The Rotten Ink From The Mummy’s Tomb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Universal Dracula: Blood Drive Countdown To Halloween

I Bid You Welcome! The moon is full, and we are at our third update in our countdown to Halloween.  A thick mist is covering the ground as we all wait for the carriage of Count Dracula to take us to his castle. This is an update that I have been looking forward to since I started Rotten Ink over three years ago.  As all you long time readers know, I grew up a Monster Kid and loved everything Universal Monsters. Not only did I have such things as a Christmas themed Frankenstein Monster t-shirt and VHS tapes of many of my favorite monsters, I also spent much of my time drawing pictures of Dracula and all of his Universal pals in art class and at home. This update I get to cover one of the true icons of Universal Monsters, the one who brought the studio back from approaching closed doors after having too many films that did not perform at the box office, a character that also brought Universal into the monster movie business again and proved that horror was a hit with moviegoers. I am of course talking about the 1931 masterpiece Dracula.  For this update we will be taking a look at not just the film and it’s Spanish counterpart, but also Universal Dracula in merchandise, culture, my connection to the film and the main attraction will be the Dark Horse Comics adaptation of this classic flick.  So let’s wait here at Borgo Pass for our ride to Castle Dracula and chat about Universal Dracula in film, comics, toys and more. And to be safe, if you believe the rumors about Count Dracula, you might want to wear those cloves of garlic around your neck!

Dracula 1931 Poster 0

Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was a hit when it was released in 1897, and in 1922 filmmaker F.W. Murnau made his silent masterpiece “Nosferatu” based around the book.  He did not, however, get permission to do so and he was sued and all prints of his film ordered to be destroyed. Lucky for us some prints of the film did survive but that’s for another update based on the comic adaptation of the film and the series that followed. During that time a young film producer named Carl Laemmle Jr. bought the film rights and wanted to make a silent monster movie that would follow in the footsteps of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom Of The Opera (1925) and wanted to use the script from the stage play, that was a huge hit on Broadway, and even Nosferatu for inspiration to bring his version to the silver screen that would not be a silent film but now a talkie. While casting Laemmie passed on stage actor Bela Lugosi who was the talk of the town for his performance of Dracula on the stage and talked to actors like John Wray, Ian Keith and Paul Muni, while the films Director Tod Browning wanted to cast Lon Chaney Sr., but sadly Chaney passed away from cancer before the film’s production started. Lugosi lobbied hard and tried all he could to get the role he felt he was born to play not only on stage but also on the big screen and finally won over Universal and the executives when he took the small pay of $500.00 a week for seven weeks of work. The production of the film was slightly disorganized as director Tod Browning was not fully behind the film and at times would even leave the set and have his cinematographer Karl Freund take over shooting and directing scenes.  You see, at the time of this film Universal had gotten away from making horror films as they thought it was beneath them as a company, but after some shake up from inside the company, horror films were back on the slate but not taken too seriously as the company had major financial issues.  In my opinion, that is why Browning didn’t take this film as seriously as he should have because he looked at it as a low budget throw away film. The film had its premiere at the Roxy Theatre in New York on February 12, 1931, and as part of its marketing Universal reported that people fainted while watching the film.  This helped the big buzz for Dracula when it opened wide two days later. Dracula was a gamble for the studio but proved to be a risk worth taking as it was a major hit and bringing in the highest profit for them in 1931 as it did better than any of their other films released that year. The film received mixed reviews with most being positive and some negatives with complaints that it wasn’t too scary and comparing it to the stage version.  But most all agreed that Bela Lugosi was fantastic as Count Dracula. I don’t want to get into the film’s plot as I feel that the Dark Horse Comic adaptation we will be reviewing will take care of that.  Instead I would like to talk briefly about the first time I saw Dracula.  The Christmas after the one that we first got our VCR, my brother Bryan bought me Dracula as a gift.  I was pretty excited to see it, as the year before, my parents got me Frankenstein and my love for Universal Monsters was at an all time high! Like before, after the Brassfield side of the family came and went from our house in Waynesville, we sat down as a family and watched it, and I was hooked and loved every second of it. Bela Lugosi, who I had drawn pictures of for years as Dracula, crept his way into my brain and became the true Count Dracula in my eyes. Dwight Frye, who played Renfield, a sad one-time sane man who becomes Dracula’s bug eating slave, is fantastic.  Edward Van Sloan plays a cool and wise Van Helsing, while Helen Chandler was stunning and well cast as Mina Seward, the woman who captures Dracula’s eye. So before we move on, I want to give a big thanks to my brother Bryan for getting me that VHS tape all those years back and allowing me to see the film that inspired monster kids for generations.

Dracula 1931 Still 1Dracula 1931 VHSDracula 1931 Still 2

In 1931, at the same time as the Browning production of Dracula, Universal was filming a Spanish language version, rolling at night after the American production wrapped for the evening, that was directed by George Melford and starred Carlos Villarias as Count Dracula.  The cast and crew had the lucky advantage of watching the dailies from the American production before they would film and would try to one up them with better lighting, angles and acting as they wanted to be the better of the two productions. While the two films are very similar and both filmed using the same script, the Spanish Dracula changed things up and tried to make scenes more creepy for the time and was able to push the “sex appeal” up a notch by allowing their actress, Lupita Tovar, to wear more risque clothing as she played Eva who took the place of Mina in this version. This version of this film was also a hit with moviegoers of the 30’s and chilled the bones of those who watched it. But over time, the film became lost and a print of the movie would not be found until the 1970’s when it was restored so that a new generation of horror fans could enjoy it. Many critics and fans think that the Spanish version is better than the American version, and while it’s fantastic, I still find the Lugosi version of Dracula to be the better of the two.

Spanish Dracula 1931 Still 1Spanish Dracula 1931 VHSSpanish Dracula 1931 Still 2

After the runaway success of both Dracula and Frankenstein, Universal decided to make sequels to those films and poof! franchises were made. Dracula’s Daughter was the first sequel and came out in 1936.  It follows Countess Marya Zaleska, who is Count Dracula’s Daughter, who wants to be cured of her vampire ways..or does she? The next sequel, in 1943, had Lon Chaney Jr. as Count Alucard and was called Son Of Dracula. Count Dracula would go on to make appearances in both House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula for Universal that would combine all their classic monsters into the films.  In these two films, the part of Dracula was played by John Carradine. Bela Lugosi would play the role of Count Dracula again for Universal in 1948 in the horror comedy film Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.  This sadly would make the second and last time Lugosi would play the role in the movies. In 1979, Universal made a “remake” of Dracula that starred Frank Langella as Dracula and was a nice update to the film series. I would love to get more into films like Dracula’s Daughter and Son Of Dracula, but at some point in time I want to have some one of a kind comics made based on those films so I will hold off talking too much about them.  I really enjoyed each of the films I mentioned above and have spent countless hours watching them over the years and have owned them on VHS and DVD.

Draculas Daughter VHSSon Of Dracula VHSDracula Remake VHS

Bela Lugosi, who’s real name was Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko, was born on October 20, 1882 in Lugos, a small town in the Kingdom of Hungary (now Lugo, Romania) and was the youngest of four children. By the age of 12, he dropped out of school and got into acting and by 1903 had roles in many local plays, not only having small roles but also major ones which him to getting great roles in Shakespeare plays. In 1911, he moved to Budapest and had a long a great run in many theater performances.  Lugosi would claim he was the leading actor of Hungary’s Royal National Theatre, but many factors go against his claim. From 1914 to 1919, Lugosi was an infantryman in the Austro-Hungarian Army and during World War I he was ranked Captain of the ski patrol and was wounded during combat and awarded medals for his service for his country. During this time, Bela also was taking on many roles in Hungarian films like The Colonel and The Caravan Of Death. During the 1919 revolution of Hungary, he was forced to flee his homeland when the actors union went crazy causing many actors to find work elsewhere.  This lead Bela to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1920 and also lead to him using the last name Lugosi in honor of his birthplace Lugos. Bela Lugosi moved to New York and by 1931 became naturalized as an American citizen. While in New York, he and other immigrant actors formed a stock company and entertained fellow immigrants with small production plays, with his first English Broadway play being the 1922 production of The Red Poppy and soon after The Devil In The Cheese, a comedy fantasy play as well as many other theater productions. His first American movie role came in 1923 for the film The Silent Command and this lead to many more roles in silent films cast mostly as the villain. His big break in Hollywood came after he wowed audiences with his portrayal of Count Dracula in the play Dracula that lead to him getting the role in the 1931 Universal Monster classic Dracula! This sparked him to be asked to play Frankenstein’s Monster in the Universal film Frankenstein but Bela turned it down as he felt that the part was not acting and just grunts and thus beneath his talents…or so rumor goes. Many more amazing horror film roles followed as Bela starred in White Zombie, Murders In The Rue Morgue, The Raven, Son Of Frankenstein, The Black Cat, Ghost Of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man and Black Friday to name a few. His role as Ygor in Son of Frankenstein is looked at as one of his finest roles by many horror fans. But Bela would not stay on top of the horror world forever as his addiction to opiates and his box office appeal was slipping.  This lead to him taking roles in many B-movies like such titles as Mother Riley Meets The Vampire, The Ape Man, Return Of The Vampire, Voodoo Man, Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla and The Black Sleep. During his decline, he started taking roles in a young filmmaker named Ed Wood Jr’s film like Glen or Glenda and Bride Of The Monster.  His final film appearance was in Plan 9 From Outer Space as old stock footage Wood shot was added into the film. Bela was able to get off the drugs before his death in 1956 at the age of 73 from a heart attack, and he was buried wearing one of his Dracula capes. Bela Lugosi remains one of my favorite horror actors of all time and his work lives on to frighten and entertain a new generation of Monster Kids.

Bela Lugosi 0Bela Lugosi as Dracula

Carlos Villarias was born on July 7, 1892 in Cordoba, Spain and was acting in his first movie in 1917 with the Spanish film “El Pobre Valbuena” and would star in many more Spanish productions throughout the 1930’s.  In 1931, he landed the role he was best known for, the Spanish version of Dracula for Universal. He continued to make movies for many years that followed and had roles in films like “The Mystery Of The Ghastly Face”, “Nostradamus”, “Tropic Holiday” and “The House Of The Fox” to name a few. His final film was in 1953 in a film called “Decameron Nights”. Carlos passed away in 1976 at the age of 83. While he might not be as well known as Bela Lugosi to horror fans, his acting and portrayal of Count Dracula for the Spanish market is amazing, and I am sure he chilled the bones of all those who watched him in the role back in 1931. I just wanted to touch on Carlos Villarias’s life as he is just as important to the Universal Dracula history as Bela Lugosi, Tod Browning and everyone else on the crew that made this movie come alive.

24482625_120291616966villarias

Don Post is considered the godfather of Halloween by many and made some of the worlds first latex masks.  He also attached himself to makings masks based on some of Hollywood’s top ghouls and monsters from The Wolf Man to The Hunchback Of Notre Dame and of course he made several based on Dracula; the most important ones were based on the likeness of Bela Lugosi’s portrayal for Universal. Growing up, I can remember old ads in and on the back cover for Famous Monsters Magazine that acted as an order form to buy this classic mask. I always wondered why Dracula’s skin is green and also marveled about just how awesome the ad made the mask seem, and ideas of wanting the mask to run around my neighborhood would spring into my brain. Years later I would get to see the mask in person at the Magic Hat, a store on Brown Street, and while a great looking mask, it did not live up to the epicness of the ad. Check out the ad picture below and try not to be tranced by its latex greatness!

Don Post Dracula Halloween Mask

In 1963, Hasbro unleashed a board game to masses called “Dracula Mystery Game.”  It would allow 2-4 players to kill time and chill their bones with the horror of Dracula. The plot of the game has you and the other players rolling dice trying to avoid Dracula who wants you dead! I own this game, but sadly when I bought it from my friend David J. Getz it was missing the Dracula pawn piece, making it so that we in the Dayton Board Game Society never played it during a meeting. The game is pretty pricey and on Ebay, depending on condition, can go form any were from $20.00 – $300.00! So if you like cheesy board games, try and track this one down and give it a play for a spooky good time.

