Fall’s in the air, and the Halloween season is quickly approaching. That means we are all entitled to a good scare so let me take a look at an old creepy house me and my friends use to go exploring inside and we also filmed many no budget horror films around; it’s one we all dubbed “Murder House”! This house sat in Beavercreek off Indian Ripple Road and was just down the street from a cemetery. The yard was always overgrown with weeds, and all around it was trees and unkept bushes. Every window on the ground floor was boarded up as the second floor windows were all clear but busted. In what was once the driveway to the house, an old dresser sat tipped over and was on top of a body of a deer that was just a skeleton. On the left side of the house was a cage used for dogs and around it bones and skulls of cats and dogs were thrown about. The right side had a covered porch that was covered with vines and rotten leaves, and also around this part in the yard were old metal toy trucks that were rusting from years of neglect and weather. The backyard had an old cellar that had caved in and was blocked by all types of debris and a little further back pens used for sheep as well as a little stream could be seen. The backdoor to the house was busted open and this would allow you access to the inside, that we would all enter when wanting to get a good scare. For years I was obsessed with this house and would drive past it with friends on late night ghost hunts or just cruising around blaring music. Keep in mind I was in my early 20’s and loved making my own shot on video horror flicks so this house was my go to spooky place to freak out dates and get a shiver up my spine as well. When around the house at night I would always get a weird vibe that someone was watching me. The first time I ever entered the house was with my pal Josh Weinberg. Armed with flashlights and pocket knives, we creeped into the backdoor that lead us to the kitchen. The first thing we noticed was that a freezer had been tipped over and was laying on its side but the rest of the kitchen, while dirty, was not vandalized. The odd part was that dishes still sat in the sink and the cabinets were filled with dishes and caned goods. The grossest part was the fact the refrigerator still had lots of food in it that had turned into a molded mass of goo! A door off the kitchen lead to the garage that was packed with normal stuff like a lawnmower, but it was also packed with lots and lots of trash bags filled with junk and clothes. Another door in the kitchen lead to the basement..that at first we did not go down due to time and I am sure as well nerves. Off the kitchen was a small dining room area and this is were the house got its name among us friends because on the carpeted floor was a giant blood stain, a stain so big that whatever lost the blood clearly passed away..
Josh and I looked at the blood stain for awhile and chatted about what we thought had happened in that spot. We went a little further into the house, and the next room was a very large living room that still had the furniture around. While it was clear that someone had tipped it all over, it was still intact. I should also say that the house was pitch black and not even the flashlights seemed to help all that much as the darkness always seemed to be all around you. Off the living room was some stairs that lead to the second floor, but we didn’t go up them as we wanted to go tell the others about the blood stain. Later that night Josh and I returned to Murder House with Matt Hoffman, Dave Wean and Brandon Womeldorff to show them the stain and just how odd the house was. It was at this time we noticed that 1994 was the date on the calendar and all the left behind bills we could find. At that time we never did go into the basement nor go upstairs, but we did get a scare from a raccoon who came out of nowhere hissing and acting like a wild nut. A few months later Brandon and I went back to the house and found that the carpet in the room with the blood stain had been removed exposing the hardwood floor. Who would remove carpet with a giant blood stain on it from an abandoned house? Years would pass and Murder House became the set for my films like “Cocktober Blood” and the unfinished “Frankenstein Meets The Werewolf,” and I would also still take girls to it to give em a scare as well as people I didn’t like to freak em out and tell them that I saw people watching us from the windows upstairs and laugh as they would freak out. One night many years later when I was in my very late 20’s, I went back inside Murder House with my friends Max Ervin, Chris “Doogie” Mollohan and Lauryn Campanell and finally went into the basement and upstairs! The basement was very plain and while the washer and dryer and some tools was around and the atmosphere was spooky, it was nothing to special. The upstairs however was pretty creepy as all three bedrooms still had the beds and furniture intact. One bedroom was also filled with toys I can remember Max and I finding a Muppet Babies See and Say as well as the video game cart of Indiana Jones for Atari 2600. That was a fun night with great friends one that I will always remember sharing with Max and Chris who sadly have both passed away. Murder House was torn down shortly after that night and now all that stands in its place is an empty lot that is for sale. After trying to find information on the house and its history, we never could figure out just what happened there.
