The Wild West Tale Of Brave Eagle

Western films and shows are something I have always greatly enjoyed, and when I think of them many things come to my mind as growing up I loved The Lone Ranger and was into watching many western films and shows on TV with The Rifleman still to this day being in my top five favorite shows of all time. I mean heck I even helped produce a western film in 2015 called “Calamity Jane’s Revenge” directed by Henrique Couto and starring Erin R. Ryan, Julia Gomez, Todd The Fox, former WWE wrestler Al Snow and even my cousin Stephen Alexander had a small role! But the main thing I think of is my Grandpa John Salyers, who was very much into old westerns as he loved John Wayne films had a ton of old western films on VHS and as well had a collection of old paperback western books. My Grandpa John was an amazing man who had Native American blood in his veins and was a hard workingman who was a sharpshooter in the army as well as a self taught handyman, factory worker and an amazing farmer who would grow massive fields of vegetables. Hands down in my real life my three biggest role models of my family are my Grandpa John, my Dad and Brother who are all outstanding people who are hardworking and creative people. Wait I need to get back to the topic at hand and that’s Westerns, and this update is about a TV show from the 50’s that I discovered in 2020 and even had some comics released thanks to DELL Comics! The show I am talking about is Brave Eagle, and I am really exited to bring you this update as I am looking forward to reading the comics and watching the show for the first time! So sit back, relax and enjoy!

Brave Eagle 1

Brave Eagle was a CBS TV series that started in 1955 and would air at 7:30pm and would go up against Disneyland on ABC! The show was filmed at Roy Rogers’ ranches in California and was way ahead of it time as it was the first series on television to feature a Native American character as the lead and as well focused on issues that tribes had to face from racism to smallpox and really helped bring these issues to the light and educated viewers who for decades had seen Native Americans as savages in media. This showed them as people. Brave Eagle was set in the old west and followed a young Cheyenne chief who leads his tribe in a time when white settlers are taking over the land and fellow tribes are at war with each other. Other characters included Morning Star, the show’s love interest for Brave Eagle, as well as Keena (his adopted son), Smokey Joe, Black Cloud and Black Raven to name a few. The show was well liked but sadly could not bring in the numbers that Disney did on the other station, and after only one season and 26 episodes, the show came to an end. And being from 1955-1956 sadly over the years many episodes have been lost making reruns on stations like MeTv impossible. The series also had many guest stars from the world of westerns like Lee Van Cleef, Rick Vallin, Ann Doran and Steve Rains to name a few and what really is awesome for me is that Roy Rogers and his production company made the show as Roy is one of my all time favorite classic western actors not to mention is Restaurant chains are also amazing. So while Brave Eagle only lasted one season, its impact on Western shows really did make an impact as it showcased that Native American characters could be the lead in a series. I will say that it’s a shame they cast a white actor in the role of Brave Eagle and not a Native American actor, but at least it was a start for change.

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Brave Eagle has been released on home media, but of course not as the full series as I have said sadly many episodes are missing and are lost. But thanks to the folks at Alpha Video, all the episodes that have been found have come to DVD in three volumes! And honestly it’s a big thanks to Alpha for alerting me to this show as while shopping their website for Lon Chaney Sr. silent films I came across a three pack of Brave Eagle and being a western fan I had to order it and of course learn about it and once I did I knew it had to get the Rotten Ink treatment! And once I got the DVD’s in from Alpha Video I was set some time aside and gave them a watch, and here is my thoughts on the show as well as the DVD’s put out by Alpha Video. And on a lazy day in 2021 I decided to pop the DVD into the Blu-Ray player, and Juliet and I watched an episode while we ate dinner and I have to say that the show while very cheesy for todays viewing audience, when you sit back and relax and look past all the flaws it really is a fun show! It’s as basic as basic can be in plots and the acting at times is a little stiff and the narration seems like its from a bad documentary, but to be honest all of that added to the charm for me. The prints of the episodes from Alpha Video are ok and some episodes are better than others as issues include soft sound, tape to digital transfers and even at times a little off center. But for this rare and sadly forgotten TV Series this is the best as of now you are going to get them on DVD.

Brave Eagle DVD 1Brave Eagle DVD 2Brave Eagle DVD 3

Keith Larsen was born Keith Larsen Burt on June 17, 1924 in Salt Lake City, Utah and had a normal childhood for that time growing up. During World War II, he served in the Navy, and after his military career ended he got the bug to start acting! And once he started he could not stop as he not only became an actor he also directed, wrote and produced films and shows. His first role was in 1951 as an uncredited part in Operation Pacific as Crewman, his first credited roll came in 1952 in episodes of the TV series Space Patrol and from there, his acting career took off with some of his biggest roles being in such shows and films as Fort Vengeance (1953), Chief Crazy Horse (1955), Brave Eagle (1955-56), Apache Warrior (1957), Northwest Passage (1959) and Trap On Cougar Mountain (1972). For me his role as Preacher Ezra Jackson in the 1970 film Night Of The Witches is pretty dang awesome as it was a Horror Comedy he also wrote and directed! His final role came in 1982’s western film Whitewater Sam that he also wrote and directed. Keith Larsen was also married three times with his second wife being actress Vera Miles who is known for being Lila Crane in Psycho 1-2! He also had three kids, and I should also say that he was a true icon of that era of westerns. Keith Larsen passed away on December 13, 2006 at the age of 82, and while gone he is not forgotten.

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The series lead actress Kim Winona was a full blooded Sioux Indian whose real name was Constance Elaine Mackey was born on October 10, 1930 in Nebraska and in her youth lived on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and later would go on to live in Spokane, Washington at the age of 17. While in Washington, she meet her first husband, a man named Harvey Buck. The pair married in 1951 and would move to Los Angeles where she would become a sectary for a commercial artist and while working this job her natural beauty caught the eye of many and she would go on to do modeling as well to earn extra money. From her modeling she caught the attention of a talent scout who encouraged her to try her hand at acting and she read for a part in the 1956 film “The Last Hunt” and while she did not get the part she was hired to promote it as “Miss Apache”. Her first role came in 1955 as Morning Star on Brave Eagle and she was a lead in all 26 episodes. The show’s executive producer Mike North hired her for this part as he thought she was perfect and captured the essence of the character. Constance would take on the stage name Kim Winona at first and would as well go by Connie Buck for future roles after Brave Eagle ended. She would go on to be in such films and shows as The Man Called X, Cheyenne, Rough Riders, Gunsmoke, Rawhide and 1961’s film Gun Fight. Kim walked away from acting to focus on her art, as she was a very talented painter and sculptor with one of her sculptures being on displayed at the Carnegie Institute! Kim was married three times and had two daughters from those marriages. Sadly Constance Elaine Mackey passed away on June 23, 1978 at the age of 47 from suicide by gunshot due to depression, and the world lost a truly lovely and creative soul. Rest In Peace Constance Elaine Mackey aka Kim Winona, your art and roles will live on forever.

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While the show only lasted one season, it like all western shows and movies of that time, got tons of great merchandise for fans to collect that includes comics, a coloring book, metal lunchbox, episodes on DVD and a Little Golden Book even! Since I found out about this show I have myself got the DVD set, all the comics and am on the hunt for the Lunchbox! I have heard rumors that Marx Toys did figures based on the show, but besides hearsay I have found zero evidence that they were made…but if they were I would definitely buy the figures of Brave Eagle and Morning Star! Check out below to see some of this awesome merchandise.

Brave Eagle BookBrave Eagle Lunch BoxBrave Eagle Coloring Book

I also want to take a brief second to say that on October 3, 2021 while at the Springfield Antique Center Building 2, Juliet and I found something very cool and that was a plush doll of Irwin Troll of comic strip Broom-Hilda fame! And if you remember back in the review for the Irwin Troll paperback comic strip book that I did on September 12, 2020 I talked about wanting one of the dolls and finally a little over a year later I own one! And the shocking part is that it was only $5.00! So I just wanted to update you readers on the fact that Juliet and I finally found an Irwin Troll doll, and we got it for a great price and we both think it’s super cool. And for those of you who have not read my update on Irwin Troll please make sure to check out the update here. And below is two pictures of our Irwin doll on the day we got him.

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The Brave Eagle comics by DELL were part of their Four Color series that featured comics based on cartoons, TV shows, movies and famous people. And I must take a moment as well to say just how awesome DELL was as a comic publisher as they did some many comics based on so many amazing properties like Universal Monsters, Vincent Price Films, Steve Reeve Hercules films, Looney Tunes, Walt Disney Characters. Three Stooges, Yogi Bear and so many Western films and shows! No modern comic company does what they did back in their time and that’s why DELL is one of the most important independent comic publishers for fans of licensed properties. I want to think Ebay sellers for having all these issues in stock at great prices and I also want to think my gal Juliet for ordering them all for me. I want to also remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you are ready, let’s see how well Brave Eagle translated to the world of comic books. Oh I will also be numbering these in the number they were released as well as using Brave Eagle as the title and not Four Color. So let’s see what Brave Eagle has in-store for us in these comic pages.

Brave Eagle Comic 1

Brave Eagle # 1  **1/2
Released in 1956     Cover Price .10     DELL     # 705 of 1354

“The Mask Of The Manitou” Brave Eagle and Smokey end up saving the life of a Blackfoot Warrior who was being attacked by Comanches, after run off the wounded warriors asks via his Chief Sun Bear if they could bring his tribes women and kids to his land for safety and he agrees. While Brave Eagle and Smokey help the Blackfoot settle into their new temporary home, and young Keena is hunting and bags a massive elk that will feed both tribes and so badly wants to share this news with his father and almost gets crushed by a mountain landslide to do so! The landslide destroys all the Blackfoot’s food and Brave Eagle and Smokey at night decide to sneak into their camp and deliver food as a surprise, and Keena as well wants to bring his big elk on his own to surprise them. But a Comanche Warrior that was a prisoner escapes and meets him with his fellow warriors and pins down Brave Eagle, Smokey and Morning Star who arrived to warn them of the prisoners escape by firing arrows at them. Brave Eagle fights back and takes down the Comanches and is able to deliver the food before sunrise, and as he and the others leave he watches in pride as his son delivers the elk. “The Gold Of Haunted Mountain” Brave Eagle, Keena and Smokey meet up with Chris Wilkins who is a miner who is a friend of the tribe and he asks them for a favor that he is owed to show them the entrance of a haunted mine in the mountains that is said to be filled with lots of gold, and when then do so a pair of bad guys follow and try to steal all the gold and even hold Keena as a prisoner! And it takes Brave Eagle and Smokey to act like ghosts to scare the bad guys away and into the arms of the law, and once Keena is safe they even leave Chris a gold nugget to make the old man rich who is a friend and once down on his luck.

This is a mix bagged western comic that captures some of the charm of the TV show and also added a little bit more of a comic charm to the normal western stories. This issue has two stories with both being interesting with the first story really focusing on Brave Eagle being a noble Chief to his people and fellow tribes and gaining pride in his son who does what is right to got get the glory that would come with it. And the second story is more of a Brave Eagle stops criminals from stealing gold and gets a deserter captured by the Calvary. Brave Eagle is a tough fighter in this issue as be brings down three warriors who want him dead and by doing so saves his best friend as well as his love interest, he is also very given as he tries to help a fellow tribe with food and shelter, he also helps his white friend escape the grip of two scummy gold thieves as well helps his son learn how to be a good man. Smokey is also a good guy who follows his Chief and does what he can to help him at all times and trusts in his word. Keena is a good kid who as well seems to always want to do the right thing and wants to be just like his father. The downside to this first issue is that I feel that they really down play Morning Star and she is barely around or used in the first story and does not even show up in the second…and that’s crazy as she is a lead in the TV Show! The issue has some good action as well as some cool spooky moments with the likes of the Haunted Mountain, but also has a few moments of being a little slow in spots making it slightly drag. The cover is cool and if you are a fan of the TV Show is eye catching as it shows Keith Larsen as Brave Eagle and is clearly a promotional still for the show. The interior art is done by Dan Spiegle and is pretty good and captures a very comic book look for all the characters with each looking like they should given the year this was made. Over all a good comic that does its best to do the show justice and I could see how kids of the time would have enjoyed it very much, so with that lets see what the next issue has in store for us.

Brave Eagle Comic 2

Brave Eagle # 2  **1/2
Released in 1957     Cover Price .10      DELL      # 770 of 1354

“Shield Of Honor” The Crow tribe shows up and steals many of the horses of Brave Eagles tribe including his own horse White Cloud, and this cause Brave Eagle, Smokey and other warriors to give chase to try and get them back. Meanwhile back at camp Chief Great Bear of the Pawnee arrives and chats with Morning Star and Keena and even teaches Keena some warrior tricks that he could do while riding a horse. Once back to his people Brave Eagle has not gotten the horses back and meets with Great Bear who wants to ask for both tribes to come together to go after The Crow that is lead by Chief Iron Hand who he says is a threat to all tribes. The two Chiefs separate and Brave Eagle and his council think that Iron Hand is innocent and that Great Bear was really the horse thief and after visiting Iron Hand and finding the horses near Great Bear’s camp they know they are right. And worse Keena has given Great Bear one of Brave Eagles arrows that has his markings and the Pawnee are headed to The Crows in order to start war as one of their warriors has fake arrows that have the mark of Brave Eagle! But after a fight Brave Eagle defeats Great Bear who promises that he will not get them involved in his war again. “Fury In The Forest” Brave Eagle, Keena and Smokey head into the forest to hunt food for the winter and when they bring down a big bison it is stolen by white hunters, and Brave Eagle must teach them a lesson as well as get the bison back to feed his people.

The second issue of Four Colors to feature Brave Eagle and his tribe is a pretty good read and does I think a slightly better job of bringing in the action and drama of the TV Show to the pages of the comics. The two stories are also well done with the first being another tribe Chief trying to get Brave Eagle involved in a big war between tribes and the second has hunters trying to steal the food of Brave Eagle’s tribe cause they wanted to sell the animals pelt. Brave Eagle once more shows that he is a hero, caring and wise whenever things could affect his tribe and people. I like in this issue how he beats Great Bear who is a warrior that others fear, but to be honest while Great Bear is a good Chief to his people he is also very dishonest as he will do what ever he can to make his tribe beat out their rivals. Keena does some pretty silly things in this issue like given Great Bear and arrow of his fathers even though that is against the tribes rules, and he also should be looking up to his father and not another Chief he just meet. Smokey is around in both stories and is wise and as helpful as ever. And it was cool to see White Cloud the horse of Brave Eagle get a little bit of time to shine as it as well is in both stories. But like before they downplay Morning Star and it’s really starting to annoy me, as she should be way more involved and important in these stories besides being reduced to cameos. I have to say great action as well because I have to praise the quick fight between Brave Eagle and Great Bear as it brought a nice TV Western feel to the comic. Another cool photo cover for the issue that is eye catching for fans of the show and the interior art by Dan Spiegle is once more well done. Over all another good issue that leaves me wanting to read more Brave Eagle….but for the love of Jack Kirby could they please make Morning Star a big deal in these comics.

Brave Eagle Comic 3

Brave Eagle # 3   **1/2
Released in 1957     Cover Price .10     DELL     # 816 of 1354

“Search For The Sun” A band of renegade Natives have started to rob and kill white men who are mining for gold, and the Calvary is trying to stop them but are failing. The last attack left only one man left alive by the name of Gusty who is now in the care of Brave Eagle and his people as they are trying to nurse him back to health. The renegade robberies puzzle Brave Eagle as gold means nothing to his people so along with Smokey they set out to find out who these renegades are and what they are up to. Meanwhile back at camp Gusty spends his time telling tall tales to Keena and Morning Star, as Keena is a little upset as he feels Brave Eagle ignored him before he left camp as he made him a ring and needed to try and fit its size. When Brave Eagle finds a cabin that has been burnt to the ground he also finds a wounded renegade Indian who spills the beans that they are stealing the gold as another group of white men give them rifles for it! Brave Eagle takes his prisoner to the army fort, and later that night Keena decides that he will return to his real tribe as he thinks because Brave Eagle is not his real dad that he does not love him and once at his family tribe he learns they are working with the gold thieves and he spills the beans on Brave Eagles gold in order to get his own rifle! Meanwhile Gusty is upset that a story he told about Keena’s tribe is what drove him to find then and sets out to bring the young man back. But we find that Keena has sent the renegades to an empty mine and gets word back to Brave Eagle who takes Smokey and some warriors and brings them down. In the end Keena returns to Brave Eagle and a great feast is made to celebrate. “The Iron Trail” Bull Larson is in charge of building rails for trains that will be going through the area and while working he injures one of Brave Eagle’s tribe and keeps him as a hostage. When Brave Eagle goes to check on his missing friend he over hears Bull talking about robbing the payroll train and blaming it on the Natives, and Brave Eagle comes up with a plan that has him on the train and he stops Bull from pulling off the robbery and once more is the hero.

