Day Of The Monster Bash Vacation (2017)

Welcome back to Rotten Ink!  Once more, it’s time for Juliet and I to take a long overdue vacation, and once more we decided to spend it in Cranberry, PA to attend the best classic monster convention of all time, Monster Bash! It’s a special year as this is the 20th year of the convention and there are lots of great guests like Ricou Browning who played Gillman in Creature From The Black Lagoon, Larry Storch from The Ghostbusters and F-Troop as well as Hammer Horror actress Veronica Carlson to name a few. Plus I am pretty hyped to see what statues they have awaiting us attendees and whether there will be a fancy monster car up front besides The Munsters Drag-U-La! It will also be great to see David “The Rock” Nelson as well as Horror Hosts Son Of Ghoul, Mr. Lobo and Penny Dreadful as they are all great people and help add to this wonderful weekend getaway. I for one have been looking forward to this vacation for a while.  After moving and the stresses of work and the creative stuff I do, getting away and relaxing with classic monster fans sounded like bliss as well as just hanging out in the hotel and chatting with Juliet who is not only my girlfriend but also one of my best friends in the world as she is truly my soul mate. So on this update, we will also be taking a look at the third Romero film, Day Of The Dead as well as the one and only issue based on the film from Dead Dog Comics. So pack your bag and jump into the car as you friends and readers are going on a trip to Monster Bash!

Our quest for Monster Bash began on Thursday June 22, 2017 at around noon.  The weather was warm and muggy as Juliet and I climbed into the Mazda 3 and hit the highway. While driving we talked about Sparkle Comics and ideas for future issues that we would love to see be released by our comic family. We also chatted about Pro Wrestling from WWE all the way to Rockstar Pro and mostly chatted about wrestlers I remember watching when I was a youngster. For our listening pleasure, we listened to the podcast The Real Short Box that has three friends Kevin, Donald and Jarred talking about comic books with the best episode of the day being them talking about their favorite 80’s comic storylines with all three having good choices and all three so different.  If you have not listened to these guys and enjoy comics, you should check em out. For lunch we stopped at Ruby Tuesday’s on the Ohio and West Virginia border again where I enjoyed grilled salmon with rice and a baked potato, and Juliet dined on a crispy chicken cob salad. It was a very good meal, and this is the same one we ate at last trip to the Bash. Once in town we checked into the Comfort Inn in Cranberry and went to New Dimension Comics where I bought a stack of comics to read at night including issues of Action Comics, Avengers and Boris Karloff Tales Of Mystery.  We spent the rest of the night in and ate dinner at Eat N Park and went to bed with visions of monsters and horror films in our heads.

Friday, day one of Monster Bash kicked off with Juliet and I waiting for the convention to open at 3pm so we decided to get some brunch at Max & Erma’s and had a good and solid meal.  From there we decided to get some coffee in Mars at the Mars Brew House, a very cool family owned coffee house that serves very good variety of coffee. After getting our order and chatting with the owner about Monster Bash and Baron Von Porkchop, Juliet and I sat outside and enjoyed the cool and rainy weather under the porch while listening to the church bells and enjoying the feel of this small town. Also while there I had to get my picture with the UFO in my Space Monkey T-Shirt, and for you readers who don’t know who Space Monkey is shame on you as he is a very cool independent wrestler who is a monkey who was sent to space! After hanging in Mars for a little while, we decided that it was time to head back to the hotel and wait for the doors of Monster Bash to be open as we both love this convention! On a side note I also want to say that I really dig the small town feel of Mars as it reminds me of Mayberry as everyone is always so nice and train tracks run through downtown and churches are all around…just a very cool small town.

When 3pm hit Juliet and I made our way down to Monster Bash.  The Drag-U-La was out front, and I was happy to see it again! Once inside we noticed that this was the most busy we had ever seen Monster Bash since we began going, and it was great to see so many people at an event that is celebrating classic movie monsters. After waiting in line for a short time, we entered the convention and saw the statues that were all fantastic! This time they were Gillman from Creature Walks Among Us, The Monster from The Bride, Dracula from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and lastly the Hammer Horror version of The Phantom Of The Opera that was my clear cut favorite! We walked around and saw lots of amazing things and seen lots of great people. But after about an hour, the place was really hot and people started to forget manners so we decided to head to the hotel and relax and plan our Wing King and a movie night! As always this was a great first day, and we returned with some great items for our collections to fill our new home together.

So I am sure you’re wondering what my first day haul of goods from Monster Bash was, right? Well it was a good day even if it was over crowded and people kept bumping into and cutting in front of Juliet and I! So here is what I got comic book wise: Night Of The Living Dead: Back From The Grave # 1 comic for $2.50, El Toro Azul’s Monster Movie A Go-Go # 1- 2 for $10.00 and The Defenders # 70 for only $1.50! Paperback Book wise, I got Elvira: Camp Vamp for $3.75, King Kong for $4.75, Nosferatu The Vampire for $2.75 and Young Frankenstein for only $2.75! Music CD wise, I found a bootleg copy of The Cool Ghoul and his Phantasmagorical Funny Fonograf Record for $10.00, a true fun Horror Host release. And in DVD’s I got The Leech Woman for $20.00 and DVD-R’s of the films IT and Cry Of The Werewolf for $10.00 each! Over all a really great first day with lots of great items bought. The one I am most happy about finding is the paperback book of Young Frankenstein written by Gilbert Pearlman as I used to own this in my youth and am looking forward to reading it again. So check out the picture below for the cool haul from day 1.

For dinner the first night of Monster Bash we decided to eat Wing Kings and watch a movie on the old laptop.  The film we picked was Cry Of The Werewolf, a classic black and white film from 1944 as a classic monster movie seemed like the right choice for the evening. Cry Of The Werewolf stars Nina Foch, Stephen Crane and Osa Massen and was directed by Henry Levin who also did such films as “The Devil’s Mask” and “Honeymoon Hotel” and this would be my first time watching it! The plot of the movie is a princess who has the curse of the werewolf trying to keep quiet those she thinks are getting to close to her secret. And from Wing Kings I ordered 12 Garlic Wings and an order of Cheese Fries plus drank a small cup of Coke, and both the meal and the film were good and made for a perfect time for this evening. After dinner Juliet and I worked a little on some Sparkle Comics printing prep and later I read The Defenders # 70 that I bought from Monster Bash and watched some TV before going to bed and gearing up for the second day of one of my all time favorite conventions.

The second day of Monster Bash was way less busy and had less unaware people as Juliet and I were able to walk around and enjoy the world of classic movie monsters! Just being around fellow fans of classic monsters, comic books and vintage action figures is super relaxing plus seeing all the smiling faces as they are looking at DVD, VHS and comic books is really cool and feeds your inner nerd. Walking around I found a giant poster that show cased all the Marvel Comics Heroes and Villains from 1988, and I was having a blast finding all the characters and even found Man-Thing who was hiding and after talking to Juliet we decided to walk away from it, but if its still there on Day 3, it will be coming home with me as it was only $15.00 and would be amazing to hang up near my comic book collection. So after wandering around for a little while and saying hi to some of our horror host friends, we decided it was time to explore outside the convention.

After leaving the Bash, we headed to get some lunch at Moe’s and I had a really tasty chicken burrito with a lime coke to drink! Juliet and I sat in the restaurant and chatted about geeky stuff and decided from there to head back to New Dimension Comics who was having a store wide sale and we got 30% off our order! Juliet found a Star Trek: Next Generation issue she wanted to read, and I found handful of comics I wanted with such heroes as Wonder Woman, Thor and Lomax and after our brief shopping spree we decided to just drive around and check out the land and the local business in the area. After a nice and fun drive we decided to get some frozen yogurt from TCBY as Juliet cannot ever come to Cranberry and not eat there. After we had our nice midday snack we decided to go back to Monster Bash where I chatted with David “The Rock” Nelson and we once more soaked in the world of monsters, and once done headed back to the hotel to plan the night of Day 2 of Monster Bash.

Day 2’s haul at Monster Bash was also a good one as I found some really cool stuff! In comics I found Captain America Annual # 2 for only $2.00! I got a great Dr. Creep art print for free from the artist and it will be hung with pride in my editing room! I got two wood art plaques that will be hung in our horror movie room of Phantom Of The Opera and Waldemar Daninsky, and I must say having a Paul Naschy wood art piece for that room is pretty badass; they cost $25.00 each! I bought Devil Ant 1-3 on DVD-R from The Rock for $20.00 each, and I truly love supporting the world of shot on video directors. I also got the DVD of the zombie flick Sugar Hill for $20.00 and a DVD-R of the film The Dead Don’t Die for $10.00! And I got the paperback books of The Addams Family for $3.00 and Return Of The Living Dead signed by John Russo who chatted with me about finding the stock of this old book in the UK! So as you can see, I got some great stuff and I think my top purchase of the day had to be the Paul Naschy wood art…as it’s truly amazing!

For dinner, we decided to once more get some Eat N Park where I chomped down on some liver and onions with some rice, mashed potatoes & gravy as well as some hash browns and water to drink. The meal was good as always as Eat N Park has always delivered a good meal to Juliet and I when here in Cranberry! To finish off the meal, I ate a smile cookie, and I still really think it has a Monster Candy taste to them and for the rest of the night I read some comics and watched some TV before finally going to bed with the third and final day of Monster Bash to follow.

The third and final day of Monster Bash was on Sunday, and Juliet and I started our day getting breakfast at the Pig Iron right next door and I had an amazing dish called Chorizo Hash and a Pepsi to drink. Once done we walked around Monster Bash one last time and soaked in all the classic monsters and briefly chatted with vendors and said our goodbyes till next year. I must also note that the cool giant 1988 Marvel Comics character poster was gone so it just was not meant to be. After walking back to the hotel I really do think that Sparkle Comics and Baron Von Porkchop should vend one year at Monster Bash as I think that we would fit it so well and could spread our comics and Horror Host to the attendees. While we are still here in Cranberry, Pa for another two days, it’s very sad that another Monster Bash has come to an end and that I will have to wait another year to return! So as always I must praise Monster Bash for being one of the best Horror Cons that I attend and look forward to coming to it more in the future.

The third and final haul of goods from Monster Bash was pretty good as I picked up DVD’s of Monster Movie A Go-Go, a Horror Host show that has them hosting Plan 9 From Outer Space and Santa Claus Conquers The Martians as well as two independent horror films they made called Nail Biter and Children Of The Way plus a cool CD of a radio drama they made called Anton Rook The Mummy Express and I got all this for only $40.00! Plus I picked up a made for TV movie on DVD-R called Death Moon for $15.00! One cool thing about Death Moon is that it could be covered here on Rotten Ink as a “Made For TV” update! So as always another great day of cool stuff gotten and all stuff I am looking forward to watching.

After Monster Bash, it was time for Juliet and I to go on a little drive and go to The Snowman in Portersville as we love to get a cool snack and enjoy the farm land around us. On the drive over Juliet and I chatted about what is next for her to write in the world of Sparkle Comics, and while we did not lock a project many possibilities were discussed and by the end of our vacation I will have a project for her to work on! When we arrived at The Snowman, we noticed that it was the busiest it has been since we have been going, and this made me happy as I really love this little shaved ice shop. I ordered my Yeti Shake and Juliet got chocolate shaved ice and we chilled at a table and soaked in the sun and before leaving had to see the horses again with my favorite being Cookie who is the brown female horse who is 33 years old. Another great visit to The Snowman and if you’re in the Cranberry area make sure to stop by and enjoy a Yeti Shake or a shaved ice!

While leaving the Snowman and before hitting the highway again, I spotted a small cemetery near a church and had to stop and see it! The cemetery was behind Portersville Bible Church and was very tiny and surrounded by corn fields and sat on a hill with a great view! The parking lot had a very old a cool crypt that was turned into a shed and looked straight out of a classic black and white horror film and this was what really caught by eye as it was the perfect mix of classic and creepy. Many of the graves was very old and lots of the dates could not be read from wear, and the mood of the cemetery was very peaceful. As Juliet walked among the tombstones I stood on a patch of bare land and looked around the land around and breathed in the fresh air.  After a while we decided to leave and Juliet would not go to the abandon school across the street so we headed back out into the world of Pennsylvania!

After a great day of exploring and relaxing, we decided that we were once more going to have a night of Wing Kings and a movie! I was craving some wings and spending the evening watching a Horror Film and before bed reading Captain America Annual # 6 sounded like a perfect way to end the night. So I ordered 12 garlic wings and some cheese sticks and the film of the night was Devil Ant, the shot on video masterpiece from independent filmmaker pioneer David “The Rock” Nelson! The films that The Rock makes are so much fun and have so much heart and entertainment value to them and capture the true nature of shot on video backyard films. Plus The Devil Ant is packed with tons of cameos from such people as Roger Corman, Hilary Clinton, Son Of Ghoul and Svengoolie to name a few. Plus eating tasty chicken wings and watching a zero budget film is something I think every Horror movie fan should do on Sunday nights! So after dinner and the movie I climbed into bed and read the Captain America comic and went to bed ending the third and final day of Monster Bash.

Day five of being in Cranberry, Juliet and I decided to get some breakfast at Einstein Bros and after went to the Cranberry Cinema to see Transformers: The Last Knight on the big screen! We both really like the Cranberry Cinema as its a great independently owned first run theater with a great staff and on Mondays tickets are cheaper and they give you a free small popcorn! After the movie we hung out again at the hotel and I read some comics and took a nap, and once back up we ate lunch at Max And Erma’s and had desert at TCBY making it the second time we had frozen yogurt on this trip. After we had a good frozen treat, we went back to New Dimension Comics and loaded up on great $1.00 books where I found such cool comics like Night Of The Living Dead: Aftermath, Captain America and many more. Once back at the hotel and when evening came we watched WWE Monday Night Raw and had diner at Bob Evans via carry out. Before bed I read the first issue of Night Of The Living Dead: Aftermath and an issue of Action Comics. And so ended another great day of our vacation.

On the six and final day of our vacation in Cranberry we decided to head to Mars Brew House and get some coffee before we headed to what is always one of my must stops the place that for me helps get my creative juices flowing, Evans City Cemetery, the shooting location for one of the most iconic zombie and horror films of all time Night Of The Living Dead! I have been to this place many times and its charm and just beautiful atmosphere is refreshing to a guy like we who likes small town life, but has to live in the city as well as work in it. Juliet and I walked around for a long while chatting about Sparkle Comics, zombie films, graves and Monster Bash. One thing we noticed this year is that the cemetery was over run by chipmunks that darted around like little fuzzy wildmen.  This of course made us joke about doing a comic called “Night Of The Living Chipmunks”! Even at one point as we were walking the isles of tombstones we both had to dodge a crazed bird that was flying right toward us! This is such a peaceful place and if you find yourself in the area and just need a quite place to relax and maybe read a book or comic make sure to stop here and soak it all in.

