The History Of The Horror Movie Marathon

Welcome back to my little space on the ‘net where I talk about comics, movies, toys and video games and share some of my great memories with you all. One of my favorite pastimes was an event I call “The Horror Movie Marathon” where I would show horror flicks starting early morning until very late into the night.  This started out at what was called Independent B Movie Studios, that was really my parents basement, and would have me and some of my closest friends like Matt Hoffman, Josh Weinberg, Jason Gilmore, Dave Wean and Brandon Womeldorff over.  We would stuff our faces with potato chips, snack cakes, popcorn, soda and pizza and watch many horror films on VHS that we would buy the morning of the event from local second hand stores. The event only lasted a few years (like from 1999-2003) at that location, and the gang would come and go. Many times it would be just me and Josh or Jason as the rest of them were at work. And as quickly as they started, this fun bonding event disappeared as we all started moving away from our parents’ houses and got full time jobs and made our own films. The VHS days of this event were a blast, and we would spend hours looking through the horror shelves at video rental stores like K&L Video, Accent Video, West Coast Video and Blockbuster Video and buying PVT (Previously Viewed Tape) classics, but mostly we would buy cheesy films from places like Second Time Around and Replay Media and get titles like Winterbeast, The Prey, Demonoid Messenger of Doom, Dracula’s Widow, Terror On Tour, Hack-O-Lantern, Judgement Night, Grim Reaper, Phantom of the Opera and many more creepy schlocky horror. Fans of VHS tapes know what I mean when I say nothing will ever take the place of watching a horror flick late at night with friends and having the grainy glow of the TV fill the darkened room, and watching the film and at the best part, be it the kill or nudity, the tape would roll from being rewound and watched too many times.  Not to mention the sound of the tape rewinding as you and your pals talked about the film and what shocking horrors awaited you in the next creature feature. Those days were the best, and I will always cherish those moments I had with these friends.  One day I would love to get together with Gilmore, Weinberg, Hoffman, Wean and Womeldorff and have a classic marathon of VHS horror!

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The Horror Movie Marathon was not a new concept to me as my brother Bryan and I would have many of these all night horror film watching session years before these events, with films on TV like USA’s Up All Night, Saturday Nightmares and TNT’s Monstervison.  We would also watch rented or owned horror films on VHS before and after the cable shows. Anyways years after the the semi-retirement of the event I found myself living with my good friend Patrick Neeley and out of a job as I was let go from my work loading and unloading furniture trucks around 2006 and had no leads of finding a new one. Around the same time I has having issues with my then girlfriend Jennifer that lead to a breakup and could only find part time work at Mavericks Cards and Comics and the kicker was Patrick was going to be moving out! But thank God my good friend Jason Young allowed me to live with him and his roommates Doogie (Chris) and Zippy (Josh), and after a few brief and failed relationships I was able to find my cool as hell girlfriend Juliet. As things were getting back on track for me in 2007, I was missing the days of the marathon and was itching to have another one, but had no place to do it when Juliet was kind enough to offer her apartment for me to host the event! This was amazing news for me, and I went out and bought tons of snack food and pop and restarted the event that had always been so near and dear to my heart. But with this new age of the Marathon VHS was out and DVD was in, and while Josh Weinberg and Matt Hoffman were returning faces from the past, the guest list now included my cousin Stephen Alexander and friends like Chris Lett, Max Ervin, Lisa Weinberg, Jason Young, Doogie, Lauren Campenell, Mike Ritchie, Nick Williams, Thomas “Maurice” Blurton and many others. Juliet’s apartment became the new spot for the Marathon and we watched many films for the first time as well as revisited classics like Dracula’s Great Love starring Paul Naschy, Bigfoot, Salvage, Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster, Ice Queen and a mountain of other monster and slasher films. The small kitchen of her apartment was filled with tons of food like chicken wings and pizza as well as snacks and pops and beers.  The events became a huge hit again with my old high school friends as well as my friends I made along the years, and this became an issue as the venue, her apartment, was not large enough to fit all my friends who were coming over to watch the films! At one point we had a full room of people watching Dracula’s Great Love at around midnight and everyone was squeezed in like sardines around the old tube TV in the studio apartment. But like before, The Horror Movie Marathon came to a end as I started a new job managing Game Swap in Kettering as well as worked still for Mavericks and other things started to get into the way of us having marathons as well as friends less and less showing up at one point I held a Marathon and the only people to show up were Stephen, Chris Lett, Doogie, Juliet and myself making for a fun time with a very tiny turn out. During this Horror Movie Marathon 2.0 I also started a little thing called the pre-show that had a select few coming over to the apartment that I was now living at with Juliet to watch a couple of horror films before the main day. The select few were Stephen and Josh, and it was a cool way for us to hype ourselves up for the next day. But due to poor turn outs, not enough space for big turn outs and just life, the marathon once more was retired and thus ended its first comeback into my life in around 2012.

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Flash forward to 2015 when my cousin Stephen had just bought a house in Dayton.  While at work, he and I started to chat and toss around the idea of having me bring back The Horror Movie Marathon at his house as it has plenty of room and he as well as other friends missed the event and wanted it to return. I also missed the event and after thinking for just a few minutes, I agreed to bring the event back and so was born the current Horror Movie Marathon 3.0 that is still going strong to this day! We choose May 24th 2015 as the date of the marathon and Juliet, Stephen and I came up with the idea that at this event would be tons of independent sodas and beers would be available for our friends to drink all day and night to help add to the festive and gathering feel. We also ordered tons of chicken wings from Frickers as well as had candy, chips and hummus for people to snack on while watching the horrors of the small screen. We also had a Pre-Show the night before, and besides Josh, we also invited our pal Garrison Kane to watch films like House Of Wolfman, Frankenstein Theory and Deadly Mantis to kick off the event right. The first event at the new location was a big hit, and many friends showed up from Todd The Fox all the way to Jeremy Hoyt and everyone inbetween was there and ready to get scared and spend time with friends. The films included Deadly Manor, Summer of Massacre, Headless, Wolf Cop and Return To Boggy Creek, to name a few. The next event we had at Stephen’s house was on September 27, 2015 and had us watching such films as 100 Tears, Crimson, Stiches, Redwood Massacre, New Years Evil and Frankenfish to name a few and like the first event we packed the house, and everyone had fun. But sadly the third event that we held on April 10th 2016 slowed down in attendance, but those who showed up all had fun watching films like Elves, Dr. Jekyll And The Werewolf, XTRO, Demon’s Rook and Madhouse! Also during this time Juliet and I would also hold our own marathons for just the two of us, complete with pre-shows and all the great snacks and terrors that go along with the full attraction ones. With a new location and new and old blood mixing to have a good time and watch some horror films, the marathon seems to have a new home at Stephen’s house. One thing that has always been a highlight of The Horror Movie Marathon from the past to the present is sitting with friends and talking about the films we have just watched and seeing why they liked or disliked the film.  One of the best recent fun discussions was when Jeremy Hoyt got worked up over the film Headless and its extreme violence toward women and the rest of us saying what do you expect from a gore film? The Horror Movie Marathon is back, and if I can help it will never fade away again.

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So I decided for this update that I am going to cover not one, but two of the latest Horror Movie Marathons I have had with the first being held on November 13th 2016 with the Pre-Show taking place on the 12th that was a all-welcome friends marathon held at Stephen’s house. For the Pre-Show we had Garrison Kane, Theresa Lopez and Jeremy Hoyt, and we watched the following films to kick us into the spirit of this after Halloween blues marathon starting with “Evil Unleashed: The Mummy” that was about a Egyptian princess who sells her her soul and in modern time comes back as a vengeful Mummy on the prowl to kill some college kids who have stumbled onto her plan of ruling the world and bringing evil down on us all. The next film was released by Wild Eye Releasing called “ The Mothman Curse” and was about two woman who are working for a movie museum who are having visions and nightmares about the Mothman who seems to slowly bringing them into madness. I was feeling pretty rough from a sore throat and cold so we didn’t have a third film of the night that would have been the old Independent B Movie film I made called “Vigilante C: The Hunt For The Man-Beast,”  We all decided that the best film of the night was Evil Unleashed and not because it was good, just because it had some laugh out loud cheesy moments as well as backyard effects and a naked Mummy! The worst movie was Mothman Curse as we all found it very boring and while it felt like an arthouse film, it was just lacking being scary or entertaining. The night was fun, and everyone seemed to be having a good time, but oddly enough Josh Weinberg no showed the event as the date was picked for him to make it before the holiday rush of his work! But once the horrors of the small screen ended, bedtime was up and I got some much needed rest to try and shake the wicked cold that had me in its grip.

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The next morning at 7:00am sharp, we began the full Official Horror Movie Marathon and started with the 1943 Universal Monster film “The Mad Ghoul” about a scientist who falls in love with one of his student’s fiance and uses a gas that turns people into zombies in order to break them up and use his student as a tool of murder as a love triangle is in play. The vampire musical “Suck” was the next film and was about a down and out band who become vampires in order to become rock stars, but soon after meeting a vampire hunter try and stop their blood sucking ways! “Xtro II: The Second Encounter” was the third film and was about scientists in a underground facility being stalked by a killer alien from another dimension. The 1991 evil demon children film “The Boneyard” was next and was about a pair of cops as well as a psychic and a reanimated young lady who committed suicide stuck in the basement of the city morgue fighting for their lives against three evil demon children and their sinister creations. The next film was a Sci-Fi Channel original called “Scarecrow” about a killer you guessed it Scarecrow killing off a group of troubled kids as the owner of the farm and their teacher fight to try and save them. A independent slasher film was up next called “Hayride” about a killer who runs wild during Halloween and attacks people during a hayride attraction and customers and workers are his targets. The 1971 creature feature “Octaman” was next and had scientist battling a full size octopus man who wanted revenge for the taking and killing of his children and of course he ends up falling for one of the females that leads to the creatures downfall. “Gnome Alone” was the next flick to entertain us about a cursed witches bloodline that is plagued by a evil Gnome who also acts as their protectors and sadly a young girl becomes next in line, but this pint size terror also has a lust for not only revenge but blood. Kane Hodder and Bill Mosley starred in our next film called “Old 37” about two brothers who grew up watching their father who was a paramedic kill those in need, and now along with his old ambulance has taken up the killing ways. With the world being scared of creepy clowns, the next film for the marathon had to be the slasher flick “Clown Town” and was about a group of friends being stalked by killer clowns in a rundown town and they must quickly fight back in order to stay alive. And what better way to follow up a film about killer clowns than to deliver one about a serial killer in a easter bunny suit who along with his crazed friend stalk and kill women and that film was called “Bunnyman Massacre”. The 1985 shot on video film “The Ripper” was the final fright of the night and was about the spirit of Jack The Ripper being stuck inside a ring that possesses a school teacher who in turns starts up the killing spree of women in modern times, and cool enough FX Master Tom Savini plays The Ripper at the films climax. The event was pretty well attended with such friends as Stephen Alexander, Theresa Lopez, Jason Young, Jeremy Hoyt, Mike Ritchie, Juliet Fromholt and Garrison Kane all making appearances throughout the day, and weirdly enough once more this day Josh Weinberg didn’t show up to watch the spooky features of the small screen.

As always the Horror Movie Marathon was packed with some great food from snack food like potato chips and M&M’s all the way to pizza rolls and subs from Submarine House. As always we all had fun watching the films with Stephen, Theresa and I being the ones that stayed and watched all twelve films! I mean of course I was there the whole time as I am the host of the event, but have to say a big thanks to those two for enjoying every film alongside me. So for the best and worst list, I am going to have Stephen as well pick his to share his insights of the days horror flicks. This was a tough one to pick my best as I enjoyed many of the films that were shown and I felt all of them offered something different to the Horror Film world. My worst film of the day was pretty easy to pick as I would have to say Bunnyman Massacre as I felt that while watching a killer in a bunny suit chasing around women with a chainsaw was cool, it was the side character Joe who was also a killer who had some of the most lamest cuss spewing lame dialogue I have ever heard that, killed the mood of this slasher. Stephen as well selected Bunnyman Massacre as his worst and said this for his reason “It started strong and ended weak”. My # 3 of the day was The Ripper as this is one I seen on VHS many moons ago when my brother and I rented it from K&L Video.  For some reason, the cheesy storyline along with the gruesome gore effects makes it a guilty pleasure film.  Plus you can’t go wrong with Tom Savini as Jack The Ripper! My # 2 pick was Suck as I found this Rock N Roll musical to be well made and super funny as it also mixed comedy into the formula.  Plus you can’t go wrong with a film that stars Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins. Hands down, my # 1 was The Boneyard as I found it super fun, super creepy and over all a great flick! I mean whereelse in the world can you see a Phyllis Diller giant monster as well as a killer poodle monster? For me the film The Mad Ghoul almost made it to the my list as the third film but The Ripper was able to edge its way into the spot or should I say slash! For Stephen his picks were as follows: For his # 3 spot went to Octaman with his reason for picking it being “Solely because of the monster and how much they used him.” His # 2 spot was The Boneyard, and he had this to say, “Because it was fun and the monsters were very cool. Plus the use of average everyday people (as the actors) was refreshing”. And his # 1 spot went to Suck and this is why, “It was funny and a surprise. It had some cool people in it and the effects were cool. I definitely had the most fun with it by far”. So with that, this After Halloween Horror Movie Marathon came to an end and was a great time with great friends, good flicks and tasty food.

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For me growing up as a Monster Kid, having these get togethers with some of my nearest and dearest friends and family members is something that is just really special as I have a love for Horror Films and this allows me to share that with them. Plus what’s neat about these films I have shown for the Horror Movie Marathon 3.0 version is 98% of the time the films that are selected are first time watches for many of us and 2% of the time is stuff that we might have seen before but was so long ago that we want to revisit them. Take the above marathon for insistence, I had only seen two of the films before with them being Evil Unleashed: The Mummy and The Ripper, both that I had seen when I was younger with the rest being first time views! But to be fair, I can’t remember if I had seen Octaman before. And with that the next marathon I want to cover for this update was one that Juliet and I had at our apartment and was filled with many horror films that I helped via Kickstarter or Indie GoGo and only one film that I had seen before and was an event I was very much looking forward to! So check out below for a few more films I can remember the old gang watching on VHS for the first wave of the Horror Movie Marathon’s life and then we shall get into the main event of this update!

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Juliet and I selected April 3, 2017 as the day for this marathon as we wanted to pick a date to make this History of The Horror Movie Marathon fresh. So like normal, I had a typical day at work and headed home so that we could start the pre-show sharply at 6:00pm, and we had sausages for dinner.  We started the first film on the night, the 2016 flick that I helped on Indie Go-Go called “Killjoy: Psycho Circus,” the 5th film in this popular Full Moon Entertainment series that has the killer demon clown Killjoy hosting his own talk show called Psycho Circus and he and his band of killer clowns must rumble with Beezlebub who wants revenge. “Silent Night, Bloody Night: Homecoming” is a semi remake to the classic 1972 holiday flick and was the next fright flick pick.  It follows the cursed Butler Mansion and the killer that is stalking its grounds killing off the residents of the small town. “Monster On Campus” was next, and this Universal Monster film followed Doctor Donald Blake who by accident turns himself into a neanderthal man when he is cut on the hand by a prehistoric fishes tooth. And the final film of the night was “Sorority Slaughter House,” a cheesy killer doll film that has a college dean killing himself over a broken affair with a student that has his soul going into the body of a clown doll called Bobo. All these films helped add to the excitement of the coming Horror Movie Marathon day with both Juliet and I picking Monster On Campus as our favorite film of the night as it was a true cheesy science fiction horror film that was complete with a cool monster and historical women fainting into the arms of our monster. We both had different picks for our Golden Turkey of the night as I picked Sorority Slaughter House as mine because it was just plane bad! The film’s killer, Bobo, was not scary and voiced by Eric Roberts, and they reused the same shots over and over of the dolls feet moving around the house.  None of the cute girls get naked, and the plot was lame when they factor in a forced lesbian storylines and terrible shirtless male actors, but that’s what you get with modern David DeCoteau films. Juliet’s Golden Turkey pick was Silent Night, Bloody Night: Homecoming as she felt like it was a rushed remake that didn’t add anything new to the story and by all accounts would have been confusing to fans who had never seen the original as it did a poor job of diving into the film’s character history. But with the pre-show done and visions of bloody murders in my head, we went to sleep to gear up for the long day of Horror Flicks that awaited us.

On April 4th the weather outside was chilly yet nice spring weather, and Juliet and I woke up around 7am and started the marathon with the 1958 vampire film “The Return Of Dracula” that has Dracula hiding from his hunters with a family as posing as one of their relatives. “Godzilla 1984” was the next film and had Godzilla returning to Japan to once more destroy everything in sight and only a flying air craft and a scientist are the worlds hope. The third creepy flick was “Insane” about a couple buying a new home that has a sinister past of murder and when a clown show up things only get weirder. Shot-on-video film “Night Of The Clown” was up next and followed a family being stalked and killed by a killer in a clown suit who seems to hate pickles. The Massacre Home Video release of “City In Panic” was up next and was a cool slasher film about a killer who targets people with HIV. The sixth film of the day was directed by Don Dohler and was called “Fiend” about a killer spirit that reanimates a body who must kill in order to not rot away and tries to blend into a neighborhood but soon gets the attention of his neighbor who tries to solve the killings. Next was “Plank Face,” a horror film about a man who is taken captive by backwoods women who turn him into a wood faced breeding and attacking machine. Slasher film “Fender Bender” was next about a killer who picks his victims by causing small auto accidents to get their information and then coming to their homes and killing them. The next film was suppose to be “Knucklebones” put out by Brain Damage Films, but the movie on the disc was the wrong film so we watched the 1931 “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi! The next chiller was “Bloody Bloody Bible Camp,” a dark horror comedy about a masked killer nun who kills teens at a camp for worship. “The Barn” was next a film about three demons who are unleashed on Halloween when a group of friends awaken them! And the final fright of the night was “Krampus Unleashed” about a family who are targeted by Krampus an Christmas Eve.

This was another amazing Horror Movie Marathon that was filled with great food like Oh My Garlic Wings and breakfast casserole and lots of great and amazing films! I must say that all the films were so different and all entertaining in their own ways! But of course, Juliet and I had to pick our Golden Turkey of the day.  Mine was Night Of The Clown, while it was entertaining it seemed more like a inside joke about pickles and like a film that was made on a bored weekend with only two people in the whole cast. While I say that it was the Golden Turkey, I must stress that I really did enjoy the film for its backyard effects and great cheesy killer. Juliet picked Insane as she felt it was just not fully developed, and the story and characters seemed to lack motivation. Now my top three films of the day were hard to pick as I really enjoyed many of them, but here they go: my # 1 was The Barn as I found it really enjoyable and a nice throwback film to the 80’s, plus the movie monsters of the film Candycorn Scarecrow, Hollowed Jack and Boogeyman are all really great and work really well. The film has great acting and an amazing score as well…a must see. The # 2 film of the day for me was Fiend as the simple and effective film had a great story and a cool villain as the calm and cocky Longfellow stole the show as he choked his victims with glowing red hands! The cheesy effects of the rotting Longfellow were really cool and reminded me of Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. My # 3 film of the day was hard to pick, but I decided that it was City In Panic as I found this low budget American Giallo feeling film to be a cool way to tackle the Aids scare of the 80’s and also had a fun plot of a radio DJ and his nightly talk show helping crack the case. Runners up for me had to be Plank Face and Return Of Dracula, both films I also really enjoyed. Juliet selected the following as her top films of the day # 1 The Barn, # 2 City In Panic and her # 3 was Plank Face! With this Marathon in the history books, I am looking forward to the next and the next as these events are truly special and a way for me and friends and loved ones to relax to the horrors of the TV screen.

The Horror Movie Marathon has had its ups and downs over the years in attendance and even with just staying around, but one thing is for sure, it has always entertained me and my friends who all love a good scare and who enjoy the spooky horrors of our TV screens thanks to home media. And while media has changed, I am hoping that The Horror Movie Marathon will stay around a very long time to entertain my friends and me with Horror films from the past and present. But for our next update, we are going to get up from the comfy couch and snack foods and head into the world of Atlas Comics as we take a look at one of their amazing superheroes Tiger Man! So until next time, read a comic or two, watch a Horror Film or three and enjoy some free time with your friends and family! See you next update as we go on the crime fighting hunt with the fearsome Tiger Man.

Horror Host Icon: The Creeper

Dayton has had its fair share of Horror Hosts with Dr. Creep of Shock Theater on Channel 22 being the most well known and loved. After Dr. Creep went off the air in 1985, the Horror Hosting void was filled years later thanks to public access and Hosts like A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Dr. Freak, Iris & Retina, Baron Von Porkchop, Commandant Gore and The Creeper who entertained and brought back the local host to TV airwaves. Growing up I have spent lots of late nights and early weekend afternoons watching Horror Hosts on the TV, and one that in my opinion has been way over looked here in the Dayton, Ohio area is The Creeper who hosted a great little show called “Moraine Playhouse Theater” that provided so many moments of entertainment for me and my brother Bryan. Thinking about it, I think The Creeper and A. Ghastlee Ghoul both started their Horror Host careers at the same time in 1989, making them both the official first Dayton, Ohio Horror Hosts to fill the void of the legend Dr. Creep! So it’s with complete honor that I present to you again, and for some the first time, a host who brought so much joy to my youth and one that should be remembered for all he has done for not only Public Access TV but also the city of Moraine.  So welcome to this long overdue update as I bring to you Horror Host Icon: The Creeper!

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The Creeper was a host who enjoyed hosting locally shot Horror and Science Fiction no budget films on his show called Moraine Playhouse Theater that started in 1989 and aired on the public access stations MVCC and later DATV. No one is sure what The Creeper’s backstory is or why he loves to show cheesy locally shot movies but did know that he as well thought the armature films were stinkers but highly enjoyable. Over the shows run The Creeper had two looks that stuck out the most with me, with one being eye glasses with huge fake eyes, a red nose and a Halloween mask worn on the top of his head and backwards given the appearance that he had white hair and the more used and normal look for the later years of the show was a mask that was bald on top and white hair on the sides with an older vampire appearance that showcased wicked long teeth at the top of his mouth. But The Creeper’s appearance changed many times turning his run on public access even wearing a Jason Voorhees Hockey Mask! The Creeper just like Dr. Creep was known for his sinister high-pitched laugh that he would deliver through out the episode and would be something viewers would look forward to hearing. The Creeper’s style for hosting Moraine Playhouse Theater was that he would open and close the movie and would tell you at the start the films title and who was acting in it, while at the end he would most the time promote the film some more with also at times telling us about the next film to be shown. But while in most cases having a Horror Host only host during the opening and closing would not fair well with viewers it worked for The Creeper as Moraine Playhouse Theater was about an hour long and never felt like it over stayed it’s welcome with the armature cheesy film. One things for sure those who grew up watching The Creeper on Moraine Playhouse Theater understand that this nasally talking, high pitched laughing Horror Host was truly a great way to fill the void of Dr. Creep as our local Dayton, Ohio Host and made No Budget Horror films cool to watch and make.

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The Creeper was played by Dave Miller who at the time was working for the City of Moraine in the Parks and Recreation department and even as of this update he is still working for the city. He started his public access career in 1979 with the show “Moraine Recreation Update” and from there he and his friends would later go on to make their own No Budget Films and created “Moraine Playhouse Theater” as an outlet to show the films as well and encourage fellow Ohio viewers to write, produce and direct their own films with a chance to be shown on Moraine Playhouse Theater or better yet able to help on one of their films. For his time on Public Access Dave Miller has won many awards including an Arnie and as well is respected for all the stuff he has done for the city of Moraine. Dave also in his free time likes to hike looking for history and also enjoys going on ghost hunting adventures! Dave Miller is a man who takes pride in his city, state, family and making entertainment! I want to also note that he had a show called “Moraine Teen Theater” that was much like Moraine Playhouse but the films were done my teenagers!

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The Creeper never had any real sidekicks on his show but he did have many recurring characters in the movies he would show like the Paranormal Investigators, who were a group of scientists who would look into legends and cryptozoology creatures. They were very popular amongst the viewers and I can remember talking to kids at school about them as well as my brother and me would try and predict what other monsters they could have them hunt from Bigfoot all the way to Frankenstein’s Monster in future movies. We also had Deputy Cheeks, Sheriff Cobb and Billy Joe Black Bear all who lived in Colorado and hated the masked killer Jason Myers. But hands down the most popular character and the one that almost anyone who watched this show remembers is the hockey mask wearing supernatural serial killer named Jason Meyers who starred in four films that aired on the show and even was interviewed by The Creeper on one episode of the show! So while no characters shared the hosting duties with The Creeper on Moraine Playhouse Theater, the show did have many of the returning characters in the no budget movies feel like a part of the shows lore because they where! Below is a picture of the Paranormal Investigators as well as Jason Meyers all whom made this Horror Host show even more special for us the viewers.

