Matt Goes To The Movies 2015

Matt Goes To The Movies 2015 Screen Logo

This past year was pretty solid for the movies as fans of all genres had something to look forward to with three of the top choices being The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Jurassic World and Star Wars: Force Awakens! But while many movie goers were waiting for those three films, I was silently waiting for the new Mad Max, Rocky and Terminator sequels as well as all of the horror films that were released last year. This time, I didn’t just see movies at my favorite theater Cinemark at the Greene but also watched flicks at Regal, Cinemark Dayton South and Cranberry Cinema and watched films along side the likes of Juliet Fromholt, Josh Weinberg, Jeremy Hoyt, Stephen Alexander II, Anne Rotolante, Patrick Steele and my brother Bryan and his family! I ate many bags of popcorn and drank many Icee’s and loved the cinema experiences…well for the most part! This year was flooded with lots of other moviegoers who brought rowdy kids to the films, morons on cell phones and of course the loud talkers, but even these pesky people couldn’t bring down the mood and feel of the cinema. The ones who annoyed me the most were the loud talkers and kids during horror films, as their behavior took away from the atmosphere of films like Woman In Black 2, Green Inferno and Insidious Chapter 3! But let’s not waste too much time on cell phone zombies and talkers; let’s get to the Rotten Ink Theater and discuss the films I saw! Be sure to read on with caution as some write ups might have spoilers!

MMMMMM Popcorn

As always, we are going to take out the trash first as I present to you the worst films of the year…and oddly enough, I didn’t see too many bad films this year.  Only one film has made the list and while it was not terrible, I found it to be a major letdown.  So let’s get to the worst!

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# 1

Vacation 2015 poster

Rusty Griswald decides to take his family on a trip, not to Europe, but to Wally World, the same place his father Clark took him to so many years back. So Rusty hits the road with his wife and two sons, and along the way, they run into all types of crazy and crude adventures till they reach their goal of Wally World.  Throw in cameos from Clark and Ellen Griswald, and you have Vacation. The things that work for the film is some moments will make you flash back to the other films in the series, the downside are the moments that reminded me of the crude humor of American Pie and The Hangover. While I didn’t hate this film, I was just very much disappointed with it as I was really looking forward to a true National Lapoon’s Vacation sequel, not a crude humor cash in. The film did just okay for New Line Cinema at the US Box Office bringing in a total off $58,863,141.00 on a $31 Million Dollar budget. Again, if you have not seen this yet, skip it and just pop in the DVD of the original and enjoy a comedy classic.

So now that the stinky worst film has been taken out, let’s take a look at action…and oddly enough, this year I didn’t see too many action films and that’s a shame as it’s a genre I enjoy seeing in the theater! I missed the new Fast And The Furious film as well as several others, but here is the list of the ones I did get to see! I even added a sports drama in the action section to help add depth.

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# 2

No Escape (2015) Poster

No Escape” was a fun action thrill ride that has Owen Wilson playing a father who took a job overseas in the water service and soon finds that who he works for forced themselves into the market.  Now a group of rebels have risen up and are killing anyone who they think is ruining their county.  So Wilson has to save his wife and two daughters and get them to safety before they become victims in a bloodbath of anger. This was a fun edge of your seat movie that had many moments that made you wonder how the family was going to survive this riot uprising! The film also adds in Pierce Bronson as a man who is trying to help the family out but also has his own reasons for being there.  Really, this was a good action flick that mixed in just the right amount of a thriller to make it work. The film did pretty good for the Weinstein Company and brought in $27,079,507.00 just in the US Box Office on a $5 million dollar budget. Well worth the watch in the theater, even if the person I went with was Josh Weinberg and he kept texting throughout it!

# 1

Creed Poster

Creed was hands down one of the best films of the year for me and was one that I was most looking forward to as I have been a fan of the Rocky franchise since I was a youngster.  This movie lived up to everything I wanted from it, from drama to sports action, it had it all. Adonis Johnson-Creed is the son of Apollo Creed from a woman he had an affair with.  He fought his whole life to prove something to himself and thanks to the guidance of Rocky Balboa, he stands a chance at becoming a famed fighter like his father. Adonis must learn not only to fight as a trained boxer but also balance his life with his mom (Apollo’s wife), girlfriend Bianca and learning that Rocky is sick. I don’t want to spoil too much of the film’s plot nor the ending but fans of Rocky and Rocky II will eat it up. Sylvester Stallone is fantastic as the aging Rocky and gave the performance of a lifetime, and Michael B. Jordan is amazing and makes Adonis Creed a likable character and delivers the “Rocky” of this generation. The film had a great showing for Warner Brothers bringing in a total in the U.S of $98,756,653 on a $35 million dollar budget as of Dec 30th 2015. Again, I can’t stress enough how great this film is and when seeing it in the theater with my girl Juliet, she teared up at moments of well written and acted drama.  Do yourself a favor, and check it out on DVD or Blu-Ray.