While in Cranberry I sent a message to Wampum Underground to see if Juliet and I could take a tour of the main filming spot of my favorite zombie film of all time and the main topic of this update Day Of The Dead…but sadly they would not allow us, and while it was a letdown, I understand why they don’t let fans of the film in as it would be nonstop plus they store people’s personal items as well as companies. So while we could not go inside Juliet and I still decided to at least drive to it and see it from the outside, and man when we arrived I just imagined the whole area being swarmed with zombies and this made me smile. We drove past it a few times and I snapped a few pictures as we pulled over so that I could at least soak in the filming spot. Once done Juliet and I headed back home and chatted about comics, movies, life and wrestling while we listened to more Real Short Box Podcasts. I always hate when this vacation to Monster Bash comes to an end as I really do enjoy being there and just love the fact that classic monsters are being honored by the staff of the Bash as well as fans who attended the event. Once home I had a few more days off before I had to return to work and spent it working on the new house, working on Sparkle Comics and found some old movie scripts that might be finally shot for the possible rebirth of Independent B Movie. So that was the vacation part of this update and now its time for us to talk about…..DAY OF THE DEAD!

George A. Romero created the modern zombie film with his 1968 classic “Night Of The Living Dead” that I covered twice here on Rotten Ink.  One was the Prolougue & Aftermath and then I did the Adaptation of the film both done by Fantaco Comics. Then in 1978, he returned to the zombie world and made the masterpiece “Dawn Of The Dead” with last year me taking a look at the IDW Adaptation of the film, and now this year’s Monster Bash leads me to my favorite in the series hands down “Day Of The Dead”! So if you’re ready to go underground to hide from the living dead, we will start our journey into the third Romero film and enter the world of when the dead ruled the day and the dawn was over!

Let’s begin our trip to the underground world were the dead has taken over topside by breaking down the film itself. While I could babble on about this film for ever I will make it brief as I also think that those who want to really get the inside story of the film should buy the Scream Factory DVD or Blu-Ray and watch the fantastic extras that goes into the full history of the film.

Day Of The Dead was part of a three film deal that George A. Romero signed with Laurel Entertainment who wanted the third film in his dead series to be made and as part of the deal, both Creepshow and Knightriders were made and unleashed onto the horror watching masses. The idea for Day of The Dead started out big as the original budget was set at $7 million, and it was supposed to be the “Gone With The Wind” of zombie films! The original idea was to have it be high action with the army fighting zombies with boats and explosions in Florida with lots of the budget going into the effects. But after the budget was cut down to only $3.5 million, the big ideas had to be cut down to a more practical story.  The film ended up being mostly shot in Pennsylvania with some still being filmed in Florida, and they took lots of the action out of the script and added more drama. Casting was perfect and went as following Lori Cardille as Sarah Bowman, Terry Alexander as John, Jarlath Conroy as Bill, Joseph Pilato as Captain Rhodes, Gary Howard as Pvt. Steel and Sherman Horard as Bub to name a few. He hired Tom Savini and his crew to do the FX including Gregory Nicotero who would go on to do FX on the hit AMC show The Walking Dead. The film needed lots of zombies, and extras were brought in and did it for free or made a $1.00 and got a hat that said “I Was A Zombie In Day Of The Dead”. The production was grueling as they filmed under ground in Wampum, and the air down there made many actors and crew sick. When done Laurel Entertainment released it to limited theaters on July 19, 1985 and was meet with mix reviews by fans and critics and only brought in $5,000,000.00 at the US Box Office making the film not a major hit, but it did do better overseas bringing in $28 million to help the film become a minor hit. In 1985 Day of the Dead was # 115 at the box office and beat out such classic genre films as “Godzilla 1985”, “Rainbow Brite And The Star Stealer”, “The Bride”, “Re-Animator”, “Def-Con 4” and “The Company Of Wolves” to name a few. What hurt Day Of The Dead at the cinema was the fact it had a limited release and was up against other horror films like “A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Dead”, “Fright Night”, “Friday The 13th V: A New Beginning”, “Silver Bullet” and “Return Of The Living Dead,” a film that updated the the zombie genre that Romero created with faster, smarter and more threatening undead. But while for the longest time it was viewed as the weaker of the Romero Dead Trilogy, it has gained the respect and fanfare that it has been due since it was released. Again while I love many zombie films like Zombi 2, Return Of The Living Dead, White Zombie, Night of The Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead, it’s Day of The Dead that remains my favorite.

So as you can see hands down my favorite zombie film of all time is Day Of The Dead and many of you long time readers remember that I first saw this film on USA Network when I was a kid and it captured my imagination and was a hot talk topic at school when it first aired on that iconic network. I spent sometime as well drawing pictures of Bub and wondering if he would show up in the 4th Romero Dead film. Once we got a VCR and I found the VHS tape of the movie, I of course bought it and watched the hell out of it! When playing Resident Evil 3: Nemesis on the Sony Playstation and near death I would limp around and scream “Come On” just like Captain Rhodes did in the film as it always made me and others laugh. The home video market is what helped Day Of The Dead gain fans and would also be what helped it make more money to build it up to being profitable. I also really like the fact that in Walking Dead season 4 in the episode called Us, characters Glenn and Tara are in a tunnel and are being attacked by zombies and clearly one of the zombies is Bub!! I watch this film on DVD all the time and even watch the USA Network print that my pal Jason Young gave me that he recorded when he was a youngster! So do yourself a favor and make sure to watch this film this Halloween as it’s worth the view.

I also want to note that with a heavy heart as I was working on this update, George A. Romero passed away from lung cancer, and this was a major blow to me as I have been a longtime fan of his work and even visit his filming locations as his films mean that much to me. I want to dedicate this blog update to Mr. Romero and want to think him for all the scares he has delivered to all us Horror Fans and my thoughts are with his family, friends and fans during this very sad and hard time.

The score soundtrack for Day of The Dead is done by John Harrison and mixes eerie horror with an island sound delivering a very interesting and in my opinion very memorable score. That’s one thing that drives me crazy is when people try and compare the Harrison score for Day Of The Dead against the Goblin score for Dawn Of The Dead as they are two different styles for two different styles and mood of films and each do their respective film justice. Harrison’s score music is very moody and captures the dread as well as the hope that members of the underground group have, as the dark sounds really represent the zombies and the army both who are the the real threats to the group of scientist as the more island sound represents our heroes and John the pilot who has a thought that they should take over an island and restart mankind and leave the past behind us. I have played this soundtrack many times on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO, and my favorite track is “Breakdown” as I truly think its an amazing track and sums up the feel and mood of the film. This soundtrack has been released on Vinyl and CD, and the first time I owned it was on a CD called “Dead Trilogy” that had it paired with Night and Dawn and was made by Roger’s Basement a cool old website that use to offer hard to find and never released soundtracks to Horror and Science Fiction films that would also have dialogue from the films, very cool stuff and I wish Roger would comeback to the web and start this back up again. Now I also own the soundtrack on an official CD release put out by Taurus, and on the vinyl reissue from Waxwork. If you’re a lover of Horror Film score music, do yourself a favor and pick this one up as it’s really is a great listen.

Like “Night Of The Living Dead” and “Dawn Of The Dead” before it, “Day Of The Dead” has had its share of some amazing merchandise! Like a very cool Prism Sticker that was in vending machines back in the late 80’s. Movie posters for theaters and video stores that would also find their way to being reproductions for home décor. The soundtrack made its way to vinyl and CD and has been played many times on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO. Halloween masks based on the likeness of Bub and Dr. Tongue have been made for fans to dress as their favorite zombie of the film. Plus Amok Time has made some amazing action figures based on Day Of The Dead of Dr. Tongue and Bub and these figures are a must have for fans of the film. Also fan art, shirts and comics have been made as well at the film has been released on many home media like VHS and DVD. Also Day of The Dead has been released on Blu-Ray and in the Arrow limited edition release a cool mini comic book came inside called “Day of The Dead: Desertion” that was about everyone’s favorite zombie Bub…before he was a zombie! So if you are a fan of this film like me, I am sure you own many of these cool items and here is hoping for more items to be made as I will for sure buy them to add to my collection.

So while Bub and Dr. Tongue are the two zombies from the film that get most of the attention from horror fans, I want to focus on one who in my opinion is over looked but is all the same a very cool zombie, and I am talking about Beef Treats! I am sure some of you readers are asking yourself who is Beef Treats, and I am here to tell you he is the male zombie that is captured and refuses to eat the beef in a can that the doctors are trying to feed him that is supplied by the army. Beef Treats, while not a major zombie in the film, has built up a fan following and was played by actor Mark Tierno whom I have had the honor of going to dinner with along side my pal Geoff Burkman who played a zombie in Day Of The Dead, Juliet, my pal David J. Getz and fans of writers of this iconic third film in the Romero Dead series at a Brown Derby restaurant after the Cinema Wasteland Convention in Strongsville, Ohio area. The dinner was lots of fun as it was great to hear Mark talk about his time on set and the motivation behind playing Beef Treats, I also think it was humorous that during dinner he ordered brussel sprouts, and in my mind I pictured a zombie eating those vegetables and it made me chuckle. It was also great seeing the fans and such asking Geoff about his time as a zombie as he is very proud of the fact he was in that film, and as he should be. So while he is not as iconic as Bub, I must say Beef Treats is a great zombie who added his own blood stain in the world of Day Of The Dead! So here is to you Beef Treats and actor Mark Tierno, who made this zombie come undead on the silver screen.

On April 11, 2015 Juliet and I decided to take our pal Geoff Burkman to Cinema Wasteland Convention as they had a big Day Of The Dead reunion.  Geoff played a zombie in the film and wanted to chat with the star.  This is also my favorite zombie film of all time, and I wanted to meet such stars as Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Sherman Howard, Gary Howard and all the others attending.  The main person I wanted to meet was Joe Pilato who plays Captain Rhodes, one of the best characters in Horror Cinema! The drive up to Wasteland was lots of fun and we all chatted about movies, The Walking Dead and even ideas for a Babysitter Massacre 2! Once at the event Geoff went his separate way as did Juliet and I, and after walking around for a few minutes and catching up with the old Cinema Wasteland Family, I got the honor of meeting Joe Pilato, and man, was he one kick ass dude! He cracked me up as when coming up to his table he screamed out to the crowd “Oh My God It’s Billy Romero, George’s Son!” as he told me that I reminded him of a young George Romero and that was one heck of a great compliment coming from him. The people around all looked at me when he screamed this, and I think some of them really did think I was Romero’s son! While at the table I chatted with Joe for a short time and told him all the same things all fans do about how he played one of my favorite characters of all time and got his autograph as well as a photo with him. Before we left his table he asked Juliet and I if we were going to the Day Of The Dead Q & A that was happing later on in the day and we of course said yes! Lucky for us when the time came we all got good seats and listened to the cast and crew chat about the making of the film as well as shout out famous lines from the film….it was amazing to hear all this in person! As we left the convention was when we were able to go out to dinner with Beef Treats Zombie and chat with fellow lovers of this film. I must say that Cinema Wasteland does it right when it comes to showcasing amazing cult actors and directors and don’t fill their guest list with B-List cameo actors from mainstream modern cable TV series. So I want to thank Ken and Pam for making this convention rock as much as it does as they have the heart and soul of true Horror fans! Below is the pic of Joe and I from Wasteland.

My pal Geoff, as you know by now, was a zombie extra in Day of The Dead. I have known Geoff since I was five years old as he owned a record store called Renaissance Music that my dad would shop at and I would as well once as I got older. Geoff is a cool guy and has been in a ton of plays in and around the Dayton area as well as has been in lots of great locally made films like The Manson Family, The Wolf Hunter 1-2, Babysitter Massacre, Depression The Movie, Atrocity Circle and many more. So it’s my pleasure and honor to sit with Geoff Burkman, zombie extra for Day Of The Dead and ask him a few questions!

Matt: How Did You Hear About The Casting Of Zombie Extras For Day Of The Dead?

Geoff: I was friends with a WSU film student, Bill Laxson, who was a customer at the shop. A year or so after he graduated, I think, I got a call from him out of the blue, telling me he’d gotten a job as a PA on the film. Either he mentioned the possibility, or I geeked out, or whatever, but one thing led to another, and soon I was in touch with the ladies running extras casting, and the rest is history.

Matt: When Selected Who Picked That You Would Be The Baseball Catcher Zombie?

Geoff: He was an umpire, actually. That was likely the choice of costuming, based on my measurements. I had no idea what I would be until I got there.

Matt: What Was The Process Like Getting Into The Makeup? And Who Did Your Makeup?

Geoff: Day One was the umpire zombie, part of the assembly line. Sadly, I don’t recall the name of the lady who did mine. I want to say there were 4-6 stations for making up the extras that morning. Took maybe an hour or so, iirc. Overall, we were on site by 730am and fully costumed, made up and ready to rock by 10am. We didn’t get called to shoot until at least 10pm that night. So, a whole bunch of waiting around.

Day Two I played a different zombie, one of the collar gang, presumably from the depths of the walled-off cavern. For that one I’d been shown through Saviniland by Bill and intro’ed to Tom himself as a possible head-shot zombie. No such luck, my hair was deemed not thick enough to mask the squib. Still, it was either Tom or one of his assistants (not Nicotero that I can remember, although I did meet him) who did me up, complete with several facial wounds off the “Zombies’R’Us” prosthetic molds.

Matt: Tell Us About The Scenes You Were In And Did You Get To Share The Screen With The Stars?

Geoff: Nope, no screen-shares for me. Day One umpire zombie shot scenes of the devouring of Steele, which show up late in the film. Umpire dude appears in the back right of two quick floor level shots with action in center frame. Of course, a lot more takes and angles were shot than appear in the film, including a close-up of me trying to jam a bloody bone through my mask. Boy, I’d love to have the raw footage from that night’s shoot!

