From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Zombi 2

Happy Scary Halloween! For this year’s spooky holiday update I decided to do a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update based on one of my favorite Italian horror movies that was directed by one of Italy’s best directors, the godfather of splatter & gore, Lucio Fulci, and the comic series released by one of the world’s best Indie comic companies going, Eibon Press! I am sure that by now you guessed that I am talking about “Zombi 2.” This is one that is long over due and one that I have been looking forward to reading and reviewing here at Rotten Ink, and after a very terrible 2020, I figured why not make it this Halloween update as this is sure to make your holiday a little more spooky! So if you’re ready, let’s get on this boat the S.S. Eibon and set sail for the island of the dead. Along the way we have to watch out for sharks and the zombies of the ocean as they are both super hungry and super deadly. Oh, I do want to say that this update does have spoilers.

Let’s first break down the zombies of this film and their way of dealing with the living that are foolish enough to be in their paths. The zombies in Zombi 2 are undead reanimated bodies that range from freshly dead to the long dead and have a hunger for human flesh and guts that drive them to find their meal. In appearance, the zombies range from rotten flesh to bloody flesh and can use their looks to frighten and shock their human victims as, for example, they can be missing eyes and have open eye sockets complete with worms crawling out! The zombies will shuffle and stalk alone or in large groups and seem to also be smart in some of their attacks, not to mention that in a massive horde they could overtake and overwhelm a person or even a group of people. But I also do not want to downplay how dangerous they are on their own as one zombie could easily sneak up and take a bite out of you. These zombies can swim and walk under water. They do not need air and can take gunshots and massive hits to the body and still get back up to try to rip you apart. The zombies use their hands and teeth to rip away your flesh and do not slow down or get tired, making them super dangerous to the living; not to mention a bite from them can be toxic and lead to becoming one yourself. The zombies do have a few weaknesses though.  The main way to bring them down is head trauma and that means a gunshot to the brain or bashing the brain in with a heavy object. They can also be stopped with fire; if you set them ablaze, they will eventually fall and not get back up. Like all zombies, the ones in Zombi 2 are very hungry and very dangerous and the more of them there are, the more your days are numbered.

Now that we all understand that the zombies of Zombi 2 are flesh eating terrors that will not stop until they are ripping your guts out and scarfing them down, we should now take a look at the cult classic film that they are from and that really is one of my all time favorite films from Italy. As always, I will be taking the film’s plot from our friends at IMDB and after I will write briefly about the film’s production and then share about my thoughts on the film. So sit back and alert the crew that the boat can leave now.

Zombie (1979)

“A zombie is found aboard a boat off the New York coast which belongs to do a famous scientist. Peter West, a journalist, travels to the Antilles with Ann, the daughter of the scientist. On the way, they meet with with Brian, an ethnologist, and Susan. When they arrive at Matul Island, they find Dr. Menard, and discover a terrifying disease which is turning the islanders into horrifying zombies which devour human flesh and seem indestructible.”

In 1978, George Romero with Dario Argento released Dawn Of The Dead as Zombi in Italy, and the film was a mega hit. With that enter producer Fabrizio De Angelis, who wanted to make a “sequel” and tried to bring filmmaker Enzo G. Castellari on to direct but he turned it down. And then enter Lucio Fulci who was coming off two very good splatter horror films and was making a name for himself as an up and coming horror director. The screenwriter was Dardano Sacchetti, who called the script “Nightmare Island” and was very much inspired by the novel The Island Of Doctor Moreau and classic zombie films like Voodoo Island and I Walked With A Zombie.

Filming started in June 1979 in Latina, Italy with shots in New York City and Santo Domingo. Actors like Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Olga Karlatos and Al Cliver were hired on with Fabio Frizzi joining to score the zombie fright flick. During filming, the producers lied to the actors as no trailers were provided for them and it was a very demanding film to shoot, with even the classic shark vs. zombie scene being shot without Fulci even knowing about it!

When finished, the film was rushed to Italian Cinemas for release on August 25, 1979. It would hit English speaking markets in 1980 and was a major hit world wide and built a very big cult following. In fact, in England the film was labeled as a Video Nasty and was banned! Years after its released it found even more success on home video, DVD and Blu-Ray, becoming a must have film for horror collectors.

When the film was released in 1979, it was joined by such Horror Classics as Phantasm, The Amityville Horror, Alien, Tourist Trap, Savage Weekend, Capture Of Bigfoot and Salem’s Lot, to name a few. The film was followed by Zombi 3 (that was also partly directed by Fulci) and then the series here in America would have more sequel numbers slapped on VHS boxes that really were just other films from foreign markets like After Death, Killing Birds, Absurd and A Virgin Among The Living Dead, to name a few. If you have never seen Zombie and are a major fan of zombie films or even Italian horror, do yourself a major favor and give it a watch.

I first heard of Zombie thanks to the book Gore Score by Chas Balun, who peeked my interest when he kept talking how about a splinter going into a woman’s eye changed his life and gave it very high on the gore level. I would see more coverage of the film in the pages of old Fangoria Magazines, and seeing pictures of the worm-eyed zombie locked it in my mind that I had to see the film someday! For years I waited for the film to play on TV as well as looked for it at video rental stores my parents visited and could not find it, and this was so frustrating.

Years would pass, and as a teenager, I was finally able to find a copy of the film on VHS at Suncoast in the Dayton Mall and I was hyped to get home and watch it. While the quality of the film transfer was poor, after watching the film I became hooked as I loved so much about it. The gore was fantastic, the zombies looked creepy, the score was top notch, the atmosphere was spooky and the ladies were beautiful with Olga Karlatos who played Mrs. Menard being stunning. Plus seeing the splinter to the eye scene that haunted the nightmares of Balun was as gruesome as I imagined and truly grossed me out. The crazy thing is that this film is a sequel to a sequel that spawned more sequels…and in reality this film has zero to do with Dawn Of The Dead and was a cheap cash in that ended up being really good and can stand on its own and became a cult classic. Plus I am not going to lie, I really do also like Zombi 3 that was its follow up, but Dawn Of The Dead’s follow up Day Of The Dead is my favorite zombie film of all time.

Over the years I have often recommended this film to my friends who enjoy horror films if they have never seen it and enjoy Italian films. And of course over the years I have owned this film on VHS and DVD and it still remains in my top 10 best zombie films of all time list! I will say that at times some horror fans tend to make fun of this film due to a scene of a zombie fighting a shark and hands down that scene is awesome and sets it apart from all the other undead films that flooded the market at that time. Over all this is a great film and if any of you readers have not seen this film, make sure to check it out!

Like all cult horror movies, Fulci’s Zombie has had its fair share of cool merchandise for fans that include posters, t-shirts, buttons/pins, toys, comics, hats, books, CDs, magazines and of course the film on all types of home media. Over the years I have had my fair share of items based around Zombie like the classic Blackest Heart Media soundtrack on CD, the original Zombie graphic novel, and t-shirts with worm eyed zombie on it. I own a rubber figure of worm eyed zombie that was made by Rubber Monsters, and I have the enamel pin that my cousin Stephen got me. Plus of course I have the full set of comics from Eibon Press that in my opinion are must own comics for any horror comic reader.

I also want to take a moment to remind readers about Eibon Press, the masterminds behind the Fulci Comic universe that not only includes Zombie but also mini series based on The Beyond, Gates Of Hell and House By The Cemetery!

Eibon Press is an indie comic company that is for fans of horror comics and horror movies as. They do a fantastic job of bringing these films to pages and keeping true to the source but also adding their own touches and adding to the classic stories delivering ghoulish nightmare soaked pages. They also have comics based on other film series like 1980’s Maniac and Laserblast, plus original series like Bottomfeeder and Wasteland 1989 proving they can also deliver original frights to readers. Shawn Lewis, who is also the main man behind Rotten Cotton, is the brains behind Eibon Press, and hands down if you readers and friends have yet to check them out, make sure to do so as they are doing some really killer horror comics. Make sure to support indie comic companies as they are the ones who are truly allowing creative minds to express their ideas and bring stories to life. They are also the ones who are not taking the cookie cutter route of Marvel and DC and making comics based on fresh ideas as well as cult classic films that go beyond Star Wars and other Hollywood blockbusters. Long live Eibon Press as well as all the other micro and indie comic companies that are making comic reading fun again!

Before we move on, let’s also talk about just how crazy the world of Zombi is and how it has sparked a truckload of sequels and re-labeled films shoehorned into the series!

So we all know that Zombi is the title for George Romero’s 1978 classic Dawn Of The Dead in Italy and that the Fulci film Zombi 2 called Zombie here in America is an unofficial sequel. But here is where things get crazy: the real Zombi 3 was directed by Fulci, and yet there is Zombie 3: Return Of The Zombies that is just the Paul Naschy film The Hanging Woman renamed and released in the U.S. on VHS.