Dracula Mystery Game BoardDracula Mystery Board GameDracula Mystery Game pawn

Back in the 1960’s, kids loved to put together and paint models.  For Monster Kids, the ones everyone wanted were the 1962 Aurora Monsters, and one of the most popular ones in that line had to be Count Dracula.  The Dracula model had a Bela Lugosi looking Dracula standing in a stone and grass field next to a dead tree that houses bats. When I was a very young kid and living in Waynesville, I had one of the Dracula model kits but only the Dracula piece that was unpainted as my Mom got it for me from a garage sale. I can remember setting it up on a shelf next to Wizard of Oz dolls I had and always wishing it was an action figure and not a model. Nowadays I have seen the original model kit at many antique malls for around $30.00 – $50.00, depending on how complete it is as well as how poorly it was painted and on Ebay I have seen them go for around $10.00 to $250.00, once more depending on condition and paint job. I wish I sill had my old Aurora Dracula Model Kit, but sadly he is gone in time.

Aurora Dracula boxAurora Dracula model

In 1964, Palmer Plastics released 3” PVC mini figures based on monsters from horror movies as well as science fiction ones. And of course one of the figures released was based on the Universal Dracula. The figure was crudely designed and would come in many colors and would be sold in a three pack or even singly, all for a super cheap price. I sadly never had a Palmer Dracula, but they can be found time to time on Ebay and go for around $20.00 to $60.00 on average.

Palmer Dracula Figure

Remco was a classic toy company who, in 1980, made a deal with Universal to make action figures of their monsters, and of course Dracula was in the line. They made two styles; the first was 9” doll that had cloth clothes with movable limbs.  The Dracula one was very cool but looked nothing like Bela Lugosi. I can remember seeing this figure at flea markets and antique stores, but even loose it always carried a high price tag that my mom would not spend in order to get it for us. To this day, I do not own one but do however own Frankenstein’s Monster thanks to my friend David J. Getz. In 1981, they then released the 3 3/4” action figure versions of the Universal Monsters, and Dracula of course graced this line with his blood drinking presence. These figures were the size of Star Wars and were ones in our youth we so badly wanted but never could find them at garage sales nor flea markets. The Dracula figure’s face glowed in the dark, and he came complete with a vinyl cape.  The downside of these figures was the fact the paint chipped off very easily, and poor Dracula’s nose always had a bare spot as did his fingers. While I never did own one of these figures in my youth, a few years back for my birthday my friend Jason Young gave me almost the full run of the figures as well as the Lab playset! And yep, the Dracula had paint missing on his nose and fingers. The 9” Remco Dracula on Ebay in good shape goes for $35.00 to about $65.00, and the 3 3/4” version goes for about $8.00 – $36.00 dollars loose and in good shape. Both of these figures in package sell for over $100.00 and for collectors like myself are well worth the high price tag.

Remco Dracula DollRemco Dracula figure

Imperial Toys didn’t want to feel left out of the Universal Dracula toy releases, so in 1986, for their Universal Monster toy series, they made a Dracula that was made of hard plastic with moveable arms and head.  For some reason his face and hands are a very bright white, and he has bright red lips and cheesy rings on his fingers. The figure was sold two ways; one was loose with a tag attached to his neck and the second was in a package that showcased his castle in the background that was covered in spider webs and dust. I can remember seeing the Imperial Dracula figure at Kay-Bee Toys and wanting it to go alongside my Imperial Frankenstein’s Monster and Wolf Man that my Mom and Dad got for for Christmas that year. Sadly in my youth I never did get Dracula nor The Mummy but with in the last 3 years I was able to get them both.  Thanks to Ebay, I was able to snag Dracula with The Mummy coming from Monsterbash Convention. If you’re looking for Dracula on Ebay, this Imperial figure in good shape goes for around $4.00 all the way up to $25.00, and I must say the likeness of Bela Lugosi on this one is pretty far off, but what did you expect from a cheap toy company that made low cost figures.

Imperial Dracula

But these were not the only figures based on Dracula that have been made over the years, they were just the most popular ones. Some other amazing ones include Ben Cooper’s Dracula Jiggler and the other knock off companies that made versions. Just Toys made a very cool Dracula Bend-Em for their Universal Monster collection, and this is one figure I did own and once more got it for Christmas one year alongside The Wolf Man. Imperial also made Universal Monster Pogs that featured Dracula, not only on the milk caps but also on his very own Slammer, and yep I had this in my youth. Those are just a drop in the hat of all the cool toys made based around the Universal Dracula character. So needless to say, if you’re a toy collector and you also love Universal’s version of Dracula, you can find many great collectibles for your collection!

Dracula JigglerDracula Bendie ToyDracula Pog SlammerBig Head Dracula Figure

When I was a kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of the most popular cartoon as well as toyline, and in 1993 when Playmates, the makers of the toys, decided to combine the Turtles with Universal Monsters, an amazing thing happened for Monster Kids like myself. Ninja Turtle Donatello was the one combined with Count Dracula, and the figure came with not only a cape but also weapons like a wooden stake.  Growing up I never had the Don as Dracula figure, but I did have a few of the others and over the years have seen this figure at many places for sale like Mavericks Cards And Comics, Game Swap Kettering and Feathers. On Ebay, the figure in package sells for about $25.00 – $40.00 dollars and loose and incomplete for about $2.00 – $4.00. So if you want this figure for your TMNT collection, it’s not too expensive.

TMNT DON AS DRACULA

World Candies produced a sugar candy stick in a small box that featured a monster of Universal Studios fame, and as far as I can tell, these began in the 1970’s and were simply called Monster Candy. I remember them in the late 80’s and early 90’s because around Halloween time at Odd Lots or Big Lots, they would sell these candies by the bag full for like $1.00 or two and I would get them to give out and pig out on. The candy back then was a flat stick, and two would be in a box and on the candy would be monster faces.  Now they are more like candy sticks aka candy cigarettes. These candies were a big part of my childhood, and while they were kind of gross, I still love the idea of them to this day. Check out the super cool box for Dracula.

Monster Candy Dracula Box

In Waynesville, I lived very close to the Library and would walk there with my brother Bryan, mother, father, and we would rent VHS movies, books and comics. One of the book series I would check out the most and even make copies of the pictures on a copy machine was the Crestwood House Monster Books. I used to love sitting and reading about each monster and all the classic films that featured them.  The books would also fill you in on old legends about that monster and even talk a little about the source material they were based on whether it be a urban legend or a novel. They put out a second series that were more like kid novels based on the movies like Dracula’s Daughter. The Library used to also have a huge sale where they would sell you a bag of books for so many dollars, and I was lucky enough to snatch up many of these titles when they decided they didn’t need them anymore and still have them to this day. I find myself from time to time still dusting them off and enjoying these fun books of my youth. Some of them were based around Dracula and many of those books are a fun read for fans and the young at heart. On Ebay, you can get a used copy of the Crestwood Monster Dracula book for $10.00 – $20.00 depending on condition and if it’s a hard or soft cover.

Crestwood Dracula BookCrestwood Daughter Of Dracula

Puzzles have been a staple for kids of all ages, and to this day, puzzles are put together by kids and adults alike.  It comes as no surprise that Universal licensed out Dracula’s image to companies to make ones based around this icon of fright. The puzzles have some great artwork and are clearly geared towards younger kids with them being mere 100-200 pieces. Not much to say about these, but I figured they should at least get some respect here on Rotten Ink.

Universal Dracula PuzzleDracula Puzzle

Back in the 90’s, Doritos Chips gave away Universal Monster stickers in the bags you would find at your local grocery store, and I found myself begging my mom to buy this snack food so that I would be able to collect the whole set of these stickers. So every time we would go to Ellis, a small store in Downtown Waynesville I would get a bag of this chips.  Now I should tell you, I HATE Doritos – always have and always will – and this shows you my love for Universal Monsters as I suffered through eating those nasty chips. I can remember how happy I was when I got the Dracula sticker for the first time, and I proudly put it away for safe keeping.  When I got an extra, I put it inside the VHS tape giving my tape a little something extra. No matter how hard I tried and how many bags of powdered death, I ate I never did get a full set of these stickers making all my efforts even that more sad. I still have the stickers to this day, and they are stored away at Independent B Movie studio waiting for the day that I will proudly display them in my home. But check out below and see how cool the Dracula one is.

Doritos Dracula Sticker

I grew up in the age of breakfast cereal, and some of the best out there were the General Mills Monster Cereals with Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frankenberry and the wonders of how the world works when they put the cereal mascots alongside Universal Monsters! Let’s first breakdown Count Chocula as a character and his cereal. Count Chocula is vampire who is brown and wears brown clothes.  He is a friendly vampire to kids but hates Frankenberry and Boo Berry and thinks his cereal is the best. His feelings can be hurt when people run away from him, and he is scaredy cat. It’s clear as day that he is inspired by Lugosi’s version of Dracula because the mascot sounds like a poor man’s Bela. The cereal has a chocolate flavor to it and is my favorite out the the monster cereals.  It is one that I could eat every morning! But sometime in the late 80’s early 90’s, they put Lugosi as Dracula on the box with Count Chocula making a cool box for us kids to look at in the morning. Many items have been made in the image of Count Chocula including stuffed dolls, pencil tops, toys and shirts.

count choculacount chocula dracula boxCount Chocula Figure

Dracula has also made it to handheld video games like the ones made by Micro Games of America in 1994 and even ones made by Tiger have graced the hands of gamers. He has also been in pinball games at your local arcade and has been in a few PC games, and even had a full fledge game called simply Dracula for the Game Boy Color that was an official Universal Monsters product.  Not to mention, the mountains of other games that the character Dracula has appeared in making him one of the top classic monster bad guys used the most in video games.

Dracula Handheld gameUniversal Dracula Game Boy Color Game BoxGame Wizard Dracula Game

In 1997, fast food joint Burger King decided to have Universal Monster toys in their kids meal, and Count Dracula was one of the cheesiest and least wanted figure as for some reason his skin was flesh colored and it looked nothing like the classic Lugosi played vampire. Standing about 4 inches tall, the figure had a removable cape, a coffin and a glow in the dark sticker. The figure was perfect size to fit in with those kids of that day who played with G.I. Joe and Star Wars toys, and the best part was, they got it free for eating a cheeseburger and fries.  A pat on the back to Burger King for also bringing Dracula to a new generation of kids with these kids meal prizes even if the figure was lame in appearance.

BK Kids Club LogoBK Dracula Figure

Not to be outdone, another fast food hamburger joint also gave away figures based on the Universal Monsters, and unlike Burger King, they also included The Bride and did it twice! The first batch came in 1999 and had Dracula who looked just like the Burger King version in skin tone but had a weird grabbing feature as his action. Then in 2002, they put out a quick change magic trick Dracula that would have him turn from human into a bat via his coffin.  These figures are really cheap looking and kind of cheesy, but still worth owning for those who love all things Dracula. I don’t know much about these because there is no Jack in The Box in my area.

Jack In The Box Logo 0Jack In The Box Dracula Figure

The Universal Dracula Series has also been a big part of horror hosting as the films were a part of The Shock Theater and Son of Shock movie packages that allowed local TV stations to air the films with a host. Many of the old shows are lost like hosts such as Vampira, Sammy Terry, Dr. Creep and Melvin hosting these classic films but a few have survived, and some hosts have hosted them as late as early this year, 2016. But here are a few of the hosts I have that brought you some films from the Universal Dracula including Morgus The Magnificent and Baron Von Wolfstein.

Horror Host DVD Hosting Dracula 1Horror Host DVD Hosting Dracula 2

But this is called Rotten Ink and is a blog mostly about comic books, so we should talk about comics that are based around Dracula that are licensed by Universal. Off the top of my head, I can only think of two; one being released by Dell in 1963 as part of their Movie Classics line called “Dracula”, with it later being paired with The Mummy by Dell. The other is the Dark Horse comic “Universal Monsters Dracula” that was released in 1993 and is the subject of this epic update. The Dell comic is a new story about Dracula, while Dark Horses is just based on the script and is a movie adaptation. Both of these are comics we will get to at some point here on Rotten Ink as well as Marvel’s Tomb Of Dracula series.  I am looking forward to bringing you those.

