Horror Host Icon: USA Saturday Nightmares

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  Today’s update will be about that wonderful Saturday night block of horror known as USA Saturday Nightmares! I know many of you are saying how can this be about a Horror Host when the films and TV shows were aired with no host? Well simple, while no host was shown, the iconic voice of Alan Kalter would welcome us to the night’s fears and even give an introduction to the nights film making the show feel like a horror host program. So it’s truly my honor to present to you my readers and friends Horror Host Icon: USA Saturday Nightmares.

USA Saturday Nightmares Logo

Saturdays when I was a kid were a fantastic time for TV.  Not only was the day packed with classic cartoons all morning but it also was swamped with some great horror host programs like Commander USA’s Groovie Movies, Super Scary Saturday with Grandpa Munster and USA Up All Night. But one horror themed program that my brother and I looked forward to every Saturday night was Saturday Nightmares on USA.  It was like clock work as we would beg our parents to let us watch the night’s horror film and as an extra bonus they would show such TV shows as The Hitchhiker, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Werewolf and Ray Bradbury Theater making for one spooky themed night. This is the place I first saw many great b-movie horror films like The Video Dead, Zombie Nightmare and Forever Evil and is also the place I got to see such classics as Friday The 13th and Prom Night. My brother and I would plant ourselves in front of the living room TV with a bowl of popcorn or potato chips as our parents would go watch TV in their room, and we would be sucked into the eerie terror glowing from the TV screen as most the times we would turn off the lights to add to the atmosphere and mood of the night’s feature movie. The block of programs was very simply formatted and would start at 8 pm with the intro to the show that would act as a way to show you the plot of the film as well as the two shows with a amazing voice over.  The most famous intro consisted of a haunted house with the camera going down a hallway where the pictures on the wall would morph from say Dracula to Frankenstein and the next from Freddy Kruger to Jason Voorhees. During breaks they would have a title card with the show’s logo and the voice intro-ing us in or out of a commercial break. Sometimes if the movie was running a little short on run time, they would fill in with a short horror film, the most popular being The Dummy that was also shown many times on HBO. Saturday Nightmares began in 1986 and would run till 1994 before USA would pull the plug on their horror block on Saturday nights.  This was a sad day indeed because by 1989 Commander USA was off the air and Up All Night only lasted 4 years more when it went off the air in 1998. Nowadays USA is a shell of what it used to be and now mainly focuses on Law and Order and C.S.I. reruns making for some boring and over played viewing. I will say that USA does still air WWE Raw as well as makes their own shows, but they are far from “America’s Favorite Cable Network” like they use to be.

USA Saturday Nightmares Logo 2Saturday Nightmares Logo 3Saturday Nightmares Warning

That’s something TV nowadays is really lacking, the horror program blocks that were so popular in the 80’s and 90’s, and when USA dropped the ball, TNT picked it up when they introduced Monstervison in 1993, but that series will be held for another Icon update. DATV in 2013 tried to make a great horror themed line up called Saturday Night Nightmares that showcased Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales of The Macabre as well as Andy Copp’s cult movie review show Neon Madness and his “mix tape” style show called Psychotic Feed. But sadly the program block was too hard for them and myself to keep up on a weekly bases with new and fresh “cult” style shows so as quickly as it started it ended. I really wish USA Network would bring back Saturday Nightmares as well as Commander USA and Up All Night; I think it would surprise them on just how many people really do miss and want these shows back on the air. Shows like Saturday Nightmares was a great place for kids to watch and learn about horror films that were not in the mainstream as well as those were.  While many would say that they can learn about these films via the internet, nothing could take the place of sitting in front of the TV with your favorite snack and watching horrors unfold before your eyes on your TV screen. In fact when I was a kid, I can remember kids talking about some of the films we all had watched on USA Saturday Nightmares and comparing what part we got chills from and what deaths shocked us.  It’s a shame that this kind of enjoyment is taken away from the youth of today.

USA Saturday Nightmares Short Film LogoSaturday Nightmares Haunted Castle

So below are some USA Saturday Nightmares I own on DVD-R, and while no host segments are present, I still will take the film descriptions from IMDB so you can see what types of horrors as I kid I got to witness. And as an added bonus I will also include the horror films from the 80’s and early 90’s that I have that were taped from USA Network. So sit back and relax and welcome to my Saturday Nightmares!

USA Saturday Nightmares curse of the cat people dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  The Curse Of The Cat People
Starring – Simone Simon & Kent Smith      Not Rated      1944

Movie: This mostly unrelated sequel to Cat People (1942) has Amy, the young daughter of Oliver and Alice Reed. Amy is a very imaginative child who has trouble differentiating fantasy from reality, and has no friends her own age as a result. She makes an imaginary friend though, her father’s dead first wife Irena. At about the same time, she befriends Julia Farren, an aging reclusive actress who is alienated from her own daughter Barbara.

USA Saturday Nightmares friday the 13th dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  Friday The 13th
Starring – Betsy Palmer & Adrienne King    Rated R      1980

Movie: One summer at Camp Crystal Lake, a group of young counselors begin to get ready to lead campers. Unfortunately for the former, someone isn’t happy about what’s going on in the camp and enjoys playing kill the counselor. As bodies fall to the ground in the camp, no one is safe.

USA Saturday Nightmares spookies dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  Spookies
Starring – Felix Ward & Dan Scott      Rated R    1986

Movie: Taking a wrong turn, travelers find themselves trapped in a mysterious house. One horror after another threatens them as the sorcerer who lives within needs sacrifices to give eternal life to his beautiful bride.

USA Saturday Nightmares tourist trap dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  Tourist Trap
Starring – Chuck Connors & Tanya Roberts    Rated PG      1979

Movie: A group of young friends stranded at a secluded roadside museum are stalked by the owner of the place, who has the power to control his collection of mannequins.

USA Saturday Nightmares werewolf dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  Werewolf
Starring – Chuck Connors & John J. York      Not Rated      1987

Movie: Young Eric has been bitten by a werewolf. However, he’s not particularly thrilled by this turn of affairs and wishes to escape his curse.

USA Saturday Nightmares shorts dvd

Saturday Nightmares:  The Dummy & Living Dolls
Starring – Carrie Vickrey & Park Dougherty      Not Rated    1982/1980

Movies: The Dummy – A woman is trapped in her apartment alone with a murderous ventriloquist dummy. Living Dolls – Melvin is a henpecked worker in a Bridal shop. To get way from the nagging women, he retreats to a storage room filled with mannequins where he vents his frustration. The only problem is, the mannequins upstairs offer something more horrifying than Melvin expected.

So while your blood is still chilled from all these nightmares, I should also take a moment to highlight some great horror films that aired on USA during the 80’s and early 90’s that I happen to own on DVD-R and VHS, cause I would never get the chance to speak about them any other time that would be as fitting as this update! The main regular none Nightmare or Groovie Movie USA Network airing of a horror film I remember has to be the George Romero zombie epic Day of The Dead.  They did a great job of promoting the premiere, and my brother and I were so hyped to watch it and were not let down after seeing it. I happened to get a copy of an 80’s USA Network airing of Day of the Dead from my pal Jason Young who taped it off TV when he was a kid.  He edited out the commercials but left the amazing intro that showed clips of Night of the Living Dead. So a big thanks goes to Jason for letting me watch the USA Network TV print of my favorite Romero Dead film again. So here are a few of those films that also scared the young viewers at the time of airing.

USA Network Day of the dead dvd

USA Movie:  Day Of The Dead
Starring – Lori Cardille & Joseph Pilato      Rated R      1985

Movie: Zombies rule the world, except for a small group of scientists and military personnel who reside in an underground bunker in Florida. The scientists are using the undead in gruesome experiments, much to the chagrin of the military. Finally the military finds that their men have been used in the scientists’ experiments, and banish the scientists to the caves that house the Living Dead. Unfortunately, the zombies from above ground have made their way into the bunker.

USA Network_childs play 3 dvd

USA Movie:  Child’s Play 3
Starring – Brad Dourif & Justin Whalin      Rated R      1991

Movie: Chucky, the doll possessed by a serial killer, returns for revenge against Andy, the young boy that defeated him and has since become adult.

USA Network_Psycho 3 dvd

USA Movie:  Psycho III
Starring – Anthony Perkins & Jeff Fahey        Rated R      1986

Movie: Norman Bates is still running his little motel, and he has kept the dressed skeleton he calls mother. One of his guests is a young girl who has left the convent where she lived. To get some help he employs a young man. One day a nosy journalist comes to see him to ask questions about his past.

Note From Matt: I was lucky to get this 1995 USA Network Broadcast of Psycho III thanks to my friend Mike Ritchie who taped it off TV during the cool marathon they were having called “Psycho Saturday”. The film is complete with commercials that is highlighted by advertisements for WWF Monday Night Raw, Duckman and Tekwar. I found another tape at his house that had only a small part of Psycho IV taken from the same marathon but it was taped over with WCW Monday Nitro…yeah he has a lot of wrestling tapes.

USA Network Logo

While we are on the subject of USA Network, I should also take a brief moment to talk about a syndicated show they used to air called “Kung-Fu Theatre” because otherwise I never will be able to. The show would feature some really cool martial arts films, many made by The Shaw Brothers exposing viewers to the vast world of Kung-Fu films. The show aired in the early 80’s and disappeared by the mid 80’s and made room for Commander USA as well as all the other movie themed broadcast that followed. One thing I remember that USA did one summer in the early 90’s was called Kung-Fu June where they would play some really cool martial arts films one being called Chinese Super Ninjas, a film I still love to this day. I can remember thinking that this June long fun event would happen every year and was let down when it did not. But as you can see USA Network back then did not just cater to the horror fans they also were delivering action to the Martial Arts fans…those were the days. Below are some screen grabs from Kung-Fu Theatre, so check em out and enjoy.

Kung Fu Theatre 1Kung Fu Theatre LogoKung Fu Theatre 2

I happen to have two episodes of Kung-Fu Theatre from the USA Network thanks to my horror host pal Dr. Pureblood, so why not showcase them a little as well while I have the chance.

kungfu theatre ninja exterminators

Kung-Fu Theatre:  Ninja Exterminators
Starring – Lung Chan & Lung Ching      Not Rated    1980

Movie: A ruthless rapist and jewel thief and his gang are brought to justice by a cop and a young avenger.

kungfu theatre showdown at the equator

Kung-Fu Theatre:  Showdown At The Equator
Starring – Lieh Lo & Nora Miao      Rated R      1978

Movie: An undercover detective uses a restaurant targeted by harassment by a criminal gang to infiltrate the gang and arrest its members.

USA Network Map Logo

USA Saturday Nightmares meant a lot to me growing up, and spending Saturday night watching a cheesy horror film as well as horror related TV shows with my family was what I called a perfect weekend night. Looking back at USA Network as a whole, back then the whole station was iconic to me as I would watch Commander USA’s Groovie Movies, USA Cartoon Express, WWF Monday Night Raw and so many other great programs that all entertained me. If you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and had cable I am sure you also watched many of these shows, and if you were into horror I am sure you watched Saturday Nightmares and know what I mean about how awesome it was to watch. I should also note that I am looking for more taped off TV Saturday Nightmares movies and if you have some please contact me as I would love to watch them! So as this Horror Host Icon update comes to an end, I think our next update will be based around the world of pro wrestling’s most dominate tag teams and the mini comic series based around them and of course I am talking about The Legion of Doom! So until then make sure to support your local horror host and watch a horror film or two, cause you never know maybe you’ll have your own nightmare.

Legion Of Doom Logo

Horror Host Icon : Commander USA

Growing up a strange kid was a very fun way to live life. I was able to be me and not worry about what others thought of me, and I must say all my fellow classmates in Waynesville were all very cool kids and no one thought it was weird that I drew pictures of Satan, demons and monsters all the time. In fact, I can only remember one teacher ever really being an ass, and his name didn’t even stick with me because he was a piss poor teacher who was younger than the rest and walked around like he was the man when really he was a dud.  He was a computer teacher and he gave me crap for writing about Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th) and The Toxic Avenger.

Waynesville was a good time and was way better than the second time I had to go to Kettering Schools who had many teachers who targeted me for being “satanic” in their eyes. Many things helped make me the person I am today and have lead to all the cool creative things I do from no budget films with companies like Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video, to the TV show Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre, to music concerts at local venue Gilly’s to even my early made comics of Benny The Squirrel and Robo-Racoon that were drawn with colored pencils. Of course my Mom and Dad played a big part in it, as they never discouraged me from being myself and even my brother Bryan played a big part of just helping my mind work with all his fake wrestling leagues and such. But of course entertainment also played a big part in warping me.  Things like pro wrestling with all the amazing characters like Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, video games on the NES with all the high adventure, Universal Monster movies with all the classic scares and horror hosts that brought me doses of comedy mixed in with my horror. The hometown Dayton area host was Dr. Creep, a lovable character who hosted Shock Theatre and later Saturday Night Dead.  While he played a part in my life at the time but more so later on, it was one horror host that aired on cable TV on USA Network that truly was an icon to me and a guy me and my brother tried never to miss.  You long time readers know who I am talking about..that’s right, the one and only Commander USA who hosted his Groovie Movies Saturdays and later on Sundays.

Commander USA 1Commander USA 2Commander USA 3 Commander USA’s Groovie Movies started airing in 1985 and would show two horror or cult type films on the USA Network. Commander USA is a retired super hero whose secret headquarters (The Video Vault) is located in the basement of a shopping mall in New Jersey and with his Heat And Radiation Screen That Protected Tel-Psychotronic Screen he would watch the film alongside us as well as his best friend and sidekick Lefty (his hand with cigar ash on it) or some other guest. Commander was part of the Legion of Decency and is a fan of all the cheesy goodness he shows and took pride in presenting the movie along side showing us how to make a mid-movie snack that was some gross mix of food that should not go together.

Groovie Movies would come on Saturday at noon and was the perfect follow up to the major networks’ cartoon blocks.  This was the perfect thing for Monster Kids of the 80’s like myself as later that night USA Network would have Saturday Nightmares that consisted of a horror film and shows like The Hitchhiker and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  Then after that, USA Up All Night would come on with host Gilbert Gottfried, making this the perfect station to watch on Saturdays. Commander USA would switch to showing one film and later even moved to Sundays before sadly going off the air in 1989. Commander USA was the first host that drew me 100% in and really helped spark my interest in slasher films and low budget horror flicks.  His style of hosting is what I would consider the best as he would have a storyline that would run through out the episode, and you would feel as if he was watching the film with you, the sign of a good solid host. Commander USA made the odd little kid me feel as if I was normal and that many of people out in the world liked the same things as I did. I know my brother and I have a lot in common, and I would almost guarantee that he would also say that Commander USA had an impact of his young life. Something about sitting down and eating lunch or a snack and watching Commander USA host films like Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, Friday The 13th Part III and Aztec Mummy are magical moments that some day I hope future kids of mine will share with their favorite horror host.

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Jim Hendricks was the actor who played Commander USA, and he was a former radio DJ and theater performer. His other acting gigs include bit parts in Law And Order: Special Victims Unit, Brutal Fury and a cameos as Commander USA in the Christmas film classic Scrooged and pool shark film The Color Of Money. While not a household name, Jim Hendricks will always be one of my favorite actors of all time for his role of being the Commander. I should also note that Jim Hendricks is talked to in the horror host documentary American Scary, a film every fan of hosting should watch.

Jim Hendricks

Commander USA is a character who has a very blue collar super hero look.  Commander wears a tight red body suit with USA logo on his chest, star suspenders, blue baggy shorts and a polka dotted cape. He also always has a cigar, and his mask is blue grease paint painted around his eyes. As I stated back in my “Top 10 Should Have Been Star Comics,” Commander USA should have been made into a comic book series because I would have been a buyer of every issue. In fact I would love to see a comic series made even now about the adventures of Commander, and I know of a few comic artist that would be perfect for that job! Below is some artwork done by two of my friends, Eric Shonborn and Bruce O’Hughes, as well as an art piece I found online.  All are different in style, and all are amazing in their own way. So make sure to take a look at these amazing drawings.

Eric Commander USA ArtBruce Commander USA artCommander USA Art 1 Commander USA was joined by all types of guests from vampires to mall shoppers, but only really had two co-hosts/sidekicks that appeared in almost every episode. The most popular was Lefty, his right hand with a smiley face drawn on with cigar ash.  Lefty was a strong willed hand puppet who had a mind of his own. Lefty was his righthand man and was always around to help out the Commander in whatever silly thing that was going on. The second sidekick was Monroe, a mounted stuffed deer head who made weird noises and would always hold the Commanders coat, and sometimes he would have some ideas for The Commander to try. So I had to give both of these great sidekicks a shout out, and I can remember loving Monroe when I was a young lad. So this update is not only for Commander USA, the fans but it’s for Lefty and Monroe as well!