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While the Jason Myers Friday The 13th knockoff films are some of the most iconic flicks that The Creeper had hosted one other has always stuck out to me! Moraine Playhouse Theater episode 7 were he hosted the film “Trail Of The Werewolf” that was an adventure of the Paranormal Investigators who travel to Minnesota in order to stop a killer werewolf who has been making short work of the locals. The Creeper segments were nothing to special and had him wearing a hockey mask in what appears to be a kitchen and while he is as entertaining as ever it was the over all cheesiness of the film that stuck out the most to me. The werewolf was just a man in a half faced werewolf Halloween mask, but to be honest I think that’s what I love about it the most. The effects of the kills was pure backyard stuff and tame and the soundtrack like most of the movies made for this show was taken from Night Of The Living Dead. My favorite scene from the film is when The Werewolf attacks a gravedigger in the cemetery, so fun and holds the true spirit of independent no budget cinema. You see I have always been a fan of werewolves and as you long time readers and friends know my first ever original shot on video film was “Werewolf Of Ohio” and with Trail Of The Werewolf being made years before it, I wonder if maybe this film and episode of Moraine Playhouse Theater helped inspire my cult shot on video film, it’s very possible as I know that this show was my introduction to armature local shot on video films. The copy I got of this episode came from the master tapes of The Creeper and while it has glitches I still found it to be as entertaining as it was in the past and this could be my favorite film of the series with my favorite host segments being on Moraine Playhouse Theater episode 4 aka the episode that shows Jason Still Lives Part 2: The Ski Resort Murders. So I want to send out a big thanks to The Creeper and the cast of crew that made this show and its movies as they helped shape this aging Monster Kid into what he is today.

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After about 15 years of being away from TV screens across the Dayton, Ohio area I had to look high and low in every local graveyard and abandon video rental stores to find him and I am proud to say that The Creeper has been found and was nice enough to take a few moments away from watching his shot on video no budget horror films to give me a interview! So here it is 5 Questions with The Creeper…

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Matt: Welcome to Rotten Ink Creeper, and I guess my first question for you is when did you decide to become a Horror Host and unleash Moraine Playhouse Theater onto the viewers of MVCC Public Access?

Creeper: Growing up I enjoyed watching Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr. and Christopher Lee horror movies and from that interest I purchased a super 8 movie camera.  My friends and I in high school began making silent movies in 1973 and trying to add sound to them with a tape recorder.  In 1979 working for the City of Moraine I was introduced to MVCC and began filming, writing, editing and hosting Moraine Parks & Recreation shows for the municipal access channel.  In the late 1980’s I began the Moraine Playhouse Theater shows hosted by The Creeper.  We wanted to write, act in and show our movies on TV and thought that some kind of horror host character would work good to introduce and make fun of our own movies.

Matt: So what if any Horror Hosts inspired you to become a host yourself?

Creeper:  Growing up before cable TV my television at home could only pick up four local channels and if the weather was good I could get one Cincinnati channel and one Indianapolis channel.  I watched Dr. Creep in Dayton, the Cool Ghoul in Cincinnati and Sammy Terry out of Indianapolis.  They were funny and played all the Universal classic monster movies.

Matt: So over the years us viewers always wondered why you changed your appearance so much, was it to keep us guessing at what was next from you?

Creeper: I really didn’t want to change the appearance of The Creeper.  I had a creepy looking half ghoul/ half old man mask that was perfect for The Creeper.  But I used it every year for Moraine’s haunted house attraction (which became Slash Moraine) which we ran three or four weekends every October for Moraine Parks & Recreation.   So eventually the mask wore out.  So in some Playhouse Theaters I grabbed whatever mask was handy, one time just grabbing the Jason hockey mask and wrapping myself in a bed sheet.  It added to the cheesy-ness of our productions.

Matt: Your show Moraine Playhouse Theater has had many fan favorite episodes, but what is your favorite episode?

Creeper: We began in 1989 and through 1999 we had over a dozen shows.  Among them we had four movies centered around the “Jason” character, one movie where we battled a werewolf, another movie aliens and UFO’s.  But my favorite movie was when the Paranormal Investigators battled a vampire in “Trail of the Vampire”.  It was classic poor acting, cheesy special effects, but a good story line which always keeps us laughing every time we watch it.  My second favorite is “Cops & Robbers” (we spent a lot of time on that creative title didn’t we?) which is a fast paced police tale in which the detective’s are on the trail of a criminal genius named “The Viper”.  Depending on the availability or lack of availability of the person playing the Viper, if you look real close sometimes the Viper has a full head of hair, sometimes he is going bald.

Matt: The final question that is on all the minds of us who grew up watching your show is will their ever be new episodes and will we ever see “Trail Of The Zombie” the lost adventure of The Paranormal Investigators?

Creeper: I am going to say yes you will see it by years end.  I need to learn digital editing at MVCC because editing and creating the final product is the most fun aspect of moviemaking to me.  We have a zombie footage scene that we filmed in back in 1991 and have filmed scenes for this movie at least four or five other years.   I guess it is time to try to come up with a plot to tie them all together (if that is even possible) and finish filming this epic movie.  And yes, The Creeper will host the show and I am sure he will mock the script and the poor acting.

Matt: Thanks for all these wonderful answers Creeper!

WOW! That’s fantastic news as it would be great to have another Dayton, Ohio Horror Host active to go alongside Baron Von Porkchop. And with rumors of a new episodes by Iris & Retina of “Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go” being in the works, Dayton might just become a hot bed for Horror Hosts again! I want to thank The Creeper for taking time away from his no budget films to answer these questions for me and my readers as it’s always fun to chat with a Host!

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So we are now at the part of this Horror Host Icon review where we take a look at the episodes I have on DVD-R.  I want to thank Andy Copp, who, a long time ago for my birthday, got me a copy of Episode 4.  Also, a big thank you to Dave Miller and the staff of MVCC who got me all the remaining episodes.

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Moraine Playhouse Theater:  Cops And Robbers
Starring – Tim Clark & Dave Miller     Not Rated      199?

Host: The Creeper, wearing a skull mask, introduces the 6th episode of the series and hypes up both films that will be shown! The first is called “Cowboy And Indians” and acts as the warm up film as it’s a vintage 1970’s super 8 film. After the first film, The Creeper is wearing a goblin Halloween mask and explains that he will be going Trick Or Treating and then introduces the second film, a detective themed flick. At the end of the show, The Creeper wishes everyone a Happy Halloween and tells us about the next film that would appear on the show.

Movie: Jack Hammer and Joe Monday are two good detectives who are in the big city and must try to end the crime wave of the evil masked crime lord, The Viper, and his sinister henchmen!

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Moraine Playhouse Theater:  Jason Still Lives
Starring – Scott Golden & Tim Clark    Not Rated    1989

Host: The Creeper comes out of a coffin and informs us that the night’s film is inspired by the Friday The 13th film series and will showcase the talents of many of Moraine, Ohio’s top armature actors. At the end of the show, The Creeper is drinking blood and introduces his son The Leper who is over 200 years old and briefly interviews him and shows his son’s short film “Fleshy Headed Mutants 2051”!

Movie: Jason Myers is a hockey masked killer on a cruise ship who comes ashore and starts killing people in Ohio! Can the local cops put a stop to his rampage or will this killer on the loose rid the town of its entire population?

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Moraine Playhouse Theater:  Jason Still Lives 2
Starring – Scott Golden & Dave Miller    Not Rated   199?

Host: The Creeper is once more in a great mood as he brings us the second film in the Jason Myers series.  He is so happy that he also gets to interview the killer live on the show! But joy turns to terror as the silent killing machine Jason does not take kindly to The Creeper’s judgment of him and attacks our host!

Movie: Jason Myers is back and now in Colorado on a murdering spree during a blizzard that leaves Sheriff Cobb and Deputy Cheeks on the hunt for the madman, all the while braving the cold and getting the help of a mountain man named Billy Joe Black Bear! In the end Jason has his final stand on a cliff that leaves the hockey masked killer falling to his death…or does he?

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Moraine Playhouse Theater:  Return Of Jason 3
Starring – Scott Golden & Tim Clark    Not Rated    1992

Host: The Creeper is walking down a hall and notices the viewers.  He lets us know that today’s first film is a comedy short called “Junior: The Mean Little Boy,” changing up the pace from horror to silly comedy. The Creeper is now in master control of a TV station and tells us that today’s film was requested by fans and that it took two years to complete! But sadly this episode is not complete and is not only missing the end of the movie, but also the end of The Creepers closing segment.

Movie: Deputy Bud Cheeks and Sheriff Cobb are upset when the body of Jason is missing after falling off the cliff at the end of the second Jason film.  They go back to the scene of the crime and find that the killer could be alive still! After a phony press conference, Cobb and Cheek know that they must really stop the killer once and for all. Now Jason Myers is loose again and starting his killing spree on all those who get in his wicked path for revenge, but this time in Chicago.  So our Colorado law enforcement team of Cheeks, Cobb and Billy Joe Black Bear comes to Chi-Town to save face for lying.

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Moraine Playhouse Theater:  Jason Part IV
Starring – Scott Golden & Tim Clark    Not Rated    2000

Host: The Creeper is in a living room, covered with a blanket and introduces the day’s film, the fourth in the chilling Jason Myers series.  Our host informs us that this film was 8 years in the making. He also informs us that this is the show’s Halloween episode and ushers us into the film.

Movie: Jason Meyers is brought back to life at his funeral after a relative of one of his victims breaks into the funeral home and brings the killer back to life by accident. Deputy Bud Cheeks is once more on the hunt to bring down Jason and tries to get Billy Joe Black Bear to help him on the case again but instead must go to Chicago alone to bring him down. Can the world’s favorite goofy deputy do it?

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Moraine Playhouse Theater:  Trail Of The UFO
Starring – Scott Golden & Tim Clark   Not Rated   1991-1997

Host: The Creeper is chilling in his office and shares a short film called “The Return Of The Vampire” and then chats about aliens & UFO’s and the new adventure of The Paranormal Investigators who star in the day’s film. The Creeper ends the show wearing a tux and thanks us for watching both films and dares us to join him for the next episode.

Movie: The Paranormal Investigators are back and this time are on the hunt for a UFO that has been tormenting a small town. When they themselves are abducted and wake up with missing hours, they wind up in a farmhouse with an alien outside with a message for NASA and the human race.

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Moraine Playhouse Theater:  Trail Of The Vampire
Starring – Dave Miller & Tim Clark    Not Rated    199? 

Host: The Creeper brags about how his show won an Arnie Award, meaning that they are the best of Public Access! He then informs us that this is the first in a series featuring The Paranormal Investigators that will always be on the trail of some sort of monster!

Movie: The Paranormal Investigators are back and this time are on the hunt to stop a vampire outbreak that has lead to many deaths and points back to Count Dracula! Can our team put an end to his blood sucking curse?

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Moraine Playhouse Theater:  Trail Of The Werewolf
Starring – Scott Golden & Tim Clark   Not Rated   1992

Host: The Creeper is now wearing a Hockey Mask and a blanket and once more is very hyped to bring you the best of the worst of Moraine shot on video horror and ushers us with glee into the day’s movie. After the first movie, The Creeper brags about how bad the films he shows are but also delivers another short film for us to enjoy called “Janitor Man”! Once the film’s over, The Creeper wakes up from a nap and closes the show.

Movie: Harry is a wildman who is wandering around the town and at night, during the full moon, is a werewolf! But on the case once more are the legendary Paranormal Investigators who are going to stop the werewolf’s rampage!

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The Creeper and Moraine Playhouse Theater were truly staples of my childhood viewing as he and the cheap movies he showed always brightened my day. I can remember watching his show in Waynesville and when traveling with my parents and brother to Kettering to visit my grandparents, talking with my brother about the show. So I want to say a truly big THANK YOU to The Creeper for all the years of public access entertainment he has delivered, and I for one think he should be in the Horror Host Hall Of Fame as he helped inspire me as well as other creative people in the Dayton area. For our next update, we are going to walk away from the world of Horror Hosts and into another chilling “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update about the 2014 film I, Frankenstein! So until next time, watch a Horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for a shocking good time with Frankenstein’s Monster known as Adam.

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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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From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Sleepstalker

Nothing is better than a good night’s sleep as your body and mind really does need it to recharge, and it allows your mind to drift into pleasant dreams and sinister nightmares. Being 37 years old now, I have had several dreams or is that nightmares that have been recurring ones.  One had to do with Freddy Kruger from the A Nightmare On Elm Street series chasing me up stairs and around the basement in our old house on Muriel Ave.  The second had me at school in Waynesville, and the hall monitors were the Gamorrean Guards (Pig Guards) from Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi who were very mean and would shove and punch you in the arms. Growing up, I was told of a magical being called Mr. Sandman who is responsible for your slumber, listened to the song Mr. Sandman sung by The Chordettes, boxed Mr. Sandman in the Nintendo video game series Punch Out, read about Spider-Man beating The Sandman on the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man comics and watched him get beat up by Jean-Claude Van Damme in the 1990 film Death Warrant, but I also knew him as the killer in the 1995 direct to video film Sleepstalker.  This master of the killing arts will be the topic for today’s quick and bloody “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update, so sit back and drink some warm milk or sleepy time tea as we go on a dream slasher spree with The Sandman from the film Sleepstalker and the Malibu comic based around it. So ready or not, The Sandman is on the prowl here at Rotten Ink and he has a bedtime story to tell you all….

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So before we get too far into this update, we need to take a look and understand the killer of this independent horror flick. The Sandman is a serial killer who puts families to sleep, even dropping sand over their dying faces and sings bed time nursery rhymes. His targets were families with 7 years old kids and his motives were unknown at the time of his capture, but soon thanks to The Preacher we find out The Sandman must kill his last victim, his brother! His lips are scared from being sewn shut when he was a kid by an abusive father, and his face is thin with evil intentions.  He is truly a walking nightmare with a sick reality brewing in his twisted brain. After being captured and 17 years after his crimes, The Sandman is being executed by the gas chamber but is given immortality and demonic power thanks to a voodoo priest, but he can only keep the powers if he can kill his last victim that lead to his arrest. As the demonic Sandman, he is sand based and can turn into a piles of sand and morph into his human form. His weaknesses are water, as it washes away his sand body and can hurt him, and sunlight. He is cold, calculated and thinks his killings are justified and takes pleasure in them. While abused as a child and saving his baby brother from the abuse as an adult, he now wants to kill his brother and become the force of evil he thinks he should be. The Sandman can use the sand that makes up his body to morph into places, kill his victims and when heated up can use his body as glass to shank and kill. Sinister and calculated, this serial killer is on a mission to become even more evil and seems to not have a care in the world as to how many must die for him to achieve it.

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So now you know why and how The Sandman kills, so we should now move onto the film Sleepstalker that spawned this sand based killer. We will take the film’s plot from our good friends at IMDB, and we will learn not only about its story but also who directed it, the stars of the film as well as my first time viewing it. So grip your pillow a little tighter as we are about to drift deeper into this nightmare Horror film.

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Sleepstalker  (1995)

Seventeen years after slaughtering all but one member of a family, a vicious serial killer known only as “The Sandman” awaits execution. But first, his jailers allow a minister to visit the killer to give him last rites, unaware that the minister is a voodoo priest and an ally of the condemned prisoner. The priest places a hex on the Sandman so that when he is executed, his soul migrates into a new body made of sand. To sever his ties with his former life and achieve absolute power, the sandman must find and kill a man named Griffin, the sole survivor of the last family murdered by the killer.

In 1995, a movie was released direct to video that was directed by Turi Meyer who also directed horror film “Candyman: Day Of The Dead” as well as episodes for TV shows like “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Smallville,” and the film I am talking about today is Sleepstalker. The film stars Jay Underwood as Griffin the hero, Kathryn Morris plays damsel in distress Megan, Ken Foree plays a police detective, Peter Mark Vasquez plays a street gang leader, Michael D. Roberts played the sinister Preacher and Michael Harris plays the killer The Sandman. I can remember this film playing on Cinemax when I was a kid as well as sitting on the shelves at Video Rental stores like West Coast Video, K & L Video and Blockbuster Video on VHS. The first time I watched it was on cable and can remember just how cheesy it, was and yet for some reason enjoyed it as I found the story to be a mix of Candyman, Dust Devil and Nightmare On Elm Street rolled together in one low budget package. My brother taped it on VHS off Cinemax, and on one lazy weekend evening we gave it a watch.  I can remember it being one we both said was okay but nothing too special, and it was quickly forgotten by me until it finally came to DVD thanks to Lions Gate. 1995, the year this film was released, had many other great horror films released and by all accounts this one was just lost in the shuffle as films like “Halloween 6: Curse Of Michael Myers”, “Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight”, “Castle Freak”, “Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh”, “Howling VII: New Moon Rising”, “Leprechaun 3” and “Embrace Of The Vampire.” The film was meet with poor reviews as many fans and critics thought the film had too many plot holes and that the killer’s motives were too close to those of Michael Myers of Halloween as he as well was on a quest to kill his sibling. The film was left open for a sequel as The Preacher finds the burnt up remains of The Sandman and begins his voodoo chants, but the sequel was never made as the powers to be in Hollywood seemed to not want a sequel. Another very interesting fact about this film was that also in 1995 independent filmmaker J.R. Bookwalter made a film called “The Sandman” about a dream demon who killed people in a trailer park as they slept…two horror films with The Sandman name as the killer made for fans of night terror themed horror films very happy. So say what you will about Sleepstalker, while it might have flaws it sure is a fun watch on a cold October night or for your own horror movie marathon.

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I have been a comic book reader and a horror film watcher for as long as I can remember, and besides garage sales, Big Bear and the antique stores in town, I always got my comics from Bookie Parlor and Mavericks and never in my quests for comics did I know that Malibu Comics released a comic based on Sleepstalker.  I did not learn about this comic until 2016 thanks to Lone Star Comics who had it in stock and made this update possible. That’s one thing I love about the world of comics and horror films there are so many of them out in the world have yet to be read and watched by me, and I love to discover issues like this as I am a fan of comics based on horror films. But slumber is calling and these sheep are not going to count themselves and these logs will not saw alone so The Sandman is demanding that I tell you that 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. So if you’re ready to see if this comic that acts as a set up to the film holds any thrills or chills, I know I am ready!

Sleepstalker Sandman’s Last Rites

Sleepstalker: Sandman’s Last Rites # 1  **1/2
Released in 1995     Cover Price $2.20     Malibu Comics     # 1 of 1

Griffin sits alone in his apartment with a gun in his hand, he is scared as he knows that the supernatural killer The Sandman is on his way to kill him like he tried many years ago. He remembers back to when he was a young kid and The Sandman selected his family’s home to kill his mother and father all the while threatening him with permanent sleep and singing nursery rhymes. Griffin remembers back how a cop showed up just in time and arrested The Sandman who promised he would be back to finish what he started with Griffin, and now as an adult he knows that The Sandman is no longer a man but a demonic killer who’s body is made of sand and is heading his way. The Sandman meanwhile is using his sand abilities to kill a couple walking down the street as well as a taxi driver who drops him off at Griffin’s apartment. In the end The Sandman stands in the street in front of Griffin’s building and warns the young man he is there to kill him.

This promo comic acts as a way to hype the film to those who were thinking about renting it from their local video rental store. The plot has our hero and survivor of a murder attempt remembering back to the time of his life when he was the target of a madman, and we also follow that madman now on his way to kill the youngster he targeted 17 years before. Griffin is a man who is haunted by his past as he not only was being stalked by a killer but also seen the bodies of his parents that were murdered before his eyes, well at least his mother was. He knows that guns will not save his life this time as the once human killer is something more now. The Sandman is a killer who while human enjoyed singing, killing and covering the eyes with sand of his victims and even now as a demonic killer he still enjoys those things in undead life. His hatred and obsession with Griffin in this promo comic is unknown but as a reader you just pick up on the fact he hates him and wants him dead. This comic is only10 pages long and just acts as a way to bring the start of the film into the comic world and add its own twist to the lore the film set up. One funny change is that The Sandman instead of turning into a sand storm decides to take a cab to get to Griffin’s house…why would he take a cab? Imagine Jason Voorhees taking an uber ride to Crystal Lake or even Tall Man taking the RTA to the funeral home…just silly. The comic is bloodless but does have some kills with the best being the death of a couple that stumble across The Sandman who uses the sand to engulf them. The cover is pretty eye catching and is the films direct to video poster done with a comic layout twist, the art inside is done by Rob Davis and looks pretty good and is so fitting for the Malibu Comic style of comics. In fact Rob Davis also did work on such comics as “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “Pirates Of Dark Water” and “Scimidar” and has a true 90’s comic feel to his work. While this Horror Comic is not ground breaking and is clearly only for fans of the film, I found it a good read and was cool to see The Sandman do what he does best and that’s sing and kill this time as a comic book character. Check out the artwork below for the style of this comic. And again if you are a fan of this film or just love to read comics based on horror films check it out, if you are neither of those, I would say avoid it.

Sleepstalker Art 1Sleepstalker Art 2Sleepstalker Art 3

So the alarm clock on this update is about to go off, and the world of terror of The Sandman is coming to an end and it brings us to the finish of this look at Sleepstalker and the Malibu Comic based on it. But next we are still staying in the world of horror as we will once more look at an Undead File based around a micro budget comic called Zombies From Hell! So until we meet again on the next update watch a horror film or two, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host…pleasant dreams readers and friends!!

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Matt Goes To The Movies 2016

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The year of 2016 was a crazy one for me as much of my time was spent working on comic books for Sparkle Comics, the company I co-own with Jason Young as well as trying to film Baron Von Porkchop episodes among many other things like helping on films and of course working on updates for here at Rotten Ink. One thing I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted to this year was go to the movie theater so I want to apologies for the lack of depth to this list. 2016 was a pretty big year for cinema as we got many sequels to big budget movies like “Star Trek Beyond” and “Rougue One: A Star Wars Story.” We got classic books turned into big summer blockbusters like “Jungle Book” and “The Legend Of Tarzan,” not to mention lots of horror films from “The Conjuring 2” all the way to “Blair Witch,” the third film in that cult series. Hitting the cinemas this year, I filled my tummy with lots of popcorn and blue Icee’s and saw films in theaters like Regal, Cinemark, Danberry Huber Heights and Cranberry Cinema and had a blast watching the silver screen with friends like Juliet Fromholt, Jeremy Hoyt, Josh Weinberg, Stephen Alexander, Theresa Lopez, Thomas “Maurice” Smith and many more all who made the experience more fun. A weird thing about this year in movies is that while it was filled with many blockbusters, it also had many flops that expressed moviegoers lack of interest in sequels and reboots to films of the past, but this year also proved that Disney knows how to pack them into the theater with superhero films as well as family friendly adventures. Plus, it proved to Hollywood that horror films make money and bring profits on smaller budgets. So let’s find our seats here at Rotten Ink Theater and chat a little about the films of 2016!

Film Reels

Normally I would start with my “Worst” list, but since I wasn’t at the cinema as much this year, I didn’t get to see the that many films, and lucky for me, none of the ones I did get to see were what I would call a worst film. So this time around we are going to start with science fiction and fantasy, two genres that are near and dear to my heart.  So let’s sit here for a moment and chat about them, shall we?scifi-16# 5

the-5th-wave-posterHigh school student Cassie Sullivan is stuck in a world of chaos as aliens are attacking the Earth, killing off the human race.  When her younger brother is taken, she along with some other survivors go to war to try and survive and bring back the world they once knew. This fun science fiction film was based on the book of the same name written by Rick Yancey and was filled with lots of action as well as aliens and their waves of attacks that included flooding and spreading a sickness. The film, while not groundbreaking, was a fun film to see in the theater and actress Chloe Grace Moretz is fantastic in the role of Cassie.  You definitely find yourself cheering for her to kick some alien butt. The film did poorly at the US box office for Sony and brought in $34,912,982.00 on a $38 million dollar budget, but was a hit overseas making the film semi profitable. I would say the film is worth checking out on DVD if you skipped it at the theater or even maybe a rental from a local video store.

