The Rotten Ink From The Mummy’s Tomb

The wind is blowing sand all around the great pyramids of Egypt and the air is hot and dry.  For this update to Rotten Ink we will be heading to the world of the unknown to take a look at the Universal Monster The Mummy in honor of the new film in theaters starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella.  The Mummy that is rebooting the series for Universal and will kick off the new Dark Universe! The Mummy is one of those monster characters that is overlooked by many classic monster lovers as he is always overshadowed by Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and The Wolf Man, and my girlfriend Juliet has always wondered when The Mummy will get its time to shine and be the next “it” monster like zombies have been for so long now…and she is right, it is time for The Mummy to be in the bloody spotlight and claim his throne at being a major draw at the cinema and home media market again! During this update I will cover not only the 1932 film and its sequels but also The Mummy in pop culture and merchandise and everything I can in between! I have decided that I will not cover the 1999 Mummy reboot by Universal as I feel those are not connected to the old films in any way and are just goofy and fun adventure films. So get your wrapping ready, walk like a Egyptian and let’s take a look at The Mummy…yeah, I just made a Bangles song reference.

In 1931 Universal had major hits with Dracula and Frankenstein, and they were itching to have another Horror mega hit the following year.  So they once more started to look at horror novels for inspiration, and producer Carl Laemmie Jr. was inspired by the legends of the Curse Of The Pharaohs and hired Richard Schayer to find this novel and make him a Egyptian Mummy film. After looking and reading many classic novels none was found so they decided to come up with their own original story, but many have noticed that the story by John L. Balderston for The Mummy has many resemblances to the story “The Ring Of Thoth” written by Arthur Conan Doyle and no credit was given. After taking elements from a nine-page treatment called “Cagliostro” screen writer John L. Balderston was hired to pen the movie now being called “The Mummy”. The script took elements from multiple sources planned for his movie and Balderston added his own touches and made changes. Once written, they brought in director Karl Freund, who was the cinematographer on Dracula and who was making is American directorial debut with this film. Casting was also set as Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan and others were brought in for their respected parts and make up master Jack Pierce was brought in to design and create the look of The Mummy. The filming was your typical Hollywood horror production with Karloff having the most trying time of having to sit for hours in the make-up chair to be done up as The Mummy. The Mummy was a box office hit when released and has become one of the respected and well loved Universal Monster films of its golden age, and to this day Universal itself has lots of love for The Mummy and its legacy. I also want to note that this film, much like Dracula, uses Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky as its main theme and when released in 1932 it was joined by such other horror classics as Freaks, White Zombie, Island Of Lost Souls, The Old Dark House, Doctor X and The Mask Of Fu Manchu to name a few.

After The Mummy became a box office hit for Universal, they decided that a sequel was needed, and with it they did away with The Mummy Imhotep and introduced a new Mummy named Kharis in the film “The Mummy’s Hand” that was released in 1940 and had actor Tom Tyler as Kharis.  This film would spawn three sequels based on his terrifying killing ways. The next film in the series was released in 1942 called “The Mummy’s Tomb” and had Lon Chaney Jr. as Kharis who would go on to play the character in the remaining two films in the series. 1944 saw the release of “The Mummy’s Ghost” and “The Mummy’s Curse” and with that came an end to the mainline classic movies based on this popular Universal Monster. That is, unless you count “Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy” from 1955 as well as “The Mummy” reboot that started in 1999 that spawned two official sequels “The Mummy Returns” and “The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor” as well as a spin off series “The Scorpion King” as well as an animated series. Just this year, in 2017, Universal rebooted “The Mummy” again as part of their Dark Universe film series and had the stunning Sofia Boutella as The Mummy Princess Ahmanet. But I will not spend too much time on these sequels as we are here to chat about Imhotep and not the other Mummies of these films, but I did want to make you all aware of them. Check out the super cool VHS covers of the sequels released by Universal below.

When my brother Bryan and I were young, our Dad was really into watching old classic comedy teams like the Three Stooges, Laurel & Hardy and of course Abbott & Costello, all of whom had some amazing bits of classic comedy. One of my all time favorite films of the latter has to be Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy as for some reason I could never get enough of the film.  I would watch it every time it was on TV and would rent it from the library and of course would buy it on VHS and DVD. The film was released in 1955 and was the last of the comedy team meeting a monster and the final original feature film they would make for Universal. The film is about a pair of Americans who were stranded in Egypt and find their ticket home when they find a Doctor who is searching the tomb of Princess Ara who is said to be protected by the Mummy Klaris! Throw in some thieves who want to steal the treasures, as well as Klaris coming alive and you have this silly goofy horror comedy. The Mummy Klaris in this film was played by Eddie Parker who was a stand in for Lon Chaney Jr. in previous Universal Mummy films and was a stuntman and bit part actor for Hollywood.  He mostly starred in westerns and horror pictures. Parker sadly died in 1960 of a heart attack but while not a household name, he left his mark in cinema. This film is lots of fun and has some good laughs as Abbott and Costello just meshed so well with Monsters as they played really well off the their scary nature and added the right about of humor to lighten up the moments of spooky horror. If you have not seen this film and enjoy classic horror, classic comedy and good family friendly entertainment make sure to check this film out as you can watch it on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray or even streaming it or even better yet catch it on TV when Horror Hosts like Svengoolie host it!

