Spend Halloween With Universal’s Frankenstein’s Monster!

Happy Halloween! I hope you’re having a spooky and chilling good time today. I can hear all the little ghouls and goblins running around outside looking for some free candy. I can also hear all the loud parties and mayhem going on in and around 5th Street. This year for Rotten Ink’s Halloween update we are going to be taking a look at comics based on Frankenstein by Universal that include a very cool Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man one that was translated and put together to be a comic via stickers just for this update! Plus I will be reading these comics alone in an abandoned science lab that’s still filled with lots of odd machines and glass bottles. Not to mention we will also be talking about other fun scary and Halloween related things.  So with the chill in the air and the Jack-O-Lantern lit, let’s open the door to Dr. Frankenstein’s lab and see what’s on the slab!

Halloween Time!!

I’m going to start this update by taking a brief look at Manuel Oritz Partida, a luchador who goes by the ring name Halloween.  So I figured we should at least mention him on an update that goes up on the holiday he is named after! Halloween started his wrestling career in 1990 working for independents in and around Mexico, but he got his big break in 1996 when he signed with WCW and changed his name to Ciclope.  He was a mid-card wrestler for them and had some great matches against the likes of Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Dean Malenko. Once he left WCW, he returned to Mexico and worked for AAA as well as a few independents. Halloween has had many Mask vs. Hair matches and has lost many of them including losing his mask to Super Parka in 1999. After losing the mask, he began painting his face like a Jack-O-Lantern! Throughout his career he has also had many allies that include Damien 666, Super Nova, Extreme Tiger and Mari Apache. At the age of 43 in 2014 he has slowed down some, but Halloween still haunts the rings of Mexico. When I was a teenager I was lucky enough to see Halloween wrestle during a taping of WCW Saturday Night that was at Hara Arena.  If memory serves I think he took on Dean Malenko and lost!

ciclopehalloween LuchaHALLOWEEN AAA

One creepy internet story aka Creepypasta that has been floating around for some years now is called “Squidward’s Suicide,” a truly disturbing story that should be talked about this Halloween season here at Rotten Ink. The story goes that an intern at Nickelodeon had the duty to watch an episode of Spongebob Squarepants with some fellow workers that would have kicked off the new season and when they started to watch, the title card read Squidward’s Suicide.  They thought it was a joke title card, and they all chuckled it off. As they continued to watch, it was nothing special at first and was about Squidward preparing for a clarinet concert when Spongebob’s annoying laughing echoes into his house and Squidward runs him off to keep practicing, but when things get really strange is when at the concert all the fish people in the crowd start booing Squidward with malice and even Spongebob joins in the booing! Squidward goes home and starts to cry sadly to himself as sounds of wind and white noise echoed from the speakers, and then laughing started up as Squidward’s crying became louder and louder and more heartbreaking. While all this was disturbing what the workers found in frames mixed in is what caused them some chills and distress as pictures of freashley murdered children (three in total) would flash for small frames across the screen! These pictures would come inbetween Squidward still crying at the edge of his bed with all the weird sounds going on in the back ground.  It got so bad that they called the creator of Spongebob to watch the remaining episode that ended with Squidward pulling out a shotgun and committing suicide as the image remained on his dead body and then ended. The creator was mad and demanded that they watch the episode again, and he was horrified at what he saw and called the FBI, according to the intern none of the children in the clips were ever identified and no one knew who made the cartoon as the time stamp said it was made just minutes before they watched it! I saved you many of the gory details of what the kids bodies looked like as I didn’t think that this fun blast from the past blog was the right place for it, but if you’re looking for the full well written story search the net and you’ll find it. Another Creepypasta by the name of “Red Mist” is based on Squidward killing himself and has a salesmen fish coming to his door and telling him the red mist is coming…the red mist of course being the blood from his wound…when he shoots himself…man this is some depressing stuff! The major differences between the two stories besides the salesmen and title is that in Red Mist many of the characters sport realistic eyes and also the cartoonist of the episode was said to be a serial killer who had worked for Nickelodeon and was on the run. Fan made animated versions of the episode can be found on youtube, and the story while most likely fake, it still makes me wonder did Squidward really kill himself?

Squidwards Suicide 1Squidward's Suicide TitleSquidwards Suicide 2

It’s 1976, and the film crew for the TV Show “The Six Million Dollar Man” had rented out the haunted house from the Nu-Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach California.  As they were moving and dressing the “set” they moved the hanging mummy man prop and by accident they broke off the mummy’s arm and to their horror a human bone was poking out! The crew, along with the police, took the mummy to a coroner who verified that the mummy was in fact a human body…the haunted house for years had a real dead body on display. It took some time but they were able to figure out who the body was and when and how he died, and the identity of the mummy was that of criminal Elmer McCurdy who was killed in 1911 in a shootout while trying to rob a train. The undertaker in 1911 decided that since no one claimed his body, he would go ahead and embalmed him and place it on display as “The Bandit Who Wouldn’t Give Up” and would have people place nickels in the corpse’s mouth that at the end of the day he would collect.  At some point a carnival owner tricked the undertaker into thinking he was Elmer’s brother and he took the body and placed it on display for years. After his worth was used up at the carnival, the corpse was sold many times to several haunted houses, wax museums and carnivals making it the traveling mummy! Elmer’s corpse even was shown in the 1933 film Narcotic directed by Dwain Esper and at one point the owner of a haunted house in South Dakota refused to buy the corpses as he felt it was a fake and nothing more then a mannequin. Elmer finally was sold to Nu-Pike Amusement Park and sometime later was discovered again to be a real corpse by a shocked crew member who broke his arm off! In 1977 Elmer McCurdy was finally laid to rest in Summit View Cemetery in the Boot Hill section in Oklahoma ending the traveling mummy’s long and strange trip around the USA. Many joke that Elmer made way more money in death then in life, and for years this story was thought to be an urban legend but was proven to be true. So the next time you go to a haunted house, take a closer look at that corpse hanging or in the coffin cause who knows you might just be looking at the real thing!

Elmer McCurdyElmer McCurdy RIPElmer McCurdy Mummy

In 1999, my friends and I use to run the roads at all times of the night.  We would drive around with the windows down while blaring music and being just rowdy late teens who were out to have a good time. Most of these nights would just lead to us going to a friend’s house where we would spend the rest of the night playing Goldeneye 007 on N64 and listening to music and all crashing at the same home very late in the night. Brandon Womeldorff drove most nights as he had a red convertible, and on this particular night it was just Brandon, David Wean, Rion Neeley and myself driving through Patterson Park or as it’s also called Hills And Dales.  It was around 11:00pm, and we had no real reason to be in the area besides driving fast on the dark roads near Frankenstein’s Tower and enjoying the cool night air. Rion was telling us that one night when he was driving alone near these two stone pillars on the opposite sides of the road and that he could have sworn that he saw what appeared to be a shadow man that was watching him on top of a wooded hill near the pillar.  Of course this made the rest of us to want to go to the spot and see if we could spot this strange man/shadow for ourselves.  As we pulled off the road near said spot Brandon killed the engine, and we all just sat and listened and waited, the sounds of the night filled our ears and then we heard something that sounded like a person running down the hill crunching fallen leaves as it moved fast towards us, Brandon turned the car back on and sped away as we could hear this thing keeping up with us…odd thing being all we could make out was a shadow. We all went back to Rion’s house where Brandon was also living, and we all sat around and talked about what we thought it was, and myself and Brandon went back that night and didn’t see anything. Whatever it was stuck with us as Brandon even wrote a song called “The Man In Black” for a short lived band we were in called X-Mortis. For many years after I would go back to that spot with many of my friends like Andrea Seay, Kevin Kinsley, Matt Hoffman, Jason Gilmore, Misty Altick and Josh Weinberg and almost everytime we would hear or see something…sometimes we would drive away only to return in minutes to find a dead animal propped in the middle of the road, most the time the necks were twisted so the head was facing backwards. This Shadow Man became a spooky icon to us, and we would even play pranks on each other out in the woods near the pillars and hill.  The best one is where Dave Wean, Linda Webb’s boyfriend and I all hid in the woods and made noises as Josh Weinberg dressed in a WWE Kane Mask and a hooded robe stood by a tree near the small road and scared the crap out of Matt Hoffman who was being driven around by Brandon who was in on the prank, but one thing I must say is as we waited in those woods, we all did hear many odd things. Josh and I many nights would go back to that place and like clockwork we would hear and slightly see the Shadow Man.  One night we really pissed it off as we got out of the car and challenged it to a fight, while from the car stereo we played the battle music from the Star Trek episode “Amock Time” and carried ball bats ready to knock it’s block off. For a short time it did not respond but once we heard it come running down the hill full blast we left before the “battle” could happen. Over the years I went less and less to hear and see The Shadow Man, and the park got lots of remodeling and the last handful of times me and Josh went there had been no sign or noise of the Shadow making us wonder what and where did it go. We never could figure out just what and why it was and what would have happened to us if it would have caught us, but one things for sure Shadow Man will forever live on as one of my favorite unknown things I have witnessed. Bellow is a drawing by me of what it looked like.

Shadow Man Drawing

On October 6th and 7th Juliet and I decided to have our own Horror Movie Marathon, an event that I used to hold all the time that would have all my friends over to watch horror flicks all day and eat junk food. On Monday the 6th we had what I would call the pre-show where we watch a few Horror films to gear up for the next day, and the films selected were the made for TV cheese-fest “Werewolf of Woodstock”, smart and artistic 80’s slasher “Curtains” and low budget succubus flick “Dreamaniac.”  We both agreed that Curtains was the best film of the pre-show.  It was about actresses meeting at a film director’s mansion in the woods on a snow filled weekend, and someone is killing them off one by one. And we both agreed that the worst turkey of the night was Dreamaniac that was about some goofball song writer who allows his girlfriend and her sister to party at a house he is watching as a succubus is killing off the guests. On the 7th we started our marathon at 8 am and kicked it off with the Universal Horror film “Black Friday” that stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi and is about a mobster’s brain being transplanted into that of a professor and the doctor who did so wants to get his hands of some of the mobsters’ hidden money. The 1957 low budget film “From Hell It Came” was next and is about a tree monster and the battle between USA doctors and the natives of an island. The original 1980 “Prom Night” was next about a killer on the loose at a High School prom. 1989’s own low budget camping slasher film “Moonstalker” was next followed by “Legend of The Werewolf” a 1975 film starring Peter Cushing that follows a young man who is cursed to become a werewolf. Evil Dead inspired film “Demon Wind” was next and follows a group of friends stuck in an old house as demons want to take their souls. 1971 Hammer Film “Hands of The Ripper” was the next shocker to be shown and was about the daughter of Jack The Ripper and that was followed by Universal Sci-Fi giant spider film “Tarantula!” that shows man should not mess with mother nature. Next was Fullmoon Entertainment’s 11th film in the series “Puppet Master X: Axis Rising” where the puppets must stop Nazi’s and evil puppets from harming America. The next film shown is a pure cheesy guilty pleasure for me, 1995’s “Project: Metalbeast” starring Kane Hodder as Metalbeast and is about a metal skinned werewolf running wild in a military lab. As we headed into the late night we ended it with two vampire films, the first being “Dawn Of Dracula,” a low budget film made by the cool cats who make the horror host show Midnite Mausoleum and follows Victoria Van Helsing played by the lovely Marlena Midnite as she looks for missing people.  Then we watched “ Dinner With A Vampire” where a group of actors are stuck in a mansion with a real life vampire! The evening was super fun, and we snacked on Peanut M&M’s, Mike-Sells Beer Can Chicken Potato Chips as well as homemade Hot Wings and had a great spooky time just hanging out and enjoying all the horrors of the movies. My top three films of the day would have to be as follows: # 1 Hands of The Ripper, a film I think was well done and added a spin of the Jack The Ripper tale, # 2 Project: Metalbeast for some reason I have been a fan of this film for a long time and use to watch it on VHS when I was younger and feel it stills holds that charm till this day! And # 3 would have to be Legend of The Werewolf a great classic style horror film that has a simple plot and holds such a Hammer Horror feel that I have always found it to be entertaining. I would also like to note that this top three was really hard to pick as I also really enjoyed Dinner With A Vampire, Prom Night and Demon Wind allot! My Golden Turkey of the night would have to go to Moonstalker, while not a bad movie it was just really slow paced with moments that really seemed to drag. Juliet’s top three were # 1 Hands of The Ripper, # 2 Dinner With A Vampire and # 3 Legend of The Werewolf, she had a hard time as well as she truly enjoyed Tarantula! that almost made her list. Her Golden Turkey was Moonstalker for the same reasons I stated. This was a fun event that I look forward to doing again soon as well as maybe one update I will give a history of the event and how the Horror Movie Marathon tradition started with me and my friends.

Werewolf of Woodstock DVDCurtains DVDDreamaniac DVDBlack Friday DVDFrom Hell It Came DVD

Prom Night DVD Moonstalker DVDLegend of the Werewolf DVDDemon Wind DVDHands of the Ripper DVD

Tarantulia! DVDPuppet Master Axis Rising DVDProject Metalbeast DVDDawn of Dracula DVDDinner With A Vampire dvd

So what would Halloween be without having another 5 Questions with a Horror Host, and this time I think we are going to talk to Dayton, Ohio’s own Baron Von Porkchop! If you remember last year we chatted with Chicago Horror Host Count Gregula of Count Gregula’s Crypt.  So I figured that this year I wanted to do a Dayton Original Host who I also consider a very dear friend and that’s the good old Baron. Baron Von Porkchop started his show Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre in late 2010 and would air on DATV with his first episode where he hosted the Vincent Price classic House On Haunted Hill.  After this he has shown no signs of slowing down as he is working on his 3rd season as well as a number of Holiday and other type of specials. I traveled to Porkchop Manor and met with Baron Von Porkchop on a chilly night, and here are my 5 Questions with Baron Von Porkchop.

BVP 1

Me: So Baron tell me about your show Terrifying Tales of The Macabre, as well as about Porkchop manor?

Baron: Well my show is about… me. I’m just trying to live my life as an undead ghoul the best I know how, but it seems like everyone and everything wants to try and ruin it! My manor is a little run down, but I love the place. It has all the comforts of home with a little added creepy.

Me: I always have a good creepy time here at the Manor! So what Horror Hosts of the past have influenced you as a host yourself?

Baron: I would have to say since the day I was dug up, I have seen many different horror host icons and most of them have influenced me a little bit, but I would say The Crypt Keeper and Mike and Joel from Mystery Science Theater 3000 would be the most influential.

Me: Great choices, and Crypt Keeper is even in the Horror Host Hall of Fame. So being an undead ghoul and all, do you ever get urges to eat human flesh or brains?

Baron: NO, NO SILLY! That’s zombies, we ghouls just try to get by from day to day we don’t need anything as far as sustenance goes… well except a terrible movie from time to time.

Me: That’s a relief that no flesh eating is in your future! So you have been to quite a bit of conventions and during these travels, what celebrity were you most happy to meet? As well as what other Horror Host?

Baron: Well I did get to meet the Hellraiser himself Doug Bradly and that was kind of a dream come true. As far as horror hosts goes, I did get to meet The Crypt Keeper and that was pretty exciting. But all and all I have to say that all of the horror hosts I have met I have liked in different ways.

Me: Bradley is such an icon of Horror. Well sadly we are at the final question so with my topic for this years Halloween update being about Universal Frankenstein, what other actor besides Boris Karloff would you say is your favorite actor to play the Monster?

Baron: Wow there are so many to chose from…. let me think….. Aaron Eckhart I think from “I, Frankenstein”, I believe would be the best for sure! HAHAHAHAHA! No, no I kid, I kid. This is kind of a hard one though because so many great actors have played the creature. Like Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., Peter Boyle and so many more. Honestly I have to say that David Prowse is probably my favorite portrayal, because Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell is a great movie and a pure scare fest.

Me: Agreed, choosing who is the best actor who has played The Monster is a very tough question, but I would agree that Prowse would be high on my list as well as Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell is one of my favorite Hammer Horror films. Well thanks for spending some time with us here on Rotten Ink and thanks for doing what you do and keeping Horror Hosting alive in Dayton, Ohio. Anything you wanna say to the readers before we go?

Baron: I will see you soon on the Terrifying Tales of the Macabre, until then have a spooky time piggies, HAHAHAHAHA!!

Baron with Shane Douglas and So Cal Val

Airing the day this goes up, October 31st 2014 Baron Von Porkchop will be hosting the Bela Lugosi classic White Zombie for his fourth Halloween Special! I don’t wanna spoil to much but Baron alongside his pal Melvin (Butler to Stephen Von Frankenstein) come face to face with a zombie who has an ax to grind. The special will air on DATV in Dayton on Channel 5 via Time Warner Cable and should be a very fun and spooky episode. I must also say that I am VERY proud of Baron Von Porkchop and Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre, and I am very thankful that I am able to do the show along side a very talented host, cast and crew. If you’re looking for a little more on Baron check out his website at www.terrifyingtalesofthemacabre.com or look him up on Facebook. Man, Horror Hosts are so much fun, and I will continue to have 5 Questions with one every Halloween update so that’s something you readers can always look forward to.

Baron Von Porkchop Dayton HostFulci ZombieBaron Halloween 2014 DVD

October 24th 2014 marked the 18th year of Horrorama, and I was happy to once more be a part of the event that showed four great films “Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell”, “Rawhead Rex”, “Hell of The Living Dead” and “Bride Of Re-Animator” and once more was held at the great local theater the Englewood Cinema. Juliet and I, on our way to the theater early to check the prints of the films as well as eat at the chinese restaurant across the street that has become a tradition, also came across a truck with a propped up coffin with a life size mummy in it on Highway 70…this was a great way to kick off a very long night of film watching and mayhem. The event was hosted by A. Ghastlee Ghoul, the legendary horror host of Dayton, and he helped keep the night moving and filled with laughs.  Rick Martin this year co-hosted and with him being the remaining original event creator, it’s always nice to hear him keep the spirit of the event alive and honor what he started with Andy Copp and Dr. Creep. This year thanks to theater owner Mike, I was able to be the projectionist and wow, that was a lot of fun.  I think one of the coolest things for me that night was being able to peer out the projection window standing next the very old 35mm projector and watch my favorite Hammer Horror film, Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, a very cool moment for me. Plus at the event were many of my family and friends as besides Juliet, my brother Bryan along with his wife Bel and daughter Abby were there as well as my cousin Stephen. Lots of my friends as well like Josh Weinberg, Mike Ritchie, Garrison Kane, Todd The Fox, Victoria Harper, Nick Williams and Mandie Brown were watching the flicks and having fun. Another great event done and I must say a big thank you for everyone who came and supported this event as well as everyone who helped. Below is a pic of the mummy truck, the event’s poster, and a picture taken from the projection room of the Monster From Hell.

Mummy TruckHorrorama 2014 PosterMonster From Hell on the Big Screen

So let’s see so far we have covered wrestler Halloween, Creepypasta about a cartoon suicide, the traveling corpse of outlaw Elmer McCurdy, The Shadow Man of Hills and Dales Park that used to chase me and friends, a Horror Movie Marathon that Juliet and I had as well as Dayton Ohio Horror Host Baron Von Porkchop.  So now I think it’s time we talk a little about Universal’s longest classic monster series Frankenstein. In 1931, after the success of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi Universal was quickly looking for another classic horror novel to turn into a film.  That novel was Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, and the first choice to play the Monster was Bela Lugosi! The story goes that Lugosi didn’t want the role because he thought it was no real acting as the Monster only grunted and was not too keen in the fact his face would be covered in makeup so the part ended up going to Boris Korloff, a character actor that the director James Whale liked. The film had a budget of $262,007.00 and made the studio $12,000,000.00 opening many studios eyes that horror films can make money. Universal made a sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, in 1935 and it was followed by Son of Frankenstein in 1939, and for these three films Karloff played The Monster but for the remaining films in the series many other actors stepped into the role including Lon Chaney Jr., Glenn Strange and even Bela Lugosi in such films as Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943), House Of Frankenstein (1944), House Of Dracula (1945) and Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) making The Frankenstein Monster the first franchise horror character to have so many sequels. Growing up I loved watching the old Frankenstein films from Universal and in fact the first ever VHS I ever owned was Frankenstein! So with this I am really ready to tell you about the Lab I will be reading these comics at so that I can head that way and read some comic adaptations of the classic Universal films!

Karloff Frankenstein Monster1931 Frankenstein PosterLugosi Frankenstein Monster

The place I will be reading these comics is an old science labs that was used for plant experiments and is located in Yellow Springs.  I promised I would not tell the exact location but let’s just say it’s near downtown. The Labs are still filled with all types of odd machines as well as old racks and trays that use to hold the planets. The sight was also used for animal testing and has cages frozen in time as well! I chose this location due to the nature of the Frankenstein story being so heavily science based and what better way to read these comics then an old lab with poor lighting and not a soul around as well as glass pipes that running over head that use to hold acid used in experiments. Below are some pics of the location just so you can get a feel of what the atmosphere for me will be like.

Science Lab 1Science Lab 2Science Lab 3

The night I choose to read these comics was a very dark one with clouds in the sky, it had a nice chill in the air and the labs upstairs were a little cold. So let’s find a nice spot among the dust and old equipment and read these adaptations under the flickering lights, Remember that I rate the issues on the 1-4 scale and base it on art, story, how close it stays to the source material and over all entertainment value. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having Dark Horses Frankenstein in stock and Juliet and Eric for helping with the other two. So the thunderstorm is coming in, so let’s prepare for the Monster to come alive!

Universal Frankenstein # 1

Frankenstein # 1 ****
Released in 1993   Cover Price $3.95   Dark Horse   #1 of 1

Henry Frankenstein and his assistant Fritz are stealing dead bodies and stitching them together.  Fritz even breaks into a lab and steals an abnormal brain after dropping that of a normal man, and this is all for Henry who wants to create a new life with his own hands in a dusty old tower. During a terrible thunderstorm Henry wants to use the lightning to jolt his creation to life but is interrupted by his fiance Elizabeth, his best friend Victor and his old medical teacher Dr. Waldman who all witness the experiment that works! Victor and Elizabeth return home and try to keep Baron Frankenstein from visiting his son as Waldman begs his former student to kill his Monster before it’s too late. The Monster at first seems to listen and understand commands but when Fritz comes in with a torch the Monster goes crazy, and they must knock it out and put it in the cellar, where Fritz continues to bully it with a whip and a torch.  Finally the Monster snaps and kills Fritz by hanging him. Henry and Waldman knock out the Monster and with the help of Victor, they hide it from his father and Elizabeth. Henry goes home with his father as Waldman is going to dissect and kill the Monster who wakes up and instead kills Waldman! On Henry and Elizabeth’s wedding day, the Monster breaks free of the tower and kills a little girl on accident and even attacks Elizabeth! The townspeople and Henry form a posse and hunt the Monster down.  Henry comes face to face with his Monster who knocks his creator out and takes him to a windmill and throws him off it hurting him badly, as the towns people rush Henry home for medical care they also set the windmill on fire and the Monster is believed to be burnt alive. In the end Henry is getting better at Frankenstein Manor and Elizabeth is at his side while the Monster’s region of terror has came to an end….for now!

This is a great adaptation that captures the mood and story of the classic Universal film and was a great way to start the reviews off! The plot follows a scientist who wants to play God and creates a monster who has a bad brain that does bad things but don’t really understand that it’s doing so.  In the end creator and creation must come face to face with only one making it out alive! Henry Frankenstein is not a bad man, and while he does get wrapped up in his experiment and does create a monster, he had good intentions. It’s clear that Henry loves his girlfriend Elizabeth as well as hid friends and father but that he really wants to be known in the world of science. Dr. Waldman is a wise scientist who sees the dangers in playing God and wants to try and help his student by talking sense into him. Fritz is just a troublemaker and a screw up who seems to take joy in tormenting the Monster.  His worse blunder is stealing the wrong brain and not even telling his boss of the mishap. Victor is a loyal friend who don’t understand why his best friend is acting this way but stands by him when the chips are down and it’s clear Henry needs help. Elizabeth is a loving fiance who understands her man and tries her best to allow him to balance his work and social life with her.  She is the kind of woman who is always by the side of her loved one. Baron Frankenstein is a ass who is more stuck on himself then anything else.  The way he speaks down to others makes him not a very nice person and a character that this reader kind of hated. The Monster is pretty one dimensional in this comic and it’s clear to see that Boris Karloff in the movie is who gave the Monster a personality and made him sympathetic.  In the comic you just don’t pick up on any of its emotions, and The Monster really just comes off as a lumbering brute But that’s the only minor flaw to this amazing comic that I really enjoyed. The art by Den Beauvais (who also adapted the story) is fantastic and it really makes the comic pop as The Monster looks just like Karloff in the movie and in fact most the characters look like the actors who played them in the Universal film. If you’re a fan of the movie or a Universal Monster collector this comic is made for you.  Pick it up you won’t regret it. Check out some of Den’s amazing artwork below.

FRANKENSTEIN DH 1FRANKENSTEIN ART 2FRANKENSTEIN ART 3

So the second film in the series is “Bride Of Frankenstein” and sadly no official film adaptation has been made…yet. I am proud to say that talented artist and friend of mine Jeff Potter will be doing a exclusive Bride of Frankenstein just for me to review here on Rotten Ink! So look for that sometime in 2015. But our next comic in the Universal Frankenstein series is a photo comic made by National Periodical that was part of a comic that had several adaptations of movies.  This comic I will be reading in this cold science lab is a custom one that takes just the Son of Frankenstein part and made it into a issue of its own! So let’s get into it shall we?

Son Of Frankenstein # 1

Son Of Frankenstein  # 1  **1/2
Released in 1939   Cover Price .10   National Periodical   #1 of 1

Wolf Frankenstein, the son of Henry returns to his family’s castle after being away from it for over 20 years and finds that his wife and young son Peter are only warmly greeted by the hired help as the villagers look at them with hate over his father’s Monster. Inspector Crogh visits the castle and tells Wolf that he and his family are not welcome and that he thinks the Monster is alive and killing.  This sparks Wolf’s interest in his father’s old lab where Wolf meets a twisted shepherd named Ygor who shows him that the Monster is indeed alive but very weak. Wolf becomes obsessed with trying to make the Monster better as he believes that this will clear his family’s name, but when more deaths happen, Crogh goes to arrest Wolf as he himself finds that Ygor is using the Monster to kill a jury that convicted him some years back.  This leads to Wolf shooting and killing Ygor. The Monster ends up finding the body of his friend Ygor and this sets him into a rage and he kidnaps Peter.  Crogh tries to help save Peter but is tossed to the side by The Monster! The Monster becomes scared by the villagers who now have become an angry mob, and Wolf kicks him into a lava pit saving his son and causing him to leave the castle for good.