# 4

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While a third Ghostbusters sequel with the original cast was just not in the cards, we did get a reboot to the series that featured a whole new female cast gearing up with their protonpacks and tackling a whole new group of ghosts as well as some returning favorites like Slimer! This go around we follow Dr. Erin Gilbert who lost her tenure at Columbia University after a video shows up online of her on a paranormal research.  Along with friends Dr. Abby Yates, Dr. Jillian Holtzmann and Patty Tolan, Erin opens The Ghostbusters, a business that is set to rid the city of ghosts thanks to equipment they make in house. But when the city of New York comes under attack by a powerful evil spirit, they are the only hope….but are they ready to be the heroes? The film was directed by Paul Feig and starred Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth and even has cameos from many of the actors from the original films. I found the film to be lots of fun, and the characters were well portrayed with Holtzmann being the silliest and funniest! The film had some funny moments, and I find the fact that many fanboys got butt hurt over the film being made with all females comedians as The Ghostbusters was just silly and showed that many of these types of “fans” ruin things for others as sadly the film did poorly for Sony at the US Boxoffice bringing in $128,350,574.00 on a $144 million dollar budget.  By the look of it, a sequel is not in the works. I would say if you skipped this at the theater make sure to give it a chance and watch it on DVD or Blu-Ray and make up your own mind about it.

# 3

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Disney has done another great job of turning one of their classic animated features into a live action film, and they made one heck of a great film with The Jungle Book! The film is about young human boy Mowgli who is raised by wolves in India, but when he becomes the target of the evil tiger Shere Khan, they are forced to send him away to rejoin the human race. Along his journey he is protected by black panther Bagheera and bear Baloo from not only Khan, but also giant python Kaa and King Louie, who is the king of the monkeys. But in the end Mowgli must face his fears of Shere Khan to save his animal friends and family from his terror as well as a fire that spreading across the jungle. The film was a great family adventure film and when sitting in the theater I felt like a kid again as Baloo sang “Bear Necessities.”  Everyone did a great job voicing the animals; I mean you cant go wrong with the talents of Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley and Christopher Walken. Director Jon Favreau did a fantastic job of making this film come alive and helps bring out the personality of the animals more by treating them as if they were real actors on set. The film did great for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in $364,001,123.00 on a $175 million budget making it a hit for sure! This was worth a watch and even a buy on home media if you enjoy the story of The Jungle Book as this is only slightly under the animated feature as being the best adaptation of the book.

# 2

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Captain Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise are in major trouble when they travel into an uncharted nebula on a set up mission that leaves them at the mercy of Krall and his men who want to kill as many federation members as possible and have chaos throughout the galaxy. Can Kirk and his crew along, with their new alley Jaylah, escape the nebula and save lives in time before Krall and his fleet attacks? Watch this science fiction adventure film and find out. This was such a fun film to watch in the theater in Imax 3-D, and the addition of over the top action made it not your standard Strek Trek fare yet still kept the charm of what makes Star Trek Star Trek! This was the third in the reboot series, and after a very lackluster teaser trailer, the internet started the bashing and hating on the film before it was released.  This caused the film to perform poorly at the US Box Office for Paramount only bringing in $ 158,848,340.00 on a $185 million dollar budget. While this is not the best Star Trek film in the long running film series, I would say it’s a solid sequel that offers enough sci-fi tech talk and action to make it a fun summer popcorn movie.  Make sure to check it out on DVD as it’s well worth the watch.

# 1

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Jyn Erso is the daughter of Galen, the man who lead the construction of the Empire’s newest and most deadly weapon, the Death Star! She was left behind at a young age to be raised by Rebel extremist fighter Saw Gerrera as her father was forced into labor by Orson Kernnic, the director of the Empire’s weapons research. Now older and on her own, Jyn must track down her father who has the secrets to destroy the Death Star from the inside.  She is joined by a rag tag group made up of Rebel soldiers and supporters who go on a suicide mission in order to get the plans into the hands of the Rebels. Add in tension between Kernnic and Grand Moff Tarkin, who both want credit for the Death Star, and in a annoyed Darth Vader as well as cameos from classic Star Wars characters, and you have one well made and entertaining science fiction film! The film’s main characters have amazing chemistry with each other and the friendships that are formed make sense and just add even more layers to their personalities. My favorite character was Jyn Erso as she proved that this new crop of Star Wars films are in the right hands as they clearly care about character development and story. Seeing Darth Vader back in full badass action was something to behold in IMAX 3-D as it made me feel like a kid again, seeing Return Of The Jedi in the theater. Plus the digital Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin made my Monster Kid heart grow three sizes, and I would say that I would love to see Hammer do this and make a new Frankenstein Movie. This film is still in theaters and as of January 1st has brought in a total of $393,554,705.00 for Disney on a $200 million dollar budget and is showing no signs of slowing down. If you have not seen this film yet, do yourself a favor and do so as its well worth the 2 hours of your time.

So as you can see, Hollywood delivered some great sci-fi and fantasy films all that were fantastic watches at my local cinema, not to mention we got a new Star Wars and Star Trek film last year. But another genre of films that rocked the box office this year is my second favorite kind of films, right behind horror, and thats super hero flicks! So grab a refill on your large popcorn, and let’s talk heroes from the comic books who have made the leap to the big screen in 2016.

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# 7

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The moviegoing public seemed to not be able to get enough of Batman on the big screen, and after the last Superman movie, someone at Warner Brothers and DC Comics decided that the world needed a vs. film that pitted their top two superheroes against each other.  So Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice was created and unleashed on the masses. The film has Bruce Wayne being very angry over the fight between Superman and General Zob that left some of his employees dead and others injured, and now, as Batman, he sets his sights on stopping Superman once and for all as he feels the government has not done their job well of keeping this superhuman alien in check. Throw in Wonder Woman, Lex Luther Jr. and Doomsday, and you have this epic battle film that will test the strength and mental fortitude of our heroes. The film was a little too long and for the most part, much of the hate that Batman had for Superman was weak.  In fact half way through, you wonder just why he has projected all the hate he has in his heart toward the Man of Steel and with that, the film kind of falls apart. Other flaws for this comic book fan and movie lover were: the birth of Doomsday was just dumb and pointless and Lex Luther Jr. was a turd and acted more like he was the son of The Joker.  While it sounds like I didn’t like it, I really did enjoy it as it was a fun popcorn flick that showcased that superhero films are just enjoyable on the big screen no matter how flawed they are. The film was directed by Zack Snyder and starred Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck and Amy Adams and did pretty dang well for WB at the US Box Office bringing a total of $330,360,194.00 on a $250 million dollar budget. It’s worth watching on home media or even on cable as it at least will be sure to please during the fight scenes.

# 6

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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back at it again as they target The Shredder and the footclan who are again attacking New York with the idea of taking over the world.  This time with the help of scientist Baxter Stockman, the foot create two mutants of their own, the warthog Bebop and rhino Rocksteady, to finally put up a fight against the turtles.  But they also have help in their battle with Casey Jones, a vigilante cop who has had enough of crime ruining his streets. Things get worst when Shredder gets help from Krang, an alien from Dimension X! This sequel is hard hitting and is packed with not only action but also lots of comedic moments that bring out the Turtles’ personalities that made them the popular characters that kids of yesterday and today know and love. This was a fun theater watch and seeing the Turtles battle Bebop and Rocksteady was something I, as a long time turtle fan, have wanted to see in a live action movie. The flaws of the movie for me was that actor Stephen Amell, who played Casey Jones was terrible and super weak in his portrayal that had him hardly wearing the character’s trademark hockey mask. Another lackluster thing was that Shredder played by Brain Lee also did not wear the character’s trademark helmet…when will Hollywood learn that people wanna see the character appear like they should and not just the actor’s face….we get what actor is playing the part! The film was directed by Dave Green and also stars Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Tyler Perry and Sheamus and sadly did very poorly for Paramount at the US Box Office only bringing in a small $82,051,601.00 on a $135 million dollar budget. While the film was judged pretty harshly by movie goers, I for one enjoyed it for the most part and found it a good summer popcorn flick based on characters I grew up loving.

# 5

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Dr. Stephen Strange is a genius surgeon who is cocky and ego driven, but after a major wreck, the nerves in his hands are shot and his career as a surgeon is over.  He tries all types of ways to get better that finally leaves him going to Kathmandu to seek out The Ancient One who teaches him that magic and other dimensions are the path to truly heal. But Dr. Strange gets more than he bargained for as he is forced to use his newly learned magic to fight a rogue group of dark magic students lead by Kaecilius who wants to bring the Dark Dimension ruler Dormammu into our world and bring life as we know it to an end. When the odds are against him, how can Doctor Strange out magic Dormammu in order to save us all? This was a superhero film that I was not fully looking forward to as I have never been a big fan of the comic series and for the most part find the character very boring, but this film stepped it up and made him very interesting for me. The film was directed by Scott Derrickson and actor Benedict Cumberbatch was a great choice to play Doctor Strange as he brings the character to life. This superhero popcorn film also stars Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams and Chiwetel Ejiofor all of whom are fantastic in their roles of various characters from the Marvel Universe. The film has done pretty solid for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in a total this far of $230,323,048.00 on a $165 million dollar budget. It was well worth watching in the theater, and I will for sure buy it on DVD when released.

# 4

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The government is in big trouble when it comes to world affairs, and after Superman is no longer around, they create a task force of criminals who they will send on mission that could lead to death. The team is made up of Deadshot, El Diablo, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, Enchantress, Katana, Slipnot and Harley Quinn and is lead by Colonel Rick Flag who informs them that if they break the rules and try to escape, they will be killed on the spot via a tiny bomb in their brains. When the Enchantress turns rogue and, along with her brother, wants to bring the world to an end, it’s up to The Suicide Squad to stop them and prove that not every bad guy is un-savable. To make things worse, The Joker has entered the combat zone as he wants his girlfriend Harley Quinn back by his side and not doing the work of government. The film also has cameos from DC Heroes like The Flash and Batman and was a really fun watch at the theater while munching on popcorn and drinking a blue icee, as I found it to be a fun ride filled with fun characters and enough action to please most fans. But for some reason like most modern DC Movies, this flick was meet with lots of internet hate even before it was released as fanboys decided they hated the casting of Jared Leto as The Joker and just over all wanted to hate on it.  I know lots of friends who joined the hate who never even saw the film but wanted to tell others not to watch it. The film as a great cast with Will Smith playing Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harely both stealing the show and making the characters their own while still holding onto elements from the comics they come from. The film did good for Warner Brothers, despite all the internet trash talking, at the US Box Office bringing in $325,100,054.00 on a budget of $175 million. This is another movie I was glad I watched in theaters and going in with low expectations and no pre-judging in my mind found it to be a great watch and one I will own on DVD very soon.

# 3

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The Apocalypse is the world’s first mutant and is godlike in nature.  In 1983, he is awakened and does not like what he sees of modern times and goes on a quest to get disciples that will act as his horsemen of the apocalypse.  He gets Magneto, Storm, Angel and Psylocke to join his cause of allowing mutants to rule and for him to lead them to a new world. Charles Xavier and his X-Men that include Beast, Havok and Quicksilver along with new members Nightcrawler, Jean Grey and Cyclops must come together and trust Mystique and try to stop the destruction of the world as we know it and stop the next age of Apocalypse. This was a really fun and action packed film in the X-Men series and was a great watch in the theater. The film brought most of the returning cast from X-Men: First Class and continued the awkward relationship between Charles and Mystique. Apocalypse, played by Oscar Isaac was a great narcissistic villain who would manipulate his followers with ego boosting words, but clearly he does not care if they live or die as long as he is once more in power. I also like how they showed Apocalypse past in Egypt and that’s what starts the movie off. One down side is the film focuses way too much on Mystique played by Jennifer Lawrence, and she does not rock her blue scaled skin most of the film.  It was clear she didn’t want to wear all that make up and body suit, and Fox wanted to showcase they had Lawrence still on board. This film also stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Evan Peters, Sophie Turner and Olivia Munn, oh and it also has a cool cameo from Hugh Jackman as Wolverine! The film did poorly for Fox at the US Box Office bringing in $155,442,489.00 on a budget of $178 million. While this film was met with mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, I for one found it to be a great super hero film and in fact bought it on DVD when it was released.  I suggest if you like the X-Men films and have not seen this one yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.

# 2

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Wade Wilson was a member of a special force team who has fallen in love with a woman named Venessa and all is well until Wade gets cancer and is dying.  When they cannot cure it, he decides to seek alternative help that leaves him being turned into a burnt up looking freak who cannot die! This sets Wade off who becomes the costumed anti-hero Deadpool who lurks in the shadows afraid to let Vanessa know he is alive all the while tracking down Ajax, the man who he thinks can cure him of his disfigurement. But things get bad when Ajax and his team of enhanced mutants kidnap Vanessa, and Deadpool, along with X-Men members Colossus and Warhead, must get her back! This film is rated R and is packed to the brim with crude humor and brutal kills all done with tongue in cheek one liners and grace. Ryan Reynolds returns to the role of Deadpool, with his first appearance as the character being in the 2009 film “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and owns it with his wise cracking delivery. Also starring in this over the top super hero action film is Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, Stan Lee and Ed Skrein, all who do great things in the roles they were cast, no matter how big or small. The film did fantastic for Fox bringing in a total of $363,070,709.00 in the US on a budget of only $58 million! This is a Marvel super hero movie that is not for kids as it really is packed with blood, cussing and very crude humor but it made for one fun and enjoyable watch for this old comic book reader. I must also say that I have never been a super fan of Deadpool as even reading comics back in the day I never paid him that much attention, but I think it’s really cool that this film as well as good solid comics being made by Marvel has made him into one of the industry’s top selling heroes. Own it on DVD now, and it’s worth watching for sure!

# 1

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Captain America and Iron Man clash in this third film in the series about everyones favorite red, white and blue Avenger. What starts the war is that Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow and Falcon are on a mission to stop Crossbones and his band of mercenaries that leaves humanitarian workers of Wakanda dead, and the government now wants The Avengers and other superheroes to register with them and only work when the government tells them to. Worse, when the King of Wakanda is killed and everyone blames The Winter Solider, Captain America along with his team Ant Man, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Falcon turn on the registration act and try to protect Winter Solider who claims he is innocent. This sparks the new King of Wakanda, The Black Panther, to join Iron Man, Vision, Black Widow, War Machine and Spider-Man to all do to war and little does anyone know this is all a big set up game by the sinister Baron Zemo who wants to ruin The Avengers and all the good they stand for. This film has so many more layers than what I am sharing here as it would take awhile to explain it all, and you should have or need to see it to understand why it’s my top super hero film of 2016. Chris Evans is truly Captain America come to life, and I could not imagine these films going on without him, so here is hoping he sticks around for awhile. What is great about this film, besides the solid script and amazing actors that bring their parts to life, is the fact you get some many heroes for the price of one and this includes Spider-Man as Sony and Marvel have come to an agreement that allows the hero to now take part in the Marvel Universe films and let alone one that has them all in a fight much like the WWE Survivor Series! The film did outstanding for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $408,084,349.00 on the massive budget of $250 million. I don’t want to go on too much about this film as I think it speaks better for itself, and all I can say is Spider-Man and Black Panther are great new additions to this amazing film universe that Disney and Marvel are delivering to all us movie goers.

So as you can see, 2016 had some really great super hero films that delivered action and adventure and entertained the movie going masses. Another genre that delivered this year was horror, and while the theater was packed with more ghost and possession movies that seem to be the life blood of horror for the last few years, it also had some slashers and iconic characters returning to the silver screen that included The Tall Man of Phantasm and Godzilla! Blumhouse once more proved that there is money in horror films as many films they produced hit and scared the crowds.  They have quickly become a production team that I look forward to seeing what they release next. So let’s dim these theater lights a little more and let’s take a look at the top horror films that I saw in the theater in 2016!

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# 17

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Dana is a woman who is haunted by the accidental death of her baby daughter, and alongside her husband David and son Lucas she moves out of the city and into a giant old house in the country that was once owned by the town’s top judge. But after finding a closed off room in the attic that was not on the house’s blueprints, she soon starts to see ghosts of the judge and his dog and finds that the room held a family secret that left a young girl murdered.  Now she must solve the mystery or lose her own mind doing so. This film is yet another ghost/possession film and suffers from a paper thin story mostly dealing with Dana’s mental breakdown and is by all accounts very boring in its delivery to try to scare us in the theater. When seeing this film, only one other guy was in the theater and he seemed to be bored as he kept checking his phone and even after it was done looked over at me and talked about just how lame the film was and how the characters did things that lead to nowhere.  Sad to say, the phone checker was right, the film’s characters just seemed like shells of people doing silly things that had no real outcome. The actors in this boring horror film include Kate Beckinsale, Mel Raido, Gerald McRaney and Lucas Till and while they are all great actors in other films, what they are given to do here is very weak, and this was one that I would suggest that most skip unless you have a free rental or is on cable TV. The film did poorly for Rogue Pictures only bringing in the small amount of $2,423,468.00 at the US box office on a $15 million dollar budget. Over all, while I love seeing horror films in the theater, this one almost put me to sleep even after drinking a large blue Icee, this is hands down the worst horror film I saw in theaters this year!

# 16

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Peter Taylor and his wife Bronny are having issues in their marriage, and their children also have their issues as daughter Stephanie has a eating disorder and son Michael is autistic.  The last happy moment of their life together was a family vacation they took with friends at the Grand Canyon where, unknown to them all, Michael removes and takes home stones that were placed to keep Native American demon spirits trapped.  Now with the stones moved and at the Taylor’s home, they must find out the clues to why mystery animals are appearing, why Michael is talking to the walls that he calls The Sky People and acting up. In the end they must call a healer to try and clear the house of the spirits ,but is it enough and can the love of a family be enough to send the demons back? While the film was not terrible it, was nothing new and seemed like just a watered down version of Amityville Horror and or even Poltergeist, and yep, marks yet another possession/ghost film to be released this year that seems to still be the flavor of the decade for horror film makers. The film stars Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell, Paul Reiser and Llza Rosario and was directed by Greg McLean who is known for directing the Wolf Creek series. The film turned a profit for High Top Releasing at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $10,753,574.00 on a $4 Million Dollar budget. Not recommended for those looking for horror films that showcase the bad guys more than a total of maybe a minute the whole film or ones who don’t like slow burn horror

# 15

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Rocky is a young woman with a daughter who lives in Detroit with her rude and crude mother and in order to get money, she robs houses with her boyfriend Money and friend Alex who’s father works for a home security company. Rocky needs one last big score in order to move away with her daughter, and they select the house of a blind vet named Norman Nordstrom who was awarded money after his daughter was killed in a drunk driver auto accident. But once inside, they find out that this blind man is not helpless and has his own dirty secrets to hide away! Norman along with his dog hunt down the burglars and make them pay for entering his home and finding out his dark twisted secret that is worth killing for. Don’t Breathe is a horror thriller that has elements of being a slasher film as Norman is brutal in his ways of killing and seems to feel what he is doing is right! While I did enjoy this film and had a good time watching it in the theater with Juliet, the film had some flaws that were pretty outstanding to me.  The fact NONE of the characters are likable people.  From Rocky all the way to Norman, they are all bad people who do bad things! The fact that by the end Norman who is a normal man seems to not be able to be killed like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees as he seems to be superhuman and shrug off killing blows is dumb. Another thing that annoyed me is the fact that Rocky and Alex, during their time of trying to escape the house of this madman, never have the idea of using a weapon until toward the end of the film. The film does have some amazing actors who do fantastic in their roles as Stephen Lang is great as the blind Norman and Jane Levy is amazing as Rocky and the supporting cast as well hold their own. At the US box Office this film brought in a total of $89,059,699.00 for Sony on a budget of only $9.9 million making it a hit for the studio. Over all this Sam Raimi produced film was not terrible but also was nothing special and some of the flaws made it very annoying to this horror fan. I would say worth the watch on DVD and Blu-Ray. Also I should note that this film was one I was super hyped for after seeing the trailer and was a tad bit of a letdown.

# 14

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Rob Zombie strikes again with a foul language horror film packed with lots of blood and some weird yet fascinating characters with his film 31. The film follows a group of carnival workers who have been kidnapped and forced to play a game of life and death on Halloween Night by some rich people who have employed killers like chainsaw brothers Sick-Head & Psycho-Head as well as other killers Schizo-Head, Sex-Head, Death-Head and the all time kill champion Doom-Head to hunt them down and kill them as they beat on their survival. The film is packed with some brutal kills and for the most part the carnival workers are likable people who you want to see make it out alive and survive the killers attacks as well as you root for them to deliver justice to the psychos! The downside to the film, like most Rob Zombie films, is the dialogue is terrible in spots and so over the top its laughable as he tries to use almost every cuss word he can think of! The other flaw the film has was that in spots he uses shaky camera techniques in order to mask some of the film’s lower budget special effects. But while it has flaws it also had things I really liked about it as I found the killers odd and memorable, I loved the fact that the carnival workers fight back and are not just helpless victims, his use of classic rock songs also was pretty well done and the acting was good for what terrible lines they were given. The film has an all star cast with names like Malcolm McDowell, Meg Foster, Lew Temple, Ginger Lynn, Sheri Moon Zombie and a stunning E.G. Daily from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure as Sex-Head. Richard Brake who plays Doom-Head does great and the character is not only sadistic but also gross and just a foul human being. The film at the US box office brought in a total of $779,820.00 for Saban Films, and I must say while Rob Zombie films are not perfect, they at least have heart and are entertaining in some way or another. Oh yeah and I have to say I hated the ending – those who have seen this film will know what I am talking about.

# 13

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The Forest is a supernatural horror film based on the Aokigahara Forest that follows Sara who travels to Japan and journeys into the forest to find her missing identical twin sister Jess whom people believe went into the forest to commit suicide.  She is joined by Michi a park ranger and Aiden, a reporter. But she soon finds out that the forest has plans of its own and that the dead don’t rest in these haunted woods. So does she find Jess? Is she alive or dead? Why do people say not to stay in the woods at night? Watch this film to find those answers! The film is packed with jump scares, some creepy ghosts and a great atmosphere, but also has a cheesy hole filled plot as well as some paint by number horror clichés that make it an average supernatural horror romp. Natalie Dormer best known from the HBO show Game Of Thrones plays the twins Sara and Jess and looks fantastic, and the music done by Bear McCreary is well done and makes scenes pop. The film brought in a total of $26,594,261.00 for Gramercy Pictures at the US Box Office on a $10 million dollar budget. Not amazing and not bad, The Forest is one you might want to rent or check out on DVD.

# 12

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The Other Side Of The Door was a horror film that was orignaly supposed to be a wide release that then turned into a limited release, and I was lucky enough to catch it at Regal Cinema. The film is about Maria who is living the perfect life in India along with her husband Michael, son Oliver, young daughter Lucy and maid Myrtu, but that perfect life comes to an end when an accident leaves Oliver dead and Maria heartbroken and not able to get over the accident and the loss of her son. Six years after the accident, Maria gets her chance to tell her deceased son goodbye thanks to Myrtu who tells her of a ritual and place that will allow her to speak to him from the other side of a door.  The only catch is you can’t open the door…and of course Maria does and by doing so free’s something sinister. The film is another ghost/possession film and had a few good chills and had a great setting being in India, not your typical American or England backdrop. The film’s cast was good with Sarah Wayne Callies and Jeremy Sisto heading the pack and each doing well in their roles. The film did not perform great for Fox at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $3,000,342.00 due to them making it a limited release. Not groundbreaking but very entertaining and was worth the theater watch for me as well as Josh Weinberg who tagged along.

# 11

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The Witch was a Horror Film that had lots of buzz around it on the internet and among fans before it even hit theaters.  Stephen King even said The Witch scared the hell out of him, but could it live up to that for movie goers? The film is about William and his family leaving the safety of a plantation in New England and making a farm in the middle of nowhere surrounded by woods and something sinister that steals and kills their youngest child. Quickly the family starts falling apart as oldest daughter Thomasin is blamed for the wrong doings by her mother, while all along The Witch of the woods and the mysterious goat named Black Phillip are the chaos makers at hand. The film is well acted with stand out performances from Ralph Ineson who played William and Anya Taylor-Joy who played Thomasin, and the atmosphere is great and has a feeling of dread all around the farm as we witness the breakdown of a God-fearing family. But the Witch character herself who takes two forms, one being old and the other glamor porn star, is just not really scary and is not really used throughout the hour and a half shocker. Much of the film, the characters spend time praying or chatting about God and religion, and I hate to say this, at some points I became very bored at drawn out moments. While this was not a bad movie, it was not as scary, spooky nor bone chilling as I hoped for. The only part that got me was when The Witch killed the young baby and mashed its body up and covered herself with its blood, and keep in mind this description is more graphic than what you see on the screen. It was also great to hear how split the group of friends and family I went with were on this film, and I had to laugh when one young lady at the end of the film let out a loud “This Movie Sucked” announcement. The film did okay for A24 at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $25,138,705.00 on a budget of $3.5 million, showing that lower budget horror films can make studios extra cash. While I didn’t hate this film, in no way am I a super fan of this film…I might check it out again once on DVD.

