It’s October, the time of the year when the wind blows cold and a chill is in the air. For me, this month belongs to Halloween, horror films, horror hosts and of course one good scare. Being scared is thrilling and gets your heart pumping and your blood flowing. I can remember one time when I was a teenager, my friend Kevin and I went to a local cemetery late at night during October. The wind was blowing, and it was very chilly as we were walking around we were talking about film ideas and even exchanging ghost stories. The cemetery was pitch black as we walked deeper in with ideas of vampire and werewolf films echoing among the tombstones. As we reached the center, a loud clang was heard and it sounded like metal hitting metal. I was startled, and as I turned around to ask Kevin what that noise was, I saw a shadow and a dust cloud as he was so scared he was running at full speed back to the car. Even though I figured out it was just the flag pole making the noise in the wind, he wanted to leave. This experience also made me think of the old ghost story of the woman who used the letter opener to stab the ground in the graveyard and by accident pinned her own dress to the ground. She became so scared that an undead force had her, she died of fright! And that brings me to this update based on the Paul Naschy film Panic Beats that is about fear, revenge and a curse and also brings up the question, could someone die from fear? So hopefully you have nerves of steel as we take a look at Panic Beats, fear and other spooky and weird things on this October update!
Fear is defined as “to be afraid of (something or someone), to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant) and to be afraid and worried” by Webster, and I think that at some time in our life we have all tasted fear in some way or another. Whether it’s a fear of animals or even death itself, fear has placed its cold grip on us all. When I was a youngster, being a total dumb kid and on a dare from friend Brad Burns, I poked a nest of hornets with a baseball bat and paid the price as they chased me across the street to my home stinging and biting me all the way! Needless to say, for many years after I had a very strong dislike for bees, wasps and hornets as when they would fly at me the fear of being stung would creep into my brain. Of course now as an adult I have come to peace with them as I realized I was the butthead in that attack and was the one who provoked that stinging frenzy. Growing up, my mom was afraid of dogs and pigs as she grew up around them and saw the mean side of them. My brother Bryan was scared of a ventriloquist dummy named Willy Talk when he was younger, My cousin Stephen was scared of dolls like Chucky. My friend Jason Young feared death for a short while as we all do, and my girlfriend Juliet was scared of the thought of her home catching fire and this gave her some sleepless nights for sure. So as you can see, fear has even gotten to those close to me! So what did or do you fear?
This all makes me wonder if anyone has 100% truly died of fear as we have all heard the terms “you scared me to death” and “scared to death,” and the answer is yes! You see many people have died from fear during crimes, earthquakes and other natural disasters people’s hearts have stopped from fear and being overly charged with it! You can also die from any major emotional rush like even cheering for your favorite sport teams or being so hyped playing a video game! While this is not super common, it can happen and makes one wonder has anyone every been scared to death by a Halloween prank? So I did some deep searching on the web to try and find a case, and to my shock I could not. I found cases where pranks on Halloween went wrong and led to the death of someone like accidental hangings and such and uncovered cases of people who died of fear as they were going to be executed via firing squad, but nothing solid to say someone died of fear from a prank pulled on Halloween. But for all you pranksters out there who like to pull a good rib on Halloween as well as you sports fans cheering for your favorite team, think twice before you do so because who knows, a sudden death might await you!
I can recount one time in the fall that I got a cold shiver up my spine while at a local cemetery called Beavertown Cemetery in Kettering. You see Josh Weinberg and I were in the cemetery scouting it out for the purpose of maybe using it for a zombie flick I had written called “Stairway to Heaven” that followed a small town during a zombie outbreak. We had shot some test footage at a cemetery in Beavercreek and liked what we saw but wanted to find an alternative just in case as a road was really close to that one and we wanted more of a quiet location like the Kettering one. I knew Beavertown Cemetery well as it had been the location for press pictures for my film Werewolf of Ohio 2 and was a place I use to take my girlfriend Misty to make out so. As we were wandering around, I was near a tombstone that was as tall as me as I stand 6 ‘ 2 “ and the name I saw was Sarah Houston. As I got closer, I heard a knock. I was taken back as the knock sounded as if it was coming from the tombstone itself! I called for Josh who came over and as well heard the knocking that was coming about 15-20 seconds apart. We stood around for a few minutes listening to the knocks and even returned the knocks on the tombstone, but as quickly and as mysteriously as they started, the knocking stopped. Josh and I tried our best to figure out what the knocking noise was as I am sure it was not a spirit or at least I don’t think it was! But the pure emotion of that whole situation was something amazing as it sent shivers down my spine but also made me feel alive and full of wonder. That grave and that experience even made me write a short film script called Sarah’s Grave about a man who lost his girlfriend in a car wreck and by a miracle she is able to come back to him for one day before having to return to her eternal slumber. It’s been many years since I went back to visit that grave and from what I have heard some scum bag Kettering d-bags decided it would be fun to tip over and break tombstones, and it appears as if Sarah’s grave was one of these buttheads targets. I am by no means saying that the knocking was that of the undead, but I am also not 100% ruling it out all I can really say is that it was a fun experience that made that year’s Halloween a little more spooky and added to the season for sure. I should also note that the knocking only happened that one time, and Josh and I went back several times after at all times of the day and never heard it again. Below is a picture we took of Sarah’s Grave as it appeared in 1999, the year of the knocking.
