Day Of The Monster Bash Vacation (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Back in 1978, there was no more room in Hell so the dead walked the earth and attacked a group of survivors who were living in a shopping mall…in 2004, it happened again! You see, Hollywood loves to remake classic horror films, and besides Dawn Of The Dead, many other classic series have gotten this treatment like Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Amityville Horror, Prom Night, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Night Of The Living Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, The Fly, Carrie, Black Christmas, Psycho, Friday The 13th, Evil Dead, The Wolf Man and my god, so many more showing that instead of making sequels or original horror films they would rather just modernize the classics. But that’s not to say that all remakes are bad.  While many are pure garbage like Psycho and A Nightmare On Elm Street, many are good like The Hills Have Eyes and Dawn of the Dead, which is the topic of todays update, another in our From Horror Movie To Horror Comic series. So let’s get ready to shop till we drop and spend our time dodging the undead as we once more hit the mall of the living dead! Are you ready for Dawn Of The Dead 2004 Remake…The Comic!!

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In order to move on, we must first come to understand what this film is bringing to the table in the killer/monster department so let’s take a moment to break it down. The film’s main villains are zombies, and in this remake, there is thousands of them in the parking lot of the mall, all who want to eat our heroes and are growing in numbers as the living keep dying. Why the dead are back and eating the living is a hot topic during this outbreak, and many have theories that range from God being upset to a new virus, man made or even nature made. The zombies are fast moving and can run as fast as a normal human with their undead advantage being that they do not get tired and can give chase long after a living person tires out. Besides being fast, they also have in their arsenal of killing the fact they are in large packs and can overwhelm their targets.  They will use their teeth and hands to shred and rip flesh, and they can infect living humans and cause them to die painfully and later turn into a undead being for their ever growing army. Also their rotting appearance is something that scares the living and causes them to panic as well as leave themselves open for an attack. The zombies do have weaknesses as they are not very bright and are consumed with the need to feed, making it easy for humans to outsmart them. They can be “killed” again with fire and gunshots to the head.  They can also be slowed down when cut in half. But even with their weaknesses, The Zombies are a force to be reckoned with as they will not stop until the world belongs to them and the living are no more.

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So as you can see, The Zombies made the lives of the Mall survivors very miserable.  Now that you know how they kill, I think we should take a look at the film that spawned this promo comic. Once more the write up will be taken from our pals at IMDB, plus we will look at the stars and makers of the film, and afterward I will share some of my thoughts on this remake film as well as the first time I watched it. So let’s aim for the head and take a moment to break down this 2004 film.

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Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Ana goes home to her peaceful suburban residence, but she is unpleasantly surprised the morning that follows when her husband is brutally attacked by her zombified neighbor. In the chaos of her once picturesque neighborhood, Ana flees and stumbles upon a police officer named Kenneth, along with more survivors who decide that their best chances of survival would be found in the deserted Crossroads Shopping Mall. When supplies begin running low and other trapped survivors need help, the group comes to the realization that they cannot stay put forever at the Shopping Mall, and devise a plan to escape.”

When I first heard that a remake of Dawn Of The Dead was coming to theaters in 2004, I was in doubt that they could make a modern version of this classic zombie film work and with a then-unknown director named Zack Snyder heading it, I decided not to watch it in the theater as I felt this was just a bad idea and told all my friends that I was not going to be seeing this one and would just wait for DVD. But when I found out the screenplay writer was James Gunn, who was responsible for writing the film “Tromeo And Juliet” for Troma, along with lots of solid actors like Ving Rhames who plays police cop Kenneth Hall, Sarah Polley as Nurse Ana Clark, Mekhi Phifer as soon to be dad Andre, Ty Burrell as Stephen, Jake Weber as good guy Michael, Kim Poirier as the sexy blonde Monica and Lindy Booth as sweet young teenager Nicole, it made me break my grand stand of horror movie remake hate and head to the theaters with friends to watch this film on the silver screen.  All of us loved it as did the rest of the movie goers as the theater was somewhat packed! The film had a nice mix of horror, action, drama and comedy, and all the actors nailed their parts.  The score by Tyler Bates was moody and fitting. The best part was that this film didn’t try to be the original and added its own touch to the survivors in a mall during a zombie outbreak.  This is what made this movie shine as each character was their own person and had their own personalities with none borrowing from the 1978’s base characters. The zombies were treated as being scary, and they even have a baby zombie showing that this film was sticking to twisted and scary, meaning no pie fights between bikers and the undead. When the film was released on DVD, I ended up buying it and still to this day alongside a small amount of other remakes will praise it and say this is how a remake is done right. The film when released was # 51 at the US box office brining in a total of $59,020,957.00 on a $26 million dollar budget. In 2004, Dawn of The Dead was joined by other horror films like “Saw”, “Seed of Chucky”, “Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed”, “Secret Window”, “Shaun of The Dead”, “Tremors 4: The Legend Begins” and “The Card Player” to name a few showing that fans had lots of great stuff to chill their bones that year. While not as good as the original, this remake packs a bite and helped spark the rebirth of the zombie doom that is still going strong till this day.

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Along with the film’ release, in 2004 the Atari 2600 Homebrew game makers decided that the world needed a game based on this remake film, a game that has you driving a vehicle and fighting off zombies and collecting gas to keep your escape dream alive. The game is just a hack of “Worm War I” and can be found as a rom on the net as well as put on a Atari cart, which is how I own the game! While fun for a short while, it does get repetitive and like all Atari 2600 games it has simple game play and cheesy graphics. So if you like old school video games, this is one you might want to check out if you enjoy your games based on Horror Films.

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The 2004 version of Dawn Of The Dead was a perfect film to make into a comic book, and around the time of this film’s release IDW put out a comic adaptation mini series based on the original 1978 film.  So I am sure you’re wondering why the newer movie only got a promo comic given away free in the DVD release, right? Well around this time MiG.Biz was working on a magazine size adaptation of this film and this promo comic was just a small part of the over all bigger release that sadly never saw the light of day as it appears they went out of business before it could make it to comic shop shelves. It’s a shame as I would have loved to cover the whole comic for this update and not just the promo, but it was just not meant to be. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering for not only having this comic in stock but also for alerting me to the fact this comic was even made. So let’s enter the mall and see how this batch of survivors deals with the zombie apocalypse, but before I do I can hear this on the overhead speakers: “I grade this issue 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.”  Now they are playing Richard Cheese covering Disturbed so I think it’s time to enter the mall!

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Dawn Of The Dead **
Released in 2004    Cover Price $0.00    Mig Biz    # 1 of 1

At St. George Hospital things are getting odd as a man with a bite on his arm from a bar fight is now at death’s door, and poor nurse Ana is already an hour late leaving work before she can go home to her husband Luis. Once home and spending date night together, Vivian, the young girl from the neighborhood shows up in their house dead, and as a zombie she bites and infects Luis who is now hungry for flesh.  Ana knowing something is wrong tries to call 911 only to find the line down and decides to jump in her car to get her man help.  But while driving she crashes and wakes up to find a police man holding a shotgun to her face.  Once he figures out she is alive, the pair run into three more survivors who warn them that the road up ahead is littered with zombies and a decision is made to make it to the nearby mall, and so ends this promo comic adventure.

This promo comic is just the adaptation of the film’s opening and is done with black and white art that cuts out much of the openings gore and blood. Yes you heard me right the comic is very light on the red stuff as the whole scene of the zombies attacking the neighborhood is gone as is the scene of zombie Luis attacking Ana who has to hide in the bathroom to escape his chopping teeth! Those two scenes are very iconic for the movie and for some reason MiG.Biz decided that they didn’t need to be added to this promo comic. The comics story is this Ana is a nurse who after a long shift at work goes home for date night with her husband who in the morning is bitten by a little zombie girl and is turned into a flesh eater himself! While getting away she has a car wreck that leads her to joining a small group of survivors that have a plan to hide out in a near by mall. They throw in some news broadcast pages and you have this very basic and not scary promo comic. Ana is a character who clearly is a hard worker as she stays after work to be helpful as well as a loving wife as she clearly loves her man. Luis seems like a man who is in love with his wife and just enjoys being who he is, but as a zombie he is filled with rage and hunger and clearly wants to eat his wife alive! Vivian is a young girl who likes to roller skate around the block and clearly is liked by the Clarks, but once turned into a zombie she don’t care about friendship as she wants bloody flesh! The Police Cop and the other survivors we don’t get to know much about but we do know they want to live and have seen some terrible stuff while trying to do so. The downside to this comic is the fact we only see two zombies, one bite attack, the characters don’t get to flushed out and we really don’t get to the meat of the story as this seems just like we get a nibble on the free bread at the table. I have a feeling or at least I would hope that the full comic would have had some amazing zombie attacks complete with blood and guts, as this teaser was pretty tame and was very weak on the red stuff. But while this comic does have flaws I would say it was enjoyable and the art done by Miguel A. Insignares is pretty great stuff and holds a 2000’s zombie comic appeal. The cover for this issue is a little lame and has a zombie in shadow on a white background, pretty bland and for some reason reminds me of Image Comics from the 90’s. Over all this review was longer than the comic and it’s a shame that the full comic was never released as I would have loved to seen the comic version of actress Kim Poirier and seen how they would have handled the rest of the movies gore moments and key scenes. Check out the artwork below to see the style of Miguel’s.

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So once again we have made it out of the mall and are safe from the dead.  While this promo comic might not have been amazing and a must read for horror comic fans, I will say I am glad I found out about it cause it made for a great From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update. For our next update, we are walking away from the world of horror and into the world of Archie Comics, and we will be taking a look at a NES Game turned comic with “The Adventures Of Bayou Billy”! So until we meet again, avoid being eaten by a zombie, watch a horror movie or two, read a horror comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host! See you in the bayou readers and friends!

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Dawn Of The Monster Bash Vacation (2016)

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, friends and readers.  Once more it’s my time to travel to Pennsylvania for the Monster Bash Convention, something that Juliet and I look forward to every year as we both love classic monster movies as well as enjoy Cranberry Township and all the wonders around it, from Evans City Cemetery to New Dimension Comics and everything in-between. This year I was really looking forward to spending some time with my lady and enjoy my time away from work and the stresses of TV Show making and comic book creating.  The start of this year was not a pleasant one for me as not only did my cousin Norman pass away, but I also had some stress health issues that were a major pain and downer.This year’s convention guests include Audrey Dalton from films like “Mr. Sardonicus” and “The Monster The Challenged The World”, Jimmy Hunt from “Invaders From Mars” as well as Horror Hosts like Son Of Ghoul and Chilly Billy Cardille in what could be his final convention appearance. So you, my readers and friends, are welcome to jump into the backseat of our Mazda 3 and go on another fun filled trip to Pittsburgh for Monster Bash.  For this update I am very happy to say we will be covering the George A Romero film Dawn Of The Dead as well as the IDW adaptation of this cult classic and iconic zombie film. So jump on in, and let’s have some fun with classic monsters and a town that almost seems like a second home to Juliet and me as we travel to Monster Bash 20016!

