Horror Host Icon: Superhost

Hello, dere! The state of Ohio has a very rich history when it comes to Horror Hosts with names like Dr. Creep, Ghoulardi and The Cool Ghoul leading the way.  Also at the top of that list is Cleveland’s very own superhero, Superhost! It’s amazing to think that the world of Horror Hosts is filled with lots of mad doctors, vampires and ghouls but only two Superhero ones that come to mind are Commander USA and Superhost, both of whom delivered lots of laughs alongside the movies they hosted. When selecting hosts to cover this year, I knew that I had to cover Superhost as he is a true legend in the world of Horror Hosting and is a true icon of funny fright here in Ohio. So join me on this Horror Host Icon update as we take a heroic look at the one and only Superhost!

Superhost began his hosting career on WUAB Channel 43 in Cleveland, Ohio in 1969 and hosted back to back shows for much of his career with “Supe’s On!” being the pre-show that lasted an hour and would show “Three Stooges” and “Laurel And Hardy” shorts and would later show TV Shows like “The Munsters.” And then he would host his main show called “Mad Theater” that would have Superhost hosting two back to back films and later one film for the viewers at home. His shows would air on Saturday Mornings and was a great way for Monster Kids of the late 60’s-80’s to enjoy classic horror and comedy. Superhost would greet his viewers with his classic catch phrase “Hello, Dere”and would entertain them with his silly humor and even more goofy skits that would be parodies of famous TV Shows and people. Superhost was a fun loving kind of hero who wore a baggy light blue outfit that had his classic SH emblem on it, red boxer shorts, a large red cape. He had a red nose and seemed to enjoy bringing the movies to the viewers even sometimes taking jabs at the films’ quality and budget. Superhost’s set was mostly in front of a movie theater (called Superhost Theatre) that had glowing lights and the movie(s) or shows’ title on the marquee. With TV growing and the popularity of syndicated shows like Pro Wrestling, Mad Theater went through lots of changes shortening its run time and even changing its format but Cleveland’s favorite Host lasted on air until 1989 giving him a very great 20 year run on the air. During this time, he made public appearances and even appeared on other Horror Host Shows like “Hoolihan & Big Chuck” who also were iconic Horror Hosts from Cleveland on the rival network. Say what you will but Superhost is truly an icon of Ohio TV and his popularity lives on thanks to fans who trade his shows and chat about his silly ways!

Marty Sullivan is the man behind Superhost and was born in Detroit, Michigan on March 1, 1932 of Irish decent. Before he was on Cleveland airwaves, he survived in the Navy, went to college and worked a little a little as a radio newscaster. But he really made a name for himself on WUAB Channel 43 and not just for being Superhost as he also was the floor director and staff announcer and fill in movie host for the show “Prize Movie” and did that up until 1993 as well as did the news breaks from time to time for the station. He also had a background in radio and was really a jack of all trades when it came to media. Marty was inducted into the Ohio Broadcasters Hall Of Fame in 1991 and is still very much respected for all his hard work at WUAB. Marty is 86 years old at the time of this update and has long been retired from the world of broadcasting and is enjoying his days living in Oregon, chatting with fans who grew up watching him as the one and only Superhost. And for those wondering, yes, he does dress as Superhost from time to time for interviews and skits that appear on TV, but these appearances are very far and few.

The year was 2015, and the place was Horrorhound Weekend.  The event was the Horror Host Hall Of Fame and in this class Superhost was long overdue to be inducted! The honor of inducting Superhost went to Dayton, Ohio Horror Host Baron Von Porkchop who told me he was extremely honored to have been asked to do so, and he did all his research and watched many of Superhosts skits and shows and did a fantastic job of honoring a Host legend that paved the way for him and many others who followed. It was amazing to be in the crowd watching a Host I created inducting a super iconic Host from our home state and hearing people cheer as Superhost was officially added in and many of his fellow peers and fans witnessing this special moment. The only let down is that I wished Marty Sullivan could have made it and accepted his award as it would have been an honor to have met him in person. So if your reading this, Superhost, I hope that you enjoyed Baron Von Porkchop’s speech as it was our pleasure to pay you the respect that you deserve.

The strangest thing about Superhost for me is I cannot remember how I first heard about him, but I feel like I have known about him for many years including when I was a teenager. I am going to guess I had to have read about him in a magazine, newspaper or saw him on the news or even heard about him from some of my Horror Host friends. One thing is for sure, once I was able to track down episodes of his show I was all over them as he is considered a Horror Host legend here in Ohio and I had to see him in action.  From day one I was not disappointed as it seemed to me that he was having a blast doing the show, and I could see how viewers at the time made it must see television. Superhost is a real master of the Horror Hosting craft as he talked to the viewers and made watchers feel like they were his friend.  He would poke fun at himself as well as the night’s movies doing what he had to do to get them to laugh. It’s a shame that Superhost never made it to the world of comic books as he would make for an amazing all ages comic character…someone should do this….maybe Sparkle Comics could do a comic one shot about his silly adventures one day. But one thing is for sure, Superhost is well respected among Ohio fans and fellow Horror Hosts coast to coast. Here is to you Marty Sullivan for being a true icon in the world of Horror Hosting.

So its that time when the Sups Is On and we need to take a look at episodes I own of Superhost with many of these episodes coming from Trade Lists and friends like James and Darren who made this update even better with episodes they have sent me. I do not give these episodes a star rating and the host segments are written by me with the films coming from our pals at IMDB. So lets watch some Horror Flicks with the one and only hero of TV Superhost! Oh and to keep it easy I am just going to call all episodes Mad Theater to keep it simple. I also want to say I did have a DVD called Superbits that featured moments from the show but decided to leave it off of the review.

Mad Theater: Attack Of The Crab Monsters
Starring – Richard Garland & Martha Hunter       Not Rated       1957

Host: Superhost reads fan mail about getting his show and they are all made up and silly and then he promises that later in the show he will have big name guests, and then ushers us into the movie! Superhost comes back and chats with Herman Pincher, an expert in crabs, and the interview goes bad as Herman is crazy and thinks he is on the Tonight Show. All the while we are treated to cheesy Superhost bumpers where he always welcomes us back to the night’s film. At one point Superhost eats some crabs and says that’s how they should have dealt with the crab monsters from the nights movie. After the movie Superhost changes out of his costume and ends the show.