The third issue in the Brave Eagle comics is really good and like before has two stories with one being the longer of the two and each having almost a lesson in them. The two adventures has Brave Eagle and his tribe stopping gold thieves as well as a payroll thieves and also his son learns that just cause you are not from the same blood dose not mean they don’t love them like you are their own. Brave Eagle truly wants his people and the white people to be able to live in harmony, and this clearly angers some of his own people as they want to retake the land and will steal and kill to do so. Brave Eagle as always shows that he is also a great warrior as he fights for what he thinks is right. Keena in this issue gets his feelings hurt and says some things to Brave Eagle he regrets, and when Keena returns to his original tribe he finds that they are on the side of chaos and learns that his true place is with his father. Smokey and Morning Star take a back seat in this issue and while around they sadly do very little. Gusty is a white man that is injured and is being taken care of, but while a good man he does tell some stories that bend the truth and is what causes some issues between Keena and Brave Eagle. And man Bull Larson is a terrible person who is willing to kill and steal the money of his workers and by doing so could start a war between Brave Eagle and the Calvary. While the action is a little slow in this issue when it comes though its lots of fun and makes for another above average read that brings the entertainment to the reader. The cover is good and once more is just a promo photo and the art is done by Dan Spiegle and is good stuff for this time of adaptation comics. So with that let’s take a look at the next issue to showcase Brave Eagle and his Tribe.

Brave Eagle Comic 4

Brave Eagle # 4   **
Released in 1958     Cover Price .10     DELL     # 879 of 1354

“Forbidden Land” Brave Eagle, Smokey and Keena ride out to check on a wagon when two scared horses entered their camp, but they find that it was a set up by white men who wanted to stage a fake death and robbery in order to start a war between the Soldiers and the Indian Warriors. And worse when the white men escape they trick the Calvary into believing that Brave Eagle and his tribe attacked them and stole the horses that ran into their camp earlier! Because of this the Calvary with orders from the Government is taking Brave Eagles tribes land! The Tribe is upset and the talk of war breaks out, but Brave Eagle wants a chance to make this right and follows one of the accusers to a cave and learns that the plan is for the Calvary to move gold just in case of war and for them to steal it and blame Brave Eagles tribe once more for the robbery. But once Smokey captures one of the thieves and the Calvary learn of the plot they along with Brave Eagle’s tribe stop the gold robbery and the land is returned to the tribe and the misunderstanding is patched up as the crooks are taking in for their crimes. “The Plight Of Red Thunder” While hunting Brave Eagle meets up with Red Thunder a chief that he has been friends with for decades and the two along with Smokey head to his camp in order to enjoy some dinner, but while there they meet Spotted Colt the son of Red Thunder who loves to pull pranks and jokes. To teach him a lesson Brave Eagle fakes being hurt and Spotted Colt has to find a way to get help from people who do not believe him and as well learn that jokes have a time and a place.

The fourth issue in the Brave Eagle comics is at this point the one that packs less impact and in some spots is a little boring. The main story of the gold robbery really is the plot of many of the stories that have came before it and adds nothing new besides more faceless and nameless bad guys. The second story is fun and is a take of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” as Spotted Colt is a young man who likes to have fun, but has terrible timing. Brave Eagle is much of the same a hero, warrior, wise man and a teacher to those that are around him. Smokey and Keena are around but do very little and most annoying Morning Star is nowhere in site! Red Thunder is a kind hearted Chief who has an annoying son and needs help to teach him a lesson. The cover is another promo pic from the show and has Brave Eagle with a bow and arrow. The art is done by what looks like an Unknown Artist and the first story is kind of sloppy in the art department with the second one being way better. Not much to say about this issue besides it’s ok and while entertaining it was also kind of a slow moving read. Keep in mind I did not dislike this issue it was just a little underwhelming and also just kind of did not capture the Show very well.

Brave Eagle Comic 5

Brave Eagle # 5  **1/2
Released in 1958      Cover Price .10      DELL      # 929 of 1354

“The Ride For Life” Smokey enters his tribes land and falls from his horse as he has been shot and is injured by a pair of white men who are also tracking him and he has heard a plan that they have in the works. Brave Eagle and his warriors wait for Smokey to wake up in order to find out who did this to him so that they can make them face justice. The two would be killers creep into the camp and one cuts free the horses while the other creeps into the tipi and tries to stab Smokey, but it’s a trap and Brave Eagle is inside and fights off the attacker and in the commotion both outlaws escape into the night forest. Brave Eagle is then asked by Morning Star to visit Smokey who is having a very high fever, and Brave Eagle decides that he must ride to the Calvary fort and try and get medicine and once there the two men who shot Smokey are already inside and blame Brave Eagle for a raid the killed Calvary solders and stole gold that they were escorting! But when one of the bad guys slip up they are arrested and Brave Eagle takes the Fort Doctor to Smokey, but also finds out the Keena is near a creek that the raiders use when they stole the gold, and he gets there to find his son kidnapped by the remaining gang! And with the help of his Braves they bring down the rest of the crooks and rush back to be with Smokey. “Mustang Trail” one day Morning Star and Keena notice that three of the tribes horses are missing and they go and tell Brave Eagle who notices that the line that the horses were hitched to has been cut by someone. We see that the horses are taken by a group of outlaws who uses the horses to drag flaming brush behind them causing a wild fire all around the camp. And while Brave Eagle and his tribe put out the fires the outlaws go and steal almost all the tribes horses! And Brave Eagle, Smokey and Keena start tracking to get their horses back and uncover a whole horse thief ring, and using his mind Brave Eagle is able to bring them down and get the horses back.

The fifth and final issue of Brave Eagle is another entertaining issues that does a pretty good job of capture the mood of the TV series it was based on, I will say that it is missing a little bit of the humor of Smokey as well as the shows narration by Brave Eagle is missing and I really dislike that the comics barely use Morning Star as they act like she was not a big deal when she very much is in the source material. And while I really liked the comics I do feel that the lack of Morning Star really was a big flaw. These two stories are pretty good with the first story being really good and the last story being average and slightly dull, but still a good read. Brave Eagle throughout the comics was a great leader to his tribe, who gets things done and really watches out for his people. He is a good fighter, a man who uses his mind to issue solve and is loyal to his friends and tribe. So really Brave Eagle is a good honest hero who is pretty interesting and transfers from TV to Comic pretty well. Keena is the son of Brave Eagle and is always up for adventure and to be at the side of his father during any situation. Smokey is Brave Eagles best friend and is also his most trusted as he as well is always at his Chief’s side and is willing to risk his life for him as well as the tribe he calls family. Morning Star is the daughter of Smokey and the little we see her she is caring, brave and wise. The Calvary in this series seem to be very washy with Brave Eagle and his tribe as at times they act like they trust them and then the moment any white man says a negative thing about them they turn on them. The series had some pretty good action but oddly more of the stories had to do with gold or horse thieves with most being about gold…very weird as it seemed the writer or writers just had one basic idea for Brave Eagle to go after. The comic cover is another promo photo of Brave Eagle and is eye catching for fans of the TV Show. And the interior art once more is done by Dan Spiegle and is pretty good and has that classic Dell Comic look. Over all the Brave Eagle comic series is pretty entertaining and while not fully like the show it does its best to try and capture the magic of the show. Check out the artwork bellow to see the art style used in this comic.

Brave Eagle Art 1Brave Eagle Art 2Brave Eagle Art 3

Brave Eagle is a great western TV Show that sparked entertaining Dell Comic issues via their Four Color series and I am sure readers that where viewers really did enjoy giving these a read and continuing the adventures of Brave Eagle. And for me this was a fun comic to start our countdown to Thanksgiving with as this time of the year always makes me want to visit the past and even discover new things from the past like I did here with Brave Eagle. So for the next update we will be still celebrating 10 years of the Horror Host Hall Of Fame and will be taking a look at USA Up All Night and all the classic hosts like Gilbert, Rhonda and Caroline that made up that iconic show! So until next time read a western comic of three, watch a western show or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time and be ready to stay Up All Night!

USA Up All Night Preview Logo

Sail The Gravy Sea With Morgan The Pirate

Welcome back to Rotten Ink. It’s crazy to think that Thanksgiving is just around the corner and that also means that it will be the final time, in at least a long while, that I will cover a Hercules comic series for Turkey Day. It really is crazy to think that Herc and his adventures is coming to an end for a while here…so before we send him off on a quite relaxing quest for a while, I decided that for this update I am going to cover the DELL comic adaption of the Steve Reeves movie “Morgan The Pirate” as I feel that to send off Hercules properly, we should bring back Steve Reeves in a update as he is the most iconic actor to play the hero in cinema. So as the leaves turn orange and turkey day is just around the corner, we are going to spend a quick and action packed update with a Sword And Sandal film and comic. So let’s hit the seven seas with Morgan The Pirate. Also whatever happened to the Pirate craze that was hitting America there for a while? It seems like it cooled off and that films, comics and games about pirates have been sent out to the sea on a long journey.

Lets start this review off right and take a look at the movie that sparked this DELL Comic adaptation as well showed that Steve Reeves could do more than just sword and sandal films and he would branch out to adventure, swashbuckler and western in his career. I want to say that I am getting the film’s write up from our friends at IMDB and I will the talk about the films production as well as briefly about my first time seeing it. So grab your sword, and let’s swing aboard this pirate ship.

Morgan The Pirate (1960)

“Purchased as a slave in the Panama market by the Dona Inez, daughter of the Spanish Governor, Welshman Sir Henry Morgan soon finds himself in love with the young woman. Soon after however he commandeers the ship transporting him and other slaves and soon they are the scourge of Caribbean looting and attacking the mighty Spanish Empire. The pirates soon find themselves acting under the authority of the English and Morgan has only one goal: to attack and take control of Panama.”

Italian Cinema in the late 1950’s through the early 60’s was pumping out many Sword and Sandal films to cinemas as moviegoers world wide seemed like they could not get enough. And one of the top actors in the genre was bodybuilder Steve Reeves who made a name for himself with his films “Hercules” from 1958 and “Hercules Unchained” from 1959, and in 1960 they decided to take Reeves and try something a little different and cast him as a pirate in the film “Morgan The Pirate” that was directed by Primo Zeglio & Andre de Toth with Joseph E. Levine producing. And besides Steve Reeves, other cast members include Valerie Lagrange, Ivo Garrani, Lydia Alfonsi and Chelo Alonso to name a few, and Franco Mannino did the score. The film did well worldwide and showcased that Reeves had more to offer cinema than playing a Sword and Sandal hero. In 1960 when this film was released, it came out alongside films The Loves Of Hercules, Goliath And The Dragon, Spartacus, The Loves Of Salammbo, Son Of Samson, The Giants Of Thessaly and a handful of more.

I first saw Morgan The Pirate on a VHS that I bought from a now sadly closed second hand store called “Replay Media” on the same day I loaded up on tons of Sword And Sandal and Horror. and one of the first ones I watched was Morgan The Pirate as I wanted to see Steve Reeves in a role that was different than Hercules or some sort of Roman hero. I can remember popping it into the VCR and sitting back and relaxing with a bottle of Mountain Dew and some Andy Capp Hot Fries and watching Morgan The Pirate save the beautiful woman and kicking some evildoer’s butts. And this film, along with Hercules and Hercules Unchained, started my quest to buy old Steve Reeves action movies that I was able to get from Replay Media as well. It’s weird to think that Steve Reeves is not as iconic as other action stars like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charles Bronson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Segal, Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Michael Dudikoff and so many others. Another thing that bothers me is the fact that Sword And Sandal movies are a thing of the past and not many modern companies are making them, and I have to give filmmaker Joshua Kennedy major credit for making the indie film “Theseus And The Minotaur” that truly felt like a classic Sword and Sandal film. Plus, while all major comic companies and 99% of the indie companies have walked away from comics based on heroes from the time like Hercules, Samson, Atlas and Goliath…I am here to say while they are on hold for now the idea of comics based on these heroes are not dead at Sparkle Comics and are being developed soon. Wait, we are talking about Morgan The Pirate so I will step down from my soapbox and sum it up by saying if you enjoy adventure films that have a dash of sword and sandal, you should give this one a watch.

The main actress in Morgan The Pirate is Chelo Alonso who played Concepcion, and she was a true beauty of Sword And Sandal cinema. Chelo Alonso was born Isabella Garcia on April 10, 1933 in Camaguey, Cuba. And during her early life she got fame by becoming an amazing dancer and was in demand at clubs like Havana’s National Theatre, and with fame came her working around the world as an attraction at music halls as she was becoming the Queen of exotic dancing. And then cinema came knocking, and she started her film career in 1959 with her last film being in 1969 having 10 solid years of work with roles in films as “Sheba And The Gladiator”, “Goliath And The Barbarians”, “Terror Of The Red Mask”, “Morgan The Pirate”, “Son Of Samson”, “Atlas Against The Cyclops” and “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” to name a few. In 1960 while making Morgan The Pirate, she meet Aldo Pomilia and the two got married and he tried to help her career and helped her jump from movies to TV. Her husband passed away in 1986 and she retired from acting and being in the public eye to focus on a hotel she opened as well as her cat breeding business. Sadly on February 20, 2019, Chelo Alonso passed away at the age of 85. Chelo was a true beauty of Italian Cinema and was one of the world’s best exotic dancers.

So while I have seen the movie a handful of times, this will be the first time I have read the Dell Comic adaptation, and I hope I enjoy it as much as I do the film. One thing I really do enjoy about some of these classic Dell Comic movie adaptations as they are fast paced and bring the best parts of the films alive on the pages of the comics. I want to thank an Ebay seller for having this comic in stock and made this update possible. I also want to also remind you all that I grade this comic on a scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you are ready for some high seas adventure with Morgan, and nope not talking about the alcohol drink mascot Captain Morgan, let’s climb aboard and see what awaits us.

Morgan The Pirate # 1  ** 1/2
Released in 1961     Cover Price .15     Dell Comics   #1227 of 1354

The place is Panama, and Inez is the daughter of the Viceroy and with her is Maria. While in town at the market, they watch as slave Henry Morgan is being beaten by a slave owner and Inez has pity on him and buys him to work at the palace, where he takes care of the horses. One night a horse gives birth as Morgan keeps watch over it, Inez enters the barn and after some words Morgan makes the mistake of kissing Inez just as Maria sees this she calls the guards and Morgan is arrested and sentenced to death. The next day in front of all the people the prisoners are lead out with a total of five, but the Viceroy will show pity on four of them and only one shall die. Once more Morgan is lucky as he is spared death and sent to a life of hard labor. While on the slave ship, Morgan leads an uprising and he and his fellow slaves take over the ship and Pirate Captain Morgan is born. Time passes and on Tortuga, the pirates gather and a ship has been captured that has Inez and Maria on board and as the pirates start grabbing at them, Morgan enters with his crew and they put the Pirate leader in his place and take the captive ladies as well as get food and weapons for their journey. While Inez wants to be taken home, Maria finds love with one of the pirates as Morgan leads attacks against Spanish ships. Later Captain Morgan makes a deal with England to attack Panama as well as all their Spanish empire allies, they return Inez to her family and she spills the beans on the attack on Panama and this leads to Morgan and his crew’s ship being sunk and all aboard believed dead. But the world is wrong, and Morgan and his crew still live and he even sneaks into a ball that has been held for his own supposed death. Morgan and Inez talk and share their love for each other, and when England and Spanish make a peace deal Morgan leads all the pirates he can band together to attack and take over Panama…and they do just that! And while having a drunken feast, Inez and Morgan find each other and the pair live happy ever after.

High sea adventure came alive in this Dell Comic movie adaptation thats follows Morgan, a man who goes from slave to pirate Captain and falls in love with a very important woman from Panama. The main points of this tale are poor vs. rich, true love and forgiveness. Captain Henry Morgan is a man who started out from a noble family that was over thrown and became a slave that would go on to become a Pirate Captain. While he is a Pirate, he is still a good man with a good heart who wants to protect his crew, find love with the enemy’s daughter and get revenge on Spain and Panama. He is a skilled fighter, not just with a sword but also his bare fists, and even more importantly is very smart about his battle plans. His pirate crew is a rag tag bunch that are loyal to their Captain but are also very bloodthirsty and greedy, a good batch of allies to have in battle. Inez starts off as a spoiled brat who has a good heart, but does not like to be told no. She as well is very loyal to her people as she is the daughter of Panama’s Viceroy and will even turn on true love to protect her people. The Viceroy is very cocky and rules with riches as well as his word is the law and you do not cross him, not to mention he has an army at his call…and I guess he is the comic and film’s main bad guy. The comic follows the film pretty well and does cut out moments to speed up the action, the one major change that is odd is in the movie Inez is injured in the end battle and Morgan finds her and the pair embrace…while in the comic she just shows up at the feast after the battle and the pair embrace. And while the comic does have some good action moments, over all it’s pretty slowed paced and delivered an average comic read. In other words, it’s good and is a must read for fans of the film. The cover is okay and just shows stills from the film, and the interior art is done by Gerald McCann and is that classic Dell Comic style. Over all this is a good read and while entertaining, it’s a slight step below the film. Check out the artwork below and see the classic Dell style.

So while Morgan The Pirate is not as badass as Hercules, he’s still a character that has made his mark on pirate films as well as sword and sandal films thanks to actor Steve Reeves. I really do wish that Dell Comics would have done more Four Color or Movie Adaptations of the films of the time and would have done more ones based on Horror, Sci-Fi and Sword And Sandal films. With my next update we will be coming back to land as Turkey Day is right around the corner, and that means we go on one final journey (at least for a while) with Hercules as we travel his DC Comic adventure. So until next time, read a Dell Comic or three, watch a Sword And Sandal film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for an Unbound Hercules adventure.