A murder took place on August 1st 2015 at 5:46 am in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one that shocked not only the world but also the internet as the lovable hitchhiking robot named hitchBOT was decapitated, arms dismembered and left like trash on the side of the road. A video of the attack was posted, but many think it was a hoax to gain hits to the website that posted it. But one thing is for sure, someone brutally killed that poor little robot and even stole all the wires from his body and it looks like he might be beyond repair. For those who don’t know, hitchBOT was made by Canadian team David Harris Smith and Frauke Zeller, and was a robot with a plastic beer bucket body, pool noodle arms & legs with gloves and boots on, with a cake saver head with a display screen face that smiled and talked to those who were nice enough to give him a ride or even pass him by on his journey. On his adventures he made it across Canada, parts of Germany as well as Europe! He went to weddings, baseball games, comic conventions and landmarks all the while documenting it via his website and Instagram account. In other words, he was enjoying the interaction with strangers. It’s clear as day that whomever killed hitchBOT was a real lowlife scum bag kind of like the people who broke tombstones in Beavertown Cemetery and destroyed it because they didn’t understand him and probably wanted to steal his wiring to sale for scrap. Total scummy and is sad that one/several lowlifes did this and gave America a bad name as it looks as if we have to destroy things that are here for fun. I hope that someday the freak(s) who did this is found so at least we can get an answer to why hitchBOT was killed and see if they have any remorse for what they have done. Who knows if the poor little hitchBOT will be repaired and continue his journey as only time will tell. All silliness aside, it does really stink that hitchBOT was destroyed as I would have loved to have taken him around Ohio to visit Waynesville, Frankenstein’s Tower, Fifth Third Field, Game Swap Kettering, King’s Island and of course have him in a episode of Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre with Baron Von Porkchop! Here is to you hitchBOT, may your journey to the robot other world be a peaceful one, and to your creators, I am sorry that he meet his fate this way in our great country. Below are some pics of hitchBOT, but be warned, one is of his murder scene.
But let’s move away from knocking tombstones and murdered robots and talk about something wicked that’s coming your way via your local comic shop! As I am sure you readers know, I am a huge fan of horror comics as well as independent horror films, and I am super hyped for a new comic mini series that’s in the works called We Kill The Dead that combines them together for what’s for sure to be a bloody good read. The mastermind behind this series is John Lepper, who also runs a horror website called The Blood Shed and grew up watching slasher flicks and became hooked when his dad showed him Halloween when he was a teen, with art done by Bryan Revell. The series will follow Joanna, a young woman who joins an elite group of soldiers who go after unstoppable killers called Supernatural Special Tactics Bureau lead by Nathan Scrimm who are on the trail of a resurrected Jack The Ripper and his undead slasher army! Sounds like lots of fun right? Well the most kick-ass part about this series will be that it will feature cameos from slashers from independent horror films! You will see the likes of Thorn from Legacy of Thorn, The Dollman from Methodic, Gurdy The Clown from 100 Tears, Porkchop from Porkchop, The Black Knight from Dead of Knight, The Bowling Bag Killer from Gutterballs, Billy from Billy Club, Dorchester Stewart from Crinoline Head, Bonesetter from The Bonesetter, Jonah from Jonah Lives!, Verden Fell from Frightworld, Jack-O from Jack-O, Stitches The Clown from Stitches, Blood Widow from Blood Widow, Mary Hatchet from Blood Night The Legend of Mary Hatchet, Charlie from High Beams: The Break In, Jimmy Fisher from Evil Night, and I am proud to say my own low budget slasher The Sadness will be slashing his way into the action! Plus he has one huge name he can not announce yet and who knows if more will be added! I am really proud to say that I helped with this comic’s Kickstarter and am looking forward to reading the issue and seeing not only The Sadness as well as the other slashers but also myself! You see I am going to be a member of the Supernatural Special Tactics Bureau as I am super hyped to have chosen that perk and can’t wait for you all to see what slasher waits me in combat. I already know, but I’m not telling as once this series is done we will have a major update about it. When the comic is done make sure to ask your local comic shops to contact The Blood Shed website and order some for you and fellow shoppers. The other thing that I can’t wait for is to see what other twisted horror comic tales are coming out via Lepper’s mind as I am sure they will be amazing. Plus it’s nice to see a new horror comic rise to take the place of the fallen companies like Fangoria Comics, Dead Dog Comics and Northstar Comics and give us fans series and issues to look forward to. Once I get the physical copies of We Kill The Dead, I will be sure to deliver an update to all my friends and readers here at Rotten Ink.