Movie: A group of scientists travel to a remote island to study the effects of nuclear weapons tests, only to get stranded when their airplane explodes. The team soon discovers that the island has been taken over by crabs that have mutated into enormous, intelligent monsters. To add to their problems, the island is slowly sinking into the ocean. Will any of them manage to escape?

Note from Matt: This appears to be a fan reproduction of the episode and is missing all commercials.

Mad Theater: Frankenstein
Starring – Boris Karloff & Dwight Frye     Not Rated       1931

Host: Superhost opens the show giving us a few facts about Frankenstein and shows off some drawings of The Monster that were sent to him before going to the movie. Next up Superhost shares some local events that are happing around town like plays, festivals, haunted houses and fish fries! And his announcements for the community events lasts break after break and he does so with grace and charm. And sadly his final bumper is missing from this episode.

Movie: Henry Frankenstein is a doctor who is trying to discover a way to make the dead walk. He succeeds and creates a monster that has to deal with living again.

Mad Theater: Most Dangerous Game
Starring – Fay Wray & Joel McCrea       Not Rated     1932

Host: Superhost tells a few fun facts about the night’s movie and tells the viewers that it’s a really good movie! And sadly that’s all we get to see of Superhost from this episode as the person who recorded it removed his segments and the commercials.

Movie: After their luxury cabin cruiser crashes on a reef, Bob Rainsford finds himself washed ashore on a remote island. He finds a fortress-like house and the owner, Count Zaroff, seems to be quite welcoming. Apart from Zaroff’s servant Ivan, the only other people present are Eve Trowbridge and her brother Martin, also survivors of their own shipwreck. Other survivors are missing however and Rainsford soon learns why. Zaroff releases them into his jungle island and then hunts them down in his grisly “outdoor chess” game! Then after Martin disappears, Bob realizes that he and Eve are to be the next “pawns” in Zaroff’s deadly game.

Note from Matt: It’s always a shame when an episode of a Horror Host program is uncovered and who ever recorded it removes all or even some of the Host segments. Just really makes you wonder what Superhost did in this episode.

Mad Theater: Wizard Of Mars
Starring – John Carradine & Vic McGee       Not Rated       1965

Host: Superhost starts with reading a letter that had a triva question and gives the answers.  The film is the second feature of the day, and he gives us quick little facts about it and rushes us to the movie. Superhost welcomes us back to the show after a break but does say to us viewers that it’s a great day outside and that kids should be outside playing, but also make sure to say or stay in and watch the movie. We next join Superhost as he reads off some local events that are going on in the coming weeks, and so he does for a few more breaks. Superhost then closes the show and tells the viewers that next on is King Kong and wonders why his boss didn’t give him that to host.

Movie: In 1974, four astronauts, silver shoe-clad Dorothy, overweight Doc, goofy Charlie, and wooden Steve, crash land on Mars when taking readings, with only four days of supplies. They must try to survive on the surface, which is barren except for some canals with huge maggots with fins. After embarking through a golden igneous cavern, braving a storm and finding an unmanned Earth vessel, they discover a golden road which leads them to the unchanging ruins of what was once a beautiful Martian city. The Martians are modeled on the Flatheads of Oz, and their collective consciousness, the “Wizard,” forbids them to leave until they perform a very small task.

Mad Theater: Wolf Man
Starring – Lon Chaney Jr. & Bela Lugosi     Not Rated     1941

Host: Superhost starts the show off by reading a letter from a fan who sends his list of favorite Horror Movies and on that list is The Wolf Man that happens to be the day’s film! We next join Superhost as he says alerts us to some local events happening and shows us a drawing a fan did of Frankenstein’s Monster! And when we see him again Superhost must spend more time telling us about events going on around Halloween, and this goes on for a few more breaks. And sadly his final break is missing from the episode.

Movie: Upon the death of his brother, Larry Talbot returns from America to his ancestral home in Wales. He visits a gypsy camp with village girl Jenny Williams, who is attacked by Bela, a gypsy who has turned into a werewolf. Larry kills the werewolf but is bitten during the fight. Bela’s mother tells him that this will cause him to become a werewolf at each full moon. Larry confesses his plight to his unbelieving father, Sir John, who then joins the villagers in a hunt for the wolf. Transformed by the full moon, Larry heads for the forest and a fateful meeting with both Sir John and Gwen Conliffe.

Superhost really is a great Horror Host and really has inspired many creative people from the Cleveland, Ohio area and beyond. Superhost has a friendly and calming voice that made the viewers feel like one of his close friends. And what shows that Superhost was such a great Host with a great show is the fact he lasted on air for two decades and is ranked as one of Cleveland’s top Hosts and ranks up with the likes of Ghoulardi, The Ghoul, Son Of Ghoul, Big Chuck & Little John and Mad Daddy to name a few. So to sum it all up, Superhost is a true Icon in the world of Horror Hosting and deserved to be inducted into the Horror Host Hall Of Fame! But sadly for our next update we must leave the world of Horror Hosting behind and travel to the world of Bones! Yep we will be talking an epic journey with Malibu Comics and their series simple called Bones. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you soon for an adventure with a skeleton hero!

Marvel At The Movies Part 3: Bring On The Superheroes!

The doors are once again wide open at the Marvel Theater, and they have welcomed Rotten Ink in once more to take a look at more comic adaptations of movies.  This time around we will be taking a look at comics based on movies that are based on Marvel Comics! Nowadays, Marvel is ruling the box office with their films based on The Avengers, X-Men, Captain America, Iron Man and Guardians of The Galaxy, proving that these comic characters are truly box office gold. It’s crazy to think that back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s Marvel was struggling to get their movies even made and the ones that were did not live up to what they wanted as Superman and Batman were clearly the powerhouses and led DC to being the go to company if you needed a comic character to make a movie around. For this update I have chosen three comic adaptations for Marvel films I grew up watching, not the more modern ones.  My picks are Howard The Duck, The Punisher and Captain America, all considered turkeys of films and all films I enjoyed watching over and over as a kid. So let’s find the perfect seat and settle in as we have some movies to talk about!