# 10

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The final Phantasm film and the fifth film in the series was released this year, and it was bitter sweet to see it in the big screen thanks to Horrorama as it was the end of the franchise and sadly just an okay entry in the series. The film follows Ice Cream Man Reggie as he is trying to track down his missing friend Mike and along the way fight off The Tall Man and his evil spheres and henchmen. But this is the world of Phantasm, so nothing and no one are what they seem, and Reggie must try and use his wits to figure out the real world from the other dimension. Reggie is joined by fellow Tall Man hunters and together they must team up against his horde of followers and crack the code and stop the coming end of times. The film was produced by Don Coscarelli the series creator and was directed by David Hartman and stars Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm and A. Michael Baldwin and sadly had its premiere on Video On Demand but lucky for me it was a film that had it’s Dayton area first movie theater showing at Horrorama allowing me to watch the film from the projection window. While I enjoyed the film, I also saw that it had lots of flaws and for the most part is just a showcase of Reggie with very little Tall Man surrounded by low budget digital effects. The film has been meet with mixed reviews and really does mark the end of the series as Angus “Tall Man” Scrimm sadly passed away in early 2016. Fans of the series should for sure check it out on DVD or streaming rental.

# 9

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Alice Zander and her two young daughters Lina and Doris are living in a Los Angeles suburban house in 1967 and charge people for giving them spiritual readings. But when Alice buys a Ouija Board as a new prop to use, she soon finds out that Doris has a real gift and can communicate with the dead including her dead father…or can she as soon it’s clear something evil has came through and is using the young girl as a vessel and its up to Lina and her mother to save their loved one from a terrible possessed fate. This sequel was leaps and bounds better than its predecessor and is filled with some creepy moments and is well acted with Elizabeth Reaser who played Alice Zander stealing the show, not to mention this film brings to life the events of the first film as it acts as a prequel. The film did pretty well for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $34,992,970.00 on a $9 million budget showing that movie goers still want to see possession and ghost films. Worth watching for sure and like I said, way better than the first film.

# 8

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James Donahue, the brother of missing person Heather Donahue, along with some friends go to the woods near Burkittsville when a tape is found in a tree that appears to show Heather alive and running through a house in the woods. Once there, they hook up with some local YouTube ghost hunters and soon find out that they are not alone as The Blair Witch is back and looking for more young adults to kill. Does James find his missing sister? Does the house in the woods really exist? And can James and his friends get out of the woods alive? All this is answered in this third film in the series that was original being advertised as The Woods. The film was one I was super hyped to see as I was a fan of the 1999 original film The Blair Witch Project and it had been over 16 years between sequels.  While I enjoyed the film, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of scares and some times unmotivated actions of the friends who make some really terrible decisions. One very cool thing is that in some shots you get a quick glimpse of what the Witch looks like, and I have a theory that she just might be an alien or even a interdenominational being! The film did good for Lionsgate at the US Box Office even though its was below what they expected as it brought in $20,777,061.00 on a $5 million budget! While not an amazing sequel, it’s way better than part two and was a fun watch in the theater, check it out on DVD.

# 7

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What was originally a short film made for the internet, Lights Out made its way to being a feature length that hit theaters this year. Rebecca is a young woman who is into drawing dark pictures who moved away from home when her mother had a series of mental breakdowns. After her stepfather is killed and her Mother begins acting crazy again, she takes her young brother Martin in who is not sleeping after being tormented by a shadow woman! Rebecca along with her boyfriend Bret and Martin are forced to stay at their mother’s house when the government forces Martin to be with his mother. The group soon learns that the shadow lady is indeed real and her name is Diana, and she was an odd child who was “friends” with their mother after they meet in a mental asylum and after being killed in a treatment gone wrong she lives on as a sinister shadow that lives on thanks to the weakness of their mothers mental state! Now Diana is mad and wants to live on and will kill whom ever tries to get in her way.  Now it’s up to Rebecca to save her family and rid the world of the sinister demonic Diana. This film is a jump scare fest filled with some creepy effects and a really cool monster as Diana could easily become a new horror icon that could spark sequels for years to come. The film was rated PG-13 and while not a bloodbath, it does have some gruesome moments that I am sure will scare the wits out of many viewers. Another cool fact is that this was released by Warner Brothers under New Line Cinema, and it made me miss when New Line was its own company and would embrace the world of horror films. The film did great for WB at the US Box Office delivering $67,268,835.00 on a small $4.9 million budget showing that horror films are very profitable and also sparked talks of a sequel! While not groundbreaking and pretty much another ghost/possession film, it was a fun watch in the theater and is one I now own on DVD and would suggest fans of these types of films to watch.

# 6

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Dr. Seth Ember is a man who lost his family in a terrible car accident that was caused by a demon named Maggie.  This accident also left him in a wheelchair and put his faith and will to live for anything besides revenge to the test. You see Ember spends his time in a trance near death’s door that allows him to enter the subconscious of possessed people and exorcize the demon from within by giving the person’s own will a choice to expel the demon from their own bodies. But when Maggie shows back up inside a young 11 year old boy, he must come face to face with his family’s killer and will put his very own life and soul on the line as a warzone has been set that will leave everyone around to never be the same again. This film, while a possession film, is done differently from most as it downplays the religious elements and up plays the scientific and psychic way to defeat a demon, and our hero is wheelchair bound and not a saint of a person at all as he is only doing this for his own quest for revenge making him not your typical hero. The film stars Aaron Eckhart as Seth Ember and co-stars Carice Van Houten, Catalina Sandino Moreno and even has WWE wrestler Mark Henry in a cameo role. The film was a team up of WWE Studios and Blumhouse Productions and was a solid entertaining PG-13 horror film that was super enjoyable in the theater even if Juliet and I were the only people their to see it. The film has some blood and violence with some chilling moments and sadly did very poorly for High Top Releasing at the Box Office in the US only bringing in $4,777,253.00 on a budget of $5 million and for some reason had very poor word of mouth among horror fans. While this film was not perfect, I did find it pretty original for a genre of horror that is getting very stale, worth watching on cable or renting from your local video store and for me, I am sure I will pick it up on DVD when released.

# 5

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Japan is under attack by a giant lizard monster who keeps evolving and is being called Godzilla. The prime minister of Japan and his cabinet must find a way to keep the giant monster at bay or even better yet kill it and even get the help of America but all military attempts fail as Godzilla has his own tricks that include fire breath and fire blasts from his tail. Finally after many human deaths, lots of destruction and many failed attempts Godzilla is stopped thanks to a team effort that leaves him frozen from the inside out and like a statue, but not all is as it seems as Godzilla’s tail may have its own living race of creatures ready to come alive. This film is very slow moving and mixes elements of horror, science fiction and drama to deliver a very new and unique re-telling of the origin of Godzilla as many options are hinted at yet never confirmed, and some how this odd combination works really well! Godzilla looks like he has never looked before, and this new generation of films looks like it might be one that evolves with each new installment. This is a real hard movie to explain as it has lots of political moments and is less about Godzilla and more about the state of Japan. The film had a very limited theatrical release here in America, and I was lucky enough to catch it at the Regal Cinema in Beavercreek along with my friends Jeremy Hoyt, Erin R. Ryan and Sean Leo. Shin Godzilla brought in $1,918,403.00 in the US for FUNimation on a budget of $15 million and this was just icing on the cake as the film made way more in Japan. Worth watching and one I will own when on DVD, but I must also say this film is not for everyone and would probably bore many younger Godzilla fans.

# 4

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Michelle leaves her fiance after an argument and during her drive out of town, she gets into a terrible accident when a truck smashes into her and wakes up in chains in a fall out bunker owned by a man named Howard. Michelle thinks she’s being kept captive but soon learns from her host Howard that an attack has taken place that has left the outside air poisonous, and his story is backed up by Emmett another man taking shelter in the bunker. But after Howard’s odd and some time anger filled moods as well as witnessing a woman die from the air outside, the mystery of who did this attack as well as Howard really is unfolds. The film has so many twists and turns and delivers suspense with a horror vibe so well that I found myself glued to the movie screen watching it, and that’s saying something as the film this loose sequel spawned off of Cloverfield, which was not very good in my opinion. The acting is top notch with John Goodman as Howard stealing the show as well as other actors Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. delivering solid performances. The film is packed with some suspenseful and sinister moments, and I don’t want to spoil anything on what is really outside as I think it’s something you need to just see for yourself. The film did good for Paramount at the US Box Office bringing in $72,082,998.00 on a budget of $15 million causing talks of a sequel. Worth watch and was leaps and bounds better than the original and does away with the shaky came found footage style and delivers a solid spooky and well done movie.

# 3

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The Boy was one of those films that when my cousin Stephen and I saw the trailer at work when it was released into the world wide web, we knew we had to see it the weekend it came out, as growing up Stephen was scared of creepy dolls, and it’s our thing when we talk horror films. The film follows Greta, a young American woman who is getting away from her abusive boyfriend and takes a nanny job in England for the Heelshire family.  When the parents go on a holiday she is to watch after their son Brahms. But things are very odd as Brahms is nothing more than a doll who the Heelshire’s treat as a living child, and worse she learns from grocery delivery man Malcolm that Brahms died in a fire after an “accident” happened to a young girl near the house. Brahms has rules that must be followed, and Greta soon finds out that things are not as they seem as The Doll seems to have ideas of its own or does it? This is the kind of film that takes twists and turns and keeps a spooky gothic/haunting pace and then turns it up a notch with a surprise ending that some fans might see coming, but others might not…so I will not spoil it for you here. The film stars Lauren Cohan as Greta who is best known for playing Maggie Greene on the hits TV Show The Walking Dead, and she does a great job and is truly a stunning actress. During the film my girlfriend Juliet leaned over in pure joy and said the film reminded her of a cult classic “Tourist Trap,” and the rest of our viewing party seemed to get a kick out of this weird little horror gem. The film did pretty good for STX Entertainment at the US Box Office Bringing in a total of $35,819,556.00, if you like horror films set in a spooky old castle home and like creepy dolls check this one out on DVD or Blu-Ray.

# 2

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Leo Barnes is now working as a security chief for Senator Charlie Roan, a woman who had her family killed on a purge night many years back and wants to get rid of the day that she finds barbaric and wrong. But when she ruffles the feathers of the New Founding Fathers, they lift the band on not being able to kill a government official and hire a group of mercenaries to take her life! Leo, along with cornerstore workers and a group of protesters, must keep her safe throughout the night so she can make it to election day and rid America of this terrible yearly event. This is the third film in this amazing series and blends horror really well with action, drama and most surprisingly, a message, as all the films thus far have been not just about brutal killings but more about how society is going and how the 1% truly do call the shots. Leo and Senator Charlie are both very likable characters that you find yourself cheering for as are the workers of the small corner store who show that community and friends need to watch out for each other during the good and bad times. Another aspect of this film I liked is how America has turned the Purge into a tourist attraction where rich people from all over the world come to kill the weak and poor. The film stars Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell and Berry Gabriel and did really well for Universal at the US Box Office as if brought them in $79,042,440.00 on a small budget of $10 million and once more this was produced by Blumhouse proving these guys know horror! Own it on DVD and if you have not seen it and have enjoyed the other two films in the series, make sure you check this one out as it was a easy pick for my # 2! I want to also note that I saw this film at the Cranberry Cinema with Juliet during a Monsterbash vacation.

# 1

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In 1976, Lorraine and Ed Warren were looking into the haunting at the house in Amityville and during this investigation Lorraine gets a vision of her husband’s death as well sees a evil demonic Nun who haunts her dreams as well as her family’s even after leaving the home. Now in 1977, single mother Peggy and her children are living in a home in England when an evil spirit comes out to play and possesses young Janet who can speak with the voice of a 77 year old man as well as other creepy stuff happens around the house. The church asks Ed and Lorraine to look into the case, and they soon find that there is more evil at play than just the ghost of the house’s former owner as the Nun is there and wants to make Lorraine’s vision of her husband’s death a reality! Can Ed and Lorraine save the family from the torment of the evil spirits and can they prove the vision wrong? Watch this creepy ghost film to find out! This sequel is as good as the original, and Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson who play Lorraine and Ed Warren are fantastic and truly are what make these films work so well as you find yourself bonding with them. The films villain is Valak a demon who takes the appearance of the Demon Nun and who is just pure evil and is sure to scare many viewers with her sinister looks. Director James Wan knows how to take the true case files of the Warrens and along with his writers created a spooky film that does not suffer from being only PG-13 as it uses mood and jump scares to fill the audience with fright and when seeing this in the theater I can tell you I heard many of my fellow movie goers gasp and shriek with terror and to me that shows this flick did what it was suppose to do. The film was put out by Warner Brothers via New Line Cinema and did great at the Box Office here in the US as on a budget of $40 million it brought in $102,470,008.00 proving as I have said many times in this update that horror is profitable. I own this film on DVD and watched it again, and it still holds up and won easily my # 1 spot for best theater-viewed horror film of 2016! So if you like your horror films filled with demon nuns, jump scares, cool and creepy soundtrack and likable characters this one is for you!

So there it is. my best of 2016 in films I got to see in the theater, and I must say while I didn’t get to go as much as I wanted, the times I did get to go I had a blast! And I will make this promise that next year I will make sure to make more time to get my butt to the theater so that my Best of 2017 will be epic! Plus with rumors next year of new Friday The 13th, Saw, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Amityville films, the horror competition will be high and dare I say cutthroat! But the Rotten Ink Theater clean up crew is here to sweep out all the popcorn so we should wrap this up.  I hope you enjoyed this update as much as I did writing it and our next update we are headed to Africa to spend some time with The Phantom! So until then, go see a movie or four and support your local movie theater!

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Gingerdead Man: A Cookie Madman

It’s almost Halloween, and this dark spooky night is filled with cold winds that chill the bones and bring the smells of the seasons with it.  Smells like rotting pumpkins, damp leaves and bonfires are smells we have all come to expect, but on this night the smell of gingerbread is in the air and it’s bringing a cheesy cookie killer with it under this Full Moon.  He will bring plenty of tricks but no treats…and I am sure by now you know we are talking about The Gingerdead Man, the character from a film series made by Full Moon Entertainment.  We will be looking at the Action Lab Danger Zone comic mini series based on this pint size terror. This update will also lead us to reveal what our Halloween update will be, and who knows, maybe I will throw in a little more treats to make this a fun and spooky update! So I hope you like cheese and gingerbread because this update is sure to give you a sugar rush as well as maybe even scare you a little, well maybe not, but I am sure you’ll at least have a good time with this quick 6th 2016 Halloween Countdown update.

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Before we go any further in this update, we first must get into the mind of our killer and understand who he is and why he is a killer cookie man. Millard Findlemeyer is a crazed killer who, while robbing a dinner in Texas, shoots and kills members of a family. Upon capture, this mad dog is sentenced to death, and thanks to the testimony of one of the survivors, he dies by the electric chair. After his death, Millard is cremated, and his ashes are sent to his mother who is a witch and in turn pours her dead sons ashes into gingerbread mix and places a curse on it and sends it to the bakery where the witness works.  Once baked, her son becomes a killer gingerbread man! As the Gingerdead Man, he is even more sadistic, craves revenge and also has a foul mouth and a very dirty mind as he loves the ladies and to be honest, the longer he stays as the cookie, the more perverted he becomes. You can’t keep him down, because if any part of him gets baked again, he will return from the grave and start killing again. During his journeys into murder, he has slaughtered people at a bakery, an independent movie studio and even at a roller disco in the year 1976. When captured, he is kept under lock & key and bound like Hannibal Lector as his urges to kill and rape are too amped up. While a bad guy, he also has semi helped people and did battle with the Evil Bong, another of Full Moon’s cheesy characters. So while not as cool as the Puppets from Puppet Master, and not even in the same league as say Chucky from Child’s Play, The Gingerdead Man still has baked his way into Horror Film history and remains a favorite character for fans of Full Moon and B-Movie Horror.

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Growing up I was hooked on watching and collecting Full Moon movies; my room was filled with many of their films on VHS, and I would watch the Subspecies and Puppet Master films all the time. I was such a fan, I joined the Full Moon Fan Club and wrote them letters many times, and what was so cool is they would write back and sometimes even send cool things like signed trading cards or other promo type items. I stayed a loyal fan even when their budgets were cut and their deal with Paramount Pictures went sour, renting them from the local video stores and buying them when I had the chance. I even stayed with them when they had a name change and started calling themselves Wizard again.  hell, to this day I support them, and this leads us to the breakdown of the Gingerdead Man film series that has three official sequels in addition to our lead little cookie killer showing up in other films like Evil Bong. So let’s pre-heat the oven and pop in a CD from Richard Band or The Midnight Syndicate to add to this October day mood and learn a very little about The Gingerdead Man movies.

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The Gingerdead Man (2005)

“An evil yet adorable Gingerbread man comes to life with the soul of a convicted killer – this real life cookie monster wreaks havoc on the girl who sent the killer to the electric chair.”

This horror comedy was directed by Charles Band and was released direct to DVD on November 8, 2005 of course by Full Moon Entertainment. Ohio’s own Danny Draven edited the film with Roger Ballenger doing the soundtrack. Gary Busey plays Millard Findlemeyer and also lends his voice to the Gingerdead Man puppet. Other actors in the film include Robin Sydney, Alexia Aleman and Ryan Locke. I first saw this film on a DVD that I bought from Blockbuster Video and can remember enjoying it for all its over the top nature and Gary Busey’s hammy performance.

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The Gingerdead Man 2  (2008)

“The horrifying yet delicious and chewy Gingerdead Man causes murder and mayhem on the set of a horrible low budget movie set. It will take the determination of the studio’s young new owner to save both his company and well as the lives of his young new friends. Including a terminally ill young boy whose final wish it was to meet the studios stars – The Tiny Terrors.”

Like all cheesy horror film characters, you can’t keep em down and out if money is to be made.  So with the cult success of The Gingerdead Man, three years later Full Moon Entertainment was back at it again with Passion Of The Crust. In the director seat this time was Silvia St. Croix with actor John Vulich doing the voice of The Gingerdead Man for the not returning Gary Busey. The film also stars K-Von Moezzi, Kelsey Sanders and Michelle Bauer. The film also has cameos from horror stars like Adam Green, Greg Nicotero and David DeCoteau. This sequel turns up the cheesy humor, and I saw it on a DVD that I was given as a Christmas gift.  The film was released on July 4, 2008…so yeah, that year you could celebrate your independence with this cheesy low budget sequel about a killer cookie man.

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The Gingerdead Man 3 (2011)

The Gingerdead Man travels back in time to 1976 and carries out an epic disco killing spree.”

Full Moon returned to the cookie jar for a third time with this sequel that has the killer cookie man going back in time like he was in “Back To The Future”, but this time the director was William Butler who also did the voice of The Gingerdead Man! Other actors in this film include Jackie Beat, Selene Luna and Junie Hoang. It’s release date direct to DVD was on September 13, 2011, and once more I got this movie as a Christmas gift! It’s overly silly and to date marks the last in the Gingerdead man solo movie series, but I am sure Full Moon will fire up the oven again soon and start up na IndieGoGo page to have a fourth movie fan backed and baked.

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The Gingerdead Man did not disappear after his third film in 2011 as in 2013 Full Moon decided to combine him in a monster fight movie when they made “Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong” and had the two cheesiest of their movie villains battle it out. The film was directed by Charles Band and had Bob Ramos doing the voice of the killer cookie. Like most Full Moon films, Gingerdead Man has also had his share of merchandise besides the DVD’s of the films like comics, statues, fake cereal box, poster prints and even a Halloween mask! Plus in 2014 as part of her “13 Nights Of Elvira” shows for Halloween, the one and only Elvira Mistress Of The Dark hosted The Gingerdead Man. So as you can see, this cookie doesn’t seem to be crumbling anytime soon in the eyes of fans…man, I have put so many lame cookie jokes into this review so far; what’s next talking about a slam dunk into milk?

Ginderdead Man vs Evil Bong DVDGinderdead Man still 613 Days Of Elvira Gingerdead Man ad

Gary Busey is an actor that is very underrated when it comes to his work in horror and science fiction films, not to mention his work in action flicks! William Gary Busey was born on June 29 1944 in Goose Creek, Texas and during school was a football player, but his true calling in life was to entertain. His first big break came when he played drums for The Rubber Band and appeared on recordings of singer Leon Russell, but his first acting gig came in the 1968 film called “Wild In The Streets” and would continue his acting for many great films like “The Magnificent Seven Ride!”, “The Buddy Holly Story”, “D.C. Cab”, “Black Sheep” and “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas” to name a few. But for me his roles in the following films are what made him a favorite actor of mine in my youth.  Let’s start off with the 1985 horror film “Silver Bullet” that was based off a Stephen King short story and had Busey play the fun loving, yet screwed up uncle named Red. In 1990, he would play the arrogant DEA agent Peter Keyes who is on the track of The Predator while using a cover up of trying to stop a drug ring in the film “The Predator 2,” and of course his work as Millard Findlemeyer in the 2005 horror comedy film “The Gingerdead Man”. But those are just a drop in the hat of films he was in that made an impact on my film watching life as he also was in such classic films of my youth as “Lethal Weapon” in 1987, the 1991 action drama “Point Break”, the amazing 1992 Steven Seagal film “Under Siege” and so many others like “Surviving The Game”, “Lost Highway” and “Soldier” and not to mention he also returned to horror in 2012 with an appearance in “Piranha 3DD”! In Busey’s personal life, he has battled drugs and alcohol abuse, battled cancer and in 1988 had a very bad motorcycle accident that left him with brain damage and lucky to be alive. Busey is a man who speaks his mind and has lots of weird quirks and is now the butt of many jokes and memes, but for me he will always be an underrated actor and played many roles of characters that stick in my brain as great performances.

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I have spoke many times over the years about comic companies that made quality horror comics that closed way too soon.  Names like Dead Dog Comics, Fangoria Comics, NOW, Innovation, Xmachina, Northstar, Blackthrone, Arrow and Eternity all come to mind and make me wonder what could have been. But for fans of horror comics like me, the past few years have given me hope that the rise of the horror comic is coming back as companies like IDW have made comics based on the likes of Motel Hell, The Fly and Godzilla.  Boom has done comics based on Hellraiser and King Kong, and even DC Comics have done several Swamp Thing series.  Let’s not forget the smaller independent companies who are truly do outstanding work in bringing horror back like The Bloodshed’s comic series We Kill The Dead.  Eibon Press is doing comics based on Lucio Fulci films like Zombie and Gates Of Hell among other original material.  Rough House Publishing has brought back classic series like The Dead and Gore Shriek, and even my very own co-owned company Sparkle Comics via our Horror Comic branch called Blood Scream Comics has many great horror theme comics in the works including The Wolf Hunter and Shocking Macabre Theater! But here and now I want to talk about a company who for me is truly bringing horror comics back and that’s Action Lab Comics who have released comics of this genre like The Final Plague, Southern Dog, Snowed In and Zombie Tramp, plus the best of them all, the Full Moon Presents Comics! So sit back and let’s learn a little about Action Lab Comics and their Danger Zone branch that offers mature rated horror comics.

Action Lab Logo

Action Lab Comics was started in 2010 by the combined forces of Shawn Pryor, Dave Dwonch and Shawn Gabborin, all of whom have independent self publishing backgrounds. The company’s first release was the graphic novel “Back In The Day” with the next release being “Fracture,” a comic that was crowd funded via Kickstarter. Many books followed including “Snowed In”, “Priceless” and the digital only title “Globworld” and best of all during this time the company was growing in the market and winning awards for their covers, stories and art.  Many others amazing titles would follow over the years like “Bigfoot Sword Of The Earthman”, “Monsters Are Like Us” and “Jetta: Tales Of The Toshigawa” to name a few. And to keep the more scary, bloody and horror titles away from the more mainstream titles, they decided to open a branch called The Danger Zone, and this was to become the part of this company I would grow to love and look forward to picking up titles from. Many amazing titles have been released via the Danger Zone branch thus far like “The Final Plague”, “Ghost Town”, “Grave Digger”, “Southern Dog”, “Night Of The 80’s Undead” and “Bolts” among many others. But when they announced the Full Moon Presents line of comics with Puppet Master being the first of the releases, I knew this was my kind of comic company! During this team up with Full Moon so far we have gotten comic mini series based on “Trancers”, “Gingerdead Man” and “Oblivion” with more titles to be announced and coming soon. I have talked to one of the company’s founders and acting Editor In Chief, Shawn Gabborin, and must say he is a class act guy who took time to chat with this comic fan and is also the man who’s writing the Puppet Master comic series and is a Full Moon Entertainment fan himself.  If you love horror comics, Full Moon or just good comic reads, check out the titles put out by Action Lab and their Danger Zone branch.

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So I think we should pre-heat the oven to bake up a batch of Gingerbread Halloween Cookies, and while we wait for that, I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for getting me these issue via my pull file and would as always like to remind you good readers that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. Plus I should also say that I am pretty dang hyped for the coming year to see what Danger Zone and other comic companies have in store for us.  I also can’t wait to see what’s in Sparkle Comic’s future releases as we have some cool ideas and deals in the works.  But the buzzer just went off letting me know it’s killer cookie man time, so let’s get to it shall we?