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On July 7th 2016 we started our quest for Monster Bash and stopped first at Ghostlight Coffee to get some good drinks to start our over 4 hour quest. On the drive we listened to two more chapters of the audio book “Marvel Comics The Untold Story” and chatted about Stan Lee and the mismanagement of Marvel Comics in the mid to late 90’s. In-between Ohio and West Virginia we stopped to get some lunch at Ruby Tuesday where I munched down on a New York strip steak and a baked potato.  The meal was pretty good and nothing too special. But outside by the Ruby Tuesdays was a strange giant McDonalds billboard with a sinister looking Ronald McDonald that was hidden in the woods…very strange indeed. The drive was smooth for the most part; we did run into some very wicked traffic in one section, but during this time we just chatted about comics and what our plans were for the following days. Once we hit our official hotel, the Comfort Inn of Cranberry Township, we checked in and loaded in our bags and for dinner decided to order the classic Eat’n Park where I got my usual liver and onions with mashed potatoes and rice, while Juliet ate chicken with sweet potato fries and strawberries. That night we watched some TV, and while Juliet read her book and played on her iPhone, I read a comic with thoughts of Monster Bash running in my head as a quick rain storm came down outside. A good first day and a very low key evening.

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The second day, we woke up around 9:30am, and after getting ready, we had some breakfast from Einstin Bros. where I had a tasty sausage, egg and cheese bagel with orange juice to drink.  Due to some electric issues, they gave us our meal for free! Once done, we had to find something to do to kill time until 3pm when Monster Bash opened and decided to drive around and just see some of the sights that include weird blocked off roads and a place called “Fun Fore All,” an arcade, miniature golf and family fun center. After the drive we stopped back at the hotel and waited for The Bash. When the time ticked down, I wondered what kind of theme car would be out front and more importantly what the statues were going to be this year as my guess would be aliens from Invaders To Mars, but again only a guess. We ate lunch at Max & Erma’s and headed to Monster Bash, and man was I hyped to get this convention adventure started. Walking across the parking lot, we noticed that there was no monster car up front and once entering the Hilton were the convention is held at, we noticed that major remodeling was going on and this worried me as the place where the statues have always been was gone. But after buying our three day badges, we quickly found them and I must say I was WAY OFF on what they were this year. The statues this year were the old woman from House On Haunted Hill, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Christopher Lee version of The Mummy. Walking around we saw lots a great classic monster stuff like posters, DVDs, comics, magazines, shirts and so much more. We saw familiar faces like Ken and Pam who own and run Cinema Wasteland, Jill from Lix Online and Horror Host Son Of Ghoul. A highlight of the day was when Juliet got to see original screen used props used in her favorite science fiction film “Forbidden Planet” including a very cool UFO. We walked around a while and enjoyed the world that is Monster Bash, and after awhile walked back to our hotel and read some comics and books and planned for dinner and a movie on the laptop for the night.

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For dinner who chose Wing Kings as they seem to be our go-to when it comes to eating and watching a movie on our trusty old laptop, and the film of the night we selected was the 1975 film Inn of the Damned as it was one I had seen many years back on VHS and how can you go wrong with a western horror film..right? From Wing Kings I ordered 12 garlic wings to keep the vampires away as well as some onion rings. Juliet ordered 6 Garmesan wings (a mix of garlic and parmesan cheese) and some Jalapeno Poppers, and we sat in our chairs and ate our food and watch a horror motion picture. The wings and the onion rings were fantastic, and Wing Kings really hit the spot.  The movie Inn Of The Damed was as weird, long and dumb as I remember it being when I saw it as a teen. I would say this was a great meal with a cheesy horror film that was a good combination for the night and a great way to end the evening.

Monster Bash 2016 Day 1 Dinner and a Movie

So your wondering what my first day haul was right? Well let me share with you my treasures this time around. I got the documentary DVD “Creature Feature 60 Years Of The Gil-Man” for $20.00. I also picked up the DVD-R’s for “Inn Of The Damned” for $5.00 (it’s the Cheezy Flix release) and a classic black and white chiller called “Valley Of The Zombies” for $10.00. I ended up finding some comics this first day like Attack Of The Mutant Monsters # 1 for $3.00, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes Graphic Novel for only $6.00, Giant-Size Man-Thing # 2 for $3.00, Chamber Of Chills # 6 for $4.00, Worlds Unknown # 3 for $5.00, Hellraiser/Nightbreed Jihad # 1 for $5.00 and lastly The Tomb Of Dracula # 26 for only $4.00! Over all a pretty good haul but nothing to special but all worth buying in this monster kids head.

Monster Bash 2016 Haul Day 1

We started day three around 8:30am, and after getting ready and watching a little TV, we went to brunch at a place right next door to the hotel called Pig Iron (not to be confused with the Zoo Crew member from DC Comics) where I had Chorizo Hash that was mighty tasty. Before brunch we also hit New Dimension Comics, and I found lots of great reads like some issues of Captain America, Night Of The Living Dead, Marvel Tales and Werewolf By Night. Plus at the comic shop I found the only missing issue of Marvel’s The Frankenstein Monster which means I now I have the full run. After brunch we walked back over to Monster Bash and found that a replica of the Ecto-One from Ghostbusters was parked outside, and this sparked a convention between Juliet and I on how cosplay Ghostbusters are taking over conventions. Once inside we walked around and I kept my eyes open for David “The Rock” Nelson as I wanted to buy some of his films, but sadly the quest today came back empty-handed. I did finally get my picture taken with John Russo, the man who helped create the “Living Dead” universe and picked up a few items before we decided to wonder back to our hotel and plan the rest of the days adventure. Below are some pictures from the second day of Monster Bash including the picture of me and John Russo.

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The second day Monster Bash haul was pretty weak with me only picking up three items! First, I got another DVD-R copy of the Paul Naschy film Vengeance Of The Mummy aka Mummy’s Revenge for the overprice of $20.00.  This will mark my third attempt at watching this movie on a DVD-R! I got the Marvel Magazine size comic adaptation for the film Meteor for only $3.00.  And lastly, the best find of the day is a Golden Book graphic novel adaptation of the classic epic adventure film Clash of the Titans for $5.00! The second day’s haul, while light, still delivered some great things for me to read and watch…if this copy of Vengeance of the Mummy works.

Monster Bash 2016 Haul Day 2

After Monster Bash and us coming up with a game plan, we settled on the fact we had to visit the Snowman again as I really needed a Yeti Shake! As we started on the magical road to The Snowman for our tasty cold treats, the poor Mazda 3 started to have issues, and we had to turn back around and return to the hotel.  Once back, we looked for a Mazda dealer to take the car to on Monday morning and worked on some Sparkle Comics business while the weather outside looked like a storm was blowing in. Because of the car issues, we were stuck for the evening at the hotel, and I took this time to read some comic books and work on some Rotten Ink updates as Juliet spent time writing and reading.  Dinner was coming up, and we picked the ever popular Eat’N Park as they were just across the street and we knew the food would hit the spot for this disappointing day. My meal once more was liver and onions with mashed potatoes with gravy, a sticky roll and rice and for a treat a Smile Cookie that’s a pirate in honor of the MLB team The Pittsburgh Pirates. After dinner and reading, I decided to watch some TV before bed and wondered how the third and final day at Monster Bash would go and hoped I could get some David “ The Rock” Nelson DVD’s as they would be the perfect films to cheer this Monster Kid up.

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Day three of Monster Bash and day four of our vacation started with breakfast from Einstein Bros and good talks about Dawn of The Dead and Sparkle Comics while eating.  Once done, we walked across the street for the final day of the convention, and my quest to buy David “The Rock” Nelson DVDs continued. Once we walked into the convention my quest came to an end, and I found David Nelson and chatted for a moment and picked up two of his films! For awhile we walked around and just looked at all the tables and made our final pick ups as the convention closed a few hours later. With the car being down still, we walked to Max & Erma’s for lunch and headed back to the hotel to work on some Sparkle Comics business and to read, watch TV and just have fun being around each other. Below are some pics I took of the last day of Monster Bash including a very cool Dr. Phibes statue and a bad ass Wolf Man painting, plus the picture of me and Independent film maker icon David “The Rock” Nelson with one of his horror characters, The Devil Ant.

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The third and final day of Monster Bash haul was the following items: the VHS of the cheesy film The Bat People for $4.00, the CD soundtrack to Demons 2 for $10.00, Hulk Hogan hosting the 1985 CBS Saturday Morning Cartoon previews on DVD-R for $10.00.  I also got two Horror Host DVD-R’s for $10.00 each that were Zacherley hosting a teen dance show called Disc-O-Teen and clips from Ghoulardi show.  My favorite pick ups for the day had to be the two David “The Rock” Nelson DVDs as I got the movies The Demon Monster From Outer Space and The Fishman for $20.00 each.  I always feel good supporting true independent filmmakers and David is a great guy! Over all I got some great things this Monster Bash and many of them will be talked about again here at Rotten Ink.

Monster Bash 2016 Haul Day 3

That night we ordered dinner from Pig Iron where I had a chorizo grilled cheese and fries, and we watched the Hulk Hogan 1985 Saturday Morning Cartoons preview that was not so much Hulk Hogan as it was Rowdy Piper doing a talk show style show with guests like Pee Wee Herman, New Edition and Patti LaBelle and in between showed quick clips of cartoons that would be airing on CBS. It was a fun watch as seeing Pee Wee and Piper talk to each other using sock puppets are things the 80’s were made of. After dinner we worked on more Sparkle Comics website stuff, and later I read some comic books that I picked up from New Dimension Comics days before. Over all the day was good but we both looked forward to getting the car fixed the next day so that we could zoom around town and visit some of our favorite sites in and around Mars.

Monster Bash 2016 Day 3 dinner pig ironMonster Bash 2016 Day 3 Hogan CBSMonster Bash 2016 Day 3 me and the comics read that night

On Monday July 11th after the Mazda 3 was taken into the shop for some TLC, we finally got to go out and do things on this Dawn Of The Dead themed vacation. We ended up having to rent a car, but this helped us at least be able to go out and do things for this vacation and not be stuck in the hotel.  We first went out to lunch and had a good meal at Moe’s where a steak burrito was calling my name. After lunch we headed back to New Dimension Comics, and I bought a ton more comics as I found their dollar room. After walking out of New Dimension Comics with many issues of Incredible Hulk, Marvel Super Heroes and Detective Comics in hand, we went to TCBY so Juliet could get her yogurt for dessert as she was craving white chocolate mousse.  As for me, I did a weird mix of chocolate and strawberry with sprinkles. After driving around in traffic, we headed back to the hotel, and later that night we had dinner at Eat’N Park and then watched WWE Monday Night Raw on USA Network. Over all a fun day filled with great weather, comic books, good food and the friendly staff of all the places we visited. Check out the pics below for some of the highlights of the day!

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On Tuesday July 12, 2016 we had to squeeze so much fun things in one day as it was our last full day in Mars and also the last full day that we had the rental car. So we decided to first go see a movie at the Cranberry Cinemas and saw The Purge: Election Year at its first showing. I really love the Cranberry Cinema as it has the look and feel of a independent owned theater and has a personality that many of the giant chain theaters are lacking and makes me miss Dayton local theaters like Page Manor and Englewood Cinema even more. After the film we went and got some lunch from Moe’s, and the meal was good as always.  Then we headed toward a place that is a shrine of Pittsburgh film making as well as what I would say is “Graceland” of horror, Evan City Cemetery. When driving to the cemetery I was telling Juliet that I wished that Dayton has a location like this that was used in a horror film that made an impact to the genre. Once at the cemetery and driving up the lane, I spotted in the woods next to the road a rooster and a turkey hanging out together.  Now that was random and amazing! The weather was nice and warm with a cool breeze and walking around the cemetery always recharges my batteries and makes me want to be even more creative and to drive my self more when it comes to making a Horror Host show and comic books. Plus walking around with Juliet in this place is something special and something I look forward to every year. After Evan City Cemetery, we drove to The Snowman where I drank a Yeti Shake made with vanilla ice cream and blue raspberry shaved ice and watched the horses in the field next to this landmark. Once done we returned to the hotel and chatted, read some comics and watched TV and ate some Wing King for dinner and ended the day watching TV.  This was a great day that was super fun filled with good times and memories of why I love this town!

