From Horror Movie To Horror Comic – The Willies

Welcome to the fourth spooky update to our countdown to Halloween 2017 and another in our From Horror Movie To Horror Comic series.  Today’s update is about the PG-13 kid friendly horror anthology film, The Willies! Back in the 80’s and early 90’s many scary movies and TV shows were marketed towards kids as horror was super popular with the youth, and The Willies was one such movie. It’s amazing to sit back and think that The Willies got a promo comic made in order to try and draw more kids into seeing it via home video rental. So let’s start up a camp fire and all sit around it and share some tales of what I am calling “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Willies”! I once more would like to say to any independent horror filmmaker or distribution company that making comics based on your films is a great idea as it is a tool to offer fans a little something more as well can bring in viewers who read comics and might not have even known about the film it was based on.

Our villains of this film are many but we have two major ones that are showcased in this film that we will focus on. The first we will look at is The Bully Killing Monster who is a tall slender demonoid like creature who feasts on the flesh and bone of mean spirited people who treat others bad. He is very sly in his way of killing as he hides and strikes when he needs to and also strikes fear into his victims. He also can wear a fake suit of human skin in order to find his targeted prey and takes the appearance of an old man school janitor who is super polite and fun loving. We get the impression that he has killed bullies for years and will continue to do so for decades to come. His manner of killing is his sharp teeth as well as his claw like hands.  He can also freeze his prey with fear as he drags them into the celling to hide his killing deed. While he is a demon like monster, he can be hurt with books and soap to the face. While he is not super powerful, this monster does know how to get the job done when it comes to killing off bullies and getting away with it. Our second monsters of this film are the Mutated Giant Flies who were created by a mad farmer named Spivey who makes chemical enhanced soil.  When they grow, they want revenge on a twisted young man who enjoyed capturing them and torturing them. The Mutated Flies when full grown via the soil walk on two legs and are the side of an adult human! They have a mean spirit to them and are violent towards the teen who was mean to them. They are semi strong and they kill in a pact as there are three of them and they do eat human flesh! The Mutated Flies don’t kill, they torture as they ripped off the arms of the teen in order to teach him a lesson and to feast on his removed arms. The Mutated Flies are just giant flies so they can be killed with bug spray or even squashed. While the mutated flies are not super scary nor even racking up a body count, they can cause damage to their prey. So as you can see this film has two different style of monsters and each bring something of their own to the world of horror characters.

So now that we understand the film’s top two monsters we should take some time and talk about the over all film. I will be taking the film’s write up from our pals at IMDB and I will also talk briefly about the film’s production as well as about my first time watching it with my thoughts on it. So let’s dive in and see if you will get The Willies from reading about The Willies!

The Willies (1990)

 “Two brothers camping with their cousin try to frighten each other by telling stories. There are two main narrations: one involves strange happenings at an elementary school; the other, a teenage boy with a peculiar interest.”

The Willies was released in 1990 and is a Horror/Comedy film that was marketed towards teens and adults who enjoy horror anthology films. The film was written and directed by Brian Peck, who is known for his role as punker Scuz in Return Of the Living Dead, and is the only film that he ever directed. The film was lower budget and was released by Paramount Pictures on home video and joined such films Tremors, Nightbreed, Child’s Play 2, Cat In The Brain, Predator 2 and Psycho IV to name a few. The film starred lots of actors who were well known to the horror genre fans like Clu Gulagar, Sean Astin, Dana Ashbrook, Kirk Cameron, Kathleen Freeman, James Karen and Tracey Gold to name a few. The film is a mix bag of positive and negative reviews and while not a household name, The Willies does have a cult following and many fans of the film always get happy to talk about Michael Bower who played Donkeylips in the Nickelodeon show Salute Your Shorts playing a cruel bug collector in one of the shorts. The film was distributed by Force Majeure Productions and not much more can be said about the release and making of this film.