I think its time we took a quick look at the man who made Imhotep come alive on the silver screen, Boris Karloff.  William Henry Pratt was born on November 23, 1887 in Camberwell, London and was the youngest of nine children. When young, he had bowed legs, a lisp and stuttered and had to work hard to beat the stutter but always had the lisp. He made his way through school and even attended King’s College London as he wanted to get a career in British Government’s Consular Service, but later decided to leave England and take farm labor jobs in Canada. And while working these jobs, he also found a love for acting in stage plays and this is also when he took the name “Boris Karloff” as he found the name to be exotic. When coming to America he would go on to star in minor parts in many silent films like The Lightning Raider (1919), The Last Of The Mohicans (1920) and Parisian Nights (1925) among many, many others. His big break came in 1931 when he played Frankenstein’s Monster in the Universal film Frankenstein and this film started him as being one of the biggest horror actors of the time. From their he did a score of amazing Horror Films like The Dark House (1932), The Mask Of Fu Manchu (1932), The Mummy (1932), The Ghoul (1933), The Black Cat (1934), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son Of Frankenstein (1939) and The Ape (1940) to name a select few and all the while he as well was acting in crime and thriller films as well. By the 1950s Karloff was still in demand but the budget of the films he was in were doing down as was the quality as he took roles is such films as Frankenstein 1970 (1958), The Terror (1963) and Monster Of Terror (1965) among a few gems like the Roger Corman films based on Edgar Allen Poe stories as well as the TV Specials How The Grinch Stole Christmas! and Mad Monster Party?. His last major budget film was Targets (1968) and to many this was one of his best roles in many years. Karloff’s last film was in 1971 and was called Alien Terror and was a micro budget film. While he was a major star in the cinema, he was also in demand on TV as he hosted the show Thriller and The Veil as well as made appearances on shows like Route 66 and The Wild Wild West! Karloff also lent his voice to radio and spoken word recordings, plus he even hosted spooky stories in comic books and he really was a jack of all trades when it came to the world of media. In his personal life Karloff was married five times and had one child a daughter named Sara.  He was a man with a big heart as he would dress as Santa and hand out presents at a local children’s hospital during Christmas.  He was plagued with back problems due to the labor jobs he worked and was very outspoken about hating to have the makeup applied during filming the Universal Frankenstein films. Karloff also has two stars of the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, one for his movie work and one for his TV work and is still one of the most respect Horror actors of all time. Sadly the world lost Boris Karloff in 1969 at the age of 81 from pneumonia, and due to the fact he worked in so many films many were released years after his death. This is just a quick crash course about Karloff and I really think that if you love this actor and or classic Hollywood do yourself a favor and read up on his life and career. Gone but never forgotten, this update is for you Boris!

Halloween is my favorite holiday as it’s filled with candy, spooky stories and being able to dress up as your favorite monster. Besides Ben Cooper, one of the most popular mask makers was Don Post Studios run by… who else but Don Post. The company started in 1938 making halloween masks for costume parties and Halloween and became the first company to make and sell latex masks. They also made masks based on actors like William Shatner and Tor Johnson, with Shatner being later customized and used in the 1978 film Halloween and Tor’s being a very popular and top selling mask. But Don Post also made masks based on the Universal Monsters, and you guessed it, he made one based around The Mummy! The company also made hands that would complete your costume.  Take a look at the picture below and tell me that this was not a great mask done by the legend of mask making!?

The Mummy Mystery Game was made by Hasbro in 1963 and has you as the player having to play as The Mummy and explore ancient Egypt. Sadly, I do not own this game and have only seen it once for sale at Cinema Wasteland many years back.  It’s a shame because I would love to own it and get the Dayton Board Game Society back together to give it a good play through or two. Sad thing is, it’s pretty high end to get the game complete and will cost you over $200.00, but for fans of this classic horror icon it’s worth getting for the collection.

One thing I always remember were the old ads in comic books for model kits for Universal Monsters made by a company called Aurora in the 1960’s. The model kits were said to be easy to put together and would allow you to have your favorite monster on your shelf to look at and have your friends be spooked by their nightmare appearance. I remember being a kid and thinking that these were like action figures that moved and such and both my Mom and Brother having to explain to me that models don’t move, they are to look at. I remember seeing these at a garage sale once, and I ended up buying one and it fell apart in no time as I used it to fight other toys.  What monster you ask, well when I get to them, I will tell you. These models are huge collectors items and can fetch high prices for ones that are complete and in box and are the originals.  These models were re-released and can be found still online for decent prices. The Mummy kit is pretty cool and has him walking around his crypt! The models box art is also amazing and makes you wish that who ever drew them would have made a comic book based on the Universal Monsters in that style!