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Before we get too comfortable in our seats, I should thank Mavericks Cards And Comics and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock, and most importantly, I should also sound like a broken record and remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with our popcorn and favorite drink in hand lets take a look and talk about some fun comics based on Marvel characters!

Howard The Duck Movie Still 1Howard The Duck Movie PosterHoward The Duck Movie Still 2

In 1986, George Lucas produced Marvel Comics first hero to make it to the big screen.  It was not Spider-Man nor was it the Fantastic Four as those would have proven to have been wiser choices.  Instead, we got Howard The Duck! The film followed Howard The Duck as he is sucked to Earth, befriends a female rock band, and saves the world from a inter-dimensional being who wants to rule the world. Universal Pictures as well as Marvel Comics put a lot of time and money into promoting this film and even cast some pretty great names to star in it like Lea Thompson, Tim Robbins and Jeffrey Jones with Chip Zien providing the voice of Howard.  But none of these elements could help the film with critics and moviegoers who snubbed it. The film did very poorly for Universal, only bringing in a worldwide total of $37,962,774.00 on a $37 million dollar budget! I for one always enjoyed this film growing up.  I first saw it on HBO, and by that point my brother and I already had Marvel Comic issues of Howard and I even had the paperback novel adaptation on the film,  The film was super fun and any film that had Lea Thompson in her panties was a-ok in my book! I am not so sure why this film has as much hate as it does.  None of my schoolmates on the playground in Waynesville ever trashed this film nor did I really hear all that much hate for it until the social media boom of the 2000’s happened. So let’s see how this comic adaptation series holds up and if it can capture the cheesy magic of the film.

Howard The Duck Movie Special 1

Howard The Duck # 1  **1/2
Released in 1986    Cover Price .75    Marvel Comics    # 1 of 3

Howard The Duck has just gotten off work and is sitting in his apartment, drinking a beer and enjoying the new issue of Play-Duck, when he is suddenly pulled by an unknown force out into space and left stranded on Earth in Cleveland, Ohio right outside of a rock venue were the all female group Cherry Bomb is playing. After being lost in the city and seeing just how cold and uncaring it can be, he ends back up at the rock venue just as Bev, the lead singer of Cherry Bomb is having some words with their manager who has not paid the band for their past gigs! As Beverly is walking home, she is attacked by some hoods who have bad intentions and is saved by Howard who uses Quack-Fu, and a friendship is sparked as Howard stays the night at Beverly’s flat where he opens up about his life in his world that included him wanting to be a song writer. The next day Beverly brings Howard to the Cleveland museum to meet Phil, a friend of her who works there.  After that gives them no answers, Howard losses his cool and runs off Beverly, and now he is alone and mad in Cleveland!

This is a fun first issue that holds the charm and good nature of the film and its characters. The plot for issue one has Howard being zapped from his planet and trapped on Earth and becoming friends with Beverly who is a lead singer for a rock band who wants to try and help him return to his planet, but one little argument leaves the two at odds by the end of the issue. Howard The Duck is a blue collar kind of character who is stuck between living his dreams of being a creative person and “growing up” and working a adult job. He comes off short tempered but also noble as he risks his own life when a stranger is in danger. Howard is scared and yet trying to stay strong as he really just wants to go home and get away from Cleveland. Beverly Switzler is a sweet young woman who fronts a popular all female band called Cherry Bomb.  She is an independent person who lives on her own and is following her dreams. She also has a great heart as she takes in Howard who saved her from being attacked and wants to try her best to find a way to get him home. Phil Blumburtt is a total goof who so far wants to help Howard but also wants to help himself as he feels this could get him into the Science Hall Of Fame.  While a smart person, he is also very much a goof. Ginger is a jerk and is the manager of Cherry Bomb. Howard is mistreated by Metalheads and Bikers in this issue and all the while you find yourself cheering for this duck to make it out alright. The cover for this adaptation is just okay and is lacking the major eye catching appeal, while the art inside is done by Kyle Baker and is pretty good stuff.  Some of the characters loosely look like the actors who played them in the film. Over all a very good first issue and is a fun enjoyable ride with likable characters and some kid comic like charm. Well let’s see how issue two holds up!

Howard The Duck Movie Special 2

Howard The Duck # 2  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   # 2 of 3

Howard is now on his own and finds a job at a spa, but quits that quickly when he finds out he hates to swim and his boss is a fat jerk. While walking the streets, he ends up at a club were Cherry Bomb is playing and overhears Ginger bragging about stealing the band’s money and is talking sleazy about Beverly.  This angers Howard who beats him up, takes the bands money to give to them and gets it so now he is the band’s manager! Howard goes back to stay with Beverly, and they are soon visited by Phil and a Dr. Walter Jenning who is in charge of the Spectroscopic Laser that was the tool that pulled Howard to Earth! They decide that if they reverse the experiment that they might be able to send Howard home.  This turns bad when the laser explodes and brings something more dark and sinister to Earth and leaves Howard on the run from the cops for being a illegal alien. Beverly breaks him loose from jail, and Dr. Jenning is sick and needs help as he took the blunt of the blast and is also wanted for questioning as this last experiment was not on the record. The trio ends up at a small roadside diner where Jenning goes through a transformation and is now calling himself The Dark Overlord.  He wants to use the laser to bring more of his kind to Earth and take it over! As Howard and Beverly try to escape the diner and leave Jennings behind, they soon find the locals want to cook and eat Howard, but he is saved by Jennings who roughs up the diner and takes back the gold key that starts up the laser that Howard stole. In the end it’s clear The Dark Overlord is now in control and wants to bring the end of the world with the coming of his friends.

