The Undead Files: Zombies From Hell

On this Undead Files, we will be taking a look at the not so mainstream version of the living dead.  You know, the stuff that people would say is scraping the bottom of the barrel, the black slime of the genre that most fans would like to throwaway and act as if it never was. After searching local comics stores, horror conventions and the web I have found a backyard zombie comic that fits the bill; all my friends who are fans of underground and independent comics have never heard of this one and neither had I until I found it listed on Ebay for $1.49 plus $1.99 shipping.  This zombie comic is called “Zombies From Hell” and was made by Robert Bennett.  So let’s travel the unsafe world of the living dead once more and take a trip with some zombies down a generic road that leads to the bargain basement of undead doom!

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This is part is not so much about a low budget zombie story but one you all might find funny. In 2015 during the Christmas season, a couple in Cincinnati, Ohio decided to mix Halloween in with their Christmas decorations and made a zombie nativity scene complete with a zombie baby Jesus! In 2014, they had done the same thing as a publicity stunt for a haunted attraction that they ran and most the locals seemed to dig it, but the city didn’t and in 2015 they tried to charge the couple $500 a day for not getting a permit to build the horror themed nativity! Think about that, they were threatened with fines for being into horror and turning Halloween decorations into Christmas ones!  This upset the wound-too-tight city officials who in turn got the law enforcement involved…what have we become!?! In 2016, neighbors of a Texas homeowner were upset over his zombie babies Halloween display, and sadly this crybaby (get the pun) behavior is spreading as many other people getting into decorating for Halloween and Christmas with a touch of horror are being targeted by sticks in the mud who want to take the fun out of everything and are way too judgmental on those who like dark entertainment. So if you are one of these people who have extreme Halloween decorations or mix zombies into your Christmas ones, I say keep being you and there is nothing wrong with being a monster kid and making the holiday more fun for those who enjoy the spirit.

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Horror films were a staple for my brother and I growing up, and we would see many of them on the USA Network.  That goes for the film I have chosen that should have been made into a comic book series, and that film is “Zombie Nightmare,” a classic undead flick that’s been shown many times on USA Saturday Nightmares and is also known being riffed by Mystery Science Theater 3000. This 1987 low budget horror film is about a young baseball player who’s dad was murdered saving the local voodoo woman from some punks when he was very young.  Once he grows up, he’s killed in a hit and run and comes back to life thanks to the voodoo woman who makes him a zombie who has revenge on his mind. The film starred rockstar John Mikl Thor and Adam West and is a truly cheesy flick filled with lots of over the top acting and kills. If I could make the comic via Blood Scream Comics, the plot would be this:  It’s modern days, and Tony Washington’s old neighborhood has gotten worse.  Crime is out of hand, and gang violence is out of control.  When his mother is murdered in a home invasion gone wrong, the voodoo of Molly Mokembe brings the long dead Tony back from the gave and with his trusty ball bat, he embarks on a one zombie war against the gang members responsible. Throw in the cops and you have a mix of action and horror.  The artist I would love to see on this one would be Damien Brunk as his style would be perfect for it. I would also live to see Eibon Press do a comic book based on this film as an adaptation.  While Zombie Nightmare might not be one of the 80’s most popular zombie films, it sure as hell has a place in my black heart and should have gotten a comic book back in the late 80’s and it’s a shame that it didn’t.

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So before we get to the extremely zero budget comic, I think I should talk about a cheesy zombie video game that I played in my youth. My brother was the first to buy a PC in our household, and he was so hyped to get onto the internet that was new at the time.  To be truthful, part of the reason we were hyped is because we could look up stuff about horror films, comic books, video games and pro wrestling, and we wanted to check out the TNT Monstervision website! But while the net was cool, we were also hyped that we could play video games not only on CD but also 3.5” diskettes, and this opened the door for us to play many games like Doom 2, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Free Ski, You Don’t Know Jack, Waxworks and a little cheesy first person gem called “Isle Of The Dead.” The plot of this game has you as a survivor of a plane crash on an island that is overrun by zombies and is ruled by a mad scientist who is the madman creating the flesh eaters. The game, besides being a first person shooter that had you use guns and a machete to hack the baddies, also had elements of a point and click adventure as you have to find items and weapons in order to survive. While I have lots of great memories about the game, it did have many flaws as it was prone to freezing during play, was repetitive and by all accounts just a really bad game, but something about it made me love it. I can remember spending hours playing it on my brother’s old computer and always wondering if they every made a sequel…they didn’t. The game was made by Rainmaker Software and published by Merit Software in 1993.  It was poorly received and came and went with out making a splash in the world of Doom and Wolfenstein dominating the first person shooter PC Gaming world, but at the Brassfield house Isle of The Dead was a popular survival horror game that to this day is one of my favorite PC games and had one amazing music score that I still hum to this day. Do yourself a favor if you love cheesy first person zombie shooters and your PC/Mac can play old DOS games, get yourself a copy and have a great time trying to survive the isle of the dead!

