NES Challenge: King Kong 2

Welcome back to Rotten Ink and another NES Challenge.  This time around in honor of my favorite giant movie monster King Kong coming back to the silver screen in “Kong: Of Skull Island,” I decided to try my luck at beating King Kong 2 from Konami on the good old RES! I am sure many of you are scratching your head and saying “King Kong 2 that was never made for the Nintendo, this must be a homebrew game!” This is only half true as the game was made by Konami for the Famicon in Japan and thanks to the team up of my friend Brett from Bad Or Rad, Pac N Sac Dave and Todd The Fox, I was able to get a custom version of this game that plays on all American systems and even has a custom box and label! So sit back, relax and take a trip with me as I look back on King Kong Lives and try to beat King Kong 2 on the good old RES!

So before we play the game, let’s discuss a little more about King Kong 2 that’s American title is King Kong Lives!

King Kong Lives (1986)

“A giant ape King Kong, which was shot and fell off the World Trade Center tower, appears to be alive, but is in coma for 10 years and desperately needs a blood transfusion in order to have an artificial heart implanted. Suddenly, in the rainforest, another gigantic ape is found – this time a female. She is brought to the USA, and the heart is successfully implanted. But then King Kong, having sensed the female ape, breaks loose.”

When I heard about a new King Kong movie in 1986, I was hyped as the giant monkey has always had a special place in my heart, but I would not get to see the film in theaters as my parents had no interest in seeing it.  In fact, my Dad made fun of the concept of King Kong living with a over sized pace maker. So I would not get to see it until it appeared on Home Video, and I will get to my thoughts after we touch a little on the films history and production. The De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, headed by the famed movie producer Dino De Laurentiis, decided that after the hit King Kong remake they made in 1976 the world needed a sequel ten years later, and so King Kong Lives was put into production and unleashed onto the movie going masses. The film had John Gullermin in the director’s chair again as he was for the 1976 remake, and the film cast such actors as Linda Hamilton, Brian Kerwin, John Ashton and Michael Forest and had a huge marketing campaign around it before and during its release. The film’s score was done by John Scott and is solid work; while not memorable, it’s still good. The film was a major flop when released in theaters, and critics and fans both panned the film for the silly storyline and its overall “boring” nature. Famed and respected film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 1 out of 4 stars and as of this update it holds a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes! The film had a budget of $18 million and only brought in $4,711,220.00 making it lose lots of cash.  It was # 113 of the year, only beating out such other cult films as “No Retreat, No Surrender”, “The Wraith”, “Deadtime Stories” and “Night Of The Creeps” at the box office. And while before it hit theaters it had a massive roar, once in it went out with a whimper.

When my parents rented King Kong Lives for my brother and I, I can remember I was pretty hyped to watch it as the box cover was amazing and had King Kong looking pissed off on it! When watching the film, I can remember my brother not being into it as I was glued to it with wonder.  While the film was not good, in my young mind it didn’t matter as on our TV screen was a new adventure of Kong! As a kid I always took that stand with bad movie sequels: at least we got to see the character again.  Sadly I still have that thought pattern to this day with some films like Halloween, which had some bad sequels under its belt, all of which I enjoy. After seeing King Kong Lives for the first time via a VHS rental, I would go on to watch it on cable tons of time as well as on TBS when shown edited for TV. And later on, I would go on to own it on both VHS and DVD and still dust this silly movie off from time to time and enjoy Kong’s rampage to save his lady. The things I really like about this film are that King Kong, Lady Kong and Son Of Kong look great for the time, and the rubber suits, while dated now, captured my young imagination! Another thing I liked about the film is the quick shot of actress Linda Hamilton’s boobs; as a kid that was always a highlight! I also liked the score music and the scenes when King Kong took on the army. The downside of this film for me was the fact that in many spots it does drag, and at times it seems to forget that viewers are watching to see King Kong.  The other part that’s silly is how they explain that Kong is still alive after falling off the World Trade Center and must have a pacemaker put in so that his heart will function, only to die of a heart attack in the end. While King Kong Lives is not a perfect sequel and is riddled with silly scripting and flaws, I still find it to be a fun entertaining film that I enjoyed from my past. If you have not seen it, go in with a clear mind and enjoy King Kong doing what he does best and that’s be a giant gorilla on a rampage.

While the film was a flop, it still sparked some merchandise that includes the film itself being released on VHS, Laserdisc and DVD. Plus the Famicom game “King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch” was released and entertained the gamers of Japan. Movie posters for the theaters and for video rental stores were made to try to entice movie watchers to check it out. The score soundtrack to the film found its way to vinyl, cassette and CD, and yes indeed, I own the CD and have played it on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO! These are just the items I can think of that came out based on this film, as I am sure other merchandise was made, official and unofficial! I wish at the time of release that a comic book adaptation, paperback novel and action figures were made as I would have loved to have owned them all. So if you’re a fan of King Kong Lives, there is some cool stuff that you should add to your collection.

In 1986, to go along with the film King Kong Lives, video game company Konami decided that the world was in need of a video game version.  So they made King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch to satisfy the demand from gamers in Japan that wanted a game based around the film. The game allows players to take control of King Kong as he goes on a rescue mission to save Lady Kong from the government scientist and must battle the army as well as other large creatures in a top down maze adventure that lasts for a total of nine levels. The goal of course is to rescue Lady Kong who is the love of your life and who also saved your life by giving blood when you were in a coma for 10 years. The game was not a major hit in Japan and never made it to the US for a release. I should also note that a game based on King Kong Lives was also made in 1986 for the MSX home computer called “King Kong 2: Yomigaeru Densetsu,” once more only for Japan and also made by Konami.  This time around you played as the human Mitchell, and it was a role playing game! While neither game set the world of video games on fire, they still left their mark for gamers who have played them.

So we have taken a look at King Kong Lives the movie, and we learned about the video game that I am about to challenge and hope to conquer! I have failed at trying to beat Werewolf: The Last Warrior and Adventures Of Bayou Billy for the NES, but I am going into this game with a positive attitude and the will to beat this game! So here it is, my NES Challenge: King Kong 2!