The first time I saw The Willies was via a VHS rental from Blockbuster Video when I was a teen. As always my older brother Bryan was the one who rented it, and we watched it one late weekend night while eating chips and drinking pop and immersing myself into the world of The Willies. I have always been a fan of horror anthology films and from the first watch, I can say that I really did enjoy The Willies as I found it very fun and reminded me of the show Are You Afraid Of The Dark that I was watching every week. Later on I would go on to own the film on VHS and now on DVD, and while it’s not one I re-watch super often I still enjoy watching it and can say I recommend it for horror fans who have not seen it before. My favorite story in this film is “Bad Apples” that’s about a monster in a school bathroom who gets revenge on bullies! The monster effects remind me of monsters used in the TV show Tales From The Darkside and the payout of what and who the monster is reminds me of an episode of Goosebumps! I think the main reason I really dig this movie is the fact that I love the idea of sitting around the dark woods sharing spooky stores as it reminds me of my youth and telling scary stories to friends in school or making up monsters and such with my cousins! I also enjoy the fact that the film also has smaller little spooky stories that are based on Urban Legends that we have all heard before. Plus I love the use of practical effects for everything as I think the monsters as well as the gore effects are pretty solid for this low budget of a film.

So now that we have taken a look at The Willies in film as well as two of the main monsters of the film, we should now dive into the comic book that was made to help promote the movie. I am not sure what to expect from this comic as it’s unclear whether it’s an adaptation or new stories told by the brothers and their cousin. So this element of surprise is making this read even better for me! So I first want to thank a vendor at the Monsterbash Convention for having this in stock and thanks to them I learned that this comic even existed. So with that, let’s sit around a camp fire and kick off October right and give this comic a good read and see if we can spook ourselves silly.

The Willies # 1  ***
Released in 1991     Cover Price $1.95     Force Majeure   # 1 of 1

A group of youths are sitting in a tent telling each other spooky stories that include the woman who ate a fried rat at a fast food restaurant, the old man who died of a heart attack after going into a carnival’s haunted house as well as the old woman who put her dog in the microwave to dry it off! Finally one of the boys gets into his story that is about a young boy named Danny Hollister who is being picked on at school and is helped out by the school’s janitor named Mr. Jenkins who tells the youngster he will take care of the bullies! Danny leads his bullies as well as his mean spirited teacher to the bathroom where they meet their end at the hands of a monster who is in fact the janitor! Next another of the youths tells a story of Gordy, a mean fat kid who steals from a local farmer as well as likes to rip the wings off flies he captures. Well one day the Farmer gets fed up with Gordy and gives him some special chemical enhanced soil for his flies that in fact turns the fly’s human size and they get their revenge by ripping the arms of the terrible youth! After the stories the youth begin to argue that none of the stories were real when one of their fathers show up to reveal that he in fact is the monster who killed the bullies!

I must say that this is a promo comic adaptation done right as it stays faithful to the film and yet cuts just enough to make it a fast paced read that captures the fun spooky nature of the flick. The film’s plot is very simple and is much like any horror anthology comic or film as we have stories being shared that all end with Twilight Zone style twists that by the end all turn out to be true. The Three Kids are your typical group of friends spending time hanging out in the woods and sharing stories they think will shock and scare the others.  While we get to know them as friends we do not get to know their personalities all that well besides one of them has lead the other two to their deaths at the hands of his monster father. It makes you wonder, did the two kids who meet their end by the comic’s conclusion pick on the third kid and that’s why he wanted his dad to kill them? The main monster of this comic series has to be the Bully Killing Monster as he massacres at least six people in the course of this comic! While at first it seems like he is nothing more than an avenger for the weak by the end it makes you wonder if he just likes to kill! The Mutated Flies are also kind of the bad guys as they do rip the arms off of a kid, but if you really want to break them down, Farmer Spivey the one who made the soil mixed with chemicals is the real baddie as he made that batch that mutated the flies with the idea that they would kill Gordy! The comic has a few good creepy moments as it captures a real EC Comic appeal with twisted tales that have morbid outcomes, the only difference is that this comic is pretty much bloodless and that’s a shame as even the film had a little of the red stuff. The comics cover is really amazing and would capture the eye of fans of the film as well as Horror Comic readers. The interior art is done by Brain Murray and is fantastic stuff as he captures the mood and even the look of the actors and characters from the film and is really great stuff. So over all, fans of this film should find this comic and give it a read as it’s amazing and will surly please, but I must warn that this comic is hard to find so if you do find a copy make sure to buy it! Check out some of the art below to see Murray’s art style.