The Gingerdead Man 1 comic

The Gingerdead Man # 1  **1/2
Released in 2016   Cover Price $3.99   Action Lab     # 1 of 3

Betty’s Bakery has been closed down for sometime now, and Synithia and her street gang have chosen it to be a hideout and a place to make cookies and treats with a new powerful green powder drug called Confection that cannot be used without dulling it down.  As Synithia and some of the gang go to get ingredients to make the cookies, she leaves two of her goons behind to clean the machines. Meanwhile next door is the Cup Of Joe Coffee Shop where Kayla works; she tries to reach Billy, a young boy always in a hurry as well as deals with a crazy old man named Mister Gill who is ranting about the gang breaking in next door, as he thinks they are going to bring prostitutes! The left alone goons decide to use some old gingerbread mix they find and mix it with Confection, but this turns out to be a big mistake as baking it brings back The Gingerdead Man who goes on a brutal rampage, killing them with such things as an electric mixer.  The crazy old man enters the closed bakery looking for paid sex, but finds death at the end of a knife as The Gingerdead Man butchers him. In the end Kayla, Billy and a customer next door hear the screams as Gingerdead Man cuts off the old man’s finger and attaches it to himself like a penis!

Action Lab has captured the over the top horror comedy nature of Gingerdead Man very well in this first silly issue. The comic’s plot is very basic and yet a perfect way to set up this mini series story.  It has a street gang accidentally bringing back The Gingerdead Man who is blood thirsty and horny and slaughters members of the gang as well as a perverted old timer, all the while the innocent people next door at the coffee shop hear the screams and carnage and wonder what is going down. Synithia is the leader of the gang and has a bad attitude and wants to get her new drug on the streets so they can make money.  She also is very much a bully and seems to enjoy bossing her braindead members around. Mister Gill is clearly a crazy old man who is quick to judge and condemn those who don’t understand or are of the criminal world, but is also the type who will want the thing he judges, in this case it’s the sex trade. But poor old Gill is punished for wanting to pay for sex and is destroyed by a knife. So far Kayla seems like a responsible young lady who is working a job and trying her best in the world she lives in.  As for Billy, all we really know about him is that he likes firecrackers, is her younger brother and is kind of a trouble maker. The customer is a mystery and makes me wonder if he will just be another victim or will he be a hero. The Gingerdead Man is as sinister as ever as; from the moment he comes back to life, he is ready to slaughter and kill any human he can catch! His means of murder have all been items found in a bakery, and he does so with bloody glee. That’s one thing for sure, this comic loves the blood and gore with such brutal deaths as a head explosion, stabbing and a mixer to the back of the head with so much force the beaters popped out of the victim’s mouth! The humor in the comic is crude with the major laugh out loud moment being the finger penis as it’s so ridicules and silly, oh yeah and it’s also packed with baking puns. The cover is pretty eye catching and showcases our movie maniac with his mixer with a sinister grin on his face, with the interior art being done by Sergio Rios that looks fantastic and captures the mood of the film series this comic is based on. The story, as I have said, is very silly yet very entertaining and is done by Brockton McKinney who also does the rest of this series. This first issue is solid and good and is making me look forward to see just how this comic mini-series will play out.  So let’s put another comic cookie batch in the update oven and see what issue two has in store for us this October night.

The Gingerdead Man 2 comic

The Gingerdead Man # 2  **1/2
Released in 2016   Cover Price $3.99   Action Lab     # 2 of 3

Kayla has called the police over the scream she heard next door, and the cops just think she heard screams from a horror film that Billy is watching in the other room but still decide to check it out. In the bakery, The Gingerdead Man has made a cookie dough woman and is getting his joys with her when the cops find him and his murderous rage once more comes out.  He kills one cop with molten hot melted chocolate chips! The other cop is able to fire his gun and knock off The Gingerdead Man’s arm, but with a glee in his eyes, he forces the severed cookie arm down the throat of the other cop who, while choking, becomes crazed as he is now high on Confection! The Gingerdead Man uses a pizza cutter for his arm and orders the mindless slave cop to make more cookies as these will be his helpers and his army! Meanwhile Kayla and Billy are next door and arguing over the days events.  As Synithia and the rest of the gang show up, they fight with the cracked out cop, and the commotion brings Kayla from next door to close up and peek next door just in time to see The Gingerdead and his tiny cookie army and cookie dragon appear ready to fight the gang.

This second issue adds more bloodshed and a little more light to the story of the war that is about to explode inside Betty’s Bakery! This time around the plot has cops investigating the noises from the bakery that leaves one dead and one a slave to the sinister Gingerdead Man.  Add in the gang returning for their drugs and poor Kayla, and you have a set up for a final battle that will take place in the next issue that is also the final issue in the mini series. Once more Kayla is shown to be hard working and wants to do what’s best for her bratty brother Billy, who is foul mouthed and just a little jerk. Kayla also clearly wants to do the right thing as the noises next door not only freak her out but also could be something very bad. The cops are kind of walking blindly into a slaughter as they don’t think the noises Kayla heard were anything but from a horror film that was playing in the other room, but they should have been on better alert as one is killed and one becomes high on Confection and becomes a mindless goon for The Gingerdead Man. The customer from the last issues is not a player at all as he is gone in this issue and another random guy appears instead and offers nothing more than a background character. Synithia and the rest of the gang are very mad as they find their fellow members dead among other people as well as a cop high on their drug stash! The Gingerdead Man is as cruel and perverted as ever and not only kills but also makes love to a cookie woman…yeah, he is a little psycho pervert! I wonder how his cookie army and cookie dragon will slaughter the enemy in the next issue? The death in this issue has a cops face melting off by scolding chocolate; while cheesy, it’s is a great bloody death. This issue is filled with blood, gore, boobs (via the horror film Billy is watching) and lots of stupid puns and once more is just what fans of this film series would want in their comic book. The cover for this issue is okay, and the art inside by Sergio Rios is once more well done and fun to look at. Over all, another well done issue that still is holding the cheesy comedy horror charm that is needed for a series like this. Well the timer on the oven is almost ready to buzz that this series is over.  So let’s take one last peek and see what treats await us in issue three.

The Gingerdead Man 3 comic

The Gingerdead Man # 3  **1/2
Released in 2016   Cover Price $3.99   Action Lab     # 3 of 3

The Gingerdead Man along with his mini cookie men are attacking Synithia and her men and are doing really well putting a hurting on the gang members! The gang members figure out that the cookie men can just be crushed and killed and that’s what happens until the little guys decide to go on suicide missions and force themselves down the throats of their enemies! The Gingerdead Man himself gets into the action and cuts off half of a gang member’s face and orders the mini cookie men to cut off the face of the other gang member fully and killing him. Synithia, armed with cookie cutters throws some to her half faced friend and they go on a slaughter of cookie men and even take down The Gingerdead Man’s pet dragon he named Fux with them. Meanwhile Kayla is back at the coffee shop gearing up to fight by arming herself with kitchen tools and keeping Billy safe in another room. While outside in front of the bakery, the war is still going on and Gingerdead Man has killed the half face gang member and has his mini cookie men combine to make a big cookie man and try and kill Synithia, but thanks to Kayla and Billy who made a cake filled with lit fireworks, they are able to kill the giant cookie man and Kayla in turn knocks The Gingerdead Man into a super hot cup off coffee and the killer gingerbread man’s rampage is ended as he melts. In the end as the cops talk to the survivors, a stray dog gets into the coffee shop and drinks the coffee with the remains of the Gingerdead Man and goes off into the woods and poops him out!

The third and final issue in this mini series is still as goofy as the others and turns up the blood, gore and oh yes the puns! The plot is more action than story, and the final battle between Gingerdead Man and his cookie army and Synithia and her gang as well as Kayla and Billy will leave only one of these teams walking out alive. Kayla, who witnesses the sinister Cookie Army’s rise, does what any respectable citizen would do and that’s make sure her younger brother is safe and then gear up with wooden spoons and egg beaters and get ready to kick some cookie butt. I really like Kayla as I found her very easy to bond with and seemed like your every day normal young lady working for a small coffee shop who is capable of defending herself if need be. Billy is still a brat but his love for fireworks does save the day as his cake laced with the boom sticks is what brings down the giant cookie man and saves Synithia’s life! Speaking of Synithia, she as well is one tough cookie and fights for her life as well as the lives of her remaining gang only armed with cookie cutters and does some major damage as she is the one who even takes down Fux The Magic Dragon. The remaining gang members try to stay alive but lose their skin on their faces and one loses his head…as in it’s cut off. The Mini Cookie Army, The Giant Cookie Man and Fux all fight with anger and the joy of killing and all lose their doughy lives in this war. The Gingerdead Man is calling the shots of this fight and not only gives the orders to kill but also commits murder himself! While he is corny and filled with one-liners, he still is very brutal and enjoys snuffing out human life, but it’s funny that he ends up dying in a hot cup of coffee and is later pooped out by a dog…so silly. But that’s what makes this comic mini series work, is the fact it realizes how silly the source material is and just goes fully in on being over the top and down right stupid humor and gross gore. The most brutal kill of the issue I would have to say is the one gang member who first gets half his face cut off by the pizza cutter that The Gingerdead Man is using for a hand, and then a short time later he has his head cut off by the killer cookie man. The cover is good and eye catching as it shows Gingerdead Man riding his pet dragon Fux, and the art done by Rios is as before very well done and really does capture the silly nature of this character. While not the best comic series based on a Full Moon movie I have ever read, it is however one of the most goofy ones I have read and was perfect to review and chat about this Halloween season.  I would say if you like the movies or just looking for a crude horror comedy comic, this would be one you’ll want to check out. Check out some of the great artwork by Sergio Rios to see how good it is. Oh and I also want to share that this mini series subtitle is “Baking Bad,” a play on the TV Show “Breaking Bad”…oh the terrible puns and play on words from this series are eye rolling but entertaining.

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So I hope The Gingerdead Man helped make your October a little better or is that spookier as I feel he truly is a character that’s so cheesy and he is a perfect fit for not only movies but also comic books. I want to also say that doing the countdown to Halloween updates is so much fun as I get to really dive into the world of horror comics and pick the things I think best fit my mood and the goings on of that year as in films released or custom comics being made. So for this Halloween update we will be traveling back to Texas and taking a look at the Avatar comics based on the 2009 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So once more the saw will be law here at Rotten Ink and as always we will have other topics and surprises in store for you, my friends and readers. So until then have one good scare, read a horror comic or three, watch a horror movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time as Leatherface wants to see you all face to face again!

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Rawhead Rex: The Sinister Pagan God Of Womanizing!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, my ghouls and ghosts.  It’s hard to believe that October is here as it feels like just yesterday I was in Pittsburgh at Monster Bash with Juliet, and to top it off, we are at our 4th update in the countdown to Halloween.  For this one, I decided to leave the horrors of the sea and the supernatural and instead look into a monster god of Ireland that was created by the master of the twisted macabre himself, Clive Barker –  your horror fans know I am talking about Rawhead Rex. This quick update will be a good way to chill your blood as we take a look at the book the character came from as well as the movie and comic book that followed. So make sure to hide your girlfriend or wife as the mighty and sinister Rawhead Rex is on the prowl here at Rotten Ink, and he has been gone for way too long and his want for female companionship is out of bloody control.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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Who or what is Rawhead Rex? Before we dive into this update, I feel that it’s my duty to give you a quick crash course on him. Rawhead Rex is an ancient demigod demon who is the living evil embodiment of the male sex drive as well as macho-ness, and the need to kill and make it with women. He spent his time tormenting villagers eating kids and foundling and impregnating women. But when the town finally had enough of his rampage, they defeated him by burying him alive where he would sit for centuries. That is until a farmer set him free and reignited his rampage of murdering, including corrupting a worker at the nearby church in order to help him kill. Rawhead is so cruel, he sets a policeman on fire and even eats a child in front of his father all the while being so gleeful about his nasty deeds. The father and townspeople come together, and, with the help of an idol that represents pregnant women, are able to defeat Rawhead Rex, who is killed when the idol is used to bash his brains in. The movie version is very similar to the above origin that’s from the book besides the fact that a mother has to use the idol to send Rawhead back into the ground where he is buried alive once more. In the book, Rawhead is a 9 foot tall skinny penis headed monster with a mouthful of razor sharp teeth, shaggy black hair and tiny evil eyes, while the movie version is more of a muscle bound giant ogre looking creature with glowing red eyes and messy hair. His weakness is women who are pregnant or on their period as well as that idol. Rawhead is very cruel and doesn’t care who he kills or corrupts and is just a foul demon who enjoys the extreme sins of life and gets his sick jollies of using and abusing women. Below are pictures of the two looks of Rawhead Rex from today’s comic as well as two from the movie based on the short story that started it all.

Rawhead Rex From Eclipse ComicRawhead Rex In Cheesy ActionRawhead Rex From The Movie

Clive Barker is one of the world’s best horror writers and should be looked at with the same respect that people have for the likes of Stephen King. In the mid 1980’s Barker released a series of books that were titled The Books Of Blood Volumes that compiled many creepy dark horror themed stories.  Many of these stories would go on to be made into full films like “Candyman”, “Lord Of Illusions” and “Midnight Meat Train” to name a few, and many would also get comic adaptations thanks to Eclipse Comics. The book series lasted for six volumes that ran from 1984-1985 with each story being written of course by Clive Barker.  This is the series that put him on the map of must-read horror authors as they were highly praised by readers and critics alike. I can remember that my brother bought several of the Books Of Blood from Half Price Books and the Mary L Cooke Library sale in Waynesville when we were growing up, and I can remember the covers that had Halloween masks with eerie lights behind them and always wanting to read them but comic books and movie adaptation novels always seemed to win out when I wanted to read something. The older I got, the more I read – and not just comics but novels and short stories – and can remember reading Books Of Blood Volume 1 and enjoying the creepy horror and fantasy mixed short stories. This book lead to me reading more of Barker’s novels, and he quickly became my favorite horror author even over Stephen King! If you enjoy good spooky short stories, I recommend that you give the Books Of Blood a read, as I am sure you will truly enjoy them on a cold October night.

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Rawhead Rex was made into a movie in 1986, directed by George Pavlou and starred the likes of David Dukes, Kelly Piper and Donal McCann with a script by Clive Barker himself. Empire Pictures was the distributer with Colin Towns doing the film’s score, and it was released in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The film was released to select theaters in 1987 and was pretty much panned by critics and fans as they found it boring and the title monster Rawhead not to be scary and too fake looking. But many diehard horror fans of the 80’s found the film enjoyable and grim as the film tackles many topics from the loss of a child to religion and tying it all together is the brutal killing machine Rawhead Rex. The film is really just a monster flick with gore and taboo subject matter thrown together into 89 minutes that show that with good is always evil and with religion comes history of violence. I first saw this movie with my brother Bryan when we rented it from K&L Video, and we both watched in amazement at how weird and cheesy the film was.  A short time later I watched it again via buying a VHS copy of the film and watched it with my pal Jason Gilmore and can remember having a grand old time as we both laughed at the rubber bouncy headed monster and some of the best and oddest dialogue of all time like a worker for the church busting our leads camera and then telling him to get the F out of the church as it has nothing for him. As time would pass and the more times I watched it the more I found myself really loving it.  In fact, I own the film on a overpriced DVD, the movie poster and even showed it on year at Horrorama. If you like monster run amuck movies that mix in old religions and a monster who pees on people to baptize them…check out Rawhead Rex as I am sure you’ll enjoy it.

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Collecting horror films on VHS was always a fun time, and I can’t count how many times friends like Jason Gilmore and even my brother Bryan would hit video rental and used stores looking for tapes of films we really wanted to see or just own and watch again. I was a collecting machine and had so many VHS horror films that my room was packed with them.  I would collect your mainstream horror like Friday The 13th and Halloween, all the way to weird shot on video films like Death Row Diner and Blood Hook. And some of my old hard to get crown jewels in my collection were Evil Dead, that was out of print and for some reason really hard to find used in the Dayton area, the 80’s rock n roll slasher flick Rocktober Blood and Rawhead Rex, another one that was super hard to find but when I did it made my day. I can’t count how many times me and Jason Gilmore watched it and laughed and had a good time at the expense of the rubber suit that was crossed eyed in shots and head bounced as he ran. To this day I regret selling off my VHS horror collection to use the money to by the then new format DVD as many of the titles I got ride of never made it to disc, and I miss the amazing cover art of the VHS that some how made even the worst movies seem like gold. And the same place I got my copy of Rawhead Rex from called Second Time Around was the place that ended up getting my collection way back when and looking back at it, man, they really did short change me on what they paid out for them! But here is to all of you who were wise and kept your VHS tapes, and here is to all you new collectors as VHS is a great and grainy way to watch the horror flicks and no streaming or disc will match it.

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Rawhead Rex might not be a household name like other horror movie icons of the 80’s, but this doesn’t mean he didn’t get his fair share of merchandise to keep fans happy. Rawhead Rex has made appearances in many horror magazines as well as graced the cover of a few.  Of course he has his story in Clive Barker’s Book Of Blood Volume 3; he has had his own comic book issue as well as guessed starred in the Epic Comics Nightbreed series.  He has a movie poster, t-shirts as well as statues and even a mini figure as of late made as part of the Video Nasteez limited figure collection. So if you like this pagan god and his womanizing killing ways, you can find some cool collectables for your collection.

Rawhead Rex on a TshirtRawhead Rex SatueRawhead Rex Mini FigureRawhead Rex on the cover of Fangoria

As you can see, Rawhead Rex for some reason has always been around in my life.  To me he is up in the same class as other 80’s monster icons like Pumpkinhead and The Predator.  So while the moon is rising in the sky and I think that Rawhead Rex is awake and out of his unmarked tomb, I can hear him growling and screaming at the top of his lungs to have me remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. He is also reminding me to thank an Ebay seller who had this comic in stock for me to review for this update. So before Rawhead Rex wrecks my apt and knocks over all my comics, I think we should just dive right into the comic book review and see how well this pagan monster transfers from a short story to a comic!

Rawhead Rex Comic 1

Rawhead Rex # 1  ***
Released in 1994    Cover Price $9.99    Eclipse Comics    # 1 of 1

Zeal is a small village in England that is being filled with city tourist looking for a slice of the good old country life.  The locals like the money, but they don’t like the drama the tourists bring. A farmer working in his field comes across a stone in the ground and spends time digging it up and notices a foul smell coming from the ground around it.  After working for some time, the stone starts to move by itself, and a giant creature known as Rawhead Rex emerges and kills the farmer, stuffs him in the hole and starts its way into the country side as a bad storm blows in. The villagers are taking shelter to get out of the rain, and so is Rawhead, who picks a barn and slaughters and eats the pony that was inside! Ron and Maggie Milton are in Zeal looking at the house they bought some time back that’s still not ready for them to move into yet, and they plan on staying in town for a couple more days for an upcoming festival. Meanwhile Rawhead Rex decides that he is going to kill the family that the barn belongs to and makes short work of the father, has the mother fall down a flight of stairs and eats the child alive! At the church, Reverend Coot and worker Declan both have felt something odd at the day’s service as if they had sensations of extreme joy and lust.  This puzzles them, yet also brings about stories of the village’s past before God ruled the world, a time when Rawhead Rex walked and ruled. The police have left the scene of the farmer’s death, and while driving, Rawhead Rex attacks killing them and even ripping off one’s penis before the patrol car explodes. Reverend Coot is up late thinking when he catches a shadow outside in the graveyard and goes for a look only to find Declan kneeling before Rawhead Rex who is now urinating on the one time holy man who is 100% under his control now. Coot runs as Rawhead gives chase, and in-between the attack, Coot is able to phone the police for help.  But with the help of Declan the Reverend meets a brutal attack as Rawhead breaks his bones and guts him.  The police are too late to stop the attack but after shooting at Rawhead, he retreats into the woods and hides. Ron decides that Maggie and the kids should leave Zeal until the killer on the loose is caught as stories of the brutal murders begin to spread. The next day, while driving his family, his son is killed and eaten by Rawhead before his eyes. After reporting the murder to the police, Ron goes and visits the dying Reverend Coot who tells him with his dying breath that he thinks an item inside the alter at the church is the key to stop Rawhead Rex. Ron rushes to the church and finds a naked and crazy Declan who tries to kill him, but the fight turns as fires outside in the village set by Rawhead Rex distracts Declan.  Ron beats him down and finds a stone in the shape of a woman in the alter and rushes to town to battle Rawhead who has accidentally been burnt by the fires he set.  Declan tries to help his new god but falls prey to Rawhead who rips him apart to show his strength. But with the help of the villagers who attack Rawhead, the death of the monster comes brutal as Ron bashes his head in with the woman stone leaving the monster dead in the street.

This was a very cool comic based on the short story by Clive Barker, but I should also note that it’s very slow-paced and is filled with lots of dialogue mixed in-between brutal kills and the conflicts between city life and country life. The simple plot is of an ancient monster freed from its tomb in a small village in England and runs amuck and is stopped by a grieving father and townspeople once and for all when they stand together against it. The complex story part of this comic is that Rawhead Rex is truly the raw nature of man who wants to kill and eat and is self-absorbed and is gluten for sins.  Add in a Father who is questioning his faith and finds that this demon demi-god is the answer as well as a family who must deal with the brutal death of a son and you’re just skimming the top of this wild story. Rawhead Rex is one mean spirited killing machine as he uses his hands, teeth and size to torment and kill and the only emotions he shows is joy when killing, disgust when around a woman who is having the time of the month or a baby in the oven and fear when he knows that the stone has been found. The fear for Rawhead was so bad for the stone that the demon demi-god poops himself with fear!! But with that said Rawhead Rex is very evil and not a demon monster that anyone would want to tackle if real. Declan is a madman who turns on God in order to worship and due the bidding of Rawhead who ends up not being his savior but his angel of death, very interesting character as his madness comes on fast and his loyalty knows no bounds. Reverend Coot is a man who tries to use the power of God to stop the evil of Rawhead but sadly just becomes another body for the meat wagon, but his dying words are what leads to the plan to defeat the demon. The poor Milton family are just in the wrong part of England and the hungry of eating kids leaves the son dead and the father in such a rage the revenge is the only thing on his mind, and this rage leads to the death of Rawhead once and for all. The fact that Ron bashes the brains out of Rawhead shows you just how mad he is!! The comic is filled with curse words, some slight nudity and lots of gore with my favorite death being the death of the Milton son who has his head bitten off, dragged away and later picked apart and ate by Rawhead who is relaxing in the hills acting like he was eaten a bowl of potato chips! Rawhead really is one sick son of a devil as he really does eat children in this comic! The cover is cool and showcases the razor sharp teeth of Rawhead Rex but also really does feel dated and has the 90’s independent horror comic look to it, the art inside is done by Les Edwards and has a nice painting meets pen look and this captures the dark and sinister story really well. I should also note that this comic has a back of story taken from the Books of Blood called “Twilight At The Towers” and it’s a good read as well and a perfect backup story. Over all I really enjoyed this comic adaptation of Rawhead Rex and while some parts dragged the over all feeling of dread made it a good comic to read on this October night. If you’re a fan of the short story or even the movie give this comic a read as I am sure you’ll be pleased with the brutal nature and creepy monster. Check out the art below to see the style of Edwards as well as see the glory of what Rawhead looks like in this twisted comic tale.

Rawhead Rex Art 1

Rawhead Rex has been defeated again and sent to his grave thanks to a very determined father armed with a statue of a pregnant woman, and with that womanizing monster out of the way, we can continue our countdown to Halloween. While the Halloween update won’t be a custom made comic from a artist friend, it will be something fitting for this year. But before we even announce what that topic will be, I should share what our next one will be about – the classic Marvel comic reprints called Dead Of Night! So I hope you come back to visit for the 5th update in our countdown. Before we go I want to once again say I truly do enjoy the legend of Rawhead Rex, and this update was a fun one to write, even if the comic much like the DVD and VHS was hard to find and cost a good penny to get. So if you’re a farmer, whatever you do, don’t free Rawhead Rex as your town won’t be ready for his path of rage and gross behavior. Until next time, watch a horror film or two, read a horror comic or three and support your local Horror Host and have a great October!