The fourth film in the series, Zombie 4: After Death, is really just the film After Death that has the Zombie title slapped on it, and there is also Zombie 4: A Virgin Among The Living Dead, a VHS release here in America that is just a Jesus Franco film with the Zombie 4 prefix tacked to it! And the tacked on title of Zombie continued with the fifth film as Zombie 5: Killing Birds was an Italian film called just Killing Birds, and here in the U.S. on VHS we had Zombie 5: Revenge In The House Of Usher that is another Jesus Franco film. Now we are getting into the rest of the VHS releases here in America, all put out by T-Z Video with Zombie 6: Monster Hunter that is just the Joe D’Amato film Absurd!

Many other films have been tagged with the Zombie label such as Anthropophagus, Night Of The Seagulls, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, Zombie Holocaust, Nightmare City, Pulgasari, Panic, Burial Ground, Zombie ’90 and The Dead Next Door, to name a few! So as you can see, this series is a mess and is filled with tons of false sequels to the original films, and to be honest, someone in the indie filmmaking world should take up the mantel from T-Z Video of making and releasing zombie films with the Zombie brand taped onto the covers. Below are the covers for the films that have Zombie tagged onto the film by T-Z Video.

So as you can see, these zombies are true flesh eating soulless killing machines and are in one of Italy’s best horror movies ever made, and thanks to Eibon Press, they also got this comic series! First I want to thank Shawn Lewis and everyone at Eibon Press for doing these comics as the world needs more spooky comics based films and they are delivering and have many more to come. I also want to 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 head to this island filled with the dead and see why the dead are rising.

Zombie # 1  ***
Released in 2016   Cover Price $10.00   Eibon Press   # 1 of 8

A voodoo ceremony is going down, and after a sacrifice, a zombie tribal priest type figure named Biacando comes alive! Doctor David Menard wakes up from a feverish dream of that event and then has to shoot a dead patient in the head that was bitten by his dead wife. This is when Menard knows that the dead have risen. We then cut to a boat in New York that appears to be unmanned. The harbor cop comes aboard, and they find that a fat bloated zombie is on the ship. He kills one cop and the other guns down the bloated zombie down who falls overboard into the cold water below. Reporter Peter West reports to work and gets an assignment to check out the pier near where the cop and the bloated zombie were killed. While at the hospital, the dead cop comes back and kills the two doctors, spreading the zombie infection. Near the edge of the water a homeless man is attacked by the bloated zombie, who is now also in New York! Meanwhile Peter West meets Ann Bowles, the daughter of the man who owned the abandoned boat, and together the sneak into the pier at night to see if they can get answers as her father has been missing for a while now while working on an exotic island and the police are being rude and no help. While on board Anne finds a letter from her father that tells of a disease, a native tribe and unknown things on the Island of Matul. Peter gets his bosses at the paper to allow him to travel with Anne to the island to break this scoop that could be the biggest story in the world. While in Jamaica, Anne and Peter hire vacationing couple Bryan Hull and Susan Barrett to take them to Matul as a man with a voodoo doll watches them sail off.

This first issue of Zombie brings elements of the Lucio Fulci film as well as original plots from the mind of writer Stephen Romano! The plot of the issue has zombies infecting the island of Matul as well as later New York and a journalist and a missing doctor’s daughter are traveling to get the answers they seek after reading a letter written by her dad and left on a boat that washed into NY’s harbor.

The new plot elements that break away from the film show the natives of Matul bringing on the curse of the undead, complete with a clearly powerful zombie named Biacando! They also add in the fact that Peter West had a brother that was murdered on his first day out as a cop by a drug pusher, and that they were close…I smell the dead brother returning from the grave in a future issue. They also show the classic bloated zombie coming out of the water and making his way into New York and also stress that he is in fact the one who starts the zombie invasion in America.

Peter West is a goofball who admits to himself he is bad at his job of being a reporter and if not for his uncle owing the paper, he would have been fired long ago. But while bad at it, he still has the heart and right frame of mind when he gets wind of this story that could be the biggest the world has ever read if all works out right.

Ann Bowles is a strong willed woman who is not taking crap from the cops and wants to find her father and figure out why his boat was being sailed by someone other then him, and she even will team with a reporter she doesn’t know in order to get what she seeks.

We are only introduced briefly to Doctor David Menard, who worked with Ann’s father on Matul and who is stressed out and worn down by the zombies, as well as Bryan and Susan, the married couple who are enjoying life off the island of Jamaica, as Bryan is a retired Green Beret and Susan is a journalist for a nature publication.

The zombies are flesh hungry and brutal in nature as they just don’t eat the living, they massacre them! It’s great seeing the bloated zombie come alive in comic pages, and plus I want to know more about Biacando, who I am sure is a major force in what’s spreading this disease, as with every zombie kill, it seems maybe his spirit is around.

The comic does not shy away from blood, guts, gore and nudity and each kill is done in a glorious splatter fashion, and fans of comics like The Dead (Arrow Comics) and the original Walking Dead (Aircel Comics) will surely be pleased in the gore department. The cover for this first issue is very eye catching and will surely please fans of the film as it showcases the film’s most popular zombie. The interior art work is top notch and is a team up of artists Michael Broom with additional art by Derek Rook, and these guys capture the gritty nature of indie horror comics as well as Italian horror movies really well. To sum up this first issue, I will say that it’s a very solid horror comic that is doing the film its based on justice thus far and the creators adding their own touch makes it feel fresh and new. Let’s see what issue two has in store for us via story and gore!

Zombie # 2  ***
Released in 2016    Cover Price $10.00    Eibon Press    # 2 of 8

Doctor David Menard is once more having a dream about the tribe and the undead Biacando, who is doing more and more brutal sacrifices, and worse Doctor Menard finds that the hospital’s radio is no longer working and his wife Olga Menard is now upset. They get into an argument as she wants to leave and he wants to stay as he thinks he is close to finding a cure! And when things get too heated, Doctor Menard slaps Olga and she alerts him that she hates his guts! Later that night Olga is home alone taking a shower and unbeknownst to her, zombies are outside watching and looking for a way inside. They break in and force her eye onto a giant wood splinter and end her life. Meanwhile Peter, Ann, Bryan and Susan are on the boat heading toward Matul when Susan asks them to stop so that she can dive and get some underwater photos. Once in the water, a zombie attacks her and she only escapes from by using razor sharp coral that she scraps across its face. As Susan swims back to the boat and tells her story of a bloody man in the water which insights Bryan to be mad at Peter as he feels the reporter is not telling him the truth on what is going on in Matul. Meanwhile, the zombie ends up fighting with a shark! After Peter shares what he knows about the island and the rumor of the undead curse, they get on a rowboat and head toward Matul as Doctor David Menard watches them approach.

In this second issue our “heroes” are almost to the island, and while taking a break, they find a zombie under water. The threat of voodoo and the undead really starts to sink in, while Doctor David Menard decides that he will find a cure, even if it costs him his marriage and life.

The second issue once more is mostly based on the cult film from 1979, and once more the Eibon Press crew added their own touches to it that add a fresh layer to the comic and also adds more of a backstory to many of the characters! First, they show that David Menard was a man who really only has cared about experiments and even was a part of some in World War II. Olga Menard was shown to have been a lady of the night way before she married Menard and has looked at all these people who used and abused her as monsters. Lastly they hint that Susan was assaulted by her father when she was a youngster…adding many dirty secret layers to them.

Peter is one of those “hero” characters that have somewhat good intentions, but along the way he comes off as a snarky smartass. At one point when Bryan is upset that his wife was attacked by a man at the bottom of the Ocean and looks to Peter for answers as its on his request they are heading toward a cursed island that will only really benefit Peter (and somewhat Ann) as he will get a story that will make him famous. Ann kind of takes a backseat in this issue and is on the boat but keeps mostly to herself besides trying to keep Susan calm after seeing the zombie in the water. Bryan and Susan at first seem to be game to drop their paying guests at the island and start to second guess their decision when they notice that the legends of the island could be true.

Doctor David Menard is a man on a mission for answers, but sadly his want to find a cure is not fully in order to help mankind as its more to fulfill his ego to be the best. Poor Olga Menard; we hardly get to know her before she becomes dinner for zombies.

This issue again pulls no punches on the blood and guts and delivers the splinter to the eye death and its done pretty damn well! The cover is cool and eye catching and features another key zombies from the film, and the interior art is top notch and done by Michael Broom with others. So far this is very great series, and I cannot stress how cool it is that this adaptation has some new fresh elements added to the plot to deliver a familiar and yet new experience. Let’s see what issue three has in store for us!