But we are now at the main course of this update as it’s time to talk about Panic Beats, a film that was made and starred the legend of Spanish horror Paul Naschy. Panic Beats was released in 1983 and was the brain child of Naschy who wrote, directed and starred in the film as Paul/Alaric de Marnac and it shows that his heart was in this film as it’s a solid chiller that has twists, turns and lots of bloody deaths that keeps the viewer glued to the screen. IMDB has the films write up as being this “The spirit of a deceased knight returns every 100 years to clean a house by graphically murdering the women who are making the life of his descendants unbearable.” and has the rating of 5.8 out of 10. While the film was a hit around the world, it only reached cult status here in America thanks to drive-in and grindhouse theaters. The issue that Panic Beats had here in America is that it was up against many now classic films like Psycho II, Sleepaway Camp, Cujo, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Jaws 3-D, Christine, Twilight Zone The Movie and Amityville 3-D! Not to mention, it was up against many other cult films like Scalps, The Final Terror, Mausoleum, Deadly Spawn and A Blade In The Dark to name a few so sadly it was overlooked and many places didn’t even show it in America until years later. I first saw the film thanks to Mondo Macabro who released it on DVD in 2005 and by this time I had already seen many of Naschy’s werewolf character Waldemar Daninsky film on VHS and was becoming a fan. I ordered Panic Beats on DVD from the Blockbuster Video I was working at and when it came in I quickly bought it and rushed home to watch it, and was blown away from the story as well as the effects used for the deaths. And when I discovered that artist Javier Trujillo who also did the Naschy comic called Return of The Werewolf also did a comic based on Panic Beats, I knew I had to read it!
Javier Trujillo, the artist behind this comic, has quickly become one of my favorite modern artist as his style is a blend of a Renaissance painting with a touch of fantasy and when put together, the art is absolutely stunning. Javier is the master of drawing Paul Naschy as every piece of art with his image looks as if you’re viewing a picture of the actor, not to mention the way he draws the female body is much like Art Adams as the both understand the curves of the female forum. His currant project is called Dreams, which can be bought on Amazon for your Kindle, and is a erotic comic. I am also proud to call him a friend. While I have never met the man face to face, thanks to social media I have been able to write to him and pick his brain on art as well as share good talks of physical paper comics vs. digital comics as he is sure to be a pioneer of bringing digital comics to the front with his amazing work. While he at this time has moved away from horror comics, I still will say his work on the Paul Naschy-inspired werwolf comics rank as some of my all time favorite comic series, and I am super hyped to read his Panic Beats comic and review it for you all today. In closing, thanks, Javier for being you and making quality books with top notch art.
I am a comic book reader and have been since I was a youngster, and while I love classic Marvel Comics, I have always had a soft spot for the independent comic companies as most of the time they delivered the best in the world of horror comics. I cannot tell you how hyped I am to read and review this comic based on Panic Beats! So before we see if this comic can scare me to death, I should remind you all that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So I am ready to see what terror awaits me and how close this comic captures the spooky nature of the film so with no more wait let’s take a look at Panic Beats. I want to warn readers this review does contain spoilers for both the comic and the film, so read with caution if you have not seen the film.
