Avengers Assemble…We’re Needed

Welcome back, True Rotten Ink-lievers!  Juliet here, on this momentous occasion where we’ll be covering one of the greatest team-ups to grace both the page and the screen. I’m talking about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, John Steed and Emma Peel.  That’s right, I’m joining you to talk about The Avengers….but not those Avengers. We’ll be looking at the spies played by John Macnee and Diana Rigg in the 1960s British television show, The Avengers, and their 2012-13 comic book series from Boom Studios.  So grab a bowler hat and a stiff drink, readers, we’re needed.

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Although knowledge of the show is more widespread these days, there are many people that don’t realize that the Avengers existed both before and after the Emma Peel years.  The show premiered in 1961 from the English ABC (Associated British Corporation), focusing on the espionage adventures of Dr. David Keel with Patrick Macnee’s John Steed showing up in the first episode offering his assistance.  Steed would remain in the assistant’s role for all of series one, which was cut short due to an Actor’s Equity strike. When production resumed in 1962, Steed was now the focus of the show partnering briefly with Dr. Martin King and Venus Smith and more permanently with Cathy Gale, played by Honor Blackman.  It was during this time that the show as we know and love it really took shape: Steed’s look was established as the bowler-wearing English gentleman spy, while Cathy donned leather catsuits, which Emma Peel would also adopt along with the latest in mod fashion.

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In 1965, the show was sold to the American Broadcasting Company (also ABC) and became one of the first British shows on to air on American television. The show moved from shooting on videotape to 35mm film, and in October, Diana Rigg debuted as Steed’s new partner Emma Peel.  We’ll discuss more about Steed and Peel momentarily, but for now let’s focus on the show itself. Along with Emma Peel, this new era of the Avengers introduced science fiction, fantasy and the occasional fetishistic elements to the plot. With the fifth series (aka season since we’re talking about British TV) in 1966, the show began shooting in color.  This was also the year that several of the show’s signature elements were introduced.

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Two of the best known elements that in truth only lasted for 15 episodes, are “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed” and the “Steed does/Emma does” tags, both appearing at the start of an episode after of course the murder or inciting incident for the case had been established. We’d see Emma doing something ordinary. She’d then receive or encounter the message “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed” at which time Steed would appear from seemingly nowhere and their adventure would begin.  The tag would show up under the episode title and give a comedic description of each character’s actions during the episode. For example, in “The Winged Avenger,” the tag is, “Steed Goes Birdwatching. Emma Does a Comic Strip”

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Diana Rigg left the show in 1967, gone was Emma Peel and gone were the sci-fi/fantasy elements with her.  The producers opted to return to the more realistic spy adventures that viewers had seen in the Cathy Gale era, and this time Steed’s partner was Tara King, played by Linda Thorson.  This sixth series would also introduce the characters of Mother and Father who would be central characters in the 1998 movie remake of the Avengers (more on that further down). But series 6 was to be the last as, although the show was popular in the UK and Europe, in the U.S. it was airing opposite the then number 1 show in the country Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In and just couldn’t compete.  When the show cancelled in the U.S., the finances became unsustainable and Avengers ceased production in May 1969.

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Now that we’ve talked about the history of the show, let’s get into the characters and the people who portrayed them.  Born of a noble family and having served in the RAF in WWII (like his portrayer Patrick Macnee), John Steed is an agent in an unnamed British intelligence agency that some claim exists in the same universe/canon as James Bond.  In his initial appearances in Avengers, Steed was less refined than the character we’d come to know and love, but fairly quickly, he adopted the signature suave look of a three-piece suit, bowler hat, and umbrella, which would become his signature look. Steed is both sassy and sauve, and although he can be playful, when the time comes, he’s an ace spy and is well verse in hand to hand combat and swordsmanship. The role of Steed came around at the precise right time for actor Patrick Macnee.  After serving in WWII for England, he began his acting career in Canada with smaller roles but didn’t meet with much success. By the late 1950s, he was smoking and drinking to excess and had nearly given up on acting opting to produce documentaries when he was offered the role of John Steed, which he would play until 1969. Macnee helped establish the character’s look and personality, insisting, for example, that Steed never use a gun, in part because of the horrors that Macnee had witnessed in WWII.  He wrote two novels based on The Avengers and later hosted a documentary about the show. Macnee would go on to be in a James Bond film, Magnum P.I., The Howling and more, including a cameo in the 1998 Avengers remake (I promise, we’re getting there). Patrick Macnee died in June of 2015 at the age of 93.

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Dame Diana Rigg made her stage debut in 1957 and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1959.  When Elizabeth Shepherd, originally slated to play Emma Peel, left the production, Rigg auditioned for the role having never seen The Avengers.  She was an instant star, despite making very little money for her work on the show, which is what ultimately drove her to leave after two years. Rigg went on to star in both film and television roles, including a stint hosting Mystery on PBS (taking over for Vincent Price), and she continued her work on stage. More recently, she’s captivated a new generation of TV viewers as Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones.  As for Rigg’s most iconic role, Emma Peel is a great mix of brains, battle-readiness, and sex appeal. She’s an accomplished scientist and martial artist who dabbles in many other fields, especially when it aids her investigations with Steed. Born Emma Knight, Mrs. Peel’s husband Peter is a pilot whose plane went down in the Amazon rainforest prior to her work with Steed. Peter was presumed dead for many years, returning as a plot device to write Emma off the show and introduce Tara King when Diana Rigg decided to move on.  Though the leather catsuits were introduced in the Cathy Gale era of Avengers, they became Emma Peel’s signature look along with the mod styles of the day. A quick wit with a silver tongue, Emma was the perfect verbal match for Steed, and their back and forth was part of what made the show such a joy to watch.

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I first encountered The Avengers on VHS at my local library.  I was lucky enough to grow up with two awesome libraries close by, one of which had an amazing selection of science fiction paperbacks and the other sported any amazing VHS selection, featuring a lot of British television and foreign and classic films. In the same way I have an affection for both really good and really cheesy science fiction, I adore both really good and really cheesy spy movies and TV shows, and I feel like The Avengers fall right in the middle.  It’s as classic as James Bond, but has an entirely different feel that’s so completely of its era. In the last five or six years, I’ve managed to watch the entire Emma Peel run of the show on DVD thanks to Matt, who bought me the Emma Peel Megaset after we found it at Half Price Books. In the same spirit as ST:TNG and the X-Files, I have certain favorite episodes that I go back to again and again, but I can also watch the series as a whole all over again and enjoy it, securing The Avengers’ spot among my all-time favorite TV shows.

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In 1998, Warner Brothers and director Jeremiah Chechik (of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation fame) sought to revive Steed and Mrs. Peel for a new generation on the big screen.  The film, simply titled The Avengers starred Ralph Fiennes as John Steed, Uma Thurman as Emma Peel and Sean Connery as weather obsessed villain Sir August de Wynter. Rumor has it that Warner refused to pre-screen the film for reviewers to prevent negative reviews after test screenings prompted the studio to cut it from 115-minute to 89 minutes, removing key plot elements.  An original cut of the movie has never emerged, though Jeremiah Chechik has offered Warner Brothers a director’s cut for free. The movie as it stands is universally regarded as one of the worst movies ever, but I have to tell you something, dear readers: I love it. Okay, okay, it’s by no means a cinematic masterpiece, but I see the campy potential in the look and feel. Plus, it came out at a time in my life where I was actively seeking out very cheesy spy films and novels, the more bizarre, the better….and this one is certainly bizarre.  To parrot Stefon from SNL, this movie has everything: Uma Thurman with a bad English accent, giant teddy bears, a weather device, human sized hamster balls, Patrick Macnee as the Invisible Man, Eddie Izzard. If you have an open heart for utterly ridiculous trash, give it a try. It has little to nothing to do with the original TV series, but it’s silly fun if you’re up for that sort of thing.

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In terms of merchandise for the TV show, the modern fan can enjoy the series on DVD as well as a plethora of Steed and Mrs. Peel-themed goodies on sites like Etsy.  More classic gear includes trading cards, and most interesting, paperback books. The first novel, simply titled The Avengers and written by Douglas Enefer, was published by Consul Books in 1963.  It’s the only book of the original run to feature Cathy Gale. Many novels featuring Emma Peel and Tara King would follow in the UK and US, including several co-written by Patrick Macnee who was one of the first actors to write licensed spin-off fiction of their own shows.

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The Avengers first made it to comics in the U.K. as comic strips in TV listing magazines (similar to the US’ TV Guide).  Their first American outing was a 1968 collection of these strips released by Gold Key called John Steed Emma Peel because, of course, Marvel made it impossible for them to release a comic called The Avengers. In 1990 Eclipse released a three issue series called Steed and Mrs. Peel with script by Grant Morrison and art by Ian Gibson.  Boom Studios would re-release that series in early 2012. For our purposes, however, we’ll be covering the 2012-13 Steed and Mrs. Peel series from Boom Studios, written Mark Waid and Caleb Monroe. Before we begin our adventure, I must remind you that here at Rotten Ink, we grade comics on a 1-4 star scale and look for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s get started, dear reader, we’re needed.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #0  *** 1/2
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #0 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel investigate the mysterious of Agent Colin Whitcomb. Although the cause of death is straight forward (he was shot pointe blank), the strange part is that the missing agent has aged significantly.  Their only clue is the scent of a particular cheap perfume on Whitcomb’s body, sending the daring duo to the Hellfire Club, or rather the “New Hellfire Club” to investigate. There they meet the future obsessed Cartney who leads Steed into a fight with Father Time.  Meanwhile Emma outwits Futura, the automotan, and dons her outfit as a disguise to locate the missing Steed. Steed awakens older and grayer discovering that it’s no longer 1966, but the year 2000, and that he’s now a part of the National Archives, having served as an agent of much acclaim.  But of course Steed is on to the true plot of the Hellfire Club, using an aging serum to fool intelligence British agents. With Emma’s expert martial arts skills, the baddies, which include their old Hellfire nemesis Cartney, are defeated. With the aging serum’s effects wearing off, Steed treats Mrs. Peel to a concert.

When I first heard that Boom Studios would be doing a comic based on The Avengers, I was nervous to say the least.  The charm of the show is so particular – there’s a formula to the stories, but moreover the way Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg portrayed the relationship between Steed and Peel is so very specific.  I was hopeful once I saw that Mark Waid was writing, and he did not disappoint. This introductory issue was everything I had hoped for – it felt right at home in the universe of the show, teasing a time jump but keeping things firmly in the 1960s.  Longtime fans of the show got recollections of the Hellfire Club (**find out the name of this episode) and Emma’s spiked collar, cybermen (who also appeared in Doctor Who), the familiar “We’re Needed” start to the action. Most importantly, the dialogue was perfect.  I could hear MacNee and Rigg’s voices in my head as I was reading. Steve Bryant’s art is a good balance of realistic and stylistic and captures both the feel of the 1960s and the action well. I was pleasantly surprised by this one when I first read it in 2012, and 7 years later, it’s still a great read.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #1  ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #1 of 11

Masked men infiltrate a secluded base and launch a missile attack on London.  Steed and Mrs. Peel watch the carnage, along with Lord Bailey, in an underground bunker, but just as everyone has a moment to absorb what’s just happened, an alert sounds and our heroes leap to action.  A fire in the bunker forces Emma and a fellow scientist to lead everyone in the bunker topside, but once there, Mrs. Peel discovers something unusual. Although London is leveled and their instruments are showing radiation, there’s no effect on the soil or water.  There’s no time to question it further, however, because their fellow survivors spot a figure in the distance rapidly coming towards the group. The figure is some sort of mutated creature, and it’s not alone. Steed and Mrs. Peel battle the horde of monsters, and the book ends with them getting a vital assist from none other than the Hellfire Club.

This proper first issue of Steed and Mrs. Peel begins with action that’s sustained through the book.  Our heroes seem to be in some kind of post-apocalyptic disaster scenario, which is such a perfect melding of Cold War-era spy show sensibility and our modern obsession with post-apocalyptic stories (I see you, The Walking Dead and your many and varied progeny).  The action is such that we don’t get a lot of information about what’s happened other than London has apparently been nuked, and I like that because we’ll get to discover what’s happening along with Emma and Steed. The dialogue between the two is once again spot on thanks to the team up of Mark Waid and Caleb Monroe, and the artwork, this time from Will Sliney, is really great, classic looking comic style that lends itself to both action and dialogue well.  I know you’re probably wondering, like me, what the Hellfire Club is doing there and what they do or don’t have to do with this disaster so let’s get to the next issue.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #2 ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99     Boom Studios    #2 of 11

Steed, Mrs. Peel, and the British MPs they were previously sheltering with are now all guests of the Hellfire Club in their lavish bunker.  Although most of the other guests seem pretty comfortable, Steed and Emma are worried that they’ve not seen Lord Bailey, General Crampton or Mr. Stanton, the other scientist, since arriving. Although our heroes don’t yet know it, we see the general being brainwashed by a member of the Hellfire Club.  She and her brother, both the offspring of Cartney, chat a bit about how Steed and Mrs. Peel will of course be the hardest to break but it’s worth it get revenge for father. Steed and Mrs. Peel work on a plan over a game of chess. Emma goes to talk to Miss Cartney about the missing general, and gets attacked.  Later Steed stumbles into another brainwashing session and is also taken out, but when he awakens, it’s revealed that his attacker was Mrs. Peel, decked out in a familiar outfit, her Hellfire Club leather and spiked collar.

More of the mystery is unraveled and new twists appear in the second issue of this story arc.  While it’s no shock that the Hellfire Club is up to no good, what their goals are and who the mysterious Dirigent is remain a mystery. Also a mystery is whether or not this story ties in some way to the Cartney time-travel story in issue #0.  I like that we don’t know (and I genuinely don’t remember if it does from my first reading of this series seven years ago). As with issue #0, I love that this story is taking elements directly from the series and expanding them on the page, especially since they’re using one of my favorite plot elements that the Avengers shares with X-men: the Hellfire Club.  Is Emma once again brainwashed or she pretending to gain the trust of the Club? Onward to Issue #3, we’re needed.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #3 ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #3 of 11

Steed is hopeful that the leather-clad Mrs. Peel is simply undercover, but alas, that’s not the case as she sends him through a wall behind which the younger Cartney is enjoying his lavish Hellfire existence. Steed snaps Mrs. Peel out of her brainwashed state using some trigger words they had developed “after the first few times someone tried this.” After Emma knocks her brother out, Miss Cartney arrives with her henchmen leading Steed and Mrs. Peel to flee.  They commandeer a motorcycle (and a new outfit for Emma) and lead the Hellfire Club on a chase into the nuked out wasteland. After fighting hand to hand with Miss Cartney, Emma shoots a flare, signaling the British Air Force, who she and Steed had secretly been in contact with after figuring out that the nuclear attack was a hoax and they the MPs had been kidnapped and taken to the South China Sea. Steed and Mrs. Peel sail off into the sunset, and back at the Hellfire Club the Cartney brother plots his next move.

Thus concludes the first story arc in Steed and Mrs. Peel…sort of.  Although they’ve solved the mystery of the fake nuclear blast and London’s destruction, something tells me that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Hellfire Club in the least.  This one is the last issue for which Mark Waid did the story and Will Sliney the art, but luckily scriptwriter Caleb Monroe sticks around for the rest of the series. There’s a temptation to say that the story wrapped up too quickly, but honestly it felt right in line with the TV show, and the pacing of these three issues felt like the pacing of the hour-long episodes.  So what’s next for Steed and Mrs. Peel? Let’s find out!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #4 ** 1/2
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #4 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel have been invited to a ball. In full fancy dress, they, along with many British dignitaries attend the masked party of author Lloyd Cushing.  As part of the evening’s entertainment, they meet Mr. Blackwell, an eccentric conductor accompanied by his two Butoh dancers. But a party can never be just that for our two heroes as they’re soon called upon to investigate the murder of a man who turns out to the the real Mr. Blackwell.  Trading her ball gown for more action oriented clothes, Emma joins Steed in the ballroom where all of the guests are now missing. Steed tracks them outside where the Butoh dancers are to blame for the mass exodus. Meanwhile Emma confronts the imposter conductor, who turns out to be the Hellfire Club’s hypnotist Dirigent from their prior island adventure.  Dirigent explains that he can manipulate high frequency sound to bend people to his will, but he’s no match for Emma. As Steed and Mrs. Peel continue their previously interrupted dance, we zoom out, all the way to out space where a satellite baring the Hellfire Club logo looms over us all.

Upon first glance, the is your typical post-story arc issue, a one-shot where the characters get to have a minor adventure and perhaps some fun before the next big thing.  But actually, this issue, although basically a one-shot, continues our Hellfire Club storyline and presumably is going to bridge the prior arc with the one to come in Issue #5.  Although this one has significantly less action than the last few issues, there are some really nice things happening in the dialogue, both between Steed and Peel and among the other characters.  I feel like this was perhaps Caleb Monroe’s chance to provide some of his analysis on the original show and characters, and as I fan, I really enjoyed reading it. Yasmin Liang takes over on artist duties for this issue, and although she doesn’t capture Steed and Peel’s expressions as perfectly as Will Sliney did, she’s a great addition to this story, and I’m excited to see how she tackles the action scenes that are surely coming in the next book.  So let’s get to it!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #5  **
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99     Boom Studios    #5 of 11

The fallout from last issue’s ballroom party gone awry continues as Steed and Mrs. Peel find out that his friend Trevor Seabrook has been arrested for a theft related to his wife’s disappearance from the party. The curious part is that the kidnappers tasked Seabrook with stealing a seemingly empty jar, but the truth is the jar contains something that has regenerative properties, which is of course of interest to the Hellfire Club’s Dr. Peter Glass, previously presumed to be dead.  Seabrook’s wife is returned, Steed and Mrs. Peel begin to piece things together, and Glass unveils a special piece of tech as this issue ends.

The interesting thing about this issue is that both everything and nothing happens, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like the prior issue, this one was low on the action but high on information that’s obviously leading to the next chapter in the Hellfire Club’s evil plans that Steed and Mrs. Peel are constantly working to unravel.  

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #6 **
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #6 of 11

Through a flashback and conversation, Steed and Mrs. Peel reflect on the aforementioned Dr. Glass and his death, for which Steed was an eyewitness.  Seabrook’s wife is awake but only repeating the words “bleeding heart” so Steed and Emma decide to regroup. On the way, however, Emma is tricked by Glass’ assistant Jamie and kidnapped.  Meanwhile, Steed is nearly ambushed when inquiring about Seabrook’s stolen empty jar, but soon our heroes are reunited in Glass’ lair where it’s revealed that the mad doctor survived his untimely death using special goggles sported by three versions of Jamie that allow him to time travel. As Glass is apprehended, one of the Jamie’s slips away to inform someone on the other end of a video camera that this phase of the plan has failed.  Steed and Mrs. Peel end our issue reflecting on the practicality of time travel over a drink as a rocket launches on the horizon.

One of the things that I really love about this series is the layered story.  Each arc leads to another and contributes to a larger story. This is especially interesting because the show generally did not do this, but I wish it had.  All of that said, this wasn’t the most exciting arc. Granted, this issue had more action than the prior two, but the payout felt a bit weak. Although thinking of it in the grand scheme of a larger story makes even a weak arc feel important.  So let’s get to the next one, and hopefully we’ll find out who Jamie was talking to and what dastardly plans they have in store for Steed and Mrs. Peel.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #7  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #7 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel are sent to a small Welsh mining town to investigate an unprecedented wave of suicides. Posing as scientists (though Steed is the only one posing, as he points out), they begin their investigation by consulting with Dr. Mortimor, a psychologist specializing in suicide.  After tea with Moritmor, our duo walks back to the inn where they’re staying, taking the scenic route to stop by some of the scenes of the some of the crimes. On a seaside cliff where several people fell to their deaths, both Steed and Emma seem to lose control of themselves and nearly jump off the cliff, the other stopping them just in time. They of course realize that Dr. Mortimor and his terrible tea is to blame.  The evil doctor explains that he’s not a murder, merely an experimenter in the weaponization of suicide. Steed, Mrs. Peel and the gathering crowd of villagers are less convinced of this excuse.

What a breath of fresh air after that slightly lackluster last arc!  Although the story was a bit predictable, it shone because of both the art (great panel structure in this one!) and the writing.  We got a lot of great little moments of Steed and Emma quipping back and forth while working to solve the mystery, and these moments are golden.  I didn’t realize how much of this was missing from the prior issue until I read this one. The chemistry between them, both in the dialogue and the artwork, was so spot on, and this definitely felt like an episode of the show that I would have loved. With that, let’s see what our next issue has in store!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #8  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #8 of 11

The Cartney family is back!  Steed and Emma’s beachside holiday is interrupted with the news that Joan Cartney has been broken out of jail by a strange silver man.  While Steed and Emma investigate, knowing there’s more to this than meets the eye, the Cartney siblings are reunited with their father who is alive, but not well. Donning costumes to make them look like Steed and Emma, the younger Cartneys set out to fulfill their mission of killing our heroes by blowing up Steed’s flat, while their father undergoes a procedure to rejuvenate his body…as a Cybernaut.

With last issue’s palate-cleanser, I’m ready to dive into a new story arc, and this one sets up our story nicely.  It’s no surprise that the Cartney’s are back, and we learn that it was, indeed, them that Jamie was contacting in Issue #6.  As we set up our villain’s story, we once again get really cozy fun interactions between Steed and Peel, making me thinking that writer Caleb Monroe has gotten into the same comfort zone that Mark Waid began the series with.  I’m eager to see where the Cybernaut story is going so let’s get to the next issue!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #9  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #9 of 11

While Cybernaut Cartney shops for a suit, his children learn that even a bomb can’t take down Steed and Mrs. Peel.  The siblings’ bickering about what went wrong is interrupted when their intended victims confront them, and quickly things turn into a street fight (with swords!). The Cartneys get away, but of course that was the plan as Steed, harkening to the original Cybernauts TV episode, plans a transponder his umbrella which he allows them to escape with.  After a quick wardrobe change, Steed and Mrs. Peel head to the Hellfire Club’s base of operations where they spy General Seabrook smuggling army tech to the enemy. Although they’re able to sneak in undetected, Cybernaut Cartney uses his super strength to bust through a wall and grab our heroes.

With the last issue being mostly set up for the new story, I was worried this one would be more of the same.  But happily, this issue is heavily on wonderfully drawn action with some great dialogue to accompany it. The way the panels mimic the style in which the show was shot is a really nice touch and combined with the coloring gives the book such a great retro feel.  My only concern moving forward is that there are only two more issues, and I honestly can’t remember if the book ends at the conclusion of an arc or if we’re going to be left hanging. I guess there’s no way to find out until we get to the next issue….

AvengersComic10Steed and Mrs. Peel #10  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #10 of 11

Cybernaut Cartney is about to kill our heroes but Emma appeals to the villain’s hedonistic side, saying that if he kills them now, it’s all over. This is much to Joan’s chagrin as Steed and Mrs. Peel have been a thorn in her side for far too long, but father knows best…..only Cartney isn’t really her father. Joan and her brother discover documents in Cartney’s desk revealing that they’re a young married couple who went missing and were subsequently brainwashed by Cartney in what he calls, “my greatest practical joke of them all.” After her husband (formerly her brother) is killed by Cartney, Joan sneaks back to the prison to get help from a former ally.  Meanwhile Jamie is torturing Steed in the Hellfire Club dungeon forcing Emma to strike a bargain with Cartney – Steed’s life for her hand in marriage. The issue ends with Cartney presenting Emma to the rest of the Club as his fiance and the new Queen of Silver.

This issue has so much going on!  The reveal about the Cartney siblings (or rather the not Cartney, non-siblings) was really great.  I truly didn’t see that coming, and in addition to being a great twist, it packed an emotional punch.  Cartney’s line about this being “my greatest practical joke of them all” was an amazing touch. In this issue we get more about Cartney’s weird obsession with Emma, which is framed in both flashbacks and present moments, something I like because it really gives the reader the sense that Cartney is an absolutely twisted villain.  I also loved the touch of the Silver Court being introduced to the Hellfire Club. But my concern from last issues remains; there is a lot to resolve in one issue to wrap up both the arc and the series. I suppose the only way to know how that works out, however, it to read on.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #11 ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99   Boom Studios    #11 of 11

We open in a church where Cybernaut Cartney stands at the altar with a silver bedecked Mrs. Peel.  The officiant asks if there are any objections to the union, and right on cue, John Steed drives his car through the window of the church.  He shouts Emma’s trigger words, but she doesn’t need to be un-brainwashed this time, she was merely buying time for Steed. While a battle ensues in the church, Joan sneaks into the room containing John’s human body that’s feeding the Cybernaut and gives him the brainwashing serum, prompting the Cybernaut to seek out its human body to destroy it. Emma and Steed follow, and Emma uses the aging serum from all the way back in issue zero to prevent the Cybernaut from destroying human Cartney.  But alas, he dies shortly thereafter anyway. The issue ends with Joan escaping to make a better life, and Emma and Steed watching the sun set and reflecting on this latest chapter in their adventures together.