Leftymonroe

1989 was a dark year as it marked the end of the Groovie Movies and was a sad time to be had by all.  While we still had USA Up All Night and USA Saturday Nightmares, the Video Vault was closed for good and and reruns were not in the cards. For the following years, I was able to get my cheesy horror flicks fix via other horror host shows, cable TV like HBO and renting VHS tapes from the library and video stores.  While they were all fun ways to discover and relive the horrors of the movies, they were all still lacking Commander USA. I kicked myself for never recording the episodes on Beta or VHS, but the younger me was to busy taping Godzilla films and cartoons. Over the years my brother was able to track down some copies of Groovie Movies on VHS and burned them onto DVD-R’s, and we were both able to relive our youth and be reunited with Commanders wisecracks and silly jokes. We both spent time tracking down episodes and trading them to each other, and now I own a large amount of these episodes and even still to this day am inspired by Commander USA who is my favorite horror host of all time. One episode that I have been looking for is the one where he hosted the 1973 Hammer Horror film “Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell.” This was the only episode that for the first few times he showed it, my Mom would not allow us to watch cause it had the word “hell” in it! So if you have a copy of this episode or any episode of the Commander, please get in contact with me because I would love to get a copy!

So on this update I am going to take a look at some of the episodes I own of Commander USA, and I am going to tell you what the film is and what he does in each of these episodes.  So be ready to go back to the past when the USA Network was the top cable station to me and my brother.

Commander USA 7

Before I get into these episodes I should explain a few things, like first what is a Groovie Movie?  After growing up watching this show, I can give you a run down: it’s the following type of films, classic horror, cheesy horror, Mexican horror, fantasy, low budget action, slashers, goofy comedy, low budget horror, sci-fi and kung fu films. Now on each episode that I review, I will break down the host segments as well as give a brief write up for each film he is hosting.  The film write ups I will get off IMDB, and the hosts ones I will write myself. I will also give the names of two actors in the film as well as its rating and year of release. I will not be doing my comic 1-4 star ratings for these episodes because I have such a soft spot for all these episodes that the ratings would all be high! I will also review them in alphabetical order to make it easier. I want to also credit Stumpy Disk for the cover design idea. But now that I gave you a little more info, let’s get ready to enter the Video Vault.

Commander USA abominable snowman dvd

Groovie Movies: Abominable Snowman
Starring – Peter Cushing & Forrest Tucker   Not Rated   1957

Host: It’s a heat wave in New Jersey, and Commander is happy to be in the Video Vault and wants to do summer activities indoors! He makes boats out of snack food and sails them in a bowl of water.  He butchers “fresh” fish and plays a game of fish ball where you play bad mitten with fish heads, makes a slime zoo, opens his own cloths fashions and just enjoys the cool air in the Vault.

Movie: A kindly English botanist and a gruff American scientist lead an expedition to the Himalayas in search of the legendary Yeti.

commander usa alligator people dvd

Groovie Movies: The Alligator People
Starring – Beverly Garland & Lon Chaney Jr.   Not Rated   1959

Host: It’s Halloween time, and the Video Vault is set up for the first ever Groovie Movie Halloween Party and guests include Lefty and Angela The Alligator. He also gets a visit from a zombie who brings him a voodoo doll that looks just like Commander.  He helps Dorothy escape a evil witch, makes some snacks, gets a visit from a vampire and just has a blast at his party as other ghouls and goblins come to party.

Movie: A newlywed couple sit in a train. The husband receives a frantic telegram. He gets off at a station to make a phone call, the train pulls away without him on it, and that’s the last his wife sees of him. Years later after a long search she finally tracks him down on his family’s southern estate where she discovers that a failed medical treatment has turned him into an alligator mutant.

Commander USA an american werewolf in london dvd

Groovie Movies: An American Werewolf In London
Starring – David Naughton & Jenny Agutter  Rated R   1981

Host: It’s New Years Eve, and Commander USA is going to have a pub party in The Video Vault and has some guest to help that come all the way from England in honor of the days film. In the end of course, he spends the party just with the help as no one else comes, but he has a blast with his new friends.

Movie: Two American college students are on a walking tour of Britain and are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he commit suicide to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths.

Commander USA Beast From 20000 DVD

Groovie Movies: Beast From 20,000 Fathoms
Starring – Lee Van Cleef & Paul Hubschmid    Not Rated    1953

Host: The nights film is one of Lefty’s favorite films and for the showing Lefty makes a reptile dude ranch play set! Tourists pour in to see the ranch and Commander orders and receives his very own Dinosaur who just so happens to be way to large for the miniature ranch as Monroe opens up a souvenir shop to help out at the attraction. Commander gets a little hungry and makes his own weird ice cream thats made with cheese in a can, cake frosting, avocado and ketchup, and when that don’t work he makes yet another gross snack. The Dinosaur escapes into the mall and Commander and Lefty must travel above to stop it’s rampage.

Movie: As a result of an arctic nuclear test, a carnivorous dinosaur thaws out and starts making its way down the east coast of North America. Professor Tom Nesbitt, only witness to the beast’s existence, is not believed, even when he identifies it as a “rhedosaurus” to paleontologist Thurgood Elson. All doubts disappear, however, when Elson is swallowed whole during an oceanic bathysphere excursion to search for the creature. Soon thereafter the rhedosaurus emerges from the sea and lays waste to Manhattan Island until Nesbitt comes up with a plan to try to stop the seemingly indestructible beast.

Commander USA Beginning Of The End dvd

Groovie Movies: Beginning Of The End
Starring – Peter Graves & Peggie Castle   Not Rated   1957

Host: Some one has entered the Video Vault has has stolen Commander USA’s Headcheese Tarts, and now Commander and Lefty break out a Sherlock Holmes dress up kit and are on the case to find his missing snacks. His prime suspect is Rose Rosewood whom has teamed with one of his rouges gallery before, but is she the snack thief and will ge get his tarts back in time to enter the malls headcheese bake off?

Movie: Audrey Ames, an enterprising journalist, tries to get the scoop on giant grasshoppers accidentally created at the Illinois State experimental farm. She endeavors to save Chicago, despite a military cover-up.

Commander USA Blade Master dvd

Groovie Movies: The Blade Master
Starring – Miles O’Keeffe & Lisa Foster   Rated PG   1984

Host: Commander USA brings his two prehistoric friends Fred and Wilma Fieldstone to the Video Vault to watch the days film. During this time Fred and Wilma dance around, eat a meal made of hearts, give buckets of blood to the blood drive and Wilma tries to help Commander sale a book based on the wise words given by one of the films characters. Commander also gets his mail delivered by a Wizard who he thinks looks like the wizard from the movie!

Movie: In this sequel, the Fighting Eagle returns. This time he must save a former mentor from the evil Zor. Ator battles cavemen, invisible swordsmen, and barbarians with his new sidekick Thong to finally have the ultimate showdown with Zor.

Commander USA blood beast Terror dvd

Groovie Movies: The Blood Beast Terror
Starring – Peter Cushing & Robert Flemyng   Rated G   1968

Host: In this episode Commander USA tells of a monster concert in Japan and the crazy shopping sales going on in the mall above as he is joined by a strange man who is a entomologist (studies bugs) who is trying to capture a very large butterfly, the man is annoying and keeps walking around with his net and being an over all pain and even with the help of Lefty he seems to not be able to run this unwanted guest off. The Commander is also visited by weird bug girls who flap around the video vault and once the entomologist uses his net on one of them, he pushes the Commander to far who frees the bug girl and drops a net on the entomologist!

Movie: A scientist, working with genetics, creates a creature that is capable of transforming back and forth between a giant Death Head moth and a beautiful woman. The creature masquerades as his daughter when she is in her human incarnation and feeds on the blood of her victims when she is in the moth form.

Commander USA Blood Song dvd

Groovie Movies: Blood Song
Starring – Frankie Avalon & Donna Wilkes    Not Rated     1982

Host: Commander USA is gearing up for St. Patricks Day and is making all kinds of green colored food from roast beef to mashed potatoes as well as costumes like the Map of Ireland hockey mask. Commander also changes up his look with a green mask and shamrock suspenders in honor of the holiday. He also cleans up around the Video Vault and Monroe is also dressed up all in green gearing up for the Holiday. Commander shows us a Irish Game called Potato Toss where he throws a potato into the air and shoots it with a machine gun as well gives us silly none true facts about Saint Patrick!

Movie: A psychopath escapes from a mental institution and starts a murder spree, which ends in the pursuing of a young handicapped girl, who once got a blood transfusion from him.

Commander USA Brood DVD

Groovie Movies:  The Brood
Starring – Oliver Reed & Samantha Eggar   Rated R   1979

Host: Commander USA in honor the the movie brings a crazy psychiatrist to the Video Vault named Fraud who comes complete with a straight jacket. The man is a quack and gets a crush on Monroe and speaks gibberish to Commander who seems to be in on the joke that this man is nuts. And in the end the Nut House comes looking for him. 

Movie:A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist’s therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife, while a series of brutal attacks committed by a brood of mutant children coincides with the husband’s investigation.

Commander USA CHUD DVD

Groovie Movies:  C.H.U.D.
Starring – John Heard & Daniel Stern    Rated R     1984

Host: Monroe has won the lottery, and Lefty is writing a bunch of short stories with Commander helping with the proof reading and typing of the stories. Lefty then decides to become an investigative reporter!

Movie: A rash of bizarre murders in New York City seems to point to a group of grotesquely deformed vagrants living in the sewers. A courageous policeman, a photo journalist and his girlfriend, and a nutty bum, who seems to know a lot about the creatures, band together to try and determine what the creatures are and how to stop them.

Commander USA death of bruce dvd

Groovie Movies:  Death Of Bruce Lee
Starring – Ron Van Clief & Phillip Ko   Rated R   1975

Host: Ralph Headwards shows up to the Video Vault and is doing a “This Is Your Life” for Commander USA! But the big issue is that the Commander does know some of the people from his “past” or they are stand ins for people he knows and some he just doesn’t want to remember!

Movie: Three rival gangs embark on a search for Bruce Lee’s handwritten “finger gifting” manual.

Commander USA Deathquake dvd

Groovie Movies: Deathquake
Starring – Hiroshi Katsuno & Eiji Okada   Not Rated   1980

Host: The Commander is pretty excited to be showing Deathquake and due to all the fright and sub plots of the film, he invites a woman named Sheare Fryte who is an expert in these things and wrote a book called The Fryte Report.  However while he was thinking she was a sweet woman, he soon finds out the she is a very mean diva who hates men!

Movie: Seismologist Hoichi loses touch with his family when he predicts that there will be an earthquake in Tokyo of greater magnitude than the one in 1923, which his father predicted. Because of this, he starts seeing another woman, who already has a boyfriend. Hoichi’s wife wants to meet her before she will grant a divorce. Eventually, the earthquake he predicted does come, which changes all relationships and exemplifies the character of the Japanese.

Commander USA Def Con 4 DVD

Groovie Movies:  Def-Con 4
Starring – John Walsch & Lenore Zann     Rated R     1985

Host: In honor of the day’s film and its scenes of space, Commander USA signs up to go to Space Camp that also acts as a Trailer Park! The camp sends a spaced out female councilor to help him get ready by the name of Astral Plane.  Can she help prepare Commander and will Space Camp even happen after a meteor shower?

Movie: Two men and a woman circle the globe in a satellite armed with a nuclear device. The third world war breaks out, and a few months later the satellite crashes. They survive the crash but one man gets killed by survivors and the other man gets caught. The woman stays by the remains of the the satellite but is soon caught by evil punks who have taken power.

Commander USA Devils Nightmare DVD

Groovie Movies:  The Devil’s Nightmare
Starring – Erika Blanc & Daniel Emilfork    Rated R    1971

Host: Commander USA decides that in this episode he is going to analyze dreams and nightmares and spends time watching the movie along with you, giving his thoughts during his breaks.

Movie: Six of seven tourists in a east European castle overnight are victims of a helper of the devil. Is Satan willing to spare their souls?

Commander USA duel of ultimate weapons dvd

Groovie Movies: Duel Of Ultimate Weapons
Starring – So-Jeon Yu & Hwang Jang Lee    Not Rated   1983

Host: Commander USA hangs around the Video Vault with his friend Debbie who is dressed as if she is from Japan, and together they watch the movie and eat and make a lot of snacks!

Movie: The evil Dong Won has unbeatable kicking legs and proudly travels the land proving his expertise. But when a young man loses his foster parent to Won’s deadly kick, he seeks out an old drunken master to learn a way to defeat the Master of the Leg.

Commander USA FINAL TERROR dvd

Groovie Movies: The Final Terror
Starring – Daryl Hannah & Adrian Zmed   Rated R   1983

Host: As part of a super hero group he has joined, Commander USA is allowing one lucky camper to spend the day camping inside inside the Video Vault! That lucky camper is a rich fun loving woman named Pearl who seems to be hyped to be camping in the Video Vault.

Movie: A group of forest rangers go camping in the woods, and trespass into an area where a backwoods mama likes to kill people who come onto her turf.

Commander USA Friday 13th 2 DVD

Groovie Movies: Friday The 13th Part 2
Starring – Amy Steel & John Furey    Rated R    1981

Host: In the Video Vault, Commander USA gives some camp safety tips like the buddy system and plans a trip to Washington D.C.! He also practices his acting skills that has him dancing with a fake bird and gives a silly daily joke.

Movie: After killing Mrs. Voorhees, who was avenging her son Jason’s death, Alice Hardy can finally sigh with relief. But there is just one problem; Jason never drowned at Camp Crystal Lake and lived in the nearby woods as a hermit all this time. The day that Alice beheaded his mother, Jason saw everything, and his heart filled with thirst for revenge. Two months later, Alice gets stabbed by an ice pick in the temple and disappears. Is Jason behind this? Five years later, a camp next do to Camp Crystal Lake is built and the counselors start snooping around the old, abandoned camp ruins. This makes Jason very upset, since his shack is next to the remains of Camp Crystal Lake and what is inside the shack shall be kept secret forever, even if it means killing nine people!

Commander USA Friday 13th 3 DVD

Groovie Movies: Friday The 13th Part 3
Starring – Tracie Savage & Dana Kimmell   Rated R   1982

Host: Commander USA is hyped to be showing Friday The 13th Part 3 and shows the viewers his new barber chair as well as the Merry Go-Around Wall and even does a recap of parts 1 and 2.  This is an epic showing for him as Friday The 13th Part 3 was new to cable and aired only once before on USA Saturday Nightmares. The Commander has thrown out his back and is waiting for his friend who can fix it by having him lay on a bed of snails, and Commander just sits around the Video Vault reading mail and eating a snack and gets a visit from vampire Count Phantom. 

Movie: Jason Voorhees, having barely survived a wound to his shoulder from his own machete, is back to revenge on all that visit “his” woods. A new group of friends come over to party at an area close to the campsite. This time, Jason will be stronger than ever, and gets a hockey mask from one of those friends.

Commander USA Gamera Vs Barugon dvd

Groovie Movies: Gamera vs. Barugon
Starring – Kojiro Hongo & Yuka Konno    Not Rated   1966 

Host: Commander USA comes face to face with his second planet doppelganger, The Evil Commander, who does bad things and they decide to watch, the film together. The two fight over the film with Commander being on the side of Gamera and the film and Evil Commander just trashing it all and more siding with Barugon. In the end Commander USA uses a spray and rids himself of the Evil Doppelganger.

Movie: After a treacherous expedition to retrieve a giant opal, disaster strikes as the opal reveals itself to be an egg which spawns Barugon, demon dog from Hell! Armed with a deadly tongue and cold beams, Barugon wreaks havoc on Japan. Gamera comes to save the day.

Commander USA The Hand dvd

Groovie Movies:  The Hand
Starring – Michael Cain & Charles Fleische   Rated R   1981

Host: Lefty feels like Commander USA is holding him back from movies and we learn that Lefty went to school with Michael Cain’s hand who is the star of this movie. So to make him feel better, Commander lets Lefty show his talents.  From stunts to music he does it all to catch an eye of a movie producer so that he can go work in Hollywood.

Movie: Jon Lansdale is a comic book artist who loses his right hand in a car accident. The hand was not found at the scene of the accident, but it soon returns by itself to follow Jon around, and murder those who anger him.

Commander USA The Hearse dvd

Groovie Movies: The Hearse
Starring – Trish Van Devere & Joseph Cotten    Rated PG    1980

Host: Commander USA has built a casket box car for the annual Dirt Box Derby and has asked for the help of a lazy mechanic named Backwrench to make sure it looks good and is built to win.  In between naps, Backwrench places all types of stuff the Commander doesn’t need on the coffin car and in the end his high bill might just keep the Commander from entering the race.

Movie: Jane Hardy decides to stay the summer in the house her aunt left her when she died, to try and recoup from a bad divorce. Little does she know, her aunt practiced witchcraft and is still thought of very badly by the town’s citizens. As soon as she moves in, she is haunted by a old black hearse and it’s creepy driver. Is she going insane or is she truly being menaced? She meets a friendly young man and becomes involved with him, but is he and the creepy driver one and the same?

Commander USA hercules 2 dvd

Groovie Movies: Hercules II
Starring – Lou Ferrigno & Milly Carlucci   Rated PG   1985

Host: Commander USA is at Mel’s Mount Olympus Diner for this episode in honor of the day’s film. The worker Feta is a goofy joke telling girl and takes a break to watch the Groovie Movie along side the Commander. The diner sits on top of the mountain, and the clouds are all around as The Commander gets some of the worse service from the greek workers, but he still is having a blast! And then at some point during the episode Commander is working at the diner and helping out. In the end the diner is closed down by the Health Inspector. 

Movie: Hercules searches for the Seven Thunderbolts of Zeus, which have been stolen by renegade gods.