Yeah, I really was slacking in the action department.  I mean I had to add a sports drama film to the list, but it counts because it has Sylvester Stallone and boxing action in it, right? But what I did not slack on is science fiction and fantasy films that had some major heavyweights duking it out, not just at the box office but also for my # 1 spot! So let’s take an epic journey and see who won the pick to be the best 2015 had to offer.

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# 8

Pixels Poster

Aliens have sent Earth a challenge and are using our classic video game characters like Frogger, Pac-Man and Space Invaders as their warriors to battle our top arcade players of the past in a best of three match that pits the humans against real life pixel characters. This film got a lot of hate for no reason and many judged it because it starred Adam Sandler who for some reason is now the kiss of death for a film.  But while it’s no masterpiece of cinema, it is a fun space invader comedy film with cool retro video game characters like Donkey Kong, Space Invaders & Q*Bert and some fun chuckles. Pixels failed at the US Box Office only bringing in $66,412,189.00 for Columbia Pictures on a $88 million production budget. If you watch this film on DVD or Blu-Ray, go in with a clear mind and all the pre-online hate washed from your brain.  You might find yourself having a good time.

# 7

seventh son poster

The evil witch Mother Malkin has escaped and is causing death and terror.  The only hope is Master Gregory, a monster hunter who captured her many years back.  But when his ward dies in battle, he must find a new one who has to be the seventh son of a seventh son and finds him in a young farmer named Tom who he trains to become a killer of witches. Things get tricky when Tom falls in love with a witch and Malkin has called some of the top generals in the world of supernatural.  Gregory must face massive odds to save the world as we all know it. This is a cool fantasy film set in the age of knights that has many monsters and over the top battles that are sure to please most fantasy film viewers. The film was panned by critics, and sadly it tanked at the box office.  I feel like this is yet another of those films that got unfairly judged due to all the delays this production was plagued with. With that said, though the film does have some goofy moments like the over the top accent Jeff Bridges uses while playing Master Gregory, but for the stuff like that there is a dragon, attractive women and a foul troll like monster to make up for it. The film only grossed in $17,223,265.00 at the US Box Office for Universal on a $95 million dollar budget, but luckily it did a little better overseas.

# 6

jupiter ascending poster

Jupiter Ascending is one of those films I think was unfairly judged before it even opened in the theaters, due to delays, and the so called internet “press” before it came out was very negative.  Many moviegoers listened to these “critics” who said it was no good before even seeing it…this is what I call The Lone Ranger Effect. Juliet and I happened to enjoy this sci-fi flick that seemed like a mixture of many genre classics of the past thrown together. It felt like Star Trek, Star Wars, Flash Gordon and Masters Of The Universe had a child that was filled with lots of explosions and air chases. The story follows a young woman named Jupiter who works as a maid for a cleaning service run by her family, but she soon finds out she is much more as she has the soul of a reincarnated galaxy queen in her genes.  The Queen’s two sons and daughter want to manipulate and kill her to retain all she left them when she died in the past! But one lone bounty hunter along with his allies want to keep her safe and allow her to rule without the harm of her children’s greed. How can one woman change the fate of the world, and how will a simple maid deal with all the power and drama? This film’s plot has so much more to it but I don’t want to spoil too much as I think it’s worth a watch for sure. The film stars Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum and Sean Bean, and all of them do a good job pulling off their characters.  The film was directed by The Wachowski’s who are known for The Matrix films. It did poorly for Warner Brother only bringing in $47,387,723.00 at the US Box Office, but while it did poorly in theaters I can see this film gaining a cult following on the home video market.

# 5

Cinderella Poster

Disney has been doing a great job of making live action versions of their classic cartoon films, and Cinderella, much like Maleficent, is a perfect example of that. The story follows Ella, the daughter of a traveling merchant who sadly loses both her parents but not before her father remarries and she has to take care of her stepmom and two step sisters. They treat her not as a family member but more like a slave as they make her cook, clean and wait on them hand and foot. Poor Ella is even made fun of, and they start calling her Cinderella as they tease her looks after she cleaned the fireplaces and had ashes on her. The Prince of the kingdom is having a ball and with the help of her fairy godmother, she is able to attend and steals the Prince’s heart.  After she leaves before the magic of her glamorous life runs out, she leaves behind a glass slipper that is used in finding her. The classic story has never looked this good on the big screen, and I really liked all the actors casted as Lily James is perfect as Cinderella and Helena Bonham Carter is fantastic as The Fairy Godmother and Cate Blanchett is sinisterly good as the Step Mother. The film did pretty well for Disney at the U.S boxoffice bringing in a total of $200,025,513.00 proving that the classic stories never go out of style.