First I have to say I love the movie and that’s why it breaks my heart to read this half butted attempted at a photo comic that tries to cram a 99 minute movie into 8 pages, but then again at least in 1939, they tried to give readers the chills with this comic. The comic changes the plot of the movie in many ways and even how it ends is different.  While some changes, like the fact Inspector Crogh is a very angry and unfriendly man, are interesting other changes like The Monster being frozen with fear by just the sounds of a mob is silly. Wolf Frankenstein is a likeable hero who in this comic really just wanted to return home and clear his family’s name. Young Peter Frankenstein is less annoying in the comic but is just used as bait for the end of the story. Ygor is just kind of around, and while he orders The Monster around he really isn’t given much to do. The Monster also spends most the issue with nothing to do and spends much time just standing to on the slab. I wish the Monster would have had a little more to do and would not be defeated like he was a coward. Plus how brutal is it that Wolf kicks The Monster into lava and watches him burn to death! The art in the comic is mostly photo comic style but does have slight art work added to the photos, and the dialogue is hard to read as the person who did lettering has pretty sloppy hand writing at times. To be honest, this is a nice throwback comic but doesn’t really offer much besides slight old school horror chills. So I think it’s time to move on and will just sum it up as okay but pretty disappointing.

Son Of Frankenstein art 1Son Of Frankenstein art 2Son Of Frankenstein art 3

So next in the film world would be “Ghost of Frankenstein” and once more a comic adaptation was never made so I went to my friend Eric Shonborn, and he will be making Rotten Ink one to review along side Jeff Potters Bride of Frankenstein! So let’s move onto the next comic in the series “Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man,” one of my favorite in the Universal Frankenstein series.  The movie is gracing my t-shirt as I sit and write this in the lab. This comic is a custom comic that was put together and translated by Juliet from an old Spanish sticker book based on the movie! So let’s jump into this one as the lab area is given off some odd nosies that sound like keys jiggling!

Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman # 1

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man  # 1  ***
Released in 1946   Cover Price .10   Bloodline Comics   #1 of 1

Two grave robbers go into the crypt of Larry Talbot on a full moon night allowing him to turn into The Wolf Man and escape his tomb and once more set out for blood! Larry wakes up in a hospital in the care of Dr. Mannering and is being watched by cops who don’t believe that he is Larry Talbot as all records say he is dead. That night Larry transforms into The Wolf Man again and kills a cop.  In the morning when the medical staff look at him as if he is crazy, Larry escapes and finds his friend the old gypsy woman Maleva, and they set out to find the diary of Doctor Frankenstein as they think it will hold the answers of finding a cure for Larry’s curse. As they travel, they stop at an inn and are run off by the locals all who hate the name Frankenstein.  After leaving night falls on them and Larry becomes The Wolf Man once more and kills a woman and is hunted down by locals and falls into a hole knocking itself out. Larry awakens in the frozen cave and finds the body of The Monster in ice and frees it, and the pair become unlikely friends. Larry even tries to convince Elsa Frankenstein to help him find her grandfather’s diary, and she wants nothing to do with it. But when The Monster and Larry make a big scary scene at the town’s festival after being confronted by Dr. Mannering, the pair escape to the ruins of the old castle. Elsa, Maleva and Mannering come to the castle and all together they work along side Larry and The Monster and find the diary and set up to cure him of his curse and even drain all the energy from The Monster. This does not go as planned as Mannering makes a mistake that leaves The Monster in a rage and Larry turning into The Wolf Man.  The monsters fight in the old castle ruins as the villagers blow up the near by dame, drowning the two monsters and ending the terror.

When two monsters collide, I the reader won in this fun cheesy comic adaptation that’s packed with so much cheese that it was busting at the seams. The story follows the film for the most part and follows Larry who wants to find a cure for his werewolf curse and gets the help of the remaining Frankenstein as well as befriends The Monster, but when he changes into a beast his urge to kill comes through and he fights his monster friend until they both go swim with the fishes. Larry Talbot is a man who you as the reader feel bad for, but you also find yourself very happy when he turns into The Wolf Man and stalks around and kills whatever he can find. The Monster for the most part just lumbers around and shows he has zero tolerance for people. Dr. Mannering, Maleva the Gypsy and Elsa Frankenstein are good supporting characters who add to the story in their own way but none are really flushed out. The comic has zero blood and gore and is truly a classic horror thriller comic that relies on the fact that monsters are scary, and I love that about this comic. The artwork is done by an unknown artist but I really dig the almost cartoon style, with the Wolf Man looking pretty good and The Monster looking like a skinny kid dressed up for Halloween. While the comic follows the film pretty well, it as well suffers from the fact they tried to rush the plot and rushed way too much character development. With all that said I must say I really enjoyed this comic and wish that some day Dark Horse will get into gear and make Official Universal Monster Movie adaptation comics! Check out the artwork below.

Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman art 1Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman art 2 Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman art 3

So with the lab being the perfect place to read these comics and with all the spooky sounds and the chill in the air, I think it’s time for me to leave this area…never to return again…well that’s until maybe next time I read Universal Frankenstein comics for Rotten Ink. I really enjoy horror comics and love the Halloween season, and this update has just really made me look forward to doing next year’s countdown to the spookiest holiday. So once more I want to thank Eric and Juliet for their help on this update, and I want to also remind all you Horror Host fans that Baron Von Porkchop’s Halloween Special airs tonight on DATV (Time Warner Channel 5) or can be watched via stream at www.datv.org! So I am sure your all wondering what’s the next update, and I must confess that it’s a Debbie Downer as we take a look at the death of the Spider-Man villain The Tarantula! So until next time, read a horror comic or three, support your local Horror Host and watch the skies for its Halloween and the ghosts and goblins are on the loose…you have been warned….Happy Halloween!

2852b

The Incredible Werewolf

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..

Blooooodddd

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.

Murder House Lot

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.

Werewolf 1Werewolf 2Werewolf Logo

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!

FOX Network Logo 1Werewolf TV adUSA Saturday Nightmares for Werewolf

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.

Chuck Connors 1Chuck Connors 2Tourist Trap Poster

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.

Werewolf DVD-R setWerewolf DVD=rShout Factory Werewolf DVD set

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 3d

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

werewolf art 1werewolf art 2werewolf 3

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!

Hellraiser III Logo

The 8th Wonder Of Giant Classic Comics King Kong

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

King Kong 1933 1King Kong 1933 PosterKing Kong 1933 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

kIng kong Cartoon 1King Kong Cartoon 2King Kong Cartoon 3

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

King Kong JapanKing Kong Missing 1King Kong Missing 2

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

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

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

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

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

Movie Maniac King KongImperial King KongBen Copper King KongKing Kong Novel

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

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

King Kong 1

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

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

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

King Kong Art

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

Creature from the Black Lagoon Logo 2

Matt Goes To The Movies 2013

Matt Goes to the Movies Logo

In 2012 I didn’t get to the movie theater as much as I wanted, and while I saw a few films on the big screen like Amazing Spider-Man, Dark Knight Rises, The Expendables 2 and The Avengers, to name a few. I missed many more that I wanted to see, so that’s why in 2013 I decided it was time to see some films, and along side brave friends like Josh Weinberg, Juliet Fromholt, Jeremy Hoyt and Steve Alexander, I made a trip every week to The Rave/Cineamark at the outdoor mall The Greene to watch films and bring you my thoughts and ratings for my # 1 film of the year and more. This year was filled with fairy tale films, super hero films, 80’s action stars and even some great horror flicks, making this a perfect year for me to start doing this style blog, and man I can’t eat anymore movie popcorn! For almost every day I went to the theater, I would buy a medium popcorn that I would add the cheddar cheese powder to and also get my bottle of water, Sprite or a Blue Icee. I would get to the theater as early as possible and get the best seat I could and sit back and watch what Hollywood had to offer me. I have always felt that there is something very magical and fun about seeing a film in the theater, and while watching a movie at home is fun, the theater experience is always better. This blog will be a huge update and I am thinking that my top films of the year will be a returning feature so hope you all enjoy the look back and my opinions of cinema in 2013. So I will have this broken into three stages: one I will rate the Horror films I have seen in the theater, two I will give you a run down, in order of what I think were the worst films of 2013 and lastly I will give you a ranked rundown of super hero films I liked. I am not sure in what order I will do these and don’t be surprised if I throw in some surprises. So sit back relax and let’s go to The Rotten Ink Theater lobby and talk some cinema!

blue icee

This update is also dedicated to some fellow film lovers who have passed away in 2013, one of them I didn’t know personally, while sadly I did know two and wish they were around to share in this blog with me. While 2013 has been a pretty good year for Rotten Ink and in the world of movies, video games and music, it’s been a terrible one when it comes to the fact that two close friends of mine have passed away.  In January my friend, film mentor and independent film maker Andy Copp passed away to the shock to all those who loved him.  Andy was a fun loving person who enjoyed watching films and making films and was always thinking about future film ideas. Andy was a staple at the Brassfield house for holidays and would spend almost every Christmas and Thanksgiving with us. He was my brother Bryan’s best friend, and I use to say he was like our older brother because when the two of them got together there was no stopping them from gabbing about all types of things like hens do. I have many great memories traveling the roads and working conventions with him as he would have me work his table at Cinema Wasteland with him and we would chat the whole ride their about films, girls and life in general. This year Andy was also given an award by FILM DAYTON, who honored him for his work on films and TV. I miss Andy and wish he was here and could have enjoyed some of these films with me. The second friend I lost that year was Max Ervin, a great fun loving guy that I have known for years! Max and I have been co-workers at two stores and have worked on many film and TV projects together. Some of my favorite memories of going to haunted places around town were with Max who loved to do some of the same strange things like this like I do. I looked at Max as a younger brother, and when I got the news of his passing that day I felt like a piece of me died with him.  I will forever look at Max as a dear friend, and I will never forget him. Roger Ebert, famed film critic who was known for his show “At The Movies,” sadly passed away from cancer this year, and while I didn’t agree with all of his reviews, his death is a sad day for all cinemas and film as he was a man who loved his craft. This update is for all of them as well as any film lover who is no longer with us to enjoy the motion pictures.

Andy CoppMax ErvinRoger Ebert

Nothing beats seeing a film on the big screen, and this year it was great being able to get out and enjoy them on the silver screen, the way they were meant to be seen. While I saw many new films at the theater, I also was able to go and see re-released ones as well in IMAX 3D.  I was able to see Top Gun, Jurassic Park and Wizard Of Oz, and let me tell you seeing Oz on IMAX made me feel like a little kid again.  It was amazing to see, while both Top Gun and Jurassic Park were entertaining to see on the big screen with friends. I also got to see a friend’s film I produced on the big screen, as Babysitter Massacre directed by Henrique Couto showed at the Englewood Cinema.  This made me proud to see my friend’s work with an almost sold out crowd. I also got to see at Neon Movies, as part of Film Dayton’s weekend festival, my late friend Andy Copp’s first film The Mutilation Man from a master cut I was able to give them. Englewood also this year let me see films like The Shinning, Blade Runner, Jaws, Back To The Future and Gremlins thanks to Fritz The Nite Owl and Nite Owl Theatre director Mike McGraner! Alsol at Horrorrama at Englewood Cinema, I got to see Hammer’s The Mummy and the Romero Dead Trilogy. Lots of great classic films and local stars and all of them worth watching on the big screen!

Wizard of OZ 3Dbabysitter massacremutilation manJawsDay Of The Dead

So let’s move onto my top three WORST films of 2013, the three I have picked in my opinion were worst of the worst and were a waste of film and digital space…and worse of all a waste of money! So here we go, let’s take out the garbage.

WORST

# 3

a good day to die hard

Bruce Willis sleepwalks through another sequel to his popular action series that all started with Die Hard. John McClane travels to Russia to get his son Jack out of jail and to take a vacation (you will know this as the terrible line Willis blurts out all through the movie), but before he can patch things up with his estranged son, they stumble onto a terrorist plot that forces the two to team up and save the day. The story in this film is weak and is clearly just the recycled, dumbed down script that had McClane team with Jack Bauer of the TV show 24. The dialogue is dumb and laughable, and as I said, Willis seems bored and half asses his performance. In fact two out of the three other people that saw this stinker with me hated it as well, as did others we could overhear leaving the theater. This bland action film brought in $67,349,198.00 at the box office in the US. I should also note I went in wanting this to be good as I liked the other four films in the series. 

# 2

scary movie 5

For some reason Dimension films decided not to make another Halloween film, but they did want to put money into yet another not funny Scary Movie film for the 5th time and this one didn’t even have the “talents” of the Wayne’s Brothers.  This one is just as crappy and unfunny as all the others in this worn out series. The film’s spoofed plot is about actor Charlie Sheen’s kids who go missing and are found in a Cabin in the Woods and are taken in by the Sanders and their smart monkey Caesar as an evil spirit wants the kids back. Because nothing spells spoof fun like the already run down your throat Paranormal Activity rip off films. I watched this terrible unfunny mess of a comedy and found that I did not laugh once as many of the others in the theater laughed like they were seeing comedy gold, yeah I don’t get it. This was a waste of $5.00 and worse, 2hrs of my life. This unfunny mess made $32,015,787.00 at the box office in the US. 

# 1

A Haunted House

A Haunted House was the worst film of 2013, and guess what? Besides being another terrible spoof film, it also starred and was written by Marlon Wayans, one half of the team that gave us those wonderful Scary Movie films….and it spoofs Paranormal Activity.  So this was doomed to suck from the start! This crapfest is about Malcolm and Kisha moving in together and being haunted by a troublemaking ghost/demon, and the pair get all types of odd balls to help them in their quest to rid the house of it. This film sucked so bad that it was the first film I ever considered walking out of before it was over, not once did I laugh, and the crowd I saw it with were hooting.  One guy laughed so loudly at every fart joke…is this what we have become, thinking trash like this is funny…oh well I guess as in all things in life, different strokes for different folks. This pile of smelly trash made $40,041,683.00 at the US Box Office and to my non-surprise, a sequel is set to come out this year.  I won’t be seeing it.

Other bad films I saw in 2013: After Earth, The Worlds End and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.

After EarthWorlds EndThe Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Who doesn’t love themselves some good old fashioned 80’s action film stars? Besides Bruce Willis, two of the decade’s most iconic actors had films out this year.  Of course I am talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.  So here is a quick run down of my top 3 80’s Action Star Films for last year.

80s action

# 3

Last Stand

After taking some time away from movies to be the mayor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger flexed his acting muscles once more for his first leading role since coming back to Hollywood. Arnold plays a small town sheriff named Ray Owens who along with his very small force must stop an escaped drug cartel leader and his men who are trying to sneak him over the border to safety. The action is over the top, the jokes about being old are out of control, but over all it’s a pretty good action film to say welcome back to Arnold with. The action stuff Arnold does in the film is not unbelievable for a guy his age, and this helps add to the over all fun feel to this film. I will say that when I saw this in the theater, I was worn out and during some slow parts I did find myself drifting off because of the lack of action. The film brought in only $12,050,299.00 at the box office in the US and that’s sad when looking at what piles of dung like Scary Movie 5 and A Haunted House brought in…shame on you for not seeing Last Stand.

# 2

grudge-match-poster

As every review has mentioned, this Drama/Comedy is like a silly version of a Hollywood Dream Match between the characters of Italian Stallone Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta without calling them by those names. Sylvester Stallone plays Henry “Razor” Sharp, a boxer who had a huge feud with Robert De Niro’s character, Billy “The Kid” McDonnen, and with each winning a fight a piece, the third fight is cancelled when Sharp retired from boxing. The two fighters hate each other and when Dante Slate Jr. (Kevin Hart), the son of a notorious boxing promoter gets them back in the ring for a fight that should have happened years and years ago, the drama and bad mistakes of the past come back to the surface. The film, while a little long, was a lot of fun to see in the theater and as the story unfolds, many of the questions you have in the beginning get answered. The comedy works in most spots, and Stallone and De Niro do great jobs as their characters.  While I’m not a fan of his comedy, Kevin Hart does a great job in the film and is not overused. I saw the film with my girlfriend Juliet, and she thought it was alright as well. The film brought in $29,134,648.00 at the US box office. 

# 1

Bullet To The Head

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Sylvester Stallone fan and have been since I was a kid.  So when I found out he had three new films this year, I was pretty hyped to see them all in the theater, and Bullet To The Head was not a letdown as I really enjoyed it. Sly plays Jimmy Bobo, a Louisiana hitman whose partner is murdered and a hit is placed on his head as well.  He meets a D.C. detective named Taylor who tries to help him figure out who has placed the hit on him and to uncover the dirty cops and bad goings on in the town which all controlled by one man including Keegan, the man paid to kill Bobo. Throw in Bobo’s hot daughter and a fire ax fight, and you have this fun action film. The film also stars Christian Slater, Alfred Gough and Jason Momoa who plays Keegan. The film has a great soundtrack done by Steve Mazzaro, and just like The Last Stand, the action while over the top, is stuff you could see a guy in shape like Stallone do. This film is very underrated and was not given a chance by movie goers this year, even my pal Josh Weinberg like it pretty well. The film brought in a very low $9,489,829.00 in the US Box Office and that’s a letdown. Oh, I also bought this film on DVD when it came out.

Sadly, I missed the Stallone and Schwarzenegger team up film “Escape Plan” because of work, and had to see it when it was released on DVD so that’s why it did not make it on this list.  I wish I would have gotten to see it in theater while eating cheese popcorn and drinking a blue Icee; that would have been a lot of fun. 

Escape Plan

Super hero films based on Marvel and DC comic book characters are big Box Office draws again.  2013 had its share of these type of films, and each did well at the box office.  I love super hero films and will admit I even have a soft spot for the 1990 Captain America film starring Matt Salinger as Cap.  So for this batch of films I am pretty hyped to bring you my ranking as I have four films of super sized action to choose from. So let’s strap on our capes and leap into this one!

SUPER HERO

# 4

iron man 3

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) can’t shake off the effects of the attack on New York as seen in The Avengers film and is loosing sleep and having panic attacks as a result. Worse, this is having a strain on his relationship with Pepper, and he also has gotten the attention of world terrorist The Mandarin. After several attacks by The Mandarin that leave Stark’s house destroyed and his best friend Happy in the hospital, and with the world thinking he is dead and only a prototype army on his back Tony must stop the sinister plot to kill the President and find out who The Mandarin really is. I saw this film twice in the theater, and the first time I had a blast with the action and laughed with the comedy aspects.  Upon watching it the second time, I found it to be riddled with flaws and was more annoyed that most of the film is Tony Stark fighting bad guys and not him as Iron Man. Plus, I have some issue with the treatment of The Mandarin (for those who have not seen it, I will not spoil it) who just so happens to be Iron Man’s top foe. But while flawed and my least favorite in the Iron Man series, it’s still worth the watch and was a great film meant for the theater. This film did an amazing $409,013,944.00 at the US box office alone and was the top grossing film of the year until The Hunger Games: Catching Fire knocked it off the throne. Again, if you check your brain at the door and are looking for a fun action comedy, then Iron Man 3 is a good film to be enjoyed. Oh, I also enjoyed the film’s score, done by Brian Tyler and have played it on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO. 

# 3

man of steel

Superman came back into theaters in 2013 with a re-boot called “Man of Steel,” and while elements of the film were great, it still had some flaws making it not the best Superman film in my eyes. The film shows the destruction and war of Krypton and how his mother and father sent the young Sups to Earth where he is adopted by the Kents and is named Clark. As he grows older, Clark has so many unanswered questions about who he is and why he is so different.  He travels the world and helps those in need and becomes an urban legend. But things get complicated for him when he finds a ship from his birth planet, meets reporter Lois Lane and must face General Zod, a castaway from his own planet. The film takes the darker route like the Nolan Batman films and while it’s nice to see a change, it does lose some of the boy scout spirit of who Superman is. I saw it once in theaters in IMAX 3D and bought the 2-disc DVD and will say it’s a pretty fun film. The film brought in $291,045,518.00 at the USA box office and was the 5th top grossing movie of 2013. 

# 2

the-wolverine-poster

The Wolverine was a great super hero film that I feel was tainted by moviegoers who had a bad taste in their mouths from “X-men Origins: Wolverine.”  While I really liked the first film, this sequel was leaps and bounds better and made me hyped to see more Wolverine films from Fox! The film follows Wolverine as he travels to Japan to visit a dying man that he saved way back during World War II.  The man wants to take Wolverine’s healing gift to save his life and this would allow Wolverine to live and die like a normal person. When he refuses the offer all hell breaks loose as the man’s granddaughter is targeted by the yakuza.  He dies and a sinister plot comes to light. Hugh Jackman does a great job as the razor clawed hero, and the film brought in $132,556,852.00 in the US box office. I bought the movie on DVD when it was released and play some of the score music on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO.  This is one X-Men themed movie I will say is a must see. 

# 1

thor the dark world poster

The Dark Elf Malekith is back after being defeated some ages back by Asgardian warriors, and he wants to take over by using a powerful weapon known as the Aether to destroy Asgard. Unlucky for Jane Foster, as she by accident gets the Aether weapon (it enters your body) and becomes the target of Malekith and his dark elf army. Thor, along with his allies Sif, Volstagg and Fandral, must learn to trust Loki in order to save their home as well as Earth from the doom that awaits them. This superhero film felt like it was mixed with the sci-fi fun of films like Star Wars, and this added even more of an epic feel to it. The action in the film is over the top and watching Thor and Loki team was super cool.  The only down side was that the Kat Dennings character, while pretty to look at, gave way to many one liners and after a while I just wished she would have stopped. Well acted, well directed, well written and to me the best Superhero film of 2013! Thor hammered out $204,674,790.00 at the US box office and did even more at foreign! Thor: The Dark World was the best comic book movie of 2013 and is one that you should see if you have not as of yet.

I would also like to point out that Kick-Ass 2 came out this year and would have been on this list for sure but sadly I missed it in theaters because for some reason The Rave only had it on the screens for 2 weeks! I ended up seeing it on DVD when it was released and must say it was a lot of fun and a great follow up to the original.

Kick Ass 2

Now I am going to focus on three films that I would say were the best of the best that were not in one of these categories.  These films were fun popcorn movies that had me thinking this is what going to the movies is all about. These type of films have you on the edge of your seat and provoke all types of emotions. Some of these films were unfairly judged, while others were hits at the box office. So let’s get to what I am calling “Best” as in best films to see in the theater….that didn’t fit in the already made categories!

Best

# 3

Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger was a big budget film made by Disney that critics and internet bloggers unfairly judged, and many of those who trashed it never even saw it! The film is about John Reid, a lawyer who returns home during the railroad construction in Texas just in time to watch his brother, a ranger, be gunned down.  John is left for dead by the outlaw Butch Cavendish, but with the help of a crazy Indian named Tonto and a white spirit horse named Silver, he becomes The Lone Ranger and must bring the outlaw to justice and stop an all out war between Texans and the Native American Tribes, that is all being put in place over the railroads taking over the tribes’ land. The film is not like the classic Clayton Moore stuff and is done more in a tongue in cheek manor, and while I can see fans of the original Lone Ranger being a little let down by this, I still found the film to be a fun kid friendly action film that was worth seeing twice in the theater. Sadly the film was considered a box office flop even though it brought in $89,302,115.00 in the US. The Lone Ranger has flaws and is by no means a perfect film, but it was one that held a lot of fun action and silly moments making it a perfect popcorn film. If you have not seen it, you should leave your brain at the door, pop some popcorn, sit back and enjoy the high adventure of The Lone Ranger and Tonto.

# 2 

star trek into the darkness

I enjoyed the hell out of Star Trek: Into Darkness and will say that I liked it better than the first film in the re-boot series done by J.J. Abrams, and that’s saying a lot because I really liked that one as well! The film is packed with epic sci-fi action and even has the Klingons! Captain Kirk and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise go on the hunt for a terrorist who has caused many deaths and chaos to the federation.  The hunt is filled with many dangers and many twists and turns, and when Kirk and friends find the truth of who they are hunting and why, all hell breaks loose and it’s a fight to survive. Once more I saw this film twice in the theaters and will say that watching it in IMAX 3D was one heck of an experience, and everyone I saw it with left loving the film and saying how it was once heck of a fun ride. The film is well acted and once more seeing Leonard Nimoy as Spock in a cameo made the inner Trekkie in me nerd out. The film’s score is outstanding as are the special effects.  I would say that for 2013, this was my favorite sci-fi film and has all the elements that kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what was happing next. The film did an outstanding $228,778,661.00 in the US box office, and a third film is planned in the series. I was a little light on the plot of this film because it’s packed with surprises, and I don’t want to be that blogger who ruins it for you.  So if you have not seen it…you should do so now!

# 1

OZ Great and Powerful

No 2013 film had me feeling more like a kid again than sitting in the theater and watching “Oz The Great And Powerful” on the IMAX Screen in 3D.  While not nearly iconic or loved by me as the original, this prequel was such a fun and magical film that the 33 year old me felt like the 8 year old me watching the original film on TV during the holidays. Carnival magician and conman Oscar Diggs gets sucked into a tornado while in a hot air balloon after a husband finds that he has been putting the movies on his wife and lands in a magical place called OZ! When he gets there,he is believed to be a grand wizard and becomes the idol and savior to the weak who are being tormented by two witch sisters. The film’s characters are lovable, and James Franco, who plays Oscar, does an outstanding job in the role as does Mila Kunis, who plays The Wicked Witch of the West before and after turning wicked. Speaking of Kunis, she is breathtaking beautiful in this film before she turns all green with hatred. The film did well at the US box office, bringing in a gross of $234,911,825.00 and was number 10 for domestic grosses of 2013. While not like the original or even the sequel, Return To Oz, this film was a fun time at the theater and was my favorite film of the year!

I saw many great and fun films this year.  Here is a list of the things I saw: The Great Gatsby, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Pacific Rim, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Oblivion, Elysium, Jack The Giant Killer, The Place Beyond The Pines, The Call, Dead Man Down, Admission, The Heat, 42, Pain & Gain, Gangster Squad, Olympus Has Fallen, Now You See Me, Identity Theft, Fast & Furious 6 and Snitch. All these films were entertaining as well and helped add to a fun year at the movies.

gi joe retaliationthe great gatsbypacific rimHansel and Gretel

So now we are at the part of the films of the year that always makes me hyped to go to the movies, and that’s horror films! And before we get to the horrors of the big screen, I would like to cover a few on the TV screen as I take a look at horror films that went straight to DVD in 2013.  While some had a small theater run, most didn’t, so lets take a look at my top 4 horror flicks that went DVD.

DVD HORRORS

# 4

maniac

I Warned You Not To Go Out Tonight was the great tagline to the 1980 horror film and for some reason in 2012, with a 2013 release, someone thought it would be a great idea to remake it. The film’s plot is about Frank, an owner of an old style mannequin store, who goes around and kills and scalps ladies.  But he falls in love with artist Anna and his world changes as the urge to collect her becomes stronger and stronger. The film lacks the dirty raw feel of the original and is filmed mainly in a first person perspective of Frank.  While it works in some spots, in others I felt it held it back. The film has some gore but was not nearly as gross as the original. Over all the film was worth watching if you were a fan of the original or are looking for a film where Elijah Wood plays a serial killer. During its very limited theater release in the US, Maniac remake brought in a gross of $31,081.00.