Dead Of Night Logo Marvel

The Universal Dracula: Blood Drive Countdown To Halloween

I Bid You Welcome! The moon is full, and we are at our third update in our countdown to Halloween.  A thick mist is covering the ground as we all wait for the carriage of Count Dracula to take us to his castle. This is an update that I have been looking forward to since I started Rotten Ink over three years ago.  As all you long time readers know, I grew up a Monster Kid and loved everything Universal Monsters. Not only did I have such things as a Christmas themed Frankenstein Monster t-shirt and VHS tapes of many of my favorite monsters, I also spent much of my time drawing pictures of Dracula and all of his Universal pals in art class and at home. This update I get to cover one of the true icons of Universal Monsters, the one who brought the studio back from approaching closed doors after having too many films that did not perform at the box office, a character that also brought Universal into the monster movie business again and proved that horror was a hit with moviegoers. I am of course talking about the 1931 masterpiece Dracula.  For this update we will be taking a look at not just the film and it’s Spanish counterpart, but also Universal Dracula in merchandise, culture, my connection to the film and the main attraction will be the Dark Horse Comics adaptation of this classic flick.  So let’s wait here at Borgo Pass for our ride to Castle Dracula and chat about Universal Dracula in film, comics, toys and more. And to be safe, if you believe the rumors about Count Dracula, you might want to wear those cloves of garlic around your neck!

Dracula 1931 Poster 0

Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was a hit when it was released in 1897, and in 1922 filmmaker F.W. Murnau made his silent masterpiece “Nosferatu” based around the book.  He did not, however, get permission to do so and he was sued and all prints of his film ordered to be destroyed. Lucky for us some prints of the film did survive but that’s for another update based on the comic adaptation of the film and the series that followed. During that time a young film producer named Carl Laemmle Jr. bought the film rights and wanted to make a silent monster movie that would follow in the footsteps of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom Of The Opera (1925) and wanted to use the script from the stage play, that was a huge hit on Broadway, and even Nosferatu for inspiration to bring his version to the silver screen that would not be a silent film but now a talkie. While casting Laemmie passed on stage actor Bela Lugosi who was the talk of the town for his performance of Dracula on the stage and talked to actors like John Wray, Ian Keith and Paul Muni, while the films Director Tod Browning wanted to cast Lon Chaney Sr., but sadly Chaney passed away from cancer before the film’s production started. Lugosi lobbied hard and tried all he could to get the role he felt he was born to play not only on stage but also on the big screen and finally won over Universal and the executives when he took the small pay of $500.00 a week for seven weeks of work. The production of the film was slightly disorganized as director Tod Browning was not fully behind the film and at times would even leave the set and have his cinematographer Karl Freund take over shooting and directing scenes.  You see, at the time of this film Universal had gotten away from making horror films as they thought it was beneath them as a company, but after some shake up from inside the company, horror films were back on the slate but not taken too seriously as the company had major financial issues.  In my opinion, that is why Browning didn’t take this film as seriously as he should have because he looked at it as a low budget throw away film. The film had its premiere at the Roxy Theatre in New York on February 12, 1931, and as part of its marketing Universal reported that people fainted while watching the film.  This helped the big buzz for Dracula when it opened wide two days later. Dracula was a gamble for the studio but proved to be a risk worth taking as it was a major hit and bringing in the highest profit for them in 1931 as it did better than any of their other films released that year. The film received mixed reviews with most being positive and some negatives with complaints that it wasn’t too scary and comparing it to the stage version.  But most all agreed that Bela Lugosi was fantastic as Count Dracula. I don’t want to get into the film’s plot as I feel that the Dark Horse Comic adaptation we will be reviewing will take care of that.  Instead I would like to talk briefly about the first time I saw Dracula.  The Christmas after the one that we first got our VCR, my brother Bryan bought me Dracula as a gift.  I was pretty excited to see it, as the year before, my parents got me Frankenstein and my love for Universal Monsters was at an all time high! Like before, after the Brassfield side of the family came and went from our house in Waynesville, we sat down as a family and watched it, and I was hooked and loved every second of it. Bela Lugosi, who I had drawn pictures of for years as Dracula, crept his way into my brain and became the true Count Dracula in my eyes. Dwight Frye, who played Renfield, a sad one-time sane man who becomes Dracula’s bug eating slave, is fantastic.  Edward Van Sloan plays a cool and wise Van Helsing, while Helen Chandler was stunning and well cast as Mina Seward, the woman who captures Dracula’s eye. So before we move on, I want to give a big thanks to my brother Bryan for getting me that VHS tape all those years back and allowing me to see the film that inspired monster kids for generations.

Dracula 1931 Still 1Dracula 1931 VHSDracula 1931 Still 2

In 1931, at the same time as the Browning production of Dracula, Universal was filming a Spanish language version, rolling at night after the American production wrapped for the evening, that was directed by George Melford and starred Carlos Villarias as Count Dracula.  The cast and crew had the lucky advantage of watching the dailies from the American production before they would film and would try to one up them with better lighting, angles and acting as they wanted to be the better of the two productions. While the two films are very similar and both filmed using the same script, the Spanish Dracula changed things up and tried to make scenes more creepy for the time and was able to push the “sex appeal” up a notch by allowing their actress, Lupita Tovar, to wear more risque clothing as she played Eva who took the place of Mina in this version. This version of this film was also a hit with moviegoers of the 30’s and chilled the bones of those who watched it. But over time, the film became lost and a print of the movie would not be found until the 1970’s when it was restored so that a new generation of horror fans could enjoy it. Many critics and fans think that the Spanish version is better than the American version, and while it’s fantastic, I still find the Lugosi version of Dracula to be the better of the two.

Spanish Dracula 1931 Still 1Spanish Dracula 1931 VHSSpanish Dracula 1931 Still 2

After the runaway success of both Dracula and Frankenstein, Universal decided to make sequels to those films and poof! franchises were made. Dracula’s Daughter was the first sequel and came out in 1936.  It follows Countess Marya Zaleska, who is Count Dracula’s Daughter, who wants to be cured of her vampire ways..or does she? The next sequel, in 1943, had Lon Chaney Jr. as Count Alucard and was called Son Of Dracula. Count Dracula would go on to make appearances in both House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula for Universal that would combine all their classic monsters into the films.  In these two films, the part of Dracula was played by John Carradine. Bela Lugosi would play the role of Count Dracula again for Universal in 1948 in the horror comedy film Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.  This sadly would make the second and last time Lugosi would play the role in the movies. In 1979, Universal made a “remake” of Dracula that starred Frank Langella as Dracula and was a nice update to the film series. I would love to get more into films like Dracula’s Daughter and Son Of Dracula, but at some point in time I want to have some one of a kind comics made based on those films so I will hold off talking too much about them.  I really enjoyed each of the films I mentioned above and have spent countless hours watching them over the years and have owned them on VHS and DVD.

Draculas Daughter VHSSon Of Dracula VHSDracula Remake VHS

Bela Lugosi, who’s real name was Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko, was born on October 20, 1882 in Lugos, a small town in the Kingdom of Hungary (now Lugo, Romania) and was the youngest of four children. By the age of 12, he dropped out of school and got into acting and by 1903 had roles in many local plays, not only having small roles but also major ones which him to getting great roles in Shakespeare plays. In 1911, he moved to Budapest and had a long a great run in many theater performances.  Lugosi would claim he was the leading actor of Hungary’s Royal National Theatre, but many factors go against his claim. From 1914 to 1919, Lugosi was an infantryman in the Austro-Hungarian Army and during World War I he was ranked Captain of the ski patrol and was wounded during combat and awarded medals for his service for his country. During this time, Bela also was taking on many roles in Hungarian films like The Colonel and The Caravan Of Death. During the 1919 revolution of Hungary, he was forced to flee his homeland when the actors union went crazy causing many actors to find work elsewhere.  This lead Bela to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1920 and also lead to him using the last name Lugosi in honor of his birthplace Lugos. Bela Lugosi moved to New York and by 1931 became naturalized as an American citizen. While in New York, he and other immigrant actors formed a stock company and entertained fellow immigrants with small production plays, with his first English Broadway play being the 1922 production of The Red Poppy and soon after The Devil In The Cheese, a comedy fantasy play as well as many other theater productions. His first American movie role came in 1923 for the film The Silent Command and this lead to many more roles in silent films cast mostly as the villain. His big break in Hollywood came after he wowed audiences with his portrayal of Count Dracula in the play Dracula that lead to him getting the role in the 1931 Universal Monster classic Dracula! This sparked him to be asked to play Frankenstein’s Monster in the Universal film Frankenstein but Bela turned it down as he felt that the part was not acting and just grunts and thus beneath his talents…or so rumor goes. Many more amazing horror film roles followed as Bela starred in White Zombie, Murders In The Rue Morgue, The Raven, Son Of Frankenstein, The Black Cat, Ghost Of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man and Black Friday to name a few. His role as Ygor in Son of Frankenstein is looked at as one of his finest roles by many horror fans. But Bela would not stay on top of the horror world forever as his addiction to opiates and his box office appeal was slipping.  This lead to him taking roles in many B-movies like such titles as Mother Riley Meets The Vampire, The Ape Man, Return Of The Vampire, Voodoo Man, Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla and The Black Sleep. During his decline, he started taking roles in a young filmmaker named Ed Wood Jr’s film like Glen or Glenda and Bride Of The Monster.  His final film appearance was in Plan 9 From Outer Space as old stock footage Wood shot was added into the film. Bela was able to get off the drugs before his death in 1956 at the age of 73 from a heart attack, and he was buried wearing one of his Dracula capes. Bela Lugosi remains one of my favorite horror actors of all time and his work lives on to frighten and entertain a new generation of Monster Kids.

Bela Lugosi 0Bela Lugosi as Dracula

Carlos Villarias was born on July 7, 1892 in Cordoba, Spain and was acting in his first movie in 1917 with the Spanish film “El Pobre Valbuena” and would star in many more Spanish productions throughout the 1930’s.  In 1931, he landed the role he was best known for, the Spanish version of Dracula for Universal. He continued to make movies for many years that followed and had roles in films like “The Mystery Of The Ghastly Face”, “Nostradamus”, “Tropic Holiday” and “The House Of The Fox” to name a few. His final film was in 1953 in a film called “Decameron Nights”. Carlos passed away in 1976 at the age of 83. While he might not be as well known as Bela Lugosi to horror fans, his acting and portrayal of Count Dracula for the Spanish market is amazing, and I am sure he chilled the bones of all those who watched him in the role back in 1931. I just wanted to touch on Carlos Villarias’s life as he is just as important to the Universal Dracula history as Bela Lugosi, Tod Browning and everyone else on the crew that made this movie come alive.

24482625_120291616966villarias

Don Post is considered the godfather of Halloween by many and made some of the worlds first latex masks.  He also attached himself to makings masks based on some of Hollywood’s top ghouls and monsters from The Wolf Man to The Hunchback Of Notre Dame and of course he made several based on Dracula; the most important ones were based on the likeness of Bela Lugosi’s portrayal for Universal. Growing up, I can remember old ads in and on the back cover for Famous Monsters Magazine that acted as an order form to buy this classic mask. I always wondered why Dracula’s skin is green and also marveled about just how awesome the ad made the mask seem, and ideas of wanting the mask to run around my neighborhood would spring into my brain. Years later I would get to see the mask in person at the Magic Hat, a store on Brown Street, and while a great looking mask, it did not live up to the epicness of the ad. Check out the ad picture below and try not to be tranced by its latex greatness!

Don Post Dracula Halloween Mask

In 1963, Hasbro unleashed a board game to masses called “Dracula Mystery Game.”  It would allow 2-4 players to kill time and chill their bones with the horror of Dracula. The plot of the game has you and the other players rolling dice trying to avoid Dracula who wants you dead! I own this game, but sadly when I bought it from my friend David J. Getz it was missing the Dracula pawn piece, making it so that we in the Dayton Board Game Society never played it during a meeting. The game is pretty pricey and on Ebay, depending on condition, can go form any were from $20.00 – $300.00! So if you like cheesy board games, try and track this one down and give it a play for a spooky good time.

Dracula Mystery Game BoardDracula Mystery Board GameDracula Mystery Game pawn

Back in the 1960’s, kids loved to put together and paint models.  For Monster Kids, the ones everyone wanted were the 1962 Aurora Monsters, and one of the most popular ones in that line had to be Count Dracula.  The Dracula model had a Bela Lugosi looking Dracula standing in a stone and grass field next to a dead tree that houses bats. When I was a very young kid and living in Waynesville, I had one of the Dracula model kits but only the Dracula piece that was unpainted as my Mom got it for me from a garage sale. I can remember setting it up on a shelf next to Wizard of Oz dolls I had and always wishing it was an action figure and not a model. Nowadays I have seen the original model kit at many antique malls for around $30.00 – $50.00, depending on how complete it is as well as how poorly it was painted and on Ebay I have seen them go for around $10.00 to $250.00, once more depending on condition and paint job. I wish I sill had my old Aurora Dracula Model Kit, but sadly he is gone in time.

Aurora Dracula boxAurora Dracula model

In 1964, Palmer Plastics released 3” PVC mini figures based on monsters from horror movies as well as science fiction ones. And of course one of the figures released was based on the Universal Dracula. The figure was crudely designed and would come in many colors and would be sold in a three pack or even singly, all for a super cheap price. I sadly never had a Palmer Dracula, but they can be found time to time on Ebay and go for around $20.00 to $60.00 on average.

Palmer Dracula Figure

Remco was a classic toy company who, in 1980, made a deal with Universal to make action figures of their monsters, and of course Dracula was in the line. They made two styles; the first was 9” doll that had cloth clothes with movable limbs.  The Dracula one was very cool but looked nothing like Bela Lugosi. I can remember seeing this figure at flea markets and antique stores, but even loose it always carried a high price tag that my mom would not spend in order to get it for us. To this day, I do not own one but do however own Frankenstein’s Monster thanks to my friend David J. Getz. In 1981, they then released the 3 3/4” action figure versions of the Universal Monsters, and Dracula of course graced this line with his blood drinking presence. These figures were the size of Star Wars and were ones in our youth we so badly wanted but never could find them at garage sales nor flea markets. The Dracula figure’s face glowed in the dark, and he came complete with a vinyl cape.  The downside of these figures was the fact the paint chipped off very easily, and poor Dracula’s nose always had a bare spot as did his fingers. While I never did own one of these figures in my youth, a few years back for my birthday my friend Jason Young gave me almost the full run of the figures as well as the Lab playset! And yep, the Dracula had paint missing on his nose and fingers. The 9” Remco Dracula on Ebay in good shape goes for $35.00 to about $65.00, and the 3 3/4” version goes for about $8.00 – $36.00 dollars loose and in good shape. Both of these figures in package sell for over $100.00 and for collectors like myself are well worth the high price tag.

Remco Dracula DollRemco Dracula figure

Imperial Toys didn’t want to feel left out of the Universal Dracula toy releases, so in 1986, for their Universal Monster toy series, they made a Dracula that was made of hard plastic with moveable arms and head.  For some reason his face and hands are a very bright white, and he has bright red lips and cheesy rings on his fingers. The figure was sold two ways; one was loose with a tag attached to his neck and the second was in a package that showcased his castle in the background that was covered in spider webs and dust. I can remember seeing the Imperial Dracula figure at Kay-Bee Toys and wanting it to go alongside my Imperial Frankenstein’s Monster and Wolf Man that my Mom and Dad got for for Christmas that year. Sadly in my youth I never did get Dracula nor The Mummy but with in the last 3 years I was able to get them both.  Thanks to Ebay, I was able to snag Dracula with The Mummy coming from Monsterbash Convention. If you’re looking for Dracula on Ebay, this Imperial figure in good shape goes for around $4.00 all the way up to $25.00, and I must say the likeness of Bela Lugosi on this one is pretty far off, but what did you expect from a cheap toy company that made low cost figures.

Imperial Dracula

But these were not the only figures based on Dracula that have been made over the years, they were just the most popular ones. Some other amazing ones include Ben Cooper’s Dracula Jiggler and the other knock off companies that made versions. Just Toys made a very cool Dracula Bend-Em for their Universal Monster collection, and this is one figure I did own and once more got it for Christmas one year alongside The Wolf Man. Imperial also made Universal Monster Pogs that featured Dracula, not only on the milk caps but also on his very own Slammer, and yep I had this in my youth. Those are just a drop in the hat of all the cool toys made based around the Universal Dracula character. So needless to say, if you’re a toy collector and you also love Universal’s version of Dracula, you can find many great collectibles for your collection!

Dracula JigglerDracula Bendie ToyDracula Pog SlammerBig Head Dracula Figure

When I was a kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of the most popular cartoon as well as toyline, and in 1993 when Playmates, the makers of the toys, decided to combine the Turtles with Universal Monsters, an amazing thing happened for Monster Kids like myself. Ninja Turtle Donatello was the one combined with Count Dracula, and the figure came with not only a cape but also weapons like a wooden stake.  Growing up I never had the Don as Dracula figure, but I did have a few of the others and over the years have seen this figure at many places for sale like Mavericks Cards And Comics, Game Swap Kettering and Feathers. On Ebay, the figure in package sells for about $25.00 – $40.00 dollars and loose and incomplete for about $2.00 – $4.00. So if you want this figure for your TMNT collection, it’s not too expensive.

TMNT DON AS DRACULA

World Candies produced a sugar candy stick in a small box that featured a monster of Universal Studios fame, and as far as I can tell, these began in the 1970’s and were simply called Monster Candy. I remember them in the late 80’s and early 90’s because around Halloween time at Odd Lots or Big Lots, they would sell these candies by the bag full for like $1.00 or two and I would get them to give out and pig out on. The candy back then was a flat stick, and two would be in a box and on the candy would be monster faces.  Now they are more like candy sticks aka candy cigarettes. These candies were a big part of my childhood, and while they were kind of gross, I still love the idea of them to this day. Check out the super cool box for Dracula.

Monster Candy Dracula Box

In Waynesville, I lived very close to the Library and would walk there with my brother Bryan, mother, father, and we would rent VHS movies, books and comics. One of the book series I would check out the most and even make copies of the pictures on a copy machine was the Crestwood House Monster Books. I used to love sitting and reading about each monster and all the classic films that featured them.  The books would also fill you in on old legends about that monster and even talk a little about the source material they were based on whether it be a urban legend or a novel. They put out a second series that were more like kid novels based on the movies like Dracula’s Daughter. The Library used to also have a huge sale where they would sell you a bag of books for so many dollars, and I was lucky enough to snatch up many of these titles when they decided they didn’t need them anymore and still have them to this day. I find myself from time to time still dusting them off and enjoying these fun books of my youth. Some of them were based around Dracula and many of those books are a fun read for fans and the young at heart. On Ebay, you can get a used copy of the Crestwood Monster Dracula book for $10.00 – $20.00 depending on condition and if it’s a hard or soft cover.

Crestwood Dracula BookCrestwood Daughter Of Dracula

Puzzles have been a staple for kids of all ages, and to this day, puzzles are put together by kids and adults alike.  It comes as no surprise that Universal licensed out Dracula’s image to companies to make ones based around this icon of fright. The puzzles have some great artwork and are clearly geared towards younger kids with them being mere 100-200 pieces. Not much to say about these, but I figured they should at least get some respect here on Rotten Ink.

Universal Dracula PuzzleDracula Puzzle

Back in the 90’s, Doritos Chips gave away Universal Monster stickers in the bags you would find at your local grocery store, and I found myself begging my mom to buy this snack food so that I would be able to collect the whole set of these stickers. So every time we would go to Ellis, a small store in Downtown Waynesville I would get a bag of this chips.  Now I should tell you, I HATE Doritos – always have and always will – and this shows you my love for Universal Monsters as I suffered through eating those nasty chips. I can remember how happy I was when I got the Dracula sticker for the first time, and I proudly put it away for safe keeping.  When I got an extra, I put it inside the VHS tape giving my tape a little something extra. No matter how hard I tried and how many bags of powdered death, I ate I never did get a full set of these stickers making all my efforts even that more sad. I still have the stickers to this day, and they are stored away at Independent B Movie studio waiting for the day that I will proudly display them in my home. But check out below and see how cool the Dracula one is.

Doritos Dracula Sticker

I grew up in the age of breakfast cereal, and some of the best out there were the General Mills Monster Cereals with Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frankenberry and the wonders of how the world works when they put the cereal mascots alongside Universal Monsters! Let’s first breakdown Count Chocula as a character and his cereal. Count Chocula is vampire who is brown and wears brown clothes.  He is a friendly vampire to kids but hates Frankenberry and Boo Berry and thinks his cereal is the best. His feelings can be hurt when people run away from him, and he is scaredy cat. It’s clear as day that he is inspired by Lugosi’s version of Dracula because the mascot sounds like a poor man’s Bela. The cereal has a chocolate flavor to it and is my favorite out the the monster cereals.  It is one that I could eat every morning! But sometime in the late 80’s early 90’s, they put Lugosi as Dracula on the box with Count Chocula making a cool box for us kids to look at in the morning. Many items have been made in the image of Count Chocula including stuffed dolls, pencil tops, toys and shirts.

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Dracula has also made it to handheld video games like the ones made by Micro Games of America in 1994 and even ones made by Tiger have graced the hands of gamers. He has also been in pinball games at your local arcade and has been in a few PC games, and even had a full fledge game called simply Dracula for the Game Boy Color that was an official Universal Monsters product.  Not to mention, the mountains of other games that the character Dracula has appeared in making him one of the top classic monster bad guys used the most in video games.

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In 1997, fast food joint Burger King decided to have Universal Monster toys in their kids meal, and Count Dracula was one of the cheesiest and least wanted figure as for some reason his skin was flesh colored and it looked nothing like the classic Lugosi played vampire. Standing about 4 inches tall, the figure had a removable cape, a coffin and a glow in the dark sticker. The figure was perfect size to fit in with those kids of that day who played with G.I. Joe and Star Wars toys, and the best part was, they got it free for eating a cheeseburger and fries.  A pat on the back to Burger King for also bringing Dracula to a new generation of kids with these kids meal prizes even if the figure was lame in appearance.

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Not to be outdone, another fast food hamburger joint also gave away figures based on the Universal Monsters, and unlike Burger King, they also included The Bride and did it twice! The first batch came in 1999 and had Dracula who looked just like the Burger King version in skin tone but had a weird grabbing feature as his action. Then in 2002, they put out a quick change magic trick Dracula that would have him turn from human into a bat via his coffin.  These figures are really cheap looking and kind of cheesy, but still worth owning for those who love all things Dracula. I don’t know much about these because there is no Jack in The Box in my area.

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The Universal Dracula Series has also been a big part of horror hosting as the films were a part of The Shock Theater and Son of Shock movie packages that allowed local TV stations to air the films with a host. Many of the old shows are lost like hosts such as Vampira, Sammy Terry, Dr. Creep and Melvin hosting these classic films but a few have survived, and some hosts have hosted them as late as early this year, 2016. But here are a few of the hosts I have that brought you some films from the Universal Dracula including Morgus The Magnificent and Baron Von Wolfstein.

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But this is called Rotten Ink and is a blog mostly about comic books, so we should talk about comics that are based around Dracula that are licensed by Universal. Off the top of my head, I can only think of two; one being released by Dell in 1963 as part of their Movie Classics line called “Dracula”, with it later being paired with The Mummy by Dell. The other is the Dark Horse comic “Universal Monsters Dracula” that was released in 1993 and is the subject of this epic update. The Dell comic is a new story about Dracula, while Dark Horses is just based on the script and is a movie adaptation. Both of these are comics we will get to at some point here on Rotten Ink as well as Marvel’s Tomb Of Dracula series.  I am looking forward to bringing you those.

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One of my favorite internet shows has to be The Angry Video Game Nerd.  What is not to like about a funny character playing old video games from my youth and making fun of the flaws that have tortured many kids that played them. The Nerd is played and created by James Rolfe who also grew up as a Monster Kid watching the classic Universal Films, Horror Hosts like Joe Bob Briggs, making his own films and loving all things spooky. Every Halloween, he has a Nerd Special where he reviews a horror themed game, and in 2008, The Nerd covered Dracula themed games and he was in fact a vampire in the episode himself wearing a cape and all. But of course, the games he plays are terrible, including the NES unreleased game Drac’s Night Out, and uses the suns rays to commit suicide so he didn’t have to play any more terrible Dracula games. Every HalloweenJames Rolfe also has a show called Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness where he talks about Horror films, and one year for this show he did sequels and covered the whole Universal Dracula series. Fun shows and worth checking out at http://cinemassacre.com.

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On Sunday, October 25, 2015 at 12:50pm at the Cinemark theater at The Greene Juliet, her mom and myself went to see the 1931 Universal Dracula on the big screen just in time for Halloween! We were all pretty hyped as the event was supposed to have a cool new intro from a film historian and was to be followed up by the Spanish version of Dracula.  With some candy and drinks in hand, we were ready for some classic horror film frights. There was a decent amount of people in the theater including mothers with their children who were talking about how scary the movie was when they where little.  This put a huge smile on my face as this classic Universal film was being passed down to a younger generation of Monster Kids.  Joining us were senior citizens who came to relive watching Lugosi in all his caped glory. But what was going to be an epic afternoon of Universal Horror once more turned into the ultimate blunder of Cinemark as they cut the new intro by the film historian, started the Lugosi Dracula film after the opening credits and to boot never showed the Spanish version! I was pretty annoyed by this as Cinemark at the Greene is my go-to theater, and they fouled up showing a classic monster movie event.  But with all blunders aside, it was great to see Dracula on the big screen along with Juliet and her Mom, who also loves a good classic Horror fright flick! So while fun, I still want to say shame on you Cinemark, for charging full price for an event you didn’t show fully.