In 1969 toy company Marx made solid plastic figurines of the Universal Monsters, and The Mummy was of course in the line to get that treatment. The molds were later re-issued in 1991 and put out by Uncle Milton. The original releases were mostly done in blue and orange plastics, and the reissued ones were tan or glow in the dark. The ones I remember growing up were the glow in the dark ones, and they were being sold at a local pet shop called “Jack Aquarium and Pets” as decorations for your fish tank and for the most part all, they would always have an over stock of was Hunchback and Phantom of the Opera and The Mummy always seemed to be sold out. One of my friends named David J Getz had a few of the originals over the years so I did get to see them in all their prime.  They are very simple yet cool toys. You can pick up an original for around $20.00-$25.00 on Ebay and reissued one for around $8.00-$13.00.

Toy company Remco also put out a few Mummy figures in 1980 with a 9″ action figure that had moving arms that responded to a button.  The figures also had glow in the dark heads and nylon clothes and each monster came with an iron on patch and a glow in the dark ring. That same year, they also released a 3 3/4″ figure of The Mummy that fit perfectly with your Star Wars figures! I am the proud owner of the figure thanks to it being traded into Game Swap Kettering. They also did a hand puppet of The Mummy in a line called Monsters At Home. The 9″ figure goes for about $26.00- $31.00 loose on Ebay and the 3 3/4″ one goes loose for about $30.00-$55.00. And the Puppet goes for about $50.00- $175.00 loose all of course depending on condition.

Imperial made a Mummy figure that came out in 1986 as a part of their Classic Movie Monster line. The figure was hard plastic and had moveable arms and head and faintly looked like Eddie Parker who played The Mummy in “Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy”. I remember KB Toys in the Dayton Mall stocking these, and for Christmas 86 my Mom & Dad got me both The Wolfman and Frankenstein’s Monster.  I was super happy to have them and in fact still have them both to this day. And I was able to get The Mummy many years later at a Monster Bash Convention. The figures were cheap back then and have not aged well in the collectors market as you can easily pick up a loose figure of The Mummy on Ebay anywhere from $3.00-$15.00. This figure is well worth picking up and will forever have a place in my collection.

Many other items have been made in the image of Universal’s The Mummy through the ages from banks, action figures, t-shirts, jigglers, masks, bendies, belt buckles, rings, games, bobble heads and so much more. The Mummy’s image with the wrinkled face and bandaged body is iconic thanks to Universal and Jack Pierce who created the most known look for the character. Below are a few pictures of other cool new and vintage Mummy items that might get the attention of the monster kid inside your soul.

In 1993, Playmates struck a deal with Universal to mix the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the Universal Monsters making for a fun toy line and a good way for kids of that time to discover the joys and horrors of the classic monsters. The Mummy was mixed with the rude dude turtle Raphael making this a funny mix up as The Mummy does not strike me as a partying pizza eater, but the figure works and for the most part is pretty cool looking. This monster turtle loose is not too expensive and you can get Mummael for about $8.00-$22.00 loose and again depending on condition.

Image walking into a gas station in 1963 to pay for your gas and being given a cool Universal Monster glass that featured many of the company’s famous monsters that included The Mummy! This was in fact a true occurrence as these promotional glasses were given out as premiums at stations. These glasses are amazing and for the time are well designed with slick spooky artwork. The Mummy’s has him standing in his crypt and has a green tent to the paint. But if you want one, it will cost you as they go for $85.00-$150.00 but is worth it if you collect this kind of stuff.

Crestwood House Monster Books are books that I use to love sitting and reading about each monster they showcased and all the classic films that featured them.  The books would also fill you in on old legends about that monster and even talk a little about the source material they were based on whether it be a urban legend or a novel. They put out a second series as well that were more like kid novels based on the movies like Bride of Frankenstein or Dracula’s Daughter. The library used to also have a huge sale where they would sell you a bag of books for so many dollars, and I was lucky enough to snatch up many of these titles when they decided they didn’t need them anymore and still have them to this day. I find myself from time to time still dusting them off and enjoying these fun books of my youth. And from the first batch of books, I got all those years ago from the library sale is one based on The Mummy! If you have young kids who are into monsters, I suggest getting them these.

1963 was the year that The Mummy Soaky was released.  What is a soaky, you ask, well they were plastic bottles in the shape of a character that’s head acted as the cap and inside the 11 oz bottle was bubble bath. The Universal Monsters line had the saying that they would spook you clean.  Imagine some terrified kid being told it was bath time and he knew that once he got into that tub he would have to come face to face with the plastic cold stare of The Mummy who he just watched on Shock Theater the night before just to get clean…this by far is one of the silliest products to bare The Mummy likeness. These bottles are semi rare and will cost you to collect.

Back in the 90’s Doritos Chips gave away Universal Monster stickers in the bags you would find at your local grocery store. And I found myself begging my mom to buy this snack food so that I would be able to collect the whole set of these stickers. So every time we would go to Ellis, a small store in downtown Waynesville, I would get a bag of these chips.  Now I should tell you, I HATE Doritos, always have and always will, and this shows you my love for Universal Monsters as I suffered through eating those nasty chips. I can remember getting The Mummy sticker for the first time, and I proudly put it away for safekeeping. No matter how hard I tried and how many bags of powdered death, I ate I never did get a full set of these stickers making all my efforts even that more sad. I still have the stickers to this day, and they are stored away at Independent B Movie studio waiting for the day that I will proudly display them in my home. Check out The Mummy sticker below and see just how cool these chip giveaways were.