From Horror Western Movie To Horror Western Comic: Night Of The Grizzly (1966)

Nature can be scary as we have talked about here before on Rotten Ink with my updates on that subject like “Final Plague” and “Giant Spider Invasion” and with this From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update we are going to take a look at something in that genre and yet a little different. The film and comic we are going to be taking a look at is Night Of The Grizzly, a hybrid of Western, Adventure with a dash of Horror movie that as back in the late 1960’s got the DELL movie adaptation treatment. So I know many of you readers right now are scratching your head and saying, “Night Of The Grizzly is not a Horror Movie,” and for the most part you are correct, but I and others do feel that it at least has Horror Movie elements that tie into Nature Runs Amok Horror films like Grizzly, Night Of The Lupus, Day Of The Animals, Frogs and The Birds to name a few. So let’s travel to the old frontier and watch out for ragging grizzly bears as we take a look at From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Night Of The Grizzly.*

*Note From Matt: It’s got Horror elements…sort of….just roll with it and have fun reading this update.

Satan The Grizzly Bear is this film’s main killing machine, and I think we should take a look at what makes him so dangerous and deadly. Satan is a massive brown furred grizzly bear who has a killer instinct and not only kills for food, but also kills for the fun of it. Satan loves to kill and almost seems to take joy in taking the lives of animals and humans alike. To kill, Satan has multiple tools of death like his razor sharp teeth and claws that he can use to shred and mangle flesh. Satan can also use his massive size and weight to his advantage, plus his size and look also helps strike fear in the hearts of his victims. Satan is also smart for an animal and can use his brains to trick and sneak up on his kill. Not to even mention that Satan is strong, fast and can take lots of damage from guns. Satan also is very vindictive, and once he has his prey’s scent, he goes after them and all they love until they are dead. But while Satan is one tough grizzly, he still is a living animal and can be hurt and killed by bullets, fire, massive falls and stabbing. His downfall comes with a ton of bullets from a rife and even being stabbed! So as you can see, Satan is one tough animal who might not be supernatural, he just is mean as all hell with a thirst for death.

Now that we have learned how the Grizzly named Satan deals with humans and fellow animals, I feel it’s time to take a look at the film he killed in! For this update I will be taking the films write up from our friends at IMDB, and after I will write about the film’s production as well as my thoughts about it. So if you are ready, let’s see what the night brings the grizzly.

The Night Of The Grizzly (1966)

“Marshal “Big Jim” Cole turns in his badge and heads to Wyoming with his family in order to settle on some land left him by a relative. He faces opposition from a neighbor who wants that land for his own sons, and from a grizzly bear, nicknamed “Satan”, who keeps killing Cole’s livestock.”

In the 1960’s both Westerns and Horror Movies were profitable at Drive-In Theaters, and moviegoers could not get enough. And Paramount Pictures decided to slyly blend the two with a film called The Night Of The Grizzly that was about a former lawman rancher who has issues with his property thanks to some troublesome folks who want his land and for good measure they also threw in a convict he arrested years back, and the icing on the cake and the true Horror element of the film is the giant grizzly bear that is tormenting the ranches by killing folks as well as livestock. The script was written by Warren Douglas, and Joseph Pevney was hired to direct, who was known for directing films like “The Strange Door” and “Man Of A Thousand Faces (1957)” not to mention that Leith Stevens was brought in to score the film. When it came to casting the film, the main role of Big Jim went to Clint Walker with Martha Hyer, Keenan Wynn and Candy Moore rounding out some of the cast. The film did pretty well for Paramount at the cinema and over all the film also did well with most critics and movie watchers. When released it was alongside other genre films like Manos The Hands Of Fate, War Of The Gargantuas, The Brides Of Fu Manchu, The Ghost And Mr. Chicken and Africa Blood & Guts to name a few. If you like animal attack films as well as westerns give Night Of The Grizzly a watch.

Night Of The Grizzly is a movie I can remember that used to play on cable network station TBS a lot when I was a young kid growing up,  and I can remember watching it once or twice as I had always been fascinated with Grizzly Bears as I find them both amazing and terrifying as they really are massive meat eating killing machines! But to be honest, I didn’t remember a thing about it besides it was a bear attack film. So when gearing up for this review, I ordered a DVD of it from Amazon and on a cold night in October I gave it a watch…and man this is a fun film for those who enjoy westerns with some comedy elements as well as a dash of horror when Satan the grizzly is on screen. I can say it’s a pretty fun film if you like the 60’s style western films. I think what works the best for this film is just how good Clint Walker is as Big Jim and just how strangely powerful the Grizzly is. Plus as a person who thinks big old Grizzly Bears are scary, this movie does a great job of showing just how massive and blood thirsty they can be. Over all it’s a good little film that I can remember watching as a kid and enjoying more as an adult.

So as you can see, Satan is one mean killing machine grizzly bear who also seems to have some sort of supernatural healing power! We also know that the film only has a tiny, small amount of Horror…but that tiny amount is truly Satan! But let’s get past the question whether this has Horror elements or if it just a normal western adventure and take a look at the Dell Comic Adaptation. I want to remind you all that I grade this comic on a scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I want to also thank Ebay for having this comic in stock and making this update possible. So with that let’s head to the ranch and try not to be eaten alive by Satan.

The Night Of The Grizzly # 612  ***
Released in 1966   Cover Price .12   DELL     #612 of ???

Big Jim Cole is a retired sheriff whose grandfather left him a ranch in his will, so along with his wife, daughter, niece and family friend Sam, they want to start a new life of being ranchers so Jim can leave the dangerous life of the law behind. Once at the ranch they settle in and start to clean up the old house and get animals ready for stock, but late one night, Jim’s bull is killed by Satan a grizzly bear that has tormented the countryside. Jim even shots Satan who shrugs off the wound and flees into the woods. The next day Jim trades in some of his former law goods to get a loan, but this would be his last loan as Jed Curry, the ranch’s former owner is rich and owns the largest part of the banks and wants his land back from the Coles. Jim and old Sam head to the woods to hunt Satan who sneaks up on them, and Jim is able to fire a few shots into the beast before the men have to run for their lives. Months pass, and the Coles are doing very well and the town seems to have really warmed up to them, and even better, no one has seen Satan for awhile, that is until the Cole Family gets home and all their livestock and chickens have been killed by the murderous bear. The next day, Jim Cole has to get a loan to buy new animals and has to make a deal with Jed Curry who makes him place his land as collateral, and Curry also puts a large bounty on the head of Satan as the bear killed many farmers’ animals that night. Jim and Sam take the bounty, but so does Cass Dowdy, a man that Jim put in jail for two years and has a chip on his shoulder, and Jeb offers Cass a thousand dollars if he can kill Satan before Jim does. Once home Jim and Sam set traps for Satan and head out to kill the beast, but once more the grizzly gets the jump on them and attacks and leaves Sam dead. And after the funeral, Jim is even more set to kill the bear as his wife is pushing for them to just sell the farm and leave the farm as she is worried Cass or Satan is going to kill her husband. The next day Jim sets out and finds all his traps have been messed with and gets into a fight with Cass, and this fight sparks a huge fight with his wife who threatens to leave…his son overhears the fight and that night sneaks out to kill Satan and he does not return by the next day. Jim sets out to find his son and once more runs into Cass, and the pair are mad but work together to save Jim’s Son and in the end Cass dies protecting the young kid. Jim kills Satan and gets the reward and saves the farm.

This adaptation does a pretty good job of bringing the film alive on comic pages, and while it cuts massive parts of the film as well as characters out, this helps the comic’s pacing. To be honest, the comic cuts all the comedy and goofy moments out, and this comic really does play more like a Nature Runs Amok Horror Movie like Grizzly. The plot follows a former lawman and his family who want to settle down and become farmers but they have so many issues as they must face a killing machine grizzly bear, a greedy rich land owner and even a bounty hunter from their past. Our hero is Big Jim Cole, a man who loves his family and wants to leave the dangerous world of being a lawman to become a farmer and family man, but because of his past he also will not back down when faced with bad odds! He is a tough man who truly is a hero that will remind you of all the classic western heroes you seen in movies and on TV. The Cole family as well are just good people as is Sam, who is an old man who would do anything for them. Jed Curry is a scumbag who throws his power and money around as he thinks these things will get him what ever he wants…he really is a bad person. Cass Curry is a former convict turned bounty hunter who has a grudge with Jim Cole who was the man who put him away, but while a tough guy, he still has a heart as he sacrifices his own life to save a young boys. Satan, the grizzly bear, is pure evil as he kills just to kill and seems to also keep grudges against those who have tried to stop him from his murdering ways. The comic has no blood and guts but does have two kills of humans and the deaths of some farm animals. The cover is great and has a Horror look to it, and the interior art is done by an un-credited artist and is pretty solid classic Dell comic art. Over all this is a great read and worth the pick for fans of Dell movie adaptation. Check out the artwork below.

So as you can see, Night Of The Grizzly is a weird hybrid of multiple genres and delivered one entertaining comic book. Again, this one is up for debate on whether it’s a horror movie or not, and over all I am not sure myself as I do feel it has elements but they are very slim and are mostly just when the killer bear is on the screen. But I will leave it up to you, my readers, to make up your own mind. For the next update we are leaving the Cole Ranch and will be traveling the greater Dayton area in search of the best fried chicken in the land. So until next time, readers and friends read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for a deep fried good time.fried-chicken-1000x498

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Valley Of Gwangi

Well it’s that time again when the giant Titans awaken and take over Rotten Ink and bring forth not only the second Kajiu Month but also add many more updates in my From Horror Movie To Horror showcases. And this time Kaiju Month is being done in honor of “Godzilla vs. Kong” that was going to be released in theaters on March 13, 2020 and now got moved to November 13, 2020 but remains for me is one of the year’s most anticipated films! To start off, I chose to cover “The Valley Of Gwangi,” an amazing film that pits cowboys against dinosaurs! For many fans of Kaiju films, this one walks the line as some do not consider it part of that subgenre. I am on the side that does belong as I feel that Dinosaurs are the O.G Kaiju monsters. So if you are ready to travel to the old west and fight for our lives against dinosaurs, let’s start this amazing update of From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Valley Of Gwangi. I hope this month of updates helps make the film’s move a little less hurtful.

So before we dive to deep into The Valley Of Gwangi, let’s take a look at the film’s most vicious dinosaur the Tyrannosaurus Rex or T-Rex for short that is simply called Gwangi in the film! The Gwangi is a Kaiju that stands around 20 feet tall and is very aggressive in nature to any man, animal and dinosaur that crosses his path. The Gwangi uses his massive size to stomp on prey that is smaller than him and uses his razor sharp teeth to shred their flesh! He is also very fast moving for his size and can quickly catch prey that is on foot. The Gwangi’s massive and wicked appearance that includes purplish black hide also can shock human, animal and fellow dinosaurs alike into a state of total fear leaving them open for attack and sadly the kill. But while the Gwangi is a creature of rage, he has weaknesses that include the fact he is not all that smart and thinks more with his stomach than his tiny brain. He can also be kind of clumsy and easily outstepped and escaped from. The Gwangi can also be hurt or killed by other Kaiju’s as well as can take damage by fires and guns. While the Gwangi might be one of the weakest Kaiju’s we have covered on a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update, but while he might not be the strongest, he still is one deadly and mean beast that is a killing machine.

So as you can see, the T-Rex called the Gwangi is a man killing, meat eating, scary as hell dino who really does define the term Kaiju. So now let’s take a look at The Valley Of Gwangi, the film that this Gwangi is from and as always our friends from IMDB will supply the film’s write up and I will write a little about the film’s production, release and my thoughts. So if you are ready like I am, let’s get to our look at The Valley Of Gwangi.

The Valley Of Gwangi (1969)

“A cowboy named Tuck Kirby seeks fame and fortune by capturing an Allosaurus living in the Forbidden Valley and putting it in a Mexican circus. His victim, called the Gwangi, turns out to have an aversion to being shown in public.”

Willis O’Brien is the mastermind and godfather of stop motion creature films came up with the idea of The Valley Of Gwangi that he was calling Valley Of The Mists as he wanted to make something of his own that was much like the story “The Lost World” written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! This was a dream project for him that would have had a T-Rex captured and forced to be in a Wild West show that would end with it breaking free, fighting lions and dying when it was knocked off a cliff by a truck. Sadly before the film could go into production, Willis O’Brien passed away and the equally talented Ray Harryhausen stepped in to do the film’s special effects. The film’s script was written by Willis O’Brien but also William Bast and Julian More with Jim O’Connolly coming on board to direct, and lastly they brought on Jerome Moross to do the score. Cast as the leads for the film were James Franciscus as Tuck and Gila Golan as T.J. with supporting actors like Richard Carlson, Freda Jackson and Curtis Arden. The film was shot in Spain and was released by Warner Brothers. The film was a hit at the box office and the year it was released it was joined by other Horror Classics like Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Nightmare In Wax, Night Of The Bloody Apes, The Castle Of Fu Manchu, Dracula The Dirty Old Man and The Oblong Box to name a few. Over the years the film has really built up a cult following and has been released on home media like VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray bringing this fun and cheesy film to a new generation of fans.

I can first remember seeing this film on broadcast TV when it aired on TNT Monstervision hosted by Joe Bob Briggs as well as on the TBS show Super Scary Saturday hosted by Grampa Munster…proving once more why Horror Hosts are so important when it comes to introducing monster kids to films. I can remember on both viewings loving just how cheesy and silly the film was, but loving the classic style effects. Over the years I kind of forgot about the film and it faded from memory, that was until about 10 years ago when I saw a clip of it of on a show and realized I needed to own it on DVD for my collection and quickly ordered it off Amazon, and after it arrived and I was able to watch it again I found myself turning back into that kid that watched Horror Hosts host it and loving every cheesy moment of it. I should also note when I was a kid, like most kids I was really into dinosaurs and watching a T-Rex chase around cowboys was amazing. When Rotten Ink started I knew I wanted to cover comics made by Star of course but also knew that I had to somehow cover the movie adaptation comics by DELL and besides the Universal Monster ones The Valley Of Gwangi was at the top of the list and with Kaiju Month and the From Horror Movie To Horror Comic theme this was the perfect time to unleash it on you readers. If you have not seen Valley Of Gwangi and enjoy films that have classic style stop animation and features a pissed off T-Rex wanting to make lunch out of cowboys, make sure to give this one a watch.

So as you can see, Valley Of Gwangi is one of those movies that walks the lines of many different genres as it not only is a Western and Horror but also has elements of Science Fiction as well as Fantasy. Again lets be honest the T-Rex really is the worlds original Kaiju and this species of Dinosaurs has been the main villain of many of films and fiction stories in novels and even comics. Now that we have talked about the man-eater T-Rex and the film he slaughters in lets get to the DELL Comic adaptation and see how the comic compares to the film. I want to remind you that I grade this comic on a scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So if you are ready, let’s head to the valley and see if we can dodge that pesky meat eating Gwangi.

The Valley Of Gwangi # 1  ***
Released in 1969     Cover Price .15   Dell     # 912 of ??

Tuck Kirby is a cowboy who visits his old lover and rodeo show runner T.J. Breckenridge with an offer to buy her prize horse on the orders of Buffalo Bill! She is still very mad at Tuck for breaking off their marriage and sends him away. While in town Tuck meets a young boy named Lope who helps him get a horse and introduces him to Professor Bromley who is a master of dinosaur bones. Carlos who works for T.J. has an idea how to use creatures found from the forbidden valley as a way for the rodeo to make extra money, but also Carlos is feeling a little rivalry with Tuck as he clearly has a crush on his boss T.J. But when Carlos shows off his discovery of a tiny horse, local gypsies show up and end up stealing the horse back to return it to the valley…but also the Professor now follows the gypsies in order to find the valley. And worse Carlos thinks he seen Tuck with the gypsy thieves stealing the tiny horse, and this breaks T.J.’s heart. The Gypsies set the tiny horse free and they think that by doing so they gave stopped a curse, but in reality they lead Tuck, Lope, Professor Bromley, T.J. and Carlos to the valley and after clearing up the mix up they all enter the valley after the tiny horse. While in the valley they are attacked by dinosaurs and almost all killed by a T-Rex they call Gwangi that has set his sights on them, as they try and escape the valley Carlos is killed and ate with Tuck and the crew using boulders to knock out Gwangi and they take the beast captive and put it on display at the rodeo. As Tuck and T.J get into a lovers fight over their future the gypsies strike again and set the creature free that goes on a rampage as hundreds of people try and run for their lives. And in the end Gwangi knocks over some candles and catches the area on fire and burns to death as Tuck and T.J find that they truly love each other.

This Dell Comics is a fantastic read and really makes me wish that they made more comics based on Horror and Sci-Fi films during this time. While this adaptation is really good I also need to stress that like all Dell movie inspired comics this one cuts out large parts of the film and characters to make it fit in a single issue. The plot of this is very simple and follows a down on their luck rodeo that hopes that a tiny horse that a worker found will bring money to them, but when the horse is stolen and a hidden valley is found they get more then they wish for when they unleash a T-Rex. Also throw in a love story between the female rodeo owner and a one time trick rider and you have the story of this comic. T.J Breckenridge is a young woman who loves her rodeo, but money has been tight and worse for her she has fallen in love with a trick rider who has showed back up in her life. By the end of the comic she must make a very hard decision of her career or true love. Tuck Kirby is a man’s man who has made his living entertaining the masses as well as being a risk taker. He also is a very honest and prideful man who does what he can to try and protect his friends, well besides the one time he left the Professor behind. I also want to say Lope, Professor Bromley and Carlos all are great characters who add to the over all story arch. The Gwangi is a killing machine who kills both dinosaurs and humans and seems that he greats joy of taking lives. To be honest the Gypsies are the comic’s main villains as they many times put human lives in danger and even in the end set the Gwangi free that leads to terror and even the death of the creature. The comic does not have any blood but does have death and does have terror filled moments. The cover is great and is taken from the movies release poster. The interior artwork is done by Jack Sparling and has that classic Dell Comics look, and that means its topnotch stuff for this company. Over all this is a great read and if you like the movie make sure to check this comic out. Also check out below for a look at the artwork of Jack Sparling.