Commander USA hills have eyes  dvd

Groovie Movies: The Hills Have Eyes 2
Starring – Michael Berryman & John Bloom   Rated R   1984

Host: Commander USA has won a collage degree from Publishers Clearing House but must pass a test given to him by some very bored board of education members. Can Commander’s super quick wit and charm get him his degree? Of course it can, but the important question is what is he going to do with it when he gets it?

Movie: A group of bikers, which includes some of the survivors from the original film, embark on a journey by bus to a biker race near the desert of the infamous incidents. However, because of a mistake they are late and decide to take a shortcut through the desert. Halfway through the desert the bus breaks down. While trying to repair the bus, some of the group wander off, and wind up in the traps of the survivors of the mutant family of the first. Then the mutants go after the rest.

Commander USA Horror Werwolf DVD

Groovie Movies:  Horror Of The Werewolf
Starring – Paul Naschy & Mercedes Molina    Rated R    1975

Host: When entering the Video Vault, Commander USA gets a “pentagram” message that asks if he would watch over his friend Lon’s pet named Chuck, but when the pet arrives he finds out that Chuck isn’t a dog or cat but a werewolf who is as rude as rude can be. Commander puts up with his friends rude guest for as long as the day’s movie and just as he is about to send word that Lon needs to pick up his annoying pet, Chuck turns back into human and is a pretty woman who ends up getting dinner with the Commander!

Movie: Waldemar, the renowned adventurer, joins an expedition to find the Yeti in the Himalayas. While hiking the mountains, he’s captured by two cannibalistic demon nymphets guarding a remote Buddhist temple and becomes their sex-slave. They transform him into a werewolf setting him loose to roam the mountain where he encounters a sadistic bandit.

Commander USA Horror Of The Zombies dvd

Groovie Movies: Horror Of The Zombies
Starring – Maria Perschy & Jack Taylor    Rated R   1974

Host: Commander USA decides to have a zombie super model named Savannah Bright visit the Video Vault in the spirit of the day’s film, and she is able to give him modeling tips and show that zombies aren’t very bright!

Movie: The model Noemi questions her employer Lillian about her roommate Kathy that is missing after receiving a call from Lillian, and she tells that she will go to the police. Lilian explains that Kathy is in an afloat boat in the Atlantic with another model participating of a publicity stunt, and she brings Noemi to meet Howard Tucker and his henchman Sergio that have idealized the advertising campaign. Kathy uses the radio to report that a ghost galleon without crew has arrived and Tucker sends a helicopter to bring the models back; however the pilot does not find them at the location. Tucker contacts Professor Grüber that studies the Sixteen Century galleon and they use a boat to reach the ghost vessel with Sergio, Lillian and Noemi. Soon Professor Gruber learns that the damned galleon is stranded in another dimension and the crew is composed of excommunicated Templar zombies. Now they try to leave the galleon and return to their own dimension. Will they succeed in their intent?

Note from Matt: This film that is also known as “The Ghost Galleon” and is the third film in the Blind Dead series. When shown on Groovie Movies it goes under the title “Ship of Zombies”.

Commander USA i married a monster from outer space dvd

Groovie Movies: I Married A Monster From Outer Space
Starring – Tom Tryon & Gloria Talbott    Not Rated   1958

Host: A wedding consultant named Sally McBride shows up to the Video Vault and thinks that Commander USA is getting married because of the day’s Groovie Movie! Sally, like most of his guests tries to sell the viewers her books she wrote, and Commander makes some gross snack and has some random guests pop in! Sally then starts doing home improvements around the Vault and while she is annoying, the Commander lets her go crazy with repairs!

Movie: Aliens from outer space are slowly switching places with real humans — one of the first being a young man about to get married. Slowly, his new wife realizes something is wrong, and her suspicions are confirmed when her husband’s odd behavior begins to show up in other townspeople.

Commander USA I Walked With A Zombie dvd

Groovie Movies: I Walked With A Zombie
Starring – James Ellison & Frances Dee     Not Rated    1943

Host: Monroe turns the Video Vault into a video watching night club, and as the guests pour in they are treated to the film of the day as well as other entertainment like a singing mermaid and a terrible stand up comic. The club is a hit, and all have fun in the Video Vault making Monroe’s idea a great one.

Movie: A young Canadian nurse named Betsy comes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager named Paul. Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis as a result of fever. When she falls in love with Paul, Betsy determines to cure Jessica even if she needs to use a voodoo ceremony, to give Paul what she thinks he wants.

Commander USA Infra Man dvd

Groovie Movies: Infra-Man
Starring – Danny Lee & Terry Liu     Rated PG    1975

Host: Commander USA has just gotten back from a Super Hero Convention and has gotten himself a SHERA Machine (Sanitary Household Experimental Robot Assistant) to help him do all types of stuff including make more great headcheese snacks! The Video Vault also gets attacked by a Couch Potato who blows himself up turning into potato chips, and Lefty gets a girlfriend who only has one eye. In the end Commander puts $10.00 into the SHERA Machine, and poof! a woman appears who doesn’t wanna go on a date with him.

Movie: The ten million year-old Princess Dragon Mom attempts to conquer the earth with her legion of mutant monsters. In response, Professor Chang creates Infra-man, turning a young volunteer into a bionic superhero to save the world. However, the Princess kidnaps Chang’s daughter. Can Infra-man save her and the planet before it’s too late?

Commander USA Its ALive DVD

Groovie Movies: It’s Alive
Starring – John P. Ryan & Sharon Farrell     Rated PG    1974

Host: Commander USA gets a good idea after walking through the mall.  It’s inspired by the day’s movie as he turns the Video Vault into “It’s Alive Nursery” where busy Mall shoppers can drop of their kids and have Commander USA watch them as they continue to shop. He gets a client who drops off her two monster kids who during the movie eat the Milk Man and rip the arm off of a baby expert! In the end, he must wait for his payment of $14.95 via check.

Movie: Heavily pregnant Lenore Davis tells her husband, Frank, that she is in labor. They leave their eleven year-old son Chris with their friend Charley and they head to the Community Hospital. Lenore feels that something is wrong and delivers a monster that kills the team in the delivery room and escapes through a skylight. Lieutenant Perkins comes to the hospital to investigate the murder and the press divulges the identity of the parents. Frank discovers a dark secret about Lenore and the baby.

Commander USA jaws of satan DVD

Groovie Movies:  Jaws Of Satan
Starring – Fritz Weaver & Christina Applegate     Rated R     1981

Host: Commander USA and Lefty get a make-your-own-radio-drama kit and decide to break into broadcasting and make their own old time radio show. Lefty writes a western drama called “Pa and Son” that is just plain bad, but Commander and him keep trying with many of attempts to make the show good.

Movie: A preacher whose ancestors were cursed by Druids battles Satan, who has taken the form of a huge snake.

Commander USA Kingdom Of The Spiders dvd

Groovie Movies: Kingdom Of The Spiders
Starring – William Shatner & Tiffany Bolling     Rated PG    1977

Host: Commander USA’s plant has a fungus so he calls on Dr. Root for help, and decides to have her stay in the Video Vault and watch the film of the day. Dr. Root gives plant advice as well as tries to sell the viewers things that she made like books and even a board game, making her whole appearance nothing more than a way for her to sell her goods at the Commander’s expense.

Movie: Investigating the mysterious deaths of a number of farm animals, vet Rack Hansen discovers that his town lies in the path of hoards of migrating tarantulas. Before he can take action, the streets are overrun by killer spiders, trapping a small group of towns folk in a remote hotel.

Commander USA land of the minotaur dvd

Groovie Movies: Land Of The Minotaur
Starring – Donald Pleasence & Peter Cushing   Rated PG   1976

Host: Outside the Video Vault is a raging blizzard, and Commander USA decides to turn the Video Vault into an inn for shoppers who are stuck in the mall and gets the help of Tiffany, a crazy woman who has worked for many inns in the past! He also hires a dim witted handy man, George, and finds that during this time of extreme snow people just don’t wanna stay in The Video Vault!

Movie: A satanic cult that worships a stone Minotaur kidnaps 3 young people and Priest Father Corofax and Milo Kaye must save them from the hands of this evil!

Commander USA Mako dvd

Groovie Movies: Mako The Jaws Of Death
Starring – Richard Jaeckel & Jennifer Bishop   Rated PG   1976

Host: Commander USA is having a tribute to Richard Jaeckel the star of the day’s film.  He even sets up a camera in the mall and has shoppers give their opinions of Jaeckel and his work. He also has Dr. Moist Brothers come in, and she talks about Jaeckel and the relationship with fish, and of course tries to promote her new book on the subject. Everything in the episode is in honor of Jaeckel!

Movie: A man accidentally learns that he has a mystical connection with sharks, and is given a strange medallion by a shaman. Becoming more and more alienated from normal society, he develops an ability to communicate with sharks telepathically, setting out to destroy anybody who harms sharks. People enter into his strange world to exploit his weird passion, and he uses the animals to gain revenge on anybody who double crosses him.

Commander USA mausoleum dvd

Groovie Movies: Mausoleum
Starring – Bobbie Bresee & Marjoe Gortner   Rated R   1983

Host: A worker at the mall’s morgue comes down and asks to store some dead bodies at the Video Vault, and the Commander allows it. Some of the morgue workers and other odd balls come down to work on the bodies or try and sell something as Commander is creeped out by the day’s movie. But once the bodies begin to stink, it’s time for Commander to want them out of the Vault.

Movie: Traumatized by her mother’s death, young Susan is becoming possessed by the same demon that possessed her mother before she died. More and more her husband and psychiatrist are noticing the strange changes.

Commander USA Motel Hell dvd

Groovie Movies: Motel Hell
Starring – Rory Calhoun & Paul Linke     Rated R    1980

Host: The Video Vault is now being used as a set for a Hollywood film called “Attack of the 50 Foot Cheesecake Girl,” and Commander USA will be the star and Mr. Grill is the director! During the movie Commander is reading his lines and meeting the crew, and he gets a shock when he finds out his co-star is Elizabeth Trailer famous z-movie star! In the end, Commander finds out he is not the star of the film likes he thinks and his big kiss scene with Trailer is scrapped, making the Commander see that he should not trust Hollywood.

Movie: Farmer Vincent kidnaps unsuspecting travelers and is burying them in his garden. Unfortunately for his victims, they are not dead. He feeds his victims to prepare them for his roadside stand. His motto is: It takes all kinds of critters…to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters. The movie is gory, but is also a parody of slasher movies like Last House on the Left.

Commander USA Night of Creeps DVD

Groovie Movies: Night Of The Creeps
Starring – Jason Lively & Tom Atkins   Rated R   1986

Host: Commander USA has allowed a sorority house on a tight budget to hold their prom in the Video Vault for only $14.95 for the night. Commander USA watches the film with the decorating crew and helps decorate along the way. In the end only one of the girls’ dates show up to prom, and he is just a brain in a glass bowl so Commander takes all the ladies out for an all you can eat dinner.

Movie: In 1959, an alien experiment crashes to earth and infects a fraternity member. They freeze the body, but in the modern day, two geeks pledging a fraternity accidentally thaw the corpse, which proceeds to infect the campus with parasites that transform their hosts into killer zombies.

Commander USA pandemonium dvd

Groovie Movies: Pandemonium
Starring – Tom Smothers & Judge Reinhold    Rated PG   1982

Host: Commander USA is being visited by Leo and Cleo, a pair of paparazzi junkies who take pictures of celebrities and Lefty! The pair is also on the run from someone in the mall and use the Video Vault to hideout in.

Movie: Tom Smothers stars as the brave mountie, who along with his trusty horse and bitter deputy Paul Reubens must track down a killer who is stalking coeds at a nearby cheerleader camp.

Note from Matt: This episode is missing the opening skit.

Commander USA Polish Vampire In Burbank dvd

Groovie Movies:  A Polish Vampire in Burbank
Starring – Mark Pirro & Eddie Deezen   Not Rated   1985

Host: Commander USA is hyped to see the day’s film because it’s his first time watching it and he wants all the viewers at home to join him on the watch.  But he also gets a guest to come watch it as he finds a 13 year old vampire kid who says this film is a must see for vampires his age!

Movie: A somewhat reluctant vampire is taken out by his sexpot sister for his first “night out on the town.”

Note from Matt : The version of this episode I own is sadly a very poor put together fan reproduction that cuts out many of the Commander’s skits and replaces them with segments from other episodes that deal with contests and poems. 

Commander USA Princess Of Nile dvd

Groovie Movies: Princess Of The Nile
Starring – Debra Paget & Jeffrey Hunter   Not Rated   1954

Host: Commander USA is getting bored with the look of The Video Vault and invites a team of decorating sisters over called the Little Designing Woman to spice up the look of the place. But the sisters can’t get along and argue the whole time and even during the free Christmas play that comes with their services. In the end, the Video Vault gets a minor change but pretty much stays the same, and Commander USA feels better about it.

Movie: Time: A.D. 1249. Shalimar, an Egyptian princess, striving to rid her country of its Bedouin conquerors, forms an alliance with Prince Haidi, son of the Caliph of Bagdad. She practices her intrigues both at the court and, disguised as a dancing girl, in the market place.

Commander USA Psychotronic Man DVD

Groovie Movies: The Psycho-Tronic Man
Starring – Peter Spelson & Chris Carbis    Rated PG   1979

Host: Commander USA turns the Video Vault into a place to help people with their fears and acts as a doctor to “save” them from what spooks them. He has some clients come in and tries to help them with fears of things like white paint and furniture and even gets accused by the news for taken bribes to show the day’s film from the director! In the end Commander gets a fear of other people’s fears and has to close up shop.

Movie: Just as Rocky thinks the world is proceeding along quite well, he dashes out of his barber shop in a kind of trance, as though possessed. Once outside he is driven to hunt for a victim and after he has found someone, he kills them with whatever forces are latent in his subconscious.

Commander USA Swamp Of Lost Monsters dvd

Groovie Movies: Swamp Of The Lost Monsters
Starring – Gaston Santos & Sara Cabrera  Not Rated   1957

Host: Commander USA gets a visit from a visit from a “Cowboy” who owns a store in the mall above that offers tacos, facials and boots! Commander does a lot of other things that all have a western feel to them, and he has fun with his Cowboy friend.

Movie: A disappearing body leads a detective and his sidekick into an encounter with a gill man.

Note from Matt: This episode is missing its opening skit. 

Commander USA They Still Call Me Bruce DVD

Groovie Movies: They Still Call Me Bruce
Starring – Johnny Yune & Victor Brook   Rated PG   1987

Host: Commander USA invites his friend Sue who knows secrets of the oriental massage and more to come to the Video Vault and watch the day’s movie with him. Commander is trained in the art of pressure points and even Kung Fu and is really trying to learn all he can from his guests who also includes Sue’s sushi chef and student.

Movie: Bruce Won arrives in America in search of an American G.I. who saved his life in the Korean War. He meets an orphan boy and together they land themselves in a string of outrageous situations. This high-strung farce culminates when a case of mistaken identity leads a gang of thugs to think Bruce is a karate master. They arrange a nationally-televised match which pits our hero against a monstrous brute, and Bruce is beaten to a bloody pulp.

Commander USA Toxic Zombies dvd

Groovie Movies: Toxic Zombies
Starring – Charles McCrann & Beverly Shapiro   Rated R  1980

Host: Commander USA and Lefty are all set in the Video Vault and are ready to watch the day’s film when all through it random people show up and do random things.  Even the Commander starts doing odd and random things, well more odd than usual. Over all the Commander just seems to be having fun watching the day’s zombie movie.

Movie: After drug crops are sprayed with a chemical by a passing airplane, the growers of the crop are poisoned by the chemical and turn into zombie-like mutants.

Commander USA trick or treats dvd

Groovie Movies: Trick Or Treats
Starring – David Carradine & Steve Railsback   Rated R   1982

Host: It’s a week before Christmas, and the mall above is filled with shoppers and Commander USA decides to show a movie more suitable for Halloween and has a guest named Nurse Nancy who has showed up to tell him his new gift idea (The Home Autopsy Kit) was foul. While Nancy seems negative she is also very flirty with the Commander who as always makes some snacks and even tries to sell the viewer paper plates with Lefty and his image on them.

Movie: A baby sitter is stuck watching over a young brat on Halloween night who keeps playing vicious pranks on her. To add to her trouble the boy’s deranged father has escaped from an asylum and is planning on making a visit.

Commander USA Vampires Coffin DVD

Groovie Movies: The Vampire’s Coffin
Starring – Abel Salazar & Aradna Welter   Not Rated   1958

Host: Rent is going up at The Video Vault so Commander USA and Monroe decide to open up a fast food restaurant mixed with a sock emporium to help pay the rent. Commander even hires a young woman named Wendy to help wait on the customers. Commander becomes the place’s chef and makes all kinds of gross dishes for his customers.  Of course by the end of the show the restaurant goes belly up and Commander has bankrupt yet another one of his odd business ideas.

Movie: Graverobbers stumble upon the tomb of a vampire, who turns them into zombies to do his bidding, which is to stalk and capture beautiful women.

Commander USA Witchmaker DVD

Groovie Movies: The Witchmaker
Starring – Anthony Eisley & Thordis Brandt   Not Rated   1969

Host: Commander USA has built his own Frankenstein Monster named FrankenSchtick and it’s a terrible stand up comic! At one point Commander summons the spirit of Jesse James with a can of tomato juice and spends a lot of the episode hearing the terrible comedy of his created monster and talking about the film they are watching.

Movie: A psychic researcher and his assistants investigate a series of murders of beautiful young women.