The year was 1987, and the Fox Network was trying to become a major player for prime time television viewership. One of the shows they made was called Werewolf that followed a young man named Eric Cord, played by John J. York, who was bitten by a werewolf and must try and find a way to kill the lead werewolf who started his bloodline in order to rid himself of the curse. The “lead” werewolf was a one eyed ship boat captain named Janos Skorzeny, who was played by TV acting veteran Chuck Connors. To add more stress to Eric’s quest, he was also being hunted by a bounty hunter named Alamo Joe Rogan played by Lance LeGault. The series premiere was a 2 hour event, and Fox put a lot of hype into it’s airing. I can remember the buzz going around it, and my parents even planned on watching it. That seemed like a big deal to me at the time as my mom never really liked horror themed things, so the fact she was going to watch the premiere peaked our interest. My brother and I wanted to watch it so bad but due to what time it aired and our mom thinking that the show was going to be too bloody for our young eyes to see, we didn’t get to watch it when it first aired. We did however get to watch it on tape as they recorded it on beta. When we finally were able to watch it, I can remember loving every cheesy and scary moment of it. The werewolf costume was perfect and pretty great stuff for the time. After watching the episode my brother and I became fans, and our parents worked it in on the family TV viewing lineup. We tried to not miss an episode although we did miss many. One of the reasons I loved the show so much was the fact it reminded me of the 1978 Incredible Hulk show with the fact Eric, much like David Banner, had to travel from town to town and when their monster side came out, the beast always did the right thing, but it became unsafe for their human side to stay around. Werewolf was canceled in 1988, and only lasted 1 long season that had 29 episodes and sadly the series never had a full fledged ending leaving us loyal viewers hanging. The series had solid ratings but the rumor going round was that the budget for episodes was too high and this was the reason for the cancelation.
A short time after Fox pulled Werewolf from their lineup, USA Network stepped in and started airing the reruns and even showed the two hour premiere episode on Saturday Nightmares! My brother and I watched the episodes on USA and was able to catch the ones we missed on Fox. I can remember sitting in our living room on Royston Drive in Waynesville Ohio watching Werewolf and cheering for Eric to turn into a werewolf and find a way to end his curse. I can also remember seeing in Cracked Magazine parodies of the show and always for some reason nerding out. In fact, in some of my lame home made comics I had the Eric Cord werewolf as a character! At some point in the coming year here at Rotten Ink, I will cover a comic series I made called Robo-Raccoon that followed a Raccoon man and his friends who were trying to collect bounties in space. Wow, I was way off track with Robo-Raccoon, but really just wanted to write this little part to say thanks to both Fox and USA for airing a show that made my childhood even cooler!