Cranberry Cinema 2016Evan City Cemetery 2016Snowman 2016

On Wednesday July 13, 2016 we had to spend the morning returning the rental car and getting our car back and then hit the road back to good old Dayton and listened to the last chapter in “Marvel The Untold Story” and ended our Monster Bash Vacation…but this update has just started as we’re now going talk about Dawn Of The Dead, the second film in the Romero Dead series, and I review the IDW adaptation of this film. So let’s take a trip with the undead and chat about this beloved zombie film!

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In 1978, George A. Romero teamed up with Italian filmmaker Dario Argento to bring the movie going public a sequel to Night Of The Living Dead, and one of the worlds most classic zombie films was born, simply called Dawn Of The Dead.  Theater goers poured into the cinemas to watch as the living and the dead clashed once more in a battle of the living keeping their human sides in line as the dead do what they do and that’s eat. The start of Dawn of the Dead was in 1974 when George Romero went to the Monroeville Mall with his friend Mark Mason, who worked for a company that managed the mall.  After seeing all the ins and outs of the building and just how happy shoppers were, the idea of people surviving in a mall during a crisis became a joke between them that sparked the desire to start writing the script. Romero, along with his producer Richard P. Rubinstein, started to get investors, and when news broke of a Night Of The Living Dead sequel, Dario Argento jumped on board and helped get international investors among many other helpful things in return for international distribution. Once ready, they secured the Monroeville Mall and shooting started on November 13, 1977. The filming would start at 11pm and would end at 7am as during the day the mall was packed with holiday shoppers and doing late night shoots was better for not only the crew but also the mall. Other locations for filming included Harold W. Brown Memorial Airfield, Firearms Unlimited and Romero’s own studio, the Latent Image; all things in and around the Pittsburgh area. Shooting ended in February, 1978 and so began the editing of Romero’s next epic zombie film. The man behind the effects for the film is the master of splatter Tom Savini who also played one of the bikers in the film. In the lead roles are some fantastic actors all who are the true backbone of what makes this film work so well.  You have Ken Foree as Peter Washigton, David Emge as Stephen “Flyboy” Andrews, Gaylen Ross as Francine Parker and Scott Reinger as Roger DeMarco, not to mention such actors as David Early, Howard Smith and Jese del Gre, to name a few. Doing the music for the film is the Italian band Goblin, who scored many of Argento’s films as well as De Wolfe Music Library stock music. Romero has a cut of the film as does Agrento.  Each are different in many ways from music to runtimes as the US print is 127 minutes long, but Italy’s is 118 minutes long.  On top of that a “Directors” cut of the film was released on home video in the 90’s that is 137 minutes long! One of the biggest changes between the American version of Dawn of the Dead and the Italian version is that Romero’s is packed with comedy elements with the zombies being treated like jokes by a invading biker gang while Argento toned that way down and tried to keep the undead scary. The film also brought some very memorable zombies to the screen like Machete Kill Zombie, Helicopter Chop Top Zombie, and my favorite, the red flannel zombie; all of them gave the world of horror iconic scenes. The budget for Dawn of the Dead was $1.5 million, and it made $55 million at the box office, making it a huge hit for United Film Distribution who released the film. It was released with other 1978 horror films: Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, Damien: Omen II, Halloween, I Spit On Your Grave, Jaws 2, The Redeemer: Son Of Satan, Toolbox Murders and many others.  While Dawn Of The Dead might not have brought in as much money as say Jaws 2, it is way more respected by Horror Fans around the world. Now I am sure many of you who have not watched this classic film are saying, “but what’s the film about?” We will cover that with the IDW Comic Adaptation reviews.

Plaid Shirt Zombie 1Dawn Of The Dead Poster 0Dawn Of The Dead Zombie

Growing up I was (and still am) obsessed with the Romero Dead films.  You long time readers know about my first time seeing Night Of The Living Dead on broadcast TV and seeing Day Of The Dead on the USA Network in my past reviews for the Monster Bash vacations that featured the Prelude and Aftermath of Night Of The Living Dead as well as the Fantaco Adaptaions of Night; not to mention my USA Saturday Nightmare update where I covered other films I have on DVD taped off the USA Network including Day Of The Dead that was given to me by my pal Jason Young. The first time I saw Dawn of The Dead was on a VHS copy of the film my brother had bought on a boring weekend.  We made a whole night of watching it that included snacks and making dinner that consisted of boxed spaghetti that I could swear he used to live on.  I took my place sitting on the floor with my bowl of spaghetti, bag of Andy Capp Hot Fries and my glass of Mountain Dew and was glued to the TV as I watched one of the most iconic and beloved Zombie films ever made.  I was drawn into the dark mood and grim nature of the events that were unfolding before my eyes. I can remember going from amazed to annoyed as the bikers entered the mall and began throwing pies into the faces of the undead.  I didn’t understand why the zombies were being treated like jokes taking away their scare appeal. After the film was over I can remember my brother and I chatting about it, breaking down scenes and talking about our favorite kills and zombies from the movie. My favorite character was Peter, and I can remember my brother and I laughing and joking about Flyboy and how he kept screwing up at major times during their flight to get to shelter and even in the mall. Dawn of the Dead will always have a special place in my heart as watching it with my brother was a fun memory, and I can still remember the the pure enjoyment as I watched the horrors of the living dead unfold before my very eyes. To this day I own the clam shell Thorn Video VHS release of this film and must say that the film is definitely in my top 10 zombie films of all time!

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The Goblin score for Dawn of The Dead (Zombi) is one of the best in the world of horror films as each track fits the scene it accompanies.  The main title is so iconic, it makes almost everyone’s top 10 list of best scores in horror history. There’s something about the way the score just makes the scenes pop, and the opening title sends shivers down the listeners’ spines. If you’re a fan of this score, you can find in on CD and vinyl, and it’s well worth the purchase. I also want to note that I play tracks off this soundtrack all the time on the WYSO show Alpha Rythems. Just wanted to touch up on this score as I truly think it’s one of the best in the horror film world. Plus the song called “The Gonk” that is played as one of the muzak songs in the mall is also the end credits theme done to the beat of chickens for the stop motion show Robot Chicken. I want to also note that the first time I ever owned this soundtrack was thanks to a old website called Rogers Basement that used to have custom made soundtracks.  He had one called The Dead Trilogy and had the music for Night, Dawn and Day as well as dialogue from all three films.

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Did you know that Dawn Of The Dead had it’s own strategy board game? I first learned about the game in the mid 1990’s thanks to my friend Geoff Burkman (who I’ve known since I was a kid.  I job shadowed him when I was 16, and we watched Dawn of The Dead to see if we could spot Gaylen Ross’s nipple in a scene!) who had the game and told me all about it.  You see, Geoff is a huge fan of the Romero dead films and even played a zombie in Day of The Dead…but that’s for a future update. When I started working at Game Swap in Kettering, a man named Martin started showing up and bringing in tubs and tubs of horror toys, movies, posters, comics, magazines and board games and in his collection that he was selling was the Dawn Of The Dead board game. This year I asked for a reunion of the Dayton Board Game Society so that we could play this game and the the group and I could share our thoughts on it.  The players were Josh Weinberg who was Fran, my Cousin Stephen Alexander playing as the Zombies, Jeremy Hoyt took the role of Roger, Thomas “Maurice” Smith was Peter and I played as Flyboy. The game was very strategy-based and Josh, Jeremy, Thomas and I had to think wisely as the goal for us as the human survivors was to lock all the mall entrances, get the rifles for Steve and Fran and lastly kill all the zombies left in that mall. The zombies goals are to kill at least three of the players, and if Fran dies the game is over.  They also try to infect the survivors, and once infected they can be turned into a “Super Zombie” and can amp up the other nearby zombies and add to the players’ panic meters. We decided to shorten the game and just go for the shutting of the doors as we bent the rules a little as really it was made only for four players with two playing as the zombies and two playing the survivors.  But we added one extra player and only had one man playing the zombies.  The reason for shortening of the game was that it was getting to be over two hours just to complete that task. Peter, Roger and Fran survived the game, and Flyboy was infected and later become a Super Zombie, but I must say I was proud that as Flyboy I was able to lock two of the doors before I was killed. Over all the game was lots of fun and was a good and spooky time to play with great friends. So if you and your friends are into table top games and are looking for something to play this Halloween season, I would suggest Dawn Of The Dead as we all had a good time playing it.  I am sure that if we played by the official rules it would have been equally as enjoyable.

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Besides the board game, soundtrack and home video releases of Dawn, some other great merchandise has been made based on this cult classic zombie film like t-shirts, posters, a homebrew Atari 2600 game, hats, books, magazines and of course action figures. Two companies stepped up and made figures based on this film.  The first was Reds Inc. whose designs were cheap and were not the major must have items for fans and collectors. The next company to make figures was NECA, and their figures were way better in detail and quality.  These figures were very much must-haves for fans as I can remember Andy Copp wanting them when released and had me order them for him when I worked at Mavericks. So if you’re a fan of Dawn Of The Dead, you can find yourself some great official and unofficial merchandise. Below are some pictures of the action figures that were made of characters from the film.

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The film has many memorable zombies, from the Hare Krishna Zombie all the way to Machete Zombie, but for me the stand out and the most iconic from the film has to be the poster boy known as Plaid Shirt Zombie, a tall undead bold flesh eater that our heroes run into at the airfield and who meets his fate from Roger’s gun. This grey skinned flannel shirt wearing zombie is so iconic that he has his own Halloween Mask as well as a zombie in the hit AMC TV show The Walking Dead was made up to look like him in a episode.  Paul Musser is the man who played Plaid Shirt Zombie and is pretty much only known for playing this role. Below is a picture of Plaid Shirt Zombie from Dawn of the Dead, and the two following pictures are him from The Walking Dead. This is update is in honor of you, Paul Musser, for playing one of the best zombies of cinema.

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On October 18, 2015 I finally bit the bullet and visited the Monroeville Mall.  I had heard rumors from so many people that the mall was not a safe place to be and that it was rundown and filled with shady characters, who wanted to rob you of your cash.  Plus it’s been said that the mall has changed so much that things didn’t look the same as they did in 1978. But Juliet and I were in town to meet Blue Demon Jr., and our great friends Pat Steele and Ann Rotolante were also in town and it was fun showing them the Evans City Cemetery as well as the Dead Museum.  The mall was on their must-see list as Ann is a huge Romero fan, and Juliet and myself had always wanted to visit it so it seemed like a great day to do so as the weather was cold, cloudy and rainy.  When setting up our trip to the mall, I talked to my friend David who knows a guy who gives big tours of the mall and shows you places scenes were shot and even could get us on the roof, but David informed us the night before we visited the mall that his friend had a family emergency and could not do the tour, but this didn’t stop us and we went anyway.  Below are my thoughts and feelings about visiting the main set for one of world’s most important zombie films, Dawn of the Dead.  So follow me into the Monroeville Mall!