Universal Dracula Comic Book Dell 10Universal Dracula Comic Book Dell with Mummy 20

One of my favorite internet shows has to be The Angry Video Game Nerd.  What is not to like about a funny character playing old video games from my youth and making fun of the flaws that have tortured many kids that played them. The Nerd is played and created by James Rolfe who also grew up as a Monster Kid watching the classic Universal Films, Horror Hosts like Joe Bob Briggs, making his own films and loving all things spooky. Every Halloween, he has a Nerd Special where he reviews a horror themed game, and in 2008, The Nerd covered Dracula themed games and he was in fact a vampire in the episode himself wearing a cape and all. But of course, the games he plays are terrible, including the NES unreleased game Drac’s Night Out, and uses the suns rays to commit suicide so he didn’t have to play any more terrible Dracula games. Every HalloweenJames Rolfe also has a show called Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness where he talks about Horror films, and one year for this show he did sequels and covered the whole Universal Dracula series. Fun shows and worth checking out at http://cinemassacre.com.

AVGN as DraculaAVGN Art Dracula EpisodeAVGN as Dracula 2

On Sunday, October 25, 2015 at 12:50pm at the Cinemark theater at The Greene Juliet, her mom and myself went to see the 1931 Universal Dracula on the big screen just in time for Halloween! We were all pretty hyped as the event was supposed to have a cool new intro from a film historian and was to be followed up by the Spanish version of Dracula.  With some candy and drinks in hand, we were ready for some classic horror film frights. There was a decent amount of people in the theater including mothers with their children who were talking about how scary the movie was when they where little.  This put a huge smile on my face as this classic Universal film was being passed down to a younger generation of Monster Kids.  Joining us were senior citizens who came to relive watching Lugosi in all his caped glory. But what was going to be an epic afternoon of Universal Horror once more turned into the ultimate blunder of Cinemark as they cut the new intro by the film historian, started the Lugosi Dracula film after the opening credits and to boot never showed the Spanish version! I was pretty annoyed by this as Cinemark at the Greene is my go-to theater, and they fouled up showing a classic monster movie event.  But with all blunders aside, it was great to see Dracula on the big screen along with Juliet and her Mom, who also loves a good classic Horror fright flick! So while fun, I still want to say shame on you Cinemark, for charging full price for an event you didn’t show fully.

Dracula On The Sign at CinemarkDracula Ticket CinemarkThe Theater Gearing Up To See Dracula 1931 at Cinemark

So we have arrivied at Castle Dracula, and I can see our host making his way down the long stone stairs so while we wait for him to bid us, welcome I should thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for having this Dark Horse adaptation in stock. I also hear the children of the night telling me to remind you all that 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, and its art and story. Plus I want to say that I am really happy to present this update to all you readers and friends this close to the Halloween season, and hope I did this classic, iconic and impactful film justice with this update. Our host is here and inviting us in for a glass of wine, so let’s head on in and take a look at this blood sucking comic!

Dracula 1 Dark Horse Comics

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

Renfield arrives at Castle Dracula in Transylvania to meet Count Dracula, a client who is buying the Carfax Abbey in England, but during his first night there, Renfield is bitten by Dracula who is a vampire. The next day Renfield is now the slave of Dracula, and they are aboard a ship bound for England when Dracula comes from his coffin and kills the crew during a massive storm. Renfield is the only one found alive on the ship when it docks, and he is found to be mad and taken away to an asylum as Dracula walks the streets sucking the blood of a young lady selling flowers he stumbles upon. Dracula goes to the symphony and meets the Dr. Seward who runs the asylum near the Carfax Abbey, his daughter Mina, her fiance John Harker as well as her best friend Lucy. Later that night Dracula targets Lucy to become his first bride and bites her on the neck as she sleeps, and by doing so kills her and turns her into a vampire. Dr. Seward goes to his friend Dr. Van Helsing for answers to Lucy’s death, and he in turns knows that Renfield must be the helper to the vampire that is stalking England, but he is not sure who it is. Meanwhile Dracula has now selected Mina as his next bride and also wants to use her to help bring down her father and Van Helsing only slightly turning her to a vampire and more as a slave that will do his bidding. The next day while Mina explains a bad dream she had to her father, John and Van Helsing, they spot two bite marks on her neck and as Count Dracula enters and thanks to a mirror, Van Helsing figures out that Dracula is the vampire they seek. Dracula returns later that night and allows Mina to drink his blood forming a bond between the two and later takes her to his safe place at Carfax Abbey. John and Van Helsing follow Renfield who has escaped the asylum to the Carfax Abbey, and Dracula rips the heart out of his one time slave and rushes to his coffin.  The sun is coming up after he spots John and Van Helsing have entered his home! Van Helsing drives a stake through Dracula’s heart, and Mina snaps out of her trance and returns home with her lover leaving this nightmare behind.

I first want to state that I enjoyed this comic book adaptation of the classic 1931 Universal Monster film Dracula from Dark Horse, but I also want to say that writer Dan Vado took some liberties with the story by doing such things as cutting Dracula’s Brides out of the opening, having Dracula cut his own arm for Mina to drink from, shows the stake going into the heart of Dracula, Renfield has his heart ripped out of his body by Dracula, Lucy just disappears once she becomes a vampire as well as adds blood to the hand of the flower girl that’s bitten by Dracula after he exits the ship. The story is this Dracula comes to England from his home in Transylvania and tries to turn two friends into his vampire brides but is soon on the radar of a highly intelligent doctor who is aware of the vampire legend and travels to the dark side of the world to free the soul of his friends daughter who is in danger by the curse of Dracula’s bite. So lets break down our cast of characters starting with Mina Seward who is the eye candy for Dracula who is your typical naive young female character who is under the spell of evil and does nothing to help herself to escape. But with that said Mina is a great character as she fits the part of the damsel in distress that is needed in all great fairy tales. John Harker is a man who loves his fiance and will do what ever it takes to keep her safe, while he talks a good game he is not the man who steps up and saves Mina from her fate. Van Helsing is the real hero of this tale as he is the one who knows the vampire legends, understands what can stop them, figures out who the vampire is and is the one who ends up driving the stake into the heart of Dracula ending his terror. Dr. Seward is just like John while he wants to keep his daughter safe he just has no clue how to do so. Renfield is a man who is driven insane and has enter battles with what his dark side tells him to do and what he knows is right. The poor fool who does what ever he can for Dracula is rewarded with having his heart ripped from his body as it was clear the vampire had no real care for his insane slave. Count Dracula is suave, violent and very cold as he don’t care about life and only wants his needs meet as he did not care who’s lives he ruined in his quest for new brides. Dracula in this comic is so much more evil in the film as he seems to get joy from killing and has no remorse for when he does kill. Lucy as well as the asylum workers and maids are all just secondary characters and fit their roles well. The odd thing about this adaptation is that it takes a classic black and white horror film that is known for it’s lack of blood and gore and decides to add in both! While I am sure some readers disliked these changes I looked at them as the artists and writers trying to add their own spin on this classic story. The art is done by John D. Smith and is a very cool paint style that captures the look of Lugosi very well as Dracula, but oddly enough NONE of the other characters look like the actors who played them in the 1931 film with them even going so far to give Van Helsing a beard. But while Dracula might be the only one who looks like he should I found myself really liking the art as well as the cover that is really amazing and showcases just how talented Smith is at capturing the creepy feel of Bela. Over all this was a great read and an amazing read to lead us into the month of October! If your a fan of classic Universal Monsters and love comic books I would say for sure check it out! Check out some of the art below from this comic and see just how cool it looks, I must say sorry for the poor quality of the pictures as I had to use my iPhone in order to get them and not a scanner.

Universal Dracula Dark Horse Art 1Universal Dracula Dark Horse Art 2Universal Dracula Dark Horse Art 3

So we have made it out of Castle Dracula alive and with all our blood intact, and we should count ourselves lucky as this far we have not only survived Count Dracula with out countdown to Halloween but also this far Jaws and The Tallman! This update was lots of fun to write and really helped me get into the Halloween spirit as Universal Monster movies always kick of the spooky mood and feeling that goes along with the months of October and September for me. I hope I did this 1931 film and its legacy justice with this update as it’s in honor of Bela Lugosi, who is a true horror actor icon. But I am sure you’re wondering what’s next for out countdown to Halloween.  We are leaving Castle Dracula and heading to Ireland to come face to face with the one and only Rawhead Rex! So until next time, read a comic or three, see a horror movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host…See you next update my ghoulish friends and readers.

PDVD_000

Forgotten Hero 101: Holo-Man

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  On this update, I want to take a look at a superhero who never quite made it to the big leagues and never become a household name alongside Superman, Captain America and Batman, a hero who had the power of holograms as well as some other science fiction style abilities…and that hero I am talking about is Holo-Man! Yeah, I know a small portion of you readers out there know about this hero, but I am sure an even larger portion are in the dark to who this bright rainbow colored hero is.  So let’s start with the basics including how I first learned about Holo-Man and his greatness. Near our house on Royston Drive in Waynesville Ohio was Mary L. Cook Public Library, a place that my family visited quite a bit to check out books and comics and rent VHS tapes, all great stuff that helped add to the enjoyment of growing up in a small village. This library is also where I discovered the Crestwood Monster Book series and is also where I would use the copy machine to make copies of pictures of monsters from books like Godzilla, Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell and The Wolf Man that they stocked on their shelves.  They also had a small selection in the kids section of old Book and Record comic books that were bound in a green hardback binding and all were missing the record. I spent many of hours in that library looking at kids books, horror history books, comics and Rolling Stones Magazine, and it was a big part of my childhood for sure. I can even remember them having amazing book sales where they would sell bags of books for as low as a dollar a bag.  My Mom would take me and Bryan down there on these sales and we would load up with all types of good reads. So here is to all the libraries in the world that have helped shape many young minds and helped many in the world with good reads and a place to find peace and education. And at this library is were I first laid my eyes on and even read the first and only issue of Holo-Man as I checked it out to read. I can remember the first time I flipped through the book and saw the lack of action I knew I was in for some boring stuff and I was right! The young Matt just didn’t like Holo-Man all that much, and after this first reading he became a joke of a character between my brother Bryan and I.  At one point I think we made a beat and the loser had to check out the comic again and read it if they lost! And for some reason as a kid I thought Marvel Comics made this character, and it was not until much latter that I discovered that it was Atomic Comics and this cheesy hero was a big flop with kids and readers. So I guess I should also say thank you Mary L. Cook Libary for also introducing me to Holo-Man and his lackluster adventure.

Mary L Cook Library

Back in the 70’s, Peter Pan Records created a branch called Power Records that was a way to showcase record-based dramas featuring comic book heroes as well as TV and movie characters. Besides doing large LPs, they also started to do small 45 ones that were packaged along with a comic book and were called “Book And Record Set.”  They would be a great way for comic fans to get a little more bang for their buck as they cost more than a regular comic. Power Records didn’t pick sides in the comic war as they put out just as many DC as they did Marvel and sometimes they would even put out an independent title like they did with Holo-Man. Besides normal LPs and the Book & Record sets, they also did story books with records that were mostly based around movies of the time like Star Trek The Motion Picture. Growing up, my brother and I had lots of these style books and most of the time, the poor record would get lost or scratched and we mostly just used them as normal books! But while this style of comic isn’t not made anymore, those who had them growing up know how cool it was to read your comic/book and have a record playing the adventure you were reading acted out as a play.