I selected the day March 7, 2017 to have my showdown as the weather outside was in the 50’s and rain fell most of the day with grey skies in between. After running a few errands that involved Sparkle Comics business I filled up my glass with water and heated up a chicken leg and was ready to save Lady Kong! Once settled into my chair I turned on my RES (Retro-Bit Entertainment System) and grabbed my NES Controller and was ready to save Lady Kong. I started my adventure and punched and jumped my way through what looks like a valley leading to a military base that is protected by green blobs and collected rocks and also found hidden doors! Each of these doors led Kong to a new area and finally to a giant bad guy who reminded me of a shell throwing shells! After dying and wandering around some more, I ended up finding a giant spider to get another key in my quest! My next challenge was fighting three green dragons who wanted me dead, but thanks to my trust rocks that was not on the menu! So far in the game I was feeling pretty good, while I did die a few times I was doing really well and collecting the keys and stomping out enemies with my punches, jumping stomps and rocks. I was also puzzled as to why the underground levels looked like the military base was an alien star ship, but I guess they needed to spice it up to make the video game pop more. After wandering around more and smashing and jumping over things I kept on my goal of collecting keys and smashing monsters! While wandering around the same areas and going into doors that lead nowhere was the majority of the game up to this point, I would get lucky and find a door that would lead to a enemy. The areas would change as I found myself also wandering the streets and smashing things, but mostly I found myself just jumping over bad guys to usher Kong into the next area and collecting more keys. Finally after a few hours of playing, I was lucky enough to make it to the end and fight three rows of giant robots that my rocks helped me smash through and after beating them I was at the door and rescued Lady Kong! In the end, I got a cool cut scene of King Kong and Lady Kong back on Skull Island and it shows Son Of Kong! Finally I did it! I conquered a NES Challenge and beat King Kong 2, and I find this to be a perfect way to celebrate the release of Kong Of Skull Island in theaters! While the game was somewhat of a challenge I found it to be more puzzling than hard as most of the game I found myself just wandering around looking for the right doors. The enemies of the game were hard with the final three rows of bosses being the most difficult. To sum it up, this game is worth playing if you like King Kong and movie tie-in games otherwise it would be very forgettable to most gamers besides diehard Kong fans. But once more I have to say…I did it!

The majority of this game offers the same enemies, blobs and helicopters, but some of the bosses at least put up a good fight! So here is to all of the military forces, the blobs and all the bosses that did their best to keep me away from rescuing Lady Kong. So while they didn’t stop me, here is to all the bad guys from this game who tried their best to keep me at bay; from the weird Shell Monster all the way to the three rows of suited assassins, thanks for making this game a challenge! Below are some pictures of the bad guys from King Kong 2, and I should also note NONE of these baddies are in the movie.

I also just wanted to touch up on one bit of King Kong bizarre news before we get to the comics.  For the premiere of Kong: Skull Island in Vietnam, they had a huge event planned that showcased live actors & dancers and a huge set complete with a 16 foot King Kong! There was dancing and a light show, and for the main attraction the giant King Kong was to shock and fill the crowd with wonder and excitement, but sadly it filled them with fear as King Kong burst into flames and became a towing inferno as the crowd fled the area while others armed with their cellphones took video and pictures of Kong burning to the ground! Lucky for everyone, no one was hurt, and the massive fire was put out 15 minutes after it started, but sadly by that time old King Kong was roasted and toasted. No one is sure how the fire started some say that it was caused by the heat from the lights, others claim that it was a misplaced torch from one of the actors on stage while others blamed Godzilla! One thing is for sure that while King Kong might have turned to ash his box office draw is legendary…you get it…never mind. Check out the picture below for the flaming Kong in all his glory.

So with a win under my belt, I think it’s time we put away the RES and turn our attention toward the main attraction of my blog the comic book reviews! While doing this update, I thought long and hard about which King Kong Comic series I wanted to tackle.  I really had three choices: the 1991 King Kong adaptation from Monster Comics, the 2007 mini series by Markosia or the current 2016 series going on by Boom, and to be honest, I almost considered the 2017 comic series by Legendary that ties into the film Kong Skull Island! After sitting and thinking about it all, I decided to go with the Markosia series called “Kong King Of Skull Island” as I felt it was a wise choice and added new adventures for King Kong to go in the comic book world. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for ordering me these issues years back for my pull file, and I can hear the Kong worshipers telling me 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 if you’re ready let’s walk away from the video game and head through the giant wooden gates and into the world of comics and see what King Kong has in store for us! I should also note that I really do love King Kong and when he clashes with Godzilla for Legendary Pictures in 2020, I will be cheering on the big gorilla as he has always been one of my favorite giant movie monsters, and that’s no disrespect to Godzilla as I love him as well….just not as much as Kong. Oh and I want to also alert you my friends and readers that this comic series is based on the novel by Joe DeVito who tried to sue Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures as he claimed they stole his idea for their movie from his book! Did they who knows but one things for sure I am looking forward to reading this comic series again and some issues for the first time!

Kong King Of Skull Island # 0  **
Released in 2007    Cover Price $1.99    Markosia    # 0 of 5

Carl Denham is on a massive ship on his way back to Skull Island after the events of New York that left King Kong dead and his reputation dragged through the mud and piled with lawsuits against him. His friend Englehorn is the Captain of the ship an they are remembering back to their first time on Skull Island when a pterodactyl attacks and picks up Denham and once over the ocean a giant sea monsters pops out of the water and attacks the pterodactyl causing Denham to plunge into the cold water below.

Issue 0 acts as a very small build up for the comic mini series and follows Carl Denham and Captain Englehorn heading back to Skull Island after King Kong was shot down and killed on top of the Empire State Building. While on this journey back dinosaurs attack and leave Denham floating in the ice cold water, leaving us the reader wondering how he will survive and just why he has left America in order to return to Skull Island. Carl Denham in this issue seems lost and upset over the death of Kong and all the lawsuits he faces from New York, but while down and out he seems very happy to be at sea along with his friend Captain Englehorn whom seems not to be judging him on the incident.   Captain Englehorn seems to be just along for the ride even if he doesn’t want to go near Skull Island again he is willing to do so to help his friend. This issue has some drama and action but is a little weak as with no Kong and mostly talking on the boat its does not have the “epic” feel that most King Kong comics and films have. The cover is eye catching and has Kong looking over Skull Island and the interior art done by Dan O’Connor is fantastic as is the story by Chuck Satterlee based on the novel work of Joe DeVito. Not much more to say about this very short issue 0 besides it good and does it’s best to build up the coming story.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 1  **1/2
Released in 2007     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia     # 1 of 5

The year is 1957 and Vince Denham the son of Carl is a paleontologist who doubts that his dad’s discovery King Kong ever truly excited and was nothing more than a hoax. His friend Jack Driscoll witnessed Kong and tries his best to prove and tell what he knows about the event that shocked New York as Kong’s body has been missing and never seen again and he wants them both to travel to Skull Island and see the legend for himself. Jack Driscoll takes Vince to the island and things get bad when the massive ship takes some damage and needs major repairs. As Jack and some of the crew work on the ship Vince and others take a row boat to the island but don’t make it to shore when they are attacked by a underwater creatures that leaves the crew dead and Vince badly injured. Jack himself makes it to the Island and goes on a hunt to find Vince and comes across the bodies of past explores as Vince is having his wounds treated by a Islander story teller and her young female assistant and neither will tell Vince of his fathers whereabouts.