Monroeville Mall

On the drive up to the mall’s parking lot I kept humming songs from the film as Juliet would chuckle, and upon entering the parking lot I noticed the place had a good amount of cars with many people heading into the main entrance as well as many of the big stores entrances like JC Penny. When entering the mall, a rush of horror nostalgia swept over me as I realized so many great actors like Ken Foree, David Emge, Scott Reiniger and Gaylen Ross stepped into that mall and acted out war alongside extras as zombies and bikers.The mall was filled with lots of empty storefronts and had a clash of old indoor mall appeal mixed with a modern 90’s updated look.  We walked around the upstairs looking for any kind of familiar sites or even some sort of plaque stating that this was the mall from the film.  While some spots triggered memories of the film, we walked past a vape store that was playing Dawn Of The Dead on a big screen TV and that helped add to the mood of the mall.  Also upstairs, in one of the side entrances, was a giant mural the depicted lots of classic stuff from Pennsylvania like Mr. Rogers and yes, a zombie.  Walking around we took many pictures of hallways, doors, stores and elevators all the while having good conversations about Dawn Of The Dead among other topics. Juliet was happy when she spotted a TCBY.  So naturally we all had to have a small bowl of frozen yogurt as we continued our quest of the mall. The mall had a giant Cinemark Movie Theater in it, and this made me flashback to the days of Dayton Mall having one. The ground floor was more of the same with stores like Spencer’s and no clear signs of objects or landmarks from the film.  One cool store had something called Zombieburgh Lazer Tag in it, showing the owner embraced the history of the mall. Finally toward the end of our tour of the mall, Ann found tucked away down a small hallway some photos and a plaque for Dawn Of The Dead as well as a room that read “Muzak Room.”  While small, it was very cool to see that they gave the film some love and added to our growing collection of pictures. After we were done and leaving the mall, it was nice to reflect on Dawn Of The Dead and just how Romero made so many places landmarks for horror fans in Pittsburgh.  At the time we came, the mall was not filled with shady people but normal families and lots of hot woman in tight pants, and not once did I feel like someone was up to no good. I was sad that the bridge, clock and fountain were all gone but times change and sadly in the world of corporate malls, those items take up room that could be used for vending machines or another lame pretzel cart. I’m very glad to have gone to the Monroeville Mall and to have spent time there with people who also love the history and atmosphere of this landmark. Below are some more pictures from the mall that I took while I was there.

Monroeville Mall hallwayMonroeville Mall DoorsMonroeville Mall Zombie painting

So there you have it, I wandered the halls of the Monroeville Mall just like so many zombie fans before me, and I can’t stress how amazing it felt to be there. While not as special to me as the Evan City Cemetery, it still is a must visit for fans of the Romero Dead series. So while I sit here in the hotel room in Mars, PA, I think it’s time for me to start taking a look at the IDW comic adaptation of Dawn of the Dead and see how well they capture the bone chilling magic of the film. I want to think Ebay, Dark Star and Bell Book And Comic for having these in stock and as always must remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So let’s head out to the mall with Fly Boy and see what kind of undead fun we can stir up!

Dawn Of The Dead 1

Dawn Of The Dead # 1 ***
Released in 2004    Cover Price $3.99    IDW    # 1 of 3

Fran is asleep and wakes up at her job at the TV station during a debate between a host and his guest. The doctor is talking about the dead coming back to life and eating the living, and worse, the station is showing outdated safe zones causing people to die by trying to reach them as the station manager is still worried about ratings.  Fran is met by her boyfriend Steven who is the station’s helicopter pilot and wants her to meet him on the roof later so the pair can escape using it. Meanwhile, downtown a SWAT team is surrounding a building being overrun by a gang, and they soon find out that besides the gang, the building is filled with normal residence as well as zombies.  Roger is a good team member and is friends with Steven.  He’s suppose to escape with them as well, but when he meets fellow SWAT member, Peter, they bond over the horrific things they are having to do in this building killing zombies.  Roger invites Peter to get away with them. The helicopter is ready and Steven, Fran, Roger and Peter all get aboard and while flying high above see that the zombies are everywhere and that humans are trying to fight back. Stopping at a small airfield, they have run ins with some zombies and tension between Peter and Steven breaks out as by accident Steven almost shoots Peter while trying to kill a zombie. They are low on fuel and need a place to sleep and soon find a giant mall and land on it’s roof.  The parking lot is filled with the undead, and they decide to go into the mall to look around.

This first issue in the adaptation of the cult zombie film Dawn Of The Dead packs a punch but also pulls many of its powerful blows as many iconic scenes from the film have been cut for this comic book. Gone are many of the scenes of Peter, Roger and the SWAT Team blowing away zombies in the apartment building.  Gone is Peter having to shoot the zombie kids at the small airfield.  Gone is Steven and Fran fighting for their lives against zombies in the hanger on the airfield as well as the iconic zombie who gets his head chopped off by the helicopter twirling blades. I do understand that things would have to be chopped out of this adaptation of a over two hour film to be able to fit into three issues  that total only 26 pages each, but these things I mentioned are things that should not be cut as they are very iconic scenes in the movie. But even with these cuts, I still found this IDW Comic to be very entertaining, and it captures the emotion and characters of the film pretty well on the slick comic pages. Fran and Steven come off as a loving couple who are both bull headed yet will watch out for each other no matter what, Fran has a sense of responsibility, and she goes into a rage when she finds out that the station she works for is giving out very outdated info to the public, while Steven is more a man who wants to protect himself and those he cares about. Roger and Peter are SWAT team members who have a terrible job of clearing out a apartment building where the residents are hiding the undead as well as gang members, and this sets them off to run away and go on a unknown quest with Steven and Fran in the helicopter. All the characters are very likable right now with Peter being my favorite as one panel shows him crying for having to slaughter some zombies, but he is still as tough as nails. The zombies are everywhere but have not been too much of a major threat yet for our survivors, and the classic Plaid Shirt Zombie is played down but still present. I can’t wait to see more zombies become more threatening and add that true gloom and doom to our story. The comic is pretty bloody and filled with gore as many zombies and people are blown away complete with brains and guts spewing everywhere.  The zombies do get to bite the flesh off of some humans making it feel slightly like a gore comic…with my favorite kill of the comic being the head shot of a SWAT member by the hand of a gang member as the panel is gross and well done. The cover is pretty sweet and has the feeling of the late 70’s mixed with a independent comic cover of the early 2000’s. The art inside is done by Chee Yang Ong, and it’s fantastic as he knows how to draw zombies and has many times with his work on other undead titles like Wake The Dead and Zombie Tales. Over all, this is a great comic adaptation, one that captures the mood and feeling of being here in Pittsburgh. Let’s see what issue two has to offer as we now enter the mall.

Dawn Of The Dead 2

Dawn Of The Dead # 2 ***
Released in 2004    Cover Price $3.99    IDW    # 2 of 3

The survivors enter the mall from a skylight and find cases of spam to eat and a small safe room to rest in.  As Steven sleeps, Peter and Roger decide to hit the mall stores and try to get things they might need like a TV, radio and food, all the while dodging and killing the zombies that are wandering around inside the mall. The noise of gun fire awakens Steven who decides to go down and help, along they way he picks up the blue prints of the mall and is attacked by a zombie lurking in the shadows, but thanks to a handgun he found, he is able to save himself. Steven joins Peter and Roger, and together they get the supplies they need and find that ducts above the stores can lead them from store to store without being attacked by zombies. During this time they also decide that they may all just stay in the mall for awhile. Fran is pregnant, plus she wants to learn to fly the helicopter and come up with a plan to rid it of zombies and keep them out. The plan is for Fran to keep watch with a rifle on the mall’s roof, Peter and Roger to drive trucks to block the entrances and for Steven to fly high above them and keep watch in his helicopter. The plan is going well but Roger gets sloppy and is bitten by a zombie, and this marks him for turning into a undead flesh eater.  But before he turns, he wants to help ride the mall of the zombies. Thanks to the gun store and a prize car inside the mall the group is able to kill off all the zombies and bask in the glory that is the spoils and goods from the stores.

The heat is on for our survivors as they are faced with not only hordes of zombies but also the fact one of their own has been bitten and is dying and at some point will turn into a zombie.  The plot of this issue really has them at the mall discovering what treasures are inside the stores and working together to secure the mall and rid it of zombies. Fran is a little more on edge as she feels like they are treating her like a den mother and not a member of the team because she is going to have a baby, and I give her big props for standing her ground and demanding respect. Steven, Roger and Peter all have dreams of staying for awhile at the mall and relaxing and coming up with a plan as well as listening for any news on what’s happening in the outside world. The zombies, while slow, are flesh hungry and try as hard as their undead bodies will allow to attack, eat and kill our heroes, and sadly for Roger, he has chunks of his flesh eaten and now is infected with the disease that is bringing the dead back to life. This issue is blood and gore filled as well with many gruesome zombie deaths being present complete with exploding heads. So fans of blood soaked comics will be happy as the splatter is present and gore-tastic in nature. Like in issue one, many scenes are missing like Steven running from the zombie and wasting bullets trying to hit him in the boiler room, and many other scenes are cut or trimmed down. I will also say that while Peter is still my favorite character so far in the adaptation series, with Fran’s attitude change her character has broken out of being just a generic background character and into the front of the pack showing she has more to offer than just standing around whining about having to eat spam. The cover like before is great and show cases zombies as well as the iconic Dawn of The Dead logo, and the art is once more done by Chee Yang Ong and looks great. I do need to make the comment that the characters look nothing like the actors who play the parts in the film, but they hold all the characteristics of them to make it work. This issue is not only very horror themed but also has the drama appeal that made the film so iconic.  So over all we have another great issue in this Pittsburgh zombie cult classic adaptation.  Let’s see what issue three has in store for us.

Dawn Of The Dead 3

Dawn Of The Dead # 3 ***
Released in 2004    Cover Price $3.99    IDW    # 3 of 3

They clean up all the zombie bodies and place them into the freezers to kill the smell and tighten and lock all the doors.  The mall is theirs, and they go on a shopping spree and enjoy the spoils of their hard and dangerous work. Things are not all good are Roger is becoming more and more sick, and death is near for him.  Fran, Steven and Peter wait in the other room as Roger is dying and watch the news that features more arguments and less reason to why the dead are rising. Roger dies and returns as a zombie, and Peter is waiting for him and quickly kills his close friend. Time passes and Fran learns how to use the helicopter, and while training, a group of bikers spot them and decide they want what’s in the mall and don’t mind killing to get it. They enter the mall, and by opening the doors, thousands of zombies also enter causing an all out war that leaves many of the bikers dead, tons of zombies dispatched and poor Steven dead and now a zombie. Peter and Fran wait for an hour in their mall hideout home, and finally the zombie come calling lead by Zombie Steven.  Peter kills him and urges Fran to leave as he will not be joining her…as she is about to fly away, Peter changes his mind of committing suicide and decides to join her on the escape. As they fly away the helicopter has very little fuel and the whole area is covered in zombies, making it clear that no matter how far they run the zombie will be there.