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So we have arrivied at Castle Dracula, and I can see our host making his way down the long stone stairs so while we wait for him to bid us, welcome I should thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for having this Dark Horse adaptation in stock. I also hear the children of the night telling me to remind you all 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. Plus I want to say that I am really happy to present this update to all you readers and friends this close to the Halloween season, and hope I did this classic, iconic and impactful film justice with this update. Our host is here and inviting us in for a glass of wine, so let’s head on in and take a look at this blood sucking comic!

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Dracula # 1  ***
Released in 1993    Cover Price $4.95    Dark Horse    # 1 of 1

Renfield arrives at Castle Dracula in Transylvania to meet Count Dracula, a client who is buying the Carfax Abbey in England, but during his first night there, Renfield is bitten by Dracula who is a vampire. The next day Renfield is now the slave of Dracula, and they are aboard a ship bound for England when Dracula comes from his coffin and kills the crew during a massive storm. Renfield is the only one found alive on the ship when it docks, and he is found to be mad and taken away to an asylum as Dracula walks the streets sucking the blood of a young lady selling flowers he stumbles upon. Dracula goes to the symphony and meets the Dr. Seward who runs the asylum near the Carfax Abbey, his daughter Mina, her fiance John Harker as well as her best friend Lucy. Later that night Dracula targets Lucy to become his first bride and bites her on the neck as she sleeps, and by doing so kills her and turns her into a vampire. Dr. Seward goes to his friend Dr. Van Helsing for answers to Lucy’s death, and he in turns knows that Renfield must be the helper to the vampire that is stalking England, but he is not sure who it is. Meanwhile Dracula has now selected Mina as his next bride and also wants to use her to help bring down her father and Van Helsing only slightly turning her to a vampire and more as a slave that will do his bidding. The next day while Mina explains a bad dream she had to her father, John and Van Helsing, they spot two bite marks on her neck and as Count Dracula enters and thanks to a mirror, Van Helsing figures out that Dracula is the vampire they seek. Dracula returns later that night and allows Mina to drink his blood forming a bond between the two and later takes her to his safe place at Carfax Abbey. John and Van Helsing follow Renfield who has escaped the asylum to the Carfax Abbey, and Dracula rips the heart out of his one time slave and rushes to his coffin.  The sun is coming up after he spots John and Van Helsing have entered his home! Van Helsing drives a stake through Dracula’s heart, and Mina snaps out of her trance and returns home with her lover leaving this nightmare behind.

I first want to state that I enjoyed this comic book adaptation of the classic 1931 Universal Monster film Dracula from Dark Horse, but I also want to say that writer Dan Vado took some liberties with the story by doing such things as cutting Dracula’s Brides out of the opening, having Dracula cut his own arm for Mina to drink from, shows the stake going into the heart of Dracula, Renfield has his heart ripped out of his body by Dracula, Lucy just disappears once she becomes a vampire as well as adds blood to the hand of the flower girl that’s bitten by Dracula after he exits the ship. The story is this Dracula comes to England from his home in Transylvania and tries to turn two friends into his vampire brides but is soon on the radar of a highly intelligent doctor who is aware of the vampire legend and travels to the dark side of the world to free the soul of his friends daughter who is in danger by the curse of Dracula’s bite. So lets break down our cast of characters starting with Mina Seward who is the eye candy for Dracula who is your typical naive young female character who is under the spell of evil and does nothing to help herself to escape. But with that said Mina is a great character as she fits the part of the damsel in distress that is needed in all great fairy tales. John Harker is a man who loves his fiance and will do what ever it takes to keep her safe, while he talks a good game he is not the man who steps up and saves Mina from her fate. Van Helsing is the real hero of this tale as he is the one who knows the vampire legends, understands what can stop them, figures out who the vampire is and is the one who ends up driving the stake into the heart of Dracula ending his terror. Dr. Seward is just like John while he wants to keep his daughter safe he just has no clue how to do so. Renfield is a man who is driven insane and has enter battles with what his dark side tells him to do and what he knows is right. The poor fool who does what ever he can for Dracula is rewarded with having his heart ripped from his body as it was clear the vampire had no real care for his insane slave. Count Dracula is suave, violent and very cold as he don’t care about life and only wants his needs meet as he did not care who’s lives he ruined in his quest for new brides. Dracula in this comic is so much more evil in the film as he seems to get joy from killing and has no remorse for when he does kill. Lucy as well as the asylum workers and maids are all just secondary characters and fit their roles well. The odd thing about this adaptation is that it takes a classic black and white horror film that is known for it’s lack of blood and gore and decides to add in both! While I am sure some readers disliked these changes I looked at them as the artists and writers trying to add their own spin on this classic story. The art is done by John D. Smith and is a very cool paint style that captures the look of Lugosi very well as Dracula, but oddly enough NONE of the other characters look like the actors who played them in the 1931 film with them even going so far to give Van Helsing a beard. But while Dracula might be the only one who looks like he should I found myself really liking the art as well as the cover that is really amazing and showcases just how talented Smith is at capturing the creepy feel of Bela. Over all this was a great read and an amazing read to lead us into the month of October! If your a fan of classic Universal Monsters and love comic books I would say for sure check it out! Check out some of the art below from this comic and see just how cool it looks, I must say sorry for the poor quality of the pictures as I had to use my iPhone in order to get them and not a scanner.

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So we have made it out of Castle Dracula alive and with all our blood intact, and we should count ourselves lucky as this far we have not only survived Count Dracula with out countdown to Halloween but also this far Jaws and The Tallman! This update was lots of fun to write and really helped me get into the Halloween spirit as Universal Monster movies always kick of the spooky mood and feeling that goes along with the months of October and September for me. I hope I did this 1931 film and its legacy justice with this update as it’s in honor of Bela Lugosi, who is a true horror actor icon. But I am sure you’re wondering what’s next for out countdown to Halloween.  We are leaving Castle Dracula and heading to Ireland to come face to face with the one and only Rawhead Rex! So until next time, read a comic or three, see a horror movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host…See you next update my ghoulish friends and readers.

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From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Phantasm

You Write A Good Blog, Boy…But Now You Die! Those words are something I would like to think The Tall Man would scream at me if he was here at my apartment while I write this update.  The Phantasm film series is a horror franchise that breaks the mold of what one thinks of when comparing it to other horror films that came before.  The film was not made up of vampires, zombies, a slasher killer, ghosts or even animals running wild; oh no, this film was something more with a killer who was beyond the realms of normal horror bad guys as The Tall Man is so much more than your normal villain of cinema. When choosing Horror Comics for this year’s countdown to Halloween many titles were considered, but one I knew for sure had to be in this year’s roundup was this Xmachina comic based on Phantasm as the movie series as well as this comic deserved to be talked about here on Rotten Ink. This marks not only our second update in our countdown to Halloween but also the first in our “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” updates that join our returning update themes like “Horror Host Icon”, “Alien Invasion”, “Undead Files”, “NES Challenge” and “Marvel At The Movies” among others. What I am trying to showcase in these updates are horror movie themed comics that lasted for 1-4 issues (some cases could be more issues) and can be from any comic company from Marvel all the way to Blackthrone and can be an adaptation or its own story or a prequel based on the characters of the film it’s named after. This also can apply to promo comics that used to be given away at video rental stores and now come inside DVDs and Blu-Rays, plus still sometimes at the movie theaters! Many great horror movie themed comics have been released and sadly many have been forgotten, so I feel it’s my duty here on Rotten Ink to dig them up from the comic long box graveyard and give them life once more and share them with you, my friends and readers, who might have interest in tracking them down to read or collect. So with that, let’s move into the graveyard and dodge those evil metal flying spheres and get one step closer to the world of The Tall Man!

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The Phantasm movie series is the brain child of director and writer Don Coscarelli who grew up a fan of horror and wanted to make his own in the booming market. Inspired by the book “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury as well as from elements from films like “Suspiria” and “Invaders From Mars,” he made a film that became a hit at the box office as well sparked a cult-like following that is still going strong to this day. So before we dive too deep into this update, I want to talk about the films. The write ups will once more come from our friends at IMDB with some info and my brief thoughts and memories of the films…so let’s dodge the spheres and leap over some tombstones and get to talking about the films that are near and dear to many horror fans’ hearts.

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Phantasm (1979)

Mike, a young teenage boy who has just lost his parents, is afraid to lose his brother. This fear causes him to follow his brother to a funeral, where Mike witnesses the Tall Man lift a coffin on his own. Mike decides to investigate and discovers a horrible world where the Tall Man, along with his flying spheres, shrink them to half their normal size and reanimate them as slaves. It is then up to Mike, his brother, and Reggie the ice cream man to stop the Tall man.”

Phantasm was one of those films that when I first viewed it as a youngster, I was lost by the twist and turns of the plot, but nonetheless was so drawn in by the atmosphere. Looking back, I think I first saw this film on the USA Network or some other cable station as I can remember watching it with my brother late on a weekend night while living in Waynesville. As I grew older and into my teens when I started to collect more and more horror films on VHS, the Phantasm series was on my must-own list, and part one always remained a chilling and bizzarre classic in my eyes. The film was directed by Don Coscarelli, who also was the brain behind the idea of characters, and the cast was made up of such talents as Michael Baldwin as Mike, Bill Thornbury as Jody, Reggie Bannister as ice cream man Reggie and Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man. At the US Box Office it brought in a total of $11.988,469.00 on a $300,000.00 budget. The year it was released, it was joined by such other Horror Films as “The Amityville Horror”, “The Driller Killer”, “Tourist Trap”, “Zombie 2”, “Screams Of A Winter Night”, “Cannibal Holocaust” and “The Dark” to name a few. This first one is a true cult classic in my book and is one that you should watch this Halloween season if you have not seen it, and hell even if you have seen it, watch it again!

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Phantasm II (1988)

Mike is released from psychiatry, when he agrees with the doctors that the terrible happenings in his past were just in his imagination. But once he’s free, he contacts Redge and they team up to hunt down and eliminate the “Tall Man”, who plunders the graveyards and abducts the sleeping with help of his terrible gnomes. A beautiful strange girl starts to appear in Mike’s dreams. He assumes she’s in danger and needs their help – will they find her before the Tall Man can do her any harm?”

I can remember when Phantasm II was coming out to theaters as Fangoria Magazine was pushing it, and the TV spots playing on the local stations always captured my attention. My first time seeing the film was when it hit home video and my cousins Dino and Norman rented it and had me and my brother over to watch it. I can remember when the sphere killed one of the Tall Man’s funeral workers, Norman and I cheered and were in wonder as the effects looked fantastic.  This sequel was also directed by Don Coscarelli with actors James LeGros as Mike, Reggie Bannister as Reggie, Paula Irvine as Liz and Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man. The film did okay for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in $7,282,851.00 on a $3 million dollar budget. The film came in at 103 for the year and beat such cult films as Waxwork, Hot To Trot, Mac And Me, The Unholy, Braddock: Missing In Action III, Elvira Mistress Of The Dark, Monkey Shines, Night Of The Demons, Pumpkinhead, Maniac Cop, Hero And The Terror and Critters 2: The Main Course to name a few. The sequel packs a wicked punch and adds to the mystery of The Tall Man and his wicked dead spreading ways, a great watch for your Halloween season for sure.

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Phantasm III: Lord Of The Dead (1994)

The Tall Man, that imposing menace from Morningside Mortuary, is back and once again haunting the thoughts of the now-adult Mike and his friend, ex-Ice Cream vendor Reggie. The two continue their hunt for the mysterious figure and in his path of destruction encounter a variety of dangerous situations, friends and enemies. They also must contend with the resurrected dead plus a growing number of the infamous and deadly silver spheres which aid the Tall Man as he sets his sights on indoctrinating Mike and finishing the fight begun so many years ago”

Phantasm III was the first of the series not to make it to theaters, and the rumor going around about why it went direct to video was because Universal and Don Coscarelli were at war with each other and they did this as a way to flex their muscle, but by doing this they created one of the top selling direct to video films of all time. I first saw the film when my brother Bryan and I rented it from K&L Video, and both of us liked it but were also confused by some of it.  But that’s the real charm of the Phantasm films, they reveal answers but also make it so there are more questions that need answers from film to film. This one also adds female characters named Rocky and Tanesha who are also on a quest to take down the sinister Tall Man…part three in this series is great and was one that was worth renting and now owning on DVD.

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Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998)

Taking off immediately where the last one ended, in this episode Mike travels across dimensions and time fleeing from the Tall Man, at the same time he tries to find the origins of his enemy, and what really happened the night that his brother died. Meanwhile, Reggie (accompanied by a beauty he picked up on the road) battles the spheres and the undead in a quest to find Mike before the Tall Man can complete his transformation.”

The fourth film in the series was another one that my brother Bryan and I rented from Blockbuster Video.  While good, I did find it to be the weakest in the series, but even with that said, it’s still an amazing and strange film. I don’t have much to say about this film besides I bought it on VHS and later DVD. It was great seeing The Tall Man back in 1998, and it was released by MGM this time around and not Universal. Also a fun fact is that the film was originally written under the title “Phantasm 1999 A.D.” and would have been set in a post-apocalyptic world and would have co-starred Bruce Campbell, but that script could not find funding so it disappeared into developmental hell. This film also had the lowest budget out of all the sequels that were made up to that point. Over all it’s a solid sequel that adds to the legend and mysteries that is The Tall Man.

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Phantasm V: Ravager (2016)

The final installment of the long-running Phantasm series.”

Not much is known about this fifth film in Phantasm series besides it was filmed in secret from 2012-2013.  Oddly enough the film has been scheduled for release this year and has yet to see the light of the movie theater or even the home viewing market, but just recently the release date of October 7th, 2016 was announced. This fifth film is also supposed to be the end of the series and is also the only film not to be directed by Don Coscarelli as David Hartman steps into the director’s chair. I am hoping that the Neon Movies in Dayton will get this film to screen when released, but I won’t hold my breath. I am very much looking forward to this film as the world needs another nightmare of celluloid featuring The Tall Man. So you friends and readers, are you looking forward to this fifth and final Phantasm film?

Tall Man in The Crypt

I am sure some of your readers would like to know who is Tall Man and what is he about. In the 19th century a mortician named Jebediah Morningside had become obsessed with finding out the connections between the worlds of the dead and the living.  He researched and built a machine that would allow him to travel through time and space via a portal that when stepping into it, lead him to an unknown destination and when returning he was no longer Jenediah; he was different…he was now The Tall Man. With these changes he became immortal, super strong, can shape shift, is telekinetic and able to control not only people but also objects with his mind.  When having a body part cut off, the severed limb not only grows back but the amputated limb can transform into insect-like creatures.  His helpers are many as he not only has humans to help in his goal to make the world a graveyard, but also small dwarves, gas mask wearing guards and spheres to name a few. His only known major weakness is cold as it’s believed that the dimension he came from is very hot and this makes is body not able to deal with freezing temperatures. Another fact is that with the change his blood is no longer red but yellow, and while he can be hurt, he has never been killed as shown for 4 films thus far (could his death be in the fifth film?). What makes The Tall Man a fascinating character is the fact that his motives are unknown for the most part besides he wants the land of the living to be the land of the dead. While he can talk, he is a bad guy of few words and mostly uses his face and eyebrow movement to show his feelings. The Tall Man is said to be 6 feet 4 inches tall, have grey hair and is always wearing a black suit. Actor Angus Scrimm has played The Tall Man for five films and his portrayal will forever lock The Tall Man as a true iconic character in the world of horror films. And one has to wonder if the Creepypasta Slenderman is slightly based on The Tall Man…think about it.

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Let’s talks a little about actor Angus Scrimm, shall we? Born on August 19, 1926 in Kansas City, Kansas, Scrimm started his media journey when he wrote and edited for such magazines as TV Guide and Los Angeles Herald Examiner and would also write the liner notes for LPs and CDs for bands like The Beatles and Frank Sinatra and even won a Grammy for his work on liner notes. Hits first acting role was in 1973 in the film “Sweet Kill” with another role that year being in “Sceam Bloody Murder” and after another small role in 1976 for a film called “Jim The World’s Greatest.”  His career changing role would come three years later in 1979 when he landed the role of The Tall Man in the film Phantasm.  This launched his career in acting in horror and cult films, landing roles in “Wiches’ Brew”, “Subspecies”, “Wishmaster” and “John Dies At The End,” to name a few. Angus would travel around the world acting and appearing at conventions and was always a man who made time for his fans. But sadly on January 9th 2016 at the age of 89, Angus Scrimm passed away peacefully surrounded by his family and friends.  This marked another major blow for fans of horror as the year before we lost Wes Craven and Christopher Lee. While gone, his work will live one, and I just wanted to take a moment and honor the man who truly made The Tall Man come alive and scare all those who witnessed his cinema and home video madness. This update is for you, Mr. Scrimm.

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The Tall Man has lots of creepy helpers that are trying to usher in a world of death.  Let’s take a few moments to take a look at them. The most popular of his helpers are the Spheres, also known as Sentinels.  They are flying weapons of death that are packing drills, knives, lasers and saws inside of them and are pure killing machines. The Dwarves, also called Lurkers, are pint size terrors who are crushed down dead bodies that have their brains removed and act as his main forces in his quest. The Hearse is another of his allies, a roaming self controlled four wheeled death machine, and lastly we have the Gravers, who are gas mask wearing slaves who act as guards. All these minions help make The Tall Man a true menace that the world fears and has to combat in order to save their towns from becoming wastelands of death.

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Phantasm has had its share of merchandise and only VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray and other home media releases. Over the years Phantasm and its character The Tall Man have appeared on t-shirts, posters, a comic book, action figures, posters, books, wall clock, hats and many more official and unoffical products. Over the years my most favorite Phantasm item I own is my NECA action figure that not only showcases The Tall Man but also a Lurker.  I also really like my Xmachina Comic as well as an item I will be talking about very shortly. So if you’re a fan of Phantasm and are also a collector of cool things, you can find some very kick butt stuff that showcases characters and the logos for this cult classic horror film.

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In 2009, a Phantasm homebrew video game was made for the Atari 2600 by Scott Dayton.  During its limited release, it was placed on a cart, and I was lucky enough to get a copy of it to play. It’s an adventure game and has you looking around doors in the mausoleum trying to find your shotgun and fighting off the dwarves and dodging The Tall Man who says/screams “Boy” at you. The best part of the game is the midi version of the film’s theme…amazing! While not ground breaking, the game is very much a fun play and makes you flashback to the days when a joystick and one button were all you needed to play a game. While out of print and pretty hard to find, from time to time it will show up on Ebay, and for a high price, you too can get yourself a copy of the horror video game.

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The score music for the 1979 classic Phantasm was done by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave and could be some of the most memorable horror film music to come out of the 70’s next to Goblin’s Dawn Of The Dead work. The opening theme has a creepy organ sound that blends the sound of the 70’s and yet also mixes in the eerie feel of the 60’s horror score music. The soundtrack has been released on vinyl and CD, and both are pretty much out of print and fetch a very high price in the used market. I was lucky to find a special edition CD release for Phantasm that puts the scores for the first and second film on one CD-R and play the main title during the Halloween show of Alpha Rythms on WYSO. If you’re a music score fan and have extra cash, you should check out this soundtrack as it’s worth buying and listening to.

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Back in 2011 as part of the podcast Gutter Trash’s Halloween special, I was asked to be a guest to review Phantams alongside hosts Jason Young and Eric Shonborn, and wow was it a fun time! We ate take out Chinese food and watched the film over at Eric’s house and after the film recorded the podcast in the Gutter Trash studio….and I was the only one trying to defend it! It was a great time, and if you want to take a trip to the past and listen to some movie and comic geeks chat about Phantasm and other topics, make sure to give it a listen here.

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So we are now in the heart of this Horror Comic Mortuary where good scary comics go to die, and it’s my job to bring them back to life and share them with you my readers – I should warn you that I have had to dodge so many Lurkers who have tried to stop me! I want to thank an Ebay seller for having this issue in stock. I also want to also tell you that this Phantasm comic series was planned to be a four issue mini series, but after Xmachina closed up the comic shop, only one issue was released. But I would like to make a prediction that may could come true; Eibon Press, the new amazing Horror Comic Company who is releasing the missing issues from the Xmachina Gates Of Hell comic series, could take the chance and release the remaining issues..again, just a guess that I could be WAY OFF on. As I am writing this, I can hear a Lurker mumbling this, “Remind them that you grade on a star scale of 1 to 4 and are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.” And that Lurker said it best..let’s move onto the Phantasm comic that is the perfect way to countdown to Halloween with as well as kick off my new themed updates “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” so dodge the spheres and try to outrun The Tall Man and see what this comic has to offer as this is my first time reading it.

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Phantasm # 1 ***
Released in 2002    Cover Price $4.95    Xmachina Comics    # 1 of 4

Mike is stuck in a world of his memories of his past run-ins with The Tall Man and his strange world and followers. He remembers back to when he was convinced it was all a dream and that his brother Jody died in a car crash and was not taken away by The Tall Man.  He also remembers when The Tall Man took him into his world and he witnessed the bizarre and weird place in between dimensions that he walked between.  He remembers going along with his best friend Reggie and meeting a female survivor named Rocky and how they had to fight to stay alive, and he remembers how The Tall Man removes his brain to show him not all is what it seems…and then he wakes up attached to machines, greeted by a hippie looking doctor named John Andrew Quezada who is dream specialist.  The year is 2047, and he has been studding Mike who he claims has been in a coma since 1979, a year after his brother Jody and friend Reggie were both killed in a car wreck.  He also claims that the world went crazy some years back and that many people went into dream comas and that The Tall Man is something that lives in dreams and only one other person has ever lived this long in a coma. Mike is still young as a serum was used to keep him youthful, and now Quezada wants him to help find a cure for the dream coma that is sweeping the world. The woman who survived is Rocky, and Dr. Quezada puts them both through dream tests that pits them against The Tall Man and his army of minions, but also what ever weapon they dream up to fight him with can be made as the clinic has a weapon manufacturing room! In one of his dream tests Mike has his own mind taking the appearance of Reggie telling him that this is all a trick of The Tall Man to get him and Rocky out of the way so he can spread death around the world and that they must fight back and end The Tall Man’s path of destruction. When he awakens, he questions Quezada who in turns answers questions but soon turns into The Tall Man and along with spheres and his minions attack Mike and Rocky, only for them to run away and smack dab into a twisted grotesque version of The Tall Man…and our story ends.

Just like the movie series this is based on this comic took so many twist and turns and was so odd that it fit perfectly into the world of Phantasm! The plot mixes the elements from the four films and tries to twist Mike’s memories into nightmares and say that he has been in a coma for decades – and that The Tall Man is nothing more than a nightmare man who has infected the sleep world of many people on earth causing ones who dream of him to go into comas…this of course is all a trap as Mike and Rocky, a returning character from the film Phantasm III, soon find out that this clinic to help them is just another sick game being played by their most hated enemy The Tall Man. The things that work the most about this issue are that while you are reading it and being drawn deeper and deeper into the possibility that these nightmares of Mike are what’s causing these major and evil problems, you know in the back of your mind that it has to be the work of The Tall Man as his sinister mind games are on par with the Marvel Comic villain The Red Skull as they both get joy in watching their targets squirm as their twisted plans unfold. Mike is a great character as by the point we join him in this comic issue, he has already been through so much and he seems to be fed up with all the strange and sinister antics he has had to deal with in his young life.  Plus he knows that he is the key that can stop this approaching end of the world, and he is ready to take up the fight! Rocky is also a fighter, and she tries her best to have no fear even when the odds are stacked against her.  The best way to describe her to modern horror comic fans is that she is much like Michonne from The Walking Dead. While we see Reggie and Jody in flashbacks mostly, they are missed in the story, but I have a feeling that later on they would have played a major part in the story. Doctor John Andrew Quezada is one of those characters that from the moment you see him you’re not sure if he can be trusted and after getting to know him a little better you lighten up only to again quickly question his motives…is he good or bad or a pawn of The Tall Man…I can’t say for sure, but by the end of this issue, he sure does seem evil! The Tall Man always seems to be around in this issue whether its in flashback, on TV screens or in person, and he just wants to screw things up and mess with the minds of those who can stop his rampage. Tall Man is always also surrounded by his minions and his spheres making him a major threat. The cover has a dark mood look and for some reason The Tall Man looks like he is part Terminator with his glowing red eye.  The interior art is done by Michael Broom and is creepy and fitting for this style of story based on these characters. The story is well crafted and put together by Stephen Romano, who you could truly tell was a fan of the series.  I wish that Xmachina Comics stayed around longer so that this series could have been finished up and we horror comic readers could have seen how the story played out. Here is to hoping that sometime in the future companies like Eibon Press or Rough House Publishing will pick up the series and put out the remaining three issues in the planned miniseries. Over all, this is a great read and something that fans of the film series should track down as well as horror comic readers. Below is artwork from the comic that shows the badass nature of what this comic has in store, so enjoy!