Day Two was scenes of the break-in to the complex after Steele shoots open the door, so my guy shows up in the panning shot of the horde swarming in. I also did background for the sequence with Rhodes slamming a zombie off his golf cart, but I’ve never found him onscreen, even with careful freeze-framing. I was there, nonetheless. I was also a part of the crowd entering Steele’s death room, but didn’t make the final cut, despite another close-up in which Romero directed me to create a momentary bottleneck in the doorway. Such is the fate of an extra, even dead ones. So, I never got to work with any of the leads, although I was privileged to watch Joe Pilato, Gary Klar, and Taso Stavrakis (as a stunt zombie) do their thing. I don’t recall seeing any of the other actors while I was there, though I could just be forgetting that, since it’s not like they go around being introduced to the extras, and I would have been far too reserved/shy to approach them.

Matt: What Do You See The Fate Of Your Zombie Being After The Events Of The Film?

Geoff: Ha, ha! Pretty sad for them, eh? Stuck in that underground facility with the only way out going up the ladder after the escaping humans. And given that umpire dude was busy chowing down while Sara’s group was busy escaping, it’s not likely he ever made his way back into the cavern and up that ladder. I figure he just ended up wandering around until maybe he found a baseball somewhere and then sat down and bounced it off a wall until he rotted away. Same fate for my collar zombie, too, minus the baseball entertainment. I’d have to say that most if not the entirety of that horde eventually just fell apart, likely in pitch black after the power went out. Good thing they were already dead; what a way to go!

Matt: Thanks Geoff for sharing your memories with me again and my readers!

Geoff Burkman is a class act and has and always will be a great friend to me. I also really like the fact that Geoff enjoys horror films as well as comic books and music, and this is why I think we get along so well. Looking at all my friends I must say I have some very creative people in my life from movie makers, Actors, Comic Artists, Pro Wrestlers, Musicians, Painters, Models, Freakshow Performers, Horror Hosts, Tattoo Artist, Radio DJs, Book Authors, Clothing Designers, Beard Competition Winners, Craft Makers, Store Owners, Photographers and so many others who all do creative things! And I must say I value each of my friendships as each person makes my life better. So thanks again Geoff for taking your time and to answer 5 Questions for my readers and me. Below is a picture of the icon George A. Romero and tons of zombie extras.

As a longtime comic book reader, I was super hyped when I discovered a cool comic book company called Dead Dog Comics in around 2004 that kept showing up at Cinema Wasteland when I was a vendor there with Independent B Movie and later Andy Copp as this company was making high quality horror comics that were original and others based on movies, I would buy first thing and read them once back at the hotel and after dinner. The first comic I got from them was Night Of The Living Dead: Barbara’s Zombie Chronicles # 1 and I was hooked and even when returning home added all their comics I could to my Mavericks Cards and Comics pull list. I would also chat with the creators and owners of Dead Dog Comics while at Wasteland, and they would tell me what was coming up and listen to my ideas of what horror films should be comics as they clearly loved what they made and created. Sadly they closed shop in roughly 2007 and the void they left would not be filled for me until 2016 when Eibon Press was unleashed on the comic reading market. One of Dead Dog’s final releases was the comic we are about to review based on Day Of The Dead. I can remember being so hyped when I picked up this copy from Cinema Wasteland and was not disappointed when I read it then and can’t wait to see if it holds up! The downside is that this series was supposed to be a 3 issue mini series but only had one issue released before they went under. So as we travel even deeper underground to get away from the zombies I can hear this echo “Remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, its art and story.” So with that, let’s see how well this comic holds up to my memories and how well it does justice to my favorite zombie film of all time.

Day Of The Dead: The Rising Of Bub # 1 ***
Released in 2007 Cover Price $4.95 Dead Dog Comics # 1 of 3

Joe, his wife Anne, and a whole apartment filled of survivors hear the call from army soldier Miguel in the streets of Florida and try to get everyone together quickly in order to be saved, but an accident leaves one of their members dead and the opportunity to be saved lost. The survivors’ morale is down as they all meet up and try and figure out where the helicopter came from and who is manning it. The survivors group is made up of all types of people from young to old and locals and vacationers all who give their ideas about where the base is that holds their saviors, but it’s Norman who looks beyond the big airfields and finds a location that he thinks is the perfect place for them to be at. The next morning the adults meet at Norman’s garage and find that his plan is to use a push car called The Phalanx to get to the local jeep dealership in order to hot wire them and get them to the target location, and before they can decide if the idea will work over breakfast they are interrupted by Kat and her boyfriend who inform Joe that Anne has killed herself. While all this is going on the zombies are gathering and Bub is now free and leading a group of the undead.

This is Walking Dead and Land Of The Dead mixed as this focuses on a group of survivors who are held up in a apartment building in Florida who want so badly to be saved and think that if they can get to the base that Rhodes and his men are at that, they can be saved and are doing all they can to come up with an idea to reach their safe zone that they are unaware has been overrun by zombies. Joe is the “leader” of the survivors as it’s clear he is the one with the level head and breaks up fights and tries his best to keep the peace among his people. He also tries his best to keep an eye on his lady Anne and his daughter Kat who are also suck in this world of the undead. Norman and the rest of the group are all good people that are trying not to snap in the bad situation that they are in and tempers do get short as they all think they know what’s good for an escape. The zombies are everywhere and are hungry for human flesh and even Dr. Tongue is on the prowl looking for a quick meal. Bub is around but only shown in one panel as he is leading a group of zombies around underground and makes you wonder how angry he is. This is a great issue as it builds up our survivors and shows that they are desperate to find help and are stuck in a bad way as the world around them is filled with the undead.  The only major downside is that while Bub and the zombies are around, they are very much second thoughts and are the cause of the whole drama but only really get to eat one person for the whole issue. I would have liked to have seen more of Bub and do realize that issues 2 and 3 would have shown him more, but still a little sad all we got is one panel in this issue. The cover is great and shows a mad looking Bub in the underground.  The interior art is done by Jeff Zornow and is fantastic stuff and captures a good zombie comic feel. Over all this very much held up for me, and I enjoyed reading it in 2017 just as much as I did in 2007…wow that’s been 10 years! Fans of the film will enjoy this issue even if it’s not as dark as the film, and I hope that Dead Dog Comics comes back and delivers more comics based on cool horror films.  All I can say is come on, Chazz DeMoss, make this happen! Check out this cool art below to see what style this comic delivers.

So the day has ended, and we have survived another zombie invasion as well as another Monster Bash vacation.  I for one can’t wait to go back to Cranberry again next year and do it all over again! So with this we are leaving zombies behind and once more stepping back into the world of Pro Wrestling as we take a look at Chyna and the Chaos! comics based on her. So until next time, enjoy the rest of this summer, read a comic or three, watch a Romero film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! So see you in the ring, my readers and friends!

Matt Goes To The Movies 2014

Matt Goes To The Movies 2014 Logo

2014 was a pretty good year for movies, and while I didn’t get to visit the theater just about every week like last year, I still was able to catch many great films at my favorite theaters. It’s odd that after all these years I still feel the excitement of watching a film in the theater with some popcorn and an Icee. But before we get into my lists, I should say that my favorite theater is Cinemark at the Greene in Beavercreek, but man since they bought the theater from The Rave that place has had some issue and cutbacks that have really taken away from the place. The first thing you will notice is that on many days they are understaffed and many of the faces from last year are no longer working there, although my friend Chris still does so that’s a plus. Plus they did away with the flavor powder to put on your popcorn….so no more cheese popcorn for this movie goer. Others issues I have had is that during John Wick they left the lights on.  When my pal Jeremy Hoyt went and told them they turned off all the lights besides the center one that sadly we were sitting under…I felt like I was being interrogated by Dick Tracy! During November Man almost all the speakers besides the front two didn’t work, and worse, they had the front two cranked and it sounded like crap. During some movies, due to them going all digital with no projectionist when the film would start it would have no sound or no picture. Plus one of the most annoying things is the fact that they cram so many Coka-Cola and Microsoft ads at the start of every movie that it feels like your watching network TV! But to be fair for every bad experience, I have had way more good and that’s why it’s still my favorite theater. So let’s take a seat here at the Rotten Ink Theater lobby and let’s talk films of 2014!

Rotten Ink Cinema Lobby 2014Let’s get those bad films out of the way first, the ones that I left the theater wondering why film or even digital pixels were wasted on making them! So let’s take out this stinky trash before it smells up the joint! This year since I didn’t go and see one or two films a week, I was lucky enough to miss many stinkers but here are at least two that left a fowl smell in the theater.

WORST copy

# 2

300 Rise of an Empire

A direct follow up to 300 takes place at the same time and after the events of the first film, and instead of land battles, it’s mostly all about water warfare. Themistocles and his brave warriors go to war at sea with Xerxes and his evil sister Artemisia all for the glory of Greece. The film has some fun over the top boat battles and even a few sword to sword fights, but many times the action is pure cheese and some of the green screen effects look as if it was a made for the Sy-Fy Channel film. The scene that has Themistocles riding a horse from boat to boat and throwing fire is down right silly and mind numbingly bad. Highlights include a naked Eva Green who plays Artemisia. Over all, it’s a very poor follow up to the original and was a bland sword and sandal film. The film grossed $106,580,051.00 at the US Box Office for Warner Brothers.

# 1

Million Ways To Die In The West

This film just plan sucked! I saw it with my pal Jeremy Hoyt with a theater semi-full of people, and hardly no one laughed and many groans were heard at the poor attempts at humor. The film follows sheep farmer Albert Stark, who is a weak man with no backbone and no shooting skills, that is until he meets Anna, the wife of a gunslinger outlaw who has set his sights on killing Albert who has fallen in love with his wife! It’s up to Anna to help Albert get a backbone and survive not only a fight with her husband but that also with his ex-girlfriend’s mustachioed boyfriend. The film was written, directed and starred Seth McFarlane, who is a one trick pony with his gross and pop culture humor. So in other words, if you think fart jokes are top of the line comedy than Seth wrote this one for you. The film’s only real highlights are cameos from celebrities playing famous characters they have played in past Western films like Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown from Back To The Future Part III! At the US box office, this film brought in $43,139,300 for Universal. I hope they don’t make a sequel to this film…as the thought makes my brain hurt.

Those were the only bad films I saw in theater, but I should also note that I saw two really bad ones that went direct to video like Wolf Creek 2 and Dario Argento’s Dracula 3-D. But let’s not inhale any more of this stinky trash!

Wolf Creek 2Trash CanArgentos Dracula 3D

Up second, we are going to take a look at action.  While last year we called it 80’s action, this year we are going to add more into it besides films starring aging action stars; plus I am going to add action thrillers into this category. So get your Rambo headband ready because I am about to tell you my top 6 action packed films of 2014!

80s action copy

# 6

sabotage

Arnold Schwarzenegger geared up in this action thriller film that was pretty solid even though it had many plot holes. Breacher is the leader of an elite DEA team.  His wife was murdered by drug lords in Mexico, and he has his team steal money from their busts. When $10 million goes missing from one of their heists, the DEA turns up the heat and disbands the team. But when members of the team are starting to be murdered off, the team must figure out who is killing them and what happened to the money they stole that went missing. The film takes many twists and turns; it also has a solid line up of supporting actors like Joe Manganiello, Terrence Howard and Mireille Enos and some great gun play that all help add to the over all action film feel. The film sadly did very poorly at the box office grossing only $10,508,518.00 in the US for Open House Films, but both Juliet and I enjoyed it.

# 5

The Equalizer

Who doesn’t like seeing Denzel Washington kicking ass and taking names? This action drama follows Robert McCall, a retired black ops agent who is now working at a home improvement store after his wife’s passing. He comes out of retirement and takes on the Russian Mafia when his young friend Alina is beaten badly by her pimp who happens to be a Mafia member.  The bodies pile up as Robert takes the war to the streets and to crime that he witnesses. It’s a fun action flick based on the old 80’s TV show on CBS, that has Robert killing scum bags with all types of weapons from guns to hammers. Denzel is fantastic as is Chloe Grace Moretz who plays Alina.  In fact I think Chloe is an actress to keep an eye on because if Hollywood gives her the roles, she will pull them off. If you want to see scum bags get what they deserve at the hands of a man who knows no fear, then check this one out! The film did pretty well at the US box office and grossed $99,306,000.00 for Sony. I saw this film with pal David J. Getz, who was way too hard on it and took the stand of Denzel being to old to be an action star, and to that I say he’s wrong!

# 4

november man

The November Man is an action thriller that stars former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan who plays Peter Devereaux, a retired CIA agent who must go head to head with his former protege David Mason when a large plot involving a Russian general and a young female witness to crimes he has committed’s life is in danger. Throw in a hit woman who has been hired to kill her and you have a race to find out the truth and who is the real bad guy! One thing I like about the film is the good guy Devereaux is not a real nice guy as he lies and even hurts innocent people to make things go his way, but with that said he has his reasons and over all he truly is a “good” guy. Pierce Brosnan is fantastic in the role of Devereaux, and that’s what makes this over all average film a heck of a lot better. Sadly this is the movie that when Jeremy and I saw it at the theater, only the front speakers were working and to “fix” it when Jeremy told them, they turned up the front ones louder…doh! The film grossed $25,018,119.00 for Relativity via the US box office.

# 3

John WickThis was the surprise action hit of the year for me as I can safely say that I really enjoyed every bullet riddled moment! Keanu Reeves plays John Wick, a one time enforcer for a crime family who has retired to spend time with his wife who passes away from an illness. After her death, she leaves John a puppy and together they morn the loss. But when the son of the crime lord makes the mistake of stealing John’s car and killing his dog, they awaken “The Boogeyman” who will not stop till the son is dead. What follows next is nonstop action that felt like a video game come to life as bullets and fights break out in clubs and hotels, all ending in deaths! Plus it was funny to see WWF Superstar Kevin Nash in a small role, not to mention the supporting cast was also fantastic with names like William Dafoe, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki and John Leguizamo all doing great performances for an over the top action film like this. The film did pretty well for Lionsgate at the US box office, grossing in $40,649,000.00 and bringing them in a profit. This is a movie I will buy on DVD when it’s released to show to Juliet and my parents.

# 2

Expendables 3

My favorite action star of all time, Sylvester Stallone, returns as Barney Ross for The Expendables 3.  The film has Barney disbanding his old crew when he finds out that Conrad Stonebanks, an old teammate turned enemy, is still alive when Hale Caesar is injured by him in a raid. Barney turns to his pal Bonaparte to get a younger crew that consist of such actors as Kellan Lutz, Rhonda Rousey, Victor Ortiz and Glen Powell, and when they go after Conrad and fail and become his prisoners, it’s up to Barney and his old crew to save them and stop Conrad once and for all. This film has a paper thin plot but is heavy on the action! It was nice to see Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li and Arnold Schwarzenegger all return for a third time. Plus the addition of other classic action stars like Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes and Antonio Banderas (who steals the movie) was a nice way to spice up the cast. The new crew sadly are all forgettable besides Rhonda Rousey, who is a great looking tough UFC chick who can rock a red dress and bash a head in and look fantastic doing it. Not as great as the other two films in the series, but still a solid action flick that sadly did poorly at the US box office for Lionsgate only bringing in $39,322,544.00, but thank God the overseas viewers loved it where it brought in $166,850,000.00! Here is to hoping Sly will give this franchise a break and focus on a new Rambo film…or a sequel to Cobra.