The Mummy has also made it to handheld video games like the one made by Tiger has graced the hands of gamers. He has also been in pinball games at your local arcade and has been in a few PC games, and hopefully soon there will be a new game based around him for modern console systems as the 2017 movie could spark it.

But this is called Rotten Ink and is a blog mostly about comic books so we should talk about comics that are based around The Mummy that are licensed by Universal. Off the top of my head, I can only think of three, one being released by Dell in 1963 as part of their Movie Classics line called “The Mummy.”  It would also get reprinted along side Dracula. Monster Comics in 1991 also released a mini series based on The Mummy and finally Dark Horse comics had “Universal Monsters The Mummy” that was released in 1993. The Dell and Monster comics both are new stories about the Mummy while the Dark Horses release is just based one the script and is a movie adaptation. Once we cover this Dark Horse one here, we will have covered two of the three comic releases as we took a look at the Dell one a few years back. Over all these comics are worth reading if you’re a fan of this classic movie character.

Fast food hamburger joint Jack In The Box gave away figures based on the Universal Monsters and unlike Burger King, they included The Mummy into their promotion. The first batch came in 1999 and had The Mummy, who comes with his tomb that he rises from. Then in 2002 they put out a windup and pop out Mummy who once more came with his tomb, these figures are really cheap looking and kind of cheesy but still worth owning for those who love all things Universal Monsters. I don’t know much about these because there is no Jack in The Box in my area.

The Universal Mummy Series has also been a big part of Horror Hosting as the films were a part of The Shock Theater and Son of Shock movie packages that allowed local TV stations to air the films with a host. Many of the old shows are lost like Vampira, Sammy Terry, Dr. Creep and Melvin hosting these classic films, but a few have survived and some hosts have hosted them as late as 2016. But here is a host I have that brought you some films from the Universal Mummy Series that is Jeepers Creeper who hosted The Mummy’s Curse from many, many decades back.

I grew up in the age of breakfast cereal and some of the best out there were the General Mills Monster Cereals with Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frankenberry and the wonders of how the world works when they put the cereal mascots along side Universal Monsters! Let’s first break down Yummy Mummy as a character and his cereal. Fruity Yummy Mummy is monster who is wrapped with bright color bandages and is a friendly monster to kids. The cereal has a fruit flavor to it and is my third favorite out the monster cereals, and sadly it did not last in the world of breakfast cereal as it was introduced in 1987 and by 1992, it was put into the cereal crypt until 2013 for one Halloween season it was released with all the other monster cereals. Growing up I can remember eating Fruity Yummy Mummy and even still have the send away crayon of the character.

So now that we have talked about the Universal Monster The Mummy and its impact in the world of horror cinema as well as the merchandise it spawned and delighted monster kids through out the ages, I think that it’s time that we tempt fate and enter the cursed crypt of Princess Ankh-es-en-amon and try not to awaken the mummy Imhotep as we enjoy reading and reviewing the Dark Horse Comics adaptation of the 1932 classic film The Mummy! But I see some hieroglyphics written here that say “I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.” So with the dust in the air and the Halloween season just months away, let’s chill our blood with some good old classic horror!

The Mummy # 1  ***
Released in 1993   Cover Price $4.95   Dark Horse   # 1 of 1

Sir Joseph Whemple has made the discovery of a lifetime when he finds the mummified body of an Egyptian priest named Imhotep who was wrapped and entombed alive as he was in love with the Princess Ankh-es-en-amon, making him die a horrible death. Dr. Muller comes to the site and tries to warn them that this mummy is bad news and not to read the scroll that of course gets read by a bumbling assistant.  This awakens Imhotep who steals the scroll and slinks off into the night but not before driving the assistant crazy with fear. Many years pass and Frank Whemple and his friend Professor Pearson are called by Ardath Bey (The Mummy Imhotep) who is living a new life and who needs them to dig and find the tomb of Princess Ankh-es-en-amon and the pair does and gives all their finds to the Cairo Museum. But Imhotep soon slips into madness as he has a plan to kill a woman named Helen Grosvenor whom he thinks is the reincarnation of his Princess lover and its up to Frank and the aged Dr. Muller to save her from a fate worse than death and that’s to be a undead bride! But when Helen really does turn out to be Princess Ankh-es-en-amon it is she who saves her own life when she prays to the goddess Isis who sets the scroll ablaze and turns Imhotep into dust.