This issue does a pretty good job of wrapping things up.  Yes, the Steed crashing the wedding scene is ridiculous, but it fits the show quite well.  I really liked that the aging serum from issue 0 comes back into play, but the sequence of Cartney dying anyway was slightly confusing.  The ending with Steed and Emma watching the sunset was quite lovely, and I do like that the Hellfire Club story wasn’t so final that they can’t come back again in some future series.  Speaking of future series, Boom Studios would try for another arc in 2014 called Steed and Mrs. Peel: We’re Needed, but alas, what was to be a six issue series only made it three, and quite honestly those issues didn’t hold a candle to this series. Avengers22

Part of the reason I chose to cover this particular comic version of The Avengers is that, in my opinion, it’s the most faithful to the spirit of the show, and despite a few missteps, uses the structure of comics to create an ongoing story in a way that the show didn’t back in the 1960s (though I suspect a modern rendering would).  For our next update, we’ll be leaving the world of spies, but staying in the 1960s as Matt kicks of a month of Kaiju updates in anticipation of Godzilla: King of the Monsters with a look at Reptilicus. In the meantime, read a comic or three, and support your local horror host!

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From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Plague Of The Zombies

It’s almost Halloween and what better way to spend this spooky time of the year than with Hammer Horror and their 1966 undead romp Plague Of The Zombies! Hammer is much like Universal.  They both brought the world classic movie monsters, and each did it with their own touch and style that entertained and scared moviegoers for decades. With Titan Comics dropping the ball on their Hammer Horror comic line, I have decided to go back to and make a custom comic taken from the Hammer House Of Horror Magazine in order to cover a classic Hammer Horror for a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update this Halloween season. So if you’re ready to enter the world of gothic horror, lets take a look at Plague Of The Zombies and all the horrors of voodoo it brings with it.

Before we travel to deep into the undead voodoo cursed world of Plague Of The Zombies, we should take a look at the killers that roam this film and comic. The main villain is the voodoo priest Squire Clive Hamilton who once lived in Haiti and learned the black art of voodoo and has used it on the villagers of his new hometown in England. He is able to use his evil ways and make the deaths seem like sickness and later make the dead rise and become his zombie slaves who will do his bidding. Hamilton himself uses his voodoo power to deal out death as well as fear to his targeted victims; he also has a short temper and lashes out when angry showing he is a man who can also use his hands to cause damage. Besides his zombies, Hamilton also has a batch of humans who also do his bidding. But Hamilton is just a man and this makes him have weakness like any other man as he can die by any means of violence and his temper and ego also leaves him open to mistakes. The zombies are slow moving grim messengers of terror who do not have a mind of their own leaving them to do the bidding of their master who mostly has them work for him in the mines near his house. But while they are mostly workers, they will also attack the living if given the commands to and can easily strike fear into the hearts of victims with their grey/greenish skin, white eyes, twisted cold faces and weird noises! They also move very quietly giving them the element of surprise and use their bare hands to choke the life out of the living. They can attack in packs or by themselves and when together they can over whelm their victims for an easy kill. Being undead does not mean they cannot be killed again as they can die by beheading, fire and damage to the voodoo dolls that made them into controllable zombies. While Hamilton and his zombies are not as brutal or bloodthirsty as some of the other killers we have looked at in a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update, they still are a very deadly combo who have made their mark on those they crossed their paths.

So now that we have taken a look at Squire Clive Hamilton and his voodoo zombies we should take a look at the film they come from, Plague Of The Zombies, that was released at the peak of Hammer Horrors popularity before the 70’s and a change in the world of Horror Movies closed the company’s doors. The film’s plot will be taken from our pals at IMDB with me writing after a little about the films production and my connection and memories of the film. So if you’re ready to dive into the world of zombies powered by voodoo lets get to it.

Plague Of The Zombies (1966)

“Young workers are dying because of a mysterious epidemic in a little village in Cornwall. Doctor Thompson is helpless and asks professor James Forbes for help. The professor and his daughter Sylvia travel to Thomson. Terrible things happen soon, beyond imagination or reality. Dead people are seen near an old, unused mine. Late people seem to live suddenly. Professor Forbes presumes that black magic is involved and someone has extraordinary power. He doesn’t know how close he is: the dead become alive because of a magic voodoo-ritual, and so they must serve their master as mindless zombies…”

Plague Of The Zombies was released in 1966 as part of a double feature alongside “Dracula: Prince Of Darkness” and was a popular double feature at the cinemas. Peter Bryan handled the script with director John Gilling and James Bernard handling the score. The film went into production on July 28, 1965 and was filmed on the same sets as The Reptile and was a pretty normal shoot for Hammer. They also brought in such actors as Andre Morell, Diane Clare and Michael Ripper to lend their talents to the characters. The film was released to theaters in the U.K. on January 9, 1966 with the US release being only three days later. When released and still to this day, the film was well reviewed by fans and critics with many even going as far as saying this movie is the best Hammer has made. I know that many of my friends who really love classic Horror Movies have said that this is one of their favorites. The film was joined in 1966 by these selected other fright flicks Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Queen Of Blood, Manos: Hands Of Fate and Billy the Kid Versus Dracula showing it was a fun year for fans who enjoyed spooky films at the cinema and drive-ins. Plague Of The Zombies is a great film and those who enjoy classic or British horror should give it a watch.

The first time I got to see this classic Hammer Horror movie was when it came out on VHS, rereleased by Anchor Bay. My brother Bryan bought it and we watched on one of our many all night Horror Movie marathons. I can remember that while the film was very slow much like most of Hammer’s films (wouldn’t have them any other way) it had a great atmosphere and over all creepy vibe that made me enjoy it and go and get the film on DVD when released. And over the years I have watched the film a handful of times on my own as well as with friends who were major fans of Hammer Horror like Chris Workman. This is also one of those films that I have recommended to friends of mine who have gotten into classic horror as I find that it’s a good one to introduce to fans of modern zombie films as this is one that pre-dates the godfather of all zombie films Night Of The Living Dead (1968) and was after the underrated White Zombie from 1932. So while Plague Of The Zombies is not the most popular film among the releases of Hammer, it is one that is a solid and creepy film that is sure to please fans of 60’s and early 70’s gothic horror films. If you have not seen it, do yourself a favor and track it down on VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray and give it a watch. I want to also say that this film is in my top 10 best Hammer Horror films! Plus need to say that the score done by James Bernard is great and well sounding and fits so well for this film.

So as you can see this aging Monster Kid has lots of respect for Plague Of The Zombies and Hammer Horror in general as I found it a great source of classic style monsters done with more blood, busty female cleavage, color and gothic atmosphere then before, plus they picked up vampires, werewolves, zombies and Frankenstein’s Monster after Universal had drifted away from that type of Horror and was more into the atomic age horror and giant insects. But before we get into this custom comic book I want to thank Juliet Fromholt for formatting the pages while we were on vacation at Monster Bash and Eric Shonborn for putting it all together to be printed! I also want to thank Amanda for printing this comic making this update possible. I want to also let you all know that I read and reviewed this comic while sitting in Calvary Cemetery to help add to the over all spooky mood of this comic experience. And now I need to remind you readers that I am grading this comic 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 if you’re ready, lets travel to the cemetery and see why voodoo and zombies do mix!

Plague Of The Zombies # 1  ***
Released in 1978    Cover Price 35p.   Top Sellers      # 1 of 1

Dr. Sir James Forbes and his daughter Sylvia are headed toward the small own of Tarleton on the request of one of his former students Peter who is the town’s acting doctor and is puzzled by the rash of unexplained deaths. While the father and daughter travel, they pass a fox hunting party and Sylvia gives them the wrong direction on purpose, causing the hunters to make a scene in town when they all arrive during a funeral even knocking over the casket and causing the body to roll out! The townspeople are not pleased and this of course angers the dead man’s brother who blames the young woman for causing the scene. Once at the home of Peter, they also see that his wife Alice seems to not be feeling well and Peter explains that for some reason people just keep dying and the cause is unknown and the townspeople will not help in finding out the reason. That night James and Peter hit up the local cemetery and find that the grave of the young man buried that morning is empty! Sylvia follows Alice into the woods as her friend is acting weird and is heading toward the old tin mine shafts, but before she can catch up with her friend Sylvia is kidnapped by the hunters she tricked and they take her back to the mansion home of Clive Hamilton the town’s squire who is not pleased at the behavior of his hired hands. Once back on the dark roads, Sylvia finds the body of her friend Alice as well as sees the zombie of the young man buried that morning! Peter is heartbroken over the death of his wife and even feels worse when he and James witness her rise from her grave and they are forced to chop off her head. Meanwhile Sylvia is visited by Clive who by “accident” scratches the young woman with his ring and this causes her to think about him all the time. James and Peter soon find out that Clive is a voodoo priest who is causing the deaths as he is making zombies to work for him in the tin mine shafts, and they go to his mansion to stop him. While inside the mansion, James fights with one of the hunters and during the fight a fire breaks out, meanwhile Sylvia in a trance is now in the grip of Clive who is going to sacrifice her to please his dark lords! But all ends well when the fire sets the voodoo dolls on fire that causes the zombie to be ablaze.  They turn on Clive who is eaten and burnt to death at the same time. In the end the town is safe, and James, Sylvia and Peter all walk away heroes.

I need to first start off by saying that Plague Of The Zombies is one of the Hammer Horror movies that lends itself really well to be a comic book adaptation and series, and Titan Comics really dropped the ball on not choosing this title to be a part of their very short lived Hammer Horror Comics line. The plot of this Horror Comic has a father and daughter going to a small town to try and help figure out why people are dying, only to uncover a sinister plot that involves voodoo and zombies! Our main hero is James Forbes, an old medical surgeon who wants nothing more than to solve why people are dying and why their graves are empty so close after being buried. He is strong minded and willed and even if he is old, he still will never give up until he solves it. Peter is a doctor who is also a former student of James and is baffled by the mystery of this town he now serves. He is a helpful hand but also is dealing with some bad stuff as his wife has fallen victim to death and being brought back from the dead. Sylvia Forbes is a good hearted person who cares about both humans and animals and becomes a sick pawn in this game of life and undead. And our villain is Clive Hamilton who acts as a caring member of the town even acting as the squire when in reality he is a voodoo priest who is using the town to mine tin in order to become rich and powerful and is killing people to bring back as zombies to do it. I think the fact he is a soulless murderer who allows greed to be his motivation behind taking a human life makes him a real bad guy. I do like the fact he gets what’s coming to him in the end as tons of zombies who are on fire swarm him ending his reign of terror once and for all. The comic has very little blood in it, but does have some gruesome deaths like a beheading and being burned alive. This comic adaptation while a quick read does capture the mood and spooky atmosphere of the film very well and brings a none-gory yet scary Horror Comic to readers who enjoy a classic style fright. The interior artwork is done by the team of Trevor Goring and Brian Bolland and is top-notch stuff and will remind you of artwork used in the Warren horror magazines. While this is a custom comic book, you can find this comic adaptation in the pages of “Hammer’s House Of Horror” and its worth tracking down if you like the film or just enjoy classic horror zombies. Check out the artwork below to see what the art style is and bask in its creepiness.

Hammer Horror will always be the bar just behind Universal Monsters when it comes to classic movie monsters, and they, just like Universal, deserve more comics based on their characters. I mean in a prefect Horror Comic world, we would have ongoing series based on Dracula, Frankenstein, Werewolves, Mummy and Creatures from both companies and would be must reads for old school Monster Kids. Well I hope that Plague Of The Zombies helped add to your countdown to Halloween as it was a fun one for me to cover for sure. For our next update we will take a look at another “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update about the 2003 monster movie Darkness Falls! So this dark night make sure you stay clear of your local abandoned mine as who knows what kind of zombies are lurking around looking for a new victim to become just like them. So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a horror movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you readers and friend’s next update for a creepy good time with the Tooth Fairy.

Land Of The Monster Bash Convention (2018)

Welcome back to Rotten Ink. I hope you have your bag packed already as it’s that time of the year once again when you all take a trip with me and Juliet as we head to Monster Bash in Mars, PA for a fun time of celebrating classic monsters and 200 years of Frankenstein’s Monster! I have been looking forward to taking time away from work, filming movies and working on comics for some time now, and what better way to do so than to hang out with fellow classic monster lovers as well as my gal pal Juliet in an area that is starting to feel like my home away from home, Cranberry Township. I cannot wait to see what classic monster car is parked up front and what statues await us inside the convention. I do have a feeling that they will be of The Monster through the ages as that seems to make the most sense. Not to mention, I am looking forward to eating at places like Moe’s and Eat’n Park plus visiting Evans City Cemetery to soak in all the horror movie magic that was shot there. So lets hop into the Mazda 3 and find some music and podcasts to listen to and make our way to Monster Bash! Oh and for this update, I am sure you guessed it, that we will be taking a look at Land Of The Dead, the fourth film in the Romero Dead series and the IDW comic adaption of it! Let’s head out to the highway and have fun along the way.

Juliet and I hit the road on June 21, 2018 and spent most of the drive chatting about comics, music and wrestling and even had to make our way through random rainstorms. As always, we stopped at the Ruby Tuesdays on the border of Ohio and West Virginia where Juliet ate a grilled chicken salad, and I had blackened salmon with rice and a loaded baked potato. It was super tasty! Once back on the road we continued chatting and time seemed to go by fast…that was until we entered Cranberry, and traffic was backed up due to a car on fire! Passing the car that was being surrounded by the fire department, we both hoped the person driving made it out of the car okay. This year we also had to stay at a new hotel as our beloved Comfort Inn was filled, and so we stayed at the fancy Hyatt and man was the room big! After relaxing and watching some TV, we decided to have Eat ‘N Park for dinner where I had a hot turkey sandwich with mash potatoes & gravy as well as fried pickles! And of course, I had to have a smile cookie as what is a trip to Eat ‘N Park without one? After dinner we watched more TV and planned our next day as it was the first day of Monster Bash!

Waking up in the morning, we got ready for our day as Monster Bash did not open until 3pm so we headed to New Dimension Comics to look around for a few minuets. While there, I found a few comics to read and add to my collection like Web Of Spider-Man # 25 & 35, Hercules # 1,7 & 9 from DC, Where Creatures Roam # 8 and Southern Blood # 0. After comic shopping we headed to lunch at Max & Erma’s where I scarfed down a turkey burger with fries, and all the while Juliet and I chatted about our plans for the day. We then went to Barns and Nobles, and I found a really cool Funko Pop Figure of The Mummy based on the 2017 film from Universal. Then we returned to the room and waited for Monster Bash to start! Check out the pics below to see the fun stuff from the morning.

At 3:00pm Juliet and I headed to Monster Bash 2018, and the car outside was not around yet. We got into the line in order to get tickets, and man did it move fast! Once inside, the wonders of all types of classic monsters surrounded us as the amazing statues this year featured Frankenstein’s Monster from the ages as full body versions of The Monster were all around, from the classic 1931 Karloff version all the way to the one in Monster Squad and others had busts like the 1910 Edison version…so amazing and all well done! But my favorite one this year was not Frankenstein’s Monster at all, but John Carradine as Dracula in House Of Frankenstein! Once inside the dealer room, we saw all types of great stuff like toys, movies, comics, books, soundtracks, posters and art and much of it was really, really cool! We were also happy to see Horror Hosts Janet Decay and Grimm Gorri, who are amazing and wonderful people and are super nice. Also on hand was Son Of Ghoul, a true icon of Horror Hosting. While looking around, we saw some amazing Halloween Masks and even took a walk around a room filled with classic posters and lobby cards. Once we walked around for a while, we bought some amazing stuff and headed back to the hotel to unwind and get ready for our first dinner and a movie night. Check out the pics below to see some of the amazing sights of this first day.

So I am sure you’re all wondering what goodies I got on this first day’s haul…and man, did I find some cool stuff! For movies I got Attack Of The 50ft. Woman, Phantom Of Hollywood on DVD for $20.00 each and Creature With The Atom Brain for $10.00! Comic wise, I found The Young Witches # 1 for only $2.00! I found an Imperial King Kong for $20.00 and a King Kong windup for $5.00! And for paperback books I got Ben and Freddy vs. Jason for $5.00 each, and for only $1.00 each I got Tales From The Crypt Demon Knight and Dick Tracy: Secret Files. So as you can see, we did really well this first day and I was very pleased with what I was able to get for good prices. Check out the pic down below to see l my haul in all its glory!

We decided that the first night of Monster Bash would be our night to eat Wing Kings and watch a movie on the laptop with the night’s feature being Attack Of The 50ft. Woman as it’s been one I have wanted to revisit for some time now. So I ordered some Garlic Wings and some fried pickles and a coke to drink! When we are in Cranberry, both Juliet and I look forward to eating at Wing Kings as they have really great wings and we have yet to have a bad meal from them. So huddled by the laptop with our food, we watched a classic science fiction horror film about a massive and mean woman causing mayhem in a city gripped by fear. And after dinner and the movie, we spent the night gearing up for Day 2 and watching New Japan Pro Wrestling and LFA MMA on TV, and I read a some comic book.

Day two started with Juliet and I eating breakfast and then us heading to the Monster Bash! The weather outside was looking like bad storms coming and would make Doctor Frankenstein very happy. To me, this was very fitting weather for this classic monster convention. Once walking in again, a rush of good vibes surrounded me as I saw familiar faces and classic monster movies and memorabilia all around. That’s what sets Monster Bash apart from all other Horror Cons, the vibe is so chill and it’s all about the movies and monsters and not the parties. After walking around for a bit, we bought some amazing stuff and looked at some cool things and headed out to do some more fun stuff in Cranberry!

I am sure you’re also wondering what cool things I ended up getting on Day 2 of Monster Bash. Just like before, I think I found some pretty cool items. I got two wood plaques to hang in my house of King Kong and Gorgo for $25.00 each, a VHS copy of Konga for only $3.00 and a DVD of a documentary called Beast Of Whitehall for $15.00. Plus I got a lot of six Monster In My Pocket figures including werewolf and Lochness for $5.00! Over all another great haul and some very cool items I am looking forward to adding to my collection.

We hit the roads of Cranberry and ended up back at New Dimension Comics where I found 40 dollars books that were sold to me at half price making the whole pile $20.00 plus tax! I found lots of great indie titles as well as a few Avengers comics that I will be reading while here. We then went to Moe’s Southwest Grill for lunch, and I had a tasty chicken burrito. After that we had TCBY and chatted about creative ideas. That’s the thing about Juliet and I, we talk a lot to each other and mostly about life and creative things…it’s nice to have a partner you gel with really well. After spending some time out in the city, we headed back to the hotel to relax and plan our second night of Dinner and a Movie.

For our second dinner and a movie, we chose something more simple and ate Bob Evans takeout where I had roasted chicken with sides, and we watched the 1955 Science Fiction Horror Movie “Creature With The Atom Brain”, a pretty cheesy motion picture that features brain-dead reanimated zombies who are being controlled by a crime boss to get revenge on his enemies. The food was pretty good, and the film was okay making for a start to a fun night. For the rest of the night, we read and watched TV and chatted more about creative ideas for future comics that could be in the works for Sparkle Comics.

June 24, 2018 was the final day of Monster Bash and we started our morning by getting breakfast at Pig Iron Public House where I once again had the Chorizo Hash. If you ever find yourself at a Pig Iron for brunch, I recommend it. And once done we made our way to Monster Bash to once more soak it all in and have one last day of shopping. The last day of Monster Bash is always a sad one as the fun weekend is coming to an end, and I know it will be another year before I can do the next convention. When walking in as well we watched for a moment as they broke down the Frankenstein Monster’s and took a glance at The Blob for the last time for the weekend. We walked around and had good conversations with Janet Decay and Grimm Gorri as well as with Ken and Pam of Cinema Wasteland. As we made our final rounds, I was on the look out for my pal David “The Rock” Nelson as I wanted to pick up some more of his amazing shot on video films and wanted to chat with him about life in general, and I sent him a message on Facebook the night before that he did not get to read and it looked like we were going to miss him until the monster Gods smiled down on us, and we ran into each other at the place I selected in the message! Once catching up with David and picking up some of his movies, Juliet and I headed out, and that was a wrap for Monster Bash 2018.

The last day’s haul were great and all stuff that I wanted and most at fair prices. I got another Imperial Dracula that was in fantastic shape for only $15.00! I also picked up six more Monster In My Pocket figures and paid once more $5.00 for the lot. I got Super Powers Which Way Book 2: Supergirl paperback book for only $2.00! I got issues 1-5 of Escape Of The Living Dead signed by John Russo and released by Avatar for $12.00. And for movies I got Kraa! The Sea Monster on DVD for $8.00, Red Sands DVD for only $1.00 and the best buys of the trip being the three David “The Rock” Nelson film I got for $20.00 each that are “Bigfoot Runs Amok!”, “Dinosaur Woman” and “The Giant Horny Toad Monster” all films I very much looking forward to watching. Not a bad year for finds at Monster Bash 2018.

After leaving Monster Bash, we headed to get more bottled water for our stay and while at the store, we also picked up the Universal and Blumhouse film Stephanie. We then made our way to The Snowman where we hung out near the horses and I drank a Yeti Milkshake. As always the shake was fantastic as was the atmosphere around the Snowman as it had just rained before we showed up. We then left and walked around the small cemetery that’s connected to the Portersville Bible Church, a very peaceful place with a great view of woods and farmland. Juliet and I walked for a while and looked at the land all around as well as paid our respects to the people buried in the cemetery. Once done we headed back to the Hotel and we read, chatted and watched a little TV until dinner and a movie round 3.

For our third dinner and movie, we chose to once more get take out from Eat ’N Park and the 4hr film “Dinosaur Woman” directed by David Nelson as we are both big fans of his independent shot on video monsta movies. While the food was good, the movie was the best part of the night as watching David’s films are an event all to themselves as they are epic and filled with lots of fun and over the top horror and characters. After Dinner and the movie, we ended up watching Kong: Skull Island on HBO and planning our next day of events!

Monday June 25th marked the first day after Monster Bash, and we started our morning by going to Cranberry Cinema and seeing “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” This is a fun one to see in the theater and as always Cranberry Cinema proved why they are better than most major chains as they gave Juliet and I each a free popcorn to munch on as we watched our movie. After the film we headed back to Moe’s for lunch, and we ate and talked about the film as well as the possibility of scientist cloning saber tooth tigers. After lunch we headed back to the hotel and Juliet and I read and played “Super Powers Which Way Book 2: Supergirl” as Juliet read it out loud I had to choose the path of Supergirl! And lucky for me I was able to have Supergirl save the day and make it out of the land of OZ, yep my adventure took me to OZ! After the book adventure I read some more comic books and worked on a few things for Sparkle Comics as well as updates for future Rotten Ink updates. We chose to have Wing Kings again for dinner and watched WWE Monday Night Raw on USA for the evening’s entertainment. After Raw I ended up reading a little more and watched a little TV before bed and geared up for Evan City.

We woke up early and checked out of our hotel and hit the road heading toward Mars in order to get a morning cup of coffee from Mars Brew House as they are also a must when we are in Pennsylvania, and as always the coffee was great! We then walked to the UFO in the middle of the small town and chatted for a moment about the second issue of Wolf Hunter that we hope will be released soon from Sparkle Comics, as well as chatted about the amazing small town feel of Mars. Once done chatting we jumped back into the Mazda 3 and headed for Evans City.

After leaving Mars we ended up in Evans City and were sad when we remembered that The Living Dead Museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays so we could not go in for a visit. But all was well again once we pulled into Evans City Cemetery, and we walked around once more in the shooting location of Night Of The Living Dead and the atmosphere once more recharged my creative batteries as ideas for comics, movies and blog updates filled my head. This time around we also took time and read tombstones and paid our respects to those buried there, and Juliet and I just talked and enjoyed the sunshine. We spent some time in the cemetery before we headed out and ending our wave 1 of our vacation.

Back home from Monster Bash and Cranberry, I still had a few days left of vacation and so on June 30, 2018 Juliet and I had ourselves a very cool Horror Movie Marathon that was filled with lots of great and independent horror’s from our to be watched stack of DVDs. We also loaded up one some great eats like chips and breakfast casserole and decided on buffalo chicken and baked potatoes for dinner. The first movie of the marathon was the 1931 version of “Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde” that is about a poor doctor who experiment turns him into a sinister foul person who calls himself Hyde. The next film was “The Man With Two Heads” that was cheesy cult director Andy Milligan’s version of Jekyll and Hyde that follows William Jekyll and his transformation into Danny Blood. The third chiller feature was the indie horror creature flick called “Cryptid” about a pint sized government made creature on a rampage! Next up we had “Manhater” about a woman whose anger at men becomes a living demon who gets revenge for her. Shot on video film “Cemetery Sisters” was next and was about sisters who married and killed men in order to get money to open a mortuary. We then watched “Phantom Of The Opera” a modern 2014 reimagining of the classic story. The seventh film of the marathon was the spooky found footage film “Hell House LLC”. We then viewed “Dark Shade Creek 2” that is an independent slasher film. The cheesy “Ghost Of Camp Blood” was next and has the evil spirit of the clown mask killer looking for revenge. That was followed up by “Monkey Farm” a chilling tale about a research monkey that could possible be more than that. The chilling horror anthology “10/31” was next and delivered some frights. And our final fright flick of the night was “Carnivore: Werewolf Of London” about a couple at a cabin fighting for their lives against a werewolf. What a fun filled day with lots of great Horror Movies and a cool way to relax with Juliet.

