and his men across the ocean to their hometown to get answers of why his uncle is acting so oddly, and Moltar strikes a deal with Malachon and his men to become living rock and fight on their side!

 This issue is packed with fighting of sorts as the Hill Men are made look like weak fools to Crystar and his men, and Malachon has an almost Jim Jones thing going as I could see his people drinking poisoned Kool-Aid if he ordered them to. But I’m honestly not sure whether he’s really needed in this issue.  He almost seems like he is just thrown into this mix to add more action and to have more butts for Crystar to kick, but we shall see where the character goes in the next issue. You feel bad for Ika, whose boyfriend in her home town turns on her because of her new crystal appearance, and her father acts as if she has not all ready made sacrifices to help The Order. Speaking of the Wizard’s hometown, not much is flushed out yet and I am not sure what to think of the Warrior Woman Shen who appears to be in charge. This issue is clearly used to build up the next issue that could be the huge battle we have all been waiting for. With that let’s get onto issue 8! Oh yeah, the art is still good, and the cover is pure cheese.

crystar 8

The Saga Of Crystar # 8 **1/2

Released in 1984   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics #8 of 11

Crystar is troubled by an old memory of a time when the first war was going on, long before he and his brother were at war and long before they were transformed. The memory sends him into a day of mourning every year over the day his friend Captain Heyatt was killed while helping them fight a giant sea monster and chaos demons.  It’s also the day Koth lost his true love in the same battle. It’s also a day of mourning for Moltar, who’s sad over the loss of his friend. While Crystar tells his friends of this day, Ogeode is in a meeting with his fellow hometown council members.

This is a filler issue and once more adds backstory but nothing to the main story line of this comic series. The way Heyatt dies is stuff straight from old sword and sandal films and could easily be the death of Steve Reeves’ friend in some bad Hercules film, as he takes a thrown spear to the gut. Meanwhile, the new bad warrior Malachon who is transformed at the end of last issue is nowhere in sight! Ika and her boyfriend still have some beef with one another, and Moltar cries at the end for his lost friend from years ago. This issue also reminds me of Clash of The Titans for some reason.  I am sure it has to do with the giant sea monster. The art is okay and in some spots looks dull.  The cover is a step up from the last several.  Now that another filler issue is done, let’s hope they get back into the storyline, and we can see some sort of payoff coming. 

crystar 9

The Saga Of Crystar # 9  **1/2

Released in 1984 Cover Price .60 Marvel Comics #9 of 11

Ogeode is speaking to the Council of The Order about the war that is about to break out and tells his fellow townspeople that they need to help Crystar and his men in this battle when things go south.  The people are not sold on helping the men made of crystal. The Crystal men go around and speak of returning home when the acting King Feldspar shows up and wants to speak to the council of peace talks between the feuding brothers. But the peace talks are fake as Feldspar is really just Zardeth and the guards are Hill Warriors and Lava men.  They attack and kill many of the Council people until Crystar and his men show up and chase them off. Crystar also has a stare down with Malachon before the leader of the hill men retreats. In the end the Council decides to help, and Ika’s boyfriend Beek is turned into living Crystal.

This issue is the final straw for Crystar to go back and reclaim his thrown and stomp Chaos back into the hell pit from which it came. Zardeth and Malachon both show how cold blooded they are as they slaughter many unarmed men, and seem proud of their actions. At this point in the series you are at a fever pitch to have The Warriors of The Order stop the Chaos Warriors, and after every set up and every innocent death, this fever gets higher. Plus at this point in the series you also find yourself wondering why Feldspar is acting the way he is and wonder if he really doesn’t want his nephews to work things out because he is enjoying being king. As far as Crystar, at this point you can see a bullheaded hero who is shaping up to be one hell of a good king.  As for his brother Moltar, you get the fact he is second guessing his turn to the dark side but he still thinks he is the best choice to lead his people. With only two more issues to go ,the War to settle the score is now on! The art is good, and the cover is all right.  Let’s get ready to rumble with issue 10.

crystar 10

The Saga Of Crystar # 10  ***

Released in 1984 Cover Price .60 Marvel Comics #10 of 11

Moltar is not pleased about the attack that left many council members dead and hates the fact that both Zardeth and Malachon seem to have enjoyed the bloodshed. Crystar and his crew decide to go back home to try and end this war.  He confronts his uncle Feldspar about the throne.  Crystar agrees to step down but he also says that Chaos will not rule the Kingdom. As Crystar leaves the Kingdom, his crew tell him that they will fight by his side to bring down the Lava Men and The Hill People. Crystar’s brave warriors include his girlfriend, the Wizard Ogeode, his daughter Ika and her boyfriend Beek, Warrior Woman Shen and finally the Crystal Warriors Warbow, Koth, Kalibar and Stalax.  To his surprise, the local villagers call to arms and join Crystar’s army just in time as the warriors of Chaos come in from the sky and start a battle that leaves Koth missing and believed to be dead as he protects Ambara from attackers. In the end The Chaos Warriors retreat, and the warriors of Order mourn their friend and plan for an all out war.