Zombie # 3  ***
Released in 2017    Cover Price $10.00    Eibon Press    # 3 of 8

Doctor David Menard has the island’s new guests in his jeep and is heading back to the hospital when he tells Ann about the death of her father that had him being taken into the tribe of Biacando and that he along with the hospital crew went into the tribe and shot all the undead including Biacando and returned her father to the hospital where he was infected and turned into a zombie and Menard himself pulled the trigger when he reanimated. The boat crew was sent to New York for supplies and had orders to dump infected bodies into the ocean, and Menard says they must have been infected before they arrived in America. Once back at the hospital nurse Stephanie runs out and alerts Menard that his friend Fritz is inside in bad shape. Menard gives his guests the keys to the jeep and asks them to check in on his wife and to wash up as he will come for them a little later as he rushes inside. Peter, Ann, Susan and Bryan take the jeep and head to his house, and they don’t think his story of voodoo adds up. Things get worse for them as they enter the house and find his wife being eaten by zombies that are now all over the place as they are hungry and they are on the menu! Bryan snaps and grabs a shovel and smashes zombie skulls, and the group makes it safely to the jeep as the voodoo drums once more fill the air. Unlucky for them, a little way down the road the jeeps engine just stops working and they know they have to get to the hospital for shelter as the zombies are coming. While at the hospital, Doctor David Menard has to shoot his injured friend who turns into a zombie and orders his two helpers Lucas and nurse Stephanie to lock all the doors and windows. Meanwhile Peter and the rest are making a run for the hospital and have to go through an old cemetery, and as they take a momentary breather, the ground beneath them starts to rumble. The long dead are also coming back to life, and one with worms in one of his eye sockets takes a bite out of Susan’s neck, killing her! Peter and Ann help the shocked and sad Bryan as more and more zombies are coming.

This third issue is super action packed as the plot has our heroes meeting the island doctor who gives them answers to some of their questions. They discover the half eaten and mutilated body of the doctor’s wife, battle their way through zombie and lose one of their own to the series’ top zombie in Worm Eye! And this all happens super fast.

We also get more of a look into Biacando whose voodoo that is causing all of this and who is the one who infected Ann’s dad with the infection that lead to his death and then re-death at the hands of his own friend.

It’s clear by this third issue that Doctor David Menard is a man on the edge as the stress and the horrors he has seen on this island are starting to really get to him, and being the kind of guy he is, giving up and running away is not an option. I mean it’s crazy as so far in the series, he has had to shoot two of his close friends in the head after they have returned as zombies, not to mention all the other villagers he has had to do this with and soon he will find out his wife as well has fallen victim to this infection!

Bryan and Susan are clearly second guessing themselves as they went to this cursed island only because strangers offered money and they had a intriguing story…but thus far all they have gotten is Bryan losing his mind and flashing back to his military days and Susan ends up dead with a bite hole in her neck! Peter and Ann have gotten answers about the death of her father as well as a little about the infection that is bringing the dead back to life, but they don’t fully trust what they have been told! Also it’s clear that they are now also starting to fall for each other and that they all must watch out for one another if they want to get off the island alive.

Poor Stephanie and Lucas are trying to help with the sickness and the dead at the hospital, but it’s clear they are scared out of their minds.

The main attraction of course is seeing the Worm Eyed Zombie do his thing and take a chunk out of Susan’s neck! Like before, this issue adds its own touches to the adaptation like showing Ann’s father was under the cursed charm of Biacando and Bryan going crazy with a shovel and bashing and smashing zombies at Menard’s home. The jeep’s engine fails, and they don’t crash into a tree like in the film. Those are just some of the small and big changes. The story is reaching the fever pitch of what is to come with the living against the dead in a showdown of survival, and this comic series is doing a great job of building the hype! The cover is eye catching and once more showcases a zombie from the film, and the interior art by Michael Broom and Derek Rook is top notch and is perfect for a horror comic based on a film. This issue also pours out the blood and guts on the pages and has some true splatter moments! So let’s see what issue four has in store for us.

Zombie # 4  ***
Released in 2017    Cover Price $10.00    Eibon Press    # 4 of 8

Peter takes charge in the cemetery as Bryan is breaking down over the death of his wife Susan while zombies are surrounding them. Finally Peter is able to get them all to run and make it to the boarded up hospital. Inside Doctor David Menard is getting Stephanie and Lucas to get bottles and kerosene to make molotov cocktails, and then lets in Peter and the others who inform him that his wife is dead and that the hospital is being surrounded by zombies! Doctor David Menard informs Bryan to go to a closet to fetch guns to arm themselves, and then the Doctor wanders off and records his final message before being eaten by a zombie as he has embraced death. Poor Stephanie and Lucas also get attacked and eaten by zombies leaving Peter, Ann and Bryan to fend for themselves. The three hold their ground and use guns and the molotov cocktails on as many of the undead as they can, and once the hospital is burning down, they run out the back door and standing there is the zombie of Susan…who bites Bryan. Peter shoots her, and the three rush back to the boat and set sail to get back to New York. Meanwhile Doctor David Menard is now a zombie and gets the call from Biacando, who clearly had more plans for the dead. As Peter and Ann listen to the confessions of war from Bryan, he dies, and they store his body in the belly of the boat to use him as proof of their story. As the couple get close to New York, they hear on the boat’s radio that the zombies are now in New York and have started to slaughter and kill and that things are really bad. As they listen, zombie Bryan busts out of the door and charges for an attack as we end this issue with hordes of zombies entering the city.

The adaptation part of this comic series comes to an end with this issue, and it goes out with a massive bang and does a great job of building up the excitement of what is to come as it’s clear the zombies are many and mankind needs to take a stand to try and end this terror. And I have to say that writer Stephen Romano did a fantastic job of capturing the feel and spirit of the Fulci film as well as added his own touches that truly brought a new level of fright to the story. The stuff he added was well done as he fleshed out the characters of Peter West, Ann Bowles, Doctor David Menard, Olga Menard among others and this was wise as it made you understand the characters better and showcased some of their dark secrets.

I also like how he added the touch that maybe the zombies are not being brought back by voodoo or an infection as it could also be the fault of toxic waste that has been hidden on the island thanks to Doctor David Menard and his shady war crime past. That’s the thing, Doctor David Menard clearly did some terrible things during war and should have been jailed, but thanks to his knowledge and friends in dark places, he and his wife were spared paying for what he did…it’s also crazy as he is now a zombie, and I am sure he will be coming back into play later in the series. To me it seemed like when he got the news that his wife was dead and zombie food, he lost the will to live and was sick of running from his past.

Peter West is the story’s main hero as he fights through the fear and doubt and does what he can to keep Ann safe as well as watch after Bryan who is losing it due to the killing of his wife. Peter shows great growth as he starts off as a snarky reporter and by the end he turns into a reluctant hero.

Ann and Bryan are great backup characters, and I like that Bryan at the end is a zombie and could continue on in later issues. Biacando, the zombie witch doctor, is also still around as Dr. Menard as a zombie goes to him, and this is cool, as I cannot to see what Biacando is and why he is!

The end of New York being attacked by zombies is truly awesome as it’s a bloodbath of flesh and blood being spilled all over the place and shows just how easily a zombie apocalypse could be upon us all if one would to break out. With that said, the issue does not shy away from blood, guts, gore and some nudity delivering a truly classic horror comic feel. The cover is great and showcases another amazing zombie from the film, and I cannot praise the interior artwork of Michael Broom and Derek Rook enough as their style is so fitting for a comic like this. I have to say that the first four issues of Zombie is really great stuff and everyone at Eibon Press and the creators who have done this series should be proud of it, as it truly is a treat for horror comic readers! So with that, let’s see what issue five has in store for us and where this series goes beyond the movie’s plot as I am really hyped to read and find out!

Zombie # 5  ***
Released in 2017    Cover Price $10.00    Eibon Press    # 5 of 8

The zombie of Doctor David Menard is now under the orders of zombie witch doctor Biacando who has chosen Menard to continue his experiments this time, on zombies…and has replaced his fingers with needles. Meanwhile in New York, the city is overrun with zombies. Peter has taken Ann on a date to a fancy restaurant. When zombies bust in, Peter guns them down and after clearing them out, the couple is confronted by Colonel Louis Fulci who at first thinks that Peter and Ann are looters but soon after killing more incoming zombies takes them along to their base. Meanwhile in a cemetery William West, who is Peter’s brother who was a cop and murdered while on duty, has returned from the grave and is mad when he flashes back to his funeral and the fact his brother did not cry for him. Now the zombie cop wants answers! Back at the base camp, Colonel Fulci informs them that he and his men are the only hope right now of keeping these zombies in New York, and Peter tells him about the Island as well as how they had stayed on the boat for months after killing their friend Bryan again once he turned into a zombie. He says that after running out of food they had to come to shore to get something to eat when he and his men found them. Colonel Fulci then alerts them that he has heard of Doctor David Menard and is looking for a toxic waste dump site that is said to be what is bring the dead back to life! Colonel Fulci’s campsite is a grindhouse movie theater and he takes his two new allies out and shows them the street that is filled with thousands of zombies. He and his men open fire on the zombies as well as blast them with flamethrowers, after many of the zombies are down for the final count, Ann informs him she might have an idea where the toxic dump is!