Dawn Of The Dead Lite is the best way to sum up what this three issue comic series is and while that might sound like I am saying it’s bad, I am not as I found myself fully enjoying it and loving every undead blood soaked moment. The reason I call it lite is many scenes and iconic characters seem to be missing from this comic adaptation, and with this issue many moments came to mind that are just nowhere to be seen or are so chopped up and shorten they seem like they are missing. Iconic moments like the Hare Krishna Zombie trying to attack Fran is gone, the Machete Head Zombie and his scene of the blade going into his skull is gone…in fact the whole climax of the biker gang invading the mall and running wild is so cut down they seem like just a small plot ink blot to move the zombie back into the mall. Now as I said before I understand things needed to be cut and trimmed in order to fit into three issues of a comic book, but to remove iconic characters and scenes seem very silly. I mean the talk show host and doctor arguing over zombies is left in but no Hare Krishna Zombie death? It j seems like a very odd choice of things to keep and things to cut. I should also note that the Hare Krishna Zombie does make an appearance in the comic, but his death and attack on Fran does not. Plus the comic at times does some odd things like for some reason a Elvis Presley Zombie is the first zombie to come through the elevator and try and eat a hurt Steven…why? But again while changes are present the comic holds a real charm to it and does a pretty dang good job of smashing all the drama elements into the pages, much like the film in the comic each character has their own personality and each are likable people that you find yourself cheering for to make it out of whatever situation they are in. Peter is clearly the man with the plan from the group, while Steven is the brains figuring out blue prints and escape routes. Roger is the wild card reckless but also skilled at tactics, and Fran is more of the voice of reason pointing out the dangers and also coming up with back-up plans. The bikers are a bunch of thieves who feel they are owned the stuff they steal who kill and destroy and to be fair when they are killed by the zombies or the bullets from the survivors guns you can’t help but feel that they deserved it. The bikers that are truly missed in this comic is Blades, played by Tom Savini (who is seen in just one panel), and the blood pressure machine using biker who gets eaten while testing it. The zombies are a threat in this issue as the hordes of them that enter the mall are hungry and want to chomp on any human they can get their rotten fingers on. The blood, guts and gore are present again in this comic and many of the deaths (or is the re-deaths?) in the comic are more graphic than those in the movie and that’s sure to please many gorehound comic fans of such titles as The Dead and the original Walking Dead. The cover for issue three is good but the weakest of the three, and the art inside is done by Chee Yang Ong again who really captures the zombie nature of the film. I wish IDW would do more of these horror movie adaptations or even original stories based on classic cult films.  So far, off the top of this comic reader’s head they have done Motel Hell, The Fly, Land of The Dead, Masters Of Horror and IT! Terror From Beyond Space, and all those were entertaining and well done for the most part minus The Fly. I would love to see them tackle the likes of Pumpkinhead, Killer Klowns From Outer Space and Night Of The Demons, to name a few. Over all, while it’s is not 100% perfect, this three issue Dawn of The Dead series hit home and was the perfect comic series to read during this vacation to Monster Bash. If you’re a fan of the Romero Dead films, check this one out and take a look below for a examples of Chee’s work in this comic series.

Dawn Of The Dead Art 1Dawn Of The Dead Art 2Dawn Of The Dead Art 3

So we are leaving the zombies of Dawn of The Dead behind as well as the 2016 vacation to Monsterbash and Pittsburgh and as always it was a blast and it’s a shame it had to come to an end. It’s always great to take in the local Pittsburgh eateries like Eat’N ‘Park, Wing Kings and The Snowman as well as support local businesses like New Dimension Comics, The Dead Museum and Cranberry Cinemas and visit iconic sights that horror classics like Night Of The Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead were filmed. And the thing that brings us to town is Monsterbash, a convention that feels like home and offers so much to an aging monster kid like myself. So I want to thank Juliet for always being not only my girlfriend but my Pittsburgh pal. I want to thank my co-workers at Game Swap Kettering for holding down the fort, and I also want to thank my cousin Stephen Alexander for feeding and watching over our two cats Leslie and Streets J while we were out of town. And a big thank you to everyone we meet while in Cranberry Township as they always make us feel welcome. In closing, Dawn Of The Dead is one of the most iconic zombie films ever made and George A. Romero could be one of the best directors to make zombie films ever and thanks to IDW, we horror comic readers got to enjoy a pretty fun and bloody adaptation of this cult classic. Our next update will take us away from the undead and will pit DC Comics top detective Batman against the hairy beast man of the Himalayas the one and only Snowman. So forget about Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice this is the real battle you have been waiting for. So until next time, watch a zombie film or two, read a comic or three and as always support your local horror host! See you next time for this epic showdown!

Batman vs Snowman Logo

Return Of The Living Monster Bash Vacation (2015)

Juliet and I headed back to Mars to once more attend the Monster Bash Convention for another adventure filled with monster movies, podcasts and landmarks from George Romero zombie films! This time around we started our quest on Saturday June 20th missing a day of Monster Bash due to her work having a big event on Friday. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to these vacations in Pittsburgh and Monster Bash all year long. It’s always a fun time hanging out with Juliet with no work worries and knowing that I have time to relax and spend time with all the things I love: my gal and horror films! This year’s theme was The Mummy as one of the guests was Ron Chaney, grandson of Lon Chaney Jr. who played the Mummy Kharis for Universal in the films The Mummy’s Tomb, The Mummy’s Ghost and The Mummy’s Curse not to mention he played a Mummy in Face of the Screaming Werewolf! Valerie Leon who was in Hammer’s Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb was also a guest along with Liesl Ehardt who is an actress who’s second cousin is Zita Johann who played Helen Grosvenor in Universal’s 1932 shocker The Mummy! Other guests included Conrad Brooks from Plan 9 From Outer Space and other Ed Wood films, Tom Savini the master of gore FX, composer Kevin Slick, The Blob – yep the movie prop that was the jelly alien, Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria Price and Night of the Living Dead alumni John Russo, George Kosana and Chilly Billy Cardille who also was a long time horror host in Pittsburgh as he hosted the show Chiller Theatre and is also the father of Laurie Cardille who played Sara in Romero’s Day of the Dead. Other horror hosts who attended were Son of Ghoul, Mr. Lobo, The Patient Creatures and the cast of Ghoul A Go-Go! And I must not forget the no budget film maker David “The Rock” Nelson among many other book writers, historians and comedy tribute groups. So pack a bag and come along on our journey as we return to Monster Bash!

Lobby Card Bash June 2015

Friday (June 20th 2015) before the trip I worked a full shift at work, and Juliet put in a super long day working her job as they had a big station reunion party going on. After work, my cousin Stephen Alexander II and one of my best friends Josh Weinberg got some chicken wings from Frickers and headed to my parents house where we watched Bellator MMA 138 with my dad. The event was a fun one as we all took sides on who was going to win the main event fight between Ken Shamrock and Kimbo Slice. My dad and Stephen had Kimbo, while Josh and I picked Shamrock.  They won as Ken was knocked out in the first round just over two minutes into the fight.  While Ken put up a good fight, the stone hands of Kimbo were just too heavy for him. Juliet picked me up a little later, and when we got home, she went to bed and I decided to stay up and pop in a DVD of The Toxic Avenger Part II and have a Troma good time as I drifted into slumber.  I was a little bummed we missed the first day of Monster Bash but was really looking forward to the next day’s trip and the official start of my vacation! Plus spending time with my Dad as well as Josh and Stephen was a really good time and helped wash away the missing the convention’s first day blues.

Frickers LogoBellator-138-posterToxic Avenger Part II dvd

So bright and early on Saturday June 21st 2015 Juliet and I hit the road to start our trip to Monsterbash.  The sky was grey and lots of rain fell from the sky as we made a quick stop to Ghostlight Coffee before setting out on this epic fun trip.  My drink of choice was an Italian soda as I felt the need to have a rush of sugar as we left very early in the morning. The first thing we listened to was the first chapter of an audio book called “Marvel Comics The Untold Story” written by Sean Howe and read by Stephen Hoye.  This was fantastic as Juliet and I enjoyed the look at the early days of Marvel and how Stan Lee got his job with the company and rose to power. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but old school comic fans should check this out as it’s very enjoyable and shows just how much of a goofball Lee is! We then listened to The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana as he spoke with one of the best big men in the business Vader! While I wished Vader would have spoken more about his time with WWE and WCW, it was still nice to hear him talk about his career in Japan. After Art of Wrestling we listened to the second chapter of Marvel Comics The Untold Story, and Juliet and I had a fun time talking about the stories we heard about comic legends like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Wally Wood. We ate lunch at Max & Ermas and talked about comics and what this trip has in store for us. That’s one fun thing I really enjoy, talking comics with Juliet as I think her love for the funny books burns as bright as mine. The drive up was smooth minus the rain and the countryside of hills, cows and horses is pleasing on the eyes and makes me miss growing up in a small town. But let’s get to the Bash and all the wonders the first day of this convention had in store for us.

ghostlight-coffeeMarvel Comics Untold Story LogoArt of Wrestling 2

On the first day of Monster Bash I was hyped to relax with classic monsters and to see what statues they had set up this year as I figured the theme would have to have a Mummy. I was right as they had one that looked like Lon Chaney’s Kharis character and it was fantastic.  They also had one of a female ghost, Forest J. Ackerman as the Frankenstein Monster, Boris Karloff from the film The Raven and the show stealer was the Christopher Lee Dracula, a touching tribute to the late actor. These statues rank among the highlights of the con for me as I always look forward to what they will be from year to year. While walking around, we saw lots of friendly faces and many of the guests like Tom Savini and Chilly Billy seemed in great moods as they spoke to fans. I got so hyped when we found The Blob as it was open and on display and they were allowing people to take pictures of it! I was second in line and after the guy in front of me who took forever to take his picture, I was able to set up my shot and take a picture of one of the worlds greatest monsters from outer space! We shopped and had a good time just looking at all the cool things that vendors had for sale.  One thing I really wanted was an action figure of Paul Naschy as the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky, but the $100.00 price tag scared me away from it.  I saw horror hosts Mr. Lobo and Gruesome Graves wandering around, and while I wanted to chat with them, they both were busy and I didn’t want to be that guy who interrupts a conversation. I had a great time walking around for a while, and once we were done for they day Juliet and I headed back to the hotel to relax and plan dinner and the next days’ plans.

Monster Bash MummyMonster Bash LeeMonster Bash The RavenThe Blob (Real)

This first night’s dinner had to come from the great Eat’N Park as I truly think whenever Juliet and I are in this area, we have to have this cool diner’s food. This night I felt like an old man as I ordered the liver and onions with mashed potatoes and gravy as well as garden rice.  For some reason I get cravings for liver…maybe I have an iron deficiency or maybe I was just getting into the mood of zombies, I mean I am in Pittsburgh. My meal came with a roll that was almost like a sticky cinnamon bun and a sugar cookie that still reminds me of the old Monster Candy sticks. Juliet had a buffalo chicken wrap and a chocolate pretzel cookie, and as always we enjoyed the food and had a good time hanging out and chatting. Yeah, I know lots of you are sick of friends posting pictures of food on their Facebook, Blog or Instagram so I will say sorry ahead of time as this blog will have a few of these sections.