The day was filled with some great films and some that were just okay and one that was hands down the Golden Turkey winner for both Juliet and myself and that’s Cryptid as this film was terribly paced and had some of the most useless main hero characters I have seen in a film for quit some time. I will say that the creature of the film was cool and well done and shows that this movie could have been something better with a good script. For me picking the top three spots was kind of an easy one with my # 1.) being Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) as this is a great classic monster film that was released the same time as Universal started making their Monster films and was Paramount’s way of cashing in, plus the acting is fantastic as is the look of Mr. Hyde. For me # 2.) was 10/31 an amazing modern horror anthology film that has every segment take place on Halloween, I found myself enjoying every segment and the score was top notch, this is one fright flick I think every one should view on Halloween. My # 3.) was a hard one to choose as I enjoyed so many but I had to go with Hell House LLC. as I found it to be one of the better found footage horror flicks I have seen in quite awhile, the mood and feel of the movie is fantastic! I must say that a runner up for 3rd for me was Manhater as I also found it well done and enjoyed the super sexy demon lady. Juliet’s top three of the marathon went like this # 1.) 10/31…#2.) Hell House LLC…#3.) Phantom Of The Opera (2014)! As always the Horror Movie Marathon is a great relaxing time and event I look forward to doing multiple times a year.

I am sure you’re all wondering what fiend for this Horror Movie Marathon won the Golden Chainsaw award, and I am here to tell you it was the weird small monster from Cryptid! This little guy racked up a body count of 16 people and possibly more…while the movie was not great and was the Golden Turkey for both of us, it still wracked up a body count. His best kill of the film is eating the skin off a woman’s face, a brutal and a cool indie effect. So here is to you, Cryptid monster for all your bloodshed.

George A. Romero made a perfect zombie Horror Movie trilogy starting with the 1968 film Night Of The Living Dead and ending with Day of The Dead that was released in 1985. For years afterward, the godfather of zombie films stayed away from the world ruled by the dead he created. But 20 years after his last film, he returned to that world when in 2005 he released Land Of The Dead to moviegoers. So if you’re ready to get aboard Dead Reckoning, and go on a supply run for the rich, I think it’s time we take a look at Land Of The Dead!

In 2004, Zack Snyder and James Gunn released a remake of Dawn Of The Dead for Universal Studios, and the film sparked interest back in fans and Universal for Horror Movies that featured zombies. While the remake of his film Dawn Of The Dead was in production, George A. Romero was trying to also get a fourth film of his Dead series into production and was dealing with 20th Century Foxfor the film he was calling Twilight Of The Dead as it’s working title. Fox wanted him to call the movie “Night Of The Living Dead” as they wanted to own the rights to a new franchise, and even when he said no and wanted to call it “Dead Reckoning,” they came back with the title “Night Of The Living Dead: Dead Reckoning” and this greedy nature of Fox made Romero seek a new studio to produce the new film.  Enter Universal once more to release a new zombie film for movie goers. The film’s script had elements of the original Day Of The Dead script, and the film’s title was changed to Land Of The Dead. Universal put lots of money into the film with the rumored budget being $15 million making it the highest budget in the Dead series! While Romero wrote and directed, he hired lots of talented actors in big roles like John Leguizamo, Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento and Tom Savini to name a few and even had such stars as Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Gregory Nicotero cameo as zombies. Filming went well, and it was released in theaters on June, 24 2005 and was meet with mostly positive reviews from both critics and fans and did pretty well at the box office bringing in $46,770,602.00 worldwide and was #112 for the year at the US Box Office. In 2005 these other Horror Movies were released Saw II, The Descent, Devil’s Rejects, Ring Two, Wolf Creek, House Of Wax, Cry Wolf, Hellraiser: Deader, The Skeleton Key and Boogeyman to name a few showing that the world of Horror was very much alive and bringing in movie goers and home video watchers. So as you can see, Land Of The Dead might have been lost in the shuffle slightly at the Box Office it still has made it mark on the world of horror and shows that no one knew zombies better than Romero.

As a youngster I was really into music and when moving from Waynesville to Kettering I was the odd Monster Metalhead Kid who had a chip on his shoulder and would spend his time after school listening to the likes of Billy Idol, Alice Cooper and Motley Crue on vinyl and cassette and would call the local radio station The Edge and request songs from the likes of Adam Ant and became friends with the DJ Scott Mallory who ended up years later giving me advanced tickets to see Land Of The Dead in the theater before its release date. I was able to bring many of my friends as going with me was my then girlfriend Misty as well as my brother Bryan and my pals Andy Copp and Josh Weinberg, and I can remember waiting in line and all of us being so excited to see it, and after the movie we all left with the fact we enjoyed it but it seemed a little too polished. And what we all liked is the message of the rich using the poor as at the time that feeling among the hardworking low income was dealing with that in George W. Bush’s America. I was also really happy that Asia Argento was in it as she was one of the best foreign genre actresses going at the time. Plus the film’s effects were good minus the use of CGI blood in spots as that always looks terrible. The things from the movie that I was not that big of a fan of was the focus of the film being the rolling armored vehicle Dead Reckoning as it was large and silly and seemed like something from a video game. The other thing I was not sold on was the lead zombie Big Daddy who is showing signs of intelligence naturally and felt pain as his fellow zombies were shot and killed. But with these things I didn’t like I over all really did enjoy this film and found it to be a great sequel to Night Of The Living Dead and proved that with a budget Romero could make something very special for fans. When the film was released to home media I bought the DVD and still own and watch it from time to time till this day. While this might not be the best in the Dead series it’s by no means the worst, as that honor goes to the 6th film in the series “Survival Of The Dead”. If you have not seen this film do yourself a favor and watch it late one stormy night and open the windows to allow a breeze to role in and enjoy this zombie filled romp.

Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek handled the score for Land Of The Dead and brought something fresh and new and yet still has a very classic feel to it. The mood of the music is dark when needed and filled with action when moments call for it. While I feel it’s not as iconic of a score as the work of Goblin or John Harrison from the past two sequels, I still find it very solid and is worth listening to and even have played it on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO during October. This score can be found on CD and via Digital and was released by Varese Sarabande and is a great release for fans who collect Horror Movie scores.

Like the films in the series before it, Land Of The Dead has had its fair share of merchandise that delivered cool items for the fans. Items like posters, soundtrack, t-shirts, buttons and comics all came out. Action figures were made by Sorta Toys that were highly detailed and figures of almost the all the main zombies were made including Big Daddy and The Butcher. Also made was a Video Game that was exclusive to the original XBOX called “Land Of The Dead: Road To Fiddler’s Green” that was a first person shooter that had you trying to fight through hordes of the undead in order to get the promise land of Fiddler’s Green, the game was not well rated by fans and critics but still offered something cool for fans of the film. Over the years I have owned the comics, mini poster and soundtrack of this film. So if you love Land Of The Dead, there is lots of cool stuff for you to collect.

As I said one of the biggest pluses for Land Of The Dead for me has to be the fact the very lovely Asia Argento was cast as main character Slack. For those who don’t know who Asia is, shame on you as she is the daughter of director Dario Argento and has acted in such classic films as Demons 2, The Church, Phantom Of The Opera, Scarlet Diva, xXx, Mother Of Tears and Dracula 3D to name a few. She also has directed some films like The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things and Misunderstood. Sadly in modern news Asia was one of the victims of the scumbag movie producer Harvey Weinstein and sadly was victim-shamed in her own homeland of Italy causing her to have to move to Germany to escape the media’s hurtful words. I for one stand with Asia Argento and hope that Harvey gets what’s coming to him, and that Asia after this drama ends returns to making Horror Movies and Cult Films as I for one am looking forward to her future in films. Check out the pictures below to see Asia Argento as Slack from Land of The Dead.

So we are at the electric and guarded gates of Fiddler’s Green and that must mean we are at the point of taking a look at the comic adaption of our film of the hour Land Of The Dead that was released by IDW. And while we try and find our way in and get shelter from these terrible flesh-eating zombies I would like to thank Bell Book And Comic and Lone Star Comic for having these issues in stock to make this update possible and I would also like to remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So I can hear Big Daddy groaning off in the distance which means that the zombies are on their way so let’s get to reading these comics before we all become a snack for them!

Land Of The Dead # 1  ***
Released in 2005      Cover Price $3.99       IDW      # 1 of 5

Riley and his crew that include Charlie, Cholo and Pretty Boy (to name a few) control the combat truck called Dead Reckoning and are on a supply run in a small town that is overrun by zombies. Riley is noticing that the zombies seem to be getting smarter and are trying to mimic their old human lives and seem to be communicating with each other now. This is his last night in command of this group, and he wants it to go smoothly but when Cholo goes off track and leads to a rookies death, and one of their biker members is knocked from his motorcycle and eaten by the undead his mission turned sour. The zombies now have seemed to come together and are ready to take the fight to the living. When back safe Riley and Cholo get into it over the antics back in town, and as they separate Riley and Charlie go to find a man named Chihuahua who owns Riley a car at his bar that includes a zombie fight cage! While Cholo is turned away from getting an apartment in the upper class high rise building called Fiddlers Green by the Mr. Kaufman who runs the town. As Cholo is leaving he beats up the security officers who have been told to kill him.

The dead are getting smarter and the living are still fighting among themselves over greed plus power and money! Our story follows the crew of Dead Reckoning and their two men in charge and their lives in a world of corruption and he dead. Our main hero is Riley who is the man in charge of the crew and after their last mission is retiring and is wanting to get a car and leave the area behind him. But sadly for him looks like his money has been taken and his car is just a pipedream and the man he was buying it from is clearly a con man. Charlie is a simple man who has one side of his face burnt and is the closest friend to Riley and is like his right hand man. Cholo is reckless and self-serving but also has most of the crews respect as he gets results, not to mention he also does all the dirty work for Mr. Kaufman and once his rich boss turned on him it’s clear there will be hell to pay! Mr. Kaufman is clearly a smug rich man who enjoys his power over others and does not value those who get him his supplies or keep him safe. The world inside Fiddlers Green is posh and filled with shops and restaurants with armed guards while out side the town is kept safe by electric fences and soldiers with the people being poor and fight for the scraps. The zombies are all around the town and are getting smarter and are bounding together and seem to have had enough of the living! Big Daddy in this issue is really downplayed as he takes a back seat to the female athlete zombie who is the one that uses a tool to knock a biker off his bike for them to all snack on. This first issue holds pretty true to the film it was based on and yet holds a feel of its own making it a really good read. The cover for this issue is amazing and is very eye catching and reminds me of a zombie cover that you could have seen on an issue of The Dead or Dead Walkers. The interior art is also well done and is done by Gabriel Rodriguez who also did IDW’s “Lock & Key” and “Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland”. A very good zombie horror comic first issue that shows he respect to the film and also adds and takes away enough to make it feel like it’s own experience. Lets see what issue two has in store for us, shall we?

Land Of The Dead # 2   **1/2
Released in 2005      Cover Price $3.99       IDW     # 2 of 5

The zombies now being lead by the one called Big Daddy are making their way to the city and are taking the war to the living! Meanwhile Riley and Charlie while waiting on answers about the car watch as a young woman named Slack is thrown into the arena with two spray painted zombies with the crowd voting on what one will get her first. Riley and Charlie make the decision to save Slack and shoot the zombies and even have to kill the little man who was the key to Riley’s car and this leads to them all being arrested including Slack. Meanwhile Cholo and his crew steal Dead Reckoning just as the zombies have broken into the outer walls of the city! Cholo calls Mr. Kauffman and wants five million dollars or he will use the guns and missiles from Dead Reckoning to blow up Fiddlers Green. This worries Mr. Kauffman who refuses to pay the money and brings Riley up from jail and demands that he gets Dead Reckoning back and deal with Cholo once and for all.

The corruption of the ones in power is clearly putting the poor and working class at risk as Mr. Kauffman and his power has put everyone in the small secure town at risk no only from the zombies but also the one man he crossed that has the means and anger to do something about it. Kauffman is such a smug and overly confidante man who lives a posh life style and rubs elbows with the rich but also has his fingers in the underbelly of the town’s illegal activities. Cholo meanwhile is also a very cold person who really only looks out for himself as he wants his money and walks away from a zombie attack leaving people to die so that he can steal Dead Reckoning, and then once had threatens to blow up the town in order to get money. Riley and Charlie clearly make a great team and while Riley acts tough and cold it’s clear he cares about peoples life and that’s why he risks it all to save the life of a woman he didn’t even know. Slack is that woman who is a skilled fighter, but due to her good looks was forced into being a streetwalker by Kauffman and his crime connections, and once they find she is talking to a group of rebels set on one day fighting the powers that be she is arrested and set to be killed in the zombie arena. This issue has some blood, gore and is building the mood to what is to come, the one thing you will notice is that while the zombies are around they seem to be only a background plot. This issue also shows that Big Daddy is the one who is leading the zombie revelation and he and his fellow undead are attacking smartly and have made their way to the cities outer border. The cover for this issue I have is ok and is just a photo still taken from the film and is nothing special, while the interior art once more was done by Gabriel Rodriguez and is once more great stuff. This second issue is solid and builds the story and brings us to the main meat of the story and that’s Riley and crew going out to get Dead Reckoning back. So let’s see what issue three has in store for us!

Land Of The Dead # 3  ***
Released in 2005     Cover Price $3.99     IDW     # 3 of 5

Riley agrees to get back Dead Reckoning on the condition that Charlie and Slack are set free and join him and for a car to leave the city to head north. As Riley and his crew gear up they are forced to also take three soldiers with them that’s Motown a tough as nails female, Manolete a prideful soldier who is named after a bullfighter and the massive Samoan Pillsbury who is a mountain of a man. Once out to get supplies needed they also find the aftermath of the last zombie attack and know that the city is in danger multiple ways! While getting ammo and finding a jeep stray zombies are around the leaves Manolete bitten and having to be shot by Slack, and once far away from the city Riley and Charlie pull guns on Motown and Pillsbury and let them know that they are aware that Kauffman has sent them to kill them after they get back Dead Reckoning and give them an option of going along with the plan of Riley taken the massive vehicle or getting out of the jeep and walking back to the city…they decide to go along for the ride. Cholo and his crew load the weapons and are ready to flow Fiddler’s Green away as Riley and his crew are trying to catch up with them to stop it. But while they are playing war games Big Daddy and his zombie friends have gotten across the river and are on track to attack the city!

Mr. Kauffman is upping the game against Cholo in this game of power and greed as he sends out his own task force to get his stolen war machine back. Riley clearly only takes the job of getting Dead Reckoning back in order to save the innocent people who will be killed in this little power struggle. Riley while a loner and tough as nails always does what’s right and does his best to protect the innocent. Charlie as well is a good guy, who will kill to protect his friends and those who need help he is also very skilled with a gun and always has Riley’s back. Slack who only grew up in the city has never seen the outside world and it’s clear she don’t like what she sees, but she as well is a skilled fighter and has bounded with Riley and Charlie. Motown and Pillsbury are skilled fighters who clearly work for Kauffman and would have killed Riley and his friends when he mission was over, but know that they have to play along or be left for the dead. Cholo really does just want’s what’s owed to him and does not mind killing to get it! Big Daddy and his zombie horde are causing death and destruction and make meals out of soldiers and any human they come across! This issue also brings the blood and gore and shows that while the world is under attack by greed they are the true threats to mankind. The cover for this issue is pretty great and is eye catching for Horror Comic readers, with the interior art once more being done by Gabriel Rodriguez being solid and great stuff! Over all this third issue is fantastic and is holding true to this George Romero film.

Land Of The Dead # 4  ***
Released in 2005     Cover Price $3.99      IDW      # 4 of 5

Riley and his crew find Dead Reckoning and Pillsbury knocks out Motown who was planning on turning on the group and Riley and Charlie stand and meet Cholo and his crew who take the pair as hostages as Slack and Pillsbury hide in the shadows armed and ready to fire if things go south. When Riley uses a master control on Dead Reckoning to shut down its weapons Cholo and Riley get into a fight and this leads to the now woken up Motown to try and shoot them and one bullet hits Cholo and this also leads to her death as a zombie bites her and Slack putts a bullet in her brain. While at Fiddlers Green Mr. Kaufmann is stealing the cities money and is about to flee when he gets the call from Riley that Dead Reckoning has been recaptured, but when explosions in the city goes off they find out that the zombies lead by Big Daddy are in the city and want human flesh! Cholo and one of his friends decide to go and travel to Cleveland while Riley and the rest of them travel to the city and see if they can help as the city really is being taken over by the dead.

Things are really heating up as the zombies are in full force and have entered the city and are killing and eating anyone in their way. Riley and Charlie risk their own lives in order to get close to Dead Reckoning and Cholo and are able to pull off stopping the planned attack on the city. Riley once in control of the defense machine makes the decision to return to the city to help anyone he can from the zombies. Mr. Kauffman once more shows that he is a selfish person as when things get bad he tries to flee Fiddlers Green and is taking all the money of his residents! Kauffman really is a terrible person and one as a reader you really do want to see get his. Slack and Pillsbury are great back up for Riley as they watch his back during the stand off with Cholo. Speaking of Cholo that poor guy just can not win as in this issue he does not get his money, he does not get Dead Reckoning and worse gets shot and bite! This issue really has it all hit the fan as zombies are now working together and have gotten smarter and yet still want to eat and kill. The issue has lots of blood and zombie carnage and a pretty cool cover that features Slack who is played by Asia Argento predominately and again Gabriel Rodriguez did the interior art and is great stuff. So as you can see Dead Reckoning is in the hands of Riley who along with his crew are off to try and save the day. A great solid read and makes me look forward to see how the final issue plays out.

Land Of The Dead # 5  ***
Released in 2005     Cover Price $3.99     IDW     # 5 of 5

Riley and the crew of Dead Reckoning are on their way to try and save the innocent people of the city and they have to get a drawbridge to drop first and once more Riley risks his life in order to do so, and even must come face to face with some zombies! Meanwhile the now bitten and dying Cholo is dropped off near Fiddlers Green as he wants revenge of Mr. Kauffman who is also on the run as Big Daddy and the zombies have entered the building and are eating the rich. After Riley gets the bridge down they rush to the gates and find that many of the people have been killed by the zombies as the now fully dead Cholo has found Mr. Kauffman after he hid in a limo to get away from Big Daddy who had poured gasoline all over the limo and ground. The zombie Cholo attacks Kauffman by the limo and as the two tussle Big Daddy throws a flaming barrel at the limo that is covered in gas blowing up Kauffman and Cholo ending their greed once and for all. Meanwhile Riley is able save many lives when he fires missiles into a horde of zombies, as the survivors figure out what they want to do Riley, Charlie, Slack, Pretty Boy and the rest of the crew of Dead Reckoning all head to Canada as Big Daddy and the zombies head off back to the town they came from as their work and message was sent.

Wow this really was a great Horror Comic that does a great job of adapting the George Romero film and giving fans something more to have based on it. This issue has Riley doing what’s right and stopping Cholo from attacking the city, is able to keep onto Dead Reckoning and save lots of innocent lives from a zombie attack. Riley all through this comic mini series has been a real loner but it’s also clear he values the friendships he has in a world gone dead, plus it’s great that we have a hero in this comic and in the world it created that’s a true caring person with a tough edge. Charlie and Slack are as well loners who are looking for their own place in the world and find good friendship with each other as well as with Riley. It’s clear that Charlie owes his life to Riley who saved him from a very bad fire that left half his face scared. Slack meanwhile was a good soldier who was forced to be a prostitute who wants something better in life and for trying to better herself is sent to be killed by zombies in a arena cage, before she is rescued by Riley. Cholo is a man who has turned cold due to the world around him going to hell, his goal is to live the good life and once that is taken away from him he will do whatever he can to get his revenge. Mr. Kauffman is a rich scumbag who really only cares about himself and I love how in this comic series they keep his face hidden in shadow making him come off even more evil. Big Daddy and the rest of the zombies are flesh eaters who are adapting and learning and with their new smarts come’s skills in killing and eating humans. Land of the Dead is a film that translated really well to comics and IDW did a great job of making it happen and with this and as well as Dawn Of The Dead makes me wish they would have covered more of the films of George Romero like Day Of The Dead and even Survival Of The Dead. I also wish IDW would have made an ongoing comic series of Land as I would like to know what Riley, Charlie, Slack and the rest of Dead Reckoning is up to and what they found in Canada. The cover I have for this issue is fantastic and very eye catching and holds a classic indie zombie comic look, and the interior art by Gabriel Rodriguez is fitting for this title. Over all this is a very solid and good Horror Comic title based on a Horror Movie and is a nice comic series for fans of the film and is worth checking out for fans. Check out the art below to see how it looks in this comic and see the style of Rodriguez.

So as always super sad that our Monster Bash vacation has come to an end as I really do enjoy that Horror Convention and really love Cranberry, Mars and Evan City as they feel like my home away from home! Also sad as this is the last of the adaptation comics of the George A. Romero films based on zombies…I mean there are some more Night Of The Living Dead comics from the likes of Fantaco, Dead Dog and Avatar so who knows what next year will have in store for me to review for my Monster Bash Vacation. But for my next update, I will be leaving the world of Romero’s dead behind and once more be entering the world of Atlas Comics as I take a look at masked hero The Destructor! So until next time read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Romero film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for a bad guy bashing good time.

Anne Francis Stars In…Our Look At Forbidden Planet

Pop quiz time, Rotten Inkers! Can you name the ten films that are referred to in Rocky Horror Picture Show’s “Science Fiction Double Feature”? It’s okay, I’ll give you a minute to sing through it in your head. Done? Alright. Even if you didn’t get all of them, I can bet that one you did catch was in the chorus. Sing it with me, “Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet.” This musical exercise is my less than clever way to introduce today’s update, all about seminal science fiction film Forbidden Planet. I’m Juliet, occasional co-pilot here on Rotten Ink. As you may guessed by now, having read my prior contributions to Rotten Ink, although I have massive love and respect for the horror genre, my earliest and continuing love is for science fiction. If Matt’s the Monster Kid of our house, I’m the spaceships and robots kid for sure. So it’s perfect that we’re about to dive into a film, and the comic books adaptations of it, that not only feature spaceships and robots but really influenced all of the spaceship and robot things to follow it. We’ll start with some history.

Forbidden Planet was released in 1956 by MGM and was shot in Eastmancolor and CinemaScope. It was written by Irving Block and Allen Adler (who was blacklisted from Hollywood during the second part of the Red Scare), directed by Fred M. Wilcox and stars Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis and Leslie Nielsen. It was the first science fiction film to take place entirely on an interstellar planet that was far from Earth, and the first to show humans traveling faster than the speed of light in a ship of their own creation. These are two of the many reasons Gene Rodenberry names Forbidden Planet as one of his main inspirations for Star Trek. You can also see its visual and design influence on the Star Wars franchise. And remember, this film was released 13 years before the moon landing and five years before cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to travel to space.

Another first for Forbidden Planet is its score. It was the film to have an entirely electronic music score, though at the time, it was referred to as “electronic tonalities” to avoid music guild fees. The composers, Bebe and Louis Barron were discovered accidentally when an MGM producer was visiting New York and saw them perform at a beatnik club and then hired them on the spot to create music for Forbidden Planet. Many people think that the pre-Moog synthesizer electronic drones were created with a theremin, similar to part of the score for Hitchcock’s Spellbound, but the effect was actually created by electronic circuits and modulators that Louis Barron built himself. For this and their work, Heavenly Menagerie, which is considered the first piece of electronic music committed to magnetic tape, the Barrons are considered pioneers of electronic music.

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Robby the Robot is notable for both his design and characterization. Robby’s design was developed from initial ideas and sketches by MGM production designer Arnold “Buddy” Gillespie, art director Arthur Lonergan, and writer Irving Block. The concepts were refined by production illustrator Mentor Huebner and perfected by MGM staff mechanical designer Robert Kinoshita, and Robby was built by the prop department. For his time, Robby sported one of the most complex robot designs moviegoers had ever seen, comparable in design only to Maria, the Menschmaschine in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (another of my favorite robot films). MGM spent a reported $125,000 on Robbie, which with inflation is about $1.1 million today, and compared to the overall budget of Forbidden Planet, he remains of the one most of expensive single props compared to the overall budget of the film he’s in. The suit itself is unique; made of three pieces that completely surrounded the actor and contained all of Robby’s electronics, it could be filmed from any angle without a reset unlike Gort from The Day The Earth Stood Still, whose suit had to be reset for different angles to cover special fastenings that allowed for movement.