The story is starting to bubble now as we get some action and science fiction elements that bring the plot to life. This far the plot has Howard almost finding his way back home but something goes wrong and he is instead being held by the cops who came to the lab after an accident that leaves Dr. Jenning injured and possessed by a evil being called The Dark Overlord who wants to bring down the world and a new age of evil. Throw is a greasey spoon diner straight out of Superman II and you have this issue. Howard kicks some butt as he takes Ginger and his con man ways to an end and even starts to build a crush on Beverly who he feels drawn to, Howard sadly also is so close to going home yet so far away as the accident as well as The Dark Overlord is keeping his homecoming away. Beverly thanks to Howard now has her musical career going in the right direction, but also finds herself getting a crush on the three feet tall walking and talking duck Howard. Phil is as goofy as ever, but does come up with how and who brought Howard to Earth and comes up with the possible way to send him home. Dr. Jenning as a man is a bright and helpful man who wants to help get Howard home, but once transformed into The Dark Overlord he is a mad man with plans to bring the fall of man and has no time for people or ducks who get into his way. One odd thing that you must think about is how many characters seem not to be puzzled or freaked out about a walking and talking three foot tall duck, not to mention like in the movie the comic plays up on the sexual tension between Howard and Beverly! But cant say I blame Howard as getting a crush on a woman that looks like Lea Thompson seems easy to do. The diner is filled with some blood thirsty jerks as they really want to kill Howard and eat him, I mean really they take him to the kitchen and the cook is about to chop him up before The Dark Overlord saves his tail feathers. The issue is another fun one and this time around the cover is pretty fun as it has Howard about to be chopped up, the art is done by Kyle Baker again and is good stuff. So far this has been a solid adaptation mini series and one that makes me look forward to reading the finial issue to see just how it all ends! Ok I know as I have seen the movie many times but thats besides the point.

Howard The Duck Movie Special 3

Howard The Duck # 3  **1/2
Released in 1986    Cover Price .75    Marvel Comics    # 3 of 3

The Dark Overlord kidnaps Beverly and heads toward the lab to use the laser to bring his friends to Earth, as Howard rushes to her aid and along the way frees Phil from the back of a police car and the pair barrow a small plan and fly it to the lab. During this time Howard comes to terms that he has been sent to Earth for a reason and thats to save it from the upcoming doom that awaits it. Phil at the lab rigs another big laser to a cart and Howard must aim it at The Dark Overlord to stop him who is going to use Beverly as a host body for one of his friends coming from the other dimension. Howard drives the cart and heads for The Dark Overlord and as both his each other with a massive hit the spirit of the Overlord leaves the body of Jenning who tells Howard the only way to defeat these evil beings is to destroy the laser which would leave Howard stranded on Earth! Howard does what needs to be done and the laser is no more and the portal for the Overlords is closed for good. At the end Howard is now the manager of Cherry Bomb and he is content on being on Earth with his friends.

The final issue is as solid as the two before it and I must say that this adaptation over all truly does capture the feel of the film and keeps the humor and adveture nature. This issues plot is Howard going after The Dark Overlord who has kidnapped Beverly, and must man up (or is that duck up?) and choose between going home and saving Earth.Howard in this issue becomes a hero and puts his own needs in the corner so that the needs of many are meet and the human race is safe. Howard also learns a little about friendship as he and Phil must work together to accomplish their goal and also learns about love as he truly finds himself caring for Beverly. The Dark Overlord is a sinister being who does not care about anyone else besides his wants and needs and that is just for the world to end and his race’s time to begen. The downside to this powerful being is that while he can crush and shock his way into power he is easly defeated by a blast from a laser gun and goes down with out a fight really. Beverly in this issue goes from rock n roll chick to helpess damsel in distress back to rocker, she is very likebale as a character and I found myself routing for Howard to save her. Phil and Jennings are helpful in their roles and each offer the ideas that bring down the Overlord and this is fitting as neither character is over played. What I like best about this adaptation is that it holds true to the film as it captures the family fun comedy adventure and showcases the fact that Howard The Duck is a character kids could like. The art is done by Baker once again and it looks great and the cover is pretty good and is a nice way to showcase all the heroes and our issues main baddie! So far this is a great start to this Marvel At The Movies and I look forward to see what The Punisher and Captatin America adaptations have in store! Check out some Baker artwork below. 

Howard The Duck Movie Art 1Howard The Duck Movie Art 2Howard The Duck Movie Art 3

From the silly adventure of Howard The Duck now to the savage brutal action of The Punisher!

Dolph Punisher 1The Punisher (Dolph) Movie PosterDolph Punisher 2

In 1989 New World Pictures was the parent company of Marvel Comics and wanted to turn their popular anti-hero vigilante character The Punisher into a film that would blend action and comic adventure into one entertaining film starring Dolph Lundgren that could compete with DC Comics and Warner Brothers Superman and Batman films. But sadly, this film was not to be the major blockbuster hit they were hoping for as New World’s financial issues caused the film to never have a theatrical run in the United States (while it did overseas).  Its fate was Direct To Video and airing on cable. The film has The Punisher having to team with the mob bosses whose kids have been kidnapped by the Yakuza as well as dealing with his own war on crime. The film is straight action with lots of gunplay, hand to hand combat as well as some ninja action! The main reason people hated this film was the fact The Punisher didn’t wear the skull logo on his chest.  I can remember friends ranting about this all the time and saying the movie sucked.  I have always taken up for this film because if you removed the name The Punisher, people would have liked this it as a solid 80’s action film. I first saw the film via a video rental when our Dad rented it for us all to watch.  I can remember that my brother and I both liked it, and this sparked out want and need to get issues of Spider-Man that had him fighting The Punisher. The film was pretty brutal, and I am wondering how well this adaptation issue will capture the violence and grim nature of the story. So let’s not keep The Punisher waiting any longer and see just what this adaptation has to offer.

PUNISHER MOVIE SPECIAL 1

The Punisher # 1  **1/2
Released in 1990    Cover Price $ 5.95    Marvel Comics    # 1 of 1