Day 1 Food 2015

So I am sure your wondering what the first day goodies had in store for me.  Well, it was a pretty good shopping day as I was able to find some cool stuff from VHS to comics! I got a VHS of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 hosting the film I Accuse My Parents for $5.00 as well as a MST3K Magnet for $3.25 that showcases Joel and the bots! I got The Tomb Of Dracula issues 39, 51, 52, 56 as well as the My Name Is Bruce one shot comic all for $10.00! I also picked up a comic based on the cheesy kids’ horror film The Willies for $5.00 as well as a comic based on the Van Damme film Cyborg for only a $1.00, both comics I never even knew they existed.  Look for both of these on a future Rotten Ink update! I also found the Mondo Macabro DVD of Mystics In Bali for $10.00, as well as DVDs for $10.00 each of Horror Hostess Vampira on the George Cobel Show from 1955, Elvira Mistress of the Dark hosting MTV and Weird Al hosting the 1984 ABC Saturday Morning Preview Pack. I got a DVD of the Son of Ghoul hosting Dick Tracy for $20.00 and the Marvel Comic of Man-Thing # 5 for $7.00! All the stuff for the first day was pretty cool but I think I am most hyped for The Willies comic as I look forward to reading it and sharing my thoughts here on Rotten Ink!

Day One Goods

Sunday June 22nd 2015 was our second and last day of Monster Bash, and we began our morning eating a hearty breakfast from Einstein Bros.  As I ate my sausage, egg and cheese sandwich I popped in the DVD of Son of Ghoul hosting Dick Tracy and had a few chuckles.  As I finished up my meal, we headed down to the convention! Today they had a specialty car out front, a weird Ghostbusters car that looked nothing like the Ecto-One but at least the people who made the car were getting into the spirit of fun monsters as they wore the busting suits and had big smiles on their faces. This morning was a little slow but made it so much easier to look at all the vendor tables and go shopping. As we walked around we saw no budget filmmaker David “The Rock” Nelson filming himself holding his giant toy rubber ant he calls The Devil Ant attacking The Blob.  This put a huge smile on both my and Juliet’s face as this was the first time she got to see the man work the crowd. I was going to buy some more shows from The Son of Ghoul but sadly he was not at his table. I looked around for Gruesome Graves but could not find him, but shopping was a lot of fun and just the vibe of this convention is so good as fans talk to each other and almost everyone seems happy! I will say that the rooms this year were a little hot, and I am sure both celebrities and vendors felt at times like they were being steamed like vegetables as it was muggy. After shopping for about two hours, we headed back to the room for a bit to relax and chat about what the rest of the day would hold, as well as watched some TV. We traveled back to Monster Bash for a while and then decided to hit to road and see what was around our location. I must say I really love Monster Bash, and this is one of my favorite conventions to go to every year and I look forward to coming back next year! This year the vendors seemed to be very heavy on DVD, Blu-Ray and posters, and while some places had comics and toys they were not as all stocked, really bummer was the lack of old horror host shows as I was really looking forward to finding old shows of Morgus, Chilly Billy and Sammy Terry but didn’t even find a one, but here is hoping I will next year.

Wolfman BannerFrankenForestThe Frankenstein Monster 2015Monster Bash Poster

The last day of the convention I found a few good treasures as I loaded up on comics and DVDs! On this day I was able to find many Marvel Comics I needed for my collection that included Incredible Hulk # 205 for $5.00, Son of Satan # 6 for $4.00, Master of Kung Fu # 46 for $3.00 and Frankenstein Monster # 17 for only $2.00! I also got a full set of Ultraman comics for $5.00.  This is one set that should be a fun read and make for a great update sometime in the future. I got the low budget film Tales Of Dracula for $10.00 and this one peaked my interests as it has not only has Count Dracula in it but also a werewolf and Frankenstein’s Monster and it’s said to be a tribute of the Universal Horror Pictures. I also found the Paul Naschy flick Werewolf in The Amazon for $15.00, I can never pass on a Naschy film I have not seen! I then also picked up two DVD’s of Horror Host Mr. Lobo and his show Cinema Insomnia; one was his Haunted House Special and for the other he hosted the cheesy classic The Atomic Brain and they were $15.00 each. The one from this batch I am most hyped for is watching Mr.Lobo host Atomic Brain as I am sure it will be a fun late night watch.

Day two goodsFor lunch, Juliet and I drove around for a little while and found the locations of some areas that we want to visit in the coming days. We decided to eat lunch at Moe’s once again, and I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy this burrito place and how I miss it being around the Dayton area.  While Hothead is good, I still would rather eat Moe’s. I had a steak burrito, and it was fantastic as the steak was cooked to perfection and it had an amazing flavor and the chips and queso added to the very good meal. One thing me and Juliet noticed and laughed about is that every woman in there and working was attractive and lovely in their own way, must be in the water we teased. We then went to Target to get bottled water and some snacks and found that the target was even amazing and had a big selection of music, movies and books and every person we came across seemed happy and friendly, making me really love this town! We came back to the hotel and I worked on this update as Juliet played iPad games and read her book.  All the while we had Bar Rescue on the TV for background noise. I also read The Incredible Hulk # 205 and found it to be a very great issue. We decided that tonight we were going to watch a movie and eat some local chicken wings, but we will get to that later.

Moes Sign 2Moes FoodIncredible hulk 205

We decided that we wanted to have wings for dinner, and we picked a place called Wing Kings, a local restaurant to order from.  We tried to order the food at 7:30 and the phone was busy for several minutes as we tried to call in our order.  So Juliet decided at 8pm to just drive to it and order, and she found out the place was closed, and oddly enough it seemed they closed way early as they were suppose to be open till 9pm.  For a place voted Best Wings in the Cranberry Journal, this was not a good first impression for us! So we decided on Buffalo Wild Wings instead as they were open and were happy to take our order and money. The food was good, and after eating the relaxing was re-refreshing and helped charge my brain battery that was running low. I also felt the creative bug back inside my soul and many ideas for Baron Von Porkchop episodes as well as comic book issues filled my mind. Over all this second day was a fun one and being around Juliet is always a blast, the only major strike out was Wing Kings failing to rule the last day of Monster Bash.

Buffalo Wild Wings logo

Monday June 23rd 2015 we started our day off going to the Cranberry Cinema, a locally owned theater to see Jurassic World, and when walking into this theater I was amazed and fell in love with it just by entering the lobby.  When we ordered our tickets from the friendly staff and ordered our drinks, they gave us two free small popcorns..yeah what theater in Dayton offers that? When entering the theater they had classic red seats and the atmosphere was top notch and was super clean, and it shows the owners and employees care about this place. The other cool part of the theater is that it had multiple screens and the hallways were filled with upcoming posters for movies as well as cardboard cutouts. Over all this could be my favorite independent movie theater chain as it was an amazing experience that Juliet and I both enjoyed, and next year we will definitely be back to see a movie. Our next stop was New Dimension Comics, a very cool comic shop that is right down the street from our hotel, and just like Cranberry Cinema this comic shop impressed me big time. As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by both friendly workers. I noticed many long boxes of old comics for $3.00 each, and I was in Rotten Ink Heaven as I flipped through many comics and finding gems from Marvel, Dell and Gold Key, it was like a overload of superheroes. After buying tons of issues I started to get light headed and we ate something small at Burger King and went back to the Hotel so that I could take a nap. But man I am very impressed with Cranberry Cinema and New Dimension Comics as both of them helped add a layer of greatness to this vacation this year.

Cranberry CinemaNew Dimension Comics  lootNew Dimension Comics

On Tuesday June 24th 2015 we started our day by eating another breakfast from Einstein Bros.  This time I tried the bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, and then we decided it was time to visit the Evans City Cemetery as the weather outside was cloudy and rain was on its way as it was near 80 degrees.  When we got to the cemetery we were the only people there as we pulled to the very back and got out to walk around. The sky was grey with thunder echoing off from the distance as sounds of birds, frogs and insects filled the air that smelled like fresh rain. As I walked around I kept thinking about how George Romero and his crew made horror film history in the very spots I was walking around. I thought about Bill Hinzman as the Cemetery Zombie shuffling around trying to capture Judieth O’Deh, and this was inspiring to a one time no budget filmmaker like myself to know that if your heart is into your project you can make some fine horror art. The walk around was super pleasant and the view from the cemetery of trees and farmland was stunning and really made you feel that if indeed the undead would rise it would take you some time to get to shelter. After walking for some time we drove up to the old chapel and peeked inside to see a bare floor with some rotten spots. As we left, I felt like Evans City Cemetery is a place that I would love to be laid to rest in and that any aspiring horror filmmaker should visit this location and just walk around for awhile and allow the peaceful atmosphere inspire you. After we left we stopped back by New Dimension Comics, and I picked up a few more $3.00 Marvel horror comic issues, and we stopped to eat at Moe’s once more.  During this time there was also a major thunderstorm with flash floods, downpours and lots of lightning so we headed back to the hotel for a bit.

Evans City Cemetery Old SignEvans City Cemetery Graves 2015Evans City Cemetery The View

Later in the day Juliet and I traveled to Portersville to a place called The Snowman, a shaved ice parlor that is a giant fiberglass snowman! We learned about this place thanks to Cranberry Cinema as a commercial for it aired during First Look, and we both knew we had to check it out as the said they had a milkshake called The Yeti. The place was about 22 minutes away from our hotel and upon arriving at this roadside attraction it was really cool to find that The Snow Man was in the middle of a farm and surrounded by land with three horses behind fences eating.  The place was not super packed but a mother and her kids seemed to be enjoying the treats, and the weather that was now in the lower 80’s and sunny. Juliet ordered some shaved ice in the flavor of yellow cake batter, and I got a Yeti Shake that was blue raspberry shaved ice mixed with vanilla ice cream with whip cream and must say it was a very tasty shake. The place was fun to just sit at one of the tables watching the horses and soaking up the farmland around you. Juliet, before we left, went and got t-shirts of the Yeti character, and we both left that place very happy and will go back again when we come to town. On the drive back we found an NPR station with the same frequency 91.3 as WYSO that was called WYEP that sparked fun talk of radio and music in general. As we headed back to the hotel we decided that tonight we would have a movie night in the room and give Wing Kings one last chance not to be closed and be a no show for this year’s vacation. Below are some pics of The Snow Man and all that is in its flurry embrace.

The Show ManThe Horses of The Snow ManYeti Milkshake

So that night we selected Werewolf In The Amazon as we are both fans of the work of Paul Naschy and Wing Kings was open and we placed an order.  Juliet got Garlic Parmesan wings and I got just Garlic wings, and we shared some gravy fries. The food was pretty good; the wings had a nice garlic butter taste mixed with a crisp tasting wing, the fries were good but I was not a fan of the gravy. Over all they were a good wing place that had some tasty food for a night of watching a horror flick on our laptop. The film Werewolf in the Amazon on the other hand was pretty cheesy and bad, and it was clear it was made at the tail end of Naschy’s career and whoever made it had a good idea but could not put it together to make sense. The film takes place in the Amazon and follows a group of friends who take a trip into the jungle.  There is also a werewolf, Amazon warriors and Dr. Moreau…yes, that Moreau, and in the end it’s no real shock as to who the werewolf is and who survives the night of terror. This film was really lame, and it’s only highlights were Paul Naschy playing Dr. Moreau and the women who are easy on the eyes. The print of the movie was terrible and looked as if it was downloaded off the internet back in the mid 90’s and the source was a VHS tape that sat in a car for a week during the summer. After the film we watched WWE Tough Enough on USA Network and planned out next day of vacation.