This first issue tries to bring us up to date on the characters from the classic film. Ann and Jack are now married and Jack owns his own shipping boats, Carl Denham has went missing some time back and his son Vince is wanting to find his father and get answers about King Kong. Captain Englehorn is also missing and no one seems to be on the look out for him. And King Kong’s body has gone missing after his tragic death in New York and some think he was nothing more than a hoax. The plot of this issue has Vince getting family friend Jack to take him to Skull Island to find answers and all he has found this far is wounds and weird Islanders who will not answer his questions. Vince Denham seems like a young man who had his life in order and loves his job as a paleontologist but also seems to have a black spot on his soul, as he really wants answers from his father who has vanished and left him and his mother to answer for the crimes he committed with Kong. Jack Driscoll is a man who is loyal to the Denham family and found his true love thanks to the original trip to Skull Island, he seems to be wise in age now but also loves the thrill of adventure. The Storyteller Islander seems to know more than she is sharing and I cant wait to see what her story is. The comic is very wordy and not much action happens till the end of the issue but it does a great job of setting up our story and introduce and reintroduce our cast of characters. This far I think my favorite character is Jack Driscoll as I find him to be the classic hero type and knowing what he has been through thanks to the movie he is just a great classic character. The cover for this issue is eye catching and has Kong beating up a giant snake and the interior art is done by Dan O’Connor and has a classic comic feel that brings this story to life. Over all this first issue is lots of fun and like issue # 0 is a great way to build the mini series. Lets see what adventure issue two has in store for us.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 2   **1/2
Released in 2007      Cover Price $3.99       Markosia       # 2 of 5

Vince’s fever from his wounds has broken and The Storyteller and her assistant Kara show Vince a old statue of Kong and she decides to tell him a story of the past the was about one of the Islands Princesses who wants to save her people and bring peace and the old wall’s gate being struck by lighting and man eating creatures called Deathrunners escaped and how the young Princess became friends with The Storyteller, but this does not interest Vince who wants to know about his father and Kong. Meanwhile Jack must fight his way through the jungle and even must kill a giant lizard with a stick! Vince soon finds that Kara hates him and wanted him to die in the water as The Storyteller stops her rant and gears up to share more of the story of the past.

This second issue is once more very wordy and packs some action and adventure but is more about the story of the past and Vince wondering why he is hated so much by one of his rescuers. This issues plot has Vince regaining his strength and listing to a tale from The Storyteller who is speaking of the wall, the political tribe tension as well as Kong. And all the while we follow Jack who is trying to find Vince and is trying his best to survive the jungle. While the story this far is interesting I am also getting a little annoyed that we are only getting brief moments of King Kong in flashbacks and I for one want more of him and less of long winded story telling of events of the past. I mean a book about Kong should have more than a few panels of Kong over the course of three issues at this point. The only other funny thing I noticed in this issue is that Vince seems to be more of a whiner and is very concerned why Kara dislikes him and less about the fact every one on the rowboat with him is dead. We also get to see Deathrunners strange lizard like creatures who clearly eat humans and they are pretty cool but again have very little panel time. Not much more to say about this issue besides more plot build up, less action and adventure and the cover is great and show Kong beating up Dinosaurs. Oh and the interior art is done by Dan O’Connor and is still great. Lets just move on to issue three and see if we get more stories or more action.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 3   **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia     # 3 of 5

Vince Denham listens as The Storyteller gives him a little more of the story as in the past a tribes holy man is wanting to give human sacrifice to a giant lizard they named Gaw, this does not set well with the Princess who along with her lover a warrior head into the jungle to find herbs that they think will make the giant beasts tamable. As they get deeper into the jungle they come upon a young Kong and his father under attack by Gaw and Deathrunners and after a brief fight the larger father Kong is killed and the young escapes into the jungle with Gaw and his minions hot on his tail. The Princess and The Warrior move a little further and find a ship and white men looking for help! As she tells this Kara enters and is mad that The Storyteller is given all this information to Vince as she still thinks he is a bad person and will bring more explores to their island. While all this story telling is going on Jack is still roaming around looking for the son of his friend and is getting closer to his goal.

The story telling continues and this issues plot has the Princess and her warrior boyfriend traveling to the jungle in order to find some herbs they think will help make the giant monsters around them more controllable, but some of the tribes are starting to worship the giant monsters as Gods and worst the one named Gaw has made Skull Island his and even has killed a Kong and is on the hunt for a smaller one. All the while Vince is listing to The Storytellers tale and is also still on watch as Kara truly wishes him dead. So as you can see we get more tribe politics but we do also finally get a quick Kong fight that leaves one of them dead and shows that our books main villain is an evil reptile killing machine. Vince at this point is getting a little stronger but is brain is now an open to the tales of the old woman as he is trying to understand the history of the island and how his father ties in. Jack is still just stuck in the jungle looking for his friend and is doing his best to survive. The Storyteller and Kara are at odds with one another over how much they should share with Vince, but the while at odds respect is still in play. The Princess and The Warrior while in the past are doing what they can in order so save peoples lives as the primitive ways are trying to come back and with that means human sacrifice. The two Kong’s are father and son and while strong the father is just out numbered and killed as the younger giant ape is now on the run and I am sure he will be the one we will later know as King Kong. The Gaw is a red skinned lizard giant monster who is brutal and attacks with fury and worse the Deathrunners seem to help him bring down his prey. While we do get some action and adventure this issue is much like the others and more about the story of the Island and I am ok with that I just hope we get a great fight in the end between Gaw and Kong. I must say the cover for this issue is very eye catching and is sure to please fans of King Kong but the interior art this time around is done by artist Scott Larson and I must say I am not a fan of his style of art as I found it sloppy and not able to capture the epic nature of Kong and the world of Skull Island. While this issue is not amazing it still was fun and for all the lack of Kong action I am enjoying the tale of Skull Island and lets see what issue four has in store.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 4  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia      # 4 of 5

The Storyteller continues her tale of the past to Vince as she shares that the white sailors where lead by Captain Magwich and their boat was in need of major repair and they are welcomed in by the villagers who in turn ask them for help to capture the last Kong. The Warrior and the sailors enter the jungle and disappear for awhile but finally return with the captured young Kong. The Holy Man still pushes for human sacrifice and with one they set up Gaw and pour super hot boiling oil on him and this also sets the captured Kong off who breaks free and rushes into the jungle looking for a final fight. Sadly for the Princess her father the King has passed away and her people are still at odds as the Holy Man and the Sailors are still around and could be ready to cause problems. Meanwhile in modern times Jack wonders the jungle and soon finds tribe people who have a Kong under their control and he himself is now taken captive and lead to Vince who is happy to see his long time family friend and for the major surprise The Storyteller takes him to see his father Carl who has lived this whole time on the island!