Frank Castle and Jake are cops on a bust to bring down the Franco crime family, and while they capture some of the mob’s goons, they fail to capture their main target. Frank and Jake get the call they have been waiting for as they get to deliver a surprise to Franco before he flees the country. This makes the mob boss very angry and a hit is placed on Frank Castle and his family who all become victims of a car bomb. Five years pass as a vigilante named The Punisher has killed over 100 mobsters, and Castle’s old partner Jake thinks that Frank Castle is alive and is this punishing angel. Franco has now returned to America and wants to unite all the crime families into one corporation and sets up a big drug deal to bring them all together, but during the pick up they are attacked not just by The Punisher but also ninjas who steal the drugs and kill many in the process. The Punisher is getting his information from an alcoholic washed up stage actor as Jake gets a new partner in Sam, a young female rookie cop. Hideko Tanaka is the leader of the Yukuza, and along with her mute American adopted daughter, is responsible for the ninja attack.  They warn Franco and the crime lords that they are taking over the town and to insure this they kidnap all their children! The Punisher stays out of the war for a short time but with kids’ lives at risk, he takes the war to the Yukuza and warns them to free the children or else. The Yukuza set up The Punisher and his actor friend and torture them to try and get information as they think the crime bosses hired him to attack, The Punisher escapes and saves all the children except Tommy Franco who was taken by Yukuza members. The Punisher is captured by the cops and besides rescuing the kids, Jake finds that his friend Frank Castle is alive yet is a shell of the man he was. Franco has The Punisher rescued from going to jail and begs him to help him get his son back from Tanaka.  The pair enter her headquarters and wage war with her bloodthirsty men and her skilled mute daughter. The Punisher kills Tanaka with a knife to the head as she holds Tommy hostage and is forced to kill his father when the crime lord is about to try and kill him! In the end, The Punisher runs into the night as Jake and the police show up knowing that his war in crime is not over.

The first thing I want to say is that this is a really fun comic adaptation and adds in moments that were cut from the film.  It has a nice quick pace that captures the action feel of the film. The downside is that the art is pretty crappy and not my style at all, as well as the copy I have was misprinted which made it hard to read pages that were mis-cut during binding. The plot has The Punisher going to war with the Mob and being forced to join forces with them once a rival foreign mob comes to town and puts the lives of kids in danger. Frank Castle/The Punisher is a good man who becomes confused about justice when his family is brutally murdered and he is left for dead.  His one man war on crime has left hundreds dead and has crime lords shaking in their boots. It’s odd that he never went to his friend and partner Jake for help, but I think it goes to show you the man he was died alongside his family that day. I love how he steps up and helps the crime lords when their kids are put in danger showing that while he is a cold blooded killer he still has humanity left when it comes to the innocence of children. Jake and Sam are good cops who know that Frank is The Punisher and want to help him before the rest of the law catches up to him and puts him in jail! Franco is a slimeball who deals drugs and kills to achieve his goals in the world of crime. Even after The Punisher helps him, he still wants to try and kill the man who saved his child’s life as well as his own as Tanaka wants him to kill himself in order to save his son! Hideko Tanaka is the worst of the worst in the world of crime, and to prove how evil she is, she killed her own brother to please the Yukuza bosses! She has an army of well trained ninjas at her side as well as her daughter who is also cold blooded. Tanaka is the kind of bad girl who kills and gets enjoyment in not only the act but all the sadness that effects those who loved her victim. The rest of the characters all are well done from Tommy Franco to the drunk actor, they all survive a part and all are important to the story. Oe thing I want to point out is that in the comic for the end battle The Punisher does have to skull on his chest, and this is something that fans of the movie wanted…read this comic, and you’ll get him in the costume. The cover is amazing and eye catching.  The art inside is done by Brent Anderson and is kind of sloppy and characters look nothing like the actors who played them in the film. To sum it up, this is a solid adaptation and is well worth checking out for fans of the film as all the classic lines are present.  Check out some art below to see the style of Anderson.

Punisher Movie Special Art 1

He only punished the guilty, and now it’s time to take a look at a hero who fights for America!

Cap Movie 1Captain America 1990 Movie PosterCap Movie 2

This is the film Marvel Comics really thought would put one of their characters at the top of the box office, but like Howard The Duck and The Punisher, this one just could not get footing and was shelved for a couple of years and then quietly put out direct to video. 21st Century really wanted Captain America to be a huge success like Tim Burton’s Batman and spark a merchandise frenzy as well as sequels that would be box office gold.  Instead all they had was a cheesy film starring Matt Salinger as Captain America is a great yet laughable costume and Ohio born Scott Paulin as The Red Skull who most of the film does not have a Red Skull as he has plastic surgery to cover his face! The film had a hard time even getting made as it was passed around by production companies, and many dates were set for it to hit theaters throughout 1990 and 1991 before, as I said, it was released straight to home video. The film had the right heart with the costume being as close to the comic character’s as possible, and the casting of actors like Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox and the lovely Francesca Neri were wise choices – all the right things to do to make this a hit, but for all the good there was the mediocre script, the lack of Salinger in the suit and the terrible acting of Kim Gillingham that held it back. Everyone I knew who had seen this film when released on VHS said it was terrible, and for some reason I enjoyed it.  I think it all came down to the fact Captain America along with the Incredible Hulk have always been one of my favorite super heroes, and besides the made for TV films from the 70’s, this was as close to seeing Cap come alive I was going to get.  Plus my Dad bought me the movie on VHS for my birthday and that also made it special. The film is about Cap fighting the Red Skull during World War II and saving the world leaves him frozen and now in present day he is found and returns to stop The Red Skull who is now a terrorist. This is a total guilty pleasure film and is one I still watch from time to time when looking for a ham packed with cheese super hero film. So let’s see how the comic adaptation holds up to the film.

Captain America Movie Special 1

Captain America The Movie # 1  **1/2
Released in 1992    Cover Price $3.50    Marvel Comics    # 1 of 1

In 1936 the Nazi’s kidnap a young Italian boy who is super smart and a master piano player and murder his family in front of him.  He is taken to Dr. Vasari to be experimented on turning him into a killing machine. Dr. Vasari does not agree with testing on humans and runs for her life as the boy becomes the first human subject for the Super Soldier Formula. Flash to 1943, and the skinny Steve Rogers who walks with a limp has been picked by the government to be a test subject that might just be the tool to win the war.  Rogers is happy as he wants to help in the war but his girlfriend Bernie is not too happy and is filled with worry. Steve Rogers is picked up and taken to a secret lab where Dr. Vasari injects him with a new and improved Super Soldier Formula, but she is killed by a Nazi spy and he is forced into action fast as The Red Skull is about to set off a missile that would be heading straight for America and our nation’s capital! Captain America and Red Skull fight.  This leads to Captain America being attached to the missile and The Red Skull loosing a hand, but the White House is saved when Captain America at the last minute gets free and takes the missile off course and to the the frozen land up north. Youngster Nick Kimball was in Washington and was able to snap a picture of Captain America on the missile and this sticks with him over the years all the way till adulthood when he even becomes the President of the United States as he has always wanted to know who Cap was. Sam, who has been Nick’s friend since childhood, is now a reporter and has as well tried to find out who his friends mystery hero was. Captain America trusts no one and rushes to Bernie who is now old and meets her daughter Sharon who he stays with and gets a job at the gym she works for. Meanwhile The Red Skull along with an American turncoat named Millhouse come up with a plan to kidnap the president to experiment on him with mind control, but he also sends his daugther Antonella to kill Captain America and instead she and her goons just kill Bernie and Sam! This sets Captain America off and he travels to Italy to save the President and to stop The Red Skull! In the end with the help of The President, Sharon and a cassette tape of The Red Skull as a child playing piano they are able to stop him from blowing up Italy with a bomb more powerful than the atom bomb when The Red Skull flings himself off the side of his castle and into the cold waters below. Saving the day Steve Rogers now finds happiness with Sharon.