# 4

Terminator Genisys poster

The fifth film in the Terminator series was one of the films I was looking forward to this year as I heard that it was a film that would change the series timeline as we know it.  After viewing it, the film lived up to what I wanted it to be. In the future John Conner sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect his mother Sarah, but when he gets there he finds things are not like they should be as Sarah alongside a Terminator she calls Pops are hunting down and killing every attempt that’s made by Skynet to take her life! They travel through time and soon find out that John Connor himself has been compromised by Skynet and he is the ultimate Terminator! Can Sarah, Kyle and Pops stop the coming of judgement day or is all hope really lost for mankind? The film has lots of action and some cool twists that made it a solid sci-fi action adventure, and while Juliet and I both liked it, it appears that the moviegoers in America were not as hip to the idea of a 5th Terminator film and would rather have spent money on such classic 2015 films like “50 Shades Of Grey”, “Get Hard”, “Spy” and “Trainwreck”! The film did very poorly at the US Box Office, only bringing in $89,760,956.00 on a $155 million dollar budget. While this film was suppose to be the lead in to another trilogy of films, it appears Paramount has pulled the plug on that idea ending the threat of Skynet once and for all…or until they remake it…ugh!

# 3

jurassic world poster

Finally, after 14 years of being closed, Jurassic Park reopens with the fourth film in the series called Jurassic World, and it was amazing and well worth the wait! The film is packed with the charm of the original series but also brings in a touch of horror to make the dinosaurs a little more scary. The plot has the park opening and becoming a huge attraction for families around the world to come and see living dinosaurs, but like all big business comes the want and need to bring in more visitors.  So in come genetic hybrid dinos, but they make a mistake with one that becomes the ultimate killing machine and worse it escapes and is on a killing warpath! Throw into the mix a park big wig and her nephews as well as a trainer who has bonded with a pack of raptors, and you have one fun rampage film! The film stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt and B.D. Wong, who fans of this series will know as Henry Wu. The film was a mega hit all over the world and brought in $651,519,326.00 for Universal at the U.S. Box Office, and by doing so, left itself open for many sequels in the coming years.

# 2

Star Wars The Force Awakens Poster

Star Wars: The Force Awakens shattered box office records and washed the bitter taste of the prequels out of the mouths of fans with a solid and well done sequel directed by J.J Abrams, the man who also rebuilt the Star Trek movie franchise. The story has Luke Skywalker missing and in the shadow of the Empire arose The First Order who is also trying their best for galaxy domination! Scavenger Rey alongside one time stormtrooper Finn must deliver a droid called BB-8 to the rebels lead by Leia Organa and get help from some familiar faces, namely Han Solo and Chewbacca! Throw in a new sith named Kylo Ren and add in some drama, action and heartbreaking moments and you have one hell of a great space war movie! Plus the new characters of Rey and Finn are likeable and great additions to the Star Wars universe. I saw this in IMAX 3-D opening weekend, and the place was packed.  It was amazing seeing how many grown men and women cried during this movie and how many got swept up in nostalgia when the opening credits popped up or when Han and Chewie first appeared. The score was fantastic and done by John Williams once more, and I can’t stress how amazing after all these years it was for me to see iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, C3PO and R2D2 on the big screen again. The film is doing fantastic for Disney bringing in an amazing $629,034,583.00 as of the day this update went up just at the US Box Office! If you enjoy Star Wars movies, video games, comics, novels, cartoons or toys then check this out for sure as major things happen, some that just leave you stunned and heartbroken.  It’s worth owning on DVD or Blu-Ray when released.