Werewolf In The AmazonWing Kings Logowings and a movie

On Wednesday June 25th 2015 we started our morning by putting on the TV, and as we got ready on HBO 2 Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong was on. I felt it was a fitting end for our stay at this hotel as this extra long weekend was all about Monster Bash and that giant gorilla was a perfect send off. We then decided to go to the heart of Mars so that Juliet could get a cup of coffee from Mars Brew House, and when entering the coffee house I was impressed on how welcoming it was with its tables and chairs as well as a living room area with artwork on the walls. The man working the counter was really nice and gave me a small sample of a frozen coffee that was really tasty! We walked around the small town as she sipped on her cup of joe and we chatted about how cool this small town was, as well as checked out the new aliens in some of the business’ windows.  We had two hours to fill before one of our top attractions of this years trip opened so we decided to go back to Evans City Cemetery for a while.  We listened to more chapters of Marvel Comics The Untold Story and then headed to TCBY Yogurt and enjoyed a frozen treat. I had cookies and cream yogurt with whip cream, sprinkles and hot fudge, it was really good.  Then we headed to downtown Evans City for what I would say is the main event of this vacation, something that was really the cherry on this fun and amazing vacation with my # 1 girl!

Mars PA Alien SignMars Brew House PaintingWelcome To Mars

The Living Dead Museum and Gift Shop is in downtown Evans City and is a business that will catch the eye of any monster kid as the front of the store as a sign with zombie eyes in a dead stare and the windows have fake boards on them to keep out the dead. When we first planned this vacation, besides Monster Bash and the Cemetery, this was on our have to do list.  When we first tried to visit it on Monday we found out that it was closed for the day and would open up at noon on Wednesday so we knew before we left that this was our last stop before we made the long trip back to Dayton, and I can 100% say I am glad we did! We came in right as it opened and was greeted by a worker who was super friendly and as she went about her business of opening duties me and Juliet walked around the gift shop looking at t-shirts, comics, toys, cards and DVDs of all thing zombies! I was really drawn in by the T-shirts and bought myself a Return of The Living Dead shirt and got my cousin Stephen a shirt that said Pittsburgh Zombie Capital of the World and while checking out we bought two tickets to the museum, only $3.00 a ticket and I must first start off saying that it was well worth every penny and more! To enter you had to drop the ticket into a booth that housed a zombie who was your gate keeper to the world of the undead. The museum had a screening room as you walked in that was playing a documentary on the making of Night of The Living Dead as you moved deeper the area was plastered with stills, papers and information on Night as well as a statue of the Cemetery Zombie.  That was just the beginning as many more zombie films are covered as is a history of zombies in pop culture. The area also had a wall of bloody hand prints that were made and signed by actors in Romero zombie films as well as so much more statues and props used in films like Dawn of The Dead and Day of The Dead. Some of the highlight statues included the cover zombie to Fulci’s Zombi 2 and Tor Johnson as the zombie from Plan 9 From Outer Space. I don’t want to spoil too much of what treasurers or is that horrors await you when entering The Living Dead as I think if your a fan of Night Of The Living Dead you should do yourself a favor and check out this cool and amazing store and museum. After leaving this amazingly fun Museum we hit the road for home and so ended one heck of a fun time with Juliet and for this year.  I say bye to Mars and Cranberry Pennsylvania, but I know that next year I will see you again. Below is some pictures from The Living Dead with one being the cool as hell Cemetery Zombie statue. And I guess as this is Rotten Ink we really should take a look at our comic based on Night of The Living Dead and the people who made horror movie history.

The Living Dead StoreThe Living Dead ShirtThe Living Dead Cemetery Zombie

George A. Romero was born in February 4th 1940 in New York and was brought up in the Bronx.  His father was a commercial artist and this helped push him to graduate from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and start doing his own short films as well as commercials in and around the Pittburgh area including a segment for the popular kids show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.  Doing this helped inspire him to get into the horror film industry and he along with friends opened Ten Productions and in 1968 he directed and co-wrote with John A. Russo one of the most influential zombie horror film of the modern times with “Night Of The Living Dead” and this cult classic pushed Romero as a household name for horror film fans and monster kids of the 60’s. Many films followed in the early 70’s like romantic comedy “There’s Always Vanilla”, witchcraft thriller “Season Of The Witch” , bio-nightmare film “The Crazies” and vampire arthouse fright flick “Martin.” While these films did okay, his next huge hit came in 1978 with his sequel to Night of the Living Dead with the mall zombie romp “Dawn Of The Dead”. His next two films he made were the apocalyptic motorcycle knight film “Knightriders” and the anthology Stephen King team up film “Creepshow,” and then in 1985 he made the third in his zombie films and my all time favorite “Day of The Dead” that follows a group stuck underground as the world above belongs to the dead. Many more films followed including “Monkey Shines”, “Two Evil Eyes”, “Dark Half” and “Bruiser.” He also wrote films like “Tales From The Darkside: The Movie”, “Creepshow 2” and “Night of The Living Dead,” a remake directed by Tom Savani. In 2005 Romero returned to the world of zombies and wrote and directed “Land Of The Dead” and other zombie films followed like “Diary Of The Dead” and “Survival Of The Dead” and while he has slowed down he still is active and even traveling the horror convention scene. I really hope that some time soon Romero returns to the world of the undead and makes a film that has the blood, guts and raw energy of his zombie films of the past. George even in 2015 is working on a comic series called Empire Of The Dead for Marvel and here is hoping that he continues to make groundbreaking entertainment as to me he is one of the best do it yourself filmmakers of all time. This update is in honor of you George and all you have done to entertain us all.

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I can remember the first time I saw Night of the Living Dead was when I was a young kid and it was playing on local TV.  I lived in Waynesville and my brother Bryan and I were both hyped on watching as the station ran all types of promos for its showing making this monster kid more and more excited to view it.  While our parents watched TV in the living room, we plopped into their bedroom with a small bowl of popcorn and watched a film that changed my life as for the first time I had a little bit of fear run down my spine of watching a black and white shocker.  The horrors of watching as zombies ate the flesh of characters Tom and Judy who were much like every day people was shocking to me. At this point most of the horror films I had seen were aired on Commander USA’s Groovie Movies, Grandpa Munster’s Super Scary Saturday and classic Monster movies from Universal on VHS, and while people died in those movies and many of them had killers and monsters, for some reason that night those zombies did their job and made for a chilling night of TV watching. I can remember the next school day many kids who watched the TV airing of Night of The Living Dead were talking about the scary moments and the slow moving zombies.  The film has always had a special place in this monster kid’s heart! The first time I owned the film was on a VHS copy that was presented by Blockbuster Video, and later I would go on to buy it on DVD from Elite Entertainment as well as the colorized version on DVD put out by Legend Films, not to mention I have many Horror Hosts episodes of them hosting this classic zombie romp.  The film remains a staple that I must watch every year around Halloween. Night of The Living Dead is one of those films much like the Universal Monster films that is a good way to introduce youngsters to the world of Horror cause while its creepy and does have gut munching, its by no means as extreme as say showing them The Walking Dead or even some of those made for TV horror films that air on SYFY. For me, Night of the Living Dead is a must see for any true horror fan and is a film that will always have a place in my movie collection.

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The Cemetery Zombie played by actor Bill Hinzman is one of the most iconic zombies ever on film and is clearly the grandfather of the undead zombie movie icons. The Cemetery Zombie is the first zombie seen in Night of the Living Dead and is the one to start off our undead nightmare as he is the one who chases Barbra and kills Johnny! Bill would be in many other Romero directed films like The Crazies, Knightriders and There’s Always Vanilla. Hinzman would go on to star in many other Horror Films like Legion Of The Night, Santa Claws, Evil Ambitions, The Drunken Dead Guy, Shadow: Dead Riot and River Of Darkness that he stared along side pro wrestlers Kevin Nash, Kurt Angle and Psycho Sid! Bill also directed two films; his first one was the 1988 slasher The Majorettes and then in 1988 he directed and starred as the main killer zombie in Flesheater. Not only was Hinzman an actor and director, he has also produced and written films showing that he was a man of many talents and loved the art of making movies. I had met Bill Hinzman many times during my convention traveling days and he was a staple at Cinema Wasteland.  But during Scary Camp, the Dayton Horror Convention put on by A. Ghastlee Ghoul, is when I really got to chat and work with Hinzman who acted in a TV show that my brother was working on called Josh vs. that would have had my close friend Josh Weinberg going up against celebrities in goofy events like 20 yard dashes and paper, rock, scissors and Bill Hinzman in complete Cemetery Zombie makeup gave his prediction on who was going to win between Josh and Sid Haig in a staring contest! I was asked to not only get him on board but also was the one to film and direct him and for sure it was one of the highlights of that weekend. Sadly Bill Hinzman passed away in 2012 at the age of 75 from cancer. I just wanted to take my time here and show respect to Mr. Bill Hinzman who was a great person and gave so much to the world of horror.  He is truly missed.

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So now that we have talked a little about the film and the people who made it, I think it’s time that we travel to Evans City Cemetery and once more read some Night of The Living Dead comics made by FantaCo this time it will be the film adaptation. So make sure to beat them and burn them as we once more take a look at the living dead in the cemetery that is holy ground for horror film freaks like myself as we spend an evening with the living dead. I want to thank Lone Star Comics as well as Amazon and Ebay for having this comic series in stock and as Johnny says “The Comics Are Coming To Get You Matty” ….wait he didn’t say that.  Let’s just get to the comics.

Night of the Living Dead Comic 1

Night Of The Living Dead # 1 ***1/2
Released in 1991     Cover Price $4.95     FantaCo    #1 of 4

Barbra and her brother Johnny are heading out to a grave of their father for their mom at a cemetery out in the middle of nowhere.  This seems to get on Johnny’s nerves, but his sister who is spooked by the cemetery does it out of respect for her mom. As Johnny starts to tease Barbra about being scared he starts to claim that they dead are coming to get her and to her shock she is attacked by a walking corpse who kills Johnny who tries to come to the aid of his sister as he falls and cracks his head open on a tombstone. Barbra runs for her life as the Cemetery Zombie follows looking to eat this young woman.  She finds shelter in an old farm house, and as she hides she also meets Ben who has also came to the farmhouse in a old truck that’s low on gas and the barn has a locked gas pump. Ben fights off zombies who are trying to enter the house via open doors as Barbra slowly slips into madness and is overcome by fear. As the issue ends, Ben looks outside and sees a horde of zombies heading toward the house looking for flesh to eat.