This time around the story is how in the past the islanders captured the young Kong in order to control and defend them from Gaw who has been their tormentor for way to many years, but also how outsiders are starting to influence some of the people and with their firearms they could help the Holy Man gain control of the island. All the while Vince is hearing this history lesson and by the end of this issue Vince is reunited with both Jack and his father Carl. The Storyteller and Kara seem less at odds and seem to get slight joy of letting Vince see his father again. I really like how the outsiders are a factor now in the past storyline as it’s clear they could tip the scales into the favor of what ever side they decide to take if they take any by the end. I also enjoy the fact that the Princess is the only one who showed the young Kong compassion and brought him food, drink and tended his wounds from being captured. I also like how the villager’s fights back against Gaw and catch him on fire with oil and this also makes you wonder what he will do in the next issue for revenge against them for turning on him. It’s nice to have Carl Denham back into the story and see him and Jack Driscoll reunited as it gives a real classic feel to see the films two main heroes together again. Kong while he does not do much its still great to at least have him around and know that in the final issue coming up he is going to have a battle to the death with Gaw! The cover for this one is awesome just like the all the covers that came before it. The Interior art is a team up of Dan O’Connor and Scott Larson with the later’s sloppy art sticking out like a sore thumb. Over all a good issue while nothing special I found it to be a good read that made me look forward to the Kong vs. Gaw final fight, so with that lets move onto the final issue.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 5  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia     # 5 of 5

Carl Denham and son Vince exchange words and son is not happy with his father as he feels that he left him and his mother to deal with the drama of King Kong, but The Storyteller calms everyone down and they all enter Skull Islands skull cave and find that Carl brought the remains of King Kong with him to return him home! Meanwhile in the past The Queen finds the herbs that helps tame the beasts in the lost city but she and her people also soon find that Captain Magwich have other ideas that is not about helping them kill Gaw but to help himself to the islands gold! But when the Holy Man finds out that the sailors have turned on them he summons Gaw who kills the Captain and turns his sights on the others but they humans are saved when King Kong shows up and kills Gaw and ends his path of revenge! When back at the village The Warrior is killed, The Holy Man rises to full power and The Princess goes into hiding and has become The Storyteller and she shares that Carl has been writing their stories down and when he is about to get praise they find that he has died in his sleep. Vince and Jack return to the fixed ship and they sail home and Vice has a new respect for his father and Skull Island.

In this fifth and final issue we get every storyline from this series tied up, King Kong’s body has been brought back to Skull Island, Vince finds his father and gets the answer as to why he has been missing all these years, Carl has spend years helping the Islanders teaching them English as well and taking down their story, Jack gets out of the jungle and finds his missing friends and The Storyteller passes down the tales and lets Kara know that she is now Queen of the people! This comic is more drama than adventure and while the story was lots of fun I really did wish for more King Kong fighting action. King Kong in this comic series goes from being a frightened youth to a vengeful fighting machine and while not in the mini series that much when he is shown he demands the reader’s attention. Vince and Carl Denham serve their parts in the story as two outsiders to Skull Island whom are trying to find answers and peace and must find it not only with the people of the island but also with each other. Jack Driscoll is a man who is friends with the Denham family and even when the odds of survival looks grim he still never gives up. Captain Englehorn we are to guess has died on the island as besides issue # 0 he never makes an appearance. The Storyteller and Kara as well both have a purpose to the story as they are tools to share the past as well as share forgiveness and fear as Kara is clearly fearful of what the white man can bring to their island. The Holy Man and most of the Sailors from the past as well show that greed and power can make people do sinister and evil things to benefit themselves. Gaw the giant god lizard was also a very evil beast who ruled Skull Island with an iron claw and seemed to get joy out of killing, so its fitting that he is killed by Kong by being impaled! What worked for this comic mini series based on a book is the fact it had a fun story that opened up the past and history of King Kong as well as Skull Island plus most of the characters are likeable and all feel like golden age Hollywood stars. The downside of this series is that in some parts is boring, not enough King Kong and some issues the art is blah! This issue has yet another amazing cover but the inside art was done by Scott Larson and is a little weak for the final fate of our characters. To sum this up this comic mini series based on King Kong and a book is a good read for fans of Kong but does have flaws that distract from what could have been an epic four star comic adventure. Check out the artwork below to see the styles used in this comic series for King Kong and Gaw that has both artists work.

I have always had a soft spot for Giant Monster movies and grew up watching them on TBS and shows like Super Scary Saturday and while I love Godzilla I have always had a place at the top of my heart for King Kong and with the release of “Kong Of Skull Island” to theaters this year I knew I had to revisit the giant ape here on Rotten Ink and I am glad I did as I have had this comic series in my boxes since they came out and never got around to reading the full series. But for our next update I am leaving Skull Island and heading to the golden age of comic book heroes as we take a look at the one and only Red Demon a sadly mostly forgotten hero from the late 1940’s! So until next time read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host, see you back very soon for our look at Red Demon.

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The 8th Wonder Of Giant Classic Comics King Kong

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

King Kong 1933 1King Kong 1933 PosterKing Kong 1933 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

King Kong JapanKing Kong Missing 1King Kong Missing 2

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

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

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

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

Movie Maniac King KongImperial King KongBen Copper King KongKing Kong Novel

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

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

King Kong 1

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

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

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

King Kong Art

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

Creature from the Black Lagoon Logo 2

Marvel vs. DC….. Round 1…..FIGHT!

Growing up, horror films were always important to me and nothing could get my attention more than a classic Universal Monster movie.  There was just something about those black and white spooky motion pictures that drew my young mind in, and another thing that always got my attention was horror host shows! Horror hosting is an art that has been around since 1954 when Vampira took to the airwaves in California and hosted bad b-films on late night television.  Many great names have followed that include Zacherley, Marvin, Sammy Terry, Sir Graves Ghastly, Ghoulardi, The Cool Ghoul, Bob Wilkins, Sivad and so many more ghouls took to local airwaves and chilled the blood and tickled the funny bone of their local towns from the 1950’s throughout the 1960’s. Sadly younger fans like myself who weren’t born yet were unable to watch these hosts in their prime, and due to the fact most were shot live or the ones that were taped were erased and reused to film other programs, many of these classic shows are gone forever. Two hosts from this period really have peaked my interest.  The Great Zucchini of Supernatural Theatre started in 1968 on WDCA-TV channel 20 in Washington D.C.and was a one time actor who was horribly burned and now lived in the stations basement and was a mean spirited chap who hated glass and would smash bottles and such with his cane.  He also was very mean to his off screen sidekick Waldo and the viewers.  Zucchini was played by Bill Miller who worked at the station and was fired from the show when he asked for a raise. Next up is The Madman of Des Moines, a host that not much is known about, who hosted flicks in Iowa.  His look was that of a beast type man who looked like he could have been from The Island of Dr. Monroe! If anyone has any of these two’s shows please contact me; I would love to see them and will make it worth your while!