As a character, Robby was one of the first science fiction robots to have a distinct personality and to be considered an integral supporting character in his film. Again, Maria from Metropolis and Gort are good precursor comparisons. Contrary to Forbidden Planet’s poster and much of the advertising leading up to the film, Robby isn’t the villain, and in fact, follows a version of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics throughout the film including (and most important to the climax of the story), the fact that he cannot kill a human being. He is portrayed as physically strong, benevolent, extremely loyal to Alta and Dr. Morbius, and, at times, he’s a bit sassy.

forbidden_art1Robby Anne Francis9115ptDPsDL._SL1500_.jpg

It’s unknown whether Robby takes his name from Fantastic Island’s Robbie – a mechanical decoy used by Doc Savage or from the Asimov story of the same name, which was published in 1940. However, after Forbidden Planet was released, Robby became a pop culture icon. He had another starring film role in MGM’s 1957 movie The Invisible Boy and makes a cameo in Gremlins. He appeared in many TV shows, including the The Addams Family, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Mork and Mindy. He and and several props from Forbidden Planet were used in the “Uncle Sam” episode of The Twilight Zone (the original Rod Serling version), but Robby donned an alternate head for that appearance, based on one of the original, rejected models created for Forbidden Planet. Robby also appeared in several episodes of Lost in Space, in which he battled Robot B-9 (aka Robot), who he’s sometimes confused for. In 2004, Robby was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame.

If you haven’t seen Forbidden Planet, by now you’re probably wondering what the heck it’s about. Based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the story follows the crew of the starship C-57D, lead by Commander Adams, as they travel to Altair IV with the goal of discovering what happened to an Earth expedition sent to the planet twenty years prior. When they arrive on the planet, they find its only inhabitants are Dr. Morbius, his beautiful daughter Altaira, and Robby, their robot servant. But something sinister lurks on the planet, and Dr. Morbius is keen to keep it a secret. I’ll leave the story at that for now as we’ll dive further into it when we review Innovation’s comic book adaptation of the film.

As I mentioned above, I am a lifelong scifi fan, and I’m particularly fond of space stories and robot stories so it wasn’t hard to fall in love with Forbidden Planet. I first saw it when I was around thirteen years old. In 1996, MGM re-released the film on VHS and laserdisc with a special widescreen presentation for its 40th anniversary. My dad got the VHS as a gift, and one day I decided to check it out. At the time, I didn’t know about Forbidden Planet’s place in science fiction history, how really important it was the genre and how it influenced the creators of many of the things I already loved. What I knew back then was that it was a great movie. It’s lush, beautiful and puts you completely into its world. All of the characters are smart, including Altaira who is naive about certain things, having never lived with other humans, but can handle her own with the ship’s crew. Robby has such personality, and his look, as well as that of the other props, is yet another argument for practical effects and design over CGI. The story gets at all of the great science fiction questions of forbidden knowledge and its power, the ethics of being an outsider in someone else’s world and how far artificial intelligence should be allowed to go without human intervention. Forbidden Planet instantly took a space in my top five all time movies where it’s remained ever since.

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After Forbidden Planet was released, Robby the Robot became a pop culture icon and a favorite for collectors of science fiction merchandise. He’s been a toy, a Funko pop figure, a talking bank, and a bobble head, among other things (I own all of those, by the way). There are also model kits for both Robby and the ship. The iconic Forbidden Planet poster (a reproduction of which hangs above my bed) has made its way onto lunch boxes, t-shirts, and variety of print formats. The film itself has been released on VHS, laserdisc, DVD and BluRay, and the soundtrack is available on CD and both vintage and new edition vinyl.

In 1992, Innovation Comics, in association with Turner Entertainment, released a four part comic book adaptation of Forbidden Planet.  These comics are the subject of today’s update, and Robby reminds us that here are at Rotten Ink, comics are graded on a scale of 1 to 4 stars and that we are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s prep to board our spacecraft and journey to the Forbidden Planet.

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Forbidden Planet  # 1   ****
Released in 1992      Cover Price $2.50      Innovation     # 1 of 4

Commander J.J. Adams and his crew have been traveling the vast unknown of space for over a year on a mission to find out what happened to the crew of the spaceship Bellerophon, sent to Altair 4 twenty years prior.  Upon approaching the planet’s orbit, Adams’ ship receives a message not to land, but they do so anyway.  At first the planet appears to have no trace of any survivors of the Bellerophon, but the crew is eventually greeted by Robby the Robot, who takes Adams and his command crew, which includes Doc Ostrow, to meet his master Dr. Morbius.  Morbius is cautious, if not downright suspicious of the newcomers, informing them that, while he is the only survivor from the Bellerophon, he is not in need of rescue.  The issue ends as Adams and his companions meet Altaira, Morbius’ nineteen year old daughter who was born on the planet.

This first issue, titled Relief Ship, is a really nice start to our adaptation of Forbidden Planet.  David Campiti’s script follows the beginning of the film faithfully and closely, so you don’t miss anything that’s been shortened or adapted to work in comics.  Daerick Gröss’ painted artwork really captures the distinct look and feel of the film, and the way the panels are structured loosely on larger, more atmospheric backgrounds is really interesting.  I’ve not seen that done in other books.  My only hesitation is that occasionally Innovation’s adaptation books get too artsy and lose the story completely, and/or worse, the art slows down the pacing of the storytelling and the title is cancelled before we get a complete adaptations (I’m looking at you, Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour).  So I’m proceeding cautiously because I don’t want that to happen with Forbidden Planet.  Hopefully the association with Turner for the publishing helped move things along a bit, and we’ll get the full story in these four issues.  So I guess it’s a good time to move on to Issue 2 and see if that’s the case.

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Forbidden Planet # 2 ***
Released in 1992      Cover Price $2.50      Innovation     # 2 of 4

Commander Adams and crew learn more about Altaira, Dr. Morbius’ daughter who we (and they) met at the end of issue #1.  Altaira is nineteen and was born on the planet.  Until this point, she had never met a human other than her father, and that combined with mysterious properties of the planet have somehow given her the ability to communicate with the animals residing on Altair 4.  This begins to change, however, as Altaira becomes intrigued by the crew of young men currently stationed on her planet, in particular Commander Adams, who at first spurns her rather naive advances but is ultimately unable to resist her charms.  Dr. Morbius is concerned for his daughter and for what her newly awakened passions might mean for all of their fate.

This is another great adaptation issue that, although it moves a few things around from the movie for a better page flow, once again stays faithful to the film’s story.  This issue, called The Innocence of Altaira, focuses on Morbius’ daughter.  This particular storyline is really interesting in both the film and the comic, and takes a scifi approach to the age-old story arc about the loss of innocence through the gaining of knowledge, either literal (which we’ll see more of soon) or sexual…or both.  Although she isn’t drawn to look like Ann Francis, the comic book version of Altaira is faithful to the film version, both highly intelligent and a bit naive and with a sassy relationship with Robby.  Once again the painted artwork is fantastic and full of the vibrant colors we expect from this portion of the film.  We’re at the halfway mark for this comic book series, and I think, if done correctly, based on our current pacing we could get the full film by the end of issue 4.  So onward, to Issue 3.

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Forbidden Planet # 3 ***
Released in 1992      Cover Price $2.50      Innovation     # 3 of 4

It’s time for Dr. Morbius to finally explain the truth to Commander Adams and Doc Ostrow, that Altair 4 does, as they’ve been suspecting, hold a dark secret.  Taking them through a passageway in his office, Dr. Morbius leads the spacemen into an old laboratory belonging to the Krell, a long dead race of super beings who inhabited Altair 4 in the planet’s ancient past.  The Krell were highly advanced and had managed to harness the power of their own minds to build a great civilization and in turn use the machines they created to further enhance their minds. But in doing so, they unlocked the Id, a powerful monster born from their own thoughts that was eventually responsible for the downfall of the Krell and the deaths of the crew of the Bellerophon.  Morbius is concerned that through his own actions and the arrival of Adams and his crew, the monster has once again awakened and will destroy them all.

In this issue we get the Krell mythology and the origin of the Id monster, and again, although a few things were slightly rearranged for the comic, by and large this reveal worked in the comic just like it did in the film.  The one minor place where I felt like the comic felt a little short, however, is that I don’t feel like the artwork has the same impact as the graphics in the film when it came to depicting just how vast, advanced and intricate the Krell technology was.  Don’t get me wrong, it beautiful artwork, but in the film, you could really feel the size and scope based on the both the design and the camera set up.  But don’t let my complaints fool you into thinking this isn’t a great comic with great artwork, it really is – and, unless something goes completely haywire next issue, it looks like we are poised to get the whole film adaptation in the scheduled four issues.  So let’s get to it!

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Forbidden Planet # 4 ****
Released in 1993      Cover Price $2.50      Innovation     # 4 of 4

With the secrets of the Krell revealed, the Monster of the Id is growing stronger and threatens to destroy all of Altair 4.  Commander Adams and his crew are left with a choice: to flee the planet or to stay and fight.  Morbius, knowing that his own dabbling in Krell technology is in part to blame for the monster, encourages them to leave and to take Altaira with them.  As they try to make their escape, the monster attacks and Robby is unable to defend them because of a protocol that prevents him from harming Morbius or his family — you see, the Morbius has become part of the collective Id from which the monster is formed. So all hope is lost for the doctor.  Altaira and the recovered Robby agree to flee with Adams and his crew, and the ship blasts off into space as the planet implodes.

And there we have the epic conclusion to the comic book adaptation of Forbidden Planet, and yes, Innovation made it happen in the scheduled four issues.  This final issue holds the bulk of the action as our heroes must escape Altair 4 as the Id Monster grows stronger threatening to destroy them and the entire planet.  In this issue we see Altaira making the difficult choice to leave her father and Morbius having to reckon with the consequences of the damage he’s caused.  We also see Robby put to the test in a great example of Asimov’s Laws of Robotics when he cannot kill the monster because it and Dr. Morbius have become one in the same.  The was a great conclusion to a great comic book adaptation of the film.  From the script to the artwork, everything was done with care and respect for the source material which makes it a great read for fans and newcomers alike.  Take a look below at some of Daerick Gröss’ artwork.

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Often comic book adaptations of films are really hit or miss, but Innovation’s Forbidden Planet is definitely a hit for the casual or diehard fan.  Be sure to track this one down and check it out.  For our next update, we’re leaving outer space and landing back in the U.S.A. for Rotten Ink’s annual Fourth of July update wherein Matt will return to once again look at a title with a patriotic theme.  This time around he’s going with a classic, and I do mean classic – a reprint of the very first issue of Captain America.  So get your grill out and your sparklers ready (though keep them away from comic books for safety’s sake!) and get ready for our next update here on Rotten Ink.Captain America Logo 00

The Forgotten Dusty Vault Of Doomnation

Welcome back to Rotten Ink!  Lately I have been thinking about the new boom of independent comic companies who’s issues have found life not only at your local comic shops but also online on their official websites as well as crowd funding sites like Kickstarter and Indie Go-Go giving us more selection to choose from besides Marvel, DC, Image, Archie and Dark Horse Comics, all of whom have been around for the long haul of the rise and fall of comic book popularity. I mean companies like IDW, Boom and Action Lab, among many others, have their issues in Diamond Previews while companies like Eibon Press, Rough House Publishing and Digital Phantom Press all deliver their comics directly to the reader and cut out the middle man. Even Jason Young and myself have gotten into the act when we opened Sparkle Comics and its sub branch Blood Scream Comics as we also wanted to deliver high quality comics to our readers and be creative with our friends. But back in the mid 80’s – early 90’s, lots of independent comic companies popped up and tried to deliver black and white comic books to cash in on the 1985 success of Mirage Studios who had a huge hit with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Many of the companies had their own mutant animal books who knew Kung-Fu or were like elite task force fighters.  Many Horror books were made during this time, and while some companies were made on the spot to try and cash in, many others suffered as the market began to be flooded with poorly made and drawn comics that filled comic store shelves and burnt readers with their terrible stories. With such titles as “Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils”, “Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters” and “Cold Blooded Chameleon Commandos” being pushed upon readers, the independent comic company bubble burst in the late 80’s, and as quickly as the boom happened, it imploded on itself and many companies folded up or were bought out by the other companies while others just faded away to have their issues end up in dollar bins. This update is about one of those comic companies that I knew about when I was a teenager thanks to a local comic shop that had them in stock and my favorite comic in their short-lived life called The Vault Of Doomnation.  So sit back and enjoy this quick “looking back” update, below is my tribute to some of the comic companies from the past that left the comic racks way too soon.

One of those pop-up companies was B-Movie Comics, who started in 1986 and by 1987 was out of business with only four titles under their belt with only two of those titles having more than one issue! The company’s titles were “B-Movie Presents,” a series that lasted four issues and was about fake movies like Tasa Congo Queen and Matrix The Accelerator. They also had “Vault Of Doomnation!” a horror comic anthology much like Marvel Comics series Dead Of Night that very sadly only lasted one issue. And they had “Eric Preston Is The Flame,” a generic Superhero comic that lasted one issue. And lastly another Superhero comic called “Reacto-Man” that appears to have lasted a total of three issues. From what I can gather, B-Movie comics was based out of Indiana and was a creator owned company that had Mark Paniccia as owner and maybe editor in chief, and they were a company that tried to make it big with the black and white independent comic boom of the mid-eighties but could not compete with all the competition. Mark Paniccia, later in his comic career, would go on to work for Malibu Comics, TokyoPop and Marvel Comics where he still works as an editor as of the time of this update. It’s been hard to find direct info on this company as they did not last long enough to make an impact and many websites, blogs and chats I have read all have different information on what comics they released and how long they stayed in business. Their logo was white and black and had a man behind a camera, and this logo, while not all that eye catching compared to other companies, always stood out to me as I was always mesmerized by shot-on video-films and shows like “Moraine Playhouse Theater” on MVCC and other horror and science fiction movie stuff, and their logo reminded me of the small guy trying to make big entertainment. I first learned about B-Movie Comics thanks to Mavericks Cards and Comics when I was a teenager and started shopping there. While going through the back issue boxes looking for old Horror Comics, I stumbled upon the comic Vault Of Doomnation! and can remember buying it for $1.85 and taking it home and reading it in my room in Waynesville and enjoying the horror stories, and if memory serves me correct, I read it during a thunderstorm! While gone and by most accounts forgotten, I for one enjoyed B-Movie Comics and thank them for making their tiny mark on the world of comic books. Below are some comics they released as well as the company’s logo.

While working on this update back in October 2016, I was feeling very nostalgic for the past and with a slow day at work on October 7th I left work early around 1:30pm and along with pal Josh Weinberg we headed to my true hometown Waynesville to check on a rumor that the old Dairy Corner was torn down and a new Dominos Pizza was up in its place.  Sadly enough, the rumor was true and a place I loved as a child was gone and a soulless major chain restaurant was in its place.  I’m really letdown that the Waynesville board let this happen. We could not stop at the antique stores in Waynesville as Main Street was blocked to get ready for the Sauerkraut Festival that was gearing up to take place the next day. So we drove to Lebanon to visit Peddler’s Mall as Josh had never been there and I wanted to soak up the past again of being in the old Big Bear and Hearts (Big Bear Plus) and walking into that place always reminds me of toys, comic books, Cracked and MAD Magazines and breakfast cereal as at the time the had the largest selection I had ever seen, and this is where we would get these items growing up. Walking around that place, I shared a few stories with Josh about when it was the iconic grocery and department store as we looked at vintage antiques and collectibles. As we left, I wanted to see if maybe behind the building if the original Big Bear Plus store signs were left behind as in the main lot the only thing left to show Big Bear was even there is a parking lot sign. While driving behind the building, it was clear that sadly the signs were gone but we did find on one of the loading docks they had signs for each department like meat and dairy, and after getting out of the car to snap a pictures, I noticed that the dock must have been a hang out for kids as broken beer bottles and pill bottles littered the ground. As we left the parking lot, it hit me that it really is a shame that Big Bear went out of business and that stores like Kroger and Wal-Mart were the ones who put the nail in its coffin as they did with other stores like Cub Foods in my area, but as they say, you can’t live in the past you must live for the future, and while I know I have chatted about Big Bear on here before I wanted to also share the pictures I took that day with you friends and readers, so enjoy.

So I am sure you’re wondering if I found anything at the Peddlers Mall in Lebanon on that trip, and I must say I sure did as I found a big Imperial Godzilla just like the one I got from my Aunt Laverne and Uncle George for my birthday when I was a kid for $25.00. This toy also triggered memories of the past from having Godzilla fight with my 12” Incredible Hulk Mego figure during my Toy Wars to Sarah Fix hanging out in my house on Pittsfield chatting about it while looking for a Horror Movie to watch when I was a teenager. The other item I found was an old rubber caveman figure that looks lots like a Jiggler from the late 60’s that was only $2.50! The one items I regretted not picking up was the Starting Lineup figure for golf legend Arnold Palmer as I had been on a kick of drinking the drink named after him that’s a tea and lemonade mix as it was only $4.00 and a Blue Falcon and Dynomutt metal lunchbox that was $25.00. Below is a picture of Godzilla and The Caveman I took on the day I bought them both.

When leaving Peddlers Mall, we decided to drive once more through Waynesville, and we ended up driving down the old street I lived on Royston Drive where I really realized that I 100% really do miss that neighborhood and all the kids that my brother Bryan and I use to run around with in our youth. So many great times of playing baseball, football, basketball, ball tag, Nintendo games and toys were had on this street. 645 Royston Drive was the only home that I have ever lived in that felt like just that home.  My old room on the second floor just above the garage with the terrible white wall paper with flowers was a place that I played with toys, read comics and paperback novels, worked on my own short stories and drew up my own comic book characters and monsters. The walls of my room was covered with posters of Bart Simpson, The Joker, Pro Wrestler The Great Muta and many more pop culture characters, I also had a very old and vintage blackboard that was in my room that I would draw pictures of Swamp Thing and Spider-Man on with colored chalk and even made fake boxing and pro wrestling event brackets. A hallway and a bathroom separated my room from my brother’s and I always knew that he was close if ever an emergency were to happen. So many great memories is in that house from watching Commander USA on TV to playing Nintendo against my Dad to even hanging out with my pet mice Grey and White and all the fun times of making crafts with my Mom and even reading comics in my brothers room, this truly was my favorite house I have ever lived in. I can’t really express just how magical that house and the neighborhood were to me, and no matter were I live I will always be a Waynesville Spartan! Below is a picture that my Mom took of the house just after my Dad bought it and I am proud to share it with you my readers and friends, and I will have to end this little segment that if it ever went back up for sale and I could afford it I would love to buy that house and live their again!

I have worked a number of jobs over the years and many of them were lots of fun, and I have met friends I still have at many of those jobs like Odd Lots, Krogers, Replay Media, Mavericks Cards And Comics, Buy Backs and Hotel Liquidations to name a few, but the one I miss the most hands down over the others is the video rental store Blockbuster Video on S. Smithville Road, a place I worked when VHS was still the king and was even around when DVD pushed them out of the stores and into the dumpsters out back. I was there for the roll out of the Rewards Project as well as when they started to take in trades! I meet many of wonderful women that I was able to take out on dates that were employees and customers and I had many of weird moments from grown women flashing me their boobs for free rentals to weird prank calls for films that never were made. It was a place I worked mornings as well as many late nights and was a place that always seemed fun even during the busiest of days and with most annoying customers. It was also a place I worked that acted as the set for many of the shot on video films I made from “Werewolf Of Ohio 2: 10 Years Before” and “Cocktober Blood” and even though Blockbuster policy was to not allow filming, my bosses always were cool about it. I was never a manager and was a full time CSR that was paid well and even had 2 weeks of paid vacation a year and won many bonuses from winning contests as well as was one of the fastest movie scanners in the area. I can remember around Halloween time one of my managers would allow us to watch Horror films instead of the Blockbuster TV tape/disc that we were supposed to play at all times, and when we would leave, I would hit play on the player and with store dark and at late at night movies like Phantom Of The Opera would be playing on the TVs. I really do miss this job and also really miss the world of Video Rental stores.  No matter what people tell me, scrolling through Netflix’s very limited horror selection will never take the place of walking through a video rental store’s Horror section! The Blockbuster Video I worked for was one of the last to close in the area, and when they finally closed the building sat empty for a while and within the last 2 years it has been split into three smaller stores with a pizza place on one side and on the other end is a pharmacy with the middle still empty and most of the Blockbuster shelves and counters still in there. Here is a pic that Josh and I took on January 11th of the middle section of what is left of Blockbuster Video that was a big part of my working life. As well as one of my old name tags I found in the old Independent B Movie studio!

Also on January 11th Josh Weinberg and I decided to visit some of the top locations that we used for some of our most “popular” shot on video films! It was a perfect day for it as the weather outside was chilly and rain was in the forecast, and we selected to start a look back at a location that we at Independent B Movie called “Suicide Hill” as it was the final place we used in our first film Teen Suicide that was shot back in 1998 where the character Matt played by Matt Hoffman killed himself after being bullied by cruel classmates. This location is in a park in Kettering, Ohio and was also used in such films we made as Werewolf Of Ohio, Tree-Man Christmas, Cocktober Blood and Vigilante C: The Hunt For Man-Beast among many others and I must say the location has changed very much as the hill is now over grown with weeds and tree branches and the amount of trash near it was saddening, we stood around for a few moments and chatted about Teen Suicide and just how overgrown the area had became. After a few minutes we left and started to our next location. Below is a picture still from the movie as well as one taken on Jan 11th to show you just how much the area has changed.

The next location we went to was used for the 2003 supernatural ghost flick Farmer Joe directed by Mike Ritchie that we all called “Farmer Joe’s Barn” that acted as the cursed area that the killer farmer would stalk his prey as well as have the powers to change the weather. And as we pulled up, we were saddened to see first hand that the barn had been torn down by the church that owned the land it was on and in its place was now just grass and four basketball hoops.  Worse, the land that was behind the barn had been sold and over priced giant homes now sat where the characters’ cursed crop fields used to be. Josh and I did our best to try and figure out just where the barn and its green doors used to sit on the now blank land and chatted about the production of the film and funny moments of filming under Mike Ritchie’s direction. Josh had to take a business call, and I just walked around not only remembering the filming of Farmer Joe but also the fun filming day of Vigilante C: The Hunt For Man-Beast that took place on that land, I also remember fun times hanging out at that barn with Jennifer Perkins and Misty Altick looking up at the stars in the sky. As the weather got colder, we headed to our next location and chatted a little more about Farmer Joe and the comic in the works from Blood Scream Comics being done by Jeff Potter and Juliet Fromholt. Below are pictures of the barn from the film to that day of our visit.

Our next stop was in Bellbrook for one of the main locations used in my first film, the 1998 classic Werewolf Of Ohio.  It’s a small little park near Dot’s Market. The site was supposed to be the location where the main character Josh played by Josh Weinberg’s family lived and in the shelter his sister wrote her name in the wood with the name being Kanny.  It was already there when we decided to film the found footage style shot on video horror film, and I was shocked to see the white painted name still there on the second to last beam; while it was faded it was still there! Josh and I laughed about a scene from the film that was shot in the shelter that had his character Josh having a breakdown that had him almost trip over a trashcan he was kicking! Behind the shelter was also another location from Werewolf of Ohio, a stream that acted as the characters’ backyard, and this location had changed as all the woods near the entrance have been removed as was the old muddy and gravel path that was near it. This location, while different, really did bring back memories of the good old days of Independent B Movie when me and my friends had no money but big ideas for horror movies. Josh and I chatted about the idea of doing a Werewolf Of Ohio 3, but we knew that if it is ever to happen, it would have to be now made as a comic book. After walking around for a while, the sky became darker and we decided to head to our final location and stop and get some lunch. Below is the stream from the past as well as the present.

Xenia was our final location visit, and after stopping at Roosters for some chicken wings, we headed out to what we have always called “Malice’s Bridge,” the main location for the final fight between The Wolf Hunter and Malice in both the 2003 film The Wolf Hunter and its sequel, the 2006 film Wolf Hunter 2. The rain was starting to come down as we made our trip to the bridge and all the way there we chatted about all the films and TV shows we had filmed at the bridge and memories of Wolf Hunter and Wolf Hunter 2 mostly. As we pulled down the street that lead to the bridge, we got a bad shock as the bridge was being blocked by road workers who looked annoyed that we were coming down the road! We turned around and decided to get some drinks at a gas station in Xenia and wait to see if the rain that was now really coming down would make the road workers leave, and we got lucky as when we got back to the bridge the workers were gone! Josh decided to stay in the car as the rain was coming down pretty heavy, but I did get out and noticed that the area around the bridge had been stripped of the grass and brush and was now just mud, I also noticed that much of the bridges wood was new and it appeared as if maybe some one set it ablaze as wood on some of it had scorched marks! Clearly this classic covered bridge has been the target of some arson and that’s a shame as the bridge is pretty damn cool and holds history as well as shot on video history. I quickly stepped on the bridge and had to laugh as some one spray painted on a support beam “I Love Matt” and I just imagined a fan of Matt Hoffman aka The Wolf Hunter painting that hoping that he would see it. After getting back into the car, I reflected on this day of visiting the old filming spots of Independent B Movies and realized that many of the classic set places have changed and many are now just gone, but it also made me miss the days of making movies with friends as being creative is something I have always loved to be. I want to thank Josh Weinberg for coming along for the ride on this look back and I think he as well had a great time looking back and slightly misses making SOV films as well. Below is a pic of Malice’s Bridge from the past falling apart and the second is from the present.