Chuck Connors was a very popular actor in our household as my parents loved shows like The Rifleman and Branded and us the kids had Werewolf and the film Tourist Trap. Chuck Connors was born Kevin Joeseph Connors in 1921. Growing up, Chuck was a great athlete in high school and after spending two years in South Orange College in New Jersey, he decided to join the Army during World War II and become a Tank Combat Instructor. During this time as well he played for the NBA team Rochester Royals and helped lead them to the 1946 championship! Also in 1946 he was discharged from the military and joined the basketball team the Boston Celtics, but left the team to join the MLB team the Brooklyn Dodgers whom he had been a fan of since youth. But before he left the Celtics, he became the first player to break the backboard! Sadly the Dodgers had him mostly play for the minor teams before letting him play only one game with them in 1949. By 1951 he started to play for the Chicago Cubs as a first baseman for a total of 66 games. Connors floated around the sports world for awhile even getting drafted by NFL team the Chicago Bears, but he never once suited up and left sports altogether to become an actor in Hollywood. Connors, early in his acting career, was in such films as Pat and Mike, South Sea Woman, Trouble Along The Way and Old Yeller. Connors even began taking small roles on TV shows like Adventures of Superman and Dear Phoebe, but in 1958 he landed the role of Lucas McCain on the ABC western show The Rifleman! The show was a huge success and lasted 5 seasons for a total of 168 episodes. After The Rifleman went off the air in 1963, Connors found work again in TV and movies landing roles in such projects as Arrest And Trial, Branded, Flipper (film) and even had a part of a slave owner in the 1977 mini series Roots which he won a Emmy for. In 1979 Connors played Mr. Slausen in Tourist Trap, a horror film that also starred Tanya Roberts that was about a rundown tourist attraction were a group of friends come face to face with a crazed killer. In 1987 he took the role of the one eyed werewolf in the horror series Werewolf. His last major role came in the 1991made for TV movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck Of The Draw were he plays once more Lucas McCain. Connors over the years had been married three times and had four children and had smoked since 1940 and for many years he smoked three packs a day. Sadly in 1992 at the age of 71 Chuck Connors passed away from pneumonia and was battling lung cancer. Chuck Connors was able to do many great things during his lifetime and is a true icon of western TV programs and even is in the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Mueseum’s Hall of Fame. So this update is dedicated to you Chuck Connors for entertaining the Brassfield family for generations.
Werewolf the Complete Series has never found it’s way to VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray here in the United States by a main stream company but can be found on the Grey Market. Some years back I can remember that Shout Factory was going to put out the series and this made many fans happy cause they could toss away the old DVD-R’s and get a legit with better picture quality and extras! But as the release date drew near, the boxset was pushed back not once but twice and then it quietly was canceled, and fans of the show once more were left out in the cold with no official release. The story I heard of why this series has never made it out on home media is that some of the music that was used in the series is costing any company wanting to put it out too much in royalties. The big rumor on the band that’s caused much of the drama of this series not coming out is Mike + The Mechanics whose song Silent Running is used during a key part for the first episode, and they want way too much money for the rights to the song for home video. But again I must stress that all this is just rumors I have heard, but whatever the reason this series has not made it to DVD needs to be figured out so us fans can re-live the hunt for the werewolf curse cure.
So the full moon is in the night sky, and I can hear the children of the night howling with delight as we are about to take a look at the six issue comic series done by Blackthorne Comics based on this short lived horror TV series. So make sure you have your silver bullets ready and always keep in mind that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material. So let’s go on a wild ride of full moon fever and roam in a pack with Eric Cord. Also thanks to Bell Book And Comic, Ebay and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock
Werewolf 3-D #1 ***
Released in 1988 Cover Price $2.50 Blackthorne #1 of 1
A couple is attacked and killed in the parking lot of the local disco by some kind of werewolf. The next morning Eric and his girlfriend Kelly are by the pool when her father comes out and is shocked and fearful of the attacks going on in their hometown. You see Eric has been raised by them and his relationship with Kelly is a secret as they both don’t know how her dad would take the news as he looks at Eric as a son, and Eric’s best friend Ted is also Kelly’s brother. When Ted comes back into town he has Eric come over and tells him that he is the one killing all the people around town and that he is in fact a Werewolf! Ted begs Eric to kill him but after some time it’s too late as Ted becomes a werewolf and bites Eric who is forced to shoot and kill his friend, as the neighbors come rushing over they see Eric holding the dead body of Ted and he is blamed for murder. Out on bail Eric is picked up by Kelly who tells him that she knows her brother was a werewolf because he sent her a cassette tape message telling her the whole story the morning of his death. So together Kelly and Eric deal with his full moon change that leaves him a crazed beast and together they find that a ship captain named Janos Skorzeny is the start of the curse, and when Eric meets him things go south real quick! That evening Skorzeny kidnaps Kelly as Eric is picked up by bounty hunter Alamo Joe Rogan on a full moon night for skipping out on bail. When Eric turns into the beast, he escapes and saves Kelly from Skorzeny as a werewolf battle rages on in a burning cabin in the woods. In the end the sun comes up and the werewolves stop fighting. Eric, while human, tells Kelly he must kill Skorzeny and set himself free, as Alamo Joe understands now he is no longer hunting just a man but now a monster.