# 1

Mad Max Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road was one of the films that I was the most hyped for in 2015, and it lived up to everything I wanted and more! The film follows Max who is kidnapped by a group of wasteland warriors known as War Boys and is used as a human blood bag for their ill warriors. Furiosa is a driver for the War Boys and their leader Immortan Joe.  On a run to get gas, she steals some things that mean a lot to Joe, and he will do whatever it takes to get them back! Max ends up free and tags along for a wild and furious ride with Furiosa that pits them against Immortan Joe and his War Boys! This movie is filled with lots of amazing car action and lives up to what a Mad Max fan would want from a new film in the series. While I did miss Mel Gibson as Mad Max, Tom Hardy does a pretty good job filling his boots. Immortan Joe who is played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played Toe Cutter in the first Mad Max film, is fantastic and is one screwed up false idol! The film is not so much about gas as it’s about the shortage of water and how one crazy person/company in the future could control it all…cough: Nestle. The film also stars Charlize Theron as Furiosa who has become a very popular character and is a cool strong female character. The film did okay at the U.S Box Office for Warner Brothers as it brought in $153,636,354.00. Here is hoping that this film did well enough to make another sequel as I am ready to travel in that wasteland again in my favorite local theater.

There were so many sci-fi and fantasy films this year and to boot, so many great ones! But sorry, Star Wars and Jurassic Park, while you both were great, you’re just no match for Mad Max on the Fury Road! Next up, we move to the topic of comic books as we once more were treated to many super hero films in 2015.  So grab your cape and let’s take a wild ride to see what hero took the # 1 spot for me!

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# 3

Fantastic Four Poster

Fantastic Four was another movie that suffered from being judged before it even hit theaters, all based on a poorly put together trailer and the fact they changed the Human Torch Johnny Storm’s race.  Like Pixels, I think people were way too hard on this movie. Now I must say that this film does have lots of flaws and at times it felt as if the actors had no real direction or motive to put in a powerful performance. The film’s plot has Reed Richards being offered college tuition as he has mastered sending objects to another realm and along with Victor Doom and brother and sister Sue and Johnny Storm, they make a machine to send humans to that dimension.  An accident leaves them all with super powers and turns them into freaks of nature, even his best friend Ben Grimm is suckered in to this mess and transformed. Reed gets the power to stretch his body, Sue can turn invisible and create forcefields, Johnny can turn into a walking talking fireball, Ben turns into a living rock creature and Doom becomes something more and builds a godlike complex that leave the four having to battle Doom in the other dimension to stop his takeover of Earth. The film is silly, and the characters at time seem lost or as if they are bored, but over all I had fun seeing it at the theater. The film did poorly for Fox and is considered one of the biggest bombs of the year as it only brought in $56,117.548.00 at the US Box Office on a budget of $120 million! Love it or hate it, the film entertained me so it did its job.

# 2

avengers age of ultron poster

The Avengers came swinging back into action in 2015 and was an entertaining summer popcorn film that combined two of my favorite things: movies and comics. Iron Man wants to save the world, and by accident, he creates a living robotic being named Ultron who wants to clean the world of humans and start over! Tensions mount as The Avengers are defeated for the first time by Ultron and his two new mutant helpers Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver! But in the end, the team comes back stronger than ever and gets the help of the twinsas well as a clone of Ultron named Vision who all soon learn Ultron is a menace.  Together they save the Earth and defeat the robot armageddon. The film was a lot of fun, but I didn’t feel as it was as strongly as the first film and some subplots seemed out of place and were too Wheadon “Buffy” for me as now Black Widow and Bruce Banner have a forbidden love..silly. With this said, I enjoyed this superhero mega budget action movie and am looking forward to Avengers 3! Avengers 2 did amazing for Disney bringing in a total of $459,005,868.00 at the US box office showing that these heroes still pack a punch for movie watchers.

# 1

Antman Poster

When I first heard they were making a movie based on Ant-Man, I chuckled and thought who is going to play Hank Pym! Then when I heard Hank Pym was being played my Michael Douglas and he was not the focus of being Ant-Man as that was going to Scott Lang played by Paul Rudd, I thought Marvel had lost their minds putting an actor who’s been in a bunch of cheesy comedies as the title hero. But when I saw the trailer, all those doubts flew out the window and I became even more hyped to see this film based on a B-grade Marvel Comic character. The plot has Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, having to trust a master cat burglar named Scott in order to stop his one time company from getting the shrinking human technology.  So Scott becomes Ant-Man, and along side Hank and his daughter Hope, must stop this from happening as well as defeat the sinister Yellowjacket! This film is not only a superhero one but also part heist with a dash of comedy. Paul Rudd surprised me and turned in a great performance, and everything from the acting to the soundtrack worked. In my opinion, hands down this was the best superhero film of the year! The film did well for Diseny at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $178,780,134.00 on a budget of $130 million and at the foreign Box Office add on another $275,900,000.00! Say what you will, but Ant-Man packed a big punch for movie fans.