# 3

Curse-of-Chucky-2013-movie-poster

I was really hyped to find out a new Childs Play movie was in the works and was even more glad to know that it was not a remake which had been talked about for years now. The downside was the film was to get a very small theater release and go direct to DVD. What we got was the 6th film in the series that had Chucky being sent to a house where he torments a family and targets a young woman confined to a wheel chair. The film took a lot of the comedy aspect out of the series and went back for more of the scary horror as Chucky kills the family off in brutal ways. The film also adds some twists and turns and even has a cameo that will make fans of the original very happy. Plus Brad Dourif returns to voice the killer doll, and that’s a plus. The downside is that it’s very slow moving and it takes awhile for Chucky to swing his knife into action. While not groundbreaking, this film was a fun watch and just helps add to the legend that is Chucky.

# 2

Frankensteins Army

Frankenstein’s Army is one of those surprise films that I picked up on DVD the same time I did Curse of Chucky and World War Z.  I found the film to be a fun take on the found footage boom of the horror world. The film follows Russian Soldiers as they travel around and stumble on the hideout of Dr. Frankenstein who has been using the bodies of dead Nazi’s to make killing machine monsters. The whole film is from the perspective of a soldier’s camera and later that of Frankenstein. The effects are great for a low budget film, and the monster designs are pretty dang sweet.  It reminds me a lot of the underrated film called Slashers.  In Slashers, it’s a reality TV show that pits people against killers who all dress up like B-Movie inspired horror killers. While Frankenstein’s Army has flaws, I really think it’s worth a watch for horror fans.

# 1

Hatchet III

The Hatchet series is great throwbacks to the horror films of the 80’s, and it also has Kane Hodder, who is known for playing Friday The 13th killer Jason Voorhees, as the film’s killer Victor Crowley and the lovely Danielle Haris of Halloween 4-5 fame as our hero Marybeth who in this third film is stuck in the swamps of New Orleans to try and stop the Crowley curse once and for all. Along the way, Crowley makes chop steak out of a medical crew and a S.W.A.T. team. The film is filled with over the top gore and is one hell of a fun and bloody ride.  Plus I never skip a chance to see Danielle Harris.The film had a very tiny theater run but really made its money on DVD. If you like your killers unstoppable and mean as hell, then watch Hatchet III and enjoy. It’s very cool series that’s heavy on the blood, guts and gore and even has a classic small town ghost town feel to it. It’s really a fun film and a great direct to DVD horror series.

But now let’s get to the real meat of this update, my ranking of the horror films I saw in the theater this year! While some have a slight sci-fi edge, they still have that horror feel that helped add the chills and spills at Rave/Cinemark to all us who went to see them.

horror

# 13

Dark Skies

Dark Skies was one of those horror/sci-fi hybrid films that kind of creeped in and out of the theater and made a very small splash. The film follows The Barrett family who are struggling as the father has been out of work for three months and the mother is struggling as a relator. But things get very odd and crazy as their sons seem to be getting visits from shadow like people and even the older son seems to be having fits. By the end, the shadows seem to be aliens who have marked one of the family members, and it’s a struggle to save their loved one! The film has a nice pace and almost feels like a generic X-Files episode that’s just lacking Mulder and Scully. Keri Russell plays the mother, and she does a pretty damn good job; in fact the acting in the film is pretty good and standard for this style of movie. The film did okay at the US box office and brought a gross in of $17,418,667.00, meaning that Dimension Films made a profit. I watched the film with Josh Weinberg, and he had the same feeling on the film as I did, “It was okay.”

#12

last exorcism 2

The Last Exorcism Part II started out as being a good solid sequel, but by the end became a very standard generic feeling one. The film follows Nell Sweetzer, who is found in a house possessed by a demon and is taken and cured of the possession that has haunted her for years.  She is sent to a home for troubled girls, and things seem to be going good as she gets a job and even finds a young man she gets a crush on. But her happiness is cut short as the demon is not done with her, and those she trusts are not what they seem. The film is no longer found footage and plays like a standard possession film complete with an eye rolling ending. The film stars Ashley Bell once more as Nell, and it was nice to see her return to the role and once more do a fantastic job. The film is by no means a blood bath but does have a few chilling moments. The film did okay at the US box office and brought in $15,179,302.00 gross giving CBS Films a small profit. I don’t see a part three in the series’ future even though it’s left wide open for one.  Over all I found the film just okay. 

#11

the lords of salem

Poor The Lords Of Salem, which lasted about a week at the theater and when me, Josh & Lisa Weinberg saw it, maybe a total of 6 other people were in the theater. The film follows radio DJ Heidi Hawthorne, who gets a strange old vinyl in the mail that really holds a hidden message from witches who want to get revenge for a slaughter that happened decades before. They use Heidi as a tool to achive what they need and even her own apartment is not safe from the witchcraft. The film has a lot of heart, and I think Rob Zombie, who directed and wrote it, really believed in the film. While it does have some blood, this film is more of a shocking kind of horror with off the wall scenes that are used to try and shock or offend the viewer. Sheri Moon Zombie plays Heidi, and she does a pretty good job. I will say over the years she has grown as an actress.  Plus of course it would not be a Zombie film if we don’t get some shots of Sheri’s butt. This was by no means a great film, but I enjoyed it in theaters and even bought it on DVD when it was released. The film grossed $1,165,882.00 in the US box office and had a very small limited release.

# 10

Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies is a cross between a romantic comedy and a horror film that oddly works pretty well. R is a zombie who kind of wonders what the purpose of being a zombie really is.  In fact he even still collects things from his past when he was alive. Julie is a young woman who is alive who catches R’s eye during a raid to try and get food and medical supplies.  He falls in love with her and it becomes a Romeo and Juliet kind of love story about forbidden love and shows just maybe the living can live alongside the dead. This film is cheesy and silly, yet I found myself enjoying it as I drank down my Blue Icee. It’s nothing to special and not quite a throw away Twilight kind of film, but it’s worth a watch on DVD, Blu-Ray or even…Netflix (if you like that kind of poor quality streaming junk). The film at the US box office brought in $66,380,662.00 making Lionsgate a good little profit. Most of my friends who have seen it and are all diehard horror fans like myself also oddly kind of liked this film!

#9  

the purge

The Purge was one of those films that had me at the first viewing of the trailer, and while it was a good film, it didn’t fully hold up to what the trailer made it out to be in my eyes. The US Government has selected one night a year to allow murder and mayhem to go un-punished, allowing people to blow of steam and kill those who did them wrong or just people at random. James is a home security sales man and in fact is the best in the business.  He heads home along side his family to be locked into their house safe and sound, or so he thinks.  Things get out of hand as his son lets in a man running from some masked killers and his daughter’s boyfriend sneaks in with the idea of winning her father over one way or another. It becomes a fight for their lives as the killers outside want in and get in. The film is filled with lots of twists and turns and surprises and makes for one hell of a good horror thriller. Ethan Hawke plays James and is outstanding as is the rest of the cast.  The film has some blood but is by no means on par with a slasher film. After seeing it in the theater, I left feeling entertained and kind of wanting to see a part two.  Guess what – we will this year as “The Purge: Anarchy” hits theaters. The film grossed $64,473,115.00 giving Universal a great profit and proving that horror is where the money can be made. 

# 8

Insidious Chapter 2

Insidious Chapter 2 is one of those PG-13 horror films that delivers some great chills and thrills and shows that horror sequels can be as good as the original! This film follows the events that happen after the first film and shows that the poor Lambert family are not done with the evil spirit that has latched itself onto them. I don’t wanna give to much away about this film, but I will say that the ghost known as The Black Bride is one creepy S.O.B., and this film does a great job of showing his origins. Over all, if you loved the first film, this second one will chill your bones just as fast. The film did great just like the original at the American box office bringing in a gross of $83,586,447.00.  So if you like ghost thrillers with little to no blood but filled with some creepy moments, this film is for you. And oh yeah when I saw the film, the theater had a good turn out and everyone I could hear after the film had ended seemed to really dig it. 

# 7

Mama

Mama is a movie to me that blurred the lines between horror and fantasy and was done really well! Two young sisters travel with their dad on an icy road to a cabin in the middle of the woods right after he killed their mother and had plans to kill them and himself, but before he can kill his children, an unknown creature comes in and saves them and for years acts as their protector. But when their uncle and his rock star girlfriend find them and adopt them, they learn that what the girls call Mama ain’t going to let them go easily. I really struggled with not having this film higher on my list because after seeing it, I found myself really liking it.  For months and months it was ranked as my top film of the year. Mama is a great creepy looking ghost/spirit that is sure to send shivers down many spines and really is worth the watch. The film did good at the American Box Office bringing in a gross of $71,628,180.00 and making it a success for Universal. 

# 6

world war z

Word War Z the film is very loosely based on the book of the same title written by Max Brooks, son of the amazing comedy director Mel Brooks. The film follows retired UN investigator Gerry Lane and his family who are caught in the middle of a zombie outbreak, and he must work once more for his former employer in order to keep his family safe and to hope to find a cure to end the outbreak. Brad Pitt plays Gerry and is a very likable character who I felt connected to and wanted to see him survive and out smart the zombies. The film is filled with CGI, and while some scenes with the mass amount of zombies look a little cheesy, the film for being PG-13 is pretty scary and is a well made zombie film. This is one of those films that when I first saw the trailer I thought it would be a terrible main stream horror film that wimped out when it came to blood and gore, and while very light on the blood, the story was way more intense than I thought and I left the theater really liking the film. In fact I even got this film on DVD when it came out, and my girlfriend, who judged the film before seeing it like I did, also ended up liking it! The film did great at the American box office bringing in a gross of $202,359,711.00.  If you have not seen it yet, I think you should.  

# 5

Evil Dead

When I first heard they were doing a remake of Evil Dead, I was pissed.  For so many years I wanted to see a part 4, and instead all I heard that was coming was another Hollywood pooped out remake. The one good thing was the none attachment of Michael Bay and his band of hacks at Platinum Dunes.  So this gave me a slight hope that it might be good…and to my shock, it was pretty dang good and took the humor out of the series and turned it back to pure bloody horror! The film follows Mia who travels to a cabin in the woods to detox off drugs but gets more than she bargains for when one of her friends reads from a book found in the cabin’s cellar that unleashes demons that infect, possess and kill them one by one. The film is a blood bath and has some pretty gross gory scenes and is very much like a classic horror film in feeling. This film had very mix reviews by friends and family who watch horror films.  I for one had a blast watching it in theaters and it went above and beyond the low expectations I had set in my mind for it. The film did pretty well in the US box office grossing a total of $54,239,856.00 making it a hit for TriStar. I should also note that the film is produced by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell (who also has a groovy cameo) showing that the old are okay with the new being around.  The film’s success also has sparked rumors that a sequel to the original series as well as the reboot series are in the works. JOIN US….JOIN US!

# 4

Texas Chainsaw 3D

Texas Chainsaw 3D is a sequel to the original 1974 film and even has the opening taking place right after the original ended. The film centers around Heather Miller who finds out that she has inherited a mansion in Texas.  She also that she has been adopted and that she is really part of Sawyer family! While in the home, she and her friends come face to face with Leatherface, who wants them all dead, but all is not what it seems as Heather learns the truth about her true family. The film is so cheesy and is by no means a great horror film, but I do think its a fun sequel that packs some fun kills and a silly plot. I will say that it was great seeing a version of Leatherface on the big screen in 2013, and while this film’s version is pretty cool, he really isn’t given much to do and really becomes a kind of anti-hero by the films closing. Alexandra Daddario plays Heather Miller, and I must say she is one good looking lady who does a great job on what she is given in the film. To be honest, much like Mama this film was a hard one to place because while most critics and even friends of mine hated this film, I really do have a soft spot for it and even have bought it on DVD when it was released. The film at the America box office grossed $34,341,945.00 at the box office and making it a semi hit for Lionsgate who at this point is rumored to be working on another one. Chainsaw kills, lots of blood, hot women and a horror character icon are the reasons this film is ranked my # 4 horror film of the year.  While not perfect and flawed, it was one fun ride into Texas.

# 3

Youre Next

You’re Next is a film that sat on a shelf for 2 years before the powers that be at Lionsgate released it into theaters, and I must say, I am glad they did. The film revolves around a family in the middle of nowhere who are being attacked by three killers who are all wearing white animal masks and who are all very brutal. It’s up to the family to try to stay alive and fight back, and fight back they do thanks to one of the family member’s girlfriends who will fight to stay alive. The film has lots of twists and turns and even has touches of black humor. The film is pretty violent and brutal and has one scene where someone is killed with a blender! I don’t want to say too much more about the plot because I really think you should see it if you enjoy 80’s Slasher Films mixed in with some over the top moments. I must also say that at HorrorHound 2014, Baron Von Porkchop’s and my table was right across from actress Sharni Vinson, and she was one of the sweetest actress I have ever met next to Danielle Harris and Dennis Duff.  She treated her fans with so much respect and seemed like a very nice person. The film in the US grossed $18,494,006.00 at the box office and really was one hell of a fun film to see in the theaters with a crowd of fellow horror film lovers.

# 2

carrie

I am a horror film fan who likes sequels over reboots and remakes.  I feel that it’s better to tell new stories about a character than just rehashing the same one with new players and special effects. But I will say that I loved the remake to Carrie, and I know many will disagree with me on this one, but I liked it even better than the original! The film follows Carrie White who is an odd girl being raised by her crazed God obsessed mother who is also tormented every day at school by fellow classmates.  Things get worse when she gets her period and her fellow students decide to shoot a cellphone video of them throwing tampons at her and teasing her for not knowing what a period is. And it goes all down hill for all those who tormented her as Carrie is special and holds certain powers now that all come out when she is asked to prom and while there a prank goes wrong and many people die. This film updates really well and with this generation’s obsessions with cellphones and social media, it was perfect time to show how cruel some teens can be toward each other just to get some hits on YouTube. Chloe Moretz plays Carrie, and I must say she is becoming one of my favorite actress as she does great work in this film as well and Kick-Ass 1 & 2 as well as the letdown film Dark Shadows.The film did only all right in the US bringing in a gross of $35,266,619.00 but did better worldwide. When seeing this film, the theater was kind of packed and when the film was over it seemed that the crowd enjoyed it. I know my friend Josh Winberg also liked it, and I think if you’re a fan of the Stephen King book and the original film than, you should give this film a chance; I am glad I did!

# 1

the conjuring

The Conjuring is a PG-13 horror film that is based on a true story about some paranormal investigators who decide that they are going to help a family that is being tormented by an evil spirit, but this case is like none other they tackled before because this spirit is not going down without a fight. This is your classic spooky haunted house flick mixed with possession film that doesn’t rely on blood, guts and gore to scare the audience, but does so more naturally and allows the viewer to almost scare themselves as they are drawn deeper and deeper into the plot. I can say when I saw this film in the theater I took notice of something: while the more bloody films like You’re Next, Texas Chainsaw 3D, Lords of Salem and Evil Dead had the audiences laughing in spots, The Conjuring had people screaming in fear…now think about that –  a PG-13 Horror film was scaring people while the rated R bloodbaths had people laughing.  It’s a shift in the market for sure as it seems Hollywood is getting away from the slasher and more in bed with the spooky ghost/demon films. I picture the frights The Conjuring dealt out to the people in that theater were the same kind of bloodless frights Universal’s Dracula and Frankenstein delivered in 1931 to movie goers, and that’s an amazing thing for a horror buff like myself to witness. The film did great at the US box office bringing in a gross of $137,400,141.00 and making it one of the biggest money makers in the horror genre of the year and making good profits for Warner Brothers/New Line Cinema. If you like spooky mood movies, then The Conjuring is for you. I am glad I saw it in theaters with a room full of people because the atmosphere of the crowd made it even more enjoyable with the screams and gasps filled the air.

Well I know that this update is a little behind, and to many of you great readers might even be a little dated, but I must tell you all I really had a great time writing this one and had a blast going to the theater and having Hollywood entertain me on the silver screen. Thank you all for sitting here in the Rotten Ink Theater Lobby and talking films with me. I hope you enjoyed our chat.  Next update we will be going back to comics as we take a look at an Atlas Comic “icon” of stunts.  Of course I am talking about The Cougar…come on you know The Cougar, right? Well if you don’t, you’ll learn about him next update.  So until then watch a movie, support your local comic shop and Horror Host and read a comic or two and just enjoy life. 

cougar_2

The Lost And Found Frankenstein Monster

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

1910_frankensteinfrankenstein_1910 2frankenstein_1910 3

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

charles ogle

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

Mary Fuller 1Mary Fuller 2Mary Fuller 3

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

Frankenstein 1910 Mask1910 Frankenstein Toys1910 Frankenstein Soundtrack

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

1910 Frankenstein still 1Frankenstein 1910 DVD1910 Frankenstein still 2

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

Edisons Frankenstein 1910 Comic

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

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

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

Edisons Frankenstein Comic Art

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

Return of the werewolf logo

Walking In A Greasy McDonaldland

Welcome back!  I hope you all are having a fun and safe winter so far.  I used to love the winter when I was younger because there was always a chance of a snow day away from school, and if one did happen, that was a day spent playing Nintendo, reading a comic, watching a movie and playing toy wars! Of course this would also be a day of snow ball fights, that wonderful way to throw frozen ice balls at your friends face and pass it off as a fun time.  I remember having snow ball fights in Waynesville against my brother and friends like Mike Censsna, Bill Hamm, Brad Burns and so many more kids from the neighborhood.  This would also carry over to Kettering when I was working at Kroger as a teenager, and my pal Josh Weinberg and I would spend time throwing snowballs at each other while pulling carts. But one thing about winter always made me upset, the weather men who would predict snow and lots of it and poof, the next day not a flake had fallen.  Being a kid, I would stay up later the night before in my room reading comics or watching my little black and white TV and be grumpy the next day when I would find I would have to go to school. My brother Bryan and I use to always make fun of Carl Nichols, the weather man for Channel 2 who would predict “Winter Storms” and the next morning his reporting was wrong. But here is to winter and here is to all the fun memories that go along with this season, from building snowmen to sledding, this is a fun season to be a kid. Next update I will share a little more of my winter memories and fun times.

snow woods

Fast food restaurants were running wild in the 1980’s, and most of them were all trying to get the youth of America to choose their place to eat over the others and would use all types of things from kid meal prizes to cookies to get customers’ money. The thing the worked for me to choose a place to eat was the mascots and TV commercials that would show the adventures of these characters, acting as 30 second TV shows hyping the cheap food and fun idea of that place to eat. Most places had some sort of mascot. Burger King had The Burger King Kingdom with guys like Magical Burger King and Sir Shakes A Lot, and later they had the Burger King Kids Club. Wendy’s had Wendy, the cute red head with the pigtails; Captain D’s had Captain D’s, the sailor who loved history and seafood; Dominos Pizza had the Noid, a creepy little guy in a red costume and rabbit ears and so many more.  But the one that always stood out and was super popular for kids back in my time was Ronald McDonald and the rest of McDonald Land characters who were the mascots for the mega burger chain McDonald’s. Everyone in the world would say that when it comes to fast food burger joints, McDonald’s is king, and I for one grew up loving the place. Growing up in Waynesville, there were no fast food chains in downtown.  All we really had was The Hammel House, Dagwoods, Village Family Restaurant and The Dairy Corner, and all were very good and classic style small town restaurants. The Dairy Corner was a place my Mom would take us a lot, and I can remember always ordering a cheeseburger and fries and and enjoying sitting with my family and enjoying the food.  A few times over the years I would drive to Waynesville with girlfriends or friends, and we would eat at the Dairy Corner. Sadly it’s gone now and where once a fun ice cream shop that served food was alive, now sits a shell of a building. Why did it close up you ask.  Well one of the major reasons was the coming of McDonald’s, the first major fast food place to enter the small village of Waynesville and later came Subway. But while it’s gone, Dairy Corner will never be forgotten by this comic book reader.

Dairy Corner

In 1940 Richard and Maurice McDonald opened up a restaurant that was a BBQ place, but in 1948 they changed into a hamburger joint and started to use drive-thru service, paving the way of “Fast Food” along side White Castle. In 1955, Ray Kroc became a partner in the company and later bought out the brothers to become the owner of McDonald’s, and he turned it into the The King of Fast Food with changes in how the company ran and franchises it supported.  But the buyout was not a smooth one as Kroc and the brothers feuded over the business, and this went on for years. Kroc won the battle, and McDonalds expanded outside the United States and has restaurants all over the world. The restaurant is known for selling hamburgers, chicken nuggets, milkshakes, fish sandwiches and McRibs and has expanded its menu to cafe-style drinks, chicken wings and gourmet salads. McDonald’s also was a pioneer in kids meals when they introduced The Happy Meal in 1979 that had food placed in a box or bag that came with a toy.  Growing up, I loved to a Happy Meal and eat the tasty food and also collect toys based on the likes of The Muppet Babies, Barensteen Bears or Charlie Brown. McDonald’s is still the top fast food joint in the world and it continues to evolve and stay on top by doing so.

Mcdonalds logo

I don’t eat McDonald’s very often, but I still do enjoy it from time to time.  The charm of the place has been lost to me once they cut back on using Ronald McDonald and phased out the rest of the McDonald Land characters. But when I do go, I have a order that is a must for me and consists of the same items I have ordered for a very long time:  two cheeseburgers (sometimes a double cheese burger), a large french fries and a medium orange Hi-C.  The fries for me are the highlight of the meal, and I would say out of all the fast food places they have the best french fries followed by Burger King. I know some people will trash the food and spew out the same gargage that Morgan Spurlock did in his documentary Super Size Me, but if you don’t eat the food every day in extra-large portions, then you’ll be all right. I say if you’re out and are looking for a cheap burger, get yourself a Big Mac and enjoy it!

Mcdonalds CheeseburgerMcdonald FriesMcdonalds Orange Hi-C

In 2013 McDonald’s unleashed on the market their own take on chicken wings when they put out Mighty Wings! My girlfriend and I love chicken wings and have tried every major wing place in our area.  For me, the four best have to be Roosters, Wing Zone, Buffalo Wild Wings (BW3s) and Fricker’s.  So when McDonald’s said they were getting into the wing game, I knew I had to try them. I was working hard on editing a Baron Von Porkchop episode and needed to take a break for lunch.  So I called up my Mom, and we decided to go to McDonald’s to get a quick bite to eat.  In the drive thru I saw the advertisement for Mighty Wings and ordered a 5 pack. I ate them before I touched my fries or took a drink from the Hi-C, and I must say they were pretty good.  They had a nice spice level, and the meat, while a little fatty, was very juicy and flavorful. The downside to them is price at almost a dollar a wing, and the meduim size of each wing makes you really wonder just how much you overpaid. But if you like wings and are looking for a snack, a 5 pack of Mighty Wings might just hit the spot.

Mcdonalds Mighty Wings

Growing up I have many memories of McDonalds and many of them have to do with the whole McDonald land characters and merchandise. I can remember going to the local McDonald’s and pestering my Mom and Dad to get me a Happy Meal so that I could get the Baby Fozzie from the Muppet Babies on his rocking horse and they did! It always felt magical to open up the Happy Meal box with all the cool artwork around it and pulling out your food and seeing what prize you got this time. It’s a shame that nowadays they have switched meals to putting them in a paper bag and put less time pushing these meals. Another thing that always stuck in my mind was The Apple Pie Tree statue that was placed inside the stores and also outside in the playground area.  The giant grinning face also made you as a kid feel welcome. I can remember climbing all over the Tree with my brother and cousin Norman.  The Tree is burned into my memories and if I ever get a house in the country like I want, a McDonald’s Tree will for sure be in the backyard. Another memory has to be the birthday parties that McDonald’s would have.  I can remember going to one for my cousin Norman and having a fun time on the playground and being around my family. I remember the cake not being all that great but thinking it was cool to see all the McDonaldland characters on it, but to be honest I dislike cake and am not a fan of it at all. So there you have it, Ronald McDonald and his magic fast food are apart of my youth, and I am okay with that.

McDonalds Happy MealMcDonalds TreeMcDonalds Birthday Cake

McDonaldland pull back racers aka Fast Macs were a hit with me and my brother Bryan.  I can remember getting them and turning our kitchen in Waynesville into a drag strip as my brother and I would race them. He had gotten the Hamburgler in a slick red dragster built for speed and tricks, while I had Officer Big Mac in a bulky yet fast police car. We spent awhile racing them, and most the time they would crash into the kitchen table or get caught up on the walls.  I can remember losing a lot in the races, but I am sure that my brother bent the rules in his favor by saying things like “if I pop a wheelie, I win the race.” Later on we got Ronald McDonald in his yellow car of doom and Birdie in her pink race car. Over all these were great cheap toys that delivered a lot of fun for the Brassfield Brothers.

Fast Mac HamburglerFast Mac Officer Big Mac

Besides the Fast Macs and The Muppet Babies toys, I also remember liking the Changeables aka McRobots who were generic style Transformers that would change from food items into simple robots. I had a few of these growing up and would use them in toy war and even had them get crushed many times by Transformers and GoBots. The simpleness of these changing robots was their charm, and the fact that McDonalds jumped on the popular 80’s robot boom was a given. My favorite was the Big Mac one because my brother and cousins all use to say he was the leader of the others much like Optimus Prime and Leader One were in charge of their robot friends. The second best one was the milk shake one who in my mind was like the right hand man and the fighter of the group. The store I am the manager of has an Amazon store, and I have sold many of these McRobots to the masses! I am sure many of you readers have a smile on your face as you are now thinking back on these generic transforming robots.

McRobots

Not only were robots and fast food places big in the 80’s but so were collector glasses that restaurants, pop companies and even gas stations would sell and give out. Growing up I remember drinking Coke out of a Superman glass or strawberry milk from a Bugs Bunny one. Even as an adult as I am writing this I am drinking water from a Rocky The Squirrel glass put out by Pepsi. I know many of these glasses used lead paint so maybe that explains why I still love to read Star Comics. Some of the cool ones that were put out at this time were the 1977 McDonaldland character glasses.  You could choose from Ronald McDonald, Mayor McCheese, Officer Big Mac, Captain Crook and the others! Collector glasses are awesome and always helped add to a bland meal at home.  Sitting at the kitchen table and having to eat spinach chicken and peas was always a terrible time, but add in a Batman glass filled with Kool-Aid and the meal is still bad but a little easier to have to deal with. I have many of the McDonaldland glasses as well as many other character glasses and these are a super fun and cool way to make drinking fun. You can find these cool glasses on Ebay, Thrift Stores and Flea Markets.

Grimace GlassMayor McCheese GlassCaptain Crook Glass

Now that I have given you all a rundown on some of the cool stuff about McDonald’s we should now get to the main course of this mind meal and take a look at all the characters that made up the magical Mcdonaldland. Before we get into the main cast, let’s take a small look at three that did not make it to the land.