The Willies might not be a household name when it comes to the world of Horror Films but it does have a solid and loyal cult fan base that I feel will grow more and more over the years. I also think that its great that this film did get the comic treatment as it is one that I think lends itself to being one. So with our next update we will be staying in the world of From Horror Movie To Horror Comic and will be taking a look at Jason X the tenth film in the Friday The 13th film series and the comic from Avatar Press based on Uber Jason from the film. So until next time, tell a ghost story or three, read a horror comic or two and as always support your local Horror Host. I hope this update didn’t give you The Willies too badly as our month of Horror updates has just started see you in space for the next one!

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The Blair Witch Project: Chapter 1

Welcome back to Rotten Ink and to my 2nd update in our countdown to Halloween 2017. I have been looking forward to doing this update as this comic is based on a film that revamped the horror genre of the late 90’s well into the 2000’s and also sparked the craze of found footage films that is still going to this day.  Of course I am talking about The Blair Witch Project! This 1999 film took the world of horror cinema by storm and proved that independent horror could bring in big dollars at the box office and that horror really has rabid and loyal fans. During this update we will chat about the film’s production, The Blair Witch herself, my first viewing of the film, merchandise and a little of everything in-between. So pack your backpack and grab some trail mix as we are heading into the Black Hills Forest to find the old Rustin Parr house and read our comic! If you’re not too scared as Halloween is fast approaching, let’s dive into the world of The Blair Witch Project.

To start this spooky update off right we should first take a look at the film that started a craze of point of view horror films as well as brought horror back into mainstream cinemas. It also was a film that got too big for most diehard horror fans and caused a huge backlash of fans turning on it over all the hype. I should also note it was a film that gave many movie goers motion sickness as the shaky camera work was just too much for them to handle. So let’s take a look at the production of this horror film mega hit.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

“Three film students travel to Maryland to make a student film about a local urban legend… The Blair Witch. The three went into the woods on a two-day hike to find the Blair Witch, and never came back. One year later, the student’s film and video were found in the woods. The footage was compiled and made into a movie. The Blair Witch Project.”

The Blair Witch Project hit theaters on July 14, 1999 and took the world of horror by storm as it brought in $140,539,099.00 at the US Box Office on a budget of only $60,000! The film took root in 1993 when friends and Florida film students Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick wanted to make a cutting edge horror film that blurred the lines between film and reality as they enjoyed documentaries about ghosts and the paranormal. Along with some other friends, they opened Haxan Films and started to plan their film and characters and used real people from occult as inspiration like Rasputin and mystic Edward Kelley, and with the names set so came the backstory of their character Elly Kedward The Blair Witch. The film went into pre-production in late 1997 and with this also came investors and the casting of Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams.  During auditions they all had to improv to weird questions and situations. Filming started in October 1997 in the woods of Maryland and in the town of Burkittsville.  The cast was let loose with two cameras and only clues to find their next locations and what “drama” and “horror” should be taking place. During the filming, the actors were pushed long distances and at night they were deprived of sleep as well as food. The final scene of the film takes place in the old house of child killer character Rustin Parr, and the house used was the historic Griggs House that sadly was torn down due to fans stealing pieces of it after the film’s release. The last day of filming came on Halloween 1997, a perfect day to wrap filming of a horror film! After editing and test screening, the film was bought by Artisan Entertainment for only $1.1 million.

Before the film was released, the ending was a hot topic between the filmmakers and Artisan as they wanted a different ending to the film, but after some time and four more endings being shot, they all decided to stick with the original. Artisan did an amazing job of marketing this film as they passed it off as a real case and took to the new world of the internet to push this as a missing persons case with the last few moments caught on camera for moviegoers. They spread the word via websites, print ads, and even fake interviews and police reports were made. On the film’s IMDB page, the actors bios were listed as “Missing, Presumed Dead,” and this sparked movie goers to wonder if what they were seeing was real or not! The marketing for the film worked as it was a major hit at the US box office as it brought in big money and was the 10 grossing film of 1999 and beat out other Horror Films like Sleepy Hollow, The Haunting, Deep Blue Sea, Stigmata, Lake Placid, Stir Of Echoes, The Rage: Carrie 2, Bats, End Of Days and the remake of House On Haunted Hill. A little later in this update I am going to share my thoughts of seeing The Blair Witch Project in the theater as well as maybe Juliet’s that way you will get two different views and experiences of seeing it. Say what you will about the film nowadays and while its fashionable to hate on it, in 1999 it was a film that kept horror alive in the theater and proved to companies that they don’t need to spend huge budgets on them in order to turn a good profit.