I am having such a great time looking back at the past and thought, hell, let’s also cover a Horror Movie Marathon that was held on July 23, 2017 at my cousin Stephen’s house! For me, the Horror Movie Marathon is very special and is an event that has brought many good times to my life hanging out with family and friends while watching the scares on our TV screen. This event was semi well attended and many of my friends showed up to enjoy the blood, guts and scares that was selected to show as Stephen Alexander, Theresa Lopez, Josh Weinberg, Juliet Fromholt, Jason Young, Todd The Fox and Garrison Kane all showed up throughout the day. The first film of the day was “Dark And Stormy Night” a modern flick that has a classic retro feel about a mansion under attack on a stormy night by two hooded killers during a will reading. “Dangerous Worry Dolls” was the second film about a woman in prison who is possessed by a worry doll that causes her to kill those who stand in her way. The shot on video film “The Dummy” was next up and follows a killer doll that is making short work of a group of friends thanks to a voodoo lady who put a curse on them. The 1991creature feature “The Runestone” was next up and was about the Norse wolf Fenrir running wild in modern times to try to bring on the end of the world! The low budget slasher film “Hayride 2” was up next and brought back the killer from the first film who still has lots of blood to spill and even targets a hospital on his rampage. The creepy film “Child Eater” was next in line to scare us and was about a freak that lives in the woods that kills, eats and steals the eyes of children! Finally got to watch the female slasher film “Blood Widow” about a crazed masked female killer who lives in an abandoned house and has targeted the new neighbors and their friends. The 2017 creature flick “The Raking” was next and follows a group of collage kids looking into a creepypasta creature that turns out to be real! The retro style film “Beyond The Gates” followed and is about two brothers having to play an old VHS Board Game in order to save their souls and their dead fathers. My cousin Stephen picked the next film called “Pitchfork” that follows a crazed masked killer who has a pitchfork for a hand as he kills a batch of partying youngsters. And the final film of the night was “The Slayer” about a creature on the loose on an island who wants lots of death and no happy ending.

This marathon was lots of fun even if the turn out was not packed and was filled with good food and great drinks and great horror movie talk with amazing friends. For me the worst film aka the Golden Turkey of the night was The Raking as I found it to be a very boring slow paced film with dorky characters and a monster that was way under used. Now as for my top three favorite films of the night, I would have to say my # 1 was Blood Widow as I enjoyed the killer and the atmosphere reminded me of the independent horror films of the 80’s not to mention it also had some pretty brutal effects with a leg snapping being the stand out…you should have heard all of us when this happened. The # 2 film for me was Beyond The Gate as I loved the retro feel to the film and it was short and sweet and filled with some great bloody effects. And # 3 was Dark And Stormy Night a great throwback parody film of the 30’s and 40’s haunted house films! I need to also say that I enjoyed The Slayer and The Dummy as well. Another great Marathon was in the books and here is to many more to come!

The killer of the marathon was Fenrir from Runestone who had a body count of over 30 people with many of them coming from massacring a whole SWAT Team! He was brutal in his killing nature and showed no mercy! So the Golden Massacre Award proudly goes to Fenrir for his over 30 kills.

So while we cannot live back in the past, we can indeed remember it and share our memories with family and friends keeping those adventures alive and well. So now that we looked at old film locations from the past, I think it’s time for us to travel back into the world of B-Movie Comics and to their spooky Vault of Doomnation that is filled with chills and thrills and aims to scare with the terror it holds within. Not sure if you notice, but this Vault is super cold and the walls have slime and it looks like this message is etched into the stone “Remind Your Brave Readers That You Grade These Comics On A Scale Of 1 to 4 And You Are Looking For How Well The Comic Stays To The Source Material, Its Entertainment Value And Its Art And Story…The Have Been Warned!” weird I wonder what ghoul from this comic left this message for us. I think we better just all sit together and share in this comic that was a favorite of mine in my youth and avoid the monsters that await outside.

Vault Of Doomnation! # 1  ***
Released in 1986   Cover Price $1.70     B-Movie Comics   # 1 of 1

“Zombi” in a graveyard a grisly murder has taken place and the grave of John Smith has now open and appears like it was opened from the inside.  Around the grave, two bodies are found that have been murdered. Jenell Adams is one of the investigating officers, and she and the cemetery caretaker go to look up the history of John Smith, as across town on the stormy night a Zombie is roaming around and kills the mayor and his wife. After this second murder, the Commissioner takes her off the case and Janell’s mind is working over time as she uncovered that John Smith was a fake name and the young man in the grave is an unknown person. And after another murder, Janell notices that many of the victims are wearing a strange ring with a lightning bolt on it and finds that it’s the symbol of an occult and that the Commissioner is in fact a member of it and that the zombie was in fact the son of two of the occults victims and he has come back from the gave for revenge! “Valentine’s Day” is the story of Nick Wheeler who is a playboy who has married rich older woman Ellen Hayes as he thinks she will die soon and he will get all her estate. Nick is annoyed when the older woman does not die fast enough from old age as he wants to be with a younger woman named Liz and needs the money to do so and his wife to be out of the way. After pushing her down the stairs Ellen dies and Nick is able to be with Liz…but love never dies as Ellen returns from the dead and wants what’s hers and that’s Nick’s heart! “Something Evil” is about a family who’s TV grows and evolves and becomes a living gross ooze life form that attacks the family and the world with monsters and characters from TV and Movies that are playing on the stations. In the end, the world is over run by the gross TV goo and a TV is born from the goo. Our final story is “That’s My Boy” and is about a father and a hired private investigator find the house of his estranged wife and have the goal to get his son back, but soon they find the wife had killed the son who now returns from the dead in order to tell his dad he loves him and to avenge is death by killing his own mother.

The Vault Of Doomnation is a horror anthology comic that I feel is often overlooked by Horror Comic readers who often just write it off as a generic independent comic that is found in the cheap bins at comic stores and conventions for a $1.00 or less, and while this comic is not ground breaking or blood chilling scary, it is a good classic style horror comic that is filled with four creepy tales that mostly deal with the dead coming back to get revenge on the living. The first tale Zombi seems like it might have been inspired by the 1986 film Zombie Nightmare as it has a young man who was wronged coming back to get revenge for himself and his family. I should also note it oddly also feels like The Crow that was released in 1989 but done with way less backstory, could this story have inspired both The Crow and Zombie Nightmare…I doubt it. Valentine’s Day is also about a murdered victim returning back from the dead to get revenge, and this tale seems like it could have been right at home in an issue of The Vault Of Horror. Something Evil takes always the zombies and ads in a Goo that is created by a TV that torments a family and later takes over the world.  This one is a cool story but kind of feels out of place art-wise. The final story That’s My Boy brings back the undead and has a Dad having to find the body of his son who was murdered by his ex-wife who in turn is killed by the zombie son! This one as well could have been at home in an issue of Vault Of Horror or even Twisted Tales. Some of these stories have blood and violence with the first two stories bringing the most to the readers and the last two stories more play on fears and shocks. The art varies from cool independent comic style to more armature punk rock style doodles, with the best art for me being Paul Fricke who did the art in That’s My Boy and the weakest for me is Scott Barker who did the art for Something Evil. My favorite monster of this issue is the zombie of Ellen Hayes the old bride who was murdered as she reminds me of the zombie bride from The Video Dead. The cover for this comic is very cool and is eye catching for independent horror comic readers and over all this is a fun comic with cool classic horror stories that will entertain those looking for a spooky good time. Vault Of Doomnation might not be a must own comic for readers, but is one that I think fans should read. Check out some of the art from this comic below and see some of the horrors that await you in this Vault.

Vault Of Doomnation # 1 is one of those comics that really does make me think back to my youngers days and shopping at the local comic shops like Bookie Parlor and Mavericks and how amazing it was to uncover Horror Comics and Superhero Comics that I have never heard of and buying them to rush home to read in my room or in the living room next to the fireplace. But again, you can’t live in the past, and I still very much enjoy going to a local comic shop like Bell, Book And Comic and finding new comics that I have never heard of. For our next update we are leaving the dusty old box of Horror Comics and looking at another character that is overlooked and underused by DC Comics, Jonni Thunder! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a horror movie or two, make your own shot on video movie and as always support your local Horror host! So see you next time as we go on a case with DC Comics most underused detective!

The Undead Files: Original The Walking Dead

Welcome back to another Undead File here at Rotten Ink. For this update we are going to dive into a comic series that shares a name with one of the world’s most popular zombie horror comics turned highly rated TV Shows ever made, The Walking Dead! Yes, back in the late 1980’s, a comic series was unleashed at comic shops from Aircel Comics that was about the living battling the dead and was a true independent black and white horror comic! I am sure many of you readers are wondering if this series helped inspire the current series, and once I give these issues a read, I will be able to answer that question. So get your zombie repellent ready as it’s time for us to once more walk among the dead as we truly take a deep look at The Walking Dead.

Before we get to deep into the world of the living dead, I want to share a fun event. On January 20, 2018 another Horror Movie Marathon took place as both Juliet and I wanted a day of sitting back and relaxing while watching the horrors of the small screen since the holidays were over and winter was still with us. So I took off that Saturday, and we stocked up on snack food as well as breakfast casserole and made chicken wings for dinner. We started our marathon at 7am with “Teenage Monster,” a horror mixed with western film from 1957 that has a mother whose son is turned into a monster who kills in anger and she must protect his secret. The shot on video film “Death Nurse 2” was next up and followed Nurse Edith and Doctor Gordon once more killing their patients to collect free money from the government for their care. The sleazy America giallo film “The Rain Killer” was next and was about a killer who killed recovering drug addict women on rainy nights. This film has stared Maria Ford in a tiny role. The spooky Universal film “The Old Dark House” was our fourth film and is about travelers on a stormy night having to stay with an odd family in their mansion in order to find safety. “The Return Of The Ape Man” was next and is about a scientist who found a way to return life to people who have been frozen and makes the mistake of bringing back a caveman. This film stars the great Bela Lugosi! “Amityville: The Awakening,” the newest film in the Amityville series, was next on tap and follows a family that move into the house. Things get weird when the brother, who is brain dead, suddenly starts to get better! The 1986 cheesy horror film “Spookies” was next and is about a group of friends who make the mistake of entering the abandon home of a crazed warlock and his creepy monster friends. The next horror film to try and scare us was “Puppet Master Axis Termination,” the newest film in the Full Moon Entertainment series that follows the Puppets and their human friends trying to put a stop to the Nazi’s and their evil puppets. The slasher film “Silo Killer” was next and was about friends on a desert camping trip being stalked and killed by a masked killer. “Metalface,” a modern slasher film with a snuff film twist was next to try and scare us. The newest film in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series “Leatherface” was next and followed a teenage Leatherface and fellow inmates at a youth mental asylum escaping on a quest to get home. We next watched the 1989 slasher film “Rush Week” about a masked killer on the loose at a college that is targeting young female coeds. And the final film of our main day of the Horror Movie Marathon was the short film “Klagger” about an evil undead killer in an abandon factory stalking a worker who is their to get the building ready to sale.

This was once more a great time that I had with my gal Juliet watching Horror Movies in one of my favorite past times, The Horror Movie Marathon. We had some great snack food like chips, hummus and carrots and for meals we had Breakfast Casserole and Chicken Wings! This time around it was hard for both Juliet and I to choose our best films but was super easy to pick the worst film of the day as we both agreed that Silo Killer was the Golden Turkey of the day as it was filled with unlikable characters, terrible dialogue, lame kills, over use of a terrible yellow filter and was too long and boring. The only good highlights of the film was that the killer looked cool and it had lots of attractive naked women. As for the best films of the day, my order went like this: # 1 Old Dark House – this was hands down the best film of the day and is a great Universal film that is filled with great characters, creepy atmosphere and kept me glued to the screen every second. Plus you can’t go wrong with Boris Karloff playing a disfigured mute drunk butler! # 2 Amityville The Awakening – I picked this film as I found it to be a solid Amityville movie with a likable lead character plus is packed in lots of great jump scares, and it’s also cool to see the Haunted House on Ocean Avenue in a Horror Movie. To choose my # 3, it was very hard as I enjoyed many of the films, but I decided to go with Leatherface as it was great to see a new Texas Chainsaw movie. While the middle of the film felt like a Rob Zombie Devil’s Reject knock off, the opening and end of the film felt like a gritty Chainsaw sequel. I do want to say that Metalface and Puppet Master Axis Termination almost made the spot over Leatherface! Juliet’s top 3 films are a little different as she selected for her #1 Old Dark House, #2 Metalface and #3 Spookies! She and I both also agreed that Klagger was a fantastic short film, and we both can’t wait to see the full-length movie when it’s released. So once done for the night Juliet and I chatted about the movies and prepared for the next day’s after party films! As Juliet went to bed, I decided to stay up a little longer and watched the first Killjoy movie before counting chainsaws myself.

For the After Party, we decided to watch six more films. We started it at 10am with our first film being the newest Horror Flick from my pal Henrique Couto called “Devil’s Trail” about TV Show hosts going the Pine Barrens in New Jersey and come across witches and what could be The Jersey Devil! The second fright flick was “Bloody Drama” that as a smile face masked killer stalking a group of women who are having a pool party. “Day Of The Reaper” the 1984 Super-8 slasher film from Tim Ritter was our third movie and had The Reaper killing and eating people that got in his way. The fourth film was “Camp Blood 7: It Kills” and had the Camp Blood Clown Killer once more stalking and killing a group of friends silly enough to enter his killing grounds. “The Houses October Built 2” was up next and has the group of haunted house thrill seekers back at it again and once more run into and are stalked by The Blue Skeleton extreme group. And the final film of the night was to Todd Sheets film “Bonehill Road” that is about a mother and daughter who get stranded on a back road that is swarmed with werewolves!

This after party was lots of fun, and Juliet and I had a great time watching these films and talking about them after.  In fact we enjoyed all of them so it was hard for us to pick our Golden Turkey of the day! But we both had to choose, so I picked Day Of The Reaper as my Turkey, and this film is by no means terrible, it was just the weakest of the lot and was clearly never meant to be a blockbuster horror film. Juliet picked Bloody Drama, and she wanted to stress that it is not a terrible film either, she just felt it was the weakest one on the day’s line up. My # 1 film of the day was The Houses October Built 2 as I found it to be a great sneak peek into haunted attractions and had some great creepy moments plus I dig the character Porcelain. # 2 hands down was Bonehill Road, an amazing werewolf film that had practical effects, great transformations and likable characters…not to mention it has a great plot that also takes place that involves a creepy dude who “loves” women! And my # 3 spot goes to Camp Blood 7: It Kills as it was a solid sequel to the cheesy franchise that had cool kills and along with part 6 helped wash the taste out of my mouth of parts 4-5. Juliet’s picks went as follows #1 The Houses October Built, #2 Bonehill Road and #3 Devil’s Trail! So comes to an end another Horror Movie Marathon that makes me very much look forward to the next! I also want to thank every director, actor, producer, musician and crewmember that made these movies that I got to watch as no matter how great or terrible the movie is, you are doing your part to keep Horror Movies alive for viewers.

Oh I am sure you want to know what master of murder had the top kills from this two day Marathon While many racked up a body count, it was The Camp Blood Clown Masked Killer who took the Golden Massacre Award home with his 11 kills that he won by slashing and stabbing his victims! So here is to you Clown Masked Killer from Camp Blood 7 as your bloodletting was enjoyable and made the Horror Movie Marathon oh so much bloodier.

Back in the early 2000’s while Independent B Movie was hitting its second wind with films like Who Keeps Feeding Grandpa, Razor and Farmer Joe coming out on VHS, we had a slew of films in all stages of production. One that I was working on was to be an epic zombie film that I called “Stairway To Heaven,” and it was going to be the biggest budgeted and goriest film I ever made! The film was one that I had lots of faith in and spent lots of late nights writing the script on my old computer in Independent B Movie Studios while drinking down sodas and pacing the floor with ideas of the plot and kills pouring out of my brain and onto the screen of the glowing monitor. This zombie opus was going to be my shot on video masterpiece, and I had all the faith in it and spent my days off work scouting locations. While all this was going on, we even had students at Fairmont High School design and print us out T-Shirts for our films, and one of the films we choose was Stairway To Heaven and many of the I.B.M family would wear it to help build buzz for this film. I would spend many nights hanging out with my then best friend Andrea Seay and tell her about the ideas for the film, and she was loving it as were other friends like Josh Weinberg, Jason Gilmore and Dave Wean who I would tell about this undead flick. I also had my friend Patrick Neeley willing to score the film that would have also had an official soundtrack CD release that would have been released at the same time as the film on VHS. While I was placing the final touches on the script, I took the old VHS camcorder out to cemeteries at night and filmed around as test footage as well as for possible trailer usage. I even began casting the film with such names as Matt Hoffman, Zach Prater, Sarah Yates, Josh Weinberg, Andy Copp, Rosetta Workman and many others onboard, and my two main leads were to be played by Andrea and a young lady that worked at Blockbuster Video I knew named Leah and she was nice enough to go around and do a photo shoot in a graveyard so that I could promote the movie in one of our many email updates we sent to friends and fans. The buzz around this film was super thick and many people kept asking about its production as I continued to work on the script and raising the budget.

The film’s plot was to follow multiple people in a small town during the start of a massive zombie outbreak, one was a pregnant woman who was alone at home another was a couple who’s car broke down on the out skirts of town plus I throw in a cheerleader, a homeless vet, a preacher and random town folks and this was the cast of characters who had to survive the undead. The gore effects was going to be done by Andy Copp and myself and was going to be over the top with boobs, blood guts and gore and was very much in the same nature of the Italian Zombie films complete with gut munching and baby eating as the film’s most over the top scene had zombies ripping the fetus out of a woman and eating it as well as her as she had to watch her child die as she herself was being murdered. And just when production of this film was about to start, I was silly enough to allow others in Independent B Movie to talk me out of filming it when I wanted as they wanted to move onto Wolf Hunter 2, Long Dead Winter as well as Suicide 3 and Two Seconds Too Late and I agreed as I figured these films would be better for the group, and not shockingly, most of them during this time were filmed and never finished as the directors of those films dragged feet and lost interest in the direction of their films were going. Sadly too much time has past and this shot on video zombie epic is now in the massive pile of scripts and ideas that Independent B Movie nor Bloodline Video ever got to film, and who knows maybe if I could track down the original script maybe one day it will turn into a comic book via Blood Scream Comics. Below are some pictures that I took on a snowy winter day early this year as well as a pic of Leah as her character. Enjoy this look into a film that could have been if I would have only went with my gut and not what others wanted.

So imagine you’re outside taking a hike along a path that is near a creek, the sounds of the water is echoing and you are having a great time just soaking up nature and breathing in the fresh air. You’re a couple of miles away from your car and to avoid interruption you even left your cellphone in the trunk. But while walking you notice a strange man in a distance he is stumbling around and at first you think he might just be drunk but you soon see that his face is rotten and that he is not alive but the walking dead as you turn to run back to your car you soon are faced with a horde of zombies that have infected the woods and you have no hope of escaping! This scenario is one of many if a true Zombie Apocalypse were to break out that you could find yourself in, and the main questions that you would have to ask yourself is would you be ready for the living dead if they were to rise today? I mean many of us think we would be ready as we have watched movies and TV shows about zombies and have read novels and comics about them…but would what we read really help us to survive? Look around your house, apartment, car or place of work and think is this place safe if the zombies were to rise today? Would you be able to secure the doors and windows from the hordes of the dead? Right as you read this who is at your current location with you, would they be able to help you survive a zombie attack? Just wanted to take this part just to make you think about the possibility of a zombie attack and if you think you could survive it. No matter what we say or how we feel about it, I really don’t think any of us would truly be ready for the undead.

So the world of video games much like the world of cinema is a graveyard wasteland of zombie titles that have flooded the market. Some are fantastic and some are terrible, and I am about to play one that many say is the latter and has been the punching bag for reviewers as being one of the worst first person zombie shooters ever made…that game is called Dead Alliancem and I am about to play it for the PS4! The plot is simple to this mostly multiplayer game and has you and fellow survivors fighting each other in a wasteland of zombies that you can use as allies when using the right weapon. The game is mostly a run of the mill shooter that adds the thrill of zombies to the mix and sadly just falls a little short when it comes to being entertaining. Now the game is by no means bottom of the barrel, but it’s repetitive and very limited in area maps and even weapons and when playing the single player mode it even becomes more simple and lackluster. The game is getting trashed by gamers and has not sold well for parent company Maximum Games. While this game is below average, it still was a fun time waster to kill zombies and shoot other players.

So now that the dead are all around us and we have even took a few moments to chat about a Horror Movie Marathon, let’s see if this original Walking Dead inspired the modern Image Comic Walking Dead series. It’s crazy to think that in my youth I never did pick up an issue of this series or if I did, it must not have made that big of an impression on me as I don’t remember it. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering, Ebay, Amazon and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock for me to cover for this Undead Files update as these were pretty hard to track down. I also want to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s fright our way through the zombie horde and hope that Aircel delivers a scary and well done zombie comic that could possibly be the inspiration for thee Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead # 1  ***
Released in 1989       Cover Price $2.25       Aircel Comics     #1 of 4

In space two breed of aliens are at war with each other and when one of them crash lands on Earth while carrying a gas that reanimates the dead, all hell breaks loose as the dead start to rise from the cemeteries, morgues and funeral homes all hungry for human flesh. While some zombies are mindless roaming flesh eaters some are more than that as they also retain their memories and know how to talk and use tools and none are worse than the undead gang called The Kidz From Hell who slaughter their own kind and eat fresh alive victims. They are lead by Jak Krak who has them shooting guns and sharpening their teeth all in the hopes to capture and kill their “meat”, and after a kill and feast the gang of zombies is attacked by ex-cop Joe Barker who kills many of their members before rushing back to his home base were he is greeted by Keith but yelled at by Max and Kris who are mad he went out alone. Our issue ends with Joe telling them he will not stop until he kills Jak and The Kidz From Hell once and for all.

In this story the zombie outbreak is started by a crashed U.F.O that releases gas that makes the dead walk again. This is origin seems like a mix between “Night Of The Living Dead” that states that the outbreak could have been started by a down satellite falling from space with radiation on it and “Return Of The Living Dead” that has it starting from a gas that sweeps around and gets into our air. The plot of this issue is to clearly set up how the outbreak started and mixed in with the different styles of zombies as well as introduces us to the evil Kidz From Hell zombie gang plus their enemy Joe Barker who is our comic’s hero. Joe Barker is a man who is angry at what the world has become as the dead have out numbered the living, he is also clearly brave as he takes on the living dead all by himself! So while all we really know about Joe is that he is fearless and an ex-officer of the law I for one like him and can’t wait to see what he does next to try and kill the undead. The Kidz From Hell are street talking, gun shooting, razor sharped teethed, flesh eating evil zombies who enjoy killing and have no respect for the living or the dead! Jak Krak the gang leader is the most evil of them all and seems like he will not rest until he kills Joe and helps the dead fully take over the Earth. One odd thing about The Kidz From Hell is that while they are dead it seems as if they also still do drugs or so one of them claims after they eat a poor man alive. I also want to see who Max, Keith and Kris are as I wonder if they are also one time cops or just survivors who have created a safe place for the living, I guess only future issue will hold those answers. The comic is somewhat bloody and gore filled, but not even in the same ballpark as The Dead from Arrow Comics with the most brutal kill being a dead husband biting the face off of his widow who is mourning at his casket. The black and white art as well as the story is done by Jim Somerville and is well done with his zombies looking like a mix of classic with punk rock. The Cover is also pretty well done and eye catching as it features a zombie eating the brains out of a skull! This far this original series and the Image Walking Dead series don’t share too much besides zombies and a group of survivors living together and the name. So let’s shuffle our way to issue # 2 and see if Joe can kill even more of the undead punks.

The Walking Dead # 2   **1/2
Released in 1989      Cover Price $2.25      Aircel Comics     #2 of 4

Peter is the President of the United States, and he gives a state of the Union address that the American people need to stay strong during this terrible zombie crisis and hints to even using nuclear bombs as the last resort. But while the President is safe behind think concrete walls guarded by armed solider is poor wife is very sick and near death’s door. Meanwhile back at the base of Joe Barker and his friends they breakdown the possibility of the government dropping nuclear bombs in order to kill zombies, when they are attacked by The Kidz From Hell who attack hard and blood thirsty, in other words they want to end the feud now! Joe and friend fight back they best the can but are out gunned and must flee the base or lose their lives, the issue being for them is the wheelchair bound Max gets trapped and they must leave him behind in order for Joe, Kris and Keith to escape the gun firing undead. As they leave and save their own skins it’s Joe who says they are going back for Max and will bring him home alive or dead, as he doesn’t want the zombies to have him either way.