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Well we are at the Undead Graveyard and in this section the cardboard gravestones are starting to fall over.  From here you can see just how far away Zombies From Hell is from The Dead and Resident Evil that came before it in “The Undead Files” updates. From here the zombies wandering around look like they are just wearing K-Mart brand Halloween grease paint and rubber masks but for me that kind of cheesy stuff is backyard effect gold.  Now lets see if this no budget approach can also do well in the horror comic world. One of the zombie is mumbling from his rubber mask and the muffled words sound like he wants me to remind you 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. So let’s take a seat next to this bent tombstone under this rotting tree and see what horrors Zombies From Hell has in store for me.

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Zombies From Hell # 1   **
Released in 2014    Cover Price $2.99    Middle Atlantic Comixs    # 1 of 1

Sam has found a book that is the key to open the Gates of Hell.  He calls his good friend Professor Griffin along with a busty blonde female, they follow the book to the location that is said to hold the opening to Hell. Sam speaks a chant, and a door appears on an old tree.  When they pry open it, they find a hotel lobby that is the waiting area before Hell and meet Zeus, the son of Satan and the manager of the hotel that has not seen a mortal in over 500 years. They soon find they are trapped in the lobby until they die, but meanwhile in our world, a band of bank robbing females are on the run after killing a guard and find the door in the tree and also enter to find they are now trapped.  The girls panic and use guns on Zeus to no effect and even open the door that frees zombies after they were warned not to! Zombies come out of the door looking for meat and attack not only the robbing women but also Sam and his friends.  The cops have tracked down the robber’s car and open the door in the tree allowing the survivors to escape but make the mistake of opening the door again, allowing the zombies to escape and eat them all!

This is truly an underground comic as its clearly put together using a copy machine from a library or even maybe an Office Depot as well as a glue stick that is holding the first page to the cover! And while some of you readers might be discrediting this comic for its cheap production, others are now more intrigued. The story follows a man who has been looking for a book that has been missing for 500 years that holds the secrets of Hell.  He cons his friends into going on the quest with him and soon finds that his book only leads him to a boring lobby of a hotel.  Throw in some female bank robbers, a creepy hotel manager and a horde of meat eating zombies, and you have the plot of this fun silly independent horror comic. Sam is the comic’s lead, and we are never filled into why he wants to find the opening to Hell.  It’s clear that he is a jerk as he forces his friends by gunpoint to enter the door he thinks will lead them all to Hell! Griffin and his blonde female friend are just used as background characters who are trapped in the classic “Wrong Place Wrong Time” scenario. The three female robbers are bad news and are killers who don’t listen and the ones who cause the zombie outbreak, but they meet a fitting gut munching demise. Zeus is weirdly enough the voice of reason and also kind of crazy in delivering his warnings, I mean he is the son of Satan! The comic has some blood and gore but it’s nothing too gruesome, and has tiny bits of nudity as you can see slight female nipples during the zombie attack.  Speaking of zombies, they are pretty cool looking and are your classic skull face looking ones. The cover is ok but does not truly capture the nature of the comic.  I do, however, love the fact the color is done with colored pencils.  The black and white art inside is done by Robert Bennett who also wrote the story, and while both are sloppy, they have a charm for this style of underground comic book making. This is clearly not for everyone, but I for one sure did enjoy every cheesy moment of reading it!

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So as you can see, just because this comic was put together using a glue stick and some copy paper didn’t mean it was at least not entertaining, proving that comic books much like films don’t have to have huge budgets to bring on the enjoyment.  But guess what readers, we are not done with zombies just yet as our next update will be a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update and will showcase the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake and the promo comic that was released along with it.  So until next time, make sure to have a plan set in case of a zombie apocalypse, read a comic or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update readers and friends.

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The Boogieman Of Wooster!

Are you scared of things that go bump in the night? When you were a child did you ever look under your bed to see if monsters were under there waiting to steal your toes? How about your cracked closet door, was an unknown creature in there waiting for you to close your eyes? These type of thoughts and stories have scared children all over the world and are the source of childhood nightmares and sleepless nights for parents. This quick and spooky update is about the king of urban legend fright, the stalker of the night, the creep who terrified kids way before Slender Man and Freddy Kruger, we are talking about the one and only Boogeyman, the true icon of fright! So pull the covers over your head and stay close to the light of your computer screen as we take a trip into a nightmare world of terror!