The film’s main villain is The Blair Witch, Elly Kedward, who was a strange old woman who lived in the town of Blair when she immigrated from Europe in 1800’s and became the town’s creepy old lady. And after she was murdered by the townspeople, she became supernatural and with this came new powers that aid her in her quest for revenge on those who make the mistake of being in the Black Hills Forest. We will showcase her powers just from the first film because as the series goes on, she changes her ways and as we look more into the Blair Witch we will cover them. Elly has the power to change her appearance and even look like people’s friends. She can also imitate people’s voices and can make it sound close or far away. She can also make people confused as she can bend time and locations causing panic and confusion from her victims as they try to make sense of their situation. She can “mark” or “curse” a person with witchcraft and targeting them via their personal items. The Blair Witch also seems to know who and what is going on in The Black Hills Forest and also seems to be able to make the Rustin Parr murder house appear and disappear when she needs it. And to kick off her power, she also seems to control the spirits of young children that she uses as her tools to scare her victims. She also has a strange ritual that has one of her victims standing in the corner with their back to her and a victim she is going to kill, as she does have the power to posse a living person. So as you can see she has the power of witchcraft and supernatural powers, and she has no issues killing those who dare to cross her. While never seen below is pictures of what she is supposed to look like and that includes what McFarlane Toys think she looks like.

My friends and I were all hyped to go see The Blair Witch Project in the theater and all wanted to make sure we saw it on opening weekend. We knew that the film was fake and not a real found footage film of missing college kids, as we all knew that Heather Donahue was an actress in Stake N Shake Commercials, but the buzz around the film and the fact we all loved horror films drew us to it like a moth to a flame. We saw the film on July 17th at the Showcase Cinema Cross Point in Centerville after we had a Horror Movie Marathon the day before, and we were ready for what the world was saying was the scariest film of all time. The friends that went with me were Matt Hoffman, Josh Weinberg, Dave Wean, Rion Neeley and Brandon Womeldorff, and we all grabbed our snack foods and sodas and were ready to watch the film. I can remember that we all were so hyped for the film to start, and a group of teenage girls sat behind us and were also ready to be scared. I can remember being entertained by the film, drawn in by the drama and in moments my adrenaline running high as the slow build up to the final scene in the house was taking place…and shocked as the young ladies behind us were crying so loud at the end of the film as they believed that what they just saw was the death of three college kids.  The marketing worked on them. After the movie we all hung out in the parking lot and chatted about the film, and while it had flaws, we all ended up liking it for the most part.  This opinion of “like” would change for many as when the backlash hip thing to dislike the film came around some of these friends jumped on that train. The things that worked for me were the unsettling nature of three acquaintances stuck in the woods by a supernatural power, the ending that takes place in a creepy abandon house was great classic horror stuff and struck a cord with me as I at the time was really into entering old houses like it, I enjoyed looking at Heather Donahue as at the time I was into her look. One last major plus for me was that you never did get to see The Blair Witch as she is never on camera. The things that didn’t work for me in the film was mostly some of the improved dialogue as Mike at times delivered some terrible lines as well as his actions were dumb aka kicking the map into the river. The other downside for me was the repetitiveness of the dialogue as they hammered home that Heather was always doing the director thing and that Josh’s stuff was targeted. But while I did not find the film scary, I did and do find it to be entertaining. But let’s see what kind of experience and first impression Juliet had when seeing The Blair Witch Project at the theater.