Speedee

Speedee

Speedee is a hamburger headed chief who was the mascot for McDonalds from 1948-1962. Speedee’s main purpose was to show how fast your food would get to you after you placed your order. Speedee sadly never caught on and was phased out and replaced by the 1st Ronald McDonald in 1962. While gone for many years now, Speedee will never be forgotten by fans and historians of the fast food burger place he promoted.

Original Ronald McDonald

Ronald McDonald # 1 

The original Ronald McDonald is nothing like the one we all know and love.  He was dubbed The Ham-Burger Happy Clown and wore a tray on his head, a magic tray belt that kept him supplied with hamburgers and a paper cup on his noise. This original Ronald was slightly creepy, and his voice was deeper and kind of menacing. He really loved to push hamburgers and tried to befriend kids to follow him back to McDonalds…wait, doen’t this kind of sound like Pennywise the Clown from the Stephen King Novel IT? Years later his look was changed and became the more iconic version of the character we all know and love. To me this first version was like the modern’s weird and crazy brother who later was locked up in the McDonaldland Asylum of Mental Health. I should note that Willard Scott played the original Ronald McDonald on TV in the D.C. area, who is known for being a weatherman on NBC, and this version started in 1962.

Mac Tonight

Mac Tonight

McDonald’s was going to start staying open late nights via the drive-thru and needed a way to let people know.  So enter the moon headed, sunglasses wearing, piano playing Ray Charles style Mac Tonight. Mac Tonight started in 1986 and was a smooth operator and gained a following with young and old and became a main stay of McDonald’s ads. Mac Tonight was so big that his image was used for over 20 commercials, was made into Happy Meal Toys and was used to great customers along side Ronald McDonald. But the moon headed man’s fun ended in 2007 when he got a CGI make over and started to be used less and less. While his image can still be seen on signs at McDonald’s, this jazz loving moon man’s popularity has dropped. Here’s hoping at some point he will rise to the charts of mascot history and be used properly once more.

So with this let’s get into the cast of characters that made up McDonaldLand! I will try and make these brief and just give you a little background of each iconic mascot.

ronald mcdonald

Ronald McDonald

Ronald McDonald is a fun loving clown who loves to bring joy and food to his friends thanks to McDonalds. Ronald is the ring leader of all the characters in McDonaldland and has many friends all over the world and even on other planets. Ronald is also very active and likes to go out a play sports and enjoy nature making him a very energetic. Ronald is always in a good mood and makes the mood of any room rise and turns frowns upside down. He is also the face of McDonald’s and is so popular his image has been made into toys, shirts, comics, video games, and he even had a cameo in the movie “MAC AND ME” . Ronald McDonald is more recognizable to children than JFK, Abe Lincoln, Magical Burger King and many more famous people and mascots from around the world. Ronald is the man and remains one of the most iconic characters of all time. 

Grimace

Grimace

1971 was the year kids were introduced to a giant purple character named Evil Grimace with four arms who loved soda and milkshakes and would steal them! In 1972/74 two arms disappeared, and Evil was dropped from his name and the lovable dimwitted Grimace became a well loved mascot for McDonald’s. Grimace acts as the comic relief of McDonaldland and is Ronald’s best friend. Even after turning good, Grimace still loved a good milkshake and soda as does his uncle known as O’Grimacey who loved the St. Patricks Day themed Shamrock Shake. Sadly Grimace was put into mascot retirement in 2011. Grimace in his prime had his image used for toys, cartoons, video games and even cookie cutters. Grimace is one of my favorite characters of McDonald’s. 

Birdie the Early Bird

Birdie The Early Bird

In 1980 an egg fell in McDonaldland. Ronald showed it love and it hatched to be Birdie a yellow female bird who is a terrible flyer and loves breakfast food! Birdie is much like Grimace and is very clumsy and is the first official female character mascot for McDonald’s. Over the years and many different forms of media Birdie has learned karate and even try to find aliens. Birdie has been used to sell toys, video games and dolls. Biride sadly was sent to the Mascot retirement home in 2011 alongside other characters from McDonald’s. 

hamburglar

The Hamburglar

In 1971, a pint size thief entered McDonaldland, and he had one thing on his mind: to steal hamburgers!  When first seen by viewers, he was older with a big nose and was called The Lone Jogger.  In the 1980’s he was transformed into a younger guy who while bad, became friends with all the other characters. Hamburglar spoke gibberish and his catch phrase was “Robble Robble” and was the second major villain to be introduced in the commercials. During the 80’s I always remember him being one of the most popular characters with kids wanting to collect his toys that were in Happy Meals. Sadly like Birdie and Grimace, he joined them in the mascot retirement home in 2011. 

mayor mccheese

Mayor McCheese

In 1971 Mayor McCheese was the silly cheeseburger headed Mayor of McDonaldLand, who tried so hard but was a little dimwitted and relied on the help of Ronald and the rest of the gang. The Mayor spoke with a giggly voice and was mostly a background character for the company. The Mayor was voted out of power in 2008 as McDonald’s sent him to the mascot retirement home. Mayor McCheese remains a popular character and has become a pop culture icon thanks to the internet and shows like Family Guy.

Big Mac

Officer Big Mac

Law and Order was brought to McDonladland in 1970 as Officer Big Mac was on the case to bust the likes of The Hamnurglar and Captain Crook! Officer Big Mac was a by the book character who was the main source of law in the land, also making him one of the good guys. Big Mac was phased out in the 1980’s and made a small appearance in 2008 before being sent to that sad place known as mascot retirement. While remembered, Officer Big Mac did not gain cult status like his fellow hamburger headed friend Mayor McCheese. 

Captain Crook

Captain Crook

Starting in 1970, the people of McDonaldland’s Filet-O-Fish were in big trouble as a pirate named Captain Crook took to the waterways and began stealing this sandwich, making him the first official bad guy of the land. Captain Crook was close friends to The Hamburglar and would translate his mumbles. Crook also spent a lot of time trying not to be captured by Officer Big Mac who always had his eyes on the beady eyed pirate.In the 1980’s  Captain Crook started to be phased out, and in 1999 he was sent to that retirement home for mascots. 

the professor

The Professor 

1971 was the year that a grey haired old man known simply as The Professor also made his mark in McDonaldland and was the inventor for the magical land. At first he was just a minor character, and later he became a major one that was given even a lightbulb hat. But like many other of his friends he was set to the retirement home for good in 2001 but not before being in a few cartoons and a video game. 

Happy Meal GangHamburger PatchMcNuggetsMcDonald's Characters

Happy Meal Gang/Hamburger Patch/McNugget Buddies/Fry Guys

The Happy Meal Gang was a group of talking food items such as a hamburger, fries and a cold drink who were all friends of Ronald and brought joy to customers. They were introduced in 1984 and were later joined in 1989 by the McNugget Buddies who later would replace the Happy Meal Gang altogether. In 1973 The Hamburger Patch was the main talking food and were hamburgers that grew on plants and were picked to be eaten by Ronald and customers.  They were phased out in the mid 80’s. The Fry Guys were odd colored short shaggy creatures who like to steal and eat french fries who were introduced in 1972.  They were so popular that they were used all the way till 2008. So many fun and odd talking food characters!

Cosmc

CosMc

In 1980-1985 Ronald McDonald and his gang of friends also befriended an alien from space who had many arms and wore a giant round space suit! He was a kind character who always wanted to trade McDonald’s food and wanted to share the great taste of the food with his people. CosMc was not a mainstay character and was used only a handful of times.  He did however make it into a video game and animated series based on the characters of the restaurant. I should also note he spoke like a surfer dude.

So there was a very quick rundown of some of the amazing McDonaldland characters.  I tried to make them all brief for if we broke them down too much, we would be here for another few pages of who epic and amazing they are! So now you know a little about them and your mind is recharged with memories of these characters making it time for the comic reviews that were free give aways and were called McDonaldLand Comics! I just want you all to remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true it stays to the source martial, and I would like to think Mile High Comics and Amazon for having these comics in stock.

McDonaldland Comics 101

McDonaldland Comics  # 101  **1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price FREE   McDonald Corp. Comics   #101 of 102

It’s America’s 200th birthday, and Mayor McCheese has gotten an invitation to be a guest at the country’s huge birthday party! The Mayor invites Ronald, Officer Big Mac, The Professor and Grimace to go along with him on a magical train, and they decide to leave Captain Crook and Hamburglar back in McDonaldland to watch after things. Crook and Hamburglar sneak aboard the train, and they all take a tour of the amazing sites of America. But along the way the Captain Crook falls from the flying train and could be lost as they arrive at the party! The second small story in the issue is about The Hamburglar who is giving up stealing hamburgers, but now is stealing things that begin with the letter H!

The first story is a silly adventure that is a way for Ronald McDonald to teach the readers American history.  So while you as a youngster read this, you were also learning! It’s odd how in this issue the bad guys of the land, Hamburglar and Captain Crook, are supposed to be the ones left behind to watch over things.  Now don’t they like to steal and cause panic…so why would they want to leave them behind? Plus Officer Big Mac seems to be a one trick pony in the issue and repeats about the railroad being too bumpy and about arresting people.  Ronald is clearly the ringleader of the group as his word is law, and at one point he is being questioned by a cop and escapes without showing his ID so he won’t be late for the party! The story is short and ends with a cliffhanger as they get to the party but Captain Crook has fallen from the train that is flying now, so did he die? The next issue I hope will explain this. The second back up story of Hamburglar stealing things that start with an H is just a cheesy joke as the rest of the comic is filled with puzzles and such. The artwork is great and has that classic 70’s kid comic look and each character looks like they should. The cover is also pretty cool, and I am sure in 1976 kids picked up this free issue like crazy! So over all this is a fun and average free restaurant comic that was worth a read. I am going to say that the best character in this first issue would have to be Ronald McDonald himself followed by Captain Crook.  So with this let’s move onto issue 2!

McDonaldland Comics 102

McDonaldland Comics  # 102  **1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price FREE   McDonald Corp. Comics   #102 of 102

The McDonaldland gang is gearing up for a silly version of the Olympics that include pogo stick jumps, and hamburger dashes! The gang that includes Ronald, Captain Crook, Hamburglar and Grimace are going up against The Fry Guys! But late the night before the event, a short man named Sneak-Snoop Snoggly of the Sneak-Snoop race who live in the hills comes to town and causes mischief and pranks on all the group! The pranks leave Mayor McCheese falling down a hole, Grimace squashing a giant tomato and Ronald’s pogo stick spring being so tight that he bounces up way to high and smacks into a bird! In the end they confront Snoggly who in turns falls of a high dive board and wins a medal that puts a smile on his face and all is well again in McDonaldland. The second mini story of this issue is about The Professor taking the gang around again on the flying train to see historic sites from around the USA and uses a machine that lets them see the past in the spots they are visiting.

The McDonaldland Olympic Games are filled with silly things that kids would have fun doing, pogo sticks and bouncing, sounds like Field Day events to me! This time around a trickster is causing issues in the fast food land and almost leads to Ronald’s and a bird’s death as they collide in the air and both are stunned. It’s clear that Captain Crook must have lived after his fall in issue one as he is in the Olympic Games, though they should have some how worked in how it all worked out. This main story as well only really highlights Ronald as the rest of them all take back seats, and this is to be expected as Ronald is the main mascot for the company. The second story seems a little lacking and is just more history lesson left over from the first issue.  While very informative, I wish they would have not repeated the American History lesson. The rest of the comic issue is filled with puzzles and such and I am sure had kids of the time entertained. Over all the first story is pretty fun though I wish had a little more to it.  The second story is just okay, making this issue another average issue but well worth the read, and the price it coast when it was released…FREE. 

One has to wonder why McDonaldland Comics only lasted two issues when Big Boy and Captain D’s both had comic series going at the time and years after even. One has to wonder if the cost of making the free comic just didn’t outweigh the payout of making kids have a collectors item based around their mascots. I for one would have loved to have gotten comics for free based on these characters in the 80’s and would have looked forward to getting an issue anytime we ate there. The comic series really focused on Ronald and that makes sense with the surprise two characters that seemed to get a lot of panel time being The Professor and Captain Crook. Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese and Officer Big Mac all had solid roles to play in the two issues, and Grimace was almost a second thought and offered very little to the story lines, and that’s a shame cause he would have been a perfect character for a kids comic. The art, as I stated before, is great and would have been right at home if Star Comics was going in 1976.  The covers were both very well done and eye catching and better than any other free restaurant comic cover. I wish that McDonald’s would bring back all these classic characters for this modern generation who are lacking the fun wonders of mascots.  I also wish they would bring back free comic books based on these characters, and I also wish they would stop being the target of parent groups and TV “chefs” who want to make a name for themselves by attacking the worlds largest burgar chain. Well the chill in the air is telling me it’s time to go, but before we do I must tell you readers that next update will be on Christmas Eve and will be all about Thundercats! So make sure to come back and give it a read! Till then, have a great holiday season, read a comic or two and eat a Big Mac.Thundercats Logo

 

The Wonderful Wizard of Wally

Hey, all and welcome back! This time around we are going to take a look at one of Star Comics’ most popular home grown characters, Wally The Wizard. I first heard about Wally The Wizard via a free give away/very cheap subscription on the back of a box of cereal and sent away and got issue # 1 of Wally, Top Dog and Planet Terry for free/dirt cheap. While I didn’t know the character, I found myself liking his over all good nature. While Wally did pretty well for Star, it was lost in the sea of licensed based comics like Ewoks, Strawberry Shortcake, He-Man and many others making him not one most kids would talk about nor trade on the playground. While his impact not very huge, his books lasted for 12 issues longer than many of the licensed based titles, showing his sales had to be good enough to keep him afloat.

Speaking of afloat, here in and around Dayton we had many small movie theaters that aren’t owned by Showcase, The Rave or Regal, and sadly many of them over the past 15 years have slowly gone away.  I guess the small theaters can’t compete with the IMax and stadium seating. While we still have The Englewood Theater in Englewood, Little Art Theater in Yellow Springs and Neon Movies in Dayton, we have lost the likes of Chakeres The Kettering Theater, Flicker Palace in Huber Heights and most sad of all Page Manor in Fairborn. Let’s first talk about The Flicker Palace in Huber Heights, a small theater in the middle of strip mall that hosted many late night horror films and even was the first home of Horrorama (a charity event I’ve been helping with for the last 14 years or so).  Sadly I never got to step foot in Flicker but only heard the stories from friends like Andy Copp, Dr. Creep and Rick Martin about how cool the place was. I have gone and visited the run down shell that was Flicker over the years and when looking inside the windows you see that it has been gutted and I mean gutted.  From the floor up, it’s just one big empty room with gravel floor, It’s a shame that the owners of the strip mall decided doing this to the theater was a good idea and even more of a shame that no one bought this theater after closing and kept it going. Below is a picture of the theater and a picture of Andy Copp and Dr. Creep in the theater.
FlickerAndy and Dr Creep

Next up is the Kettering Theater, an amazing place to see movies when I was younger.  Sure, the seats were rock hard and you would leave with a backache, and sure, the popcorn tasted like it had been under a heat lamp for 3 months but it was still Kettering’s own little theater house before the jumbo movie house in the outside mall, the Greene, moved in. I remember going and seeing movies like Broken Arrow and Austen Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me at the theater and this is even where my brother meet Dr. Creep and sparked our love for the Dayton horror host before I even was in school. The theater’s exterior was an amazing classic style theater, and the inside was very old and should have been updated but the dirt inside also added to the charm of the theater. After the theater went under, the building sat empty for many years until in early 2013 a church bought it to transform into a new meeting place for their congregation.  So sadly, the epic Kettering Theater and its amazing building will now no longer be used for a movie going experience. Below is a pic of the theater, and the pic of my brother Bryan with Dr. Creep.

Kettering TheaterBryan and Dr Creep

Page Manor was the coolest small theater in the area and had not only two screens but also a very small video arcade and hosted lots of fun stuff from Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight to independent horror films that included one of my old shorts called Hellraiser Warehouse. One of my best memories was seeing Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation when it was finally released for its very small theatrical run and Page Manor was the only theater to pick it up. I was working at Kroger at the time and was a teen who loved horror films.  I became friends with Jason Shivadecker, a guy who was a few years older and who as well loved horror films and also made his own shot on video films. When we heard that Page was showing the new Texas Chainsaw, we were hyped and made sure to get tickets early and plan for this epic night of horror! We got to the theater early as did many fans who were waiting to see Leatherface do what he does best, and that’s when some odd early 20’s something kid was pacing around looking for someone to talk to him.  He targeted us and started to ramble on and on about how he had seen the movie every screening thus far at the Page and how he loved it and how it was the best in the series.  After a few minutes we were able to get away from this super fan and get a seat. We got our seats that were great, and the film started and what we saw was something that would stick with me, not because of the gore and scares but because the film was so silly and dumb that I had a blast watching it. After the film we drove around laughing at the film and then went to a party. Also at that theater I have been to Horrorama’s, late night horror shows put on by Andy Copp and so much more. This was my favorite theater in the area, and when it went under for the second time, a rumor was going around that it was coming back, but sadly this did not come to be and after a fire in the strip mall, it was the owners who decided to demolish the theater. Below is a pic of the great Page Manor as well as a screen grab of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Next Generation.

Page ManorLeatherface Jacks

One last one just because it was a fun place to see movies was Beavercreek Cinema that later became The Bargain Box Office.  It had multiple screens, terrible popcorn and hard seats but it was a fun time. I went to this theater when I was younger and saw films like Ghostbusters 2 and The Goonies their during their first run and saw second run films when it reopened and became the Bargain Box Office. One fun story I have about this place was when it re-opened my girl at the time, Jennifer, liked Kevin Smith movies while I on the other hand don’t like his work.  But being a trooper, I took her to see Clerks 2 and while being tortured with his unfunny dialogue, a miracle happened as a bat began flying all around the screen and in front of the projector and to me this was a sign from Count Dracula or Batman that I should be at home watching them on DVD. The Beavercreek Cinema is closed now and sits rotting in Lofino’s Shopping Center hoping one day to come back and spread the love of films.

Bargain Box Office

Those are just a drop in the hat of cool theaters that closed.  I mean I know I am not the only one who misses the movie theater that was inside the Dayton Mall. But with that let’s get away from movies on the big screen and take a look at a movie on the small screen as we talk about another Independent B Movie flick, this time directed by Matt Hoffman – none other than The Wolf Hunter or The Werewolf Hunter as it reads in the credits. After Werewolf of Ohio 2, we were on cloud nine, and this was our peak.  Many inside the group including myself really liked the idea of The Wolf Hunter character having his own spinoff movie and none spoke louder than Matt Hoffman who played the character for me. With Hoffman really wanting to play the character again, I went down into the cool basement that was Independent B Movie studios and wrote out a draft that took place before the character’s death and showed that he had his own major foe with a werewolf king called Malice. The script I wrote was about a cat and mouse game played between the two that left many dead and a final showdown that was to take place in some deep dark woods.  The film was to have a higher budget than any of the past films and was set to be the bloodiest one ever made. This, however, was not the case as Hoffman liked the script and went in to rework it, and took out lots of the blood and even the cat and mouse game and added more screen time for just the Wolf Hunter character who now was in 97% of the film, unlike the 75% that the original script had. All of Malice’s kills were cut, and he was pushed more into the background as an almost afterthought until the very end. The end battle was also changed and taken out of the woods and onto an old bridge that in my opinion worked even better than the woods! While at first I was a little annoyed that my script had gone through such a wild and extreme re-write, seeing how proud Hoffman was of this project made that go away fast, and I was happy for my friend who found a character he could truly bond with. Hoffman and I, with his script in hand, set out to cast it and we first hired Brandon Womeldorff as lead camera man and I took up being the second unit camera man. My good friend Patrick Neeley played Malice.  Josh Weinberg played Oliver another werewolf. Jason Gilmore played both werewolf Red-Eye and The Holy Bullet Man, and Amy Hoffman played Amber, the love interest of the Wolf Hunter and lastly we cast Geoff Burkman as Amber’s Father. The film’s plot followed The Wolf Hunter, a loner who takes a job rescuing a young woman named Amber from a werewolf named Oliver who when human loved her.  After her rescue, The Wolf Hunter finds that he himself is in love but makes the mistake of leaving her behind and she is killed by Malice, king of all Ohio werewolves. The rest of the film The Wolf Hunter tracks down and battles Malice to the “death” at an old covered bridge. Filming went fast, and the production had very little set backs and even less in-house fighting. One funny moment on the set had Jason Gilmore, who as Red-Eye fell into the waters of Caesar’s Creek, running around naked behind Matt Hoffman as he gave an on set interview and was clueless to the fact a naked man was moving around behind him. After the film wrapped, Brandon Womeldorff, Hoffman and myself headed to Fairmont and we edited it in two days.

Wolf Hunter VHS

After the film was done, a meeting was called for a screening of Hoffman’s first ever directed film, and the house was packed with almost everyone who was a part of Independent B Movie. Hoffman gave a brief introduction to his film, and then play was hit on the VCR and the film known as The Wolf Hunter started playing on the TV. After the meeting, the film was meet with mix reviews as most just picked it apart because Hoffman made it.  I for one think the film is super fun and cheesy and hits the spot when it comes to a late night flick watching. The film was then made on VHS and sold at conventions and did pretty well  Years later it would also get a DVD release that also sold well. The film also got a t-shirt based on one of the hunting scenes! The film has been reviewed on a number of websites and has mostly been meet with poor reviews because of its production value, but many of them point out the fun and silly over all nature of the film and see the camp value of watching it. Poor reviews aside, the film has built up a very small cult status and is still to this day talked about amongst the old group of movie making friends that made up Independent B Movie.

The Wolf HunterShowdownWolf Hunter 1

Wolf Hunter was filled with lots of “scary” werewolves that were said to haunt Ohio and here real quick, I would like to give you a quick rundown of each werewolf and how they came about. First, let’s take a look at Malice, who was played by Patrick Neeley.  The mask was bought at K-Mart during Halloween time by Hoffman who liked the look of the grey furred open mouthed mask. The character Malice was based on a short film script that was given to me many years before when I worked at Kroger as a bagger by a fellow bagger called Bark At The Moon. In the Bark script, Malice was a sorcerer who lived in the woods and was cursed by magic to become a blood thirsty werewolf. In The Wolf Hunter, we changed it so that Malice is and always has been a werewolf and alongside The Wolf Man (Werewolf of Ohio) has spread the curse all over Ohio. Malice is super strong and also super smart and is protective of his area that contains a covered bridge that acts as his home base.

Malice

The second werewolf is Oliver who was played by Josh Weinberg.  The mask was bought at Wal-Mart around Halloween time and was picked because I thought it looked like Oliver Reed’s werewolf in Hammer horror film Curse of the Werewolf. Oliver was purely based on that Hammer film, and his look in the film was as well, wearing a ripped up button up shirt and black pants.  From day one, Josh was the choice to play the part. When human, Oliver was a rich young man who was dating Amber, the daughter of a media store owner, and he was was attacked on his way home after a date and became a werewolf. Even as a werewolf, he held a love for Amber and kidnapped her and rushed into the woods of Oakwood, where he was attacked by The Wolf Hunter and Amber taken away from him. Oliver has brown fur and is strong but not a pure top powered werewolf.  He also is smart and seems to learn from his past mistakes. His home base is the woods around Oakwood, and he is very protective of his area.

Oliver

The last werewolf of the film is Red-Eye, who was played by Jason Gilmore who was going by the name Max Price, and the mask was bought at Wal-Mart and was very cheap and at first almost didn’t make it into the movie. Red-Eye was written into the film to open it up and be a target for The Wolf Hunter to show his hunting power. Red-Eye wore an old green button up shirt and tan pants and was rocking slick backed black hair and his face has brown. Red-Eye is a weak werewolf who is considered a bottom feeder who only feeds on the leftovers of more powerful werewolves. Red-Eye is weak and is very nervous around humans, and he has no home base area and spends his time roaming.

Red EyeThe Wolf Hunter has a legacy that pleases diehard fans and tickles the funny bones of those who see it as a cheesy action horror film. And while the film is no master piece and by most accounts is no budget trash, I for one am proud I had something to do with it and am even more happy to see my friend Matt Hoffman be so proud of a film he has his heart and soul in.

WH vs MaliceWolf Hunter DVDWH vs Malice Bridge

The new WWE Game has been titled “WWE 2K14” and is now being made by 2K Games after THQ sadly went out of business early in the year. This year, the theme went away from the Attitude Era and is now focused on “30 Years of Wrestlemania” where players get to play through some of the biggest matches in the event’s history like Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant at Wrestlemania III and Hogan taking on Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI.  But as with last year some top names have been snubbed from being in the game and here is my top 5 list of wrestlers that 2K and WWE should be ashamed of themselves for not including them in the game.  I will also point out key matches that they were involved in.

WWE2K14 Hulk Hogan20909Hotspot-SingStar-80:Layout 1wwe2k14 ultimate warrior

I would also like to point out that while many wrestlers have been snubbed they did include a lot of great names: from the past like Andre The Giant, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Ultimate Warrior, Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy to name a few.  So good job on those inclusions…but with that let’s get into my snub list. Now for my list I looked at all the past Wrestlemania’s and even watched a few on DVD to get the full dose of matches these grapplers I picked had.  These are all legends of the sport that I truly think were snubbed! So let’s get onto my picks on who should be in WWE 2K14.

rowdy roddy piper

Rowdy Roddy Piper

Rowdy Roddy Piper is a legend in the wrestling world who began his pro career in 1973 when he became a member of the roster for the AWA as what is known as a jobber (a wrestler who is thrown to the top stars to lose).  Piper then went on to wrestle in some of the industry’s top promotions like NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) and GCW (Georgia Championship Wrestling), and in these two places Piper made a name for himself as a solid worker and a master of mic skills. But while in GCW, Piper was blackballed from the territory for showing up late to a match and would work for Puerto Rico and Jim Crocket Promotions. In 1984, Piper made his way to WWF and started out as a manager to wrestlers Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff and David “Dr. D” Shultz and later became a full fledged member of the roster.  Piper was a bad guy (heel), and his first two major feuds were with Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and Bruno Sammartino! But in 1985, his most important rivialy took place as Piper was picking on pop singer Cyndi Lauper and wrestling manager Captain Lou Albano sparking WWF Champions to come to their aid and sparking a fight that would take place on MTV at an event called “The War To Settle The Score.”  This match then lead to the first main event at the first Wrestlemania! The match had Hulk Hogan and actor Mr. T taking on Piper and Paul Orndorff, and history was made. Piper would come and go in the WWF/WWE for many years after this and would have many great matches with the likes of Bret “Hitman” Hart, Bad News Brown, Goldust and Adrian Adonis. From almost from the moment he stepped into the company, Piper was also given his own talk show called “Piper’s Pit” where many iconic moments took place from bashing Jimmy Snuka in the head with a coconut to beating up a jobber wrestler with one arm behind his back! Fans have loved and hated Piper over the years, and he is one of the most iconic wrestlers WWF has even had.  So to me, it makes no sense why he is not in the game and since he had many Wrestlemania moments that outshine Goldberg’s terrible match with Brock Lesner. Here is to hoping 2K and WWE wake up and make him DLC. Piper also is in the WWE HALL OF FAME as of 2005!