Valley Of The Gwangi to me was a great way to start of this year’s Kaiju Month, and I really do hope that this month long updates help make the fact Warner Brothers moved “Godzilla vs. Kong” to November. And while Gwangi might not be the biggest of the Kaiju, he still is one of the icons of Giant Monster Cinema. The next Kaiju we will be covering is the one and only Gamera! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Kaiju Film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for a giant turtle good time.

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1956)

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame is one of the oldest movie monsters in the world of cinema, only behind the likes of Frankenstein’s Monster, Vampires and Witches to name a few. Over the years, many amazing films have been made about his deeds to save a young gypsy from the crooked arms of the law and church with the most popular being the 1923 version starring Lon Chaney Sr. as Quasimodo aka the Hunchback. But one of the most respected versions of the film came in 1956 and was a French and Italian production that brought together actors Anthony Quinn and Gina Lollobrigida as the main leads. And with this version came a very cool comic book adaptation done by Dell Comics in order to promote the movie and make a few coins while selling copies. And with this we will be having a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update all about this amazing film! I should also remind, and I am sure most of you never forget, that all the films based on the Hunchback of Notre Dame are based on the 1831 novel of the same name written by Victor Hugo. So if you’re ready let’s take a look at one of the world’s most classic movie monsters who in fact is no monster at all, it’s the cruel people around him that are the true monsters!

Before we take a look at the 1956 production we should come to understand the misunderstood “monster” of the film Quasimodo and the ways he deals with those who are evil and cruel. Quasimodo in this version is simple minded with his speech being bad. He has some strength and is easily told what to do by those he trusts. His means of dealing with people who stand in his friends’ or his way is the following: his appearance is deformed and it seems to shock those who look at him causing hysterics, he uses large stones, wood beams and even hot boiling metal that he drops from high above his Church home! He also will use his bare hands to throw humans off the roofs as well. Quasimodo also can use this knowledge of the Church itself to his advantage when it comes to fighting off his enemies. He also has a very high tolerance for pain making him very hard for people to hurt. But Quasimodo does have weaknesses as he is a normal man who can easily have his feelings hurt and can be killed with any manner of weapons like a sword or arrow. He is also very easy to confuse, and if you are a beautiful woman, he can be controlled and tricked. While Quasimodo might not be the most powerful nor even the most deadly we have covered on a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update, he is one that is a force to be tangled with when he thinks those he cares about are in danger.

So as you can see, Quasimodo in this version is not super bloodthirsty unless you mess with the love of his life and then he would attack like a savage. But now that he have looked at the Hunchback Of Notre Dame himself we should now dive into the film he is from and chat about it. As always I will be taking the film’s write up from our pals at IMDB and it will be followed by some production chat and then some brief memories and thoughts I have on the film. So I hear some bells ringing in the distance so I think that’s our cue to take a look at the 1956 version of Hunchback Of Notre Dame!

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1956)

Paris, 1482. Today is the festival of the fools, taking place like each year in the square outside Cathedral Notre Dame. Among jugglers and other entertainers, Esmeralda, a sensuous gypsy, performs a bewitching dance in front of delighted spectators. From up in a tower of the cathedral, Frollo, an alchemist, gazes at her lustfully. Later in the night, Frollo orders Quasimodo, the deformed bell ringer and his faithful servant, to kidnap Esmeralda. But when the ugly freak comes close to her is touched by the young woman’s beauty.”

Producers Raymond Hakim and Robert Hakim teamed up with director Jean Delannoy to bring the Victor Hugo story Hunchback Of Notre Dame to cinemas for the first time in color! The film was an Italian and French production, and it followed a very sword and sandal style of filming as those films were very popular at the time. The film’s two leads Anthony Quinn and Gina Lollobrigida were the only two who spoke English and the rest of the cast all spoke French and were dubbed over to play western theaters. The film’s production was for the most part pretty smooth, and the budget of the film was $1 million dollars. The film brought in $2.25 million in the US making it a success for distributer Allied Artist Pictures. The film was also the first to more closely follow the novel and has the character Esmeralda die in the tragic ending. Anthony Quinn who played Quasimodo is also known for being in such classic films as Lawrence Of Arabia, Last Action Hero and Avenging Angelo to name a very few and was on TV shows like Hercules And The Legendary Journeys and the Cosby Show. While the lovely Gina Lollobrigida is known for her roles in films like Beat The Devil and Death Laid An Egg. The film is well respected by film critics as well as film lovers and is truly a well made film.

I first saw this film when I was a youngster and it was on regular TV and can remember enjoying it as I have always been a fan of the tale of the Hunchback as he is truly a misunderstood man who people think a fool and a monster. I can still see in my mind the bright colors of this film and can remember thinking even as a kid that Gina Lollobrigida looked beautiful. And while I enjoyed this film, I never did own it until 2018 when I ordered it on DVD from Ebay…and that’s shocking as I have collected Horror Movies on VHS and DVD/Blu-Ray for many years and am a true sucker for classic monsters. And to be honest, I know why I didn’t own this film and just recently re-watched it after all these years and that’s because I forgot all about it as the film oddly fell out of the light and was not shown on cable nor was the home media release easy to get. The one thing that always stuck out to me about this film was the fact that the horror aspects are very much downplayed and the drama is turned up on high, not to mention even the look of Quasimodo is downplayed with less deformities and even his back is not as humped like in other film adaptations and is more just curved. But while the film is by no means scary, it is a great watch and is another great film released about the world’s favorite bell ringer. There’s not much more to say about this film besides if you have an extra 2 hours and enjoy the Hunchback, I recommend checking this one out.

We are now at the point of this From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update where we will talk about the comic adaptation of the film. This one was done by Dell Comics as part of their Four Color comic series that featured fun comics based on not only movies but also TV shows and cartoons. I want to thank an Ebay seller for having this comic in stock and making this update possible as well as my gal Juliet who ordered this comic for me. And before the bells start ringing, I want to remind you that I will be grading this comic on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the issue stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s join Quasimodo and see if this comic captures the magic of the film.

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame # 1  **1/2
Released in 1957     Cover Price .10     Dell Comics   # 854 of 1354

It’s the Feast Of Fools in Paris, and the town’s people of Notre Dame are drunk and rowdy and are even ruining the play done by Pierre Gringoire. When it comes to picking the King Of Fools, they disturb Church Archdeacon Claude Frollo with their noisy ways and he sends hunchbacked, deaf and deformed Quasimodo to ruin the throne. During the celebration, gypsy Esmeralda and her pet goat Djali are singing and dancing in the town square and has captured the attention of all the males in the crowd as she is beautiful. And then comes the time to choose the King Of Fools, an honor given to the ugliest man in Paris, and thanks to Esmeralda the crown goes to Quasimodo who soaks up all the attention. But as always, the stick in the mud Claude Frollo orders Quasimodo to follow him and wants him to kidnap Esmeralda and bring her to the church! But as Quasimodo does what he is ordered, he is stopped and captured by the King’s guards lead by Captain Phoebus who leads Esmeralda away where the two hit it off before Esmeralda runs off into the night. Meanwhile poor poet and play writer Pierre Gringoire is mugged and set to be hung by the gypsies but is saved by Esmeralda who agrees to take him as a husband for four years. The next day Claude is visited by the King who wants the Archdeacon to use alchemy to make gold as Paris needed more riches, after they talk they watch as Quasimodo is whipped and is shown mercy by Esmeralda who gives him water. And later that night the soon to be married Captain Phoebus meets Esmeralda at an inn, little do they know they are being watched by Archdeacon Claude who has as well fallen in love with the gypsy girl and he uses her own dagger to sneak and stab Phoebus in the back leaving her under arrest and the Captain shamed for cheating on his fiancé. The next day Esmeralda is tortured to confess she is a witch and is set to be hung, but Quasimodo saves her and brings her into the church where she is safe from the laws of man. While in the church, Quasimodo and Esmeralda become friends and she learns that Archdeacon Claude is a cruel man who wants her dead for she does not return his feelings of love and has convinced the King to go into the church and remove Esmeralda to pay for her crimes. When news spreads, the Gypsy rush the church to save her and are attacked by Quasimodo who believes they are there to hurt her. In the end the Kings men show up and kill Esmeralda with an arrow! Quasimodo in a rage throws Archdeacon Claude from the top church window ending this sad tale.

This Dell Comic Four Colors issue does its best to try and cram an almost two hour movie into pages of a comic book. The main story is intact with Quasimodo falling in love with Esmeralda and wanting to protect her because she also showed him compassion when he was in need of help and a friend. But many moments from the film are missing like the build up of Captain Phoebus healing from his stabbing and turning his back fully on Esmeralda when she asks for him to meet her at the church. It also changes the ending and does not have Quasimodo going to the crypt where Esmeralda’s body is and dying next to her of sadness. It also has Archdeacon Claude begging not to be thrown from the church, but in the movie, he embraces his death and does not say a word as he wanted to die. One other change this comic makes is that Quasimodo uses his fists and punches lots of people in the face and uses brute strength. So while it has most of the core of the film, it does change lots making it feel a little off as far as a full adaptation, but it is a great read for fans of the story and the 1956 feature. Quasimodo in this comic is a man with a big heart who allows love to guide him to do what’s right. The sad part is he knows he is “ugly” and the people of town treat him really badly and tease and mock him. Esmeralda is a gypsy who everyone loves as she as well has a big heart and is stunning to look at and wants to always do the right thing. Her only flaw is how good looking she is as she gets the attention of a Hunchback, a Captain, a Poet and an Archdeacon, and this becomes her downfall. Archdeacon Claude Frollo is a man of not only the church but also science who is not a good person as he would rather a woman he has a crush on die than to not return his feelings and be his. This comic has a few moments of violence but is bloodless and really feels like a Drama/History/Horror story with the latter being the most down played. The cover for this comic is a photo from the movie and is pretty cool and eye catching for fans of the film. The interior art is done by an unknown artist and is pretty good classic 60’s style art and very loosely looks like the actors from the film. Over all this is a cool comic based around one of cinemas classic movie monsters. Check out the art below to see how this comic looks.

So while Hunchback Of Notre Dame from 1956 might be more drama than horror, it’s still a very cool film based on a classic monster movie character that spawned a comic book from those crazy folks at Dell. And while Quasimodo aka The Hunchback Of The Notre Dame might not be as brutal as Uber Jason from Jason X, as silent and deadly as Michael Myers from Halloween or even as menacing as Tall Man from Phantasm, he still has the skills to kill, and while he is not a bad guy, he is a killer. For our next update, we are leaving the world of Horror and Notre Dame far behind and heading toward the world of DC Comics to take a look at another hero they barely use as a main character, and that’s The Atom! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for a micro hero good time.

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Die, Monster, Die!

In the 1960’s Dell Comics was a major comic publisher who made lots of great comics based on cartoon characters, TV shows and movies. And among these titles, of course, many Horror Films got the comic treatment with many being the Edgar Allen Poe films of Roger Corman as well as a handful of others. One of the Horror films that got the Dell Comics treatment was the 1965 film Die, Monster, Die! This film stars Boris Karloff and has inspired many creative minds even in the world of music like The Misfits who based a song around this movie. This Horror Film is based off the story “The Colour Out Of Space” by H.P. Lovecraft and did its part to shock movie goers with its thrilling, mystery style of horror. So it’s my pleasure to bring you this very classic horror version of one of my “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” updates as we take a look at this creepy horror film and the comic based on it.

The first thing we need to look at is the film’s evil villain that is the wheelchair bound Nahum Witley and his radiated meteorite that he uses on planets and humans. Nahum is a man who likes to be in control and hide what he is doing as he is just following in the weird footsteps of his late father. Nahum has in his green house his mutated maid as well as planets and animals that are not under his control with his maid Helga hating him, and even his wife and daughter seem to have a dislike for him and his demanding cold ways. After an accident Nahum himself is mutated into a glowing green monster who is filled with rage as well as has the will to choke and kill his target victim! As a man he is not a threat as he is a weakened old man whose mind is being poisoned by the meteorite and cannot cause any damage. But as mutated Nahum, he is more powerful and has the power to kill with his bare hands as well as use his glowing green skin appearance to strike fear into the hearts of his victims. He also is radioactive and gives off a loud humming noise that is distracting to his human prey. The thing about Nahum is that he did not intend to be a bad person, it’s his vanity of wanting his estate to be beautiful that has driven him to be the keeper of the radiated meteorite, and when trying to rid himself of it, he soon pays the price of owning it as it takes him over. He does have a weakness that can lead to his destruction and that’s being radiated leaves his body very combustible and with a good fall or if hit hard enough, he will break apart and catch fire! While Nahum might not be the most powerful or spooky monster we have covered in one of these updates, he still is a deadly one if given the chance.

So now that we have learned about Nahum Witley and his meteorite that causes mutations, its time for us to take a look at the movie. As always we will take the films right up from our pals at IMDB and after I will write a little about the production of the film as well as some memories of watching it for the first time and my thoughts about it. So if you’re ready lets get to the film aspect of Die, Monster, Die!

Die, Monster, Die! (1965)

“A young man visits his fiancée’s estate to discover that her wheelchair-bound scientist father has discovered a meteorite that emits mutating radiation rays that have turned the plants in his greenhouse to giants. When his own wife falls victim to this mysterious power, the old man takes it upon himself to destroy the glowing object with disastrous results.”

Die Monster Die! was released in theaters on October 27, 1965 and was an American and British co-production that was produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff and released by American International Pictures. Jerry Sohl, who also wrote novels as well as episodes of The Twilight Zone and Star Trek, wrote the script, and he based it on a story by H.P. Lovecraft, and the directing duties went to Daniel Haller who also directed the horror film The Dunwich Horror. The film brought on a solid and great cast with names like Boris Karloff, Patrick Magee, Suzan Farmer, Nick Adams and Freda Jackson all who delivered top notch performances. When released originally, it was shown as a double feature with the film Planet Of The Vampires and was met with mixed reviews from critics and movie goers. The film later found a fan base when it finally was shown on TV and later on home media like VHS and DVD. While not held as an all time classic horror movie Die, Monster, Die! has gained a cult following over its release.

The first time I saw this film was on cable when growing up. I can remember it was a weekend when it came on and I found it to be an entertaining and was always drawn to films that starred Boris Karloff. The thing that I have always liked about this film is the atmosphere of the old mansion and its over grown land that has think fog rolling around, the creepy silence of the massive home not to even mention the creepy mutated people, animals and plants! The other great thing about this film is that it mostly takes place at the Witley mansion and its grounds that is so far away from the town or any neighbors giving the viewers a sense of isolation and dread. The cast is fantastic with Boris Karloff as Nahum Witley who gives a fantastic performance as does Nick Adams as Stephen Reinhart.  The way they play off each other with distain and distrust is classic horror movie stuff. As a life long horror fan growing up watching everything from silent films to slashers films, I have always enjoyed this film and think that it’s a sometimes over looked horror thriller that blends both haunted house movie and alien unknown creature sub genres together and delivers a spooky film that relies on chills and not blood spills. If you have never seen this film and enjoy the works of Boris Karloff and even H.P. Lovecraft then make sure to check this film out, as it’s a good old school horror film with some great characters and a paperback novel like story.

Die, Monster, Die! Is an interesting film to make into a Horror Comic, as it will be very hard for DELL Comics to capture the eerie mood and atmosphere that made this film work and be so scary for viewers in the 60’s and beyond. I also want to point out that up to this point, I think this is the oldest film and comic adaptation that I have covered on one of my From Horror Movie To Horror Comic updates! So while we make our way through this fog, I want to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having this issue in stock and making this update possible. So we are now at the Witley Mansion, and I think it’s time to relax for a moment and take a look at the comic adaptation of this 60’s horror fright flick! Oh yes and I must say that this comic was a part of DELL’s “Movie Classics” comic line.

Die, Monster, Die!  # 1  **1/2
Released in 1966       Cover Price .12       DELL       #603 of ?