# 1

Walk Among The Tombstones

A Walk Among The Tombstones is a film that mixes many genres together and does so really well; it takes elements from Action, Horror, Thriller and Drama and sprinkles in elements like Noir, Detective and Serial Killer. The film follows former cop now unlicensed private detective Matthew Scudder, who takes a case that involves kidnapping, ransom and murder, and once he’s involved he becomes a player in this sick and twisted game set up by a group of killers. Along the way he meets a young boy on the streets who becomes his somewhat partner and helps him stop the killings and expose the identities of the killers. I really dug this film and enjoyed the fact that it was a Noir Action film that kept me on the edge of my seat.  Plus the film’s killers are true scum of the earth! I saw this film with a pretty packed house and with my friend Jeremy, and you could hear many people talking at the end about how much they liked it. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, and the story has some surprises that are best left for you to discover when you watch it. The film did pretty bad at the US box office bringing in a total of $26,307,600.00 for Universal on a budget of $28 Million, and that’s a shame cause this film was pretty badass!

Liam beating Sly on my top action films, I would have NEVER seen that coming! So we whooped some ass with action now let’s get our nerd minds a good workout as we take a look at my top four Sci-Fi and Fantasy films! So charge up your Lightsaber and set you phasers to stun, we are talking Science Fiction now.

SciFi

# 4

transformers age of extinction

I hate to say it, but I really enjoyed Transformers: Age Of Extinction in the theater while eating popcorn, drinking a blue Icee with my gal Juliet.  That says a lot for me because I was by no means a fan of the other three films in this series directed by Michael Bay. This one’s plot is simple; the people of Earth have turned on the Autobots and have ruled it open season on killing them and taking the bodies away to be studied to see if we could create ones that would become weapons of war. When the Yeager family find and help Optimus Prime, they become the target of the CIA, and worse, Megatron is back in the form of Galvatron! Can Optimus and the remaining Autobots stop them from ruining the world..well of course they can! The film is packed with stupid robot one liners, wall to wall over the top action and the worst cameos for the Dinobots ever, who only have a few minutes on screen and are a waste of film as they really add nothing to the story. The film scored big for Paramount at the US box office bringing in $245,439,076.00 and when adding in foreign gross, it did over a billion dollars! So if you don’t mind checking your brain in at the door and want to see Mark Wahlberg team up with Optimus Prime, then this Sci-Fi Action film is for you.

# 3

Robocop

I generally dislike remakes of classic films, and when I heard Sony was remaking Robocop, my eyes rolled and I thought here we go again another heartless retelling all for the sake of a quick buck. But after seeing Robocop the week it came out, I must admit I was wrong and I think the people who made this film really tried to capture the feel of the original and update it all at the same time. This time around Alex Murphy is a cop on a mission, and when going after a crime boss he is blown up via a car bomb. OmniCorp, who create robots to fight wars, wants to make a super cop and use Murphy as the test subject and create Robocop! And once he gets revenge on those who originally set him up, he also soon finds that Raymond Sellars, the CEO of OmniCorp, is not a very nice man and wants Robocop shutdown for good when he finds he can’t control his mind and looks at him as nothing more than a computer. Can Robocop stop the evil corporation? Will his wife and son accept him? Will Raymond succeed in pulling the plug? All these questions are answered in this fun PG-13 action romp. Joel Kinnaman plays Robocop/Alex and does a pretty good job, but he is no Peter Weller. The supporting cast is also fantastic with such names as Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson and Jackie Earle Haley. The film did weak in the USA box office grossing $58,607,007.00 making the film a miss for Sony. It’s a shame; I would have liked to have seen a part two.

# 2

maleficent

Maleficent was fantastic ,and when seeing it in IMAX 3D, I felt like a kid again watching a Disney take on a fairy tale unfold before my eyes. My favorite animated Disney film has always been Sleeping Beauty so when I heard they were doing a live action film based around the villain Maleficent my interest was peeked. The film follows Maleficent, who is a fairy, and when a human boy misleads her and cuts off her wings to gain power in the nearby kingdom, she turns mean and waits for her revenge on the day the boy is now King and is going to have his first child.  Maleficent places a curse on the child to sleep forever until true loves kiss awakens her on her 16th birthday. But the film takes a twist as we see that Maleficent ends up befriending the young Princess and wants to try and undue the curse but can she do it? And worse the King has sent his whole army to kill her. This family fun flick was amazing and added so much more depth to the Maleficent character.  Plus Angelina Jolie does a top notch job as the “evil” fairy Maleficent. The special effects are top of the line with the fairy moors being breathtaking, as is the dragon that appears to help her in her fight against the army. The film did really well for Disney at the US box office, grossing in $241,381,217.00 and proving that the classic characters never go out of style. If you have not seen this film, you should check it out.

# 1

dawn of planet of the apes

The Planet of the Apes films have always been some of my favorite Sci-Fi films to watch, and these new films being made by Fox are just as great as the originals! This second film in the rebooted series follows Caesar, the leader of the ape population trying to work alongside the remaining humans who have survived a mass sickness that killed off most of the population.  This team up pisses off primate Koba who was abused by man many years back, and he sets a plan in motion where he makes an attempt at Caesar’s life sparking a war with the humans and apes. But can an injured Caesar stop the war or is it too late? The film’s special effects are top notch and throughout the whole movie, you forget that the apes are CGI! Plus with actors like Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Kirk Acevedo playing the humans, you know you’re getting sold acting. My favorite ape in the film has to be Koba; he is so bad yet somehow I think he really thought he was doing good by starting the war and killing any man or ape that got in his way! This was one of the films I was most looking forward to this year, and it was by no means a letdown as I loved every minute of it! The film was a hit for Fox and grossed $208,532,326.00 here in the United States showing that people still love seeing a world run by primates!

I saw a few other films that fit this genre this year that were entertaining but just couldn’t make the cut for this list: “Lucy” starring Scarlett Johansson, a film about a drug that allows a woman to use 100% of her brain after she is used as a mule to smuggle it to the USA when it’s surgically placed into her body.  When the bag leaks she becomes less and less human. “Pompeii” is about the town that was covered in lava and ash via an erupting volcano and follows a gladiator who has fallen in love with a young woman of power, and it turns into a tragic love story starring the likes of Kit Harington, Kiefer Sutherland and Emily Browning. “Legend of Hercules” is about a clean cut son of Zeus who is more of a gladiator than the hero we all know and love. All are entertaining movies in their own right but none were strong enough to make the list.

LucyPompeiilegend of hercules

So let’s trade our phasers in for capes as we now take a look at my top 7 Superhero films of 2014, and man I must say that films based on comics are dominating the box office and shows that comics are more powerful money makers then any company could have ever imagined.

SUPER HERO copy# 7

sin city a dame to kill for

This follow up to Sin City was laced with all the same techniques that wowed audiences upon it’s release in 2005 and even brought back many of the actors from the first film. Sadly it tanked at the box office and put the nail in the coffin for this series. The film follows many stories from Marv, who can’t remember why he killed a bunch of rich brats, to Dwight McCarthy falling for a woman who is using him and many others to get what she wants. There is also a story line of a lucky gambler named Johnny who tests his luck against corrupt Senator Roark and stripper Nancy who wants to kill Roark for crimes he committed in the first film. All the stories come together in the end and all ends well for some, while others end up dead.  The film was a lot of fun and not nearly as bad as many critics would have you think, but as I said it bombed and only did $13,757,804.00 at the box office for Dimension Films. The film also has an all star cast like Josh Brolin, Micky Rourke, Bruce Willis, Eva Green, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Powers Boothe, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Lloyd and Jessica Alba to name a few.

# 6

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I was very lukewarm on the idea of a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie that was a reboot to the series done by those masters of butchering of childhood memories, Platinum Dunes. But I must say the film was way better than I could ever expect it to be, and while it is flawed with a cheesy script and a Shredder who looks more like he should be in Transformers, the Turtles’ banter is well done even if they look like steroid goofy faced mutants. The film follows the Turtles who are going up against the foot clan who are tormenting New York and even have a plan in motion that will poison and kill many thanks to a gas they will be pumping into the air.  Alongside April O’Neil, the Turtles clash with the foot and their leader The Shredder, and of course along the way we learn about Master Splinter as well as a connection they all have to April. Again the film is flawed, but I enjoyed checking my brain at the door and watching a comic book/cartoon inspired film that tried to keep some of the basics of source material and also tried to add more of an update to it for modern fans. For me I would put it on par with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and say while bad, it was fun to watch. The film did pretty solid numbers at the US box office for Paramount bringing in $191,204,754.00!

# 5

Hercules

I am pretty sure many people who went to seen Hercules had no idea that it was based on a comic book from Radical Comics and to be honest, much like my cousin Steve Alexander said, this is truly one of the year’s most underrated films. The film stars WWF Superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Hercules, a mercenary who alongside his friends are creating the legend of Hercules, the son of Zeus. But when he finds out that he was hired to help the wrong side in a conflict, he and his friends stand against the odds and leave everyone wondering if he truly is the son of a God. The film is filled with great Sword and Sandal action as well as likable characters; this is one film I would have loved to seen sequels made about. The Rock as well does a fantastic job as Hercules and pulls off the role of being maybe a con man yet maybe not, making the character tough when needed and light hearted when the mood is right. The film sadly did not do as well as it should have and grossed only $72,688,614.00 for Paramount at the US box office. With the film being out on DVD and Blu-Ray, do yourself a favor and check it out.

# 4

Amazing Spider-Man 2

I feel like Amazing Spider-Man 2 was judged way too hard by critics and fans who seemed to want to try and nitpick it to death.  I for one really enjoyed it and found it better than the overblown Spider-Man 2 made by Sam Raimi that I think was praised way too much by fans and critics. This time around Spider-Man is locking horns with three super villains who are all gunning to take Spidey down for the count! You have the Rhino, a man in mechanical suit who feels as if he has been wronged by Spider-Man; you have Electro, a man who was a one time Spider-Man fan who after an accident finds that he has the power of electricity; and Green Goblin, who is really his long time friend Harry Osborne who is slipping into madness! And worse as Peter Parker is having issues coming to terms with the death of his girlfriend’s father to whom he made a promise that has him staying away from her. Action, Drama and Spider-Man one liners help make this one a good Super Hero film! Andrew Garfield is fantastic as Spider-Man, and Emma Stone makes one hell of a Gwen Stacy. The strangest casting had to be Paul Giamatti as The Rhino…his performance is down right silly! The film did pretty well for Sony at the US box office grossing in $202,853,933.00 even though they try and act as if it wasn’t a hit for them. I for one am looking forward to Amazing Spider-Man 3 as well as the spin off Sinister Six movie.

# 3

guardians of the galaxy

Guardians Of The Galaxy is the Marvel Comic team that showed the world that you don’t have to be a triple A team to have a hit movie! The film is about Starlord, a goofball outlaw who teams up with other misfits of space like the living tree Groot, talking raccoon Rocket, psycho brute Drax The Destroyer and green skinned female assassin Gamora to protect a infinity stone from getting into the hands of Ronan The Accuser, who is an evil Kree alien who is back stabbing the powerful Thanos in order to collect the jewel and become all powerful. The movie has lots of sci-fi action, drama and comedy and has some of the most likeable characters of any movie this year! Plus I really liked Ronan as a bad guy, and he is a prime example of a cold blooded super villain who will kill whomever gets in his way. When Juliet and I went to see this movie in the theater, it was a pretty packed house and it was clear that everyone in that theater that day had a blast watching it.  The overly positive remarks of people leaving their seats when it was over was a clear sign that Disney and Marvel Studios did something very right. The film did fantastic for Disney at the US box office grossing in an impressive $332,309,276.00 making this a huge hit. If you have not seen this film yet, do yourself a favor and check it out!

# 2

captain america winter

Captain America is one of my favorite Super Hereos of all time and has been ever since I was a kid.  This second film from Disney and Marvel Studios was a fun kick butt action film laced with enough drama to make the film feel very important in the over all movie universe they are creating. This time around Captain America, Black Widow and Nick Fury have became a target by a group controlled by a very high official in America, and they even bring Cap’s old World War II buddy Bucky Barns back from the “dead” and call him Winter Solider, a well trained killing machine. Can Captain America stop this evil group and talk sense into his one time friend? Watch and find out! While the original film was set during World War II, this second film takes place in modern times right after the events of The Avengers and trades in Red Skull for The Winter Solider and does a nice job of making the odds looking against Cap at every twist and turn. I must say Christ Evans makes the perfect Captain America/Steve Rogers and who would have thought that was possible? The film did great for Disney grossing in a massive $259,766,572.00 at the US box office. If your a fan of the star spangled Avenger like myself, make sure to give this film a watch.

# 1

X-Men Days Of The Future Past

The X-Men films, as well as the spin offs like “First Class” and “Wolverine,” are fun comic book action films that make for some amazing popcorn munching theater watches, and “X-Men: Days Of The Future Past” was just that and more as I found it to be my favorite Comic Book film of 2014! I know what those of you who know me are saying, the X-Men beat Captain America? But let me tell you, while Cap was amazing, X-Men was a fun thrill ride filled with some great faces from the franchise’s past. The film follows the future where mutants are being hunted and killed by Sentinels made by Bolivar Trask, and their only hope is to send Wolverine to the past to unite the mutants and stop an event that triggered the mutants’ death sentence. The whole mess is started by the younger Mystique, so can Professor X and Magneto put aside their differences and stop the terrible events to happen in the future…watch and find out. The film is based on one of Marvel Comics’ top story lines for the X-Men and FOX did a fantastic job of making it come alive on the big screen. The film stars all the classic characters from the series rich history with many actors returning such as Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Halle Berry (Storm), Shawn Ashmore (Ice Man), Daniel Cudmore (Colossus) and Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde) all returning from the first three films as well as actors who played the younger characters in First Class like James McAvoy (Professor X), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) and Nicholas Hoult as Beast. Not to mention the addition of new characters like Bishop, Quicksilver, Blink, Sunspot and Warpath. I don’t want to ruin the end but let’s just say it feels like a High School Reunion, and all the faces you see are ones that make you smile and feel good about the journey you made to get there. The film did pretty well for Fox at the USA Box Office grossing in $233,921,534.00 and even more overseas! While I like the First Class actors, I am hoping that the next film based on The Age of Apocalypse story will feature more of the originals.