Key WM Matches: Piper & Paul Orndorff vs. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (Wrestlemania) and Piper vs. Bret Hart (Wrestlemania 8)

Paul Orndorff

Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff

Before Lex Luger, Ravishing Rick Rude and Dolf Ziggler, Orndorff was the original show off, the man who thought his body was better than everyone else’s but without the glam and with more of a kick ass attitude. Before his pro wrestling career Orndorff was a star on the college football fields and even was picked up to play for the NFL! Orndorff began wrestling in 1976 for many small promotions and even a few major ones like NWA, SCW (Southeast Championship Wrestling) and GCW before going to WWF in 1983 where he had Roddy Piper as his manager and fought guys like Tito Santana and Jimmy Snuka. Orndorff took the side of Piper in his feud with Hogan and had feuded with Hogan up until the main event at the first Wrestlemania. Orndorff would turn good and bad throughout the years and even had a match with Don Muraco at Wrestlemania II. He would have huge matches with Hogan after this event that even lead to steel cage matches and more. In 1988 Orndorff took time away to heal some injuries and would go on to wrestle for WCW (World Championship Wrestling), UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation) and Smokey Mountain. He would end his career with WCW after injuries and worked as a trainer and backstage for the company. In 2005 Mr. Wonderful was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame. Mr. Wonderful was a hard worker and a great competitor and should be in this game for helping launch Wrestlemania. Without him and Piper, the first event would not be the iconic event we fans view it as.

Key WM Matches: Roddy Piper & Orndorff vs. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (Wrestlemania) and Orndorff vs. Don Muraco (Wrestlemania II)

Sid Vicious

Psycho Sid

Sid is a man of many names in the wrestling world from Lord Humongous to Sid Justice to Sid Vicious, but most fans know him as Psycho Sid from his time at the top of the WWF! Sid started his career out in 1987 in such promotions as Memphis, New Japan and World Class, but by 1989 WCW had gotten the powerhouse to join their federation.  The master of the power bomb was in full swing as he became a member of the tag team the Skyscrapers and would later become a member of the legendary Four Horseman with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Barry Windham. Sid left WCW after a true lack of world title push and left for WWF in 1991 where he became a top runner for the world title and had feuds with The Undertaker and Jake Roberts.  After thinking he had been overlooked for a title shot, he targeted Hulk Hogan who he thought was the man standing in his way. After a fight at Wrestlemania, Sid left the company. In 1993 he returned for a short time to WCW and then went to a few other smaller promotions before coming back to the WWF in 1995 to become Shawn Michael’s bodyguard and once more become a top runner for the world title fighting guys like Diesel, Bret Hart and The Undertaker, having many top profile matches and being one of the company’s top stars. Sid would leave again in 1997 and would finish his top company career out in WCW. Sid was a massive man, and I would love to have him feud in WWE 2K14 with the likes of The Big Show, Andre The Giant and Big John Studd! In 2012 Sid even showed back up on WWE TV with two appearances on Monday Night Raw! Here is to hoping that he is future Legends DLC in the game because I for one would love to powerbomb Daniel Bryan into a table!

Key WM Matches: Sid vs. Hulk Hogan (Wrestlemania 8) and Sid vs. The Undertaker (Wrestlemania 13)  

jake roberts the snake.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts

Once more Jake finds himself not in a WWE game that clearly he should be in! Roberts began his wrestling career in 1974 and was a roster member for such federations as Mid-South Wrestling, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, GCW and NWA, but it was in 1986 when Jake was called up to the WWF and became the Snake! Jake, like Piper, was given his own talk show called “The Snake Pit” and his first major feuds were with Ricky Steamboat and The Honkey Tonk Man. He would change from a heel to a face many times in his WWF run and would wrestle guys like Andre The Giant, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Ravishing Rick Rude, Earthquake, Rick “The Model” Martel and Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase.  Jake would leave in 1992 and would work for WCW, AAA and Independents before coming back to WWF in 1996 where he was a veteran and was used as a man who had battled demons in his past and was there to talk the word of God to those who would listen. Sadly, Jake was a real life junkie and had burned many bridges and failed many drug tests and this was his first full second chance of becoming a top superstar. During this late 90’s run, Jake also helped spark the “Austin 3:16” catch phrase after a match with Steve Austin at King of The Ring! Jake “The Snake” Roberts has never held a WWF/WWE title and has yet to make it to the Hall of Fame, but he remains one of the company’s top legends that still has fans to this day. Jake should be in this game and here is hoping he will be DLC.

Key WM Matches: Roberts vs. Honkey Tonk Man (Wrestlemania III), Roberts vs. Andre The Giant (Wrestlemania 5), Roberts vs. The Undertaker (Wrestlemania 8)

Note From Matt – Well, I got one right as Jake Roberts will be on the game’s final DLC Pack.

Lex Luger

Lex Luger

While The Total Packahe Lex Luger didn’t make the splash in WWF that Vince and the company were hoping for, he still was a main-eventer who should be in WWE 2K14! Lex Luger began wrestling in 1985 for NWA Florida, and a year later he was working for NWA that later became WCW where he became a main-eventer who would go on to be a member of the Four Horseman and would feud with the likes of Ric Flair, Ron Simmons, Sting and Barry Windham. While there, Luger capture the World Title and become one of the company’s top heels. Luger, however, left them in 1992 and went to work for WWF and its bodybuilding league the WBF.  His first gimmick in the WWF had him playing The Narcissist Lex Luger, a heel who was so egotistical that he would pose and look at himself in mirrors, his major matches being with Mr. Perfect Curt Henning. Luger turned face and became an all American hero type after he slammed Yokozuna on July 4th. Luger would become a top contender for the world title and would feud with such grapplers as Bret Hart, Tatanka, Crush and Ludvig Borga and would later form a tag team with The British Bulldog to be called Allied Powers. Then Luger would shock the world as he showed up on the first episode of WCW Nitro while also being on a taped WWF match the same night. Luger had switched companies and was the first major shot fired at WWF. Luger would wrestle for WCW until 2001 when the company shut down. Luger would then make a few appearances on TNA (Total Nonstop Action) before retiring from the sport due to a spinal stroke. Luger was a power house in whatever federation he was in and should be a member of the 2K14 roster! John Cena would so be put in the torture rack!

Key WM Matches: Luger vs. Yokozuna (Wrestlemania 10)

So there are my top 5 wrestlers that I truly think got snubbed for WWE 2K14 30 Years of Wrestlemania. All the grapplers above were hard working and guys that impacted the event. I am not sure why they were left out but I hope that somehow some way 2K sees this list and gives each of these guys a second look at maybe being DLC. With this let’s get into our main event with Wally The Wizard!

wwe 2k14. logo

Star Comics officially started in 1984 with a three issue movie adaptation of Muppets Take Manhattan, and in 1985 Marvel Comics fully opened up Star as branch that dealt with strictly kids comics.  When Star opened, it had a few cartoon/toy/TV based comics like Muppet Babies, Thundercats, Fraggle Rock, and Care Bears but they also had some original characters like Top Dog, Royal Roy, Planet Terry, Spider-Ham and Wally The Wizard. While most kids flocked to the more well known characters, Wally was one of the originals that I can remember being on the comic rack at United Dairy Farmers next to Spider-Man, Superman and Transformers, and as I said before, I remember getting issue one as a free giveaway and enjoying it. While I do remember reading a few other Wally issues in my youth, I don’t have as much of an attachment to the character like I have for Spider-Ham, another Star original. Wally The Wizard is a kid who has been picked by the great wizard Marlin, the brother of Merlin, to be his apprentice.  While he is good, Wally still has a lot to learn and is in love the the princess of the kingdom. He has two best friends Conrad and Jay who he gets into adventures with, but he also has a demon guardian who is a nice guy named Gorg who watches out for him. The character is pretty simple and would have made a fun film idea if done by Steven Speilberg! The idea of a kids comic character having a demon as a friend was pretty shocking at the time of the whole Satanic Panic that was gripping America so I give the writers props for having the balls to do that. Wally The Wizard is a good mix of kid friendly adventures, fluffy magic and an element of 80’s film fantasy.

Wally The Wizard AdWally StarGorg as Spiderman

With a look back at long gone but not forgotten Dayton Movie Theaters, the rundown of Wally, WWE 2K14 snubs and the epic making of Independent B Movie The Wolf Hunter, I think it’s time now for us to dive into the world of Star Comics and take a look at one of their top home grown characters: Wally The Wizard.  I want to remind everyone 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 dive into the world of a kid wizard that was way before Harry Potter and take our journey with Wally. And thanks to Lone Star Comics and Bell, Book and Comic for having these issues in stock!

Wally 1

Wally The Wizard # 1  ***
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #1 of 12

“A Plague of Locust” Wally is an apprentice to Marlin, brother of the famous wizard Merlin, and they are in the business of magic.  His best friends are Conrad (squire to the lead knight) and Jay (a chubby fryer), and after an accident Wally frees a demon named Gorg who pledges friendship for life. Wally makes medicine for the King and rushes to deliver it and along the way meets a dragon and helps save its child from a well. Wally makes it to the king and sees his crush, Princess Penelope, but not so faraway, the King’s evil half sister and her minions have made a giant robot Locust and set it free to bring down her brother’s kingdom. The Locust does major damage but is stopped by Wally who calls upon the Dragon he helped earlier who takes the Locust to the sun, and Gorg helps bring Wally safely back to the ground.

This is a great first issue and is a sure way to get people hooked on Wally’s and his friends’ adventures. In this issue, Wally comes off as a normal youth who questions his role with his master wizard and has a crush on a princess who clearly likes someone else.  He also seems to make friends easily as Gorg the Demon and a Dragon both come to his aid in the end. Princess Penelope is a snooty rich girl who turns her nose up to Wally and in some panels treats him as a low life. I hope she gets more likable in later issues, because as of right now I am not a fan. Jay and Conrad don’t have much to do in this issue and are your normal throw away friends who are around to add humor and friendship to the main character. Gorg is pretty badass and is an evil looking demon who talks of the future, but is an all around good creature who values friendship. One thing cool Gorg does in the issue is turns into Spider-Man and tells the kids of the past that the kids of the future love this look.  The artwork in the issue is pretty good and simple and reminds me of the funny papers in the Sunday paper. For being an original, the story is cheesy kids’ stuff that works, and the cover is very appealing with the pink demon Gorg being a nice addition to draw readers in. I only read this issue when I was younger and liked it then and still like it now.  So I really can’t wait to see what the rest of the series is like.  So with no more wait, let’s jump into issue 2!

Wally 2

Wally The Wizard # 2   **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #2 of 12

“The Magic-A-Thon!” When Marlin was a young wizard apprentice, he won a tournament called the Magic-A-Thon.  Now Wally his young apprentice wants to fallow in his footsteps and trains super hard to do so. Sleepless Knight is a pig of a man who stuffs his face and thinks of a blind date he is to have, but when his fortune cookie tells him the date will be a bust thanks to a wizard’s apprentice, he goes to rid himself of this pest who just so happens to be Wally! At the town square, Sleepless waits for Wally and attacks chopping his spell notes in half and causing him to fall inside a huge hole. After escaping, Wally makes it to the event spelless and manages to win just by using his brain. Sleepless makes one last attempt to kill Wally at the event and fails making himself look silly and running his chances with his date. In the end Wally is cheered, and his teacher Marlin is very proud of his young student.

This second issue while not as good as the first was still a fun read that kept Wally’s charm up and built more on his friendship with Marlin. In issue two, Wally is more into his magic and even makes a few spells that he learned but then also uses his brain to win the Magic-A-Thon. His appearance also changes and so do his attitude, making Wally seem as if he had grown as a character. The bad guy, Sleepless Knight, is a full fledged knucklehead, and it’s amazing that he wants to kill a kid over a fortune in a cookie. A funny flub in this issue is the fact Jay and Conrad seem to have changed who’s who as the names are given to the wrong character! Characters from issue one also make cameo appearances in this issue like Princess Penelope and the King. The art in this one is way more cartoon like, and this makes the events a little more fun.  The story is goofy and very kid appealing, and while the cover is pretty good, it could have been better. This is a good average issue # 2 and would have had me back in my youth. Let’s see if issue # 3 is any good.

Wally 3

Wally The Wizard # 3  ***
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #3 of 12

“Folkquest” Wally is down due to the fact he has not gotten any letters from his parents for weeks.  They are servants and seem to have forgotten about him. Wally gets the day off helping Marlin and goes to Vikk, a young Viking boy who lives in the kingdom after falling overboard his father’s ship.  The two feel sad together that is until they hear the news that a Viking ship had anchored and raided a near by castle and kidnapped the servants! Wally and Vikk start of a quest to find the ship and see their parents, but the journey is long and dangerous as they must fight off the evil step sister and giant lake monsters. In the end, only one can make it to the ship, and it’s Vikk who finds that it’s not his dad’s ship and trades his necklace (a gift from his dad) of Thor’s hammer to the captain for Wally’s parents’ freedom. In the end Wally’s parents adopt Vikk into their family leaving everyone happy.

This 3rd issues is a good fun kids comic that is filled with goofy adventure and some cheesy lines that would make any reader smile. It’s shown that Wally is far away from his parents to be Marlin’s apprentice and that he and his family are very close, adding yet more layers to Wally and making him less of a generic kid comic hero. He also gets a new friend in this issue named Vikk who is a young lost Viking boy who lives in the kingdom and is waiting for his dad. Vikk is a nice addition to the Wally family and makes me wonder if he will make more appearances in the series. Adventure and a quest also makes up the issue’s plot and is a fun way to get Wally out of the kingdom and into harm’s way as he is captured, eaten and must use his wits to rescue his parents. The art in this one is well done and much like issue 2, adds more detail to the character.  The story is well done as is the cover making this a good issue worth reading for fans of the first. Let’s check out issue # 4 now!

Wally 4

Wally The Wizard # 4   **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #4 of 12

“The Wand in the Stone” Marlin tells Wally of a story of a wand that has all the power in the world that is stuck in a stone.  The story goes that a master wizard will come along and remove it and become the strongest in the world! Wally’s mind filled with wonder of the story as he and Marling go into the woods to look at the stars and moon, but Marlin has forgotten his glasses and sends Wally back who gets lost and meets a Troll to takes him to the wand in the stone.  As other wizards watch on, Wally removes the wand and becomes the target of all the wizards around who want the power. After doing battle with a few, he decides to put the wand back and is transported back to Marlin’s side with a tale of excitement. The second story in this issue, “The Barbarians Are Coming,” is about a small man named Bul-Bul who looks like a barbarian and gets all the knights in the kingdom worked up as they think an invasion is in the works, but it takes Wally to befriend him and help him get home safe.

Issue 4 is just average and for some reason has two stories instead of one.  This is a change I do not like! Story one: “The Wand in the Stone” is a take on the sword in the stone and fits perfectly in the story this far of Wally and his life/adventures and has he and Marlin charting stars and the moon together. Then Wally performs a feat that shows one day he will be the most powerful wizard. Throw in Conrad for a cameo, and add a small Troll who lives in a small house in the woods, and you have a good adventure. And it shows more adults wanting to kill the young Wally…man, this kid has equal bad luck to go with the good. Story two is “The Barbarians Are Coming,” and while short, it’s a clear throw away and seems very much off from the storyline we have going this far.  While Gorg is back for a brief moment, it mostly follows Wally as he helps a lost short strange old man.  While goofy and light hearted, I just found it to be weak and the pages it takes up should have been used to expand on the Wand in the Stone story. The art in this issue is done by Ben Brown, and while the first stories art is okay, the second seems like a rushed mess and is not appealing to the eye. The cover, however, is pretty cool and has a nice fantasy look to it. With being 4 issues in, I can say so far that Wally The Wizard is a good kid’s comic and makes me really hyped to read issue 5! So with this let’s move on to more magical adventures of Wally.

Wally 5

Wally The Wizard # 5  **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #5 of 12

Wally gets Marlin upset when he trips over a broom and ruins six months worth of work.  Marlin lectures Wally he tells him to always pay attention to things around him. As Wally leaves the lab, he misses as Princess Penelope is being kidnapped and taken to the dark castle of Vastar and his wizard Erasmo who has placed a forcefield around the castle and is keeping the knights from being able to save the Princess. Marlin and Wally figure out that they might be able enter the castle from a hole above it that lets out the smoke from the fires going in the fireplaces. Wally gets the help of his demon friend Gorg who flies him into the hole and into the castle where he is able to free the Princess and spoil the evil one’s attempt for ransom money. The second story is another short one called “Dragon Fire” where Wally outsmarts a dragon as the kingdom’s under its attack!

Once more this takes the approach of having two stories instead of one, and again the second story seems like a waste of pages. Wally and Marlin seem to be at odds at the start of the first story, and this is odd and comes off not as cheery as their friendship has in the past issues. Wally once more uses his skills and mind to figure out how to save the day and once more tries to impress Penelope who comes off as a full fledged brat and is not likable at all in this issue. I do like how Wally clogs the hole and how Gorg once more is his demon self and is a loyal friend to Wally, though I must say I HATE the way Ben Brown draws him.  I feel he rush draws him and makes the character have zero detail. Vastar is a fat evil man who is controlled with greed and power.  His wizard Erasmo looks like a very generic 80’s evil character complete with black goatee! The second story has a dragon who is talked down from attacking by Wally and has the knights once more powerless to stop the challenge that is in front of them and makes you wonder how they stay a free kingdom and not taken over. The art is okay, and while some of Brown’s pages look good, others seem rushed and a mess. I don’t understand why he takes his time on some of it and clearly rushes the next.  His deadlines must have been a nightmare. The cover on this one is also just okay and nothing special. So let’s move on to issue 6 shall we?

Wally 6

Wally The Wizard # 6   ***
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #6 of 12

“Terror Mountain” A volcano is about to explode as The King and his people look to Marlin and his science for help, but he has nothing and only tells them all to flee the area and let it explode! The king doesn’t like what he hears and nor do his subjects, and they start to question why the pay him.  But worse for Marlin, his brother, the great magician Merlin, is coming, and while the world thinks he’s the best, his brother knows he’s a con man and is nothing more than a showman. When Merlin shows up with his apprentice Alfred, they wow the kingdom and take two full bags of gold and say they will stop the volcano and head for the border with the money and no intention of stopping the doom of Terror Mountain. As Wally and Marlin watch, the mountain explodes and traps Merlin and Alfred in its smokey death grip.  This causes Marlin and Wally to come to their rescue, and after doing so, Wally pulls a trick of his own as he replaces the gold Merlin conned away from the king with rocks, and together he and Marlin return to the Kingdom to give the King his gold back.

This issue is 100% a blast and has Wally being a hero and showing that he was the right choice for Marlin’s apprentice. I also like that is fleshes out Marlin and shows a little of his back story in a flashback of he and his brother growing up. Also Star took a huge chance and took a character that every one loved like Merlin the Magician and has him be a complete fraud that’s nothing more than cheap tricks that fool everyone into thinking he is powerful when really he is just a thief. Doing this was a bold move because it changes the image of a character who fans of King Author really love. I also like how the true meaning of this story is science vs. magic, and they want to prove magic is fake and science is real.  Odd move for a comic that is based around a kid wizard. Alfred, who is Merlin’s apprentice, is a good hearted kid but it’s clear he is learning at a young age to fool people and to con them of their money.  I am hoping that both Merlin and Alfred show back up in this series. This issue is back to one solid story, and this is a good thing as I would say that this issue next to issue # 1 is the best issue in the series thus far! The art is good and is down by Brown again, and time was taken.  The cover is pretty good and eye catching with its use of purple. After this issue I can’t wait to see what the next issue has to offer. Also this marks the half way point and makes me wonder if this series will stay solid or start to fall apart.  Only the future issues will tell!

Wally 7

Wally The Wizard # 7  **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #7 of 12

Wally is trying to make a magic elixir and makes a mistake and makes a mess, causing Marlin once more to be mad at him and tells him to go do something helpful. So Wally along with Conrad takes on the task of hanging flyers of the kingdom’s jousting competition where the winner gets the honor of being the best.  The odds on favorite is Sir Flauntaroy who is the King’s top knight. While in a small village, Wally meets Lucretia The Witch who has a strong dislike for Flauntaroy and gives an amulet to Wally to give to him for good luck, but it’s really a cursed item that causes fear! Wally rushes back to the Kingdom to get the amulet to Flauntaroy as Lucretia sends her nephew Heinous to enter the competition and to kill Flauntaroy who shot her down for a date years before. Wally gets the help of Gorg and makes it to the event as Flauntaroy is about to take on Heinous, and the evil plan backfires as Heinous is the one scared and Flauntaroy wins the event. The second story in this issue is called “Wrong Number” and has Wally and Marlin using a crystal ball to call another wizard friend to help cure a headache.  Things get crazy when Wally uses an old pan to do the same and wires get crossed and this effects Flauntaroy, The King and Penelope who all get caught up in the crazy mayhem. All the while, two crooks try and steal gold and get caught thanks to the mayhem.

Issue seven is back to two stories, and once more both are just okay with each being about the same and neither of them being the true stand out.  If I had to pick one, I would say the first story was better and because it introduces two new bad guys with Lucretia The Witch and Heinous. This issue is not really special, and while entertaining, neither story really adds anything to the world of Wally. In both stories Wally is still the fun loving wizard in training and is as likable as ever. Conrad gets his time to shine again and shows up as a background character in both stories and is shown to have a slight ego, but yet is a good friend to Wally. Marlin walks the line again of being a grumpy old man who is short tempered with Wally and yet still very loyal to his young friend. Princess Penelope is shown once more to be a terrible brat who is unlikable in every way. Lucretia The Witch is an odd faced old crazy lady who thinks that she is hot when she is not! Heinous is a big goof with a mean streak and a small brain, nothing special just a dumb brute. The artwork by Brown is good in both stories, and the cover is pretty eye catching.  I must say though, that doing the two stories in one comic always seems to cheapen both stories overall.  I’m not a fan of the two. So let’s move onto issue eight and see if it can get this average issue out of my mind. 

Wally 8

Wally The Wizard # 8   **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #8 of 12

Wally meets a gnome and saves him on accident and as a thank you he is given a magic rope that when a magic word is spoken makes whatever it’s touching disappear. Wally accidentally says the word as Sir Flauntaroy is touching it, and this makes the kingdom’s top knight disappear! Wally and Conrad rush to the mountain where he met the gnome to see if he has a word to make things appear.  While on this quest, they run into a race of ogre type creatures called the Gooniks who are very mean and are the rivals of the gnomes who save the two from being Goonik food by lowering a bridge across a ravine that separates the two enemy races.  But this is bad as The Gooniks start to build a bridge of their own to get across and end the feud once and for all! Wally gets the magic word, and Sir Flauntaroy appears and joins in on the plan to stop them from making it over! At the end Wally figures it out and tricks The Gooniks who fall into the ravine and make homes in the caves below and away from the gnomes.

This issue is pure Wally, and while side characters like Marlin, Conrad, Sir Flauntaroy and even Princess Penelope have appearances, this is a pure Wally adventure, and it’s okay. The issue is one adventure and not two, and this is the style I like. I did find this issue and the story to be filled with some fun kid friendly adventures. I am going to guess that the magic rope will never come back in any future story and nor will the Gnomes or Gooniks, and this is a shame.  A follow up story at some point to tell what has happened with both sides after the feud is over would be nice to see or even hear about. The artwork done by Brown is once more his A game and not rushed, and the cover is eye catching and makes the issue look scary and adventurous. Over all this is an okay issue and doesn’t offer up much to talk about so let’s move on to issue # 9 in the Star Wally The Wizard series. 

Wally 9

Wally The Wizard # 9  ***
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #9 of 12

It’s a dark and rainy night, and Princess Penelope is deathly sick.  The King and Marlin are trying everything they can to make her better and even have banned commoners from entering the castle or going near her. Wally is upset and feels that he is going to lose the love of his life forever as by the hour, she gets more ill. Wally gets the help of Gorg and travels to the past to find out that the Princess ate a poisoned mushroom which gave her the Fungus Hermungus sickness.  Then they travel to the future and find how to cure the sickness and steal a pill to make her well. When they return, it looks grim for the Princess until Wally and Gorg sneak in and give her the pill.  When The King and subjects enter the room Princess Penelope is better, and they credit Marlin for her recovery! At the end Princess Penelope knows Wally and Gorg were her true saviors and rewards them with a blown kiss at a parade.

This is a classic fun and silly kid comic story and is done really well and super entertaining! The plot has Wally and Gorg travel time to find a cure to save the Princess and for some reason this reminded me of “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “Mr. Peabody.”  The part that puts Wally in modern New York is just a really cool concept and brought the character closer to kids of 1985. In this issue Wally is not only a hero, but also shows a softer more emotional side as he cries thinking about loosing his love. Gorg is as cool as always and is the true reason the Princess gets cured as his time traveling skills and his Gargoyle friend are the keys to getting the pill. Princess Penelope is way more likable in this issue.  Through most of it she is sick, but it’s the end where she shows love and respect for Wally and Gorg that makes her come off more charming. Marlin is not in this issue that much, and when he is he comes off as a worried wizard who wants to help a dying girl. The art in this issue is just okay with Wally and the other humans looking a little off.  This art does have Gorg looking better than his past few issue appearances. The art this time is done by Bob Bolling.  With an eye catching cover and a solid one story, this issue is great and makes me look forward to the next.

Wally 10

Wally The Wizard # 10   **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #10 of 12

Wally is having nightmares about Princess Penelope being kidnapped by Vastar and his wizard Erasmo as well as the kingdom being under attack by a giant Goblin Grape! Wally tries to warn Marlin about his nightmares that could be visions of the future and is blown off. Wally is shown some gnats who when used can eat off the clothes of those who have a salt sprinkled on them. So Wally, Jay (remember his Chubby friend) and Alaina the Princess’ young maid all travel to Vastar’s castle and find that in fact they do have a giant grape that will eat everything in its path! Wally and Jay shake the salt on Vastar and Erasmo but are caught and taken to the castle’s cell before they can release the gnats. Alaina leaves to warn the kingdom of the gobbling grape doom that is headed their way, as Gorg and a magic spell rescue Wally and Jay who release the gnats in time.  They eat the clothes off the would be conquerers several times in fact, and even getting the salt on the grape that is eaten away. This make makes the baddies flee, and the kingdom safe once again.