This issue has it all: a thick good storyline that is an amazing build up for the final issue, Crystar finally reaching his breaking point and wanting his Kingdom to be happy and wanting to end the evil of The Chaos.  The shock of a member of the Order team missing and thought to be dead adds the drama, not to mention it also shows that at this point Moltar is loosing the respect of Zardeth and Malachon who both seem to mock him for not joining in on battles and how week his Lava Men are. It also shows how hotheaded Beek is and how he even seems to take an attitude with Crystar about what he thinks is right and wrong, not to mention the fact he is crystal now makes him a strong ally to have in this war even if he is an ass. Over all this is a great issue filled with a solid storyline, shocking drama and some butt kicking action. The art is well done and while in some spots seems a little rushed, it still looks good.  The cover on the other hand is just so-so and highlights the two lead warrior females Shen and Ika. Can’t wait to see how this saga ends and here is hoping for a great ending.

crystar 11

The Saga Of Crystar # 11  **1/2

Released in 1985   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics #11 of 11

Koth is not dead and is now a prisoner of Chaos warriors who plan on sacrificing him to the Hills once they get some information. Moltar starts to have second thoughts about his turn to evil and even has his girlfriend Lavour second guessing it as he doesn’t want to see his one time friend killed. Crystar and his men are gearing up to take the fight to The Chaos when by accident Ogeode brings in members of Alpha Flight from Earth that include Puck, Shaman and Northstar who decide to fight on the side of good! All this happens after Crystar butts heads with his uncle who is still trying to not pick a side. Moltar goes to Koth and asks him to please share some info so that his death will be quick and gets the cold shoulder leaving him pissed and lost for a direction.  That night Malachon takes Koth to an alter and is about to kill him when the warriors of Order show up and the final war begins! Crystar gets his revenge on Malachon as a member of The Order looses his life being a hero (who you ask, well you should read it to find out). In the end Zardeth is taken down as Moltar and Lavour turn on Chaos and rejoin the brothers, but before the evil wizard dies he takes away the curse of Moltar so that he can never touch his love Lavour again as she is left as a lava person. So the brothers are reconnected, and the Kingdom will now live on happy and chaos free.

This was a fun journey that had an almost rushed ending.  While the end is good, it could have been a hell of a lot better. The good turn for Moltar seems rushed this issue, and the fact they turned him back human shows that after this series, they didn’t have a plan for Crystar to ever return. Moltar was a great bad guy that at times was not used they way he should have been.  In many issues he seems to take a back seat to the evil wizard Zardeth and even the crude Hill leader Malachon. The fact that we never see the brothers in their new forms truly fight is kind of a let down and makes the build up to this final war a let down. Crystar is a great hero and really transforms as you keep reading by the end of this series he reminded me of so many iconic sci-fi heros like Luke Skywalker, Conan The Barbarian and even Optimus Prime in the fact he was strong willed, believed in the right thing and was noble and loyal to his friends and people. One storyline that I wished would have been fleshed out was the Warbow loving Ambara plot that seemed to fall flat the farther we got into the series. Plus, I would have liked to see a little more of Warbow’s as he clearly was Crystar’s best friend. All of Crystar’s warriors and friends were likeable and fun characters besides Beek who really was an ass most of the issues he was in and treated Ika like dirt if she did something he didn’t like. The guest heros in the last issue were a waste.  You could have taken the Alpha Flight goons out of the issue, and they would have not been missed.  They strike out with them but hit homeruns with Doctor Strange and Nightcrawler. The series as a whole is amazing stuff and is worth the read.  It’s was a great way to build up these characters that were created to sell toys that kids had no clue to who or what they were. Marvel should have given this series a little longer to grow, and they should have not rushed the last issue when they built up this payout to be a blow out of good vs. evil. Sadly as of early 2013, Marvel has not done anything with Crystar and company besides put him on a cover as a zombie for one of the Marvel Zombies miniseries. Going into this series, I had very limited knowladge of the character besides a few of the toys I had in my youth and now after reading this series I wish I would have done so much earlier because Crystar would have been a toy and comic series I would have collected then. 

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Man, this was a long update!  I had a lot to talk about from toys to horror hosts to video games to independent movies.  This update was filled to the brim with retro and nerd goodness. So next update we might take it a little smaller as we take a look at Blue Water Comics series for horror film Leprechaun for Saint Patrick’s Day! So see you then for the all green and gold coin loving good time.

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