So now that we are retiring the cape, let me talk a little about some cool things Game Swap Kettering did this year for me.  They allowed us to have private screenings of Baron Von Porkchop specials. The first one was near Halloween, and we set up a projector, screen and big speaker as well as a buffet of wings, pizza, chips and cookies. Friends in attendance included Juliet, Stephen Alexander, Maurice, Joe G, Garrison, Todd The Fox and V and we all watched Baron host White Zombie as he tried to enjoy a peaceful Halloween that’s interrupted by an ax murdering zombie named Fulci! They also got a sneak peak at an episode for season three that has Baron hosting the film Face Of The Screaming Werewolf. Then around Thanksgiving we did it again, and they got a sneak peek at the new Baron Von Porkchop Black Friday special where he hosted the Independent B Movie film Razor as well as the First Black Friday special whose film was Farmer Joe. Those specials has his feud with a Chicken Man he made that has become a thorn in the Baron’s side. But a big thank you goes to Game Swap in Kettering for allowing us to do these fun screenings. Whenever I get a bigger place to live with a basement I would love to start a Horror Host Fan Club that has meetings once every two months and we project and watch host shows…who knows maybe 2015 will be that year! Below is a cellphone pic from the Halloween episode screening.

Baron Von Porkchop Screening

So while doing a rundown of the films of 2014, I figured I would take a brief moment to give you my top three best Survival Horror Games of 2014 as well as the worst, because those of you who know me understand that I love to play a good solid Survival Horror game! Now I need to state that of the “modern” game systems, I have a PS3 and will soon get a PS4 so all games on the list are ones I got for PS3. I also want to say that the games I buy are on physical disc, and I do not download games so while many horror themed games did come out as digital only games, I have not played them and won’t unless a disc is released.  I like to own what I pay for. So let’s start off with what I found to be the worst of the horror games that came out in 2014 that I have played. And I won’t ramble much I promise…okay, maybe a little rambling.

Worst Horror Video Games

# 1

Escape Dead Island PS3

Escape Dead Island is one of those games that just reeks of a quick cash in with boring fighting mechanics as well as a storyline that is a little weak. This game follows Cliff, a party boy who wants to get his dad’s respect so he goes to the island of a zombie outbreak along with his friends Linda and Devan and finds out that the stories are true and zombies are running wild on the island! Along the way he also meets Xian, a woman who is looking for her friend Rob who went missing while getting intel on the corporation responsible for the outbreak. While the other two games in the series “Dead Island” and “Dead Island Riptide” are first person shooters, this game changed to a third person game.  In the two games that came before you could customize your weapons multiple ways, and in this game your weapons are very limited and barely upgradeable. Plus I can’t help but notice the style of animation is clearly trying to rip off Tell Tale Games’s style with the more cartoonish look. Over all this is not a bottom of the barrel game, but it’s close.

So now that I spoke about the “worst” Horror Game this year that I would more label at “weakest,” let’s move onto what I considered the three best games that helped make 2014 a pretty good year for horror themed games!

Best Horror Video Games Logo

# 3

Alien Isolation PS3

After the complete mess that was “Aliens: Colonial Marians,” Sega redeemed themselves with this fun moody game that allows the player to take control of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen who travels to a space station that has been sending out distress signals.  Once she gets there, things go wrong as she is separated from her small crew and finds that Xenomorphs are on the prowl and hungry for a human host! The game stacks the odds against you, and the player must use their wits in order to survive this terror in space. The downside to the game is that I felt it took forever for the story to really kick in and that slowed the scares from coming in. The game is a first person shooter and plays much like Call of Duty and so many other shooters like this. I must also say that some of the cut scene graphics are really ugly on PS3, and it’s clear that the development team spent more time on the newer generation consoles versions. A major plus for this game comes via DLC that allows you to play as Ellen and has many of the original characters from the first film like Dallas and Ash back, and they are voiced by the actors who played them in the film! While not a perfect game, it was a fun game that helped make 2014 in gaming a little spookier!

# 2

The Walking Dead Season Two PS3

The Walking Dead Season Two is a great follow up to Season One and helps add more to the story it created. This is a point and click adventure game made by one of the best independent game companies, Tell Tale Games, who have made some of my top favorite games of the past 4 years and this game adds another hit to the list. This time around we follow Clementine (who was a major character in the first game), a young girl who is trying to survive this zombie outbreak.  Along the way she meets people and she loses people all of whom are running from Carver, a man that use to lead them in a group.  All comes to a head when she meets Carver herself, a jerk of a man who runs a camp that is held up in a home improvement center and who takes Clem and her friends hostage and makes them work for the group’s needs putting them in danger. Your choices impact the story so when playing make sure to choose wisely. One cool aspect of this game is some returning faces from the first game as well as references to choices you made. The downside is the new characters seem to have less development then those from the original and the settings are a little less impactful as in the first game I truly felt like I could be zombie food at any moment. But with that said, this is a great game and one hell of a fun play.  So if you liked the first or just want to play a fun story driven point and click adventure horror game, then this one is for you.

# 1

The Evil Within PS3Take video games Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Clock Tower and mix them with Horror films like As Above So Below, and you have the new Survival Horror Game by Shinji Mikami, the mastermind behind the original Resident Evil series as well as Dino Crisis! This game is about Sebastian Castellanos, a detective who along with his partners Juli and Joseph, go to a distress call at the Beacon Mental Hospital.  When they get there, everything is in chaos and the world as they know it has changed and infected people and monsters are wandering the world above as well as below. Can Sebastion get to the bottom of what’s going on as well as unearth the truth of why and who is responsible! The game is packed with great atmosphere and at all times I feel as if the odds are against me as ammo comes in only ones and twos and most the time it’s better to run than to fight. So if you’re not too scared, get this game and beware of Safehead!

It was very hard to pick between Evil Within and The Walking Dead Season Two for the # 1 spot as both are solid and super fun games, but in the end I had to go with Evil Within as I felt that it truly captured what a Survival Horror Game is all about and at all times I felt as if the odds of survival were against me. One game that came out that while I bought I have not played yet is Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2, so who knows where it would have placed.

Castlevania Lords Of Shadow 2 PS3

So we talked a little about screenings of Horror Host Baron Von Porkchop as well as Survival Horror Video Games, now let’s get to the bloody meat of this update and take a look at the Horror Films of Hollywood!

horror copy

# 11

Tusk

Tusk was so close to being on my worst films of the year list as once more Kevin Smith smoked a bunch of pot and unleashed another over the top film onto the small masses who still watch his films. But then I read some interviews with Smith and he explained that he wanted to make this film because he wanted to and not for a studio or for quick cash.  I began to see that the film is labor of love much like the film The Wolf Hunter is to Matt Hoffman. It’s about a podcast host who travels to Canada for an interview with a kid who is a Youtube sensation after cutting off his own leg with a samurai sword.  When he gets there, he finds the kid has committed suicide, and he then travels to an old mansion to talk to an old man who has a story to tell or so the letter left in a mens room says. The rest of this film has the old man turning the podcaster into a human walrus as his co-host and his girlfriend try to find and save him.  Oh yeah and throw in a dimwitted investigator, and you have the film. When the podcaster is turned into full Walrus, I laughed out loud in the theater and thought to myself what and why am I watching this! I should also note that Juliet and I were the only people at the theater watching this film at the time. It stars Justin Long, Johnny Depp, Haley Joel Osment and Michael Parks and all do fantastic with the silly parts they are given. Again when you see Long, who plays the podcaster, as a walrus you can’t help but to laugh as he swims and grunts around. The film did poorly for A24 and only grossed $1,826,705.00 and didn’t even get a foreign release. If you are to watch this cheesy thriller/comedy horror film check your brain at the door and be prepared for long goofy dialogue and unlikable characters.

# 10

the pyramid

Hollywood horror films are lacking mummies, and when The Pyramid was announced I was hyped believing that we got a mummy film in 2014…I was sadly wrong. I first need to say that I was hyped to see this film and was ready for a creepy Egyptian found footage film taking place in an old pyramid where the viewer was not sure what was stalking our characters.  So when this film was a disappointment, I think it’s because of my own hype I made for it. The hype I made for it was the fact it was the last theatrical horror film of the year and again the setting and the possibility of it being about a Mummy. The film is about a father and daughter team as well as her boyfriend being followed by a documentary crew who are in Egypt during stressful times who find a pyramid that could be the oldest one ever found.  When they are told to leave due to the outbreak of civil uprising, they send in a robot real quick to get a sneak peek and when the bot looses contact, they go in to retrieve it and soon find the pyramid was a place to keep something in and not things out! One by one, they fall victim to the hunter who is a jackal headed god who has been placed there because it went mad after the death of its father. Can any of them survive and can they also dodge the evil cats that are roaming around…yeah the film has evil cats. The characters all seem brain dead with the cameraman and father being the worst two.  The CGI for the cats and jackal god are downright eye rolling, and the film was just kind of boring.  I was not the only one who felt this as Juliet and several others in the theater also expressed these feelings. The film was pulled from wide release to limited, and we had to see it at the Regal Cinema in Beavercreek.  Doing this made the film only gross a small $ 2,638,300.00 for FOX at the US box office. No Mummy but a heck of a lot of CGI Cats is what I got in The Pyramid.

# 9

Ouija

Ouija is a film based on the Hasbro board game and produced by those masters of crap Platinum Dunes.  It’s your typical paint by number ghost story. When a young woman commits suicide, her friends don’t believe it and soon find that she was messing with a Ouija Board on her own and had unleashed something terrible, but they only learn this after they themselves use the board to try and speak to her. Now the evil is after them, can they find the answers on how to stop the spirit or will they all become victims? No major gore, some cool spirit effects, some good creepy shots, pretty actresses, released at Halloween time and a fun film to torment my friend Jeremy with as he had to be dragged to this film kicking and screaming! The film did $50,856,010.00 for Universal and is clearly a teen PG-13 horror film that was nothing special and not fully terrible.

# 8

The Quiet Ones

The Quiet Ones is a Hammer Horror Film that follows a camera man who takes the job of documenting a college professor who, along with his helpers, are trying to cure a sick and possessed young woman named Jane whom they have locked in a room and wont allow her to sleep for any long period of time as well as keep her human interaction to a minimum. But when her treatments become more and more cruel, the camera man must come to a decision on whether to help Jane escape who he has fallen for or stay true to his assignment as the Professor thinks she can be cured. So is she possessed or being abused…watch and find out. The film is a little slow and while well acted for the most part, many decisions characters make are annoying and add to frustration as a viewer. Olivia Cooke plays Jane, the sick girl, and she is fantastic and probably the best actor in the film. I saw the film with Stephen, Garrison, Todd and Josh, and all of us felt the same way about it and that’s it was okay but way too slow and a little too long as a good 15 minutes could easily be cut out of the 1 Hour 38 minute run time. The film at the US box office brought in $8,509.867.00 for Lionsgate.  All I can say was much like Ouija, it was just okay.

# 7

deliver us from evil

A group of soldiers from Iraq have come back and are acting very aggressive and all have strange behavior. New York cop Ralph Sarchie is called in to investigate the crimes and soon learns the truth that demons are real and want to teach him a lesson for butting into their plans. Along with a Castilian priest, he must find faith and save the souls of the infected as well as save his wife who has been kidnapped by the possessed. It also shows that Sarchie is gifted and can spot evil. The film is said to be based on a real case and the real life of Sarchie. The film stars Eric Bana as Sarchie as well as the likes of Olivua Munn, Sean Harris and Edgar Ramirez with music by Christopher Young. The film was nothing special and for the most part is a run of the mill possession film with no surprises and a few gross moments. I watched the film with Jeremy and watching him go crazy with the overly religious tone of the movie made me laugh. The film didn’t do so hot at the box office only grossing in $30,577,122.00 for Sony on a 30 million dollar budget in the US. Not much more to say about this one, besides if you’ve seen one modern possession movie, ya pretty much have seen em all.  It’s not bad and has some good creepy moments – worth a watch to fans of this horror film topic boom.

# 6

Godzilla

I have been a fan of Godzilla since I was a kid and can remember watching the films all the time on TBS on Super Scary Saturday hosted by Grandpa Munster. But when Godzilla is made by Americans, it tends to not be so good; I mean just look at the over blown 1998 film that Hollywood spewed out to the fans that seemed like it was made more to sell toys and Taco Bell Cups than to entertain the movie goers. So when Warner Brothers said they were releasing a Godzilla film, I was stand offish even though in the back of my mind I was scream YES, a new Godzilla film on the big screen,  The more time passed and after seeing the trailer I became very hyped to watch it! The film has an accident that happens at a power planet in Japan that’s caused by a giant monster who is looking for its mate and when it wakes up it causes havoc and destruction.  As this is going on a US Solider is trying to get home to his family, and Godzilla has come from the sea and is on a path to clash with the other two monsters. You see Godzilla is acting as Earth’s protector! The human parts are what they always are in my opinion in giant monster films, and that’s filler. The major flaw I had with the film is more time is spent on the boring solider trying to get home and less on Godzilla who is why we all went to see this film in the theater. I must also say the shaky camera and pull away shots of the early monster fights was annoying and didn’t add suspense for me as much as it added frustration. Even with those small flaws I really enjoyed the film for the most part and am looking forward to part two as well as the announced Japanese Godzilla film in the works. The film did great for WB at the US box office bringing in a whooping $200,676,069.00, making it a hit for them this year.

# 5

i frankenstein

Frankenstein’s Monster was back on the silver screen this year with an Action Horror film called I, Frankenstein that followed The Monster who was a pawn in a war between Heaven and Hell who need him to find the secrets of life created by man and not God. The good side is gargoyles who at first want to protect or kill The Monster, and the Demons who are working for evil and they want him to study and make soulless husks so demons straight from hell can take over the bodies of the newly made soulless bodies. But what none of them counted on is that The Monster is a fighter, and he will be pawn to no man or creature! The film has a real Underworld feel to it, and the action is fun and over the top, plus for the most part is well acted. I think this film is pretty underrated and was judged way too much just by the trailer, the fact it’s PG-13 and that Aaron Eckhart plays The Monster. The film did terrible at the US box office and only grossed $19,075,290.00 for Lionsgate on a $65 Million Dollar budget, and it’s a shame as it’s not at all that bad of a film.