Never in my life would I think a film about Ant-Man would beat out a film that had Captain America and Hulk in it.  Crazy, but it did and took my # 1 spot! Up next is my favorite genre of films and one I look most forward to writing about for this Best Of update, horror! Once more this year was filled with lots of ghost and possession films as Hollywood thinks that’s all we horror fans want to see at the theater, but I think they are starting to learn as many of these titles did good but not great at the box office. Give me Slashers and classic monsters back and keep the ghost films away for awhile.  I would like to see more Halloween, Friday The 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre films in the theaters. But let’s waste no more time and jump into my top 15 list of horror films I saw in the theater this year!

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# 15

The Boy Next Door Poster

Jennifer Lopez looks fantastic in this horror thriller that has her playing a single mom who is a high school teacher that is trying to move on past her ex-husband who is trying everything in his power to get her back! Her neighbor is a sick old man whose nephew has come to live with them after his parents died in an accident.  This young man befriends J-Lo’s son. After a bad date and a few glasses of wine, she is seduced by the young man next door and they have sex.  This starts her downward spiral as the young man is unstable and becomes so obsessed with her that it leads to possibilities of losing her job, her husband and possibly her life! This film was a fun cheesy thriller that has some moments of suspense and even violence that help it along to be entertaining.  While the plot is mostly predictable, it was still very much worth watching. I saw the film with Josh Weinberg, and he also thought the film was okay. The film at the US Box office has brought in $35,423,380.00 for Universal on a lower budget making it a good solid hit for them.

# 14

the lazarus effect poster

Is there a afterlife? And what if science could find away to bring you back after death? This is the plot for The Lazarus Effect. Zoe is the leader of a research team that includes her fiancee Frank.  They are being filmed by a student as they embark on using a serum they created to bring the dead back to life and have success in bringing back a dog. But things go wrong when the college pulls funding and their research becomes property of a major drug company! Zoe and her crew sneak into the lab for one last test, and an accident leaves Zoe dead and her team using the drug on her.  But when she comes back, something is different, and their beloved co-worker is now an evil killer who is out for blood and can’t get past the major sin of her past. The film was a fun watch, and on the day we saw it, Juliet and I were the only people in the theater watching. The film has some cool yet cliched spooky moments, and Olivia Wilde who plays Zoe does a great job of being the sweet doctor who turns into a black eyed demon.  But the film does have some major plot flaws and characters who make some of the dumbest decisions in any movie I have seen this year, with Frank being one of the most annoying characters I have seen in a long time who seems to be as dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to the fact his mate is not his sweet girl anymore. The film was not a huge hit at the US Box Office but did well for Relativity bringing in $25,784,902.00.  While not a great film, it was worth watching for sure.

# 13

The Gallows Poster

The Gallows was one of those lower budget horror films that when I heard about it piqued my interest and was one that I wanted to see if it could be the next franchise in the genre.  Sadly, while I had a good time watching it in the theater, it was a letdown for the most part. When I saw the name New Line Cinema attached and the trailer dropped the names of Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees and compared them to this film’s villain, named Charlie, I thought for sure we would get a supernatural slasher film, but instead we got another Paranormal Activity clone with a killer that is hardly seen. The film is about a young man who is hanged by accident during a play in 1983, and in 2013, the school is trying the play again.  A group of teens get trapped in the school at night and are hunted down by the ghost of the dead actor who wears an executioner’s mask and carries a noose. The film is bloodless and is of the found footage nature, making for lots of moments of shaky camera work and jump scares but has no really bloody moments. The film’s main attraction for me was actress Pfeifer Brown, who plays the character Pfeifer, the queen of the drama department who was easy on the eyes, as well as the setting of an old creepy school at night which worked in spots. The film did okay for its low budget for New Line and brought in a total of $22,764,410.00 for them at the US Box Office. It could have been better and could have been worse.  This is a film I might watch one more time when it hits DVD to see if I missed anything that might have made this scary.

# 12

Unfriended Poster

Laura Barns was a girl in high school who was filmed passed out at a party after she had an “accident.”  Someone posted the video to Youtube, and so Laura’s harassment and bullying began, which leads to Laura killing herself. On the anniversary of her death, a group of friends meet up for a Skype chat that is hijacked by the account of the dead Laura wanting answers about who posted the video, and if it doesn’t get the real answers people begin to die! One by one the friends drop off but not before each person’s dirty little secrets are shared.  In the end does the spirit of Laura get the answers she seeks? Check out this horror film that takes place almost solely from the view of a computer screen.  While silly in parts, it at least tries to have a message about thinking before you put something on the world wide web that could be hurtful to others. The film’s murders are a little cheesy and amateurish, but they at least get an A for effort in having the guts to murder someone with a curling iron. The only major downside to the film is the ending that felt tacked on and takes away from a more powerful ending that it could have had by having one of the characters have to live with her mistake and secrets out in the world, but instead they went the route of spooky ghost coming to get you. The film made some money for Universal bringing in a total of $32,482,090.00 at the US Box Office. While not a fantastic horror film by any means, I still was entertained by this modern digital way to showcase horror by adding in social media and the cruel nature of high school drama.