The second issue in this series loses some steam as many pages are taken up with one art panel per said page showing that they were just killing pages to reach their count. The plot has the President trying to build up the spirit of the American people during the zombie outbreak as Joe Barker and his survival group is under attack by the undead Kidz From Hell who want revenge from the attack on them from issue 1. Joe Barker in the issue is still tough as nails but also is smart and knows when to run when the odds are not in his favor. I think one of the cool things about Joe is also the fact he has the no man left behind attitude and wants to go back for their friend who was left at the base during the attack. Max, Kris, Keith and the rest of the survivors as well do what they can and try with all their might to defend their base but figure out that real fast they are no match for the gun shooting zombies. I feel for Max as that poor guy is left to fend for himself once he and his wheelchair get caught in some rubble. The Kidz From Hell and their leader Jak Krak are cold-blooded killers and slaughter any living person that comes in their way. President Peter is a wild card as he has the power to blow up the world and might do so if he loses his sick wife to the zombie curse. While this is a good issue it really is just an action issue with some small plot thrown in to move the story along, and while that’s not a bad thing it still makes the issue not as good as the first that offered a nice build up. The cover is ok but reminds me more of a cheesy late 80’s action comic than a horror comic and the art is once more done by Jim Somerville and is fitting for this undead romp comic. Over all his is a solid middle of the road comic that should be checked out if you enjoyed the first issue.

The Walking Dead # 3   **
Released in 1989      Cover Price $2.25      Aircel Comics     #3 of 4

Joe, Keith and Kris go back to their old base with the hopes of saving Max but all they find instead is a note from Jak Krak warning them if they want to see Max again they will meet The Kidz From Hell at the playground! When they get there, they find Max dead crucified with his feet cut off and his eyeballs missing, as Joe breaks down from the loss of his friend a zombie attacks Keith with a knife and kills him as Kris fights back it takes Joe a moment to snap to and they pair enter a building that’s clearly a trap being set. While inside Kris as well is stabbed and Joe is knocked back and as he is about to get up and fight the issue ends.

This third issue seems as if they ran out of ideas as again lots of splash pages and even a back up story to boot fill out this issue padding it out so they can squeeze out one more issue and get zombie fans to spend another $2.25. The brief story is this Joe and crew go to get Max who has been taken to another location, once there it’s a trap and Keith and I would guess Kris are killed easy and Joe now stands alone to face the zombie gang. Oh and throw in a quick small part about the President’s wife now being a zombie. Yeah, it’s that deep of a plot in this issue. Joe shows he has a soft side as he is clearly shaken after the death of his friend Max, but it’s also clear by the end of the issue he is going to stomp some zombie butt. Keith and Kris are just in the issue to be lined up and slaughtered, but only after the shoot some slow moving zombies with machine guns. Jak Krak and The Kidz From Hell are as flesh hungry as ever as they eat the eyes of Max and taunt his friends afterwards. The slow Zombies make an appearance but are just being mowed down at the start of the issue by our heroes. President Peter is pretty much wasted and offers nothing besides the fact his wife is now dead and a zombie that he keeps in a cell. The cover looks great and eye catching for zombie fans, but the art inside done by Jim Somerville is hit and miss as at the start it looks as sloppy as the plot of this issue but as it goes on it looks a lot better. Over all this is the weakest issue in the series this far and while it does have blood, guts and gore it seems so rushed it has no real impact and this while entertaining was a major letdown and I hope the final issue is not this sloppy and brings its A Game to end the series right.

The Walking Dead # 4    *1/2
Released in 1989      Cover Price $2.25      Aircel Comics     #4 of 4

Joe is bleeding pretty bad as Jak Krak and what’s left of the Kidz From Hell come circling around, Jak offers Joe a choice to join them as a zombie gang member or to become their dinner! Joe would rather be dinner and just when Jak is about to shoot him Kris with what little life she has left fires her gun and blows Jak’s hand off and then she kills some more Gang Members before herself being blown away. With only Joe and Jak left the pair square off and Joe is armed with an ax and Jak has a switchblade knife! Joe goes crazy with the ax and chops Jak up into pieces and after killing his enemy decides that he himself must die and kills himself with a gunshot to the head.

Splash Page special is what this issue is and that makes me really mad is every page is a single panel with many pages also being one single image filling two pages….this could have been wrapped up with the third issue if they would have dropped the backup story, oh speaking of backup story, this issue has one as well! This issue’s plot is just the showdown between hero Joe Barker and zombie gang leader Jak Krak and what leads to Joe winning and killing himself. This final issue offers a true ending to the series as for some reason they take the route of Joe just ending his own life instead of fighting the fight to take back the world and to be honest he takes down Jak Krak pretty easy and makes me wonder why didn’t the survivors just attack The Kidz From Hell from the start as the whole gang is pretty much wiped out by three people! The Zombie Gang started out as a major threat and for all accounts scary but by the end they seemed like punching bags lined up to be knocked down. Joe Barker was a interesting character to start off but by this issue he becomes nothing more than a man waiting for death who had lead all his friends to the slaughter only to avenge them and then kill himself, the whole suicide thing just didn’t feel right for this character. Kris, Keith and Max in this series once more started off as good side characters but in the end just turned into one sided humans set up to be killed with no personalities shining through. Remember President Peter well writer Jim Somerville didn’t as his storyline goes nowhere and he is not seen at all in this issue and the fact he wants to nuke the world if the zombie outbreak is not under control never comes back up nor does the fact his wife is now a zombie, the character could have had just that character but bad writing and the lack of a follow through story makes him yet another tossed to the side character. The slow Zombies are just around when they need the body count to rise as they only come into play after the first issue to be shot by the two feuding sides. The final issue has lots of blood gunshots and also has some gore when Joe kills Jak with an ax but by this point I was so disappointed with this comic series it took the fun out of what should have been an epic battle and moment. The thing about this zombie series is that it started out really good and the story was drawing me in and wanting me to read more and more but by the end of the second issue on the series took a nose dive as it was clear Jim Somerville had no real idea on where the story was going and just knew he had to fill four issues worth of something. The fact that side stories go nowhere, the art gets more and more sloppy, he does cheap splash pages to pad out the issues makes me not to not track down his other work! The only major plus I can say about this issue is the cover is pretty cool and reminds me of a serial killer comic. For those who think Tony Moore and Robert Kirkman might have been inspired by this comic series when they made their Walking Dead series, I am sure the only thing they took away from this series is what not to do in a zombie comic series! Started out with a big bang but ended on a whisper this could have been the biggest letdown in comics I have read this year. Below is some artwork from this four issue mini series, while I would not say that fans of Independent Horror Comics shouldn’t check this out I would say don’t get your hopes up for an epic zombie bloodbath with a good story.

But wait, there is more Walking Dead from Aircel and Jim Somerville as in 1990 they released “Walking Dead Zombie Special” and I am hoping that this one can redeemed the series by ending with a solid and good issue…here is hoping that they pull it off.

The Walking Dead: Zombie Special # 1   **
Released in 1990     Cover Price $2.25     Aircel Comics     #1 of 1

Scav is a young boy in a town alone who acts as the law as he imagines himself as a western sheriff and the zombies in his mind are the outlaws! Billy and his motorcycle gang enter the small town looking for a place to stay for the night, this was a bad decision as Scav thinks that Billy is Billy The Kid! One by one the bikers are shot and killed by Scav until only Billy is left and with his trusty gun Scav takes out the biker and the young man goes back to living in his fantasy world of read comics and pretending this zombie infested world is the old west. The second story follows the fall into madness from a Preacher who by the end rises the dead from the church cemetery.

Well I want to say that this Zombie Special issue has some zombies but not a lot and none of them are seen eating people and only once is it implied. The fist story is the best of the two as the second story is clearly just a backup story to pad out the page count. What works in the first is the fact its from the point of view of a young kid who has lost all his loved ones and his sanity in the zombie crisis and has turned his terrible situation into a fantasy world that mirrors the western comic books he reads. Scav is a cool character who is handy with a gun and machete and has lost touch so much that he can not tell the difference between human and zombie. Biker Billy and his gang seem like nomads who just stopped in the wrong place at the wrong time and are out gunned and outsmarted by the towns “Law”. The second story is well drawn at the last two pages but is pretty much a waste. Jim Somerville once more did the art and it’s pretty good, his story telling in this special issue is average and the cover is cool and very miss leading as nothing like that is in the comic. Not amazing but good is the best way to describe this final issue in the original Walking Dead series. Here is some artwork from this issue.

So as you can see this series is not all that great, while it is entertaining and really does capture a great late 80’s independent horror comic mood it’s clear as day that they creators just ran out of ideas and needed to fill four issues and a special. The bottom line did the Image Walking Dead take anything from this comic series besides it’s name…well maybe a tiny amount, but Robert Kirkman and his guys have done a way better job with making the name into a quality horror comic book series. And now that all the living dead have returned to their graves I think it’s time to wrap up with update. But while I closed this Undead File or next update will be a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update and I will be talking about Killdozer! So until next time make sure to read a horror comic or three, visit a graveyard or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Be ready to come face to blade with Killdozer as this one will be a fun update for sure!

 

Do You Hear What I Hear Through The Grapevine

Happy Holidays Rotten Inkers! Tis the season for chestnuts roasting on an open fire and visions of raisins dancing in your head. That’s right, raisins..from California. Yes, I, Juliet will be your guide as we explore the 1980s sensations, The California Raisins and their journey from commercial mascots to masters of media and merchandise. I’m sure you’re wondering, other than figgy pudding, what’s the connection between raisins and the holidays? One of the best-loved appearances of the California Raisins just happens to be in William Vinton’s Claymation Christmas Special, which we’ll talk about more in depth in just a bit. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the special and of the California Raisins Show, the Saturday morning cartoon based on America’s favorite dried grapes, and I continue to have a formidable collection of California Raisins figures. So come along with me as we travel to Raisinville and learn all about the California Raisins, including the Blackthorne 3-D comics based on them.

As legend has it, in 1986, the California Raisin Advisory Board was trying to come up with an idea for a commercial when one of the writers, Seth Werner, said, “We have tried everything but dancing raisins singing ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine'” and thus the Raisins were born. Well, they were born through the claymation work of William Vinton and his Vinton Studios. The four main Raisins commercials were: Lunchbox, which featured the Raisins dancing out of a construction worker’s lunchbox on a high rise. The Late Show featured the Raisins dancing past other, less healthy snacks on a side table while a late night talk show played. Raisin Ray featured the Raisins alongside a claymation Ray Charles, and Michael Raisin featured them with, yes, a claymation Michael Jackson.

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In 1987, the Raisins appeared in something very near and dear to my heart growing up, William Vinton’s Claymation Christmas special. It hosted by Rex and Herb, two dinosaurs resembling Siskel and Ebert, who actually give some great historic context for the well known holiday carols featured in the program. The songs were done as super elaborate (and time-consuming to create) claymation-style skits, some of which were created in such a way to appear fluid, almost paint-like instead of looking like stop-motion. The songs featured were: We Three Kings, which starts fairly traditionally but get groovy thanks to singing camels, a comedic Carol of the Bells, O Christmas Tree which takes us into ornaments, Angels We Have Heard On High, which features two walruses ice skating in what feels like a subtle nod to the Fantastia Hippo Ballerinas. Joy To the World is a stunning collage of constant motion that celebrates African American culture. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer is performed by the California Raisins, putting a little magic into the air after a Christmas eve gig (ala, as the Raisins often were, the Temptations). The hosts get their own story about wassailing, which is mistaken for waffling, waddling, wallowing, etc. This one, upon rewatch, puzzled me a bit. Are the actual wassailers at the end elves or leprechauns? When I was young I thought they were elves, but have they been leprechauns, or perhaps drunken locals the whole time? Weigh in, dear readers. The half hour Claymation Christmas Special debuted on CBS alongside the Garfield Christmas Special and the pair often ran together during the holiday season. I had one night’s CBS holiday lineup (that included Micky’s Christmas Carol, the Claymation-Garfield pairing and A Charlie Brown Christmas) taped on TV on VHS that was yearly, mandatory holiday viewing even after many of these were dropped from regular rotation.

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In 1988, the Raisins became fully fleshed out characters in their CBS special Meet the Raisins. This rockumentary mockumentary (think Spinal Tap, but with vegetables and suitable for small children) was produced by Vinton Studios and won an Emmy nomination. It actually wasn’t until this point that the Raisins got their names: A.C., Red, Stretch, and Beebop. The special also featured supporting characters such as Rudy Bagaman, the Raisins’ manager, who would go on to be one of the leading characters in the 1989 California Raisins cartoon, The California Raisins Show. That cartoon had a 13 episode run between September and December – kind of a shocker as my younger self seemed convinced that it lasted much longer. Instead of claymation, this show featured traditional cel animation from Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, but William Vinton served as creative director and executive producer so it definitely kept with his vision of the Raisins’ story. Many of the fruit and vegetable characters that were introduced in Meet the Raisins were prominent supporting characters in the cartoon, and many characters that were created for the cartoon (including my absolute favorite Lick Broccoli) then made appearances in the 1990 claymation special The Raisins: Sold Out!: The California Raisins II, which, furthering the Spinal Tap metaphor, saw had the Raisins attempting to mount a comeback with a new manager. This would be the last TV show/special for the Raisins, and they wouldn’t have much of a TV presence for many years to follow.

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During their short run, the California Raisins got a lot of merchandise created in their wrinkly image, and many of it has ended up in the Smithsonian permanent collection. Perhaps the most ubiquitous were the Raisins figurines that came out in assorted series from Hardee’s between 1987 and 1991, and were also stellar garage sale finds. I’ve been able to piece together a sizable collection of little guys, some of which I’ve had since the late 80s. In addition to the figure, there were Raisins t-shirts, Halloween costumes, lunch boxes, posters, coloring books, music albums, and a Capcom video game that was created but never officially released – though luckily it has made its way into the world via the homebrew game market. You can also check out a good representation of the California Raisins commercials, Meet the Raisins, The Raisins: Sold Out, and the entire run of the California Raisins Show on a two-DVD set called appropriately enough, The California Raisins Collection.

In 1987, as part of their series of 3D comics based on licensed properties, Blackthorne began a five issue run of comics based on the California Raisins, and these books are the subject of today’s comic reviews.  I heard it through the grapevine that here on Rotten Ink, we grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.  So let’s take the boat to Raisinville and get to know our new favorite band, the California Raisins!

The California Raisins 3-D # 1   *** 1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 1 of 5

Under the cover of night, the Raisinville Chamber Orchestra is kidnapped and loaded onto a boat by masked bandits. The next morning, two young Raisins happen upon a flyer looking for musicians to play the mayoral election. As they head into town, they pick up another Raisin as a hitchiker and find their fourth and fifth potential bandmates playing a whistle on the street. As suspicious advertisements for Snax pop up around town, the new bandmates visit the music store to pick up some instruments, but find that the beloved owner has mysteriously retired, all the instruments are gone, and the store is now home to a surly French Fry Man selling Snax. The Raisins move on to the Chamber Orchestra’s headquarters where they and other raisins queue up for auditions, but something’s fishy as raisins are going in, but no one is coming out. The Raisins catch site of a group of Sugar Cubes up to no good and rush to city hall to warn the mayor. The mayor, however, is nonplussed. He’s worried that his opponent in the election, Big Burger, is trying to run him out of town, but he stops mid-thought upon chomping down on some Snax. This is when the Raisins realize that there’s something amiss; the Snax are turning their fellow raisins into zombies and the only cure is music. So they commandeer Big Burger’s campaign vehicle, which is equipped with a loudspeaker and do their thing. Mayor Van Raisin is re-elected and Big Burger and his Snax are run out of town.

This was such a fun read! It threw me at first because the Raisins (the main ones that is) don’t use their names at all in this book, but that’s because this came out before they had names. That said, all of the hallmarks of the developing California Raisins world were present: the power of music, junk food more often than not being portrayed as the villains of the story, and the delightful little details like the picture on the wall of a bottle of wine labeled Uncle Vino. The artwork was really well done by an unnamed artist, especially considering that the majority of the characters were raisins and you could still distinguish who was who. I liked the 3D effect, though quite honestly, I would enjoy this comic entirely on its own merit so it wasn’t necessarily a selling point for me (in fact, I had a harder time reading it, not because the 3D was poorly done, but just because my eyes have trouble focusing with old school red and blue 3D glasses). This five issue run is off to a strong start, so let’s see how the rest go.

The California Raisins 3-D # 2  ***
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 2 of 5

In a prologue, Big Burger looks at Raisinville from afar and vows that the town will be his as his junk food henchmen bring a display of the Raisins, Big Burger’s new sworn enemies. But never fear, our villain has a plan….we cut to the Raisins receiving an invitation to receive their complementary mansion earned by virtue of being the official Raisinville band. The Raisins are, of course, excited to reap the benefits of their newfound and begin exploring the mansion and discovering its various perks and quirks including some trap doors. Three Raisins are captured by the ever bickering Cookie and Candy, and the other two narrowly escape multiple traps looking for their friends. The fourth Raisin gets captured, but the last is able to discover the evil plot against them and devises a plan. Using the house’s recording gear and sound system, he minimicks Big Burger’s radio and lures Cookie and Candy away so he can free his bandmates. Together, they roll Cookie, Candy and some Sugar Cubes into a carpet and dump them into the water. When they float back to Big Burger, acknowledges that the Raisins may be more formidable foes than he anticipated, but the next round is his.

This is another solid comic that capture everything charming about the California Raisins. Interestingly, the Raisins’ mansion in this one does remind me of their house in the California Raisins Show (the cartoon), and an episode where Lick Broccoli’s manager bugs the Raisins’ home to steal the Sweet Currants’ new song. But this remains firmly in the pre-Meet the Raisins realm of issue #1: no names for the Raisins. It does, however, establish Big Burger as our main villain and brings back his henchman for more hijinks. I like the continuity, but I do hope that we get to see food characters in the next issue for the sheer fact that I like to check out the different character designs. The art is once again solid, and it’s easy to figure out who’s who among the Raisins. Onward to Issue 3!

The California Raisins 3-D # 3  **1/2
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 3 of 5

This issue feature two stories. In the first, Waisin Wipeout, the Raisins are lounging at their mansion when they get a call to come down to the beach to film a surfing music video. It’s there that they’re introduced to famous fim director Steven Spielbug, his frog assistant, surfing expert Gnarly Cobb and beach babe Cher Pear, who turns out to be a Valley Pear. While the Raisins surf for the camera, Big Burger and his henchmen (decked out, of course, in pirate hats!) lurk below the water in their submarine base. They use their device to create a tidal wave, knocking the Raisins off their boards and ruining the shot. But Raisins don’t let a little water defeat them. They get back on their boards and surf so well they create a whirlpool that knocks out Big Burger’s submarine…and looks super cool in the music video.

Story number two is X Marks the Spot. While out on a picnic, the Raisins find a map, which they assume will lead them to the treasure of Blueberry the Pirate. Of course x marks the spot right under where they were picniccing so the Raisins start digging, and find nothing. They then realize that they were digging in the wrong spot, and after several repeated instances of this, begin fighting amongst themselves. This results in tears until one Raisins realizes that the seemingly shifting x on the map was shifting because it was actually a spider.

While I didn’t hate this issue by any means, this is definitely the weakest of the first three issues. First of all, why two stories? Especially when the second story, for me, was pretty weak. The first story was good, but messed with a few of the things that I love about the Raisins in general and that the first two issues honored: why are the filmmakers bugs and not food characters? Also while I get that Cher Pear is supposed to the typical valley girl/beach bimbo, it took me entirely too long to realize that she was a pear because she was drawn entirely too human. These are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things as the art is still great, but for me, the fun comes from the food characters. It’s a formula that works so why mess with it? Speaking of messing with things, it looks like the next issue is going to deviate again by being an adaptation of Meet the Raisins. So let’s take a deep breath and dive in.

The California Raisins 3-D # 4  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 4 of 5

The Raisins (there are four of them now) are excited because their show is getting ready to come on. We go into the TV documentary where our host tells the humble origin stories of A.C., BeeBop, and Red (names!) as they formed their first band with bass singer Zoot, who introduced them to his eventual replacement, Stretch. From there we see the Raisins’ slow rise to fame with the help of their young manager Rudy Bagaman. From impressing Ed McMelon and being literal smash sensations to rebuilding their shattered careers by working with quirky director Frederico Rasperini and playing a series of concerts in the arctic. Their eventual, triumphant return comes when Rudy Bagaman nearly crashes a plane, providing an amazing introduction to the band. The documentary concludes there, and the Raisins are pleased with what they saw.

Admittedly, I’m a little torn about this one. I would have preferred an original story as opposed to a straight adaptation of Meet the Raisins, but this was extremely well done and captured the charm of the TV special so I can’t be too mad. As I’m sure you noticed above, the Raisins now have their names, and they’ve gone from being a band of five to a quartet with a completely different back story. I wonder if these Raisins are the next generation of California Raisins, or is there some sad fifth Raisin out there in the word waiting to write his tell-all book about how his band abandoned him. The artwork in this one is the same as the rest of the comics so far: really great! Needing to be able to distinguish the Raisins from each other isn’t as big a deal though, because along with their names come new, more distinct character designs. The cover features our newly revamped Raisins rocking out on the stage. I wonder if the next issue will be an original story or another adaptation (though the next special wasn’t for a few years). Might as well take a look and see….

The California Raisins 3-D # 5  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 5 of 5

Back to multiple stories so: In the Music Mash, the Raisins (there are still four of them, but they’re not the same four from the last issue) are in the studio preparing for a gig and arguing over a new song. They decide to visit their friend Gigo who’s created a new machine that can create hit songs on the spot. Everything is going well, and they bring the device to a gig with them, but when a workman leaves his toolbox too close, the machine malfunctions creating chaos onstage. In the end, the Raisins realize it’s best to go back to basics and sing one of their classics.

In California Battle of the Bands, the Dough Buys and Richter are headed to the semifinals, and the Raisins (all FIVE of them) are late to their recording session. When they arrive, an oddly cartoony Rudy introduces them to three Lady Raisins who are their new backup singers. Back at the battle of the bands, Cookie, and Candy French Fry are sabotaging the competition for their boss, Big Burger. They plan an earthquake device and play a few more pranks on the Raisins when they show up to play. When the Raisins discover the mischief, they interrupt Ratchet’s set to warn them about the earthquake device, and the two bands work together to defeat the bad guys. They celebrate their victory with a concert all together.

I have SO MANY questions. Are there multiple bands performing as the California Raisins? This kind of follows my theory from last issue, and we do learn that there’s a whole Raisinville from which these bands could have been formed. This is all to say that these Raisins are different, unnamed Raisins than the ones we saw last issue. And then there’s the numbers issue. Was Fifth Raisin on vacation for the last story and a half? Also, what is Gigo? He’s not a discernible fruit or vegetable? Is he an alien? That said, there are so many things right about this, like Shrapnel, one of the battle bands that are clearly an homage to Guns N Roses. It was also amazing to see Shirelle, Dixie and Crystal, aka the Sweet Currants, in this issue even though they, like the Raisins this time around, weren’t called by name. I’m also glad we got one more chance to see Big Burger try to thwart the Raisins and thus conquer Raisinville. The art was great, but the latter story was a little more cartoony than anything else we’ve seen in this series. All told, this was an extremely fun and solid comic series that served these classic characters well.

So there you have it, the life and times of the California Raisins with a sprinkle of holiday cheer.  I hope it’s merry, warm and bright for you and yours, and that you’ll join Matt back here on the blog for his big holiday update.  He’ll be taking us from the land of singing fruits and vegetables into animated knights and dragons when he covers the comic adaptation of Dragon’s Lair. In the meantime, make sure you’re well stocked on hot chocolate, support local and indie businesses as you’re able this holiday season, and read a comic or three.

SAW Your Way Into This Halloween!

A cold chill is in the air, and the ghouls and ghosts are roaming the streets looking for free candy.  That must mean it’s Halloween, and with this day also comes the spooky holiday update to Rotten Ink! This year we will be playing a game with Jigsaw as we take a look at the IDW comic for SAW and do so to honor the fact Lionsgate has allowed this horror series to come back to cinemas this year and reclaim the Halloween season with Jigsaw, the 8th film in the series that was released on October 27, 2017! So besides taking a look at the Saw franchise we will also be looking at a strange weird life happing in Ohio, a Horror Movie Marathon, a Creepypasta, 5 Questions with a Horror Host and a real life ghost hunt that I went on for this update. That’s the thing I love about this time of the year, something just seems to be in the air, and it makes me crave watching horror films, playing horror video games and reading horror comics even more than normal. So as I sit here for the first time in my new house that I am calling Blood Scream Comics Manor for Halloween, it’s time to get down and scary as we dive into the world of SAW.