Superman Book and RecordPower Record LogoIncredible Hulk Power Record

Back when I use to rent the Book & Record comics from the library, the back inside cover use to be this really cool yellow background picture that showcases many of Marvel’s top heroes as well as monsters and movie tie-in characters that included Captain America, Hulk, Man-Thing, Dracula and Apes from Planet of The Apes. I can admit this now as I ended up buying these very books from a library sale when I was a youngster, I used to try and peel off those pictures as I wanted to keep them and tape them to my cardboard playhouse I had in my room.  For some reason I really wanted Jack Russell aka Werewolf by Night as I was a huge fan of werewolves in films and comics. It was something about the black pen drawings on that yellow background that made my young mind also work into over time to set up fake fights between the characters and make up stories of how Dracula would be defeated by The Hulk or how The Thing would survive on the Planet of the Apes. I had such a great imagination when I was a kid. I am sure you’re wondering if I was ever able to peel any of them off and tape them up, and the answer is no as the picture was glued to the back of the hardback book binding and when trying to peel they would just rip and you would end up with half a character or a headless one. Below is a picture of that image and to this day for some reason I think it’s badass!

The Heroes of Power Records

While I am a old school metalhead who loves to listen to music that makes me want to bang my head and allow metal health to drive me mad, I still enjoy a good pop release that is filled with catchy songs and fun loving beats. One of the modern pop rap divas that I have found myself enjoying is Iggy Azalea, who is a beautiful young woman from Australia who has a soothing voice as she raps, well at least that’s my opinion. I first heard of her thanks to Youtube as I saw her video for a song called Fancy where she dressed up as Alicia Silverstone from the film Clueless.  The song was catchy, and her appearance caught my attention and lead me to watch more of her videos as well as listen to interviews she did. Then I noticed that she was being played on the radio more and more often as well as guest starring on many other rap and pop songs for other artists. So while I was working on this write up for Holo-Man, I was re-listening to Iggy and decided to share my thoughts on her first E.P. “Your Life” as well as her first full release called “The New Classics.”  So sit back and let me tell you about the hit and misses of these releases. In 2013, Iggy put out a E.P. to showcase her talents and build up a fanbase before her first album dropped.  This E.P. was called Your Life, and it only really has 3 songs with the rest being remixes.  This is kind of annoying but I can forgive it with it being only a E.P. my favorite song on this hands down is “Bounce,” a really catchy song that mixes pop rap with Bollywood beats.  This truly is a good song and was even used for the trailer for Spy starring Melissa McCarthy. The rest of the songs on the E.P. are okay but most are just remixes of the same song. Iggy Azalea’s first full album was the 2014 release called The New Classic, and it’s a perfect mix of rap and pop music that is filled with lots of catchy songs as well as some really silly and cheesy ones. Some of my favorite songs off this album are Fancy, a pop rap treat for the ears that has her teaming with Charli XCX that has catchy beat and some fun lyrics. My other favorite is her other radio hit Black Widow where she and Rita Ora sing about making their one time lovers hate them. But just wanted to share real quick what I was listening to when I wrote this update, and I am not afraid to say I am a Iggy fan and look forward to her next release.

Iggy Azalea Change Your Life EP CDIggy Azaleaiggy azalea new classic cd

Who is Holo-Man and what is he about I am sure your thinking to yourself, and some of my readers who have read comics most of their lives are trying to remember if they ever seen an issue of Holo-Man in their local comic shop or even on a spinner rack at the grocery store. And to answer the question, Holo-Man was only made in the Book & Record set as far as this nerd knows. But one puzzling aspect is that Holo-Man had his own fan club as well as was on a coin that was featured alongside Marvel characters who also had coins made! So it makes you wonder if Atomic Comics who created Holo-Man and Marvel had some sort of partnership where crossovers or even help distribute his comic series. Holo-Man had a huge push with merchandise, a fan club, a book & record set and the coin, so what went wrong and why was only one issue made? Did the comic sell that badly that no other issues were ordered? Did Atomic Comics go out of business and the character fell into a fate of no company to call his own? Whatever the reason that Holo-Man was not a top notch hero in the world of comics one thing was for sure is that for $5.00 you could become a HoloSquad Member!

Holo Man AdSo you know as much about Holo-Man as I do, and you learned about my introduction to this Z-Grade tight wearing hero. But even if he is a cheesy hero and his comic only lasted one issue and had to be packaged with a record, he’s still made his mark in the world of comics no matter how small the impact was. Plus you know that Atomic Comics must have had so much faith in the character and they were hoping that readers and kids would bond with the character and make him a household name like Superman and Spider-Man. I should also think Ebay for having this comic for me to review for this pre-thanksgiving update snack that is backed with enough comic sci-fi cheese that it should keep us stuffed till then. I want to remind you that I grading this comic on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready to relive this comic adventure with me and see just how well Holo-Man holds up (or is that degrades?) let’s turn on a lava lamp and travel to the world of holograms.

Holo Man 1

The Adventures Of Holo-Man # 1  **
Released in 1978   Cover Price $1.50   Power Records   #1 of 1

A pair of Syrian spies break into a top secret lab in Texas and rig up a laser to explode when it’s next fired up.  They do so because The President of the United Sates is at the lab and is about to watch a laser/holographic fusion demonstration put on by Dr. James Robinson and his assistant Hugo, and they hope they all will be killed in the explosion! As the test starts and the laser overloads, James jumps in front of the President and saves him but takes a blast of Holographic rays.  This takes James to a portal in the galaxy and he meets Laserman who fills him in on his new powers of becoming the first ever living Hologram known as Holo-Man! As Holo-Man he can travel through time and dimensions, can blend in with his surroundings and can make illusions to confuse his enemies, but he must charge a charm every 12 hours or his powers become weaker. James wakes back up in the lab and finds Hugo dying who tells him that the accident was caused by the Syrians and he was the one that gave them the blueprints because they were holding his family hostage.  He also tells James that the Syrians are going to use holographic missiles to confuse the American people and then set out a real attack to take over our great nation. Hugo dies as Holo-Man rushes to the White House and tells The President about the Syrians plan, and they decide that they must stop it before it happens.  When Holo-Man leaves, his power is weaker and he must charge his disc but as he looks up the fake missiles are already filling the sky as panic people are running for their lives.

This comic ends on a cliffhanger with fake missiles in the skies as poor normal people are panicking and Holo-Man is standing around looking shocked at what he sees even though he knew the attack was in the works and that the first wave of missiles are fake. This issue is clearly an origin issue with the idea of making comic readers become attached to the hero.  It’s plot is very simple, foreign bad guys try to kill our President, a scientist who is not only super smart but brave takes the brunt of said accident and turns into a superhero who in turn must stop the bad guys from invading America. The major issue is that Holo-Man/James Robinson is not fleshed out enough for me to really stand behind him and allow him to become a hero that I would care about reading more adventures of. What I did gather about Holo-Man is that he is smart and loyal to America and while he has powers that allow him to create holographic illusions and travel in time, he does not have any type of super human strength so a well trained thug with fists of stone could knock him out with a well placed punch. Another downside to Holo-Man is the fact his powers can be drained if used too long and he must spend time to charge his HoloDisc that he must keep safe. While I understand his family was in danger, Hugo still is a traitor to is country and single handedly has helped turn America into an upcoming warzone. Laserman is a mix of Zeus and a Wizard and rocks a white long beard and just flings powers on James and gives him one of the quickest crash courses ever on what his powers are. I would say he would have to be one of the worst mentors in comic history. The President looks a lot like Jimmy Carter who would have been the President at the time of the comic and records release. While I read the comic first by itself I later did listen to the record to help add to the over all cheese and fun of this comic. I must say that this comic is slightly better then I remember it being as a kid, but with that said it still is a bland yet entertaining comic. Shame on Power Records and the creators of Holo-Man for not finishing this story as the end makes it appear that all hope is gone and that America is going to become like Red Dawn with Syrians instead of Russians taking over. The art work is done by Joseph Giella and has that classic 70’s comic look, and is well done for what is really a throw away comic. Over all this is as cheesy as I remember it being and for all accounts is a superhero that time has truly forgotten.

Holoman Art 1

Reading back to back comics about superheroes that have cheesy outdated powers and even goofer costumes gave me the idea to have a fantasy warfare that will pit 3-D Man against Holo-Man in a battle of might and power. The setting will be downtown Belmont, Ohio during a Thanksgiving Day Parade right outside Rich’s Pawn Shop in the year of 1983. So let’s sit back and see who will win this showdown of epic proportions as 3-D Man vs. Holo-Man!

Holo-ManVs Boom3-D Man

A float for Renaissance Music is going down the street as the Godzilla masked Mr. G is waving at the people watching the big parade as its followed by a Mike-Sells float that is throwing out potato chips the the hungry crowd.  One couple watching is Hal Chandler and his wife Peggy who wave back and as they do so Hal notices that near Ritch’s Pawn Shop a man in a trench coat is looming around looking as if he is a man on a mission! Hal fears that this man might be a pervert flasher and fearing that his wife might be his target he slips away and puts on his special glasses and transforms into 3-D Man.  As the red and green hero rushes off the knocked out body of Hal hits the near by dumpster and looks like a drunken fool who couldn’t handle his liquor. As 3-D Man rushes to the trench coat menace he grabs him by the shoulder and off comes the coat to show before him a man in rainbow colors and a red cape! The man turns around and screams “Who dares put their hands on Holo-Man, the master of holograms as he tries to enjoy this parade?” as 3-D Man says “ I do as I am 3-D Man the master of 3-D, and you my friend is no watcher but a flasher!” These words send Holo-Man into a rage as he is really there to watch and not show off his goods, and he places a powerful hit onto 3-D Man’s jaw knocking him through the window of Belmont Catering. A crowd starts to gather as people watch as 3-D Man leaps from the window filled with anger and knocks Holo-Man to the ground and starts pounding on the his face.  Holo-Man after a minute of having his face smashed is able to kick 3-D Man off him with the power of a mac truck and knocks him across the street, and stands to his feet his face bloody and swollen he looks at 3-D Man who is back to his feet holding his ribs.  Holo-Man knows that this is his chance as he bull rushes his opponent and starts landing punches to 3-D Man’s body like Rocky hitting a slab of meat, the punches are powerful and you can hear ribs cracking and breaking. 3-D Man falls to his knees as Holo-Man turns to the crowd to let the crowd know that the fight is over, but he should never had turned his back to 3-D Man who uses all his power to place a punch to the back of Holo-Mans head and through it as his fists exits the master of hologram’s mouth killing him on the spot. The crowd screams in horror and runs away as the police are nowhere to be found.  This buys 3-D Man some time as he crawls to Hal and enters awakens his brother only for Hal to wake up and find that his wallet, watch and shoes have been stolen and his wife had ran off with a young scientist form Dayton named Bruce Banner.

Winner: 3-D Man

So as you can see even though 3-D Man won, he still lost as his alter ego has been robbed of his wealth and his wife and as the super hero his ribs have been almost smashed into powder. But to be honest ,this would be a great fight between two very silly superheroes who are very much dated, but still have a cool factor to them. Our next update will be our traditional Thanksgiving Day update and will once more feature the greek hero Hercules.  This time he will be teaming up with none other than The Three Stooges thanks to Dell Comics and their adaptation of the classic comedy film The Three Stooges Meet Hercules.  So make sure to save some room for this cheesy and fun update after your turkey and/or ham feast. So until then have a safe holiday, read a comic or three, support your local horror host and as Bill & Ted would say “Be Excellent To Each Other.”