And with that this marks all the single feature episodes I own, and be warned at some point we will get into the double features!! 

commander usa autoAs you can see I have been collecting and trying to get as many old Commander USA episodes as I can get.  It’s been great reliving those days of watching Commander on my TV screen though nothing can take away those Saturday afternoons of eating lunch or some sort of junk food and spending two hours (four when he showed the double features) hanging out with my brother and watching Commander USA during his time of broadcast. I can remember the excitement of waiting for him to come on, and Groovie Movies became the true highlight of my weekends. Commander USA’s Groovie Movies was the first place I saw horror films like Friday The 13th 1-3, Final Terror and Motel Hell.  It’s the place where I became a super fan of films like Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell and Horror of the Zombies.  Plus Commander USA is one of the main people that made me the creative person I am today, and for that I want to truly say THANK YOU. If not for the Commander, I would have not seen half the horror films I saw at a young age because of where I lived, and seeing these films on his show as well as USA Saturday Nightmares and Super Scary Saturday helped spark the interest in wanting to make my own shot on video horror films. One regret I have is never writing to the Commander and becoming a member of his fan club.  In fact I am not really sure why my brother or I never did do this. I should also take this time to thank some people that over the years have helped me on my quest of collecting and re-living the Groovie Movies experience: Bryan Brassfield, Stumpy Disks and my pal Darren Young.  

commander usa card

In 2013 at Horrorhound Weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio Commander USA got one of the highest honors a host can receive as he was inducted as one of the thirteen hosts of that year into the Horror Host Hall Of Fame. When I heard that he was going in, I asked if Baron Von Porkchop, the host I direct could induct him as I would feel that it would be the highest honor I could give back to him for being such a major influence in my life, but it was not to be as New Jersey Horror Host and all around great guy Halloween Jack was asked to do so. While I would have loved to have had the Baron do it, Jack was a great pick and did the speech with lots of class and respect. Baron Von Porkchop did get to induct Florida’s own Shock Armstrong, the 1964 host of Shock Theatre, and that as well was an honor as he meant a lot to many kids of the 60’s and was a great host who looked like Frankenstein’s Monster in a football jersey. 

Horror Host Hall Of Fame 2013 Commander USA

Commander USA was the logical pick for me when doing the first Horror Host Icon update as he was the host that was the first to mean something to me as does the next host on my list, but you all will have to wait and see who it is! This update is in honor of Jim Hendricks, the man who played Commander USA, and it’s also for all the fans of Groovie Movies who were glued to their TV’s and watched a spooky cheesy film and laughed alongside the Commander and his sidekicks. I have had a lot of fun doing this update, and while I could say a lot more, I think this will do for now as I can not express in words the wonderful impact this host and his show have had on my life.  If and when I get more episodes at some point, I would love to do an update blog and tell you a little more about the episodes I own…but that will be a while aways because we have lots of comics to read and other hosts to celebrate! Our next update takes us from a Commander to a Capn’ as we take a look at a free comic give away from Quaker Oats that allows us to set sail with the one and only Capn’ Crunch! So till next time, support and watch you local horror host and make sure to read a comic or two!

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Marvel vs. DC….. Round 1…..FIGHT!

Growing up, horror films were always important to me and nothing could get my attention more than a classic Universal Monster movie.  There was just something about those black and white spooky motion pictures that drew my young mind in, and another thing that always got my attention was horror host shows! Horror hosting is an art that has been around since 1954 when Vampira took to the airwaves in California and hosted bad b-films on late night television.  Many great names have followed that include Zacherley, Marvin, Sammy Terry, Sir Graves Ghastly, Ghoulardi, The Cool Ghoul, Bob Wilkins, Sivad and so many more ghouls took to local airwaves and chilled the blood and tickled the funny bone of their local towns from the 1950’s throughout the 1960’s. Sadly younger fans like myself who weren’t born yet were unable to watch these hosts in their prime, and due to the fact most were shot live or the ones that were taped were erased and reused to film other programs, many of these classic shows are gone forever. Two hosts from this period really have peaked my interest.  The Great Zucchini of Supernatural Theatre started in 1968 on WDCA-TV channel 20 in Washington D.C.and was a one time actor who was horribly burned and now lived in the stations basement and was a mean spirited chap who hated glass and would smash bottles and such with his cane.  He also was very mean to his off screen sidekick Waldo and the viewers.  Zucchini was played by Bill Miller who worked at the station and was fired from the show when he asked for a raise. Next up is The Madman of Des Moines, a host that not much is known about, who hosted flicks in Iowa.  His look was that of a beast type man who looked like he could have been from The Island of Dr. Monroe! If anyone has any of these two’s shows please contact me; I would love to see them and will make it worth your while!

great zucchinithe madman of des moins

Horror hosting continued into the 70’s and many classic iconic hosts were born out of this era that include Dr. Creep, Baron Von Wolfenstein, Fritz The Nite Owl, Svengoolie, The Ghoul, Sir Cecil Creape, Count Scary and many more.  1972 was when Dr. Creep (Barry Hobart) hit the airwaves in Dayton, Ohio with his show Shock Theatre and things would never be the same for those he entertained. Dr. Creep was a loveable ghoul who would host films along co-hosts like Duffy The Dog, Dow Thomas, Obieyoyo, Firma and more.  They would parody TV shows, commercials and music giving the viewers some great laughs before they witnessed the late night horror picture. At a young age I was living in Kettering, Ohio and my brother was going to Beavertown Elementary.  At Christmas time he went on a field trip to Chakeres also known as The Kettering Theater to watch “Sindad and the Eye of the Tiger” and while there he got to meet Mugruff the Crime Dog and more importantly Dr. Creep! My brother won a gift that turned out to be a Transformer and got his picture taken with the pair.  When returning home from school I got an earful about this ghoul named Dr. Creep, and when the picture came I was amazed by this man! After always talking about Dr. Creep my Mom gave in and let us stay up and watch an episode with our dad who was already a fan, and this was the start of my love for horror hosting. My mom also tells me when I was young like 4 or 5 she and my dad took me and my brother to Beavertown for a meet and great with Dr. Creep where I got his autograph! In 1985 Shock Theatre had come to an end, and Channel 22, who ran the show, retired the character and would not allow Barry to don the make-up and cape, leaving the area without a horror host. During his first run, Dr. Creep was a man on a mission as he helped numerous charities and made public appearances whenever he could, making him a true star to all those who got the chance to meet him. But you can’t keep a good ghoul down when in 1999 local filmmaker Andy Copp and RMM Agency owner Rick Martin brought the Creeper back to TV sets with The New Shock Theater that had Creep hosting public domain films on public access.  This ran until 2005. It was during his second run that I got to become friends with Dr. Creep and learned not only about the host but also the man who played the host, Barry Hobart. Getting to spend time with him at conventions like Cinema Wasteland, Scary Camp and Horrorhound Weekend and hanging with him at Foy’s Halloween Shop in Fairborn are memories that are truly special. Sadly Barry Hobart passed away in 2011, and the world lost a true icon in hosting and more important I lost a friend. Halloween in this town won’t be the same with out him.

Creep PartyDr. Creep HorrorhoundDr. Creep and Me

Another host that I have been looking for copies of his show is The Shroud of Nightmare Theatre that ran on Fort Wayne, Indiana WFFT-TV channel 55 from 1979 – 1983. The Shroud wore all black and would wear an almost executioners mask as well as a long cape. The Shroud was a host that took the grim approach and would host the film without jokes and gags and give you the straight terror as he spoke with his deep voice. The Shroud was played by Don Paris, and I would love to see this man come back to host one more show for the fans! Again if you have copies of this show, please let me know.

The Shroud

The 1980’s brought horror hosting to an all new level as major cable networks and companies got into the host business and such horror hosts as Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Joe Bob Briggs, Commander USA and Grandpa Munster all had shows that aired all over the USA. Growing up I tried to never miss an episode of Commander USA’s Groovie Movies that aired on the USA Network and always tried to tape Super Scary Saturday with Grandpa Munster that aired on TBS.  I know a beta tape is floating around somewhere at my brother’s house that has the episode where Grandpa hosts King Kong vs. Godzilla! Joe Bob Briggs was on the Movie Channel so I didn’t get to watch at first but once he jumped to TNT and started hosting Monstervision, I was hooked on his style of hosting. I caught Elvira a few times.  While a fan of her looks and gothic style, I mostly remember her from her film and years later became more of a fan of her show Movie Macabre. These hosts paved the way for many more that include the cast of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and Rhonda Shear & Gilbert Gottfried of USA’s Up All Night. But also local hosts were still going strong with such names as Stella Desire, A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Son of Ghoul and many more, all leading viewers to tune into home grown shows. I loved catching horror host shows in the 80’s and thanks to the magic of trade sites I have been able to get my hands on many great episodes of Commander USA and Grandpa making me feel like a kid again as I watch.

CommanderUSA the manGrandpajoe bob briggs0

The 90’s in hosting still had many of the main stay cable hosts, and lots of the 80’s local hosts stuck around, but this was also the birth of hosts being on public access television.  As local markets changed many stations did away with local made shows, driving the horror host off airwaves and many of them turned to the local accesses stations in order to continue entertaining. This change also led to local access hosts no longer being able to show films owned by major studios like Universal, Paramount or WB and left them with films in the public domain, free of copyright. Great hosts like Dr. Gangrene, Dr. Sarcofiguy, Spooky Spectre, The Gravemaster and more all filled the airwaves entertaining late night viewers.This was truly the birth of a new breed of host, the kind who worked under no strict station rules and were able to make their vision of their own shows.

dr gangrenespooky spectreThe Gravemaster

Now on to the present day hosts, and man there are a lot of them! In this day and age horror host fans are treated to many amazing hosts and best part is they are also treated to legends who after all these years still do a shows from time to time. Horror hosting has become available in many different formats, from syndication TV, public access, direct to DVD, internet, trade lists and downloads, giving fans new ways to watch their favorite host or discover a new one! Plus many horror, sci-fi, car and paranormal conventions book hosts as guests giving the viewer many ways to connect with a host. Some of the modern hosts include Ms. Monster, Roxsy Tyler, Riggor Mortiss, Victor Von Scary, Horror Dungeon, Count Gregula, Uncle Wolf Man, Atomic Age Cinema, Professor Gillman, Mod Ghoul, Wolfman Mac, Marlena Midnite and so many more colorful ghouls. Marlena Midnite hosted a show called “Midnite Mausoleum” alongside Robyn Graves and directed by Blake Powell, and they are some of the nicest people you will ever meet! Marlena is the true definition of what a horror hostess should be and she has so much charm and appeal that I could easily see her being the next big hostess next to Elvira.  Sadly in the Spring of 2013 Midnite Mausoleum stopped production on new episodes, I hope that one day they return to the hosting world.

MidniteRiggorroxsy

Growing up watching the likes of Dr. Creep, Commander USA, A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Grandpa Munster, Joe Bob Briggs and a handful of others made me think to myself “Hey why don’t I dig up a ghoul and make a show of my own,” and that’s what I did in late 2010 when I dug up Baron and Baroness Von Porkchop, and together along with their butler Bean, we made Terrifying Tales of the Macabre. The Baron is a 1800’s Slaughterhouse baron who was the times largest manufacture of pork meats, his lovely wife Baroness was a beauty queen who would always win the annual Slaughterhouse Queen pageant and let’s just say they had an accident that left them both dead that involved a terrible wagon wreck! Now The Baron and friends entertain Dayton area viewers via public accesses stations DATV and MVCC and online station The Monster Channel. Working alongside The Baron has also let me meet some amazing hosts and befriend them like Sammy Terry, Stella Desire, Count Gore De Vol, The Atomic Age Cinema gang, Count Gregula and many more! Terrifying Tales of the Macabre is still going strong with no signs of slowing town and for me this is a blessing for I have found a media that to me feels just like home.

Baron Von PorkchopBaron Episode 15Baroness Von Porkchop

But enough of my small little history lesson about horror hosting, the main reason we are here is to talk about big time battles between two iconic characters that leave you breathless and wondering who is going to win in the epic show down. One of the first movies to do this for me was the 1943 Universal Monster Classic “Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man” in which they paired two of their icons against each other. The film’s plot has Larry Talbot (The Wolf Man) being awaken from his death by two grave robbers and wanting to find a way to find peace whether by death or a cure. Along the way he meets a granddaughter of Dr. Frankenstein and along with another small town doctor they decide to help end the curse, but they also find The Frankenstein Monster who is weak yet alive! In the end the small town Doctor makes the mistake of wanting to see The Monster at full strength and by doing so it’s too late Larry turns into The Wolf Man as The Monster gets his energy back and the two battle before the village damn is blown drowning both monsters.  This film has always been epic to me, and the strangest part about it is that the two monsters don’t really clash at all until say the last 2 or 3 minutes of the film. When the two titans of fright do fight it’s just smacks, jump attacks and sluggish blows.  Imagine two 400 pound wrestlers going at each other and that’s what you get with this fight. While not a slugfest like one would imagine, this film did help pave the way for many other great monster fight films like Freddy vs. Jason, Dracula vs. Frankenstein and even Alien vs. Predator. If you have not seen this film and you love classic horror, check out this Universal Monster mash up.  It’s worth your time.

Frank wolfFrankenstein Meets The Wolf Man PosterMonster chokes Wolfman

In my youth another amazing monster fight film was the 1963 battle between the giant gorilla King Kong and the fire breathing lizard Godzilla. As a kid I was obsessed with Godzilla, and thanks to TV station TBS and shows like Super Scary Saturday, I was able to catch his films on Saturday mornings. I can remember watching it on Super Scary Saturday hosted by Grandpa Munster and being amazed as they had wrestlers from the NWA on acting as the monsters’ managers! King Kong had Michael “P.S.” Hayes in his corner as Godzilla had Jim Cornette in his and Grandpa Munster acted super hyped to witness this battle of the giant rubber suited monsters. The film has Godzilla once more tormenting boats around Japan, and a group goes to an island and drugs and brings back King Kong to make money off off him and to fight and stop Godzilla. The fight is epic as both monsters go for the kill, and both are fired up to win the bragging rights. For some reason in the film King Kong gets stronger if he is struck by lighting, and I heard that this is the case because originally it was supposed to be The Frankenstein Monster fighting Godzilla. In the end there is no clear cut winner as it looks as if maybe King Kong got the upper hand as he crosses the ocean to go back home. If you like pure cheese giant monsters movies and want to watch two of the worlds top big monsters slug it out, then check out this film, but be warned as always there is a lot of human talking that is boring in spots.

Zilla Kong DanceKing Kong vs Godzilla posterKong vs Zilla

Now at this point I could go on about other monster fight films and weed out the good from the bad, but instead I figured before we got into the main events of this entry I would give you all a warm up fight that many of you who love Nike Shoes will be hyped for; none other then basketball player Charles Barkley fighting King of The Monsters Godzilla!! Before we get into the comic, I should explain the commercial this was based on. In 1992 Nike the shoe company decided that it would be a great idea to mix basketball and giant monsters to sell sneakers and hired Charles Barkley who was playing for the Phoenix Suns at the time as the pro player who challenges Godzilla to a game of basketball in Toyko.  It’s never shown how Barkley became a giant, but by the end of the commercial and a slam dunk later Barkley is the winner and the two walk off as friends. This for the time was a cool commercial but looking back at it now, it was a very silly way to hype over priced gym shoes.

NBA Zillanothing but cheesecharles-barkley-takes-on-godzilla

Godzilla vs Barkley 1

Godzilla vs. Barkley # 1  **
Released in 1993   Cover Price $2.95   Dark Horse   1 of 1

Godzilla attacks a Japaneses ship on its way to California.  Meanwhile Matthew and his Grandfather rush to the beach to try and get the chance to talk to NBA Superstar Charles Barkley who is there to film a commercial, but Matthew is pushed away and leaving down in the dirt as his grandpa gives him a magic silver dollar. On that same beach one of the sailers from the ship washes ashore and warns of Godzilla.  No sooner does he speak of the King of Monsters when he is there to wreck the Sunshine State. Matthew rushes to Charles Barkley and with the help of the silver dollar and some push from Matthew, the NBA star becomes a giant and uses his basketball skills to distract Godzilla, and even beating him in a game. After the court beat down Barkley buys Godzilla a giant pair of Nike shoes and his own private court to practice on and keep him busy and becomes a friend to Matthew and his family.

Man, this is one cheese ball comic that is so dumb of an idea that it some how turns out to be super fun. Matthew, the young boy, is your typical “super” fan who believes no one else in the world loves the celebrity like he does and for the most part is also kind of a smart ass. Grandpa is your typical loving elder who is not given much to do in the story besides pass over the magical silver dollar. Charles Barkley is, well, Barkley but is given more of a nice guy attitude when on court and real life he was a hothead and a stiff player. Godzilla at first is a badass but quickly becomes the punching bag to Barkley and his basketball that even is used to bounce off the head of the fire breathing monster. The stupidest moment of this comic is when Godzilla is out in the middle of nowhere wearing a pair of Nike shoes and practicing basketball…WOW who thought this silly stuff up. Over all the art in the comic is well done, and the cover is cool.  This is worth a read to those who love trashy pop culture like myself. 