Let’s start this Halloween update off with a Creepypasta I like that’s called “Candle Cove.” It’s about a kids’ TV show that warped and frightened kids who watched it… that is, if it even ever aired! The story goes that in the early 1970’s a weird kids’ show would air at 4:00pm on a local TV station that has seemed to be forgotten. In modern times on a website called NetNostalgia Forum, a group started a post to talk about it and share memories of the plots and characters. The show was said to be about a young girl named Janice who in her mind was friends with pirates.  They would go on odd adventures and even had to dodge a character called Skin-Taker, a skeleton pirate who wore the skin of children! They start to creep themselves out even more as they remember episodes that just was a female screaming in pain and later they even find out that the station they watched was nothing more than static! The theories of this show ran wild as people think it was supernatural while others thought it was made by the government to mess with the youth. The show was not animated and was said to be puppets and each had their own charm and sinister side and those who claimed to watch it seem to remember the characters in great detail. The mystery of this kids show is that there are zero official sources that say that it was real and on any TV station in the 70’s plus the mystery is why adults didn’t see the show when on and only saw static on the screen! Plus why were some of the characters super scary including one who skinned kids! So is this show real…well yes and no.  Recently the SYFY Channel did a TV show based on this story while all other accounts point that the old show never did air and was just a story written to try and spook people on the internet. But while this might not be a super bone chilling Creepypasta, it does make you wonder how many shows you watched as a youngster were real and what was in your mind. I am sure we all have shows we remember that we cannot place a name to and only limited amount of friends remember….was that show of your past fact or fiction?

Back in the 1920’s, a man walked to the town of Sabina, Ohio in hopes to find work and start a new life.  During his journey, he passed away of natural causes on 3C highway near Borum Road.  On June 6, 1929, his body was found and he had no ID and only thing that was found in his pocket was a slip of paper with the address 1118 Yale Ave. on it and this did not turn up anything as the address was a vacant lot! The person living nearest to the lot was named Eugene Johnson, and this man’s first name was also given to the body of the unknown man who was believed to be of the age of 50-80 years old. The local undertaker ended up embalming the body of Eugene and waited to bury him just in case a relative could come and claim him and they could find out his real name. For decades no one every claimed the body and so Eugene became a tourist attraction and his body was on display at the funeral home’s small back shack for those who wanted to see a body. Eugene The Mummy became a local celebrity and a fixture in this small town, with his fame also came pranks and thefts as high school kids as well as  college students would steal the body and take him on joyrides and leave him in weird and wild places. Each time he was taken, his body was recovered by the local police and returned to the funeral home. But finally in 1964, after many years of being on display and loved by the community, the body of Eugene The Mummy was laid to rest in the town’s cemetery after the pranks became too disrespectful and they decided it was time to let him rest peacefully. So if your ever in Sabina, Ohio make sure to stop by the cemetery and pay your respects to Eugene, a man who found fame in death and sadly never did get his real story told. So that was another Strange Ohio Tale that showcases why my home state is a weird one.

For Horror Hosts, Halloween time is like Christmas as they fill the local airwaves with their specials as well as air on any number of online stations. And for this year I chose to interivew the iconic legendary St. Louis, Missouri Horror Host Baron Von Crypt who scared late night monster kids from 1970-1971 with his show! The good Baron Von Crypt is a vampire who built himself a very loyal and rabid fan base that even got him into the Horror Host Hall Of Fame! Baron Von Porkchop and myself were very lucky to have gotten to meet Baron Von Crypt at Horrorhound, and now it’s my honor to present to you my readers on this Halloween update, “5 Questions With” Baron Von Crypt!

Matt: So Baron Von Crypt, tell us about your classic Horror Host show…

Baron: The show aired on KDNL-TV, Channel 30, a new UHF station which began broadcasting in June of 1969 in St. Louis. In early 1970, the production manager and I created a live host to try to generate buzz around and audience for classic horror films of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, like Frankenstein, Dracula, The Invisible Man, The Mummy, The Wolfman, etc. We created a vampire character called Baron Von Crypt and also a sidekick for him called Igor (of course). We had a castle dungeon set and a casket from which the Baron arose each Saturday night at 10pm to introduce the movie. The Baron would interact with his disrespectful sidekick Igor who was always an off camera voice. We tried to do things that were new and different visually … special effects that were leading edge at the time, but nothing like the special effects of today. We just wanted to have fun. The objective was to increase the audience ratings for Channel 30 – which we did!. I wrote and performed in all the sketches as Baron Von Crypt and I also voiced the off-camera voice of Igor. During the roughly 1 ½ years the show ran, I also made a live appearance for an advertiser at the Midwest Camper and Boat Show. It was an absolute blast!

Matt: What Horror Hosts of the past influenced you as a host?

Baron: There weren’t a lot of horror hosts around in 1970 and my inspiration for the character of Von Crypt was really Bela Lugosi, the original Dracula on screen. I basically created a parody of his performance and poked fun at the whole horror genre with wacky humor, silly visuals and inane banter with my sidekick, Igor.

Matt: So being a vampire and all, do you ever get urges to drink the blood of your fans?

Baron: I never did drink the blood of my fans and since I long ago retired as The Baron, I only have vague urges. I do, however, have a strange affinity for Bloody Mary’s which I enjoy whenever I can.

Matt: You have been to a Horrorhound Convention and during this event, what celebrity were you most happy to meet? As well as what other Horror Host?

Baron: My son’s family, including my 11-year old granddaughter, who attended the event as well, are great fans of The Walking Dead and were thrilled to be able to see some of those stars up close and personal. I really enjoyed meeting the many current horror hosts such as The Bone Jangler.

Matt: You being a Vampire and all who is your favorite actor to ever play Count Dracula in film?

Baron: Clearly my favorite actor to play the part of Count Dracula is Bela Lugosi … the originator of the role and my inspiration for Baron Von Crypt.

 Matt: Any final words for my readers?

Baron: Just to share one of my favorite poems written by Baron Von Crypt:

 A birdie with a yellow bill Hopped upon my windowsill.

He broke the glass with his peck, peck, peck, And a large sharp piece just slashed his neck!

 You gotta admit that is pretty good stiff!

Great poem indeed! That Baron Von Crypt is a class act, and I for one would love to see him return to the world of Horror Hosting with new episodes that would air on say…The Monster Channel…hint, hint guys! I am also proud to say that in the world of Sparkle Comics, you just might see Baron Von Crypt soon in some pages of one of our ongoing comic series. I want to thank Baron Von Crypt for taking time to answer our questions, and I suggest you guys check out his official Facebook page for more info on this classic iconic host. Also thanks Timexx Seabaugh for not only help setting up this interview but also helping bring Baron back to the spotlight. Check out these pictures below of the one and only Baron Von Crypt.

For my birthday Juliet and I had a Horror Movie Marathon that not only had a Pre-Show but also had an After Party! The pre-show took place on September 4, 2017 that also happened to be labor day, and lucky for me, we closed early at work so I was able to get home a little after 4:00pm. We started our Pre-Show at 5:00pm, and the first film of the evening was “Camp Blood 4” that followed a young woman and her friends camping out the night before a big concert and being stalked and killed by a clown masked killer. The second fright flick of the night was “Cannibal Claus” about a fired store Santa who decides to get revenge and kills and eats people that are mostly hot naked chicks! The third film of the night was the 1987 shot on video film “Death Nurse” that is about a brother and sister who run a private clinic and kill their patients to collect the money from their deaths and care. And the final film of the night was the creature feature “In The Devil’s Courthouse” that has a young woman and her brother with friends fight for their lives against evil primates who kill in brutal ways. For dinner we decided to have pork chops and baked potatoes, and we both enjoyed the night of spooky horror! We both agreed that the Golden Turkey of the night was Camp Blood 4 as sadly this sequel was made up mostly of flashbacks of part 3 as well as montages of weird things like girls shopping at a second hand media store and putting on makeup.  Plus it ends super quickly, with a “watch part 5” ending. The pluses for the film were the soundtrack was great, the ladies were all attractive and it was cool to at least see a new Camp Blood film. My best film of the night was hard to pick as I enjoyed both Death Nurse and In The Devil’s Courthouse as I found them both to be solid shot on video films from two different eras of independent horror filmmaking, but in the end I would have to say that In The Devil’s Courthouse won out as I found that it was lots of fun with a great set of woods and hills that gave it a creepy atmosphere, the characters were likable for the most part, the gore effects worked and were pretty well done and the really had me with killer monkeys! Plus you can’t go wrong looking at actress Ashley Marie Nelson for 85 minutes. Juliet’s top pick of the night was Death Nurse as she found it to be a great example of the early roots of shot on video horror films. This first night was lots of fun and made me even more hyped to watch the films of the main attraction the next day. So with the end of the movies came winding down for the night and getting some good old sleep.

The next day we started our marathon at 7:00am, and nice enough the house was filled with a chill as we started the first movie “Devil Bat’s Daughter” about the daughter of a famed “killer” who made huge bats and her battle to deal with his legacy. The next film was “Camp Blood 5” and has the surviving young woman and her friends going back to the woods this time to get revenge on the killer. The third film was “The Night Shift” that follows a security guard watching a mansion that has a cult of demons in it. The next flick was “Evil Bong: 666” that has Eve teaming up with the survivors of the past films and doing battle with the Devil of Sexy Hell! The Jess Franco zombie film “Oasis Of The Zombies” was our fifth film and was about Nazi Zombies killing off people who try and find their hidden treasure. “The Haunting Of Morella” was next and follows a young woman whose mother was a witch and killed and now she wants to come back to life by taking over her daughters! The 1992 shot on video film “Dark Harvest” was the next fright flick and has a group of hikers fighting for their lives against killer scarecrows. The Henrique Couto film “Amityville: No Escape” about a group of filmmakers trying to document fear was then selected to try and bring the fights. The anti drug film “Hellmaster” was next and followed a group at a college kids trying to survive an attack by drug fueled human monsters. “The Wicked One” was film # 10 and is about a brutal killer called The Wicked One who attacks and kills a group of friends on a vacation at a family farmhouse. The no budget slasher film “Dark Shade Creek” was next and has masked killer Cyrus hacking up some goofy friends who make the mistake of entering his woods. The supernatural slasher film “The Windmill Massacre” was on deck next and follows a group of strangers on a tour bus ride through Holland who become the target of a burnt up monster killer! The final film of the night was the 1991 shot on video film “Hauntedween” and has a frat house being targeted by a crazed masked killer who loves haunted houses. All through the horrors of the small screen Juliet and I had cookies, Zapps potato chips, breakfast casserole, corn on the cob and flat buffalo style chicken to munch on, and man did we eat well! The golden turkey film of the night was Camp Blood 5 as both Juliet and I picked it due to it once more being mostly flashbacks and having very little of a storyline. My top three fright flicks of the day was the following # 1.) The Windmill Massacre, a really good slasher film that had a cool and interesting brutal supernatural killer as well as felt like a reimagine of the wrap around story to the original 70’s Tales From The Crypt movie. # 2.) was The Wicked One, a great slasher film with a cool killer, solid acting, likable characters and a plot that will remind you of Halloween in ways. And my # 3.) was Hauntedween, a classic cheesy shot on video film from the early 90s that had everything a maker and fan of these style films would enjoy. I want to also say that Devil Bat’s Daughter and Hellmaster both almost made my # 3 spot! Juliet’s top three films of the night were the following # 1.) The Windmill Massacre…#2.) Hellmaster and # 3.) The Wicked One! After the last film ended we chatted about the day’s movies and later went to bed in order to start the after party the next day.

Bright and early on September 6 we started the after party at 8:50am and started off with “Camp Blood 666” this time around a satanic cult brings the killer back from the grave and he starts up his killing ways once again. The second film was the 90’s shot on video film “Jungle Trap” that follows a group traveling to the rainforest and finding themselves targets of native ghosts! “Monstrosity” was our third film and this Andy Milligan film was about a group of friends making a Golem to fight crime on the streets of California. The final film of the day was the gross out flick “Night Of Something Strange” about a STD that turns people into sex crazed zombies who want to have sex and kill! It was a great after party and the films were lots of fun and this time around Juliet and I had different Golden Turkeys as she picked Night Of Something Strange as she is bored like I am with gross humor horror films being made just for shock value. Mine I would have to say was Monstrosity as while I enjoyed it and found its dark humor to work really well and the characters likeable it just kind of felt like a mess and was a little to long. Juliet however picked Monstrosity as her top film as she found it to be silly and lots of fun.  She has really become a fan of Andy Milligan’s films. I would say my favorite film of the day was Camp Blood 666 as I found it to be just like the first two camp cult classic films in the series plus it had Tina Krause in a cameo! So what a great three days to spend with my lady watching Horror Films for one of my favorite things to do and that’s a Marathon.

As most of you long time readers know, in 2016 my friend Jason Young and I opened a independent comic company alongside many of our friends who are artists, writers and creators and we have released some great all ages books like Shocking Macabre Theater # 1 that features Dayton, Ohio Horror Hosts Dr. Creep, A. Ghastlee Ghoul and Baron Von Porkchop sharing spooky tales. And we also released two comics based on knock off toys of the 80’s with Defenders Of The Planets # 1 and Adventure Man # 1! And finally a comic has been made about the Independent B Movie character The Wolf Hunter who got a first issue and brought the classic shot on video character back to life. But in 2017 something really cool happened as we also opened a branch of Sparkle called Blood Scream Comics that was a way to showcase more extreme horror, underground and adult comics! I have always loved Horror Comics, and these comics are issues I am super hyped to create with my friends to entertain the readers. Check out our cool logo below!

We released several Blood Scream Comics this year with our first 3 being based on the shot on video films of Bloodline Video and Independent B Movie and they are Farmer Joe # 0, Scars # 0 and The Sadness # 0, all being 12 page comics that allow the readers to vote on what character they would like to see get a full issue # 1 in 2019! So far the amount of votes we have gotten has been great and the race to get a first issue is very close with all the characters getting respect. We then released a comic adaptation of the cult classic film Don’t Look In The Basement that scared and shocked readers with its amazing art and creepy breakdown of the film. And just this month we unleashed on the comic reading world a really spooky comic called Screaming Skull: 1888 that is a really cool reimagining of the 1958 fright flick The Screaming Skull! And this is just the start as besides all the comics that we do that are for all ages we have so many amazing Horror Comics coming your way readers! So I want to also think my Sparkle Comic family all who believe in the company motto “Comics Made By Friends For Fans”, this update is for you Jason Young, Jeff Potter, Damien Brunk, Jason Gilmore, Theresa Lopez, Marc Gras Cots, Scott Scarborough, Juliet Fromholt, Jeremy Hoyt and Stephen Alexander all of whom have made some amazing comics this year that have entertained the comic reading world. Check out the covers below for the current release of Blood Scream Comics and make sure to check out or official website at www.bloodscreamcomics.com for ways to not only order the comics but get info on upcoming comics.

On September 9, 2017 Blood Scream Comic teamed up with Horrorama Dayton at the Danbarry Huber Heights and brought moviegoers the Indie Horror Showcase! This first time event was lots of fun to do and was a great way to not only expose horror movie fans to some of these cool independent horror films but also the comics of Blood Scream and Sparkle Comics as we sold copies of our comics at the Movie Theater. The event started at 6:00pm for the preshow that played trailers for indie horror films and we screened “The Wolf Hunter” the Independent B Movie SOV film directed by Matt Hoffman as well as the zombie short film “Outpost 31” by Dustin Austen. The main show started a little after 7 with the first film being the slasher film “Babysitter Massacre” directed by Henrique Couto, and it was followed by “The Barn” the super cool 80’s throwback monster film directed by Justin M. Seaman. The next film on the playlist was the demon film “Redsin Tower” by Fred Vogel, and we ended the night with the George Romero zombie classic “Night Of The Living Dead”! In between the films we played trailers, music scores and short films and the event seemed to really entertain those who were looking for a good time of seeing great films on the silver screen. It was really amazing seeing The Wolf Hunter playing on the big screen and hearing the crowd have a good time with this shot on video cheesy rubber face werewolf flick. I hope to do another Indie Horror Showcase next year in September as I love bringing the world Horror Comics and indie horror movies and I think they both go hand and hand. I also ran the booth upstairs and had a great time watching the films from the projection booth. Check out the pictures below to see what you missed if you did not attend. And yep we did do a normal Horrorama this year on October 14th and it had the theme Revenge Of The 80’s and showcased some amazing films from that decade like Nightmare City and The Gate to name a few.

Sadly over the centuries the world of cinema has lost many films and by lost I mean they are no longer around and we all have a very small amount of hope of ever finding a copies of them. Many amazing films have been lost like many of the Fatty Arbuckle comedies and even a Paul Naschy werewolf film called “The Nights of The Wolf Man” that was possibly never finished that filmed in France. The holy grail of lost Horror Films hands down is the 1927 film “London After Midnight” that was directed by Todd Browning and started Lon Chaney Sr. as The Man In The Beaver Hat, but while I 100% would love for someone to find both London After Midnight and The Nights Of The Wolf Man, another film that I hope is found someday is a 1921 silent Hungarian film called “Dracula’s Death” that’s right a Dracula film that was released a year before the 1922 classic silent film “Nosferatu”! This lost vampire film was directed by Karoly Lajthay and this was his only film as director as he went on to be an actor in many Hungarian films. The film’s plot is about a woman who visits a mental asylum and meets an inmate to claims to be Count Dracula and after this meeting she is plagued with horrible visions and must figure out if this inmate is who he claims to be! The inmate or should we say Count Dracula was played by Erik Vanko who had a pretty long acting career and has the honor of being the first actor to ever play Dracula! I hope some day that this film as well as the many others is found in a vault, basement or in a private collection and becomes available for the world to see again just like Edison’s Frankenstein. Below are some stills and the poster for Dracula’s Death and you can take a look and see what you think this film would have been like.

On October 2, 2017 Juliet and I made our way back to Evans City Cemetery to celebrate the Halloween season right! On this day after getting some coffee from Mars Brew House, we headed to the cemetery and the drive was amazing as the weather outside was in the mid 70s and Juliet and I chatted about Lost Films as well as Sparkle Comics and all the cool comics we have in the works. Once arriving at the cemetery we took a drive through it and going around the second time we stopped and got out and walked around. This cemetery is a great place for creative people in the horror world to visit as it seems to help get the creative juices flowing, plus it’s a great place to sit back and think about the legacy that George A. Romero left behind. After spending around 45 minutes chatting and soaking in the beautiful weather we left the cemetery behind to return again next year for Monsterbash 2018! Below is a picture I snapped while there on this fun day.

One thing that I look forward to doing every Halloween season is the Alpha Rhythms Halloween Special for WYSO that is nothing but 3 hours of horror movie score music! My gal Juliet does the talking, and I do the board and select the spooky sounds that will haunt your evening. This show always is something special for me to do and with Baron Von Porkchop taking a long vacation, this is the one Halloween Special that I can count on to create every year. I choose from many different artist like Goblin, Richard Band, Danny Elfman and Fabio Frizzi and pic icon scores from such films as Bride Of Frankenstein, Halloween, Psycho and Phantasm and try my best to pick the songs that will not only chill your bones but will also make you remember the first time you watched these horror films at the theater, on VHS or even via streaming. The Alpha Rhythms Halloween Special every year is the Sunday before Halloween and starts at 8pm and runs until 11pm and can be heard locally on 91.3 FM or anywhere via their website stream at www.wyso.org! Below is a sneak peek at behind the scenes of me programing this year’s Halloween Special that aired on October 29th and if you tuned in, I want to say thank and I hope I made your night a little scary.

What is a Halloween update without a little ghost hunting adventure alongside my good pal Josh Weinberg! The big issue this year of picking a location was that over the years we have done so many of them and have debunked or even scared spooked ourselves with strange people and noises while at them. So after some time of chatting and trying to figure it out we decided on a rematch against Hyde Road’s Bridge in Yellow Springs as last time around we got ran off by the weirdo in his SUV who for some reason was hiding out in the woods and thought it would be a good idea to chase us and try and trap us on the bridge. We decided to go on October 25th and once more we had to kill some time so we had a little dinner and hung out at WYSO in Yellow Springs. For those who don’t remember the legend of the bridge and its ghost, here is the rundown again. The legend goes that a mother killed her baby and herself on the bridge at midnight, and if you park your car footprints can be found on your hood from the ghost mother trying to get in! So Josh and I drove around the bridge once and this time around no weird SUV was parked near the woods so we were able to get onto the bridge at 11:59pm and at Midnight we turned off the headlights and killed the cars engine and waited and the bridge was super quiet…and at 12:01am we turned back on the headlights and the engine and got out of the car and to no surprise we did not see no foot prints, hand prints, ghosts or ghouls and we can finally say that the bridge of Hyde Road just is not haunted by a ghost but might be patrolled by a wacko in his car! Below is a picture that I took after we turned the lights back on and shows that we were center in the bridge…shame that this one was a dud as it would have been cool to have a cool ghost hang out in Yellow Springs.

So we have chatted about lots of great spooky stuff up to this point and even had a rematch against Hyde Road and its cursed bridge. But now it’s time for us to play a game and take a look at Saw, the original movie that not only sparked a ton of sequels but also the IDW comic we are covering for this Halloween update. So lets make the right choice and play by Jigsaws rules! I also want to say that I am taking the write up from IMDB and I will also chat a little about the first film’s production and my first thoughts of seeing it as well as its legacy.

SAW (2004)

“Waking up in a undisclosed location in a unknown room two men, Adam and Gordon are trapped into a single room with a dead body. Given random tools with riddles hidden around the room. Wondering who could have done this there are clues to who might of done it; the jigsaw killer. The question is not just who but why would a serial killer leave two men in a room. Both Adam and Gordon hiding secrets they must trust and work together to get out or die…can they survive jigsaws game or die trying?”

Australians James Wan and Leigh Whannell wanted to team up and make a film on a modest budget after being inspired by The Blair Witch Project, and they came up with an idea that involved two men stuck in a elevator and being filmed on security cameras, and it later morphed into an idea of two men chained in a bathroom with a dead body between them. After the talk the name SAW was written down and became the title of the film they began to work on writing and building. During the development Leigh Whannell was having some medical issues and came up with the idea of the killer of their film known as Jigsaw being ill and having a short time to live and setting people up to feel what he does and to not take life for granted. Funding came next and to start they only had about $30,000.00 for a budget, so they made a short film to showcase the bear trap scene and was lucky enough to find Twisted Pictures who enjoyed the what they saw and invested more money into the film. Next came casting and now with a bigger budget they brought in names like Danny Glover, Cary Elwes, Shawnee Smith and Tobin Bell was hired the play John “Jigsaw” Kramer! The film started filming and once finished the film’s score music was composed by Charlie Clouser.  Lionsgate stepped in to distribute the film worldwide, and the film became a surprise hit! Saw was the # 57 of the year and beat out such other horror and cult films as “The Phantom Of The Opera”, “Resident Evil: Apocalypse”, “Secret Window”, “Exorcist: The Beginning”, “Open Water”, “Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid”, “Darkness”, “Shaun Of The Dead” and “Seed Of Chucky”! The film did great for Lions Gate as the film had a budget of only $1.2 Million and brought in a total of $55,185,045.00 at the box office here in America. While it has been dubbed “Torture Porn” the SAW series of films are really Horror/Thrillers that once you get past the mass amounts of blood and gore has a message.

I first saw SAW on home video when it came out on DVD and watched it with my then girlfriend Jennifer, and I can remember we both were glued to it, as I really enjoyed the twist and turns of the story! The funny thing about it was during this time I remember that my friends all who were into horror films really enjoying this flick and Jigsaw was the new “it” killer in horror films as Pigmasks and robes for a few years was staples at Halloween parties. But some were along the way mainstream media and none horror fans started a campaign that films like SAW were nothing more that torture porn set to turn on sickos…yeah this worked as well as many people turned on the series and the box office dollars became less and less for Lionsgate and with that came the end of the series for awhile in 2010 and not until this year (2017) has another been made. Say what you will about SAW, but it’s a solid film that spawned some good sequels that grossed out and freaked out movie goers for many years and was for the longest time the series that kept Horror in the theaters for Halloween! So if you have not see this film, do yourself a favor and check it out! Oh I also want to say that actor Cary Elwes in the films he is in for this series is laughably bad most the time.

John Kramer is the man who goes by Jigsaw, and we are going to be taking a quick look at this man who is the backbone of this long running film series. Jigsaw is the mastermind killer who never himself kills his victims, as they are responsible for their own deaths as well as those who are connected to them.  You see Jigsaw along with his helpers select a person they think is taking advantage of being alive and sets them up to play a twisted game of life and death by using traps and puzzles that lead to murder, self mutilation and sometimes salvation. John Kramer started his quest to teach his twisted life lessons after he himself was diagnosed with cancer and after treatments failed to work and his insurance company refused to pay for other forums of treatment he set his goal in life to teach those he feels abuse their lives a message in pain and sorrow all the while showing them what it means to have life. John in his torturous/teaching ways is always joined by apprentices as well as a creepy tricycle-riding puppet named Billy all who help set up and captures the players for what he calls a “game”. I will not say who is helpers are as they would be spoilers for those of you who have not watched the series yet or are not caught up. Jigsaw uses traps that result in death or mutilation as his way to get to his victims, also have to say that sometimes his apprentices are more brutal and kill in cold blood or even set up traps that can not be beat! Jigsaw is also very smart and uses words and puzzles in order to also strike fear into the hearts of those who have became his target. This next part does have spoilers, so you have been warned! But the weakness of Jigsaw is the fact he is a normal human who is dying from cancer and became weaker and weaker through out the series up until his death, but while he has been gone for some time his message and traps live on. While not a supernatural unstoppable killer John “Jigsaw” Kramer is still a very scary person who feels he is right in what he is doing, and that’s why I would say Jigsaw is a very dangerous man with dangerous followers who all have a twisted yet strong message of life.