Months after the events of the film, the state of New York is in really bad shape as the zombies are all over and have killed most of the living. A group of Army soldiers lead by a tough as nails Colonel is our only hope, and Peter and Ann find themselves in another blood soaked adventure as they tag along for the ride with the soldiers.

Peter and Ann are clearly a couple now and just want to have a little bit of normalcy to their lives as they live on Bryan’s boat until they run out of food and only then adventure into the city only to find it a wasteland of death and destruction.

Colonel Fulci is a man on a mission to kill all the zombies they see and get to the bottom of this undead nightmare, though he clearly has a dark side as he has a very bad reputation that is known by Peter West. On a side note, I love the fact Colonel Fulci looks like director Lucio Fulci as it’s a great touch to let the true godfather of gore’s memory stay alive. I also look forward to seeing more of Colonel Fulci’s history unfold and if the world can really trust him.

The zombies are truly everywhere now and are looking for blood and guts as they want to show that this is their world now and that mankind is coming to an end. Biacando is using his voodoo to bring the zombies all together on the island as well is forcing the undead Doctor David Menard to do some experiments that I am sure will help make the zombies even more unstoppable. I also like that Doctor David Menard has embraced his undead nature and even removes his own fingers to replace with needles. Something tells me what ever they are up to on the island will be very bad for the world.

The use of 42nd Street in this issue is also really cool as the street back in the 70’s and 80’s was very much filled with many adult theaters and shops and was the place to see grindhouse films…so it’s great seeing it the way it was not the tourist stop it has become. The issue is filled with lots of blood and gore like before, and we even get cameos from The Worm Eyed Zombie as well as the Bloated Zombie and they are always welcome additions to see in issues.

Writer Stephen Romano did a great job making this feel like it belongs in the Zombie universe and ties it into the film really well by delivering classic characters in a new storyline as well as bring in new ones with a plot that has depth. The cover is fun and has Peter and Ann looking like they just stepped out of a James Bond movie poster, and the interior art is done by Pat Carbajal and is great as his style does a great job of capturing the likeness of the actors and characters. Over all this original story kick off in the Fulci Zombie universe is well done and feels like a true sequel to the film series. Let’s see what issue six has in store for not only us the readers but also the characters!

Zombie # 6  ***
Released in 2018    Cover Price $10.00    Eibon Press    # 6 of 8

Doctor Menard is being followed by zombies as they enter a hut of a female villager and her son. It’s clear that Menard is not like the other zombies as he can talk and takes the life of the young boy and alerts the mom that the future is here! While back in New York the fires still burn as Colonel Fulci goes on the news and explains that it’s up to him and his men to save the world from the undead. As Ann and Peter argue over the tactics he is using to do so, Colonel Fulci shows up with a gun to the head of Peter as the Colonel alerts Ann to the fact that Peter is the one who got him thrown out of the military and his story lead to the death of many soldiers! Colonel Fulci then says that he is going to kill Peter as all he really needs is Ann to find the island of Dr. Menard! Meanwhile Dr. Menard has taken the woman from the hut and has her rigged up to machines and then shows her his grand plan of making the zombies more powerful with upgrades. He also speaks of time travel and the ways of the past with the ways of the future. Menard then shows that if he injects his blood into the zombies it makes the stronger, and their power comes from their eyes…he also shows that he has saved Worm Eyed Zombie and places one of the zombie’s worms into the eye of the mom and alerts her that he is the kid’s father and once they had an affair that lead to the child…but the mom fights off the infection, and this is interesting to Menard. The President Of The United States is then shown to be the one who sent Colonel Fulci into New York. He wants the zombie hordes taken care of fast as he is worried the press will figure out the he ordered the attack on the city by the rogue military that has left many civilians dead! As Colonel Fulci and his crew head to the island, they push Peter out of the helicopter into the middle of Central Park with a gun that only has six bullets, and unlucky for him, the park is packed with tons of zombies! Ann meanwhile has had enough and when the soldiers are ordered to torture her for information on the island, she snaps and kicks some ass, which even leads to Colonel Fulci being shot. She alerts him that her mom was a Marine and now she is in charge of this mission. In the end Peter watches as a escaped zoo gorilla rips apart zombies, and when the beast sets his sights on him, his undead zombie cop brother shows up and starts fighting the beast!

This series is getting more and more crazy as the lore of the Zombie universe gets more and more dark and weird!

The plot of this issue has Dr. Menard doing experiments on the dead to make them more powerful as he is preparing for war and wants to take down the world as we all know it! While Peter and Ann are stuck with a crazy man and his army that are secretly being given orders by the American President!

Dr. Menard has changed so much thus far in the series as he starts out as a man trying to crack the code of what is causing the dead to rise. By now he himself is a undead mad scientist who loves creating this new type of zombie and even as a man he took advantage of a young village girl and had a child with her! Speaking of that villager, her name is Jamilya and she was only 16 years old when he met her, and with the promise of teaching her medicine he seduced her, got her pregnant and now has turned their son into and zombie and wants to do the same to her, but she seems like a fighter!

Colonel Fulci is a sadistic madman who clearly doesn’t care about human lives and only cares about finishing his mission, plus it’s now clear he is the hired gun for the President! Ann and Peter are prisoners of Fulci, and when Peter is shown to have a past with Fulci that gives him a death sentence and Ann shows that she is sick of this all and proves she can take care of herself!

Plus the issue features Worm Eyed Zombie, Bloated Zombie and as well as zombies based on other cool zombie film characters! Now I have to say that I feel that the machine experiments are a little blah as I like the voodoo aspect of the curse more, but with that said, I cannot wait so see how it plays out and makes me wonder where this is going…and I guess I should also say it’s an interesting twist to add these wires and machines and takes it out of the classic style of zombie films and comics. One really cool aspect of the comic is that the President looks like one of my favorite horror actors Joe Spinell and the Gorilla is based after the look of King Kong from 1976! Oh I should also say that Peter’s undead cop brother fighting the gorilla is the Zombie vs. Shark moment for this comic series.

The cover for both the Eibon Sleeve and the issue are great and show case zombies as well as the Kong inspired Gorilla! And the interior art by Pat Carbajal is fantastic like before. I have to stress that thus far Eibon Presses Zombie series is a fantastic read and is the best comic series that features zombies I have ever read…and is way more entertaining then Image Comics Walking Dead Series and more bloody and creepy than it as well!

Zombie # 7  ***
Released in 2018   Cover Price $10.00   Eibon Press   # 7 of 8

Jamilya is fighting hard to not become a mindless zombie and watches as Dr. Menard and Biacando take the heart of her son and place it inside a weird humanoid that was born from her when she threw it up! She escapes her bindings and runs off into the jungle after taking out a few zombies and promising to return for her son. While back in New York, Peter and his undead cop brother William team up and with a bullet to its brain kill the rampaging gorilla. Peter is in shock as he watches his brother speak and the zombies around listen! While in Washington D.C. the President has a plan to use a nuke on New York to stop the zombies, and when questioned about his motives, he shoots and kills a general and continues with his attack plan. Back at the base, Ann has Fulci tied up and is torturing him with his own sword, as she has ordered some of his soldiers to go back to Central Park and rescue Peter and if her boyfriend is dead, she tells Fluci that his life will also come to a bloody end. When the Helicopter arrives Peter along with William are on board, but so is a horde of zombies that attack Fulci and his remaining men who become lunch! While Jamilya uses her own voodoo knowledge to try and beat the curse on herself and gears up for war against Biacando! Back at the base Ann along with Peter know that they have to return to the island and end this undead curse once and for all.They soon learn that Colonel Fulci and his men are now zombies and willing to be the army needed to fight against Biacando and burn Matul to the ground!

The war between the living and the undead is about to go off, and this issue is the build up to that war and sadly also to the final issue in this series!

Ann, Peter, William and the undead Colonel Fulci and his men are gearing up and ready to go to Matul and wipe out the evil voodoo curse that is plaguing the world. Ann is showing that she is one tough lady as she proves she has a killer instinct when she tortures Fulci and barks orders at his men that are listening to her orders!

Colonel Fulci, who is an S.O.B., is mean spirited all the way until the very end, and even when he gets his eye poked out and faced slashed up, he still trash talks! And oddly enough, once he is attacked by zombies and turned into one he seems to be more on track to team with Ann and Peter to head to the island and bring it all down. Peter and his zombie brother William are a team once more, and we learned that they moved to America after they defended themselves and left one person dead. Now William can speak to the dead and some zombies seem to follow his orders.

Jamilya..what can be said about her besides she is awesome and not only does she escape the zombie hell, but she also shakes off the infection with her will and own voodoo powers and is also on a one woman warpath to save her son and end these zombies’ reign of terror.

Dr. Menard and Biacando are showing they are pure evil and are mixing old voodoo with modern technology and medicine to create super zombies whose eyes are the key to their souls. And the President clearly doesn’t care about the lives of the people as he is willing to drop a nuke on New York to kill the zombies and save his own hide and bury his dirty little secrets.