Besides some little changes this comic adaptation is just as cheesy and silly as the movie, but I must say that one of the pluses is that Steve Rogers stays in the Captain America suit a little more than he does in the movie! The plot of this adaptation is this Steve Rogers is injected with a super formula that turns him into the ultimate solider, he battles The Red Skull in his first mission and while a hero he is frozen in a block of ice and many years later thawed out and must stop The Red Skull who is now a terrible terrorist who know has a plot to kill our president. The major changes is that The Red Skull commits suicide by jumping off the side of his castle in this comic while in the movie he is knocked off it by Cap’s shield. The other change is that Sharon and Steve Rogers end up hooking up by the end and that Steve has a day job of being a janitor at a gym. Captain America in this comic is very heroic and does what ever he can to save not only the American people but also the people of Italy along the way of saving the President. But to break this down more its funny to think in this universe Captain America failed on his first mission to stop Red Skull and while saving the White House from a missle his legend is unknown as he never became the true hero of World War II like the comics show him to be. Steve Rogers is a man with a limp who takes some super soilder formula injections and becomes a hero, he also back in his youth had a girlfriend and when returning to modern times is able to win the heart of her daughter…what a pimp. The Red Skull in this comic adaptation as well as the movie is Italian and is forced into his life of being a Nazi super soilder and is driven nuts by the formula, but not while he starts with the Red Skull face he ends up getting plastic sugery as he does in the movie and looks normal. Sam, Millhouse, Bernie, Dr. Vasari and Antonella are just side characters that keep the comic moving along as President Kimball is also just around to be kidnapped and in the end come to the aid to save America by fighting his captors. Sharon is a fighter and also must like older men and get turned on my people who dated her own mother. The art is well done and while it looks nothing like the actors who play the parts in the movie its based on, it does look like an issue of Captain America from the 90’s. The cover is way more action packed than the story inside and is pretty eye catching with the art inside being done by Bob Hall and are well done. Over all this adaptation is just as hammy as the film and was a good read once and something I will not re-read anytime soon. Check out the art below for what this comic looks like inside that cool cover.

Captain America Movie Special Art 1

So while I stew on which one of these films should have had a comic series based around the movie universe it created, I think it’s time for a Fantasy Warfare! I have been slacking on presenting the Fantasy Warfare and feel it’s time to unleash a battle of the movie versions of Dark Overlord of the Universe, The Red Skull and Hideko Tanaka! The battleground will be the Waffle House on Dayton-Yellow Springs Road around 1a.m on a cool windy night in May right after a nasty storm. So if you’re ready to watch an epic B-movie villain battle for the ages, let’s head into the Waffle House and see who comes out the winner.

Dark Lord (Movie)VS redLady TanakaVS redRed Skull Movie 90s

Peg is working the late shift as the waitress as Ryan is working the grill the two workers are barely talking as the two mid 30 year olds once dated and the relationship ended bad, and worse it’s been a very slow night. As the minutes tic by a stranger comes walking in he is covered up with a long grey trench coat, a scarf over his face and wearing a hat he takes a seat away from the door and orders a Texas Cheesesteak Melt, a Triple Order of Hash browns Smothered, Covered & Diced with a Chocolate Milk to drink and Peg goes to read off the order but as she does another guests comes in she is alone and has a bandage over her forehead and introduces herself as Hideko Tanaka and demainds that she becomes the leader of this Waffle House and that she will take 70% off the stores profits! Peg looks at her as if she is speaking japaness and is at a loss of words for this strange statement she ordered as another stranger comes stumbling in pushing Tanaka out of the way and demanding eggs! The Dark Lord has now entered the Waffle House and is angry and really craving eggs.  He is yelling at Ryan about sunny side up eggs, Tanaka springs into action and she plunges a steak knife off a dirty table into Dark Lord’s back, but to her shock, he just shrugs it off, turns to her and uses powers to fling her against the wall.  With his other hand he makes all the sharp knives in the place fly toward her and just before they all plunge into her body, she mumbles the words “not again” and with that she is staked to the wall never to demand 70% of profits again. As Dark Lord laughs and celebrates his victory, he turns to find a luger pistol to his face as the stranger in the long coat has taken off his hat and scarf.  We see that it’s The Red Skull as he fires a bullet into the Overlord’s brain.  The crimson faced villain makes it known that he wants his meal and all this fighting has kept him away from it! As the body of the Overlord hits the ground, The Red Skull turns back to his table just as Peg places his plate down and informs him they gave him extra pickles for his trouble. As Peg goes to get the mop to clean up the blood, Ryan is gearing up to pick up the bodies and dump them in the dumpster as The Red Skull takes a drink from his chocolate milk looking out the window and is enjoying the silence of the restaurant.