The Dark Horse creative team did a fantastic job with this adaptation of the 1932 film as they captured the mood and setting of the Universal film perfect and yet added their own touch in the presentation. The story is about Imhotep, a priest who was mummified and buried alive for his undying love for the princess and who is resurrected many years later and spends his time in modern times living as one of us.  When he meets a woman he finds is the reborn love of his life, he tries to make her is wife eternal and it’s up to a group of scientist not to allow this to happen. This is a classic horror tale that pits good vs. evil and has love to the main goal for either side to try to win the struggle. Imhotep is a wise and sinister Mummy who has adapted to modern times in order to blend in and find his goal of being reunited with his love, the thing is he does not care who he has to hurt in order to achieve his goal. Not to mention, he is an undead being who can pass for an older man and can walk among us and turn on us at any time. While he is bad, he also has a side that makes you pity him as he truly does love the Princess. Helen Grosvenor is a woman who is a damsel as she really is the reborn Princess Ankh-es-en-amon! Frank Whemple is our hero, and he is a classic hero who is noble and is trying to stop The Mummy for all the right reasons and along with his friends does just that. This horror comic is bloodless and its scares comes from the mood and subject matter as this is what Universal Monster movies where all about. The cover for this comic is amazing and captures the look of Boris Karloff as The Mummy and the interior art is great stuff and is done by Tony Harris who also did the cover! The things that work well in this comic are the art and they did a great job of adaptation the 1932 film into a comic book! The downside is that while it’s a classic film, it is very slow moving and this as well makes this horror comic very slow moving! But even though it moves at a slow pace, I would say that if you enjoy the movie make sure to get a copy of this Dark Horse Comic. Check out the artwork below to see they style of art that Harris brings to this adaptation.

Again sorry for the delay of this update as I have moved from the trusty apartment and now have a new home base and during the move my issue of The Mummy were misplaced. It’s also crazy to think that in 2017 we had a new Mummy movie from Universal that was supposed to kick off the new shared monster universe called The Dark Universe, but only time will tell if this will really happen as the box office and critics were not kind to this re-boot. Also weird is that this was the final Dark Horse adaptation of a Universal Monster that was made as we have taken a look at Dracula, Frankenstein and Creature From The Black Lagoon.  I wonder why Dark Horse never did make issues of The Wolf Man, Invisible Man or Bride Of Frankenstein? But that is a mystery that I am sure I will never know the true answer to unless I can chat with someone from Dark Horse who knows the answers. For our next update, we are walking away from Monsters and into the world of Robots as we will chat about Robotech: Defenders, a model kit line that ended up being the name sake of a popular Japanese import cartoon series. So until next time, read a horror comic or three, watch a Universal Monster movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! I think I am going to go watch a few horror films now!

The 8th Wonder Of Giant Classic Comics King Kong

My mother was 7 or 8 when she attempted to watch the 1933 film King Kong with her mom when it aired on TV.  She watched as a group set out to sea to make a movie and landed on an island, and when King Kong showed up just the sight and sound of the beast scared her enough to make her hide behind her mom’s chair! She would peek around the corner and shiver in fright of the sight of the giant ape. Way before the gross out films of the 60’s made by the likes of Hershel Gordon Lewis became the norm in what’s “scary” about horror films, the likes of a giant ape with a love for blondes paved the way and terrified the young and old. While many not consider it a horror film, I have always viewed it as one as King Kong is a giant ape creature that caused panic not only on his home island but also New York, and he does kill and eat humans so yeah, it spells horror film to me. I saw the film when I was about 7 or 8, the same age she first saw it, and I can remember my Mom telling me about her first viewing and this set the bar very high as I sat down on the couch ready to watch it alongside my parents and my brother on a VHS that we rented from Waynesville’s library. From the moment the film started, I was hooked on every word and when Kong showed up I became a fan, and to me every gorilla toy became King Kong. The watch with my family was a great one and was one of many fun family night of watching a flick on the old VCR while eating popcorn and being entertained. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away of the film as that will happen as we review the Gold Key comic adaptation a little later on so I will give you the cliff notes version. The film is about a filmmaker and some sailors who take a fresh faced new actress to an island were the natives take her to appease King Kong, a giant gorilla who rules the land.  They save her and also take Kong to New York as a stage attraction, and he escapes running wild in the city until he is killed in the end. It’s an amazing classic film with special effects that were way ahead of their time.  If you have not seen this film, do yourself a favor and watch it!

King Kong 1933 1King Kong 1933 PosterKing Kong 1933 2

In the 1980’s Ted Turner owned Turner Classic Movies wanted to do something fresh and new to King Kong so they did the unthinkable…. they colorized it! To be honest it seemed like an odd kick Turner was on, taking old classic black and white films and turning them into color films to air on his classic movie station, and on the top of the list that sparked the most debate was what they did to King Kong. I can remember that my mom and dad were not pleased that they messed with a classic film this way, but being so young I was a little curious to see what the classic Kong would look like in color. I seen the color version after the black and white and still preferred the original to the tampered with version. King Kong was the first movie on VHS that I owned two versions of as I had to own them both, and I would say I watched the black and white more than I did the colorized one that I got dirt cheap brand new at Blockbuster Video.