This is a great read and I am cheering for Jamilya as she is a great original character created by the Eibon team, and I am sure will be joining with Ann and Peter in the fight against the evil zombies. The issue has a lot of blood and guts, and sadly the Gorilla meets his end with a bullet to his brain, and it’s a shame as it would have been awesome to seen the Gorilla turn into a zombie and go on a rampage in New York and end up being around the Empire State Building before being gunned down. That would have been amazing and played more into the King Kong connection. Writer Stephen Romano has really has killed it with this series so far and did the film adaptation portion justice and then has added new layers to the characters and lore. The super talented Pat Carbajal did the interior art again and he captures the savage nature of this story and his gore art his great. Well we only have one more issue in this series to go and it’s a shame as I wish it had more then 8 issues! So let’s see how this war of the dead and living ends.

Zombie # 8 ***
Released in 2018   Cover Price $10.00   Eibon Press   # 8 of 8

On the island of Matul, the zombies have all been treated and are ready to march into the ocean and start a war with the living, and Biacando is leading the way and even smacks down Dr. Menard when he gets too cocky about his blood being part of what is giving them the power. Jamilya meanwhile is in the jungle watching the rift in the ranks between the two zombie leaders and plans an attack with the goal to save her zombie son and return his heart. Ann and Peter are in a helicopter that is on its way to Matul to start a war, and Peter notices that Ann has changed, as she is now so cold and filled with the want for revenge. Back in Washington, the President has killed many of his aids and now is forcing the last two to help in his plan to blow up New York. When the helicopters get to the island, they find that over a thousand zombies are on the beach, and Colonel Fulci orders for fire to be fired into the horde, and he does so in waves taking down many of the zombies! Biacando is not having it as he uses the two zombie kids in order to get into the minds of all the zombies and causes the helicopters to crash and William West and Colonel Fulci to lead their undead army against the remaining island horde! William West was in bad shape after fighting the gorilla in New York, but after biting and tasting the blood of an island zombie he regains his missing limbs and leads them to victory. Meanwhile Peter and Ann find themselves in the jungle and being stalked by Biacando who in turn is being stalked by Jamilya! Biacando and Dr. Menard are at it again when Jamilya armed with a bazooka fires on the pair and then stabs Menard in the eye killing him once and for all! She then gives her own life of immortality to her son and turns him normal. Ann and Peter show up just in time to witness this act of love and this triggers Ann to give her life in order to stop Biacando once and for all. In the end Peter watches out for the son of Jamilya as The President goes ahead and nukes New York!

Wow, what an ending for one of the best comic series based on a film. I mean it –  the creators as Eibon Press nailed this one out of the ballpark as they not only captured the mood and spirit of the Fulci film but they also added a new level to the over all story and allowed us to see what happened to some of the characters we became attached to in the film!

The biggest change comes from Ann as she goes from being a worried daughter to a survivor and ends by being a hero who brings the terror of Biacando to an end…and even gives her life to end his madness.

Peter loses so much in this series as he loses his job and story because New York is blown up, his brother has returned from the grave and is now a zombie commando and worst of all, he lost his true love Ann! Peter also faces death many times and cheats it and by the end he ends up having to watch over a child who’s mother he watched be eaten by a zombie kid including the one he is watching over now! Peter is a character that you start off thinking is a scumbag and by the end you find yourself cheering for him as well as Ann as what started out for them as a missing persons case turns into a fight to save the world from evil voodoo and zombies.

I love that Jamilya is able to save her son’s soul and life, plus she gets her revenge on the terrible Dr. Menard, but I do wish she had survived, as I would have loved to see her character continue on in more zombie comics or even other releases from Eibon Press.

Dr. Menard in this series goes from a drunken doctor trying to dodge his past and doing what he can to make up for his sins, to being an undead right hand man to Biacando who has a god complex because his blood is what gives the zombies the extra power. Biacando is pure evil and shows his voodoo power is very strong and wants to be the only one in power of the army of the dead, and want to give to credit to Menard and his science. I also like that Biacando can use his powers to take over the body and souls of the living to keep his powers strong and to give his evil spirit a vessel to live in.

William West and Colonel Fulci are zombies who lead other zombies in war and in the end becomes supped up on the blood of Dr. Menard and have a mission to stay a team and make the world safe. The President is…well, crazy, and to be in charge he kills all his men and then still blows up New York thinking he is ending the war for everyone, and more importantly himself.

Now let’s talk about the over all series as it’s fantastic on almost every front as the writing and art are top notch and I cannot stress enough that it does the film its based on justice. The characters are likable and have growth and the ones you are suppose to despise you do as the baddies are truly evil and have no redeeming quality. The blood and gore is brutal as so many eyes are popped like grapes, guts are ripped out, blood is splattered and violence happens to men, women, animals and children. So in other words, gorehounds will love this!

The comic is fast paced, and the 8 issues fly by as the story draws you in, and that to me is a sign of a good comic mini series.

Now I have to point out some of the issues I have with the series and they are pretty few and far between as the only thing I wished for is that some characters got a little more panel time as sometimes with some characters like The President it would have been really cool to see why he is such a self centered ass. And my major complaint is this…I wanted more than 8 issues as they were just not enough as this could be an ongoing series and I for one would be game to get every issue! I mean imagine Peter being placed in the situation of Zombi 3, like what would he doing during the events of that film…and what if he would be mixed in with the survivors of that film in future issues of Zombie…just saying, Eibon GIVE US MORE ZOMBIE! The cover and the Eibon Sleeve are great and eye-catching, and the interior art by Pat Carbajal is great as always. To sum it all up, if you love the films of Lucio Fulci, love indie horror comics, love great art and story telling then do yourself a big favor and check out this series, hell, check out all the titles from Eibon Press! Check out some artwork below from this series.

Eibon Press is really one of the best Indie comic companies going as they really do make some of the best horror comics today, and they clearly care about what they make and it shows in every issue. Not to mention, they pack each Eibon Sleeve with some amazing extra goodies like stickers, trading cards, bookmarks, posters and even CDs that have soundtracks for the comic and or the film its based on, giving you more bang for your buck! But with that said, let’s leave the island of Matul behind and head into the world of myth as our next update will be about the titan Atlas and a Dark Horse Comics mini series based on an adventure on modern Earth. So until next time, read a horror comic or three, watch a Fulci film or two and as always, support your local Horror Host. Wait, if Atlas is in a comic book who’s holding up the sky?

The Undead Files: The Dead

What is it about zombies that strike not only fear but also entertainment value with people? TV is filled with shows like The Walking Dead, Z-Nation and iZombie. Video games like Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising and Resident Evil are strong sellers. Not to mention comic book shelves are filled with many undead titles like ‘68, Walking Dead, Marvel Zombies and many Night Of The Living Dead titles. But what is it that draws us to the notion of the dead coming back to life to eat our brains or flesh? Why are we so obsessed with zombies, and why are they so ingrained into our culture now? In this Undead File Update, we will be taking a look at a comic book series made by Arrow Comics that pushed the envelope of gore and started many comic readers’ love for the underground gore comics and a series that inspired many artists and writers to make zombie comics of their own, The Dead. So be prepared to walk among the dead as we talk about this cult comic series among other things of the living dead nature.

Zombie Hand Coming From The Grave

The Lane To The Dead is an urban legend around these parts that was brought to the light of day thanks to the book series “Haunted Ohio” written by Chris Woodyard, who did a small write up about it.  I also heard other stories from people who claimed they knew about it as well. The story goes that there is abandon graveyard that sits deep in the woods that is walled off with not only brinks but also barbwire and razor wire to keep people out and something in! You see the graveyard in this undisclosed location is said to house zombies that were created by the government during experiments and when they found that they could not kill them…again they trapped them all in this cemetery that acts as a dumping ground for them. It’s said that you must walk a long dirt lane that leads to woods and when entering them you must walk miles deep to get to the cemetery, and you know when your close as the moans and noises of the zombies can be heard. When living in Waynesville when I was like in 4th or 5th grade a classmate who’s dad worked for the government told him that they have reanimated bodies but that they can only keep it “reanimated” for seconds before they pass again, does this story fit in with The Lane Of The Dead…I doubt it as I don’t believe what my classmate told me as almost the whole school watched Night of the Living Dead on TV the weekend before. When I was in my late teens Josh Weinberg and I tired all we could to find the Lane To The Dead and failed, as it’s doubtful it’s real…but if it is the undead walk among us here in Ohio!!