Panic Beats # 1 ***1/2
Released in 2015 Cover Price $2.99 Javier Trujillo #1 of 1
A woman in a panic is running naked through the woods trying her best to get away from a knight who has bloodlust in his eyes. The knight’s name is Alaric, and he murders the woman in cold blood and seems to enjoy every brutal moment. We skip to France, the year 1983, and Paul, a relative of Alaric, has just gotten word that his wife Genevieve has a weak heart and that she needs to go to his old family house in the middle of nowhere to get fresh air and peace and quiet. The maid and her niece Julie are getting the old home ready and talking about the ghost story of Alaric and how he killed his wife and became into the occult and was executed for his crimes. The two woman exchange thoughts and go about getting the home ready. While on the road Paul and Genevieve run out of gas. As Paul walks to get gas, some local thieves attack Genevieve and start to rob her but she is saved by Paul who beats them up. Paul and Genevieve make it to the old family house and quickly things turn bad as Julie tells Genevieve of the legend of Alaric and this triggers nightmares, delusions and panic attacks that lead to her death! But we soon find out that Paul used the legend as well as the help of Julie and the two local thieves to drive her into complete fear and give her a heart attack. Paul and Julie team up and kill the maid as well as Paul’s secretary from work and then marry after Genevieve’s funeral. But while Paul and Julie seem like a happy evil couple, it’s not so as Julie electrocutes Paul while he is taking a bath as she only married him for the money he inherited when Genevieve died! But as this twisted tale ends, we soon find that the evil spirit of Alaric is real and he brutally murders Julie for her crime against his ancestor.
This is a fantastic example of a well made top notch comic adaptation of a horror film and once more shows why Javier Trujillo is one of my favorite artists and creators working now! The plot of this comic is filled with twists and turns and surprises that keep the reader wondering what is the true nature of characters and what is real and what’s legend and superstition. Paul is a man who, when we first meet him, you think is a loving husband who wants his ill wife to get better and is trying his best to get her well, but when his true intentions and evil side come out we see he is just a sinister spirited man who cares more about money and power than his wife whom he never loved and only married for her money. The way he uses her weak heart against her and with the help of other scumbags forces her to have a heart attack is stuff of real life nightmares. Genevieve comes off a a very weak and ill person, who believes in her husband and thinks that by going to his old family home this will help her heal, but sadly she dies never knowing her scumbag husband has literally scared her to death. Julie is a young woman who as well has a black heart as she jumps on board with scaring Genevieve to death, and then in return seduces Paul into marrying her so that she can kill him and collect all the money! Julie is the perfect evil woman who uses her looks to draw people in and then uses them to inflect doom on those foolish enough to trust her. The maid, the two hired crooks and the secretary all are great background players and all fit their part well whether it be victim of accomplice. Alaric in life was a crazed madman and even as a spirit lives up to his reputation of bloodlust and murder. His sinister legend is what’s used to kill Genevieve and in the end his curse is what avenges Paul by brutally killing Julie for her betrayal. The comic is packed with some great blood and gore and while not over done it’s very much effective, as is the use of change of colors when a character is having a nightmare or when panic has set in Trujillo is that master of capturing the mood of these Naschy films and making it come alive in the comics. The comic’s script was based on the film’s script written by Paul Naschy and is a great twisted tale that in my opinion still holds up to this day in the creepy and moody department. The comic that was originally done in Spanish was translated by Elena Romea Parente, and while it does have some slightly rough patches it does its work. The artwork by Javier Trujillo is top notch art and feels like a painting come alive! The way he draws Paul Naschy really makes it feel like the late actor is alive and well on the screen/pages before your very eyes. This comic captures the magic of the film and delivers a well done horror comic that should not only please the fans of the film but also those comic readers who enjoy a good fright. Check it out as it’s worth every penny, and in closing this was a perfect comic to kick off my October and I can’t wait to see what Naschy inspired comic Javier Trujillo comes out with next! Check out this piece of artwork from the comic below.
This fourth update to our countdown to Halloween was a great one and has truly gotten me in the mood to read more and more horror comics and with our next update we will be leaving the world of Paul Naschy and will be heading to the lab of Dr. Jekyll as we cover Comics Classic Illustrated’s adaptation of the novel The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! I hope Panic Beats didn’t scare you too badly and that you do join me back for the next update as I am sure it will as well scare you to the bone! So with the chill in the air and the ghost and goblins of Halloween running loose it the streets, it’s my cue to bid you a fun time reading a horror comic or three, watch a Paul Naschy Horror Film and support your local Horror Host.