“I first heard about The Blair Witch Project in Rolling Stone magazine. I have to give the producers props – their ad campaign for the movie was quite good and really took advantage of (or was aided by) the fact that the internet was still just coming to mass consciousness/everyone’s homes. They were able to craft a pretty convincing looking website to match the pretty convincing looking magazine ads that touted the film as a documentary, not fiction. Add in the fact that my friends and I, who were all in high school, were definitely not horror experts so we were unaware of other found footage films like the Last Broadcast. This is all to say that we definitely thought it was real going in. I had done some reading on the film that lead to believe that maybe it was fiction, but even those sources were questionable, making me think that maybe these were just naysayers. My friends Lisa, Christy, Angel and I went to see The Blair Witch Project shortly after it came out in the theaters, right before we left for band camp. Since Angel and I weren’t yet seventeen, we did the old trick of waiting in the bathroom while our of-age friends bought our group’s tickets. By and large, our group liked the movie upon first watch. Several of them were pretty freaked out by the jump-scares in the moment. But I think after that, and especially after it became crystal clear that The Blair Witch Project is a work of fiction, a lot of people I knew were quick to hop on the backlash train. It became pretty popular for people to rip this movie to shreds, and while, yeah, it’s not the best horror film on Earth, I wonder if some of that reaction is the result of some people being genuinely fooled into thinking it was real. But I really appreciated the experience that was create with the advertising build up as well as of the truly scary moments, especially the eerie ending (I was known to make jokes about standing in corners for months to follow). I’ve watched more found-footage films both from the late 90s and modern ones, I’ve come to understand a lot more of what worked – and what didn’t – in the Blair Witch Project.”

With The Blair Witch Project being one of the rebirth films of the horror genre at the Box Office came the mountain of merchandise, and man there was lots of it! Besides being released on home video it also got t-shirts, posters, trading cards, stickers, soundtrack CD, books, magazines, toy, buttons, patches, cups, comics, jewelry, hats,PC video games, magnets and every thing else you can think of! This was a juggernaut of popularity and fans had to have everything they could get their hands on based on it! I am not going to lie, as when I was a teen and this was released I did and still do own the movie poster, a necklace, trading cards and the movie on VHS and now on DVD. This movie really was a trendsetter and was the 90’s version of A Nightmare On Elm Street as both films sparked so much merchandise and captivated not only horror fans but movie fans.

Like all good horror films The Blair Witch Project has a good solid soundtrack that is mostly just one score piece by Antonio Cora that is called “The Cellar” that is a mix of noises that sound hollow yet also sounds so organic, it’s hard to describe besides that fact its very eerie sounding. And because this film was such a hit they decided that a soundtrack CD needed to be released in order to cash in on the films success. With the film pretty much being music less besides the one score music that ends the film they decided to act as if this soundtrack was the Mix CD of Josh and featured songs by bands like Type O Negative, Skinny Puppy, Bauhaus and Afghan Whigs to name a few. The soundtrack sold pretty well and many of my friends had it as it was sold at all the local Music Stores. I had it as well and still on Halloween play The Cellar on Alpha Rhymes on our Halloween Show and even have that track on the overhead at work!

The Blair Witch Project is considered the rebirth and start of the found footage point of view horror film, sure movies like Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and a few others came before it but none of them made as big as an impact in America and many of the masses didn’t even know about these pre-Blair Witch films. But one that came out in 1998 and is a documentary found footage film called “The Last Broadcast” is the flick that many horror fans say that The Blair Witch Project ripped off, as elements are very similar and it predates it in theaters by one year. The Last Broadcast is about a group of public access show goofs filming in the Pine Barons to see if the Jersey Devil is real that goes missing and pursumed dead as blood is found in the snow, and this attack was filmed and a fellow crew member was blamed but did he really do it. But is this true was The Blair Witch Project inspired or did it rip off The Last Broadcast as many think…the short answer is No. While the plots share a little similarities with a group heading into the woods to document and find the truth of a local legend that end up dead in the end. Both use a documentary feel and both have lots of POV moments that add to the dread and horror. Both started out as low budget independent films and both had down beat endings. While Last Broadcast was released in theaters in 1998 and The Blair Witch Project in 1999 many would think that the BWP was just a copy but in reality it was in production and filming long before The Last Broadcast even hit theaters making the rumor that it influenced Blair Witch nothing more than Horror Movie gossip. On a side note I really do want to say that I as well really do enjoy The Last Broadcast and find it to be a well-made horror film that is underrated when people think of 90’s Horror Films.

So we are here at the point in our review that we have hit the old Parr House in these dark woods in Maryland and I think we should sit back and relax and listen to the noises and screams of the Blair Witch as we read the first one shot comic based on her evil deeds. So we have chatted about the film and its legacy, and I am sure many of you are wondering why I have not talked about the two sequels The Blair Witch Project spawned and that’s cause we will have two more chapters in the coming years that will cover those films and the rest of the comics series that followed. And if you look at this crumbled wall next to me finger painted in blood it says “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.” I also want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for having this comic in those many years ago that allowed me to get it and read it and revisit it for this review. So with that lets see if this comic by Oni Press holds up to my old memories of enjoying it.