Scientist Stephen Reinhart has received a letter to come visit the home of the woman he loves, Susan, who lives in the small town of Arkham. But Stephen soon finds that no one wants to drive him to the Wintley Mansion, and once he walks there, he finds that her father Nahum does not want him there, but seeing Susan makes him not listen to her father’s words. Susan shows Stephen around the mansion and introduces him to her sick bedridden mother Letitia who speaks to Stephen alone and begs him to take her daughter far away from the mansion! Stephen starts to notice strange things and finds books on the occult as well as the family butler faints for no reason. All the while Nahum is mad over the young man being there and argues with his wife about it and his secret work that he thinks will bring the family riches. While wandering the grounds of the mansion is a strange hooded figure with long fingernails who seems to spy on Susan, causing Stephen to really want them to leave as soon as possible. And later that night the Butler dies and Stephen watches in the shadows as Nahum buries him in an unmarked grave in the green house. Stephen needs to speak to someone about the weirdness of the family and goes to town and talks to the mostly retired doctor, who shares info about how some of the past Wintley members died. Once back at the mansion Stephen and Susan sneak into the locked greenhouse and find that animals and planets have grown to large size and are very dangerous! The couple soon go back to the mansion where Stephen goes to the cellar and finds the massive rock that is causing all the sickness and death as well as is confronted by Nahum who finally sees the errors of his ways, but before anything can be done, Letitia who is now transformed rushes outside into the rain and has the water drops kill her as those infected cannot get wet! After the burial of Letitia, the family makes plans to split ways as Susan is to leave with Stephen and Nahum goes back to the mansion to destroy the rock that, when hit, spawns a living energy that enters Nahum who attacks Stephen, as the possessed energy Nahum leaps at Stephen he falls to the ground dying on impact and catching on fire his remains and the mansion. In the end Stephen and Susan escape the burning mansion, and so ends the legacy of the Wintley family.

I want to start off by saying this while this comic adaptation is really entertaining and a good classic spooky horror comic read, it does however seem to be lacking all the great atmosphere from the movie and speeds up the plot taking away the suspense. The plot is very simple and has a young man visiting his girlfriend’s family at the request of the sick mother and soon finds that the family has a very dark secret that revolves around a rock that fell from space and the father’s quest to make the family’s name mean something again. Our stories hero is Stephen Reinhart, a man who is smart and in love with his lady who rushes to her hometown in order to visit and has been chosen by her mother to take the young woman away from their mansion home. Stephen also really heroes up when needed and saves the day numerous times including fighting off killer planets and even going toe to toe with a radioactive killer. Susan is a normal young woman who is trapped in a home that is surrounded by mystery and does not want to leave her sick mother behind.  She is also clueless as things around her are clearly odd and she does not question nor seek the truth until Stephen forces her to see the stuff going on. Letitia Wintley is a sickly old woman who is slowly losing her mind due to the radiation off the stone.  She loves her daughter very much and is starting to question her husband and his attentions as she slowly gets sicker and sicker until she turns into a ghoul that is killed by water. Nahum Wintley is a man who is proud of his family heritage, and even after it was run through the mud, he craves to make the name mean something again and thinks that a rock he found that fell from space and makes things grow fast is the key to become the star he thinks he should be.  Sadly this consumes him and forces him to make bad decisions that even leaves people he cares about dead. While he’s not a bad person, he is a very self absorbed person who by the time he snaps out of it is possessed and taken over by the rock that turns him into a walking radioactive unstable firebomb. The comic does have some classic spooky moments, and while it does have deaths, none of them are bloody and gory. The cover for this comic is a photo of Boris Karloff as Nahum Wintley with an ax and is pretty eye catching for fans of the film and classic horror actor. The art was done by an Un-Credited Artist and is pretty good stuff and has that Dell Comics charm to it, as strangely enough the character art looks oddly like the actors who played them. Over all this is a pretty cool comic adaptation that does an okay job of bringing the film to pages, only down side is plot had to be crammed down and the atmosphere of the film is missing. Check out the art below to see the art style used in this comic, and really is worth a read and owning for fans of the film.

It makes you wonder if DELL Comics would have lasted past 1974, what other Horror and Science Fiction films would have gotten the comic adaptation treatment? Then it also makes me wonder why no one has brought Dell back to the world of Independent Comics. Imagine some of the other Karloff titles they could have made that would have gone along with the likes of Die, Monster, Die! For our next update, we will be staying in the world of Horror Comics but will not be looking at one based on a movie but one from a indie company that much like Dell makes you wonder what could have come from them. The company is B-Movie Comics, and the title is Vault Of Doomnation. So until then, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for some spooky good times.

Hercules and The Three Stooges Save Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s once again that time of the year for family, football and good food, and as you longtime readers know, its time for my Turkey Day Hercules update.  This year we will be looking at when Hercules met the princes of slapstick comedy, The Three Stooges. But before we get silly with this update I want to get serious for a moment and say that I am thankful for my family, friends and readers all of whom make my life way more fun! Plus, I want to dedicate this update to family and friends I have sadly lost over the years as each of them have helped make me the person I am today and they are all missed. I should also state that once more this year I am over at my parents house this Thanksgiving and waiting to eat some amazing home cooked food and enjoy good conversations with my family. So here is hoping that the belly full of laughs from this update doesn’t counteract your belly filled with food as we take a trip down memory lane with The Three Stooges.

Three Stooges and Turkey

It’s crazy to think that I have been doing this blog for several years now, and I have yet to talk about The Three Stooges, comedians I grew up watching alongside my Dad and brother and whose classic movies and shorts still entertain me to this day. The Stooges started out in 1925 as Ted Healy and His Stooges that consisted of Ted, Moe, Larry and Shemp, and the group toured around entertaining the masses and even made a feature film called “Soup To Nuts”. Shemp left the group in 1932 and was replaced by Curly, and a brief time later The Stooges broke away from Ted Healy in 1934 after making several short films and became The Three Stooges! Ted Healy died in 1937 from unknown and mysterious causes. One thing that should be noted is that Moe, Curly and Shemp were all brothers and all had their own wacky style of slapstick style humor. As The Three Stooges much work came their way in the form of short and feature length movies, and the threesome became one of America’s top comedic acts with Curly becoming the fan favorite for his silly faces and childlike behavior. But while things were good for the Stooges, bad luck caught up to them in 1946 when Curly suffered a massive stroke that left him unable to work, and up to the stroke Curly’s health was on a decline. Time passed, and The Stooges retired for some time hoping that Curly would get better, but the signs of him coming back were growing slim so they asked Shemp to rejoin.  He did for some time, and even was a part of The Stooges’ first ever TV appearance on “Texaco Star Theater” in 1948. But once more some bad news was coming The Stooges’ way in 1952 as Curly passed away at the age of 48 from a cerebral hemorrhage caused by more strokes.  They also lost some of their supporting cast when Columbia, the studio they were signed to, decided to downsize its short film department and the short films of the Stooges were being done cheaper and faster. Then in 1955, Shemp passed away from a heart attack on his way home from a boxing match; he was 60 years old. I should also note that in many of The Three Stooges films, a stand in was used for Shemp in shots who would wear a wig; this term was called Shemping and is still used to this day. In 1956 The Stooges hired Joe Besser as the new member who was a character who was goofy and would also fight back against Moe who was the dominate Stooge.  During this time The Three Stooges lost steam, and Besser was considered the weakest link in the trio.  After only three years with them his time came to an end, and in 1959 it appeared The Three Stooges had come to an end or did they?! The old Three Stooges short films were now being aired on TV and aimed toward kids.  This gave Moe and Larry an idea to try and launch a quick comeback with new Stooge named Curly Joe, and the trio launched into making movies again, this time aimed at the young and young at heart in the 1960’s.  They became one of the highest paid acts in Hollywood and even got turned into an animated cartoon series in 1965 called “The New 3 Stooges” and even tried their hands at becoming a weekly TV show that would have been called “Three Stooges Scrapbook”. In 1969, they were given another chance at becoming weekly TV stars with a show that would have been called “Kook’s Tour” that would follow the Stooges as they traveled the world, but this was not to be as Larry suffered a heart attack ending his run with the trio as well as ending The Three Stooges.  Even a dark comedy film written by Moe’s grandson called “Make Love, Not War” or “Make Mine Manila” and was about Moe, Curly Joe and Emil Sitka (a regular in Stooge movies) being POWs of World War II trying to escape never could get a green light from a studio. In 1974 Larry at the age of 72 suffered a stroke that put him into a coma, and sadly a short time later he passed away. Moe tried so hard not to let The Three Stooges end even after the death of his long time comedy partner and tried to get many movies off the ground but never could.  His last idea was a movie called “Blazing Stewardesses” but before it began Moe fell ill with lung cancer and had to retire from acting and passed away in 1975. Curly Joe still performed for years with a group he called The New Three Stooges that consisted of Mousie Garner and Frank Mitchell that went on till 1979. Joe Besser passed away in 1988 at the age of 80 from heart failure; Curly Joe passed away in1993 at the age of 83 from pneumonia, and Emil Sitka who was the only Stooge replacement never to be in a movie or show as a Stooge passed away in 1998 from a stroke at the age of 83. The Three Stooges are icons in the world of comedy, and now that I gave you a brief history on who they were, next I will share some memories of watching them!

The Stooges 1The Stooges 2The Stooges 3

I can remember even as a young child my dad watching old Three Stooges shorts on TV, mostly on WGN, a TV station out of Chicago that use to air them a lot on Sunday mornings. I used to laugh at the silly ways The Stooges would smack each other and all the silly faces they would make when they were worked up over whatever was annoying them at the time. While my Dad liked The Stooges, my Mom was the opposite and was not amused by their slapstick antics and was by no means a fan. I think my brother liked them like I did because I can remember watching them with him and him laughing at them as well. Besides the short films, I also really enjoyed watching the Three Stooges movies with my favorite being, of course, them meeting Hercules.  I can remember watching this film on TBS and loving every cheesy sword and sandal moment.  I can also remember watching the cartoon at my grandparents’ house with my cousin Nathan on VHS. I also always wanted 3 ¾” action figures of The Stooges that I could have had as characters in my Toy Wars.  Imagine Moe slapping Han Solo or Larry poking the eyes of Captain Power; that would have been some epic stuff. Even at the age of 36, I still find myself really enjoying The Three Stooges and can say they were a part of my childhood that was good memories watching with my Dad and brother.

MBDYONA EC001

On January 26, 1962, Columbia Pictures released a comedy sword and sandal film that mixed the Greek hero Hercules with the slapstick goofballs The Three Stooges that consisted of Moe, Larry and Curly Joe at the time. The film had The Stooges helping a down and out scientist with his experiment to create a time machine, and by accident The Stooges, the scientist and his girlfriend are flung back to ancient Greece and come face to face with an evil king and his henchman Hercules. The film was filled with lots of moments of silly comedy, and the Stooges played off Hercules who was the prefect straight man who had no time for their silly antics. The film starred Quinn Redeker, Vicki Trickett, Samson Burke and Emil Sitka and was, and still is, my favorite of all the Three Stooges movies. The plot is filled with lots of fun surprises, but I figured we would save that for the comic adaptation made by Dell. I used to not only watch this film on TV but also on VHS and later on DVD.  So do yourself a favor and check it out if you’re into sword and sandal films and Three Stooges comedy.

The Stooges 5Three Stooges Meet Hercules PosterThe Stooges 6

In 1965, Saturday Morning Cartoons as well as after school kids programs on TV were very import to stations as they tried to lock viewers for their station over the other and many production companies took advantage of this as they made syndicated programs and so was born The New 3 Stooges that combined live action segments to intro the cartoon and was distributed by Normandy Productions. Each episode ran for 30 minutes and had a total of 4 seasons and 156 episodes with 40 live segments shot making many of the cartoons use the same intro, confusing the viewer. The cartoon was a pretty big hit at the time and reruns can still be seen on TV to this day on Me-TV and Boomerang as well as can be found on many cheap dollar DVDs and VHS as well as all 156 episodes on DVD thanks to Image Madacy Entertainment. It should also be noted that many of the episodes are in the Public Domain and that for some time The Stooges were in a legal battle with Normandy over the show’s profits. So I am sure if you grew up watching classic cartoons, you have seen a few episodes of this series and have fond memories of it.

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In 2012, someone in Hollywood decided that the world needed a new Three Stooges movie that would have three new actors step into the shoes of Moe, Larry and Curly as well as recycle plots from many of their short films. This time around Chris Diamantopoulos played Moe, Sean Hayes of Will & Grace fame played Larry and Will Sasso of MADTV played Curly. The plot had The Stooges having to go into the cruel world in order to get money to save the orphanage they grew up in after they could not afford the insurance due to all the accidents the Stooges have caused. During this adventure, they stumble on a murder for hire plot as well as go their separate ways after a fight leaves them at odds. In the end, they stop the murder, patch up their friendship and get the money needed to save the day thanks to Moe and MTV…yep, the one time music station. I saw the film in the theater with Josh Weinberg, and we both thought it was okay.  I watched it again with my Dad when I bought it for him for Christmas. The film did $54,819,301.00 at the USA box office for 20th Century Fox, but was trashed by the critics. I should also say that The Three Stooges showed up on WWE Monday Night Raw and got booed by the crowd, and they only cheered when Kane choke-slammed Curly!

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So I am sure you are wondering who played Hercules in The Three Stooges Meet Hercules…it was Samson Burke.  Now I am sure some of you are now asking who is Samson Burke, well I am here to tell you a little about him. Samson was born on April 8, 1929 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and got a degree in physical education as well as wrestled and swam for Canada in the 1948 Summer Olympic Games. In the 1950’s, he became a bodybuilder even winning Mr. Canada, Mr. Montreal and Mr. Muscle Beach, and his pure power also lead him into becoming a pro wrestler where he went under the name Sammy Berg and wrestled such legends as Lou Thesz, Nick Bockwinkel and Johnny Valentine. Samson also got bitten by the acting bug and started to appear in sword and sandal films like “The Revenge Of Ursus”, “Toto vs. Maciest” and “The Three Stooges Meet Hercules”. When the sword and sandal genre faded, he continued to act in such films as “The Triumph of Robin Hood” and “Sartana The Gravedigger”. In the 1980’s, he moved to Hawaii and retired from acting in the late 80’s, and as of 2009 he ran his own fitness business. Samson, who is 86, still makes appearances at conventions and is a beloved icon of Three Stooges lore and remains one of the only actors to play Hercules not as a hero but as a jerk!

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So before we take a look at the Dell Comic adaptation, I will pause for a moment to let you get another plate of food…go on, I can wait…. you good? Okay, let’s continue then, shall we? I want to thank an Ebay seller for having this issue in stock even though they had it listed as in great shape but it came complete with water damage and mold and a very strong rotten ink smell.  So yeah, great shape it is not! Before we get to the review I want to thank you for spending a part of your Thanksgiving with me.  I should also note that I grade this issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s get on that time machine with Moe, Larry and Curly Joe, and let’s not forget our turkey leg and see just why Hercules is being a henchman jerk to a evil ruler. I am going to guess he is upset because someone ate the last corn on the cob, but that’s just a rumor.

The Three Stooges Meet Hercules 1

The Three Stooges Meet Hercules # 1  **1/2
Released in 1962    Cover Price .15     Dell Comics     #208 of ??

Moe, Larry and Curly Joe are working at a drugstore that is being rocked by the next-door neighbor inventor Schuyler Davis whose experiment to make a time machine is going a little crazy. While The Stooges like him, the owner of the drugstore, Ralph Dimsal, hates him and wants him to fail in his attempt to time travel and even tampers with his plans. Schuyler is in love with Diane Quigley, and she gives him only two more days to get his time machine done before she walks away from their relationship because he is spending all his time on it and not her. All the while Curly Joe has made some pills that calm things down, and they use it on Schuyler’s machine.  After the Stooges try and help, it causes them as well as Schuyler and Diane to travel back in time to 900 B.C.! They land in the middle of a battle and meet Odius and his right hand man Hercules and help them take the crown of Ithaca from Ulysses when his men flee that battle. Odius takes a liking to Diane and has a feast for his new friends, but when Schuyler figures out they helped an evil man get into power he has The Stooges set Ulysses free after he had been captured. Ulysses escapes, and The Stooges and Schuyler are punished to work the rest of their lives on a slave ship, but after some time they are able to taste freedom when Schuyler gains muscle mass and a King thinks that he is Hercules and asks them to kill a two headed Cyclops that has been eating the kingdom’s live stock! With the help of the pills, Schuyler beats the Cyclops, the Cretan Bull and a Hydra and builds the name of Hercules. Meanwhile the real Hercules is not pleased with the fake and gets his chance to challenge Schuyler to an arena fight when The Stooges and he come to the castle to stop the wedding of Odius and Diane. In the arena Schuyler manhandles Hercules and makes him promise to turn good and help Ulysses reclaim the throne.  He along with The Stooges save Diane and head to the time machine and return home, only in the end for Schuyler to punch out Dimsal!

This is one of those adaptations that does a great job of capturing the silly story and the goofy characters that made the film such a classic in the first place. The plot of the comic is a great mix of many genres like comedy, sword and sandal and science fiction, and they make them all blend so well together. The plot has three dim whit drugstore workers as well as a scientist and his girlfriend being flung back in time to ancient Greece, and by doing so they change history and must make things right before they return to modern times.  To make things worse, Hercules is not the hero icon we all believed but is an ego driven creep who works for the side of the evil King. The Stooges are screw ups, but their heart is always in the right place.  If not for Curly Joe’s pills, they all would be in serious trouble many times. Moe is the hotheaded and smarter of the group, Larry in this just seems like a bit player who is around to get smacked and deliver jokes and Curly Joe is the dumb one who might not be as dumb as everyone thinks. Diane is just a sweet beautiful young woman who acts as the love interest to both the film’s hero and villain. Schuyler is the main hero who turns from nerdy wimp to strong nerd and even matches strength with Hercules and brings down the evil king. Hercules is a smug ego driven super strong man who reminds you of the bully jock in high school, and funny enough he is beaten down and made to look a fool by a man who he viewed as weaker. Hercules in this comic’s good guy legend was really built by Schuyler, who forces him to stop being a jerk and be the hero he can be. King Odius is a cruel man who doesn’t get much time in the comic to show his true evil ways but is given enough for the reader not to like him. As always with most Dell Comics I could not find the artist’s name, but I must say it’s very cartoonish in nature and while good, at some times it appears like a talented 10 year old did it, but I still found myself enjoying it. Over all this is a cool comic adaptation, and while not as good as the Steve Reeves Hercules comics by Dell, it still was a perfect read for this Thanksgiving update. Check out some samples of the artwork below and see the cheesy cartoon nature of this fun issue.