great zucchinithe madman of des moins

Horror hosting continued into the 70’s and many classic iconic hosts were born out of this era that include Dr. Creep, Baron Von Wolfenstein, Fritz The Nite Owl, Svengoolie, The Ghoul, Sir Cecil Creape, Count Scary and many more.  1972 was when Dr. Creep (Barry Hobart) hit the airwaves in Dayton, Ohio with his show Shock Theatre and things would never be the same for those he entertained. Dr. Creep was a loveable ghoul who would host films along co-hosts like Duffy The Dog, Dow Thomas, Obieyoyo, Firma and more.  They would parody TV shows, commercials and music giving the viewers some great laughs before they witnessed the late night horror picture. At a young age I was living in Kettering, Ohio and my brother was going to Beavertown Elementary.  At Christmas time he went on a field trip to Chakeres also known as The Kettering Theater to watch “Sindad and the Eye of the Tiger” and while there he got to meet Mugruff the Crime Dog and more importantly Dr. Creep! My brother won a gift that turned out to be a Transformer and got his picture taken with the pair.  When returning home from school I got an earful about this ghoul named Dr. Creep, and when the picture came I was amazed by this man! After always talking about Dr. Creep my Mom gave in and let us stay up and watch an episode with our dad who was already a fan, and this was the start of my love for horror hosting. My mom also tells me when I was young like 4 or 5 she and my dad took me and my brother to Beavertown for a meet and great with Dr. Creep where I got his autograph! In 1985 Shock Theatre had come to an end, and Channel 22, who ran the show, retired the character and would not allow Barry to don the make-up and cape, leaving the area without a horror host. During his first run, Dr. Creep was a man on a mission as he helped numerous charities and made public appearances whenever he could, making him a true star to all those who got the chance to meet him. But you can’t keep a good ghoul down when in 1999 local filmmaker Andy Copp and RMM Agency owner Rick Martin brought the Creeper back to TV sets with The New Shock Theater that had Creep hosting public domain films on public access.  This ran until 2005. It was during his second run that I got to become friends with Dr. Creep and learned not only about the host but also the man who played the host, Barry Hobart. Getting to spend time with him at conventions like Cinema Wasteland, Scary Camp and Horrorhound Weekend and hanging with him at Foy’s Halloween Shop in Fairborn are memories that are truly special. Sadly Barry Hobart passed away in 2011, and the world lost a true icon in hosting and more important I lost a friend. Halloween in this town won’t be the same with out him.

Creep PartyDr. Creep HorrorhoundDr. Creep and Me

Another host that I have been looking for copies of his show is The Shroud of Nightmare Theatre that ran on Fort Wayne, Indiana WFFT-TV channel 55 from 1979 – 1983. The Shroud wore all black and would wear an almost executioners mask as well as a long cape. The Shroud was a host that took the grim approach and would host the film without jokes and gags and give you the straight terror as he spoke with his deep voice. The Shroud was played by Don Paris, and I would love to see this man come back to host one more show for the fans! Again if you have copies of this show, please let me know.

The Shroud

The 1980’s brought horror hosting to an all new level as major cable networks and companies got into the host business and such horror hosts as Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Joe Bob Briggs, Commander USA and Grandpa Munster all had shows that aired all over the USA. Growing up I tried to never miss an episode of Commander USA’s Groovie Movies that aired on the USA Network and always tried to tape Super Scary Saturday with Grandpa Munster that aired on TBS.  I know a beta tape is floating around somewhere at my brother’s house that has the episode where Grandpa hosts King Kong vs. Godzilla! Joe Bob Briggs was on the Movie Channel so I didn’t get to watch at first but once he jumped to TNT and started hosting Monstervision, I was hooked on his style of hosting. I caught Elvira a few times.  While a fan of her looks and gothic style, I mostly remember her from her film and years later became more of a fan of her show Movie Macabre. These hosts paved the way for many more that include the cast of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and Rhonda Shear & Gilbert Gottfried of USA’s Up All Night. But also local hosts were still going strong with such names as Stella Desire, A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Son of Ghoul and many more, all leading viewers to tune into home grown shows. I loved catching horror host shows in the 80’s and thanks to the magic of trade sites I have been able to get my hands on many great episodes of Commander USA and Grandpa making me feel like a kid again as I watch.

CommanderUSA the manGrandpajoe bob briggs0

The 90’s in hosting still had many of the main stay cable hosts, and lots of the 80’s local hosts stuck around, but this was also the birth of hosts being on public access television.  As local markets changed many stations did away with local made shows, driving the horror host off airwaves and many of them turned to the local accesses stations in order to continue entertaining. This change also led to local access hosts no longer being able to show films owned by major studios like Universal, Paramount or WB and left them with films in the public domain, free of copyright. Great hosts like Dr. Gangrene, Dr. Sarcofiguy, Spooky Spectre, The Gravemaster and more all filled the airwaves entertaining late night viewers.This was truly the birth of a new breed of host, the kind who worked under no strict station rules and were able to make their vision of their own shows.

dr gangrenespooky spectreThe Gravemaster

Now on to the present day hosts, and man there are a lot of them! In this day and age horror host fans are treated to many amazing hosts and best part is they are also treated to legends who after all these years still do a shows from time to time. Horror hosting has become available in many different formats, from syndication TV, public access, direct to DVD, internet, trade lists and downloads, giving fans new ways to watch their favorite host or discover a new one! Plus many horror, sci-fi, car and paranormal conventions book hosts as guests giving the viewer many ways to connect with a host. Some of the modern hosts include Ms. Monster, Roxsy Tyler, Riggor Mortiss, Victor Von Scary, Horror Dungeon, Count Gregula, Uncle Wolf Man, Atomic Age Cinema, Professor Gillman, Mod Ghoul, Wolfman Mac, Marlena Midnite and so many more colorful ghouls. Marlena Midnite hosted a show called “Midnite Mausoleum” alongside Robyn Graves and directed by Blake Powell, and they are some of the nicest people you will ever meet! Marlena is the true definition of what a horror hostess should be and she has so much charm and appeal that I could easily see her being the next big hostess next to Elvira.  Sadly in the Spring of 2013 Midnite Mausoleum stopped production on new episodes, I hope that one day they return to the hosting world.

MidniteRiggorroxsy

Growing up watching the likes of Dr. Creep, Commander USA, A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Grandpa Munster, Joe Bob Briggs and a handful of others made me think to myself “Hey why don’t I dig up a ghoul and make a show of my own,” and that’s what I did in late 2010 when I dug up Baron and Baroness Von Porkchop, and together along with their butler Bean, we made Terrifying Tales of the Macabre. The Baron is a 1800’s Slaughterhouse baron who was the times largest manufacture of pork meats, his lovely wife Baroness was a beauty queen who would always win the annual Slaughterhouse Queen pageant and let’s just say they had an accident that left them both dead that involved a terrible wagon wreck! Now The Baron and friends entertain Dayton area viewers via public accesses stations DATV and MVCC and online station The Monster Channel. Working alongside The Baron has also let me meet some amazing hosts and befriend them like Sammy Terry, Stella Desire, Count Gore De Vol, The Atomic Age Cinema gang, Count Gregula and many more! Terrifying Tales of the Macabre is still going strong with no signs of slowing town and for me this is a blessing for I have found a media that to me feels just like home.