Three Stooges Meet Hercules Logo

The 8th Wonder Of Giant Classic Comics King Kong

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

King Kong 1933 1King Kong 1933 PosterKing Kong 1933 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

kIng kong Cartoon 1King Kong Cartoon 2King Kong Cartoon 3

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

King Kong JapanKing Kong Missing 1King Kong Missing 2

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

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

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

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

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

Movie Maniac King KongImperial King KongBen Copper King KongKing Kong Novel

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

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

King Kong 1

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

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

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

King Kong Art

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

Creature from the Black Lagoon Logo 2

The Lost And Found Frankenstein Monster

Hollywood has lost many films that could never see the light of day again.  Some have just been misplaced, and some have been lost to vault fires and neglect. But every once in a while, when a blue moon is in the sky, and the stars align just right, a “lost” film is found like 1922’s Nosferatu.  It had one print survive after all others were destroyed over copyright issues with the widow of Bram Stoker.  But many others stay lost like the Lon Chaney Sr. vampire mystery horror film, London After Midnight. One film that has been found by a private collector named Alois F. Dettlaff when he bought it from his mother-in-law in the 1950’s and later in the 1970’s was made known, is the 1910 version of Frankenstein made by Edison Studios. This “lost” film was like a Holy Grail for fans of the classic monsters, and many people wanted to see just what the first Frankenstein film was like, and with some film stills being around before the film was found, this just fueled the fire of fans wanting to get their hands on a copy to watch. The look of the Monster is not what most think of when the monster pops in your head.  He has no bolts from his neck, no black suit and no flat top head. Instead we have a Monster with wild hair, a crunched up creepy face, and he wears rags. Plus finding out that this 1910 Monster’s origin has him made in a vat of chemicals, not lightning, changes the image and style that we all grew up with. The first time I ever saw this version of the Monster was in the CrestWood House Monster Series Frankenstein book, and I was transfixed by the strange look of the Monster and how his hair almost made him look beast like. I always wanted to see the film to see just how the Monster acted and so that I could compare him to the classic Universal version. Below are some pictures of the Monster from the 1910 film.  I would like for you to take a moment and just look at this creepy guy, and pretend that you first saw this film in 1910 when it was made.  I want you to ask yourself, would you have been scared to sleep that night?

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As I said, the Monster himself was a odd looking creature and looked like a misshaped beast with a sinister look in his eyes and a twisted snarl for a smile. The actor who played this part was Charles Ogle, a character actor who went on to be in over 300 films of the silent era and played such characters as Long John Silver (Treasure Island, 1920), Bob Cratchit (A Christmas Carol in 1910) and a doctor in the 1923 version of The Ten Commandments. In the version of Treasure Island, he got to work alongside the master of silent film Lon Chaney Sr. This is a cool thing when you break down what both had done for the world of horror! Ogle worked in films from 1910 to 1926 and sadly passed away in 1940 from arteriosclerosis at the age of 75. While he is not as well known as Boris Karloff and while his version of Frankenstein’s Monster is not as iconic, it still remains that Charles Ogle was one of the first actors to play the part and scared the life out of those who saw the film at the time.  So here is to you, Charles Ogle, for being one of film’s first actors of fright! Oh I should also say that he is an Ohio boy like myself as he was born in Steubenville.

charles ogle

The part of Elizabeth was played by the lovely Mary Fuller who was a stage actress and a very popular one at that. Her first major film role came in the 1910 Frankenstein film that helped launch her career as an actress and later as a screen writer. For a time she was one of the most popular silent film actresses just behind Mary Pickford, but her ride came to an end in 1917 when her last couple of films did not bring in the money the studios wanted.  She became a free agent when her studio contract expired.  She was offered stage work again on Broadway but turned it down and disappeared from the public eye for almost a decade. After her film career had ended and her attempt at a relationship with an opera singer (who was already married), she had a nervous breakdown and spent time trying to get better and get her life back on track. In 1926 she tried to make a comeback in Hollywood, and it was a failed attempt.  She felt alone and always felt as if she had a void that could not be filled.  When her mother passed away in 1940, she suffered her second breakdown that had her sister having to watch over her until 1947 when she was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Washington were she would remain for 25 years until her death in 1973 at the age of 85. Her sad tale doesn’t end there.  On her passing, no relatives could be found, and she was buried in an unmarked grave at a local cemetery. Mary Fuller was a talented actress with a sad and tragic life, but her work in films will live on and keep her memory alive. This update is for you, Mary, may you rest in peace and find happiness you were looking for.

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With a film of this age, merchandise was not even thought of.  No one in 1910 walked around with their Frankenstein t-shirt carrying a Frankenstein mug filled with hot coco thinking about going home and playing their Frankenstein video game…it just didn’t happen. But over time, with the film gaining a cult status and having the “lost” film mystique, merchandise was unavoidable! Masks, models and shirts were made as well as toys! One of the toys that was found everywhere for awhile was made by Mezco as part of their Silent Screamers line, and while a cool figure, it looked NOTHING like Ogle as the Monster. Another cool item that has sprung up is the film’s soundtrack done by Life Toward Twilight.  It’s a very well done score with just the right amount of mood and brood to chill one’s bones. So if you’re a fan, there is stuff out there for you to buy and enjoy.

Frankenstein 1910 Mask1910 Frankenstein Toys1910 Frankenstein Soundtrack

My brother was attending Sinclair, a local Ohio community college, and was taking a class alongside my friend Josh Weinberg about the History of Horror Films.  The early horror film class was taught by Rick Martin, owner of RMM Agency and manager of Horror Host Dr. Creep, while the modern classes were taught by Andy Copp, a local film and TV director. While in Rick’s class, Bryan and Josh were able to see the 1910 Frankenstein as Rick showed it to his class as a part of horror history. I was so jealous when I heard this and so wanted to see it! Flash forward some years later to when I was working a table with Andy Copp at Cinema Wasteland, a Horror Convention in Strongsville, Ohio near Cleveland.  All over the convention show room were flyers for the official DVD release of the Edison Frankenstein film.  It was paired with the 1922 film Nosferatu and called “Movies First Monsters: Back to Back,” and the dvd was $20.00. I rushed to the booth that was said to have had it, and to my shock and horror, it was sold out.  The DVD was so in demand that it was gone the first day of sales. I was so bummed, and Andy tried to keep my spirits up saying that we would be back next year and that I could try and get one then.  While his words were wise and true, I still went home DVDless. By the next Cinema Wasteland, I rushed to the booth and got a copy the first day and felt like I was on top of the world. When I got home, the 16 minute film was the first thing I watched and I loved it.  In fact, I rushed and did a review for Bloodline Video and gave it 5 out of 5 stars on the site! This is one of those films that makes you truly glad that some private collector found it and released it so the masses can enjoy a piece of horror film history. If you have not seen it and are a film buff and a horror film fan, then do yourself a favor and watch it.

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The people behind the ownership of this film had an amazing idea when they turned the 16 minute film into a 40 page comic book that holds the thrills and chills of the movie. Remember I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So let’s get the chemical vat ready and build ourselves a comic review of Edison’s Frankenstein 1910.  

Edisons Frankenstein 1910 Comic

Edison’s Frankenstein 1910   ***1/2
Released in 2003   Cover Price $7.95   Comic Library International   #1 of 1

Frankenstein is sitting in his study writing in his journal to his future children so that they can learn from his mistake.  You see, in his youth he wanted to learn the secrets of life and death and while away at medical school he grows tired of what he thinks is just close minded teaching and decides to drop out and conduct his own experiment to create the perfect human. In his quest to make a man, he takes elements from science, black magic, alchemy and even his own flesh and blood and mixes them in a chemical vat and watches in horror as his man comes to life.  But instead of a perfect man, he has made a monster, a twisted foul thing that looks straight from the pits of hell! The Monster’s sight tormented Frankenstein who was set to be married to his true love Elizabeth.  Even this joy is being taken away as The Monster wants his soon to be wife for his own.  When Frankenstein refuses and lies to The Monster, it goes in a rage and attacks its creator! The only thing that saves him is when the Monster gets a look at himself in the mirror and its own sight saddens it and causes him to flee into the night. The Monster returns on Frankenstein’s wedding night and attacks his bride Elizabeth.  This causes a huge fight between the Monster and its creator that leaves The Monster trapped inside a mirror and Frankenstein begging for forgiveness from God, his wife and The Monster! In the end Frankenstein lives happily with his wife, and The Monster is nothing now but a terrible memory.

This comic is pretty much just a more detailed version of the film and is what a comic adaptation should be! The film is told via the words of Frankenstein’s diary and this helps preserve the silent film feel and helps add to the raw emotion of his horrific experience. Victor Frankenstein is a likable guy in this comic, and while at one point his ego to create man takes over his soul, it’s the fact he knows he did wrong and wants to fix it when he see’s the terrible monster he has made. The Monster is a mean spirited evil twisted person who loves to frighten and push around Frankenstein because he can. The fact that The Monster wants to take and do foul things to Frankenstein’s wife shows just how untrustworthy this “man” is. The symbolism of the Monster being trapped in the mirror, and Victor looking at his own reflection and seeing the Monster is a nice way to show that we all have a monster in us and only when we take notice of this will we learn to control it. The comic is 40 pages long, and the rest of the issue is filled with some bios of those involved in making the film as well as the comic. The art of Robb Bihun is simply amazing and his drawings of The Monster are top notch horror comic stuff.  In fact, his style reminds me slightly of the artwork of Bernie Wrightson who did top notch Frankenstein art in 1983. This is a great read, and I would recommend it to those who love Frankenstein and his Monster.  I would also suggest giving it a read while you listen to the score done by Life Toward Twilight! 

Edisons Frankenstein Comic Art

I have loved the story and films based on The Frankenstein Monster for as long as I can remember and reading this well made comic was one of the highlights of doing this blog so far.  That is why the next update is going to be another A-Lister as I take a look at the one and only Return Of The Werewolf two issue comic series based on the Paul Naschy werewolf films! You long time readers will remember that I talked about this comic during the Dark Horse Pumpkinhead comic review, and thanks to some friends, I was able to get my hands on copies and will take a look not only at the comics but also the films that inspired the comic…so be here next update for a howling good time! Until then don’t create a monster and don’t go out in a full moon, and enjoy an episode of your local horror host and read a comic or three!

Return of the werewolf logo

Start Halloween with the Universal Monsters!

The late night has a chill, and the leaves are blowing in the air as we approach my favorite month with my favorite holiday that’s filled with ghost, goblins, witches and ghouls.  Of course I am talking about October and Halloween! Growing up, Halloween, also known as beggars night, was always one of the highlights of the year.  Dressing up in whatever costume you or your parents wanted and going around town and getting free candy from neighbors and hearing spooky stories shared amongst friends always seemed like a perfect night. In Waynesville, Halloween always seemed more special as I was younger and enjoyed seeing friends from school walking around town dressed up, getting the free candy and walking around with my brother and his friends. When we moved back to Kettering, I was much older and spent most Halloweens watching horror films on tape or TV or driving around backwoods with Matt Hoffman or Josh Weinberg. One funny story about driving around had Matt Hoffman and I driving late around Bellbrook on Halloween night.  I was dressed up as Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th), and he was dressed as The Wolf Hunter (a character he played in the movies we made).  We got lost and drove up what we thought was a small road that turned out to be someone’s driveway, and when we got to the house, a group of people were sitting on the porch and one had a shotgun in hand! Hoffman and I saw this, and I rolled down the window in the mask and all and said we were looking for the killer party, and then we quickly backed up and they just stared at us.  In my mind I was hoping they thought that we were real ghouls looking for a secret party. Before we get into the comic reviews on DELL Comics take on Universal Monsters Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Wolf Man, Mummy and Creature From the Black Lagoon, I am going to share things that I look forward/think about every Halloween season!

The first thing is the Halloween decorations from cheap plastic skeletons to the traditional Jack O Lantern.  They make the season of fall seem so much more magical. Growing up my mom use to let me decorate the living room for Halloween.  It was quickly filled with ceramic painted ghosts and vampires, cardboard skeletons and frankenstein monsters in the windows and Addams Family flashlights of Lurch and Fester on the mantel. I like to drive around and look at Halloween displays people have in their yards and windows like some people do with Christmas decorations. I have seen some really cool stuff in Kettering, Waynesville and Fairborn.

witch halloween Decorationsjack-o-lanternwerewolf halloween Decorations

Another thing that kicks off the fall/Halloween season for me is the Sauerkraut Festival that my hometown Waynesville has put on for 44 years that’s always held of the second full week of October. The event is filled with great food, outdoor vendors that sell homemade crafts and almost all the amazing shops and restaurants are open for business. Over the years I notice the crowds at the event get bigger and bigger and lots of kids come and have fun. One of my best memories is buying ceramic halloween decorations that me and my mom later painted in her craft room that was also taken over as the NES Game Room, and also buying really cool homemade buttons of Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson and Billy Idol. If you have not ever been to this event and are a fan of homemade crafts and food and like the feel and fun of a small town, I would highly recommend you check out this fun festival.