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It’s weird that The Three Stooges didn’t meet more Greek and mythology icons. I mean who wouldn’t want to see “The Three Stooges Meet Samson” or “Maciste and The Three Stooges Save A Roman Holiday” or better yet “Three Stooges and a Strong Man”…so many missed opportunities. Well our next update will be in December, so I am thinking that we will do something fun and toy-related so let’s take a look at Starriors, a robot toy line that was created by Marvel Comics and Tomy Toys that had a four issue mini series. So until then I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and remember to read a comic or three and support your local horror host.

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The Haunted Holiday Tomb Of Ligeia

Brrrr…it’s getting cold outside so why not throw another body on the fire and spend some time drinking hot chocolate with Dell Comics, Edgar Allen Poe and Vincent Price as we take a look at Tomb Of Ligeia. The holiday times are always so stressful and filled with the pressure of buying loved ones gifts, and if you work retail then you know as well as I do that work can be total hell no matter how much you like your job. So for me around this time, I love to sit back turn down the heat a little and crack a window open to let in the perfect amount of chill, then make myself a mug of hot chocolate and pop in a DVD of a horror host or horror film and relax on the couch and let the stress float away as I watch the horrors of what Hollywood have to offer or the zany humor of the host. One other thing that always is stressful around this time is driving on snow and ice covered roads.  I have a blue Chevy Cavalier that I nicknamed The Blue Demon who is too light and slides all over the place, making the drive to and from work not only interesting but also dangerous! The first and only car wreck I ever had was on a snow covered night as I crashed a coworker’s car into a pole by being young and dumb and driving too fast on a slick parking lot.  I am just glad that no one got hurt including myself. So to de-stress this update I figured why not also write about a horror film that was adapted to a comic by Dell, and then I figured why not one of the of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allen Poe films starring the horror legend Vincent Price! So with that combination I choose Tomb Of Ligeia, a very underrated film in Corman’s Poe Series. So let’s warm up and get less stressed and have some spooky good times with Mr. Price.

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Edgar Allen Poe was born in 1809 in Boston Massachusetts to two actors, but in 1810 when he was only one years old his father up and left his family and sadly a year later in 1811 his mother passed away leaving he and his older sibling orphans. Edgar was taken in by a family but never truly adapted were he spent his youth with a male father figure who was tight with money when it came to paying for Edgar’s collage education at the University Of Virginia. So he chose to drop out and inlist in the Army in 1827 and at this time also began writing such poems as Tamerlane. But after awhile he switched from poems to becoming a a literary critic and was known for his unique criticism on others works. In 1835 Edgar married his 13 year old cousin Virginia and 10 years later he wrote his most famous poem The Raven making him a success but sadly two years after it was published his wife passed away from tuberculosis. Over the years Edgar kept writing and wanted to release his own journal called The Penn but never was able to get it off the ground. On October 3rd 1849 Edgar Allen Poe was found wondering the streets of Baltimore in another persons cloths delirious and needing medical help, a stranger named Joseph W. Walker found him and took him to Washington Medical College for assistance, Edgar died a few days later on the 7th of Congestion Of The Brain tho many other causes of death have been talked about everything from Suicide to rabies and no one is for sure as over the years both his medical records and death certificate have gone missing. Edgar the who time never made sense in his ramblings as he was at deaths door and it’s said his last words was a name he shouted “ Reynolds” while others reported it was “Lord Help My Poor Soul”, very interesting words from a dying man. Many people think that Edgar also was a victim of Cooping a vicious 19th century act were citizens were forced to vote for a candidate over and over and by a gang of thugs on the politicians payroll who would force the person to drink and do drugs and go to the voting booth and vote for the same person over and over, they would even force the victim to wear disguises. In some cases after they got the votes they needed they would beat the victim and sometimes kill them, and this is what many believe happened to Edgar Allen Poe. After his death a fellow author named Rufus Wilmot Griswold wrote an obituary that was very mean spirited and showed through with true jealousy and a hatred for a man who’s work has lived on way past his death. Poe’s work is very iconic and is embraced not only by the Goth Culture but as well as many creative people from Roger Corman to The Simpsons creator Matt Groening. Here is to you Edgar Allan Poe and may your soul find rest and may your work forever entertain all those who read it.

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Vincent Leonard Price Jr. was born on May 27th 1911 in St. Louis Missouri and was the youngest of four children, his father was the President of the National Candy Company and his Grandfather Vincent Clarence Price was the inventor of “Dr. Price’s Baking Powder” and set the family up to have a big fortune. Vincent went to Yale and got a degree in History in 1933 that lead to him going to London to try and get his Masters in fine art but while there is were he fell in love with acting and theater. Vincent began acting in plays that lead to even work on “Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre”, but his break into films came in 1938 in the film “Service De Luxe” and he took other character actor roles, he also starred along side Boris Korloff in the 1939 Horror flick “Tower Of London” and in 1940 he starred in “The Invisible Man Returns” but made a splash in the film “Laura” in 1944. Many great roles followed in the Horror genre like “Shock (1946) “, “Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)”, “House of Wax (1953)”, “The Fly (1958)”, “House On Haunted Hill (1958)”, “The Tingler (1959)”. “Return Of The Fly (1959)”, “The Bat (1959)” and then went on to be in many films based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe like “House of Usher (1960)”, Pit And The Pendulum (1961)”, “Tales Of Terror (1962)”, “The Raven (1963) and “The Masque Of The Red Death (1964)”. But this did not stop him from being in other films as well as other horror flicks like “Diary Of A Madman”, “Twice Told Tales”, “The Haunted Palace”, “The Comedy Of Terrors” and “Last Man On Earth”. In 1964 he played the lead role in the Poe based film “Tomb Of Ligeia” that is the topic of this December update, and through out the late 60’s he starred in other great horror films like “The House Of 1,000 Dolls”, “Witchfinder General” and Poe inspired flick “The Oblong Box”. But in the 70’s Vincent really turned up the chills with such films as “Scream And Scream Again”, “Cry Of The Banshee”, “The Abominable Dr. Phibes”, “Dr. Phibes Rises Again”, “Theatre Of Blood” and “Madhouse”. By the 80’s he was still getting many great Horror films to star in like “The Monster Club”, “House Of The Long Shadows”, “Michael Jackson’s Thriller”, “Bloodbath At The House Of Death”, “Terror In The Aisles”, “From A Whisper To A Scream”, “Dead Heat” and Tim Burton’s odd family flick “Edward Scissorhands”. But during his time Vincent also did some great TV work like playing Egghead on the 60’s Batman and roles in The Muppet Show, The Brady Bunch and The Bionic Woman to name a few. I remember him also doing the voice of Professor Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective and also for his work on the album and movie Welcome To My Nightmare by Alice Cooper. Sadly the world lost Vincent Price in 1993 of lung cancer at the age of 83, many odd things have been written and spoke about Vincent Price and some things are for sure he loved art and his impact on the world of movie is major, so here is to you Vincent Price! This is just a brief look at Vincent Prices’s life and career if your looking for more make sure to read up on him, you’ll be glad you did.

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So Tomb Of Ligeia is the film adaptation that we will be taking a look at for this update done by Dell Comics and I would like to take the write up from what imdb has for it and then share my thoughts on the film. “Some years after having buried his beloved wife Ligea, Verden Fell meets and eventually marries the lovely Lady Rowena. Fell is something of a recluse, living in a small part of a now ruined Abbey with his manservant Kenrick as the only other occupant. He remains infatuated with his late wife and is convinced that she will return to him. While all goes well when first married, he returns to his odd behavior when they return to the Abbey from their honeymoon. The memories of Ligea continue to haunt him as well as her promise that she would never die.” So one late night in October I decided to watch this film pretty much for the first time, while I am pretty sure I seen it when I was a kid I truly only remembered bits and pieces so this watch was like seeing it for the first time all over again! The pacing is very much like your standard ghost horror film of the 60’s and the film is more shock horror then blood splattering. Vincent Price is great in the role of Verden Fell and while its not his best performance its a very solid one. If you haven’t seen the film and like the work of Price and films based on Poe stories then check it out.

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Tomb Of Ligeia has been released on many home viewing formats including VHS via HBO and on a double feature DVD from MGM, with the DVD its paired with “An Evening With Edgar Allen Poe” that also stars Vincent Price. Its on Laserdisc via Orion as well can be watched via instant streaming. So if your looking to watch the film there are many ways to do so.

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So many comic companies have made comics based on Vincent Price and his films, companies like Dell and Bluewater have done several but much like Night of The Demon and Curse Of The Cannibal Confederate there is another film that I feel that would and still could make a fun comic book and that film is called The Video Dead! The film is about a TV set that holds the spirits of zombie like monsters who come out of the TV and kill those they come in contact with, brother and sister Jeff and Zoe Blair are fixing up a house their parents bought and are delivered the cursed TV, and of course this is bad news for them as the Video Dead escape and target the neighborhood and even kidnaps Jeff’s new girlfriend! Their only help is a man named Joshua Daniels who has spent his life trying to find and kill the Video Dead. The film is a dark Horror Comedy were The Dead laugh their butts off as they murder people and they can be tricked into thinking they are dead again with simple arrows and other ways of killing a normal man. I first seen the film years back on the USA Network on their popular weekend show Saturday Night Nightmares, and was drawn in to the totally cheese story and the fun 80’s looking zombies. After seeing the film I was a fan and even had a nightmare about the wedding dressed chainsaw caring female zombie in the film, who was chasing me around the Waynesville house I lived in! The films woods scene also reminded me of the woods by our house that we played in, and my brother Bryan and I use to play the “What If” game and acted as if we wondered what if The Video Dead were waiting for us. The comic series could follow Mr. Joshua Daniels as he tracks down the cursed TV from town to town and has to kill and deal with all The Video Dead that have been left behind, but he also has to find out who is the person sending out the TV to people like a curse. So the comic could act as a prequel to the film and capture lots of the 80’s culture and attitude. This is one that IDW could have done during their MGM Midnight Movies Comic Line as MGM owns the film, if I could make the comic for this blog I would love to have Rachael Lare or Eric Shonborn on board for it cause both would do a fantastic job on bringing the zombies alive on paper. So here is hoping that one day The Video Dead will come alive in a comic book some way or another.

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Well lets place an extra log on the fire and top off the hot chocolate and dive into Dell Comics adaptation of this Edgar Allen Poe inspired film. Before we get to far though 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. I also want to think Mavericks for having this comic in stock when I bought it some years back. So with the winter nip in the air lets take a look at this spooky comic for this Holiday season.

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Tomb Of Ligeia  # 1  ***
Released in 1965   Cover Price .12   Dell Comics   #508 of ?

Verden Fell has to bury his wife Ligeia who he thinks is not truly dead, but in some sort of state of mind because she willed herself not to die therefore she is not dead. The townspeople want nothing to do with the funeral that even has a black cat leaping out of the fresh grave! While on a fox hunt Rowena Trevanion, her father Lord Trevanion and Christopher Gough are on horseback in the woods.  An accident leaves Rowena being thrown from her horse after she broke from the group and landing on the grave of Ligeia where she twists her ankle and meets Verden who she falls in love with, and later marries. But things are not well for Rowena as the black cat tries to hurt and kill her at every turn, and Verden himself is acting odd at night leaving her always alone. Christopher later finds out that his friend Rowena can’t be married to Verden as legally his wife is still alive due to the fact there is no death certificate! In the end Rowena finds a hidden staircase that leads to a room where Verden hangs out with the dead body of Ligeia, as Christopher digs up the grave of Ligeia and finds a wax dummy in the coffin! As Christopher gets to the room he finds that Rowena has “died” from blood loss as she cut her wrist on a broken mirror and when she comes to Verden strangles her.  As Christopher gets her body out of the house Verden comes face to face with the Black Cat as the room catches fire and both man and beast are burned alive. Oddly enough when the cat and Verden die, Rowena comes back to life.

First thing I need to point out is this comic had a great Rotten Ink smell and this helped add to the classic comic book reading experience. The comic adaptation of the film is pretty good but also could be a little confusing for younger readers as the plot is squeezed into pages and plots are not fleshed out like they should be. The story is this man loves his wife even after death.  She was a witch and placed a trance on him thinking that she would return from the grave, he falls in love with another woman later in life who looks like her and a war in his mind consumes him. Verden Fell is an interesting character who wears giant sun glasses during the day and is very secretive in nature.  We also learn that he can hypnotize people as well as sculpt with wax. While he does some bad things, he is clearly not a bad guy just a man who was in love and under a witches spell. The Spirit of Ligeia who also seems to poses the Black Cat is very mean and tries to murder several times in the issue, she truly is an evil witch. Rowena Trevanion is a lovely young woman who is drawn to the tormented Verden and wants to make him happy, but sadly is just a pawn in the game Ligeia is playing. Legal man Christopher Gough who is Rowena’s bestfriend is a man of action when he thinks his friend is in trouble and when things just don’t seem right with Verden; he truly is a classic horror comic/movie hero. Lord Trevanion is just a background player and the only other major player in this story is Verden’s servant Kenrick who in the end has all the answers of the spell on his master. The issue is bloodless and offers more spooky mood chills then monster thrills holding true to the movie it’s based on. I could not find who did the art but they did do a fantastic job and it has that Dell Comic charm. If you like the movie, like spooky old horror comics then I would say check out this adaptation comic for sure.

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So Tomb of Ligeia is a good horror comic that is packed with charm and a great rotten ink smell! But next update will be our Christmas Eve update, and last year we took a look at The Thundercats.  This year we will be looking at the Tim Burton Batman movie series and the DC Comic adaptations that followed, so you can say Rotten Ink will be having Batmania! So make sure to come back for that one but until then have a safe winter and make sure to read a comic or three, see you next update.

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Happy Spooky 60th Birthday Creature From The Black Lagoon!

Imagine that you are alone on a boat floating down a lagoon whose waters are pitch black in the moon lit sky.  It’s the fall, and the sounds of the leaves can be heard hitting the water and with each noise you wonder just what’s out there. You have heard the local legend of a fish man in these very waters, but you always laughed it off as local folklore to scare away tourist, but now you’re not so sure! The wind has picked up and a shiver goes down your spine as you wonder if the creature is watching you. You decide to go into the boat’s cabin to get out of the cool air, as a large clawed hand appears on the edge of the boat…This is what classic horror stories and films were made of back before slashers and undead zombies became the normal fare for on screen horror. This year marks the 60th Anniversary for Universal’s 1954 classic monster film Creature From The Black Lagoon, and this made it a perfect selection for the 2014 Halloween updates. So let’s get out scuba gear on and let’s take a look at Dark Horse Comics’ one shot issue based on this classic monster.

Creature from the Black Lagoon Logo 2Universal Studios was known for making monster films in the 1930’s with the likes of Count Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster, but during the 1940’s the classic monsters were loosing steam and they started to loose their scare appeal to the viewing audience.  They even decided to turn them into a comedy act as comedians Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein’s Monster and even The Mummy. During the 1950’s things changed from supernatural to atomic age scares, and this is when Universal released the last of the classic monsters The Creature From The Black Lagoon in theaters in 1954. Think about it Gill-Man or The Creature is the last true classic Universal Monster, the company known for delivering frights last major monster was created in 1954…makes me wonder why they stopped making iconic horror characters like this. Growing up I first learned about the Creature thanks to a book I checked out at the library from Crestwood that was all about Gill-Man, and from that day on I knew I had to see the film. When I finally tracked down a VHS copy of the film and watched it, I was hooked as a fan, loved the look of the creature and mesmerized by the underwater effects. As I got older I also noticed many of my friends who enjoy horror films all seemed to pick Creature From The Black Lagoon as their favorite classic horror film, and one of these friends happens to be comic creator Jason Young. The Creature or also known as Gill-Man is a different kind of monster as he really just minds his own business in his own water world when man comes to him and causes all the issues by messing with nature and trying to take a “wild” animal out of it’s element. I am also very happy to say that over the years of vending and being a guest at horror film conventions, I have gotten the honor of meeting many of the stars from the 1954 classic film. The first ever convention I ever did was called Fright Vision, and at this event I got to meet Ben Chapman the actor who played Gill-Man on land. Over the years I have met the lovely Julie Adams, the actress who played Kay, the woman who captured the Creatures eye many times. And just this year I finally got to meet Ricou Browning the actor who played Gill-Man under water! So let’s take a look at the three films in the Universal Creature From The Black Lagoon series so that those of you readers who don’t know the Creature can learn a little about him. The write ups are taken from IMDB because as with most things, if I wrote the plot outlines, they would last forever!

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Creature From The Black Lagoon – A scientific expedition searching for fossils along the Amazon River discovers a prehistoric Gill-Man in the legendary Black Lagoon. The explorers capture the mysterious creature, but it breaks free. The Gill-Man returns to kidnap the lovely Kay, fiancée of one in the expedition, with whom it has fallen in love.