Baron Von PorkchopBaron Episode 15Baroness Von Porkchop

But enough of my small little history lesson about horror hosting, the main reason we are here is to talk about big time battles between two iconic characters that leave you breathless and wondering who is going to win in the epic show down. One of the first movies to do this for me was the 1943 Universal Monster Classic “Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man” in which they paired two of their icons against each other. The film’s plot has Larry Talbot (The Wolf Man) being awaken from his death by two grave robbers and wanting to find a way to find peace whether by death or a cure. Along the way he meets a granddaughter of Dr. Frankenstein and along with another small town doctor they decide to help end the curse, but they also find The Frankenstein Monster who is weak yet alive! In the end the small town Doctor makes the mistake of wanting to see The Monster at full strength and by doing so it’s too late Larry turns into The Wolf Man as The Monster gets his energy back and the two battle before the village damn is blown drowning both monsters.  This film has always been epic to me, and the strangest part about it is that the two monsters don’t really clash at all until say the last 2 or 3 minutes of the film. When the two titans of fright do fight it’s just smacks, jump attacks and sluggish blows.  Imagine two 400 pound wrestlers going at each other and that’s what you get with this fight. While not a slugfest like one would imagine, this film did help pave the way for many other great monster fight films like Freddy vs. Jason, Dracula vs. Frankenstein and even Alien vs. Predator. If you have not seen this film and you love classic horror, check out this Universal Monster mash up.  It’s worth your time.

Frank wolfFrankenstein Meets The Wolf Man PosterMonster chokes Wolfman

In my youth another amazing monster fight film was the 1963 battle between the giant gorilla King Kong and the fire breathing lizard Godzilla. As a kid I was obsessed with Godzilla, and thanks to TV station TBS and shows like Super Scary Saturday, I was able to catch his films on Saturday mornings. I can remember watching it on Super Scary Saturday hosted by Grandpa Munster and being amazed as they had wrestlers from the NWA on acting as the monsters’ managers! King Kong had Michael “P.S.” Hayes in his corner as Godzilla had Jim Cornette in his and Grandpa Munster acted super hyped to witness this battle of the giant rubber suited monsters. The film has Godzilla once more tormenting boats around Japan, and a group goes to an island and drugs and brings back King Kong to make money off off him and to fight and stop Godzilla. The fight is epic as both monsters go for the kill, and both are fired up to win the bragging rights. For some reason in the film King Kong gets stronger if he is struck by lighting, and I heard that this is the case because originally it was supposed to be The Frankenstein Monster fighting Godzilla. In the end there is no clear cut winner as it looks as if maybe King Kong got the upper hand as he crosses the ocean to go back home. If you like pure cheese giant monsters movies and want to watch two of the worlds top big monsters slug it out, then check out this film, but be warned as always there is a lot of human talking that is boring in spots.

Zilla Kong DanceKing Kong vs Godzilla posterKong vs Zilla

Now at this point I could go on about other monster fight films and weed out the good from the bad, but instead I figured before we got into the main events of this entry I would give you all a warm up fight that many of you who love Nike Shoes will be hyped for; none other then basketball player Charles Barkley fighting King of The Monsters Godzilla!! Before we get into the comic, I should explain the commercial this was based on. In 1992 Nike the shoe company decided that it would be a great idea to mix basketball and giant monsters to sell sneakers and hired Charles Barkley who was playing for the Phoenix Suns at the time as the pro player who challenges Godzilla to a game of basketball in Toyko.  It’s never shown how Barkley became a giant, but by the end of the commercial and a slam dunk later Barkley is the winner and the two walk off as friends. This for the time was a cool commercial but looking back at it now, it was a very silly way to hype over priced gym shoes.

NBA Zillanothing but cheesecharles-barkley-takes-on-godzilla

Godzilla vs Barkley 1

Godzilla vs. Barkley # 1  **
Released in 1993   Cover Price $2.95   Dark Horse   1 of 1

Godzilla attacks a Japaneses ship on its way to California.  Meanwhile Matthew and his Grandfather rush to the beach to try and get the chance to talk to NBA Superstar Charles Barkley who is there to film a commercial, but Matthew is pushed away and leaving down in the dirt as his grandpa gives him a magic silver dollar. On that same beach one of the sailers from the ship washes ashore and warns of Godzilla.  No sooner does he speak of the King of Monsters when he is there to wreck the Sunshine State. Matthew rushes to Charles Barkley and with the help of the silver dollar and some push from Matthew, the NBA star becomes a giant and uses his basketball skills to distract Godzilla, and even beating him in a game. After the court beat down Barkley buys Godzilla a giant pair of Nike shoes and his own private court to practice on and keep him busy and becomes a friend to Matthew and his family.

Man, this is one cheese ball comic that is so dumb of an idea that it some how turns out to be super fun. Matthew, the young boy, is your typical “super” fan who believes no one else in the world loves the celebrity like he does and for the most part is also kind of a smart ass. Grandpa is your typical loving elder who is not given much to do in the story besides pass over the magical silver dollar. Charles Barkley is, well, Barkley but is given more of a nice guy attitude when on court and real life he was a hothead and a stiff player. Godzilla at first is a badass but quickly becomes the punching bag to Barkley and his basketball that even is used to bounce off the head of the fire breathing monster. The stupidest moment of this comic is when Godzilla is out in the middle of nowhere wearing a pair of Nike shoes and practicing basketball…WOW who thought this silly stuff up. Over all the art in the comic is well done, and the cover is cool.  This is worth a read to those who love trashy pop culture like myself. 

Brakley smackcharles-barkley-vs-godzillazilla slam

In 1976 both Marvel and DC comics got together and decided to put two of their most popular super heros in a comic against each other.  This was after a pitch was made to cross both Superman and Spider-Man together in a film that would not have worked out for both companies who already had projects in the works for both heros. What fans got was a crossover that was in an oversized comic that sparked the imagination and debut of who would really win The Man of Steel or Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. This team up of Marvel and DC was not the first as both titans of funny books put out an oversized comic together in 1975 called MGM’s Marvelous Wizard Of Oz. So before we dive into this battle of the comic, icons let’s take a short look at both super heros.

superman

Tale of the Tape for Superman – Baby Kal-El was shipped to Earth by his parents as his home planet of Krypton exploded, ending life on it forever. Landing in Kansas, he is found by Martha and Johnathon Kent who adopt the space child and name him Clark. Growing up on the farm, Clark finds out as do his adoptive parents that he is special as he is super human strong, has x-ray vision, can fly, has heat vision and so much more. When grown up, he decides that he is going to move to the big city of Metropolis and becomes a reporter and become the cities protector as a hero called Superman. Clark/Superman’s friends consist of Lois Lane the cities top reporter, Jimmy Olson a photographer and Perry White the boss of the newspaper they all work for. Superman also has a hidden base in the Arctic called The Fortress of Solitude that also acts as a learning center for him. His weakness is a green rock from his home planet called Kryptonite that leaves him as weak as a baby and can also lead to his death  Red sun light and magic are the other only things that can hurt him as Superman is almost godlike. His top foes include Lex Luther a super evil smart tycoon, Braniac a robot from space, Doomsday a hulking monster and General Zod an outcast from his home planet. Superman is DC Comics’ strongest Character.