This issue is pretty good, but I’m not so sure as I feel it was lacking something that would have made it better. I will say the story felt more like a back up story than a full issue one like it was. Wally once more saves the kingdom and gets no credit for doing so. Wally has turned into quite the hero over these past ten issues and is a great character for kids of the time to look up to. While in the comic, Jay is not used that much and is given very little to do besides play the role of bit player as goes for Marlin in this issue. Alaina gets to shine and shows that she is a loyal, loving friend to Wally.  She has the world’s largest crush on him that has built up in every appearance she has made so far in the series. I must say Alaina is a likable character and up to this point is barely used, and that’s a shame.  She is more perfect for Wally than the Princess is and here is to hoping he sees that by the next two issues. Vastar and Erasmo return as the issue’s baddies and once more are outsmarted by a kid, making them perfect bad guys for this style of kids fantasy comic. Howard Post did the art in this issue, and it really reminded me of Archie Comics and that’s a cool thing.  The cover on this issue is just so-so and could have been better.  Overall this issue is okay but nothing special.   

Wally 11

Wally The Wizard # 11   ***
Released in 1986   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #11 of 12

The King is having a feast at the castle that has all the royalty from all around gathering to partake in the eating of great food. Sir Evilus and his mother are not happy that they were not invited to the feast and have a plan to attack and take over the Kingdom.  But in the mother’s crystal ball she sees that it is Wally who stands in their way of winning this soon to be war, but her son pays it no attention and prepares for the attack. In the morning Evilus attacks and is getting the upper hand until his men kidnap Wally and by mistake a vanishing spell by Mother only makes half his body disappear.  The young wizard’s apprentice is nothing more than a floating head scares off the army when they think he is a ghost! In the end the spell wears off, and Wally once more saves the Kingdom, but the credit goes to Marlin who poured water on the army below.

This is another light hearted fun and wacky adventure for Wally to be in and marks yet another time he saves the Kingdom and gets zero credit for doing so. Wally is good natured though and never seems to be bothered that he gets no credit and just seems to enjoy the life he was given. Marlin once more is back to full grump mode and is so pushy that magic is fake and science is real, he even skips the feast in order to work on an experiment. Conrad, Jay, Alaina, Princess Penelope and Sir Flauntaroy all make cameos but are given nothing special, besides once more Penelope is a snobby brat. New baddy Sir Evilus is pretty cool as he looks like what you would think of for an evil knight complete with black goatee and evil witch of a mother.  While a cool bad guy, he does not come off as a threat to the Kingdom, but his army does. The plot is fun and gets to add a slight horror element to this kids’ comic as Wally acts as a ghost and superstition comes into play about bad omens and haunted castles. Ben Brown is back on art, and the issue looks nice and is some of his better work in the series thus far.  The cover on the other hand is kind of blah and not as eye catching as it should be. Well we are at the tail end of Star Comics’ Wally The Wizard and have only one issue to go.  So here is hoping that it goes out with a bang and not a whisper.

Wally 12

Wally The Wizard # 12   **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #12 of 12

Wally and Jay are messing around with magic, and a mistake leaves Jay turned into a human frog! Marlin witnesses this and is angered by Wally’s mistake and tells them only a kiss from a Princess can save him from a life of being all green.  They try Princess Penelope and her kiss fails.  They then travel along with Conrad to another kingdom and that princess’ kiss fails too. Jay is upset and flings himself into a swamp and is almost killed by a whirlpool! They rush him back to the kingdom, and a true heartfelt kiss from Princess Penelope brings him back into human form. The second story is called ” The Magic Bulls Eye.” Crazy Ethelred is a wizard who will do magic for cheaper then any other wizard in the land, and when the King falls for his tricks, it’s up to Wally and Conrad to show him it’s all fake and the trickster wannabe wizard instead gets a job in the kingdom as the Court Jester.

Story one is pretty good and is a take off the Frog and the Princess.  Wally once more makes a mistake, and this time his poor chubby friend Jay pays the price. Wally is very much upset over his mistake and travels all over to make it right. Jay as a frog is a crybaby who even at one point appears he is going to commit suicide as he runs into the swamp that’s filled with all types of hazardous creatures. Princess Penelope once more is a brat and only when it looks like Jay will die, is her kiss heartfelt.  She is not a likable character, and one does wish that Wally would wake up and see that Alaina is better for him. The second story is good and is a nice add on to the issue, but also it’s nothing special and is not worth really looking into. The art in this final issue is done by Howie Post with Ben Brown doing the second story, making it cool to see that Brown at least got to do artwork for the final issue in the series. Brown’s artwork is better than Post’s, and thats not a dig at Post as his art is well down and captures the feel of 70’s kid comics. The cover however is kind of bland, and I wish it would have had something a little better. Over all this issue is okay and not the best way to end the legacy of Wally on.

Star Comics made a good solid character in Wally The Wizard, who in his 12 issue run went on many adventures, saved the Kingdom many times, made friends with creatures like demons and gnomes, fell in love, became an apprentice to a wizard, went to the future and so much more. Kids in the 80’s didn’t have many kid comic characters that they could claim as their own and in the decade of sword and sorcery Wally fit in like a glove to become a likable character they could latch onto. While again I didn’t hear kids speak of Wally, his 12 issue run proves that kids were buying, and the fact that I at 34 still remembered him shows that he made an impact for those of us who read him. I must say that this series based on a Star original is really a fun read and a very good series and makes me looking forward to rereading and reviewing Planet Terry, Spider-Ham, Royal Roy, Meet Misty and Top Dog! This also made me really miss Star and wish they would have lasted longer.  Think of the possible IP’s and new characters that could have been! At some point in 2014, I will do one more “Should Have Been in the Star Comics World” and will get a few more friends as well to tell you what they would have loved to seen. But with this I am off to read more comics and maybe play some WWE 2K14 on PS3.  So see you all next update that will showcase a guest reviewer as my girlfriend, Juliet Fromholt will take you down here memory lane as she takes a look at Topps Comics’ Season 1 of The X-Files! So be there if you want to believe….. 

The X-Files logo

The Saw Is Law Here at Rotten Ink!

For the second Halloween update I had a hard time choosing what comic series to do. I thought to myself, should I pick one of Marvel’s classic horror titles like Tombs of Dracula or Werewolf by Night.  Then I thought, why not do something from Dead Dog Comics or Fangoria Comics, two horror comic companies that disappeared way before they should have and had a lot to offer in the comic world in my opinion.  But finally I decided to stick to a film adaptation of a classic horror film, and I was torn between Psycho and Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.  While Psycho is the better film by far, I chose to go with Leatherface because I felt the need to speak about the Texas Chainsaw Massacre this Halloween season. I first saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre with my brother when I was young as he bought it on VHS from Half Priced Books and hyped it up to me as one of the first slasher films made.  My expectations were high as we watched it and after that first viewing I was not as impressed as he was. I was still very much into the classic black and white horror film stuff, and I just felt while Leatherface was scary he still was just a man. Now being older I see that Leatherface being just a man is way more scary then The Wolf Man who is a unreal creature because people like Leatherface are real and are the true terrors that walk among us. But even in my teens I grew to to respect the film and what it had done for the world of horror films.  Not to mention I truly thought star Marilyn Burns was a super fox! So with that let’s first take a look at the real life killer that inspired Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel, and then we will look a little deeper into each Chainsaw film among other things as we travel to the heart of Texas on this October night and stop along the way for some good old BBQ and remember The Saw is Family.  Fair warning, this update will have spoilers.

The Saw is Family

Edward Theodore “Ed” Gein is a killer from Plainfield, Wisconsin who killed two known females and may have killed others including his own brother. Ed, who was attached to his mother, slipped into madness after her death in 1945 and took to digging up bodies from the local cemetery and making not only furniture from the bones and skin but also a suit that was made up of human flesh to make himself into a woman. Ed’s first victim was Mary Hogan, a saloonkeeper that he killed with a shotgun in 1954.  His second victim was hardware store owner Bernice Worden who was also shot in her store.  Both women were dragged back to his farmhouse where they were cut up, skinned and treated like cattle at a slaughterhouse. Ed not only was a grave robber but he also took part in cannibalism as he ate pieces of his victims. Ed was busted for the second murder and was sentenced to life in an asylum where he died in 1984 from respiratory failure at the age of 77. The Gein’s farm house was set on fire, and his truck was sold to a carnival where people paid a quarter to see it after his death. Ed’s tombstone is the target for vandals and thieves as pieces are broken off for keepsakes and graffiti placed on it. As I have stated, Gein was only convicted and only admitted to two murders but there was the possibilities of many more including his brother who was found dead years before on the property during a controlled burn.  The authorities ruled that he died from asphyxiation from the smoke but wounds were found around his skull leaving some to wonder if Ed had attacked and murdered him. Ed also has been the inspiration for many Hollywood bad guys like Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Norman Bates from Psycho, Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs and Ezra Cobb from Deranged. Not to mention Ed has had a few bio films based on him and has had such actors as Kane Hodder and Steve Railsback step into the role of portraying him. To this day Ed Gein seems to catch the attention of many true crime followers and seems to never be forgotten as his name lives on in film, comics and songs.

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Let’s take a look at the films of Texas Chainsaw Massacre….and these do have spoilers! I will include standard 1-4 star rating as the end of each small write up.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Sally Hardesty, her wheelchair bound brother Franklin, her boyfriend Jerry and friends Kirk and Pam are on a road trip through Texas in 1973 to see if their grandfather’s grave has been disturbed by a rash of grave robbers and to go to their family’s old home that is now in ruins. Along the way, they pick up a crazed hitchhiker who attacks Franklin before being booted from the van. They also meet a gas station owner named W.E who warns them not to go to the old house and warns them his station is out of gas. The group doesn’t listen and heads for the farm where their fun and games turn into a nightmare as a killer known as Leatherface (because he wears human skin as a mask) picks them off one by one. Leatherface uses all his tools of the trade to dispose of the teens like his trusty hammer, chainsaw and meat hooks. Finally Sally is the only one left alive and comes face to face with the true horror of Leatherface and his deranged brothers that include W.E., the hitchhiker and their wheelchair bound blood-drinking Grandpa who was a slaughterhouse worker. Sally is chased, beaten and forced to have a cannibal dinner with the family before she tries to escapes the madness with her life as Leatherface with chainsaw and hitchhiker with straight razor are in hot pursuit. In the end the hitchhiker is smashed by a semi truck, Leatherface takes his own chainsaw to the leg and Sally escapes with her life but not her mind. 4 Stars!

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part II – Stretch is a DJ for a popular rock radio station that captures the deaths of two callers on her request line by the killer known as Leatherface. In town, Lefty Enright, uncle to Sally and Franklin Hardesty and a former ranger, wants to capture and kill those responsible for the murders taking place in Texas. The Sawyer clan now lives in an abandoned amusement park, and the Cook (Drayton) is now in the catering business selling his human BBQ and chili all around town and soon at the big football game. But when Lefty talks Stretch into playing the kill call live on the air, she and her coworker L.G. become the targets of Leatherface and his brother Chop-Top (a vet with a metal plate in his head) who want the tape and want them dead. The attack leaves Stretch’s co-worker at death’s door and Leatherface with a crush on her, which saves her life. The Sawyer clan heads home as Lefty and Stretch follow and get lost in the maze. Stretch is found and forced to eat dinner with the family as Leatherface’s new “girlfriend.” Meanwhile Lefty spends time trying to bring the whole place down. After he finds Stretch and saves her from the hammer what follows is a showdown between a crazed family of killers and a crazed man who lost it all when his family was taken away. The result is chainsaw duels, hammer blows to the head, the return of the blood-drinking Grandpa, the hitchhiker’s corpse as a puppet and the death of many of the Sawyer family. 3 1/2 Stars!

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Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III – Michelle and Ryan are driving cross-country and made the mistake of driving through Texas as another Sawyer body pit has been found. It throws them off the normal highway and to the Last Chance Gas Station run by a pervert named Alfredo Sawyer who gets into a fight with a hitchhiker named Tex after he catches him peeping on Michelle as she uses the restroom. Before Tex is “gunned” down for being a hero, he tells them to take a back road that leads to a run-in with Leatherface and an accident with a survivalist named Benny. With no cars and no hope, the three along with a crazy young woman who has escaped the Sawyer clan become the prey as Leatherface and his brothers Tinker (a hook handed technology lover and tow truck driver), Tex (the hitchhiker) and Alfredo (the gas station owner) hunt them down and kill them for meat. Michelle is alive after the others are killed and taken to the Sawyer farm were she gets to meet Mama Sawyer, Grandpa and Leatherface’s young daughter. But when Benny, who’s not dead, comes to her aid the two must kill or be killed to stay alive. Do they make it out of Texas alive, and if so, what is left of them? 2 1/2 Stars!

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Next Generation – It’s prom night in 1994 as mousy Jenny, a young woman who is being abused by her mom’s boyfriend, is on her way to the prom with Sean and her friend Heather and Heather’s asshole boyfriend Berry. They get into a wreck in the backwoods of Texas and meet Vilmer Sawyer, a towtruck driver with a mechanical leg brace, Darla an insurance agent with fake boobs, W.E. a shotgun welding history quoting asshole and of course Leatherface. One by one, like before, the friends are killed off as Jenny is the only one left to spend a horrific dinner with the Sawyer clan, but this time it’s different as they spend time playing mind games and cat and mouse chases with her. Weirdly, they refer to all of this as a job given to them by a secret government agency. But strangely a man dressed in black, a clear member of the secret government agency named Rothman, shows up and yells at the family but lets the madness continue. Jenny escapes the house with Vilmer and Leatherface in pursuit as a plane swoops down from nowhere killing Vilmer and stopping Leatherface dead in his tracks. Jenny gets to a limo where Rothman apologies for all she has been through and drops her off at a local hospital where she sees a crazed Sally Hardesty. The two lock eyes as we end with Leatherface swinging his chainsaw as the sun sets. This film was also known as “Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. 2 stars!

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre – In 1973 Erin, her boyfriend and a van full of friends are driving back home from Mexico and make the mistake of taking the backroads of Texas. After picking up a hitchhiker who blows her head off, they are lead to Sheriff Hoyt who makes them stay until this case can be closed. Erin and her friends soon learn that something is not right with the small almost abandoned town as everyone they meet seems a little off. When Erin’s boyfriend goes missing and becomes the first victim to Leatherface’s hammer, Erin and her friends start becoming human cattle to the Hewitt family that includes crazy Sheriff Hoyt, wheelchair bound Monty, little boy Jedediah and old lady Luda May. One by one the friends die. Erin is the last survivor who must escape her hellish nightmare, but before she does she saves a kidnapped baby, kills Sheriff Hoyt and chops off Leatherface’s arm. It ends with Erin driving off as a one-armed Leatherface makes one last attempt on her life. 2 1/2 Stars!

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning – In 1939 a deformed baby is born in a slaughterhouse and is quickly thrown away in the trash can out back where Luda May Hewitt rescues it and takes it home to raise as her own. Flash to 1969, and the small Texas town is dying as the baby grows up to be Thomas Hewitt, working for the very same slaughterhouse that threw him away just some 30 years before. Brothers Eric and Dean, along with their girlfriends Chrissie and Bailey are on their way to be dropped off to go to Vietnam as Thomas kills his old boss and his Uncle Charlie kills the sheriff to protect his nephew and becomes Sheriff Hoyt. The Hewitt family stays in the town and makes a vow that they will do whatever it takes to keep the family farm, including eating human flesh to never go hungry. Eric and crew get in a wreck as a female biker tries to rob them. This brings Sheriff Hoyt who kills the biker and takes Eric, Dean and Bailey under custody and to the Hewitt farm. Chrissie comes to the rescue with the help of the leader of the biker gang. But one by one they start meeting an end at the hands of Leatherface who ends up cutting Eric’s face off and taking off his leather strap mask to truly live up to what he is to become. Finally, after being caught and watching her loved ones get killed Chrissie escapes or so she thinks. 3 Stars!

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Texas Chainsaw 3D – The Sawyer family is under attack after the events of the first film as the Sheriff wants Leatherface to come out and turn himself in.  Things go south when some good old boys show up and kill the Sawyer family and burn down the farm house. One baby survives the attack and grows up thinking she is the daughter of some of the rednecks who killed her real family. When she gets a notice that her real grandma has died and left her a mansion, she finds out the truth that she was adopted and returns to Texas to acquire her family’s estate. But she and her friends get more than what they bargain for as Leatherface is still alive and lives in the basement and worse the towns redneck get wind of a Sawyer being back in town and are not happy. In the end the young woman must join forces with her chainsaw welding cousin and stop the rednecks that wish them nothing but harm. The film was the first in the series to be shot in 3D and is a direct sequel to the Tobe Hopper original. 2 1/2 Stars!

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The films have over the years built up a huge cult following, and while none of them were huge box office winners, they all are still well made fun horror films that deserve their spot in horror history. If your interested in reading my full reviews of most of the Texas Chainsaw films, then take a look at my old review site Bloodline Video for those and many other film and video game reviews. And speaking of video games we can’t talk Texas Chainsaw Massacre without talking about the 1982 Wizard Video Game based on the film for the Atari 2600 and that turned out to be a major flop but is now highly collectible today. The game has you play as Leatherface and armed with your trusty chainsaw and a select amount of fuel, you must chase after screaming females and hack them to pieces to gain points.  But the whole time you must also dodge obstacles like bulls skulls and wheelchairs because if you get caught up in one you lose fuel and your score will drop.The game when released was considered too adult for the video game market and could only be bought from select stores that chose to stock it and was sold behind counters limiting its sales. The game tested poorly with critics and gamers at the time and over all was trashed for its terrible plot and stiff gameplay. I happen to have an original copy of the game complete with its manuel that I bought from Ebay for $150.00.  While it’s a terrible game, it still holds some charm when you think about the fact it was one of the first horror themed games and the fact that Wizard Video, who was a popular VHS horror film distributor who was owned by Charles Band (Full Moon Entertainment) was the one to put it out. Only time will tell if Leatherface will ever get a full modern game again, but at this point I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Atari 2600texas chainsaw massacre atari adAtari 2600 Leatherface

Speaking of the Atari 2600 game based on the film one of the funniest reviews I have ever seen about this game was done for The Angry Video Game Nerd’s two-part Halloween special where he looked at this game as well as Haunted House, Frankenstein’s Monster and Halloween all for the Atari 2600. In the episode The Nerd buys both the Texas Chainsaw and Halloween Game (both who were rare and released by Wizard Home Video) from a garage sale run by a banjo playing hick smart ass. When he gets home, he plays the game and rips it to shreds for being a poor programed and thought out game. After the review he gets a visit from Chop Top and Leatherface who give chase and he is attacked by the Banjo Hick who is also part of the Sawyer Family. They force The Nerd to play the game longer until he escapes and is chased by Leatherface who gets hung up on a bike and allowing The Nerd to get away. This episode is so much fun and his Halloween specials always stand out for being well done and a great way to remember the horror games of the past. If you have not seen this episode, you should check it out on his website Cinemassacre or his Youtube page.

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A cool short film that thus far has never been released and was directed by William Hopper, the son of original director Tobe Hopper, called “All American Massacre” was started in 1998 but not fully finished, It was supposed to be about Chop Top (played by Bill Mosley once again) and picks up after the events of part 2 and has Chop Top in jail spilling his guts to a Tabloid Magazine about the history of his family. The music score was being done by strange guitarist Buckethead, and the film had a lot of buzz after a teaser trailer was released. In 2011 the film tried to get the remaining funding via Kickstarter but the online attempt failed. At a convention a few years back I spoke to Bill Mosley about the film and he expressed that he wished it would come out as well. So here is to hoping that one day fans of Texas Chainsaw Massacre will be able to see this 60 minute sequel gem. I for one would love to see this because I am a fan of the character Chop Top and would love to see how he survived the chainsaw gut check from part 2 and see how he was captured by the police. So spread the word about this film, and let’s see if we can all help get this made.

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The Sawyer family is also very popular when it comes to the merchandise department and have had so many product based around them.  They have had comics, shirts, toys, a video game, models, Halloween masks, soundtracks, jewelry and so much more. So if you’re a fan of this film and or Leatherface, then you should be happy at the amount of collectibles out in the world for you to own. I for one have a cool retro Leatherface T-Shirt, the video game and some of the action figures. My favorite Leatherface item I own is the 3 3/4″ action figure that is in scale with classic Star Wars and G.I. Joe’s.  Now that’s a cool toy. And I also love my CD soundtrack done by an old website called Roger’s Basement that has music and sound clips from the first two films.  Around Halloween time I play some tracks off these on the WYSO show Alpha Rhythms.

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One little unknown fact is that back in 2001 while Independent B Movie was still going strong I wrote and was going to direct and star as Leatherface in a fan made film based on this series called “Texas Chainsaw Massacre:Return Of The Saw”! The film was taking place after the events of Texas Chainsaw Massacre the Next Generation and would have followed a beauty queen named Gabriella and her photographer friend Paul as they make the mistake of having a run in with the Sawyers who consisted of Leatherface, The Hitchhiker, Vilmer, W.E., Grandpa and Rose who was based on the young girl from part III. The film also had a bounty hunter on the trail of the Sawyers named The Cobra who was hired to kill them by a family member of a past victim. The film was slated to star all the old fimilar faces of I.B.M like Matt Hoffman, Josh Weinberg, Andrea Seay, Dave Wean, Garrison Kane, Jeff Ricks, Brandon Womeldorff and Patrick Neeley. The script was finished and most the props were bought as we got a Leatherface and Grandpa Halloween Mask, lots of fake blood and body parts and even fake brown slime to use on the fake decomposing bodies. The film was about to go into production but it was pushed to the back burner when original scripts started to come in and films like Who Keeps Feeding Grandpa, Farmer Joe and Razor were made instead. Josh Weinberg was a true sport as he acted as the producer of this unfinished project and for many years after we kept talking about getting it into production, but sadly we were never able to.  The film’s script has fallen into the big blue folder of un-shot scripts along side Dracula film Eternal Sleep, Farmer Joe 2 and Matt Hoffman’s fan made Creature From The Black Lagoon film. Below is a fake teaser poster done by my friend Eric Shonborn just for this blog so take a look and think about the no budget fan film that never was.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Return of the Saw Poster

While on the topic of Texas, I just want to also mention that I don’t watch much TV these days and when I do watch TV shows they are on DVD.  But one show that I do watch is a really silly reality show called “American Hoggers”! I know right now many of you are laughing at me and shaking your heads at how I can watch such a dumb show, so allow me to explain. Last year Juliet and I were having some issue with our apartment, and while it was getting fixed I stayed at my parents’ house or we would rent a hotel room.  While at my parents’ house I would stay up late and have the TV on. A show that I kept catching was called American Hoggers, and the first thing that caught my eye was one of the show’s stars Krystal “The Pistol” Campbell and the second was Lea Penick.  Both are good looking women who were taking down giant hogs in the state of Texas, and this was mesmerizing to me late nights. The show is about The Campbell’s, a father and his kid team that go out and get wild hogs in Texas before they can cause more damage to peoples property or cause physical harm to kids and animals.  The show is so much fun and I enjoy the wild antics of father Jerry and the hotness of Krystal and Lea who also seem like really cool people and both girls are great at what they do and are down right fearless. After the apartment was fixed I still found myself watching the show with my Mom and Dad on Wednesdays. I know it’s a sickness.

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Now before we take a look at Northstar comics four issue loosely based comic adaptation of the film Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, I would like to also take a moment to talk about another planed adaptation from them that never happened, a mini series that was in the works based on the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre film. By the midway mark of the Leatherface series, the sales of this title were high and issue one was a total sell out and helped the company gain momentum who were only a gore and horror comic company who made many original titles like KlownShock and Splatter and those titles sells were never as solid as they were on the Leatherface series, making them look at The Sawyer Family as a cash cow and a quick way to become a player at the growing comic shops around the United Stares and hang with the big boys of Marvel and DC. The fourth and final issue in the Leatherface mini series revealed that the company was working on a adaptation of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and many new original Chainsaw stories that was in the works.  The adaptation comic was said to have J.J. Birch who worked on the Catwoman comic on board and was going to be the kick off to this new series of books. Fans were hyped and the comic even had advertisements for these comic books.  Years passed and the comics never seen the light of day nor did Northstar ever speak of them again making many forget that they were even in the works and others who did just moved on to other comics. I spent hours looking into why this book was canceled and could never find an answer. I for one would have loved to have read both the film adaptation and the new series and know that I would have bought them when they came out. I am wondering if the book was finished and if so who owns it and is there any chance that it would ever come out! Fangoria Comics would have been a great company to put this out if they didn’t go south way too soon. Below is one of the ads that was published in issue 4 of Leatherface so that we all can look at it and wonder what it could have been.

Northstar Leatherface adNow that we have taken a look at Leatherface in film, video game and merchandise I think it’s time that we dive into the backroads of Texas and adventure into reading this series! When I was younger I only owned issue 4 and always looked at local comic shops like Mavericks and The Bookie Parlor for the other three and was never successful in my quest. Years later thanks to the team up of Lone Star Comics and Amazon, I was able to find the other three and replace the issue four I sold off to pay rent way back when. I just want you all to remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true it stays to the source martial.  So let’s gas up the chainsaw and have a bloody good time.

Leatherface 1

Leatherface  # 1  ***
Released in 1991   Cover Price $2.75   Northstar Comics   # 1 of 4

Leatherface bashes a young woman’s head in and removes the skin around her face to make a new mask from it, as a woman outside watches in horror and flee’s into the woods. Michelle and Ryan are stuck in a traffic jam that’s caused by the discovery of a massive body pit that is housing the remains of 70 to 80 victims. When they can finally hit the road, Michelle hits an armadillo and when Ryan goes to kill it she finds a chrome skull ear ring at the side of the road. The couple stops at the Last Chance Gas Station run by a eye patch wearing goon named Alfredo who speaks like a pervert, and they also meet Tex a hitchhiker cowboy who just wants to get home.  After Tex catches Alfredo peeping on Michelle as she uses the restroom he flips out and gets a shotgun and shoots the cowboy and tries to blast the couple who speed off and turn down an old abandoned road where they are chased by a giant monster truck that throws a decapitated dogs head at the window and causes the couple to wreck and get a flat tire. As the monster truck speeds off, Ryan is trying to fix the flat tire as a noise is heard in the woods, a simple squeak noise that turns into the sound of a chainsaw as Leatherface is upon them!

This issue is a fun way to start off this movie adaptation and uses Leatherface in only two spots: killing the person at the start of the issue and the quick flash of him getting ready to kill our heros. Leatherface in this issue seems very mean spirited and is very much like he is in the film this comic is based on.  His look is also great, and he is sporting long hair and a giant knee brace. Michelle and Ryan are a good couple who are clearly at odds with each other.  In this comic they seem to argue a lot and Ryan is pretty much a pure ass who takes any chance to try and push Michelle’s buttons trying to get her to fight with him. Tex comes off as just a cowboy who is a drifter and is a puzzle as he is the one who gave them the route they took when they were attacked by the monster truck, and Alfredo is a pure sleaze ball who is crazy as Ygor from the Universal film Son of Frankenstein. The comic has a nice amount of gore to go along with the plot of a couple driving a car across Texas who are fighting over a break up that is in the works and make a mistake of stopping at a gas station that is run by the Sawyers. One nice touch is that in the body pit part two of the workers are FX maser Tom Savini and classic b-actor Dick Miller! The art work by Kirk Jarvinen is good stuff and is the style of 90’s horror comics that I like, and the cover is also well done and eye catching. I can see why this first issue sold so well, and I for one wish I would have gotten it off the stand when I was a kid as I am sure both The Bookie Parlor and Mavericks had it stocked. While it’s very close to the film, the changes are well done and make this first issue a good read.  I don’t know about you but I am pretty hyped to see what issue two brings to the table. 