Sauerkraut Festival  logo

Of course one of the best parts of Halloween is finding the right costume and dressing up as your favorite hero, fiend or celebrity. Over the years I can remember dressing up as Rell the Cyclops from Krull, Skeletor from Masters of the Universe, Dracula, a Clown, The Wolf Man, Bigfoot, Jason Voorhees, Billy Idol and Alice Cooper. The Rell costume was one that scarred me.  Longtime readers will know the story.  I dressed as The Wolf Man from my own film Werewolf of Ohio for a Halloween party held at my friends’, brother and sister Chris and Rosetta Workman’s old house in Troy. The lamest costume I can remember is being a clown.  My mom was too scared to put the black makeup close to my eyes so she left them bare. I looked like a meth addict clown who just couldn’t get his stuff together for that one last show of the night. One of my favorites was Dracula it was pretty cool putting in the fake teeth and wearing the cape with white grease paint on. But I also loved dressing as Bigfoot for my cousin Steve and his then girlfriend Emily’s Halloween Home Warming Party.  It was great spending a spooky night with friends like Max Ervin, Nate Stevens, Josh Weinberg and all the rest of the gang. Halloween lets anyone feel like a star as they can dress up and act like what ever they want to be.  If you want to be a zombie, then be it.  If you wanna be Lady GaGa, then dress like her! Below are a few pics of me from the ages dressed as all types of ghouls and fools.

me as clownme as draculame as wolfman couto as philme as bigfoot

The main point of Halloween is to go trick or treating, and every kid, with his pillow case, plastic pumpkin or plastic bag, hopes for the good stuff like Snickers, Kit Kats and Milky Ways and dreads candy corn, pennies and taffy. Some of my favorite treats to get were Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  They were and still are my favorite candy to treat my sweet tooth to. I like the old wax type wrapper better then the more lame plastic type. Another favorite was Monster Candy sugar sticks put into boxes that showed Universal Monsters on them. We use to buy these to give out for Halloween by my request and before Halloween I would sneak and eat a few.  I am sure my Mom and Dad knew but didn’t care. One other fun one I use to love was Wax Lips.  Terrible candy, but a fun trick! I remember getting a pair one year that I would wear around and then in a few hours I decided to chew on them and made them into a wax ball….such a lame treat but really fun and lame entertainment. I wonder if I dressed as Bigfoot this year and went door to door here in Dayton, if people would give me candy….hmmm makes me wonder!

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Halloween TV Specials were also something I looked forward to and some of my favorites include The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror” every year.  They are fun horror themed stories that have The Simpson family in situations that are not in the normal season story arcs. Roseanne had some of the best Halloween episodes on TV.  The Conners understood the spirt of Halloween, and the episodes were done so well and had that blue collar appeal to them that made them over the top yet realistic. As the series went on, they slowly lost some of the charm but Roseanne had some of the best episodes for this holiday. Two specials that used to air when I was younger every Halloween and that I still love to this day are “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” and ” Garfield’s Halloween Adventure.” Both were fun animated family entertainment.  Charlie Brown is the better of the two, and who can forget Chuck’s many holed ghost sheet and the fact he got a rock for a treat, classic stuff. Garfield had that wonderful ghost story meets John Carpenter’s The Fog feel to it, and the creepy old man that tells them the story is great stuff for young ones to get their bones chilled by. Halloween Specials are a fun way for TV Shows to cut loose and have fun and CBS, FOX, ABC and the rest need to look back at the golden age of specials on TV and bring this generation some spooky stuff for their Halloween nights.

The Simpsons Treehouse Of Horror dvdRoseanne Halloween dvdcharlie brown halloween dvdGarfield Halloween Adventure VHS

Speaking of TV, another thing that Halloween Season always makes me think about is Shock Theatre and The New Shock Theater both hosted by the late great Dr. Creep! Late night TV watching in October was always a treat when Dr. Creep and crew would host a terrible b-movie shocker, and the Creeper would be on the screen hamming it up in skits and later interviews with the horror stars of the past and present. Halloween time in Dayton and the surrounding area always belonged to Dr. Creep who will always be the icon of fright to anyone who grew up watching his show. During the holiday time Creep would make many public appearances, one of which was the charity horror film event called Horrorama where films would be shown from 35mm prints and Creep, along side Andy Copp and Rick Martin and later myself, would hold contests and entertain the crowd in between films.  Fall will never be the same without the Creeper who sadly passed away in early 2011, and while he might be gone, he will never be forgotten and his local TV work will forever have a legacy that will entertain generations to come thanks to DVD and VHS.

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This time of year also brings the Halloween Specials of Terrifying Tales of the Macabre to local Dayton airwaves.  These hour long specials are some of my favorite episodes I shoot in a season and are for Dayton’s Scare-A-Thon, a long block of Horror film programing that airs on both DATV and MVCC. Baron Von Porkchop, the host of the show, always seems to get himself into trouble during this time of the year and for the first one The Baron meets the killer The Sadness from the film of the same name at Wright State University during another one of his killing rampages.  The second one had Baron hosting “Werewolf of Ohio” and going trick or treating with his weird hunchback friend Melvin.  They make the mistake of getting the wrath of The Headless Horseman after them! These episodes are so much fun to make and rank always as the top sellers for us at the end of each year. I hope that the fans have as much fun with them as The Baron and I have making them. I am also so glad to have dug up The Baron from his grave and share his silly adventures with the fans, and I hope that The Baron adds to people’s Halloween experience as Dr. Creep did for mine. I should also mention another great Halloween event is Boo-Fest, a Halloween party put on by a friend of the show named Len, that he has Baron Von Porkchop as the guest judge of the costume contest, a fun time with really good people.

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When I was young, McDonald’s was the cool place to eat for kids, and Happy Meals and the toys inside were things we all collected and traded on the playground. Some years around Halloween time they would also have pumpkin and ghost buckets for sale and when released they were everywhere in kids hands during trick or treat. But another thing I always remember is when the Chicken McNuggets in a commercial dressed as classic monsters.  I mean who can forget the Vampire McNugget or The Mummy McNugget? The commercial had them doing all kinds of silly stuff that all was to make their own dipping sauce.  Later in the short commercial Ronald McDonald just gave them dipping sauce. I don’t know why, but this commercial has always stuck with me and I thought it was even cooler when they gave away McNugget toys in the Happy Meals that had them dressed as the monsters. Fun stuff, and man now I am hungry for McNuggets!

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Kids and the young at heart always wish that Halloween Town from Tim Burtons “A Nightmare Before Christmas” was real.  Well here in Ohio, we have something very close with Foy’s Halloween Shop and all of it’s other shops (adult and kids costume stores, a haunted house supply shop, etc) in Fairborn! Foy’s is run by Mike Foy and is a one stop shopping for all your halloween needs they have masks, costumes, candy, decorations, make up, gag gifts and so much more. In October the store really comes alive with a DJ outside that plays music.  When Dr. Creep was with us, he signed autographs and DVDs out front. They have a Batman on top of one of the buildings and lots of animatronics of people puking! The street is filled with people just hanging around and having a good time.  Every year I try and make at least one trip to Foy’s in October because the over all energy of that area is great Halloween fun. If you ever find yourself in Ohio in October, do yourself a favor and check out Foy’s.

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Speaking of costumes the older I got, the more I took notice of the sexy halloween costumes that are just wowing. Halloween is one time a year when many hot ladies dress up as French Maids, Sexy Cats, Nurses and Playboy Bunnies and it’s like cosplay for the masses. Don’t want to spend to much time of this one, but I just want to say that women in sexy costumes is another reason I love Halloween! Thoough I will say that my girlfriend Juliet made a good observation that it’s harder for girls to find costumes that don’t have the word sexy associated with them.  Guys can be a scary Freddy Kruger while woman have to be Sexy Freddy Kruger.

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Halloween time also makes me think of my friend Max Ervin, a guy I knew for over 10 years and a guy that I worked with at two jobs. Max was like me, a big kid at heart and loved to look at Halloween stores and decorate the stores we worked at. His family also used go all out and decorate their house, and this I think always made the holiday special for Max. He also loved dressing up and every year jumped at the chance to come to work in costume. Max and I also loved to go to abandoned houses and root around hoping to find some cool stuff and maybe even get a slight chill. He also worked on many horror films with me and was a fan of cheesy horror like myself. Sadly, the world lost Max this year and I will forever miss his friendship.  He truly was a fun spirit who knew how to make the world around him laugh. Rest In Peace my friend, this Halloween blog is for you. Below are some pics of Max in Halloween costumes and one of him and I at Steve’s Halloween Party.

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What is Halloween without The Universal Monsters? The answer to the question is a little less fun for me! Growing up I loved the classic black and white horror films.  Every Halloween I use to watch the 1932 Frankenstein on VHS, and as I acquired more of the Universal Monsters VHS releases, they joined in the October must watch list. Besides the fact they are great films, the characters themselves are traditional scary monsters that kids and adult dress up as and all seem to mimic when thinking of that said monster. I can remember a few years back sitting in my darkened room with the TV glow as the only light as a thunderstorm poured down outside as I watched Frankenstein on DVD.  The sensation of watching the classic film on a night like that in mid October made me think of how terrifying this film was for movie goers in the 1930’s.  They must have been in total shock as The Monster, played by Boris Karloff, first appeared on screen with his bolted neck and flat scarred up head. The Universal Monster films are also a fun way to watch “scary” movies with your kids and help add to their Halloween experience.  So this Halloween do me a favor and watch a Universal Monster Classic and enjoy the horror pictures of the past.

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Horror films are my favorite kind of films.  Up to 89% of my movie collection is made up of horror movies, and like most people during the fall and October, I watch a lot of them. When thinking of horror films during this time of the year, the series that always pops into my head is “Halloween” with its white masked killer Michael Myers who stalks and kills teens and adult alike on Halloween night. This series happens to be my favorite of the mainstream franchises and is a series one should watch the week of the holiday. Modern horror fans might also think about the “Saw” or “Paranormal Activity” series.  Both that had sequels that came out every October.  While I like the Saw films, the Paranormal Activity series has run its course after the second film. At least one day in October I set some time back and watch mass amounts of them, and this year I watched Hatchet III, Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead (2013), Halloween 5: Revenge of Michael Myers, Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, Cabin In The Woods, Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan, Corpse Eaters, Stephen King’s IT, Demons, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III,  Texas Chainsaw 3D, The Mummy’s Hand, My Bloody Valentine (1981), Venom, Dawn of the Mummy, C.H.U.D., Frankenstein Stalks,  Miss Werewolf, The Wolf Man (1941), Curse of the Werewolf, I, Madman, The Wolf Hunter, Maniac Cop, Dracula (1931), An American Werewolf in Paris, Curse of Frankenstein, Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell and so many more! So this holiday season try and watch a film series like Friday The 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Howling, Re-Animator, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Phantasm, Psycho, Tombs of The Blind Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre or whatever you choose and have a fun fright filled night, cause Halloween is not complete without the horror films!