Spider-Man

Tale of the Tape for Spider-Man -Peter Parker was a nerdy high school kid who was raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben.  One day Peter is bitten by a radioactive spider during a science expo that leaves him with super powers that include super strength, the ability to climb walls, and have a sensor in his brain that warns him of coming danger that he calls his Spider-Sense. After the murder of his Uncle Ben, Peter makes a costume and becomes Spider-Man, and even makes a strong binding wire that acts as his web that shots out from gadgets on his wrist. Peter later works as a freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle owned by J. Jonah Jameson who goes out of his way to smeer Spider-Man in the papers. Peter’s/Spidey’s friends consist of Mary Jane Watson a super model and later Peter’s wife, Black Cat a one time master thief and girlfriend of Peter’s, Harry Osborne old school pal and his Aunt May. Spider-Man’s weaknesses include his heart because he cares way too much about his loved ones, normal ways to hurt a normal man.  While he can take more, he still is just a man with super powers and a mouth that sometimes distracts him from fights. His foes include Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Venom, The Lizard, Scorpion and Vulture to name a few. Spider-Man is the golden boy of Marvel and is also the biggest wise ass next to Deadpool.

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. This review is thanks to a team up of Mavericks Cards and Comics, Ebay and Amazon. And I am reviewing the normal comic size reprints.

Superman vs Spiderman 1

Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man   ***1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price $5.95   Marvel & DC Comics   #1 of 1

A giant robot is attacking Metropolis and Superman comes to save the day, but he figures out that the robot was just a distraction as the main brain behind the attack is Lex Luther who used to robot to steal a gadget to control satellites but quickly is taken down by Superman and taken to jail. Doctor Octopus has created a ship that he plans on using to steal money and has it hidden in a zeppelin balloon.  But he soon meets up with Spider-Man who makes short work of his arch nemesis and takes him away to jail. Back in Metropolis, Clark Kent and Lois Lane are asked to go to a giant expo that showcases a very powerful satellite; it is held in New York so Peter Parker and Mary Jane are there as audience members. In prison Luther and Octopus team up and escape and have big plans to get even with their nemeses, that will involve pitting them against one another. While the event is being set up, Peter is taking pics and saves Lois Lane who is about to fall off a scaffold and introduces her to Mary Jane.  The two hit it off as a fake Superman appears and zaps both women with a beam leaving them missing as they all disappear. Peter changes into Spider-Man, and Clark changes into Superman.  Both men meet up and blame each other for the attack, leaving the heros at odds.  When Luther zaps Spider-Man with the power of Red Sun rays, the fight is on as they both land hits back and fourth.  Finally the two figure out they have been set up and travel around looking for the answer that finally leads them to space where Lex Luther and Doctor Octopus have Lois and Mary captive and our heros come to save the day and out smart the baddies by making them turn on each other this leading to once more the bad guys going to jail. The heros return to the expo along with the rescued ladies and have pics and footage in hand to give both their alter egos a boost in the corporate ladder of media.

This comic is awesome and shows you that if two major comic companies could put their egos in check, great adventures like this could happen more often. The way that both universes mix comes off really well, and Spider-Man’s wise cracks and Superman’s boyscout image go so well together that you could swear that they both were made by the same companies. Spider-Man comes off as a hero who can handle himself after he is zapped with the red sun ray that leaves him packing more power to his punch and is the only way that he could ever stand toe to toe with Superman.  Plus he does well against both Doc Ock and Luther when it comes to fighting. Superman, even in this team up, comes off as the goody to shoes who is nobel and has to be pushed to let loose on Spider-Man and even doesn’t really let go even when he is taking major hits.  The one thing I did notice is that they play up Superman’s weakness to red sun rays and after thinking about it, I can see why because without it he would smash Spider-Man, Lex Luther and Doc Ock into pink McDonalds Chicken Nugget paste. Lex Luther has always been my least favorite of Superman’s list of AAA villains and once more seems like a throw away as all he does is laugh and set traps.  Doctor Octopus, I feel the same way about.  While a classic bad guy, he just doesn’t do nothing for me when it comes to his character. The fight between Superman and Spider-Man is well done and goes back and fourth giving fans of both moments to cheer for the one they like the most. I found myself cheering for Spider-Man because he was the clear underdog. The art work in this is pure grade A stuff and is the style I like when it comes to comics, that straight cartoon look that lets you know you are reading a funny book. The cover is iconic, and I can remember being a kid and seeing ads in issues that offered this issue in the giant comic size and being amazed and drawn in with thoughts of who would win. This is a cross over done right and is worth checking out for any fans of either heros.

sPIDEY RUNSuperman spidermanSpidey Super Punch

Now with the issue done, let’s take a look at the fantasy warfare aspect of this epic fight and act as if both heros were real people.  We will take them from the closest live action film or show that was around at the time.  So we will be taking the Christopher Reeves’ Superman from the 1978 film and putting him up against the Nicholas Hammond’s Spider-Man from the 1977 CBS TV Show, The Amazing Spider-Man.  We will pit them in an area that is fair to both so let’s say they meet up in Cincinnati, Ohio on Super Bowl Weekend. Let’s see how it would play out in my mind!

superman christopher reeveVSSpiderMan Nicholas Hammond

Peter Parker is in town to cover a NFL Super Bowl event in Cincinnati and has his Spider Sense go off as he spots a con man passing off cheap bootleg copies of New Shock Theater in the arena’s parking lot’s.  As he changes into Spider-Man, he approaches the bootlegger to tell him that pirating movies, music and shows is a crime but as he gets closer the man runs off leaving Spidey with these fake DVD’s and to his shock Superman The Man of Steel is behind him looking on in shame thinking that Spidey is the dirty pirate! When a shout comes from a parked car that Spidey has a ray gun, this statemnet is false and is being shouted by Lex Luther who has set this whole thing up!  As drunk football fans gather around and start cheering Superman rushes to see if there is a gun, and Spidey is able to act fast to dodge the attack due to his amped up senses.  This goes on for a while as Superman punches as Spider-Man dodges and makes his wise ass remarks and tries to pepper him with blows but learns that hitting Superman is not smart as it break every bone in his hand.  As Spider-Man grabs his hand in pain, this leaves enough time for Superman to place a light uppercut to Spidey’s Jaw leaving him knocked out and the loser of this bootleg battle.

Winner – Superman

I know that was a silly one, but I tried to put some humor and cheese to it much like the 77 TV show, but now let’s get onto the co-main event of the entry and that’s yet another Marvel and DC crossover as The Worlds Greatest Detective Batman faces the Rampaging Hulk! This is going to be epic! And now let’s take a quick look at these heros’ backgrounds.