Brakley smackcharles-barkley-vs-godzillazilla slam

In 1976 both Marvel and DC comics got together and decided to put two of their most popular super heros in a comic against each other.  This was after a pitch was made to cross both Superman and Spider-Man together in a film that would not have worked out for both companies who already had projects in the works for both heros. What fans got was a crossover that was in an oversized comic that sparked the imagination and debut of who would really win The Man of Steel or Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. This team up of Marvel and DC was not the first as both titans of funny books put out an oversized comic together in 1975 called MGM’s Marvelous Wizard Of Oz. So before we dive into this battle of the comic, icons let’s take a short look at both super heros.

superman

Tale of the Tape for Superman – Baby Kal-El was shipped to Earth by his parents as his home planet of Krypton exploded, ending life on it forever. Landing in Kansas, he is found by Martha and Johnathon Kent who adopt the space child and name him Clark. Growing up on the farm, Clark finds out as do his adoptive parents that he is special as he is super human strong, has x-ray vision, can fly, has heat vision and so much more. When grown up, he decides that he is going to move to the big city of Metropolis and becomes a reporter and become the cities protector as a hero called Superman. Clark/Superman’s friends consist of Lois Lane the cities top reporter, Jimmy Olson a photographer and Perry White the boss of the newspaper they all work for. Superman also has a hidden base in the Arctic called The Fortress of Solitude that also acts as a learning center for him. His weakness is a green rock from his home planet called Kryptonite that leaves him as weak as a baby and can also lead to his death  Red sun light and magic are the other only things that can hurt him as Superman is almost godlike. His top foes include Lex Luther a super evil smart tycoon, Braniac a robot from space, Doomsday a hulking monster and General Zod an outcast from his home planet. Superman is DC Comics’ strongest Character.

Spider-Man

Tale of the Tape for Spider-Man -Peter Parker was a nerdy high school kid who was raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben.  One day Peter is bitten by a radioactive spider during a science expo that leaves him with super powers that include super strength, the ability to climb walls, and have a sensor in his brain that warns him of coming danger that he calls his Spider-Sense. After the murder of his Uncle Ben, Peter makes a costume and becomes Spider-Man, and even makes a strong binding wire that acts as his web that shots out from gadgets on his wrist. Peter later works as a freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle owned by J. Jonah Jameson who goes out of his way to smeer Spider-Man in the papers. Peter’s/Spidey’s friends consist of Mary Jane Watson a super model and later Peter’s wife, Black Cat a one time master thief and girlfriend of Peter’s, Harry Osborne old school pal and his Aunt May. Spider-Man’s weaknesses include his heart because he cares way too much about his loved ones, normal ways to hurt a normal man.  While he can take more, he still is just a man with super powers and a mouth that sometimes distracts him from fights. His foes include Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Venom, The Lizard, Scorpion and Vulture to name a few. Spider-Man is the golden boy of Marvel and is also the biggest wise ass next to Deadpool.

Remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, its art and story. This review is thanks to a team up of Mavericks Cards and Comics, Ebay and Amazon. And I am reviewing the normal comic size reprints.

Superman vs Spiderman 1

Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man   ***1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price $5.95   Marvel & DC Comics   #1 of 1

A giant robot is attacking Metropolis and Superman comes to save the day, but he figures out that the robot was just a distraction as the main brain behind the attack is Lex Luther who used to robot to steal a gadget to control satellites but quickly is taken down by Superman and taken to jail. Doctor Octopus has created a ship that he plans on using to steal money and has it hidden in a zeppelin balloon.  But he soon meets up with Spider-Man who makes short work of his arch nemesis and takes him away to jail. Back in Metropolis, Clark Kent and Lois Lane are asked to go to a giant expo that showcases a very powerful satellite; it is held in New York so Peter Parker and Mary Jane are there as audience members. In prison Luther and Octopus team up and escape and have big plans to get even with their nemeses, that will involve pitting them against one another. While the event is being set up, Peter is taking pics and saves Lois Lane who is about to fall off a scaffold and introduces her to Mary Jane.  The two hit it off as a fake Superman appears and zaps both women with a beam leaving them missing as they all disappear. Peter changes into Spider-Man, and Clark changes into Superman.  Both men meet up and blame each other for the attack, leaving the heros at odds.  When Luther zaps Spider-Man with the power of Red Sun rays, the fight is on as they both land hits back and fourth.  Finally the two figure out they have been set up and travel around looking for the answer that finally leads them to space where Lex Luther and Doctor Octopus have Lois and Mary captive and our heros come to save the day and out smart the baddies by making them turn on each other this leading to once more the bad guys going to jail. The heros return to the expo along with the rescued ladies and have pics and footage in hand to give both their alter egos a boost in the corporate ladder of media.

This comic is awesome and shows you that if two major comic companies could put their egos in check, great adventures like this could happen more often. The way that both universes mix comes off really well, and Spider-Man’s wise cracks and Superman’s boyscout image go so well together that you could swear that they both were made by the same companies. Spider-Man comes off as a hero who can handle himself after he is zapped with the red sun ray that leaves him packing more power to his punch and is the only way that he could ever stand toe to toe with Superman.  Plus he does well against both Doc Ock and Luther when it comes to fighting. Superman, even in this team up, comes off as the goody to shoes who is nobel and has to be pushed to let loose on Spider-Man and even doesn’t really let go even when he is taking major hits.  The one thing I did notice is that they play up Superman’s weakness to red sun rays and after thinking about it, I can see why because without it he would smash Spider-Man, Lex Luther and Doc Ock into pink McDonalds Chicken Nugget paste. Lex Luther has always been my least favorite of Superman’s list of AAA villains and once more seems like a throw away as all he does is laugh and set traps.  Doctor Octopus, I feel the same way about.  While a classic bad guy, he just doesn’t do nothing for me when it comes to his character. The fight between Superman and Spider-Man is well done and goes back and fourth giving fans of both moments to cheer for the one they like the most. I found myself cheering for Spider-Man because he was the clear underdog. The art work in this is pure grade A stuff and is the style I like when it comes to comics, that straight cartoon look that lets you know you are reading a funny book. The cover is iconic, and I can remember being a kid and seeing ads in issues that offered this issue in the giant comic size and being amazed and drawn in with thoughts of who would win. This is a cross over done right and is worth checking out for any fans of either heros.

sPIDEY RUNSuperman spidermanSpidey Super Punch

Now with the issue done, let’s take a look at the fantasy warfare aspect of this epic fight and act as if both heros were real people.  We will take them from the closest live action film or show that was around at the time.  So we will be taking the Christopher Reeves’ Superman from the 1978 film and putting him up against the Nicholas Hammond’s Spider-Man from the 1977 CBS TV Show, The Amazing Spider-Man.  We will pit them in an area that is fair to both so let’s say they meet up in Cincinnati, Ohio on Super Bowl Weekend. Let’s see how it would play out in my mind!

superman christopher reeveVSSpiderMan Nicholas Hammond

Peter Parker is in town to cover a NFL Super Bowl event in Cincinnati and has his Spider Sense go off as he spots a con man passing off cheap bootleg copies of New Shock Theater in the arena’s parking lot’s.  As he changes into Spider-Man, he approaches the bootlegger to tell him that pirating movies, music and shows is a crime but as he gets closer the man runs off leaving Spidey with these fake DVD’s and to his shock Superman The Man of Steel is behind him looking on in shame thinking that Spidey is the dirty pirate! When a shout comes from a parked car that Spidey has a ray gun, this statemnet is false and is being shouted by Lex Luther who has set this whole thing up!  As drunk football fans gather around and start cheering Superman rushes to see if there is a gun, and Spidey is able to act fast to dodge the attack due to his amped up senses.  This goes on for a while as Superman punches as Spider-Man dodges and makes his wise ass remarks and tries to pepper him with blows but learns that hitting Superman is not smart as it break every bone in his hand.  As Spider-Man grabs his hand in pain, this leaves enough time for Superman to place a light uppercut to Spidey’s Jaw leaving him knocked out and the loser of this bootleg battle.

Winner – Superman

I know that was a silly one, but I tried to put some humor and cheese to it much like the 77 TV show, but now let’s get onto the co-main event of the entry and that’s yet another Marvel and DC crossover as The Worlds Greatest Detective Batman faces the Rampaging Hulk! This is going to be epic! And now let’s take a quick look at these heros’ backgrounds.

BATMAN

Tale of the Tape for Batman – Bruce Wayne was just a boy when both his mother and father were gunned down in a robbery that he witnessed. Wanting to do something about all the crime in his town of Gotham as he got older, he became a well trained fighter and thinker and donned a costume and became Batman. This super hero is super smart and has many wonderful gadgets and vehicles at his disposal.  He also has a hideout called The Bat Cave where he is able to use a super computer that can give him info on any opponent or object giving him the upper hand of knowing his opponents and their weakness. He is also highly trained in combat and is super smart. Batman’s friends include Robin his sidekick, Alfred his Butler, Batgirl and Commissioner Gordon. Batman’s weakness are the fact he is human, just smart and well trained, and his brooding can leave him open for attacks. Some of his foes include The Joker, Killer Croc, Bane, The Riddler and Mr. Freeze. Batman is DC’s cash cow and is also their most popular character to mention he one kick ass character.

HULK

Tale of the Tape for Hulk – Bruce Banner is accidentally transformed into a raging green monster known as The Hulk whenever he is upset or angry. As The Hulk, he is unstoppable, and the madder he gets, the stronger he gets making him dangerous to tangle with. The Hulk mostly wants to be left alone and hates his other side, Bruce Banner, who he views as weak. The Hulk’s major weapon is his pure power that is beyond measure.  Most known weapons cannot hurt him, and in one single leap he can move several miles. His friends include Betty Ross, the woman Bruce and The Hulk love and Rick Jones, a young man who Bruce saved from the explosion. His major weakness is the fact his brain is child-like and he can be out smarted into losing or even doing the wrong thing. His foes include The Abomination, The Leader, Madman and Zzzax. The Hulk is the strongest character in the Marvel Universe that is still somewhat human and is a force to be reckoned with.

So now that you’ve gotten a brief look at the two heros, let’s dive into this cool team up!

Batman vs Hulk 1

Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk # 1  ***1/2
Released in 1982   Cover Price $3.95   Marvel & DC Comics   #1 of 1

Bruce Banner is working at a lab that is in control of a gamma gun machine that he thinks could be the key to curing the curse of becoming The Hulk and to his horror the Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker and his goons show up to steal the machine.  As they are doing so, they set off Banner who becomes The Hulk as Batman also shows up to stop the crime. Joker tricks Hulk into thinking Batman is the bad guy, and he goes full force after the Dark Knight who must outsmart the brute with gas in order to escape his mighty fury. After the fight, the Joker gets away with the gun as Batman has The Hulk taken away and once he becomes Banner again as Bruce Wayne he is given a job to help himself find a cure. The Joker is working for The Shaper of Worlds who lives off the dreams of humans who needs the gun in order to get his mind on straight for he is slipping into madness. After the gun fails to give him what he needs he sets his sights on The Hulk and wants to drain him of his gamma power in order to cure himself.  This eventually leads to Batman and The Hulk teaming up against The Joker who has been granted a wish to become a bender of reality and uses his power to torment the heros in an Alice in Wonderland environment that leads to Batman outsmarting the Joker and making him fry his own brain out. In the end The Shaper leaves Earth, Banner moves onto the next town, Batman is still Batman and The Joker is nuts in a asylum.

This works really well, and while Batman holds his own against The Hulk when they fight it makes sense as he just outsmarts the brute at any chance he gets. While I am a huge fan of The Hulk and only like Batman, I can see why some fans get upset that The Hulk just doesn’t crush Batman where he stands, but to that I would say if he just smashed him the comic would only be like two pages long. Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne come off smart and caring as he seems to really feel for Banner and even The Hulk.  The way he is able to team up with The Hulk and get his help when needed is pretty good stuff. The Hulk and his alter ego Bruce Banner come off as they always do, a man sad with a curse and a monster who just loves to smash things when he is pushed. Who would have thought that one of the comic world’s smartest character could team with one of the child like minded characters and they would make such a great team. The Joker plays the henchman to The Shaper and comes of scared of this giant alien who wants all the dreams, and when he goes mad with power its a true sign of just how crazy he is. The Shaper Of Worlds is more of a Mind Freak like Criss Angel as in he just messes with characters minds and don’t really fight in the war that breaks out in his new Earth Warehouse base. My favorite moment of the Batman and Hulk fight is when Hulk has Bats in a bear hug and is crushing his spine, and Batman does this karate chop to his ears making him go deaf for a moment and dropping him, good classic comic stuff. The story in this one is well written.  The art is fantastic, and the cover is super eye catching this one is great and only slightly less awesome then the Superman vs. Spider-Man comic, well worth checking out for fans of Hulk or Batman.

Batman kick hulkHulk Batman super fighthulkbatman2

Now let’s get onto the fantasy warfare of The Incredible Hulk fighting Batman if they were real people. For this one we have to go with the Adam West Batman from the 1966 ABC show called, you guessed it, Batman and for The Hulk we would go with Lou Ferrigno version from the 1977 CBS show The Incredible Hulk. Let’s set the fight up at a Horror Convention in Salem, Massachusetts and see who would win this fight!

Batman Adam WestVSHulk and David

A horror convention is near closing down for the night as guests like Vincent Price, Horror Host Sammy Terry and Christopher Lee are packing up when a drifter comes walking by.  It’s David Banner and he has his backpack close and his eyes to the ground when a masked man dressed as Phantom of The Opera runs by and grabs the backpack knocking David down, and as one final insult the thief kicks David in the ribs causing pain and anger.  As the transformation starts to happen, the Batmobile pulls up and Batman jumps into action giving the thief and pow and a bang to the jaw.  As Batman is about to use the batcuffs on the snatcher, The Hulk appears and is not happy as Batman sprays his batmace into the brute’s eyes causing the green skinned monster to swing wild and smashing the Batmobile into scarp iron.  Batman then pulls out some of his anti-bully batgas pellets and throws them in the direction of The Hulk who by now is seeing red through his burning eyes and as the gas comes out he lets out a thunderclap that blows the smoke back at Batman who is now blinded.  As Batman waits for the smoke to clear, the Hulk is on him and with one powerful blow to the top of the head of Batman he is able to crush the caped crusader into a pile of hamburger meat. As Batman lies dying, The Hulk runs way into the woods next to the convention center to later change into David Banner and not remember the fact he killed the world’s silliest detective.

Winner – The Incredible Hulk

Was it any surprise that The Hulk would win? So in this update we took a look at Horror Hosts, Godzilla in Nike Shoes, Spider-Man fighting Superman and Batman and The Hulk Teaming up.  I hoped you all enjoyed. But the VS. don’t end here with this blog as next time we will take a look at a great mini series from Topps Comics that pits Frankenstein’s Monster against Count Dracula! We will also take a look at the old Independent B Movie film I directed called Werewolf of Ohio 2: 10 Years Before, so until then stay nerdy and read a good comic series for me.

Frankenstein Dracula Logo 

It Takes All Kinds Of Critters…To Read IDW’s Motel Hell

So last update we took a look at IDW’s “IT! Terror From Beyond Space,” and this update we are going to look at Motel Hell, thus far the second and last in IDW’s Midnite Movie comic series. From an early age I found myself drawn to horror films, and some of my first memories of TV were of watching Shock Theater hosted by Dr. Creep, Star Trek, MTV and wrestling making my likes from an early age fantastic, scary and over the top entertainment. My brother Bryan was also very much into horror films and would get old Fangoria & Starlog Magazines from time to time, and one image always stuck with me and that was an ad for an older issue that had a man with a chainsaw and a pig’s heads! Being little, I called him Pig Head Guy and thought Motel Hell was about this killer Pig who killed with a saw.  This image made my imagination run wild as I pictured sexy blonde ladies being chased by this pig killer who would oink super loud as the women would scream at the top of their lungs. In my mind this was a slasher film with a mutant Pig Man! My brother never seemed to show it as much attention as me but would also call him Pig Head Guy when we spoke of the film we both had never seen. But my version of the film was about to come to an end thanks to a childhood icon of mine, and through him I was about to see the real story of the Pig Head Man!

The Pig is LawFangoria 9Farm Land Massacre

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, TV had many great horror hosts, many of whom I watched and some of whom are the key reasons why I make movies and shows now, and on one of these horror host shows is where I got to see Motel Hell for the first time and that show of course was Commander USA’s Groovie Movies! When the movie was about to be shown I remember being super hyped to see this killer Pig Man do all types of evil things, and after watching it I felt let down.  In fact, the version of what the film really was to me was only a so-so slasher film that packed very little punch to younger me. After viewing it the first time the charm of Pig Man who I found out was really farmer Vincent Smith who was a mortal man who killed people to make into meat snacks and only puts the pig head on in the final moments of the film in a crazed state, wore off and I soon forgot about the film. The film would run again on USA’s Saturday Nightmares, a great little block of horror inspired program that would show a film and TV shows like The Hitchhiker and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but I would skip the showing of the film and watch the horror shows after. The next time I would see this film was when my brother rented it from K&L Video, and we gave the film another shot.  Now in my late teens, I found the film to be a fun cheesy film that had some good horror moments.  I would then see it again years later hosted by Joe Bob Briggs on TNT’s Monstervision and again found it to be fun, but I am sure Joe Bob also made the watching of it more so fun. After all these years a film that after seeing it crushed my vision of it, still remains a fun silly, cheesy, hammy watch that I have grown to like.