I guess I should take a few moments and talk about the fact SAW was so popular that it sparked lots of merchandise over the years like all good Horror Film franchises before it and after it. Besides the IDW comic we are covering in this update, Jigsaw and his apprentice have graced the likes of t-shirts, posters, magazines, fan art and action figures & dolls. The film series scores have been released on CD and yep I have played music from it on Alpha Rhythms during the Halloween season. Two video games were made based on SAW that were released on PS3 and Xbox 360 and released by Konami. So as you can see, this film series has left its mark on the world of Horror and delivered lots of great items for fans to collect.

So we took a look at the original film as well as Jigsaw, the killer from the film series, and now its time to dive deep into the world of Horror Comics and take a look at the IDW Comic book of SAW! This comic was a one shot release and proves that IDW is a great company who from time to time does some fantastic work in Horror and release comics based on cult and popular films. I want to thank an Amazon seller for having this comic is stock and making this update possible and wait what’s this a tape recorder, let’s see what’s on it! “Matt Let’s Play A Game…You Have Spent Your Life Watching Horror Films And Reading Comic Books. Now It’s Halloween 2017 And You Once More Have Found A Horror Comic To Review….And I Wanted To Remind Your Readers That You Grade These On A Star Scale of 1 to 4 And You Are Looking For How Well The Comic Stays To The Source Material, Its Entertainment Value And Its Art And Story…Good Luck.” So looks like with that we are read to take a look at SAW: Rebirth from IDW Comics on this extra spooky update!

SAW: Rebirth # 1  **1/2
Released in 2005     Cover Price $3.99     IDW       # 1 of 1

John Kramer is a man who is working a dead end job, he is just going through the motions and not putting any effort into advancement in the company. His boss Paul is a guy who has good pay, a family to go home to while John and his girlfriend Jill have just called it over as he would not marry her and start their own family and worse while others around him seem to have it all he is now coming home from work and getting sick every night. John decides to go to the hospital and has some tests done and soon finds that he has cancer and it cannot be cured and his life is sadly coming to an end! While in the hospital he meets Zep an orderly who spends time chatting with him filling him in on the Doctors dirty secrets as well as patients who have came in like Amanda a pretty young woman who overdosed on heroin as well as is boss Paul who tried to kill himself. John leaves the hospital and changes what’s left of his life around and shaves his head and starts to work on his mission and traps to carry it out.

This is a very slow paced and character background driven Horror Comic that does not deliver on any scares nor does it even have any gore or violence with the only blood being shown is on a bandage via an attempted suicide, but while this might sound like a dull comic I ashore you fans of SAW will enjoy it! The plot is simple John Kramer is a man on borrowed time as he has cancer and while waiting for death he comes up with an idea to teach those he feels is wasting their life to be thankful for it. The main character is John Kramer who is a man who just is living his life with no goals and when his life is on a time limit a switch goes off in his brain that makes him turn a little dark and twisted in the mind and he becomes Jigsaw a man who will torture and kill to get across a message or to teach a lesson. The rest of the characters are background players and one cool cameo is from Amanda who overdosed in this issue and who becomes a major player in the series of films that followed this comic. Besides this comic lacking in blood and scares the major flaw of the comic is off from the sequels as this comic act as if John is not married when we in the series find out he indeed is and was happily married. But I think that this part is wrong as this was released after the original film and before the second film even hit theaters. The cover is pretty eye catching as it’s just the poster with some minor changes to it, the interior art is good and while not my favorite style of art for a horror comic, artist Renato Guedes does a good job and John Kramer looks like actor Tobin Bell. Over all this is a good Horror Comic that plays more on the downbeat life of our villain and is a great read for fans of the SAW movie series, but I think normal Horror Comic readers will not be that impressed or entertained by this comic so I think they should skip it! Check out the cool artwork below to see what the art looks like in this comic, and oh yeah IDW should have made a few more issues in this series and should do more comics based on Horror Films soon!

So I hope you had a great Halloween and hope you enjoyed our look at SAW in the world of comics as well as all the other spooky stuff I chatted about. And want to thank you all again for spending a little of your Trick Or Treating time with me.  For our next update, we are starting our countdown to Thanksgiving, and we will be taking a look at a Superhero named Drastik who sadly has long been forgotten by the comic book reading masses! So enjoy what’s left of Halloween 2017 and make sure to visit your local theater and see Jigsaw the 8th film in the SAW series and until next time read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Remember to be back here next update so we can all learn about Drastik!

 

Day Of The Monster Bash Vacation (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The History Of The Horror Movie Marathon

Welcome back to my little space on the ‘net where I talk about comics, movies, toys and video games and share some of my great memories with you all. One of my favorite pastimes was an event I call “The Horror Movie Marathon” where I would show horror flicks starting early morning until very late into the night.  This started out at what was called Independent B Movie Studios, that was really my parents basement, and would have me and some of my closest friends like Matt Hoffman, Josh Weinberg, Jason Gilmore, Dave Wean and Brandon Womeldorff over.  We would stuff our faces with potato chips, snack cakes, popcorn, soda and pizza and watch many horror films on VHS that we would buy the morning of the event from local second hand stores. The event only lasted a few years (like from 1999-2003) at that location, and the gang would come and go. Many times it would be just me and Josh or Jason as the rest of them were at work. And as quickly as they started, this fun bonding event disappeared as we all started moving away from our parents’ houses and got full time jobs and made our own films. The VHS days of this event were a blast, and we would spend hours looking through the horror shelves at video rental stores like K&L Video, Accent Video, West Coast Video and Blockbuster Video and buying PVT (Previously Viewed Tape) classics, but mostly we would buy cheesy films from places like Second Time Around and Replay Media and get titles like Winterbeast, The Prey, Demonoid Messenger of Doom, Dracula’s Widow, Terror On Tour, Hack-O-Lantern, Judgement Night, Grim Reaper, Phantom of the Opera and many more creepy schlocky horror. Fans of VHS tapes know what I mean when I say nothing will ever take the place of watching a horror flick late at night with friends and having the grainy glow of the TV fill the darkened room, and watching the film and at the best part, be it the kill or nudity, the tape would roll from being rewound and watched too many times.  Not to mention the sound of the tape rewinding as you and your pals talked about the film and what shocking horrors awaited you in the next creature feature. Those days were the best, and I will always cherish those moments I had with these friends.  One day I would love to get together with Gilmore, Weinberg, Hoffman, Wean and Womeldorff and have a classic marathon of VHS horror!

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The Horror Movie Marathon was not a new concept to me as my brother Bryan and I would have many of these all night horror film watching session years before these events, with films on TV like USA’s Up All Night, Saturday Nightmares and TNT’s Monstervison.  We would also watch rented or owned horror films on VHS before and after the cable shows. Anyways years after the the semi-retirement of the event I found myself living with my good friend Patrick Neeley and out of a job as I was let go from my work loading and unloading furniture trucks around 2006 and had no leads of finding a new one. Around the same time I has having issues with my then girlfriend Jennifer that lead to a breakup and could only find part time work at Mavericks Cards and Comics and the kicker was Patrick was going to be moving out! But thank God my good friend Jason Young allowed me to live with him and his roommates Doogie (Chris) and Zippy (Josh), and after a few brief and failed relationships I was able to find my cool as hell girlfriend Juliet. As things were getting back on track for me in 2007, I was missing the days of the marathon and was itching to have another one, but had no place to do it when Juliet was kind enough to offer her apartment for me to host the event! This was amazing news for me, and I went out and bought tons of snack food and pop and restarted the event that had always been so near and dear to my heart. But with this new age of the Marathon VHS was out and DVD was in, and while Josh Weinberg and Matt Hoffman were returning faces from the past, the guest list now included my cousin Stephen Alexander and friends like Chris Lett, Max Ervin, Lisa Weinberg, Jason Young, Doogie, Lauren Campenell, Mike Ritchie, Nick Williams, Thomas “Maurice” Blurton and many others. Juliet’s apartment became the new spot for the Marathon and we watched many films for the first time as well as revisited classics like Dracula’s Great Love starring Paul Naschy, Bigfoot, Salvage, Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster, Ice Queen and a mountain of other monster and slasher films. The small kitchen of her apartment was filled with tons of food like chicken wings and pizza as well as snacks and pops and beers.  The events became a huge hit again with my old high school friends as well as my friends I made along the years, and this became an issue as the venue, her apartment, was not large enough to fit all my friends who were coming over to watch the films! At one point we had a full room of people watching Dracula’s Great Love at around midnight and everyone was squeezed in like sardines around the old tube TV in the studio apartment. But like before, The Horror Movie Marathon came to a end as I started a new job managing Game Swap in Kettering as well as worked still for Mavericks and other things started to get into the way of us having marathons as well as friends less and less showing up at one point I held a Marathon and the only people to show up were Stephen, Chris Lett, Doogie, Juliet and myself making for a fun time with a very tiny turn out. During this Horror Movie Marathon 2.0 I also started a little thing called the pre-show that had a select few coming over to the apartment that I was now living at with Juliet to watch a couple of horror films before the main day. The select few were Stephen and Josh, and it was a cool way for us to hype ourselves up for the next day. But due to poor turn outs, not enough space for big turn outs and just life, the marathon once more was retired and thus ended its first comeback into my life in around 2012.

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Flash forward to 2015 when my cousin Stephen had just bought a house in Dayton.  While at work, he and I started to chat and toss around the idea of having me bring back The Horror Movie Marathon at his house as it has plenty of room and he as well as other friends missed the event and wanted it to return. I also missed the event and after thinking for just a few minutes, I agreed to bring the event back and so was born the current Horror Movie Marathon 3.0 that is still going strong to this day! We choose May 24th 2015 as the date of the marathon and Juliet, Stephen and I came up with the idea that at this event would be tons of independent sodas and beers would be available for our friends to drink all day and night to help add to the festive and gathering feel. We also ordered tons of chicken wings from Frickers as well as had candy, chips and hummus for people to snack on while watching the horrors of the small screen. We also had a Pre-Show the night before, and besides Josh, we also invited our pal Garrison Kane to watch films like House Of Wolfman, Frankenstein Theory and Deadly Mantis to kick off the event right. The first event at the new location was a big hit, and many friends showed up from Todd The Fox all the way to Jeremy Hoyt and everyone inbetween was there and ready to get scared and spend time with friends. The films included Deadly Manor, Summer of Massacre, Headless, Wolf Cop and Return To Boggy Creek, to name a few. The next event we had at Stephen’s house was on September 27, 2015 and had us watching such films as 100 Tears, Crimson, Stiches, Redwood Massacre, New Years Evil and Frankenfish to name a few and like the first event we packed the house, and everyone had fun. But sadly the third event that we held on April 10th 2016 slowed down in attendance, but those who showed up all had fun watching films like Elves, Dr. Jekyll And The Werewolf, XTRO, Demon’s Rook and Madhouse! Also during this time Juliet and I would also hold our own marathons for just the two of us, complete with pre-shows and all the great snacks and terrors that go along with the full attraction ones. With a new location and new and old blood mixing to have a good time and watch some horror films, the marathon seems to have a new home at Stephen’s house. One thing that has always been a highlight of The Horror Movie Marathon from the past to the present is sitting with friends and talking about the films we have just watched and seeing why they liked or disliked the film.  One of the best recent fun discussions was when Jeremy Hoyt got worked up over the film Headless and its extreme violence toward women and the rest of us saying what do you expect from a gore film? The Horror Movie Marathon is back, and if I can help it will never fade away again.

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So I decided for this update that I am going to cover not one, but two of the latest Horror Movie Marathons I have had with the first being held on November 13th 2016 with the Pre-Show taking place on the 12th that was a all-welcome friends marathon held at Stephen’s house. For the Pre-Show we had Garrison Kane, Theresa Lopez and Jeremy Hoyt, and we watched the following films to kick us into the spirit of this after Halloween blues marathon starting with “Evil Unleashed: The Mummy” that was about a Egyptian princess who sells her her soul and in modern time comes back as a vengeful Mummy on the prowl to kill some college kids who have stumbled onto her plan of ruling the world and bringing evil down on us all. The next film was released by Wild Eye Releasing called “ The Mothman Curse” and was about two woman who are working for a movie museum who are having visions and nightmares about the Mothman who seems to slowly bringing them into madness. I was feeling pretty rough from a sore throat and cold so we didn’t have a third film of the night that would have been the old Independent B Movie film I made called “Vigilante C: The Hunt For The Man-Beast,”  We all decided that the best film of the night was Evil Unleashed and not because it was good, just because it had some laugh out loud cheesy moments as well as backyard effects and a naked Mummy! The worst movie was Mothman Curse as we all found it very boring and while it felt like an arthouse film, it was just lacking being scary or entertaining. The night was fun, and everyone seemed to be having a good time, but oddly enough Josh Weinberg no showed the event as the date was picked for him to make it before the holiday rush of his work! But once the horrors of the small screen ended, bedtime was up and I got some much needed rest to try and shake the wicked cold that had me in its grip.

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The next morning at 7:00am sharp, we began the full Official Horror Movie Marathon and started with the 1943 Universal Monster film “The Mad Ghoul” about a scientist who falls in love with one of his student’s fiance and uses a gas that turns people into zombies in order to break them up and use his student as a tool of murder as a love triangle is in play. The vampire musical “Suck” was the next film and was about a down and out band who become vampires in order to become rock stars, but soon after meeting a vampire hunter try and stop their blood sucking ways! “Xtro II: The Second Encounter” was the third film and was about scientists in a underground facility being stalked by a killer alien from another dimension. The 1991 evil demon children film “The Boneyard” was next and was about a pair of cops as well as a psychic and a reanimated young lady who committed suicide stuck in the basement of the city morgue fighting for their lives against three evil demon children and their sinister creations. The next film was a Sci-Fi Channel original called “Scarecrow” about a killer you guessed it Scarecrow killing off a group of troubled kids as the owner of the farm and their teacher fight to try and save them. A independent slasher film was up next called “Hayride” about a killer who runs wild during Halloween and attacks people during a hayride attraction and customers and workers are his targets. The 1971 creature feature “Octaman” was next and had scientist battling a full size octopus man who wanted revenge for the taking and killing of his children and of course he ends up falling for one of the females that leads to the creatures downfall. “Gnome Alone” was the next flick to entertain us about a cursed witches bloodline that is plagued by a evil Gnome who also acts as their protectors and sadly a young girl becomes next in line, but this pint size terror also has a lust for not only revenge but blood. Kane Hodder and Bill Mosley starred in our next film called “Old 37” about two brothers who grew up watching their father who was a paramedic kill those in need, and now along with his old ambulance has taken up the killing ways. With the world being scared of creepy clowns, the next film for the marathon had to be the slasher flick “Clown Town” and was about a group of friends being stalked by killer clowns in a rundown town and they must quickly fight back in order to stay alive. And what better way to follow up a film about killer clowns than to deliver one about a serial killer in a easter bunny suit who along with his crazed friend stalk and kill women and that film was called “Bunnyman Massacre”. The 1985 shot on video film “The Ripper” was the final fright of the night and was about the spirit of Jack The Ripper being stuck inside a ring that possesses a school teacher who in turns starts up the killing spree of women in modern times, and cool enough FX Master Tom Savini plays The Ripper at the films climax. The event was pretty well attended with such friends as Stephen Alexander, Theresa Lopez, Jason Young, Jeremy Hoyt, Mike Ritchie, Juliet Fromholt and Garrison Kane all making appearances throughout the day, and weirdly enough once more this day Josh Weinberg didn’t show up to watch the spooky features of the small screen.

As always the Horror Movie Marathon was packed with some great food from snack food like potato chips and M&M’s all the way to pizza rolls and subs from Submarine House. As always we all had fun watching the films with Stephen, Theresa and I being the ones that stayed and watched all twelve films! I mean of course I was there the whole time as I am the host of the event, but have to say a big thanks to those two for enjoying every film alongside me. So for the best and worst list, I am going to have Stephen as well pick his to share his insights of the days horror flicks. This was a tough one to pick my best as I enjoyed many of the films that were shown and I felt all of them offered something different to the Horror Film world. My worst film of the day was pretty easy to pick as I would have to say Bunnyman Massacre as I felt that while watching a killer in a bunny suit chasing around women with a chainsaw was cool, it was the side character Joe who was also a killer who had some of the most lamest cuss spewing lame dialogue I have ever heard that, killed the mood of this slasher. Stephen as well selected Bunnyman Massacre as his worst and said this for his reason “It started strong and ended weak”. My # 3 of the day was The Ripper as this is one I seen on VHS many moons ago when my brother and I rented it from K&L Video.  For some reason, the cheesy storyline along with the gruesome gore effects makes it a guilty pleasure film.  Plus you can’t go wrong with Tom Savini as Jack The Ripper! My # 2 pick was Suck as I found this Rock N Roll musical to be well made and super funny as it also mixed comedy into the formula.  Plus you can’t go wrong with a film that stars Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins. Hands down, my # 1 was The Boneyard as I found it super fun, super creepy and over all a great flick! I mean whereelse in the world can you see a Phyllis Diller giant monster as well as a killer poodle monster? For me the film The Mad Ghoul almost made it to the my list as the third film but The Ripper was able to edge its way into the spot or should I say slash! For Stephen his picks were as follows: For his # 3 spot went to Octaman with his reason for picking it being “Solely because of the monster and how much they used him.” His # 2 spot was The Boneyard, and he had this to say, “Because it was fun and the monsters were very cool. Plus the use of average everyday people (as the actors) was refreshing”. And his # 1 spot went to Suck and this is why, “It was funny and a surprise. It had some cool people in it and the effects were cool. I definitely had the most fun with it by far”. So with that, this After Halloween Horror Movie Marathon came to an end and was a great time with great friends, good flicks and tasty food.

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For me growing up as a Monster Kid, having these get togethers with some of my nearest and dearest friends and family members is something that is just really special as I have a love for Horror Films and this allows me to share that with them. Plus what’s neat about these films I have shown for the Horror Movie Marathon 3.0 version is 98% of the time the films that are selected are first time watches for many of us and 2% of the time is stuff that we might have seen before but was so long ago that we want to revisit them. Take the above marathon for insistence, I had only seen two of the films before with them being Evil Unleashed: The Mummy and The Ripper, both that I had seen when I was younger with the rest being first time views! But to be fair, I can’t remember if I had seen Octaman before. And with that the next marathon I want to cover for this update was one that Juliet and I had at our apartment and was filled with many horror films that I helped via Kickstarter or Indie GoGo and only one film that I had seen before and was an event I was very much looking forward to! So check out below for a few more films I can remember the old gang watching on VHS for the first wave of the Horror Movie Marathon’s life and then we shall get into the main event of this update!

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Juliet and I selected April 3, 2017 as the day for this marathon as we wanted to pick a date to make this History of The Horror Movie Marathon fresh. So like normal, I had a typical day at work and headed home so that we could start the pre-show sharply at 6:00pm, and we had sausages for dinner.  We started the first film on the night, the 2016 flick that I helped on Indie Go-Go called “Killjoy: Psycho Circus,” the 5th film in this popular Full Moon Entertainment series that has the killer demon clown Killjoy hosting his own talk show called Psycho Circus and he and his band of killer clowns must rumble with Beezlebub who wants revenge. “Silent Night, Bloody Night: Homecoming” is a semi remake to the classic 1972 holiday flick and was the next fright flick pick.  It follows the cursed Butler Mansion and the killer that is stalking its grounds killing off the residents of the small town. “Monster On Campus” was next, and this Universal Monster film followed Doctor Donald Blake who by accident turns himself into a neanderthal man when he is cut on the hand by a prehistoric fishes tooth. And the final film of the night was “Sorority Slaughter House,” a cheesy killer doll film that has a college dean killing himself over a broken affair with a student that has his soul going into the body of a clown doll called Bobo. All these films helped add to the excitement of the coming Horror Movie Marathon day with both Juliet and I picking Monster On Campus as our favorite film of the night as it was a true cheesy science fiction horror film that was complete with a cool monster and historical women fainting into the arms of our monster. We both had different picks for our Golden Turkey of the night as I picked Sorority Slaughter House as mine because it was just plane bad! The film’s killer, Bobo, was not scary and voiced by Eric Roberts, and they reused the same shots over and over of the dolls feet moving around the house.  None of the cute girls get naked, and the plot was lame when they factor in a forced lesbian storylines and terrible shirtless male actors, but that’s what you get with modern David DeCoteau films. Juliet’s Golden Turkey pick was Silent Night, Bloody Night: Homecoming as she felt like it was a rushed remake that didn’t add anything new to the story and by all accounts would have been confusing to fans who had never seen the original as it did a poor job of diving into the film’s character history. But with the pre-show done and visions of bloody murders in my head, we went to sleep to gear up for the long day of Horror Flicks that awaited us.

On April 4th the weather outside was chilly yet nice spring weather, and Juliet and I woke up around 7am and started the marathon with the 1958 vampire film “The Return Of Dracula” that has Dracula hiding from his hunters with a family as posing as one of their relatives. “Godzilla 1984” was the next film and had Godzilla returning to Japan to once more destroy everything in sight and only a flying air craft and a scientist are the worlds hope. The third creepy flick was “Insane” about a couple buying a new home that has a sinister past of murder and when a clown show up things only get weirder. Shot-on-video film “Night Of The Clown” was up next and followed a family being stalked and killed by a killer in a clown suit who seems to hate pickles. The Massacre Home Video release of “City In Panic” was up next and was a cool slasher film about a killer who targets people with HIV. The sixth film of the day was directed by Don Dohler and was called “Fiend” about a killer spirit that reanimates a body who must kill in order to not rot away and tries to blend into a neighborhood but soon gets the attention of his neighbor who tries to solve the killings. Next was “Plank Face,” a horror film about a man who is taken captive by backwoods women who turn him into a wood faced breeding and attacking machine. Slasher film “Fender Bender” was next about a killer who picks his victims by causing small auto accidents to get their information and then coming to their homes and killing them. The next film was suppose to be “Knucklebones” put out by Brain Damage Films, but the movie on the disc was the wrong film so we watched the 1931 “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi! The next chiller was “Bloody Bloody Bible Camp,” a dark horror comedy about a masked killer nun who kills teens at a camp for worship. “The Barn” was next a film about three demons who are unleashed on Halloween when a group of friends awaken them! And the final fright of the night was “Krampus Unleashed” about a family who are targeted by Krampus an Christmas Eve.

This was another amazing Horror Movie Marathon that was filled with great food like Oh My Garlic Wings and breakfast casserole and lots of great and amazing films! I must say that all the films were so different and all entertaining in their own ways! But of course, Juliet and I had to pick our Golden Turkey of the day.  Mine was Night Of The Clown, while it was entertaining it seemed more like a inside joke about pickles and like a film that was made on a bored weekend with only two people in the whole cast. While I say that it was the Golden Turkey, I must stress that I really did enjoy the film for its backyard effects and great cheesy killer. Juliet picked Insane as she felt it was just not fully developed, and the story and characters seemed to lack motivation. Now my top three films of the day were hard to pick as I really enjoyed many of them, but here they go: my # 1 was The Barn as I found it really enjoyable and a nice throwback film to the 80’s, plus the movie monsters of the film Candycorn Scarecrow, Hollowed Jack and Boogeyman are all really great and work really well. The film has great acting and an amazing score as well…a must see. The # 2 film of the day for me was Fiend as the simple and effective film had a great story and a cool villain as the calm and cocky Longfellow stole the show as he choked his victims with glowing red hands! The cheesy effects of the rotting Longfellow were really cool and reminded me of Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. My # 3 film of the day was hard to pick, but I decided that it was City In Panic as I found this low budget American Giallo feeling film to be a cool way to tackle the Aids scare of the 80’s and also had a fun plot of a radio DJ and his nightly talk show helping crack the case. Runners up for me had to be Plank Face and Return Of Dracula, both films I also really enjoyed. Juliet selected the following as her top films of the day # 1 The Barn, # 2 City In Panic and her # 3 was Plank Face! With this Marathon in the history books, I am looking forward to the next and the next as these events are truly special and a way for me and friends and loved ones to relax to the horrors of the TV screen.

The Horror Movie Marathon has had its ups and downs over the years in attendance and even with just staying around, but one thing is for sure, it has always entertained me and my friends who all love a good scare and who enjoy the spooky horrors of our TV screens thanks to home media. And while media has changed, I am hoping that The Horror Movie Marathon will stay around a very long time to entertain my friends and me with Horror films from the past and present. But for our next update, we are going to get up from the comfy couch and snack foods and head into the world of Atlas Comics as we take a look at one of their amazing superheroes Tiger Man! So until next time, read a comic or two, watch a Horror Film or three and enjoy some free time with your friends and family! See you next update as we go on the crime fighting hunt with the fearsome Tiger Man.