BATMAN

Tale of the Tape for Batman – Bruce Wayne was just a boy when both his mother and father were gunned down in a robbery that he witnessed. Wanting to do something about all the crime in his town of Gotham as he got older, he became a well trained fighter and thinker and donned a costume and became Batman. This super hero is super smart and has many wonderful gadgets and vehicles at his disposal.  He also has a hideout called The Bat Cave where he is able to use a super computer that can give him info on any opponent or object giving him the upper hand of knowing his opponents and their weakness. He is also highly trained in combat and is super smart. Batman’s friends include Robin his sidekick, Alfred his Butler, Batgirl and Commissioner Gordon. Batman’s weakness are the fact he is human, just smart and well trained, and his brooding can leave him open for attacks. Some of his foes include The Joker, Killer Croc, Bane, The Riddler and Mr. Freeze. Batman is DC’s cash cow and is also their most popular character to mention he one kick ass character.

HULK

Tale of the Tape for Hulk – Bruce Banner is accidentally transformed into a raging green monster known as The Hulk whenever he is upset or angry. As The Hulk, he is unstoppable, and the madder he gets, the stronger he gets making him dangerous to tangle with. The Hulk mostly wants to be left alone and hates his other side, Bruce Banner, who he views as weak. The Hulk’s major weapon is his pure power that is beyond measure.  Most known weapons cannot hurt him, and in one single leap he can move several miles. His friends include Betty Ross, the woman Bruce and The Hulk love and Rick Jones, a young man who Bruce saved from the explosion. His major weakness is the fact his brain is child-like and he can be out smarted into losing or even doing the wrong thing. His foes include The Abomination, The Leader, Madman and Zzzax. The Hulk is the strongest character in the Marvel Universe that is still somewhat human and is a force to be reckoned with.

So now that you’ve gotten a brief look at the two heros, let’s dive into this cool team up!

Batman vs Hulk 1

Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk # 1  ***1/2
Released in 1982   Cover Price $3.95   Marvel & DC Comics   #1 of 1

Bruce Banner is working at a lab that is in control of a gamma gun machine that he thinks could be the key to curing the curse of becoming The Hulk and to his horror the Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker and his goons show up to steal the machine.  As they are doing so, they set off Banner who becomes The Hulk as Batman also shows up to stop the crime. Joker tricks Hulk into thinking Batman is the bad guy, and he goes full force after the Dark Knight who must outsmart the brute with gas in order to escape his mighty fury. After the fight, the Joker gets away with the gun as Batman has The Hulk taken away and once he becomes Banner again as Bruce Wayne he is given a job to help himself find a cure. The Joker is working for The Shaper of Worlds who lives off the dreams of humans who needs the gun in order to get his mind on straight for he is slipping into madness. After the gun fails to give him what he needs he sets his sights on The Hulk and wants to drain him of his gamma power in order to cure himself.  This eventually leads to Batman and The Hulk teaming up against The Joker who has been granted a wish to become a bender of reality and uses his power to torment the heros in an Alice in Wonderland environment that leads to Batman outsmarting the Joker and making him fry his own brain out. In the end The Shaper leaves Earth, Banner moves onto the next town, Batman is still Batman and The Joker is nuts in a asylum.

This works really well, and while Batman holds his own against The Hulk when they fight it makes sense as he just outsmarts the brute at any chance he gets. While I am a huge fan of The Hulk and only like Batman, I can see why some fans get upset that The Hulk just doesn’t crush Batman where he stands, but to that I would say if he just smashed him the comic would only be like two pages long. Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne come off smart and caring as he seems to really feel for Banner and even The Hulk.  The way he is able to team up with The Hulk and get his help when needed is pretty good stuff. The Hulk and his alter ego Bruce Banner come off as they always do, a man sad with a curse and a monster who just loves to smash things when he is pushed. Who would have thought that one of the comic world’s smartest character could team with one of the child like minded characters and they would make such a great team. The Joker plays the henchman to The Shaper and comes of scared of this giant alien who wants all the dreams, and when he goes mad with power its a true sign of just how crazy he is. The Shaper Of Worlds is more of a Mind Freak like Criss Angel as in he just messes with characters minds and don’t really fight in the war that breaks out in his new Earth Warehouse base. My favorite moment of the Batman and Hulk fight is when Hulk has Bats in a bear hug and is crushing his spine, and Batman does this karate chop to his ears making him go deaf for a moment and dropping him, good classic comic stuff. The story in this one is well written.  The art is fantastic, and the cover is super eye catching this one is great and only slightly less awesome then the Superman vs. Spider-Man comic, well worth checking out for fans of Hulk or Batman.

Batman kick hulkHulk Batman super fighthulkbatman2

Now let’s get onto the fantasy warfare of The Incredible Hulk fighting Batman if they were real people. For this one we have to go with the Adam West Batman from the 1966 ABC show called, you guessed it, Batman and for The Hulk we would go with Lou Ferrigno version from the 1977 CBS show The Incredible Hulk. Let’s set the fight up at a Horror Convention in Salem, Massachusetts and see who would win this fight!

Batman Adam WestVSHulk and David

A horror convention is near closing down for the night as guests like Vincent Price, Horror Host Sammy Terry and Christopher Lee are packing up when a drifter comes walking by.  It’s David Banner and he has his backpack close and his eyes to the ground when a masked man dressed as Phantom of The Opera runs by and grabs the backpack knocking David down, and as one final insult the thief kicks David in the ribs causing pain and anger.  As the transformation starts to happen, the Batmobile pulls up and Batman jumps into action giving the thief and pow and a bang to the jaw.  As Batman is about to use the batcuffs on the snatcher, The Hulk appears and is not happy as Batman sprays his batmace into the brute’s eyes causing the green skinned monster to swing wild and smashing the Batmobile into scarp iron.  Batman then pulls out some of his anti-bully batgas pellets and throws them in the direction of The Hulk who by now is seeing red through his burning eyes and as the gas comes out he lets out a thunderclap that blows the smoke back at Batman who is now blinded.  As Batman waits for the smoke to clear, the Hulk is on him and with one powerful blow to the top of the head of Batman he is able to crush the caped crusader into a pile of hamburger meat. As Batman lies dying, The Hulk runs way into the woods next to the convention center to later change into David Banner and not remember the fact he killed the world’s silliest detective.

Winner – The Incredible Hulk

Was it any surprise that The Hulk would win? So in this update we took a look at Horror Hosts, Godzilla in Nike Shoes, Spider-Man fighting Superman and Batman and The Hulk Teaming up.  I hoped you all enjoyed. But the VS. don’t end here with this blog as next time we will take a look at a great mini series from Topps Comics that pits Frankenstein’s Monster against Count Dracula! We will also take a look at the old Independent B Movie film I directed called Werewolf of Ohio 2: 10 Years Before, so until then stay nerdy and read a good comic series for me.

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