Winner – Red Skull

The Red Skull would out smart the competition, get his greasy spoon meal and leave the winner of this Fantasy Warfare, but he could not help pull off the win for the film that should have continued as a comic series as Captain America sadly came in last place because it was not as impactful and fun as the other two comic adaptations. Between Howard and The Punisher, I had a tuff decision as both had some great pros and some slight cons, but when it comes down to it I would give this win to The Punisher! Marvel could have continued the police hunt for The Punisher, and they could have fleshed out that his one time partner Jake while wanting to help him also must do the right thing and stop him from killing criminals. I think The Punisher would have made for a good series based on the film, but then again The Punisher, Captain America and Howard The Duck all have comics so whether or not Marvel wanted to make a comic series based on any of these films, fans of the characters already had issues of these heroes to make them happy!

punisher-the-1989-DI

The clean up crew is here to shut down the Marvel Theater so I think it’s time to take our leave until the next update, which will be our second Undead File as I take a look at Arrow Comics’ The Dead! So as we walk out this exit door, I would like to say that I did enjoy reading these adaptations, and that I truly think out of the three The Punisher would make the best comic series. Until next time, go see a movie at your local theater, read a comic or three and support your local Horror Host. I will see you next update for a undead good time!

The Dead Arrow Comics Logo

Horror Host Icon: Sir Graves Ghastly

It’s 1967 in Detroit.  It’s Saturday, and the time is 11:30am.  You rush home from playing with friends to turn to channel WJBK TV2 because your favorite Horror Host is about to show a spooky or cheesy horror film and you can’t wait.  That host is Sir Graves Ghastly, and this scenario was real life for many kids and adults who grew up watching Sir Graves. This update to Rotten Ink will be all about Sir Graves Ghastly, a host that also spread his hosting humor from Detroit to Cleveland, Ohio as well as Washington D.C.! So wear some garlic and bring a cross because we are going to be looking at the vampire of goofy fright as Rotten Ink is proud to bring you Horror Host Icon: Sir Graves Ghastly.

Sir Graves Ghastly 1

For those of you who don’t know who Sir Graves Ghastly is, I must first say shame on you.  Second, he is a fun loving vampire who, while a blood drinker, was an over all nice undead being who had a deep voice and an iconic laugh that went like this “Nyaaa-aaaaaah”! He would start and end his show in a coffin and would be joined by all types of wacky characters with the upside down singing mouth on the moon, aka The Glob, being his most popular. Sir Graves Ghastly’s back story is that he came from an Italian family who moved to England during the time when the Romans controlled it.  While there, Graves got into an argument with The Queen who had him hung in the Tower of London, and when this didn’t work he returned as the tongue in cheek vampire we all love! Many Horror Hosts have also been inspired by Sir Graves like fellow vampire Dr. Pureblood of Tales Of The Graveyard Shift from Tennessee. Sir Graves’s impact on television in the Detroit area can still be felt to this day as many people were influenced by and idolized the funny vampire. Sir Graves’ appearance always had him in a long black cape, gloves and a black suit. His hair was always slicked back with a Superman curl in the front; he also rocked a goatee and a curled mustache. While Sir Grave has been off the air for many years now, nothing can take away his impact to the world of Horror Hosting.

Sir Graves Ghastly 2Sir Graves Ghastly logoSir Graves Ghastly 3

Sir Graves Ghastly was played by Lawson J. Deming, who was born in Cleveland Ohio on April 23 1913 and got his first big break in media via the radio as a freelance worker and eventually an announcer for a Florida station. Radio was a great gig, but in the late 1940’s TV caught his eye.  Upon returning to Cleveland, he began working for an NBC station and hosted a movie show called “One O’Clock Playhouse” all the way until 1956.  By the early 60’s he also took work as a puppeteer and voice actor for a local Cleveland kids show called “Woodrow The Woodsman” as he lent his voice to many of the animal puppets as Lawson had mastered 27 dialects thanks to his radio work. When the NBC Cleveland station did away with locally made kids’ shows in 1965, WJBK TV2 in Detroit picked up Woodrow The Woodsman in 1966 and also offered Lawson a time slot to become a Horror Host, filling the time that super iconic horror host Morgus The Magnificent use to air at on Saturday afternoons.  This was the birth of what was originally called “Sir Graves Big Show,” and Lawson and his wife came up with the goofy vampire character Sir Graves Ghastly to be the show’s main host. The show took off, and Sir Graves became a well loved Host and lasted for 15 seasons as well as several specials including Halloween ones. Detroit’s TV watching public seemed to be drawn to the silly vampire and his odd sidekicks, and Sir Graves became popular not just with kids but also adults who enjoyed his humor. Also during this time in the 70’s Lawson offered the show idea to Cleveland and Washington D.C. and changed the character’s name to Count Alu Card, and while they picked it up, the show didn’t capture the magic it did in Detroit and was dropped. In 1983 TV had changed, and college football games were starting to air on Saturdays.  This marked the end of Sir Graves Ghastly, who was cancelled officially in 1983 but had been put on hiatus in late 1982. After the show ended, Lawson went back to doing voice work for a few years until he retired from show business and moved near the Styx River in Medina Ohio. In 1989, he returned to TV to do an interview for a Detroit morning talk show called “ Kelly & Company” where he was able to speak about his long career as a Horror Host. Sadly in 2007, the world lost Lawson J. Deming at the age of 94, but while he is gone, his work as Sir Graves Ghastly lives on in the hearts of those who watched him and fans of Horror Hosting. In 2011 Sir Graves Ghastly joined the first class inducted into the Horror Host Hall Of Fame forever honoring his legacy as a Horror Host.

Sir Graves Ghastly 4Sir Graves Ghastly Horror Host Hall Of FameSir Graves Ghastly 5

So when you look at the moon, what do you see? Well those who watched Sir Graves Ghastly saw The Glob, a face on the moon who loved to lip synch to silly songs like “King Kong Stomp” and “ I Want To Bite Your Hand” with style and cheeseball grace.  Sir Graves had many sidekicks like his maid and somewhat girlfriend Tilly Trollhouse, the gravedigger and caretaker Reel McCoy among others but none were as popular as The Glob! I am sure you’re wondering who played The Glob, well let me tell you, it was Lawson J. Deming who would lay flat and tilt his head back and paint eyes and a nose on his chin and would lip synch the songs as the blood would rush to his head…now that’s a man who loved the art of Horror Hosting! In fact I should say that Deming played most of the characters in the show, even Tilly as he would dress in drag to play the part. So here is to you, The Glob and other sidekick characters!