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You’re six years old, and it’s past your bedtime.  You have snuck downstairs and are watching Sammy Terry host King Kong Escapes on Nightmare Theatre.  You know you could get in trouble and you don’t mind because Sammy is your friend and King Kong is your favorite giant monster. Just as Sammy is talking to his pet spider George, your older brother busts you and tells you that if you don’t get to bed The Boogeyman will get you. The name sends shivers down your spine as just last week you heard from a friend that his cousin’s neighbor was taken by this evil creature so you rush to jump into bed and pray that The Boogeyman is not under your bed…waiting to take your soul.  This is a scenario that I am sure plagued many kids. The Boogeyman is the embodiment of evil and is a mythical creature used around the world to scare bad children into good behavior. He’s a tool for kids to stay good or a punishment by the hands of this creature could change them forever by stealing their toes, eyes or some other body part or worse yet could take you away to his dark world. Growing up my parents never used The Boogeyman defense to make me behave, and I can remember my brother mostly using the term when we were really little to get me to leave the basement that was his bedroom. When I was in kindergarten, his name was mentioned almost in a hush like if we didn’t talk about him he didn’t exist and couldn’t haunt your nights.  While I never believed in him, the “What If?” question did pop in my mind in my youth. The United States is not the only country who has a Boogeyman as other nations also have their versions like Sack Man from Spain, a creature who carries bad children away in his sack and Egypt’s Abu Rigl Maslukha who is a burnt man who kidnaps bad children and cooks and eats them.  These two are just a small drop in the hat of all the versions of The Boogeyman that scare children all over the world! While The Boogeyman is still around, he has taken a backseat to the modern generation of kids as Slenderman is now the creature that haunts their dreams, but that creature will be saved for a future update…but I should also say that a comic book called Slenderman vs. The Bogeyman should be made by some company or independent comic maker…IDW? Bruce O’ Hughes? Any takers? Whether the Boogeyman is real or fake is a subject that up for debate and all I can say is tonight as you go to bed, you might want to check the closet and look under your bed because you never know.

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Like any monster of myth and legend of course Hollywood has to make movies based around it. One of the most popular films based on this legend came out in 1980 called The Boogey Man and was directed by Ulli Lommel.  It’s a slasher/possession horror film about a brother and sister that are being haunted by a pantyhose faced killer who comes out of mirrors to kill and twist reality. This series sparked 2 sequels The Boogey Man 2 and Return Of The Bo0gey Man and a rumor of a Part 4 or a remake has been floating around for a couple of years now. I love these films, and while they are very low budget and very cheesy, they have a charm that make them entertaining. In 2005, a film called Boogeyman hit theaters, directed by Stephen T. Kay.  It’s about a man who witnessed a horrible event in his childhood having to go back to the scene of the terror and come face to face with the creature that caused him so much trauma as a child. This series also had two sequels, and while the original is okay, the series got worse over time and is pure direct to video shelf filler. I should also note that a Stephen King short story called The Boogeyman was turned into a film in 1982. Not to even mention that in Halloween Michael Myers is called The Boogeyman as is John Wick in the film of the same name. While the films based on this icon of fright might have slowed down, I am sure his return to film or TV will come to a rise again soon!

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I would love to see a comic mini series based on Ulli Lommel’s Boogey Man series; this could be a very fun and spooky comic series with atmosphere and bloody kills! The comic series could pick up with Lacey, the survivor of The Boogey Man curse, moving out to the country to get away from all the drama and death that has happened over the years. While in the small country town she finds life to be perfect, that is till a mirror shows up in the town’s antique store that holds the spirit of The Boogey Man who uses his evil power to turn the town into killing drones who all want to murder Lacey and put her head on a flag pole. Lacey must hide out in her farm house along with a worker named Mark who was helping fix her barn and the town’s 84 year old priest.  Together they must fight for their lives as well as come face to face with The Boogey Man with pantyhose on his head and all. This comic series would be a great way to promote the new film coming in the series and could also turn the cheesy aspects of the film into a solid scary blood soaked comic series helping bring the respect to the film series that it deserves. I would love to see IDW tackle this and of my friends I would say Bruce O’ Hughes or Eric Shonborn would be great choices as I could see them both capturing the horror and terror of the story I proposed. While I doubt this mini series would ever happen from a major company, who knows, maybe one day I could team up with one of my comic making friends and bring this series to life for Rotten Ink.

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The Boogeyman’s appearance is up to the imagination of the person telling the story or even what the mind of the terrified child thinks it looks like. When I was a kid I thought of The Bogeyman with a zombie-like face dressed in a Count Dracula-like suit with long sharp fingernails and black stringy hair, but that’s just what my young mind thought it looked like. Matchbox, with their very cool toy line Monsters In My Pocket, thought that The Bogeyman looked like slender longhaired and faced freak who wore sandals and had pants pulled up over his belly. WWE’s Boogey Man looked like a toothless red-faced muscle bound goon who ate worms, loved clocks and danced like he was having a seizure. And Halloween costume makers Horror Dome think The Boogeyman looks like a red eyed goat with grey and black fur who wears a long coat and has long fingers. Marvel Comic’s Boogeyman is a pasty-white skinned large mouthed short man who was once human and is like a shadow now and can posses the likes of Luke Cage and other super heroes. So as you can see, The Boogeyman has no solid look and can be as gross or as human as your imagination allows.