The Blair Witch Project # 1  **1/2
Released in 1999     Cover Price $2.95     Oni Press     # 1 of 1

“Elly Kedward’s Curse!” follows young Elly as she makes her way from Europe to come to America were she lives in Blair, Maryland and stays to herself. She is good at sewing and the towns folk leave her alone for the most part. But something is plaguing Elly as she has a curse that lives deep inside her that causes pain and suffering to those around her and after the men return to town after a great war their hatred is placed on her and she is tormented and accused of being a witch that leaves her tortured and left in the woods to die…while he mortal body dies the curse takes over and she becomes something more and this leads to kids from town going missing and a group of men setting out to find them in the Black Hills Forest. “She Needs Me: Coffin Rock” a young girl is tricked into following The Blair Witch into the woods were she posseses the girl and waits many days until a group of five men coming looking for her, once they find her she is sitting on Coffin Rock and once they get close she uses witchcraft on them and ties them into a circle and mutilates and carves up the bodies! Once this evil deed is done she frees the young girl who returns home telling a story that The Blair Witch tells her to tell of a woman in white helping her. This tale ends with more towns men going into the woods to find the missing search party and now the little girl is messed up in her mind. “Left Alone: The Rustin Parr Killings” this story follows Rustin Parr and man who lived in Blair in the woods and was not friendly to the townspeople and just wanted to be left alone, but this changed when The Blair Witch starts speaking to him via his mind and makes him kidnap 7 kids in pairs of two and he had to kill one as the other stood in the corner and had to listen. The final kid was set free after the final kill and Rustin turns himself in and dies via hanging and the young man who survived was driven mad and spent the rest of his life in a asylum.

This comic is kind of like an anthology comic as three stories make up our comic that is really like a history of the legend of The Blair Witch! The first story follows Elly Kedward as she is murdered for being a witch and the fact she was plagued with a curse that is unleashed full force when she was left for dead, the second story is about the slaughter of five hunter in a search party for a lost little girl that were murdered and mutilated by the Witch and our final story is about child killer Rustin Parr and his killing spree of 6 children that was all being plotted by the Witch. Each story has their own artist and own charm and each deliver some solid and spooky moments. This does not read nor look like your normal Horror Comic as it seems more artsy and holds a real small press comic feel and this really works for this comic as the film as well had a very independent look to it. Out of the three stories I think my favorite was She Needs Me: Coffin Rock as I like the way the witch used an innocent little girl to lead five men to their deaths and twistedly she uses the body of the little girl to commit the murders! My least favorite story was Elly Kedword’s Curse as it just kind of putted along and the pay out was a no brainer. The comic has some blood and gruesome moments that mostly comes from the aftermaths of murder. The comic also does a great job of showcasing some of the films lore like the killing of Elly Kedword, the child killings of Rustin Parr and lastly the slaughter at Coffin Rock. Now the main question I am sure you want to know is if it’s scary at all and if it delivers any chills and sadly I would say that it lacks in that department as it captures the mood and lore of the film it does not capture any of the creepy scares that made it a mega hit. The cover is cool and was sure to capture the attention of fans of the film with its use of Heather and the logo and the interiors was done by three different artists with Tommy Lee Edwards, Guy Davis and BEM all leading their talents to the comic. Over all this is a pretty cool comic and will surly satisfy fans of the film and for the most part Horror Comic fans who like their scares based on films. Check out the art samples bellow to see the styles used in this B.W.P comic.

So love or hate The Blair Witch Project this independent film has left a large mark on the world of Horror Movies and even left one in the world of comics as this is not the only comic made based on the characters. The next time we cover the Blair Witch we will take a look at the second film in the series Book Of Shadows as well as review the four issue series from Oni Press called The Blair Witch: Chronicles and I think we get to that sometime in 2018. But for our next update and the next in our countdown to Halloween we will take a look at the Northstar comic based on the 1993 film The Dark! So until next time read a horror comic or three, watch a found footage horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for another spooky good time!

Day Of The Monster Bash Vacation (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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