The Glob 1The Glob 2The Glob 3

I had always heard the name Sir Graves Ghastly when talking to fellow Horror Host fans and even hosts that I have been friends with for years, but besides small clips on Youtube, I couldn’t seem to find any full broadcast shows to learn more about him. I really learned a lot about the character thanks to the documentaries American Scary and Virginia Creepers.  I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy learning all I can about Horror Hosts and enjoy hearing stories from fans about growing up watching their home town host or even their favorite syndicated one. So I am going to have a friend of mine tell you a little about growing up watching Sir Graves Ghastly!

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As as I mentioned above, Horror Host friend of mine Dr. Pureblood was inspired by Sir Graves Ghastly, and he was nice enough to write a little something about him so enjoy.

Horror Host Dr Pureblood

I grew up in Monroe, Mich. And no matter what I was doing Sat I made sure when it was time for Sir Graves to come on CH 2 I was glued to the TV set for 2hrs. I remember getting upset every time Sir Graves was not on Sat for some dumb baseball game. When I created my host character he is based about 95% on Sir Graves. A original die hard fan that grew up watching him can see the similar stuff during the show. I wanted to keep the same spirit of Sir Graves showing movies for kids 9 months to 99yrs old. And kind of show a little of Sir Graves to the generation that missed out on seeing him. Yes Sir Graves influenced me as a child. So when I got the chance to be a host I wanted to pay back what he gave to me in the same way. My most prized part of my Sir Graves collection is 2 autograph pictures from him. Plus I still have the special CH2 Sir Graves presents KING KONG iron on transfer, that was only a mail in giveaway, still in the original CH2 envelope. If I only knew the TV station didn’t save any of his shows I would of hooked up a vcr and recorded every show.”

Thanks, Dr. Pureblood, for sharing your story about growing up and trying to never miss an episode of Sir Graves.  I agree with you, I should have taped every Commander USA episode when I was a kid! That’s one of the sad things that we host fans always have to face is the fact many of our favorite hosts episodes are missing and were taped over or thrown away by the stations that aired them. But I always have faith that many of these Horror Hosts who have shows M.I.A. will be found on 2” Quad Tapes, Beta or even VHS and guys like The Northeast Video Hunter are proof that they can be found as he has unearthed Fort Wayne Indiana’s own The Shroud of Nightmare Theatre hosting the Universal Monster film The Deadly Mantis! So here is to hoping that more episodes of Sir Graves Ghastly will see the light of day and land in the hands of fans.

Sir Graves Ghastly 9

One thing that I find interesting is the fact Sir Graves changed his name to Count Alu Card and went to different markets with his show. It’s clear as day he had to change the name because his parent station owned the trademark or so he thought. And since Sir Graves did this, it makes me wonder how many other horror hosts have changed their name and character.  Off the top of my head I can think of Count Shockula who became Dr. Paul Bearer…but I know several others have.  So if you’re a fan of Horror Hosts and know a Host who has changed their name and character post it in the comments below.

Update: According to Sir Graves fan and Horror Host Lon Madnite, he can remember both Sir Graves Ghastly and Count Alu Card being on in Cleveland at the same time and that the two hosts while played by the same person had a sort of feud with each other! I could only imagine how magical that must have been for viewers watching the two vampires take tiny pot shots at each other, and then it makes you wonder if sides were chosen and if some kids didn’t watch one show cause of the rivalry? But thanks Lon for bringing this cool tidbit to my attention.

Count Alu Card

So we are at the point where I cover the episodes I have of the Host, and while I do have two “episodes” of Sir Graves Ghastly, I hate to say they both are very poorly put together fan reproductions that cut in the lip synching segments from the show’s original airings and this footage of the singing is all of the original material that is known to exist right now from Sir Graves Ghastly’s show run. So let’s get ready to hang out with Sir Graves and all his zany friends!

Sir Graves Ghastly Return of the Vampire DVD

Sir Graves Big Show: The Return Of The Vampire
Starring – Bela Lugosi & Matt Willis      Not Rated    1944

Host: Sir Graves comes from his coffin, welcomes us to the show and ushers us into the tale of terror! We start off with two little guys singing a song about hillbillies. Then Sir Graves joins in and lip synchs a silly song, The Glob sings about King Kong! Puppet Skeletons dance to classical music. Then Sir Graves once more comes in and swoons the viewers with another lip synched creepy classic song and ends the episode.

Movie: In 1918, an English family are terrorized by a vampire, until they learn how to deal with it. They think their troubles are over, but German bombs in WWII free the monster. He reclaims the soul of his wolfman ex-servant, and assuming the identity of a scientist who has just escaped from a concentration camp, he starts out on a plan to get revenge upon the family.

Sir Graves Ghastly Shock DVD

Sir Graves Big Show: Shock
Starring – Vincent Price & Lynn Bari    Not Rated    1946

Host: Sir Graves comes from his coffin, welcomes us to the show and ushers us into the tale of terror! What follows is Tilly Trollhouse sings a love song to us as well as tells us a story about three bats, and a few more silly songs one, even having to do with Dracula! Sir Graves joins in the music fun and plays a musical coffin trick and later The Glob sings about King Kong! Puppet Skeletons dance to classical music and throw in a few more tiny lip synch music numbers and you have this fan reproduction.

Movie: A psychologically distraught woman is committed to a private sanitarium by the man whom she witnessed commit a murder.

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It’s sad these very poor fan reproductions are all that is available for fans at this time.  If you have any complete broadcast episodes of Sir Graves, please contact me! Sir Graves Ghastly is a legend in the world of Horror Hosting and his silly antics meant so much to so many people and have helped inspire people to become horror hosts themselves as well as inspired the young and young at heart to enjoy a cheesy horror flick every week. This update is dedicated to Sir Graves and all his fans out in the world who remember the impact he had on TV airwaves all those years back. I also want to thank Dr. Pureblood again for sharing his memories with us as well as my brother Bryan and Stumpy Discs for hooking me up with the fan reproduction episodes. In closing I must say Sir Graves Ghastly is one vampire who truly deserves to be called a Horror Host Icon. Our next update is about another type of icon but not in the Horror Host world rather that of the cartoon world as we take a look at the rascally rabbit Bug Bunny and some Whitman comics I have starring him.  So until next time, support your local Horror Host and read a comic or three!

Bugs Bunny Logo for Rotten Ink