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The comic we are going to review today is called The Boogieman, and I know very little about it besides that I have owned it for years and never read it until now.  I got it at Mavericks so thanks to them for having it in stock. Nuclear Age Comix appeared to be a very small independent comic company owned by Dan Berger, who was making his books out of Wooster, Ohio and having them printed in Carrollton, Ohio making it one very cool piece of Ohio history. Nuclear only published three issues before closing its doors in 1986.  Besides The Boogieman their catalog included two issues of a comic series called Rion 2990 that looked like a Japanimation inspired adventure comic. I’m not sure why Nuclear closed shop as quickly as it started, and I’m not even sure if they continued on by printing their follow up issues on their own. Plus I am pretty sure Dan Berger is also the one that worked on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures for Archie Comic back in the day! So with all that in your head, I also need to remind you that I’m grading 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 let’s go into the world of The Boogieman and see what we can scare up…    

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The Boogieman # 1  **
Released in 1986      Cover Price $1.50    Nuclear Age Comix    #1 of 1

In the back alley of an unforgiving city, a man is about to club and kill an old drunk over a dollar when a werewolf shows up and runs off the attacker saving the drunk’s life! The would-be robber runs into a police officer and tells him about the werewolf, and as the cop rushes off, the crook steals his wallet! The werewolf meets up with a masked man who is his friend and tells him to go home as he has a cure for his curse.  As the werewolf runs off, the man in the masked called The Boogieman disappears like mist as the cops give chase to the werewolf. The Boogieman visits his friend’s wife and tells her the good news that he can cure him this night.  As the werewolf is busting his butt to get home, he is shot by the police, and The Boogieman must appear and save him by scaring off the officers. Boogieman gets the werewolf home and cures him of his curse and then goes out and busts the crook from the start of the comic and drops him off right into a jail cell. The second story in this comic is about a character called Pumpkin Head, a vigilante hero who wears a pumpkin mask and has wheels for feet who kills three crooks who did his friend Greg wrong.

This independent comic is not played for scares but is more of a super hero vigilante kind of comic as the monsters are the good guys killing off the scum bag criminals that plague their streets. The Boogieman story is very simple and had him trying to help a werewolf to get home so that he can be cured but thanks to a no good crook, the police are on his tail and The Boogieman must use his power of fright to get them off the trail and end a curse.  The odd thing about the end is that it’s clear The Boogieman is owed something for curing him, and it sounds like he has the power to turn him into a monster again! With this being the only issue to come out, it leaves the reader wondering what was to come in the series – was The Boogieman getting a team of monsters together? The Boogieman is a man of few words and looks like a film noir trench coat version of The Spirit and a homeless man. He looks like a man and not a monster and wears a mask around his eyes like The Lone Ranger or even Robin and is by no means scary. The Werewolf, whose name is Glen, looks like a bulky version of The Werewolf By Night and for some reason does not have the killer instinct like most comic book werewolves. The crook is just a scumbag who tries to rob an old drunk man and an old woman and is taught a lesson by The Boogieman as he gets a one-way ticket to jail. The art is really good and holds an almost Tick look to it.  The artist and creator of the story is Dan Berger who did a fantastic job on both. The second short story in this issue, Pumpkin Head, is interesting and has a pumpkin-masked vigilante hero with wheeled feet killing off the people who murdered his pal.  The story is solid and had potential of being a good comic series on its own. The art is not as good as The Boogieman’s but holds an independent charm to it and is done by Jim Pallotta who also did the story. It’s a shame this only lasted one issue as I would have loved to have seen what else this Wooster, Ohio comic company had in store for the future, but much like Topps, Fangoria and Dead Dog Comics before them, this company came to an end way too soon. Over all while not a horror comic like you would think, this comic was well worth the read. Check out some art below. The first two are from The Boogieman with the last being from Pumpkin Head.

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So while The Boogieman in comics didn’t chill my bones or scare me into a sleepless night, it did very much entertain me and made me want to track down Rion 2990 and see what that series has to offer. One other thing that I should point out is at the end of this issue, they mention a character called Dog Man a character who looked like a wild man on a chain held by a teen with a shotgun.  It looked like it could have been interesting if it would have been made. So for our next update, we will leave The Boogieman behind and hit the open road with the one and only Biker Mice From Mars! So until then, read a comic or three, support your local horror host and try and get a good night’s sleep…

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