What I Think Lane Of The Dead Looks Like

The Toraja people of Indonesia have a ritual for burial and death, their culture has a fascination with it and can be seen all over their villages. You see they believe in the afterlife and this leads to them the funeral that can some times take place weeks or months after death as all family members must be present. The bodies are stored in the church in limestone caves or even in the house of a loved one, during the wait the corpse is cared for as if it’s still alive given baths, groomed, dressed regularly and even offered meals! Once the family is all present and the money raised for burial the funeral starts that can as well last for days as depending on the wealth of the family consists of feasts, mourning the dead and animal sacrifices that they believe the dead animals will help the soul of their loved one cross over to the other side faster. The bodies are placed in a wooden coffin and then placed in a burial chamber carved into the side of a large rock as they think this is the between Heaven and Earth and will help the spirit find its way…but wait this is not the last you will see of your loved one! Once a year in August loved ones will pull out their dead loved ones and wash, groom and dress them, then make repairs to the coffin and then “walk” them to their place of death and than back to their coffin. And this repeats forever no matter how long your loved one died you show them this respect. And some smaller tribes of people claim that the dead are walking themselves, while others claim its all a trick done by the funeral people. Does the dead truly walk or is this all some sort of tradition that we all just don’t understand, one things for sure and that these peoples loved ones are never forgotten. Below is some photos of the “walk” of the dead.

Toraja Dead 1Toraja Dead 2Toraja Dead 3

I love independent horror films and that’s why I have made my own No Budget Epics and have produced Horror Films for such directors as Andy Copp, Henrique Couto and Chris Seaver over the years and that’s why I have chosen this zombie film that should and could be made into a comic series called Zombie Chronicles that was released in 2001 and put out by Sterling Films and Brain Damage Films on VHS and DVD. The film is about a reporter who picks up an old man named Ebenezer Jackson who is heading to the same small town as her, along the way they make a stop and he shares some real life zombie stories with her! In the end she finds out he himself is a ghost and she might be the real target of the living dead. The film is as backyard as they come and looks as if it was shot on Super VHS or something along those lines and the effects are pure backyard stuff with some being really good including one woman who’s face has been ripped off and she gives her last dying breath. Most of the zombies are in cheap looking masks or terrible Halloween makeup bought on discount from K-Mart. But this could be a great series of comics and follow Ebenezer as he wonders around America finding people on lonely stretches of Highway and tell them chilling stories of the undead, with no budgets holding it back this could be as brutal as any zombie comic in history. Each issue would have a motorist, traveler or drifter coming in contact with Ebenezer who would tell them two to three zombie stories while they traveled the road or even stopped for the night at a rundown motel or camp site aside the road. After each issue the person hearing the stories would be marked in some way from not just physical but mentally as well. This would have to be done as a independent comic in order to truly up the gore and pack in some nudity as well, I would say a company like Rough House Publishing or even Studio Akumakaze would be great companies to make this comic come to bloody life and out of my artist friends that would make this amazing would be Rachael Lare, Damien Brunk or Jeff Potter all who would capture the horror nature of the series. This comic series would never happen sadly as no one remembers it nor when it was released did it come out to major fan fare as it went direct to video and faded away into horror film obscurity. Oh yeah the film was directed by Brad Sykes who made such other low budget films like Camp Blood 1 & 2, Demon’s Kiss, Death Factory and Mad Jack to name a few, the film also stars Janet Tracy Keijser who is easy on the eyes even if she is a little off acting in this film. Z-Grade flick check it out of you like your horror with a little cheese.

The Zombie Chronicles 1The Zombie Chronicles VHSThe Zombie Chronicles 2

When WWE bought out ECW and tried to re-launch the brand on the Sci-Fi network in 2006, it was a shell of what it was.  Gone were the days of New Jack using a cheese grader on Hack Meyers as blood poured out.  Gone were the days of Raven fighting Tommy Dreamer in a barbwire match all for the attention of Beulah, and what we got instead was a watered down version with Big Show being a top star as well as supernatural wrestlers like The Boogeyman, vampire Kevin Thorn and yep, The Zombie! Tim Roberts was the man with the cheesy gimmick who made his debut on the first episode of ECW on the SCI-FI Channel and was quickly beat down by The Sandman and his Singapore cane, you see the network wanted “monsters” added to the roster and this was the WWE’s way of saying we will add them and they will be used as jokes and get beat down fast and easy. The Zombie would float around for a short time loosing matches until he quietly disappeared from the company. Roberts was better known under the ring name Tim Arson and was a pretty big attraction in multiple Puerto Rico wrestling federations and won many belts over his career there, he also toured independent federations and even took on Matt Striker under the Arson gimmick that aired on WWE Heat. After becoming The Zombie for ECW he would also take bookings under that gimmick for small wrestling promotions. Sadly on January 7 2015 Roberts died of unknown causes at the age of 38. While he might not have been a household name here in America his fourteen year long wrestling career sported him fans all over the world.

ECW Zombie 1ECW Zombie 2ECW Zombie 3

People love zombies so much that Adult XXX films have been made about them! Yeah films that have male and female zombies getting busy with humans and each other have seen the light of day. These kind of Adult Films just shows you how much the American Culture loves Zombies that they want to see them not only eat humans but also do it with them! Many of these films also have a Horror Film nature to them and add gore and twisted storylines to these films, while others have no plots and are just scenes of goofball actors in masks and cheap Halloween makeup doing the deed with females who are there to collect a paycheck. There are parodies of George Romero dead films as well as The Walking Dead and everything in between, so if this is your thing and you find Zombies sexy I am sure one of these odd adult films will be sure to please.

Dawna Of The Dead PosterWalking Dead XXX Female ZombiePorn Of The Dead Poster

Here in Dayton, Ohio we have lots of Food Trucks and one of the most popular is a gourmet hotdog truck called Zombie Dogz that people line up for rain or shine to get a tasty large sized hotdog! Each hotdog has a horror themed name like “Hunk A Hunk A Rotting Flesh,” a tribute to Elvis Presley that is a hotdog with bacon, pan seared bananas flambéed in banana liquor topped with homemade cashew butter.  Or you could try “Gem City Slasher” that has the hotdog with avocado salsa, white truffle oil, red onions, bacon bits and cilantro sour cream! My favorite one is called “Calling In Dead” that has truffle oil mac n’ cheese and cracker crumbles all placed on top of the hotdog! Besides the Dayton area, you can also find Zombie Dogz as a food vendor at Horror Hound Weekend Convention in Cincinnati, and for comic book readers they are also spotted many Fridays at Bell, Book and Comic. If you’re ever in the area and enjoy a good specialty hotdog, check them out as I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Zombie Dogz logo

Arrow Comics was created by Ralph Griffith and Stuart Kerr in 1985 and was a black and white independent comic company that the pair started by publishing a magazine called “Fantastic Fanzine.”  After seeing how much of a hit the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was, they decided to open a comic book branch and gathered local talent like Guy Davis, Susan Van Camp, Randy Zimmerman and Vincent Locke to name a few and Arrow Comics was born! Issues of titles like Deadworld, The Realm, Tales From the Aniverse, System 7, Oz and Nightstreets hit comic shops, but by 1989, they were in trouble due to revenues for some of their top selling titles being tied up, causing them to have to move some of their titles to Caliber Comics. After a few years of silence, they tried to make a comeback in 1993 and released a savage zombie comic called The Dead, but sadly the re-launch was very short lived. In 2008 they made another comeback and started to make webcomics called Spank The Monkey and Rebel Nun and plan on giving many of their titles comebacks in this modern world of comic books. Being a long time comic reader as well as a Monster Kid, I can remember seeing these issues at local comic shops and even had a few of their OZ titles, but never did have any of the zombie ones as I think most of those were behind the counter kind of titles and I was too young to buy them. But while Arrow Comics was never as impactful as many of the other small companies of the time like Malibu, Now or Innovation, they still made huge impacts on their readers who enjoyed something different than Superman or Captain America. I must also state, I love their motto “Our Target Is Entertainment; Our Aim Is Quality”.

Arrow Comics logo

In 2015 Rough House Publishing, a comic company run by Derek Rook, who was the man behind Xmachina Comics, the company who brought you the “Gates Of Hell”, “Halloween: The Return To Haddonfield” and “Phantasm” comics as well as worked on the adaptation of Fulci’s “Zombie” graphic novel, released an amazing graphic novel called “The Dead: Omnibus” that collected all issues of the Arrow Comic series and more! It’s a must-have comic for fans of horror comics and for those looking for something more brutal than Walking Dead.  It’s my honor to present to you this 5 Questions with Derek Rook, the man behind Rough House Publishing and the rebirth of The Dead.

rough house publishing logoDerek RookThe Dead Omnibus

Matt: Welcome to Rotten Ink, Derek, and thanks for taking time away from your busy schedule to chat with me. Growing up were you a comic reader, and if so, what comic characters did you like?

Derek: Thank YOU, Matt! I appreciate the opportunity to hang with you. I WAS a giant comic book reader as a child. When I was young, I’d go grocery shopping with my mother and I would always hope that she had a couple bucks to spare so I could grab some comics off the news stand. I wasn’t aware of comic book shops at that time, so I’d get mine at grocery and convenience stores and sometimes at a Mom & Pop book corner store. I always loved The Incredible Hulk (especially the adult-oriented Marvel Magazine The Hulk), Rom – The Space Knight, Moon Knight, Conan, Godzilla…I always enjoyed characters that were misunderstood loners as I too was one of those as a child.