King Kong 1933 Color 1King Kong 1933 Color VHSKing Kong 1933 Color 2

Now if you look at King Kong as a horror film like I do, then you would have to look at Fay Wray as the original scream queen, and she proves she has a set of lungs as she screams her head off at the first site of Kong. She began her acting career making short films and making westerns for Universal but left once she became a WAMPAS Baby Stars meaning she was listed as an actress to watch. As a teenager Wray was signed to a contract with Paramount Pictures where she made over a dozen films like the failure 1928 silent film The Wedding March.  Wray was able to make the transition from silent to talkie films and left Paramount to make other films for other companies, the most notable being RKO that hired her for her first horror films like Doctor X, The Most Dangerous Game and her most famous film King Kong.  She was proud of her work in Kong and that film saved RKO from going bankrupt! During that time as well she was in a few other horror films like The Vampire Bat and Mystery In The Wax Museum. By the 1940’s, Wray retired briefly from acting but came back to make more films and take TV parts being on such shows as Perry Masson and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Wray continued to act for many years and even turned down a part in James Cameron’s 1997 smash hit film Titanic. Sadly at the age of 96 Fay Wray passed away of natural causes in 2004 while she slept.  After her passing, the Empire State Building shut off all its lights for 15 minutes to honor her legacy. Wray was a true beauty, a talented actress and could possibly be the first scream queen of cinema.

"King Kong"Fay Wray1933 RKO**I.V.fay wray 2fay wray 3

Because King Kong was such a huge hit at the box office, a sequel was made in 1933, coming out only 9 months after the original. The film follows the film director from the first film who is now in hot water for King Kong running wild in New York and travels to find that the giant ape might have had an offspring.  That film was called Son of Kong! In Japan in 1962, they made a film called King Kong vs. Godzilla where they pit the world’s top giant monsters against each other, and in 1967 they made another King Kong film called King Kong Escapes that has our lovable Kong fighting a robot version of himself called Mecha Kong. Paramount Pictures in 1976 decided to make a remake of King Kong and added in more modern touches to the film and even trades in the Empire State Building for the Twin Towers as well as the stop motion Kong for a stuntman in a suit done by FX God Rick Baker. In 1986 the remake got a forgettable follow up called King Kong Lives that had the giant ape getting a pacemaker put in to replace his damaged heart and finding a mate who has also been brought to the USA. In 2005 a longwinded Peter Jackson remake of King Kong was made and besides more minutes added to the runtime, it was a good but unnecessary film. With all these spin off films, sequels and remakes this just shows you how much impact this film had on classic cinema, and I agree with James Rolfe who said that film students should watch the original in film school right alongside Citizen Kane. While none of them are as good as the original film, they are all still fun watches that help add to the legacy of Kong and prove that this primate of fright, this ape of terror, is truly a legend of cinema.

Son Of Kong PosterKing Kong Escapes PosterKing Kong 1976 PosterKing Kong Lives PosterKing Kong 2005 Poster

In 1966 America and Japanese animation studios teamed up to make The King Kong Show, an animated adventure kid show that had King Kong befriending the Bond Family and stopping the likes of Dr. Who (and no, not the BBC version) from capturing Kong for his own evil gain. This animated cartoon was teamed with another show about a tiny special agent called Tom of T.H.U.M.B. and the show would last till 1969 with a total of 3 seasons and 25 episodes. This cartoon also helped Toho make the film King Kong Escapes and also was to be inspiration to the film that became Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, which Kong was suppose to star in, not Zilla. The cartoon over the years did not hold up well and was mostly forgotten until it got released on DVD as volumes a few years back. I never remember seeing the show when I was a kid, and I think it would have fit perfect on early morning Saturday’s back in the 80’s and could have also found a place on the USA Cartoon Express. I saw the show when I was older and in my 20’s found it to be pretty cool but only from a retro standpoint.

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So as we all know Toho studios made two films with King Kong in them in the 1960’s, but did you know that there are also two others made in Japan way before this that are now lost films? The first was a short silent film called “Wasei Kingu Kongu” made in 1933 the same year King Kong was released and was a team up from RKO and Shochiku Studios. Not much is known about the film besides RKO asked them to make it and that instead of a stop motion Kong, it was a man in a suit.  It was directed by Torajiro Saito with Isamu Yamaguchi playing King Kong and all that is left of the film is one single picture that was printed. Next was a 1938 film called “King Kong Appears In Edo” that made by Zensho Cinema with permission from RKO and was directed by Soya Kumagai and had a size changing King Kong attacking Edo (Tokyo) during Medieval times! Fuminori Ohashi who some 16 years later would make the original Godzilla costume made the Kong costume in this film.  Just think about that, King Kong was really Japan’s first giant movie monster and not Godzilla like we all thought! Both films are believed to have been destroyed during the bombings of World War II and neither ever showed outside of Japan making all master prints being only stored there. I learned about these missing films thanks once more to James Rolfe (Angry Video Game Nerd) when he did a top 10 list of lost Horror Films and the Japan Kong films were his # 1, and I agree with him when he said he hopes all the films he picked won’t always be lost films. Below are some pictures of Japan’s King Kongs, the first being Toho’s with the second being the 1933 version and last being the 1938 one.