This 3-D issue is a lot of fun and is really just an adaptation of the first episode of the series. The artwork and story are really well done but once more I found that the 3-D effect didn’t work all that great, much like it didn’t with The Noid comic and when wearing the glasses I could almost feel a headache creeping in. Eric Cord is our hero, a normal guy who just so happens to have really bad luck as he kills his best friend and at the same time is infected with a curse that turns him into a werewolf, and to make it all worse his girlfriend knows of his condition and he has a bounty hunter after him…so let’s just say our hero needs a lot of support from the reader. Plus I think the best thing about Eric is that he seems like an average guy, no different from you or me. Kelly is Eric’s girlfriend and is a huge help to him once he decides that he must track down the werewolf who started the bloodline that affects him. While she is confused, she is a great help and a likable character. Alamo Joe Rogan is a great character who has been a bounty hunter for 21 years and has never lost one of his targets, and when he comes face to face with Eric as a werewolf he doesn’t blink an eye and just goes out and gets blessed silver bullets…now he’s what I would call a badass. The lead bad werewolf Janos Skorzeny is an evil man who takes joy in killing when the moon is full, and he is hard for the cops to find because being a sailor takes him from place to place. He doesn’t get to flex his evil muscle much in this issue, but I am sure he will be a thorn in Eric’s side a lot during this comic series. The werewolf fight at the end of the issue was thing comic books are made of as the two beasts duked it out all the while the cabin around them is on fire and a lovely woman is caught between them….amazing! The artwork is really well done by Donnie Jupiter who captures the feel of the TV Show and the mood of a late 80’s horror comic, and the story from Frank Lupo and adapted by Lance Hampton is also top notch. Over all if you like the TV show or like werewolves then check out this cool little 3-D gimmick comic. So let’s travel deeper into the woods of this full moon and see what more mayhem we can read about.
Werewolf # 1 ***
Released in 1988 Cover Price $2.00 Blackthorne #1 of 5
Eric Cord is hanging out at the dock where Skorzeny’s boat is and with a stolen gun and some silver bullets he plans on killing the old ship captain and lifting his curse. While waiting around the docks, Eric also finds out that Alamo Joe is on his tail and is also packing a gun with silver bullets but he is aiming for him and not Skorzeny. To make it all worse, Alamo Joe has places a bounty on Eric’s head and now some of the shady dock workers want the money. Skorzeny gets mad at another ship captain and turns into a werewolf and kills him very brutally as Eric as well turns into a werewolf and has to kill some dock workers who were attacking him to collect the reward on his head. In the end Werewolf Eric comes face to face with Alamo Joe, who fires a silver bullet into his ear, causing the beast to leap into the water and disappear into the night sky. In the morning Skorzeny shows up and is upset about the bullet holes in his ship, as Alamo Joe finds out that brutal murders have been happening around the dock for months now and he also finds Eric’s journal that tells the story of Skorzeny being the werewolf king! As for Eric, he wakes back up as a human on shore and knows that he must try and kill his tormentor again and again until he succeeds.
What a great first issue, and while it is just based on a script from an episode of the TV Show, it still translates to comics really well. The downbeat mood of the issue is well described by the setting of the dirty and scummy docks where not only Skorzeny roams but also some real dirt bags. Placing yourself into Eric’s shoes as he searches the area for his target helps add to the over all chill of the issue. Eric Cord in the issue is more of a man on a mission and with Kelly safe at home and his mind on the cure, he comes off way manlier and way more ready for action. As the Werewolf, Eric is a killing machine and if the 3-D issue taught me anything, it’s that as the werewolf he can even stand toe to toe with Skorzeny who is older and tougher than him. Skorzeny is a cruel evil man and when the werewolf he don’t care who he kills and how brutal it may be, in fact in this issue when he kills the fellow sea captain, he doesn’t just claw and bite him, he also impales him on a metal rod! Alamo Joe in this issue don’t get into the action too much as he only gets one good shot off from his gun and that only clips Werewolf Eric’s ear. He mostly is around to be a pain in Eric’s side as he puts pressure on the dock workers to turn him in. The issue, while in black and white, does have the use of blood during the werewolf attacks and while I would not say it’s a bloodbath it is nice to see in this TV Adaptation comic series. The issue’s artwork is once more top notch late 80’s independent horror comic work and is done by a great artist whom I could not find his or her’s name in the credits. The issue’s cover is pretty cool and has all the main characters shown so it does its job. I used to have this issue when I was younger as well, and it held up really well as I liked it back then as well as today. So let’s see what happens in issue two and see if Eric can fulfill his destiny.