Matt: What was the first comic book you ever made of your own, and what was it about?

Derek: The first comic book I ever formally published was called NIGHTFALL. I published it in high school and with the help of my art teacher, Joseph Degnain, The book was standard slasher fare, but was heavily critical of religion, government and of many world views that we are dealing with today. We printed off 50 copies using all of the schools resources and equipment. In some ways, he believed in my dreams more than I did as he was responsible for the entire output process. All he wanted in return was one singular copy. I sold them to students for $1 and sold out in four days.

Matt: You have done some great comics based on such films as Gates of Hell, Zombie, Halloween and the upcoming Nightmare City remake – what has been your favorite one to work on?

Derek: It’s popular to answer that question by saying, “it’s like picking the favorite of your children”…and that’s true, But that’s not hard for me. If my books are “children”, then some of them were some real fucking bastards (laughs). Thus far my personal favorite as far as just my art would have to be THE GATES OF HELL. That book was a decades long journey through one of the most formative and tumultuous years of my life. I think the determination to complete that project shows in the finished product. It’s a great body of work. My favorite publication as a whole would hands down be THE DEAD – OMNIBUS. We all were just an unstoppable freight train during that project. There’s so much love and pride there, it’s staggering.

Matt: What three horror films would you like to turn into a comic book series or adaptations for Rough House Publishing, and why?

Derek: As we go forward with ROUGH HOUSE, I think you’ll be seeing us move away slightly from licensed projects, in lieu of more creator-owned stuff. Licensing is sometimes hard to get with the type of stuff we are interested in making books out of…BUT, if I could magically do three more, I personally would want to do THE BRONX WARRIORS (as a trilogy), the un-filmed original script for George Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD and probably CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. If you ask some of the other Rough House crew, you’d probably have an even bigger list.

Matt: With The Dead: Omnibus being one of your first releases from Rough House Publishing, I would guess you grew up a zombie comic fan. What is some of your favorite zombie or even horror comics going now?

Derek: Sadly, I’m not a fan of most modern comics in general anymore. Most of them lack the spirit and savvy and genius of some of the comics I grew up with. Maybe I’m just bias. The entire institution has become very corporate and are usually a means of advertisement for a much bigger and more profitable franchise. I think Image is publishing some interesting stuff like AIRBOY and BIG MANS PLANS. The original Garth Ennis’ CROSSED by Avatar Press was ground-breaking at the time, I loved SATELLITE SAM by Howard Chaykin and Matt Fraction…as you can see, most are not horror. HAUNTED HORROR is the closest ting publishing to my favorite comic book being published today, but those are are all reprinted stories from over 60 years ago…so I guess you can see where my roots are truly planted.

Matts: Thanks, my friend, for taking your time to chat with me!

Derek Rook At Work

As always Derek is a class act and a true artist in the world of horror comics and one of my favorite artists going today alongside Javier Trujillo as both capture the true nature of horror. So for about a year now I have been itching to check out The Dead as Rough House Publishing put it on my radar with their release of The Dead: Omnibus.  This started my quest to find the single issues that were released just so I could finally read them and cover them for this Undead File update! Thanks to Ebay and Lone Star Comics, I was able to track them down and enjoy them for the first time in all their gore-tastic glory! But before we walk among The Dead, I should remind you that 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, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that out of the way, let’s see what all this brain eating and gut munching horror is all about!

The Dead 1

The Dead # 1  ***
Released in 1993    Cover Price $2.25    Arrow Comics    # 1 of 2

Davey is a young man who is going to be a military man someday soon and is on a camping trip with his family and friends.  They are having a good time, and it seems like a perfect trip complete with campfires, fishing and walks in the woods making it seem like nothing could go wrong. As the wives are alone, a knock on the door leads to death as a farmer zombie in overalls and a shotgun blows one of the mom’s heads off and then proceeds to eat the breasts off the other! The Zombie Farmer is not alone and as the other zombies start to eat the flesh of the woman, the husbands show up and they as well become lunch as once more the Zombie Farmer uses his shotgun to blow the head off of one of them! Davey is smart enough and gets all the kids into the RV and saves their lives as they head to the nearby town for help they soon find out it has been set on fire.

This is a perfect example of an underground horror comic as it’s packed with lots of gore, boobs and monsters and is done in glorious black and white. The story is about two families on a vacation in the woods that are attacked by zombies who seem to not only want to eat them but also get enjoyment from killing humans. The story follows Davey as he tries all he can to save his siblings and young friends from a brutal death, all the while having to come to grips with the fact that his parents are dead. Davey is a interesting character who’s young but yet acts mature as his goal in life is to be a military man just like his father.  Despite the shock of seeing his parents slaughtered, he is still smart enough to use his brain and get in the RV and get the heck out of dodge as he sees the zombies coming for them. The rest of the kids are your normal generic kids who sneak and smoke pot and act silly and tough when you know without Davey’s guidance they would all be zombie lunch. The Zombie Farmer is one twisted sick undead psycho who not only kills his victims but also psychologically tortures them by allowing them to beg for their lives only to kill them with a brutal glee. The things we know about Zombie Farmer: he can use a shotgun and is good with it, he loves female boobs and he cannot die with damage to his body. The rest of the zombies seem to listen to what the Farmer says and are into eating the victims and causing chaos and mayhem. The comic is filled with lots of blood, brains and head exploding, all things that horror comic fans love and crave. The issue’s story and plot was done by Ralph Griffith and Stuart Kerr with art done by Jason Moore that is a very fitting style for a independent horror comic from the 90’s. The cover for some reason reminds me of Raiden from Mortal Kombat and is eye catching but in no way warns the reader of just how brutal the comic is! So far I’m very much enjoying this comic and am looking forward to issue two as well as the second volume of The Dead so let’s get to issue # 2!

The Dead 2

The Dead # 2  **1/2
Released in 1993    Cover Price $2.25    Arrow Comics    # 2 of 2

Davey and the gang watch as the town is burning and come up with a plan to try and get food, medical supplies and weapons from a trading post deep in the woods run by an old man named Zeke.  As they start their journey, Zombie Farmer in a pick up truck packed with zombies tries to stop them using firebombs and bricks to slow the kids down, but Davey has a plan that has motor oil being flung onto the windshield of the truck causing the Zombies to crash off a tiny bridge and explode! But before they get to the post, a zombie is able to get into the RV and bite one of the girls on the neck before it can be bashed leaving its brains all over the floor. The group tend to the wounded girl as Davey and the guys go into the post that has been clearly attacked by the undead.  They scavenge for food and get 10 boxes worth before Zeke shows up, now a zombie, throwing knives that injure one of the boys’ legs before they escape and head back to the road and the unknown! It ends with a naked woman who’s a prisoner of zombies who must rat out a location of other humans, and for her help a zombie eats her private parts!

More twisted and gruesome moments are packed into this growing story of Davey and the kids trying to get help and get away from the living dead who are out for blood and guts and a murderous good time. This issue’s plot has Davey and the kids trying to get to a safe place to gather supplies all the while dodging zombies who want to stop them and kill them. Throw in a strange zombie at the end who is forcing a living female for information and you have this strange issue summed up. Davey becomes more in charge as it’s clear they are being targeted by the zombies.  He comes up with the idea to get the Zombie Farmer off his back as well as comes up with where to get the supplies they will need to survive. The rest of the kids are becoming more useful and understand now that they are all in danger and when one of their own is bitten on the neck by a zombie, they know that death could await them at any turn. The zombies are very mean spirited and use bricks, cocktail bombs and knives to attack and they will not stop until the kids can escape them or kill them. Zombie Farmer returns for a short time and is driving a pickup truck and is trying to run the RV off the road, and is only stopped when his truck drives off a bridge and explodes, is he dead or not I cannot say for sure. The issue is packed with more gore that includes a neck bite, knife to the leg and a woman’s private parts being eaten by a zombie showing that they were all about the blood. The cover I have to this issue is X-Rated and depicts the poor woman being eaten by the Zombie, and this I am sure was never on the shelf at Mavericks Cards and Comics or The Bookie Parlor. The story and plot was once more done by Ralph Griffith and Stuart Kerr with Moore doing the art again that is super fitting for a comic of this nature as he understands the style of making a good zombie attack come alive. The downside is that the story is not finished as only two issues were made for Volume 1 so I am hoping that Volume 2 finishes this story or at least tells us the readers what happened to Davey and his siblings and friends. This comic series seems like fans of The Walking Dead could enjoy it if they don’t mind crude gore mixed in with their Horror Drama. And yes, the green zombie heads added to the cover was because I had to censor it, sad to say.

the dead vol 1 art 1

So that was volume one of this series so up next lets take a look at the second time around they tried to deliver The Dead to Horror Comic Readers with this 1998 released zombie romp issues! Does this series follow what happened to Davey….I don’t know but I hope if not they at least make a small attempt to tell what his the teens fate was, but lets not waste no more time the living dead is starting to crowd around and I don’t know about you but I sure don’t want to be bitten.