# 4

As Above So Below

As Above So Below is a “found footage” style film that follows Scarlett, an alchemy scholar who wants to find the famed philosopher’s stone that is said to be able to heal the sick and dying among other amazing things. She follows clues and finds that the entrance to achieving her goal is inside the catacombs below Paris, and along with her camera man and friend they hire some local urban explorers and find that this quest is more then they bargained for as they face sins of their past and find the gateway to Hell. This film was packed with some solid acting and atmosphere that was downright spooky and well done unlike The Pyramid that had a very similar type of feel. All the characters are likable and while they do make some dumb decisions, I still found myself hoping they all make it out okay. The film is by no means a bloodbath but what it lacks in the red stuff, it makes up for with heart and mood. I saw this film with Juliet, Todd The Fox and V, and we all left the theater thinking the film worked and was okay. Universal released this film and at the US box office it grossed in $21,321,100.00 on a $5 million budget. If you are a fan of the found footage horror genre then make sure to check this one out, oh yeah liked this one so much even bought the DVD when it was released.

# 3

The Purge Anarchy

The first Purge film was my # 9 horror film of 2013 out of thirteen and while I enjoyed it, I found it lost among many other solid horror pictures. The sequel The Purge: Anarchy in my opinion is a way better film and that’s why it’s locked itself as the 3rd best Horror film I saw in theaters in 2014! The film follows a man named Leo who is going out to purge a man who killed his son in a drinking and driving accident, but he gets side tracked from his task when he saves a mother and daughter as well as a young couple all of whom are being targeted by what seems like a government elite team hired to reduce the population not to mention a rag tag bunch of mask and makeup wearing youngsters who have set their eyes on them as well. Leo does his best to keep them all alive as well as get to his goal. The film is filled with surprises as well as a positive message in the end and that’s why I think I enjoyed it so much.  It was not your typical modern downbeat horror flick. The film is also well acted with actors like Frank Grillo, Cameron Ejogo and Zach Gilford. The film did great for Universal at the box office here in America grossing in $71,962,800.00 and making it that a part 3 is in the works. More action and suspense then the original and a solid good sequel, check it out if you liked the first one. I saw it with Juliet who also really liked it!

# 2

anabelle

The Conjuring was my # 1 Horror film of 2013, and this off shoot titled Annabelle is my # 2 for 2014 showing you that the makers of this film series are doing something right. It’s the 1960’s and satanic cults are all the rage, and a young couple is attacked in their home by cult members that leave the would be attackers dead.  When the female attacker dies in the baby’s room holding the Annabelle doll the odd events start happening. It gets so bad that something seems to be trying to hurt the woman and her unborn baby, even at one point setting the house on fire! After the baby is born, they move and find that whatever it is followed as the doll the cult woman held when dying is possessed by a demon who wants to take a soul real bad! Can they get rid of the demon before it’s too late? The Annabelle doll is the same one used to open The Conjuring and is over all creepy looking.  That’s one thing I really liked about the film, the longer it went on, the more sinister looking the doll became. And while the doll is never seen moving on its own, the dead eyed stare of its porcelain face is what terrified the audience. The demon who is the real baddie of the film is not seen too much, but when he is, it’s effective. This is supposed to be based on a true story and is a nice appetizer for the next Conjuring film that should be out in 2016. The film did well for New Line Cinema at the US box office bringing in $84,273,813.00 making it a hit for them. For some reason the film also seemed to get a lot of hate from Horror fans, but most of the ones I knew who trashed it, I question their taste anyway as they go to see Seth Rogen movies! I saw the film with Juliet, who loved it.

# 1

Dracula Untold

Universal is trying to breath new life into their classic Monsters, and the first on the list was Dracula.  This film, Dracula Untold, is about how Prince Vlad became a vampire! I was really hyped for this film that was set to release in October…yeah finally Hollywood gets that Horror Films and Halloween go hand and hand. The film follows Prince Vlad whose people are being bullied by the Turks and the sultan who want all the male kids to be given to them to become soldiers in the large Turkish army. So Vlad makes a deal with a Vampire that lives in a cave to gain powers to stop the Turks.  By doing so, he is putting his own soul at risk, but he gains the powers to single handedly kick the butt of his enemies. But when things go wrong Vlad goes full vampire, and once he does that, there is no going back. This film is filled with horror and a heck of a lot of action and is really well done. Luke Evans plays Dracula and does so with grace and it’s the first time that I can remember that you find yourself cheering for Dracula as he is not the bad guy and only takes the curse to save his son as well as the sons of all his people. I saw this with Juliet and Jeremy Hoyt, and both of them really enjoyed it as well did all the others in the IMAX Theater as praises were being said as people left. This film ends as well with a lead up to a sequel or to link to another Universal Monster film, and this makes this Monster Kid happy. The film did okay for Universal at the US box office bringing in $55,991,880.00 and did more overseas. If you like your horror mixed with action and enjoy classic monsters, then check this one out, because I really enjoyed it locking it in as my # 1 Horror Film of 2014.

2014 in Horror Films was filled with lots of ghost/possession films, and I have a feeling this trend will continue for awhile as they seem to be films that can be cheaply made and return a big profit. While sitting in the theater this year the two films that I noticed seem to have the audience in it’s grip were Annabelle, that had a few people gasp and jump when the evil things would happen on the silver screen, and As Above So Below where the audience had an eerie hush as the characters went deeper into the catacombs. Ouija had the worse response as people laughed at many of the scares and many of the younger people in the audience seemed to be having a fun time teasing the young ladies with them. 2014 was an okay year for Horror in the theaters, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store to send shivers up my spine. Well the next update is something terrifying as we take a look at another Draculina Photo Comic based on a film of Jess Franco called Tender Flesh! So until then, support your local theaters, read a comic or two and always support your local Horror Host and see you next update.

Tender_flesh_(1998) logo

Night Of The Living Monster Bash Vacation (2014)

Have you ever been to Mars? Well I have! It’s not like one would think.  It’s filled with lots of restaurants and hotels and it does have a U.F.O in its downtown, but it’s not as hot nor is the air unbreathable as you’d be lead to think. Okay, I am not talking about the planet Mars but the one in Pennsylvania that hosts the amazing horror convention known simply as Monster Bash! And this update is going to be all about our trip to Monster Bash for vacation and for our comic reviews, I will be covering FantaCo’s Night of the Living Dead comics called “Prelude” and “Aftermath,” and I will be reading them at Evans City Cemetery, the same one that George A. Romero filmed the movie in! So buckle your seatbelt, Rotten Ink is going on the road with Juliet and I as we have one spooky vacation! And for those wondering Blood Feast will be coming up after this one..

Monster Bash Logo

Juliet and I were long overdue for a vacation and after the passing of my grandfather John on June 15th just a few days before this trip, I really needed to go and charge my batteries. So on Thursday June 19th we jumped in our Mazda 3 and hit the road for a fun and relaxing trip.  We first stopped in Columbus to have lunch with our friend Mike McGraner who is the producer/director/editor and even sometimes writer of Nite Owl Theater starring the horror host legend Fritz The Nite Owl.  We ate at the Blue Danube and had great conversations about horror hosting, movies and life! I always look forward to chatting with Mike as we have a lot in common and both know how it is to direct a host. After lunch we hit the road for the trip, and Juliet and I had a blast talking and listening to podcasts like Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast as he talked with classic comedian and F-Troop actor Larry Storch.  We also listened to Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling where he talked to Iron Sheik, Angelina Love and Gangrel, and I must say that both of these podcasts are some of the best going right now. We made one more pit stop at a Burger King so that I could get a Coke Icee, and we hit our hotel late and ordered room service and relaxed for the night.  As Juliet slept, I for some reason couldn’t and watched Pawn Stars almost all night. Over all it was a fun day to kick off what promised to be an amazing weekend for sure!

Gilbert Gottfried Amazing Colossal Podcastblue danubeThe Art Of Wrestling Podcast

The first day of Monster Bash was on June 20th 2014 and the weather outside was in the upper 70’s and at times the clouds came out and made the sky look as if it was about to storm something awful. Juliet and I started the morning off eating lunch with David J. Getz, who was vending at the convention, at Max and Erma’s, and while there who walks in but Joel Hodgson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame.  We didn’t bother him as I had all weekend to do that and after lunch we headed back to the hotel for a hour or two and watched some TNT show called “Cold Justice” that’s about two women who travel to small towns and solve cold cases. We then headed to Monster Bash, and I must say that next to Horrorhound Weekend it’s a convention I feel at home at, and the reason I say this is because I am a classic monster fan and this is the place that really is made for fans like me who don’t care about meeting the Walking Dead cast for the 50th time, not that there is anything wrong with that if that’s your thing. Walking in, you’re treated to a very nice staff who all seem to love what they are doing as well as amazing statues of classic Universal monsters like Dracula and The Wolf Man.  This year’s main display was for Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and was complete with sound effects and dialogue from the film, and even the crate that the Monster was shipped in! You then walk down the hallway and see the celebrities like Julie Adams (Creature From The Black Lagoon) and Judith O’Dea (Night of the Living Dead) and the ball room is filled with the merchandise dealers and is where the horror hosts are. The first day I was more about shopping and seeing the lay of the land and decided that Saturday would be the grand fun time of chatting with the stars. The attendance seemed a little light but the people who were there seemed to really be into the whole vibe of the classic monsters. While shopping around we ran into our music making pals The Midnight Syndicate, and we had a really good time just shopping around and looking at all the cool stuff at every booth. Below is the cool set up of the Universal Monsters that meet you as you enter the convention.

Frankenstein Monster and Dracula SatueThe Monster CrateWolf Man Satue

I got some great stuff this first day: I found an Imperial Mummy figure from Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy for $6.00 and a Burger King Frankenstein figure for $1.00. Supernaturals # 2 magazine/comic from the U.K for $2.00. The following CD soundtracks (that will be played on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO when I get back): An American Werewolf in London, Phantom of the Opera and Gates of Hell all for $10.00 each. Four Son of Ghoul DVD’s that has him hosting Tourist Trap, Tarzan The Fearless, The World of the Vampires and his 28th Anniversary Special, they were $10.00 each. As well as two wrestling DVD-R’s one being 1991’s WCW War Games and the other being WWF’s Country Boys about Hillbilly Jim and Uncle Elmer, and they as well were $10.00 each. Over all while I am super happy to get more Son of Ghoul episodes, the thing I am most hyped about getting was The Mummy figure!

Day 1 Goods

Dinner the first night came from a place called “Eat’ N Park,” a restaurant that was a lot like Big Boy but is a Pittsburgh original. They were started in 1949 by Larry Hatch and Bill Peters after being inspired by a Frisch’s Big Boy that Hatch had visited in Cincinnati Ohio.  They reached an agreement with Big Boy founder Bob Wain to allow them to open franchise Big Boy stores in Pittsburgh under the name Eat’N Park for 25 years and that’s what they did. In 1974 they decided to break away from Big Boy and made a legacy of food on their own. On our trip to Pittsburgh in 2013, we saw these restaurants all over and never stopped, but this year we decided it was time that we did! We ordered more food than we could eat because we wanted to try a little of everything; we got two appetizers Jalapeño Cheddar Poppers and Fried Ravioli, and they were great and a nice way to start our meal, out of the two I think the Ravioli was the better one. Juliet had the Buffalo Chicken Salad and was happy to see french fries on it; she used the word “wonderful” to describe it. I got what’s called a Original SuperBurger that was much like a mix of a Big Boy and a Big Mac, and it was pretty good.  While the secret sauce was good it had a very heavy super sauce taste. The fries that came with the burger were a little lacking and were not as good as fries served at fast food places like Burger King or McDonalds. I also ordered a smily face cookie that is something they are known for, and I must say I liked it! The taste reminded me of Monster Candy, and that’s a good thing. We also ordered two slices of Oreo Pie that we had to eat way later in the night, cause we were about to bust from all the good food in our bellies. Oh yeah, and their mascot’s name is Smiley, and he is a cookie man!

Eat N Pack LogoDay 1 Eat N ParkSmiley

Right before I left, I got a package in the mail filled with horror host shows to air on the DATV Horror Host Underground block so I decided on the night of the first day of the convention, I was going to watch one on the laptop to add even more chill to the evening as all the ghouls and ghosts who were at Monster Bash were now wandering the night all around the hotel. I turned down the air conditioner to 60 degrees and popped in GraveDigger Grimm of Unearthed Midnight Theater hosting the classic Vincent Price film House On Haunted Hill. I remember GraveDigger who was at many of the early Cinema Wastelands when the horror host gatherings use to be be a big deal there.  He was always a super nice guy, and it was clear he loved the art of horror hosting and horror films all together. GraveDigger Grimm is a caretaker at a cemetery that he has worked at for 40 years, and while there he buried many people with 35mm prints of cheesy horror films and in 2004 he decided that it was time to dig them up and share the horrible horrors of the films with the viewers. The film is classic and always a pleaser when you want to watch something with Vincent Price. GraveDigger Grimm was also pretty good, you could tell he was a little green in this episode that seems to have been his first, but even with this you could still see the raw talent. At some point I would like to find more episodes and maybe even do a horror host Icon update about him. But when the movie ended so did the first day of the bash.

GraveDigger Grimm 1GraveDigger Grimm VHSGraveDigger Grimm 2

On the second day of Monster Bash, I woke up with a nerve in my spine going crazy.  This made moving around very difficult so I hung out in the hotel for a few hours and watched WCW War Games on the laptop and ate Bob Evans carry out that Juliet went to pick up for breakfast. We then headed back to Monster Bash and walked around looking at goods, and I was lucky enough to be able to walk right up to Ricou Browning and get not only an autograph but also a picture with him.  The line for Joel Hodgson was not super long, and Juliet and I got a picture with him and Tom Servo. As Juliet watched David’s table I walked around so that my back would not lock up and while I found a few things there was not as many great finds as there were yesterday. I kicked myself for not buying the Imperial Wolf Man and Frankenstein Monster, cause they would have been nice additions to Game Swap. The day was spent at Monster Bash as well and just relaxing as my back was pretty messed up. One other cool thing about Monster Bash is in the parking lot in front of the entrance, they had a cool Creature From the Black Lagoon green car and The Munsters Dragula car, nice additions to help add to the fun nature of the convention. That night we had dinner once more at Eat ‘N Park, and the second day was kind of a bust due to a injured back, I ended the night watching Halloween H20 on SYFY and hoping for a better back in the morning!