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One film that takes place around Halloween and is one of my favorite cheesy 80’s horror films is a little film called “Trick or Treat” directed by Charles Martin Smith and starring Marc Price as Eddie “Ragman” Weinbauer, Tony Fields as Sammi Curr, Lisa Orgolini as Leslie Graham with cameos from Gene Simmons of Kiss and Ozzy Osbourne. The film is about rockstar Sammi Curr who dies in a hotel fire coming back via a vinyl record.  When his # 1 fan Eddie plays the record backwards he gets messages from Curr on how to get even with the bullies of the school. When Eddie turns against the orders of Curr when people start getting hurt, Curr comes back to life to finish the killing spree he wanted. The film is pure 80’s hair metal horror that has the killer Sammi Curr traveling through electricity and using his guitar to kill teens with bolts of lightning. I first saw the film when I was 10 years old while my brother Bryan and I were being babysat by our older cousin Chris Jones who before this fed us Taco Bell and bought me a Hulk comic off the comic rack at a local convenience store. He and his friend put it on, and I watched it and thought wow this movie is great.  As I started collecting Horror films on VHS, I went out of my way to find a copy of it for sale at all the local video stores and second hand stores. A fun fact: my cat Leslie is named after the love interest of Eddie in this film. If you like 80’s rock, a killer who dances, plays guitar and sings, then this is a film for you. Be warned the film is not a bloodbath slasher film but more of a supernatural film. Also last year’s Horrorama and the last one we were able to show 35mm film prints for, Andy Copp was able to get a print for us to show so that I could see the film the way it was suppose to be seen. The film was also planned to be a franchise with many sequels like A Nightmare on Elm Street, but the it did poorly at the boxoffice and the plans for the series were scrapped. So in the words of Sammi Curr aka Fastway (the band who did the soundtrack) “Knock, Knock. Knockin For A Sweet Surprise..It’s a Trick Or Treat”!

sammi currTrick or Treat PosterSami Curr Lives

When I was younger I use to really want to get a group of my friends together in the woods next to a camp fire and tell scary stories like in the Nickelodeon show “Are You Afraid Of The Dark” but this sadly never came about. But what I did spend a lot of time doing was reading ghost stories from old cheap paperbacks that I would by from the school book fairs. My favorite one to read was “Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark” by Alvin Schwartz that had creepy drawings by Stephen Gammell and all that book’s sequels. That series of books had short stories about murders, ghosts, ghouls and pranks gone wrong and each story was well written and had a creepy illustration to accompany it. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is a book that has a cult following to this day and I know many of people my age and younger that still love reading these creepy stories from time to time. Two other popular series of books that were big when I was younger were both written by R.L. Stine, the geared for kids”Goosebumps” and the geared for teens “Fear Street.” Growing up I read many of these books and for some reason read Goosebumps: The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb a lot. Also around this time teen thriller novels based on Michael Myers (Halloween), Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th) and Freddy Kruger (Nightmare on Elm Street) hit the market, and while they were very cheesy they still were fun.  I remember reading the Friday the 13th ones after I checked them out from the library. One of my favorite books to read were the “Crestwood Monster Series” that were facts, plots and later the novel adaptations of classic horror and sci-fi films.  The series would cover Dracula, Godzilla, The Mummy, King Kong and so many more monsters. I own some of these books that I bought when I was younger from a library sale in Waynesville. More great reads that I learned about in my teens were the “Haunted Ohio” series written by Chris Woodyard.  They are real life tellings of hauntings in the state of Ohio and covers all the famous stories that are said to spook us Ohioans. If you’re a ghost hunter and sprit chaser like myself, these books are worth a read. And of course there are all the classic novels one thinks about around this time like Bram Stokers “Dracula”, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, H.G. Wells “Invisible Man” & “War of The Worlds” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” to name a few. Or you could even read novelizations of horror films that flooded the market in the late 70’s and through out the 90’s. Novels are fun ways to work the mind and give yourself a fright this halloween season!

scary stories to tell in the dark bookGoosebumps The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb bookhalloween old myers place bookmonster series mad scientist bookHaunted Ohio booklegend of sleepy hollow book

This time also makes me think of video games and all the horror themed ones that have come out in my generation of being a gamer. I play a lot of video games and have played so many survival horror games that I could write a full blog on just that so I will be brief and only talk about a few. I remember playing “Haunted House” for Atari 2600 at Brad Burns’ house, a neighbor from across the street in Waynesville.  The game is simple and has a pair of eyes looking around a dark maze trying to finds pieces of an urn while dodging bats and spiders. The game was pretty lame but I remember always asking to play it because it was a horror themed game. I also remember Brad making fun of the game. Another game I played a lot was for PC and was on diskettes that he bought from a thrift store called “Isle Of The Dead” when he first bought his own PC. The game had you play a surviver of a plane crash that landed on an island run by a mad scientist and overrun by zombies.  This was a first person shooter that was one on the imitations of Doom. The game was super cheesy and would crash a lot but I remember so hard trying to beat it and not coming close. Another PC game I played a lot was “Waxworks,” a horror game that would send you to different time periods to retrieve stolen goods and kill evil beings. I used to play this game a lot and had fun doing so.  It was pure first person meets point and click game and had a great soundtrack. Lastly I will talk about “The Walking Dead: The Video Game” made by TellTale Games, a point and click adventure that follows Lee who was on his way to prison for murder and escapes when the zombie outbreak happens and comes across a little girl named Clementine who he in turns protects through out this amazing plotted game. This was one of my favorite horror games for the PS3 era of survival horror. But this is just a drop in the hat to all the wonderful horror games out there like the series Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Clock Tower, Dead Space, Castlevania, F.E.A.R., Doom and so many more. Horror video games much like the movies, shows and novels go hand and hand with the season, and are worth playing for a bone chilling good time.

Haunted house atariisle of the dead pcWaxWorks pcWalking Dead the video game ps3

One thing I look forward to every Halloween that takes place on the internet is “Monster Madness,” a show done by James Rolfe aka The Angry Video Game Nerd where he talks about horror films and gives mini reviews and facts about the movie he is covering. James knows his stuff, and it’s cool to see that he not only loves video games but also horror films, and he also has a soft spot for the Universal Monster films and holds them in a high respect so he goes up on the cool points in my book. I highly recommend his sequel-a-thon where he covers Universal’s Frankenstein, Hammer’s Dracula, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween series.  It’s a super fun watch and filled with some great opinions and facts. Also his Godzilla series retrospective is an amazing watch and brought back many great memories of the past sitting and watching them on TBS and VHS. Another good watch is his Top Ten Lost Horror Film Countdown.  While not part of Monster Madness, it is still one hell of a good watch, as are his Nerd Halloween specials that cover horror themed games. James Rolfe and his shows are now apart of my holiday tradition and are worth checking out.

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Horrorama is a charity event that happens every Halloween and was started in 1997 by horror host Dr. Creep, filmmaker Andy Copp and Rick Martin and is going strong to this day. I joined the group over 6 years ago and have been helping out ever since, bringing great films to the screen all for charity and for the audience to have a good spooky time. The event has trivia, contests and even one year a Miss Horrorama Pageant that had a young lady named Jesi Witt win for being a female Beetlejuice and let me say the ghost with the most never looked that good. The event is a mainstay here in the Dayton area and I hope it’s something many people look forward to every year.  I will say that the event this year will be a little sadder for me as Andy Copp my friend, film mentor and all around great guy passed away early this year.  I always looked forward to planning this event with him and hearing his ideas and opinions on what films we should show. Andy was the one guy who really pushed me into making films and much like my old media teacher, I think he saw the potential in me. Andy is truly missed, and this year’s Horrorama is for him!

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Dayton’s Scare-A-Thon is a public access marathon of horror films and shows that Terrifying Tales of the Macabre does Halloween Specials for. The event was the brain child of Henrique Couto, a filmmaker who is like a little brother to me, who decided Halloween around here needs a little more. The event aired on both DATV, MVCC and via DVD at Game Swap and also marked the return on Dr. Freak, who at one time was the world’s youngest horror host, as he did a new “Cult Theater” just for this marathon! The event also played many Pop Cinema horror titles and one year had live segments with callers! Overall this block of TV programming is some good stuff and is perfect for the background at any Halloween party. Oh yeah I should also say that during the live segments two years back, I dressed up as Scars, a werewolf I played in the Independent B Movie film “Bark At The Moon: Scars.”  So that was a nice fun tribute to that film. Scare-A-Thon is taking a break this year, but here’s top hopping it makes a return for Halloween 2014.

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I know I’m not alone in knowing that October also brings the breakfast monster cereal back onto shelves as General Mills puts out Count Chockula, Frankenberry and Boo Berry for a limited time, but man it sure does make Halloween even sweeter. The best out of the three is Chockula, and my least favorite is Boo Berry, but mixing Boo Berry with the other flavors is really good and worth trying if you haven’t. Growing up I remember the animated commercials and wishing they would be full cartoons that would have aired on Saturday mornings and sparked toys and comics that I for sure would have bought. I remember growing up when they sold the cereal year round and eating many of boxes for breakfast and snacks over those years. Previously Fruit Brute and the Fruity Yummy Mummy didn’t get re-released because they were shorter lived on store shelves than the rest of the monsters, but this year they’re making an appearance next to the big 3. I have crayons of all the monsters besides Fruit Brute (who was not made) and they are some amazing sculpted prizes that were given away with proof of purchase. The Breakfast Monsters just help add to my Halloween excitement and are something I look forward to every year.

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Those are just a few of the things I remember and look forward to every Halloween time, but now it’s time to get to the comics that are Dell’s take on the classic monsters of Universal films. A total of five comics were made and were released from 1962-63 are were a part of the “Movie Classics” line that was popular for them. It’s a shame that none of these one-shots sparked a full run comic series because I would have loved to have collected a run of comics that told me what The Wolf Man was doing after the films had stopped. The only one of these issues I had ever read was The Wolf Man and that’s been some 8 years ago.  The rest I am going into blind so I am very much looking forward to reading what ideas this comic company had for these classic characters of the silver screen. I just want you all to remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true it stays to the source martial.  So with that, let’s get onto these spooky reviews! Oh yeah and these will have spoilers to the issues so you have been warned. Thanks to Bell Book and Comic, Mavericks Cards and Comics, Ebay and my pal David J. Getz for hooking me up with these comics and making this Halloween update of Rotten Ink possible.

The Mummy 1

The Mummy # 1   * 1/2
Released in 1962   Cover Price .12   DELL Comics   #211 of ?

A unknown tomb is found in Egypt, and when it’s opened The Mummy of Ahmed is set loose.  The Mummy goes out for revenge on the ancestors of those who buried him alive after he was convicted of being a follower of Seth, the God of evil and was left to suffer for generations in a tomb that was hidden away. Ahmed uses his eyes to hypnotize a few men and has them do his bidding, eventually killing themselves in horrific ways. But when Egyptian beauty Kipa gets a scroll that is a death note, her American boyfriend Bart figures out that she is next to be killed and along with the police they are able to capture The Mummy Ahmed.  The Mummy escapes but is killed as he falls from pyramid steps and shatters at the bottom. But Bart and the police chief wonder if The Mummy really gone as his laughter fills the night air.

This is one of the weirdest and dumbest Mummy stories I have ever read! The Mummy Ahmed can talk and uses his eyes to hypnotize people into doing what he wants and worst of all he can run and move fast plus shoots lasers from his eyes.  One of the goofiest things about this Mummy is that when trying to run away he is tackled by the American Bart and then handcuffed and put into the back of a police car….how weird and lame is that? Just think about that image of The Mummy in handcuffs in the back of a cop car.  It’s mind numbing. Plus The Mummy dies after falling down stairs, what a lame way to go.  The heroes of this comic are Bart and the police chief, and both are pretty much a waste and only add a very generic good guy character to this rushed story.  Kipa is also a waste and adds nothing to this story besides being the would-be victim . One funny moment has Kipa showing that she wore special contact lenses to protect her from the stare of Ahmed, and this so reminds me of something you would have seen in a classic Dick Tracy comic strip with BB Eyes or an episode of the 60’s live action Batman TV show. This comic is a pure disappointment and is a bad start for Dell’s Universal Monster comic tie-ins. This comic has nothing to do with the Universal films based on The Mummy and really comes off as a cheesed version of a horror story comic that was written by a 10 year old who likes sci-fi films and thinks lasers are cool. The cover is very well done and by looking so cool helps lead you to the disappointment that is this issue.  The interior artwork is pretty good and The Mummy looks like Kris, played by Lon Chaney Jr. in several of The Mummy sequels. Over all this is a bad start for the Dell series and makes me hope that Dracula will be better.  So with that let’s move onto that issue and the second in this series.