# 11

poltergeist poster

This is one of those cases when you look at a film that been remade by Hollywood and ask yourself why would they do that? The original Poltergeist is a perfect rated-PG horror film that scared kids and parents alike and was a team up between Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg that was just a good scary flick. Sam Raimi and his Ghost House Pictures decided that they needed to remake it, and while they believed in their remake, moviegoers didn’t as the film performed very poorly at the theater. The film follows the Bowen family who are down on their luck and must move into a house in a not so nice neighborhood that seems to have some odd issues with the lighting and static electricity. After they learn that the house was built on top of a graveyard, their young daughter Maddy is taken away by spirits, and the family along with paranormal investigators must find a way to save her before it’s too late! The film adds some changes that help make it different from the original, and by all accounts Raimi should have made a sequel and not a remake.  Over all it was okay and was a nice summer popcorn film. The film only brought in $47,425,125.00 for MGM and shows that maybe movie goers are getting tired of remakes of classic horror films. I should also note that I am not a fan of kid actors, but the ones in this film do a good job!

# 10

The Green Inferno Poster

The Cannibal gerne was alive and well in 2015 thanks to Eli Roth, the director of Hostel and Cabin Fever. The film follows Justine, a young college girl who gets wrapped up in helping an activism group try and stop the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.  After they help slow it down, their small plane crashes and they become captives of a tribe of cannibals who kill not only to eat but also for ritual. Justine must muster up the inner strength to make it out alive.  This really gives a new meaning to who will survive and what will be left of them! The film is brutal, but not as brutal as one would think of when watching a cannibal film of the 70’s as only one scene really pushes the envelope on the splatter. Lorenza Izzo plays Justine and is fantastic as she is likeable and you find that you don’t want her to end up as dinner for the tribe. The film was supposed to be released last year but was pushed to this year and made High Top Releasing $7,105,595.00 on a $5 million dollar budget in the US.  So while this leaves itself open for a sequel, it was by no means a hit at the box office.

# 9

krampus poster

The Engel family have gathered for Christmas but when young Max looses faith in Santa Claus, he unleashes the sinister Krampus and his helpers who are out to ruin his Christmas or is that save it? One by one Max watches as his family disapear by the hands of Krampus and his minions.  As they fight back, the odds seem grim.  Can Max take back his Christmas and save his family…watch and find out! This film is one part horror and one part comedy and is brought to you by Michael Dougherty, who also did the holiday themed film “Trick r Treat” and made for a fun watch in early December when it was released in theaters. The film had a good atmosphere as the family is stuck at home with their neighborhood deserted during a freak snow storm with no power and no cellphone reception, and one pissed off shadow of Santa Claus looking for some new souls to take! The creature effects are pretty cool with twisted elves wearing human masks being the most freaky and killer gingerbread men being the silliest and dumbest.  Over all the film was okay and nothing too special. I found other Christmas themed horror films like the original Black Christmas and Silent Night Deadly Night to be way better to chill the holiday season. The film did okay for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in this far $41,333,325.00. If you like Christmas themed horror films or are looking for a fun watch, check it out.

# 8

goosebumps poster

Goosebumps was a popular book series and TV show when I was a youngster, and it’s still popular with today’s youth.  When I heard a film was being made I was pretty hyped, but when I heard Jack Black was in it playing the series creator R.L. Stine, I lost some steam on wanting to see it. But all that changed when I saw the first trailer and all the classic Goosebump monsters on the prowl – I was sold on the idea of seeing it! The film follows a young man who is new in town and in next door to a strange man and his daughter.  You soon find out the man is R.L Stine and that when one of his Goosebumps manuscripts is opened, it frees the monster from within its pages.  Worse, the books are in the hands of that evil ventriloquist dummy Slappy all thanks to the young man accidentally opened one and caused a panic. Can R.L. and the teens stop this monster invasion of their town or will they end up being the monster capital of the world! This is “The Monster Squad” for this generation and was lots of fun, even for me at the age of 36.  It’s well worth seeing in the theater and was a nice change of pace to see a family friendly horror film in the theater! The film made $78,121,323.00 at the US Box Office for Sony, making it not as big of a hit as they were hoping but still one heck of a fun watch for those who wanted to see zombies, a yeti, a werewolf, gnomes and so many others ghouls and monsters at their local theaters.