Commander USA!USA Saturday NightmaresJoe Bob Briggs

Motel Hell is about Farmer Vincent Smith and his fat and nasty sister Ida Smith who kill people along side the road and who stop at their motel called The Motel Hello.  They mix the human meat with pig meat to make meat snacks like beef jerky and BBQ. But Vincent, who is an old man, falls in love with a young woman who he has caused to get memory loss after he kills her boyfriend.  Their human crop, who they bury and remove the vocal cords from, are getting fired up to fight back. Throw in brother and cop Bruce Smith, and you have one bad situation. I don’t want to spoil to much of the film so I will stop here. The film has been put out on many home media like VHS, Laserdisc and DVD making it easy to find for those who would like to check it out.

Motel Hell VHSMotel Hell LaserdiscMotel Hell DVD

One thing before we get into this review, much like last update in which I noticed the rise of super cute nerd girls who read comics, play Magic and dress up as characters,  with all this talk of pork, I need to talk about this weird trend of hot girls who love bacon! Bacon is a greasy mostly breakfast food that is known for being bad for you.  Fast food places like Wendys add bacon to many of their cheeseburgers and for the most part this food product is junk food. But somewhere along the way girls have found that this pork product is good comfort food and has now become an obsession to some. Bacon is now everywhere in culture from stuff dolls, tattoos, shirts, bras, fetish pics, chip dip, hot sauce, lip baum, gummi candy, bubble gum, vodka, sandwich spread, breath mints, books, popcorn, potato chips, car air fresheners, cup cakes, more fast food burgers and the list can go on and on! While I don’t get the love of bacon, I find that if you love it then enjoy it just don’t get the tattoos.

Bacon GirlSlab of BaconBacon Girls

Now let’s get down to the review of IDW’s 3 issue mini series of Motel Hell! Just a reminder once again I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, its art and story. And after I will throw in another review for an old Marvel horror comic. All the comics on this update are thanks to the team up of Mavericks Cards and Comics, Game Swap Kettering and a special thanks to Bell, Book and Comic for having Motel Hell issue 1 after mine went missing, so thanks Pete! 

Motel Hell 1Motel Hell # 1  **1/2
Released in 2010   Cover Price $3.99   IDW Comics   #1 of 3

Farmer Vincent Smith and sister Ida are back, and this time besides making their famous smoked meats they are also making fine wine! And they start the issue off attacking a family with twin girls. Holly Bell is a reporter who has been sent to write a story about the wine the Smiths are making and is a guest to the Motel Hello Spa alongside wannabe rock star Sage, Desirae a rich bitch, con man Joss, perverted old man Rupert and NFL star and dog killer Freddie. The group climbs aboard a run down old plane and are taken to the Motel Hello Spa, but the first night the peace and quiet are disrupted as the plane takes off.  Ida, now in Pig Mask, has Sage tied up and dead bodies all around and jumps from the plane leaving him to die in the crash. The other guests watch in horror, and so ends issue 1.

This first issue is a little disappointing and changes the whole core of who and what the Smiths do! The idea of them inviting all these high profile people to the motel to kill is a little over the top and leaves way too many openings on how they will be caught.  I mean I understand they want the outside world to believe that they all died in the staged plane crash, it just seems overdone. Vincent seems more off his rocker in this one and seems to snap in and out of being sweet farmer and raving lunatic. Ida in this issue the main killer who plops on the pig mask and does all the killing.  She also seems to enjoy humping some of the victims again changing her film tomboy nature. The issue has some blood and gore, and while well done, the story so far just seems to be lacking something to really draw me in. The art is pretty cool, and I enjoy the dark nature of the presentation. The cover is really well done and has the American Gothic Painting nature to it. The comic has some basic elements of the film but has taken many liberalities with the source materials that thus far I am not sure how I feel about. Plus how the hell are Vincent and Ida still around after the events of the film? Over all the series is starting slow but let’s see how issue 2 does and if it can bring this so far average series up a notch or two. 

Motel Hell 2

Motel Hell # 2  **1/2
Released in 2010   Cover Price $3.99   IDW Comics   #2 of 3

The next morning the group meets for breakfast, and Freddie gets insulted by Vincent.  The old farmer uses a stun gun to knock out the young man and forces the rest of his guests outside for a long hike. Freddie is taken and becomes Ida’s plaything, as Vincent takes them 3 miles out and explains to them no matter which way they walk they will never leave Motel Hello alive! They are then forced back into their rooms and the doors are locked.  Freddie meanwhile wakes up in a cage where Ida lets her giant pet Boar attack him.  After he’s badly hurt Vincent and Ida try and pry the boar off and so ends issue 2.

This issue is the same as the first and seems to be lacking something.  Being the second in the series and next issue being the last, it makes me worried that the end of this story is going to be so badly rushed. More of the same in this issue as Vincent this time lets more of his evil side out and lets his guests know he has a greater plan for them all.  Ida is once more a fat crazy sex craved killer, and both brother and sister wear the pig masks. Holly who is clearly the main hero of the story don’t seem to have much to do in this issue and makes you wonder how much of a threat is she to the killers. The rest of the group seem to be throw aways and none of them seem like good likeable characters. This one has blood as well but has no kills. The giant pet boar is funny and its name Hogsquatch reminds me of the legend boar himself Hogzilla. The art is the same as last issue so it’s good.  The plot is a little lack luster, and the cover this time around is kind of lame. Let’s see if the 3rd and final issue will be a gem in this slightly disappointing series. 

Motel Hell 3

Motel Hell # 3  **1/2
Released in 2010   Cover Price $3.99   IDW Comics   #3 of 3

Freddie is taken and buried to where only his head is out, as Joss and Rupert escape their motel room only to be captured by Ida. Holly and Desirae also escape but are seen by Vincent who wants to turn it into a cat and mouse game. After running, the two woman find the twin girls locked up in a barn and free them only to be ambushed by Ida, who kills Desirae and is then attacked my Holly with a hammer.  Before she can kill the fat crazy bitch, Vincent comes to his sister’s aid. With Holly tied up and the twins on the run, they release Hogsquatch to bring them back. Vincent and Ida go to work on making their next wine batch that is made of human eyes that they get from all the captured guests as the twins free Holly.  Together they make a plan that leaves brother and sister dead as well as their giant pet boar.

This final issue seems rushed, and the story is not fleshed out making it a disappointing read. The way they blow through all the guests this issue just seems tacked on and not impactful, as are the “deaths” of the bad guys, Vincent and Ida go down way to easy and the end “fight” is a rushed anti climatic way to end the terror. The fact they use human eyeballs in the wine is also not as shocking as I think they were hoping it would be, if you have seen the film you knew that the secret had to be some human body part. Holly who turns out to be the hero to no ones shock seems cold blooded as she sets the place on fire with some of her eyeless fellow guests still alive. Using the Twins at the end was a fun nice twist as they add a little humor and spice to the plot. The art in this one also seems as rushed as the plot making the final issue an average read. This issue does step up the blood and for those who hate eyeball violence, you might not want to read this series. Issue 3 was not the saving grace I was hoping it to be, and oh yeah why the hell does Vincent start talking about Charles Manson as he’s “dying”?

Motel Hell was a comic mini series that had lots of potential but never seemed to reach it.  While the film’s plot was a dark comedy horror style, this comic series seemed more of a rushed horror comic that tried to spice up the characters. First Vincent, while the character is a psycho he never was as mean spirited in front of multiple people nor would he have given away the fact he wanted to kill them all that easily. Ida, while a stone cold bitch of a character never was a sex crazed rapist. But in this comic mini series they both did the stuff mentioned and then some. Plus were the hell is Bruce Smith, their brother and Terry, the woman he kidnapped in the film? They just seem to be phantoms. Motel Hell the comic was a letdown much like the film was when I first viewed it many years back, making this second Midnite Movie IDW mini series an average at best horror comic that packs some blood and gore, cult horror characters, a rushed storyline and good art. This one changed the source material, and I think by doing so is what lead to the so-so run of the series. IT! was a fun surprise that I found entertaining, Motel was just a nice warm up for what I hope are more Midnite Movie mini series to come.

Motel Hell artFarmer VincentPig Head Hump

Marvel Comics has also had its share of great classic horror inspired comic series that chilled the bones of the youth of the past. Many great titles like Tomb of Dracula, Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing, Monster of Frankenstein, Ghost Rider and many more kept the youngsters reading as they hid under cover late at night with flashlights and read these spooky issues. But some but not many of today’s readers remember a series called Uncanny Tales From The Grave or also known as Uncanny Tales, Marvel’s Tales From The Crypt style comic. But what the series really was reprints of past old short horror comics crammed together to make a new series from. So while we can, let’s take a look at issue 5 in this series and see how good it holds up to a first time reader. 

Uncanny Tales From The Grave 5

Uncanny Tales From The Grave # 5   **1/2
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25   Marvel Comics   #5 of 12

4 stories to chill your blood in issue 5 of Marvel’s Horror comic. “The Strange Machine” is set during the Spanish Inquisition and has a mean ass judge getting what’s coming to him via his own hands when he tries to set up his rival. In “A Little Pain Never Hurt Anybody” a dentist is cruel to his wife and patients, and when he comes home and finds a world famous brain surgeon hitting on his wife he snaps! But the Dentist has one slight issue with passing out and when he awakens it’s revenge time by the hands of his enemy. “The Man in Black” ia a cold hearted spy who comes to America to steal weapon plans but makes a big mistake that could lead him to his own death. In “The Little Pests,” a man and his girlfriend kill his wife for the insurance money, but the truth might come out thanks to some winged insects.

This is a very cheap imitation of Tales from the Crypt that crams 4 reprinted stories into an issue and passes it off as a bone chilling read. Each story is a bloodless horror thriller with a twist ending that is set to shock. The big issue with this comic is the fact none of the stories stick out and there was no host such as Vault Keeper or Old Witch to keep the pacing up and to add some spice to the mediocre stories. The best story out of the 3 has to be The Little Pests.  While it’s simple in nature, the shocking pay out in the end is well done. The art in the comic ranges from good to so-so as do the stories themselves. The issue’s cover is super misleading and nowhere in the issue does this take place with a raving monster, in fact there is not a monster to be seen! Over all this is my first time reading an issue of Uncanny Tales From The Grave, and this did not make me a fan.  While I would be fair and check out another issue, I am not going to be in any hurry.

So we stayed three issues at Motel Hell and then got an uncanny tale.  Now it’s time we say goodbye for now but I am sure you’re wondering what the next update is going to be.  Well in my youth one thing would always make me happy in comics and film, epic battles between two things that shouldn’t be fighting but are.  So next update, we will be looking at battles in comics that are so amazing you will be cheering for a side and finding out who I think should have won! So see you next update, and get ready for some epic rumbles!

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Top 10 Should Have Beens In The Star Comics World

Welcome back to my blog, and thank you for reading my trip down memory lane mixed with pulp culture and things that still fascinate me to this day. Last blog I mentioned that Marvel pulled the plug on Star Comics after only a four year run, and I then mentioned that during that time they missed lots of great stuff that could have made some some great comic adventures.  What if they were still around to this day; what great stuff might have come from this?  After thinking about this, I decided that this blog entry will be my top 10 properties that should have been turned into a Star Comic.  Then Part 2 will show some friends and family’s top 5 picks, so sit back and enjoy!

#10 

Adams Family Logo

They are spooky, kooky and an all around fun time for the young and young at heart.  This off the wall family have been around for many years and have been in every kind of media from comic strip, TV, movies, games and books.  In 1938, Charles Addams created The Addams Family (Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Puggsly, Fester, Gramama, Lurch & Thing), and the comic strip was published in the New York Times and was a popular read for the masses. In 1964 ABC aired The Addams Family in which live actors like John Astin, Coralyn Jones, Ted Cassidy and other actors played the parts of the family. The series ran until 1966 and had good solid ratings. Then in 1973, Hanna Barbara made an animated series that ran for a year and featured silly adventures of the family done in the style of Scooby-Doo.

the_addams_family_1964-showAddamsFamilyAnimatedDVDAddams-Family-cartoon

In 1977, a new live action special was made called “Halloween with the New Addams Family,” and while John Astin and most of the original cast returned to play the characters they did many years before, the magic seemed to be gone and the special was only so-so. In 1992 they tried an animated series again that only lasted one year, “The Addams Family: Animated Series.”  This series also inspired some action figures from Playmates. The kooky family’s next major break was the 1998 film starring Raul Julia, Angelica Houston, Christina Ricci and Christopher Lloyd.  The film was a hit and made The Addams Family a household name once again. The film sparked two sequels, video games, novels, pinball game and lots more merchandise. While many other small Addams Family specials and such were made, the two most impactful were the 1964 ABC show and the 1998 Paramount film, but the 1992 cartoon series also holds a special place in my heart.

halloween-with-the-new-addams-family2The_Addams_family_cartoon 90sMovie Poster

Now let’s talk the merchandise for a moment to show the popularity of the Addams Family.  Many amazing products were made including a fun kiddie board game from Milton Bradley based on the 1973 Cartoon.  In 1965, Ted Cassidy made a song and dance craze called The Lurch.  The amazing NES Video Game System had several games including the very hard “Festers Quest”, and even a breakfast cereal was made to go along with the 1998 movie. All this was in addition to toys from Playmates, and many more fun and silly products. I used to eat the cereal and was always happy to get a box because they used to give away free mini flashlights as a prize! I still have my Lurch and Fester flashlights to this day. I also spent many hours along side my brother Bryan and friend Mike Cessna playing Festers Quest and never beating it. As for the Play Mates toys based on the 1992 Cartoon, the only one I ever owned was Lurch and he came with a old pair of sheers.  It was a cool toy for the time.

TedCassidy-TheLurch45AddamsFamily boardgameAddams-Family-cereal

But before I go into why Star Comics should have created a comic based on The Addams Family, I do need to touch up on the fact that a mini series was made by Gold Key Comics based on the 1973 cartoons. The 3 issue run came out in 1974, the year the toon was canceled, and featured silly very kid friendly stories. As always the people at Whitman comics always republished what Gold Key had released the same year. I’m not sure why the comics only lasted three issues, but it might have had to do with the fact the cartoon was canceled within a year, leading me into my pitch of what Star could have done.

Addams Family 1Adams Family 2Adams Family 3

If Star Comics were around in 1992, the issues would be based on the cartoon and would follow the family doing all types of silly stuff from going to the beach to having normal yet odd holidays such as Thanksgiving and the 4th of July. While the main stories would follow Wednesday and Puggsley to gain the kid crowd, it could also follow Lurch and make the silent and hulking butler a main focus.  As an example, he goes to camp with the Addams kids, and they get lost in the spooky woods,  While other kids are scared, The Addams kids and Lurch are having a blast. The rest of the family would be shown and highlighted as well. Say what you want about the Addams Family, but they are nice spooky kid-friendly characters that would been pleasing in a comic series from Star. I am guessing if this comic would have been made it would have run for at least 3-4 issues before the plug was pulled like so many before it, but I guarantee that those issues would have been a fun time for those who enjoyed the cartoon.

#9 

hey dude logo

Hey Dude was a popular live action show on Nickelodeon in 1989 that followed workers at a dude ranch called the Bar None owned by a city slicker named Mr. Ernst and his young son Buddy. Workers included Ted, a smooth talking ladies man and Danny, a local Native American.  They were joined by blonde cutie Melody and rich horse trainer Brad.  All the staff are in their teens and are joined by Lucy who is the overseer of the workers and is in her late 30’s/early 40’s. The show revolved around the Ranch, and the silly wars the boys and the girls would get into over petty things.  The show also built up sexual tension between Brad and Ted adding some teen drama to the mix. In my youth this was one of my favorite shows and was one of the best live action shows of the time on Nick. It also sparked my second major celebrity crush as I had the hots for Kelly Brown who played Brad.  I also found Christine Taylor really hot!   But my first major crush (that I still have to this day) is Danielle Harris, but that’s for another entry.

TedChristine Taylor MelMr. E

Hey Dude ran for five seasons and was canceled in 1991.  During that time, the Ted character came and went and Jake was introduced who was Mr. Ernst’s nephew from L.A. who was also kind of after Brad.  The show was a staple of my youth, and I can’t count the times I watched the same episodes over and over, having a blast doing so. I was so bummed when the show went off the air and was shocked by the little merchandise the series got. To this day besides the DVD season releases by Shout Factory, the only item I can think of was a novel called “Hey Dude: Show Down at the Bar None”.

Hey Dude BookBrad and TedHey Dude DVD

Besides the stunning Brad, one of my favorite characters from the show was Danny Lightfoot, a Hopi Indian who was not only wise but also a total goofball who loved to fuel the fire of Ted’s numbskull ideas and bets. But during many episodes Danny would always explain that his people were the ones who created a custom or food item, and this sparked my brother to always walk around and make fun of the character by asking if “Danny and his people created that.”  It was all in good fun, and just the other day on the phone he even referenced it again! I am sure that one of the reasons I really liked the character is because both my Grandfather and Grandmother are part Native American, as were my great-grandparents and so on before them.

Danny

If Star Comics was still active in 1989, they could have reached out to a teen audience and did some issues about the Bar None Ranch and its workers. The comics could have followed Ted and Danny (and maybe Jake depending on when the comic was made) as they got into trouble and adventures in and around the ranch. It could also have built up the flirting of Ted and Brad giving female readers some romance to keep them interested as well. Another fun aspect that they could have played up on in comics would be cowboy ghosts and Native American spirits and beliefs, giving it a little more action and adventure. But with this show airing a year after Star was shut down, we’ll never get to know if this show would have gotten the Star treatment. I will say in closing that it’s about damn time this show saw a DVD release, so a big thanks goes out to Shout Factory. And my guess it would have lasted at least 4-5 issues.