Ricou Browning and I copyCreature From The Black Lagoon Car copyJuliet Joel Tom and I copy

The second days pick ups are a Universal Monsters coloring book by Golden from 1991 for $4.00, Superman’s Metropolis DC comic book for $3.00, the Golem Soundtrack done by Hob Goblin for $10.00 and Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffing the cheesy sci-fi classic The Amazing Colossal Man on DVD-R for $10.00. The best pick up on day two for me has to be the MST3K DVD-R because they are always a fun watch. I’m looking forward to raiding the dealer tables one more time tomorrow and seeing what goodies I can find!

Day 2 Goods

Day Three is the final day of Monster Bash, and I woke up with my back feeling way better! We had a little breakfast and headed to the convention where we saw that Joel had added Crow T. Robot to his table and after snapping a picture that turned out blurry and terrible, we headed to the last day of the shopping and monster filled good time. I found some pretty cool stuff and got some great deals on others and even walked around with David J Getz and watched him talk missing planes with Arch Hall Jr.! I even found someone who may have some episodes of Commander USA on VHS that he tapped off TV, and that would be a great for a fan like me to get my hands on episodes I don’t have in my collection already! After a couple of hours we left the convention and headed to The Twilight Zone…

Me and Crow T RobotCritters in a BoxKiss Poster

The last day’s haul was the following The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on VHS from Video Treasures for $2.00, Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffing the film Cave Dwellers on VHS for FREE! The Addams Family Halloween Special from 1977 on DVD-R for $10.00. The Werewolf of Woodstock on DVD-R for $10.00. The Creature of The Walking Dead on DVD-R for $5.00. Cheesy horror flick Half Human on DVD-R for $10.00( and to be honest look for some of these films to be on future seasons of Baron Von Porkchop). Halls of Horror All Comics Winter Special Magazine for $3.00. Horror Host Hullabaloo DVD-R that is clips of horror hosts like Morgus The Magnificent and Uncle Ted for $15.00. Dracula 3-D comic book for $3.00. Marvels The Frankenstein Monster # 14 comic for $2.00 as well as Fright Night Part II comic for $2.00 and The Tomb Of Dracula # 35 comic for $1.00. Sadly the thing I am most hyped for is to re-watch the Addams Family Halloween Special again.

Day 3 GoodsJuliet and I had to stop in downtown Mars to check out the Flying Saucer statue that they had for all the tourists to see and enjoy. We then took a walk around the small town and it was like a pure Americana experience as we passed by all the small shops and old time houses.  The best part is that also in downtown they had a working railroad track and this reminded me of Mayberry. Another cool thing we saw was an old fashioned barber shop that had a green plastic alien with a ray gun in the window as well as a coffee shop called Mars Brew House that claimed to be the finest coffee in the universe! Sadly it was closed and we were not able to try a cup, but we were able to help a family take a picture in front of the UFO. While Juliet and I were walking around the town, we both chuckled when I said that the town was given me a Twilight Zone feeling and that when we tried to leave we would always just end back up downtown and that we will find out that all the residents really are from Mars. We spent some time in Mars, and I must say it was a cool old town filled with some very cool business including a tiny diner called Susie Q’s Place, and this is the type of town you would like to raise your kids in.

Alien in Window  copyMars UFO copyMars Coffe  copy

We started our journey back to Dayton on Monday, and we kicked this day off visiting Evans City Cemetery, the place George Romero filmed the opening scene of Night Of The Living Dead so that I could read two comics there just for Rotten Ink! We then hit Moe’s to eat, a great burrito place that puts Hot Head and Chipotle to shame. While on the road we hit a massive traffic jam that held us in the same area for about an hour and when we got to what was causing the jam, it of course was construction where they had one lane closed and all the workers were pretty much doing nothing, including one guy who was just eating a bag of chips….yeah needless to say in 90 degree weather sitting still and then seeing workers being super lazy, I was a little ticked. We then stopped in Columbus at a cool little toy and comic store called Evil Twin where I found a cool Incredible Hulk called The Secret Story Of Marvel’s Gamm-Powered Goliath, a graphic novel that I can remember borrowing from the library when I was a kid, and someday I will also review it for this blog as well as the other Marvel graphic novels from this series. We then made it back to Dayton and had some ice cream from Ben & Jerrys on Brown Street and later ordered wings from Wing Zone and watched Horror Host Hullabaloo. Over all even the drive back home was a fun filled day filled with good times and great memories.

Moes Logoincredible hulk the secret story of marvels gamma powered goliath graphic novelTwin Evil Store

So as all you horror film fans know, George A Romero shot many of his Dead films in and around the Pittsburgh area and these locations have become shrines to fans as they flock to the locations to reenact their favorite scenes and to find the spots the actors stood. Evans City Cemetery is the place he filmed the opening to Night of The Living Dead, you know the place the Cemetery Zombie played by Bill Hinzman attacks young Barbra played by Judith O’Dea right after her brother Johnny teases her about being afraid of the cemetery. Evans City Cemetery in reality is a very small cemetery that is off a long lane surrounded by woods and in the middle of semi rural area just outside Pittsburgh.  The first time we visited it in 2013, it was pouring down rain making pictures and exploring the area impossible, but this changed this years! The day was nice and was in the upper 70’s.  When we arrived the sun was fighting to peek out of a grey sky as we noticed that we were not the only people their to soak in the landmark and to enjoy the fact it was a set for one of the most iconic horror films of all time. It was really quiet from manmade noises as you could hear crickets and watch the groundhogs rush into the woods as you passed by. Words can not express the feeling you get as you think you pass by the tombstones and trees seen in the film and being able to read two comic books written about the film that was shot were I stood was an amazing feeling. If your ever in Pittsburgh I suggest you visit Evans City Cemetery and soak in all its grand spooky atmosphere.

Evans City Cemetery 1 copyMe in Evans City Cemetery copyEvans City Cemetery 2 copy

Okay, so for those who don’t know the plot of Night of the Living Dead here is a quick rundown. Something is making the recent dead come back from the grave and attack the living to consume them like today’s lunch. Barbra and Johnny are at a cemetery placing flowers and such on a grave for their mother when Barbra is attacked and Johnny is killed by a zombie! Barbra runs to a nearby farmhouse were she is joined by Ben, Judy, Tom and the Cooper family, and drama and horrors happen as the zombies want in and no one can agree how to survive this crisis. Now I should also say that if you have not seen this film, what are you waiting for?!! The two comics I have picked to read are the Prelude and Aftermath of the events of the film so they act as the buns of the flesh sandwich that is the film. Remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, its art and story. So let’s get going because They Are Coming To Get Me…So I better read fast! 

Night Of The Living Dead Prelude 1Night Of The Living Dead: Prelude   ***
Released in 1991    Cover Price $1.50    FantaCo    #1 of 1

Two satellites are covered in space radiation and are crashing to earth when they are blown up near the atmosphere.  When they do so a rash of murders spread around the USA. The year is 1968, and the dead have come back to life even as far as California as a family falls victim in their own home. Meanwhile in Pennsylvania at the Eastman farm, Mary and Fred have an accident on the stairs that leaves Fred dead for a moment as he comes back and eats his wife’s face! Tom and Judy are walking through the woods when on their portable radio they hear about the rash of murders going on around the world and rush to the near by house the Eastman farm and lock themselves in the cellar. Meanwhile Harry and Helen Cooper as well as their young daughter Karen are lost and needing directions and as her parents argue the young girl gets more and more upset.  Harry finally pulls over to ask for directions when his car is attacked by zombies and his daughter is bitten on the arm! The family escape and run to a near by farm that also happens to be the Eastman’s as well. We end with the family also thinking they are safe now.

If you ever wanted to know how Tom and Judy as well as the Cooper family ended up at the farm house, this is the missing piece to the puzzle. Plus I really like that they show what happened to the old farm couple who lived in the house, the Eastman’s. The downside to this comic is nothing is really fleshed out and its clear as day this was just a quick cash in for you to buy the bigger movie adaptation of the film from FantaCo as the story in this issue is short, sweet and to the point. The plot is this simple: satellites go boom in the sky, radiation effects the dead who come back to life and want to eat the living as two groups of people who don’t know each other end up at the same house they believe is safe. Tom and Judy are not given much but still come off as likable youngsters. On the other hand Harry Cooper is an ass even in the comic book and helps add fuel to the fire for you the reader to hate him even more. This comic, while very short, has zero ads and holds the answers to what the movie left out and takes the focus away from the film’s main characters (Ben and Barbra) and places it with the ones who act as more support to the film’s story. The art is well done and has a sketch book appeal to it, and while at times I find that style very distracting, artist Carlos Kastro does a fantastic job and brings a creepiness and classic horror feel out of the pages. Over all this is worth a read for fans of the film and classic zombies.

Prelude Art 1Prelude art 2Prelude art 3

And now that we’ve seen what happened before the movie, let’s see what happened after, shall we?

Night Of The Living Dead Aftermath 1

Night Of The Living Dead: Aftermath   **
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.95   FantaCo   #1 of 1 

Sheriff McClelland and his men are killing zombies all around the Eastman farm house, but when the zombie versions of Barbara, Johnny and Karen Cooper show up things turn for the worse as the humans become the hunted and all meet a gruesome end. We then cut to New York 1968 as a woman is rushing to get to the airport as zombies and mayhem are going on all around her.  She gets to the plane but is bitten on the neck and is heading to London.

This issue really kind of annoys me as its clear to me that it was used just to try to get people to buy their upcoming Night Of The Living Dead: London mini-series done by Clive Barker, and while thats cool and all don’t tag it as the Aftermath of the film and only have a little bit be about the Sheriff and his men being attacked by zombies. It was cool to see the zombie versions of Karen Cooper who is still using the spade to cut human flesh, and it’s cool to see Barbra and Johnny, the brother and sister duo, back together as flesh eating zombies. The second part of this story with the girl with no name trying to make a flight holds nothing for me as it seems out of place in this comic. Over all this is nothing special and is pretty forgettable. The art work is done by Carlos Kastro again and in spots is very distracting again, and its’ hard to tell what is happening to who in some panels. I would say skip this one.

Aftermath art 1Aftermath art 2aftermath art 3

Reading these comics in the graveyard was a great experience and something I would like to do again with FantaCo’s film adaptation of Night of the Living Dead. I must say that this was a fun time and being able to hang out with Juliet with no stress of our jobs looming in our minds was something I am looking forward to again when vacation time comes around. Plus it was cool seeing friends like David J Getz, Mike McGraner and 42nd Street Pete who all helped add to the vacation! I should also thank Stephen Alexander, Josh Weinberg, Todd The Fox, Garrison Kane and Dan Harkless for running Game Swap while I spent time with monsters. Well I guess it’s back to work for us and not to worry Blood Feast will be coming right up! So until then enjoy life my friends it’s a fun and wonderful thing.

Xmachina Opens The Gates Of Hell…..

March 21st-23rd 2014 marked another year that Baron Von Porkchop, Susie The DJ and I were guests at HorrorHound Weekend, a convention that we all look at as home and the place that the Horror Host Hall Of Fame takes place at. This year was a little different from the years past as we didn’t even know if we had a table due to some issues brought on by the convention center cutting space, and a rumor was going around that the Horror Hosts were all going to be thrown in a room at the hotel across the street! This was bad news for us as Baron and Fritz The Nite Owl have become hosting buddies and this would have us across the street from them who would be in the convention center because they were having a screening of their hosted version of Trick R’ Treat.  Not to mention, we had the very talented artist Rachel Lare with us and her art would not get to be seen by the mass convention goers if she was placed in the hotel. While we wanted to be at the convention center, we also didn’t want to be so far away from the rest of out host family like Halloween Jack, A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Dr. Dark, Victor Von Scary, Janet Decay and many others! We meet up in the morning as Susie The Dj drove Baron, Rachel our friend Mike McGraner (who is the main man behind the rebirth of Nite Owl Theater) and myself, and we all packed into the car and were off for another amazing HorrorHound Weekend adventure. The sad part is the fact that Fritz The Nite Owl got sick and was not able to make it, and that’s a shame as it’s always a treat for us to chat with Fritz. When we arrived at the convention we found out that Mike had a table for Nite Owl, but sadly Baron did not…lucky for us, Mike is a great person and friend and he allowed us to share his table! The weekend was filled with good sales, great friends and a great time! The table was in a great spot as we were right next to The Vortexx, the online TV station that is all about Horror Hosts and next to them was The Horror Host Hall Of Fame Table where our pals Halloween Jack and Dale Kay were and on the other side was the lovely Sharni Vinson of the films You’re Next and Step Up 3-D, who I must say was one of the sweetest celebrities that I have ever had the pleasure of being next to at a convention.  The way she treated her fans was top notch, and she truly is a class act. It was really cool getting to spend some time with Susie The DJ and Baron and catch up with them on what’s being going on in New Burlington as well it was nice to get to talk to Rachel about art and life in general. Plus hanging with Mike is always great as he is also a very creative person like myself and also directs a horror host so we both know the hard work that goes into making a quality show for the fans.  Plus Mike is one of those guys thats just so much fun to shoot the bull stuff with. Also at the event were great friends like Jesy and Jermie Anderson, Amber and Bryan Brady, Fred and Shelby Vogel, David J. Getz and so many more friendly faces. Over all once, more the event was a fun one that always makes me look forward to the next one.  Oh, I guess I should say that the year’s big Guest was Bruce Campbell of Evil Dead fame.

Baron Von Porkchop and Sharni VinsonBaron Von Porkchop Horrorhound 2014 PhotoBaron Von Porkchop and Halloween Jack 

The Horror Host Hall Of Fame 2014 took place at that Horror Hound the Saturday at Noon and was done in front of a packed house, as the auditorium filled up fast with fans of hosts as well as fans of the Evil Dead who had a Q & A panel after our ceremony. This years event was the best yet as everything came off more smooth and organized. This year Jason Hignite placed the event into the hands of Halloween Jack who took the ball and not only got the touchdown but also spiked the ball and did a shuffle much like Bengals player Icky Woods would have. Baron Von Porkchop got the honor of inducting Grandpa Munster into the Hall Of Fame for his work on the TBS show Super Scary Saturday. Baron and Myself were very happy to find out that we doing this as Baron is a fan of The Munsters and I myself grew up watching Super Scary Saturday and it was really a great experience for me to watch the Host I dug up induct a host that meant a lot to me in my youth. Baron researched and wrote a very good induction speech and delivered it well in front of the crowd who also seemed to enjoy it. I was really proud of Baron Von Porkchop and I hope someday that he gets into the Hall Of Fame and a host who inducts him is just as happy and honored to do so as Baron is for those he has inducted. Baron and I really love The Horror Host Hall Of Fame event and this makes the second icon of hosting he has inducted as last year he had the honor of ushering Shock Armstrong into the hallowed halls. If your a Horror Host fan and go to HorrorHound Weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio make sure you attend the ceremony as the 2015 Class is being discussed and some major players could get the honor as well as some news on a physical Hall of Fame might just get announced! So as Grandpa Munster would say “Be There Or Be Scared”!