Note From Matt: On a very cool note Creature From The Black Lagoon was first thought of during a 1941 filming party for Citizen Kane when the Black Lagoon producer William Alland spoke to Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa about legends of a fishman in the Amazon waters. The film idea floated around for a while and with the success of the 1953 film House of Wax, the idea to make it 3-D was born. So think about how cool that is this is the only classic Universal Monster film shown in classic 3-D!

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Revenge Of The Creature – The Creature from the Black Lagoon is back! This time he’s captured by scientists and transported to an aquarium in south Florida. Naturally, he’s attracted to the lovely female scientist and manages to escape and kidnap her. And its up to her friends to rescue her from Gill-Man’s grip of terror and stop him from harming others.

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The Creature Walks Among Us – In this third Gill-Man feature, the Creature is captured and turned into an air-breather by a rich mad scientist. This makes the Creature very unhappy, and he escapes, killing people and setting fires in the process.

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The movies stopped at being a trilogy and by all accounts the way Creature Walks Among Us ended, The Gillman died in the ocean by drowning, and that’s sad Universal could have easily kept this film series going. But in 1954 slightly before Creature From The Black Lagoon hit theaters, the TV show Colgate Comedy Hour has comedian genesis Abbott and Costello on and they traveled to the Universal prop room where they ran into Frankenstein’s Monster who scares Abbott but in return is scared of Costello’s face and falls through a crate…as Costello chuckles it up that he scared The Monster, he is in turned scared by Gillman who happens to appear. The skit lasts a little over 15 minutes and has many moments that were inspired by their film “Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein”. The live audience ate up the comedy and were also very happy to see Gill-Man and Frankenstein’s Monster as they cheered at their arrival into the skit. One cool thing I have to point out is the fact Glenn Strange once more played the Monster and Ben Chapman played the Gill-Man for this TV appearance. Makes you wonder that if Abbott and Costello would have stayed together as comedy partners for a while longer would a film been made where they would have meet Gillman officially… makes one wonder indeed. Below are some screen grabs from the skit as well as a fan made poster for the movie that could have been.

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So when you think of The Creature, is one of the first things to pop into your mind a musical…cause Universal thought that in 2009 when they replaced their Fear Factor Live attraction at Universal Studios Theme Park. The musical was loosely based on the 1954 film and had the Creature not only singing but also growing to be a giant. The musical ran till 2010, only lasting under a year as an attraction, the reason for the closing was the lack of interest from parkgoers who just were not drawn to the musical version of Creature From The Black Lagoon. While I give Universal credit for trying something new and trying to do something with their Monster IPs, a musical just seems like an odd choice. One cool fact is the Julie Adams came to the premier that for all accounts was a success. When the musical closed, the attraction was changed to a special effects stage show. For those who want to see the musical who couldn’t make it to California’s Universal Studios, you can find clips on YouTube. And I must end it with why in the world does The Creature turn into a 25ft giant? Now that’s silly.

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Growing up if you were a Monster Kid and you played with toys, you could find some really cool ones of Gill-Man! Some of the best have to be the Remco action figure and doll, Marx’s plastic Creature figure as well as Penn-Plax Creature figure. Growing up I never had a Creature action figure but man I would have loved to have had the 3 ¾” Remco figure as he would have been a perfect fit in my Toy Wars battle! Now at the age of 35, I own two of the Remco Creature figures and both are the Glow In The Dark versions. Oh yeah, I also should mention that fast food restaurants Burger King and Jack N The Box also gave away action figures of Gill-Man in their Kids Meals . Growing up I did however own one of those classic windup toys of the Creature that shot sparks from its mouth as it walked; an antique store in Waynesville stocked them for a short while when they were re-released. The wind ups were great toys, and I also owned King Kong and my brother had Godzilla.  I can remember winding them all up and having them race each other on the kitchen table.

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Besides toys, Gill-Man also has a ton more merchandise and his green scaled likeness has been on novels, comic books, t-shirts, drinking glasses, trading cards, Halloween masks and costumes, buttons, puzzles, coloring books, candy boxes and so much more! Gill-Man’s look seems like it was made for merchandise and some of my favorite none-toy stuff I own with his fish face on it would have to be the t-shirts and of course my Crestwood Creature From The Black Lagoon book that I was able to buy from the library that I use to check out when I was a kid. So if you’re a fan of the film or just the look of the monster, there is some great stuff out there for your inner collector.

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One thing that Universal as well as video game makers have dropped the ball on is the fact they never made a game based on the film and believe me they could easily make a Triple A title using the Gill-Man as the game’s bad guy. What has been made is an amazing pin-ball machine made by Bally’s in 1992 that had a holographic creature pop out of a lagoon to spook the player. Also a Casino Electric Slot Machine has been made based on the film that sports the Creature’s clawed hand that could help you unlock bonus winnings. One cool thing floating around the internet is a really cool fan made cover box for a NES game about The Creature, as a kid I would have went nuts for a game like this and still to this day if someone would make one for the original Nintendo and put it on a cart I would buy it in a second. As you longtime readers know, Creature From The Black Lagoon made my # 7 pick of a horror film that should be made into a modern video game on my Rotten Pixels 2 update, and I still stick by the plot I made for the game as well as the fact TellTale Game should be the ones to make it happen.

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Hans J. Slater was the man Universal came to for the music scores to go along with many of their monster films; his music can be heard in such films as The Wolf Man, Son of Dracula, House of Frankenstein, The Mummy’s Hand, This Island Earth, Creature From The Black Lagoon as well as many others. His score for Creature From The Black Lagoon is perfect and captures the mood of the film the cue that appears when the Creature does is so amazing that I even used it when I made my first film Werewolf of Ohio as The Wolf Man’s cue! Not to mention, the more tender and water moments that his score helps truly bring to life. From time to time during the Halloween season on Alpha Rhythms, I will play a track off the soundtrack CD to help add to the listeners spooky evening. If you’re looking for the score music to this classic film you can find it on CD and while a little pricy, it’s worth it if you love the classic monster movie music.

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For those who are looking to own a copy of Creature From The Black Lagoon to add to their home video collection, you can find it on many different formats from VHS, Laserdisc, DVD and even Blu-Ray! Not to mention for those who love horror hosted films, you can find episodes of it hosted by the likes of Svengoolie and even Captain Crypt. My favorite has to be the Creature From The Black Lagoon Legacy Collection DVD set that not only has the three films in the series but also lots of great extras. So if you’re looking for Gill-Man to grace you TV screen there are many great ways to own the film out on the market.

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Around 2009 (or was it 2010?) Independent B Movie was trying to make a grand comeback to the world of shot-on-video horror films and the idea was to make a few films under series banners like “Bark At The Moon” with all films being about werewolves or “Bad Movie Night” being cheesy comedies. One other series planned was remakes of classic Universal Monster films done in our own low budget styles, and the first one to be filmed was “Matt Hoffman’s Creature From The Black Lagoon.”  As you could tell by the title Matt Hoffman, who directed such films as The Wolf Hunter and Wolf Hunter 2 would have sat in the director chair and made the magic happen. The film was being produced by Stephen Alexander II and a Creature body suit was purchased as well as fake blood and other filming supplies as Hoffman wrote the script that would have followed a drifter coming into a small town and falling in love with the sheriff’s daughter and also the government trying to cover up a toxic waste spill that created The Creature. It was being filmed on a JVC Mini-DV camera, and Stephen stockpiled tapes for Hoffman to use for the epic shoots. The film would have starred Bruce Lerma, Jessie Ellis and a lovely young lady named Brandi as well as many more extras. The film began production and cast as the part of the drifter first was Thomas Blurton, who quit the film after only one day of shooting, and he was replaced by Bruce Lerma who went from being in a minor role to becoming the main star. Hoffman along with his crew filmed many days and even a few Creature attacks in the lakes and streams around town, but sadly the film was not to be as Hoffman was dealing with some personal issues and cancelled the film and this marked the end of the Universal Re-Boots from I.B.M as we looked at the cost to make them being very high and with the first one being dead in the lagoon water, they just proved to be more than the dying shot on video company could take. It’s a sad day, but I would also like to make the announcement here on Rotten Ink that as of October 31st 2014 Independent B Movie will close it’s doors for good and fold up shop making the end of one of Ohio’s longest running shot on video companies.  It’s a sad day but one that has been coming for a very long time. Maybe at some point I will do an update about the closing and get some memories from all those friends and fellow directors involved with making the company what it was. Below are some screen captures of footage from “Matt Hoffman’s Creature From The Black Lagoon”…And for those wondering, I was going to direct the re-make of Frankenstein, Josh Weinberg was slated for Dracula and Bruce Lerma was going to do The Mummy.

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During season one of Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre, host Baron Von Porkchop is out fishing using his butler Bean’s brain as the bait to try and capture a giant killer catfish to serve at the following weeks gathering dinner to honor the late Dr. Creep who had just passed away, but instead of catching the man eating catfish he hooks The Creature From The Black Lagoon and decides to use the green tinted creature meat to serve to his guests! The next episode for the Tribute To Dr. Creep, the Creature’s head can be seen as the centerpiece to the dinner…so thanks to Baron Von Porkchop your swimming pools and waterways are safe from the hideous Creature of the water.

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Gill-Man is no stranger to comic books, and in 1963 Dell Comics released a comic book based around him, and it was pretty good and one of the better ones from their Universal Monster series line. In fact last Halloween time I did a massive update about all of Dell’s Universal Monster titles called “Start Halloween Off With The Universal Monsters!” and if you read that update then you would know that it was one that came very close to capturing the mood and feeling of the film and the artwork is well done and is just what he should have looked like for a comic made in the early 60’s. If your interest is peaked on the comic as well as the rest of the Dell Universal Monster comics, I suggest that you give the update all about them a read. Just to help along the urge to read that update for the first time or again below is some of the artwork from the comic as well as the cover to the issue.

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In 1954, the same year of the film, Atlas Comics put out issue #35 of Sub-Mariner where Prince Namor took on a half fish and half man creature called Elmer who in fact looked allot like a bloated version of Gill-Man. Elmer had some issue and his creator wanted to try and fix them making it so his “monster” could breath under water. So long before Atlas became Marvel Comics, they had a generic version of Gill-Man fighting one of their top super heroes of the time, and this is pretty cool as nowadays if they would have had Gill-Man show up in a comic he would just be an actor in a suit or something lame like that. The issue when it was first put out cost .35 and now it goes for lowest $100.00 all the way up to a thousand. Check out the art and cover to this issue and enjoy the fun bloated version of The Creature named Elmer.

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I want to touch up on a few other fun Creature comic appearances like a re-imagining one simple called “Creature From The Depths” that was put out by Image Comics but originally suppose to come out via Dead Dog Comics. This one-shot issue is really cool and will for sure be the subject of a future update! Archie Comics as well had many issue where The Creature was the guest on the cover, and this helps add to the Abbott & Costello making Universal Monsters funny and not scary mindset for the youth of the time as well as turning the classic monsters into things that no longer gave kids nightmares. Even if they are done in silly ways Gill-Man has been on the cover of “Archie’s Pal Jughead” and “Laugh” and both covers are really well done and makes me wish Archie Comics would have made issue based on the Universal Monsters! Below is the cover so give em a look at and enjoy.

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The comic industry is packed with companies making books about super heroes and the ones making stuff horror-related mostly deal with zombies because the undead seem to be the flavor of the decade thanks to comics/ pop culture stuff like The Walking Dead. Many companies in the past have tackled Universal Monsters but mostly they are all one-shot issues and never a full series.  Companies like Dell, Dark Horse and Monster Comics all released comics about Dracula, Wolf Man and The Mummy and all did them pretty well for the time they were released. In 2014 as I write this, no company has a comic series going based on a Universal Monster and that’s sad because I really think that if the right artist and writer were on board, a comic series based on the likes of The Creature could be fantastic! I could see the comic taking place after the events of Creature Walks Among Us and show us the readers how he survived his surgery and apparent drowning, and then they could flash forward to modern times and make it more scary and show that the classics really don’t have to go out of spooky style. I would love to see Dark Horse Comics get back on board with Universal to make more comics based on Creature From The Black Lagoon, and if they don’t I think IDW could really do him justice and one could only imagine the Gill-Man crossovers with The X-Files or even Ghostbusters being super kick butt. One other company who I think could do a Creature From The Black Lagoon comic series really well would have to be HorrorHound Magazine! As of right now they only do a music label outside of the magazine and conventions but here is to hoping that they will get on a comic branch sooner then later. Below is some amazing artwork of Gill-Man I found snooping around the web and any and all of these great artist would be perfect hires for a comic series that should be made…so check em all out!

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Speaking of IDW and if they made a comic on Gill-Man with the possibility of an X-Files crossover, I just want to share this picture of Gillian Anderson Agent Scully herself with a version of the Gill-Man that was used for Rolling Stones Magazine! Just think of the possible plot of this cool crossover that should but sadly proudly never will happen. Before we move on I also want to point out how stunning Gillian looks with this pin-up model look.

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So are you ready to travel to the black lagoon with the S.S. Rotten Ink? As your captain I feel I must warn you about a few things that all passengers should know about this journey into the unknown. 1st don’t drink the water; while the lagoon H2O might look tasty it is filled with bacteria that can cause sickness. 2nd there have been reports of a giant fishman who really likes dark haired women so we suggest if your female and look like Julie Addams for God sake don’t go swimming! And 3rd and the most importantly I want to remind my readers I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So before we set sail, let’s thank Bell, Book And Comic for having this Dark Horse Comic in stock, and let’s hope we have a fun and safe ride. And oh yeah this comic is a film adaptation based on the original film!

Creature From The Black Lagoon DH 1

Creature From The Black Lagoon # 1  ****
Released in 1993   Cover Price $4.95   Dark Horse Comics   #1 of 1

Dr. Maia finds a strange claw in the middle of the amazon buried.  It’s like nothing he’s ever seen as it’s almost human-like yet also very fish like. Maia leaves his native workers to watch camp as he travels back to the USA to show fellow scientist his discovery as well as hope for help to get an expedition to find the rest of the body and study it. His team consists of Dr. David Reed, Mark Williams, Kay Lawrence, Dr. Edwin Thompson and ship boat captain Lucas, and they head down the Amazon river to the location the fossil claw was found, but instead of being greeted by Maia’s native workers they are treated to finding their dead bodies! They are freaked out but go about the dig and turn up nothing, David gets an idea that maybe some thousand years back maybe the rock the fossil was found in was washed away and is somewhere in the water below. Lucas tells them of a place called the black lagoon where the river ends and that’s where the group travels to find the fossils they seek. David and Kay are in love, and it’s clear as they arrive to the Lagoon that Mark has strong feelings toward Kay and this adds tension between the co-workers as they dive into the waters below and remove a sample of rock. While the men go study the rocks Kay goes for a swim and this is when we see that Gill-Man is in the waters and is in love with the beauty he sees in his waters! The next time David and Mark go diving they see Gill-Man, and Mark shoots him with a spear gun wounding him and making him very mad as he gets revenge later that night as he kills a boat hand. The group fights back as the use a numbing poison that they dump into the water causing him to slowly become paralyzed but not before killing another boat hand and trying to kidnap Kay! As Gill-Man falls from the effects of the drug Mark bashes him in the head with a log sparking even more tension between he and David. On the ship Gill-Man is kept in the tank and this don’t hold him long as he escapes but not before ripping at Edwin’s face leaving him very injured. All the group have had enough and want to leave the Lagoon but Mark of course doesn’t when he thinks of the money that could be made off the Gill-Man and when Lucas says they are leaving they find that the entrance is blocked! While trying to move the large tree that has been placed to keep them in by Gillman, Mark is attacked and killed by the creatures hands leaving another death for the crew to deal with. David uses the rest of the drug in a air gun and uses it against Gill-Man as he hooks a rope around the tree, as they try and lift the tree out of the way Gill-Man comes aboard and grabs Kay and takes her to his underwater cave hideout. David dives in after them and comes face to face with Gill-Man who he stabs with his knife and just as it looks as if David and Kay are in terrible danger Lucas and Dr. Maia appear in the cave with shotguns and shoot Gill-Man a number of times. The comic’s ends with the remaining crew watching a bloody Gill-Man shuffle into the water and collapse.

This is one of the best film adaptation comic books I have ever read.  The story follows the film’s script and the artwork is top notch. David Reed is a good man who is in love with Kay and does his scientific work for all the right reasons, while his fellow collogue Mark wants the glory David wants to find the fossil for the things the world could learn from it. Plus when things go bad and Gill-Man appears, it’s David who is the hero that risks it all to save Kay the woman he loves. Kay is much like David as she is a sweet and nice person who just so happens to be super hot and has a charm to her that not only captures the eye of David but also Gill-Man and Mark! Lucas is your typical boat captain of that time and has heard many spooky stories and never believed them until he is force to when he meets Gill-Man! Mark is just a jerk who thinks that cause he has money and some fame that he can act any way he wants.  The fact he is so cruel to Gill-Man shows just how little he respects the world around him, and he gets what’s coming to him when he is killed by Gill-Man. Dr. Maia and Dr. Thompson while players in this story really don’t add much besides extra bodies for the hunt and for the attacks. Gill-Man is a great monster in this comic as for the most part he starts off pretty peaceful and it’s not till that dumbass Mark shoots him with a spear that he becomes violent.  I mean I’m pretty sure he would have kidnapped Kay either way but he might not have killed many of the crew. But then again he did kill Maia’s native workers for no reason so maybe he is just a killing machine. The comic’s story is super close to that of the film and that’s pretty cool and reading this reminds me of the update I did called “Marvel At The Movies Part 1” and makes me really looking forward to doing a second update on that subject. This comic would have been a perfect launch point for Dark Horse to make Creature From The Black Lagoon into a full fledged series, and they also could have done adaptations of Revenge of The Creature and Creature Walks Among Us if they wanted to test the comic buying market to see if they had interest in this character. The comics art was done by Author “Art” Adams and Terry Austin and it’s really well done and captures the mood and feeling of the film it’s based on. The one thing that’s shocking is the use of blood in the comic as when the Gill-Man is shot and stabbed they use a lot of the red stuff, in fact one panel is heartbreaking as Gill-Man has blood pouring out of his wounds and he’s marching into the water as his safety place…it’s a sad sight. But to sum up this comic if you’re a fan of the film or even just like classic style horror comics then I would recommend you buy this comic and give it a read. Below is some of the art work used in this comic and as you can see it’s amazing!