Leatherface 2

Leatherface  # 2  ***
Released in 1991   Cover Price $2.75   Northstar Comics   # 2 of 4

Ryan and Michelle are shocked at the side of the road as Leatherface comes at them with his chainsaw a buzzing.  Ryan thinks fast and kicks Leatherface in the balls and as the killer drops, he and Michelle speed off! Leatherface tries to stop them but breaks his chain on his saw, and they get away. While speeding Michelle crashes into a truck driven by Benny, a weekend warrior who is a survivalist, after she thinks she sees an injured Tex in the road. They couple tell Benny about Tex and the chainsaw madman who tried to kill them, as he thinks they are just talking smack after being shook up from the accident. Benny goes to the road to get his gun just in case and waiting up there is Tinker, a tow truck driver with a hooked hand, who turns out to be yet another crazy member of the Sawyer family.  Benny is able to get his gun and escape being run over just in time, but his escape is short lived as he is now being attacked by Leatherface! Benny fights his hardest but just as it looks bad, the woman who at the start of issue one saves him and has Leatherface chase after her! Meanwhile Michelle and Ryan are trying to shake off injuries when a shotgun carrying Tex comes for them and fights with the couple to keep them captive. While the poor woman who saved Benny’s life is captured by Tink and is cut up by Leatherface.

Issue two is all action and does not pull the punches with the gore, action and blood! This time around Leatherface is given more depth and at one point when he breaks his saw takes to bashing his own head against a tree as punishment! Leatherface is also way more blood thirsty in the issue and takes glee in chopping up the woman in the end, not to mention it’s super cool as they put dialogue in as to what he is thinking. Ryan is still an ass even being in danger, and the character is not likeable at all.  When he gets his face smashed with the butt of the shotgun you don’t feel sorry for him, but you feel sorry for Michelle who is left to fight of Tex alone. Michelle is likable but does make dumb mistakes in the comic just as she did in the film and the top one being getting into the crash with Benny. Tink is an odd duck who it’s clear he is now the brains of the family after the death of Drayton Sawyer aka The Cook from the first two films, and seems to love technology. Tex is shown to be a part of the family and is a sick son of gun who uses his looks to trick people into going along with what he says. The art work is now being done by Guy Burwell who also did the cover, and while his art work is good, it kind of lost some of the charm of issue one.  Plus the cover is not as eye catching. Over all this is a good issue and keeps you entertained with all the action and blood.  I also love the changes from the film like Leatherface slaughtering the girl, being pissed about his saw breaking and even Tex fighting with Michelle and Ryan; all nice touches and truly flushes out the story a little more. Let’s get onto issue three, shall we?

Leatherface 3

Leatherface  # 3   ***
Released in 1991   Cover Price $2.75   Northstar Comics   # 3 of 4

Tink and Leatherface are having a blast playing around with the body parts of the woman they had just killed, even playing baseball with her skull! Tink finds Ryan’s cassette tape walkman and gives it to Leatherface as a gift and has Leatherface do the classic chainsaw dance for his amusement. Meanwhile Michelle has escaped Tex and is wandering the woods and finds that the Sawyer family have traps set everywhere to capture and kill anyone who stumbles onto their place.  As she is wandering, she finds a normal looking house with a Little Girl sitting on the porch and asks her for help. The Little Girl takes Michelle inside and soon enough she finds out she is in the killers’ home as Tex and Little Girl try and capture her yet again. Meanwhile Benny in the woods finds a pond where Alfredo is dumping body parts of victims, and the two have an exchange of words that leaves Alfredo knocked out and thrown into the pond. Michelle meanwhile is captured and meets the family from Mama to a crazed old man who the family has taken in as their own, and she is forced to watch as Leatherface bashes in the head of Ryan who they have brought home to slaughter and eat!

This third issue is more about suspense and builds up a very gloom and doom feeling for Michelle who is truly on her own against a family of crazed rednecks. Michelle is a likable killer.  While she fights back a tad, you really keep wanting her to fight as hard as she can to get away from the Sawyer family. Ryan in the issue is nothing more than a dead man walking as his date with the sledgehammer is near. Benny is trying his best to find the couple and get rid of the Sawyer family but is always a few steps behind. Tex and Little Girl make a good team of trying to capture Michelle, and Little Girl is just as nuts as the rest of the family. Mama is not given to much in the issue but now it’s clear her word is law. Leatherface is still the mean brute he is in the first two issuea and once more seems to get pleasure in bashing in Ryan’s face. The issue is a nice set up for the big blow out you know is coming up in issue four, the final issue in the mini series, and makes you wonder what changes will be made next. Art in comic and cover is done by Guy Burwell again and once more is good work with an improvement on the cover. So with this let’s get into issue four and see how the story ends. 

Leatherface 4

Leatherface # 4  **1/2
Released in 1992   Cover Price $2.75   Northstar Comics  # 4 of 4

Tink is happy with Leatherface and takes him out to the barn to give him a giant chrome chainsaw, but the gift is cut short as Benny has found them and opens fire, killing Tink with a wave of bullets.  As the war outside is going on, Michelle escapes and kills Tex with a butcher knife leaving the cowboy a bloody mess. Benny enters the house and has a standoff with Mama, but she is quickly killed as he bashes her head in with his gun.  Leatherface is now in the action and chops off some of Benny’s fingers and causes him and Michelle to flee into the woods, but while by the pond Alfredo pops back up and attacks Michelle as Leatherface catches up and fights with Benny! Michelle wins her fight and drowns Alfredo in the dirty pond water as Benny is decapitated by Leatherface’s chainsaw and Michelle uses the head to bash Leatherfaces brains in! In the end Michelle is by the side of the road, deathly sick from the pond water that was covered in disease from the dead bodies in it as a sheriff’s car drives by containing Leatherface, the old man and Little Girl as they are just driving on to make home somewhere else in Texas.

This last issue is what I would call Faces of Death of the Sawyer Family as members of the family are shot, stabbed, drowned and bashed! Michelle in this issue has had enough and kills two of the family members and even beats Leatherface down with a human skull! The change in Michelle builds up in all four issues so as she snaps and kills her would be murders, you find yourself cheering for her to get them. Tink is wasted in the issue as for the most part the whole mini series as it’s clear he’s crazy but is also kind of the brains of the brothers. Tink’s death in the film is similar to the comic as in he is shot in both. Alfredo is out of his mind crazy and is a character I love seeing both in the comic and film get his.  His death in the comic is way different from that of the film as in this one he is drowned and in the film he takes a shotgun blast to his face. Tex is the suave brother and it comes across in the comic that while he will kill and do violent acts, he just doesn’t get into it as much as his brothers. His death is way different in the comic as he his stabbed and gutted by Michelle and in the film he is set on fire by Benny during an ax fight. Mama is just around in the comic and seems not as important as she does in the film.  Her death is also way different as in the film she is shot up by Benny and not getting her brain bashed in like the comic. Little Girl is pretty much the same nut job little kid, and her character is well done because it adds the uneasy feel to all the deaths that she sees before her. The Grandpa in the comic is some coot who just babbles and his over all a waste. Leatherface in this comic mini series is a pure blood and gore crazed bad ass who is after one thing and that’s to make his family proud! I truly do like the way he is written in this mini series, and I think adding what he is thinking is a thing of pure genies when it comes to horror comics like this based around an over all mute character. The art work and cover is once more done by Guy Burwell, and while I don’t like his style as well as I liked Kirk Jarvinen’s work in the first issue, I would say that over all the artwork for the whole series is well done and fitting for such a grim story. To round up this review I would say while it kept some of the core things from the film it’s based around, it adds enough change to make this comic series seem like a “Marvel What If” version and gives the reader a new ride on what could have been a bad paint by numbers comic adaptation. As Joe Bob Briggs would say over all “Three Stars. Check It Out.”

leatherface 3 art 1LEATHERFACE!Leatherface 3 art 2

So thanks for traveling the back roads of Texas with me and looking back at Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. I do have a quick story about this film that I will share with you. Growing up I collected horror films on VHS and I had a really good collection going.  This was before the days of online shopping, and I would spend a lot of time looking at places like Second Time Around, Half Price Books, Replay Media, West Coast Video and Blockbuster Video looking for more horror films to add to my collection.  One film I always wanted was “Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III,” and the only place I could find it was at the little video store K&L Video that me and my brother would rent from and I can remember harassing him forever about buying it, and the owner Kenny would always give me some super high quote like $50-$80. Years passed and when sadly K&L went out of business I was finally able to buy the VHS, but what should have been a happy day for my collecting ways turned out to be a sad one as I would lose a place that always felt like a second home. But the next update will be our first Halloween update and I will post it on October 31st and we will be taking a look at custom comics based on Hammer horror films that I will be reading at haunted places in and around the Dayton area! So make sure to come back for that spooky good time! Until then watch a horror film, play a horror game and always make sure to read a horror comic, and stay scary!

HAMMER HORROR comic logo

Battle of The Horror Legends! Brought To You By Topps

When I was a kid I used to love to buy packs of trading cards, and while sometimes they would be sports, I would mostly target the cards based on movies or TV shows.  9 out of 10 times the cards I would buy would be from Topps who always gave you a stick of gum and a sticker in packs based on films like The Goonies. As I got older I got away from collecting cards and turned my nerdy collecting ways toward things like movies, video games and comics. But sometime in 2012 things switched, and I found myself buying and collecting base card sets and started to buy sets based on Superman, Incredible Hulk and even WWF Wrestling and as quick as it started it faded again as a hobby. But what makes cards so cool? Is it the great image on the fronts with the cheesy lines or is it the back that gives some history of what the card you’re holding means or even a puzzle piece?  Whatever it is, I hope that the hobby doesn’t fade away and when I have kids they can enjoy the simple pleasure of opening a new pack of cards. So with that let’s look at Topps as a company.  It was founded in 1938 and was a spin off from the old company American Leaf Tobacco.  After World War I left the parent company broke, the sons of the owner Abram, Ira, Philip and Joseph Abram took over the company and changed its name to Topps and began making bubble gum, and one of the most popular items they made being Bazooka Bubblegum that featured a character named Bazooka Joe in a mini comic strip that was included with the stick of gum. The brothers then had an idea; to help gum sales they would include trading cards of Hopalong Cassidy, a famous TV western character and this blew up into making cards for all types of things over the years.  From baseball players to rock bands like the Beatles to movies like Rocky and TV Shows like Star Trek to cartoons like Masters of the Universe, Topps owned the trading card market! Topps also tried their hand at other products like candy, posters and even comics (we will get into that a little later), but even when times got rough Topps still was able to hold strong and is still considered the top of the food chain when it comes to sports cards. I for one have many fond memories of opening up wax packs of cards and being happy to see the sticker I got as a munched on the gum. So here is to Topps for making great memories to so many kids from so many decades in time.

1991Topps baseballtopps donkey kong cardstopps masters of the universe cardstopps star trek cardsTOPPS TMNT 2 CARDStopps goonies cardsTopps WWF cardstopps supergirl cards

Topps had taken over the trading card market, and in 1992 they made an announcement that they would now be getting into the comic book one with the opening of Topps Comics. The following year in 1993 the first comics were to come out that were based on ideas and drawings from then retired comic master Jack Kirby who came up with such heros as Bombast, Captain Glory and NightGlider for a made up universe that was called The Kirbyverse.  Sales were just okay, and the series failed to make that big of a splash they were hoping for. Topps also went for blood against Marvel and DC by buying up licenses to make comics based on such shows as The X-Files, Xena Warrior Princess, ExoSquad and Duckman. They also went for classic characters like Lone Ranger and Zorro and gobbled up films like Jurassic Park, Jason Goes To Hell and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But only a few comics seemed to have the sales they needed, and quickly as they started Topps closed the comic branch in 1998. But before they left the game, they did give us horror comic fans some amazing and fun stuff such as Jason vs. Leatherface, a twisted Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre crossover, Dracula vs. Zorro pitting the masked hero against the vampire king, Dracula Vlad The Impaler a fiction look at the man who spawned the vampire legend and the series we are going to review this go around The Frankenstein Dracula War a comic that has the world’s most famous monsters clashing. And all this is a drop in the hat of some of the cool comics this company put out. I can remember my brother and I going to comic shops and buying Topps Comics off the newsstands. Some day I hope Topps once again gets the urge to come back to the comic world and unleashes the same wild and fun ride they did back in 93.

Xfiles 1satan six 1Topps Comics LogoLady Rawhide 1Jurassic Park 0

Dracula has met the Frankenstein Monster in many films such as Universals House of Dracula and even Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, not to mention in the USA the Paul Naschy film Los Monstruos del Terror was changed to be Dracula vs. Frankenstein (also known as Assignment Terror). One of the most infamous ones was directed by Al Adamson who was the master of drive-in movie shlock called Dracula vs. Frankenstein and in this film he also had aging horror icons Lon Chaney Jr. who was deathly ill and J. Carrol Naish who was also not in good health. The film was released in 1971 and was about a mad doctors want to bring The Monster back from the dead and makes a deal with Dracula that if he brings the Monster back he will get a serum that will make him immortal. The deal goes south and ends with a fight in the woods that leaves The Monster ripped apart and Dracula running for his life as the sun is coming up. This film is a turkey but such a fun watch.  Troma Entertainment, the same folks who gave us Toxic Avenger and Mother’s Day, also put out this film on VHS and DVD. The acting is terrible and watching Chaney and Neish act in this film as ill as they were is heartbreaking. Zandor Vorkov plays the Bearded and echo voiced Count Dracula as John Bloom played the bloated faced Frankenstein Monster. This film was made for horror hosting, and if you have some spare time and want to watch a cheesy film you might wanna give this one a shot.

jafrdrdracula vs frankenstein posterdracfrank000

The Topps Comic “The Frankenstein Dracula War” was a series I was hooked on from the start, and I remember buying the first issue from a small comic shop in Centerville, Ohio and becoming obsessed with trying to get every issue the day it came out.  This included going to a number of shops and trying to ask any worker when the next issue was coming out. And like clockwork my Mom, Dad and Brother would take me to the local comic shops to find these issues. I even remember writing a letter to Topps Comics hoping to see my letter in the next issue, but sadly they never published it. I mean this comic series had it all for me two classic monsters from the past fighting and lots of over the top gore. One year I sold my comics to a store I was working for called Replay Media and only kept a few comics from my collection, and you guessed it The Frankenstein Dracula War was one of the sets I kept. This series meant so much to me in my youth, and I used to tell fellow comic kids about this fun series so let’s see if it still holds that charm to this day.  But before we do, let’s take a quick look at both monster characters. First up will be the vampire prince Count Dracula.

dracula art

Count Dracula was the creation of novelist Bram Stoker who based his vampire around real life Romanian leader Vlad Tepes aka Vlad The Impaler who used to impale his victims on wood stakes and dip his bread into their blood among other cruel acts. Dracula in the novel was very odd looking and not an attractive man at all, it wasn’t until Bela Lugosi played him in the 1931 Universal film that Dracula became the suave good looking blood sucker that has stuck with the character ever since.  Other actors who played the part of Dracula on the silver screen include Christopher Lee, Gary Oldman, George Hamilton, John Carradine, Jack Palance, Udo Kier, Frank Langella and Leslie Nielsen to name a few. Dracula’s powers include being able to change into other things like a wolf, bat and mist.  He is super strong and is skilled in fighting due to his past.  He is also very smart and can hypnotize people into doing is bidding . His weaknesses are sun light, if one beam of light hits him he burns, garlic, holy water and crosses act as a repellent and make it so he keeps away from you.  He can be killed by being beheaded or a wooden stake driven into his heart. Over all Dracula is one vampire you don’t want to mess with.

Son of Frankenstein art

Frankenstein’s Monster was created by Marry Shelley one stormy night as she and some friends exchanged scary stories.  The Monster in the novel is very grotesque and is nick named Adam and has a mean streak that is different from how movies and shows depict him as being misunderstood, and yes in the book we also get a hint of that. In 1931 actor Boris Karloff played The Monster in the Universal classic film Frankenstein, and alongside make up genies Jack Pierce they created the look and actions of The Monster that is the standard look and thought of the character to this day. The Monster in the film was very misunderstood and while having a mean streak he also had a sad side, just wanting to find compassion and love. Other actors to play The Monster include Lon Chaney Jr. Glenn Strange, Robert De Niro, Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Charles Ogle, Peter Boyle and many more. The Monster’s powers are his brute strength and his near inability to die! His weakness is his fear of fire and his slow reflexes and almost sinister child-like brain. The Monster is a force to be reckoned with!  

d vs f vhs

But all the powers and weaknesses are dependent on who is writing about those character.  So while on paper Dracula looks like he has the edge, it could not be the case in this comic series. Before we movie onto The Frankenstein Dracula War, I would like to take a moment and share some info on the second film I ever shot.  It was a sequel to the first film I shot, and this film was called “Werewolf of Ohio 2: 10 Years Before.” After finishing Werewolf of Ohio in 2001 and also working on the short films One Second Too Late directed by by Josh Weinberg and helping and being deleted from Nightmare, a film my brother Bryan directed, it came time for me to grab my VHS camera again and head back into the woods to tell another tale of The Wolfman from Ohio.  I always had an idea to do a sequel that would pick up after the events of Josh’s suicide from the first film and follow a new hero who was being tormented by the werewolf rampage after his girlfriend was murdered by the beast. I was going to cast my friend Jason Gilmore as the lead and his then girlfriend Andrea Seay as the character’s girlfriend, but the plans changed as schedules and fighting among the real life couple canceled that idea. I then returned to the idea of mixing The Wolfman into the Suicide film series we made and decided it was not a good idea. The next idea was to have a werewolf hunter come to Ohio and try and track and kill the beast and this idea was heavily inspired by the 1987 TV Show called Werewolf.  The hunter was going to be my pal Dave Wean or Matt Hoffman but this idea was killed when my brother Bryan and our pal and fellow filmmaker Andy Copp pushed for the return of Josh Weinberg as Josh.  So began the idea of a prequel that combined several of the above mentioned ideas into one “epic” no budget shot on video movie. So I spent time and thought out an idea that would have Josh going out and hunting with a trained werewolf hunter along side a film school student who is brought along to film the hunt. I then added in Josh’s dead sister Kanny to the mix who was a ghost and spoke to Josh via his mind. I spent weeks in Independent B Movie Studio writing the script on an outdated PC, trying to tie in all these ideas and deaths together, and finally after a few rewrites I had the script I wanted. So with the script written, I went and cast the roles.  Besides Josh returning, so did Brandon Womeldorff who played The Camera Man once more.  I also returned as not only the Director of the film but also as The Wolfman and as the special effects guy. New to the cast was The Wolf Hunter played by Matt Hoffman, and this character would later go on to spawn his own series of films.  The beautiful Sarah Yates played Kanny who was a young lady I worked with at Blockbuster Video.  Patrick Neeley played The Modern Gypsy as well as did the title song again and many more friends joined the cast to be killed off by the killer werewolf that included Jason Gilmore, Garrison Kane, Chris Weinberg, Rosetta Workman and Jeff Ricks to name a few. So now it was all in place, the camera batteries were charged and now it was time for me to make a movie once more! We shot the film during the summer, and man was it a hot one.  I can remember the sweat just pouring out of the Wolfman mask as I acted out the scenes.  Needless to say I drank a lot of water and Mountain Dew during the filming of this movie just to stay hydrated.The filming was quick paced, and we filmed numerous scenes in a day.  I can remember we had to drive all over as the story took us to many homes and many woods in the area, and my cast were troopers barely complaining of the heat and the long filming days. This was also the first film that I did actual special effects that were taught to me by Andy Copp himself, but I will touch up on that a little later. Matt Hoffman stole the show with his performance as The Wolf Hunter who in the script was pretty much a throw away character, but he was so happy to get a role that didn’t make a wimp out of him that he went in a 110% with his performance. Josh Weinberg cheesed up his performance to deliver some laughs and did a good job for the most part. Josh was also the only major cast member to not read the script and came unprepared to most of the shoots causing for many missed filmed scenes. When the film was done Brandon, Hoffman, Weinberg and myself went back to Fairmont Highschool where our old teacher K.B.let us edit the film in two days, making it that my second film was done and ready for the masses to watch and enjoy.

Oh I guess I should tell you the plot: Josh wakes up to find that his whole family has been killed by a werewolf (Wolfman) and hires a film student only known as Camera Man and a world famous werewolf hunter The Wolf Hunter to hunt down and kill the beast that has ruined his life. Along the quest Josh gets help from a modern day gypsy and the voice of his dead younger sister Kanny. But all the while The Wolfman is killing around town and has a helping hand as well as a man in a skull mask seems to be watching out for this blood thirsty creature. In the end the two sides must have a showdown in the woods that will leave everyone scared.   

Werewolf of Ohio 2 VHS

The film when done, it first was screened at Patrick Neeley’s house in front of every member of the Independent B Movie family, and to my surprise they all liked it! While the film had flaws and some odd music moments that in spots made the audio hard to hear, the film got the group’s seal of approval. The next screening was at sister and brother Rosetta and Chris Workman’s house and it screened in front of not only them but Andy Copp, Rick Martin, my brother Bryan and Dave Wean and once more they seemed to have fun watching the cheese shot on video werewolf film. Josh Weinberg began working on the VHS cover and came up with a design that featured the three hero of the film with a photoshopped version of Kanny placed in the middle on a red back ground with the title wrote out in white letters.  At the time we thought it looked cool, but looking back it was a terrible looking cover! We traveled around conventions selling this title on VHS and to our surprise it sold really well even to this day the VHS copy of Werewolf of Ohio 2 is the best selling title Independent B Movie ever released! This title also got us some fans, and even Chris Seaver of Low Budget Pictures enjoyed the no budget full moon romp. After the film’s release we even heard rumors of this film showing at parties and people loving the high camp of the film.  I can remember one day being at a United Dairy Farmers with my girlfriend Misty at the time and being recognized by a worker as the guy who made Werewolf of Ohio. You can imagine my shock and pride at that moment as he told me how much fun he and his friends have watching the film. Thats one thing I have always been glad about is that the people that watched this film got the fact it was meant to be a fun cheesy z-grade horror film that was laced with dumb humor. One question I do get about the film is who the hell was Skullman and why the hell is he in it, and I will answer that question soon! Most of the Werewolf of Ohio legacy is based around this film and it gained even more of a fan base than the original, and while both are very small it still has a fan base none the less. Oh and another fun thing that I was always teased about was that many people thought that the Josh character was in love and had a incestuous relationship with his sister Kanny, when in fact it was more of my writing that made this seem that way because I was the one with the crush on Sarah who played the part. 

Wolfman 2Werewolf Ohio 2 main castSkullmanKanny

One of the major complaints we had about the first Werewolf of Ohio was the lack of blood.  While originally I was aiming for the 1941 Universal Monster classic The Wolf Man, in the sequel people wanted The Howling. Now at this point I knew very little about special effects and when blood was used in films before this, it was ketchup or hot sauce poured on one of my friends heads.  This all changed after this film as Andy Copp director of such films as Mutilation Man, Black Sun and Atrocity Circle had already taken me under his wing and was teaching me so much more about filmmaking.  He also took the time to teach me about special effects and gave me his blood recipe and his secrets of how to make chunks of flesh on victims. Andy Copp was my film mentor and a great friend who spent time trying his best to teach me the do’s and don’ts of film making, and as we got older I think he also respected my opinions on film making. Sadly Andy passed away in Jan 2013, and I lost a dear friend and a person that believed in me and all the things I do.  He truly was a great man. I will talk more about this loss of a Independent icon of cinema and how he guided me into the filmmaker I am today at another time. But in the film, with the secrets Andy taught me, I was able to pull off multiple neck bites and even some gut ripping.  While the effect look 100% backyard they were still effective and helped add to the over all feel of the film. Below are some behind the scenes pics of the effects that were done on friends and cast members Chris Weinberg, Jason Gilmore, Jeff Ricks, Patrick Neeley and Matt Hoffman.

Chris WeinbergJason GilmoreJeff RicksPatrick NeeleyMatt Hoffman

After feeling good and the “success” of Werewolf of Ohio 2, we moved onto other film projects as I toyed around with the idea of a third film in the series, and serious thought about it when “fans” started asking for it. The idea I had for the third in the series would have The Wolfman running around even worse in the state of Ohio killing and chasing people from their homes as The Skullman is shown to be a warlock who feeds off the panic and death the werewolf creates. But in town now would be Chasity, the true love of The Wolfman, who was shown via a painting in part two, who is a witch who also had ideas of chaos for her one time hairy lover. Meanwhile The Camera Man finds out that Josh was not dead after the attempted suicide of the first film and together they once more get the help of a new werewolf hunter named Bjorn and set out to finally end the evil of the werewolf of Ohio. Josh Weinberg was set to come back as Josh, Brandon Womeldorff was set to play The Camera Man once more and even Matt Hoffman would have played The Wolf Hunter as a ghost. New to the cast would have been Andrea Seay who would have played Chasity, Dave Wean was to play Bjorn and Patrick Neeley going as Bela Chaney would have put the skull mask on and played Skullman. The film was set to be the final film and we even spoke to Chris Seaver about in the end having Teen Ape and Bonejack in cameos coming to join the hunt to kill The Wolfman, not to mention the films gore effects were to be stepped up a notch as was the look of The Wolfman who would have also had transformed hands and wore a trench coat. The film had a half written script as we took pre-production stills and even filmed a teaser trailer with The Wolfman attacking a young couple in a park, as well as shots of other character acting out scenes. But sadly the film fell apart as we shifted away from rubber mask werewolf films and aimed for more slasher style flicks that were selling well for no budget directors at the time. The film would be on and off again for years but never would see the light of home TV screens as the film was officially cancelled in 2007. Below are some pics from the production that show The Wolfman’s new look, Josh Weinberg’s return as Josh, Hoffman as The Wolf Hunter’s Ghost and Patrick as Skullman as well as Andrea Seay as Chasity.

Wolfman 3Josh 3Wolf Hunter 3Skullman 3Chasity

In 2012 Warlock Home Video run by Chris Seaver and The Warlock asked us if they could re-release Werewolf of Ohio on VHS and for the first time on DVD for their classic shot on video line of films, and we jumped at the chance to get this film out into the world once more. And instead of the series being two films we cut them into one film and even added shots from the unfinished part three given viewers the full Werewolf of Ohio viewing experience. We even went out and shot new footage for the DVD’s main menu, and man it felt odd and weird putting on the old Wolfman costume and attacking my lovely friend Jaimie in the same woods we shot both the films at. Not to mention Josh and I took new pics of ourselves as the characters we played way back for the first time in 1999. Oddly enough it sparked my want to make a new Werewolf of Ohio film for Warlock, and if any of you readers would like to see me return as The Wolfman and torment Ohio, let me know and maybe we can work out a deal with Warlock and make a new film possible. From what I hear the sales of the rerelease have been pretty good, and Game Swap in Kettering sold out of its stock. Oh yeah and my friend Eric Shonborn did the cover for the Warlock VHS and DVD release and did an amazing job!