Dracula 1

Dracula # 1   **1/2
Released in 1962   Cover Price .12   DELL Comics   #212 of ?

Basil Shawcross is driving late during a rain storm to get to the home of his close friend Janos Tesla, an expert on myths and folklore. Basil is there to ask about vampires and dismisses everything his friend is telling him as medical issues and nothing more. Janos questions why his friend came on a night like this only to argue about the information he is asking for.  Basil breaks down and tells Janos his son died in Transylvania and how be believes he has been wrongly pronounced dead, especially after his son met a girl in the graveyard named Irina.  Basil wants his friend to travel and get answers with him. The pair travel to Transylvania and only get news that his son’s body is missing and more talk of vampires. Basil still doesn’t want to hear this and late that night he gets a visit from his son, who, along with Irina, takes him to Castle Dracula where Count Dracula tries to bully him into bringing them fresh blood.  Unbeknownst to all, Janos has followed and uses wolfsbane and garlic powder to frighten off the vampires, but its too late for his friend Basil who dies during the commotion. In the end Janos tells the townspeople that he will kill Dracula and the vampires and avenge his friend.

This title is a slow moving classic comic style thriller that has one weak payoff in the Dracula department and in the “final” battle. Most of the issue features Janos Tesla and Basil Shawcross in a den late at night during a rain storm speaking in front of a fire about vampire folklore and about Bruce Shawcross’ odd death in Transylvania. While this aspect is interesting and helps build the scares, the payout is not worth the wait as Dracula only appears in three pages of the comic and when around really adds nothing but a few lines, one a rehash of him talking about not drinking wine. The idea that Dracula really just wants blood delivered to him so that he doesn’t have to go out and kill is something that should have been more of the focus of this comic and maybe had Basil being torn about doing it in hopes this would help his son in some way.  But then again that would have taken away from the den talking. The end makes you think that this comic would have sparked a series based on Janos and his quest to end Dracula but instead it lead to a comic series about a super hero named Dracula who uses bat blood….yeah. This comic has very little to do with the film it was based on, and that’s a shame because I would have loved this to be all about Count Dracula. The cover is great and eye catching and captures the Bela Lugosi Dracula look and mood.  The art inside is okay and looks like most Dell comics from the 60’s, and Dracula inside only slightly looks like Lugosi. While this is not a bad horror comic, it just is a weak comic based on Universal’s Dracula, and would have gotten at least another 1/2 star if it would have not claimed to be connected to the film. Let’s see how the Creature does and if Dell can deliver a solid comic based on these classic cinema monsters.

The Creature 1

The Creature # 1   ***
Released in 1963   Cover Price .12   DELL Comics   # 302 of ?

Scott Warden is a paleontologist who has been sent a hand of some sort of creature that once lived in the deep waters of the Amazon.  When the scientist who sent it goes missing near the site the hand was found, Scott tries to go along on a trip with a rich man named Dudley Gaustad.  At first he wants nothing to do the Scott until his diver Mitch Love and his olympic swim star sister Monica Love convince him it’s a good idea to have him aboard and that he can also help dive and find the treasure that Gaustad is looking for. Upon arriving in the Amazon, they meet the ship captain and against the crew’s wishes Gaustad hires former Nazis as crew members who are clearly helping to gain something in return. When they get to their spot, the weather is super hot and Monica goes for a swim and captures the attention of The Creature who watches her every move.  When Scott and Mitch go for a dive they are not sure but think they might have seen something in the waters. That night The Creature attacks and kills some of the crew and this is when the remaining two Nazi’s make their move and hold the group captive, wanting to use them to find the gold that they think is hidden in the waters below. The next morning Mitch, Scott and Dudley are forced to dive and into the water.  Dudley is attacked by The Creature and then becomes lunch for piranha.  As Scott and Mitch flee, The Creature comes aboard the ship, killing the nazis and flinging them into the piranha feeding frenzy and chasing Monica in the water as she swims to get away. Scott and Mitch see this and come to her aid and kill the Creature with spear guns and take his body back to the USA to be studied as the boat is going away the waters below is shown to house many more Creatures.

This issue starts off very slow and the build up is for the most part boring, but once they get to the Amazon and meet the one time Nazi’s and The Creature shows up this comic starts to become really fun. Scott is your typical smart hero, who while a nerd is still a strong heroic guy who wants to get to the bottom of what The Creature is and when it comes time he deals with him and delivers quick painful death. Mitch Love is just the background friend who adds the extra muscle and filler to make it all connect to Scott as Mitch was once in the navy with him. Monica Love is the beauty for the hero and the monster to both fall in love with and the comic also adds two other sleazy characters to fall for her, making Monica the most powerful character in the comic as she has all the love of the major and minor players. Dudley Gaustad is a rich asshole who is not a total creep but gets the worst death in the whole comic.  It’s pretty messed up how he goes from punching bag to fish food in mere panels. The Nazis are scum as always and are the true bad guys of the comic while The Creature does what he does best:  kill and try to make it with human women. The idea behind the story is pretty good and as I stated while it takes time to really get going, it does have that old horror film charm to it.  I was not too keen on the fact that a whole race of Creatures are living in the waters.  I like the idea of only one being left in the world. Adding the Nazis was a nice touch as well and really gives the reader some characters to hate because let’s be honest, no one reading this comic can truly hate the Creature. The cover is okay and only somewhat looks like The Creature (Gillman).  As for the art inside, I really liked it because it had the EC comic feel and The Creature looked like he should. This comic is a closer to the Universal films based on the character and is a big improvement over The Mummy! Next up is The Frankenstein’s Monster so let’s see what Dell does with him.

Frankenstein 1

Frankenstein # 1   ***
Released in 1963   Cover Price .12   DELL Comics   # 305 of ?

Dr. Frankenstein and his assistant Fritz are creating life in the lab, but things go wrong when Fritz steals a criminal brain and The Monster awakens after being struck by lightning. The Monster stumbles around the room and is angered by Fritz who uses a torch to keep him at bay.  The Monster decides to leave the castle and roam the countryside where he accidentally leads two young teens to their deaths.  The townspeople are furious and burn down Frankenstein’s Castle as The Monster, Fritz and the Dr. hide in a secret bunker.  As days pass, Dr. Frankenstein gets an idea to leave Europe and head to New York to show a group of scientist that he has created life.  Frankenstein uses hypnosis on The Monster to listen to his commands and along with Fritz, the three are smuggled to America, but along the way the Dr. becomes power mad and uses The Monster to kill people that are getting in his way to become the top scientist he thinks he should be. In New York, Dr. Frankenstein speaks to the science community, but Fritz once more screws up and sets The Monster free.  It goes on a rampage and heads back towards the boat that brought him there and makes the mistake of getting on one with explosives and starting a fire! Frankenstein and Fritz try to save The Monster but it’s too late.  As they dive into the waters The Monster is left to burn on the boat.

This is a fun re-imagining of the classic 1932 Universal Frankenstein film and is truly what these comics should have been like! While I would love to have them directly follow the films, I am fine with them taking the characters from the film and proposing a what if world around them. The Monster is very much the confused brute he should be at first and while people die, he does this by accident and feels terrible for what he has done. You really feel for him when Dr. Frankenstein barks orders at him to kill and he must do so against his will. Plus his death is very much in the same vein as how he dies in the film.  Instead of a windmill in Europe, it’s now a boat in New York. Fritz in this comic is a pure dumbass and is the cause of most of the troubles in the issue, from stealing the wrong brain to waking The Monster at the wrong time he is a true moron! And with him being such a pain, it makes you wonder why Dr. Frankenstein would bring him all the way to New York knowing all his mistakes in the past haved caused so much issues. Dr. Frankenstein is a power hungry man that only cares about fame and proving his critics wrong.  The fact he would order his Monster to kill changes him so much from the film that you find yourself disliking him in the comic. He almost feels like the character is only a pinch of Universal Dr. Frankenstein and a whole lot of Hammer Horror Dr. Frankenstein who was way more mean spirited. The plot is well thought out and brings the horror to America and closer to home for the younger readers of 1963.  I am sure this added to the shock and wonder. I for one really enjoyed this issue and would have loved to see this go onto a full series.  This marks the best so far of the Dell Movie Classics Universal Monsters run. So let’s see how the final issue in the series holds up as we take a look at The Wolf Man!

The Wolf Man 1

The Wolf Man # 1   *1/2
Released in 1963   Cover Price .12   DELL Comics   # 308 of ?

Milo Zak has just graduated collage and is now a doctor who wants to return to his hometown, a small village that still cures its sick with an old witch and a gypsy and bases everything off superstition. When returning home he is reunited with his girlfriend Lyana and his aunt & uncle and quickly opens a doctor’s office that does no business.  This makes him want to set out to prove that his medicine is better than any of the old remedies. But his goal to prove superstition and supernatural takes a turn for the worse when he meets Vorcla, a man who can control wolves and uses his power to take money from the villagers.  Milo decides to prove him as a fake and embarrasses him in front of the whole town! The town starts to believe in Milo as the witch and gypsy warn him that his future looks bad.  It indeed turns bad as Vorcla, who has been banned from the town, comes back and kills his aunt and uncle and many of the townspeople and then bites Milo making him a werewolf. Lyana calls for one of Milo’s school buddies who comes to town and kills Vorcla with a silver cane and frees Milo of his curse.

This comic has absolutely nothing to do with the Universal film and should not have The Wolf Man named attached to it.  This comic does not have a single mention of Larry Talbot. Vorcla is the bad guy, and he is only somewhat a werewolf as he walks around even during the day looking like a crazed beast with style in his suit, cape and hat. His only real power is he can control wolves and he can pass on his curse of being whatever he is. Milo Zak, who is the main focus of the comic, is a man who has embraced modern medicine and turned his back on the old ways of his home town, and by doing so he messes with the wrong person and some of his family and friends pay the price as he is also cursed with werewolf meets vampire like powers. Tha’ts the one dumb thing about this comic, the “Werewolf” Vorcla always looks like a hairy freak who walks around and talks like a normal man and controls the minds of wolves.  When he’s passing on the curse, he bites Milo on the neck like a vampire and neither casts a reflection in the mirror….yeah, who ever wrote this mess got the legends of vampires and werewolves mixed up. This is the most disappointing of the Dell Universal Monster Comics for me as The Wolf Man has always been my favorite, and he deserved way better than this mess that only uses his name to try and draw in readers. The art is okay and once more has that classic 60’s horror comic look.  The “werewolf” Vorcla looks more like Jack The Ripper meets Mr. Hyde, and the cover is pretty generic showing the outline of Wolf Man with a snow background.  Much like the name, the cover is misleading as this comic doesn’t have a flake of snow in it. This comic didn’t live up to what it could have been and gets only one and a half star because it’s so far away from the source material that it’s an insult to fans of the film. And that marks the end of the Dell run!

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I want to say that these comics are NOT terrible, and while The Mummy and The Wolf Man got low stars it’s because they went way too far away from the source material. This series is very dated and the twists that they took with characters for the most part don’t work! I went in looking at these as re-imaginings of the films, and while I can respect the attempt at reinventing the monsters’ images and stories, I am not sure why some of them lost the very essence of what the monster was. Dracula is the closest one to what he should be followed closely by both Frankenstein’s Monster and The Creature, while The Wolf Man is the farthest away from the source followed by The Mummy. The best drawn of these comic would have to be The Creature followed really closely by Frankenstein.  Both have a great style, and Frankenstein has some amazing panels that use odd colors very well to enhance the chilling factor. Once more The Wolf Man comes in with the worst as his comic is very bland and run of the mill cheap horror comic style, though I will say I do like how they tried to use shadows in many of the panels. Over all I did have a lot of fun reading these comics and did enjoy the fact that Dell tried to update and deliver Universal Monsters to comic readers of the early 60’s and wish more comic companies today would take chances in what they put out besides 7 different books with Wolverine or Batman in them. Our next update will continue the Halloween spirit, and we will take a look at a small company called Northstar as they did a four issue loose comic adaptation of the film “Leatherface: A Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.”  So until then, stay scared!

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