This is a good solid movie adaptation of Night of The Living Dead that captures the vibe and feel of the film in this first issue and has a very dark brooding mood being set into place as the zombies seem twisted and the main color used in the comic is black. The story so far is that Barbra goes to a small cemetery where she watches her brother get killed by a zombie.  She runs to a nearby farm where she finds the bodies of the homes owners who have been eaten and runs into Ben, a man who arrives in a truck who attacks the zombies and the two strangers in the end must find a way to survive as the zombies are now all around the farm house. Barbra who is timid from the start gets even worse.  As the threat gets larger, she becomes hysterical it’s clear fear has taken her away from reality. Johnny is a smart ass who gets joy in teasing his sister as well as just being a negative person, but when his sister is in danger he snaps into being a hero and dies trying to save her life. Ben at this point is a man with a plan and that’s get the gas pump unlocked and his truck filled with fuel and he is going to try and get Barbra and himself to a safe place and figure out what is going on.  He also has no fear as he attacks many zombies with a tire iron and bashes in many undead skulls. The Cemetery Zombie is one hungry and motivated flesh eater who uses rocks to break a car window and gives chase like a slow animal stocking its prey. The rest of the zombies are used to get their brains smashed but as more come they become more and more dangerous and the numbers are in their favor. The creepy and helpless vibe so far in the comic is what made the film a classic one, and the art done by Carlos Kastro is well done for this style of book. So far the comic has only made small changes from the film as the comic opens with a zombie eating a bug and watching Barbra and Johnny driving into the cemetery, and I should note the comic is in black and white and this far while violence is happening it not a blood bath like most modern zombie comics. Reading this near the site of opening scene made this even more special and is helping add to my vacation, looking forward to reading part two.

Night of the Living Dead Comic 2

Night Of The Living Dead # 2 ***
Released in 1992    Cover Price $4.95    FantaCo    #2 of 4

Ben sets a fire outside the door, and the zombies seem afraid of it.  He rushes back inside and starts to board up the windows and has to be stern with Barbra to get her to help him look for supplies like wood and nails. Ben, as they get one room safe, tells her about how he got the truck and in a flashback a diner he was at is attacked by the living dead and how he took the truck to get away as he watched the zombies attack and kill people all around him. Barbra comes back to reality and talks about the graveyard visit and how she was attacked by The Cemetery Zombie and how she thinks Johnny might still be alive.  She gets frantic and smacks Ben who tries to stop her from opening the front door and he in turn smacks her and knocks her out. Ben places her on a couch and sets another fire out front to scare away the approaching zombies and starts to snoop around and turns on the radio to hear the news broadcasts that are reporting mass homicides around the state as well as the fact the killers are eating parts of the victims.  During his snooping he finds shoes for Barbra as well as a gun and bullets. As Barbra comes to Ben puts the shoes on her and heads upstairs to get ride of the bodies of the owners of the house who had been attacked and killed, but finds that one has be reanimated and attacks him! Ben bashes its skull in as Barbra lets out a scream downstairs as people have come out of the cellar!

This second issue is the major set up to the story as many pages are about the radio broadcast that tells the story of mass killings, people being eaten and the world not sure of what or who is to blame. The plot is that Ben and Barbra share how they ended up at the farmhouse with Barbra slipping even deeper into madness, Ben figures out the zombies hate fires and uses it to keep them at bay as he finds supplies. When Ben is attacked and kills a zombie, people from the cellar appear and our issue takes the next step. Ben, who’s back story is a little more flushed out, is a hitchhiker who stopped at a little greasy spoon dinner for a meal and reacts when we watches the place catch fire and people start to be killed. He is a very much take charge kind of person as from the start he calls the shots to Barbra and has plans to board up windows and doors to make their new base safe. Barbra is a mass of nerves and not much else her mental breakdown is in full swing and she is more like a scared baby rabbit than a human being. The zombies are becoming a horde of killers all around the farmhouse, and while they might be slow moving, their numbers make them a major threat to any living person. This issue is very downbeat as both our survivors at this point have seen death and things that are driving them close to madness.  This is a great issue to set the mood for the rest of this adaptation series. The major changes in this issue show Ben’s backstory of the attack at the greasy spoon and also has Ben being attacked by the zombie of the house owner up stairs. The artwork is done by Carlos Kastro again and while I really do like the style I should also point out that the quality does change and sometimes the characters look a little deformed and their features don’t let them look like the actors who are playing them. But like the first issue I enjoyed this one and look forward to issue three.

Night of the Living Dead Comic 3

Night Of The Living Dead # 3 ***
Released in 1992    Cover Price $5.95    FantaCo    #3 of 4

Ben meets Harry Cooper and Tom who have been hiding in the the cellar along with Tom’s girlfriend Judy and Harry’s wife Helen and his injured young daughter Karen.  Ben gets a little annoyed that they did not come up earlier and help him secure the house, and worse Cooper and he are going at it to what is the safest place for them to hide as Harry thinks they should all go to the cellar and Ben thinks they should protect the ground floor of the house. When Ben is attacked by a window that a zombie is able to bust through the boards, it’s Tom that comes to his aid as Harry watches and finally goes to the cellar after Judy comes up to help them board up the windows better. When he goes back down Harry and Helen fight over them staying in the cellar and not being near a radio to hear the updates of what to do and when help is on it’s way.  They decide to go up and help. While upstairs they find a TV and hear a news report for help stations as well as that the dead are coming back and eating the living and they think that it’s all connected to a satellite that was shot down when it was coming back to Earth as it was covered with radiation. Ben comes up with a plan to get to the gas pump, and he and Tom get to the truck with the help of a torch as Harry throws Molotov cocktails from the upstairs window.  As they get to the truck Judy decides that she wants to help as well and jumps into the truck! When they get to the pump an accident happens as the gas and the torch meet and set the truck on fire, in fear Tom and Judy drive the truck away in flames and it blows up killing them both.

The flesh is hitting the fan as Ben and Harry are butting heads and both are on power trips on who is going to be in charge and what and where and who and so on and this is the plot of this issue. Both Ben and Harry are acting like spoiled kids as they both can’t work together cause they would have to take orders from the other. The death of Tom and Judy is sad and really brings an emotional touch to the already high dooming mood. Ben and Barbra are pretty much acting the same as they have for the past two issues, and Ben seems to have taken on the role of protector of Barbra as he clearly understands she is not in her right mind. Tom and Judy are sweet silly country youngsters who seem to want to stop the in house fighting, and while they could take charge as the house is owned by Tom’s family he still would rather stick together and get the house safe for everyone. Harry Cooper is a pure hotheaded butthole who is clearly un-happy with his life and takes it out not only on his wife but anyone who is around him. Helen is just a normal housewife who loves her daughter but can’t stand her husband who bullies her and treats her like dirt. The tension between the characters are adding more danger to the already zombie threat that is surrounding them. And by this point in the story you the reader should be catching on that the story is not so much about the zombies but that of the humans who are all so different and how they must act together to survive the situation. The artwork is done by Carlos Kastro again and is enjoyable and captures the gloom very well again and the zombies look soulless like the way they should. Next up is the final issue, and let’s see how this one ends and if it has any changes from the film to comic.

Night of the Living Dead Comic 4

Night Of The Living Dead # 4 ***
Released in 1992     Cover Price $5.95    FantaCo    #4 of 4

After the truck explodes Ben is left outside with his torch and as he makes his way from the gas pump to the farmhouse, Harry will not open the door leaving him a sitting duck for the zombies who are approaching.  Finally Ben kicks open the door, and he also beats up Harry as he almost got him killed. The zombies outside turn their attention to the burned bodies of Tom and Judy and start to rip them apart and eat the pieces. Ben tries to figure out away to get to a new car but Harry’s is turned over a mile away and Barbra’s is in the cemetery with no keys as Johnny had them on him. After things cool down, the survivors listen to a news broadcast that says the local authorities are out shooting and burning the undead.  When the power goes out chaos breaks loose as the zombies start to push their way in, and Harry instead of helping grabs the gun and shoots Ben, who in turn gets the gun back and shoots Harry who stumbles into the cellar. The zombies attack Barbra, Ben and Helen, and they try to fight back the best they can. Helen is able to escape down to the cellar but finds that her daughter Karen is now a zombie and is eating her father’s guts and then turns and kills Helen with a spade. Barbra is taken by a horde of zombies as she freezes when her brother Johnny is one of the undead. Ben escapes to the cellar and pushes zombie Karen out the door and bolts himself in and hides. The morning comes and so does the rescue party who by accident shoots and kills Ben as he is about to come outside to get help. In the end Ben’s body is thrown into a fire that is roasting the living dead.

This fourth issue is a lot of fun and is chaotic, filled with panic, scares and raw emotion. The plot of this issue is the breakdown of the survivors as Ben and Harry just can’t get along and both want to be in charge and both want the power of having the only gun in the household, and when they stop working together they leave themselves open to an all out attack from the zombies who work as one large flesh eating team all in sync and all ready to consume their prizes. Ben, by the end of this adaptation is a very proud man, who tried to come up with ideas to save the group and himself but sadly his idea fails and gets two people killed. The good thing about Ben is that he is not a selfish person as all his ideas are for the best of the group. It’s really cool to watch Ben adapt to the situation and become more and more of the story’s hero as its goes along. Barbra never does snap back to reality and almost becomes childlike all the way up to her death at the hands of the zombies, but even she snaps to it when the undead are trying to break in and does her best to try and keep them out. With Barbra it’s sad to see her slowly slip deeper and deeper into madness as fear takes over her very soul. Harry Cooper is the opposite of Ben and is a bullheaded loud mouth who has his own butt in mind most of the time, but to be fair he also really cares about his sick daughter. Harry is so consumed with people listening to him and his ideas that he risks the life of Ben to try and get that power.  He is also a chicken as when the threat is turned up he runs and causes more issues when he shoots Ben and gets himself killed in the process. Helen Cooper is your typical unhappy housewife who only stays with her husband for the sake of their child who she loves with all her heart. Karen who is sick by a bite from a zombie is turned into a flesh eater and kills both of her feuding parents. The zombies in this series start out as slow moving terrors who are easily over powered by the living and by the end are in a frenzy and want to eat some human meat and use their numbers to force their way into the farm house. The thing that sticks out both in this comic adaptation and the film is that while he is the most scummy character Harry Cooper’s idea of them hiding in the cellar was the best idea as zombies are unable to get in at the end. This is a great adaptation, and Fantaco did a fantastic job of keeping the story of Night Of The Living Dead going in the 1990’s. Carlos Kastro did the artwork again and while it’s good I did find this issues art to be a little scattered and almost rushed looking, but even with that said the artwork for this whole series is creepy and holds the vibe of the film. In closing if you’re a fan of the film and enjoy reading a good horror comic then check this one out for sure, check out the artwork below of some of the zombies from this series.

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This yea’rs vacation was a lot of fun and was packed with many great places and moments and showed me that taking time away from the stresses of the world and relaxing is something that I need to recharge the battery that is my brain. While I am sad to be done with my vacation, in a matter of a day when this is posted as I will miss the hotel room and the wonderful towns all around it I also must say that it’s good to be home with my cats Leslie and Streets J and as well as planing a film shoot with Baron Von Porkchop. Evans City is truly the home of zombies but our next update is about a icon of Cincinnati, Ohio and will focus on baseball player Pete Rose! So stop using that ball bat to crush zombie skulls and lets head to the ball field and play some ball. Until then enjoy life, read a comic or three, support your local Horror Host and watch out for the living dead.

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Night Of The Living Monster Bash Vacation (2014)

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

Monster Bash Logo

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

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

Frankenstein Monster and Dracula SatueThe Monster CrateWolf Man Satue

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

Day 1 Goods

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

Eat N Pack LogoDay 1 Eat N ParkSmiley

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

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

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

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

Day 2 Goods

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

Me and Crow T RobotCritters in a BoxKiss Poster

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

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

Alien in Window  copyMars UFO copyMars Coffe  copy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Night Of The Living Dead Aftermath 1

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

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

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

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