King Kong JapanKing Kong Missing 1King Kong Missing 2

Tiger Electronics who are best known for making handheld games in the late 80’s and 90’s also made some console games in the age of Atari 2600 under the brand name TigerVision. And would you know it that in 1982 they made a game based on King Kong that was a follow up to their handheld games made about the big ape the year before. The game was a total rip off of Donkey Kong and had you playing as a guy who was trying to get to the top were King Kong was.  The graphics were bad and Kong was a stiff looking pixel mess. I have played the game several times and even own it and I must say that it really is a bad game. Though I do find it funny that Donkey Kong was a clone of King Kong who in turn had a game made about him that was just a bad clone of Donkey Kong. The game on release only sold moderately well and was by no means looked at as a classic.

King Kong Atari 1King Kong Atari 2600King Kong Atari 2

Ideal made a board game in 1976 based on the remake movie that had 2-4 players trying to get to the top of the Twin Towers before King Kong so that they can capture him, or you can win the game by saving the woman from his right hand via a special mission. But Kong won’t make your trip easy as he is flipping all around trying to knock your player back to the start. I own this game and played it with the fellow members of The Dayton Board Game Society who are Stephen Alexander II, Josh Weinberg, Jeremy Hoyt and Garrison Kane on one of our past meetings ,and I can remember that while the game was not all that ground breaking we all had fun trying to knock each other off the building using Kong as our puppet and it was a blast seeing just how competitive it got. If you get a chance and like classic board games based on movies then I would say check this one out, play time to complete is about 20 minutes give or take a few. I should also share we played this game on February 6th 2013 in Josh Weinberg’s basement and we also played the LJN A Nightmare on Elm Street video game for the NES and we ate Wing Zone.

Josh Playing King Kong Board GameKing Kong Board GameUs Playing King Kong

King Kong not only has been made into many video games and board games but he has also had pinball machines based around him, many comic books, novels, magazines, t-shirts, toys, Halloween costumes, soundtracks, stickers, dolls, drinking glasses and so much more. If you’re a King Kong fan, then there is something for you out there in the world of merchandise. Some of my favorite King Kong merchandise that I owned was my Imperial King Kong action figure that I use to make fight my Godzilla figure and even Kong was wrapped up in my epic Toy Wars, also would be my Crestwood Monster Series Book based on King Kong that gave the history of the film as well as some sweet photos. I also really liked my adaptation novel by Delos W. Lovelace and can remember reading it before bedtime many nights. It’s odd looking back at my youth now being 35 years old and seeing just how much of an impact King Kong has had on my life.  It’s a neat feeling knowing that a giant ape with a love for blondes truly means something to me. And for those of you who listen to Alpha Rhythms on WYSO (91.3 FM) on Sunday nights, I have played soundtrack pieces from the original score by Max Steiner as well as tracks from King Kong Lives by John Scott.

Movie Maniac King KongImperial King KongBen Copper King KongKing Kong Novel

Before we move onto The Gold Key Comic Review I of course have to talk about a ride I have wanted to go on since I first heard about it; that’s the one and only KongFrontation ride at Universal Studios Orlando that opened on June 7th 1990 and became a major attraction at the park. The ride was based on the 1976 remake as well as a ride Universal Studios had at their Hollywood park called King Kong Encounter that opened in 1986. The 5 minute ride would place you and others inside a tramcar but not before you walked down a mock New York street complete with newscasts playing on TVs to build up that King Kong is roaming the streets.  Once inside the car you are treated to explosions as well as giant animatronic King Kong’s that would roar and knock your little car around given the effect that he was attacking. In the end he would attack while you’re on the bridge but your driver would get you out safe and unharmed. This ride seemed amazing to me and just the thought of being close to a life size version of Kong was enough to make me want to go, but being a kid and having parents that didn’t like to travel out of state put a damper on getting to go. The attraction closed in 2002, and two years later a lame ride based on the terrible Mummy Remake took its place, marking the sad fact that I never got to ride the one roller coaster/attraction that I always wanted to. As far as King Kong Encounter, it had guests on a tramcar as King Kong would knock a helicopter from the sky and would end with you being eye level with the great ape on the Brooklyn Bridge as he tries to break it apart.  Of course you would make it off the bridge and would be safe thanks to your driver. The Kong animatronic was at the time the world’s largest and was so detailed that it’s “breath” smelled of bananas!  This ride as well lasted a total of 5 minutes and was one of the main attractions to the park. Sadly it as well came to an end when in 2008 a massive fire broke out and burnt the attraction up, but in Universal Hollywood they didn’t give up on King Kong and replaced it with an attraction called King Kong 360 3-D. I really would have loved to have ridden these attractions and sadly with both of them gone for good I will never get the chance to do so. But I can watch videos of them on YouTube and hear stories from my friends who did get to experience it…sigh.

King Kong RideSo I think our voyage through the sea of King Kong is over and we looked at the movies, video game, cartoon, missing films, merchandise as well as a theme park attraction but now it’s time for us to take a walk on Skull Island alongside Gold Key comics and see what this 1968 adaptation has to offer to the Kong legacy. I want to think Bell Book And Comic for having this comic in stock, and I would like to remind that I graded on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So let’s man up and walk through the giant gates into King Kong’s lsland and hope he doesn’t stomp us into the mud!