#8

Tales From Cryptkeeper

In 1950, EC Comics was making horror comics called “Tales from the Crypt,” “The Vault of Horror” and “The Haunt of Fear.”  Each issue was hosted by a grim yet tongue in cheek host such as The Crypt Keeper, The Vault Keeper or The Old Witch. The comics were filled with ghouls, blood and grim stories and were crowd pleasers to young readers. But much like many things over the years, parents hit the roof when they found that their children had been reading comics about murder, death and ghouls. So like any good crazed, tightly-wound parent would do, they protested the company and the comics and had a massive bonfire in which hundreds of copies of the classic comic were burned making original copies highly collectible.  EC also sparked the comic code, that tried to ban comics that found unsuitable for children and eventually causing the demise of EC in 1955 after dipping sales and the overly huge backlash of parents, teachers and the comic code.

Tales From The Crypt ComicVault Of Horror ComicHaunt of Fear Comic

But the Crypt Keeper came out of the ashes in 1972 when a live action movie starring horror legend Peter Cushing was made, taking many of the comics’ old stories and adapting them to film.  The film’s plot had a group of strangers who were on a tour and get lost and end up in a tomb like area where the Crypt Keeper tells them strange and brutal stories with each person as the lead.  Of course, this all has a twist ending. In 1973 a sequel was made called The Vault of Horror, and it followed the same formula as the first but this time the guests are trapped in an office building. In 1989, HBO made a hit TV series out of the comic that ran for 7 seasons and had the Crypt Keeper acting almost as a horror host, introducing each episode with a touch of comedy and skits. With the HBO series came films based on the show like Demon Knight, Bordello of Blood and Ritual, making this the most popular version of the comic to come alive. In 1993, a Saturday morning cartoon was made for ABC called Tales from The Crypt Keeper that featured kid-friendly horror stories hosted by an overly silly Crypt Keeper who still had a mean streak. In season two, the Keeper also found himself at war with old rivals the Old Witch and Vault Keeper, and this was the formula for that whole season. After season two ABC pulled the plug on the series, but it was only gone a short time as NBC picked up a third season in 1997 and changed the format and animation.  This only lated one season.

Tales From The Crypt PosterTales from the Crypt TVetales from the cryptkeeper DVD

Both the live action HBO show, and the cartoon sparked merchandise for kids and collectors.  There was a pinball machine, talking dolls, action figures, shirts, Halloween masks and decorations and of course reprints of the old comic. My brother had one of the talking dolls, dressed in a tux who said a few hammy lines from the HBO show, and he of course got the reprint comics. I didn’t get any merch until many years later and own a few of the toys based on the animated series and also own a Halloween mask of the Crypt Keeper. Like all merchandise, these things helped keep the Crypt Keeper in the minds of the masses.

Crypt Keeper ToyCrypt PinballCrypt Keeper Halloween

So again in order for Star Comics to make issues based on the 1993 cartoon, they would have had to hang on and been given a better chance by Marvel. But this would have been a no brainer and would have just followed the formula of the cartoon and the original comic series and could have had The Crypt Keeper telling cheesy kid friendly stories that all ended with a lesson learned, never really pushing the envelope to cross the line into making them too gruesome. I know as a kid I would have eaten this up.  I grew up watching horror films and horror hosts, and this would have been a series that I would have bought like clock work. The animated version of the Crypt Keeper was green in color, and his attitude seemed to be that he was your friend telling you a spooky story to have fun alongside you.  This would had transferred perfectly to comic. It’s a shame that Tales From The Crypt Keeper never did get a comic, and Star would have been the perfect company to do so.

Sherlock KeeperKeeper season 2 dvdtopten_cryptkeeper

On a side note, back in the days of Waynesville I owned one of those mini black and white portable TV’s, and FOX got the rights to rerun the HBO series.  So I would turn off all the lights in my room and shut the door and would watch Star Trek: The Next Generation and then Tales From The Crypt. It was a fun time at night that allowed me to see the show.  I am sure many of you readers remember this showing and have fun memories of watching. Oh yeah, and if Star were to have done comics for Tales from the CryptKeeper, I would have guessed a 5 issue run.

#7 

Conan Adventure Logo

In 1932 Robert E. Howard created Conan The Barbarian and wrote his adventures for Weird Tales Magazine, and the character became a hit with the fantasy world. In 1950 his stories started to be turned into paperback novels and were taken not only from Howard’s writings but also other authors who wrote of his journeys. In 1970 Marvel Comics began the comic series “Conan The Barbarian” that spawned spin offs like Red Sonja, Kull and King Conan. The main series ran for 275 issues and stopped being made in 1993. For many years no comics came out based on the raven haired brute, then in 2003 Dark Horse Comics picked up the licenses and Conan is still coming out as of 2013. This is only the literature part of Conan’s vast history, and this is only a quick sampling.  This part could have gone on and on!

Conan The Conqueror novelConan the Barbarian 44Conan DarkHorse

Conan was such a hit that for years many other merchandise came out including video games, t-shirts, board game, toys and statues, all these making fans of Conan very happy. Some of the most popular ones are the Remco 5 ½” action figures that were just generic Masters of the Universe cash-in’s that came out in 1984.  To this day, they fetch lots of money on Ebay and toy conventions.  Of course the video games that have been made for systems such as Commodore 64, PC, NES, PS2, PS3 and Xbox 360. While none of the games did well critically, I found the PS3 game to be very fun and the NES game, while crappy, is still a fun goofy play. It’s a shame that the PS3/Xbox 360 game did not sell well because this caused THQ not to give it a sequel.

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Now for Conan in film and TV, a fun journey for all! In 1982, a film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was released.  The film was a blood bath that had Conan going after Tulsa Doom, the leader of Set worshipers who was responsible for his parents’ death and him being sold into slavery. The film follows Conan as he grows up and gets revenge. The film is amazing and is in my top 10 films for sure.  In 1984, a sequel was made called Conan the Destroyer, and sadly this film took a PG-13 route and took out all the over the top blood shed of the original and tried to make it more kid-friendly and has Conan trying to protect a young princess from a wizard.  While not called by name, Schwarzenegger once again played a Conan-like character in the 1985 film Red Sonja. In 1992 Conan The Adventurer,the animated adventures aired, early mornings and followed Conan and his friends as they try and stop the evil Wrath-Amon who was the priest of Set who needs the star metal to be free once more.  It lasted 65 episodes and also spawned a second animated series that flopped called Conan and the Young Warriors that only lasted 13 episodes. Then with the success of Hercules and the Legendary Journeys TV producers thought why not try a show that’s hammy and base it around Conan, and thats what happened in 1997 with a show simply called Conan.  German bodybuilder Ralf Moller played the title role, and the show followed him and his friends’ adventures through 22 episodes. Finally in 2011, the Conan movie franchise got rebooted with Jason Momoa as the Barbarian. Although some were not as good as others, Conan has had a good run in film and TV.  The TV shows and the 2011 film were not well received, but still gave fans something new for the iconic character. In my younger days, I spent many hours watching the 1992 cartoon and watched the original 1982 more then any kid my age should have. 

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The 1992 cartoon is our focus and would be the best bet for Star to base a comic series around.  But before we get into that, let’s talk the terrible toy line that went alongside the cartoon. These things were large clunky pieces of plastic with terrible sculpts and bad paint jobs! I felt that way now and I felt that way then. I was and will always be a Conan fan and when the cartoon and toys came out, I was super hyped to see both. The cartoon lived up to my expectations and was a fun adventure cartoon, while the toys just sucked.  I only bought one, the Skeleton warrior Skulkur, and man what a disappointment.  From the moment I took it out of the package, I knew I was in trouble as the figure was stiff and had this terrible spin around action. No one else I knew in school had one of these figures making this one a school yard dud. To this day I do not have any of these figures laying around Independent B Movie studios (the place all my old toys are) nor will I ever get one of these abominations again. Oh yeah and the main Conan figure looks like a generic toy you would find on the shelves of Odd Lots/Big Lots.  In fact, I remember when these toys did flood those shelves.

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Much like Tales From The Crypt Keeper, this would be a no brainer run of comics.  The fact that Marvel was all ready putting out comics based on the Barbarian would have made this one an easy sale. The comic would have followed the same formula as the cartoon and would have Conan and his friends fighting bad guys like Skulkur and Wrath-Amon and trying to find hidden treasures, protect the star metal and such. Plus they could have used Needle, his Phoenixx sidekick more and made him just like Snarf in Thundercats or even Orko in Masters of the Universe.  Many more of the side characters like African Warrior Zula and Jezmine the female circus performer could also be showcased, and the characters could be fleshed out and given time to really shine . While the main Marvel book was geared towards teens and adults, this series could have captured the younger crowed. The issues could also have an underlying meaning like don’t steal or be nice to others and do it so slyly that the readers wouldn’t pick up on the fact they have just been taught a lesson in manners. I could see this series running 10 issues for Star before they pulled the plug on the series.  I think this one would have had a little life even after the cartoon was canceled.

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#6 rockafire explosion logoIn 1980 a pizza chain was born that was the rival to McDonalds in getting kids hyped up to go out to eat.  That place was Showbiz Pizza Palace. The restaurant had many gimmicks that were used to bring kids in such as arcade machines, ticket prizes, toys, and most famous was the animatronic band The Rock-A-Fire Explosion who would bring young and old there to see them perform. Showbiz became so big that they started to buy other pizza chains that were going under including Chuck E. Cheese. But the fun times came to an end in 1990, as Showbiz had some major changes in its business including a rebranding campaign.  This led to The Rock-A-Fire Explosion getting the boot and Chuck E. Cheese becoming the star of the show. While Showbiz and The Rock-A-Fire are gone they are not forgotten. I have many fond memories of Showbiz and going to birthday parties there and watching The Rock-A-Fire show and only somewhat liking the pizza.  I have never been a pizza fan, and I remember thinking that the pizza was mediocre at best. My younger cousin Steve, who I now work on many movies and TV shows with, was scared to death of the band and I think Fatz Geronimo was the one that terrified him the most.

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The Rock-A-Fire Explosion had many members that included Billy-Bob, a hillbilly bear with a great heart and who played bass guitar for the group.  He is the most popular of the members and was the pizza chains mascot.  Fatz Geronimo was a gorilla who sang and played piano for the group; at one time he was to be the main man of the group.  Beach Bear plays guitar and sings and is a surfing polar bear.  Looney Bird lives in an oil can and offers vocals.  Mitzi Mozzarella is a teenage mouse wearing a cheerleader outfit and sings.  Dook LaRue is a dog who wants to go to space and plays drums.  Lastly while not part of the band but acting as a warm up act was Rolfe deWolfe & Earl, a stand up comic wolf and his puppet. The band was huge and drew many people to the restaurant. While the stage show was animatronic, at times a man in a costume would walk around as Billy Bob and greet the guests in the arcade area. To this day people who grew up in the 80’s and have been to Showbiz Pizza have a special place in their hearts for The Rock-A-Fire.

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The company made lots of merchandise based on the band in order to make that extra dollar off the guests that included glasses, mugs, vinyl records, dolls, small toys, posters and so much more. In 2008 a documentary about the band was also made and showed just how in love people still are with the band and the idea of Showbiz Pizza. All the classic vintage items are huge collectors’ items and go for high prices on Ebay and conventions. In 2011, I was lucky enough to find a classic mini Fatz figure for only a $1.00!

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If Star Comics would have jumped on this popular kids attraction, they could have had a fun and silly comic on their hands and could have got major push by selling the comic at the pizza place.  Showbiz could have used the comic as a tool to try and draw more guests in. The concept of the comic could have followed that band as they toured the world and got into many off the wall adventures, I mean could you imagine Billy Bob in Japan or Russia?  Chuck E. Cheese also would be used and could have been written in as the bands manager giving that hat wearing rodent a push as well. Plus with all the band members all with different personalities, they could have had many funny moments just with the in-band fighting. But for some reason Star Comics just must not have seen how easy this comic would have been to make and how kids at the time would have eaten it up. Given Stars track record I would guess that this would have lasted 3 to 4 issues if it was made and would not have had a clear cut last issue. Here is to someone who I hope some day will make the comic based on these amazing characters that meant so much to so many kids of the time.

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#5

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In 1983, Tonka Toys brought out a line of changing robot toys called The GoBots.  The toys were simple and would change from robot to some sort a vehicle and were geared towards younger kids. At first, the toys sold really well and seemed to be building up steam even without the backing of a cartoon or comic to push it. But this ride at the top of changing robots came to a quick end when in 1984 Hasbro released The Transformers toy line in the United States. Fans flipped for Transformers and loved characters like Optimus Prime, Jazz and Bumblebee as well as the superior designs and tranforming abilities of the new figures. Gobots tried to fight back and in 1984; an animated TV mini series made by Hanna Barbera was released to compete with the Transformer cartoon called Challenge of the GoBots. While the cartoon did not do as well as its competitor, it did get full seasons starting in 1985 and ran for 65 episodes. In 1986 a theatrical film was made called GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords and released 3 months before Transformers The Movie.  The GoBots film was a flop and performed poorly at the box office and with critics. The toy line came to an end in 1987, ending the legacy for a short amount of time, until Hasbro bought the rights from Tonka and turned them into toys for kids under 5.

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Many people seemed to think that the GoBots toy line was the K-Mart version of the Transformers, and most think that they just followed the trend, but this is not the case.  While the toys were very cheaply done, they were still out a whole year before Transformers. The main bad downside to the toys was the fact that the joints would become super loose and your figure would lose an arm here and there.  I cannot count how many Cy-Kill toys I had that one of the arms would fall off. One of the other terrible aspects of the toys was the fact that most of their transforms were terrible and would be just a bend here or there, making them seem like bulky silly robots. Growing up I had many GoBots and used them when I played with Star Wars as other robots that would join in on battles or be at Jabba’s Palace. I think my two favorites in the toy line are the most popular characters, Cy-Kill and Leader One.  While they were nothing special, I found them to be pretty bad ass toys at a cheap price. I still find loose GoBots at Mavericks Cards and Comics and get a chuckle at seeing them.

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Besides the toys, cartoons and movie, many other merchandise was made based on the series that included a game for the Commodore 64, lunch boxes, Halloween costumes, magazines, coloring books, stickers and many more items. It’s odd that this property never did get a comic run from either Marvel or DC. It’s also odd much like the back lash of the toys many of the other items made based on the characters have negative vibes around them.  The Commodore 64 game is always ripped apart and is considered a turkey of a game.

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This is yet another easy one to make into a Star Comic and would have fit in with the rest of the properties that they all ready put out. Marvel Comics was already making Transformer comics for the older teen reader, and GoBots would have been a perfect way to get younger readers drawn into Marvel and to maybe push them towards books that were only a few years away. The plot of the comic would be the same as the cartoon and would have had Leader One and the good guys battling Cy-Kill and the evil robots. It could be a pretty cookie cutter format and could have relied on mindless robot battles with normal recycled plots. I know it’s sounding like I am saying that Star should have made a half ass comic series, but that’s not what I am really meaning at all. All I am saying is that this could have been a fun cheesy comic that was geared towards young readers.  I am sure I would have eaten it up even with tame and generic story lines, as would many other kids of that time. I think this would have lasted for about 12 issues if Star was to put it out and would have gotten a clear cut last issue. It’s a sad world we live in when Leader One never made it to a comic book in his prime.  What makes it worse is the ad below for the cartoon that is drawn in your typical Star art style, making me wonder if something was in the works and fell through when the film bombed and the toy line was on a decline making Star cancel the deal.  I guess we will never really know.

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#4

mad scientist logoWhen you were a kid in the 1980’s, lots of things came out that were related to horror and monsters.  In 1987 Mattel released a toy line that claimed to be Too Gross! Mad Scientist allowed you to be your own Dr. Frankenstein or even a Egor, if you owned a bendable Mad Scientist figure, and would allow you to create, dissect and melt your own creations. The line of toys also had dress up kits to become a crazy doctor yourself. In 1988 as well a very short lived animated cartoon was made that lasted two episodes called “Mad Scientist: Experiment of Error” and was only released on VHS. Weirdly as fast as it came, the Mad Scientist toy line disappeared in less than two years, making it one of those toy lines that made you wonder what just happened.  Many blame the NES for the death of this toy line that seemed to be gaining more attention than action figures.  Some also blamed the price of the playsets claiming that they were too expensive for parents to get for their kids.  All I can say is that it was a fun toy line that had some amazing animated/ live action commercials.

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My first introduction to this toy line was of course the commercials that aired during Saturday Morning Cartoons.  While they got my attention, I was not so hip to the whole chemistry set aspect of the toy line making me at first blow the whole line off as just another silly creepy toy. But then one day at school someone had a few of the figures on the playground.  They had Dissect an Alien where you removed the guts of a monster alien with slime in his belly and a bendable Mad Scientist figure.  I played with them both and really found the toys neat and offered to trade to get the Scientist figure.  To my shock, he did not want to trade but instead sold the figure to me for a dollar! This made my day and for weeks at home I would do odd little science experiments alongside my new figure. Next at KB Toys, a now dead toy store that was in the Dayton Mall, I found gummi bear style molds of creatures from the lab of the Mad Scientist and bought those and made plaster molds from them and spent time painting them to give to my Mom. Sadly I never owned any of the major play sets, but what little I did have from the toy line I enjoyed a lot.