# 7

Crimson Peak Poster

Edith Cushing is the daughter of a wealthy New York businessman who can see the souls of the dead.  As a child she gets a visit from her mother, who had passed away, warning her to stay away from Crimson Peak. Grown up and after the death of her father, Edith moves away to England with Sir Thomas and his sister Lucille and soon finds that their crumbling mansion is filled with not just red clay but also ghosts, all disfigured and haunting.  Once Edith figures out she is at Crimson Peak, can she not only survive but also solve the mystery of this dreaded family and their home? This film is a gothic romantic horror film that embraces the ghost genre but also tries to add its own charm and atmosphere the way only director Guillermo del Toro can. The film has lots of twists and some surprises that sadly I could see coming 5 miles away.  While this did make the movie slightly less enjoyable for me, it did not take me out of it and I will not spoil the surprises and twists for you here. What kept this movie entertaining for me was not only the set designs and the gruesome ghost effects, but the acting that was top notch with Mia Wasikowska who played Edith being the stand out.  She is fantastic, and I found myself cheering for her to escape Crimson Peak! The film was not a US Box Office winner, only bringing in $31,090,320.00 for Universal on a $55 million dollar budget. While this is not del Toro’s best horror film, it was at least entertaining and had some great moments mixed in with the predictable ones.  It’s worth checking out if you like gothic horror.

# 6

insidious chapter 3 poster

Insidious Chapter 3 is not so much a sequel as it’s a prequel to this new popular horror series. Quinn is a young woman who lost her mother to cancer and wants to have one last chat with her.  She goes to talk to a retired Elise, a former medium who had to give it up after her husband died and an evil spirt tries to attack her whenever she now does a reading.  Her mistake is that she tries to do one for Quinn and by doing so, has a spirit called The Man Who Can Not Breath (an old looking ghost with a oxygen mask on) start to follow Quinn! A bad accident happens that leaves Quinn in a wheel chair with broken bones and even had her flatline in the hospital.  The spirit claims half of her soul when this happens, and it’s up to Elise and Quinn’s father to save her from its evil grips! The film once more is filled with pop up frights as well as a cameo from the series original evil ghost The Black Bride, and adds more to this series back story and shows that while a horror film is slow, it can still back many good scares as Juliet, who I saw this with, jumped out of her seat many times! The film did okay at the U.S Box Office for Focus Features, bringing in a total of $52,218,558.00. The film ends with a possibility of an Insidious Chapter 4, and it will be interesting to see what they did with the new spirit thats introduced at the end.

# 5

The Woman In Black 2 Poster

Hammer Horror has cranking out films about ghosts and possession since their comeback and don’t skip a beat with this sequel to The Woman In Black. The film takes place in England during World War II and follows a group of children and their teachers leaving the city for the safety of the country.  One little boy is targeted by the spirit of a vengeful mother who is The Woman in Black, and she wants him to die like her child did so many years back. It’s up to one brave school teacher and an air force pilot to save the child and find out the secret of this evil spirit. The film has some great atmosphere with the old house and ocean scenery and a chilling soundtrack but is plagued with cheap loud jump scares and a predictable story. Over all The Woman In Black 2 is a fun PG-13 rated horror film that was a nice way to kick off the horror films of 2015 as it was the first to be released to theaters. The film brought in $26,501,323.00 for Relativity and sadly was not a big money maker, but will hopefully do so on home media and digital.

# 4

The Visit Poster

Paula has been at odds with her parents for years after a big blow up causing them never to meet their grandchildren until one weekend that has Rebecca and Tyler meeting them and staying with them after a train ride. Rebecca brings along some cameras and wants to make a documentary for her mother about the trip, but what seems like a fun time with the grandparents turns into a bizarre creepy one as they act odd, complete with good old Grandma running around the house like a wild woman late at nights! This film has a twist ending like all M. Night Shyamalan films, and this one works better than most. The film is not a blood bath and has none of the red stuff flowing.  What it does pack is spooky elements and creepy old people doing odd things that makes you as the viewer uneasy. I don’t want to spoil the ending and twist so I will just say check it out on DVD or Blu-Ray and have a creepy good time with a film set out in the middle of nowhere! The film did okay for Universal and brought in $63,882.720.00 at the US Box Office on a small $5 million dollar budget! Check it out if you want to see a cool film with great atmosphere.