Dark Horse Creature Art 1

I hope you enjoyed this Birthday Bash for Gill-Man, a true classic Universal Monster icon who has terrified film watchers for 60 years now.  Plus with my birthday being in September I figured why not celebrate his on the same month as mine! Also if you’re a fan of the art above done by Author “Art” Adams make sure to Google some more of his artwork. I think he does fantastic work not only with Monsters but also Women, he captures the beauty of the female figure and does a great Wonder Woman and Black Canary. But our next update is going to be another spooky comic series as we take a look at Blackthorne’s comic run based on the 80’s monster TV show Werewolf! So until then make sure to watch a Creature From The Black Lagoon film, read a comic or two and support your local horror host and get ready to bark at the moon with me on the next update! And in closing let’s say it all together HAPPY BIRTHDAY GILL-MAN!

Werewolf Show Logo

Turkey Day Hercules Style!!

Hello again!  Looking back on when I was young, I used to love watching old sword and sandal films.  They had a charm, much like the giant monster films of Japan, with the bad dubbing and pan scan presentations on afternoon cable and cheap VHS releases. For you readers that don’t know what sword and sandal films are, I will give you a quick crash course: sword and sandal films, also known as Peplum films, were mostly made in Italy and were based on Biblical, historical and Greek mythological figures.  They were mostly popular from 1958 to 1965 and spawned many series based on the likes of Samson, Macuste, Ursus and of course Hercules. This time also launched the cult careers of Steve Reeves, Brad Harris, Ed Fury, Reg Park, Alan Steel to name a few. Films like Hercules in The Haunted World, The Witch’s Curse, Samson and the Sea Beast, Hercules Against The Moon Men and many more thrilled fans and were hits at the theaters. The genre was huge business for Italian cinema but lost steam and gave way to Spaghetti Westerns in 1965. Sword And Sandal films mostly dealt with muscle bound heros fighting the odds and helping people who were down and out against cheaply made monsters and armies of untrained soldiers. These films were cheaply made and were standard stuff for double feature movie theater experiences and later on midday cable filler and horror hosting comedy material. I remember watching many of these films on VHS that I would buy for cheap at dollar stores, Replay Media or mark down bins at Hearts.  I also watched many on cable, mostly TBS. But the ones that got my attention the most were based on Hercules, and my favorites were the two in which Steve Reeves played the Greek hero.  So you can imagine how happy I was in 2013 when I found out that DELL Comics did comic adaptations of those films! And now on Rotten Ink I can talk about the amazing adventures of Steve Reeves as Hercules and other Hercules thoughts.

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Steve L. Reeves was born on January 21st 1926 in Montana, moved to California and was into bodybuilding from a young age.  He had a herculean body by the age of 17, and after high school he enlisted in the army and served during World War II. After the service, Steve became a pro body builder winning such titles as Mr. Universe and AAU Mr. America and became an actor in American films like musical Athena and Ed Woood Jr.’s Jail Bait. But his big break in acting came in 1957 when he went to Italy and played the role of Hercules and its sequel Hercules Unchained.  He only played Hercules in those two films but went onto star in many other sword and sandal films like The White Warrior, Morgan The Pirate, The Trojan Horse and The Avenger. During this time he became the biggest star and highest paid actors in Europe and even turned down the starring role of The Man With No Name in A Fistful Of Dollars that later went to Clint Eastwood. Reeves did end up doing a Western when in 1967 he stared in A Long Ride From Hell. As quick as Reeves became a star, he also quickly lost it and went back to promoting body building and bred horses later in his life.  Sadly in 2000 Reeves died of complications of lymphoma at the age of 74. To me Reeves is an action star that rates up there with the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Segal and Dolph Lundgren, and if was still alive, he could have been an amazing addition to The Expendables film series. Steve Reeves is an icon in the world of bodybuilding and Italian cinema, and I grew up watching his films and loving every over the top second.

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Le Fatiche Di Ercole aka Hercules (in the USA) is a 1958 Italian film directed by Pietro Francisci and starring Steve Reeves as Hercules and Sylva Koscina as Princess Iole. The film is very loosely based on The Labors of Hercules and The Quest For The Golden Fleece of Greek folklore, but much like most film adaptions of such things, many elements are added to spice it up. The film’s plot has Hercules trying to help Jason, who is the rightful king of Iolcus, complete quests to win his throne back, as Hercules also falls in love with the lovely Princess Iole. When the new king’s men steal the Fleece and rob Jason of his kingdom, it’s up to Hercules to get it back. The film was a major box office hit and made a star of Steve Reeves and sparked the huge boom of Sword and Sandal films.

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In 1959 Hercules got a sequel called Ercole E La Regina Di Lidia aka Hercules Unchained, and this one was also directed by Pietro Francisci and also starred Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina in their respected roles. This time around Hercules is trying to help with two feuding brothers and becomes a slave of a queen.  He must remember who he is and save the kingdom of Thebes before it’s too late. The film marked the last time Steve Reeves would play Hercules, and while it was a hit, it failed to become as big as the original. The film did however get the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment and has become a kind of cult classic of Sword and Sandal Cinema. This film as well as the original are slated to be shown at some point on an episode of Terrifying Tales of the Macabre.

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We talked Steve Reeves, now let’s talk about the very lovely Sylva Koscina! She was born on August 22nd 1933 in Zagreb. During World War II, she moved to Italy with her sister who married an Italian man.  Sylva, with her stunning looks, became an actress and had a long a great career starring in such films as He and She, Lisa and The Devil, The Iron Mask, Hornets Nest and of course the Hercules films. She also was very smart and studied physics, was a super model and even posed topless for Playboy in Italy. Sadly at the age of 61 in 1994, she passed away from breast cancer. In America Sylva is not only known for her roles in the Hercules films, but mostly to horror fans for her role in the 1974 Mario Bava film Lisa and the Devil, also known as House of Exorcism in which she played Sophia Lehar. One thing is for sure, Sylva was one great looking woman and not a bad actress at all.

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Kids of the 1960’s were also treated to a low budget animated show called “The Mighty Hercules” that started airing in 1963 as 5 minute short cartoons, but most stations would string together many episodes to make it into a 30 minute program. The cartoon would follow Hercules and his centaur friend Newton, his girlfriend Helena, his winged horse Pegasus and a few others as they save Greece from the likes of Murtis, the wizard Daedalus and the sea witch Wilhemine. The series took many liberties with the Greek mythology even having Hercules get his power from a ring that when he puts it on, lighting from Zeus would hit it and give him power.  In this cartoon he had many friends and was more of a jolly kind of hero. The cartoon had a total of 128 episodes and is fondly looked at by people who grew up watching it on TV. I first saw this show many years ago when my girlfriend at the time’s dad had a VHS copy of some TV shows he watched as a kid and on the tape was not only Mighty Hercules but also Diver Dan and Clutch Cargo. And I must say all those shows were great! Mighty Hercules has a few episodes out on DVD but true fans are waiting for the complete series to come out. I should also throw in that the cartoon has one amazing theme that you should hear.  So if you get a chance look up this show’s theme on YouTube.

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One other old school thing I remember that had the Hercules name was the 80’s WWF wrestler Hercules Hernandez whose real name was Raymond Fernandez. Hercules began his wrestler career in 1981, wrestling in Florida and Texas mostly, and in 1982 toured around after joining the NWA. He also did a short run in WWC in Puerto Rico. In 1985 he was signed onto WWF and was quickly managed by Classy Freddie Blassie and later Bobby The Brain Heenan and was a heel (bad guy) who feuded with the likes of Billy Jack Haynes, Ultimate Warrior and Ricky Steamboat. Hercules would wear a long metal chain around his neck and use the full nelson to beat his opponents. In 1988 Hercules was sold to “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase as a slave by Bobby Heenan, turning Hercules into a good guy (face) who feuded with DiBiase, Haku and Earthquake. While a good guy Hercules’s career took a stall as he lost traction and quickly became a stepping stone for newer wrestlers coming in. In 1990 he turned heel again and teamed with Paul Roma and managed by Slick, they called themselves Power & Glory and went for tag team gold and went up against such teams as The Hart Foundation, The Rockers and The Road Warriors. In 1991 Roma left, and Hercules was once again on his own and losing match after match and this lead to him leaving the company in 1992. Fernandez then went to WCW and wrestled under a mask as Super Invader and quickly grew tired of this gimmick and quit.  He later spent his time wrestling for indpendents, New Japan and AWF. He retired in 1999 from wrestling and sadly died of heart disease in 2004 at the age of 48. Hercules is one of those 80’s wrestlers that I remember for two things: one, he looked kind of like Steve Reeves and the second was because when I was a kid I use to cut up old wrestling magazines and would have the paper wrestlers fight each other in a shoe box lid by shaking them back and fourth.  For some reason my brother Bryan used to harass me about Hercules and even would make up rules to help the paper version win. He even had this stupid song parady of John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance that would go Give Herc a Chance. While he never was a amazing wrestler, Hercules will always be in my memory as one of the top wrestlers I remember watching in the 80’s.

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Terrifying Tales of the Macabre has a son of the Greek Hero with The Son of Hercules.  The powerhouse of a man is close friends to the Porkchops. In the first episode he is in, he gets the help of Baron, Baroness and Bean to go inside a haunted college and get a golden apple from a witch. In another episode, he is a dinner guest at a party to celebrate the life of horror host icon Dr. Creep. And yet again he makes an appearance at a chili cook off contest as a guest in the crowd. He also had his own one off show called Son of Hercules Power Hours where he hosted the film Samson and gave viewers work out tips, arm wrestled a space alien, wrestled a luchador and delivers goofy jokes. The Son of Hercules is part of the show’s family now and is always a welcome edition to any episode.

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With all this talk of Italian Cinema, I need to talk about my love for Italian women! I am a fan of many types of girls from Goth to Latina, but near the top of my list of my “type” are women from Italy. I mean look at girls like Asia Argento, Rosalba Neri, Nathalie Rapti Gomez and many more lovely Italian actresses. I mean even cooking show host Rachel Ray is part Italian, and we know most people find her hot. But before I ramble on, just take a quick look at these attractive ladies, and then we will go onto the comic review.

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Not much came out in the way of merchandise for the Steve Reeves Hercules films, besides the two Dell movie adaptation comics.  We had VHS and Beta releases and later DVD. We had vinyl releases of the soundtracks for both films, and at some point some company made a model/statue of it. While the film is in cult status, it just never had the merchandise push that other fantasy films got. I for one would have loved to have had a 3 3/4″ inch figure of Hercules based on Steve Reeves that would have been in scale with my Star Wars, G.I. Joes, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Dukes of Hazard figures! Hercules could have helped tip the tide in my all out toy wars, and he would have been a massive foe for the likes of Imperial Godzilla! I am surprised that Mego or even Remco didn’t make such toys, and for the most part that is a missed opportunity to cash in on the fame of the character.

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So I am ready now to tackle DELL’s comic adaptations of the Steve Reeves Hercules films, and 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 the reviews. Before I do, I should let you know that these comics are from a series that DELL did called FOUR COLOR that covered movies, TV shows, cartoons and so much more. I should also thank Ebay for having both issues up as buy it nows via our pals at Lone Star Comics.

Hercules # 1

Hercules  ***
Released in 1959   Cover Price .10   DELL Comics   #1006 of 1354

Hercules is on his way to the city of Jolco to help the acting King Pelias who has taken the throne after his brother was murdered.  Both his son Jason and the Golden Fleece are missing as is the leader of the soldiers, Chiron, who is being blamed for the murder and kidnapping. On his way Hercules meets and falls in love with Princess Iole whose father is the one who called for his help. Unbeknownst to Hercules, he is really there not to find the king’s killer but to make Iole’s brother Iphitus more of a man. Hercules goes after the Nemean Lion and during his hunt for the beast, Iphitus is killed, and now in order to please the King Hercules must kill the Cretan Bull and has lost the love of his darling Iole! Hercules curses the gods and in doing so loses his god-like power and even without, it he kills the bull.

This comic is a pretty good adaption of the film and helps speed up the pace by cutting out some of the long drawn out talkie scenes. Hercules comes off as a proud and powerful hero who also has a heart of gold and who falls in love and hates the curse of being a demigod. The best battles in the comic have Hercules fighting the Nemean Lion and the Creatan Bull.  The only down side is the fights are also heavily trimmed down and while cool, lack the full powerful adventure feel. Princess Iole is a wave of emotion in the comic as she falls in love, finds heartache with her brother’s death and even anger at Hercules for allowing her brother to die.  She’s a good character and a great love interest, the only downside is she feels like a second thought for most of the issue. Jason and Ulysses, while young, are great additions to the comic cast. The bad guys King Pelias and Eurysteus while mean and self serving buttholes, are never fully a threat for Hercules. The artwork in the issue is well done, and Hercules looks like Steve Reeves for the most part.  Fans of Charlton Comics version of Hercules will enjoy this comics art. The cover is great and is one of the better “Four Color” issues cover. Over all fans of the film, the myth and the greek hero will love this issue, and it makes me hyped to see what the comic based on the sequel will bring. Oh I should also say the issue I have is a prime example of the term “rotten ink,” and the issue smelled of classic comic ink rotting.

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Now let’s take a look at the comic version of the sequel and see how it holds up in ink.

Hercules Unchained # 1

Hercules Unchained  **1/2
Released in 1959   Cover Price .10   DELL Comics   #1121 of 1354

Hercules has returned from sea and is going back home to Thebes alongside Ulysses and his lovely bride Jole (Iole).  On the ride, they meet Antaeus, the son of the Earth, and Hercules shows off his strength and defeats the brute. After a storm hits, Hercules and company hide in a cave and meet the one time King of Thebes who tells Hercules that his sons are feuding over the throne and that they are suppose to rotate year to year. War is about to destroy his homeland so Hercules makes a deal with the acting King Eteocles to prove peace as his brother Polynices and his army are ready for the attack. Hercules sets sail with Ulysses as Jole stays at the castle.  The plan is to get the Kingdom right again, but things go wrong as Hercules drinks water that makes him forget, and they both become the slaves of Queen Omphale, where Ulysses becomes a servant boy and acts as if he is mute and Hercules becomes the Queen’s lover! Now Eteocles thinks Hercules and his brother are just playing mind games and holds Jole as a prisoner! All the while as weeks pass, Ulysses tries to snap Hercules out of his trance and figures out that it’s the water he is drinking that holds the power.  He also discovers that Omphale has a cave full of ex-lovers that have been turned to stone! Hercules’ friends come looking for him and he snaps to and leaves the island behind only to find that the brothers are gearing up for war.  During a duel both brothers are killed and it’s up to Hercules to save his wife from man eating tigers as well as keep peace in the kingdom!

The first thing that caught my eye in this issue is that Hercules, while looking like Steve Reeves in the face, has the body of a normal man and seems out of place as they speak of how strong he is.  To me the artist seemed not to understand that Herc needs to be a muscle powerhouse. The issue follows the film pretty closely, and the only major changes I noticed is Princess Iole’s name changed to Jole.  The musical numbers are cut out as is the suicide death of Queen Omphale, and I am sure the suicide was cut because it was not kid -friendly as DELL prided itself on being. The story moves along pretty well and has a nice blend of fantasy drama and over the top action. One thing that more lacking in this issue than the first is the lack of beasts.  While he fights Antaeus and some tigers, there is no major fight to get your blood and excitement level pumping. Hercules comes off fun loving but also a little bit of an ego driven a-hole, and this is one thing I think is done right. A lot of the issue is wasted with Ulysses trying to help get Hercules to remember who he is while he is prisoner and slave to Queen Omphale, and while fun, this is a little over done in the comic and the film alike. This adaptation is well done but just seems to be slightly lacking.  Where the first one was super fun with well done art, this one is okay and has all right art. The cover is well done tho and to sum this one up, its okay and was worth the read for sure. 

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So it’s Thanksgiving Day, and I hope this fun little review of Dells Hercules Comic Adaptations of the Steve Reeves films made your holiday a little more fun. While many people think the films are golden turkeys, I for one enjoy them and had a lot of fun reading and reviewing these comics. So here is to hoping you had a great feast on this day with turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and stuffing, and enjoyed the company of your family and friends while chatting over dinner or watching football/TV shows or a movie! So in closing: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and we will see you in December for some fun a joyful updates beginning with Marvel’s one issue run based on the build a robot toy line Robotix.  Until then, be safe and read a comic and enjoy your holiday.

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