Werewolf # 2 **
Released in 1988 Cover Price $2.00 Blackthorne #2 of 5
Davey is a 10 year old boy who loves monsters who lives with his mom and her abusive boyfriend Bobby. Late one night Davey hears a gunshot as well as a howl, and he gets hyped that a real life monster must be out and near his house. He sneaks out and finds a werewolf who has a bullet wound and takes him to his tree house to hide. The next morning Davey is caught entering the house by his mother and he tells her about his monster friend, she thinks he just telling stories and allows him to eat his breakfast in his tree house as Bobby bullies the Mom and always trashes and picks on Davey leaves for work but not before meeting a man who comes to the house looking for a wounded man he has shot and who he tells them is a murderer. Davey finds that the werewolf is now a man who needs help to remove the bullet from his shoulder and the young boy helps him. Later in the day Bobby returns home and starts beating on Davey and his Mother, and the wounded man comes to their aid and turns into a werewolf and kills Bobby and escapes into the night as Davey warns it of the law coming to kill it.
This issue is a major disappointment as I am sure that this issue has zero to do with Eric Cord or any other character from the TV show and was just a generic werewolf story they had sitting around the Blackthorne office and decided to slap the Werewolf logo on it and pass it off as one. Not once is the man shot referred to as Eric Cord, and in fact he is nameless as is the hunter who is hot on his trail, plus not once is Skorzeny brought up. While this issue’s story is not bad, it would have been a better fit for a comic series like Howl, Creepy or even Vault of Horror as I feel the story line would have been better suited for that style of horror comics. The plot is really simple, and it’s about a boy with a big imagination who meets a real life werewolf who is injured and the youngster takes care of him and in return he kills the evil and mean boyfriend of his mother who has beaten them and made their lives miserable. The artwork in this issue is really weak, and The Werewolf looks terrible and NOTHING like the werewolf from the show and past issues and was done by Abel Laxamana. Don’t want to spend to much time on this issue and hope that # 3 gets better and goes back on track on what the series should be about and that’s Eric Cord and his hunt for his cure.
Werewolf # 3 *
Released in 1988 Cover Price $2.00 Blackthorne #3 of 5
A couple is attacked and killed in the parking lot of the local disco by some kind of werewolf. The next morning Eric and his girlfriend Kelly are by the pool when her father comes out and is shocked and fearful of the attacks going on in their hometown. You see Eric has been raised by them and his relationship with Kelly is a secret as they both don’t know how her dad would take the news as he looks at Eric as a son, and Eric’s best friend Ted is also Kelly’s brother. When Ted comes back into town he has Eric come over and tells him that he is the one killing all the people around town and that he is in fact a werewolf! Ted begs Eric to kill him but after some time it’s too late as Ted becomes a werewolf and bites Eric who is forced to shoot and kill his friend. As the neighbors come rushing over they see Eric holding the dead body of Ted and he is blamed for murder.
Yep, as you can see issue # 3 is just part of the 3-D special done in none 3-D and this is one CHEAP move by BlackThorne who did not even state this anywhere on the cover as they try and pass it off as a third in a series. What makes this more annoying is all this stuff told in this one is supposed to take place before # 1. As you all know I enjoyed the 3-D issue and liked the artwork and the story, but for this cheap move I have to give this issue, aka cheap reprint, a 1 star.