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I know what you’re all thinking why, did he pick a toy line that for all accounts failed,  had a cartoon that never even made it to TV, as his # 4.  Let me tell you why. I think that one of the big reasons this toy line failed is the lack of real push from Mattel.  I think they lost interest in it fast and never fully saw the potential in its appeal. If Star Comics would have made this into a comic, I think that it would have kept the line a little fresh in kids’ eyes and might have made it last a little longer. The comic could have followed The Mad Scientist and let’s say a every day normal boy who helps him in all his wacky experiments that of course go wrong! You could have issues where monsters escape and they must round them up, a potion that makes The Mad Scientist normal and his young friend must find a way to return him to his crazy self and many more plots like that. Not to mention think of all the monsters you could add.  As far as bad guys, you could have the town mayor be the one who wants to lock up the Mad Scientist and throw away the key. But sadly Star Comics was all ready on the verge of closing up, and this series never did make it to the light or I should say was never even considered. If this was a Star Comic though, I could almost guarantee that much like its shelf life on toy shelves, its comic stand life would also be short.  I see it only lasting for about 4 issues. It’s a shame this never happened I would have loved to read the adventures of a lunatic Mad Scientist!

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#3 

commander usas groovie movies LogoI have always been a fan of Horror Hosts, being young and watching scary films alongside them always seemed to make the film less scary and you felt protected by the hosts’ silly antics. Saturdays were always a fun day for me.  I would spend the mornings watching cartoons and eating cereal.  Every other week we would go shopping at Big Bear & Hearts, and then we would get home in time to watch Commander USA’s Groovie Movies on the USA Network! After the Groovie Movie was over, I would go to my room and play with toys or go out side and play ball tag (where we would play tag with a soccer ball that we would throw at others in the game) or even possibly record my own radio show via a tape deck and then at night it was time for USA’s Saturday Nightmares! Commander USA was a retired super hero that rented space under a shopping mall in New Jersey and would host a movie or two and would have some sort of crazy thing going on in his Video Vault. He was joined by his best friend and sidekick Lefty who was really just Commander’s right hand with a cigar ash smiley face drawn on. The show started in 1985 and ran until 1989, switching from Saturday to Sundays and was a staple of my youth. The thing about Commander USA, who was played by a great stage actor Jim Hendricks, was that during the movie you felt as if he really was watching the film along side you.  That’s something a really good host can do, is make you think he or she is watching whatever turkey they are showing this week. It’s odd looking back over my life and seeing just how many horror hosts motivated me to be the creative person I am today, hosts like the late great Dr. Creep, my “Dad” A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Joe Bob Briggs, Grandpa Munster, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Son of Ghoul, Sammy Terry and many more.  So to all of you hosts out there, thank you for doing what you do and inspiring people like me with your antics.

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Commander USA had very little merchandise, but what he did have was pretty cool as you could join his fan club that came complete with a membership card.  Also an official fanzine was made called ” Commander USA’s World of Horror”. Over the years his show has shown up on sites that offer his show on DVD-R’s and are worth getting if you want a nice flashback to a great era of the USA Network. Also Jim Hendricks is talked to in an amazing documentary about horror hosts called American Scary.  If you like horror hosts, this is a must-see.

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A comic book based on the adventures of Commander USA still needs to happen! Star Comics could have drawn in the horror kid crowd like myself by making issues about the Commander’s super hero ways in and out of the Video Vault! This comic series could have been played two ways, and both would have been good,  One could have followed him as he is retired and is forced back into action to save the day, like to find a purse snatcher that has been running wild in the mall above the Video Vault, or say stop an ice cream monster that has been made by a mad doctor who was mad when a store ran out of his wanted pair of gym shoes.  The second route they could have taken was to follow the Commander in his prime and to show him doing amazing feats like fighting super villains or going up against famous monsters like Dracula or Frankenstein’s Monster. This comic would have made me so happy and would be a series that I would have bought every issue back then and even to this day.  But if I know Star Comics like I think I do, I would say that if they did take a chance and make this comic, it would run 3-4 issues before they got cold feet and ended it. That’s one thing I will say, more horror hosts need comic books based around them.  At this time the only ones I can think of that have their own is Indiana’s icon Sammy Terry, Elvira and one about Wolfman Mac and his Chiller Theater . I think that a Baron Von Porkchop Comic will be coming your way soon, and I hope that these four books will trigger more comics about Hosts. With that to quote Commander, “Keep your nose in the wind… and your tail to yourself…”

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#2 

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In 1986 a plush doll that was aimed toward boys was released by American Greetings.  This doll was named My Pet Monster and was a blue furred, devil horned, sharp teeth, big nosed creature who was bound by bright orange handcuffs, and if those handcuffs came off he was said to come alive. The toy was one of very few plush dolls that was geared toward boys and to many people’s, surprise it was a huge success! The doll was so popular that many more were made in the line that included such beasts as Gwonk, Rark and Wogster. My Pet Monster warmed his way into hearts up into the early 90’s before the line went silent. In 2001 he came back for a second run but went through some changes.  While most of him looked the same, his nose and snarl looking teeth were way more tame, and this change was to please kids who found the original too scary. The rebirth was short lived but the doll now is a collectors item that kids of the 80’s will search for it to relive their youth. I never owned one of the original dolls but I do remember that a classmate had one, and he was a hit for the day on the playground when he came to school with his owner. I remember many of us going down the slide with him and spinning on the merry go round was a blast with our friend, My Pet Monster. The one I own is the 2001 rerelease that I found at a thrift store some years back.  It was in perfect shape and now even as I write this, he sits in an old vintage chair in my apartment looking at the TV. 

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My Pet Monster was so popular that is spawned many other merchandise and came to life in films and cartoons. My Pet Monster was made into kids books, coloring books, puzzles and a lunch box. In 1986 My Pet Monster also was made into a live action direct to video film, and had a young boy who when he got hungry would turn into the monster and get into all kinds of silly messes. The film was only moderately successful and has never made it to DVD or Blu-Ray. In 1987 ABC picked up a cartoon based on the toy line that followed a young boy named Max who was the keeper and best friend to the My Pet Monster who was more silly than scary. The cartoon ran for one season and had 16 episodes that can be found on DVD.

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If this were turned into a Star Comic, I would have skipped the film and cartoon and focused on the toy line itself.  The charm of the My Pet Monster was that when the orange shackles came off, he was free to act wild and crazy making the comic being able to go above and beyond with him going crazy in all types of areas. Like say he wanders to a school where a young man is picked on and watches as bullies keep making fun and shoving the kid around.  So My Pet Monster sees enough and talks the kid into un-shackling him and letting him show the bullies that it’s wrong to pick on others by pulling pranks and scaring them half to death.  Each issue could be a new kid with new issues and each time My Pet Monster is the problem solver, and while he is doing good things, he could still have a mean streak. This would have made many kids happy to see My Pet Monster in comic forum, and I am sure would have made Star a lot of money. I give this an 11 issue run with Star and I think it would have gotten a real final issue. It’s odd that this was never looked at to become a comic, and I believe that not only did Star/Marvel drop the ball on this, I think DC and Archie did as well.

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#1

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Now before you get all huffy and say that The Incredible Hulk is already a long running series with Marvel Comics, you should take another look as I am saying that one should have been made based on the 1978 live action TV show. So with that let’s look at the Hulk’s history

The Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner were created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in 1962.  Issue # 1 that shows how scientist Bruce Banner was hit with gamma rays trying to save a young hot shot Rick Jones.  When the moon was full Banner would turn into a super strong brute called the Hulk and became wanted by General Thunderbolt Ross and the US army. Originally the Hulk was grey skinned, and as the series matured a few issues they changed him to green and instead of the moon triggering his transformation, it happened when he was angry . The comic series was and is Marvel’s top comic based on a monster type character out lasting the likes of Werewolf by Night, Tomb of Dracula, Man-Thing, Godzilla and Monster of Frankenstein.  The Hulk has many great enemies that include the Leader, the Abomination, the Glob, Wendigo, the U-Foes, Absorbing Man, Dr. Samson and many more. In fact as I am all sure you know, Wolverine’s first appearance was in a Hulk issue (#181). The character became so popular that he even got his own comic Magazine called The Rampaging Hulk in 1977. The comic is still going strong to this day and doen’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.  I could spend pages and pages talking about this because the Hulk is my all time favorite super hero and the series is just so rich with plots and characters.  But I am here to get to the point of why Star should have made comics based on the TV show so let’s move on shall we.

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The Hulk was a fan favorite of kids who read comic books.  So they thought, hey why not make some cartoons based on the giant green monster and they did just that in 1966 as part of The Marvel Super Hero’s show that lasted 13 episodes. The 1966 series animation was based on the comic panels and was very crudely done, but still was a solid toon. Then in 1982, they gave it another go around this time the cartoon was just simple called The Incredible Hulk and was played along side Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.  The animation was better, and the plot’s were silly fun adventures but this one only lasted one season and 13 episodes as well. Many years would pass before they gave him another chance at the animation world, and 1996 marked his return to TV in animated form.  This one was called The Incredible Hulk as well and lasted two seasons and 21 episodes making it the longest running cartoon and had Lou Ferrigno come back to voice the Hulk. While this one was more up to date, I think it lacked the charm of the 1982 show which is my favorite. Sadly, none of the cartoons are out in the USA on legit DVD’s, and the only way you can see them is on Netflix, PAL Region 2 DVD’s or on Bootleg DVD-R’s. But I hope in 2012 they will be released for US fans.

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The Hulk has also had many action figures, and while some are based on his film appearances, other great old school ones have been made based on the comic and loosely on the live action show. My favorite one has to be the Mego Hulk.  While he is way off scale compared to the rest of the Mego collection, he still has a simple charm to him.  Plus fans of Wizard Magazine’s Toy Fair Issues will always remember him in their stop motion comics as a lunk head. Both small and large versions of the Mego dolls are worth tracking down and owning if you are a fan as well. I also really liked Mego’s Pocket Hero version of the Hulk because he was in scale with Star Wars and G.I. Joes. Lastly I have always had a soft spot for Toy Biz’s first Hulk toy that actions such as him bending a bar and smashing a soft rock. These four are just a drop in the hat of all the badass Hulk toys out there. One thing that always let me down is the fact Mattel never produced their Hulk figure for the Secret Wars line.  Many rumors say that he and The Abomination would have made it to series 3, and it’s a shame the line folded before then.

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The Incredible Hulk has also made his way into the video game world like in 1984 when “Questprode:Hulk” that was released for Commodore 64 and Atari Computers.  It was a text adveture game and marked the first video game to be based on the character. In 1994, a side scrolling action game was made for the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo called “The Incredible Hulk.”  While the game is by no means a masterpiece, it still is a fun button masher, and let’s you face some of your biggest foes like Abomination, Rhino and The Leader. In 1997 “The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga” came out for the Sony Playstation and the Sega Saturn and was a terrible action game plagued by bad controls. Next up was “Hulk” a 2003 game based on the movie by Ang Lee and was made for Sony Playstation 2, Xbox, PC and Nintendo GameCube. Then in 2005, a pretty badass game came out called “The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction” and was an open world mission based game that allowed you to go as rampaging as you wanted.  It came out for Playstation 2, GameCube and Xbox. Last on this list for now is a 2008 game made by Sega and based on the film starring Edward Norton called “The Incredible Hulk.”  It takes the same idea as Ultimate Destruction and just ties it into the move. On a side note an Atari 2600 game based on the Hulk was in the works but was never finished by Parker Brothers due in part to the video game crash of 83. The story goes that the game was almost done and this gives hope a ROM of it will be found soon because the cover box has been discovered. While none of the games above are groundbreaking, I did find each and every one of them a fun play through even if some of them made me want to scream.

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Many more great merchandise items have been made that include coloring books, lunch boxes, stickers, Halloween masks and costumes, banks, Halloween pales, board games, Colorforms, candy, toy boxes, shirts, shoes, hats and so much more. One of my favorite things as a kid was my brother’s and my Hulk toy box that was a purple base and the lid was a giant Incredible Hulk Head! We use to even take it outside and play with it putting it over our heads and stumbling around like little fools. Sometimes we would fill it with water and drop the figures inside it and act if it was a deep dark abyss. I miss that damn thing! Oh and my mom still has pages of an old Hulk coloring book I colored for her when I was like 4-5, showing that I have always loved The Hulk.

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We still have one more thing to cover about The Incredible Hulk and his impact on our culture and his popularity, and that’s Hulk at the box office. Hulk films have been made before the ones that made it to theaters but those will be separate from this due to the fact they tie into the TV show that I think should have been continued in Star Comics. The first film in theaters was Universal & Ang Lee’s 2003 film called HUL.  This film had Eric Bana playing Bruce Banner who as a child was given Gamma radiation by his father who worked for the government, who also happened to be The Absorbing Man.  The film’s Hulk was CGI and looked like a dated video game graphic.  This film was more drama then action and while it made money at the box office, it left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. In 2008 Universal tried to reboot the film and made THE INCREDIBLE HULK.  This time amazing actor Edward Norton played Bruce Banner, and while the Hulk was CGI, they got Lou Ferrigno to voice him. The film has Bruce on the run from the government and trying to learn to control The Hulk.  Oh yeah, throw in The Abomination for fun, and you have this fun smash’em up movie. Again this one did well in the theaters but not well enough for them to do a sequel.The Hulk was also in 2012’s Avengers the movie and steals the show as he smashes his way throughout the film.  While he only had two solo theater movies, many fan-made films have been made as well.

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In 1977, a movie pilot was aired on CBS based on the Marvel Comic called The Incredible Hulk and followed David Banner (they thought Bruce didn’t sound manly enough) who during a test overdosed his body on Gama Radiation.  When he becomes angry he grows into being a muscle bound green skinned monster know as The Hulk. David goes to his friend and fellow doctor Elaina, and together they try and find a cure, but when a snooping reporter named Jack McGee gets involved, an accident leaves Elaina dead.  David is thought to be dead as well, and The Hulk is blamed.  This was such a hit another made for TV movie was made, and in 1978 it became a full series that followed the same formula: David would go town to town changing his name to find work or to get one step closer to a cure, and Jack McGee would be on his heels looking for the big news story of The Hulk.  Bad things would happen, and The Hulk would come out and save the day.  Then David would be forced to leave in order to hide his secret. This show ran for 5 seasons and a total of 82 episodes. After the show was cancelled, made for TV movies were still being made. The show was one of my favorites, and I found myself glued to the TV whenever it was on.  I remember coming home from school and skipping the after school Disney Shows (Duck Tales, Gummi Bears, ect.) and trying to tune in a fuzz station on the kitchen TV that would show reruns of The Incredible Hulk.  To this day, the show remains my all time favorite! Lucky enough Universal, who owns the show, has released all seasons on DVD! I think the show was amazingly acted with Bill Bixby playing David Banner being one of the best portrayals ever in TV and film, and bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno was perfect painted green and playing The Hulk. Growing up Ferrigno was one of my heroes because of this show.

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A total of 5 made for TV films were made.  The first was the pilot that kicked off the series, and the second film “Return of the Incredible Hulk” quickly followed and had David/The Hulk having to help a young woman who is crippled and getting bad medicine from the family doctor and her step-mother. The first film to follow the end of the series was the 1988 film, “The Incredible Hulk Returns” and has Hulk teaming up with Thor to stop organized crime. Then in 1989 came “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” in which David Banner is framed for a crime and becoming The Hulk, he and Daredevil must clear his name and stop The Kingpin. Then in 1990 came the final film “The Death of The Incredible Hulk,” and it involves spies and the Hulk falling to his death in the end. Another film was planned, but sadly Bill Bixby lost his battle to cancer in 1993. When these movies were coming on, I know I drove my Mother and Father crazy.  That’s all I would talk about and when they would finally air the whole family would gather in the living room with a big bowl of popcorn and we would all watch the film. Times like that will always be an amazing memory of my youth and how great my family was. I remember also being so sad when in the final film The Hulk died.  While the way he died was pretty lame, it was sad because I knew that this was the end.

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Now let’s get down to it.  This live action show was made for comic books and should have continued in comic books.  Star Comics would have been the perfect home for it. The issues could have followed the style of the show and could have had David Banner going from town to town finding people in need and turning into The Hulk to save the day only to have to restart over again in the next issue. They could have picked kid-friendly issues and topics and tackled the “Just Say No To Drugs” attitude that was big at the time. The Hulk of the show was perfect for kid’s comics because he was never smacking animals or flying off the handle, he seemed to have a good childlike nature that showed him who was bad and who was good. Plus they could have had some of the better artists of Star work on the book and have the comic versions look just like the actors, making this truly fit in the same storyline of the TV Show. Plus they could have turned the planned yet never made film into a comic and gave us the fans young and old the real closer we needed for the series. While this doesn’t stand a chance I wish Marvel would even consider doing this now! This was a no brainer for Star Comics to do, but they really missed the boat on this one, due to the fact they owned the characters! I would say that if made this would have had a pretty long run for them something like 10-12 issues.

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So there you have it from Commander USA to The Incredible Hulk, you see what comics I would have been lining up for if Star/Marvel would have made.  In the next blog I’ll let some family and friends give you their top 5 choices! See you all next update.

HULK smash