WolfManWerewolf Of Ohio DVD Cover Josh

So now its time to take a look at a fight that is not a battle but a war as two of the world’s biggest icons of horror clash in an all out blood feud. I want to remind everyone 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 with that let’s get ready to rummmmmmmbbbbbbbllllleeeeeeee!

frankenstein dracula war 1

The Frankenstein Dracula War # 1  ***
Released in 1995   Cover Price $2.50   Topps Comics   #1 of 3

Count Dracula wants the lovely Mirka’s hand in marriage, but her fathers is disgusted with everything Dracula and his family stand for and is even more shocked when he refuses to let his daughter marry him and the Count turns into a bat and flies away into the night. This leaves the father no choice but to try and kill Dracula the next morning to break the spell he has on his daughter. Meanwhile in a small village in the Transylvanian Alps, a group of French soldiers, led by the cruel Monsieur Massacre, are killing villagers and taking what they want until dark haired beauty Irena rushes home and gets The Frankenstein Monster whom she lives with to come with her and stop the massacre in the village. Upon arriving, The Monster makes a fool out of Monsieur Massacre and manhandles the blood thirsty soldier in front of his men.  The Monster is stopped from a fire ball thrown by an alchemist solider named Count Saint-Germain who is looking for the heart of Count Dracula so that he may continue to live forever as his last batch of live forever juice is running out, and he forces The Monsters hand to help by holding Irena hostage. While at Castle Dracula, the Count has changed Mirka into a vampire and together they kill her father and his men who have came to end the curse. It ends with The Monster going to the castle and being welcomed by Count Dracula himself.

This issue is clearly a quick way to make it so that Frankenstein’s Monster is forced to go after and kill Count Dracula and what better way then to use a woman as the bait to get what you need done. The Monster is a 8 foot tall, stitched together yellow skinned, long stringy haired skinny man made monster who is as strong as an ox who seems to not really care for mankind besides Irena who has taken him in after telling him he dark secret that she poisoned and killer her father and brother. Irena herself is not given much but her backstory of a woman scorn by her family who raped her is sure to become more of an interesting character. Count Dracula, in this series, is a grey haired suave man who is equally as cruel as he is charming, and seems to take much from Vlad The Impaler who he is based on as he uses wooden stakes to impale his new bride’s father and his friends. His new bride Mirka is not fleshed out.  At this point all we know is that she is a vampire now and was in the trance of Dracula. The only other major character in this issue would be Count Saint-Germain, a man you can tell is as sinister as Dracula and only cares about his own wants, to continue to live forever.  He is one character you want to see get his in the end. Over all this issue’s story is a great way to rush in the back stories of The Monster and Dracula and add in some flare with lovers for each.  Plus they add fights for both Dracula and The Monster showing you what both can do in hand to hand combat.  In this issue I would give the upper hand to Dracula as he seems more violent and sadistic in his fighting nature. The story is great, the art is good and the cover is done by the great Mike Mignola of Hellboy fame so this is a solid issue to start the war with.  Let’s see how issue two holds up for me.

Frankenstein Dracula War 2

The Frankenstein Dracula War # 2   ***
Released in 1995   Cover Price $2.50   Topps Comics   #2 of 3

The Monster and Dracula square off.  The vampire underestimates the power of The Monster who is trying to cut out his cold heart with a silver dagger, but while getting the upper hand The Monster makes the mistake of chasing Dracula who traps him in a cage like a rat. Dracula in mist form takes the appearance of The Monster and tricks Count Saint-Germain, Monsieur Massacre and the rest of his men into coming into the castle to get the “heart” of Dracula.  The vampire makes short work of the men, but he is then over powered by the magic of Saint-Germain who when about to cut out the heart of the vampire is attacked by The Monster who escaped the cage and realized he had more in common with Dracula than this evil man and together they kill Saint-Germain and Massacre and save Irena. Count Dracula and The Monster begin an odd friendship that turns sour when Mirka hits on The Monster and is turned down.  She in turns tricks Dracula into feeding on Irena and turning her into a vampire that The Monster must kill to set her soul free and now the true war is on!

This issue starts off with a fight the has The Monster clearly winning as Dracula seems to have finally meet his match, but he ends up getting the victory by using his brain and out smarting the man made monster. Once they have a friendship in place, The Monster seems more loyal to his love for Irena and his new friend Dracula when he turns away Mirka’s advancements. Dracula on the other hand is cocky as ever as he chooses to feed over this friendship and loyalty to The Monster. Irena gets a fitting death as she is killed by the thing that loves her and it listens to her pleas to be killed rather then becoming a blood sucker. Mirka is a bitch who set this all up cause she didn’t want to be told no – hey wait I have a few ex-girlfriends like that. Plus Count Saint-Germain gets his in this issue, and it’s rewarding watching him get his by the hands of both monsters. The way this issue ends with The Monster screaming Dracula’s name in anger letting you know that in the final issue the gloves are off and that these two titans of terror or going to throw down until one of them is dead. Issue two holds up really well, and I will say the storyline is still solid and the art is as good as last issues as is the cover, still done by Mike Mignola, making this issue still as good as I remember it being the day it came out.  So with that let’s get into issue 3 the final battle in this war.

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The Frankenstein Dracula War # 3  ***
Released in 1995   Cover Price $2.50   Topps Comics   #3 of 3

The Monster beheads and buries the body of Irena and heads to Castle Dracula where he calls upon and fights female vampire Mirka.  He proceeds to mutilate and kill her and takes her head as his first act of war of the Vampire King. As Dracula returns home from feeding, he is greeted by The Monster who throws the head of his lover at him, and the two go to war! The fight has Dracula taking many different forms from mist to a bat like creature to his human appearance and has the two fighting as the castle around them falls apart and catches fire. After a battle that leaves both of them bleeding and worn down the war ends as both know that they cannot truly kill one another. Dracula goes on living in a crypt with three new brides, and The Monster heads to Greece with the hopes of someday making himself a mate.

Issue three is all about the battle and from almost start to finish is the two monster fighting it out, and man when they fight, they go hard. Dracula once more seems to have the upper hand in abilities but also always underestimated the power and will of The Monster who has one fighting speed and that’s go. In the war neither monster wins, and both have losses as The Monster loses his love and Dracula loses his bride and castle. This final issue was a perfect way to end the war and had enough action and drama to keep you hyped as you turned the page.  Plus it was left open for a second war that sadly never came. The story was well written, and the art throughout the comic series was well done and eye catching, and after all these years in 2013 I still find this three issue mini series to be as good as it was when it was released in 1995. Topps Comics is one of the fallen comic companies that I would have loved to see stick around to this day and see what new and cool issues they would be putting out.  Other companies I would like to have seen make it include Fangoria Comics, Chaos Comics, Atlas and of course Star. Fans of both classic monsters will find this series a fun read and should enjoy the over the top gore and epic battles. Over all this series is A+ in my book!

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So with that I am going to do the fantasy warfare of the two iconic characters, and I will say how I see the fight going and who would win. So to me when I think of both Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster I think of the 1931 Universal films that had Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Boris Korloff as The Monster.  So that’s who this battle will be between, and the setting will be the outskirts of a small village in Romania. So let’s go back in time and see a classic battle between the worlds top monsters.

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The Frankenstein’s Monster is shuffling through the woods trying to avoid mankind and to find a place to rest his worn down body.  The sun is going down as The Monster finds a run down gate that leads to a massive castle. He walks forward as the rain starts to come in as the sun goes down, and the moon is now shinning as he walks up the staircase a wolf howl can be heard from a distance in the woods he is leaving behind. As the monster pushes the wooden front door open and then slowly closes it, he is met with a pale figure dressed in a black suit and a cape who moves fast for the attack knocking The Monster through the door shattering it into splinters as both fall into the rain soaked ground. The Monster knocks Dracula off him as the vampire King starts to question why the brute has come to his castle.  The Monster just growls and walks toward his now new enemy as Dracula jumps quick on The Monster again and sinks his fangs into the neck of the stitched together man made monster and gets a mouth full of stale rotted tasting blood.  The vampire pulls back in disgust as The Monster shoves him away and Dracula hits the stone steps hard. The Monster comes lurking toward Dracula who shakes off the impact quick and gets to his feet as he does so The Monster’s huge hand wraps around the vampires neck and starts his death grip.  Dracula grabs The Monster’s hand and uses all his power to remove The Monster’s hand from his throat as well as from his body as Dracula tosses the hand aside, The Monster reacts to the pain of his torn off hand and swings his hurt arm madly knocking Dracula into one of the splinters from the busted front door.  The wooden spike drives deep into Dracula who slowly turns into bones as The Monster in pain stumbles into the woods in the pouring rain. As The Monster is out of sight one of Dracula’s Brides appear and remove the wooden splinter.

 Winner: Frankenstein’s Monster

As you can see in my opinion it would be a very close brawl, and in the end while The Monster looks to have won, Dracula is not fully beaten and would live again to fight and suck the blood of his victims. I love both of these classic monsters and both of 1931 films based on them are some of my favorite films to watch. While Topps Comics run was way too short as a company, they gave me some great comics to read in my teen years, and with that I am going to take a look at next a book from another company I loved finding back issues of as a teen and that’s Atlas Comics, and the series I will be looking at is The Brute! Hope you had a good time reading about Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, Topps and Werewolf of Ohio 2 because I had a blast writing it. So until, then read a comic or two for me!

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Rob Zombie presents The Legend of Bigfoot

Ohio is known for many monsters, ghosts and beasts, and this is a great thing for a person like me who loves everything about the unknown and Cryptozoology. For those who don’t know what Cryptozoology is, Webster Dictionary has this as its meaning: ” the study of and search for animals and especially legendary animals (as Sasquatch) usually in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence”. From this form of study, one of my favorites is Sasquatch,better known as Bigfoot, and Ohio has had its share of Bigfoot sightings! So in this update we are going to take a look at IDW’s 4 issue miniseries, Bigfoot! This series is written by shock rocker and horror filmmaker Rob Zombie and Steve Niles, the man behind comic series 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. Now I know what your thinking: Matt this is not a classic Star or Marvel Comic, or even a old DC issue, and it’s not even that old only coming out in 2005.  I understand that it breaks the mold that has been set but I figured since this is a blog about my youth and fun stories, then why not take a look at Bigfoot!

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Bigfoot has been around since time has been recorded, and many Native American tribes have spoke of a giant hairy man that lived in the woods.  Even outside of the USA sightings and records have been documented about the appearance of this creature. What is always reported alongside this unknown creature is large foot prints, a foul oder, howls and yells and even UFO’s in some cases.The most famous case that even got us quick video footage of the creature is the infamous Patterson Film.  On October 20th 1967 Roger Patterson (an author) and his friend Robert Gimlin were horseback riding in Bluff Creek when by a creek bed they spotted a Bigfoot. The creature was none combative and quickly retreated into the woods but not before Patterson was able to get his camera and take some footage of the creature. The footage was a media hit and gained Patterson and Gimlin fame among believers, but many people thought the story and film to be a hoax due to the holes in the friends’ story. Patterson died in 1972 of cancer but held strong that his footage is real.  Gimlin, who is still alive and tours Bigfoot conventions as well, still holds to the story. But the debate remains to this day on whether or not this footage is fact of fiction.  I happen to think that it’s very possible that this is in fact footage of a Bigfoot!

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But with anything that is unproved without a shadow of doubt, there are hoaxes and one of the most recent ones came in 2008 when Rick Dyer and Matthew Whitton claimed that they found a dead Bigfoot in the woods of Georgia and had the body frozen in a freezer. This discovery lead the two men to press conferences on many major news outlets that included CNN and BBC, and gained them $50,000 from a Bigfoot research team for the body. But when the body was dropped off and thawed it was shown that the frozen Bigfoot was in fact a suit stuffed complete with roadkill animal guts.  The suit was purchased from The Horror Dome, a Halloween online super store. Dyer and Whitton got in trouble for being pranksters and this sparked a rash of more hoaxes. One funny thing that happened after this event was on EBAY the Bigfoot Costume’s head became up for auction inside a cooler.  When this story first broke that a Bigfoot body had been found, I was working for a used media store called Buy Backs, and I kept telling my store manager that they found him.  He had also seen the picture and thought it looked fake from the first moment, but it became our inside joke as every morning I kept saying that we finally got him. While this was a hoax, it still was a fun time that got my blood pumping. 

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One of Ohio’s most well known Bigfoot is The Ohio Grassman who is seen mostly in Kenmore.  He is said to be 7 to 9 feet tall and to have huge feet and a more human face. Many claim he is a Bigfoot, while others try to say it’s just a tall homeless human.  But whatever it is, it’s been known to attack people in the wooded areas. The History Channel had a show called Monster Quest, and in 2008 they tried to see if this thing was real.  By the end of the show they could not prove or disprove that the creature was real. Another famous Bigfoot around here is The White Eyed Bigfoot, who in Eaton Ohio in 1977 chased some kids around a bridge and through a open field, scaring the boys half to death. Josh Weinberg and I have traveled to this location in 2003-2005 and looked for this Bigfoot.  We found no footprints or any other evidence that the creature was still around. The area was very quiet, and the site would have been a perfect place for a Bigfoot to hideout. That’s another great thing, besides Josh I have many other friends that use to love to go monster/ghost hunting with me that included my cousin Stephen Alexander, Jason Gilmore, Andrea Seay, Misty Altick, Matt Hoffman, Dave Wean and Kevin Kinsley. And while most of the time we would not find anything, it was the times we did and the fun we had that made those moments outstanding. For season two of Terrifying Tales of The Macabre Baron Von Porkchop alongside Iris and Retina (of the show Mondo Smash A-Go-Go) go on the hunt for Eaton’s White Eyed Bigfoot.

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Besides tabloid magazines, Bigfoot has also made his way into film and television and here are some of the creature’s most known appearances. In 1976, a Bionic Bigfoot (played by WWF Wrestler Andre The Giant) was featured on an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man.  This episode proved to be one of the most popular in the TV series run. In 1977, a kids Saturday morning program called Bigfoot and Wildboy amazed the youth for a short amount of time. 1976 showed a slow-paced semi documentary film called Legend of Bigfoot. In 1987, a family film called Harry and the Hendersons showed a gentle Bigfoot and sparked a new love for the creature, especially in kids. And most recently Jack Links Beef Jerky runs ads about messing around with the beast and pulling pranks on it. Not to mention many more films that have been made about the creature and other ones just like it. 

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One other quick thing I want to mention before we get into the review for IDW’s Bigfoot series is that we have talked about spottings, hoaxes, local legends, film and TV but let’s talk about toys and merchandise! Yes, if Bigfoot could make money on his likeness, it would be a very rich creature. Bigfoot has had t-shirts, stuffed toys, action figures, board games, video games, lawn statues, stamps, beer, Halloween masks and costumes, books, comics, a monster truck named after him and so much more based on him. Some of the best stuff include the Monster In My Pocket Bigfoot figure, The Bionic Bigfoot action figure, the Bigfoot rubber stamp footed action figure, the Milton Bradley Board Game and the best is Mezco’s figure that came in a line alongside The Jersey Devil, Mothman and the Lochness Monster!

Bigfoot toyBigfoot board gameMezco Bigfoot

So now that we have some quick facts about this famed creature, let’s take a look at a comic series that peeked my interest back in 2005 when they were released.  This makes only my second time reading this mini series since it came out so I am hyped to see what I think of it this many years removed from its first run. Remember I grade these comics on a 1-4 star ratting, so with that let’s get to the reviews!

Bigfoot 1Bigfoot # 1  ***
Released in 2005   Cover Price $3.99   IDW   #1 of 4

It’s 1973 at Happy Trails Camp Ground, and Billy Fuller is a 9 year old boy on his way to a fun time with his mom and dad. At night Billy is hearing weird noises that are filling the night air around their cabin.  Scared by this he goes to his Dad, and the two make plans to go fishing early the next morning.  As Billy goes to bed his mother and father decide to mess around, but this fun time is cut short as a Bigfoot busts in and attacks the couple.  In the fight the father is able to take out on of the beast’s eyes as Billy and his pet dog enter and the dog goes on the attack. The fight leaves his father and dog dead, and his mother is dragged off by the creature. When Billy is found the next morning he is in shock, and the cops walk into a bloodbath that they claim is nothing more then a bear attack. But one cop seems to know it’s something more. The issue ends with Billy waking up years later and older having a nightmare about his mother being raped and Bigfoot being his new father!

This is a fun take on the Bigfoot legend and turns what is suppose to be a gentle beast into a blood thirsty, perverted meat eating killing machine.  This first issue is a nice way to build the story and has main character Billy being 9 years old and shows the event that has tormented him throughout his life. The pace is very quick, and in fact this seems like a very quick read (only 23 pages) and goes for broke when in the first few pages Bigfoot slaughters a deer. The Bigfoot looks great and scaring up his eye helps add a more menacing look to an already large intimidating beast. This issue also keeps me wondering what is going to happen in issue 2, and makes me want to ask questions like was Billy’s mom ever found and if not is she still alive? What does the cop know that he’s not telling? And what is Billy going to do now? All these questions make for a comic that has captured my imagination. The art for Bigfoot is great but the humans are just too “modern” and strange looking for my taste.  Many times they look like the have been hit by Joker’s laughing gas. The cover is a nice take on the old Patterson Bigfoot footage and that’s pretty kick ass in my book. Great first issue to kick off this limited series that makes me look forward to re-reading issue 2. 

Bigfoot 2

Bigfoot # 2  ***
Released in 2005   Cover Price $3.99   IDW   #2 of 4

It’s now 2004, and a man is driving down the road when a 900 pound bear’s carcass is thrown at his moving car crushing him.  When the cops arrive they find that the man’s body is missing. Billy is now a man who has some major issues and is still haunted by the image of Bigfoot making him want to buy a big shotgun. Meanwhile in the woods Bigfoot has attacked two young girls and a pack of boys who are riding four wheelers and goes ballistic and blood thirsty on them, leaving only one girl alive. It’s nighttime as Billy packs up what he needs and leaves his wife and son behind to head back to Happy Trails Camp Ground.

Issue two is more sizzle than steak as most of the issue is spent on Bigfoot attacks, and I am okay with this! While Billy is still the focus and it,s shown that he is a man with lots of issues, he gets the nerve to take a stand and go after the one thing that scares him. I like where this is leading as Billy is now more focused and wants to hunt his tormenter. The cop is now a sheriff and we’re shown that he is going to try and cover up the bear crash. Bigfoot in this issue is one mean S.O.B who spends most his time brutally killing innocent people.  He is also shown now to be super fast as he runs and catches up to a four wheeler and gives the driver the best kill of the issue as he pounds the injured kid into the ground and splats him like a grape. The plot of this one is a nice follow up to the first issue and still in the process builds a little more to the story that we are reading to unfold. Great cheesy horror film style plot, blood and gore, decent art and a wicked cover makes issue two a fun time.  Let’s see if issue 3 keeps this pace up. 

Bigfoot 3

Bigfoot # 3  **1/2
Released in 2005   Cover Price $3.99   IDW   #3 of 4

Hicks (the cop from issues 1-2) is in the woods and finds a rotten body of a human as a female deputy comes for him to tell him they captured a man with many guns in the woods, and that man is Billy Fuller.  Hicks leaves the deputy there as Bigfoot comes calling and eats her face off.  In a jail cell Billy speaks to Hicks about his parents’ death and why it was covered up.  Hicks opens up to Billy and tells him about when he was a young boy he also had a run in with Bigfoot that left him scared of the creature in the woods. Billy tells Hicks that they both need to face the creature and kill it once and for all. As Bigfoot attacks a family’s camper, Billy and Hicks are preparing for the ultimate hunt.

This issue slows down a bit and while still good seems to be a little more filler than the last two issues. This issue’s main focus is Hicks and his fear of the beast and his patching things up with Billy who he made to look like a liar so many years ago. In this issue Billy seems to be the button pusher who wants to get help on his hunt from a man who he feels owes him. Bigfoot has only two kills in this one, the best being when he eats the female deputy’s face! This issue keeps the story going but is a little less impactful as the past issues, making this one an average issue that seems to be more about keeping the story going to make it to the four issue mini series deadline. Not much much more to say about this issue: okay plot, good art, eye catching cover and Bigfoot going ape shit once more sums up this issue that made the series loose a little steam.  Let’s see how the final issue plays out, shall we?

Bigfoot 4

Bigfoot # 4  **
Released in 2005   Cover Price $3.99   IDW   #4 of 4

Billy and Hicks alongside a rookie deputy go out into the woods to find the missing deputy and Bigfoot, and they don’t have to wait long as Bigfoot attacks them knocking Hicks off a cliff and sending the rookie running for his life.  Billy must face the beast one on one and hits the creature with some major blows as the beast takes a shotgun blast to the back and a knife to his skull but this seems to not even slow down the Bigfoot! During the battle Billy falls down a hole and lands in a cave were he finds that the Bigfoot and a mate and kids.  Billy hides in a small section of the cave as Bigfoot comes to his family’s aid and tries to reach the human to protect and kill. Billy uses his flashlight and shotgun shells to make a bomb that blows the cave up, and then bashes Bigfoot’s brains in with a rock and knocking its body off the cliff. In the end Billy finds Hicks who is still alive and suspended from trees, and the nightmare has ended for them both. While in the cave a baby Bigfoot is under some rocks as a adult Bigfoot hands remove it.

This issue seems so rushed, and while the fight between Billy and Bigfoot is cool, it just seems very thrown together and not as epic as what you would hope for and what was built up to be. The whole build up is well done, and when they finally get out to the woods two out of the three characters are not used and not even killed off, and given this Bigfoot’s track record of murder I don’t see how Billy really stood a chance. The issue is more fighting action with the art being bigger, showing, in my opinion, that they ran out of story line and used the bigger art to take up pages. I do like the fact the Bigfoot took a shotgun blast and a knife to the skull and still came after his target showing that this creature was a true fighter and protector. A neat aspect of the issue is the Bigfoot family members who are in a cave that is scattered with human bones showing that when it killed, it brought home the human meat to feed its family. But over all this is a lackluster way to end this 4 issue mini series and for me was a huge letdown. The cover art on this one is also pretty well done.

This series started out with a bang and looked as if it was going to be a fun solid Bigfoot horror book that was done in the same vein as “Night of the Demon,” an old 1980 movie where Bigfoot goes around murdering people. The character build up is well done in the first three issues and let’s you a little inside the mind of Billy and even Sheriff Hicks, two men that live in fear of the one eyed Bigfoot. One thing I did notice as well is issue 1 seemed to pull no punched with the blood and gore while the rest seemed to have blood and gore, just not so in your face with it. The storyline is fun but a little weak for four issues; this could have been easily wrapped up in 2 or 3 at the most, in my opinion showing that they made this last 4 for the sake of a contract or money. The art is hit and miss with me.  Bigfoot looks great, but the people look like big mouth freaks who have been zapped with Joker’s laughing gas! I am sure that one of the main reasons I have a soft spot for this comic series is the fact I am a Bigfoot fan, but it’s one I will sum up like this: it starts with a bang and goes down with a mere yell. 

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Oh, I also wanted to share with you this picture of me with some friends at a Halloween party, and yes, I am the one dressed as Bigfoot! These guys are also my co-workers and are all around kick ass people. I also dressed up as Bigfoot for an episode of Terrifying Tales of the Macabre, and both times dressing up as the creature I had a blast!

Me as Bigfoot

Well let’s take a look at 2001’s One Second Too Late and its 2007 sequel Two Seconds Too Late more films put out/made for Independent B Movie! As I have stated, Josh Weinberg was in a class with my brother Bryan taught by Andy Copp and one of the classes project was to make a short film.  While my brother made the trippy stop motion film “Nightmare,” Josh Weinberg set out to make a slasher film that followed a crazed man who escapes from an asylum and kills as a detective tracks him.  He set out to make that film but really made a film about a young man who’s dad is a drunk and beats and shoves him down stairs, and the aftermath of this warps the direction of the film. Weinberg armed with a VHS camera and tripod came over for his first day of the film shoot and cast himself as the troubled young man also named Josh and cast me as his best friend.  We shot this at 10 Wilmington Place, a retirement home as we chatted in the car about him needing to move out of his father’s house, and Josh’s worries of doing so. The first day of filming was a breeze and took no time to get right. The second day of filming was more of a pain as my brother and I got into a huge argument before Weinberg came over, making me not help on most of the shoot and sit in my room playing Baseball Stars on the NES.  My brother was casted as the Drunken Father, and the tripod was used as the cameraman as Josh and Bryan acted out this emotional look at child abuse that lead to Josh being pushed down stairs or better yet running down stairs breaking my parents banister and having one of the worst “stunts” in our company’s history. The fall leads the Josh character into a nightmare world of murder and suicide that ends with a shockingly. From there Josh went home and shot some scenes of his own that involved suicide. The film’s camera was off center in shots making crotches and stuff the center of shots, but some how this worked! Weinberg during editing left the chroma key effect on given the finished project a dirty yet some how appropriate look. The film played in Copp’s class and a film class Josh was also taking and earned him a good grade in both classes. This film and Werewolf of Ohio were written about in the Dayton Impact Weekly.  While the rest of Independent B Movie snubbed the film, I for one think Weinberg did a great job.  Sadly this is the least selling movie on VHS and DVD. 

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A few years later Weinberg started a sequel to his film that had a group of kids being haunted by the Ghost of Josh, but after only two days of filming the film was canceled. But in 2004, Weinberg started it up again, and this time it followed his best friend (once more played by me) and his girlfriend (played by my then girlfriend Misty Altick) trying to hunt down and find Josh who has been missing, while the drunken father tried to throw them off the track. The film’s shooting was plagued with setbacks and took years to get finished, and after it wrapped, Andy Copp edited and did the music score for the film that was released quietly on DVD with the original. While these films might not be huge sellers, they still have a place in the history of Independent B Movie and mark the first two films Josh Weinberg directed.

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This is the most violent comic series we have looked at so far and won’t be the last.  One of the things that I loved in my youth and to this day is horror films and with more horror film-inspired comics out there then I can shake a stick at, look for every once in a while a update about them.  So be prepared for Halloween, Night Breed, Werewolf, A Nightmare on Elm Street and so many more! We also took a quick look at Josh Weinberg’s shot on video classic. And with that let’s get back to basics and take a look at another great series from Marvel Comics based on a cartoon and toy line on the first mutated super hero from New Jersey and a rag tag team of freaks.  This means I could only be talking about The Toxic Crusaders! Thanks to Mavericks Cards and Comics for this review who stocked this title in 2005 and put every issue into my pull file. See you next blog entry for a toxic good time.

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