Baron Von Porkchop Inducts Grandpa Munster

At HorrorHound I bought some cool stuff like Frankenstein’s Monster and Dracula t-shirts, Return To Nukem High on DVD and lots of CD soundtracks to be played on WYSO’s Sunday night show, Alpha Rhythms.  I spent a lot of money at composer Richard Band’s table and got his score work for such films as Troll, Re-Animator, From Beyond, Prison, Bride of Re-Animator and more. I also got the soundtrack CD for People Under The Stairs from the composer Don Peake, who is one cool guy, and I really enjoyed chatting with him about how he made some of the score music for the original Hills Have Eyes and even the history of the tapes they were recorded on.  Peake was a class act whose music you should check out. One of the things I bought from HorrorHound was a comic book that I had never seen before, a comic that was being sold by two hot blondes sitting behind a table, a comic that was marked $50.00 though they gave it to me for $40.00, and this comic is one based on a film made by horror icon Fulci.  Of course I am talking about the only issue made based on the film The Gates of Hell aka City Of The Living Dead. I was drawn to the comic that was placed on a pegboard behind their table that had a sticker on it that said rare.  At first I walked away from it when they told me the price was $50. I thought to myself, that seems really high for an independent comic book, but as Baron and I walked around, the idea of reading it and reviewing it for you my readers kept popping into my mind and that’s when I decided to bite the bullet and buy it. The comic was made by a small company called Xmachina who only made a very small handful of comics and all were based on popular horror films like Halloween and Phantasm. After buying it, I went over to my pal Pete Bell who owns the amazing comic store Bell, Book And Comic, who was vending, and he had also never seen it before and said he thought I paid a good price for it. When returning back to the table Baron Von Porkchop wanted to give the comic a quick look through and seemed to enjoy what he saw.  So I am really hyped to read this comic for the first time and discuss it with all of you. But before we start, I would like to give you all a little crash course on the director of the film the comic is based on as well as talk about the film and its terrible sequel.  Ao let’s get ready to open the gates of hell and see what’s on the other side.

Baron Von Porkchop Reads Gates Of Hell

When any horror fan thinks of Italian horror cinema directors names like Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Umberto Lenzi, Joe D’Amato, Lamberto Bava all come to mind as does the master of splatter, the godfather of gore Lucio Fulci who would have to be at the top of anyone’s list of great horror icons to come out of Italy. Fulci was born in Italy in 1927 and grew up to studying medicine in college as well as worked as an art critic. In the early 1960’s he turned his attentions to making films, and his genre of choice was comedy where he made a total of 18 films before moving on to making thrillers like “A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin” and “The Psychic” before also making some Westerns like “Four For The Apocalypse” and “Massacre Time.”  At this time Fulci was also called into court over what viewers thought were real animal deaths in the film A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin, and he had to prove that no animals were harmed in making his film. Also around this time he was accused of being anti-Catholic even though he was brought up in that religion, but out of these shockwaves came the boom of Fulci’s horror work that included “Don’t Torture A Duckling” and “Beatrice Cenci”. His main horror hit film came in 1979 when he made Zombi 2, a sequel in Italy to George Romero’s film “Dawn Of The Dead” that was simply called Zombi there.  The film was a hit not only in his native land but also in the USA and England. The film was packed with eye popping gore and to this day is considered a cult classic among horror fans. After the success of Zombi 2, Fulci filled the 1980’s with many other splatter horror classics like “Gates Of Hell”, “The Beyond”, “House By The Cemetery”, “The Black Cat”, “The New York Ripper”, “Manhattan Baby”, “Murder Rock”, “Zombi 3” and “Touch Of Death.” But even while making splatter films, he also directed a few made for TV films as well as a barbarian flick called “Conquest” and wrote many others. During the 1990’s he also made a few films that made impacts on Horror fans like “Demonia”, “A Door To Silence” and “A Cat In The Brain”, but the 90’s was also the time we lost the man as Fulci sadly passed away in 1996 at the age of 68.  His last work was a film called “Wax Mask,” a team up film that would have had Dario Argento helping him. Fulci wrote the script outline for a kind of remake of the Vincent Price classic “House Of Wax,” but he passed away before he could truly be involved with the film that was later made and mostly re-written. Fulci was an amazing director and really knew how to chill the blood of movie goers. I grew up watching many of his films on rented VHS tapes and always found them very entertaining so much so I would always end up tracking them down to buy! Later in his life Fulci found out just how popular he was in other countries and this took him by surprise and I am sure truly made him feel special.  This tiny write up doesn’t do this man’s legacy justice.  Make sure to watch his films and read books like “Beyond Terror: The Films Of Lucio Fulci” for complete information about the man’s life and work. While he might be gone, like the old bumper sticker in honor of the man said “FULCI LIVES” on in our hearts and TV screens. My favorite films by him are Zombi 2 and House By The Cemetery for those of you readers wondering.

Zombie 2 PosterLucio FulciHouse By The Cemtery Poster

The Gates of Hell is the film we are going to break down here as it’s the main focus of the comic book I am going to review.  So here goes nothing. Gates of Hell was made in 1980 and is about Father William Thomas, a man who hangs himself in the cemetery.  By doing so he opens the gates of Hell, letting out evil zombies who all have weird and strong powers and are going around killing people in strange and brutal ways. The only hope we as humans have of closing the gates is a reporter named Peter Bell and a psychic named Mary Woodhouse. She herself died only to come back after being buried alive…or was that dead? The pair of unlikely heroes must find a way to close the gates in Dunwich, New England, the hot spot of the evil before All Saints Day…can they do it? I first saw this film on a terrible VHS copy I bought new off the racks of Suncoast in the Dayton Mall and was hyped to see more bloody good horror from Fulci.  I was not let down! When I first watched the film, I had my pal Jason Gilmore over and we both sat in wonder and watched the mayhem unfold before our eyes.  One scene that stuck with both of us was when one young lady has her eyes start bleeding and proceeds to puke up her own guts.  We both so wanted to figure out how they did the effect so that we could do it in one of our low budget flicks. When the film later came out on DVD via Anchor Bay, it was one the first films I upgraded next to the Halloween and Hellraiser films. It’s a great film with a spooky plot, great gore, likable heroes and evil baddies.  If you have not seen it and are a fan of Italian cinema, then shame on you because you should watch it.

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In 1988, a cheap film that’s real title was “Through The Fire” was made and later called “The Gates Of Hell Part II: Dead Awakening” that was about a woman looking for her missing sister who finds one cop who is willing to help when the plot of a cult that worships a demon comes into play. The film is very poorly made and is not worth watching or really talking about. I also got this film from Suncoast and only watched it once and warned all my other friends about how bad it was.  The acting was blah, and the gore effects were super cheap and to boot it has ZERO to do with the original film and is a sequel in namesake only. I feel like we wasted enough time on this film so I think it’s best we just move on…nothing more to read or see here…okay, maybe some stuff to see.

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The Gates Of Hell was not a main stream horror film like A Nightmare On Elm Street so it didn’t spawn a mountain of merchandise like toys and Nintendo games but over the ages it did have some cool stuff besides this comic I am about to read.  There were Halloween masks, soundtrack CD’s, t-shirts and hoodies, not to mention many articles in magazines like Fangoria. I for one would love to see a video game based on this film because I think it could really give Silent Hill a run for its money in the creepy department. I also would like to see a full comic book series based around the film and the legends it created, not to mention Father Thomas would make a perfect comic bad guy! If you’re a fan and a collector, try and enjoy what little goods the film has spawned for us.

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Before we fling open the Gates of Hell, I would like to take a moment and talk about a story that has been on the internet for a while now, the Sounds Of Hell legend or myth depending on who you are talking to. It’s said in 1989 a group of Russian scientist lead by a Mr. Azzacov were drilling in a unknown location in Siberia.  At some point in the drilling they got to 9 miles and broke into a cavity where they decided to lower a heat tolerant microphone into the hole that was letting out a temperature of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. They were shocked at what they heard as they picked up sounds of fire, peoples screams of pain as well as random evil laughter…they had found Hell and were listening to the screams of those who were damned. They stopped the drilling and were scared of what they heard as now the world had proof of Hell.  The recording was saved and later played on Trinity Broadcast Network, a religious station, to prove the evils and tortures of Hell. Later accounts also reported that a bat like creature flew from the hole as well showing the release of a demon into our world. In 1997 the story was an internet topic and flooded message and chat boards with questions and theories to if it was real or simply a hoax. Even Art Bell of Coast To Coast AM played the sounds live on the air causing more panic and speculation about whether the sounds were real. Over the years, as with most things that walk the line of the unknown, people try and debunk it as a hoax and The Sounds Of Hell as well has come under attack as many people believe that the sounds are really just a mash up of different sounds even one coming from the 1972 Mario Bava film Baron Blood.  Others say that it was made by the folks of Trinity Broadcast in order to go along with a made up story to make their viewers worry and think about the horrors of Hell. So is the Sounds Of Hell real or fake…I for one am not sure but what is fact is that drilling was going on in and around Siberia in 89 as well as there is proof that Mr. Azzacov NEVER excised so this story is one that you will have to make up your own mind about…And if the sounds are real, I sure do feel sorry for Baron Blood because it seems like he might just be in Hell.

Flames of HellThe Sounds Of HellBaron Blood

So there you have, it we took a look at HorrorHound Weekend 2014, the Horror Host Hall Of Fame 2014, the true Godfather of Gore Lucio Fulci (Sorry Hershel Gordon Lewis that crown’s Fulci’s), the film Gates Of Hell as well as we talked about the creepy Sounds of Hell.  So now it’s time for us to open the gates and take a stroll around and see what Xmachina has to offer the world of horror comics. So as always I want to remind everyone once again I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, its art and story. So let’s go on in and see what we have!

Gates Of Hell 1

Gates Of Hell  # 1  **1/2
Released In 2002   Cover Price $4.95   Xmachina Comics   #1 of 3

Mary Woodhouse is a special woman with special powers.  During a séance she dies a sudden death, but not before she warns her friends that evil is coming back! While this is going on, she is seeing the evil undead priest named Father William Thomas as he has done some real horrific stuff that all lead to terrible murders and even his own suicide that has caused him to be this undead monster! It’s the shock of seeing the suicide and knowing that the Gates of Hell have been opened that kills the young woman. The cops are called to Mary’s house where she is now dead and don’t believe her friends as they talk of the evils that are coming, but when one officer is killer by an unknown force on the steps their eyes start to open! Peter Bell is a down and out reporter who is looking for a big story to make his comeback to.  He had lost his respect in the news world when he became an alcoholic, and he thinks that the sudden death of Mary might just be his key to get back on top! Peter goes to the graveyard to visit the newly dug grave for Mary and hears from inside her coffin screams for help and rushes to save her from being buried alive! After he saves her, he finds that the two of them are now tangled in a higher plan that has chosen them to close the gates of hell for good. All the while, Father Thomas is killing people and sending the souls to hell to make the opening to Hell stronger. We end learning that if Peter and Mary don’t stop it, Father Thomas will unleash an army of Phantom Undead killers onto Earth killing all life as we know it.

I want to say that this comic captures the raw and gloom dark brooding mood of the film, but also adds its own pinch of dread and terror making for a good read for a fan of the film like myself. The downside of the issue is that it’s only part one of three, so this first issue is really more of a set up to the true horrors and terror that were to await us in issues two and three! In the first issue we have the set up for Peter and Mary to be the world’s heroes, and we set up that Father Thomas is one mean S.O.B. who will stop at nothing to open those gates to Hell. Mary Woodhouse is pretty likable even though in this issue she has very little stuff to say as she is dead during most of it, but her first appearance in the comic as well as her “rebirth” into it, you know she is a major player in the story. Peter Bell is okay.  He comes off a little shady, but I truly think that was the plan to make a guy you’re not so sure about a hero (I feel the same way about the film). Father Thomas is one evil priest who loves to kill and brutalize his poor victims.  While most of the people he kills have committed sins, his style of murder is just extreme and includes disemboweling and eyeball removal to name a few. The comic is filled with lots of gore, demons, death, naked women, murder and all other things we horror comic fans are looking for making it a really fun and good read, not to mention the fact it’s tied into a Fulci film! The art is done by Derek Rook, a talented artist who has done other horror comics like “Halloween Returns To Hadenfield”, “Zombi 2” and “Voices From Deadworld,” and his style is very raw and brings out the scary nature of the characters he is drawing.  He makes the scary scarier! The cover as well is very eye catching and well done and drew me in even at a Horror Convention with so much other stuff to see. It’s worth a read, and I wish there were more issues.

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When I bought this comic off the two hotties from HorrorHound, I thought that it was a single comic that was the full film adaptation of the 1980 film.  When I found out it was only issue 1 of 3, I was only slightly letdown because it would have been a challenge to find the others in the set, but when I found out that the other two issues in the series never seen the light of day, I can 100% say I was disappointed as I would have loved to have read them and shared my thoughts of them with you. I am going to place Xmachina with such companies as Fangoria Comics, Northstar Comics, Topps Comics and Dead Dog Comics that went away far too fast and could have given readers many more great issues of things of a spooky nature. I would have loved to see Xmachina do comics based on such films as Demons, Cannibal Holocaust, Baron Blood, Tombs Of The Blind Dead and so many other great European horror films that would have made great comic series. So while I am in the Euro Horror mood, I think that for my next update I will be taking a look at a comic based on a Jess Franco Frankenstein film.  So make sure to come back for my look at that one! So until then, support your local comic Store and Horror Host, read a comic or three and check out HorrorHound Magazine if you want to read a magazine that covers all types of horror. 

Lust For Frankenstein 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.

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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.

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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.

Baron Halloween Special 1 DVDBaron Von PorkchopBaron Halloween Special 2 dvd

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.

max and memax as indianmax outlaw

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.

Frankensteins Monster Karloffclassic universal logoDracula Bela

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”!

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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!

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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.

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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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