The Dead 2.1

The Dead # 1  **
Released in 1998    Cover Price $2.95    Arrow Comics    # 1 of 3

Jerry, Marcus and Megan are paramedics who are responding to a terrible multiple car wreck in Chicago that has many injured as well as many dead. They rush to the hospital with two survivors but quickly find out that the hospital is a warzone as the dead are coming back to life and eating the living! Just then one of the wreck victims dies and comes back to life and attacks Marcus and this causes Jerry to wreck the ambulance, this leads to Megan being thrown from the wreck and attacked and killed by Marcus who is now a zombie who turns Megan into a zombie who bites Jerry who escapes but is now on the run from his two former partners as well as the two wreck victims who are also flesh eaters! Jerry runs to a nearby gas station and meets a young woman who thinks he’s crazy as he rambles on about zombies, but she soon finds out he is no crazy as the zombies come for them and they both must run for their lives. The second story takes place in Michigan and has an old man fishing and drinking beer watching as a young couple is attacked and zombies come from the lake, he rushes to get his guns and warn the couples friends but it might be to late as they think he’s crazy and open the door to the living dead.

Right off the top I must say this second series lacks the gore, nudity and characters of the first series and while good felt a little lack luster. Plus this far we get zero follow up on Davey and his crew and instead we are following new characters as they are dealing with the zombie outbreak. The plot is broke into two parts with one following Jerry a paramedic and the other following an old drunk man and his dog as they deal with zombies and the people around them. Jerry is kind of a moron who does not help Megan who is begging for help after her injuries that was caused by his crappy driving, once he let her day I found myself shaking my head and wondering when he would die and hoping it was gruesome. The Old Man who has yet to be named seems ok this far and was just wanting to drink some beer, hang with his old dog and fish, but when the zombies come he at least tries to save others. The zombies are your Italian Zombie movie style who go for neck bites and are slow and only driven by the hunger of flesh. Over all not feeling this first issue as much as I did the 1993 The Dead issue 1 as this one kind of sadly feels generic in some ways, again not terrible just average. The cover is bland and shows the old man with his gun, and the art inside is pretty cool and classic 90’s horror comic stuff and is done by Matt Mason. I am hoping that issue two packs a little more blood and gore punch as series one set the bar very high and this issue felt like a light Marvel Zombies issue.

The Dead 2.2

The Dead # 2  **1/2
Released in 1998    Cover Price $2.95    Arrow Comics    # 2 of 3

The Old Man who’s name is Rick fights off the zombies and pushes them out of the cabin, but not before one boy is bitten by one that snuck into the house via the back window! The Old Man’s plan is for them all to load into the van out front and drive into town to get help, but the zombies have other plans as they block the path to the van. Rick sends some of the kids including Jennifer out after they find the keys to a four-wheeler, the injured boy goes with her and they travel to the neighbors house who own a truck. While there the boy turns into a zombies and the neighbors are all ready zombies and Jennifer must blast her way through them to get the truck to pick up the others just in time as the zombies were about to over take them. Now back to Chicago where Jerry and the female gas worker are running the streets for their lives away from the zombies that are all around, the bite on Jerry’s arm is getting worse as the pain is becoming unbearable. Meanwhile the Zombies are attacking and killing anyone they come in contact with and a brutish biker saves Jerry and the Clerk from a zombie attack and warns them to leave town and to get away as far as they can! The clerk and Jerry steal a car as his pain is getting worse they soon find themselves in a zombie traffic jam.

This second issue brings back blood and gore and adds enough survival horror drama that you find yourself as the reader being drawn into the plot and wanting to see how any of the survivors will make it out alive. The plot for both stories has our heroes and fellow survivors trying to escape the grips of the living dead and coming up with plans to do so. Jerry this time around while as useless as ever at least saves the clerk from becoming zombie lunch, but does just yell at the zombies instead of fighting them like a man. The Female Gas Station Clerk is by far the bravery of the two and wants to not only find help for Jerry but also get out of town and save her own butt. The Old Man Rick is one bad mofo as he blasts his way through zombies as well as comes up with a plan that works and gets the survivors away from the lake and cabins that are being over run by the undead. Jennifer who is one of the young ladies at the cabin also seems like she could be a player in the survival game as she is very strong willed and understands that she needs to fight to stay alive. The Zombies are as always brutal and craving flesh and will not stop no matter how many gun shots you pump into them, unless you aim for the head. The gore and blood are back and while not as brutal as it was in series one, it still great to see in this series. The cover is better and has zombies eating a man and the art inside is good and done by Matt Mason again. Solid brutal issue with lots of zombie horror fun, looking forward to the third and final issue in this second series and see if it has an ending or if Arrow leaves us hanging again.

The Dead 2.3

The Dead # 3  **1/2
Released in 1998    Cover Price $2.95    Arrow Comics    # 3 of 3

The Store Clerk gets Jerry through the zombie roadblock, but Jerry has died and is becoming a zombie! Jerry is not just some ordinary zombie as he can talk and think and wants nothing more than to rape and eat the clerk! He tricks her into stopping at a drug store by saying he needs medication and bandages for his bite wound and then has her follow him into the back storage room as the zombies start to break in.  He attacks her and leads her into the zombies who all listen to him.  He tells them to eat her and claims he is the King of The Zombies! The second story follows a group of teens at a house babysitting, eating pizza and watching some flicks when a police officer who’s the brother of one of the girls shows up and warns them all to stay inside as murders are happing all over. In the end the parents of the young kids show up and are infected, and the teens lock themselves in the house and prepare for a horrific night of terror.

The story of Jerry has an ending as he becomes the first smart and talking zombie of this series, he is so slimy and only wants to feed his urges of human flesh both in a hungry way and a horny way! I 100% hate Jerry and so wanted the Female Store Clerk to survive and blow his brains out….sadly this did not happen as she became zombie dinner. I however must say I did like the journey of Jerry from being an every day guy doing his job to being bite by a zombie to being in pain and dying from said bite to finally becoming a zombie and learning he has powers the others don’t like speech and a mind that still works for plotting. The second story is pretty cool and reminds me of my friends and I getting together back in High School and having Horror Movie Marathons in my parent’s basement. But while the story on that one was just getting started from all I could gather the 4th issue never came out and left readers hanging once more. The story of Rick and the lake survivors as well did not get a closing as in this issue they are not shown at all. The issue showcases some blood and gore as well as nudity as the Female Gas Station Worker has her top ripped off by the sleazy zombie Jerry. This second series while good failed to capture the raw magic of the first series, and with that said I still enjoyed these three issues and they were well worth tracking down for this update. The cover on issue three is pretty cool and just showcases a zombie and reminds me of pure independent punk rock horror comics, the art inside is Matt again and is good stuff and very fitting for the nature of this series. One thing I should point out about this series that was really cool was that you could pay to put yourself in the comic! You could pay a fee from $250 to $25 and select to be a zombie, a victim or a Zombie Hunter and even pick just how gross your death would be! That’s a fantastic gimmick and one that should be in use today, oh wait “We Kill The Dead” the new upcoming Horror Series did do something like this for their Kickstarter…Good Work Guys, as I find this to be an outstanding idea. Over all The Dead’s third issue is much like the first two in this series good stuff and worth a read for zombie comic fans like myself. Below is some artwork form this second series.

the dead vol 2 art 1

The Dead is clearly one of the horror comics alongside the George Romero Dead films that inspired The Walking Dead as lots of elements seem to be borrowed from each in the comic as well as the show. If you enjoy your zombies dripping in blood, guts and gore and enjoy a little nudity thrown in for extra sleazy, I would say The Dead is for you, as I found myself loving every black and white page of the undead on a rampage for flesh and glory. Make sure to check out The Dead: Omnibus by Rough House Publishing as they collect all the issues as well as unprinted stories in one glorious book! And keep an eye out for more of their releases as they are the true horror comic fan’s outlet for amazing titles. For the next update I am going to try and have a showdown with an NES game that has foiled my attempts to beat it for years, but now I am ready to beat Werewolf: The Last Warrior as well as review the mini comic that came with the game on release! So until next time, avoid the dead, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host!

NES Werewolf Logo

Xmachina Opens The Gates Of Hell…..

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

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

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

Baron Von Porkchop Inducts Grandpa Munster

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

Baron Von Porkchop Reads Gates Of Hell

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

Zombie 2 PosterLucio FulciHouse By The Cemtery Poster

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

Gates Of Hel 1Gates Of Hell PosterGates Of Hell 2

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

Gates Hell two 1Gates Of Hell Part 2 dvdGates of Hell two 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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