Werewolf # 4 *
Released in 1988 Cover Price $2.00 Blackthorne #4 of 5
Out on bail Eric is picked up by Kelly who tells him that she knows her brother was a werewolf because he sent her a cassette tape message telling her the whole story the morning of his death. So together Kelly and Eric deal with his full moon change that leaves him a crazed beast and together they find that a ship captain named Janos Skorzeny is the start of the curse, and when Eric meets him things go south real quick! That evening Skorzeny kidnaps Kelly as Eric is picked up by bounty hunter Alamo Joe Rogan on a full moon night for skipping out on bail. When Eric turns into the beast he escapes and saves Kelly from Skorzeny as a werewolf battle rages on in a burning cabin in the woods. In the end the sun comes up and the werewolves stop fighting, and Eric, while human, tells Kelly he must kill Skorzeny and set himself free, as Alamo Joe understands now he is no longer hunting just a man but now a monster.
The second part of the reprint of the 3-D issue and once more a major let down that they would take such a cheap route on a series that thus far only had two good issue in its pretty short run. It’s no wonder why this series was on the chopping block and sales must have been really bad after three issue coming out being this bad and poorly thought out. This is very disheartening that Blackthorne treated this series with this little of respect and delivered these two issues to fans of the show and comic series. Let’s not harp on these two issue reprints and move on to the 5th and final issue in the series. But I do want to state again, I loved the story of this issue and #3, I just hate the fact they are just reprints of the 3-D issue that came out the same years as these.
Werewolf # 5 ***
Released in 1989 Cover Price $2.00 Blackthorne #5 of 5
Some young lovers are camping at a lake in the woods, and they are attacked and killed by a werewolf. The next morning Eric wakes up in the woods and meets Deidra, a good witch who invites him back to her home for some fresh cloths and a good meal. While home Tracy, a young woman, shows up and gets a love potion from Deidra and rushes off to give it to the boy she is crushing on. Deidra talks to Eric and tells him that she knows what he is and can 100% say that he was not the werewolf who killed the campers and that she can try and help him control the curse. Eric don’t believe in witchcraft but feels a bond to Deidra so he agrees to the help, just as Tracy comes running to them with he would be boyfriend chasing her in a rage and hyped up on PCP and dies from the overdose. The father of the boy blames Deidra even after the police tell him his son died from the PCP and he along with some fellow towns people set fire to Deidra’s house killing her and forcing Eric to turn into the werewolf and teach them some manners. In the end Eric once more must move on to find a way to end his curse and still a little heartbroken over the loss of his could-be lover Deidra.
What a breath of fresh air that this series ended on a good note and had another solid and well-done issue for its final! This time around Eric Cord finds himself befriending a white witch who tries to cure him but gets targeted by local hillbillies who ruin his chance at a cure of his curse. Eric in this issue comes off as a man worried about the deeds his werewolf side commits and also in an odd turn a disbeliever of the unknown. I mean you would think he would consider the fact that witches are real given the fact he’s a werewolf! Deidra is an okay character and is a good witch and for some reason while reading this I kept flashbacking to the Dark Horse Comic Pumpkinhead mini series that had the good witch Mariah who also meet an early death due to backwoods thinking rednecks. While the series ended on a good issue the series still very much was lacking with two issues being a reprint and one issue feeling as if it shouldn’t even be in the series due to the poor werewolf drawing. Below is some of the artwork used in this series so give them a look and enjoy.
So the moon is going away and the sun is coming up, and our werewolf hunt has come to an end, well for now. I must say over all I enjoyed the comic series based on one of my childhood favorite shows. The major letdowns that really bogged the series down have to be the reprints for issues 3 and 4. If you’re a fan of the show or of werewolves, this is one series you might want to check out, and while it was no bloodbath, the series did have some cool kills and the black and white art will remind you of classic horror magazines like Creepy and Eerie. But our next update will move away from Eric Cord the Werewolf and will focus on Pinhead the Cenobite as I take a look at Epic Comics’ movie adaptation of Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. So until then read, a horror comic or two, watch a horror themed TV show and support you local horror host and beware of the full moon!