King Kong 1

King Kong  # 1    ***1/2
Released in 1968     Cover Price .25    Gold Key   # 1 of 1

Carl Denham is a filmmaker who can’t find a lead actress for his top secret next project.  He even has rented a boat called the “Wonderer” along with all its crew and after an agent tells him that he will not supple him with an actress, the director walks down the streets of New York and finds a pretty thief woman named Ann Darrow who was stealing an apple due to hunger.  Denham buys it for her and hires her to be in his new film. While on board the first mate Jack Driscoll falls in love with Ann, and the two start up a relationship.  They find out that they are to port at an unknown island called Kong Island. But while at the island they find that the natives are worshiping and sacrificing women to an unknown “God” and they have set their sights on Ann who they kidnap off the boat and take to the altar where a giant gorilla named King Kong falls for her and takes her deep into his jungle home! Driscoll and Denham lead some crew members on a rescue mission and while in the jungle they find that Kong is not the only giant monster as dinosaurs and sea serpents all blocking their trail to save Ann from Kong’s grip. Kong finds that he is being followed after he beats up a pair of Triceratops and knocks all the crew members off a log killing them leaving only Driscoll and Denham left.  As Driscoll follows Kong, Denham goes back to the ship for more men and gas bombs. King Kong while trying to grab Driscoll from a cave is attacked by a T-Rex and a major battle breaks out between the giant beasts! As Kong climbs to his cave home he must fight off all types of attackers and during this Driscoll saves Ann, and the two escape via the river below. As they reach the gates Kong is in hot pursuit and it’s here that Denham uses his gas bombs to knock Kong out and then takes him to New York to use the giant ape as a sideshow, but when Kong see’s Ann again he breaks his chains and escapes his cage and takes Ann to the top of the Empire State Building where he is attacked by fighter planes that lead to his death as they use machine guns on him while he is distracted by Ann being saved by Driscoll again and he falls to his death. In the end Ann and Driscoll are safe in each other’s arms, Kong is dead in the middle of the street and Denham learns that it was beauty that killed the beast.

This is another amazingly done comic film adaptation of a classic horror film much like Comic Library International’s Edison’s Frankenstein 1910 that holds just so true enough to the source material but still adds its own flare to spice it up. The plot is your simple Beauty and The Beast and follows a young actress who gains the affection of a tough sailor as well as a giant ape and when the big primate is taken away from his home and placed in the big city, his only comfort when he escapes is his blonde bombshell but even love can’t save him from being slain. Ann Darrow is a sweet woman who turns her misfortune of being poor into fame when she takes the part in a movie that leads her to charming King Kong to be put on display. Even though Ann fears Kong she also still feels some affection for him and wishes him no ill will and even tries to save the beast as the planes shoot him down. King Kong is neither good nor bad and it’s clear he is very territorial of his land and very protective of Ann who he has fallen in love with. I love the fact that he keeps not only the natives in check but also all the other giant beasts that live on the island proving he really is the King. Carl Denham, while a money grubbing rich film making geek, still really shows he cares about his friends as Ann’s safety when being taken is a big priority to him, though he does mistreat King Kong by keeping him in chained up and taking him away from his home to be looked at by New York’s rich snobs and press. Jack Driscoll is your very classic tough guy who only cares about the woman he loves and will risk it all for her. The major changes I noticed between the comic and the film is that in the comic the ship is called The Wonderer, while in the film it’s The Venture; in the comic the island is called Kong Island, while in the film it’s Skull Island. I also noticed in the film Jack is annoyed that Ann is on the ship and it takes awhile before he falls for her, in the comic it happens fast. This was the second time I have read this comic and I found that I enjoy it more and more after each read and find something very magical about the whole reading experience. The copy I have is a classic example of Rotten Ink as the smell of the decomposing ink fills your nose when you flip through the pages, while not a beat up copy, it’s still very yellowed on the pages. The artwork is done by ummm….an unknown artist as no credit is given, but I must say the art is perfect for this comic and while Kong doesn’t capture the full look of his movie appearance it still looks the part enough to draw this comic reader in. The cover as well is very eye catching and I am sure drew kids attention to it by using lots of orange and putting a giant ape crushing planes on the cover. If you like the film or like classic horror comics, than this is for sure one you should check out. I am glad I got it and I am sure a few years from now I will read it again.  Below is a piece of art from the comic just so you can see the style Gold Key went for in this comic.

King Kong Art

Really this is a great comic with great classic artwork and really is going to help us kick off our two month long horror comic countdown to Halloween 2014! So on this update we traveled to Skull Island and got to know King Kong and see what that massive beast was about, but how about next time we travel to a black lagoon and celebrate the 60th birthday of the Universal Monster Gill-Man.  So until then read a comic or two, watch a horror film and support your local Horror Host.

Creature from the Black Lagoon Logo 2