Scan 2

So I hope you’re not too scared as we have just started with our countdown to Halloween 2016, and I think taking a look at Jaws 2 and Phantasm was the right way to kick off this season. Phantasm is one of those cult classic films that has a loyal fanbase that just cannot be beat, and I for one will always stand by the fact that I am a fan, or as they say Phan, of this film! Our next update is a comic based on another film that I am a super fan of, the 1932 classic film Dracula.  We will be taking a look at the Dark Horse Comic adaptation of that Universal Monster Classic as well as Lugosi’s Dracula and the impact it has had on society.  So make sure to join me back here for that as you will not want to miss it.  Until next time, avoid The Tall Man, watch a horror movie or two, read a horror comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host. Also watch out for flying spheres as they can be a real pain in the neck!

Universal Dracula Logo

Terror Of The Deep Blue Sea…JAWS!!

GET OUT OF THE WATER! I am not screaming this at you because you just ate a hamburger and dove into the pool.  We all know you could get a cramp from that, but I am screaming this because our 1st countdown to Halloween update is all about that terror of the ocean Jaws! Humankind has always had a slight fear of the ocean and the Great White Shark has always been the foe of those looking for a good time in the ocean as they are known man-eaters and are not afraid to take a bite out of you! But in 1975, thanks to Steven Spielberg and Universal Studios, the world became afraid to go swimming as the film JAWS chewed its way to the top of the box office and made viewers scared to enter the water! The first time I saw Jaws is when my Dad showed it to me on cable TV, and I can remember even at a young age loving the mood and slow burn approach as the final showdown of man vs. shark unfolded before my young eyes. I can remember getting the same charge and wonder when watching JAWS 2, but the series lost steam for me when I watched part 3 and the revenge. So this update is going to be a fun one that I hope helps build you up for Halloween that is just around the corner.  So lets get on our wetsuits and dive into the water as we take a look at JAWS 2 and the Marvel adaptation of this classic late 70’s drama horror film.

The Shark Is Waiting For You

To understand JAWS, we must first travel back to 1916 and the Jersey Shore line as a rogue shark attacked people along the coastline and beyond.  For 12 horrifying days, this man eater went on its rampage leaving four dead and one injured. The first attack took place on July 1 with the victim being Charles Epting Vansant, who was 25 years old and was attacked by the shark while on vacation and swimming at Beach Haven.  His legs were being bitten by the shark and by the time help got to him, the shark had stripped the flesh off of his left thigh.  Charles would go on to bled to death from his injuries. Witnesses claimed that the shark even followed Charles up to shore before returning back into the Atlantic Ocean. The next attack took place on July 6th when 27 year old Charles Bruder was swimming at Spring Lake where he was attacked by the shark who bit his abdomen and, rumor goes, even severed the young man’s legs turning the water around him blood red in color.  He also bled to death from his injuries. On July 12, a group of boys went swimming in Matawan Creek when Lester Stilwell, who was 11, was attacked by the shark.  The other boys fled and ran to town for help.  Among them was Watson Stanley, a 24 year old business man who dove into the water to save the youngster, but he was bitten by the shark in the thigh and bled to death from his injuries. Stilwell’s body was found later downstream on July 14. Less than 30 minutes after the deaths of Stilwell and Stanley, in the water near Wyckoff Dock, Joseph Dunn, who was 14 at the time, was bitten and attacked by the shark who clamped onto his leg.  Dunn’s brother and a friend saved his life when they pulled Joseph away from the shark and were able to get him to the hospital in time.

After the attacks, panic filled the good people of the New York and New Jersey coastlines and many fishermen and trackers tried to hunt down the wicked rogue shark. Most believe that Michael Schleisser, a lion tamer for the circus, caught the shark when on July 14 he did battle with one that nearly sunk his boat and was nearly 8 feet in length. After beating the shark with a broken oar, he found the belly of the beast was filled with human flesh and bone! The shark was dubbed “The Jersey Man-Eater” and was mounted and placed on display in a shop off Broadway, until the body of The Jersey Man-Eater went missing some time later. But even after this, people still didn’t think that this was the right shark and that the real killer shark was still out in the water looking for more humans to chomp on.  Over the years, TV shows and channels like In Search Of, History Channel, Discovery and many more have covered this case and have given their own opinions on wheter the real Jersey Man-Eater ever was caught. The real downside to this story is that in 1916, before many of these attacks, boat captains had warned people about seeing the shark or sharks in the water, and they were laughed at and ignored.  Lives could have been saved if only they would have listened to those who know the sea better then most. Below is a picture of The Jersey Man-Eater and Michael Schleisser, the man who captured him and “stopped” the 12 Days of Terror.

As a youngster, author Peter Benchley loved to go fishing with his dad in Nantucket, and during this time, he would encounter sharks.  This sparked his fascination with these powerful predators of the waters. These boyhood memories would stick with him, and he would spend years thinking about writing a novel about a shark that attacked people and would not go away as its bloodlust was just too powerful. In 1964 fuel got added to the fire when a 4,550 pound shark was caught off the shore of Long Island, New York.  By 1971, Benchley was struggling as a freelance writer, but fate was about to change when he had lunch with his editor Thomas Congdon who encouraged him to write his fiction book about the shark attacking a resort.  History was made as the novel Jaws hit bookstores and became a hit with readers and some critics. The book had many titles during its production like “Leviathan Rising” and “The Stillness In The Water,” but out of the need for something easy to fit on the cover, they stuck with a simple title “JAWS.” A funny fact about the book is that it climbed California’s best seller list when the film was going into production as Steven Spielberg and many of the other producers bought hundreds of copies of the book to hand out to crew and family! Growing up, I had a paperback copy of JAWS and can remember reading through it but never finishing it.  I’m not really sure why I never finished it as I always enjoyed the movie and like most kids was in awe of the ocean and all the fish and animals that live in it. I could go on and on about the book and go into more detail on its creation as well as it’s impact on culture, but I just wanted to give you a little nibble and not a chunk about it.  So to sum it up, if you love the film make sure to read the novel if you have not done so yet.

Jaws Novel 1peter benchley and a sharkJaws Novel cover 2

So up to this point, we took a look at the true events that inspired JAWS with the 1916 attacks near the Jersey Shore, and we also took a quick look at the novel that inspired the film series, written by Peter Benchley. Now I think its time to go out into deeper water and take a look at the JAWS franchise that has a total of four films under its man-eating belt. Growing up, I watched these movies so many times, and for me, the shark “JAWS” was just as much an icon of horror as Norman Bates, Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Leatherface, Chucky, Dracula, Tallman, Cemetery Zombie and so many other amazing characters that shaped my youthful mind! So let’s get to the fat of this review and take a quick look at the films in this series with film write ups being taken from our good friends at IMDB.

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JAWS (1975)

It’s a hot summer on Amity Island, a small community whose main business is its beaches. When new Sheriff Martin Brody discovers the remains of a shark attack victim, his first inclination is to close the beaches to swimmers. This doesn’t sit well with Mayor Larry Vaughn and several of the local businessmen. Brody backs down to his regret as that weekend a young boy is killed by the predator. The dead boy’s mother puts out a bounty on the shark and Amity is soon swamped with amateur hunters and fisherman hoping to cash in on the reward. A local fisherman with much experience hunting sharks, Quint, offers to hunt down the creature for a hefty fee. Soon Quint, Brody and Matt Hooper from the Oceanographic Institute are at sea hunting the Great White shark. As Brody succinctly surmises after their first encounter with the creature, they’re going to need a bigger boat.”

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JAWS 2 (1978)

The small island resort town of Amity is trying to bounce back from the financial troubles that suffered after becoming known as the site of shark attacks four years earlier. Mayor Larry Vaughn is welcoming developer Len Peterson and his new resort to Amity. Two scuba divers are exploring the area where the Orca sank after police chief Martin Brody killed a huge shark four years ago. A shark shows up and devoured the two divers, but not before one of the divers takes a close-up picture of the shark’s eye, and sometime later, while a mother is driving a boat that’s pulling her water-skiing teenage daughter, the shark devours the daughter and causes the mother to accidentally blow up the boat, then a killer whale is found on the shore with a huge bites on it. After Brody sees this, he knows there’s another huge great white shark in Amity’s waters, but Vaughn and Peterson explain these attacks away as non-shark accidents, because the thought of another shark in Amity’s waters would drive…”

I decided that since Jaws 2 is the film the comic adaptation we are reviewing for this update, I would share a few fun facts about the film. Steven Spielberg was asked to direct the sequel but turned it down as he felt he made the “definitive” shark movie and claimed that “making a sequel to anything is just a cheap carny trick.” He later stated that he would have possibly come back to direct the sequel if he didn’t have a troubled production at sea with the first one. One of the film’s early ideas was to have the sons of Brody and Quint be on the hunt for a new man eating shark that was causing chaos. One of the scripts was a downbeat one, and Universal stepped in and made them make it a little more cheery! Susan Ford, daughter of former president Gerald Ford, shot the film’s publicity photos.  Martha’s Vineyard was used as the location of Amity’s town scenes, and the crew was met with mixed reactions this time around as many of the locals thought that the big production and its workers were rude and not happy go lucky like the first film’s crew. Roy Scheider, who played Sheriff Brody in the original film as well as this sequel, was not to happy to be in this film and was paid a large weekly salary but was always in a bad mood and would complain and argue with the director. Students from Gulf Breeze High School were hired to play extras at $3.00 an hour and were able to miss school in order to film. Just some fun facts that I wanted to share.

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JAWS 3-D (1983)

Michael Brody and Sean Brody, the sons of former Amity police chief Martin Brody, work at Florida’s Sea World, a seaside park run by Calvin Bouchard. Sean befriends Kelly Ann Bukowski, and Michael’s girlfriend Kathryn Morgan is Sea World’s head scientist who always works with Sea World’s dolphins Cindy and Sandy. In its man-made lagoon, about 40 feet under the water, Sea World opens the Undersea Kingdom, a new set of underwater glass tunnels that have their own control room, and Calvin’s friend Philip FitzRoyce is there to do some filming. When Sea World diver Shelby Overman vanishes, everyone is worried. Michael and Kathryn head into the water, where they find a baby great white shark and decide to bring it to Sea World to put it on display, but at Sea World, the baby shark dies. When Overman’s body is found, Michael vomits when he sees it. Kathryn looks at the body and knows that the baby shark could not have been the shark that killed Overman, because the baby shark’s bite radius …”

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JAWS: The Revenge (1987)

Ellen Brody still lives in the island resort town of Amity, and her sons Sean and Michael don’t work at Sea World anymore, and some time ago, Ellen’s husband Martin Brody died of a heart attack that happened because he was afraid of sharks. Sean is now a deputy in Amity. One night, during the Christmas season, Sean is called to untangle a log from a buoy, and when Sean goes to the buoy, he’s killed by a great white shark. After hearing about this, Michael, who is studying to be a marine biologist, visits Amity with his wife Carla and his 5-year-old daughter Thea. Wanting to get away from Amity and spend Christmas with Michael, Carla, and Thea, Ellen goes with them to their house in the Bahamas on an airplane whose pilot is Hoagie Newcombe, and Hoagie starts falling for Ellen. Michael’s friend Jake, who is also studying to be a marine biologist, lives next door to Michael. Sometime later, while Michael and Jake are out at sea, their boat is attacked by the shark that killed Sean. …”

The first film in the series was directed by Steven Spielberg and was a mega hit not only at the box office but also with critics.  The sequels were directed by Jeannot Szwarc for part 2, Joe Alves for part 3, and the 4th and final was directed by Joseph Sargent.  While mostly hits in their own right, they never did capture box office gold like the original. In 1975, Jaws was the top grossing film, beating out Rocky Horror Picture Show, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Deep Red, Death Race 2000 and Dog Day Afternoon to name a few and bringing in a total to date of $260,000,000.00! Jaws 2 in 1978 was the 7th highest grossing film with $77,737,272.00 beating out such classics as Dawn Of The Dead, The Deer Hunter, Revenge Of The Pink Panther, Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, Debbie Does Dallas and Damien: Omen II. Jaws 3-D in 1983 was # 15 with $45,517,055.00 beating out films like Scarface, Psycho II, Porkys II, Twilight Zone The Movie, The Outsiders, Cujo, A Christmas Story, Krull, Strange Brew, Amityville 3-D and The Evil Dead. Poor old Jaws: The Revenge was not a shinning star in 1987, locking in the # 54 spot and only bringing in $20,763,013.00.  It did, however, beat out other cult films like Born In East L.A., Masters Of The Universe, Over The Top, Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, Hellraiser, Creepshow 2, Prince Of Darkness, The Gate, Back To The Beach, House II, Who’s That Girl, Death Wish 4 and The Chipmunk Adventure to name a very select few. It’s clear that Universal decided not to make a 5th film due to the poor performance of Jaws: The Revenge that had a massive drop in box office dollars and was showing signs of a tired franchise. With no new JAWS movies being talked about and the idea of remaking it shot down by fans and Hollywood itself, those looking for shark movies to send shivers down their spine will have to watch the series on DVD or get their fix with the many clones that this series has sparked like Deep Blue Sea, Shark Attack, Open Water and countless terrible made for TV films. I will always say the first two JAWS films are fantastic and a great way to spend time watching right before you vacation or head to your local beach. I should also say I would love to see Universal do another JAWS sequel as I feel the time is right to unleash the giant shark again on movie goers. Oh, and my girlfriend Juliet would kill me if I didn’t mention that the mechanical shark from JAWS was named Bruce and that many special effects people had to work very hard to get it to move and work right as the salt filled water and air made for a very tricky production.

Jaws Attacks

Amusement park Universal Studios Florida had an idea to take a popular tour attraction from their Hollywood sister park that had during the tour of the studio seeing Jaws who would try to attack as they passed and turning it into a full ride of its own! Universal along side Ride & Show Engineering with consultant Steven Spielberg began planning on constructing the Jaws Ride that they hoped would be a major attraction for the Florida theme park. The ride opened on June 7, 1990 but was plagued with many issues as the special effects of the ride seemed not to want to work and many times daily it would have to be evacuated from all the breakdowns. The ride was a flop at first as Ride & Show Engineering failed to make the ride to work and failed at designing the ride to work in water, and for years Universal tried to make the effects and ride work, but could never make it happen as it was just to poorly made by the designers. But hope for a solid and iconic ride was in the cards as Totally Fun Company, Oceaneering International and ITEC Entertainment came to the rescue and redesigned the ride almost from the ground up! The ride reopened in 1993 with Roy Scheider, Steven Spielberg and Lorraine Gray being on hand to introduce a crowd of fans and riders to the horror ride experience of their life! In 2004 the ride was shutdown for a short time and then became a seasonal ride in 2005 when gas prices rose after hurricanes slowed down production of the petroleum, but due to the mass amounts of complaints from guests they opened it full time again in 2007. While it was a major attraction on January 2, 2012 Jaws The Ride was closed down by Universal Studios Florida to make room for new attractions that turned out to be Harry Potter World and the ride “Harry Potter And The Escape From Gringotts” and this was terrible news for me as I have always wanted to ride Jaws but never got a chance…stupid Harry Potter! I am guessing for those who don’t know what the ride was about I should fill in. The ride has a “captain” taking guests around Amity Island all the while Jaws attacks as explosions and special effects go off all around. In the end thanks to a power cable JAWS is defeated and you make it out of the boat alive! On a cool side note on March 31, 2001 Universal Studios Japan was able to get a version of the JAWS Ride that is still open till this day, showing that they understand that the ride is iconic and didn’t need to break it down for Potter and his magic world. By the way I have nothing against Harry Potter…or do I? My cousin Stephen Alexander was able to ride it in his youth as has many other of my friends so at least they have their memories of this iconic and groundbreaking ride. Below are some pictures of the ride taken by happy guests as well as an old school ad for it.

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One thing about JAWS I remember just as well as the films I grew up watching, is the scene in Back To The Future II when Marty McFly played by Michael J. Fox is walking down the street in his hometown Hill Valley now in the future (2015) and playing at the Holomax Theater is Jaws 19 directed by Max Spielberg, who is the real life son of Steven, the director of the original JAWS. The film’s tagline is “This Time It’s Really Really Personal,” and as Marty walks by the cinema, a giant holographic JAWS pops out and comes toward Marty who screams and soon finds its all just an illusion to sell tickets to the film. Sadly 2015 has passed, and so far we have not gotten a JAWS sequel since 1987, but here is to Robert Zemeckis and the cast and crew of Back To The Future Part II for making a fun moment in that classic film.

Back To The Future 2 Jaws

JAWS also made it so that it was not safe to play you video game system of choice as many games have been made based around this killer great white shark. The Commodore 64 version was released by Box Office Games a game sadly I have never played but will track down and do so someday. The Nintendo Entertainment System got one put out by LJN and this is the one I remember the most as it was a game I have owned for years and have spent many hours going from port to port to get shells to trade for tools of the trade to try and defeat JAWS. More modern games made for PS2, Xbox and WII were made by Majesco and has you the player control JAWS and complete missions that including humans and other ocean life. So as you can see JAWS in video games allows players to be humans but also the shark depending on the systems you play it on and the companies who developed them. I really do have good memories of playing JAWS on the NES and even with the last few years I watched my cousin Stephen beat it! So for all you readers who are gamers there is many ways to pick to play JAWS.

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The Angry Video Game Nerd in 2012 episode 101 entitled Spielberg Games reviewed JAWS for the NES and gives his typical funny review of it all the while ripping it a new one over it’s beyond repetitive game play and the over all cheesy way and awkward way you must beat JAWS in the final battle that has you as the player spear him in the neck with the end of your boat! Also during this episode he looks at NES Games like Jurassic Park and Hook, so if you like funny and crude reviews done by one of my favorite internet stars make sure to give it a watch.

AVGN Jaws

Like all good Horror Movie Franchises JAWS has had it’s massive share of merchandise from video games to soundtracks and everything in-between. Topps did trading cards for JAWS 2, many pool toys where made to make your swimming pool a scene from JAWS, T-Shirts, Pog Slammers, Novels, Hats, Posters, Magazines and even in 2015 ReAction figures were made! Some of the things I have owned about JAWS over the years to present include the Novels, Marvel Comic Adaptation for JAWS 2, the POG Slammer, trading cards, soundtracks and just last year (2015) Juliet got me the ReAction figure of the shark! So all you fans of this film there are many great collectables out in the world for your collections. Oh and I am almost pretty sure that my cousins Dino, Norman and Nick had the pool toy JAWS as I can remember us one summer playing out the movie in their pool!

Jaws Pool ToyJaws 2 Trading Card packJaws ReAction Figures

John Williams is the master of movie music and has done the scores for such films as Superman The Movie, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, E.T., Raiders Of The Lost Arch and JAWS! These titles are just a drop in the hat of the amazing work he has done in films that have inspired and entertained viewers for decades. The JAWS 2 soundtrack is refreshing, as Williams did not recycle his old music from the first one and added a new flavor to fit the over all nature, mood and characters of this sequel. While the familiar JAWS theme is present it’s done in a new way with only it playing along with a new piece of music to sandwich it between. While I find JAWS 2 to have a fantastic and fitting score it still does fall a little short at being as iconic as it’s predecessor. While I wrote much of this update I played my CD of JAWS 2 as background music and found it very fitting and really put me into the frame of mind to write about these series of films and the Marvel Comic. The track from this soundtrack that I like to play on WYSO is called “End Title. End Cast” that mixes soft melodies and booming horns. Over all if you like score music to films like I do this one is a good one to have in your collection. This soundtrack can be found on Vinyl, Cassette and CD so many ways to own it in your collection.

Jaws 2 Soundtrack CD

There is blood in the water now and the sharks are starting to circle us so I think its time that we take a look at the Marvel Super Special of JAWS 2 and see just how well this comic holds up to the film. I want to point out that I will call the great white shark JAWS through out this review and in fact did so throughout the update, I know that’s not the sharks name in the film but as a youngster I grew up calling the shark that name and find myself still to this day doing it, so in other words old habits die hard. I want to thank Lone Star Comics from Texas and my favorite store to order comics online from for having this issue in stock. I want to also point out that make sure your oxygen tank is filled and your flippers not broken as I grade 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 if your ready this cool September night lets dive deep into the ocean and come face to face with the one and only razor toothed menace of the ocean JAWS.

Jaws 2 Comic

JAWS 2  # 1  ***
Released in 1977    Cover Price $1.50    Marvel    # 1 of 1

A pair of lobster divers find a sunken boat and think of the money they can make of the salvage, but soon find that they are not going to live long enough to make that money as Jaws the great white shark is back and makes a quick meal of them. On Amity Island Chief Brody is still scared by the events that took place there three years before as is the town that has lost traction of being a good place to vacation. Brody and his fellow officers find the divers boat abandon and later a group of collage age skiers are attacked by Jaws and their boat blown up leaving no evidence of the shark attack. While Brody is being laughed at for his obsession of sharks his young sons teenager Mike and youngster Sean are taking a boat out to a small island that holds a lighthouse and spending time with friends, but as they are in the water so is Jaws who once more targets some divers who are sadly in the wrong place at the wrong time. Brody along with a helicopter hit the water to bring the teens in as it’s now clear that Jaws is back! Mike and Sean along with friends are having a great time when Jaws attacks and eats and kills many of the youngsters with her powerful jaws and razor sharp teeth, the beast of the ocean also brings down the helicopter and kills it’s drivers! Finally Brody is able to trick Jaws into bitting down on a power line that was at the bottom of the water and brought to the surface thanks to a drag line and once Jaws chomps down on it, the great white shark is fried and Brody meets all the surviving teens and his sons on the Light House island.

Jaws 2 translated from movie to comic very well and has enough cut and some slight adds that make it feel like it’s own adventure, as they could not squeeze a nearly 2 hour movie into a standard comic magazine special. The plot is this Brody and the town of Amity are not over the shark attacks that took place three years in the past and now the shark is back and hungry for flesh and revenge and when Brody’s own children are on the menu he must try his hardest to save them and the town form the sharks warpath of chaos. Sheriff Brody is a man stuck in the past who has grown to fear sharks and even the ocean and spends most days on duty watching the waters. He is getting to the point were is paranoia is effecting his relationship with his teenage son Mike are he wants him to stay clear of the water as he fears that another shark attack could happen. But even while paranoid Brody still has the respect of the towns people and steps up to be the hero again when the shark comes calling for human hide to chew on. Sean and Mike are just normal youngsters who want to just enjoy the summer and travel the waters on Mike’s new boat. But when they don’t listen to their fathers they of course run into trouble that leaves many of their friends dead! The Shark or as I call JAWS is one mean mama who wants to eat as many people as possible before summers end, she travels the waters looking for divers, swimmers and skiers and seems as if she has a bone to pick with Brody as she targets his children. That’s one thing I really do like about this comic adaptation they really push home that JAWS is a female so that should make female readers happy that the killer of this horror comic is indeed a female. The comic is pretty bloody and has the shark eating and ripping people apart with also depictions of blood in the water. The horror element of the comic is present as they try and build the idea into the readers mind that JAWS is always in the water and will not stop killing and eating humans, they add the drama factor with Brody and his son Mike not seeing eye to eye and mix them all together with a small town feel. The art work is done by the team of Gene Colan and Tom Palmer and for the most part its fantastic, the only downside is that none of the characters besides JAWS looks like the actors who played them making for a slight disappointment. But with that said the shark art and murders are top notch stuff and pretty brutal for a Marvel Comic from the late 70’s. The cover as you can see is good but also very cheesy and does great job of mixing sex and violence. Over all I must say I had a fun time reading this comic and it was a great way to kick off the first update in my countdown to Halloween! So check out some artwork below and see just how cool JAWS looks in this fun comic adaptation.

Jaws 2 art 1Jaws 2 art 2Jaws 2 art 3

So now that the waters are safe, and we made it safely past the jaws of that great white shark, we should take a look at another horror icon that has made the leap to comics.  I am thinking that in honor of his fifth film, we should look at the Tallman from the Phantasm series and the comic made by Xmachina! So make sure to come back for that one as I am sure it will be a bone chilling good time! It’s now time that I leave you as I have some Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre and Sparkle Comics duties I need to get done, so until next time, stay out of the water, watch out for sharks, read a comic or three and support your local horror host.

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