# 3

Victor Frankenstein Poster

Victor Frankenstein suffered from bad marketing and a trailer that made it look more like a dark comedy than a sci-fi, horror drama film that it really is. The film follows Victor Frankenstein and his assistant who he names Igor after rescuing him from a life of being a hunched back clown for the circus and their scientific journey into creating life! The pair build a primate creature, and this leads to the main goal of bringing a man back to life.  Along the journey Igor wins the heart of his dream girl and the pair do business with a rich cut throat scientist and must dodge a police officer who is obsessed with stopping them from messing with God’s nature. This was a fun classic monster film that showed that done right the classics will never go out of style…well at least for fans of the classic monsters. The acting is well done with James McAvoy playing Victor and Daniel Radcliffe playing Igor.  The pair blend the horror, sci-fi, comedy and drama elements perfectly together, and they make the characters seem like legit friends. The moving going public once more did not come out and support this film making it a bomb for Fox and bringing in a very small $5,747,301.00 in at the US Box Office, showing that Americans would rather spend their money at the theater seeing Kevin Hart or Melissa McCarthy play the same roles over and over again. The Frankenstein Monster shows up at the end of the film and is a pretty cool design and the action that takes place in the final battle is pretty fun and packed with fantasy epic moments. Do yourself a favor, and check this film out when it comes to DVD and Blu-Ray.

# 2

Sinister 2 Poster

Sinister II is yet another film this year that I feel was unfairly judged by critics and fans that caused it to strike out at the box office when it was a solid follow up to the original that was packed with creepy moments and some brutal deaths. The film follows Courtney Collins and her two sons Dylan and Zach who live in a old farmhouse hiding out from their father who is abusive.  Meanwhile Deputy So & So is on the hunt to figure out who has been killing families that leaves one child always missing. But we all know that Mr. Boogie and his ghost kids are to blame, and when one of the kids is targeted to watch 8mm films of brutal deaths the cycle continues! This film was lots of fun and have some really disturbing deaths as well as some jump scare moments, I for one really like the Mr. Boogie character and would like to see a part 3 sometime in the future. This film does not just rely on gruesome deaths to chill the bones of the viewer it also uses lots of cult and paranormal elements to add more shivers. The film has some great surprises and elements that are sure to shock and scare. The film didn’t do that well at the US Box Office for Focus Features only bringing in $27, 714,992.00, sadly not sure if this will ger a sequel but here is hopping it does as it was the closest thing I got to a Slasher film this year overrun by films about ghosts and possessions.

# 1

IT Follows Poster

It Follows is one of those independent horror films that shakes up the world of horror and shows that not every film this generation needs to be a ghost or possession story. The film is about Jay, a college co-ed who goes on a date with a young man.  After they make love, he knocks her out and when she awakens, she is tied up and he tells her that she will now be followed by It, a shapeshifting walking thing that if she is touched by she will die! The only way to save yourself is to sleep with someone else and pass it along. The film follows Jay as she comes to terms with a thing that follows that her friends cannot see, just so desperately want to help defeat. The movie is filled with surprises and twists that will sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. I saw this film at the Regal Cinema in Beavercreek with Jeremy Hoyt, and we both agreed that this was a top notch thriller with an original and entertaining plot and is worth watching for sure. While this was a hit at filmm festivals and art house theaters when it opened wide, it brought in only $14,674,076.00 in the US for Radius, and thats a shame as I would have hoped horror fans would have went to the theater and supported this great film.

It was a great year for movies at the cinema, and it was made better by all my friends and family that came with me to the theater. It was amazing seeing sequels to films like Star Wars, Mad Max, Terimator, Rocky, Jurassic Park, Sinister and others that didn’t take the cheesy remake or reboot route. The Horror Films of the year did a pretty good job of scaring viewers when they were suppose to. This year is also filled wall to wall with great films and will be another year of films that will make me nerd out! So up next we are going to take a look at the mini comic based on the Atari 2600 game called YARS’ REVENGE so all you old school gamers and comic readers make sure to come back for that one! In the comments below make sure to let me know what you favorite film of 2015 was as I would love to see what you my friends and readers are enjoying these days. So until then watch a movie or two and support your local movie theater.

Yars Reveng top of game logo

The 8th Wonder Of Giant Classic Comics King Kong

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

King Kong 1933 1King Kong 1933 PosterKing Kong 1933 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

King Kong JapanKing Kong Missing 1King Kong Missing 2

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

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

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

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

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

Movie Maniac King KongImperial King KongBen Copper King KongKing Kong Novel

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

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

King Kong 1

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

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

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

King Kong Art

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

Creature from the Black Lagoon Logo 2

The Lost And Found Frankenstein Monster

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edisons Frankenstein 1910 Comic

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

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

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

Edisons Frankenstein Comic Art

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

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